2010 Thesis Abstracts

Lindsay Baun

"Radio Numbers of Generalized Petersen Graphs"

Advisor: Jennifer Galovich, Mathematics

Assigning frequencies to radio transmitters to avoid interference presents an interesting problem in graph theory.  When assigning frequencies to radio transmitters, transmitters that are geographically close must be assigned channels that have large differences in frequency, while transmitters that are further apart may be assigned channels with relatively close frequencies. The general situation can be modeled by representing the transmitters as vertices on a graph and then assigning positive integers to the vertices of a graph. As with transmitters and radio channels, vertices which are close together must be as assigned integers which are further apart, while vertices with greater distance between them can be assigned integers which are close together.  The radio number of a graph is the minimum possible span of integers assigned to the vertices of the graph.  I will present an upper bound for the radio number of a family of graphs called generalized Petersen graphs.


Eric Bavier

"Refactoring Trilinos' Amesos Direct Sparse Solver"

Advisor: Michael Heroux, Computer Science

Solving sparse systems of linear equations of the form A*x = b is a fundamental operation in linear algebra and its application disciplines.  The Amesos package of the Trilinos project from Sandia National Laboratories was created to bring together under a single interface multiple third-party software libraries that exist to directly solve such systems.  Since its inception, the Amesos library has grown outdated in its coding style and structure.  We present an updated version of Amesos which is more maintainable, flexible, and supports the solution of sparse linear systems with arbitrary numeric data types through the use of C++ template structures.


Christen Beckstrand

"The Golden Age: An Examination of American 20th Century Flute Literature"

Advisor: Bruce Thornton, Music

Musical evolution and technological advances have wielded a strong influence on the flute's development, and the French ideology of flute performance has molded the modern flute's identity.  The flute has a long-standing history; the use of flutes can be traced as far back as the pre-historic era as instruments of bone.  But today's flute bears little resemblance to these ancient flutes.  In examining the development of the flute from these bone flutes to the modern model, the impetuses for the modern flute's construction reveal the underlying shifting priorities of flute performers, music audiences, and flute manufacturers.  The resulting construction then also affects the literature written for the instrument.  During the recent history of the 20th century, American literature reflects a shift in the flute's identity and a change in the definition of the utilization of the flute.  In fact, many referred to the 20th century flute movement as the "Golden Age" of the art.  Julius Baker, flutist of the Chicago Symphony and New York Philharmonic, suggests as early as 1959, "Perhaps we are entering a golden age of flute playing" (Baker, "Flute Playing in the United States").  Time magazine reiterates this same clain in 1966 (March 11, 1966).  When one uses the term "Golden Age," one denotes a particular time period in which an art form or age of discovery "peaks."  In essence, 20th century American flute literature - in combination with American performers and flute-makers - reflects more truly the capabilities of the modern flute and rightly ushers the flute into its Golden Age.


Jaclynn Beier

"Literature Review of Narcissism and Implications for Leadership with Personality Profiles of Bernard Madoff and Rod Blagojevich"

Advisor: Aubrey Immelman, Psychology

Multiple theories of narcissism have been presented since the term was first coined in 1898 by Havelock Ellis. Since its inception, many psychologists such as Freud, Kernberg, Kohut, and Millon have presented their own theories of narcissism. Although the theories overlap in many areas, in some respects they are contradictory. This paper will be divided into two sections. The first will provide a literary review of the historical development of narcissism. This discussion will be followed by an examination of the implications of narcissistic personalities on general leadership styles. The second section of the paper will be two empirical case studies assessing the personalities of convicted Ponzi scheme operator Bernard Madoff and disgraced former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich using the at-a-distance assessment methods created by Immelman.


Jared Breen

"Short Term Local Benefits from Public Infrastructure Investment"

Advisor: Ernest Diedrich, Economics

In the wake of a string of major infrastructure failures in the United States, such as the August 1, 2007 collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis, a great deal of attention from the media and the public at large has been placed on the nation's crumbling infrastructure.  One aspect of public infrastructure investment that tends to elude the public's watchful eye, however, is one that many are quick to take for granted: the nation's sewer and water systems.  One of the main difficulties in acquiring resources to upgrade these projects is the lack of any defined short-term benefits that may be present in, for example, providing subsidies for a new factory to bring jobs to the community.  Using data from city audit reports, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Bureau of Employment Analysis, the American Community Survey, and statistics a number of western and central Minnesota cities, this document seeks to compare levels of new water and sewer investments by Minnesota communities with a variety of other indicators.  The goal of this project is to determine if these investments have politically appealing short run benefits in the form of attracting new business activity to the community, making infrastructure upgrades viable in the short term.


Shawn Buermann

"The Evolution of a Pathogen"

Advisor: Robert Hesse, Mathematics

A new area of Mathematics called Mathematical Biology has been created quite recently which uses mathematical models to explain and diagram biological systems. Infections are all around us whether it is as small and nonthreatening as a wart on your foot or as life threatening as HIV. The question then arises why some pathogens act more violently than others, and we intend on creating a model that will help explain the differences in pathogenicities across infections. A series of models were created to explain how we might be able to change a pathogen into a lighter less deadly strain.


