Honors Week

April 29 – May 2, 2019

All talks will be in Klein Lecture Hall. Click on a student’s name to skip to his or her abstract.


MONDAY, April 29TitleDepartment (advisor)
4:20 p.m.Karen AlejandresPhysician and Limited English Proficiency Parent’s Perceptions on Childhood Asthma in Primary CareBiology (Campbell)
4:40 p.m.Thalia WilliamsonSound Pollution and it’s Impact on Bird BehaviorBiology (Brylawski)
5:00 p.m.Alexis CooperLaw Enforcement Officials, New Religious Movements, and the Free Exercise ClausePolitical Science (Armato)
TUESDAY, April 30
4:00 p.m.Emily DurellLes Petites and Die Postkarte: Images of Children in Great War European PostcardsCommunications (de Syon / Mau)
4:20 p.m.Marina NyeThe Corset as a Lens into the Condition of WomanhoodHistory (Aquino)
4:40 p.m.Katherine BetzGo Directly To Jail: The Mathematics Behind Family Game NightMathematics (Nawrocki)
5:00 p.m.Ben ForemanMapping the Consumer Profile of the American Sport FishermanBusiness (Rajan)
5:20 p.m.Kaylyn Haan Análisis de los sistemas del cuidado de los perros en España y Estados UnidosSpanish (Amores)
4:40 p.m.Zoë GehmanAn Asymmetrical Ferrocene-Bridged Ligand for Holding Two Dissimilar Metal IonsChemistry (Piro)
5:00 p.m.Frank LaveryOrdinary Jurists and the Legal Construction of the HolocaustHistory (Turning)
5:20 p.m.Jennifer HeydtLiberation from Fear: Institutional Racism and the African American HomeEnglish (Gilliams)
Sophie BassApplying Queueing Theory to Real World ApplicationsMathematics (Catone)
Kelly CembralePerceptions of Vocal Stimuli: The Effect of LateralizationPsychology (Hughes)
Kritsten DePalmaMental Illness Expressed in Visual ArtArt (Woodward)
Mia FelixInvestigating the diagnostic value and cost-efficiencies of imaging tests in small animal emergency medicineBiology (Brylawski)
Alyssa KatesEffects of the Hollow Mask Illusion on ChildrenPsychology (Feigenson)
Tyler KiwakThe Building of a Conditional Lethal Plasmid for AgrobacteriumBiology (Samuelsen)
Francis MeleEvaluating Rhamnose Promoter Leakiness Using GFPBiology (Samuelsen)
Rebecca MorgisCharacterization of the Epidemal Growth Factor Ortholog of Ectromelia VirusBiology (Hersperger)
Julia PevarnikEctromelia virus lacking the E3 gene is replication-defectiveBiology (Hersperger)
All talks will be in Klein Lecture Hall. Students presenting posters will be taking questions about their work from 4-5 p.m. on Thursday, May 2nd in the Center for the Arts Mezzanine.  All posters will be up from 4 p.m. Monday until 6 p.m. Thursday.


Karen Alejandres

Physician and Limited English Proficiency Parent’s Perceptions on Childhood Asthma in Primary Care

Abstract:In the U.S, there are nearly 37.5 million residents and native Spanish speakers, of which 44% are considered to have some degree of limited English proficiency (LEP; Riera et al., 2015). Despite the frequency of LEP individuals within the Latino community, the healthcare system is prominently geared towards English speakers (Bernard et al., 2006). Previous research has demonstrated the effects of language discordance resulting in limited ability of accessing quality healthcare and lower patient satisfaction (Claudio & Stingone, 2009). The current study examined the extent to which language barriers contribute to pediatric asthma treatment and management for LEP individuals in a primary care setting. Data analysis from 93 patient surveys disturbed at, All About Children Pediatric Partners reveled that LEP parents reported lower understanding of asthma management compared to fluent English speakers. LEP parents also reported having lower confidence in dealing with their children’s asthma attacks. These findings compliment previous literature and may help explain why Hispanic children are two times more likely to die of asthma-related conditions than non-Hispanic white children (US Department of Human Services Office of Minority Health, 2017).

Thalia Williamson

Sound Pollution and it’s Impact on Bird Behavior

Abstract: Urbanization causes a drastic increase in sound pollution, but very little field research has been conducted to determine the impact of noise on wild organisms. Sound pollution has a major impact on organisms, such as birds, that rely heavily on vocalizations. To observe how sound pollution affects behavior, such as feeding, preening, perching, and aggression, we established two feeders at different edges of the same wooded area. One feeder by a highway (high disturbance), where sound pressure levels exceeded 80 decibels; while the other feeder was on the neighborhood side (low disturbance), where the average noise level was 57 decibels. We monitored feeders for approximately two hours every morning for 10 weeks and observed a total of 247 bird visits, with 230 occurring at the low disturbance (LD) feeder and 17 at the high disturbance (HD) feeder. At the LD feeder, 12 species visited while the HD feeder had only 4 species visit. Analysis of the results showed a significant relationship between level of disturbance and behavior. While behaviors did differ between species, behaviors such as avoidance, calling, and perching also differed between sites. Future analysis will further characterize the impact of sound pollution on specific bird behaviors.

