Session 1 - Problems in Science
Biology & Neuroscience
Ken Mackie, M.D.
Principle Investigator, Gill Chair and Professor
Psychological and Brain Sciences
Jim Wager-Miller, M.S.
Associate Research Scientist
Psychological and Brain Sciences
Psychological and Brain Sciences
The legalization of marijuana in many states has led to its perception as a harmless, or even beneficial drug. However, our understanding of what effects cannabis exposure may have on the developing brain is limited. Approximately 2 to 5% of women in the US use cannabis while pregnant to alleviate discomfort such as morning sickness and 84% of these women continue its use during breastfeeding. The psychoactive component of cannabis, D9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is found to cross the placenta and is also found in breast milk. An open question is: Will THC exposure lead to changes in perinatal brain development? One important developmental marker is called the GABA switch. GABA stands for gamma-aminobutyric acid. This amino acid is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. However, in immature neurons GABA can act as excitatory due to the lack of KCC2, a potassium-chloride cotransporter that extrudes chloride ions from the cell. During development, this transporter is upregulated, which changes the chloride reversal potential of the neuron to a more negative potential, resulting in GABA transitioning from an excitatory to an inhibitory neurotransmitter as the brain develops. This is referred to as the “GABA switch.” Recent work suggests that cannabinoid exposure during the perinatal period delays the GABA switch within the medial prefrontal cortex in rats. This area of the brain is important for working memory and decision making. The hypothesis being tested in our experiments is that the GABA switch delay with perinatal cannabinoid exposure is due to cannabinoids impairing KCC2 expression or trafficking within neurons. To test this hypothesis, CD1 wt mice are treated intraperitoneally with 3 mg/kg THC or other cannabinoids from postnatal day (PND) 1 to 10 (PND1 - PND10). The GABA switch has been found to occur in normal mice around PND13. The brains of vehicle or THC-treated pups are then collected at PND10, 13, 15, and 20 and are analyzed with fluorescent immunohistochemistry examining for changes in KCC2 expression and trafficking within neurons. KCC2 proximity to the type-one cannabinoid receptor (CB1) is also explored.
Senior Research Scientist
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences
Tahlia Toni1, 2, Rayce Tamanaha1, 3, Bashak Newman1, 4, Yutong Liang1, 5, James Lee1, 6, Enrique Carrazana1, 7, Vimala Vajjala1,7, Jason Viereck1, 7, Kore Kai Liow1, 7
1Headache & Facial Pain Center, Hawaii Pacific Neuroscience, Honolulu, 2Indiana University, Bloomington, 3Gonzaga University, Spokane, 4University of South Florida, Tampa, 5Brown University, Providence, 6Dartmouth College, Hanover, 7John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, United States
Aims: Clinical trials for calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) inhibitors excluded the concomitant use of onabotulinumtoxinA; thus there is a lack of efficacy and safety data of the combined therapies. Our study aims to examine the effectiveness of CGRP inhibitors with onabotulinumtoxinA by evaluating migraine reductions in headache days and severity.
Methods: 17 patients with chronic migraines were identified who had a partial or poor response to onabotulinumtoxinA, and were placed on dual therapy with a CGRP inhibitor. Patients’ initial headache days and severity ratings were compared to final values taken 1-6 months after adding the CGRP inhibitor to their treatment regime.
Results: Of 17 patients (16F/1M), n=9 were taking fremanezumab, n=4 were taking erenumab, and n=4 were taking galcanezumab. Patients’ average headache days per month was reduced from 27.6 ± 4.8 initially to 18.6 ± 9.4 post-treatment, and their average pain level was reduced from 8.4 ± 1.4 out of 10 to 5.4 ± 2.5. No serious adverse side effects were reported from patients on dual therapy.
Conclusion: Patients with suboptimal response to onabotulinumtoxinA may benefit from CGRP inhibitors’ addition to their migraine regimens. Placebo-controlled randomized studies are advised to corroborate this finding.
Disclosure of Interest: None Declared
Keywords: Chronic migraine, anti-CGRP mAb, fremanezumab, erenumab, galcanezumab
Linda and Jack Gill Chair of Neuroscience and Distinguished Professor
Gill Center and Dept. of Psychological & Brain Sciences
While intoxicated, cannabis users typically consume large quantities of calorically dense foods (AKA “the munchies”). Thus, it is predicted that heavy chronic marijuana users would tend to be obese and be at an increased risk for metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes. Surprisingly, several large epidemiological studies have found that chronic cannabis users on average, have a lower body mass index, decreased waist circumference, decreased markers of systemic inflammation, improved insulin sensitivity and a decreased risk for type II diabetes compared to non-users. These studies suggest that cannabis has a beneficial effect on metabolism, even in the face of a calorically rich diet.
