Students’ summer research efforts to be presented at symposium

Friday, July 19, 2019

When Jackson Poulnott, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering technology, learned that young girls with limb differences wanted prosthetic hands with removable fingernails so they can change their nail color, he set out to make that happen.

Poulnott is one of more than 100 undergraduate students who will present their research Friday, July 26, at UNC Charlotte’s Summer Research Symposium. In addition to improving cosmetic features, he has been working this summer in the lab of Richard Chi, assistant professor of biological sciences, to improve a 3-D printed prosthetic device, the phoenix hand with wrist articulation, by creating a modified tension piece to allow independent functionality of the fingers. This new design will be released to open-sourced platforms and will be available to worldwide chapters of the Helping Hands Project, a nonprofit organization that provides low-cost prosthetics to children with upper limb differences.

Irvin Naylor, a senior majoring in computer science, is working alongside Jackson in Chi’s lab. However, Naylor’s research focus is to address the 30-40 percent user-abandonment of upper-limb prosthetic devices. Working closely with the Helping Hand Project, the student researchers found that initial training for a prosthetic device can be challenging and lead to abandonment, especially for children with congenital limb differences who are unfamiliar with new mechanical movements. Naylor is designing a computer game that will be integrated into the mechanical movements of the prosthetic devices to provide a fun and effortless process for learning to use prosthetic hands and arms.

Poulnott and Naylor will demonstrate their research projects and answer questions at the July 26 Summer Research Symposium in the Barnhardt Student Activity Center. Poster sessions will be held from 10 to 11 a.m. and noon to 1 p.m.

The University’s Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) is in its inaugural year and is hosting the research symposium. The office mission is to support undergraduate students through undergraduate research grants and opportunities to communicate their research to others through symposia, national conferences and research exploration events.

Poulnott and Naylor’s research opportunities are possible through their participation in Charlotte Community Scholars. Undergraduate students also are participating in research this summer through: Charlotte Research Scholars, SPIDURS (Summer Program to Increase Undergraduate Research), College of Computing and Informatics REU, Department of History Capitalism Initiative, Department of Mechanical Engineering REU, Making Future Communities REU, NanoSURE REU, NSF Criminal Justice REU, Undergraduate Research Class (BIOL 3900) and Charlotte Teachers Institute.

Some of the 103 posters scheduled for presentation at the research symposium include:

  • Evaluating the biodiversity of restored salt marshes versus natural salt marshes
  • Impacts of participation in the brain architecture game on attitudes about trauma informed care
  • Societal costs and benefits of AI surveillance in the context of parking lot crime
  • Analyzing the Immunostimulatory effects of structurally modified and functionalized nucleic-acid nanoparticles
  • New thione complexes of silver with potential anticancer properties
  • Security for insecure Wi-Fi calling
  • Numerical analysis of ocean current turbine hydrofoil designs to be installed in North Carolina shores
  • Transfer student success: more support for learning communities
  • The identification of molecular structures in new, unique hydrocarbons through the use of X-ray crystallography
  • Machine learning application in identifying children at risk for an immunization delay

Photo: Student researchers Irvin Naylor and Jackson Poulnott.

Click here to read a feature about 3-D printed prosthetics from the fall/winter 2017 UNC Charlotte magazine.