2011 Thesis Abstracts

Kaitlin Andreasen

"Just Another Dumb Blonde? A Cross-Cultural Study of Implicit Hair Color Biases and Ambivalent Sexism"

Advisor: Linda Tennison, Psychology

Previous research has identified the prevalence and impact of stereotypes in the world today. People are driven by visual cues and often categorize others on the basis of physical appearance and expect them to encompass certain traits, characteristics, and role behaviors. The present study aims to uncover the unconscious association of blondes with the dumb blonde stereotype. Sixty participants from Spain and sixty participants from the United States will take an Implicit Association Test (IAT) which operates on the assumption that response time is proportional to the difficulty of associating a target group with an attribute. Participants will classify, under time pressure, positive or negative adjectives related to beauty or intelligence or images of blonde or brunette women. It is anticipated that in both cultures implicit hair color biases will prevail, and it will be easier to associate the dumb blonde stereotype with blondes rather than brunettes. Additionally, it is believed that for participants in the United States, it will be easier to associate negative adjectives related to intelligence (i.e. stupid, gullible) with images of blonde women than it will be for participants from Spain. The research will also explore the relationship between the presence of implicit hair color biases and attitudes of ambivalent sexism. Participants will take the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory (Glick and Fiske 1996) which is a 22-item assessment used as an overall measure of sexism and includes subscales to assess the separate components of hostile and benevolent sexism. It is expected that individuals from both Spain and the United States who reveal implicit hair color biases will be more likely to endorse ambivalent sexism.

 

 Mardi Billman

 "Molecular Modeling of Multicopper Oxidases: The Binding of O2 to a Tri-Copper Active Site"

Advisor: Brian Johnson, Chemistry

Bioinorganic chemistry is the study of inorganic elements in biological systems. One such example of a system can be found in the active site of enzymes, where clusters of metals are chemically responsible for biological reactions. Specifically, this research focuses on multicopper oxidases-enzymes that possess a tri-copper cluster in the active site with the purpose of reducing dioxygen to water, among other reactions. The method of biomimetics is employed, which simplifies researching the tri-copper-oxygen binding mechanism. In using this method, ligand scaffolds are synthesized that mimic the enzyme's active site and therefore reduce the complexity of the studied reaction by removing the bulk of the enzyme. Various ligand scaffolds have been synthesized and characterized, but none to date have perfectly modeled a multicopper oxidase after copper(I) was added to the system. The purpose of this research then was to attempt synthesizing a new ligand scaffold for characterization, ultimately with the hope of correctly mimicking a multicopper oxidase. If the molecular model successfully reflects a multicopper oxidase, all research of the binding mechanism would go toward finding a treatment for Wilson disease, which occurs in multicopper oxidases that have become defective in humans, causing illness or even death.

 

 Katherine Boehm

 "A Novel:  and in the waiting you become"

Advisor:  Michael Opitz, English

On the twentieth anniversary of her mother's death, waitress Bekka begins to write again.  Over the course of one year, she creates a collection of autobiographic vignettes by observing people around her and reluctantly examining her own history.  On the periphery of her life and included as a character in her narrative is belligerent author and frequent customer Alexander Thad.  Because the two are drawn together by their similarities and a mutual dislike for one another, Bekka is compelled to give her work to Thad.  He begins to comment critically on her writing, but his notes quickly become a journey of begrudging self-examination.  Their interdependent first-person stories are presented in a creative format to emphasize the manner in which each writes.

 

 Katie Brown

 "Proportional Representation of Women and Perceptions of Leadership Roles"

Advisor: Pamela Bacon, Psychology

According to the role-congruity theory, prejudice against female leaders arises from the lack of fit between the communion required of the female gender role and the agency required of the leadership role (Eagly & Karau, 2002). Previous researchers have suggested that the improved evaluations of female leaders over the past four decades has occurred due to the greater proportion of women in leadership positions, which has altered perceptions of either the gender role, leadership role, or both to create greater congruence between the female gender role and leadership roles(Eagly & Karau, 2002; Eagly, Makhijani, & Klonsky, 1992). To further examine this claim, the researcher of the present study varied the proportion of fictional female managers in a work group and asked participants to rate the degree to which a female manager possessed communal and agentic qualities as well as rate the importance of communal and agentic qualities for effective leadership. Contrary to my predictions, the proportion of female leaders in a work group did not affect perceptions of the female manager or the perceptions of qualities necessary for effective leadership. The results of the present study indicate the stagnancy of gender and leadership stereotypes as well as suggest that increasing the proportion of female leaders in a work group alone is insufficient in lessening the incongruence between the female gender role and leadership roles.

 

 David Byrne

 "Groups of Graphs of Groups"

 Advisor: Thomas Sibley, Mathematics

 We can construct an edge colored complete graph of a group by generalizing the notion of distance in the reals. Each graph of a group has color preserving bijections called isometries, and the collection of all isometries of a group forms a new group. We have classified the isometry groups of all groups, and I will discuss in detail my part of this classification. I will discuss the use of direct products and semi-direct products for discovering isometry groups, and I will show that abelian groups and dicyclic groups are the building blocks for groups whose isometry group is twice as big as the original group.