This research project aims to recreate such scenarios in a mouse model to better understand the protective effect of cannabis. Mimicking a common human scenario with heavy cannabis use beginning in adolescence, adolescent mice (35 days old) were started on a high fat diet (Ad libitum) and simultaneously begun on a dosing regimen of sweetened condensed milk containing either vehicle or 20 mg/Kg THC. Mice were treated and weighed each weekday for a period of 4 weeks, after which an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test was performed to assess insulin resistance. Mice were then sacrificed and liver, small intestine, and blood plasma were harvested for diagnostic and molecular analyses.
Neuroscience and Biology
Malcolm E. Winkler, Ph. D.
Distinguished Professor, Department of Biology
Adjunct Core Professor, Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry
Streptococcus pneumoniae is a Gram-positive, opportunistic human respiratory pathogen with acquired antibiotic resistance, which presents a significant threat to human health. Due to the increasing antibiotic resistance, it is crucial to determine how pathogens develop antibiotic resistance through studying cell growth, biosynthesis, and division mechanisms.
In S. pneumoniae, multiple proteins are involved in cell division and peptidoglycan (PG) synthesis, and they play significant roles in virulence. One such protein, GpsB, serves as a major regulator of peptidoglycan (cell wall) biosynthesis in S. pneumoniae and is conserved among low-G+C Gram-positive bacteria. Additionally, a variant of gpsB has been shown to correlate with penicillin resistance (Mobegi et al. 2017). In S. pneumoniae, depletion of GpsB results in morphologically elongated cells and eventual cell lysis. One critical function of GpsB is its activation of serine-threonine kinase (StkP), which is involved in cellular phosphorylation. Previous work has identified two classes of mutations that can suppress GpsB lethal phenotypes. The first class of suppressors has a phosphorylation-dependent mechanism, and the second class of suppressors has an alternate mechanism independent of phosphorylation (Rued et al. 2017). Interestingly, one suppressor strain of GpsB contains mutations in IreB, which is substrate of StkP. IreB can suppress the lethal ΔstkP phenotype as well, restoring normal function.
Using Phos-tag gel electrophoresis, it was determined that StkP phosphorylates ireB at the 7th amino acid residue. However, the construction of a mutant that mimics unphosphorylated IreB was unable to suppress ΔgpsB, but a mutant that mimics phosphorylation was able to suppress ΔgpsB. Further characterization of this mutant identified IreB to be part of unknown phosphorylation independent mechanism. We also identified a mutation in IreB that has lethal effects. The future direction will be to study the additional mutations in IreB to identify the unknown mechanism, hence providing us with additional antibiotics targets.
- Mobegi, F. M., A. J. Cremers, M. I. de Jonge, S. D. Bentley, S. A. van Hijum, and A. Zomer. 2017. 'Deciphering the distance to antibiotic resistance for the pneumococcus using genome sequencing data', Sci Rep, 7: 42808.
- Rued, B. E., J. J. Zheng, A. Mura, H. T. Tsui, M. J. Boersma, J. L. Mazny, F. Corona, A. J. Perez, D. Fadda, L. Doubravova, K. Buriankova, P. Branny, O. Massidda, and M. E. Winkler. 2017. 'Suppression and synthetic-lethal genetic relationships of DeltagpsB mutations indicate that GpsB mediates protein phosphorylation and penicillin-binding protein interactions in Streptococcus pneumoniae D39', Mol Microbiol, 103: 931-57.