Laura Buggy

"The Energy of Graphs"

Advisor: Thomas Sibley, Mathematics

The topic of graph energy was first introduced by Ian Gutman in 1978 and arose as a problem in chemistry dealing with the -electron energy of a molecule. In chemistry, a molecule can be represented as a graph with vertices and edges where the vertices represent atoms and the edges represent bonds between the atoms. For a matrix associated with the graph, the energy of a graph is defined as the sum of the absolute value of the eigenvalues. For my thesis I focused on the relationship between two forms of energy, Laplacian energy and signless Laplacian energy, and tree graphs.


Christy Chan

"The Relationship between Family Environment and First Year Transition"

Advisor: Linda Tennison, Psychology

Twenty-six first-year college students, 23 females and 3 males, from a mid-western liberal arts college completed the Family Environment Scale, Student Adaptation to College Questionnaire, College Adjustment Symptom Survey and a self-designed daily wellness check in order to study the relationship between families' achievement/social-recreational orientations and academic adjustment/achievement as well as social adjustment during the first semester of college. No family orientations correlated with college adjustment, while academic and emotional adjustments were found to be the strongest predictors of attrition/escape ideations during this transition period. Results shed light on the highly variable nature of the transition process and future research implications are discussed.


Joel Cherrico

"Ceramic Investigation: Pottery, Sculpture and Installation Parallelism"

Advisor: Samuel Johnson, Art

I am interested in exploring the role of handmade pottery in today's world.  Industrialized ceramics has eliminated the need for handmade wares, so the potter has redefined his/her place in society by creating an artistic visual language through production of handmade, utilitarian vessels.  In that case, why make utilitarian vessels?  Would the language speak more clearly if function was removed?  The potter could use the same ceramic process to produce abstract sculpture for a gallery, instead of functional vessels intended for use.

I aim to define a common language between my own functional pottery, abstract sculpture, and installation choices.  Additionally, I strive to define the role of function in my pottery while creating work that explores my interest in the natural world.  My work investigates contemporary ceramic artists in order to understand aesthetics and motives involved with creating their work.  I produce work using an automatist process; making instinctual, improvisational decisions.  I then evaluate my work using analytical critique, which has become an invaluable tool providing me with a means for constant growth and artistic development.


Jacqueline Duschere

"Where are the Women?  The Effects of Gender Stereotyping on Vote Choice for U.S. Congressional Candidates"

Advisor: Claire Haeg, Political Science

In 2010, females in the United States comprise just over 50% of the population but only consist of 17% of the 441 members of the United States Congress.  Unfortunately, gender stereotyping has had a politically negative impact on women as candidates running for national office.  Specifically, gender stereotyping ultimately impacts the vote choice of the electorate.  Many models have been established to explain the influence of gender stereotyping on vote choice.  However, many of these models have not been examined in recent years and the amount of current data is lacking.  This research aims to reexamine the model established by Huddy and Terkildsen in 1993.  The objective is to examine the model's validity and to complete research about the effect of gender stereotyping on vote choice that can improve the current research disparity.  The research includes survey data collected in a modernized version of Huddy and Terkildsen's methodology that focuses on collecting data specifically about U.S. congressional candidate.   The research focuses on the importance of typical "male" and "female" personality traits and defining the issue competence of a perceived "good" member of Congress.  Ultimately, the results show that even with slight changes in methodology, "male" characteristics are still perceived as desirable for "good" politicians in the United States Congress and continue to translate into election success for male candidates.  These findings suggest that even in modern elections, gender stereotyping persists and continues to be a major factor on the number of women in the United States Congress.


Kathryn Ebben

"Through their Eyes: Experiences of Mexican Immigrants in Green Bay, Wisconsin"

Advisor: Ronald Pagnucco, Peace Studies and Gladys White, Hispanic Studies

For the past nineteen years, the population of Green Bay, Wisconsin has seen a substantial influx of Hispanic immigrants, with the majority of the population arriving from a four-state area in Mexico.  This growth in Green Bay's population has lead to some tensions between the immigrant and non-immigrant communities caused by a lack of understanding of Mexican immigration and Hispanic culture.  Through their Eyes: Experiences of Mexican Immigration in Green Bay, Wisconsin is a short book I wrote about Mexican immigration in Green Bay.  The book consists of three parts: an introduction to Mexico and Mexican immigration, interviews with Mexican immigrants in Green Bay, and a conclusion that draws connections between the factual information presented and the interviewee's experiences.  The book will be distributed to community organizations in Green Bay, which will allow for individuals to read it and learn about this immigrant community that shares their city.  In compiling these life histories in book form and making it accessible to the public, I hope to promote understanding between the immigrant and non-immigrant communities, enable these immigrants to have the chance to tell their stories, and work to build a positive peace in the community. 


Michelle Eberhard

""Against the Blood of Thy Neighbors": Obstacles to Genocide Intervention & Hope for the Future"

Advisor: Kelly Kraemer, Peace Studies 

Genocide is one of the most flagrant violations of human rights.  It is also one of the greatest issues facing our international community today, as the violence and tragedy of this most heinous crime against humanity threatens the very legitimacy and credibility of our world.  Why, then, do we continue to allow genocide to plague innocent individuals?  What will it take for us to ensure that we truly "never again" stand idly by while populations are shamelessly slaughtered by the very governments entrusted to protect them?  This thesis identifies four historical obstacles to genocide intervention, evaluates the strengths and limitations of the Responsibility to Protect approach, and proposes the creation of Quick Genocide Response Units (QGRUs) as a potential solution to the ever-reoccurring crime of genocide.


