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SPARC Student Honors Sessions

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Honors Session I  •  Tues., April 23 from 6–9 p.m.

Honors Session II  •  Wed., April 24 from 9 a.m.–noon

Honors Session III  •  Wed., April 24 from 1–4:30 p.m.

Honors Session IV  •  Thurs., April 25 from 9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Tuesday, April 23  •  Honors Session I

6 p.m.Alexandra ProffittO'Hara Dining Room

Is the U.S. Sub-Prime Financial Crisis so Different from Past Economic Crises?
Mentor: Alejandro Cañadas, Ph.D.
This analysis examines the financial decision making process and illustrates how education of previous economic crises can affect future decision making processes. Pope Benedict the XVI in the encyclical letter Caritas in Veritate invites us to use the Catholic Social Teaching of the Church to improve the economic decisions and this connection will be explained as well.

6 p.m.—Peter Decandia • Purcell

What Makes it Right to Vote?
Mentor: John Schwenkler, Ph.D.
It is commonly understood that every eligible citizen has an obligation to vote in every election and not voting reflects poor character. I deny this, arguing instead that people should vote only if they are going to vote well, and thus that those who will not vote well, should not vote.

6:45 p.m.—Martin Senese • Laughlin Auditorium

Induction of the Unfolded Protein Response in Mice as a Reaction to Mouse Adapted Ebola Virus
Mentor: Kathryn Dye, Ph.D.
The unfolded protein response (UPR) is a cellular mechanism that maintains homeostasis during an influx of protein. Viruses have been shown to trigger the UPR, but no data has been published on Ebolavirus. Using qPCR, we provide evidence for further study of the induction of the UPR by Ebolavirus.

6:45 p.m.—Matthew Blake • O'Hara Dining Room

It’s Elementary, My Dear Mount
Mentor: John Balch, Ph.D.
Forensic Accounting, one of the USA’s financial tools, is utilized as a 21st century Sherlock Holmes in combating fraud. This field also has a new purpose in providing a solution that the dangerously, technologically advanced world has been searching for, and that is the financial defense of America against terrorism.

6:45 p.m.—Daniel B. Lewis • Purcell

Iron and Viridian: Context and Objectivity in the Metaphysics of Environmental Aesthetics
Mentor: Thane Naberhaus, Ph.D.
We typically consider objective stances “true” and “valid,” and subjective stances less so (or not at all). I argue that the idea of purely objective stances is incoherent, demanding we defend subjective stances against worries—particularly some that arise in environmental aesthetics—we may have about their truth and validity.

7:30 p.m.—Rachel Cutlip • Laughlin Auditorium

Analysis and Comparison of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Incense Smoke and Cigarette Smoke
Mentor: Michael Epstein, Ph.D.
The purpose of this study was to determine the identities and relative quantities of PAHs in incense and cigarette smoke and compare the relative risks of second-hand cigarette smoke with incense smoke in regards to their PAH content using high performance liquid chromatography and gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy.

7:30 p.m.—Mark Quaranta • O’Hara Dining Room

Can’t Buy Me Love
Mentor: Alejandro Cañadas, Ph.D.
Most Americans have seen or felt the effects of family breakdown. Broken homes have become all too common in the US. Quantifiable measures, including income, can partially explain the probability and likelihood of divorce. However, there are immeasurable factors that greatly influence the livelihood of a marriage and begin to verify the expression, ‘money can’t buy me love.’

7:30 p.m.—Amber Jackson • Purcell

Aggression Difference in Incarcerated Adults and Adults Within the General Population
Mentor: Mindy Korol, Ph.D.
Research sought to use a redesigned and modernized version of the projective technique, The Rosenzweig Picture Frustration (P-F) Test, to measure aggression in a population of incarcerated adults. It was hypothesized that there would be a significant positive relationship between domestic violence and aggression as measured by the P-F test.

8:15 p.m.—Evan Oliver • Laughlin Auditorium

An Attempt at Constructing a Laser-Based Optical Trapping Device
Mentor: Danny Miles, Ph.D.
Optical trapping devices are active microrheological tools used to measure viscoelastic properties of complex fluids. Efforts at constructing one such apparatus will be discussed, along with experiments using passive microrheology and particle tracking.