Chemistry, Music Composition
Michael Kevin Brown
Professor of Chemistry
Department of Chemistry
Organic chemistry is a powerful tool that enables the synthesis of natural products, medicines, polymers, and molecules for a wide array of other applications, but the power of synthesis is limited by the reactions that an organic chemist has at their disposal. Hence, the development of novel reaction methodologies is of paramount importance in addressing challenges faced in organic synthesis. Our group is particularly interested in developing methodologies to enable the synthesis of cyclobutanes—structures consisting of four carbon atoms in a ring. The cyclobutane motif is found in over 2,000 natural products and is important in drug discovery, appearing in 41 drugs, 9 of which have FDA approval.1 Additionally, cyclobutanes are important intermediates in the synthesis of other molecules (Scheme 1a).2, 3
Despite being very important structures, these molecules are difficult to synthesize. Our lab has developed an approach using Lewis-acid catalyzed [2 + 2] cycloadditions of alkenes and allenic ketones—starting materials that can be easily synthesized or readily purchased (Scheme 1b). However, this method has been limited to intramolecular systems, requiring the allenic ketone and alkene to be present in the same molecule. Expanding this method to intermolecular systems would increase the range of possible synthetic applications. I have, over the past year, been independently developing a method to achieve such intermolecular Lewis acid-catalyzed [2 + 2] cycloadditions between allenic ketones and unactivated alkenes. I have been able to achieve these reactions in a diastereoselective fashion, and I have conducted extensive screens of reaction conditions that improved the yield of the reaction from <30% to 66%, and the diastereoselectivity significantly from <3:1 to 20:1. My continued research in this area is focusing on improving the synthetic versatility of this reaction by screening a variety of alkene and allenic ketone substrates as starting materials. Further development and implementation of this methodology will have beneficial results in the synthesis of pharmaceuticals, natural products, and bioactive molecules.
(1) Xu, Y.; Conner, M. L.; Brown, M. K. Angew. Chem. 2015, 54, 41, 11918. (2) Lee-Ruff, E.; Mladenova, G. Chem. Rev. 2003, 103, 1449. (3) Namyslo, J. C.; Kaufmann, D. E. Chem. Rev. 2003, 103, 4, 1485.
Neuroscience and Arabic
Senior Research Scientist
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences
Velvet “ants” are actually wasps, though the wingless females resemble ants. They are found throughout the continental US, including in Indiana, and they reproduce by parasitizing bumblebees and cicada killer wasps. Female velvet ants, also known as ‘cow killers,’ produce one of the most painful stings of all insects, ranking at a level 3 on the Schmidt pain index. Despite their infamy, the mechanism of action of their venom is unknown.
We tested the action of velvet ant venom on sensory dorsal root ganglion cells (DRGs) isolated from a mouse spinal cord. We used the fluorescent calcium-sensitive probe Fluo4 to monitor the cellular response. Many DRGs express transient receptor potential (TRP) channels, nonselective cation channels, several of which are implicated in pain. We found that treatment of these cells with wasp venom elicited a calcium response in a subset of DRGs. We tested several TRP receptor agonists and found that the subset of DRGs that responded to the venom also responded to the TRPA1 agonist, allyl isothiocyanate (AITC), suggesting TRPA1 activation as a potential target for the venom. This made sense because TRPA1 activation is linked to pain sensation.
To test this hypothesis, we applied the venom to a HEK293-TRPA1 cells, a cell line engineered to stably express the TRPA1 receptor. Application of the venom elicited clear responses in these cells, but not in the wild type HEK293 cells. Interestingly, we also saw similar venom response profiles in Schwann cells in our DRG culture, raising the possibility that these supporting cells may contribute to the pain response. We conclude that activation of TRPA1 in DRGs—and perhaps glial cells – may contribute to the acute pain response induced by a velvet ant sting.
Senior Research Scientist
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences
Aqueous Deficiency Dry Eye condition (ADDE) is a chronic condition affecting millions, with symptoms ranging from a dry itchiness to blurred vision and accompanied by an increased risk of eye infections. ADDE typically arises from disorders of the lacrimal gland that produces tears necessary for eye lubrication. Cannabis users frequently report dry eye, but the basis for this is unknown. If the effects occur via the endogenous cannabinoid signaling system, then this may represent a novel mechanism for the regulation of tearing.
We examined expression of cannabinoid CB1 receptors in lacrimal gland using immunohistochemistry and PCR and tested THC regulation of tearing in WT and CB1-null mice.
We now report that CB1 receptors are expressed in the axons of cholinergic neurons innervating the lacrimal gland. Little if any staining is seen in lacrimal gland epithelial cells (acinar and ductal), or myoepithelial cells (MECs). Activation of CB1 receptors by THC or the cannabinoid agonist CP55940 reduces tearing in male mice. In female mice, THC has no effect, but CP55940 increases tearing. In both sexes the effect of CP55940 is absent in CB1 knockout mice. CB1 mRNA levels are ~5-fold higher in males than females. In male knockouts THC increases tearing, suggesting that THC also acts through different receptors.
Our results suggest a novel, albeit sex-dependent, physiological basis for the dry eye symptoms experienced by cannabis users: activation of neuronal CB1 receptors in the lacrimal gland reduces tearing.