Kyle Ellingson

"The Wife of Sunny Camper Estates: A Post-Apocalyptic Novel"

Advisor: Michael Opitz, English


Meghan Gunderson

"From Pre-Production to Post-Production:  Directing Don't Abandon Me"

Advisor:  Kaarin Johnston

During the fall of 2009, I directed and helped produce a new and completely student-run play with music entitled Don't Abandon Me.  After the performances, I wrote a reflection paper outlining the process I went through from initially agreeing to direct this new piece of theater to the performance period and talk-back sessions.  The paper includes what I learned from each part of the production process and explains my approach to each section.  The process involves working with the playwright to develop a script that was able to be translated to the stage, collaborating with a student set/light designer and a student sound designer, running auditions and casting, directing the student actors during rehearsals, viewing the live performances and participating in talk-back sessions, and what I learned about myself from participating in this collaborative project.  My thesis also contains the final prompt book used in the productions and an appendix of information about the technical elements (set, light, sound, costumes, production concept, etc.) of directing that should help the reader understand the process of producing a new play.


Benjamin Hansberry

"Phenomenology as the Basis of Musical Analysis"

Advisors: Brian Campbell, Music and Emily Esch, Philosophy

This essay starts with the premise that music is an experiential phenomenon. That is, in order for music to exist, in addition to the actual sound, there must be a listener whose mind organizes the sound in such a way that the sonic experience is presented as music. Further, the goal of music theory is to gain an understanding of music without necessarily appealing to factors outside of the musical experience. Because music is essentially an experienced phenomenon, music-theoretical claims ought to have their foundation in the musical experience. Phenomenology (the study of experience) provides a way to examine this foundation. I examine three specific music-theoretical methodologies (Schenkerian analysis, Narmour's implication-realization model, and Hatten's correlation-based theory of meaning) as well as the phenomenology of musical experience. I argue that substantive theoretical claims in all three theories are based to some degree on music phenomenology. In particular, I argue high-level syntactic structures are a result of the listener's feelings, be they emotional or general senses of motion or coherence, during the musical experience.


Katherine Hartjes

The Synthesis of Multicopper Oxidase Models

Advisor: Brian Johnson, Biochemistry

Multicopper oxidases are enzymes with a trinuclear arrangement of copper atoms that reduce O2 to H2O and oxidize substrate molecules in biological systems.  Although much research has been conducted into the mechanism by which these enzymes reduce dioxygen, it has not been decidedly resolved.  Using organic synthesis, models of the multicopper oxidase active site can be made to better understand the mechanism and intermediates involved in this reaction.  By building various scaffold molecules that hold the copper ions, it may possible to isolate and characterize the oxygen-binding modes that best mimic the enzyme.  The reactivity of the resulting complexes with O2 can be compared to that of the biological enzyme to test whether the model behaves similarly.  Therefore, synthetic active site models can serve as tools to investigate the intermediates and mechanism by which multicopper oxidases function.

This thesis reports the synthesis of three previously unknown precursor molecules to the active site models.  Through Grignard and alkyl lithium reactions, both 1,3,5-tris(3-trimethylsilylprop-2-ynyl)-2,4,6-triethylbenzene [1] and 2-(3-trimethylsilylprop-2-ynyl) pyridine [3] were synthesized.  Removal of the TMS protecting groups from [1] resulted in the formation of 1,3,5-tris(2-propynyl)-2,4,6-triethylbenzene [2].  These molecules were characterized via 1H-NMR, 13C-NMR, and GC/MS analysis.  "Click" chemistry reactions, combining alkynes and azides, are currently being investigated for their efficacy in forming the active site models from molecules [1]-[3].


Kathryn Holt

"Etiology, Pathogenesis, and Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Low-income African Americans and East African Immigrants"

Advisor: Manuel Campos, Biology

Type II diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a growing health concern across America, with prevalence rates estimated at 8% for the whole population.  Minority populations have even higher observed rates- African Americans have an estimated 13% prevalence rate and East African immigrants a 10 to 15% prevalence rate.  This study explores the etiology, pathogenesis, and treatment of T2DM and examines the genetic, lifestyle, and environmental differences that explain the higher rates of T2DM and many T2DM complications in low-income African Americans and East African immigrants.  The study also offers suggestions on the best methods and practices to treat and manage T2DM in these two populations.


Jeremy Iverson

"VOCS: A Versatile Online Clustering System for Source Code Plagiarism Detection"

Advisor: James Schnepf, Computer Science

The pervasive connectivity of the Internet has contributed to increased productivity and plagiarism among students.  Detecting plagiarism is important for academic institutions, but because of the enormous amount of student work available on the Internet, manual detection is difficult and tedious.  While automated plagiarism detection systems scalable to massive submission corpora exist for natural language essays, current systems for detecting software code plagiarism are limited to small submission sets, like a single class.

The limits on current source code plagiarism detection systems are due to dependence on time inefficient pair-wise comparisons, implemented by comparing each submission to every other submission.  Consequently, for any number of submissions n, the number of comparisons is equal to (n2 -n)/2, which is large even for moderately sized n.

