Session 1 - Topics in English, Immigration, and Health
English, Psychology, Sociology
Dr. Joseph McMullen
In an earlier draft of “Big Two-Hearted River,” Ernest Hemingway autobiographically states through the character of Nick Adams that, “He wanted to write like Cézanne painted. . .He. . . wanted to write about the country so that it would be there like Cézanne had done it in painting.” While previous scholars, especially Emily Stipes Watts, study comparisons between Hemingway and Cézanne’s craft, noting how entire collections or “series” of paintings—such as Cézanne’s Sainte-Victorie—correlate to specific Hemingway short stories, no one has been able to identify which specific paintings coincide with certain Hemingway pieces. Moreover, most of this work focuses its comparisons on Hemingway’s “Indian Camp,” “Out of Season,” and Death in the Afternoon. Meanwhile, other research, such as Robert Paul Lamb’s, notes similarities between Cézanne's and Hemingway’s styles including but not limited to omission, which Hemingway engages in through the iceberg theory and Cézanne achieves by painting in a way that compensates space, often rotating around a central point, instead of toward it. However, by using a multi-disciplinary approach studying not only the art of omission by both Cézanne and Hemingway, but also subject matter, color palette, and motifs, I argue that Hemingway had studied Cézanne so meticulously that his short story “Big Two-Hearted River” can be read as the Cézanne painting “Rocks in the Forest.” Using Hemingway’s claim that, in regard to literature, “there is a fourth and fifth dimension that can be gotten,” I compile five literary-dimensions that seek to demonstrate a concentrated kind of writing that emulates a painting, paying close attention to the artistic and literary devices used by both Cézanne and Hemingway. While past scholarship struggles to agree on a way to characterize Hemingway’s style, my work invites a new approach to categorize Hemingway’s writing.
Paul H. O’Neill Professor
Director of Graduate Mentoring Center
O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs
Immigration has long been a polarizing issue in American society. Due to its prominence, there has been extensive research on the factors that influence immigration attitudes among American citizens. Based on the Exposure Model, it has long been assumed that higher education promotes tolerant immigration preferences by exposing people to those from different backgrounds, cultures, or ethnicities. There have been few explorations, however, of what specifically within the higher education experience directly determines these preferences. This research project attempts to fill this gap in the literature through analysis of survey responses from individuals both with and without college experience. I will ask a sample of 300 individuals, drawn using Amazon Mechanical Turk, whether they attended college and about the specific experiences while in college, including friendships formed with persons from other countries, enrollment in study abroad programs, participation in multicultural activities, and others that might influence immigration preferences. I also will gather data from respondents on their immigration preferences and any change in their attitudes. My expectation is that attending college will correlate with more tolerant immigration preferences, but that the effect will be bigger for those who actually have relevant exposure experiences.
Psychology and Informatics
Professor and Director of Graduate Admissions
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences
Past research finds that disparities in pain treatment across socioeconomic-status (SES) are explained by erroneous beliefs that low-SES individuals are less sensitive to physical pain than their high-SES counterparts. Similar group-based disparities have also been documented in social pain (e.g., ostracism) judgments, with Black individuals being viewed as less sensitive to socially painful events than White individuals. To assess whether low-SES individuals are subject to similar social pain biases, in Study 1, I investigated if low-SES individuals are judged as less sensitive to socially painful events (e.g., losing a family pet) than high-SES individuals. In actuality, results demonstrate that low-SES individuals were judged as experiencing more social pain than high-SES individuals for situations involving the loss of a relationship. In Study 2, I investigated the downstream consequences of biased pain judgments for education, including academic accommodations and perceptions of students’ competence. I found that low-SES individuals were provided with a longer extension as a form of academic accommodation, which was mediated by feelings of pity towards the student. Additionally, laypeople anticipated that the low-SES target would receive a lower class grade, a relationship mediated by perceived competence. Despite finding no difference in pain judgments across SES, we observed biased emotions toward and beliefs about low-SES individuals’ competence that led to consequences as seen in lower predicted grades and longer extensions. The current work thus presents implications for equitable treatment in education and for psychological theory.
Dr. Younei Soe
Department of Information and Library Science
Artificial intelligence (AI), made up of Big data and machine learning innovations, play a huge role in the healthcare industry. In this study, I demonstrate the importance of Big data and AI uses in the healthcare industry and discuss the downsides of their uses. This study aims to disseminate information about solutions for big problems in healthcare, which can benefit individuals regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, or political affiliation.