Session 2 - Health and Wellness
Mira N. Antonopoulos
Jonathon D. Crystal
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences
Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) is the most common type of traumatic brain injury, and it leads to temporary memory impairment as well as an excitotoxic response in the brain, particularly the hippocampus. While many animal models of mTBI exist, it is difficult to fully replicate the injury seen in humans, and the effects of mTBI on the microenvironments of the brain are unclear. Additionally, no treatments specifically for mTBI currently exist. Notably, the Wayne State modified weight drop rat model of mTBI accurately recapitulates the elements of a sport-related injury, as well as the excitotoxic response in the hippocampus (Massé et al., 2019). Yet, this model has not previously been evaluated using a complex memory task. In this study, rats were trained in an odor-based item-in-context task which dissociates episodic and non-episodic memory (Panoz-Brown et al. 2016). The animals then underwent either a weight drop or sham treatment using the Wayne State model. After the manipulation, animals continued the item-in-context task. Episodic memory was significantly impaired in the injured rats, but not in the sham rats. Non-episodic memory was not impaired in either group. Additionally, immunohistochemical analysis of the hippocampus is predicted to show increased activated astrocytes and microglia in the injured group. These findings are the first to document episodic memory impairment in an animal model of mTBI.
History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine
Empathy has a significantly stronger role, for better or for worse, in human social and cognitive life. It is necessary for social life and plays an important role in maintaining a cohesive society. However, overemphasizing the social aspect of empathy causes us to turn a blind eye to its darker features. There are two forms of empathy, cognitive and emotional. Cognitive empathy refers to understanding others’ state of mind while emotional empathy involves actually sharing that state.
The point of this presentation is to illuminate three of the more hidden aspects of the role of empathy:
- Empathy reinforces strong cognitive biases, most prominently the in-group bias that is responsible for divisions among people and unfair treatment.
- An imbalance between cognitive and emotive empathy can be responsible for mental disorders (psychopathy) and intellectual disability (autism).
- Empathy plays an essential and less recognized role in emotional and intellectual development. Truly understanding those around us allows us to recognize characteristics within ourselves and modify them if need be. Without empathy for others, we cannot truly understand our own emotions and feelings, which is why the emotional maturity that comes with empathy is so important for individualistic growth and success.
Empathy allows us to connect to one another, but it can also hinder the formation of relationships with certain people that we encounter, and its deficiency can cause mental disorder. Though empathy is certainly vital to our social interactions, I argue that it plays a more crucial role in emotional intelligence.
Anthropology and Folklore and Ethnomusicology
Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology
With meetings, classes, and social gatherings relegated to the virtual sphere during the COVID-19 pandemic, the video conferencing app Zoom has become a daily necessity for many. Unfortunately, the prevalence and necessity of video meeting programs such as Zoom makes users more vulnerable to the “dark” and hateful parts of the internet. Almost as soon as the pandemic began, trolls started hijacking strangers’ Zoom calls with racist, pornographic, violent, and otherwise perverse or disruptive content; this new phenomenon has been dubbed “Zoom bombing.” I argue that, more generally, the fostering of bigoted or gross content stems on the internet from the fact that many online experiences, i.e. on social media and comment boards, are disembodied ones. On the internet, disembodiment creates an experience of deindividualization and disinhibition, enabling people online to feel heightened group identity and perceive few consequences. This empowers individuals to express prejudice far more freely. On Zoom and in Zoom bombings, however, these dynamics of embodiment are more complicated, as both embodiment and disembodiment are options. To explore this issue through qualitative personal narrative research, I conducted interviews with nine victims of Zoom bombings that predominantly occurred within high school and university environments, which represent frequent targets for such “attacks.” I conducted interviews through Zoom, both for safety purposes and to reflect the circumstances of the interviewees’ experiences, and questions focused on interviewee’s vulnerability and sense of danger relative to similar in-person experiences. Accounts ranged across a wide spectrum and there was no real consensus of whether bombings feel more or less “real” than in-person experiences. However, almost all indicated that their attackers were entirely anonymous, while they and other victims were not, confirming that Zoom bombings likely often occur within spaces in which attackers are disembodied and victims are embodied. Zoom bombings are a new phenomenon that presents a real threat to video conferencing program users. These attacks are only a recent product of the apparent ease with which hatred emerges online, but their effects, particularly on young victims, deserve greater attention.