 

 Edward Byrne

 "The Minimum Wage's Effects on Teenage Employment"

Advisor: John Olson, Economics

This paper continues the current discussion as to how increases in the minimum wage effect teenage employment.  This debate focuses on model specification, centered about the inclusion of year effects for modeling the employment effect of the minimum wage. We use the recent federal minimum wage increases to continue the work of Burkhauser, Couch and Wittenburg (2000a) and Sabia (2009a) using month Current Population Survey (CPS) data from 1994 through 2009. Consistent evidence is found that minimum wage increases reduce teenage employment across specifications. These findings validate BCW's and Sabia's results, showing that increased variation in the minimum wage variable leads to a significant negative impact of increases in the minimum wage on teenage employment.

 

 Benjamin Casner

 "Now or Later: An Experimental Analysis of the Effects of Distraction on Individual Financial Decisions and Preferences"

Advisor: Parker Wheatley, Economics

A number of models in the literature and several experiments show that a high cognitive load will lead to individual decision makers selecting emotionally appealing options over less appealing but, in the long run more advantageous, alternatives. There has been little work examining the effects of cognitive load on intertemporal financial decisions. Researchers used data from an experiment run with 45 college students to test whether filling out a survey under conditions of distraction would elicit higher discounting rates than completing it with no distractions. Additionally, a choice of a small immediate or larger delayed reward was offered at the end of the survey. Researchers found evidence suggesting that ability to defer consumption options that are immediately available is impaired when participants are distracted, but when making decisions about consumption options which are unavailable until a later time, the distraction condition had little effect.

 

James Darcy

"The Multiple Drafts Model and the Transcendental Argument for Passage"

Advisor: Emily Esch, Philosophy

The passage of time remains a central topic of discussion in the debate between the A-theory and B-theory accounts of time. In a recent paper Adrian Bardon offers a transcendental argument for passage, which concludes that the passage of time is necessary for there to be coherent experience, and thus must be included in our concept of time-order, and viewed as a feature of the objective world. In this paper I will first present different conceptions of passage. The remainder of the paper focuses on a critical examination of the transcendental argument for passage offered by Bardon in light of a cognitive theory of temporal ordering, the Multiple Drafts Model proposed by Daniel Dennett. I present this model as a plausible alternative to the passage of time, in that it can account for the necessary components of experience on the preconscious level without an appeal to passage. Finally, I briefly present a concept of time-order that is compatible with the Multiple Drafts Model and also explains our experience of passage.

 

Leif Davisson

"The Green Driver's Dilemma: Choosing an Environmentally Friendly Car"

Advisor: Derek Larson, Environmental Studies

The current U.S. automotive fleet is composed largely of inefficient, polluting, gasoline powered vehicles. Factors such as increasing gas prices, anxiety regarding energy security, and environmental concerns have combined to make efficiency an important factor for new car buyers. However, no comprehensive buyer's guides currently exist to consider such factors as which technology is appropriate for each person's different needs and what criteria should be weighed most heavily. This paper attempts to fill that void. It assembles the five most accessible and economical green car technologies, explains and compares them, and creates a rubric based on their strengths and weaknesses to help buyers choose the most efficient car for their given driving profile. It also evaluates the future of several high-efficiency automotive technologies that are not currently viable options for consumers.

 

Ellen Dehmer

"Gender Differences in Text Message Content"

Advisor: Janet Tilstra, Psychology

Text messaging is an emerging form of communication popular with teenagers and young adults. This form of discourse shares patterns of both spoken and written language. Well documented differences exist in the spoken and written language patterns of men and women (Baron, 2008), but less information is available related to male/female differences in language patterns while using electronic communication. Researchers in Europe, Asia, and the US have noted differences in male/female text messaging habits and punctuation as well as preliminary differences in self-reports of text message content. Limited empirical information is available describing male/female content differences from actual text messages. In this study we examine the content of text messages and text messaging habits of 40 undergraduate students. Participants will submit 8 text messages a day for a week. All text message content will be coded using classifications similar to those of Ling (2002) with comparisons of communication content included in text messages of men and women. Researchers, blind to participant gender, will use a coding system to code messages in the following communication categories: grooming, coordination, information, questions, answers, personal news, and other. In addition, participants will complete a short survey related to text messaging habits including when they choose to text vs. make a voice call, to whom they text, and judgment of what type of messages are appropriate and inappropriate to send by text. Based on previous research and preliminary studies examining male/female differences in spoken and written language we expect women to include a greater number of grooming statements and questions in their text messages, and men to include a greater number of coordination statements and answers. We anticipate that in the survey students will report a favorable attitude towards texting, frequent text message use to communicate with friends, and provide information about assumed etiquette rules for texting.

