Skip to Page Content
Linfield College
 - Linfield College
McMinnville Admission Learn

Collaborative Research

At Linfield, students experience rich educational opportunities in the classroom and in a variety of other settings. For many of our students, research is central to a well-rounded education. Some students join together with faculty members in collaborative research projects, while others branch out to conduct research on their own or with other Linfield students.

Each year students have joined with faculty to apply for funding to develop projects, test hypothesis and report conclusions. Additional on-campus funding is available through the Linfield Center for the Northwest. Successful projects may be presented on campus at the Linfield College Student Scholarship Symposia (annually in May).  Students have also had the opportunity to present their work at regional and national conferences, providing greater exposure and experience.

Below is a list of projects from the 2017-18 academic year, spanning the sciences, social sciences and humanities.


Identifying and deciphering the molecular mechanisms of microRNA-mediated gene silencing

Faculty: Catherine Reinke
Student(s): Katherine Andersen, Sean Bowden, Hayden Rock, Cameron Soriano

In plants and animals, genes are routinely turned off or silenced by small, non-coding ribonucleic acids known as microRNAs. We have identified a gene that has a requirement for the CCR4-NOT complex subunit NOT2 in gene silencing. The precise role of this complex in silencing is currently debated; we propose to clarify the role of NOT2 in gene silencing through the biochemical analysis of silencing intermediates in mutants.

Fungal and Microbial Succession Across a Coarse Woody Debris Chronosequence

Faculty: John Syring
Student(s): Larissa Wolwend, Lewis Faller

This study examined the decomposition of fallen trees and how the nutrient pools that are released during this process behave and are maintained in the forest system.

Non-target effects of endangered species management strategies: Year 3 of 5

Faculty: Chad Tillberg
Student(s): Jackson O'Keefe, Kathy Trinh, Renee LaFountain

This study continued its third year of investigation on how conservation practices affect populations of non-target species; specifically, how changes in plant communities by grass-specific herbicides affect the mutualists and predators of the endangered Fender's Blue Butterly.

GABA Receptor Expression in Zebrafish

Faculty: Cecilia Toro
Student(s): Megan Schwehr, Tenzin Yangchen, Connell Crabtree

The study examined how GABA, a neurotransmitter, modulates mechanosensitive ear cells. The group used the zebrafish model organism because they have mechanosensitive cells on the outside of their body that respond to water movement, and that are closely related to inner ear cells.

Understanding impacts of viticultural practices on wine grape microbiomes

Faculty: Jeremy Weisz
Student(s): Tyler Griffin, Clara Prentiss, Carmen Hoffbeck, Riley Brown, Antoine Johnson, Shea Gischer

This project examined how different farming practices, such as using organic pesticides vs. traditional pesticides, impact the microbiome or bacteria of the grapes. The microbiome is the associated microbial community of grapes in vineyards in the Yamhill country.

Non-Target Effects of Endangered Species Management Strategies (Year 4 of 5)

Faculty: Chad Tilberg
Student(s): Jordan Clark, Michael Molgaard, Liam Home

I worked with student collaborators to continue our investigation of how conservation practices affect populations of non-target species. Spring/summer of 2017 is the fourth year of my research on how plant community changes caused by grass-specific herbicide application affect the mutualists and predators of the endangered Fender?s Blue Butterfly (FBB). The herbicide impedes the growth of invasive tall oat-grass, and should favor the host plant of the FBB caterpillars. In doing so, the management goal is to favor population growth of FBB. Our 2015 ? 2016 data show that the abundance of the four most common ant genera (the potential mutualists of FBB caterpillars) declined in treated plots relative to control plots. We did not observe a change in predacious ground beetle abundance. We will continue to track how herbicide-induced changes in plant community structure affect other arthropods, with special emphasis on the arthropod mutualists and predators of FBB.

Using In Situ Hybridization to Locate GABA Receptors in Zebrafish: Part II

Faculty: Cecillia Toro
Student(s): Austin Ramsay, Shannon Apgar, Jackson O'Keefe

Our lab sought to understand how one neurotransmitter, GABA, adjusts the sensitivity of ear cells. We used zebrafish to address this question. Zebrafish have cells on the outside of their body?part of the lateral line sensory system?that respond to water movement, much like cells in the inner ear. This summer, we used in situ hybridization to locate molecules key for GABA signaling?GABA receptors?in order to identify those that may be involved in ear cell sensitivity.

