Honors Week – Albright College

Honors Week

Monday, May 2nd, 2022

In-person presentations in Klein Lecture hall.

Bria Stapleton — Mon, May 2nd, 4:00pm

The Breakdown of Colorism and Its Destructive Impact on the Fashion Industry

    Under the direction of Professor MeeAe Oh-Ranck (Fashion)

In today’s world, the fashion industry is plagued by colorism. Colorism is a
discrimination in which those with lighter skin are treated more favorably and provided with
more advantages than those with darker skin. Author and activist Alice Walker is credited with
first using and claiming the word, and she defined colorism as prejudicial or preferential
treatment of same-race people based solely on their color. The common practice of colorism in
the United States upholds Eurocentric beauty standards and benefits those who are Caucasian in
numerous institutions. “The Breakdown of Colorism and Its Destructive Impact on the Fashion
Industry” investigates the colorist ideology, which has developed from the deep-seated racism of
the United States; slaves who appeared to have white ancestry, indicated by lighter skin tone,
sharper noses, smoother hair textures, and more, were associated with freedom, while slaves with
darker skin were equated with slavery and fieldwork. Colorism is also a societal ill found in
Asian countries such as China and India. The current state of the fashion industry is still
combating colorism, as white and lighter skin models are prominently displayed in
advertisements, and darker skin models struggle to land jobs in the fashion industry.


Elyse Eckert — Mon, May 2nd, 4:20pm

The Influence of 2D and 3D Presentation of Stimuli on the Hollow Mask Illusion

    Under the direction of Professor Keith Feigenson (Psychology)

The perception of the human face is a crucial aspect of human behavior, in part because facial recognition plays an important role in forming relationships. As such, there has been extensive evolutionary pressure for the brain to develop automatic mechanisms to recognize faces. This may explain why the human mind is susceptible to many illusions, some of which involve the human face. An example of one of these is the hollow mask illusion. The purpose of the present study is to develop a better understanding of how 2D and 3D presentation of stimuli can impact its interpretation. We hypothesized that participants’ performance in correctly identifying whether the mask is concave or convex will be less accurate in the 2D laptop eye tracking condition than in the 3D hollow mask condition, even when similar eye tracking data and viewing patterns are observed.


Zuul Woodson — Mon, May 2nd, 4:40pm

The Effects of Illusory Pattern Perception on COVID-19 Vaccination Conspiracy Beliefs

    Under the direction of Professor Keith Feigenson (Psychology)

The COVID-19 virus has caused two pandemics: a viral pandemic and a pandemic of misinformation. Misinformation regarding COVID-19 and vaccinations has caused the spread of conspiracy theories surrounding the virus (Romer and Jamieson, 2020). The scientific literature has demonstrated that some individuals are prone to endorse conspiracies, and that they usually regard science negatively (Lewandosky et al., 2013). Additionally, individuals who believe in general conspiracy theories promote COVID-19 conspiracy theories (Georgiou et al., 2020), hold irrational beliefs, (van Prooijen et al., 2016) and engage in illusory pattern perception (van Prooijen et al., 2016). We examined the effects of conspiratorial thinking regarding the COVID-19 vaccine and hypothesized that individuals exposed to anti-vaccination material would score high on measures of general and COVID-19 conspiracy beliefs and engage in pattern perceptive thinking (van Prooijen et al., 2016, 2017 and Georgiou et al., 2020). We also hypothesized that participants would jump to conclusions during a probabilistic reasoning task and perceive less randomness during a coin flip task. Our initial results suggested no strong effect of manipulation, but further analysis revealed significant relationships between our dependent variable measures. Subsequent experiments demonstrated that measures of magical thinking and vaccine disillusionment predicted participants’ endorsement of conspiracy beliefs.