Alexis Cooper

Law Enforcement Officials, New Religious Movements, and the Free Exercise Clause

Abstract: On November 18, 1978 the world stood witness to an act of incomprehensible horror—at the behest of one man, almost 1,000 people lost their lives in a mass murder-suicide, dubbed the Jonestown Massacre. The Jonestown Massacre is the seminal incident used to analyze the relationship concerning law enforcement, the free exercise clause, and new religious movements in the 20th and 21st Centuries. Through this analysis, readers gain a better understanding of the religious protections granted to citizens through the U.S. Constitution, and whether or not those rights may have been violated by the government in the pursuit of justice. The work uses three case studies: the Branch Davidians, the Montana Freemen, and the Westboro Baptist Church. Findings are then applied to more modern-day examples, such as the occupation of Malheur National Park and the protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline.


Emily Durell

Les Petites and Die Postkarte: Images of Children in Great War European Postcards

Abstract: This paper explores the defining characteristics of postcards depicting children in German and French contexts during World War I. During this conflict, the postcard became a crucial medium of social wartime communication, boosting morale at home and abroad and bridging the gap between soldiers and civilians. The present study analyzes and compares the themes visually apparent in a sample of privately collected postcards published or mailed during World War I. In doing so, it extracts underlying meanings conveyed through the artwork and posits the ways in which these meanings may have affected those who sent, handled, and received them. World War I postcards depicting children, however kitschy or trivial they may seem to the present-day viewer, reflect competing visions of masculinity, shifting sentiments regarding the institution of the family, tensions between the battlefield and the home front, and anxiety towards the future of the nation. Postcards from both France and Germany indicate a departure from the Western European conceptualization of the child as an occupant of a separate, sacred sphere of society. German postcards reflect these phenomena within the framework of a more conservative, masculinized, authoritarian state. As France faced both demographic decline and invasion, its postcards present messages related to the nation’s precarious future and emphasize the child’s role as both innocent victim and defiant participant in the war.

Marina Nye

The Corset as a Lens into the Condition of Womanhood

Abstract: The corset provides a valuable insight into the lives of women in history. Corsets are often characterized as a painful apparatus that helps subjugate women, but this is a generalization that ignores the multi-layered meanings the tool also acquired. Although corsets are viewed as a modern symbol of empowerment for women, they were part of an arduous journey through a patriarchal society that molded gendered political discourse. This research explores the role of the corset between 1789 to 1861 in the United States, while analyzing major cultural influences from England and France. By analyzing the multi-layered facets of the corset in American women’s lives, one can chart the cultural impact it had in molding political discourse around women’s civil liberties and function. This research examines how sartorial culture influenced the condition of womanhood.

Katherine Betz

Go Directly To Jail: The Mathematics Behind Family Game Night

Abstract: Monopoly is a game of buying, trading, and rolling the dice to beat your friends and family. This game is notorious in many households and friend groups as a relationship destroyer, although not many realize the basis Monopoly has in the world of mathematics. Exploring the world of probabilities and linear algebra will open up just how important mathematics is in this game and many other games. Each square on the Monopoly board has a probability of being landed on through movement, cards that send the player to another square, or the rules of the game. Probability matrices help to discover the most commonly landed on properties through matrix multiplication. The process of raising these matrices to a large power will approximate the proportion of time, as measured by moves, that a player will spend on each square. This knowledge will not only give players a leg up from their competition, but also show the general population how important mathematics is in something as common as a board game.

Benjamin Foreman

Mapping the Consumer Profile of the American Sport Fisherman

Abstract: The recreational fishing industry generates over $115 billion per year in revenue and creates more than 820,000 jobs around the world (American Sportfishing Association 2016). For the purposes of this study, “sport fisherman” is an identity adopted by anglers who consider fishing a lifestyle rather than a hobby or occasional recreation. Given the fact that they are so serious about their craft, they are interested in high quality gear that delivers high performance. The sport fisherman cannot be singled out as a discernible entity, but the target group that we refer to as “sport fishermen” is a segment of the population whose background and interests span different subsets of the American population. In this research, we will profile this consumer group using demographic, psychographic, lifestyle and geo-demographic parameters. This research analyzed secondary data including industry reports, Nielsen PRIZM segments and existing literature to accurately describe the sport fisherman as a consumer. In addition to secondary data, primary quantitative research data was collected through a survey of avid sports fishermen, some of whom were “pro staff” members of existing fishing brands. A thorough, accurate consumer profile of the sport fisherman (buyer personas) was mapped, that brands in the industry can use for segmentation, targeting and positioning.

Kaylyn Haan

Análisis de los sistemas del cuidado de los perros en España y Estados Unidos

Abstract: Dogs capture the hearts of people around the world with an estimate of 525 million as pets (“Psychology Today”). With this extent of love for these animals, it is evident that caring for them is of greatly significant in countries around the world. This work displays an analysis of the regulations and cultural customs that inform the care of animals as pets, particularly dogs, in Spain and the United States. This study focuses on two cities that are very populated with both people and dogs: Madrid and New York City. It compares the rules and regulations regarding the identification of dogs including dog tags, dog licenses, microchips, and pet passports as well as aspects of preventative care which includes vaccines and spaying/neutering. By reviewing municipal regulations that apply to dog owners in New York City and Madrid, it compares and contrasts how each city covers the same topic. My analysis highlights the similarities and differences within the dog care systems between the United States and Spain with the aim of incorporating the specific aspects that positively affect the well being of pets, namely their health and safety.


