The BASIS.ed
Senior Projects 2017

The Senior Project at BASIS Flagstaff is a selective program that involves an off-campus research project or internship of the students’ choice and design. Students select a BASIS.ed faculty member as their advisor and work with a mentor at their selected research site. These projects may be completed anywhere in the world. At the end of the trimester, students return to campus and present an analysis of their findings to peers, staff, and parents.

BASIS Flagstaff is one of 10 BASIS charter schools participating in the 2017 BASIS.ed Senior Project Program. To view the details of a specific project, select a student below.

See all BASIS.ed Senior Projects

Adam S.

Words, Music, and Their Unconscious Effects on the Mind

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Adam S.

Words, Music, and Their Unconscious Effects on the Mind

BASIS advisor: Chris Lamb
Internship location: Northern Arizona University
Onsite Mentor: Mackenzie Onofry, MS Candidate, Northern Arizona University
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In modern psychology, the unconscious mind is considered integral to our perception of the world, our general behavior, and even our cognitive performance. Providing any stimulus meant to influence cognition unconsciously is known as priming. Past research has repeatedly shown that both auditory and visual primes can have measurable (and often strange) unconscious effects on cognition. There is also evidence that priming can have different effects when subjects are primed as individuals rather than as groups. This research will have three goals. First, to compare the effects of priming with either music or words (aimed at improving mood or performance or increasing motivation) on mood, performance, and motivation of individual subjects; second, to compare the same primes and cognitive measures on groups of subjects; and third, to evaluate whether a combination of the two primes has a stronger or weaker effect on individual subjects. Through this research, I hope to contribute to the existing bodies of information on auditory and visual primes and perhaps provide a connection between the two fields. By expanding the body of knowledge on priming, we can begin to have greater influence over our mental state, our performance, and even our interactions with others. By becoming conscious of what factors may unconsciously affect us and those around us, we become more aware of how we can use our surroundings in the most efficient and effective ways.

Adam W.

The Effects of Aerobic Exercise on Working Memory

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Adam W.

The Effects of Aerobic Exercise on Working Memory

BASIS advisor: Sheri Jordan
Internship location: Northern Arizona University
Onsite Mentor: Melissa Birkett, PhD, Associate Professor
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The brain is one of the most mysterious organs in the body, as every question we answer about it presents many new opportunities for investigation. One of the more commonly asked questions is: how can we improve brain functionality in novel ways? One of those ways is to improve working memory– our ability to store and process information in a short time period. Exercise is well-known to have great positive effects on the body and it might be a key way of unlocking our working memory potential. This research explores this possibility through the use of a digit-span test which can gauge just how well a person uses their working memory. The digit-span test involves giving a subject a list of digits to memorize and recite back to the researcher. Conducting this test immediately before and after an hour-long exercise session can give us an idea of just how working memory is affected, specifically whether it can process information quicker, more accurately, or for longer periods of time as a result of aerobic exercise.

Alaina W.

Risk Assessment in Midwife-Managed Care

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Alaina W.

Risk Assessment in Midwife-Managed Care

BASIS advisor: Alicia Vaughan
Internship location: Flagstaff Birth and Women's Center
Onsite Mentor: Paula Pelletier-Butler, LM, MSM, Co-Owner, LM, MSM
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Birth, the miracle of life, has some mixed reviews. Some have called it painful, excruciating, wonderful, joyous, worthwhile, the worst experience, or as my own mother would say, the best experience. Although each experience is incredibly personal, I think everyone can agree that safety is paramount in childbirth. My own aspiration is to be an obstetrician, so in my project, I will learn how dedicated health care professionals make pregnancy, labor, and delivery as safe as possible. At the Flagstaff Birth and Women’s Center (FBWC), I will learn how the midwives there assess and deal with risks in pregnancy. Risk assessment includes everything from learning your medical history to amniotic fluid tests. This is especially important in midwives’ practice, because they typically only handle low-risk pregnancies. While midwives are skilled at various means of risk-management, about 12% of their clients end up having their babies at the hospital instead of the birthing center, because the midwives detect a risk and determine that a hospital birth would be safer. I am interested in learning about all the variables contributing to how this important decision is made through my internship at FBWC. Beyond the literature, my exposure to the practice of midwifery will provide the opportunity for case studies in how risk is assessed and treated.

Ben K.

A Biomechanical Investigation of Back Shape While Lifting

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Ben K.