Jocelyn Lewis-Johnson — Mon, May 2nd, 5:00pm

The Delivery of Social Protection Programs in Reducing Inequalities for Citizens’ Well-being

    Under the direction of Professor Lisa Wilder (Business)

The research studies the effects on income redistribution satisfaction and redistribution preferences. Social protection expenditures on income inequality in relation to income distribution preferences. One of the key components of the social protection floor is to decrease the discrepancies of inequalities among citizens to increase overall welfare. However, previous studies concluded different results regarding social protection effect on income inequality and life satisfaction. It investigates the effects of social protection programs in political regimes have on income distribution in regard to citizens’ preferences and overall satisfaction and government policy. To understand governments’ effectiveness in decreasing inequalities, the study uses citizens’ perceptions and country level indicators to investigate the relationship between life satisfaction, social protection, political systems, and income distribution. The paper measures citizens’ life satisfaction and national pride in democratic countries and non-democratic countries by income level (low income, middle income, and high income. Based on empirical analysis, the findings suggest that low- and high-income individuals are satisfied in more democratic countries but demonstrate decreased national pride. Also, the paper analyzes the preferences of income distribution based on income level, finding that high income individuals prefer lower distribution of income and low-income and middle-income individuals prefer higher distributions of income.


Lisa Luu — Mon, May 2nd, 5:20pm

Being Other: Literary Pedagogy of Vietnamese American Experience

    Under the direction of Professor Marian Wolbers (English)

The purpose of this research is to train a pedagogical lens on Vietnamese American literature as a means to liberate the American mindset from historical-related misconceptions of Vietnamese and, generally, the “model minority” myth of Southeast Asians. A dearth of awareness regarding Vietnamese and Vietnamese American populations and cultures exists in U.S. high schools and universities, perpetuating old traces of conflict and Othering, still prevalent in mainstream Americans’ consciousness. One problem is the lack of access to literary works in schools and bookstores, which ignores the true depth of identity expression via authentic Vietnamese American voices. This research also serves to explicate the nature(s) of war — not to throw aside historical, social, and economic contexts but to examine the actual lived and shared experiences affecting Vietnamese and Vietnamese Americans as they culturally assimilate(d) in American culture; this component is one that most narratives do not incorporate in curricula and war films, showing the large gap and lack of distinction between the field of Asian studies and Asian American studies. Meanwhile, umbrella terms like “Asian American Pacific Islander” and “Asian American,” generally used as demographical markers, complicates and excludes the Vietnamese American experience. Hence, progress remains slow in assimilating Vietnamese Americans into the mix despite many available avenues of culture and a burgeoning body of literature by Vietnamese American writers, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sympathizer, Viet Thanh Nguyen. Literature itself is the key to broaden the scope of understanding and inclusivity.


Olivia Donkus — Mon, May 2nd, 5:40pm

Effect of increasing storm frequency on phosphorous load in a restored creek

    Under the direction of Professor David Osgood (Biology)

Phosphorus in the watershed is an indication of watershed health, as high concentrations of phosphorus are positively correlated with eutrophication. I measured the phosphorus load at four different sites in a restored stream to determine how the restoration impacted the phosphorus load and how the phosphorus load is impacted during storm flow. Samples from the stream were collected and analyzed using a colorimetric technique to find the concentration of phosphorus in dissolved (DP) and particulate (PP) form. The study allowed for an understanding of the effect of the restoration, which aimed to reduce sediment load and eutrophication. The results showed that there was no significant relationship between sites, indicating that the restoration may not impact stream quality with respect to phosphorus load. However, the study revealed that increasing storm frequency led to significant increases in the phosphorus dynamics at a small-scale level with increased particulate contribution.


Wednesday, May 4th

In-person presentations in Klein Lecture hall.

Emily Stragapede — Wed, May 4th, 4:40pm

The Loud Minority: The Presence, Planning, and Purpose of White Christian Nationalists on Capitol Hill

    Under the direction of Professor Jennifer Koosed (Religious Studies)

On January 6, 2021, thousands of people – who would later be known as The Insurrectionists – took to Capitol Hill to protest the 2020 Presidential Election. Their activism against the alleged fraud and their special interest in locating Michael Pence and Nancy Pelosi was to protect their Messiah, Donald Trump. From their perspective, Donald J. Trump won the Presidential Election of 2020, and no other outcome was plausible as this was God’s plan.
To better understand the harm of the Insurrectionists, it is important to understand this group of people and define their primary characteristics. There are three shared characteristics that unite the attendees of January 6th, regardless of their direct affiliation: they are led by Evangelical Christianity, they uphold white supremacy, and they are Nationalists. In this paper, the involvement of each characteristic will be outlined. The warning signs, consequences, and necessary reformation will also be addressed.