 

 Kristina DeMuth

 "Identifying the Characteristics of Eating Disorders in a Community Sample"

 Advisor: Linda Shepherd, Nutrition and Richard Wielkiewicz, Psychology

 Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) is a diagnosis category for those who do not meet all criteria for Anorexia or Bulimia and it is the most commonly diagnosed eating disorder in both clinical and community samples. The characteristics of those with the EDNOS diagnosis and the prevalence of EDNOS diagnoses may be a signal that the theory underlying diagnosis needs to be revised.  An online survey, available via social networking sites, compared the characteristics of individuals with EDNOS to individuals with Anorexia and Bulimia to determine commonalities among the diagnostic groups, as well as issues with insurance coverage and treatment. An eating disorder severity index created from items in the survey was used to assess the variance in psychopathology among the diagnoses, as well as the body mass indexes. Results provided strong support for the transdiagnostic approach that suggests there is a core cognitive component to eating disorders and that the behavioral patterns displayed will migrate between restricting, binging and/or purging as the course of the disorder progresses.

 

 Rachel Dols

 "A Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of Radon Mitigation in the Upper Midwest"

 Advisor: Daniel Steck, Physics

 Minnesota, Iowa, and parts of the surrounding states comprise the "Radon Belt" of the Upper Midwest, an area of the U.S. where the radon levels are naturally higher than in the rest of the country. This investigation analyzes the cost-effectiveness of lung cancer prevention through radon mitigation in the Upper Midwest, examining the cost of mitigating high-radon homes as well as the number of lung cancer deaths which would be averted by doing so. The purpose of this analysis is twofold: first, to compare the cost-effectiveness of mitigation in the Upper Midwest to the cost-effectiveness of mitigation in the U.S. as a whole and, second, to compare the cost-effectiveness of mitigation in the Upper Midwest to the cost-effectiveness of lung cancer medical treatment.

 

 Matthew Donner

 "Groups of Graphs of Groups"

 Advisor: Thomas Sibley, Mathematics

 Groups can be graphically represented using edge colored graphs. For a given group G, the color preserving bijections of the graph of G form a group themselves, called the isometry group. I did research in collaboration with David Byrne. The central goal of our research was to classify the isometry groups of all groups.   My thesis covers the theorems I have shown that have contributed to our complete classification.

 

 Alexander Hansen

 "Proof-of-concept: The transgenic transformation of Medicago sativa with Agrobacterium tumefaciens"

 Advisor: Michael Reagan, Biology

 The forage plant Medicago sativa, commonly referred to as alfalfa, has great economic value. The introduction of novel DNA sequences of genes into the plant offers the potential for further increasing the plant's value. Using Agrobacterium mediated transformation, a gene cassette (Cauliflower Mosaic Virus 35s promoter, β-glucuronidase, and Neomycin Phosphotransferase II) was incorporated into the plant's genome for the purpose of assessing the constitutive and specific tissue expression properties of the Cauliflower Mosaic Virus 35s promoter. Histochemical staining with 5-bromo-4-chloro-3-indolyl-β-glucuronide (X-gluc) demonstrated the expression of the novelty cassette with the plants. These stains were confirmed with PCR confirm the presence of the GUS gene.

 

 Allison Homstad

 "Comparison of Motivational General-Mastery and Motivational General-Arousal Imagery Interventions and Their Impact on Perceived Team Cohesion in a Collegiate Volleyball Team"

 Advisor: Stephen Stelzner, Psychology

 This study examined the relationship between team cohesion and Motivational General mental imagery for a Division III collegiate volleyball team. A secondary purpose was to determine whether team cohesion scores varied with personality type based on the Five Factor Model of personality. Thirteen players participated in the study, listening to one of two different mental imagery scripts in alternating fashion before each home volleyball game. The first script was Motivational General-Arousal imagery and the second script was Motivational General-Mastery imagery. Following each game, the players recorded their feelings about team cohesion based on the Group Environment Questionnaire. The results did not support the hypothesis that Motivational General-Arousal imagery would be more highly correlated with an increase in team cohesion as compared to Motivational General-Mastery imagery. Rather, the results indicated that team success may have more of an impact on perceived team cohesion, regardless of the type of mental imagery used. There were also a number of significant correlations in perceived team cohesion depending on the Big Five personality factors. The results suggest that future research should compare teams with varied success to see whether mental imagery affects teams differently depending on success.

 

 Katherine Kenefick

 "Body Dissatisfaction, The Thin Ideal, and Social Judgments"

Advisor: Rodger Narloch, Psychology

The thin ideal is transmitted through the mass media's portrayal of female models that embody unattainable and unrealistic thinness providing women with an extreme standard for comparison. The current study sought to examine the combined effect of social judgments and the media's presentation of the thin ideal on body dissatisfaction and self-esteem in women. Before participating in the experiment, 110 participants from a liberal arts college completed a base-line measure of body dissatisfaction. During the experiment, participants overheard a judgmental conversation about attractiveness in which the experimenter manipulated the gender discussed in the judgmental conversation. Participants were then presented with idealized media images and surveyed on their body dissatisfaction and state self-esteem. The purpose of this was to examine the circumstances under which women protect themselves against societal expectations of attractiveness and the negative influences of the media. This study found that, regardless of the participants' base-line measure of body dissatisfaction or the gender discussed in the judgmental conversation, post-experimental scores of body dissatisfaction and state self-esteem did not differ.