To explore AI healthcare innovations ranging from technology for individual patient use to national government use, I conducted a secondary analysis of relevant literature. The study is organized into two parts: one outlining the AI that manages data, and one for detailing AI that utilizes algorithms to solve large-scale epidemiological issues. In the first part, I survey work on the streamlining of health data in new information systems that work to improve hospital care and medical research. In the second part, I explore algorithms created to assist with 2 kinds of large-scale epidemiological investigations: COVID-19 tracking in Greece and respiratory disease tracking all over the world.
This study shows that companies like Google and Microsoft have agreements with hospital chains to maintain healthcare databases with patient and doctor-patient interaction data. These collaborations help not only streamline hospital treatment but also maintain a robust data collection for medical research. Other technology companies like Apple have pervaded the wearables industry with smartwatches, and telemedicine is on the rise due to the pandemic. COVID-19 tracking in Greece is conducted with Eva, a program created and mastered by data scientists and Greek officials. Cough tracking is done by patients themselves using a smartphone app by Hyft, Inc, recording their coughs and contributing to a novel acoustic epidemiology database. The major concerns with these new technologies center around the privacy of patient data, as Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and other countries’ regulations on healthcare must also be maintained in cyberspace to ensure patient protection, which can be a challenge.
AI has a large reach into multiple aspects of global health. It can be used by individual patients wanting to track their health on their own, physicians and hospitals for maintaining secure and accurate data, epidemiologists and other medical researchers to conduct important research, and even national governments for national health security purposes. While there are privacy concerns, more resources should be invested in AI creation and perfection, as these technologies have the power to revolutionize healthcare and improve the health of everyone in the world.
Dr. Brian D’Onofrio
Professor and Director of Clinical Training
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder affecting around 9% of youth in the U.S. ADHD symptoms often persist into adolescence and adulthood, and adults with a history of ADHD are at increased risk for comorbid mental health problems, including substance use disorders and suicidal behavior. Both psychosocial and pharmacological treatments can reduce ADHD symptoms, impairment, and risk for related outcomes. However, treating ADHD during adolescence and emerging adulthood poses unique challenges, and discontinuing treatment is common. Previous research suggests there are racial-ethnic differences in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD in the U.S., but the nature of these differences across the lifespan remains unclear. Most existing research on the treatment of ADHD focuses on children, is conducted with predominantly white samples, and does not consider treatment patterns over time. To help address these limitations, this study investigates racial-ethnic differences in ADHD diagnosis and treatment during adolescence and emerging adulthood using a large-scale health insurance claims dataset. In this project, we analyze health claims from a national sample (n=4,286,629) of adolescents and young adults enrolled in a U.S. private insurance claims dataset between 2014 and 2019. Specifically, we examine racial-ethnic differences in a) the prevalence of ADHD diagnoses, b) psychosocial, pharmacological, and combined treatment prevalence, and c) rates of medication treatment gaps.
Psychology and English
Dr. Amanda Diekman
Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences
Graduate Student in Social Psychology
Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences
Social role theory posits that the social roles that groups are observed occupying guide how specific group members are perceived and expected to behave (Eagly & Koenig, 2021). Here I am examining how the role of race is linked to adultification, or the lack of affording childlike innocence. Past work has identified that childlike innocence is not afforded to Black adolescents to the same extent as White adolescents (Epstein et al., 2017; Goff et al., 2014). Across two studies, I am examining the adultification racial gap and a potential mechanism for the adultification bias among Black and White girls. Particularly, I investigated how the occupancy of high responsibility roles attributes to the adultification of Black girls over White girls.
In Study 1, we recruited adult participants to rate photos of thirteen-year-old Black and White girls. In Study 1 and 2, participants were told to estimate the physical age of the girls in the photos using a sliding scale and then rate each target on adult-like traits (i.e. responsible, mature). In Study 2, we investigated if applying high responsibility roles to the targets attenuated the adultification bias using a 2 Race (Black, White) × 2 Role (high responsibility, low responsibility) design. Here, along with each target image, participants read a short vignette about the target’s daily activities. For example, in the high responsibility role, targets were “helping siblings with homework.” In the low responsibility role, targets were “playing video games.”
