Kris Lindenmeyer

Welcome to CURCA 2013

Every April, the Rutgers-Camden community gathers together for the Celebration of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity (CURCA).  This event recognizes and celebrates the outstanding research Faculty of Arts and Sciences-Camden (FASC) undergraduates conduct alongside our distinguished faculty.  FASC students study topics ranging from art to zoology.  For example, student projects include research on how parents affect their children’s relationship with food; the evolution of the clarinet in jazz; an investigation of Neurospora in the New Jersey Pinelands; and labor and agrarian reform in Guatemala during the 1954 coup.

Clearly, students are applying the information that they learn as students in the Arts and Sciences.  We’re so glad you are here to experience CURCA at Rutgers-Camden.

Kriste Lindemeyer
Dean
Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School 

 

Abstracts of Student Projects

April 18th, 2013
Multi-Purpose Room
Camden Campus Center

 

Do People Automatically Track Other’s Beliefs

Shahnaz A. Abdul-haqq
Major: Psychology
Minor: Sociology
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Robrecht van der Wel, Assistant Professor of Psychology

Successful social interaction requires the ability to put oneself in someone else’s shoes. Here, we asked to what extent people automatically track the beliefs of other people around them. We developed a task in which participants either had the same or a different belief as another agent. We accomplished this by showing short movie segments in which a ball and a cube would enter the scene and disappear behind two occluders at the top left and right side of the screen. These objects either stayed in their original position, or changed positions. This happened while the agent was either present or absent. At the end of the movies, participants had to move a mouse cursor to the location of the ball as quickly as possible. As they started moving, the occluders would drop and reveal this location. This could come as a surprise to neither the participant nor the agent, to one of them, or to both. We measured how long participants took to move to the object, as well as their movement trajectories. The extent to which the cursor deviates from a straight path to the object is called curvature. We used this as a continuous measure of the influence of the agent’s belief.

Participants’ own belief and the agent’s belief (whose beliefs were irrelevant to performing the task) both modulated behavior. Thus, we show that adults automatically encode others’ beliefs.  In contrast to previous work, others’ beliefs generally do not influence behavior as strongly as participants’ own beliefs.

 

Help NOT Wanted: The Stigma of “The Box”

Ebony Bailey and Laura M. Oehrlein
Majors: Criminal Justice (both)
Minor: Laura – Sociology
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Stacia Gilliard-Matthews, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice

When a person is in prison and re-released into society, most often a stipulation of their parole is to find gainful employment. With this stipulation comes the inherent stigma of being labeled a convict and the trials and tribulations of actually find a job. Through use of scholarly articles such as “Barriers to Prisoners’ Reentry into the Labor Market and the Social Costs of Recidivism” by David Weiman, we plan to uncover the hypocrisy within post-corrections assignments. Even after trying to find gainful employment, the parolee faces obstacles such as limited upward mobility, insufficient pay, lack of accessibility and irregular working hours. We plan to lobby for policy that will remove the underlying discrimination that causes the undercaste of convicted offenders. We hope to remove “The Box” from pre-employment screening methods; by removing “the box” employers will not go into an interview with any preconceived notions of the applicant. This would help to provide new opportunities and incentives for businesses to hire and maintain working associations with ex-offenders would in turn reduce the rate of recidivism.

 

Fenced In: Mammys, Pickannies, and Coons

Lavett Ballard
Majors: Art and Art History
Faculty Mentor: Ms. Margery Amdur, Associate Professor of Art

I am creating paintings that challenge off-color remarks made about African-American women. This series of paintings will further confront notions of what paintings are by using an alternative format that will be addressing two and three dimensional issues along as well as textural challenges.  The use of fencing as a layout is a symbolic reference to how Fences keep people in and out, just as racial and gender identities can do the same socially.

 

Remembering Colors: Bias and Variability

Jeremy R. Bell
Majors: Psychology and Nursing
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Sarah Allred, Assistant Professor of Psychology

**Recipient of the Dean’s Undergraduate Conference Travel Grant**

INTRODUCTION:  Remembering colors to match previously seen objects is a subjectively difficult experience. Memory is often blamed; however, real world memory tasks often require matching colors across changes in visual environment. Thus, such tasks require color constancy as well as memory. Are mistakes in such tasks caused by memory or failures of constancy? TASK: 120 observers matched the color of 16 real, painted cubes to a 1022 chip palette in 8 different conditions: (1) baseline, where matches were made adjacent to the palette; (2) across an illuminant shift; (3) cube embedded in an approximately color-opponent surround; (4) across a ten-minute memory delay (M); (5) – (8) each permutation of the above conditions. We compared the bias and variability of color matches in each condition. VARIABILITY: Compared to baseline, memory and illuminant conditions, but not the surround condition, showed significantly more variability. BIAS: Consistent with previous results, the illuminant change elicited a significant bias (imperfect constancy, ~80%) in the direction of the chromaticity of the illuminant. In contrast to flat, coplanar surfaces, embedding cubes in a surround elicited no significant biases (nearly perfect constancy).  The empirical data on biases in color memory are contradictory: we found that memory was not biased towards greater saturation, nor towards prototypical hues, although memory matches showed small but significant biases in an apparently unsystematic way.  This apparent memory bias (magnitude and variability between cubes) could be largely accounted for by modeling memory as unbiased, but more variable than perception and taking into account the gamut of the matching palette. INTERACTIONS: When illumination, surround and memory were combined, neither variability nor bias was larger than with the illuminant shift alone. CONCLUSION: In a real world color memory task, errors could be largely attributed to failures of constancy, rather than failures of memory.

 

Red Scare in Guatemala Pushed the CIA’s Intervention

Patrick Bigley
Major: History
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Lorrin Thomas, Associate Professor of History

In 1954 the Democratic Government of Guatemala was toppled by the covert actions of a newly established American Organization known as the C.I.A.  Historians have generated two different perspectives as to why the United States’ government intervened in the developing Central American nation’s politics.  The first perspective is that the United States government intervened in the affairs of the Guatemalan government to protect economic assets of the United States, such as United Fruit, located in Guatemala.  The second perspective historians generated is that United States’ leaders were looking through a Cold War lens, and perceived the government of Guatemala to be controlled by Communism.  Both perspectives have valid evidence to back up their arguments.   However, by researching and analyzing the two perspectives, the argument that the threat of Communism drove the United States government to intervene in Guatemala was found to be more substantial.  A “Cold War Ethos” dominated the 1950s and the covert operations of the C.I.A. were no different

 

Influential Factors of Retention of College Students: Effects of an Increase in Tuition on Socioeconomic Costs and Retention Disparity Among Students

David Bolanos and Joseph Harris
Majors: Economics (Both)
Minor: Joseph – Finance
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Tetsuji Yamada, Professor of Economics

**Recipients of the Dean’s Undergraduate Research Prize**

Over the past decade there has been an increase in demand for higher education. Since the current economy remains to be in a crisis, obtaining a college degree has proven to increase one’s average wage and lower their chances to be unemployed.  An increase in retention to continue the college/university education is essential for both students and college/university operation and management.

