2022 Research Days Spotlights: Thursday

This is a series highlighting undergraduate and graduate students who are participating in the Student Research Days poster sessions April 11-12.  

Undergraduate: Regis Yizerwe

Major: junior majoring in integrated science 
Project: reducing salmonella in poultry 

Regis Yizerwe’s family’s poultry operation is medium-sized by Rwandan standards – 1,000 to 2,000 chickens – if small by American. But the threat of disease is significant in poultry is significant in both countries. 

That’s why the junior majoring in integrated science has an interest in finding solutions. He’s working on a method for reducing salmonella in poultry. 

Salmonellosis is a bacterial disease of the intestinal tract that can cause diarrhea, vomiting, fever, dehydration, abdominal cramps and other clinical symptoms in animals and people. Raw or undercooked meat (such as poultry products) and eggs are frequent sources of foodborne salmonellosis.  

Salmonella can be countered with appropriate food handling and proper cooking. Chemical disinfectants can be effective but their use is restricted by regulators and not popular among consumers.  

The UNL lab Yizerwe is working in is studying the use of naturally occurring saponin, an extract from the bark of Quillaja saponaria – soapbark — trees that’s already widely used in the food and cosmetic industries. It also appears to be very effective in killing salmonella under certain conditions of heat and exposure time, Yizerwe said.  

“Nobody has ever used it” for this purpose, he said. “These results are very promising.”  

As for his future, Yizerwe said that, although it can become a bit overwhelming thinking about the rest of one’s career, working alongside UNL’s faculty has allowed him to explore the best opportunities. He’s thinking of graduate school after this “amazing opportunity.” 

Graduate: Dalhia Lloyd

Major: doctoral student in human sciences with a specialization in child development/early childhood education 
Project: socializing children regarding race and skin tone 

Dalhia Lloyd is examining whether there is a relationship between skin tone and how Black parents of children ages 5-8 racially socialize their kids. 

Lloyd, who is the Buffett Early Childhood Institute’s associate director of professional learning, will defend her doctorate in human sciences with a specialization in child development/early childhood education later this month.  

Racial socialization is the various ways parents convey and transmit messages about the meaning of race and how to navigate and cope with racial discrimination. 

She had parents take a racial socialization survey that measured the frequency in which they engaged in racial socialization. “What I found for young children is that parents frequently engaged in racial socialization such as talking to their children about race or instilling cultural pride by making sure they’re surrounded with books or taking them to events that honor their culture and heritage,” Lloyd said.  

She also had parents complete a skin tone survey that indicated their description of their and their children’s skin tones. She interviewed parents and children and observed a parent-child task that included parent having a conversation about skin tone with their children. “That way, I could capture some live racial socialization happening.” 

Lloyd discovered there are differences in how parents addressed racial socialization based on their perceptions of their skin tones.   

“The interesting piece to me was those parents who perceived their kids as having lighter skin tone were more likely to talk more about racial identity and pride but also more likely to take a color-blind approach. It’s an interesting dynamic – parents in this group reported that they were silent about race with their children, but at the same time they expressed they had to balance that with knowing the world was going to view their child as a Black child and wanted to prepare them for that.”