 

 Sara Kokkila

 "Modeling the Kinetics of an Enzyme System"

Advisors: Dr. Henry Jakubowski, Chemistry; Dr. Tom Sibley, Mathematics

The enzyme catalyzed hydrolysis of para-nitrophenylphosphate was studied using progress curve analysis techniques. The product of this reaction is a known enzyme inhibitor for this system. The system was assumed to follow Michaelis-Menten kinetics. From modified Michaelis-Menten differential equations, Lambert function models for competitive, uncompetitive, mixed inhibition, and their respective product inhibition versions were determined. These models can be used to fit progress curve data in order to determine the Michaelis constant, inhibition constants, and the maximal velocity of the system.

 

Lindsey Krause

"Conditions for Success: Conditional Party Government in the Minnesota House of Representatives"

Advisor: Claire Haeg, Political Science

Despite voter calls for bipartisanship in Congress, the national legislature has actually increased in terms of party polarization over the past two decades. In the United States House of Representatives, party structure is instrumental to legislative outcomes. Party leaders are in complete control: the rules, agenda, and legislative priority list are all at their disposal. For moderate members of the House, this may present a problem. Party leaders often gravitate to the polarized edges of their party, leaving middle-dwellers in the lurch. According to Aldrich and Rohde's conditional party government (CPG) theory, under certain conditions, party leaders will change the ideological composition of their party, making it more ideologically homogenous and differentiating it from the opposite party, creating party polarization and centralization of power in leadership positions. Scholars agree that the United States House of Representatives is polarized; however, does polarization exist in sub-national legislatures? This paper examines whether the Minnesota House of Representatives faces these same conditions and the consequences of conditional party government. It examines roll call voting patterns and NOMINATE scores for the Minnesota House of Representatives' 80th, 83rd, and 86th sessions, with a preliminary analysis of the upcoming 87th legislative session. In examining these legislative sessions, changes in majority party control are taken into account, as are specific pieces of important legislation in each session. Other theories of governance, including the cartel theory, median voter theorem, and the strategic party government theory are also discussed.

 

 Robert Lennon

 "Dividing the Land, Uniting the Peoples: the Hospitallers on Rhodes, 1347 - 1374"

 Advisor: Theresa Vann, History

 When the Order of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem captured the island of Rhodes in 1310, they were faced with the dilemma of having to govern a primarily non-Latin populace of Rhodian Greeks, while still trying to attract other Latin settlers from Western Europe to the island. This paper examines how the Order tread a fine line between favoring the different groups on the island, focusing on property grants from 1347 to 1374. It makes the case that the Hospitallers, by granting land fairly evenly among the different peoples of the island, gave all the differing groups an economic stake in the island, thereby promoting the common good.

 

Nathan Louwagie

"Study of Pyridoxal 5' Phosphate (PLP) Analogs as Potential Inhibitors to the Enzyme Low Molecular Weight Protien Tyrosine Phosphatase (LMW-PTP)"

Advisor: Edward McIntee, Chemistry

It has been shown that Low Molecular Weight Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase (LMW-PTP) human isoform II has increased expression in certain types of cancerous cells. Moreover, it has also been shown that increased expression of LMW-PTP can be predictive of more aggressive or invasive cancers. Our project has been centered on discovering a specific inhibitor for LMW-PTP using analogs of Pyridoxal 5' Phosphate (PLP), a known inhibitor. While PLP is a successful inhibitor, it is not specific to LMW-PTP human isoform II. A combinatorial library of PLP analogs was created using Maestro (Schrodinger, LLC) at the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute. This library was created by linking all the primary amines sold by Sigma-Aldrich to the aldehyde on PLP creating an amide linker. The modeling was done at a pH 5.5 +/- 2 (the pH at which in-vitro biochemical testing is done), and the entire library was docked using High Throughput Visual Screening (HTVS). The 19 compounds which displayed the highest glide scores were then docked to PTP using Standard Precision Docking in both LMW-PTP human isoform I and II, and compared to PLP. Some of these compounds displayed some specificity and good binding affinity. These results were analyzed to determine which intermolecular forces were involved in docking, and which compounds appear to specifically inhibit the Human Isoform II. The predicted compounds will be synthesized and tested using an in-vitro screening assay.

 

Peter Ly

"Analysis of Heavy Metal Content in Chicken Eggs"

Advisor: Kate Graham, Biochemistry

Fish are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids but can be contaminated with heavy metals. As a potential alternative to fish consumption a common practice in industrial egg production is to enrich grain based chicken feed with fish and fish oil which results in the production of omega-3 enriched eggs. We set out to determine if there is transfer of heavy metals from livestock feed containing menhaden oil to omega-3 enriched eggs. Results from Atomic Absorption spectroscopy show that there is little difference in heavy metal content between the conventional eggs and the omega-3 enriched eggs, yet the feed enriched with menhaden oil had much higher concentrations. This suggests that chickens do not pass heavy metals from the feed to eggs.