Objective: The study examines influential factor of retention of college students and evaluates effects of an increase in tuition on socioeconomic costs and retention disparity among students.

Method: The data comes from 2011 and 2012 editions of Best College by the U.S. News & World Report. The major statistic a prospective student would examine is the college’s or university freshmen retention rate.

Results: The results confirm that a 10% increase in tuition will lead to reduce the retention rate by 5.1%.  Increase in tuition from $17,888 on average in 2011 to $19,372 on average in 2012 raises the social cost, namely loss of society, by about $44,000 per student. The result also shows that an optimal tuition of 100% retention in terms of tuition is about $9,369. The estimated economic costs of dropping out from the college education create the salary – gap of $15,870 on average between a high school graduate and a college graduate the future value of this salary gap is about $1.46 million with a gap growth.

Conclusion: Relative to the retention, the tuition burden is heavily and disproportionally large.

 

Sino-American Chess

Brandon Borrelli, Javier Diaz, Chris Hengen, and Jacqueline Riel
Majors: Electronic Art (all)
Faculty Mentor: Mr. LiQin Tan, Associate Professor of Art

**Recipients of the Dean’s Undergraduate Research Prize** 

Sino-American Chess is a political animation-installation project that consists of a few large American and Chinese leaders represented in 3D models, animation, and digital metal prints along with LCD monitors.  This work will also incorporate audience participation in both interactive and humorous observational approaches.

This political art project touches on the world superpower reality – a world where major social phenomenon is being interpreted through artistic eyes with cutting-edge 3D technology.  Its character presents an exaggerated relationship with the USA and China, as well as the many contradicting messages from Washington and Beijing in the past years.  In addition, it provides a unique opportunity for the audience to use their own manner to play and describe Sino-American interactions through both political clarification and artistic interpretation.   

Collision and cooperation, tension and stabilization will be the main concepts behind the Sino-American Chess interactive strategy.  Relations between the USA and China are very complicated and multi-faceted.  These relations have evolved over decades, but the main focus to these relations has always been on paired off American and Chinese leaders.  The artistic interpretation of these leaders is aimed to bring the view enjoyment and fun.  History can’t be changed, but through interactive animation artwork, audiences can repeat and modify USA and China leaders’ historical actions to get various results visually.

 

Untitled

Michael Brunken
Major: Graphic Design
Faculty Mentor: Ms. Margery Amdur, Associate Professor of Art

The project involves the depiction of the human struggle to build and the processes by which nature breaks down and reclaims what humans have abandoned. I represent nature, in this series of paintings, through glue, glitter, wax and paint, in pours, drips, and splatters. Paint on canvas has a layering quality that recalls geologic time. As we have discovered through excavations at Pompeii and even here on Cooper Street, prior civilizations are subsumed by the earth in the way that new swipes of paint cover the old.

 

Convicted Felons Denied Housing

Karla Carter and Gabrielle Graves
Majors: Karla – Urban Studies; Gabrielle – Mathematics
Minor: Karla – Criminal Justice
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Stacia Gilliard-Matthews, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice

Countless ex-convicts, particularly in large urban cities, are struggling to find employment and housing.  For many, the “haunting” label of their past convictions, and even arrests without convictions (in some states), make it nearly impossible to find housing.  An offense as miniscule as urinating in public is grounds enough to deny housing to someone, even if the offense occurred years ago. To lawmakers and citizens, ex-cons are viewed as a threat to society; therefore, the government grants several housing agencies and property owners the right to deny housing to these individuals.  “Housing is fundamental and key to stability in life.  The policies erect a high barrier on ex-offenders’ paths to becoming productive members of society, forming or renewing family ties, and bonding with children left behind during their prison terms” (Randolph).  Homeless and hungry, many ex-cons wind up re-offending, costing the government and taxpayers more to house them in jails and prisons.  Laws and policies should be amended to make housing more accessible to ex-convicts.

 

Racial Profiling

Charles Chavis and Lauren Lee
Majors: Criminal Justice (both)
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Stacia Gilliard-Matthews, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice

Racial profiling is when law enforcement take on any disciplinary action based on a person’s race or ethnicity rather than criminal behavior. The poster will illustrate that not all African-Americans are suspected criminals. A black male will be dressed a certain way and will be compared to a white male dressed a particular way. The purpose is to show which individual is more likely to be stopped or stereotyped base on their race.

 

Grasping Action Plans

Blake Clemmer, John Huhn III, and Kimberly Schimpf
Majors: Blake – Political Science; John – Psychology; Kimberly – Psychology
Minor: Blake – Psychology
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Robrecht van der Wel, Assistant Professor of Psychology

An important functional question for understanding how people plan physical actions is to understand how we manipulate objects. Several previous studies suggest that, when possible, people coordinate their hands in symmetrical ways. This preference becomes apparent when one tries to draw a circle with one hand while simultaneously drawing a square with the other. For object manipulation, such symmetry may take on different forms, however. Actions may be symmetrical when objects are grasped (initial symmetry), when they are placed on their target locations (end symmetry), and/or relative to the objects being moved (object symmetry). Here, we studied how these forms of symmetry influence behavior. We asked participants to move two kitchen plungers from two start locations to two target locations. We measured where people grasped a hold of the objects while varying the heights of the start and target locations. These manipulations allowed us to dissociate the relative importance of initial, end, and object symmetry.

This type of basic research contributes to our understanding of how the healthy brain regulates behavior. Such knowledge could be useful for a wide range of fields, including psychology, philosophy, physical rehabilitation, robotics, and engineering.

 

Probing the Calcium Oxalate Crystallization Process via Microfluidics

Joseph Dalessandro
Major: Chemistry
Minor: Mathematics
Faculty Mentor: Dr. George Kumi, Assistant Professor of Chemistry

**Recipient of the Chemistry Undergraduate Research Grant** 

Microfluidics devices, which are miniature fluidic devices designed to handle small (10-6 to 10-9 liters) fluid volumes, can facilitate control and characterization of crystallization by limiting mixing to a diffusion-only process and allowing better real-time visual observation of crystal formation (i.e., better than in conventional labware). Recently, there have been numerous studies on various crystallization systems demonstrating the advantages and viability of using this technology. We have chosen to utilize these devices to study calcium oxalate (CaOx) formation, which is a process of importance in many biological, geological, and industrial systems. As a first step in this endeavor, some of the parameters that are known to influence CaOx formation have been explored in conventional labware. Also, a prototypical device that permits CaOx crystals to be formed within a microfluidic channel and collected for external analysis has been designed and fabricated. The rationale for our design, a description of our fabrication process, and our preliminary results showing how this device works will be presented.