8:15 p.m.—Michael Salomon • O’Hara Dining Room

Economics, Progressivism, and Human Value: The House Built Upon the Sand
Mentor: John Larrivee, Ph.D.
As the Social Sciences developed, the philosophical view of the human person changed. We need to look at the change in policy and values to illuminate the change in thought towards philosophical materialism. The implication of all of this is clear: the view of the human person matters.

8:15 p.m.—Jasmine Lewis • Purcell

How Far Have We Come? Racial Bias and Helping Behavior
Mentor: Mindy Korol, Ph.D.
Racial bias was examined in the prevalence of helping behavior with confederates soliciting spare change for a parking meter. The hypothesis that people will be more likely to help someone of their own racial identity was only partially supported as African Americans were more likely to help African Americans.

Wednesday, April 24  •  Honors Session II

9:00 a.m.—Lance Dockery • Laughlin Auditorium

Purification Characterization and Investigation of HMGB1 as a Possible Regulator
Mentor: Christine McCauslin, Ph.D.
This project focused on developing a purification protocol for HMGB1, characterizing the purified protein, and then testing the purified protein to verify the product is useful for future research projects aimed at better understanding inflammation as it applies to HMGB1 on the molecular level with other proteins such as C/EBP.

9:00 a.m.—Michaela Mulvey • O’Hara Dining Room

Does Sexting Predict Emotional Intelligence and Well Being?
Mentor: Mindy Korol, Ph.D.
Focusing on young adults, this study investigates the correlation between sexting, emotional intelligence and well-being. It was hypothesized that a higher frequency of sexting will be inversely correlated with emotional intelligence scores. It was also hypothesized that a higher frequency of sexting will be inversely correlated with well being.

9:00 a.m.—Katherine Crumbaugh • Purcell

Alcohol Consumption Behavior Perceptions of Mount St. Mary’s University Students: A Social Marketing Perspective
Mentor: Professor Cyd Maubert
Excessive alcohol consumption is a social problem that has been identified on the Mount St. Mary’s University campus. This study uses a social marketing perspective to collect and analyze student alcohol consumption perceptions and behavior. Recommendations for future social marketing efforts targeting students’ excessive and underage drinking are offered.

9:45 a.m.—Samuel Frushour • Purcell

Research and Development in Student Affairs: An Assessment on Quality Control and Student Engagement
Mentor: Professor Cyd Maubert
Current student affairs programming has no set standards to assess if a department is meeting student needs. Using portable ID scanners, the Office of Campus Activities at Mount St. Mary’s University ran a pilot assessment program to gauge student demographics and measure student engagement with remarkable results.

10:30 a.m.—Tim Cox • Laughlin Auditorium

Studying Cell-ECM Adhesion by Using Quantitative Real Time PCR to Assess Changes in Gene Expression in Idiopathic Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension
Mentor: Dana Ward, Ph.D.
The molecular mechanisms that drive pulmonary arterial hypertension are not well understood. This study examines the expression of genes involved in cell adhesion signaling to determine whether they are inappropriately regulated in diseased cells. Ultimately, this work may shed light onto the processes that drive pulmonary hypertension disease progression.

10:30 a.m.—Kierstin Young • O’Hara Dining Room

The Huntswoman of New York City
Mentors: Peter Dorsey, Ph.D. and Alfred Mueller, Ph.D.
This twice-told tale of Snow White takes elements from the original story and twists them to create a whole new story. Saraphina, a young girl living in NYC when the events of 9/11 and the horrors to follow devastate her, grows up and becomes a vigilante serial killer.

10:30 a.m.—Andriea Hill • Purcell

Coping with Loss: Tears Don’t Wipe Away the Pain
Mentor: Timothy Wolfe, Ph.D.
This study examines coping mechanisms of college students who’ve experienced the death of a loved one (either by homicide or by some other means). Survey data was collected to examine how type of death, race, and gender are related to coping with loss. Results reveal that type of death is particularly important.

11:15 a.m.—Shelby Servais • Laughlin Auditorium

Seasonal Changes of In-stream Nutrient Removal in Saint Mary’s Run after Receiving Inputs from a Wastewater Treatment Plant
Mentor: Jeffrey Simmons, Ph.D.
This project examined seasonal changes in nutrient concentration in St. Mary’s Run downstream of a wastewater treatment plant discharge. Total phosphorous, dissolved reactive phosphorous, nitrate, and ammonium increased noticeably after the input and declined with distance in warmer months and increased slightly and changed minimally with distance in colder months.