A Biomechanical Investigation of Back Shape While Lifting

BASIS advisor: Katelyn Wyatt
Internship location: Embry Riddle Aeronautical University
Onsite Mentor: Max Fogleman, PhD, Professor
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“Lift with your knees, not your back.” It’s not as simple as it sounds! This project is an investigation into the merit of this age-old idiom, because the stoop lift– lifting with your back– may not be as bad as you think. In order to investigate each type of lift, the Vicon Motion Capture system will be used to obtain precise data for each lift. This is done by placing markers on the subject while they perform the lift. The data recorded by this system can then be used for a physiological analysis of each lift. This analysis allows for a numerical comparison rather than just a comparison of posture. Physiological analyses look into how much energy must be used and at what rate that energy must be used. A large part of my research will be background research, so that I am able to perform a physiological analysis for the data that is collected. This type of research is important for prevention of back injuries and is often applied to workplace situations where employees must perform repeated lifts.

Dylan H.

Music and Language Cognition in the Left and Parietal Lobe

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Dylan H.

Music and Language Cognition in the Left and Parietal Lobe

BASIS advisor: Hunter Jecius
Internship location: UC San Francisco
Onsite Mentor: Edward Chang, MD, Co-Director, Center for Neural Engineering at UC Berkeley and San Francisco
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Cognition is the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and senses. We currently know that the left temporal lobe is important for speech, naming and verbal memory specifically, but what about in music? My research will assess music cognition in my own left temporal and parietal lobes, using several experiments conducted on my own brain from surgery I underwent at UCSF to cure my epileptic condition. In the first experiment, I helped design tests to ensure the surgery would not impede my ability to play piano, using a cortical stimulation. This technique sends electric impulses through a grid of electrodes laid out on the brain, the same electrodes that measure the brain’s electrical activity. While I played simple pieces I knew well, parts of the temporal and parietal lobes were individually subjected to electrical stimulation to attempt to provoke mistakes. Now, we must evaluate which loci caused which mistakes. We hypothesize that the motor cortex is the main area where mistakes were caused, but we also suspect that other parts of the brain, like Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas, as well as areas in the sensory cortex may also provoke mistakes when disrupted. In another experiment, I played Chopin and Bach, first with the sound on, hearing the music, then with the sound off, imagining the music. This research will help us learn where in the brain is important for musicality, and hopefully lead us to helping musicians improve.

Erin B.

Oily Ocean

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Erin B.

Oily Ocean

BASIS advisor: Alicia Vaughan/ Tandi Pyeatt
Internship location: Soderblom Residence
Onsite Mentor: Larry Soderblom, PhD, Research Scientist, retired
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Oil spills affect oceanic habitats on every level. Because of this, a lot of time, money, and resources are spent to efficiently and effectively remove the contaminate from the surface of the water, or so it seems. In some of history’s largest spills, companies have used a chemical called a dispersant to break polar bonds within the oil and cause it to disperse into the water. This makes it appear as though the oil has been cleaned up, when in reality, there is no less oil in the ocean than before. These chemicals are incredibly harmful to people and the environment alike, and they may be completely unnecessary to begin with. Phytoplankton, one of the very bases of the aquatic food chain, may be able to metabolize the oil all by themselves, rendering other forms of clean-up, including dispersants, superfluous. This means companies and agencies could instead redirect funds to cleaning up shorelines and forego the damaging chemicals altogether. My project focuses on a specific species of phytoplankton, called a diatom, and its ability to do such a task. I will be modeling my project specifically around the conditions of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill by exposing cultures of a diatom (chosen because it inhabits the Louisiana Bay) with various amounts of crude petroleum. Hopefully, my research will illustrate that in the event of future spills, the best path of action will simply be to allow the ocean to clean itself.

Hannah M.

I Spine a Problem

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Hannah M.

I Spine a Problem

BASIS advisor: Chris Lamb
Internship location: CDA Spine in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
Onsite Mentor: Jeffrey J. Larson, M.D, Neurosurgeon
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Minimally invasive lumbar fusion surgery (MIS TLIF) has proven to be a favorable treatment for patients with spinal pathologies, in terms of short-term postoperative outcomes, compared to other surgical techniques. However, neurosurgeons and the global medical community are uncertain about the long-term effects of minimally invasive surgery on sagittal balance, and more specifically the influence of a lumbar fusion surgery on lordosis. One of the indicators of long-term success of lumbar fusion surgery is the preservation of lordosis, which is the inward curvature of the lumbar spine. Previous research has suggested that minimally invasive surgery may reduce the lordotic curve in the long run, and thus induces more nerve pain for the patient. The aim of this research is to conduct a retrospective study to investigate if MIS TLIF has a positive, negative, or neutral effect on lordosis by comparing patients’ preoperative and postoperative spinal parameter measurements, which include the pelvic incidence and the vertebral axis angles.

Kalina C.

Species Conservation in the Seychelles

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Kalina C.