 

Parent-child Interplay in Food Consumption

Amanda Edmondson and Amanda MacGhee
Majors: Amanda E. – Sociology; Amanda M. – Cultural Anthropology
Minor: Amanda E. – Anthropology
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Cindy Dell Clark, Visiting Associate Professor of Anthropology

**Recipients of the Dean’s Undergraduate Research Grant** 

The purpose of this study was to ensure a learning experience in fieldwork.  Also, the findings from this study may potentially be relevant as applied anthropology relevant to social programs pertaining to food resources.

The focus was on how adults and their fourth or fifth grade children interact regarding food-related actions, in the home setting.  Over a weekend period the students were participants-observers in the homes of tree middle-class and three lower-class families, spending two full days with each family.  Meals and snacks of the fourth of fifth grader were the focal point of study.  On the second day spent with the family, an interview between the student-observer and the mother was held.  Observations spanned from breakfast until after dinner, including periods in between; field notes were completed after each day of observation, capturing interactions concerning good that involved the focal child.

 

Using Drosophila oogenesis to Screen for Genetic Regulatory DNA Sequences

Maira Farhat
Major: Biology
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Nir Yakoby, Assistant Professor of Biology

**Recipient of the Dean’s Undergraduate Research Prize**

The goal of the project is to screen DNA fragments for regulatory regions of genes expressed during Drosophila oogenesis. This project is part of a larger screen (Pope et al., unpublished). We chose 19 genes that are known to be expressed during oogenesis. We used the Drosophila egg as an experimental system. The egg chamber is the precursor of the mature egg. It has well defined cellular compartments including a layer of epithelial cells (follicle cells) surrounding the developing oocyte, a layer of stretched cells over the nurse cells, and border cells. Using the UAS/GAL4 (Duffy et al., 2002), a system that is based on the expression of a transcription factor (GAL4) in cells, we used the Upstream Activation Sequence (UAS) with GFP as a target and monitored for GFP expression. The GAL4 lines were provided by the GMR collection of flies (Pfeiffer et al., 2009). These flies were generated from intronic and noncoding regions of DNA, that are likely to contain regulatory information. Here, we report on some of the patterns derived by these lines. Some lines recapitulate the full or portions of the endogenous gene and others add new expression patterns. Our results partially support the hypothesis that expression of genes during oogenesis is done in a combinatorial fashion by multiple regulatory domains.

 

Effects of Attractiveness on Recall and False Memory

Catherine Fetterman, Jenna Harvey, Angela Kirwin, and Michelle Nolan
Majors: Psychology (all); Michelle – Childhood Studies 
Minor: Angela – Childhood Studies
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Stefania Mereu, Lecturer of Psychology

False memory as demonstrated in word recall has become a popular focus in cognitive psychology, primarily in the use of items from the DRM paradigm (Roediger & McDermott, 1995).  Human attention is known to be limited, and memory has come to be best defined as a reconstructive process influenced by belief and emotion rather than an absolute record of events. The effects of attraction on interpersonal interactions are also a widely studied topic in the field of social psychology. Attractive people have been shown to receive better employment offers, are better respected as leaders, and found in general to be perceived more favorably by others. One explanation for these benefits of attractiveness may lie in the notion that attractive people are more often remembered, where as those of average attractiveness become somewhat monotonous in memory. We expect that participants will have a greater recall of photos they rate as high and low on the attraction scale, as was found in previous studies (Fleishman, 1976; Sheppard & Ellis, 1973). We also expect that false recall of faces will increase for those photos that are rated neutrally, but that are similarly to previously presented faces.

 

Who’s In Charge? The Sense of Agency in Collaborative Action Tasks

Catherine Fetterman and Stephanie Schuster
Majors: Psychology (both)
Minor: Stephanie – Sociology  
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Robrecht van der Wel, Assistant Professor in Psychology

When people act by themselves, they tend to experience a strong sense of agency over their actions. It has also been shown that illusions of control can be induced in healthy people fairly easily. Thus, the sense of agency is not always veridical. This observation raises problems when we act together with others. For example, when two people move a piece of furniture, they each have to account for the other person’s actions. Thus, in a sense both actors are in control in such cases, but at the same time neither of them is. Here, we sought to explore how people experience a sense of agency over such joint actions. We developed a video game in which two people moved a ball from a start location to one of two possible target locations as fast as possible. They did so by controlling a joystick, and the control was distributed so that one actor controlled the horizontal dimension and one controlled the vertical dimension. Thus, participants had to work together to accomplish the task. After each trial, they then provided ratings of their sense of control and of their overall performance. We also created asymmetries between participants in terms of their amount of objective influence. As the sense of agency is not always veridical, we explored to what extent people have an accurate assessment of their level of control during joint actions.

 

The Energy of My Cells Wishes You Well

Gregory Gibson
Major: Art
Faculty Mentor: Ms. Margery Amdur, Associate Professor of Art

**Recipient of the Dean’s Undergraduate Research Grant** 

This painting took many hours of physical work and intellectual reasoning. The dichotomy produced by this project is interesting. In order to produce an abstract painting which is devoid of learned knowledge to appreciate, it requires a great amount of learned knowledge to create. I researched and applied several different elements of color theory to the painting. I was also able to discover several different methods of applying the paint to produce many different color effects. This would entail using different mediums to change the viscosity of the paint which did produce different color effects even when all the attributes of a given color remain equal. Paint is in effect different chemical compounds which reflect specific wave lengths of electromagnetic energy that the cones of the eye translate into the perception of color. This project gave me an increased understanding of how to manipulate these chemical compounds to produce the various color effects. I have created 320 cells each with a mini abstract painting contained within. The sum total of these cells produces an array that stimulates the hard wired visual perception of the receiver. This reminds us of the role DNA, chemistry, and sub-divisions, or fractals apply to the perceptual capacity of the human mind. Abstraction reduces the visual elements of a painting to the most primal structures which are built into our physiology through thousands of years of the evolutionary process. By reducing this work to the most fundamental forms I have learned how to manipulate some of them.

 

Nietzsche, Baby, Where You Been So Long: The Appilinian and Dionysian in the Blues

Jameka Gordon
Major: Music
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Katrina Hazzard-Donald, Associate Professor of Sociology

**Recipient of the Dean’s Undergraduate Conference Travel Grant** 

My research is based on Appilinian and Dionysian dueling concepts of philosophy of Fredrick Nietzsche.  My research serves to explain the merging of African and European tonal languages in the New World and explain how the Americas foster a Dionysian philosophical and sociological conversion which gives rise to the blues.    My research serves to legitimize the Blues as a mathematical theatrical musical form in America.  My research is a comparative analytical explanation for the Emergence of Blues. The Blues is a cultural phenomenon based in African and European musical linguistics, and could only occur through the “Dionysian Conversion.”