This project introduces an approach to detecting source come plagiarism that uses clustering to efficiently identify likely plagiarism through pair-wise comparison.  The approach uses tokens to create a normalized version of each submission, and then uses an adaptation of the k-gram plagiarism detection technique to create a summary of each tokenized submission.  Next, the k-gram set is clustered by grouping fields that share certain code characteristics.  Within a group, the similarity of each k-gram is quantified using three distance metrics and any potential plagiarism is highlighted. By comparing only submissions within a cluster, we believe that the total number of comparisons will be lowered dramatically. This approach will allow the system to be scalable to massive repositories, while maintaining the accuracy of available source code plagiarism detection systems.


Chelsea Jensen

"The Relationship of Service-Learning to Leadership and Moral Attitudes in an Undergraduate Sample"

Advisor: Richard Wielkiewicz, Psychology

This study examines the pro-social benefits of service-learning and volunteering. A survey was designed to measure morality using an adapted version of the Visions of Morality Scale (VMS) and to measure beliefs about leadership using the Leadership Attitudes and Beliefs Scale (LABS). The survey of 401 undergraduates also asked participants to report changes in empathy and changes in stereotypes that resulted from their service experience. Results indicated that students who have high amounts of volunteer experience are more likely to have high scores on the everyday morality measure, reject hierarchical thinking, endorse systemic thinking, and experience increased empathy and reduction in stereotypes as a result of their experience. None of these relationships were found for participation in service-learning. Gender was the best predictor of scores on pro-social measures with women scoring significantly higher than men on all pro-social measures.


Michael Johnson

"How to Effectively & Accurately Measure Judicial Activism: An Examination of Current Empirical Approaches"

Advisor: Philip Kronebusch, Political Science

In this paper, I am investigating and analyzing the systems used by academics and legal scholars alike to evaluate and measure judicial activism. In my analysis I aim to present a comprehensive picture of how, exactly, judicial activism is measured, why scholars choose the variables they do to measure judicial activism, how they operationalize said variables, and what differences exist between alternate systems.  After presenting this information via non-biased, empirical analysis, rather than employing a normative approach, I shall make my own determinations as to which systems, and which particular elements of those systems, are most effective and appropriate for measuring judicial activism. Finally, based on those conclusions I shall construct my own system for measuring judicial activism, one which I believe best quantifies a complex and controversial question facing American jurisprudence and public policymaking.


Megan Koltes

"Proximity: A Memoir of A School Shooting With Footnotes From Adolescent Holocaust Diaries"

Advisor: Matthew Callahan, English

This creative honors thesis project incorporates memoir writing and the unconventional use of footnotes as a frame for a conversation about adolescence.  The memoir is centered on the school shooting that occurred in 2003 at ROCORI High School in Cold Spring, Minnesota.  Evolving in tandem with the memoir, the footnotes focus on the Holocaust, as told from individual adolescent points of view.  The footnotes are a compilation of excerpts from eight adolescent Holocaust diarists, including Anne Frank.  Both the memoir and the footnotes address not only what happens during a traumatic situation but also the before and after.  Psychological and theological research touching upon adolescent trauma and restoration is interwoven throughout the project.  This project combines creative writing and research presented in atypical forums, as well as post-modern theory of transactional experience, to form a 150+ page quasi-memoir.   


Annemieke Lagerwaard

"The Relationship Between Self-Theories, Emotion, and Coping"

Advisor: Pamela Bacon, Psychology

Self-theories of intelligence have been identified by social psychologists as critical to the study of motivation, as entitists and incrementalists have been found to cope differently in reaction to failure or negative events. Entitists tend to exhibit helplessness-oriented patterns of coping, whereas incrementalists tend to exhibit mastery-oriented patterns of coping. Social psychologists have also demonstrated the utility of positive emotions to cope with negative events through the Broaden-and-Build theory of positive emotion. The current study examines the degree to which individuals' self-theories moderate the relationship between positive emotions and the ability to cope with negative events. After imagining an academic failure, 141 participants were induced with either a positive or neutral mood and then completed a variety of coping questionnaires. Participants' self-theories did relate to coping strategies. However, methodological flaws made it impossible to test a moderating relationship between self-theories, emotion, and coping. These results confirm research demonstrating that learning goals positively associate with adaptive coping strategies in response to an academic failure and generalized measures of coping. These results also carry implications for future researchers interested in studying the consequences of self-theories among college-aged populations.


Sean Landman

"Improving Start Codon Prediction Accuracy in Prokaryotic Organisms Using Naïve Bayesian Classification"

Advisor: Imad Rahal, Computer Science

With an overwhelming amount of genetic data now becoming publicly available, there is a growing need to develop more effective gene location prediction methods that produce reliable results. Although prediction of the stop codon location for genes in prokaryotic organisms is largely considered to be a solved problem, accurate prediction of the exact start codon location continues to lag behind because of the ambiguity for these start codons in the genetic code. This thesis will detail a new approach to predicting more precise gene locations for both the start and stop codon in prokaryotic organisms. This approach uses a set of gene location prediction results from other prediction programs to find consistently predicted gene locations. It then uses these ''consistent genes'' as a training set for Naïve Bayesian classification to improve accuracy in the ''ambiguous genes,'' those in which there is some variability or inconsistency in predicted locations among the prediction programs. The result is an improved accuracy in the location predictions when compared with the original set of prediction results.