Department of Communication, Professional, & Computer Skills
When the COVID-19 Pandemic escalated during Indiana University’s Spring Break, and classes were moved online for the rest of the semester, I did not know what to expect. The words “quarantine, isolation, and trauma” became very familiar to me in the last few weeks of the semester and throughout the summer. At the same time, there was intensified media attention regarding the deaths of multiple Black Americans and an elevation of the Black Lives Matter Movement. What resulted was trauma and discomfort, but also education and unity. The world I grew up in has never experienced something like this. Through news, social media, and word of mouth, I learned that everyone was being affected negatively by these two things in one way or another. I cherish my college experience, and know that more than anything, I miss genuine human connection and times when things were “normal”. Although it has been a very difficult and unprecedented time for many, there is opportunity to grow in the face of this adversity. That is why I would like to explore and reflect on how COVID-19 and the elevation of the Black Lives Matter Movement has affected mental health, trauma, and loss of control for many. Furthermore, exploiting the opportunity at hand, with the lens of posttraumatic growth, a positive psychological change which can transform how we see ourselves and the rest of the world.
While I was on a run during the first week of summer, I started to build out a movement. One that would address the effects of the pandemic and political environment in a raw and real way, cultivate and promote genuine human connection, and provide a space for healing and strength. The movement could be termed Connection is Power, and is essentially a letter-writing initiative for when students start classes in the fall. My vision for this consists of engaging the Kelley Women’s Organizations where student volunteers will write letters to reflect on their experience and trauma from these two things during the spring semester and summer, provide takeaways/learnings from the isolation periods away from friends/family and personal education, and advice and encouragement for the upcoming school year. These letters will be distributed virtually and randomly to different members of different organizations, and the recipients will then write a letter response back to the sender. From there, it is up to the pair on if they want to continue interacting, but human connection has already been sparked and creative expression through writing has also been initiated!
I decided to fully pursue this project, because I not only wanted to create and execute the Connection is Power movement when the upcoming academic year began, but also research the scientific evidence and concepts surrounding trauma and posttraumatic growth. I also wanted to observe and record its effects to compile resources and create a space for other communities/universities to potentially do something similar. This project will allow me to stretch my creative problem solving skills, develop my marketing skills with regards to visual design and get buy-in for the movement, pursue a passion project with meaningful impact on the IU community, and conduct research that aligns with my interests in psychology and human connection.
History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine
Self-medicating behavior is essential to individual function and survival. The common theory correlates a large cerebral cortex with higher cognitive processes such as self-medication, but birds do not have a cerebral cortex. Birds can self-medicate and participate in higher cognitive feats. Bird brains seem ineffective, because they are missing many simple structures, as birds do not have many of the basic high level brain structures when compared to humans. However, birds still have the incredible ability to change its brain according to its needs.
This presentation focuses on pointing out the higher cognitive behavior’s birds participate in with an emphasis on self-medication. This presentation aims at eliminating the misconception that the cerebral cortex is necessary for the advanced brain. We compare a number of specific behaviors exhibited by birds, such as, Dark-eyed Juncos, Swallows, Parrots, Chicks and other songbirds, to self-medicating behaviors expressed by animals with a cerebral cortex. We will then investigate how the presumably simplistic structure of the bird brain allows for amazing adaptability. We will culminate by examining how research into the bird brain can provide insight into how different structures of the brain work together and also show that the human brain is not necessarily the most effective brain.
David Wolfe Bender
Journalism, Economics, and Political Science
Class of 2024
Leah Savion, Ph.D
Department of History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine
Social media drives our lives in a fashion nobody could have fathomed a short decade ago. Less than 15 years after Facebook’s universal release, users spend tremendous time on social media because of a compelling cognitive addiction to it, while being oblivious to its control on our thinking.
The human brain is extraordinarily powerful. In a world full of information, it holds the power to rapidly decipher an abundance of messages, determine their importance, and make a decision — all in a split second. That power is important. After all, if humans needed to go through a time-consuming examination of our surroundings when driving a car or facing a predator, we wouldn’t be able to survive.
When forced to make a decision so quickly — for example, when deciding what information we should treat as accurate or not as we scroll through social media — we employ heuristics: cognitive shortcuts that are prone to error and often lead to irrationality. The prevalent use of social media causes us to blur the line between what is seen as true and false, it degrades traditional moral values, and it further divides the country.
Whether or not it is intentional, social media corporations play into these cognitive shortcomings through the use of an insidious algorithm, which enhances the assault on our rationality and basic morality by “ordering” the content on their platforms.