 

A brief analysis of the structure of contemporary a cappella bands with male and female voices in groups from around the world

Samuel Gorelick
Major: Music
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Joseph Schiavo, Clinical Assistant Professor

Several years ago, when NBC’s The Sing Off! premiered its second season, I began to question if I could put together a group and win. This idea made me question the structure of the winning groups. It made me think if other a cappella groups in the musical world had a similar structure, and how did they succeed if they were all the same? From these questions I began my journey into the world of a cappella. It started with a Swedish group that is unknown in the United States, called The Real Group. From there I found The Swingle Singers, Rajaton, and countless others. I began listening to every song and learning the history of each group. After several months I began to see a pattern.  Every group had a very similar structure: a bass line, vocal percussion, and a lead voice, which are the only necessary pieces to create a mainstream a cappella group.

 

Federal Reserve System’s Effectiveness to Promote and Preserve Minority Depository Institutions

Joseph Harris
Major: Economics
Minor: Finance
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Richard Harris, Professor of Political Science

The purpose of this project is to explain the interaction of the United States’ Federal Reserve System and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs). The first section of the project explains how the Federal Reserve System was created; and the purpose and functions of the Federal Reserve System towards the nation’s monetary policy. The second section explains the origins and importance of Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) in the economy of local communities, and the regulatory policies the Federal Reserve System and U.S. Congress has implemented to help promote and preserve the nation’s MDIs.

 

Crime Policy Development and the Development of Gun Registries in Maryland

Benjamin Heritage
Major: Political Science
Minor: Philosophy
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Michael Fortner, Assistant Professor of Political Science

Research consisted of searching through newspaper articles of both mainstream and black publications from the Baltimore area about the history, development, and passing of the gun offender registry passed in 2007.  Then, I researched the passing of the gun offender registry in Prince George’s County in 2012.  This was related to literature about crime policy and the role that race and class play in its development.

 

Clarinet in Jazz

Gina Horiates
Major: Music
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Joseph Schiavo, Clinical Assistant Professor of Music

In my research, I take the audience back in time to when the clarinet was first invented. Then, I describe the role of the clarinet in jazz history from the beginning to present day. I touch on major jazz eras including Dixieland, Big Band, The Swing Era, Bebop, and end on jazz of today. Great musicians/clarinetists that I go into detail about include: Johnny Dodds, Sidney Bechet, Pete Fountain, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Tony Scott, Buddy DeFranco, Paquito D’Rivera, Don Byron, and Anat Cohen.

 

The Effects of Water Purity on the Crystallization of Calcium Oxalate

Julieanna Jakimowicz
Major: Chemistry
Minor: Mathematics
Faculty Mentor: Dr. George Kumi, Assistant Professor of Chemistry

**Recipient of the Dean’s Undergraduate Research Grant**

The crystallization processes of calcium and oxalate ions have been a popular subject of study for many years, yet the process itself still remains an enigma. This subject is popular because calcium and oxalate are the major inorganic components of kidney stones, and they also crystallize spontaneously in many other systems in nature. The crystals come in different forms, known as morphologies, and the most common morphologies are the calcium oxalate monohydrate (COM) form and the calcium oxalate

dihydrate (COD) form. The occurrences of these types of morphologies depend upon an array of factors such as temperature, concentration, incubation time, and the presence of additives. In our experiment, we decided to analyze a fundamental component in the crystallization process, namely water purity. The purity levels of water used were: Unfiltered distilled, 0.2 ?m filtered distilled, and 10 M? de-ionized. Along with water purity, the rate of the crystallization process was also manipulated by varying the

concentrations of calcium and oxalate ions in solution. Other pertinent crystallization factors, such as temperature and incubation time, were left constant. The morphologies of crystals achieved at specific supersaturation ratios were the same across the three different levels of water purity. This conclusion will prove to be useful in the comparison of studies utilizing these three water purity levels. Similar experiments in which a known calcium oxalate formation inhibitor is present in the supersaturated solution will also be presented.

 

The Fruit Fly: A Tractable System to Study Mobility in Low Temperatures

David Luor, Kosha Parikh, and Daniel Ricketti
Majors: David – Biology and Childhood Studies; Kosha and Daniel – Biology
Minors: David – Psychology and Sociology
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Nir Yakoby, Assistant Professor of Biology

**Recipients of the Dean’s Undergraduate Research Grant**

**Daniel is also the recipient of the Biology Undergraduate Research Grant** 

In response to changes in temperature, organisms that are adapted to survive automatically implement their thermoregulatory systems that adjust their growth, locomotion, reproduction, and other physiological functions. The simple genetics yet high homology of the fruit fly Drosophila genes to their orthologous counterparts in higher organisms and the availability of genetic perturbation toolkits make Drosophila a powerful system to study mobility in low temperatures as an indicator of cold tolerance. We specifically look at mobility among three wild-type Drosophila species and three mutant flies with elevated energy levels. Two enzymes that degrade adenosine monophosphate, or AMP, are disrupted independently and combinatorially. By depleting the genes for such enzymes, we can examine the effects enhanced adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, levels have on mobility of Drosophila larvae. As the results for ATP levels tighten, a strong case for explaining the differences in activity of the fruit flies through varying levels of energy levels may be built. Importantly, we extend our analysis to understand the patterns of mobility among species and across temperatures. We ultimately purpose to characterize cold tolerance with precision and determine the degree of significance mutant flies introduce to the field of study.

 

Physiological Characterization of Plant Growth Improvement by Rhizobacteria

Timnit A. Kefela
Major: Biology
Minor: English
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Simeon Kotchoni, Assistant Professor of Biology

**Recipient of the Biology Undergraduate Research Grant** 

Rhizobacteria are known for their function in plant growth whereby they colonize the roots of the plants and assist in numerous functional mechanisms such as nitrogen fixation, nodulation promotion, phytohormone production, and increased nutrient uptake among other functions. However, most of the studies on plant growth promoting rhizobacteria have been conducted on leguminous plants such as soybean. In this study, we assessed the growth promoting properties of different plant growth promoting rhizobacteria (PGPRs) on Zea mays, one of the most important food crops; and a model plant, Arabidopsis thaliana under greenhouse growth conditions with the ultimate goal of developing PGPR-biofertilizers for sustainable agriculture. Using two specific soil dwelling PGPRs, namely Bradyrhizobium japonicum (ARU-407) and Bacillus amyloliquefaciens (ARU-405) from our PGPR stock library, plants were treated with ARU-405, ARU-407 and ARU-405 +ARU-407, where untreated plants were considered as control in this study. The number of leaves, leaf length and width, plant height, fresh and dry weight were recorded at different days post germination to estimate the beneficial effect of PGPR on cropping system. ARU-407 was found to be the best PGPR, inducing faster growth, early flowering and overall higher biomass accumulation followed by the combination of ARU-405+ARU-407 and lastly by ARU-405. Our results suggest that Bradyrhizobium japonicum and Bacillus amyloliquefaciens enhance plant growth in both dicot and monocot plants such as Arabidopsis and maize respectively.

