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Research Day Symposium 2006


The Wilkes Honors College Symposium for Research and Creative Projects

Archive for 2006

Talk Abstracts

Amy Alleman
Double-Consciousness and the Other in Othello
Advisor/Professor: Dr. Michael Harrawood

The social theories of “double-consciousness” and “the Self versus the Other” play a significant role in the life of Othello, the main character in William Shakespeare’s play Othello. Because Othello is a dark-skinned Moor living in an Italian society, he has two selves—one ethnic and one social; he has a double-consciousness, a term used by social theorist W.E.B. Du Bois. While Othello struggles with these two identities, he is always seen as the outsider and the Other by the light-skinned Italians. It is these two social theory concepts—double-consciousness and Self versus Other—that eventually lead to Othello’s downfall.

Kyle Robert Ashby
Behind the Knife: Homosexual Bias Against Transgenders in Nip/Tuck

Advisor: Dr. Michael Harrawood

Transgenders and transgender issues are increasingly represented in the popular media and this very representation nevertheless marginalizes and alienates transgenders by playing to established notions of gender behavior and sexual desire. Such marginalization is to a large extent the result of dictated attributes premeditated and implemented by gays, lesbians, and bisexuals who minimize the transgender voice to appear more credible in a political and social atmosphere. This occurs through the use of the word “Queer”, an umbrella term for GLBTQ politics, for both “Queer” and the use of the GLBTQ acronym oppress and marginalize transgenders in minority polemics. Placing gay and lesbian issues prominently in front of transgender issues allows the GLB activists to eliminate the potential political clout for a fair and free transgender community. One of the prominent examples of this augmentation of transgender characters for the mainstream is the representation on a cable television series called Nip/Tuck with two transgenders. Both portrayals fail to invent original and accurate portrayals. reasserting my position that transgender representation suffers from coercion by internal Queer dialogues, not external heterosexual ones.

Katherine J. Bernhard
Paradise Impaired: Duality in Paradise Lost
Advisor/Professor: Michael Harrawood

This thesis examines the meaning conveyed by John Milton’s use of language in Paradise Lost, specifically repetition, pairs, puns and etymologies. Following a long tradition of close readings, especially RA. Shoaf and Christopher Ricks, I argue that Milton conceives the Fall of Adam and Eve as a falling into polysemy, or multiplicity of signification. Very few critics have undertaken a close reading of pairs in the poem, words that signal duality, and their relationship to pairs and oppositions relevant to the Fall. Critic, R.A. Shoaf identifies pairs and oppositions in the poem as duals and duels, and connects them to pairs in the theology, however he misses many important examples of duality in Milton’s wordplay, such as alliterative pairs and puns and use of ancient etymologies that both Christopher Ricks and I identify, and fails to thoroughly connect duality in the language to hierarchies present in the story of Genesis.

Heather J. Boyer
Hillary Rodham Clinton: Feminism, Success, and the First Ladyship
Advisor/Professor: Dr. Njambi

This paper will explore the ways in which Hillary Rodham Clinton, former First Lady of the United States and the Junior United States Senator from New York State, appropriated strategies of liberal feminism in her political career as the first modern, working mother to serve as First Lady.  A feminist First Lady, Clinton broke through the social expectations placed upon that role in an unprecedented manner by taking an active part in the political strategy and substance of her husband’s administration.  Her successful campaign for the United States Senate in 2000 as the first former First Lady to hold such an office proved that she had her own political clout independent of her husband.   Yet despite this success, liberal feminism presents problems for the women’s movement generally.  After mapping the history of Hillary Rodham Clinton as a feminist political figure, I will examine whether liberal feminism is adequate in challenging patriarchal structures and other related forms of domination. 

Austin Boyle
How Policy Fuels Production and Consumption of Ethanol
Advisor/Professor: Dr. Lybbert

The use of ethanol as a liquid fuel for automobiles began on a large scale in 1978. Since then, it has grown with the help of national subsidies for producers coupled with statewide incentives for producers and consumers. The market for ethanol more than doubled between 2001 and 2005, with even faster growth projected in the near future. Regulation has played more of a role on the recent rapid expansion of the market than natural market forces. This thesis surveys a brief history of ethanol fuel usage and regulatory action in the United States and provides a few econometric models of production and consumption. Public policy creates a high level of demand for ethanol without consumer preferences changing much. This model could be used to assess the likely effects on the ethanol market of an MTBE ban in states that currently allow its use as an oxygenate.

Trinity Busch
Faces of Katrina
Advisor/Professor: Christopher B. Strain

Hurricane Katrina was the eleventh named storm, fifth hurricane, third major hurricane, and second Category 5 hurricane of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. It was the sixth strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded, and it was also the costliest and one of the deadliest storms in American history. From a weather forecaster’s perspective, Katrina formed over the Bahamas, traveled west across South Florida, intensified in the Gulf, and made landfall over Louisiana. From a news anchor’s standpoint, Katrina was the “Big One” for the Big Easy, causing massive evacuation, highway standstill, broken levees, unprecedented flooding, disastrous recovery efforts, looting, fires, an uncounted number of deaths, and a Superdome nightmare. The world saw Katrina through these facts and statistics but the world missed one crucial perspective; the stories of those who were face to face with the “one we feared.” These accounts demonstrate the significance oral history plays in understanding the past.