Kellianne Lauer

"Shaping U.S. Foreign Aid: Incrementalism, Policy Networks and International Food Aid Policy"

Advisor: Kay Wolsborn, Political Science

As the United States is currently the world's largest donor of food aid, U.S. foreign food aid policy's goals and characteristics are heavily critiqued.  The theory of incrementalism and the network approach to public policy formation are applied to U.S. foreign food aid policy to first understand how these policy formation methods employed by policy makers influence the goals and characteristics of food aid policy.  Contradicting goals and ties to domestic interests and foreign policy initiatives are identified as characteristics of U.S. foreign food aid policy.  The policy network approach is applied by examining Congressional hearings concerning U.S. food aid and determining the presence of actors and the structure of the policy network.  The decision making methods employed by policy makers and the resulting policy output is then examined through the lens of incrementalism.  The policy network surrounding the formation of U.S. foreign food aid as well as the incremental methods of policy analysis employed by policy makers influence and maintain the goals and characteristics of United States foreign food aid policy.


Jason Lutz

"An Analog for a Basis in Finite Groups"

Advisor: Bret Benesh, Mathematics

I have defined a concept analogous to a basis in a vector space which represents elements in finite groups. Called a group basis, this concept retains properties similar to those of bases in vector spaces, such as span and linear independence. Unlike bases in vector spaces, not all finite groups have a basis, and the bases for a finite group may not have the same size. I show that bases exist for all finite abelian, dihedral, alternating, symmetric, and square-free groups.


Nicholas Matthees

"The Effects of 2; 4-D, Triclopyr, Dicamba, and Pyraflufen Herbicide on Xenopus laevis Survival, Growth, Behavior, and Pathology"

Advisor: Elizabeth Wurdak, Biology

Manufacturers of herbicides that combat broad-leafed plants warn that they may be toxic to fish and aquatic invertebrates. Six days post hatch, African clawed frogs (Xenopus laevis) were exposed to either 5.6ml (100%) or 0.56ml (10%) of 40 ml solution containing a combination of 2,4-D, Triclopyr, Dicamba and pyraufen ethyl herbicides for 7 or 16 days, respectively. The 100% group had a survival fraction of 0.18; this was a significant difference (p < 0:0001) from the survival fractions of 0.794 and 0.8 for the 10% group and control group, respectively. Exposed tadpoles were lethargic, observably less hungry, displayed abnormal swimming, and demonstrated a higher variability in mass. Tadpoles, after being preserved in buffered formalin; embedded in paraffin; sectioned; and stained with either hematoxylin and eosin, Mallory Trichrome stain, or the periodic acid-Schiff were examined under the light microscope. There were no striking differences in the gut. Examinations under the SEM revealed no external differences.


Jenna Miller

"Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Analysis of Two Competing Theories"

Advisor: Richard Wielkiewicz, Psychology

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a pervasive disorder that affects the lives of 3% to 7% of school-age children.  Children diagnosed with ADHD usually display challenges in three broad areas of behavior: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.  The purpose of this research was to re-examine two competing theories for the cause of ADHD.  Barkley's theory states that response inhibition is the primary executive function deficit that then gives rise to secondary deficits.  However, Rapport and colleagues believe that working memory is actually the primary executive function deficit.    Through various multiple regression analyses, research shows that working memory is a better predictor for attention problems in children with ADHD.  Although response inhibition is a better predictor for aggression problems and conduct problems, a measure of hyperactivity is needed for a true representation of the motor behavior deficits in children with ADHD.  Future research should also focus on the over-diagnosis of ADHD.


Megan Mills-Rittman

"Making Ruins"

Advisor: Michael Opitz, English

By giving my project the theme of ruins, I was attempting to explore the reasoning behind the apparent "trend" in literary fiction towards unhappy endings. The four stories in the collection are linked by images of ruins - both classical and unconventional in nature - that function as metaphors for the characters' lives. Through my writing and reading, I came to the conclusion that tragedy, however mild or dramatic, stirs us in a way that happy endings do not; instead of providing a vicarious thrill, it provokes empathy. Furthermore, it gives momentum to stories, as characters who find themselves in unfortunate situations are rarely content to remain so; and if they cannot extract themselves from their problems, then readers are all the more moved. My hope is that the stories I've written manage to remain outside the boundaries of melodrama while still causing readers to empathize with the characters, whose intangible troubles correspond with the physical ruins in their lives.


Eduardo Moreno

"Automated Memory Management for the Qaqao Programming Language"

Advisor: J. Andrew Holey, Computer Science

Garbage collection is the automatic management of dynamically allocated storage.  In other words, it is the process of reallocating memory used by runtime objects.  Garbage refers to data that can no longer be reached at runtime and has not been deallocated by the memory manager.  Garbage collection aims to efficiently manage the use of memory, removing the burden of manual memory management from the user.  Qaqao would greatly benefit from the implementation of a garbage collector, since at its current iteration it does not free unused memory, causing memory leaks.  My thesis focuses on implementing an efficient garbage-collection algorithm for Qaqao.  Additionally, it describes future implementations of higher-level garbage collection algorithms that could potentially be used in Qaqao.