 

Daniel Maxbauer

"A New Approach to Understanding the Early Miocene Paleoenvironment of Rusinga Island (Lake Victoria, Kenya): Using Leaf Margin Analysis, Leaf Area Analysis and Digital Leaf Physiognomy"

Advisor: Larry Davis, Biology

Nearly one hundred years of field work has established Rusinga Island, Lake Victoria, Kenya as one of the most important Early Miocene (17-20 Ma) primate sites in Africa. In order to fully understand the patterns of Early Miocene primate evolution, it is critical to understand the paleoenvironments and paleoclimates in which these primates lived. In spite of the amount of paleontological work that has been conducted on Rusinga Island, results of paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic studies have been contradictory. Furthermore, although there are abundant fossil plant remains on Rusinga, there have not been any studies that have attempted to reconstruct paleoclimate directly from fossil leaves. The correlation of the size and shape of woody dicot leaves with temperature and rainfall has been used to develop proxies for reconstructing mean annual temperature (MAT) and mean annual precipitation (MAP) from fossil leaves. Thus, the fossil leaves from Rusinga can be used to directly reconstruct the paleoclimate and paleoenvironment that existed during the evolution of Early Miocene primates, including the stem hominoid Proconsul.

 A preliminary collection of 91 fossil leaves representing 28 distinct morphotypes (26 woody dicotyledonous (dicot) angiosperms and 2 monocotyledonous angiosperms) was made from a fossiliferous deposit near the top of the Grit Bed Member of the Hiwegi Formation near Kaswanga Point on Rusinga Island. I used the dicot morphotypes to estimate MAT and MAP using both univariate and multivariate methods. These analyses demonstrate that the Early Miocene MAT and MAP on Rusinga Island were ≥ 30°C and ~100-160cm, respectively. These estimates provide good preliminary evidence to suggest that the Early Miocene paleoenvioronment on Rusinga may have been a tropical-seasonal forest, and not a tropical woodland as reported by previous studies.

 

 Melanie Miesen

 "Financial Services Reform: A Case Study in Unorthodox Lawmaking"

 Advisor: Claire Haeg, Political Science

 The 2007 economic crisis and the subsequent Wall Street bailouts forced Congress to consider major financial reform including regulation of predatory and subprime lending practices, increased oversight of major banks, and a significant change in the role of the Federal Reserve Bank. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 was one of the landmark bills of the 111th Congress since it involved major restructuring of the financial industry; indeed, it was the most sweeping financial policy reform since the Great Depression. Because of its significance and consequent length (the final bill was almost 1,000 pages long), the Dodd-Frank bill was debated under special rules and required complex compromises, making its final passage remarkable. This legislative process certainly bore no resemblance to the "Schoolhouse Rock" version of bill passage that most Americans are taught in high school civics class. The role of individual party leaders and committee members, as well as the impact of particular institutional structures and norms, was evident throughout the progress and passage of the bill. How did the actions of leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives and the structure of the institution affect the Dodd-Frank bill's form and successful passage? This paper examines Barbara Sinclair's understanding of "unorthodox lawmaking" on the Dodd-Frank bill. Utilizing qualitative methodology, including participant observation and historical analysis of the passage of the bill through Congress, this research is a case study that applies Sinclair's model and method to investigate unorthodox lawmaking in the 111th Congress.

 

 Shafak Mohamed Samsheer

 "Impact of Culture on Concepts of Ethical Business Leadership"

 Advisor: Wendy Klepetar, Management

The interaction of Culture and Ethics is becoming such a hot topic; that it will burn top echelon managers if they fail to decipher the subtle and sensitive issues encountered in a diverse workforce. Despite the dire need to address a paradigm shift in handling employees and operating organizations, not much empirical evidence on the subject of cultural ethics can be found in the literature. Managers often err when a curve ball labeled culture and ethics intertwined is thrown at them since they are unfamiliar with the cultural background of those being supervised. Therefore, decisions are made without an awareness of how these cultural an ethical nuances affect the individual. This study investigates the influence of culture on concepts of what constitutes ethical leadership in business among United States citizens today. Issues of gender, ascribed vs. achieved status, and power distance are addressed in terms of what constitutes ethical leadership amongst business managers.

 

 Kurtis Nusbaum

"Optika: A GUI Framework for Parameterized Applications"

 Advisor: Michael Heroux, Computer Science

 In the field of scientific computing there are many specialized programs designed for specific applications in areas such as biology, chemistry, and physics. These applications are often very powerful and extraordinarily useful in their respective domains. However, some suffer from a common problem: a non-intuitive, poorly-designed user interface. The purpose of Optika is to address this problem and provide a simple, viable solution. Using only a list of parameters passed to it, Optika can dynamically gen- erate a GUI. This allows the user to specify parameters' values in a fashion that is much more intuitive than the traditional "input decks" used by some parameterized scientific applications. By leveraging the power of Optika, these scientific applications will become more accessible and thus allow their designers to reach a much wider audience while requiring minimal extra development effort.