Elizabeth Cannon
"The Impassable Gulf”: Representing Relationships between Eastern and Western Characters in Thomas De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium Eater
Advisor/Professor: Dr. Hilary Edwards

In Confessions of an English Opium Eater, Thomas De Quincey makes a curious statement after observing his servant, Barbara Lewthwaite, and a visiting Malay: “There seemed to be an impassable gulf fixed between all communication of ideas.” My thesis examines the relationship between the three figures present in this scene, Barbara, the Malay, and De Quincey himself, in order to understand what the gulf is, why it is apparently impassable, and why he claims it is “fixed between all communications of ideas.” With the support of colonial and postcolonial theoretical views of Edward Said, Rajani Sudan, Charles Rzepka and others, I argue that the relationship between the three characters resembles the relationship of triangulated desire outlined by Eve Kosofsky-Sedgwick in Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire. I find that her triangulation model accurately describes the xenophobic tension that ostracizes the so-called oriental character while unifying the western characters

Angela Carter
The Political Violence in Shakespeare’s Rape of Lucrece
Advisor/Professor: Michael Harrawood

Political unrest, along with sexual violence, pervades William Shakespeare’s The Rape of Lucrece. The poem, written in 1594, centers on the rape of the title character Lucretia by Sextus Tarquinius however its underlying message addresses the political tension felt by the Romans during the reign of the Tarquins. Despite Shakespeare’s deliberate exclusion of Tarquin the Proud’s oppressive behavior, the first part of this poem is an allegory of a mentality and rationality held by a tyrant. Furthermore, Lucrece’s rape is a parallel to the molestation and ravaging of the Roman populace by the Tarquins. I will argue Shakespeare’s The Rape of Lucrece deconstructs the mentality of an oppressor and in a reflective move builds the rationale for insurrection. Finally, the arcane message of revolt reflects his patron’s political views and allegiances. Thus, The Rape of Lucrece is a work that not only consists of a play of language and psychological malfeasance but also caches subversion against Shakespeare’s contemporary audience.

Timothy Case
The Commodification and Militarization of Public Space: From a Genealogy of the Public to a Politics of Place
Advisor/Professor: Dr. Wairimũ Njambi & Dr. William O’Brien

The history of public space in America is consistent with a pattern of individualization, rationalization, and escapism. From the frontier to the regulatory bureaucracy and into suburbanization and New Urbanism, we have and are witnessing the steady decline of critical democratic public spheres. Such spheres are being replaced with a corporate and media controlled space that reflects the commodification and militarization of American culture at the hands of these corporate elites. After tracing a genealogy of the public and public space, this thesis will focus on two examples of New Urbanist design that illustrate the corporate nature of community politics: the Disney Corporation’s Celebration, Florida and Dreamworks’ Playa Vista, California. Discussing the ideological basis for both communities, this thesis will suggest possible lessons to be learned for the creation of a public based on an ethic of common ground made possible by organized resistance to corporate manipulation of place.

John Chapman
Assessing the Effects of Zoning and Commute Times on Housing Prices
Advisor/Professor: Travis Lybbert

Is housing unusually expensive because of artificial scarcity created by zoning restrictions? Using construction cost data and data from the 2002 and 2004 American Housing Survey, this paper examines the impact of zoning on housing prices outlined by Glaeser and Gyourko (2002) and proposes a modification to their methodology. The addition of commute times to the analysis may affect the results Glaeser and Gyourko achieved.

Jenna Fitzgerald
Noisy Ladies: Rumors and Women in Shakespeare’s Plays
Advisor/Professor: Dr. Michael Harrawood

The introduction of 2 Henry IV introduces a character named Rumour. During the opening of the play, Rumour outlines his plan to spread lies through the towns knowing that “the…multitude can play upon it,” (Ind. 19-20). As in our own society, the characters are fascinated by rumors, and it is interesting to note that the entire plot is actually begun by a rumor, a reoccurring theme in many of Shakespeare’s plays. Rumors also seem to be connected with women, whether a woman began or is the subject of the rumor. My research presentation discusses the connection between women and rumors throughout Shakespeare’s plays. I am attempting to answer the questions: why are women essential for spreading rumors and why women are the subject of these rumors. I will use both primary and secondary sources to discuss the motives Shakespeare would have in connecting women with rumors in his plays. My main goal is to convey the importance of understanding how rumors work within the plays to the audience.

Paul Fletcher
“Urban Identity is a Theatrical Performance: Space and the Creation of the Punk Scene in New York and London”
Advisor/Professor: Dr. Chris Ely

This thesis argues that Punk emerged in society due to its relationship with urban space. It follows the rise of punk culture from its beginning at the Mercer Arts Center with the New York Dolls, to CBGB’s OMFUG with Television, the Ramones, and Patti Smith, and moves all the way to Malcolm McLaren’s and Vivienne Westwood’s boutique, Sex, with the Sex Pistols. Along this journey, I complicate the notion that space is merely structural and physical, revealing that urban space is created just as much by and inseparable from social relationships. The Punk scene was a by product of this socio-spatial interaction, and could have only emerged in the city, where the private is able to be public and at the same time underground.