Peter Ohmann

"Qaqao: Implicitly Introducing Flexibility into Parallelism"

Advisor: J. Andrew Holey, Computer Science

In this paper, a method is suggested which facilitates a move back toward implicit parallel programming using the language of Qaqao. The model, in particular, is designed to be very flexible in order to allow for future developments in parallel language research. In addition, the model seeks to remain flexible, even at execution time, to allow for conservative but effective performance improvements by taking advantage of shared-memory, multi-core systems. This is particularly important in the consumer market, as software is not usually designed with the intention of having full access to all system resources. The initial design of the model does not aim at peak parallel performance, but it is designed to facilitate future improvements easily.

Though an implementation of the model is provided, it is by no means meant to be a simple solution to this radically complex problem, but, rather, another communication on the topic and a starting point for investigation. In addition, this paper implicitly makes the argument that the choice of parallel model is largely impacted by the design language. To begin with, then, it is important to look at object-oriented design as it has been approached thus far.


Sarah Parker

"Fatty Acid Composition of Egg Yolks"

Advisor: Kate Graham, Chemistry

The relative fatty acid composition of chicken egg yolks was determined in this study. In particular, the fatty acid composition of eggs from free-range chickens, organic chickens, conventionally-raised chickens, and chickens whose diets were enriched in omega-3 fatty acids was compared. Although comparisons between conventional eggs and omega-3 enriched eggs have been made, there is currently little data in the literature regarding the fatty acid composition of eggs from free-range chickens. Previous results from our research group indicate that in the summer, local farm eggs from both free-range chickens and chickens raised in a barn have omega-3 percentages comparable to commercial eggs enriched in omega-3 fatty acids. Both farm eggs and omega-3 enriched eggs have higher omega-3 fatty acid percentages than conventional eggs.  Analysis of winter farm eggs indicates that significant differences exist between summer and winter farm eggs with regards to palmitoleic acid, stearic acid, and oleic acid. However, there is no significant difference between winter farm eggs and summer farm eggs with regards to the nutritionally important omega-3 fatty acids linolenic acid, EPA, or DHA. The results of this study indicate that ingestion of commercial eggs enriched in omega-3 fatty acids or summer or winter locally-raised farm eggs will be more effective at supplementing the human diet with omega-3 fatty acids than conventional eggs.


Emily Persichetti

"How to See in the Dark: An Alternate Approach to Feminist Literary Theory in the Form of a Novella"

Advisor: Elizabeth Johnson-Miller, English

How to See in the Dark is a novella that explores a take on feminist literary theory in which the protagonist, Nina, is suppressed by family and gender roles; but she is the creator of her own circumstances, rather than being imposed upon by societal expectations. The novel is told through a series of memories as Nina reflects on her childhood, her relationship with her parents, her college years and adult life, and her relationship with her husband and son. Nina believes that traditional gender roles within the family are necessary for stability and happiness. Thus, she boxes herself into an environment in which she cannot obtain individuality or self-assurance until she breaks away. Told non-chronologically, the novella explores the complex functioning of the human mind and memory, and illustrates the idea that the past may influence the present, but it does not have to dictate it.

I chose to write a novella for my senior thesis as a challenge to myself. Already feeling confident in poetry writing, I wanted to learn how to create dynamic characters and complete plots and how to work through a piece of substantial length. Completing this project has given me great confidence as a writer of multiple styles and forms and prepared me for the world of writing after college.


Jennifer Richter 

"Teaching Chinese Culture through Children's Theater"

Advisor: Kaarin Johnston, Theater

While in China for six weeks as a part of the Summer 2009 Research Exchange Program, Jennifer Richter conducted research focusing on Chinese history and culture, especially through analyzing traditional Chinese children's folk tales and stories. Returning to the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John's University, she continued her research and focused on the use of theater as pedagogy. She then created a scenario for an improvisational drama to be performed for young people who would actively participate in the piece with the ultimate goal of helping Minnesota children learn about Chinese culture. Richter then served as the director/team leader for a group of six college actors who performed the interactive theater piece at local elementary schools in October 2009.


Charlotte Rogers

"Deciphering the Population Genetic Structure of Eastern Leatherwood (Dirca palustris) Using ISSR- Analysis"

Advisor:  Gordon Brown, Biology

Using intersimple sequence repeat (ISSR) analysis, the goal of this study was to determine the relationship between geographic and genetic distance within a population of the shrub, Dirca palustris, located in Central Minnesota.  We formulated hypotheses based on levels of observed geographic structure: (1) Dirca subpopulations separated by greater than four kilometers will exhibit greater genetic differentiation than is observed among closer subpopulations; (2) Dirca subpopulations separated by less than four kilometers will exhibit greater genetic differentiation than is observed among discrete plant clusters within subpopulations; and (3) discrete clusters within a subpopulation will produce genetic patterns enabling us to identify potential parent-offspring relationships.  On spatial scales less than seven kilometers Dirca does not exhibit significant geographic structuring by genetics.  Parent-offspring relationships within a plant cluster were not observed.  The results suggest that factors such as population history, seed disperser and pollinator ranges, local adaptive pressures, or clonal regeneration may play a greater role in Dirca population structure.