Exploring Impacts of Viticulture and Soil Types on Wine Grape Microbiomes

Faculty: Jeremy Weisz
Student(s): Shea Gischer, Clara Prentiss, Carmen Hoffbeck, Alexandra Morse

This project continued studies of the microbiome and the associated microbial community of grapes in vineyards in Yamhill county. In the summer of 2016, we tested a hypothesis that farming practices, such as using organic pesticides vs. traditional pesticides, will impact the microbiome of the grapes. This is important, because the microbiome likely influences the wine that is made from those grapes. Work from the summer of 2016 showed that variation in soil types also strongly influences the grape microbiome. This summer we compared microbiomes from grapes from a several vineyards with similar soil types, focusing on biodynamic vs. conventional vineyards. This work should help vineyard owners make informed decisions about grape management practices.


Chemical sensors formed from novel sol-, xero- and aero-gel materials containing novel silver nanoparticles (NP) and organic dyes.

Faculty: Liz Atkinson
Student(s): David Mason, Brandyn Wyatt

Researchers investigated the development of sol-gel based materials containing silver nanoparticles as chemical detectors. The goals were to determine if new sol-gel materials can be synthesized from TiO2, what other molecules can be detected by fluorescence sensors, and to see if aerogel materials can be sealed to trap inert gases like helium.

The role of mitochondrial copper in yeast lifespan and the production of reactive oxygen species

Faculty: Liz Atkinson
Student(s): Matthew Walser, Amelia Keyes

This project was to better understand how a change in the amount of copper available in cells and mitochondria can play a role in yeast lifespan. The goals were to determine the connection between copper homeostasis in cells, reactive oxygen species, and yeast lifespan.

Regulation of mitochondrial DNA transcription by mitochondrial localized transcription factors

Faculty: Megan Bestwick
Student(s): Kelsey Bruce, Dylan Legrady, Adan Martinez

Synthesis and characterization of noble metal based nanoparticles for medical imaging and drug delivery.

Faculty: Brian Gilbert
Student(s): Madison Gladding, Christopher Munjar, Victoria Wood, Allison Smith

The goal of this research project was to build nanometer sized structures that can be used in biomedical imaging and/or drug delivery. Noble metal nanoparticles were coated with lipids, tagant molecules for imaging, and antibodies for specific binding to different cell types. The resulting nanostructures were characterized optically with UV-vis spectrscopy, sized using laser light scattering techniques, and probed using surface-enhanced Raman scattering.

The Role of Mitochondrial Copper Proteins and Reactive Oxygen Species in Yeast Chronological Lifespan

Faculty: Megan Bestwick
Student(s): Matt Walser, Kelly Shultz, Kelsey Bruce, Shae Reece, Sarah Rempelos

This project examined the role copper plays in yeast lifespan, and specifically how modulating copper in yeast growth media affects the amount of reactive oxygen species produced and enzyme activity of copper containing enzymes. The aim of this study was to understand mechanistically the connection between copper homeostasis in cells and reactive oxygen species as these molecules have been shown to play an important role in yeast lifespan.


Assessing Student Learning in Principles of Economics

Faculty: Brittany Teahan
Student(s): Haley Oliver

This study assessed how student characteristics affect learning and overall performance in principles of economics. The findings will be used to better understand how a student's preparation affects learning in principles of economics, evaluate existing pre-requisites for the course, and gain insight into areas to pay particular focus to when teaching.


Review of Creative Writing program Web- and Interdisciplinary Options

Faculty: Anna Keesey
Student(s): Trang (Alex) Dinh

A group of small projects involving review of English and creative writing website presence and imagery, investigation of possible fine-arts collaborations across disciplines at Linfield, and exploration of process needed to establish an English/Creative Writing "home room" in T.J. Day Hall.

High Desert Journal Assistant Editorship

Faculty: Joe Wilkins
Student(s): Katie Higinbotham

This project helped foster collaboration between a Linfield College creative writing major and a Professor, who is also the editor of High Desert Journal.The student and professor each read submissions separately, and by the end of the summer, came together to select three to five essays, three to five poetry features, and one to three stories for publication in High Desert Journal.

Reading Chaucer

Faculty: Jamie Friedman
Student(s): Madeleine Glenn

This project produced 5-7 minute YouTube videos in which Middle English scholars read selections of Chaucer?s Canterbury Tales for students to use as they practice their own reading and literary comprehension. The videos paid particular attention to the inclusion of underrepresented voices in deciding which scholars to invite to read, responding to the near complete absence of women?s voices, for example, in the current, and scant, online presence of Middle English teaching aids. The immediate and practical goals of the project were to make recordings of major portions of the Canterbury Tales, along with other major texts in the Middle English corpus, helping to make these texts accessible to the broadest base of students. This work filled a significant gap in available pedagogical resources for Middle English literature, courses of which appear in most, if not all, higher education English departments. It also continued the work of embodying the diversity at which the discipline aims and which, in this case, it is significantly underrepresenting.