 

Body Image and Its Correlates Among Mid-Life Women

Meera Khan
Majors: French and Psychology
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Charlotte Markey, Associate Professor of Psychology

**Recipient of the Dean’s Undergraduate Conference Travel Grant** 

Due to the scarcity of research on aging and its effect on women’s body esteem, the present study seeks to demonstrate the important implications of poor body image as women age.  Because visible effects of aging conflict with sociocultural standards of attractiveness, mid-life women in our society may suffer more risks than younger women from the ramifications of poor body image, including disordered eating, depression, and sexual dysfunction.  These risks are explored in the present study.

 

Antigone, In Paint

Brian McAndrews
Major: Art
Faculty Mentor: Ms. Margery Amdur, Associate Professor of Art

The relationship between the arts, specifically theater and painting, has been a theme of my work for some time. This painting is part of a series of paintings which illustrates moments from the play Antigone. My pursuit, in investigating this theme, is to seek to express the emotional depth that I have experienced in theater, with paint. It is a challenge to attempt to become emotionally honest with visual arts, just as I know one must when on stage. The difference here is that, instead of me being the actor on stage, I fashion my actors out of paint on a flat canvas.

 

Can We Call it Research?: Undergraduate Anxieties in the Humanities

Natalie K. Midiri
Major: English
Faculty Mentor: Dr. William FitzGerald, Assistant Professor of English

**Recipient of the Dean’s Undergraduate Conference Travel Grant**

**Recipient of the Dean’s Undergraduate Research Grant**

While undergraduate research (UR) symposiums are filled with research posters from STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) programs, the social sciences, and even creative works from the fine arts, there is often an underrepresentation of projects from disciplines such as literature, philosophy, and religion. The purpose of this project is to assess whether the humanities’ underrepresentation in the UR community is due in part because the humanities have inherited a definition of UR from STEM programs. To investigate this assumption, I am drawing upon methods from media studies as well as genre theory to map the conventional features of UR’s major modes of communication, namely the research poster and the critical essay to see if the modes themselves preference certain types of research and if the UR coming out of the humanities follows genre conventions from STEM research.

 

The Modern Past: Camera Phones and Early Printing Processes

Robin Miller
Major: Art
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Ken Hohing, Assistant Instructor of Art

**Recipient of the Dean’s Undergraduate Research Grant**

The increasing numbers of people who carry and use cameras on a regular basis, as well as the numerous ways in which we can share and view pictures is incredible when compared to the lack of access and availability at the beginning of photography’s popularity, just over a century ago. Aside from the sheer availability, there has become an infatuation with using cell phone applications that provide filters to give modern digital photographs an aged, vintage, or even distressed appearance. At the same time, the frequency in which we share physical printed photographs has diminished. In my research, I have used both modern and antiquated techniques, and combined them to produce a different type of image, altogether. Using a current cell phone camera, Instagram and photo editing software, I have made large format negatives, which I then used in outdated printing process, some a century old, to produce physical printed photographs. In doing so, I have been able to gain a stronger appreciation for the developments that have been made in the photography field over time. To a hobbyist, the differences between digitally aged and altered photographs and photographs made with these outdated techniques would most likely seem small and insignificant,but to a well-trained eye, the digital images hold nothing to the quality, technique and pure beauty that these near obsolete processes generate. I firmly believe that the increase in ease and popularity has brought about a decrease quality and appreciation for perfection in the art.

 

The Infantryman’s Account: A Comparison of the American Combat Experiences in World War II and the Vietnam War

Shaina Mitchell
Major: History
Minor: Biology
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Katherine Epstein, Assistant Professor of History

The American combat experience in World War II and in the Vietnam War is perhaps best understood by examining the primary sources of the men who fought in and survived the wars.  For my Modern U.S. Military History paper, I studied the memoirs of Eugene Sledge and Philip Caputo, Marines who served in the Pacific theater in World War II and in Vietnam, respectively.  Sledge’s With the Old Breed and Caputo’s A Rumor of War provide distinct but often similar perspectives into the complex psychological, emotional, and physical demands that war places on ground combat troops.  Though memoirs are incapable of presenting the totality of the two wars, it is for their valuable insight that Sledge’s and Caputo’s memoirs serve as vital instruments for comparing and contrasting the American combat experience, and thus a small window into the similarities and differences of the Pacific theater in World War II and Vietnam.

 

Labor and Agrarian Reform in Guatemala and the Coup in 1954

Maria Munguia
Major: History
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Lorrin Thomas, Associate Professor of History

“Our crime is having enacted an agrarian reform which affected the interest of the United Fruit Company.”
Jacobo Arbenz, 1954

For many decades, historians have studied the many motives that led the United States to form a coup to overthrow the Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz in 1954. During the time of the Guatemalan Spring, which began in March 1945 when Juan Jose Arevalo took office, democracy was formed in Guatemala. Along with a democracy, a new constitution was formed. In a Central American country that had been ruled by dictators such as Manuel Estrada Cabrera and General Jorge Ubico, an age of reform was blossoming and labor laws were constituted. The people chose the philosophy teacher, Jacobo Arevalo, to lead them after the reform movement in 1944 that ousted Ubico. Later in March 1951, a radical reformer named Jacobo Arbenz assumed presidency. A democratic vote took place, and in that same place new goals were formed. If things were starting to look better for Guatemalans, what happened in 1954 that was the decisive factor that pushed the United States to overthrow Arbenz’s government? In this project, I will research the significance of labor issues, agrarian reform, and the United Fruit Company as factors in the CIA coup of 1954.

 

“We might now behold American grievances red-dressed:” Soldiers and the Inhabitants of Boston, 1768-1770

David Niescior
Major: History
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Andrew Shankman, Associate Professor of History

From October 1768 until March 1770, British soldiers garrisoned Boston, in an effort on the part of London to subdue unrest and disorder which followed as a response to changes in Parliamentary colonial policy, particularly the Townshend Acts. The troops antagonized the city with foreign moral and religious sensibilities, as well as by raising traditional English fears of standing armies. The population became inflamed, often to the point of violence. Political leaders on both sides of the colonial policy debate were unprepared for the shock the troops had on Boston society, and neither the Army, those who supported Parliament, or the leaders of the opposition were able to quell disorders through means calculated to influence a deferential society.