Jensen Grant
Touched by the Holy Spirit: The Pentecostalization of Venezuela and the 1998 Presidential Election
Advisor/Professor: Dr. Timothy Steigenga

Despite when surveyed the populace identified 97.6% self-identified as Catholic, the majority of Venezuelan society stands as Pentecostalized. Chavez gained not just a majority of the Presidential vote in 1998 but also a majority of the Pentecostalized vote. As a scholar has pointed out, the implications of the phenomenon of Pentecostalization must be studied empirically and in context; thus the full implications remain uncertain. Some hypothesizing would lead to hypothesizing the link in Venezuela between Pentecostalized voters and support for charismatic, populist, somewhat authoritarian leaders. The study contributes to the literature on religion and politics in Venezuela, but leaves additional empirical space for future research with religion’s link to politics in the South American country.

Michael LeFlem
Noa Noa: Reframing Western Views of Nature

Advisor/Professor: Dr. Christopher Ely

Although Paul Gauguin’s Noa Noa is ostensibly the journal of an artist’s life in Tahiti, it also represents an important attempt in challenging the predominant Western conception of the perceived dichotomy between humans and nature. This dichotomy, which permeates many levels of Western thought, is a historical construction based on centuries of Western tradition, tradition whose goals have often been nature’s commodification and exploitation. As Gauguin sought to escape the pressures of 19 th century bourgeois life, his travel log, Noa Noa, represents a very timely and refreshing look at a topic that is largely taken for granted in the Western world; as modern Westerners, many feel the need to remove themselves from the natural world through the creation of artificial divides, both on the physical and intellectual levels. As many would argue, these divides cannot be maintained if the well-being our ecosystem is to be preserved. This thesis will attempt to show how Gauguin’s views represent a progressive thread which continues in much of contemporary environmental discourse, and will cast Noa Noa in a light other than its obvious portrayal as a journal of artistic inspiration.

Ryan MacLean
Rationalizing Annihilation: An Examination of Government Continuity Programs in the United States and Canada
Advisor/Professor: Dr. Christopher Ely

The Cold War years were marked by fear and extensive government and military planning. With planning for the destruction of major industrialized countries by the United States and the Soviet Union reaching new levels of efficiency in the nuclear age, the possibility of enduring a crippling attack on a nations government and infrastructure demanded attention. In my thesis Rationalizing Annihilation, I investigate how it was that the United States and Canada sought to protect their sovereign authority in the event of seemingly inevitable nuclear attack. Drafting and implementing large public works projects as well as highly classified programs to secure government officials, as well as provide a line of succession in the even of “vacancies,” these nations sought to preserve their governing authority before, during, and after a nuclear attack. Their efforts developed what are now known as Continuity of Government Programs.

Derek McGrath
“Shrinking from my father”: Disguises and Dickens’s Darwinism in Our Mutual Friend”
Advisor/Professor: Dr. Edwards

Critics motivated Charles Darwin to remove from his writings literary passages in On the Origin of Species seeming to describe fantasty rather than scientific theory. While Darwin downplayed the literary, Charles Dickens appropriated Darwin’s theory of evolution in Our Mutual Friend. For Dickens, Darwinism is a disguise that a person can use for escapism, just as John Harmon uses the disguise to individuate himself from his father, the embodiment of the social Darwinism Dickens abhorred. In appropriating the theory of evolution as a plot device for his novel, Dickens pulls away from social Darwinism and returns Darwin’s writing to its literary and fantastic tendencies.

Kat Ortiz
Attraction/Repulsion: absurd as a lobster on a telephone, or as simple as Socialism?
Advisor/Professor: Dr. Michael Harrawood

My research deals with George Bataille’s concept of Attraction/Repulsion, or the idea that the social nucleus of a community is founded on both stabilizing and volatilizing energies. I will examine Bataille’s dissension with Breton and his break from the Surrealist movement, and hope thereby to establish a link between Attraction/Repulsion and Bataille’s Socialist agenda.

Michelle Pelletier
Literatura, identidad y transculturación en la literatura boricua: Rosario Ferré y Esmeralda Santiago
Advisor/Professor: Dr. Mary Ann Gosser-Esquilín

The Jones Act of 1917 gave American citizenship to all Puerto Ricans, who were then able to move easily between the island and the United States. A constant transfer of people ensued and the process of transculturation accelerated. Puerto Ricans zealously strive to maintain their identity and to culturally set themselves apart, most visibly through the use of the Spanish language. Thus, some find it scandalous that Puerto Rican authors, such as Rosario Ferré and Esmeralda Santiago, would dare publish works in English. Both authors received university-level education in the United States, but their experiences have been very different and their literary works provide a worthwhile comparison. Ferré had not written a novel in English until 1995, and she always translates her own prose work. Santiago writes exclusively in English and does not translate her own work. This paper will examine the transculturation of Puerto Ricans in U.S. society and their struggle to hold onto Spanish as a way of maintaining their identity.

