Summer 2013 Community College Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP)

GRCC Student Dulce Rios and GRCC TRiO/SSS student Sean Smith participated in the Summer 2013 Community College Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) and the University of Michigan (UMICH). The program ends with a Summer Research Symposium. Sean Smith was selected by his peers to represent the Community College participants at the Symposium. Sean presented his research to an auditorium full of students participating in different summer research programs at UMICH, faculty, and guests.

Sean and Dulce will be presenting their posters at GRCC during the annual Poster Presentation for students involved in summer research initiatives. It is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. October 23 in 234 (South hallway) of the Student Center.


Dulce Rios

Dulce Rios

Observing Astrophysical Black Holes

Dulce Rios, Rubens Reis, PH.D., Mark Reynolds, PH.D.

Department of Astronomy,

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Stellar mass black holes in binary systems, which accrete matter from companion stars via an accretion disk, are analogous to supermassive black holes.  By studying neighboring and more variable stellar mass black holes, it is possible to gain an understanding of their larger counterparts, and therefore, the universe as a whole.  We can learn about the structure of galaxies and how they form, Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity can be tested by studying matter in the strong gravity field immediately surrounding the black hole, and stellar life cycles can be better understood as a black hole is the result of a massive star’s death.  Since black holes cannot be studied directly, our research is based on analyzing the interaction between a black hole and its accretion disk.  Swift J1753.5-0127 was discovered by NASA’s Swift satellite in 2005, where it quickly became apparent that it was a new black hole candidate.  The Suzaku X-ray telescope observed this new black hole candidate during a so-called low-hard state.  Spectra were extracted from the data and then carefully reduced using a canonical method.  The data were then fit with various phenomenological and for the first time, state of the art, self-consistent relativistic reflection spectral models.  The results indicate the presence of an accretion disk with an inner radius close to the innermost stable circular orbit (ISCO) and allow us to constrain the spin of this black hole for the first time!

Sean Smith

Sean Smith

School Clubs and their Influence on African American Male Education

Sean Smith, Desmond Patton, Ph.D.

Department of Social Work,

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan

The purpose of this project is to explore how school clubs might influence how African American male students’ value school.  Data was collected from a qualitative sample of 20 African American students at a charter school in Chicago, who were involved in the mentorship program Minority Men Exceeding Norms (MMEN).  The students interviewed helped provide insight on how school clubs might be able to serve as an alternative to joining gangs.  There were three main themes: 1. Peer to peer relationships were important for maintaining positive school value.  2. Students developed a strong sense of accountability which served as a buffer from negative neighborhood influences.  3. Students gained a better understanding of what a positive role model is which helped them while navigating violence in their own neighborhood.

MMEN provided a family like structure for those involved.  Students felt a sense of belonging and support from young men who they felt understood them.  MMEN served as a substitute for gang affiliation to some students involved because it provided similar elements such as the initiation process for membership.  Perhaps school clubs could not only serve as an extracurricular, but they could also serve as an alternative to students who come from environments where they are often exposed to violence and feel s though they have no choice, but to join gangs in order to get peer support and protection.  This study offers an alternative model to school club activities that may replace gang related activity in communities plagued by violence.

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