Species Conservation in the Seychelles

BASIS advisor: Chris Bayer
Internship location: Global Vision International - Seychelles
Onsite Mentor: Brooklyn Norton, Country Expert
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Everybody hears about global warming, but few have a chance to see evidence. I found an opportunity to look at climate change on a more local level in the Seychelles, an archipelago off the eastern coast of Africa, by investigating how global warming affects individual species and communities. This includes studying sea turtle hatchling success rate, lemon shark population growth, Coco de Mer reproduction rate, mangroves’ adaptation to water temperature changes, and the survival rate of giant tortoises, as well as profiling beaches to measure the amount of lost beach with rising water levels. I am also getting the chance to immerse myself with the local communities and to learn how the changes have affected the daily life of a Seychellois local. I chose the Seychelles because although small, the islands are home to a collection of endemic species and unique culture that will be lost with the submersion of the islands due to rising water levels. With my research I hope to discover some of the different changes species have to make in order to survive. I also hope to raise awareness of the immediate danger that global climate change has and I want to make a difference by working with companies like the SNPA (Seychelles National Park Authority) and TRAS (Terrestrial Recreation Association of the Seychelles).

KariJoy T.

Big Attitudes, Small Town

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KariJoy T.

Big Attitudes, Small Town

BASIS advisor: Chris Bayer
Internship location: National Holocaust Museum
Onsite Mentor: Bjorn Krondorfer, PhD, Director, Martin-Springer Institute, Northern Arizona University
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In preparation for an internship at The United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., I researched Jewish life and traditions, focusing on the small-town experiences of people in northern Arizona, and examined how public opinion of Jewish people evolved in pre- and post-World War II Flagstaff. Together with the Martin-Springer Institute of NAU, I’m helping to create a magazine based on the findings of their “Flagstaff Jewish Lives” project. While in Washington, I will work in the Survivor Affairs division of the museum, where I will communicate with survivors and help them tell their stories. One of the goals of my project is to make these stories, and other details of historical Jewish experience, more widely accessible.

Lucas C

Water Matters

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Lucas C

Water Matters

BASIS advisor: Corey Hartman, PhD
Internship location: Flagstaff Utilities
Onsite Mentor: Steve Camp, Compliance Manager
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Access to clean water is a problem experienced not only by developing countries lacking infrastructure. Developed countries, including the United States, also experience issues with access to safe drinking water. In 2015-2016, Flagstaff, Arizona—which typically earns high marks for quality water—had an EPA violation showing disinfection byproducts in its treated water at the Lake Mary Water Treatment Plant. As disinfection byproducts are harmful to humans, Lake Mary was temporarily cut off as a source of potable water for Flagstaff. Currently, as a means to addressing the problems of disinfection byproducts, the treatment plant now uses a method of treatment that doesn’t create disinfection byproducts but is more expensive. This study will evaluate different water treatment methods for potable surface water by not only weighing the efficiency of treatment but also budgetary and implementary viability. This entails a cost-benefit analysis of each treatment method, as well as comparisons to other treatment plants around Northern Arizona. By using my own samples and previously taken samples, I hope to design a water treatment system that best fits Lake Mary’s physical and chemical makeup and Flagstaff’s economic situation, so that people living in Flagstaff’s city limits are provided with clean water and the city remains economically afloat.

Marggie P.

A study on the Gila cypha

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Marggie P.

A study on the Gila cypha

BASIS advisor: Lisa McDonough
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There is a problem with the Gila cypha (an endangered species of fish commonly known as the humpback chub) population in the Grand Canyon. Despite attempts to increase (or at the least maintain) the population, continual death combined with a lack of reproduction is occurring. This problem has negatively impacted the ecosystem in the Grand Canyon because of a loss of diversity. A possible cause of this problem is low pH level in the river. My project investigates a correlation between pH, flow rate, and fish population along the entire Colorado River. I am doing this by analyzing changes in pH and the Gila cypha population data from the United States Geological Survey. Thus far, I have found nothing like this in the current larger field of study; I hope my research can contribute to finding ways to positively impact both the population of the Gila cypha in the Grand Canyon and the ecosystem in that region.

Noelle M.

Should We inVESTA in Mining

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Noelle M.

