URCAF Abstracts 2024

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    Characterization of neutral sulfur reactions at low temperatures: An investigation of Europa’s subsurface ice composition
    (Wichita State University, 2024-04-12) Mata, Rory; Steinert, Ryan; English, Douglas S.; Mitchell-Koch, Katie R.
    Europa, one of the four Galilean moons of Jupiter, has been under increasing scrutiny in recent years due to the possibility of the existence of life in its subsurface ocean and the detection of key elements on its surface, including sulfur. Sulfur has been detected in various compounds on Europa through the Galileo mission, but the question of its origin remains unsolved. Currently it is unknown if the sulfur is indigenous to Europa or if its source is the nearby moon Io, where there is known to be a large amount of sulfur in many forms. The aim of this investigation is to model a plausible characterization of neutral sulfur reactions in conditions relevant to the subsurface ice of Europa through the use of density functional theory calculations to determine activation energy barriers of critical reactions in the sulfur cycle. Thus far, optimizations of structures and transition state structures have been performed for a reaction similar to those of interest in terms of charge, size, and elemental composition in order to confirm our methodology against a previously calculated standard. Next steps include additional optimizations and intrinsic reaction coordinate calculations, as well as a transition into the solid phase. Looking further forward, computational chemistry research regarding the sulfur chemistry of the Jovian system could be valuable in the discussion of possible life on Europa and the interpretation of upcoming missions to the Galilean moons, as well as contribute to the validity of density functional theory methods in the context of astrochemical sulfur reactions.
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    Analysis of severe weather impact on traffic patterns using long-short-term-memory neural networks
    (Wichita State University, 2024-04-12) Heuer, Adelyn; Salari, Ehsan
    This study aims to answer the question “How do severe weather events such as snowstorms and tornadoes affect traffic patterns in Kansas?” by analyzing existing traffic data to identify disaster-induced mobility and evacuation patterns using neural network predictive modeling. Studying the impact of severe weather events on traffic volume and patterns aids in designing more resilient infrastructure and developing effective emergency response strategies. We examine the impact of historical severe-weather events obtained from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on hourly traffic across the state. We employ long-short-term-memory (LSTM) recurrent neural networks to construct a counterfactual prediction, which is compared against the actual traffic data to analyze the causal impact of severe weather events on daily traffic patterns in different regions of the state. The study considers the impact of a 24 hour snowstorm in February of 2014 located along the interstate I-135 located north of Wichita that accumulated over a foot of snow. When comparing the actual traffic counts versus the LSTM generated counterfactual, a cumulative loss of about 60,000 vehicles continued over the next 3 days. We also assess the causal impact of an EF-4 tornado traveling through Douglas County in May 2019. The resulting counterfactual suggested a shifted travel pattern consisting of an initial sharp drop in traffic volume, but quickly followed by an atypical surplus. The results of these case studies indicate unique evacuation responses depending on factors such as the type of weather event or the demographic of the impacted area (urban or rural). The varying impacts on travel patterns and volumes can be useful when designing more resilient infrastructure and developing effective emergency response strategies. The future scope of this research includes using this model to develop a spatial-temporal simulation of the population response to severe weather events.
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    Utilizing a wearable fetal heart rate monitor to increase obstetrics healthcare access: Determining the device acceptability
    (Wichita State University, 2024-04-12) Attaria, Salsabila; Arnett, Jacey; Vuong, Ngoc; Woods, Nikki Keene
    Maternal and infant healthcare in rural and underserved areas suffers from more adverse health outcomes than urban areas. This study targets a population that faces barriers to timely prenatal care due to gaps in medical access in rural locations. The lack of obstetrics care in rural areas is a burgeoning issue of interest, as health outcomes for rural mothers and infants are lower than their urban counterparts. As a result, there is a growing need for telemedicine services that can be rendered to rural mothers through their prenatal care. The development of a small, wearable fetal heart rate monitor will facilitate access to prenatal medical care for mothers in rural areas. This project focuses on collecting, analyzing, and implementing data of women of reproductive age (18-49) concerning their acceptability towards and feasibility of wearing a fetal echocardiogram (fECG) monitor, which would permit the transmission of fetal heart rate and relevant clinical information to their prenatal care provider. The project goal is to utilize the data provided by survey participants to determine the best configuration of the device to serve the target population, pregnant moms living in rural areas or those with lack of access to healthcare. The survey was implemented using snowball recruitment as well as postering in local communities. Data was analyzed using SPSS (v29) and descriptive statistics with respect to participant responses and demographics. 163 participants completed the survey, with 103 responses to acceptability questions; older women aged 30-49 showed higher rates of acceptability (70.07%, n=54) than young women aged 18-29 (53.06%, n=49). 70.7 % of participants preferred a device of size 1 inch by 3 inches or less (n=149). These findings will guide the design and clinical utilization of the monitoring device to ensure effective use for providers and patients alike. Collecting and analyzing this data is crucial in tailoring a product to the intended population’s needs and convenience.