Francesca Horner — Wed, May 4th, 5:00pm

Artificial Intelligence’s Influence on Criminal Justice

    Under the direction of Professor Dan Falabella (Computer Science)

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an emerging field of computer science that is continually being researched, evolved, and implemented into additional and diverse fields, including criminal justice. Prior to technological and AI advancements, the criminal justice system suffered from inaccuracy and ineffectiveness in solving and preventing crimes. AI has significantly advanced and improved the field of criminal justice through the implementation of Big Data, GDT, facial recognition software, DNA analysis, and robotics. Many of these benefits have been overshadowed by the public’s fear of AI and the unknown aspects of it. However, the benefits inarguably outweigh the potential downsides by providing significant benefits to the criminal justice system by equipping professionals within the criminal justice system with ways to predict offenders and victims. AI has also allowed quicker and more accurate analyses of DNA, firearms, and facial recognition. This, in turn, has brought about a breakthrough in crime solving, as well as prediction and prevention of future crimes. With AI continuing to develop and improve, these benefits will only grow and become even more influential.


Matthew Cammarano — Wed, May 4th, 5:20pm

The Imperial Body: Transformation and Punishment in Modern and Classical Literature

    Under the direction of Professor Theresa Gilliams (English)

This study centralizes around the image of the human body in the Roman Empire and modern Western Imperialism. Juxtaposing Ovid’s Metamorphoses with multiple modern, international stories reveals how these imperialist notions of body appear and iterate within literature. Furthermore, this paper examines the intersection of class, race, gender, and sexuality within these instances of body horror in literature. As a means of identifying and determining the outcomes of the processes that drastically alter the physical composition or image of the human body or imitates it through a non-human force. Within Metamorphoses, most body horror originates as divine punishment, and while modern sources obfuscate the reasoning for their horror, its nature as punishment remains a discussion within the text. The method and framing of literary body horror correspond to assumptions and biases within the societies which produce it, and this essay combines direct analysis of these texts with Roman historical context to frame the past antecedents to how body horror impacts current culture. By achieving an understanding of the relationship between body horror and imperialist constructs, this paper seeks to develop a portrait of how body image factors into the identity of colonizers and the colonized to justify domination.


Thursday, May 5th

Poster Session, 4:00-5:00pm, in CFA Mezzanine.

Brigette Amendano

A Comparative Analysis of the Trigeminal Nerve in the Orbits of Predatory Birds

    Under the direction of Professor Ian Cost (Biology)

For many animals, touch is one of the most crucial senses for development and socialization. Remote touch is an essential part of avian survival as it allows them to identify prey and changes in pressure. Due to their dependence on remote touch for prey detection, birds are assumed to have a high number of mechanoreceptors, implying they have an overly complex trigeminal nerve system. The trigeminal nerve has three branches (V1, V2, and V3) that inform the brain of any pressure changes. In this study, we compare the trigeminal nerve of predatory birds that do not possess the bill tip organ from the families Accipitridae and Tytonidae, and the passerine family Corvidae to each other as well as to the birds that do have the bill tip organ. We found branches V2 and V3 in the orbits using manual dissection and measured branch length and qualitatively evaluated complexity through the orbital region. Due to differences in dependence of this nerve we expect the nerve to be less complex in these predatory birds. It was found that birds not possessing the bill tip organ demonstrated less complexity of the trigeminal nerve. More research must be done to identify definitive differences between the families of these avians.