Should We inVESTA in Mining

BASIS advisor: Zachary Plueger
Internship location: US Geological Survey, Astrogeology Science Center
Onsite Mentor: Moses Milazzo, PhD, Research Scientist
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Mining on asteroids is a relatively new idea in the mining industry. The limited resources as well as environmental and societal impacts of mining on Earth make mining on asteroids in the future an attractive option. Asteroid mining may provide more cost-effective access to these metals once they are too costly, too difficult, or too damaging to mine on Earth. Platinum Group Metals (PGMs) such as iridium, palladium, and platinum are the metals we are focusing on with the asteroid Vesta. We will use the QGIS mapping software and data from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft to map Vesta’s mineral content. Because PGM ore bodies are never pure PGM, the standard way to find PGMs on Earth is to search for specific marker minerals that generally indicate likelihood of PGMs. Such marker minerals are useful in assessing PGMs because of the relatively low concentrations of PGMs in ore bodies. In searching for PGMs on Vesta, we will map sulfides, chromite, ultramafic minerals, dunite, and Ni-Cu. Once these marker minerals are mapped we will calculate areal coverage of each marker mineral, areas where marker minerals overlap, and the strength of the signal of each marker mineral. These data will be fed into a geographic probability algorithm to calculate the probability of PGMs across the surface of Vesta. This will provide an assessment of the availability of PGMs on Vesta, which has never been done before.

Ryan C.

Micro Markets

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Ryan C.

Micro Markets

BASIS advisor: Chris Lamb
Internship location: Northern Arizona University
Onsite Mentor: Dr. Ding Du, Associate Professor
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Who remembers the 2008 housing market crash? Everyone! And for good reason too. The U.S. real estate market is a vital part of the health of our national economy. And it affects us all. Today, real estate economics remains a relatively new field with much to be discovered. With my project, I hope to add to this quickly expanding area of research. One feature of the real estate market is the heterogeneity amongst products. All properties are unique. They can differ across a variety of characteristics: square footage, intended use, # of rooms, location, etc. Thus, each property also has a unique price. Recognizing this, I began to wonder: if each property is entirely unique, is it possible that specific property types can behave differently from the overall market or even have unique market cycles? To answer this question, I will be collecting data on house prices and characteristics from 12 randomly selected counties in California, New York, and Colorado. Price performance from 2000 to 2015 for 13 different property types will be compared. Using statistical analysis, I will determine if any differences between the property types are significant. I expect to find that a few, specific property types (i.e. waterfront mansions) will experience at least slightly different market cycles than the general market. These “micro markets” in real estate could significantly affect investing strategies in the field. This study will determine if they exist and weigh the impacts they could have.

Sylvia K.

Silent But Deadly

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Sylvia K.

Silent But Deadly

BASIS advisor: Karen Knappenberger
Internship location: NAU (online)
Onsite Mentor: Gregory Busath, PhD, Senior Lecturer
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Eating disorders (including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and OSFED—other specified feeding or eating disorder) have several different treatment options, but they also have high relapse rates. My senior research project will attempt to determine, through personal conversations with psychiatrists and treatment specialists, the most effective form of eating disorder treatment. Treatment options include cognitive behavioral therapy, inpatient therapy, and medication. Though all three are very common treatment methods, they are not all created equal. I will be looking into several inpatient clinics as well, interviewing the doctors and getting to know the facilities. My hypothesis is that if a chronic eating disorder patient receives cognitive behavioral therapy, they will have a smaller probability of relapse months after treatment ends. To me, eating disorders are a very personal topic, but on the larger scale they affect far more of us than we allow ourselves to realize. They are one of the most deadly mental illnesses, but are also more treatable than many other mental illnesses. By exploring treatment methods for eating disorders, I hope to inspire those around me to tap into their loved one’s potentially disordered eating habits, and determine the best route for treatment. I also hope to raise awareness by showing that these are indeed mental illnesses rather than merely social difficulties.

Tudor C.

Wound Healing: A New Hope

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Tudor C.

Wound Healing: A New Hope

BASIS advisor: Lisa McDonough
Internship location: Northern Arizona University / NACET
Onsite Mentor: Robert Kellar, PhD, Associate Professor
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Properly treating a chronic wound costs a lot of money and takes a lot of time. Current treatment methods, such as using skin grafts, are also incredibly inefficient and frequently aesthetically unappealing. In the case of skin grafts, a donor is required. This means that the skin has been used, and must be prepared for the graft. As part of the cleansing cycle, the skin is meshed, so that it will cover a larger area. Unfortunately, this leaves evidence of the surgery, since the skin will contain a meshed pattern. But there is hope for a better process. Stem cells have become a focal point of this hope, due to their unique ability to develop into different cell types. But stems cells by themselves cannot heal a wound. There has to exist some sort of structure that can support the growth of these cells in the wound. As a result, a new idea has come forth to lay down a “scaffold” in the wound. By laying this template for the cells, the healing process is accelerated. As part of my research, I will be working with these scaffolds and experimenting with their use. At the same time, with the use of in vitro or bench top assays, I will be testing agents that are therapeutics and cause an acceleration of wound healing.