Honors Week – Albright College

Honors Week

Monday, May 1st, 2023

In-person presentations in Klein Lecture hall.

Megan Keller — Mon, May 1st, 4:20pm

Comparing the Effects of Epidermal Growth Factor Orthologs of Ectromelia Virus and Vaccinia Virus Following Infection of Cells

    Under the direction of Professor Adam Hersperger (Biology)

It has been observed that pox viruses have obtained an epidermal growth factor (EGF) like gene in their genome, Vaccina (VACV) and Ectromelia (ECTV) Virus both have this similar gene known as VGF and ECGF, respectively. EGF is a hormone that plays a key role in cellular pathways, including cell cycle progression, cell survival, and proliferation. When the protein is isolated from each virus, the protein is seen to increase cellular replication in neighboring cells. The protein VGF is shown to have the same results during infection of VACV. The protein ECGF is not shown to make a difference during infection of ECTV. The main purpose of this research is to figure out the role ECGF plays during infection. Throughout our experiment it is shown that ECGF does not play a role in infection of ECTV and might be on its way out of ECTV’s genome.


Lisa Statler — Mon, May 1st, 4:40pm

The Allegory of Love:  Order and Disorder in the Divina Commedia and the Roman de la Rose

    Under the direction of Professor Lawrence Morris (English)

The Divinia Commedia by Dante and the Roman de la Rose by Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun examine the myriad forms of love.  Dante creates a journey through a religious cosmology of the afterlife, at the end of which he is sanctified with a vision of God through his attainment of purity.  The protagonist in the Roman de la Rose takes a very different path, eschewing any religious or philosophical sentiment, to take possession of his beloved, symbolized by a personified Rose. While both the Roman de la Rose and the Divina Commedia have generally been interpreted independently, a combined analysis offers a richer understanding of both works. Both works draw upon the same medieval and patristic authorities, both works create intricate allegories, and both works examine the philosophical concepts of free will, reason, and fortune. In the end, both the Roman and the Commedia analyze the consequences of either ordered or disordered love.  Each work, then, ultimately argues that right order leads to a vision of God. Dante succeeds in the Commedia while the Lover of the Roman becomes a cautionary tale of misguided action.


Jules Miller — Mon, May 1st, 5:00pm

The Influence of Adults and Peers on Child Eating Habits

    Under the direction of Professor Bridget Hearon (Psychology)

The current study examines how adults and peers can influence eating habits and expands upon previous work by examining the moderating effects of parental characteristics such as anxiety sensitivity and parent’s sensitivity to child anxiety. METHODS: Thirty-six children aged 3-5 years were randomized to one of two conditions a peer video or and adult video, each recommending bell peppers. Willingness to try the pepper and liking of the pepper were then assessed as dependent variables. Additionally, children were shown five food-pairing pictures and asked to select their preference between the healthy or unhealthy option following the video. Fourteen parents completed a questionnaire battery assessing anxiety sensitivity, feeding practices and beliefs, and parental sensitivity to child anxiety. RESULTS: Analyses showed that children in the peer video group were more willingly to try the bell pepper at a trend level of F(1,36)=3.60, p=.07 as well as actually eating the pepper (β =-2.15, S.E. = 1.19, Wald = 3.27, p =.07, OR = .12), but no impact of condition on liking the bell pepper if they did try it F(1,30)=.002, p=.97. Condition also had no impact on selection of the food pairings F(1,36)=.45, p=.56. Parent variables did not moderate these effects as hypothesized.


Veloie Mastrocola — Mon, May 1st, 5:20pm

An Emerging Post-Colonial Genre: Boundary Crossing and Voicing the Spiritual in Sacred Realism

    Under the direction of Professor Lesley Goodman (English)

Post-colonial literature has taken various forms since the decolonization era, as have the terms to describe it. One of the most persistent, “magical realism,” has dominated the field of marginalized literature with fantastical elements. However, this term not only relegates indigenous religious traditions to “magical” status but also is increasingly insufficient to describe modern post-colonial literature, which seeks to centralize indigenous religious traditions. Examples include Akwaeke Emezi’s Freshwater (2018) and Brandon Hobson’s The Removed (2021), the two central novels in this case study on the emerging genre I have termed “sacred realism.” As opposed to magical realism, sacred realism recognizes indigenous religious traditions as valid belief systems rather than labeling them as superstitious practices. Freshwater and The Removed  bear striking stylistic and literary similarities, particularly in their mutual use of liminal spaces and boundary crossing between earthly and spiritual realms specific to the indigenous traditions. In each novel, the structure of the liminal spaces resembles the primary form of colonial trauma of the region’s demographic, and the findings in this study indicate that, according to the models presented in this genre, healing for victims of post-colonial trauma comes from reconnecting with one’s indigenous spirituality and the spiritual entities within these liminal spaces.