This presentation aims to explore what that algorithm actually does, why it exists, and how it plays into our cognitive shortcomings. In particular, I’ll focus on how this algorithm is detrimental to a prosperous democracy, a virtuous debate, and a tangible evolution of our political enterprise.
Management & Human Organization
Dr. Laura Clapper
Department of English
As public discourse sways from an abstinence-only sexual education to an increasingly comprehensive or pleasure-based program, implementation of such programs in the public schools have met resistance from state legislation and school boards in various states. Indiana is one of 33 states that does not mandate sexual education. In withholding public health information about male and female reproductive systems, options for birth control, sexually transmitted infections, etc., Indiana public school students are being deprived of essential information about their natural sexual development. While the state’s intention is to decrease teen pregnancy and STDs, solely relying on abstinence as the basis of sexual education does more harm to students than good. In addition to the harm of withholding information from all students, abstinence-based sexual education reinforces traditional gender stereotypes that increases a gap between male and female equality both inside the bedroom and in everyday life. This research will explore how IPS sexual education programs are both harmful and misogynistic through the use of feminist theory, state legislation and various contemporary sexual education programs in Indiana.
Session 3 - Issues in Art and Sociology
Sociology and Linguistics
Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies
Department of Sociology
In what circumstances do Resident Assistants enforce rules, and in which circumstances do they not? What may determine why they write someone up, but not someone else? How much of an influence does identity, the environment, and social pressure play a part on how residence hall incidents occur? The goal of this study is to examine how Resident Assistants view their job and how the way they enforce rules changes or remains the same depending on the situation. 16 current and former Resident Assistants at a large Midwestern university were interviewed about their experience, as well as asked a series of demographic questions about their race, gender, and socioeconomic status. A survey was also sent out to residents about how they view Resident Assistants in order to examine differences in opinion.
Jacob A. Castaneda
Dr. Pamela Braboy Jackson
Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies
Department of Sociology
While research on the racial and economic disparities within the U.S. education system is vast, little is known about how these disparities translate to one’s life course. Previous life course literature implies that white men are the normative and that others must assimilate to “whiteness” in order to live a fulfilling life. Additionally, African American and Mexican American men are often overlooked when discussing life course theory. For this reason, the two comparison groups in this study are African American and Mexican American men. Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) dataset, this study seeks to explore if African American and Mexican American men differ on economic well-being by controlling for educational attainment. As more Americans become homeowners and investors, understanding the economic well-being of minoritized communities is imperative.
Environmental Sustainability Studies and Sociology
Dr. Pamela Jackson
Much research has focused on factors that contribute to black’s increased rates of incarceration rates and the racial inequality surrounding the criminal justice system. There is emerging research about what is life like after being released, particularly for black people. The purpose of my research is to dive deep into this and investigate how different attributes such as gender, age, and class of the incarcerated affect their experiences affect their life outcomes with special consideration for race. I used the dataset Michigan Study of Life After Prison on 2003 Cohort of Michigan Parolees. I performed univariate and bivariate analysis on variables from this dataset. I used theories to help me interpret the results from the analysis.
Astrophysics and Mathematics
This is a close reading of the short story “Everything is Green” by David Foster Wallace, which focuses on the use of possessive pronouns and subtle decisions in wording to draw a deeper meaning out of the test. On its surface, Wallace’s short story, “Everything Is Green,” tells the story of a man who was wronged in his relationship despite having given his partner all he had and who has decided to begin living his life for himself rather than for her. However, a closer reading reveals a different story beneath the surface, in which the narrator is telling himself the above story while in reality not having relinquished anything to his partner as a result of his materialistic view of the world, which is the true factor getting in the way of his enjoyment of life. Wallace’s story acts as warning to the reader about the way that viewing the world materialistically rather than holistically can prevent them from truly living in the moment.
Pamela B. Jackson
Professor of Sociology
Director of Undergraduate Studies
While research about variance in gender identities is rapidly developing, there is still a limited amount of research investigating the individualized process of questioning one’s own gender identity, as well as the social implications involved in this process. Using semi-structured virtual interviews with 18 to 24-year-old adult students, this study seeks to put the gender questioning process into the context of the COVID-19 pandemic by asking the following questions: (1) Does the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine create a set of circumstances conducive to young adults questioning their gender identity? (2) If so, what elements of those circumstances contribute towards that inclination? (3) How does this questioning process compare to other peoples’ experiences during quarantine whose personal sense of gender identity remained constant?