Suzanne Perez
Why We Love Panurge: Friendship and Semiosis in Rabelais’ Gargantua and Pantagruel
Advisor/Professor: Dr. Michael Harrawood

This thesis will explore the friendship between the two main characters in Francois Rabelais' Gargantua and Pantagruel as one imbued with a special linguistic function. I will argue that Pantagruel and Panurge counterbalance and complement each other as meaning-makers and interpreters, and that it is for this reason that their friendship looms large as the overarching framework within which Rabelais places his explorations of language. The relationship between Pantagruel and Panurge is primarily concerned with semiotics, and it seeks to celebrate the inexhaustibility of language.

Tina Perry
January 9, 1964, The Day of the Martyrs: Tragedy in Panama at U.S. Hands
Advisor/Professor: Mary Ann Gosser Esquilín

The relationship between the United States and Panama had been a precarious power struggle from 1821 until the Canal Zone reverted to Panamanian control in 1999. In 1903, the United States aided Panama in seceding from Gran Colombia, and both parties signed a treaty allowing the United States to build a canal. The Panamanians were concerned with the sovereignty of the Canal Zone and wanted the Panamanian flag to fly alongside the U.S. flag in the Canal Zone. On January 9, 1964, Panamanian students rebutted by marching the Panamanian flag into the Canal Zone. As a result, rioting broke out across the Canal Zone and the Republic of Panama severed diplomatic relations, sparking new political treaties and policies and further affecting the political relationship between the United States and Latin America. Because of international events in the years following the riots, a new treaty was not agreed upon until 1979.

Cass Apollo Petrus
Convergence in Measure with Speed
Advisor/Professor: Dr. Terje Hoim

Definitions of convergence range from very strong (such as the concept of uniform convergence) to weaker and weaker versions like convergence in measure. We shall give a background in measure theory and convergence and move on to define convergence in measure with speed. We define three versions of convergence in measure with speed with an inner speed factor, an outer speed factor, and one with both speed factors. We then give examples of functions that fall under each of these categories and prove some theorems.

Niina Pollari
“…At the ear of Eve”: Physiology and the Fall in John Milton’s Paradise Lost
Advisor/Professor:  Dr. Michael Harrawood

The organ of hearing, in John Milton’s Paradise Lost, is inextricably connected with both the physical and the spiritual; it is the point of entry through which Satan’s words enter Eve’s brain, subsequently process, and lead eventually to the fall of mankind.  Its symbolic importance is also indisputable, as it is a metaphor for the feminine passivity and penetrability that make Milton’s Eve a particularly vulnerable target.  There is, however, already a pre-existing connection between the ear and its role in Paradise Lost.  The seventeenth-century medical texts of Milton’s contemporaries gender the physiology of the ear and the process of hearing and therefore contribute to its importance in the pivotal temptation scene; that is, the rhetoric surrounding the physiology of the ear is the downfall of humankind in the epic poem.  As a result of the dangerous connection between science and language, Milton’s characters are already predestined to sin.

John Reck
Fire: Sodomy in Dante's Divine Comedy
Advisor/Professor: Dr. Michael Harrawood

In Dante's Divine Comedy the sin of sodomy is given a different status in purgatory than it is in hell. In the Inferno, the sodomites are condemned to suffer alongside the violent while in the Purgatorio they are placed with the much less severely punished lustful. This presentation will explain why sodomites in purgatory are punished less severely than their counterparts in hell. It will also explore what the sin of "sodomy" meant during Dante's time, to whom it was applied, and how Dante allegorized it for his own purposes.

Luke Rossknecht
Free Markets and Free Governments in Latin America
Advisor/Professor: Dr. Martin J. Sweet

This senior thesis examines the relationship between “neoliberalism” and democratization in two Latin American nations, Argentina and Mexico. Neoliberalism is a term for a set of economic policies that include privatization, deregulation, removal of trade barriers (tariffs and subsidies), and the sale of public industries to private investors. Many Latin American countries, while attempting to modernize and industrialize their economies, have been trying to democratize their governments. This thesis assumes that popular support for democratic institutions and actors is necessary for a healthy and stable democracy. It finds that neoliberal policies are connected to increasing levels of freedom and civil rights, but that levels of poverty and inequality have not improved under them. This thesis concludes that persistent poverty and inequality, which are both barriers to entry and disincentives to participate in democratic government, contribute to a “crisis of inefficacy” which has undermined the consolidation of democracy in Latin America.

Megan Selby
Creating Conservation
Advisor/Professor: Dr. William O'Brien

Once seen as entertainment organizations, many American zoos now strongly promote themselves as agencies of biodiversity conservation, a reorientation prompted in part by growing public concern about endangered species. Funding, research, conservation efforts, and captive breeding programs are the concrete tools that allow zoos to lay claim to their contributions, but it is their more subtle cues that leave a lasting impression with zoo visitors. The exhibits, layout, signage, and presentations reflect prevailing attitudes about nature, wildlife, exotic species, and shape ideas about how animals live their lives and what they are like in the wild. This project examines tensions between the public presentation of conservation goals and concrete contributions to conservation. Zoos are one of the few places where the public can see firsthand many animals in an up-close environment and the impact of zoos on the future of conservation may be dependent upon resolving such tensions.