High Desert Journal Assistant Editorship

Faculty: Joe Wilkins
Student(s): Tor Strand

Across the summer and fall of 2017, roughly the length of time to see one issue of the magazine to publication, I collaborated with one Linfield College creative writing major on all aspects of the editorial process. We each read and make notes independently, yet we gathered to discuss the submissions and by the end of the summer selected three to five essays for publication. We would also worked with authors to edit their pieces for style, clarity, and literary power.

Environmental Studies

Effect of Urbanization on Soil: Structure, Chemistry and Mycorrhizael Fungi

Faculty: Nancy Broshot
Student(s): Hayden Cooksey, Tatiana Taylor

The purpose of this study was to determine why there has been a high mortality in tree species and low recruitment of young trees in urban forests around Portland and Estacada, Oregon. The study examined the soil structure, texture, pH, moisture, electroconductivity, and nutrients from differeent study sites.

The Effect of Urbanization on Forest Mycorrhizae, Worms, and Soil Respiration

Faculty: Nancy Broshot
Student(s): William McCuen, Delaney Riggins

In 1993, I randomly located 25 permanent study sites in Forest Park in Portland, Oregon. I examined plant community structure in 1993, 2003, and 2103. I found low recruitment of young trees in the urban forest, especially compared to control sites in the Mount Hood National Forest. Lichen surveys suggest high nitrogen deposition at urban sites. For the past several years I have been examining soil characteristics to try to determine potential causes for the lack of recruitment. I have found deeper O horizons and higher levels of carbon in more rural soils. The most likely causes of these findings are mycorrhizael fungi or invasive earthworms. This project examined the level of soil respiration, the frequency and diversity of worms in the soil, and the amount of mycorrhizael fungi on the roots of young seedlings to determine if urbanization is impacting these factors.

Health, Human Performance, and Athletics

The effects of physical activity on stress-induced cardiac fibrosis

Faculty: Sarah Coste
Student(s): Erin Kinney

The researchers examined whether routine physical activity can limit stress-induced tissue remodeling processes that can lead to cardiac fibrosis.

Physical Activity in Online Learners and Instructors

Faculty: Janet Peterson
Student(s): Riley Graham

The group examined the physical activity levels in online learners and instructors since decreased physical activity is associated with increased health risks. The project also looked at appropriate mobile device applications that can improve physical activity in online learners and instructors, developed a physical activity para-curricultar course for Linfield College Online Continuing Education program, and evaluated the physical activity levels in participants periodically.

Exploring the Reciprocal Relationship Between Stress and Physical Activity

Faculty: Sarah Coste
Student(s): Courtney Stroh

This project continued and expanded upon a study we initiated last summer that used a mouse model to examine whether routine physical activity will limit stress-induced tissue remodeling processes that lead to cardiac fibrosis. The first aim was to continue our analysis of ventricular cardiac tissue to assess levels of specific proteins that are indicative of fibrosis. A second aim was to explore our unexpected and interesting finding that stress significantly reduced voluntary running behavior. The proposed aims were a direct extension of our initial study and important in the development of my research program. Results from this project will be presented at a regional or national conference with the potential for publication in a peer-reviewed publication.

Measuring Fitness and Physical Activity in People with Visual Impairment

Faculty: Janet Peterson
Student(s): Sarah Bell

Therefore, the purpose of this research was to:

  1. Complete a systematic review of the current literature on physical activity in people with visual impairments.
  2. Design a valid and reliable tool to evaluate physical activity levels in a visually impaired population and
  3. To use the newly developed tool to accurately quantify physical activity levels in people with visual impairments.

Mass Communication

Waiting for Peace (interactive multimedia discovery)

Faculty: Michael Huntsberger
Student(s): Kailyn Nelson, Michaela Fujita-Conrads

The group gathered information for an interactive multimedia documentary based on World War II experiences of Richard Berkey. The story will include a narrative on family, military, mass media history, and an account of cultural and humanitarian transformation.

Waiting for Peace (Interactive Multimedia Documentary)

Faculty: Michael Huntsberger
Student(s): Matthew Totaro, Grey Patterson

The project involved principle production, post-production and distribution activities for an interactive multimedia documentary based on the memoir Waiting for Peace: The Journals and Correspondence of a World War II Combat Medic (2015). Video, photo and other materials gathered by the faculty were combined with archival content, graphic materials, and audio recordings to produce an interactive multimedia experience. Outcomes will be shared in media studies and production courses, and at the 2018 Collaborative Research and Creative Arts Symposium.