 

 Andrew Obritsch

  "The Influence of Personality on Presidential Decision Making: a Comparison of the Personality Profiles of Barack Obama and Franklin D. Roosevelt"

 Advisor: Aubrey Immelman, Psychology

 This project entails an examination of the political and economic challenges that faced presidents Barack Obama and Franklin Roosevelt before him. The historical analysis will be followed by an evaluation of the personality profiles of Obama and Roosevelt to investigate the role of personality (similarities and differences of presidential decision making) with reference to the challenges listed above. The personality profiles were conducted using the Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria (MIDC) adapted from the work of Theodore Millon by Aubrey Immelman for the study of personality in politics. Conclusions will then be drawn as to how each president's personality influenced his decision making.

 

 Alissa Pehrson

 "Can Romance Novels Occupy a Progressive Space within Feminism?"

Advisor: Mara Faulkner, English

Despite the tremendous success of romance novels in literature markets, the romance genre has been largely excluded from academic study. In an effort to examine romance novels with a feminist lens and uncover their academic value, I identified that significant progressive change in alignment with feminist agendas has taken place in the romance genre, largely in response to the concerns of women readers. We can see the conversations driving the genre forward taking place in online romance blogs, where communities of romance readers ask questions, discuss the best way to approach sensitive topics, and analyze the development of trends within the genre. Thus, I have determined that the romance genre acts as a textual space for women to sort out their feminist politics and think critically about the rapid social change occurring in their own lives. Examining women's responses to the romance genre will work to reveal women's responses to real life change.

 

 Megan Peterson

 "What Makes a Good Doctor?: The Personal Qualities that Relate to Patient Satisfaction"

Advisor: Pamela Bacon, Psychology

What characteristics are important in a doctor? Researchers have looked into this question from the doctors' perspective, but patients' opinions may differ. This study aimed to look at what characteristics are important in a doctor from the viewpoint of the patient; participants described a positive doctor's office visit or a negative doctor's office visit, depending on condition assignment, answered questions about satisfaction and quality of the doctor, and rated the doctor on a variety of characteristics. Results found that doctors described in the positive visit condition had significantly higher ratings on interpersonal qualities and on competence. Their ratings were also significantly positively correlated to patient ratings of satisfaction, overall quality of the doctor, and successfulness of the doctor. These results suggest that both interpersonal qualities and competence are important in a doctor; this information could be used by medical school admissions to admit students with the most promise for becoming a successful doctor.

 

Kristin Reinsvold

"A novel antimicrobial peptide from Aspergillus fumigatus"

Advisor: Jennifer Galovich, Mathematics and Barbara May, Biology

In the broadest sense, antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are small strings of amino acids that can effectively destroy different types of microorganisms and can be beneficial in protection against infection as part of innate immunity.  Although several databases of antimicrobial peptides have already been identified, the goal of this thesis was to identify a new antimicrobial peptide.  Our research can be broken up into three main steps:  investigate characteristics of known antimicrobial peptides, identify and explore novel AMPs, and perform various laboratory experiments on a novel AMP.

 First, bioinformatics tools, such as the creation of phylogenetic trees, were used to study patterns relating to structure and sequence of these known peptides, specifically looking at sequential relationships among known antimicrobial peptides.  Second, we used this information to identify new potential antimicrobial peptides by using BLAST analysis.  One such peptide (nicknamed AFAMP) was identified in the fungus Aspergillus fumigatus.  More bioinformatics research suggests that AFAMP is homologous to MiAMP1, an antimicrobial peptide from the macadamia nut tree Macadamia integrifolia.  Once we made these bioinformatics predictions, we transitioned to the laboratory to determine the function of AFAMP.  AFAMP was expressed using an Escherichia coli vector and cell-free expression system.  Preliminary data from an antimicrobial assay suggests AFAMP is effective at killing two bacteria, Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus.

 

 Jennifer Schwope

 "The Impact of Female Legislators on pay Equity Policy: The Minnesota Comparable Worth Act of 1982 and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009"

Advisor: Claire Haeg, Political Science

 Gender politics literature emphasizes that electing more women in the legislature will have an increased impact on the likelihood that women's issues will be supported in the legislature at higher rates.  Pay equity has been framed as a women's issue as women continue to face gendered wage discrimination and the gender wage gap has not been eliminated yet.  Because all women encounter pay discrimination in various forms, this thesis utilizes a qualitative and quantitative analysis of the Minnesota Comparable Worth Act of 1982 and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 to examine the cohesion of co-sponsorship and the cohesion of voting patterns among female legislators in Minnesota legislature and in U.S. congress.  Using these two pieces of legislation as case studies, I examine the role of women legislators passing pay equity legislation.  Examining these two policies shows that party ideology may have the most significant role in how women (and men) co-sponsor and vote on policies related to pay equity.  These findings suggest that simply increasing the number of female legislators may not have an impact on pay equity legislation, because they do not exemplify cohesion in the legislature on behalf of women's issues.