Kathryn M. Smith
“Tess as a Flawed Heroine: The Necessity of Moral Responsibility in Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles”

In this paper, I argue that Tess, the protagonist of Tess of the d’Urbervilles, needs to have moral responsibility in order to be a true heroine. Moral responsibility, as such, is accountability for one’s own actions despite circumstances that may affect one’s choices. I will discuss Tess’s decision to become Alec d’Urberville’s “kept woman” as a pivotal point in the novel, in which Tess acted with full awareness of her situation and of its consequences. Further, I will charge that if the readers excuse Tess out of pity, they are condescending to her as if she were a child or an animal that is not able to make knowledgeable decisions. Basically, Tess as a (unflawed) heroine requires moral agency.

Matthew J. Snyder
”It is our duty to sing”: A Defense of David Jones’ In Parenthesis
Advisor/Professor: Dr. Hilary Edwards

In 1937 the Anglo-Welsh artist and Great War veteran David Jones published the long poem In Parenthesis. Although In Parenthesis has attracted favorable critical attention, it has also been attacked by critics Paul Fussell and Evelyn Cobley, who claim that the poem—ostensibly an instance of “literature of protest” against the war—exhibits ideological complicity with the war by alluding repeatedly to heroic Celtic myth, British literature, and Catholic liturgy. My thesis offers a multi-tiered defense of In Parenthesis against this charge. I read the intricate network of allusions in the poem as a mythopoetic method of ordering that Jones uses to come to terms with the strangeness and horror of life on the Western Front by associating it with familiar, sense-making imagery. Where critics like Fussell and Cobley see the mythic elements of In Parenthesis as a political liability, I argue instead that through his technique of allusive “seeing” Jones was able to psychologically endure the war’s extremes.

Alexis Stellner
“The Grasp of the Ice-Cold Hand: The Emergence of a New Kind of Gothic in Wuthering Heights”
Advisor/Professor: Dr. Hilary Edwards

In Wuthering Heights Emily Brontë combines elements of both the Gothic and Victorian realism to create a new genre called Gothic realism. The novel includes traditional Gothic elements, like ghosts and nightmares, which provoke fear in the reader, and yet, perhaps surprisingly, the realistic events of the novel produce more terrifying effects. The realism of Brontë’s novel horrifies readers more than the traditional fears of the Gothic because the author uses material that the reader can accept as existing in the ordinary world as well as the fictional world. In my thesis, I analyze the traditional Gothic elements of the novel, as well as the realistic elements, like domestic violence and passion-induced madness, and describe how when these elements combine they create a type of psychological Gothic genre where the reader can associate events of the novel with elements of his/her own life.

Christine Lynn Sylvain
Race Riots: The Search for Causation
Advisor/Professor: Dr. Jacqueline Fewkes

With increasing numbers of migrants entering developed countries, integration policies need to be reexamined in order to better understand the causes of racial violence. This article examines possible causes of the Los Angeles Riots of 1992, the Oldham riots of 2001, the French riots of 2005, and the racial violence of 1992 in Germany. In each case I will outline traditional theories claiming that racial violence is caused by competition between ethnic groups for housing, jobs, and cultural identity, or alternately, that socioeconomic deprivation between racial groups during times of economic growth. While these arguments are valid in terms of short term causation, they fail to acknowledge the fundamental problem with the systematic processes of integration. In conclusion, I argue that the governmental mechanisms of integration, including citizenship models, the context of state formation, immigration policy, nationalist ideology, and religious identity, have been formed within the context of racial prejudice and ethnocentrism and it is this structural hierarchy of integration that predisposes society to racial conflict.

Jared Velez
Personal Dictatorships and The Breakdown of Authoritarianism: Cuba and The Third Wave of Democratization
Advisor/Professor: Dr. Mark Tunick

From 1974-1990, more than thirty of the world’s authoritarian regimes transitioned to democracy in what Samuel Huntington terms the third wave. I examine why Cuba failed to democratize. Huntington predicts that personal dictatorships, such as that of Castro, democratized as a result of five independent variables. Several factors account for Cuba’s failure to transition during the third wave. Fidel was able to increase his political power through the monopolization of information. Cuba’s failure to democratize was further exacerbated as a result of the country’s dependence on Soviet financing, the repositioning of a weakened Catholic Church, and the contradictory policies of external actors such as the United States.