Dyshanae Brown — Mon, May 1st, 5:40pm

Barbie World

    Under the direction of Professor Kristen Woodward (Art)

This 10-piece series was made to inspire self-reflection and evoke a long needed conversation about a woman’s inability to define her own existence. My own personal experiences as a Black woman has resulted in a need to tell my truth and the truth of the never-ending struggle to be respected and seen as a human being. Through researching feminist artists, figurative styles and pop culture media, I was able to create a “Barbie World” that perfectly represents the view of women today. We are pressured into being the right size, having wider hips, bigger buttocks, bigger breasts, and a small waist. We need to be able to bare children, cook the food, and keep the house clean. From birth, women have been taught to be family-oriented and pure to attract the right man, to do or say things that men will like, and to wear clothes that won’t provoke their urges. In my work, I show that in today’s society, we’ve been reduced to mere eye candy and sex dolls. As long as we live up to their beauty standards and fulfill their selfish desires, we have served our purpose. But that’s the question, who decides our purpose? Us or them?


Tuesday, May 2nd

In-person presentations in Klein Lecture hall.

Natasha Halulakos — Tue, May 2nd, 4:20pm

Does Gen Z “Like” Pop Culture?: How Pop Culture References on Instagram Affect Brand Equity and Consumer-Brand Relationships

    Under the direction of Professor Jose Aviles (Communications)

From celebrity endorsements to product placements in popular television shows, the benefits of integrating pop culture into advertising have long been examined by marketers and media scholars alike. However, the impact of incorporating pop culture into organic marketing remains underexplored. As social media threatens the effectiveness of traditional advertising techniques, this study emphasizes the importance of organic, unpaid, content marketing for reaching Gen Z consumers. The present study investigates how brands’ use of pop culture references on Instagram affect brand equity and consumer-brand relationships among Gen Z consumers. Engagement rates and sentiment analyses were used to examine brand posts from five Gen Z-favored brands including Crocs, Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Zoom. Examining 50 brand posts, this study found that brands’ inclusion of pop culture references led to increased brand equity and higher-quality consumer-brand relationships. The study found that the average engagement rates for each brand were higher for posts with pop culture references. The study also found that positive sentiment was higher in the comment section of posts with pop culture references. These findings establish organic pop culture marketing as a successful social media marketing strategy, useful for brand managers and marketers striving to reach Gen Z on Instagram.


Jonathan Leger — Tue, May 2nd, 4:40pm

Hollywood’s Greatest Scheme

    Under the direction of Professor Trudy Eguae-Obazee (Accounting)

The growth of the film industry since its inception is undeniable. As a direct result of this growth, the film industry has faced increases in revenue, marketing overhead, and distribution costs. For movie aficionados and motion-picture fans “Hollywood” is the mecca of the film industry. Despite increased costs, film production remains a profitable industry. The film industry is a direct supporter of the United States economy and abroad, creating massive amounts of revenue, jobs, and wages. Nonetheless, questions as to how movies such as Return of the Jedi, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and Coming to America, all box office hits, have lost millions; yet are highly acclaimed film, have baffled insiders and economists for a long time. Films that can profit millions of dollars appear to be losing profits, thanks to what I call The Hollywood Accounting Phenomenon. This method of accounting, which is famously thought to be deceiving and unethical, is defined as cost accounting. This paper argues that Hollywood’s accounting results in revenue-sharing distortions through the vertical integration of distributors within the movie industry. Furthermore, through distribution contracts, marketization, and net profits, film production companies have been able to assign costs to inversely expand their revenues. This issue results in the contradictory essence of Hollywood’s accounting, as it re-attributes profits to different divisions while understating profits.


Reem Shadid — Tue, May 2nd, 5:00pm

Middle Eastern and Muslim Defendants: The Crossroad between Ethnicity and Religion

    Under the direction of Professor Hayley Munir (Political Science)

I will discuss the greater implications of minority defendants in the current criminal justice system, specifically focusing my research on Middle Eastern and North African defendants. There is little research surrounding the topic of Arab speaking defendants as well as Muslim defendants in the court system. We primarily focused on three cases: Adnan Syed, Hamid Hayat, and Mubarez Ahmed while utilizing the National Registry of Exonerations. The research uncovered the impact that the political atmosphere as well as individual and institutional biases against Muslims and people with Arabic names had on the outcomes of these cases. Adnan Syed, Hamid Hayat, and Mubarez Ahmed were wrongfully convicted. This research should be supplemented with additional empirical evidence to further uncover the impact of bias towards people with Arabic names in the US criminal justice system.