 

 Jared Sherlock

 "Effects of Exposure on the Ecology of the Magic Industry: Preserving Magic's secrets in the Absence of Law"

 Advisor: Rick Saucier, Management

 The magic secret is a distinctive kind of intangible resource that defies established economic theory of intellectual property law. Exposure reveals the secret, and thereby destroys its value. The goal of this study is to explore and frame significant problems within the enterprise of conjuring, and to illustrate how the magic industry has developed a particular set of informal norms and rules for violators, which go some distance toward protecting intellectual property in the absence of law.

 

 Alec Shern

 "Can Using My Cell Phone Lower My Grades? - A Study of Correlations between Cell Phone Use and Academic Performance"

 Advisor: Richard Wielkiewicz, Psychology

 Ever since arriving at St. John's University I thought, "Man these people text a lot!" Everyone is always on their cell phones. Even during class people would be texting away. I tried it myself, but found that it hindered my ability to pay attention to the material in class. I wondered if texting in class could actually lower your GPA. Freshman year I sent out a confidential and anonymous survey as part of the course requirements for my Applied Behavioral Statistics course. The survey asked students whether they regularly sent text messages while in class, and for their cumulative GPA. I found a significant difference in GPAs of those who did send text messages in class (M = 3.01; SD = .333) and those who did not (M = 3.34; SD = .421), t (73) = 3.82, p = .000. The effect size for this difference was .893. I am now working on a follow study that includes a plethora of questions about cell phone usage as well as questions on motivation, life-long learning, and leadership qualities. My job is to find correlations between all of these variables. What I am mainly looking for is to see if there is any correlation between cell phone use, academic performance, and the other variables in the survey. I anticipate finding many significant correlations between the cell phone use, academic performance, life-long learning and motivation. My data will not be able to draw causal conclusions, but hopefully the statistical correlations will be a useful tool for teachers, parents, and kids.

 

 Abigail Spaniol

 "The Peace in Chaos: A Memoir in the Form of a Collection of Essays"

Advisor: Ozzie Mayers, English

 This thesis is a creative project focusing on an illness within my family. In August of 2009, my father became sick with septic shock and survived. When first developing this project, I wanted an answer. I wanted to know what saved my dad from septic shock. This collection of essays was my attempt at answering that question. Within my essays, I examined the power of prayer, community, relationships and medicine within the experience to try and determine what allowed him to survive. Interviews with doctors, nurses, friends and family, personal experiences, and research all gave me insight when searching for an answer to this question. However, in the end I found that science and spirituality merge within the illness experience and both play a part in a person's survival. My essays reveal how illness equally affects both the human body and human spirit.

 

Brita Thielen

"Revitalizing a Genre: Beauties, Beasts, and Women Writers in the Western Tradition of the Literary Fairy Tale"

Advisor: Jessica Harkins, English

 The purpose of my research is to respond to M.M. Bakhtin's assertions in "Epic and Novel" that the novel is the only continually evolving literary genre by applying his criteria to the genre of the literary fairy tale.  The basis for this discussion requires a brief examination of the fairy tale as a written rather than oral genre, for such distinction is vital to understanding how the genre continues to evolve.  This paper follows the role of women writers of fairy tales, and in particular the writing of the 17th century conteuses and 20th century feminist writers Angela Carter, Tanith Lee, and Emma Donoghue.  Their stories often defy the traditional idea of the fairy tale: one that begins with "Once upon a time" and ends with "Happily ever after."  Though current women writers may approach the role of their female characters and the tales themselves in a variety of ways, they continue to create stories which provide meaning for female readers.  I examine versions of "Beauty and the Beast" by Carter, Lee, and Donoghue, and demonstrate how each writer's unique version highlights her specific concerns and pushes the reader to view the story from a new perspective.  My thesis project also includes my own short story version of "Beauty and the Beast," as well as three personae poems written from the perspectives of Beauty, her father, and the Beast.  I composed these creative pieces in order to apply my new knowledge of gender within the literary fairy tale genre and to further develop my writing abilities in the genres of short fiction and poetry.

 

William Tice

 "Neural Networks and Video Games: Developing an Interactive AI"

Advisor: Lynn Ziegler, Computer Science

For years, video games have been a field of innovation and progress, but mainly in the realms of graphics and control. Game logic is a relatively overlooked field of game design. My research focuses on  creating an adaptive type of game logic using neural networks. Using unique strategies, neural networks were trained to control games as a human player might. The purpose of this experiment was to verify that it is possible to control games using a neural network and to measure how well it could control them. This offers new possibilities for programming adaptive adversaries for human players to face off against. The ultimate purpose of such adversaries would be to keep the game fresh and exciting, eliminating predictability. In my final experiment, the neural network's task was to control the flow of the game instead of playing the game. A human player plays the game while the neural network directs which types of enemies the player will fight. It's able to learn which enemy types are performing poorly against the player as well as which are performing well. My thesis explores this as a possible way to achieve an adaptive gaming experience.