Dr. Pamela Jackson
This paper will examine the ways in which second generation Mexican American youth assimilate to American society. Based on extensive research utilizing the dataset “Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study,” I analyze the way in which second generation Mexican American youth navigate the world due to the challenge of juggling two distinct cultural sets of norms and the ambiguity of what it means to be Mexican American. This paper will analyze the process of assimilation of second generation Mexican American youth through the theoretical lens of Segmented Assimilation Theory.
The concept of identity has been greatly studied among many scholars in a variety of fields due to the heavy role it plays in the development of self and the way in which one navigates the world. As American society becomes more diverse and fluid in nature, cultural identity becomes more complex. In particular, second generation Mexican American youth identity greatly influences the way in which they adapt to mainstream culture. Nevertheless, the challenge of navigating society through two identities is composed of a variety of sub identities. This research will focus on the way in which gender and socioeconomic status affects the level of assimilation among Mexican American youth. Due to prior research, I acknowledge that gender roles and social class affect the way in which individuals are socialized and greatly impacts on how society is constructed, but it is important to know how individuals who are potentially exposed to a different set of norms at home navigate other social institutions outside of their household and to what extent they choose to do so.
Further, while scholars know that social class and gender may affect or influence the assimilation process among immigrants, assimilation can happen differently among different groups of people. Thus, this study will focus on how Mexican American youth assimilate differently than other groups and study whether gender relies on social class or if it impacts assimilation on its own. More specifically, we will focus on the way in which gender roles may influence the assimilation process and if traditional gender norms create disparities of assimilation between women and men.
Samuel J. Bowden
Dr. Michael McGerr
Paul V. McNutt Professor
Department of History
Half a century after the start of her music career, Buffy Sainte-Marie remains an overlooked figure in the burgeoning folk scene of the 1960s. Professional writers often leave out her name, career, and accomplishments in academic and popular discussions of the time period. For those who are interested in the nuances of the time, historians and journalists ought to revisit her for a number of reasons. For one, she was the only Indigenous folk musician to become famous or even to exist at all. Her struggle for notoriety is further compounded by her identity as a woman, which makes her presence and success all the more unexpected and noteworthy. Lastly, historians do not often consider her amongst the figureheads of the ‘60s folk revival centered in Greenwich Village, New York, such as Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. Her gradual disappearance does not mean that her contributions went unnoticed at the time. Throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, she was consistently making headlines and performing throughout the world.
Buffy Sainte-Marie is nonetheless a notable figure in the annals of history. Her career has spanned almost six decades, her first album coming out in 1963 and her most recent coming out in 2017. She remains alive and active, even if only the margins. Today, music historians often include her as an anecdotal mention in others’ narratives and rarely, a special case of her own. To a select few of modern researchers, she is an esteemed, groundbreaking figure that broke down barriers in several regards: a “woman of firsts.” She was the first to use certain cutting-edge recording technologies, win unprecedented awards per her identity (the first indigenous person or woman to win an Academy Award), and even the first person to breastfeed on national television.
In spite of her significant contributions being lauded in retrospect, at the time Sainte-Marie’s life in the public eye was an interesting case study. Journalists and the general public fixated on her indigenous woman status, otherizing her and devaluing her unique musical contributions. Additionally, her pioneering anti-war protest songs amidst the background of the Vietnam War era garnered her both positive and negative press. These overlapping markers of difference caused critics to fixate on her status and overlook her talent.
This paper serves as an in-depth analysis of Buffy Sainte-Marie’s reputation in visual media during her early career. She quickly became a controversial figure, and just by the verbiage of her descriptions one can uncover that her career was being treated differently than others’. Over time, her interviews started to reveal the frustration of an artist who did not wish to be the figurehead of activism for a population of people. . “Once her life was devoted to helping the half-million Indians in the United States and Canada,” one journalist wrote in 1972, “She doesn’t speak out like that these days.” Clearly, Sainte-Marie still retained a following and was receiving interview opportunities. Her platform continued to exist, the only change was her approach toward activism: “But in seven or eight years of telling people about Indian problems nothing has changed. Probably nothing ever will. So I don’t go into that anymore.”
 Vernon Scott, “Buffy’s lament now bids encouragement,” Independent Press Telegram, May 27, 1972.