Katherine Schneider

"The Struggle within the Sword: Maxine Hong Kingston's Fight for an Identity through the Legend of Mu Lan in her memoir, The Woman Warrior"

Advisor: Jessica Harkins, English and Jennifer Kramer, Communications

The art of storytelling is an age-old practice used to pass down cultural practices and beliefs. Maxine Hong Kingston, a Chinese American writer, uses this form through her re-telling of the legend of Mu Lan as a means to share her personal worldview. As a storyteller, in transforming stories from their original form, both the identities of her characters (as well as her own) deepen in significance and relativity as she transforms the legends into something of her own. Throughout her memoir, The Woman Warrior, Kingston continuously questions what it means to grow up Chinese American. She references Chinese myths and legends, Western mythology, as well as both Chinese and American practices in contradiction with each other as she attempts to form a cohesive depiction of herself in relation to the world around her. This narrative form allows Kingston to address important issues that can be more easily shared and understood through the mode of storytelling, thus giving her the voice she needs in order to explore the identity she attempts to solidify. Through literary analysis of Kingston's "White Tigers" chapter, the layered contradictions between Chinese and American culture become apparent through her narrative form, examples of Chinese and American perspectives as well as stories from her own life. In addition, the application of communication's cultural identity and standpoint theories help trace key aspects of Kingston's identity development. In solidifying her own identity, she raises her sword to fight injustice and challenges her readers to reconsider their own worldviews.


Karla Schommer

"Subtraction Games and Computer Applications"

Advisor:  Lynn Ziegler, Computer Science and Gary Brown, Mathematics

Subtraction games are a type of mathematical game in which players take turns removing a set number of objects from a pile until there are no more moves remaining.  The last person to remove objects wins. Subtraction games have been proven by game theorists to be periodic. In this research, we combine programming skills and game theory to investigate patterns in the periods of subtraction games.


Valentin Sierra Arias

"The Federal Reserve's Mission Conflicts, the Case of the Subprime Crisis"

Advisor: Matthew Lindstrom, Political Science

Congress has gradually increased the goals and functions of the central bank of the United States-the Federal Reserve, creating a mission challenge for the institution. In light of its current mandate to maintain financial stability, mitigate financial systemic risk, and protect consumers of financial services; many have blamed the Fed for failing to prevent the financial crisis that broke out with the collapse of the subprime mortgage market in 2007. Using analytical tools from political science, public administration, and economics, this thesis seeks to explain how ambiguous and conflicting goals in the Federal Reserve's mission motivated the central bank's regulatory failures. Part of the Fed's strategic consideration was that intervening in subprime mortgage lending and securitization could have threatened its autonomy in monetary policy making through heightened public pressure and congressional oversight.


Megan Sinner

"Refuting gender stereotypes in savior narratives: the Gospels, the Chronicles of Narnia, and the Harry Potter series"

Advisor: Cynthia Malone, English

This thesis explores literary analysis, gender roles, and Christian theology through stories that have shaped young, Western readers' conceptions of how the world works.  It searches for an answer to the question "are saviors necessarily male." It also examines girls' and women's roles in each of the three narratives and the roles played by each savior's closest friends of each gender.  The thesis concludes that, because women are expected to be passive and self-sacrificing in the Western construct of gender norms, their sacrifices are not as highly esteemed as men's.  As demonstrated in each of the three narratives, if a woman preserves her life instead of sacrificing it for her community, she cannot be associated with good.  Because a man can actively choose to either sacrifice himself or preserve his life AND still be associated with good, his sacrifice means more than a woman's, so each savior - at least in the current Western tradition - is necessarily male.


Katherine Stacken

"Language, Visual Information, and Attention in Decision Making"

Advisor: Benjamin Faber, Psychology

Different presentations of the same choice can generate inconsistent decisions. In the present study, language and visual information were manipulated to test whether they have an effect on decision making.  Decision-making scenarios were presented in either active or passive voice Also, the presence or absence of visual information relating to the scenario was varied to potentially shift participants' focus and responses to the situations.  Results were that the active/passive voice only mattered at the onset of decision making.  Given time, or presented with visual information, participant's choice was not influenced by the way the sentence was worded or by what visual information was presented.  Overall, it is apparent through this research that online language processing and eventual decision making can be disassociated by time.


Xuyang Tang

"Modeling the Ecological and Economic Loss Imposed by the Three Gorges Dam"

Advisor:  Ernest Diedrich, Economics

The Three Gorges Dam is one of the world's largest dams with tremendous ecological and economic impact. Theoretically, to ensure minimal damage that the dam imposes, all possible effects of the dam should be fully understood before the construction of the dam. However, although the economic benefit and hydraulic studies of the dam are abundant, there is very little explanation of the ecological consequence. Hence, the dam lacks ecological evidence, and its possible ecological damages are unknown. To examine the ecological damage of the dam, the general adaptive cycle by C.S. Holling is used as a basis of the ecosystem surrounding the dam, and simulations are done to estimate the dam's ecological impacts. Then, the economic loss of the dam is discussed based on the possible environmental wealth loss caused by the dam. The dam may bring catastrophic ecological consequence to its surrounding ecosystems, and thus causes economic loss.