Stephanie Barefoot

An Investment Model View on Motivations for Romantic Relationship Presentation on Instagram

    Under the direction of Professor Gwen Seidman (Psychology)

The current study investigated how romantic relationship satisfaction, quality of other potential partners, and how much one invested in the relationship can impact the presentation of that relationship on social media. Two hundred participants who were involved in a romantic relationship completed an online survey assessing how relationship satisfaction, alternative quality, and investment predict relationships with dyadic display motives (relationship-protection, communal, privacy, and self-enhancement) and behaviors (posts mentioning partner) on Instagram. The data analyses found that higher relationship investments predicted greater relationship protection, self-enhancing, and communal motives. Greater relationship satisfaction predicted greater communal motives and lesser privacy motives. Greater perceived quality of alternatives predicted greater privacy motives. Communal motives were positively, and privacy motives negatively associated with dyadic displays on Instagram. Privacy motives further explained the relationships between satisfaction and alternatives and dyadic displays, and communal motives further explained the relationships between satisfaction and investment and dyadic displays. Overall, the most important determinants for dyadic displays on Instagram were relationship satisfaction and investments along with privacy and communal motives, suggesting that certain qualities of a relationship can influence one to engage in dyadic display behaviors.


Phuong Chau

Comparing Dental Measurement in North American Bats with Corresponding Diets

    Under the direction of Professor Ian Cost (Biology)

Bats possess canines, incisors, premolars and molars, which are specialized to enable chewing and crushing of food items. These teeth are found on both the upper and the lower jaws despite their differences in sizes. Previous studies indicates that diet influences the shape and number of teeth.This project aims to explore the comparative anatomy of bat teeth with distinct aspects to determine the impact of dental morphology and its contributors toward the variation in mammals with different diets. We hypothesize that there is a correlation between tooth measurements of bat species specimen and their corresponding diets. Using digital calipers and microscope, the study measured 46 skulls from 28 bat species. Diets, common names, living locations, sexes, and dental formulas for each species were collected from the literature. The analysis of recorded data was done using Excel (organization of data and graphics) and RStudio (statistical analysis). The results support our hypothesis as there are significant differences among teeth measurement and their correspond diets. These important points of the research will help in further study of the influence of gravitational force on teeth alignment other morphological aspects associate with related dental issues. Further studies are necessary to understand how diet influences the arrangement of teeth in these mammals.


Cecelia Ensell

The Production and Perception of Volitional Laughter

    Under the direction of Professor Susan Hughes (Psychology)

The goal of my research was to conduct a two-part study to examine the different types of laughter that are frequently produced during social interactions from an evolutionary psychology perspective. I studied volitional laughter which is often used during conversations that is separate from spontaneous, genuine laughter that can result from purely humorous situations (Bryant, et al., 2018). The first study was administered via online survey, and it examined people’s perceptions of laugh samples obtained from screen actors in different scenes, such as giggling while flirting with a potential partner, nervously laughing in an uncomfortable social situation, and laughing with a friend to affirm their affective bond. The second study was conducted in-person, and I obtained samples of laughs from participants who were asked to deliberately produce different types of laughs, as well as samples of their voices. From there, independent raters evaluated these laughter on different trait scales. I found that overall, participants were able to distinguish between different types of volitional laughter and rated these laughs higher on their intended trait scales than a typical laugh. We also found that participants were able to successfully produce different types of distinguishable volitional laughs, which further supports the hypothesis that laughter has benefitted our species as a communicative tool throughout our evolutionary history.


Morgan Guers

Court Packing: A Study of Arizona House Bill 2537

    Under the direction of Professor Hayley Munir (Political Science)

Court-packing is a topic most discussed in the context of the United States Supreme Court. Yet changes to the size of the Supreme Court have not happened for 153 years. Court-packing efforts are not exclusive to federal courts. For example, in 2016 court-packing bills were passed in Georgia and Arizona. However, state efforts to expand the size of the court are not always successful. This paper seeks to examine the conditions under which efforts to pack state supreme courts are successful. I develop an original theory of court-packing efforts on state supreme courts and argue that partisanship plays a critical role in explaining the success of court-packing bills. I illustrate the causal mechanism through an in-depth discussion of Arizona.