The garrisoning of Boston placed such stress on the city’s society that it created a situation in which the efforts of political leaders to influence a population expected to be deferential were ineffective. The leaders of the opposition hoped to control the ways in which the people of Boston resisted the Army, particularly by shaping the written record of the garrison through newspaper reports and other media. Mob actions, animated by a desire to express anger to British colonial policy and intense animosity for the regulars, though expressly undesired by the leaders of the opposition, were frequent. Consequently, the opposition leadership was unable to prevent conditions which resulted in the Boston Massacre and the subsequent withdrawal of the troops under circumstances which neither the opposition leadership nor the supporters of Parliament desired.

 

The Influence of Depression and Substance Abuse Among Sexually Active Girls in the Child Welfare System

Madison Nilsen
Majors: Criminal Justice and Psychology  
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Courtenay Cavanaugh, Assistant Professor of Psychology

**Recipient of the Dean’s Undergraduate Research Grant**

This study examined depression and substance use disorders (SUDs) in relation to condom use among sexually active girls in the child welfare system. We hypothesized girls with clinically significant depressive symptoms and positive screens for SUDs will have greater odds of not using a condom during their last sex. From the NSCAW-II, results of sexually active girls (N=161) revealed that clinically significant depressive symptoms, but not positive screens for SUDs, was positively associated with not using a condom during the last sex.

 

Cultural and Gender Differences in Correlates of Spousal Involvement in a Partner’s Diabetic Diet

Melanee Nugent
Major: Psychology
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Kristin August, Assistant Professor of Psychology

**Recipient of the Dean’s Undergraduate Conference Travel Grant**

Social network members can positively or negatively influence individuals’ health behaviors, or engage in health-related social control (HRSC) or undermining, respectively.  Spouses, in particular, are an important influence on the dietary behaviors of patients with type 2 diabetes, but little is known about the correlates of such influence attempts.  This study accordingly examined whether relationship and disease-related factors were associated with spouses’ influence attempts on their partners’ diabetic diet.  Data were analyzed from a sample of 197 non-Hispanic white, Mexican-American, and Vietnamese-American older adult spouses whose partners had type 2 diabetes.  Results from regression analyses revealed that perceptions of more diabetes-related worries were associated with more HRSC among white female spouses, but less undermining among Mexican-American male spouses.  Higher marital quality was associated with more HRSC and more undermining among Vietnamese-American spouses. The findings from this study underscore cultural and gender differences in how spouses influence their partners’ diabetic diets.

 

Investigating Neurospora in the New Jersey Pinelands

Ryan Pachucki
Major: Biology 
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Kwangwon Lee, Associate Professor of Biology

**Recipient of the Dean’s Undergraduate Research Grant**

Neurospora, a wildfire adapted filamentous fungus, is a successful model organism to study molecular mechanisms of eukaryotes. There are over 6,000 natural strains collected from all over the world deposited in the Fungal Genetics Center. However, there has been no report on Neurospora from the Northeast of US including New Jersey. Collecting local Neurospora strains will provide an opportunity to study ecology of the local fungal species. Neurospora is known as the first fungal species that colonizes the wildfire-scorched forest. Because one third of the State of New Jerey is covered with forest, and there are frequent natural/controlled wildfires, collecting local Neurospora strains will assist us in understanding fungal ecology in NJ forest. We successfully collected Neurospora species in the Pinelands forest. For an accurate species determination, 1) we have crossed the collected NJ Neurospora strains to species tester strains in the genus of Neurospora, 2) studied the species-specific decorations on the sexual spores (ascospores) by the scanning electron microscope, and 3) sequenced the chromosomal DNA for phylogenetic analysis. Taken all our results together, we concluded the Neurospora species that we have collected in New Jersey Pinelands forest is N. intermedia.

 

Behavior and Cognitive Assessment: How Does What We Do Predict How We Think?

Jennifer Rambo
Major: Psychology
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Christopher Nave, Assistant Professor of Psychology

The current study analyzes data from the Hawaii Personality and Health Cohort, and links observed behavior with performance in an orally-administered cognitive test. The Hawaii cohort is a longitudinal study with an ethnically diverse sample which began in the 1960s. Participants were video recorded while taking the Woodcock-Johnson cognitive test.  Four undergraduate research assistants watched each video and then coded for diverse behaviors contained in the Riverside Behavioral Q-Sort (RBQ).  Some behavioral items within in the RBQ are “Expresses sympathy,” “Acts irritated,” and “Exhibits a high degree of intelligence.” Reliability analyses were conducted to ensure coding integrity between research assistants. Correlations were then run between RBQ behaviors and the three portions of the cognitive test measuring vocabulary, critical thinking, and mental quickness (Verbal Fluency, Concept Formation, and Visual Matching, respectively). It was found that those with high Verbal Fluency scores were seen as exhibiting a high degree of intelligence, displaying ambition, and not giving up when faced with obstacles. Those with high Concept Formation scores were seen as speaking fluently and expressing ideas well, appearing to be relaxed and comfortable, and not seeking advice from others. Those with high Visual Matching scores were seen as acting playfully, enjoying the situation and not showing physical signs of tension or anxiety.  This data showed that those who scored high in all three categories displayed behaviors of a positive nature and performed better on the cognitive test.

 

The Welfare Queen

Rebecca Rapp and Rasheda Riddick
Majors: Criminal Justice (both)
Minors: Rebecca – Human Resources Management; Rasheda – Psychology
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Stacia Gilliard-Matthews, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice

In 1976, during his presidential campaign, Ronald Reagan boldly announced the existence of the “Welfare Queen.”  “There’s a woman in Chicago.  She has 80 names, 30 addresses, 12 Social Security cards. … She’s got Medicaid, getting food stamps, and she is collecting welfare under each of her names. Her tax-free cash income alone is over $150,000” (cnn.com).  Since then, this model has represented for most Americans the type of person using public assistance.  This, however, is inaccurate.  White Americans make up the majority of people on public assistance, African-Americans are disproportionately represented.  To this day, no person has lived up to Reagan’s description of the “Welfare Queen.”

 

Spatial Mapping of Nanoparticles Near Cell Membranes and Vesicles

Rachel Rutecki
Major: Mathematics
Minor: Physics 
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Daniel Bubb, Professor of Physics

**Recipient of the Summer Undergraduate Research Grant** 

The motivation of this project was to analyze the antimicrobial properties of copper nanoparticles. Several kinds of copper nanoparticles were made with various properties by use of laser ablation. The copper nanoparticle suspensions were then added to a medical-grade polyurethane (Tecoflex), dissolved in Tetrahydrofuran (THF). Matrix-Assisted Pulsed Laser Evaporation (MAPLE) was used to create thin films of the copper nanoparticles embedded in the polymer matrix, deposited on glass and Silicon substrates. Films are being analyzed for antimicrobial capabilities by Dr. Roger Narayan’s team in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of North Carolina and North Carolina State University. The hope is to discover the antimicrobial properties of copper nanoparticles, and determine how these thin films may be used in antimicrobial applications.

