What is Research?

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Heard about research and not sure what it is or if it is for you? Read more and find out. You might be surprised at what you can do!

Join the Central Undergraduate Research Board

The Central Undergraduate Research Board (CURB) is a small group of student leaders on campus who serve as an advisory board promoting undergraduate research, creative, and scholarly activity at UCO. The board consists of 5-10 members representing the university’s five colleges, and works with the Office of High-Impact Practices to engage students and to plan for future growth in undergraduate research. Students from all disciplines are encouraged to apply.

CURB’s mission is to:

  • Promote undergraduate research, creative, and scholarly opportunities;
  • Collaborate with other student groups on campus to get the word out about research, creative, and scholarly opportunities and their benefits to students;
  • Contribute to the conversation about expanding opportunities

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Chemical Analysis of Processed Human Hair Extensions for Use in Forensic Casework

With the increasing use of hair extensions, it is possible that a hair sample discovered at a crime scene may be a processed human hair extension and have no physical or genetic connection to the individual wearing the hair extensions. This can be misleading in an investigation and result in a misuse of time and resources. Being able to identify a hair as a processed human hair extension may be valuable in determining its evidentiary value.  This research utilized ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy, gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to determine whether a chemical difference was present between natural human head hair and processed human hair extensions.  Three different hair extension brands and five different natural human hair samples were used in this research. Multiple organic solid liquid extractions were completed using methanol, hexane, 1-octanol, Colorist SecretsTM Hair Color Remover, and chloroform-d.  Results indicated there is a chemical difference between processed human hair extensions and natural human head hair as observed in spectra on the UV-Vis, GC/MS, and NMR.  Peaks were present in the processed human hair extensions that were not present in the control natural human head hair samples.  This research is significant because it allows for the chemical identification of processed human hair extensions which may help in determining if the hair has probative value in a forensic case.

Courtney Cnossen


Fingerprints and Ancestry: Is it all in the Details?

Research assessed if ancestry can be determined based on fingerprint characteristics. Ancestral backgrounds analyzed included individuals of European, African, Asian, Hispanic, and Native American descent. The results of this study provided important insights into the frequencies and likelihood of certain fingerprint patterns and minutia coming from specific ancestral groups. Important findings included:

  • Sex is not a significant predictor of pattern type whereas ancestry is a significant predictor of pattern type.
  • Minutiae types cannot predict sex, but are be useful in predicting some ancestries,
  • The Native American ancestral group had the highest pattern frequency of whorls at 47.5%.
  • The African descent

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Getting the most out of virtual conferences

The past year has brought many challenges as we have adapted to life during a pandemic. One significant change we have experienced is the shift from in-person conferences to virtual ones. Although virtual events lack the face-to-face interactions, they can be as informative, engaging, and rewarding as in-person events. Here are my tips for getting the most out of your virtual conference experience.

  1. Familiarize yourself with the platform before the conference begins. Many platforms exists, and they each have distinct features that allow you to participate in discussions, connect with conference participants, and to communicate with presenters. Knowing what you can do with the virtual platform will help you get the most

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Meet the Researchers – Veronica Fuxa and Vincent Pinion

Meet UCO students Veronica Fuxa, Senior English Education Major, and Vincent Pinion, Senior Master’s Student in Experimental Psychology. Their faculty mentor is Dr. Anastasia Wickham. Veronica got involved in her research through preparing to student-teach. She noticed how some teachers reacted towards technology usage such as Google Classroom and Chromebooks. “In my education courses, we learn about different technologies, but we are never sure which ones are effective in the classroom since we did not have any experience. I wanted to analyze teachers’ reactions towards ‘essential technologies’ and use quantitative analysis to determine different groups’ attitudes towards classroom technology.”

Meet the Researcher – Savannah Melher

Savannah Melher

Due to circumstances surrounding COVID-19, University of Central Oklahoma student researchers were unable to present at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research. In the next few weeks, we will be highlighting some of these phenomenal students and their research.

First is Savannah Melher, a Senior Strategic Communications Major with Dr. Mary Carver as her faculty advisor. She got involved in undergraduate research through the McNair

 Scholars program on Campus. Savannah was invited to the 2020 NCUR Conference to present her research, “Reporting in Race: the Depiction of Black Oklahomans.” The purpose of the study is to research depictions of race in the media. Prior studies focused on politics and how news stories
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Use of Forensic Corpora in Validation of Data Carving on Solid-State Drives

The need for greater focus on the validation and verification of tools has become more evident in recent years. The research in this area has been minimal. Continued research regarding the validation of digital forensics tools is necessary to help meet demands from both the law enforcement and scientific communities and to bring digital forensics in line with other forensic disciplines (as cited in Guo, et al., 2009). One of the most effective ways to perform validation and verification of digital forensics tools is to enlist the use of standardized data sets, also known as forensic corpora. This study focused on the use of forensic corpora to validate the file carving function of a common digital forensics tool, Access Data’s Forensic Tool Kit (FTK). The study centers specifically on FTK’s ability to recover data on solid-state drives (SSDs). The goal of this study was to both evaluate the use of forensic corpora in the validation and verification of digital forensic tools, as well as a serve as a validation study of FTK’s carving function on solid-state drives.

Kristina Hegstrom – 2016