Jaquan Harley

The Contractile Vacuole in Vorticella convallaria as a Drug Target

    Under the direction of Professor Amy Greene (Biochemistry)

The CV is a poorly studied organelle in osmotic regulation. A contractile vacuole is a sub-cellular structure that expels excess liquid when contracted to maintain osmoregulation. CVs are found in single-celled eukaryotes including parasitic and free-living ciliates. Examples include Trypanosoma cruzi, amoeba proteus, leishmania parasites and free living ciliates called Vorticella convallaria. We used V. convallaria as a model to observe the CV because they have stalks that anchor them and a large CV which makes it easy to visualize contractions. CV cycling in V. convallaria was observed under light microscopy before and after adding various potential CV inhibitors. Tetraethylammonium (TEA), tetrapropylammonium (TPA), tetramethylammonium (TMA), Bafilomycin A1 and Bafilomycin B1 were used as potential CV inhibiting drugs. TEA, TPA, and TMA (at 2mM and 4mM) did not affect the CV in a dose-dependent manner. Bafilomycin A1 (at 0.5 μM and 0.25 μM) and Bafilomycin B1 (at 25 μM and 12.5 μM) were added to 1 mL of spring water containing the ciliates. We saw that the CV took longer to contract when in Bafilomycin A1 and B1 as compared to the control data and the buffer control, DMSO. We discovered that temperature effects CV cycling rates. In 15.3ºC the CV cycled at a slower rate, but in 20ºC the CV cycled faster. Historical literature data on CV and temperature from the 19th and 20th centuries were reanalyzed using the Arrhenius equation. We found that the activation energy was similar between diverse organisms indicating similar biological processes. Our results may contribute to the development of anti-parasitic drugs which target parasites’ unique CV organelle.


Corrine Harrington

How Children Understand the Concept of Secrecy in Relation to Content, Context, and Authority 

    Under the direction of Professor Julia Heberle (Psychology)

The current studies examined the age at which children begin to be exposed to the topic of secrets, the context in which they hear the secrecy-related words being used, and how their understanding is influenced by various factors. It was hypothesized for study 1 that younger children will be less selective when deciding who to disclose information to and more influenced by information type, while older children will decide to share secrets with teachers and parents but not peers and characterize all types of information as a secret. To assess children’s level of understanding, participants were recruited from the Albright Early Learning Center and tested in-person using vignettes and pictures. Results for study 1 found a main effect of age on children’s judgment of the information that qualified as a secret and should not be disclosed. It was hypothesized for study 2 that children were exposed via overhearing their parents and that parents would mention secrets more frequently around five or six years old when the child’s Theory of Mind (ToM) is more advanced. The study utilized seven transcripts from the CHILDES open-access database to analyze the longitudinal exposure through conversations between children and parents to find the frequency and context in which they used the words “secret”, “don’t tell”, and “surprise”. Results for study 2 found that parents used the words “secret” and “don’t tell” with their child the most at age 5 in direct conversations with the children, however, exposure started as early as one and two years old.


Taylor Lanier

Measurement of the Relative Apparent Brightness in Variable Stars

    Under the direction of Professor Brian Buerke (Physics)

The focus of the research is to organize something that is not well-represented at Albright — a student-led program of research in astronomy and astrophysics with equipment that is suitable for data collection. While using the LX200-ACF 12″ telescope (Meade), we were able to use a phone camera and a camera adapter to take pictures of various stars in the night sky, Betelgeuse, Siris, Polaris, and Capella. After observing the stars throughout various nights, we will be able to analyze the luminosity of the stars to notice trends. By creating histograms, one can analyze the luminosity of the stars to discover new findings. We concluded that despite that there are some systematic errors in data collection caused by focusing the telescope and camera movements, luminosity data collection using a phone and phone adapter is a valid and feasible method.


Gabrielle List

Effects of Media Messaging and Media Outlet on Acceptance of COVID-19 Public Health Precautions

    Under the direction of Professor Bridget Hearon (Psychology)

We recruited a sample of 254 participants (141 males, 110 females, 3 non-binary) Mage = 36.16; SD = 23.28 from the Albright Psychology classes and mTurk who were randomly assigned to one of four conditions: a CNN news article, a Fox News article, the CNN news article labeled Fox, or the Fox News article labeled CNN to determine the impact of media messaging and news source on acceptance of COVID-19 public health recommendations. We explored moderators of effects including demographics, empathy, political affiliation, ambivalent sexism, religiosity, fear of the coronavirus (COVID-19), and acceptance of COVID-19. The initial findings showed that there were no main effects of condition on beliefs and intentions of mask wearing, social distancing, and vaccine importance over time (F(3, 201) = .35, p = .79, η2 = .01). However, there were correlations between baseline acceptability scores and empathy, political ideology, religiosity, hostile and benevolent sexism, and fear of COVID-19. There were no 3-way interactions between condition moderators of interest and acceptance of public health recommendations over time.