 

The Developmental Time of Oogenesis in Drosophila Species

Kathi Samuels
Major: Biology
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Nir Yakoby, Assistant Professor of Biology

Drosophila oogenesis presents an excellent opportunity to study fundamental aspects of developmental biology.  Drosophila oogenesis consists of 14 morphologically distinct stages.  Oogenesis begins in the germarium when germline cells are engulfed by a mono-layer of somatic cells, the follicle cells. During egg development, the oocyte associated follicle cells become columnar; these cells derive the formation of the eggshell; a 3D barrier between the developing embryo and the environment. The eggshell’s structures from different Drosophila species vary. While all eggshells have tube-like respirators called dorsal appendages, some species, including D. willistoni, have a luminal structure along the dorsal most side called the dorsal ridge. This structure is absent from the eggshell of D. melanogaster. The formation of the dorsal ridge is mediated by the redistribution of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) activation, which depends on the secretion of an EGFR ligand from near the oocyte nucleus. Thus, the nuclear position determines the formation of the dorsal ridge. Here, we compared the eggs’ developmental time between D. willistoni and D. melanogaster. For that, we followed the developmental stages of eggs in flies at different ages using immunohistochemistry and fluorescent microscopy. The development of the method and our results of similarities and differences between the two species are discussed. Our findings will be used in mathematical modeling to determine whether nuclear position plays a factor in developing the dorsal ridge in D. willistoni.

 

Grammy What Were You Thinking?!

Letitia Scanlon
Majors: Art and Marketing
Faculty Mentor: Ms. Margery Amdur, Associate Professor of Art

This semester, my paintings originated by my gluing patterned store-bought fabric to stretched canvas. This style work is inspired by my relationship with my grandmother. By layering oversized Victorian motifs reminiscent of an era gone by, I am able to keep memories of my grandmother alive.

 

The War on Drugs

Margo Silcox and Carl Skurat
Majors: Criminal Justice (both)
Minor: Margo- Ethics
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Stacia Gilliard-Matthews, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice

The “War on Drugs” was a term introduced by President Nixon, and carried on by each of his successors. In an effort to eliminate illegal drugs, our government has not only spent an obscene amount of taxpayer money, but in turn ensured that America has the highest incarceration rate of any nation on earth. Upon further investigation of these statistics, we find that there has been a “vast increase in the number and representation of poor minorities in the prison system, particularly young African-American males.” (Provine, 2011)  It is time that the United States government began to address these discrepancies and the drug sentencing guidelines and policies that have brought us to this point. One such way to bring about positive change would be to “permit community-based drug treatment to serve as an alternative to the policies of the war on drugs and mass incarceration of drug offenders.” (Wallace, 2012).

 

The Function of the Dorsal Ridge in Drosophila Species

Rachel L. Sohn
Major: Biology
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Nir Yakoby, Assistant Professor of Biology

The Drosophila eggshell is an intricate structure that protects the developing embryo from the environment, and it allows gas exchange through tube-like structures, the dorsal appendages. Other eggshell structures include an anterior operculum, an opening for larvae hatching, and a posterior aeropyle. In some Drosophila species, a structure along the dorsal-most side of the eggshell was found between the base of the dorsal appendage and the aeropyle. This structure, named dorsal ridge, was previously found in Hawaiian fly species. Although much research has been done pertaining to the structure of the dorsal ridge, little is known about its function. Here, we found the dorsal ridge in additional fly species. Interestingly, the dorsal ridge morphology is diverse among species. We hypothesized that different dorsal ridge morphologies differ in function. To test this hypothesis, we developed a simple assay to determine the connectivity of the dorsal ridge to other eggshell’s structures. This assay is based on the collection of eggs from species with and without a dorsal ridge and placing their aeropyle directly into dye-agar plates. By following the progression of dye, we were able to show, for the first time, that the aeropyle and the dorsal appendages are connected via the dorsal ridge. Furthermore, we were able to show different rates of dye transfer in eggshells from different species. Since the dorsal appendages and aeropyle function in embryos gas exchange, our findings support the participation of the dorsal ride in respiration.

 

Pivot to the Pacific: Shifting United States Foreign Policy and Defense Focus to the Asia-Pacific Region to Combat the Rising Economic and Military Power of the People’s Republic of China

Daniel Stapelkamp
Major: Political Science
Minor: National Security, Intelligence, Counterterrorism
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Wojtek Wolfe, Assistant Professor of Political Science

In late 2011/early 2012, President Barack Obama and his administration announced a new shift in foreign policy towards the Asia-Pacific region.  The goal of this “pivot” is to cultivate more American influence in a region that is quickly becoming the center of gravity for national security and economic interests.  At the heart of this change of strategy is the desire to balance or hedge against the rising economic and military power of the People’s Republic of China; their desire to become not just the regional hegemon but a world power has been displayed through their meteoric rise is economic growth, their steadily increasing military modernization (particularly involving the People’s Liberation Army Navy, or PLAN), and through their consistent influence in Asian affairs. 

The research for this paper delves into several key factors.  First, I look at China’s economic rise, particularly their role as the largest holder of U.S. securities and its significance to the “pivot” policy.  Second, I examine Chinese military modernization; this includes the increase in military spending, Chinese naval modernizations, Chinese Air Force upgrades, and provocative actions involving the defense of Chinese interests.  Third, I look at the “pivot” itself; how will the United States carry out such a “rebalancing,” and will this have the desired effect on the region?  The research conducted shows that while there are other concerns in the Asia-Pacific region (mainly North Korea), they all lead back to the primary issue: China.