Wednesday, April 24  •  Honors Session III

1:00 p.m.—Alex Shoup • Laughlin Auditorium

The Effects of Predation Risk and Competition on the Foraging Decisions of American Goldfinches and House Finches
Mentor: Rosie Bolen, Ph.D.
The number and length of visits by two bird species to feeders were examined. Predation risk was varied by placing feeders close and far from cover. Competition was varied by placing feeders in a clumped or dispersed arrangement. Species differed in their response to predation risk and level of competition.

1:00 p.m.—Simone Gauthier • O’Hara Dining Room

The Mount Goes Green: An Inside Look at Communication Strategies and Theories while Planning a Campus Event
Mentor: Carl Glover, Ph.D.
This paper will focus on planning and executing a Go-Green event at Mount St. Mary’s University, while implementing communication strategies and analyzing theories. Face-to-face communication, visual communication, and social media will be implemented in planning the event and two theories will be used to analyze the strategies and their effectiveness.

1:00 p.m.—Steven Kinsey • Purcell

The Berlin Conference: A Devastating Blow to Stability in Sub-Saharan Africa
Mentor: Kristen Urban, Ph.D.
In this project, I tested to see if the Berlin Conference and the resulting ethnic fractionalization had a negative effect on political stability in Sub-Saharan Africa. The theory behind this hypothesis is that the Berlin Conference leads to ethnic fractionalization, resulting in ethnic conflict between the majority and the minority, which in turn leads to civil unrest and political instability. Findings suggest that the relationship between ethnic fractionalization and political stability is not likely to be spurious and is therefore supportable.

1:45 p.m.—Ian Soller •  Laughlin Auditorium

Examination of Rho GTPase Signaling in Normal and Diseased Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells
Mentor: Dana Ward, Ph.D.
Idiopathic Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (IPAH) is a disease that inappropriately causes raised blood pressure. RhoA is a small GTPase protein that is involved in cytoskeletal regulation, motility, cell differentiation, and cell proliferation. In this project, I will assess RhoA signaling in the smooth muscle cells of healthy and IPAH-affected patients.

1:45 p.m.—Emily Myers • O’Hara Dining Room

Was it Anarchy? Mujeres Libres and the Condition of Women in Spain during the 1930s
Mentor: Steve White, Ph.D.
Mujeres Libres is an anacrha-feminist organization that was founded in 1936 in Spain. Unlike other organizations at the time, Mujeres Libres differentiated itself from traditional feminist values during their time period. When the organization was formed, the leaders came from similar anarchist backgrounds. The goal of this essay is to explore Mujeres Libres and its tactics while relying on the works of key members of the organization in order to show how the organization shifted from its original anarchist identity due to the actions of its leaders.

1:45 p.m.—Kayla Reed • Purcell

Making Their Voices Heard: Women and the Palestine-Israel Conflict
Mentor: Kristen Urban, Ph.D.
During the intifada, Palestinian women were active participants in their society and the conflict more so than they had ever been before. My project examines how Palestinian women were able to break out of traditional roles to influence the Palestinian Nationalist Movement and Palestinian society.

2:30 p.m.—Ngochieu Tran • Laughlin Auditorium

An Investigation into the Knockdown of Toll-Like Receptor 4 and the Role of CCAAT/ Enhancer-binding Protein in the HMGB-1 Signaling Pathway during Inflammation
Mentor: Christine McCauslin, Ph.D.
HMGB-1 is an alarmin secreted passively from necrotic cells into the extracellular milieu. Outside the cell, it serves as a ligand for TLR4, inducing the intracellular signal that activates pro-inflammatory genes. C/EBPβ also promotes the inflammatory process. The study centers on connecting HMGB-1 signaling to C/EBPβ activation through TLR4 receptor.

3:15 p.m.—Courtney Bobik • Laughlin Auditorium

Unlocking the Mysteries of the Past: Excavations at a 6th-7th Century A.D. Egyptian City
Mentors: Martin Malone, Ph.D. and Michael Sollenberger, Ph.D.
Salvage archaeology is important today because it preserves information about the past that would otherwise be destroyed by modern construction. The excavations of Tell-Timai tell us much about life in Late Antiquity. This project is a case study about what one archaeological site can tell us about the past.

3:15 p.m.—Emily Wells • Purcell

The Political Challenges to Culture: Obstacles to Language Preservation in Latin America
Mentors: Amanda Beal, Ph.D. and Marco Roman, Ph.D.
Using the cases of Mayan languages in Guatemala and Guaraní in Paraguay, this study explores the challenges and opportunities facing indigenous language preservation in Latin America in the modern day. While colonization established the foundation for the present status of indigenous languages, national policies and globalization are now influential factors.