Angela Tate

"Speak Up: Contemporary Young Adult Fiction and Its Place in the Literary Canon"

Advisor: Steven Thomas, English

Despite its undeniable popularity, young adult fiction has always had a low-brow reputation when compared to other literary and canonical works - in part because its association with popular "chick lit" novels.  Some nineteenth century fiction that was first marketed to young adults and dismissed because of its appeal to mainstream audiences has come to be recognized for its merit while more recent, contemporary works are often disregarded as superficial and sensational.  I will attempt to reevaluate its canonical value by examining similar arguments about canonical standards made by past critics and theorists such as Michel Foucault and Jane Tompkins.  A canonical young adult fiction book must not only be culturally timely, but it must also contribute to a larger cultural conversation.  Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak is the primary contemporary text through which I will support this claim.  When compared to the classic young adult novel The Catcher in the Rye, we can conclude Speak - and other socially challenging books like it - can carry its weight in the literary canon.


Jaselyn Taubel

"Ignorance is Bliss... Or is It? An Empirical Look at the Relationship Between Higher Education and Happiness"

Advisor: Dr. Louis Johnston, Economics

College students today are bombarded with the message that, to be competitive in the job market, they must receive a college degree. Many are taking this one step further and seeking graduate education. After all, students with a college degree earn more and tend to have more stable jobs, among other things. But does being better off equate to being happier? With Amartya Sen's capabilities approach as a framework, I hypothesized that it would. Using ordered logit regressions, I tested data gathered from the 1972-2006 US General Social Surveys on happiness, educational attainment, various demographic variables, labor force status, health, and income. My results found no relationship between the level of educational attainment achieved and the level of self-reported happiness when all controls were included. Possible explanations for these results include measurement error in the selected variables and self-selection bias in who chooses to attend graduate school.


Nga Tran

"A cross-provincial study: The impact of education on income in Vietnam"

Advisor: Sucharita Mukherjee, Economics

Investment in schooling has long been recognized as a contributor to higher income per capita. However, improvement in income per capita depends on the types of educational investment. Is expanding schooling or improving the quality of education better for increasing the income level? Using provincial data on Vietnam from 2002 to 2006, OLS regression analysis was used to evaluate the impact of the quantity of schooling (in terms of the number of schools) and the quality of schooling (in terms of the pupil -teacher ratio) on per capita income. The results indicate a negative relationship between per capita income and the number of schools at primary and lower secondary education. At the same time, the pupil-teacher ratios show different impacts on income per capita at different levels of the general education.


Paula Traut

"Clay as Canvas: An Alternative Approach to the Ceramic Surface"

Advisor: Samuel Johnson, Art

From one ton of wet clay, I created over three hundred individual ceramic tiles to hang in various-sized rectangular compositions on the wall. Consisting of low-relief ceramic textures treated with porcelain slips, wax and paint, the pieces hang on the wall like paintings, yet possess the weight and presence of ceramic sculpture. Inspired largely by Minimalist painters, each piece contains marks and textures that reveal the processes and materials employed to create the work, drawing the viewer in through its humble yet undeniable presence and encouraging an interaction between the viewer and the surface. Through this project, I developed a medium and way of working that allowed me to draw from my past experiences of life and art and present emotions to make sincere and meaningful artwork.


Sarah Vanneste

"High Technology Clusters inan Age of Globalization"

Advisor: Sanford Moskowitz, Management

 The United States is the world leader economically and technologicallyand this position can be attributed to the Silicon Valley cluster in California.  Globally, Silicon Valley is the generally accepted model for a high-tech cluster and is the center for technology and innovation.  In comparing Silicon Valley with another cluster in the United States, Route 128, I have developed a model for a successful cluster.  This model can then be utilized as a tool for comparison between other clusters internationally.  In order to address the outcome of globalization (global convergence or divergence) I have studied the most important and advanced clusters in North America, the European Union, and Asia. 


Joseph Wonderlich

"Empathy: A Possible Moderator for Joiner's Interpersonal-Psychological Theory of Suicide"

Advisor: Richard Wielkiewicz, Psychology

The present study's primary objective was to extend research examining Joiner's (2005) Interpersonal-Psychological Theory of Suicide by including a measure of empathy.  Empathy refers to the capability to share another being's emotions and feeling.   In the present study, I assessed levels of dispositional empathy as a possible moderator for the perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness from Joiner's theory. Empirical support strongly suggests these variables predict suicidal ideation.  Because Joiner's variables of thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness require an individual to attempt to understand how others feel about them, levels of dispositional empathy may affect how a person interprets these variables. Due to few reports of suicidal ideation, analyses were conducted with a measure assessing reasons for living. Analyses suggested that empathy was significantly associated with reasons for living. However, empathy did not moderate the interaction between perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness, as predicted.


David Wutchiett

"Losing Control: Cognitive Effects of Social Anxiety"

Advisor: Benjamin Faber, Psychology

The present study was designed to examine the cognitive understanding of anxiety from a deconstructed perspective, including measurement of relevant cognitive subcomponents and individual traits. This work will review social anxiety as a psychological construct, the methods of measuring social anxiety in individuals, and its cognitive impact on attentional systems. From there, the role of attentional systems will be examined in terms of executive function. Lastly, the relationship between working memory capacity and executive functioning will be looked at in reference to social anxiety.