 

Prd-l Involvement in Metabolic Oscillation

Nicholas Starkey
Major: Biology
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Kwangwon Lee, Associate Professor of Biology

**Recipient of the Biology Undergraduate Research Grant**

Neurospora crassa has been a successful model organism in characterizing eukaryotic circadian rhythms.  N. crassa has three known oscillators that affect circadian clock.  The FRQ/WC dependent oscillator (FWO), the WC-dependent oscillator (WC-FLO), and a minimum of one FRQ/WC-independent oscillators (FLO). FWO has been extensively characterized, however, little is known about the molecular mechanisms of the FLO.  Previous studies by other groups have shown that the prd-1 gene might be a key component of the FLO. An authentic and functional circadian clock can maintain its rhythm within physiological range of temperatures or nutrients. We predicted that prd-1 may not maintain normal clock functions under extreme poor/rich media conditions, whereas the wild type may maintain normal clock functions in those conditions.  To test this idea, we investigated the roles of prd-1 in nutrient compensation; the ability to maintain the rhythm in diverse range of available nutrients. First, we created isogenic strains that contains prd-1 mutants by crossing the prd-1 mutant N272_012 (25 hour period) with the wild type (WT) N4720 (22 hour period), cross number N308. Second, we characterized the clock phenotypes of prd-1 bearing strains.  Third, we tested the effects of different media conditions on circadian rhythms in the two genetic backgrounds, wt and prd-1. Our data supports our hypothesis that PRD-1 is a major player in circadian metabolic oscillation. Understanding the role of PRD-1 in the eukaryotic model system will help us to understand and intervene human diseases caused by malfunctions of the metabolic oscillator such as cancer, obesity, and diabetes.

 

Hydrogen via Photocatalysis with Metal-Nonmetal Binary Promoted TiO?

Sean Taylor
Major: Chemistry
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Alexander Samokhvalov, Assistant Professor of Chemistry

**Recipient of the Chemistry Undergraduate Research Grant, the John C. Collier Research Grant, and the Dean’s Undergraduate Research Grant**

The need for sustainable, renewable, “green” sources of energy of 21-st century drives attention to H2 as fuel for “hydrogen economy.” Photocatalytic splitting of water into H2 and O2 is a “Holy Grail” of Chemistry. Titanium oxide TiO2 is a benchmark photocatalyst with high activity in UV range and high chemical stability, but it suffers from a low activity in near-UV/visible range. Photocatalytic activity of TiO2 is improved via adsorbed dyes or supported nanoparticles of noble metals. The novel approach is to “promote” TiO2 with binary combination of transition metal (M) and non-metal (e.g., nitrogen N). Such binary promoted N-M-TiO2 photocatalysts were recently predicted by computations, but experiments with them are scarce. Sacri?cial agents increase the yield of H2 due to reaction with photogenerated holes, so that photogenerated electrons reduce H2O to H2. Sustainable compounds from plant biomass or waste of biofuel production can be used as sacrificial agents; glycerol C3H8O3 is a major by-product of trans-esterification of vegetable oils to biodiesel. We report synthesis, spectroscopic characterization of the new N-M-TiO2 photocatalysts (M= Cr, Cu, Ni, Co), and photocatalytic production of H2 from solution of glycerol in water, under ambient conditions, near-UV/visible light, in comparison with benchmark photocatalyst P25 TiO2.

 

The Beauty of Decomposition

Victoria Widener
Major: Art
Minor: Psychology 
Faculty Mentor: Ms. Elizabeth Demaray, Associate Professor of Art

**Recipient of the Dean’s Undergraduate Research Grant**

I am conducting an undergraduate research project in hopes of helping the Rutgers  community see the art and beauty of decomposition. I created an acrylic compost tumbler that is located outside of the Fine Arts Building, and I have been adding compostable items, collected by the Rutgers community, to it throughout the semester. This waste is becoming nutrient rich soil that will feed flowerbeds around the community. When looking through the acrylic body of the tumbler, you can see the natural breakdown of materials occurring inside. I hope to help people realize that something that appears to be waste is actually quite beautiful.

 

“The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly:” Evaluating Unconscious Bias from Rutgers Law Students

Heather Wilson
Major: Criminal Justice
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Stacia Gilliard-Matthews, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice

The purpose of this study is to examine the explicit and implicit attitudes of race as it relates to Rutgers-Camden Law School students. The online implicit association test on race, found on Harvard University’s website, was designed by psychologists Anthony Greenwald, Debbie McGhee, and Jordan Schwartz. These “implicit association tests” were introduced to measure a persons’ perceptual speed as well as their mental associations with pictures and words. This study will require the participation of third law students from Rutgers University-Camden.  The study will examine the relationship between the explicit data collected from the students (demographic survey) and the results from the Internet-based Race Implicit Association Test. This study is strictly informative, and there is not definitive validity to this test as stated on the disclaimer. The findings from this study will aim to show a comparative association between implicit and explicit attitudes.

 

Geographic Location and Stress in Neurospora

Linda Wolfe
Major: Biology
Minor: Economics
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Kwangwon Lee, Associate Professor of Biology

**Recipient of the Dean’s Undergraduate Research Grant** 

Neurospora is a fungal model system that represents many fungal pathogens causing diseases in crops and humans. Neurospora is found worldwide, across various latitudes, from Alaska to Africa. Understanding genetic mechanisms how fungal pathogens are coping with physical stresses will not only satisfy our scientific curiosity but also allow us to prevent fungal diseases.

For the current project, we used 23 strains of two species of Neurospora, N. crassa (11) and N. discreta (12). We test the hypothesis that there is a correlation between environmental stress-resistance and the origin of collection of the strains. To test this hypothesis, we performed experiments in three experimental conditions, one control condition and two stress conditions: heat shock (50°C for five min) and UV shock (exposed to UV light for two minutes); each experimental sample was replicated three times per strain. The experimental strains were chosen based on the geographic locations: diverse latitudes from four different continents. The expected outcome of the study will provide insights into 1) the relationship of a fungal strain’s ability to resist environmental stresses and the local environment where the strain is adapted to, 2) efficient ways to kill fungus without using harmful chemicals.

 

Working Memory and Patterning Discrimination

Douglas Zacher
Major: Psychology
Faculty Mentor: Dr. J. William Whitlow, Professor of Psychology

Negative patterning discriminations require configural cues for their solution, according to associative learning theories like those of Rescorla and Wagner (1972) or Pearce(1994), and various kinds of evidence suggest that use of configural cues often require more processing resources than for their utilization than do distinctive cues or common cues.  This study examined whether working memory capacity, which limits processing resources, is linked to the relative ease or difficulty of solving negative patterning discriminations in a causal reasoning task.

 

Fluorescence Properties of Erbium-Gold Nanocomposites

Brian Zinderman
Major: Physics
Minor: Mathematics 
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Daniel Bubb, Professor of Physics

**Recipient of the Summer Undergraduate Research Grant** 

The synthesis of gold nanoparticles has numerous optical, electronic, and medical applications of interest to the scientific community. The long-term objective of this project is to determine whether the surface plasmon resonance of these gold nanoparticles can be used to alter absorption characteristics of erbium nanoparticles in such a manner that transition lifetimes are shortened. This system functionality could be used in optical switching applications. Since the SPR absorption peak of colloidal gold is very near the wavelength of light produced by second harmonic generation from Nd:YAG lasers such a switch could be controlled by common solid state lasers.


 

Please Note: #6 poster is withdrawn.