Summer 2020 Student Presentations
This summer 16 students worked with faculty mentors on ACRE projects. Read through their abstracts below and click the titles to view their final presentations.
Professor Denise Meister
This study’s purpose, five-year results, and remediation efforts were threefold: examine the algebraic concepts on the exam, analyze results of the exam to determine if the scores have increased or decreased in proficiency based on the school district between 2015-2019, and determine the success of the school districts’ remediation plans. Results show a trend of schools that maintain their success rate over the years. Administrators concurred the Algebra I Keystone content aligns with the PA Standards Aligned System. However, there were mixed beliefs regarding the effectiveness of the remediation programs.
Dr. Justin Couchman
The purpose of this study was to identify the effects of a virtual reality environment and resilience on the misinformation effect. There were two conditions for the viewing of a stressful video, which were virtual reality (moving the screen) and computer screen (not moving the screen). The two conditions for resilience were high and low resilience. The current study used the PANAS and GRIT tests to measure resilience and stress. Participants would first fill out a demographic questionnaire and the GRIT assessment and then would listen to the researcher read a list of words to them from the DRM task. Then participants would watch the video, recall the list of words, read a misleading paragraph about the video, and finally answer questions about the video. The first hypothesis was that participants who watched the video in virtual reality would be more stressed which would lead to better recall, but also higher susceptibility to the Misinformation Effect. The second hypothesis was that participants who scored higher on the resilience assessment would be less stressed and therefore less susceptible to the misinformation effect. The study had limitations, which will be changed for future studies to improve the reliability of the study.
Dr. Heidi Mau
This project is an analysis of pivotal graphic design movements in Russia, Japan, China, France and Germany over the course of the 1900s and early 2000s. These movements ran parallel with, or in response to, shifts in social structure, economic climate or ongoing wartime. The literary canon also asserts that each country drew inspiration from one another, asserting a narrative of interlinked design histories. This research culminated in a design project in which a set of five iOS app icons were developed for international businesses, inspired by the host country’s design history.
Dr. Amy Greene
Jaquan Harley studied the contractile vacuole (CV), a membrane-bound organelle found in micro-organisms which helps them adapt to different aqueous environments. He reanalyzed data concerning CV and temperature from literature dating back to 1920, using Excel. The CVs contracted more often at higher temperature and slower a lower temperatures in all organisms. The slope of the Arrhenius graph, representing an activation energy, was similar between diverse organisms. Harley also participated in collaborative parasitology research meetings with Swati Agrawal’s students at University of Mary Washington. Students engaged with professors and graduate students from University of Georgia (Edwin Louis, Emma Troth, Alona Botnar, Karla Ma ́rquez Nogueras, and Abigail Calixto), Villanova University (Dr. Megan Povelones, Dr. Jennifer Palenchar), and Clemson University (Dr. Jim Morris, Dr. Meredith Morris).
Dr. Nathan Henceroth
In American political society, media technology is an extremely prevalent and influential tool used by politicians and constituents alike. For politicians however, media platforms can be an important way to spread messages to the public and gain support, such as with congressional floor speeches. Here, we examined the effects that congressional floor speeches have on electoral success. Despite previous literature and conventional thought suggesting the use floor speeches are important tools for electoral success, the results of our statistical analysis argue that floor speeches may not matter that much at all in determining whether a representative will win an election.
Dr. Steve Mech
Although non-native species impact communities in several ways, the effects of invasive Japanese Stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum) is poorly understood in Pennsylvania. Over the 2020 summer in Nolde Forest near Reading, Pa., we examined the effect of M. vimineum on Peromyscus leucopus and the insect community. P. leucopus were trapped and released at two sites: one with high stiltgrass density and one with very low stiltgrass density. Insects were captured using glue and pitfall traps. We found no difference in insect communities, but P. leucopus differed in survivorship, population and birth rates between the sites. This suggests small mammals are more impacted by the invasive grass than insects.
Professor Kristen Woodward
Student Faith Anne Miravich and Albright College Professor Kristen T. Woodward created a body of artwork inspired by the artistic traditions of the Boruka people of Costa Rica, and designed studio art projects for a future Synthesis travel course that Woodward will co-teach with David Osgood of the Biology Department. Although the breadth of their artistic production resulted in individual paintings, Miravich and Woodward also collaborated on a mini-mural commissioned by the Berks Arts Council in partnership with the Reading Parking Authority as part of their new public art initiative. In August of 2020, the mini-mural was installed and is now on public display on the exterior west wall of the Fourth and Cherry Street Garage, in Reading, Pa.,
Dr. Matt Fotis
This study focuses on the created curriculums of improvisational exercises that can be used as a form of Drama Therapy to assist individuals with ASD to increase their social and behavioral skills. Over the summer, Fotis and Ortiz conducted research to create two curriculums to achieve this goal. The curriculums were created out of the team’s research into specific cognitive effects of ASD, the cataloging of exercises and categorization of the cognitive functions used in the exercise.