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    Restoration of leadplant in formerly tilled fields: Effect of seeding patterns and soil types
    (Wichita State University, 2024-04-12) Huela, Tommy; Houseman, Gregory R.
    Understanding the factors that influence plant establishment and growth is crucial in ecology and conservation biology particularly for species that are difficult to reestablish. One such species is Amorpha canescens (leadplant) that is considered of high conservation value, but often absent from prairie restoration projects. To address this problem, we tested how different soil types (homogeneous vs. heterogeneous), seed sowing treatments (spatially aggregated vs. uniform), and patch size (large vs. small) influenced the abundance of A. canescens in plant restoration experiments that began in 2017. In the summer of 2023, we quantified the aerial cover of A. canescens in plots representing different treatment combinations. We found that the A. canescens cover was highest when seeds were sown in an aggregated spatial arrangement for plots composed of heterogeneous soils. This effect was stronger in plots comprised of small rather than large sized patches. In plots with homogeneous soils, A. canescens cover also appeared higher under aggregated compared to uniform seed sowing, though this difference was not significant. Amongst individual patches of large scale and heterogeneous soils, A. canescens produced more cover in certain soil types than others. There were no differences in the cover among soil types in small scale patches. These results suggest that A. canescens cover is highest when isolated from other plant species particularly in heterogeneous rather than homogenized soils. Furthermore, restoration of A. canescens in former tilled fields may benefit from sowing or planting seeds in aggregated rather than uniform spatial patterns.
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    Exploring the acceptability of a wearable fetal heart rate device by race and ethnicity
    (Wichita State University, 2024-04-12) Phan, Merry; Woods, Nikki Keene
    The creation of wearable fetal heart rate devices offers a novel opportunity for urban mothers, providing them with a tool to actively monitor and engage with their pregnancy which was previously unattainable outside of clinical settings. The devices allow continuous and convenient fetal monitoring, potentially reducing maternal anxiety. Additionally, the ability to track fetal heart rate trends over time could aid in the early detection and intervention of potential issues. These devices have various benefits enhancing prenatal care, but their acceptability across race and ethnicities is uncertain. This study considers the relationship between the race and ethnicity of women and the acceptability of the wearable fetal heart rate among urban women. An online quantitative survey was conducted via Qualtrics among urban women, compiling data regarding their attitudes towards wearable fetal heart devices. The survey was based on previous device acceptability survey tools and consisted of 47 questions, including questions regarding participant demographics such as age, education, health literacy, and more. The association between race and ethnicity and device acceptability was analyzed through descriptive statistics including cross-tabulations to compare the variables and Chi-square tests to assess the statistical significance of the differences, using SPSS (v29). With a total of 163 responses, the cross-tabulation analysis of the valid cases (N=103) showed differences in the acceptability between Caucasian and minority women. Minority women had a higher acceptability of 70% in comparison to the 57% of Caucasian women (p=.162). Chi-square analysis results suggest a trend of high acceptability in minority women however, the differences did not reach the conventional statistical significance. The data collected by these devices can be invaluable for medical professionals, offering insights into acceptability of wearable medical devices to improve fetal health outcomes within urban populations, leading to improved healthcare interventions and outcomes for maternal and child health in urban settings.