Sarah Wiggill
The Directed Evolution of Copper/Zinc-Superoxide Dismutase
Advisor/Professor: Dr. Kirchman

The Free Radical Theory of Aging suggests that the production of free radicals leads to oxidative stress with the accumulation of cellular damage, ultimately resulting in cell death. One such free-radical is superoxide (O 2 .-), which is formed as a byproduct of the electron transport chain in the mitochondria. Superoxide dismutases (SOD’s) are a family of antioxidant proteins that neutralize superoxide, converting these radicals to hydrogen peroxide. Saccharomyces cerevisiae (yeast) offers an excellent model for the study of superoxide effects. S. cerevisiae contains two different SOD’s, Copper/Zinc-Superoxide Dismutase and Manganese-Superoxide Dismutase. It is often assumed that evolutionary processes have resulted in the optimal form of a protein. Here we propose that the directed evolution of Cu/Zn-SOD could result in a more active form with a higher efficiency for neutralizing superoxide radicals. This directed evolution will be achieved using error-prone PCR, which introduces random mutations into DNA fragments. Theoretically, yeast with more efficient Cu/Zn-SOD should have increased lifespan.

Abigail Williams
Embodiment and Idea: Milton’s Satan and the foundering of good upon evil in Paradise Lost

This paper considers seventeenth century accounts of Satanic embodiment in order to elucidate the manner in which God and Satan are represented in Milton's Paradise Lost.  I argue that while God is viewed as an all-powerful being remaining outside and at a distance from his own creation, Satan is a commanding and seductive presence who actually takes on human form.  Thus, throughout Paradise Lost Milton portrays Satan as a figure of some empathy with mankind, an empathy upon which the temptation and fall are founded

Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College Symposium for Research and Creative Projects

2006 Posters

Poster Abstracts

Alejandro Algarin
Effect of Uncoupling Agent, CCCP on Mitochondrial Metabolism and Lifespan of Saccharomyces cerevisiae
Advisor/Professor: Paul A. Kirchman
Aging can be attributed to production of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS). Certain proteins, such as uncoupling agents that lower mitochondrial membrane potential, can effectively reduce ROS damage, thereby increasing lifespan. A major site of ATP and ROS production is the mitochondrion. Mitochondria have their own genome, which is essential for proper ATP production. Reactive oxygen species accumulate, as a byproduct of ATP production, resulting in mitochondrial DNA damage. We observed less rapid growth and cell proliferation when an uncoupling agent, CCCP, was added to yeast cells grown in liquid media. However, it was found that the first generation of budding cells on solid media with CCCP grew faster than the control group. Possible reasons for this difference in budding rate will be discussed.

Sona Bhatti
Construction of Yeast Strain to Analyze the Effects of Telomerase Export to the Mitochondria
Advisor/Professor: Dr. Paul Kirchman
Telomeres, the physical ends of chromosomal DNA, are shortened during cell replication. Over many divisions, telomeres may become too short and lead to unstable DNA or cell death. Telomerase, an enzyme found in the nucleus of eukaryotic cells, adds new copies of the telomeric repeat sequence to the ends of existing DNA. Previous studies have shown that human telomerase contains an N-terminal mitochondrial targeting sequence. Additionally, when under oxidative stress, telomerase is translocated into the cytoplasm and subsequently to the mitochondria. Upon introduction into the mitochondria, telomerase stimulates mutations. Yeast telomerase does not have the mitochondrial targeting sequence. This study aims to construct a plasmid containing the yeast gene for telomerase fused to a mitochondrial targeting sequence. Since yeast is a good system for assaying mutations in the mitochondrial DNA, the plasmid will be transformed into yeast cells. Finally, mutational effects will be observed and reported.

Carmen Blubaugh, James Capp, Sarah Fannin, Carrie Goethel, Maureen Krupski, Cara Piccirillo
The ‘Incidental Taking’ of Gopher Tortoises in Florida: An Overview of Permit Statistics, Stakeholders, and Ethical Concerns
Advisor/Professor: Dr. William O'Brien
Gopher tortoise habitat is rapidly dwindling mainly due to urban growth. As a result, gopher tortoises are currently listed as a Species of Special Concern in Florida by the state Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC). Developers seeking to build on land occupied by tortoises have legal options that include avoiding construction in areas of the site where burrows are located, applying for a tortoise relocation permit, or for an “incidental take” permit. The latter allows the killing of tortoises on site in exchange for a mitigation fee paid to the state. Such tortoises are often “entombed” in their burrows beneath construction sites where they die a slow death. Incidental take raises contentious ethical issues, sparking intense dialogue among stakeholders. Our poster presents these issues, highlighting statistics on incidental take permits issued by the FWC. Our larger project examines varied perspectives on incidental take policy.

Matt Brentnall
Effects of Mitochondrial Uncoupling on Life Span and Gene Expression in S. Cerevisiae
Advisor/Professor:Dr. Kirchman
Carbonyl cyanide 3-chlorophenylhydrazone (CCCP) is a mitochondrial uncoupler that causes a decrease in membrane potential by transporting protons into the matrix without ATP production. A lower mitochondrial membrane potential has been shown to reduce reactive oxygen species (ROS), which cause yeast to age. CCCP increases the life span of yeast strain SP-22. A microarray analysis, which measures gene expression, was conducted to help determine the mechanism by which uncoupling increases life span. Yeast, grown in media containing CCCP, showed a significant increase in the expression of two hypothetical open reading frames. The genes, YCR102C and YLR460C, have 96% identical DNA sequences and 93% identical amino acid sequences. These two hypothetical gene products are highly homologous to quinone reductases. A diploid strain containing heterozygous deletions of both YCR102C and YLR460C was constructed and phenotype analyses were performed on haploid spores.