Allison Melahn

Narcissism and the Social Comparison in Agentic Communal Domains: Effects on Self-Esteem, Self-Evaluations, and Comparison Target Evaluations

    Under the direction of Professor Gwen Seidman (Psychology)

The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of narcissism on social comparison in conjunction with agentic and communal traits. In the present study, participants (N = 81) viewed a social media profile representing one of three social comparison conditions: upward comparison on agentic qualities, upward comparison on communal qualities, or a control profile. Results showed that those who viewed the communal condition had communal self-evaluations increase and those who saw the agentic condition had communal self-evaluations decrease. Participants who viewed the neutral stimuli and agentic self-evaluation increase while those who saw the agentic condition had agentic self-evaluations decrease. Participants who viewed the communal condition rated communal target evaluations higher than those who viewed the agentic condition. And lastly, participants who exhibited non narcissistic traits rated agentic target evaluations lower than those who did exhibit narcissistic traits.


Rachael Russo

Narcissism and Attitudes Toward Romantic Breakup

    Under the direction of Professor Gwen Seidman (Psychology)

The present study was a survey of 126 people who reported on a past relationship that lasted at least 3 months and ended within the past 5 years. We examined how narcissism, described by the Narcissistic Admiration and Rivalry Concept (NARC) related to certain aspects of a past relationship including initiation of the breakup, specific motives for the breakup, and the dissolution strategy of ghosting. Neither rivalry nor admiration was significantly associated with seeing oneself as more likely to initiate the breakup. Rivalry was associated with goal incompatibility and personal responsibility and both admiration and rivalry were related to a lack of interest in partner. Neither admiration nor rivalry was associated with a lack of respect from the partner, high partner expectations, or partner lack of support. Those high in rivalry, were shown to have more positive attitudes regarding ghosting when it came to using it as a strategy to end short-term relationships, casual/sexual relationships, or long-term relationships. This study contributes to past literature regarding narcissism, the NARC, and break up as it is the first to derive and examine specific motives for breakup in relation to narcissism.


Gillian Umstead

The Advancement of the Sustainable Development Goals through Green Practices in the Hotel Industry: An Analysis of Commitments and Challenges

    Under the direction of Professor Soma Ghosh (Business)

The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), launched in 2015, are in the final stretch of achieving a better and more sustainable future for all. The hotel industry is a major player in the United States, and around the globe in helping achieve the goals, by incorporating sustainable and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) practices into their business plans. The purpose of this paper is to examine the sustainability practices and challenges faced by three of the world’s largest hotel groups; Hilton, Accor, and Marriott and, how that plays a leading role in contributing to the SDGs. Social media shareable graphics and a website were developed to communicate major findings with a broader audience.


Shelby Woodard

Children’s Pretend Play: Existence vs Ontology, Object Modification, and Discussions of the Fantastical

    Under the direction of Professor Julia Heberle (Psychology)

How might children demonstrate an understanding of the difference between real as it refers to ontology (a real flower rather than a fake one) and real as it refers to existence (Santa Claus is not real)? Prior research suggested that this distinction represents a more advanced state of knowledge of real. The current study examines 3-7-year-old children’s language use during joint pretend play as we hypothesize that pretend play with others offers the opportunity to freely discuss fantasy, possibilities of all sorts, to engage in imaginative play characteristic of this age, unconstrained by adult direction, knowledge and play structures. Transcripts of speech were selected from the CHILDES database archive for settings where children were engaged in joint unstructured play and utterances selected for containing ‘pretend’. Utterances were coded as referring to role/events/objects, and then for possibility/existence, as well as transformations across the animate/inanimate category boundary. We found little evidence of discussion on impossible or fantastical events and objects, and few transformations that crossed the animate/inanimate boundary, even in the oldest children’s speech. Results are discussed in the context of social pretend play.


• Photos courtesy of Professor John Pankratz.