Sophia Stroumbakis — Tue, May 2nd, 5:20pm

Uncovering the Narrative: A Thematic Analysis of the #MeToo Movement in Media Discourse

    Under the direction of Professor Chuck Brown (Sociology)

The #MeToo movement was introduced in 2006 by Tarana Burke, but did not gain traction until a decade later. American actress Alyssa Milano reused the phrase “MeToo” in a public tweet identifying herself as a victim and asking other victims of sexual abuse to speak out, most commonly on the form of the original tweet, Twitter. Following the post, the movement gained overwhelming support and outreach of other victims. In contrast, the movement also began to face large amounts of backlash for those who did not agree with the movement or its ideology. Because the movement had been heavily reliant on mobilization through social media, talk of the movement extended to major news sites that reported their beliefs on the movement, either through direct or indirect reporting. These news sites vary in political ideology and correspondingly, are inferred speak on the movement with ideological bias. A random sample selected from four news sites were used for analysis; Two major sites, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, which each had fifty articles in their sample, and minor sites National Review and Newsweek, which each had twenty-five. This study aims to determine what major frames arise from the movement when discussed through major news sites, and subsequently, determine if their political ideology is an influencing factor in evaluating the movement.


Angelica Malone — Tue, May 2nd, 5:40pm

Modern Reality: Physiological Stress Response and Optical Illusion Perception After VR Schizophrenia and Anxiety Simulations

    Under the direction of Professor Keith Feigenson (Psychology)

The hollow mask illusion is an optical illusion that appears to trick the general public but not individuals with schizophrenia. It raises the question of whether non-schizophrenic individuals undergoing a false state similar to schizophrenia/psychosis, such as a virtual reality schizophrenia simulation, would have a similar experience. Virtual reality simulations have been shown to produce realistic reactions and induce physiological responses, particularly anxiety and stress. Some research has suggested that anxiety can affect the perception of the hollow mask illusion. This study aimed to investigate the influence of virtual reality simulations of anxiety and schizophrenia on the perception of the hollow mask illusion and physiological stress levels. Participants completed demographic questions and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory before being randomly assigned to one of three virtual reality simulation conditions: a simulation of schizophrenia, anxiety, or a control condition with no stress. Physiological stress measures were recorded during each simulation, and after the assigned condition, participants viewed the hollow-mask illusion. The study aimed to determine whether virtual reality can simulate anxiety and schizophrenia stress, and whether these simulations can impact the perception of optical illusions and physiological stress responses.


Thursday, May 4th

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

Megan Misurelli

A Model System for Anesthetic Binding Sites in the Blood Investigated by NMR Spectroscopy and Spectrofluorometry

    Under the direction of Professor Pam Artz (Chemistry)

In biochemistry, macromolecular binding sites are regions of specificity in interaction with other molecules. The aim of our current research is to investigate anesthetic binding to bovine serum albumin (BSA). The preliminary thought process of our research extends upon the work of Dubois et al. (1992,1993) and Xu et al. (1996) in their 19F-NMR investigations. In adapting from previous literature studies, we have constructed an overarching goal of our model study and initiated an applicable setup for our respective studies using the anesthetic, isoflurane, and the protein, BSA. We aim to create a model system for anesthetic binding in the blood investigated through Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (NMR) & spectrofluorometry (Johansson, 1997). T2 (spin-spin relaxation) measurements in NMR and intrinsic protein fluorescence are the selected targeted methods. The work will result in an outline for relevant biophysical and biochemical experiments where NMR and fluorometry methods are emphasized.


Kevin O’Rourke

Optimizing and Utilizing a Reliable Method to Examine the Regulatory Volume Decrease of Crithidia fasciculata

    Under the direction of Professor Amy Greene (Chemistry)

Crithidia fasciculata (C. fasciculata) are flagellate parasite that only infect insects, specifically, mosquitos. C. fasciculata utilize regulatory volume decrease (RVD) to respond to changes in the osmolarity of their environment. Ultraviolet/visible (UV/Vis) spectroscopy allows RVD to be observed by measuring the absorbance of the parasites as they respond to an environment that is hypertonic. To find a reliable procedure for this UV/Vis experiment, different aspects of cell preparation were changed to eliminate as much noise as possible. Once this procedure was established, it was used to test how temperature affects the parasite’s ability to undergo normal regulatory volume decrease. It was found that regulatory volume decrease occurs faster in cells at higher temperatures than lower. These results open the door for further experimentation into the RVD process with a noise reducing procedure and an established baseline for trends in temperature.