 

 Scott Twelves

 "Anyman, Everyman"

 Advisor: Steven Thomas, English

 For my Honors Senior Thesis, I chose to do something different than a typical research paper.  I instead crafted a creative thesis in the form of a novel, titled Anyman, Everyman.  In short, my novel is about an identity thief who tells about his past from his prison cell.  The novel brings up many philosophical questions, including questions about morality, criminal behavior, and identity.  But my thesis was as much about the finished product as it was about the process of creating the novel.  I had to do extensive research on identity theft, which included reading legal statutes, case studies, and studying other novels, films, and TV shows that dealt with identity.  Through all of this research, I was able to create a hyper-real novel - a novel that exists on the border of reality and fantasy - and a compelling character.  In the end, my novel asks a question that I believe we all struggle with: are we our own person, or just a product of the world around us?

 

 Cong Tuan Son Van

 "The Number of Conjugacy Classes of a Finite Group and its Sylow p-subgroups"

Advisor: Bret Benesh, Mathematics

The project will investigate the relationship between the number of conjugacy classes of a finite group and the number of conjugacy classes of its Sylow p-subgroups. The idea of this project comes from problem 14.74 of the Kourovka Notebook of Unsolved Problems in Group Theory (submitted by L. Pyber). The problem states: "Let k(H) denote the number of conjugacy classes of a group H, and G be a finite group with Sylow p-subgroups P1, ... , Pn. Prove or disprove: k(G) ≤ k(P1) ... k(Pn)". In this project, we will discuss my approach to this problem, some upper bounds of k(G), some lower bounds of k(Pi) and some families of groups for which this result holds.

 

 Jonathan Walz

 "Secondary Protein Structure Prediction Combining Protein Structural Class, Relative

Surface Accessibility, and Contact Number"

 Advisor: Imad Rahal, computer Science

 Using neural networks to predict the structure of proteins from amino acid sequences is a very common technique. Accuracy of these methods varies greatly depending on the network design, methods used for training, and input datasets. Neural networks tend to work for secondary structure prediction due to the pattern recognition nature of the task. Procedural methods tend to fail to give high accuracies due to the complexities of the interactions.

 Several show how prediction accuracy can be increased through the addition of information such as contact number[17], relative surface accessibility[1, 18], protein structural class[16], and other data. While these studies have focused on the improvements by adding individual data, none have been completed that show what effect adding more than one together would have.

 To see if the combination of additional data has a positive effect on the accuracy of a prediction network, additional data points will be combined together. Contact number, relative surface accessibility, and protein structure can be combined together in seven different ways and have been independently shown to increase accuracy. These different combinations should allow the determination of how much of an effect the data combinations have on prediction accuracy.

 

 Ashley Weinhandl

 "Language Brokering within Latino Immigrant Families: Outcomes and Opportunities"

 Advisor: Bruce Campbell, Hispanic Studies

 Language brokering is defined as the practice in which children of first-generation immigrants act as linguistic and cultural intermediaries for their parents, assisting them by translating and interpreting in a variety of context. This study examined the nature of language brokering in Latino immigrant families in terms of educational and developmental effects, cultural dimensions, and the relationship between outcomes of language brokering and bilingual education.

 The study also examined the prevalence and nature of language brokering within Latino immigrant families living in Central Minnesota. Sixteen individuals were interviewed in matched pairs (8 parents, 8 children) using an ethnographic approach to assess the prevalence of language brokering in various contexts and participants' feelings toward the practice.

 Parents identified positive educational and developmental effects of language brokering on their children, and participant responses supported the hypothesis that collectivist family values contribute to the experience of language brokering. Participants did not identify specific ways that language brokering impacted their childrens' cultural identity beyond language maintenance. Parents expressed a great deal of pride at their childrens' bilingual abilities and expressed support of educational initiatives that would help their children to maintain and improve their bilingual abilities.

 Results of this study were used to analyze potential social implications of language brokering in terms of cultural and ethnic integration, bilingual education, and national policy. Results of the study demonstrate that children who language broker contribute to society in a variety of ways. It is essential that their contributions be recognized and skills developed as we move toward an increasingly diverse, multicultural society.

 

 Caleb Wenzel

 "Sing a New Song: Composing Music for the 21st Century Roman Liturgy"

 Advisor: Brian Campbell, Music

 What is the role of the 21st Century art composer in the Roman Liturgy?  What should a composer write for liturgy?  Who should the composer for liturgy be?  The questions around contemporary composers for Catholic worship raise numerous concerns about the nature and purpose of music.  The official magisterial documents as well as initiatives of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops stress the need for congregation participation, but also urge composers of our day to expand upon the Church's great treasury of sacred music.  Addressing the questions of today's liturgical music as well as attempting to combine the practical and creative elements of melody and harmony, I have composed a set of liturgical works designed to meet the pastoral criteria for congregations while pushing the creative boundaries of musical composition.