Thursday, April 25  •  Honors Session IV

9:30 a.m.—Eddie Santana • Laughlin Auditorium

Achieving Elevated Levels of Phagocytosed Bacteria by Mouse Macrophages via the Optimization of Conditions for Opsonization
Mentor: Kathryn Dye, Ph.D.
In mammals, antibodies (IgM and IgG) facilitate immune system-mediated clearance of invading microbes via opsonization. The ability of post-immunization sera to opsonize E. coli was tested by fluorescent phagocytosis assay, and serum IgM and IgG levels were determined by ELISA. The fluorescenct phagocytosis assay was developed for this project.

9:30 a.m.—Ashley Rozanski • O’Hara Dining Room

Examining the Use of Visual Supports for Students with Autism among Elementary Education Teachers
Mentor: Angela Mucci, Ph.D.
Examining how visual supports are used by elementary education teachers when teaching students with Autism— findings from interviews with these teachers reveal the benefits of using visual supports and how these supports can be individualized to best foster achievement of students with Autism.

9:30 a.m.—Kirsten Sneeringer • Purcell

A Life—Creatively: An Exploration in the Genre of Creative Nonfiction
Mentor: Thomas Bligh, Ph.D.
The genre of creative nonfiction uses hybrids of writing styles like memoirs, biographies, and travel essays to create narratives that can be read like fiction. My project includes a series of personal essays, crafting vivid portrayals using a variety of narrative strategies to convey my adventures through Europe and the challenges it provided during my time spent in Ireland, England, and Paris, as well as my personal reaction to the transition from youth to adulthood and the struggles I encountered.

10:15 a.m.—Caitlin Weiger • Laughlin Auditorium

The Personal and Situational Determinants of Lying
Mentor: Mindy Korol, Ph.D.
Does a competitive situation motivate people to lie, or does personality play a larger determining role? I hypothesized that participants would be more likely to lie in a competitive situation and that conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism would be positively correlated with lying while self-esteem would be negatively correlated with lying.

10:15 a.m.—Julia Todd • O’Hara Dining Room

The Incorporation of Movement to Enhance the Learning of Students with Autism
Mentor: Angela Mucci, Ph.D.
This study identified movement strategies that teachers of students with autism incorporate in their classrooms, how they incorporate these strategies, and the effects of the movement on these students. Findings revealed that the incorporation of movement positively impacts the behavior, focus, academic performance, and communication of students with autism.

11 a.m.—Catherine Sheehy • O’Hara Dining Room

Implementation of Special Education Policies and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students with Learning Disabilities
Mentor: Barbara Marinak, Ph.D.
Response to Intervention (RTI) is a special education policy that serves to more accurately diagnose disabilities, namely Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD). The research presented in this thesis serves to better understand how school psychologists are using RTI to identify SLD in culturally and linguistically diverse students.

11 a.m.—Sara Reams • Purcell

Finding Sunshine in a Grave Subject: An Analysis on Cancer in Literature and the Performing Arts
Mentor: Kurt Blaugher, Ph.D.
Following Jacquelyn Helton’s death in 1971, the story of her battle with bone cancer was adapted into a fictitious narrative entitled Sunshine—which disappeared from public view within ten years of its publication. What happened? Through close analysis of plays such as Wit, and literature such as Cancer Ward, I explain how certain cancer narratives withstand the test of time.

11:45 a.m.—Joseph Lanciano • Laughlin Auditorium

Socioeconomic Status
Mentor: Timothy Wolfe, Ph.D.
The purpose of this study (conducted by way of a survey) was to determine whether socioeconomic status (SES) is related to academic engagement and achievement. It was hypothesized that students from lower SES families would be more academically engaged, while students from higher SES backgrounds would have higher GPAs.

11:45 a.m.—Kathryn Franke & Teresa Fredericks • Purcell

Collaborative Design: The Development and Execution of a National Juried Art Show
Mentor: Professor Elizabeth Holtry
Visual art creates a forum in which to discuss important social issues. In order to design an exhibition with the theme of postmodernist environmentalism, collaborative attention to marketing and gallery preparation are essential components of the creative process. This interdisciplinary undertaking showcases how art enriches and diversifies collegiate and national communities.

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