What Can Big Data Tell Us About the Stock Market?

Faculty: Xiaoyue Luo
Student(s): William Shannon, Jennifer Moranchel

In this project, we explored how big data can help us to make sense of the stock market movements in the past and hopefully help in predicting the future. In particular, we used the data service ?Google Trends" as our big data set. Google Trends provides an index of the volume of Google queries by geo- graphic location and category. Our hypothesis is that by studying patterns of number of searches for a particular word, we might be able to make prediction of stock market movements. We designed a mathematical model to identify keywords that are good indicators for the stock market. Then, we constructed a trading strategy formula based on the keyword selected. Finally, we tested our hypothesis using past stock market data and then use it to make forecast for future movements.


Providing Culturally Competent Care for Transgender Clients: What Nurses Should Know

Faculty: Paul Smith
Student(s): Andrew Wolfe

This study addresses the healthcare provided by future nurses to transgender individuals by measuring knowledge, skills and attitudes toward transgender clients. A pre- and post-test model was utilized to measure the effectiveness of the educational intervention. The educational opportunity consisted of a didactic presentation by two content experts followed by a panel discussion with transgender individuals who have experience potential bias and prejudice within the healthcare system. The aim was to identify if a brief, yet well designed educational intervention that can have a significant impact on nursing students? knowledge, skills and attitudes.


Pedagogy for Civic Literacies: A Case Study

Faculty: Kaarina Beam
Student(s): Joshua Harper

This project produced a case study and analysis exploring why and how experiential project-based pedagogies should be implemented to facilitate scientific, cultural, moral, civic, and data literacies. To that end, we observed and assisted in the application of project-based, Agile-inspired pedagogy at Dayton High School (DHS). We collected data and analyzed the innovative program at DHS in relation to the philosophical foundations for understanding why problem-centered, experiential educational practices are the most effective means for the development of the above core literacies required of educated democratic citizens. This project added an invaluable empirical application of Dr. Beam?s work in the philosophy of education and her research interests in Bhutan. With an eye to audiences in both the U.S. and Bhutan, we created a presentation and research paper illuminating and connecting the philosophical foundations and pedagogical practices that engender achieving core literacies for effective democratic citizenship.


Analyzing mechanisms for decreased mobility within graphene biosensors

Faculty: Michael Crosser
Student(s): Agatha Ulibarri, Troy Taylor

Examined how graphene's thinness, a form of carbon in which each carbon atom is aligned within a two dimensional sheet, is affected within liquid environments.

HfC electron emitter shape change due to preferential evaporation

Faculty: Bill Mackie
Student(s): Geoffrey Rath

This study found that shape change appears to be due to preferential evaporation which exposes the (100) and (111) crystallographic planes. The effect of simultaneous electron emission was also studied where we found that combined temperature and field tends to sharpen features and bring out the (110) as a persistent point formed at the juncture of two (100) and two (111) planes. Temperature alone tended to round the planar intersections.

Evaporation rate study of HfC, LaB6, and CeB6

Faculty: Bill Mackie
Student(s): Thomas Shearer

This study found the evaporation rate as a function of temperature primarily for HfC. We found some preferential evaporation but measured the bulk shape change to determine the rate. The (100) plane has the lowest surface free energy and hence is primarily exposed. We noted also that the rates measured were in extrapolated agreement to that deduced from measurements of electron emitter shape changes.

Fly Swarms and Complexity

Faculty: Joelle Murray
Student(s): Alleta Maier, Kuzivakwashe Rusere

This project sought to provide an explanation on how order can be created from disorder. The research examined the behavior of fly swarms and sought to develop a simple lattice fly swarm model, explored and characterized the complexity exhibited by the models, and compared it to already existing experimental data on real fly swarms.

Solar energy powered robot vehicle

Faculty: Tianbao Xie
Student(s): John Adam, Mason Adams

Students worked on building a new solar power robot vehicle that is only powered by solar panels. It included a much lighter frame and motors with less electric power than the previous robot.

Graphene Biosensors Used for Capacitors

Faculty: Michael Crosser
Student(s): Geoffrey Rath, Agatha Ulibarri

This project examined two important properties of graphene. First, graphene has been studied for potential use within so-called supercapacitors. However, measurements of the medium within which the graphene resides have not been previously completed. This research project focused on determining the dielectric constant for the most common materials. Second, this study continued a project to use graphene transistors to detect oxygen dissolved within liquid.