Cary Shurtz

Peter Voulkos: Elevating Ceramics from Craft to Art

    Under the direction of Professor Brian Glaze (Art)

In 1950s Los Angeles, Peter Voulkos would spark a ceramic movement that would completely shift the trajectory and status of ceramics. From humble beginnings, Voulkos only set out to make art. What California ceramics would soon find out is Voulkos’ methodology and philosophy around ceramics was anything but ordinary in his desire to contrive energy through never before seen abstract clay forms. The freedom of expression he allowed his students is what made the California Clay Movement take off. Voulkos was able to inspire a whole new generation of ceramic artists that would help him transform ceramics from a utilitarian craft to a true art form. While Voulkos would have to battle ideas around high and low art mediums as well as colleagues who do not understand his work, Voulkos was able to prosper because art has always been a calling for him. With his students, Voulkos made strides in the art world and pushed West Coast art into the art world in a way that demanded the same respect and validity as New York’s prosperous art scene.


Leah Strausser

Mate Value by Proxy: The Perception of Couples

    Under the direction of Professor Susan Hughes (Psychology)

The present study investigated whether the perception of a person’s mate value (as assessed by their attractiveness and income level) would be influenced by the traits that their long-term partner possesses, and considered if there were any sex differences in these desired traits across two studies. For the first study (n = 109), the first experimental manipulation entailed pairing an average-looking target with either an attractive or average-looking romantic partner, and the second manipulation entailed holding attractiveness constant while providing a description that their partner had either a high or low income. Results showed that these manipulations had little impact on perceptions of the targets own attractiveness, income level, propensity to cheat on their partner, or how well-matched they thought couples were. For the second study, again both attractiveness and income level of the target were independently manipulated but now participants were asked to select from two choices (an attractive or average-looking person) to decide who was each target’s spouse. Results showed that these manipulations did not greatly influence spouse selection and there were no judgements that aligned with the matching hypothesis. However, target males said to have a high-income were more likely to be paired with an attractive face spouse compared to high-income target females. As well as that, female targets said to have a low-income were more likely to be paired with an attractive face compared to low-income target males. Participants also took a longer time to make their decision when selecting the spouse for male targets than female targets. Whereas many factors can contribute to the perception of an individual’s mate value, the findings from this study suggest that the mate value of one’s romantic partner (as defined by their income or attractiveness) has little impact on that evaluation.


Binya Zhang

Osmoregulatory and amine release mechanisms investigated in parasitic models through the use of UV Vis Spectroscopy

    Under the direction of Professor Amy Greene (Chemistry)

Osmoregulatory mechanisms are particularly important in parasitic protist to enable changing osmotic environments throughout their lifetime. Many parasitic protists possess a contractile vacuole (CV) that functions to expel excess water under hypoosmotic stress. In addition to CVs, protists release small osmolytes including amino acids during regulatory volume decrease under hypotonic conditions (RVD). In our research on Crithidia fasciculata, there is an increase in amino acid (AA) released upon hypoosmotic exposure. Ninhydrin protocol was developed in the study to quantify amount of AA released. Exposure to a hypotonic environment is seen to induce a rapid release of AA to regulate osmotic pressure.


Stephanie Zolynski

Empathetic Perception of Schizophrenia Compared to Cortisol Levels

    Under the direction of Professor Keith Feigenson (Psychology)

The purpose of this study is to test participants’ empathy in accordance with the Multi-Dimensional Emotional Empathy Scale (Caruso and Mayer, 1998), and the Attitudes Towards Schizophrenia Questionnaire (Hori, Richards, Kawamoto, & Kunugi, 2011) before and after experiencing VR simulations of Schizophrenia, as well as to measure cortisol levels in saliva before and after the simulation. The goal of the simulations is to try to create a sense of ‘walking in the shoes’ of someone experiencing psychosis induced by schizophrenia. The control group will not experience stress-inducing simulations, but instead the same simulation with no sound. The VR aspect of this study will allow participants to experience visual and auditory hallucinations, produced by Janssen Pharmaceutical company and the same videos from Janssen Pharmaceutical but with no sound used as the control. The schizophrenia simulations are hypothesized to induce stress biomarkers, including cortisol and physiological responses. The primary hypothesis is that people exposed to the manipulation condition (psychosis/hallucination scenario) will increase empathy levels compared to individuals exposed to a control condition. In addition, participants who have a higher empathy scale rating before the experiment will see a sharp rise in cortisol levels because they are more likely to understand the emotions of the person going through psychosis and the experience would feel more visceral (compared to individuals lower on the empathy scale). The VR simulations for schizophrenia are thought to extract an empathic response for someone diagnosed with schizophrenia from an individual who has no prior experience with schizophrenia in their daily life. A secondary hypothesis is that individuals given a written prompt featuring an individual experiencing schizophrenia symptoms will see an additive empathy response, one that persists for up to 3 weeks.


• Photos courtesy of Professor John Pankratz.