Walker Hicken
Better Angels: Lincoln’s Use of Religious Imagery as an Attempt to Preserve the Union
Advisor/Professor: Dr. Christopher B. Strain
Abraham Lincoln is often cited by various religious groups and prominent presidential scholars as an example of a president whose religion influenced his political decisions. However, it is similarly well-documented that Lincoln had something of an antagonistic relationship with organized religion. This seeming contradiction can be explained through a careful analysis of Lincoln’s public and private writings during his run for the United States Senate and his term as President. The textual analysis shows a pattern of using increasingly simplistic religious

Amanda Kennedy and Stephanie Franz
Going Under the Knife: Dr. 90210 and the Medical Construction of the Body
Advisor/Professor: Dr. Njambi and Dr. O’Brien
Dr. 90210, a show on the E! Entertainment Television channel, explores the world of plastic surgery and the lives of plastic surgeons and patients. Additionally, the show sheds light on the notions of gender and sexuality in Western culture. In this presentation, we will take a deeper look at the surgeries, the doctors, and the patients in an attempt to explain how gender and sexuality remain naturalized categories in our society when they are being so blatantly constructed in the operating room. We will look at the “ideals” of femininity and masculinity toward which the patients strive and which influence the doctors’ narratives. This presentation is not intended to pass judgment on plastic surgery, doctors, or patients—we simply want to problematize the notion of a “natural” body and suggest instead that we think of the body as a hybrid of natural-cultural elements.

Roy Kiberenge
Deletion of SOD1 to investigate lifespan extension by copper supplementation
Advisor/Professor: Dr. Kirchman
Life span studies have been conducted on yeast to determine the mechanism of aging. Recently it was discovered that yeast grown on media supplemented with copper exhibited a longer replicative life span compared to cells without copper supplementation. Copper is required as a cofactor in two enzymes that are likely to be involved in aging: copper/zinc superoxide dimutase (CU/Zn SOD) and cytochrome c oxidase. Cu/Zn SOD is involved in the removal of free radicals which form as by products of respiration. Cytochrome c oxidase is the terminal electron carrier in the electron transport chain. It is suspected that low copper affects the action of one or both of these enzymes. In this study the goal was to delete the SOD1 gene, which codes for Cu/Zn SOD, and then carry out life span analyses to determine if copper affected the life span in cells which only expressed cytochrome c oxidase.

Heather Marchetti, Maria Rodriquez, Alex Algarin, Austin Boyle, Walter Jean Vertus, Robert McCurdy, Laura Owens, Josh Tabor, Glen Turner, Graham Whitaker
The Analysis of the Chemical Composition of Latent Fingerprints by Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
Advisor/Professor: Dr. Eugene Smith
In past forensic investigations, latent fingerprint analysis consisted of using the array of ridges in a person’s fingerprint to successfully identify the individual. This method is viable because each person’s fingerprint is unique due to the fact that no two ridge arrangements are exactly the same. However, problems arose because fingerprints at crime scenes are sometimes smeared or incomplete. In cases where these problems exist, the analysis of the ridges is an impractical method of identification. Researchers made advancements in the techniques of latent fingerprint analysis, with the resources from the ever progressing technology industry, to account for these problems. One such development includes using infrared (IR) microscopy and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry to establish the chemical composition of a latent fingerprint. With this development, it is plausible that the differences in the chemical makeup of fingerprints can establish things such as age and gender and thus reduce a suspect group.
Robert McCurdy
Bioprospecting for Bioactive Compounds in the Venom of Crematogaster Ants
Advisor/Professor: Dr. Jim Wetterer
Bioprospecting, the search for useful compounds in nature, has led to the discovery of many important pharmaceuticals.  This study involves prospecting for bioactive compounds in a relatively unstudied source, the venom of ants in the genus Chrematogaster.  The focus will be on alkaloids, a class of compounds that includes many important drugs, e.g., quinine, codeine and morphine.  The whole colonies are collected for the venom assays, the bioactivities are determined by published procedures. The structures of any relevant bioactive compounds are found using NMR and GC-MS techniques.

Samantha Montgomery and Tina Perry
Differences in Memory for Nouns and Verbs
Advisor/Professor: Dr. Julie Earles and Dr. Alan Kersten
The meanings of verbs may differ more in different contexts than do the meanings of nouns, making them harder to remember (Kersten & Earles, 2004). The present research examines the effects of three variables on memory performance: 1) word type 2) context and 3) changes in meaning. Sixty-three college students were asked to encode either a noun or a verb in a series of 96 simple three word sentences. Upon recognition, participants remembered more nouns in the unmatched condition and more verbs in the matched condition. The results demonstrate that as the context of a noun or a verb changes from its original meaning, the more difficulty one will have in recognizing the noun or the verb.