Build a Brushless Micro Generator for Wearable Devices

Faculty: Tianbao Xie
Student(s): John Adam, Nickolas Villalobos

This project focused on making a wearable micro size generator which can convert the energy of people?s everyday life activities (walking, moving arms and legs) into electricity to charge the batteries in wearable devices. An electronic convertor was also made to work with the micro generator.

Political Science

The Radical & the Conservative: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr., & the American Dream

Faculty: Nick Buccola
Student(s): Maggie Hawkins

This researchers examined the civil rights debate between conservative William F. Buckley Jr. and the radical James Baldwin at Cambridge Union in 1965.

The Radical and the Conservative: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr., and the American Dream

Faculty: Nick Buccola
Student(s): Madeline Colson, Chase Stowell

On February 18, 1965, an overflow crowd at the Cambridge Union witnessed an epic clash of ideas as one of the leading radical intellectuals of the era, James Baldwin, sparred with one of the leading conservative intellectuals of the era, William F. Buckley Jr., on the question: is the American Dream at the expense of the American Negro? It would be difficult to imagine two human beings with more dramatically different life experiences and worldviews. Baldwin was Black and gay and had emerged from the ?Harlem ghetto? to become one of the most famous writer-activists in the Civil Rights Movement. Buckley was born into an immensely wealthy, devoutly Catholic, and deeply conservative family in Connecticut and he had risen through elite prep schools and Yale to become one of the leading figures on the American Right. This collaborative research project engaged student collaborators in a process of supporting the final stages of the production of a book. First, the student collaborators reviewed what I had written so far and helped me do the research to fill in gaps in the writing. Second, the students played a vital role in the organization and investigation of archival materials for this project. Third, students prepared memos on various historical personalities and events that are part of the book.

Playing for 100 Years Hence: The League of Nations, the Iraq War, and the Future of Multilateralism

Faculty: Pat Cottrell
Student(s): Benjamin Bartu, Aspen Brooks

The year 2019 will mark the hundred-year anniversary of the creation of League of Nations. This project served as a bridge between Professor Cottrell?s most recent book, ?The League of Nations: Enduring Legacies of the First Experiment at World Organization? (Routledge Global Institutions Series, forthcoming 2017) and next book project, which explores the overlooked lessons that the Iraq war has for the future of multilateral cooperation.


Exposure to Sexually Objectifying Media and Adoption of the Objectifying Gaze

Faculty: Tanya Tompkins
Student(s): Hailey Albin

The current study extends upon Dr. Tompkins? research interest in objectification by investigating gaze patterns while viewing objectifying traditional and social media. This project also provided opportunities to collaborate with other faculty to publish and present their work. Additionally, the student collaborator on this project gained valuable leadership and research skills as well as cutting-edge research experience.

Sociology and Anthropology

"God is in the Gluten": Adapting when Medical Diagnosis and Catholic Dogma Conflict

Faculty: Hillary Crane
Student(s): Cruz Morey, Elizabeth Stoeger

This research examined people with Celiac Disease and the ways the disease manifests in unusual areas of life. For example, we examined the conflicts Celiacs face when medical advice (to not ingest communion wafers) contradicts religious practice in the Catholic church. Students conducted open-ended interviews with people with Celiac Disease to examine this question.

Poisoned, Contaminated, and Exposed: narrating Celiac Disease

Faculty: Hillary Crane
Student(s): Elizabeth Stoeger, Mikaela Letsinger

This ethnographic field research examined the ways celiac patients describe the complicated ways having celiac manifests in their lives including problems faced by Catholics who have to navigate particular challenges with the communion wafer. From our earlier research on blogs and interviews conducted last summer, we learned that online resources serve as a means of making connections with other celiac patients ? both to seek and to provide advice and support to one another, and as venues for narrating their own experiences living with this chronic illness. Prior research in the summers of 2011 & 2012 found many local celiac patients frustrated by the growing popularity of the gluten-free diet among non-celiac individuals. In the summer of 2016, we examined the language they used to narrate their own experiences in ways that counter dominant narratives of people in their lives, and in wider popular culture, who are often dismissive of their health concerns as attention-seeking. The work this summer further explored this topic with students through interviews and participant observation in both McMinnville and Portland.

We Got Grit: Arts, Music, and Community After the 2013 Boulder County Floods

Faculty: Robert Gardner
Student(s): John Christensen, Alana Thomas-Garcia

This project involved conducting ethnographic fieldwork and interviewing artists, musicians, and community members in the town of Lyons, Colorado, a small arts community that bore the brunt of an historic flooding event in September, 2013. The goal of the project was to examine the role of arts and music organizations in shaping the town?s flood recovery efforts, as well as the ongoing struggle for affordable housing vital for relocating displaced local artists and musicians.