Session 4 - International Concerns
International Studies, Gender Studies
Visiting Assistant Professor
I will be presenting my senior thesis research that is currently in the works. By the time of the symposium, I will have the majority of my research done, and I will be in the middle of typing my paper. My research will examine how gentrification affects social production in East London. How has gentrification affected night and club life in East London? How has it specifically affected Black people, Black subgroups, and Black culture? How have grime and drill musical and cultural scenes been affected by gentrification? How does this compare to gentrification in other areas of London? Have other areas of London seen an attack on nightlife as a result of gentrification? Essentially, I want to examine the racialized nature of gentrification and how it has specifically affected Black people in East London. Given that East London has a large Black population, I suspect gentrification will have a large impact on Black people. Then, I would like to narrow in on how Black cultural production has been affected: Black businesses, Black culture, Black art, etc. My research will show how grime and drill club scenes and nightlife have been affected by gentrification.
This topic specifically relates to my time abroad. I spent the summer of 2019 living and working in London. While I lived in King’s Cross for the summer, I spent my days working at Hackney CVS, a charity organization in the borough of Hackey, which is in East London. I saw firsthand the cultural hotpot that is Hackney, and just south, the district of Shoreditch had already gone under heavy gentrification, making it a “hipster” paradise. The gentrification is slowly but surely creeping all over Hackney as well. During my time in London, I took a course that educated me on the variety of histories and cultural subgroups in the area. We took a day exploring Shoreditch to examine the rich histories but also obvious gentrification in the district. We learned about the large immigrant population that was being pushed out by white buyers, as well as the capitalist takeover of local businesses. Many businesses were being shut down to favor companies like Starbucks. Additionally, we had a lesson solely on subcultures, which included grime music. An expert came and told us about the origins of the subgroups and the racist disparities between Black and white cultural groups in the eyes of police.
Mathematics and International Law and Institutions
Dr. Betty Dlamini
Department of African Studies Program
Women play a vital role in their countries, communities, and families, and recognizing women’s empowerment as a step to propagate the development of a country is vital. According to the National Gender Policy of the Kingdom of Eswatini, “Gender inequality is an impediment towards the attainment of sustainable national development.” Although the country has acknowledged the vitality of empowering women, it remains that 1 out every 3 women have experienced sexual violence, women have a much higher risk of contracting HIV/AIDS than men, and there remains immense lack of economic and educational opportunities for women.
In 2007, the Queen Mother of Eswatini, Mhlekazi, declared that her dream was to ensure that cultural ceremonies, such as the Umhlanga, Incwala, and Emaganu Festivals, which are thought to promote peace and stability, also work to promote women’s empowerment. In an ethnographic study, this project seeks to investigate the current status of women’s empowerment in the Kingdom of Eswatini, as this festival tradition has taken on the role of empowering women. Drawing on insight from Swati organizations working to empower women through workshops at Festivals, this presentation will focus on the various types of adversities faced by women in the Kingdom of Eswatini. By interviewing various organizations, this research project investigates the empowerment workshops conducted, primarily focusing on economic opportunity, educational opportunity, and social opportunity available to Swati women, in order to analyze the role of Festivals in women’s empowerment.
Economic Consulting, Business Analytics
Department of Business Law & Ethics
Kelley School of Business
In the United States, the National Highway System, and more specifically the passage of the Federal Highway Act of 1956, was undertaken for the strategic benefits it brought to national defense. President Dwight D. Eisenhower advocated for the highway system for its ability to quickly transport troops and military equipment across the nation. This historical event, among others, establishes a connection between national defense and public transportation infrastructure development, although it does not establish a causal relationship between the defense sector and the subsequent creation of public transportation infrastructure.
This paper will examine whether military presence effects the kilometers of road in India and consequently, what effects that has on state-wide gross domestic product (GDP). A subdivision of the Indian Armed Forces, known as the Border Roads Organization, is responsible for building and administrating roads in several of India’s border states and union territories to maintain a strategic military advantage against foreign adversaries and engage in diplomacy with others.
An instrumental variable approach will be utilized to determine the relationships between the indicators. Data collected on military presence, defined as the number of Army, Air Force, and Naval bases in a given state, will be regressed on the total kilometers of roads in the respective state to see if military presence functions as a statistically significantly instrumental variable. I will then examine the effect of the total kilometers of roads on state GDP between the years 2012-2017, for which the most consistent data was available. The analysis will be performed via Stata.
At the time of writing this abstract, the model remains unfinished. However, it is hypothesized that military presence has a positive correlation with roads in India, and that states with more roads will have higher GDPs due to infrastructure employment, increased commerce, and business.