Across two studies, Black girls compared to white girls were rated higher on physical age and were attributed greater adult-like traits. In addition, Study 2 aimed to examine if the adultification bias is eliminated when viewing both White girls and Blacks in high responsibility and low responsibility roles. The main effect of role type revealed girls occupying high responsibility roles vs. low responsibility roles were also perceived as older in age. The Race × Role interaction found that in the high responsibility vignettes, Black girls were perceived as physically older in age than White girls. However, in the low responsibility vignettes, the racial difference was eliminated.
Investigating how adultification emerges has benefits for intervening on the severe downstream consequences faced by Black girls. For instance, adultification in the school setting leads to greater suspensions, dropping out, and entering the juvenile justice system (Adekeye, 2019; Epstein, Blake, & Gonzalez, 2017; Morris, 2007). Adultification also deprives Black girls the protection that White girls readily receive (Epstein, Blake, & Gonzalez, 2017). Thus, investigating a potential mechanism for adultification will allow us to understand how to protect Black girls’ innocence and support their learning.
Neuroscience and Psychology
Dr. Karen James
Psychological and Brain Sciences
Research has demonstrated sex differences in motor systems in the brain during the production of handwriting. The act of handwriting however, involves significant visual processing that affects motor production, but research to date has not investigated sex differences in this component of handwriting. The present study investigated whether or not there are sex differences in neural systems during the visual processing of handwriting, and the potential reasons why these differences may emerge. In the present study, it was hypothesized that men would process handwriting as more of a visual-spatial task, while women would process handwriting more as a language task. Neural processing was measured with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), and participants were exposed to seven different conditions:
viewing dynamic handwritten, static handwritten letters, static typed letters, nonsense symbols as controls, a word-reading task, and a non-language visual-spatial task. The regions of interest in the brain were those activated by the visual-spatial task and the word-reading task. The fMRI results confirmed the hypothesis that regions associated with visual-spatial processing were more engaged in male subjects, while regions associated with word-reading were more engaged in female subjects. More interestingly, neural responses to handwritten letters was higher in visualspatial regions in males compared to females, whereas responses to handwritten letters in wordreading areas was higher in females compared with males. This research offers a promising perspective to the continued study of sex differences within the brain and especially in cognitive function and tasks.
Session 2 - Issues in Science
Lilly F. O’Shea
Neuroscience & Molecular Life Sciences
Dr. Ehern Newman
Principal Investigator of the Newman Memory Lab
Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences
My work studying hippocampal activity began this past summer when I served as a research assistant in the Newman Memory Lab. I spent many weeks working in close partnership with a student whose honors thesis investigates the correlation between the neurotransmitter Acetylcholine and the associated rearing behavior found in rats. For several months, he trained 5 rats; conditioning them via. radial arm mazes to perform spatial memory-based behavioral tasks. Because it is believed that rearing is an encoded behavior and the hippocampus is related to encoding new information, the goal of the experiment was to modulate the hippocampus using acetylcholine and thus alter rearing behavior. Throughout this past summer, our rats underwent a surgery designed to both introduce them to the halo rhodopsin virus as well as establish an optogenetic interface within the rat’s brain. By proving the correlation between acetylcholine and memory encoding, the concluded knowledge can be applied to cases in which a lack of acetylcholine is found in individuals suffering from memory loss complications, such as Alzheimer's patients. Once activated by light, the halorhodopsin will disrupt the membrane potential of the medial septum, the main acetylcholine input into the hippocampus, and prevent the cells from firing. It was predicted that this loss of neuron activity would correlate to a decrease in performance accuracy on subsequent behavioral trials and in general, we found that this hypothesis was upheld.
Based off of insight gained from this project and the skillset I developed during my time in the laboratory, I created a more specialized experiment that approaches the concept spacial memory from a unique angle. My independent project utilizes a large amount of the same operational methods, but rather than focusing on the correlation between rearing and acetylcholine, it attempts to answer remaining questions regarding whether inhibition during different stages of memory formation impacts the ability for information to be stored. The rats were made to engage in an identical maze trial but given different levels and patterns of optogenetic stimulation beforehand. I obtained data both from the original rats, as well as a new litter in order to diversify the level of familiarity with the behavioral task presented. In order to analyze the results, a software program was coded to both determine whether or not a rearing event had taken place and tally the total amount of rears that occurred per trial. While the data collection phase of the experiment has concluded, complications in the development of our software led to a delay in media assessment. While I have not yet been able to analyze our results to a point in which valid conclusions can be drawn, I have been able to identify general trends in the data, such as a significant decrease or absence of rears in animals who have received prolonged stimulation during the retention phase of the task.