Dr. Joycelyn Burdett
Perez and Burdett have researched and recreated James’s “Infanta” gown. The “Infanta” was made to fit Perez and was mostly constructed by her with the help of her mentor. In order to produce an accurate copy of the ‘Infanta’ the pair needed lots more information, so they contacted the curator at The Ohio State University and got images and exact measurements of the gown. During the second session of fall, the pair will complete the “Four Leaf Clover” gown.
Dr. Nick Piro
One common motif of natural enzymes is the presence of bimetallic structures in their active sites, inducing unique catalytic activity. Petersheim and Piro explored the synthesis of compounds inspired by these bimetallic structures. First, the team conducted a search of the literature to find geometric and synthetic information on related structures. Then they utilized computational chemistry to determine the geometry of their hypothetical molecules, find energetic characteristics, and compare different versions of basic structure. Finally, Petersheim and Piro were able to develop a synthesis pathway to create new molecules, carry out and refine several steps in this pathway, and synthesize a bimetallic complex with two different ligand environments bridged by a ferrocene linker.
Dr. Gwen Seidman
This research examined how narcissists react to romantic break-ups, including their emotional responses and the attribution of blame. The study surveyed 126 adults who had experienced a break-up within the past five years. The survey measured narcissistic admiration and narcissistic rivalry, blame for the break-up and the problems leading to the breaking, negative ex attitudes, and the extent to which they experienced three emotions following break-up: anger, sadness, anxiety. Multiple regression analyses found narcissistic rivalry was associated with greater likelihood of blaming the ex for relationship problems and more negative ex attitudes and emotions, unlike narcissistic admiration.
Dr. Adam Hersperger
Previous research has shown that poxviruses possess proteins with sequence similarities to epidermal growth factor (EGF) of mammals. EGF is a hormone that plays a key role in cellular pathways including cell cycle progression, cell survival and proliferation. Upon analyzing the genome of ectromelia virus (ECTV), a gene with high sequence homology to EGF was previously identified. We have named this protein ectromelia growth factor (ECGF). ECGF has not been previously studied, therefore, this study seeks to analyze and characterize this EGF homolog and investigate its possible mitogenic role in active ECTV infection and virus replication.
Dr. Steve Mech
Eastern Box Turtles are threatened mainly due to anthropogenic factors that disrupt their habitat. We studied a box turtle population in an area where recent power line construction disturbed their habitat. We are analyzing the effects these disturbances have on the distribution and home range of 12 turtles tracked with radio transmitters. We located turtles each week starting at the end of April 2020. We found females have a larger home range than males, suggesting females travel father for high quality nesting sites. Our results will contribute to the understanding of habitat use by turtles and potentially aid in their conservation.
Dr. Ian Cost
Touch is an integral sense in the development of all animals. Birds and crocodiles have similar anatomical plans and thus should have similar facial innervation. Crocodilians are covered with dome pressure receptors (DPRs) that send signals to the brain via the trigeminal nerve. Bird remote touch sensation affected through Grandry and Herbst corpuscles, is also transmitted to the brain via the trigeminal nerve. In remote touch sensitive birds, mechanoreceptor abundance is highest in the bill tip organ. Here we review current literature and known trigeminal nerve mas for birds and crocodilians to expand our knowledge on the development of touch.
Stephanie Vargas Hemmings
Prof. MeeAe Oh-Ranck
The fashion and textile industry is the second-largest polluter of clean water and the second-largest contributor to overall environmental pollution due to harmful chemicals — behind the oil industry. According to United Nations Environment Protection Programme, it takes around 5,000 gallons of water to make a typical pair of jeans and a t-shirt. The fashion and textile industry uses billions of liters of water per day through the treatment, processing and decorating of fabrics. Forever 21, H&M, Primark, Topshop and Zara are trendy fast fashion companies that share one particular characteristic: to sell garments with a short life cycle at an affordable price. These fast fashion companies utilize trend replication, rapid production and low-quality materials in order to bring inexpensive styles to the public. Unfortunately, this results in harmful impacts on the environment, human well-being and ultimately our wallets. The life cycle of clothing is highly concerning and consumers need to be aware of how the fast fashion industry is affecting the environment. Much of donated clothing to places like Goodwill and Salvation Army end up in landfills. As stated in Fashion Industry Waste Statistics “about 85% of waste goes to landfills.” This research project “Sustainable Fashion: Upcycling and Reusing” will investigate innovative ways to create a design collection by utilizing upcycling and reusing fabric, including denim, for the visual aspect of the project.
Dr. Beth Kiester
Dr. Kiester and Jennifer Vasquez conducted 19 interviews via Zoom with immigrant service providers including lawyers, case workers, clergy/religious leaders, advocates and politicians to better understand the impact that COVID-19, detention, deportation and immigrant legal status uncertainty have on immigrant communities. In reviewing the interviews, three key themes emerged: the emotional and psychological effects on mixed status families, the financial burden on the family members who are not detained, and the impact of COVID-19 on immigrant communities and the immigrant service providers’ ability to provide adequate services. Findings suggest that communities bear the cost of the way we treat immigrants.