Jonathan Perle
Unconscious Transference and Binding Errors in Young Adults
Advisor/Professor: Dr. Julie Earles
Unconscious transference is the false association that occurs when an eyewitness falsely associates an innocent bystander with a particular crime that he did not commit. Though the eyewitness is seemingly positive that he is identifying the criminal, he is really just making a false association with a particular person and the scene of the crime which is caused by various factors including that of familiarity effects. Unconscious transference was investigated using a series of old, new and conjunction (ie., An old actor with a new action) video clips. The experiment required participants to view a series of short video clips of different actors performing varied actions. (ie., Male A brushing his teeth then Female A brushing her hair) After they viewed the full series of video clips, the participants returned one week later to take a follow up recognition test where they viewed another series of video clips. These clips showed the participants a series of actions and then asked whether the participants have seen the clip before at the previous session. This series of clips contained old clips, completely new clips and then conjunction clips that consisted of either an old actor or action with a new actor or action. (ie. Male A brushing his hair or Female A brushing his teeth) The experiments detected unconscious transference as there were a large number of participants who reported previously seeing the conjunction clips when in reality they only saw one aspect of the clip earlier and not the whole clip. The false associations were higher when a new, but same sex actor was used to perform an old action.

Karen L Ramm and Rachel Starkings
Age Differences in the Role of Unconscious Transference in Eyewitness Testimony
Advisor/Professor: Dr. Julie Earles and Dr. Alan Kersten
In unconscious transference, participants inadvertently combine an actor and action from two separate events. This binding error is especially problematic in eyewitness testimony when a person familiar to the victim is falsely connected to the crime. To examine how unconscious transference is affected by the proximity of two events, 44 younger and 44 older adults viewed brief videos of actors performing simple actions. One week later the participants viewed similar videos containing old items, near and far conjunction items, and new items. Conjunction items consisted of a novel combination of actors and actions from encoding. When participants were asked to determine, for each video, whether the actor and action was the same pair from encoding, younger adults more accurately rejected conjunction items than older adults. Both groups were more likely to reject novel combinations if the actor and action were in adjacent videos at encoding than if they were separated.

Tito Sempertegui
Optimizing pretreatment techniques for the detection of phosphorous oxyanions using ion chromatography
Advisor/Professor: Dr. Michelle Ivey
Phosphorus (P) is required for all living organisms. Fully oxidized pentavalent(+V) is the principal form in organisms, h owever recent studies on Desulfotignum phosphitoxidans show the enzymatic metabolism of reduced phosphorous oxyanions. Thus a natural source of reduced P is expected. Geothermal waters are naturally occurring reducing environments and ion chromatography has been used for the detection of submicromolar concentrations of phosphorous, yet the detection of reduced phosphorus oxyanions is complicated by fluoride and hydrogen carbonate with similar elution times as hypophosphite(+I) and phosphite(+3) respectively. Studies had shown that simplifying the matrix through pretreatment with silver and sulfonic acid cartridges improves IC limits of detection (LODs). The effects of pretreatment are dependant upon the total concentration of ions in solution. The purpose of this study is to determine IC phosphorous oxyanion LODs and to maximize signals by analyzing the relationship between filtering techniques, effective concentration of phosphate oxyanions, and total ions in the matrix.

Jessica A. Wassung, Krystal Mize, Chantal Gagnon
Influences of Maternal Depression on Emotional and Emapthic Development
Advisor/Professor: Dr. Nancy Jones, Dr. Julie Earles
Maternal depression has long been suspected of contributing to dysregulated emotional development in children. Atypical interactions between depressed parents and their children may negatively effect the emotional development of their child and the development of psychopathologies (Field, 1995). Some research has noted the moderating effect of paternal involvement, or the involvement of other important individuals in the child’s life. Paternal involvement and warmth may reduce the risk of later internalizing behaviors for children (Mezulis, Hyde, & Clark, 2004), and the interaction behavior of infants with depressed mothers has been observed to increase around non-depressed fathers (Hossain, et al., 1994). The present study aims to determine if there are differences between children of depressed versus non-depressed parents in the expression of empathy. We will also examine if parental depression status has an impact on parental expressivity, and investigate the prevalence of inappropriate emotional responses in children of depressed and non-depressed families.

Graham Whitaker
Analysis of the pH-dependent Redox Mechanism of Flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD)
Advisor Eugene Smith
Flavin adenine dinucleotide is a vital coenzyme present in all walks of life.  FAD serves as two electron acceptor and gets reduced to FADH2.  This reduction mechanism has not been fully elucidated, but numerous theoretical papers have been published that suggest a two electron/two proton process.  In contrast, this spectroelectrochemical study reveals that there is an additional (third) hydrogen involved in the mechanism.  Based on our theoretical model, it appears that this reaction proceeds via a simultaneous two electron transfer step (n=2), followed by a simultaneous two proton transfer step, and we have determined approximate values of the associated acid dissociation constants and reduction potentials.  This simultaneous two proton transfer mechanism has been previously unreported in the literature.

Last Modified 11/21/13