Mikayla L. Deckard
Associate Professor, Associate Chair for Teaching
Department of Biology
Megan K. Freiler
Graduate student in Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior
Department of Biology
The production of reproductive communication signals can be modulated by hormones acting on the brain regions that regulate these signals. However, less is known about whether perception is modulated by hormones. The electrocommunication signals of weakly electric fish are sexually dimorphic, sensitive to hormones, and vary across species, making them an excellent model. The goals of this study were to examine (1) whether hormone receptor genes are expressed in sensory brain regions that process electrocommunication signals and (2) whether this expression differs between sexes and species that have different patterns of sexual dimorphism in their signals. Apteronotus leptorhynchus (brown ghost knifefish) and Apteronotus albifrons (black ghost knifefish) produce an electric organ discharge (EOD) that is used for communication and electrolocation. Two brain regions, the electrosensory lateral line lobe (ELL) and the torus semicircularis (Torus), process EOD signals and chirps, a type of communication signal. Here, we investigate the mRNA expression of genes for androgen receptors (ARa, ARb), estrogen receptor (ESRa), and aromatase. We extracted RNA from tissue punches, verified by staining the brain slices, and performed RT-PCR and qPCR to confirm expression. Preliminary results confirm that these steroid-related genes are expressed in sensory brain regions and vary between individuals. ARb gene expression was also higher than ARa across all individuals. This suggests that hormones may play a role in modulating the perception of EOD signals.
Although these results are specific to weakly electric fish, hormones can influence signal perception in sex-specific ways in other organisms as well, including humans’ auditory frequencies. For example, extensive research has demonstrated links between lowered estrogen levels in post-menopausal women and hearing loss. Human sex hormones are commonly studied within medical and reproductive areas, but it is important to also consider their impact on social behavior and communication, including areas such as cognition, attention, and multi-tasking. Furthermore, it is necessary to examine the implications of research built on largely stereotypical foundations of testosterone and estrogen being associated with males and females respectively. Using a model such as electric fish, in which there are fewer biases, could allow a deeper understanding of the role steroid hormones and their receptors play in communication and social behavior of both sexes. Hormones serve as biological adaptations and cannot be simplified to the cause of complications, noisy data, or unpredictable behaviors. Ultimately, my research seeks to explain how hormonal modulation of sensory perception in both sexes compare in electric fish versus humans, and asks what biases and stereotypes have impacted the research in this field?
Dr. David Williams
Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Harry G. Day Chair
Department of Chemistry
Chamigrane sesquiterpenes comprise a large class of secondary metabolites that have been isolated along with numerous lipids, alkaloids, and steroids from Rhodophyta, commonly known as red algae. Such sesquiterpenes continue to be isolated primarily from Laurencia, a genus of red algae, and are hypothesized to function as feeding deterrents against marine predators. Extensive studies have described the potential pharmacological properties of these metabolites and have reported significant antibacterial and antifungal bioactivities.
The Laureaceteals are a subset of chamigrane sesquiterpenes that deviate from the skeletal structure of their familial counterparts, exhibiting an unusual tricyclic ring system. My independent project explores the total synthesis of a member of this family, Laureacetal C. Isolated from Laurencia nipponica in 1983, Laureacetal C is a structurally novel oxaspiro [5.4] decane moiety. The structure accommodates a strained oxetane motif possessing three contiguous stereocenters and three neighboring fully substituted vicinal carbons.
In general, oxetane containing compounds are of great synthetic interest as they present stable motifs for medicinal chemistry and can be utilized as reactive intermediates in organic synthesis. Oxetane moieties are often responsible for biological activity, as the strained heterocycle can function as a conformational lock – rigidifying the structre. The oxetane is also a hydrogen bond acceptor, as the strained bond angles expose the lone pairs on oxygen, increasing its solubility in a biological environment. A synthesis of Laureacetal C has not been reported and pharmacological properties of Laureacetal C are not well-documented. A concise total synthesis of this product is crucial to provide a sufficient quantity for biological testing. Synthetic efforts toward the total synthesis of the natural product Laureacetal C will be described. Among the key transformations used, a Sommlet-Hauser [2,3] rearrangement to access a b,g-unsaturated aldehyde with a quaternary a carbon and a prophetic SmI2 facilitated ring closure to form the key spirocyclic moiety. The chosen strategies allowed good yields, reproducibility, and scalability for several important intermediates.