Zoë Gehman

An Asymmetrical Ferrocene-Bridged Ligand for Holding Two Dissimilar Metal Ions

Abstract: Nature is the most successful chemist for activating and interconverting small molecules into more useful ones. A key feature of many enzymes that carry out these transformations is their use of asymmetric, bimetallic active sites. This means that the enzyme is able to hold two different metals each in a unique coordination environment. This work describes our efforts towards applying these lessons and developing ligands that can hold two dissimilar metal ions in unique coordination environments. We have explored different approaches to develop a ligand that is able of holding two different metal ions. We sought to attach two different arms of the ligand with different metal binding sites to a central bridging moiety which will act as the backbone for the entire complex. We began our work using a pyrazole as the backbone. After many difficulties related to the synthesis of a pure pyrazole, we took a new approach toward the synthesis. In particular, we will describe the synthesis of a ferrocene derivative wherein one cyclopentadienyl ring supports a bis(pyridyl)amine ligand and the other cyclopentadienyl ring supports a phosphine ligand. This synthesis has been successful so far and we are three steps away from a completed ligand with the capability of holding two dissimilar metal ions.

Frank Lavery

Ordinary Jurists and the Legal Construction of the Holocaust

Abstract: The Holocaust stands as one of the most horrifying moments of the modern era. It left between five and seven-million Jewish citizens of Europe dead in the wake of the calamity. It is not shocking that the law was an integral component of the Holocaust, however, the legal construction of the Holocaust is a considerably nuanced topic. Previous scholarship has elucidated that ordinary people—generally unimportant functionaries—played a critical role in the perpetration of the Holocaust. So too did the ordinary attorneys and judges of Europe facilitate the Holocaust through their practice of laws meant to disenfranchise, and eventually decimate Europe’s Jewish citizens. This paper seeks to better understand the role of the ordinary jurists in perpetrating the Holocaust through the use of three specific national examples: Nazi Germany, Vichy France, and Fascist Italy. It attempts to understand what could motivate educated jurists to abandon the progressive legal hermeneutic that had once characterized European legal society, and it endeavors to frame the theoretical discoveries with real juristic examples. Ultimately, it is difficult to dispute that ordinary jurists were central to the legal construction of the Holocaust in Europe.

Jennifer Heydt

Liberation from Fear: Institutional Racism and the African American Home

Abstract: This paper will be investigating instances of personal and institutional systems of fear as they intersect with the discourse of the African American household. As the literary texts vary in genre, gender, and time, personal testimony concludes that despite legal emancipation and the enactment of civil rights, the United States fails to institutionally liberate its African American citizens from violence and fear. James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Thomas Chatterton Williams’ Losing My Cool: How a Father’s Love and 15,000 Books Beat Hip-Hop Culture, and Malcolm X’s The Autobiography of Malcolm X inform this analysis through the inspection of slavery, “emancipation”, institutional racism, mass incarceration, and violence within the family as a reaction to fear. The texts make it apparent that policing the black body is an American value which has evolved throughout history, a value that has not changed despite the legal liberation of African American people through emancipation, desegregation, and the Civil Rights movement. As the violence and policing of the African American body is unpacked, this paper will also uncover the necessity for institutional change and dismantling of racially oppressive systems within the American landscape.


Sophie Bass

Applying Queueing Theory to Real World Applications

Abstract: This thesis is about the study of Queueing Theory and applying this theory to real-world applications. In this project, we addressed what queueing theory is, the basic structure of queueing models and different types of real queueing systems. We also focused on the two important distributions: Poisson and Exponential and displayed queueing systems through single and multiple server cases. We conclude this thesis with real-world examples of Queueing theory.

Kelly Cembrale

Perceptions of Vocal Stimuli: The Effect of Lateralization

Abstract: This study examined whether perception of voice attractiveness is influenced by lateralization effects when presenting stimuli in one ear versus the other ear and explored whether the content of vocal stimuli is important in the lateral processing of vocal information in terms of both voice perception and memory recall. Participants listened to voice samples of a number recitation and different phrases separately in their right and left ear and were later asked to recall the particular phrases they heard. Whereas there was no difference in voice attractiveness ratings when voices were heard in the right or left ear, listeners rated the number count recitations of opposite-sex speakers as sounding more attractive if they first heard that voice in their left ear. Further, men rated the voices of women reciting phrases relating to attraction as sounding more attractive than neutral phrases, whereas women rated the voices of men similarly regardless of phrase content. For phrases related to attraction, participants were better at recalling and were more confident in their decision of accurately recalling phrases when they heard the phrases than when they did not hear the phrases. For neutral phrases, participants were better at recalling the phrases and were more confident in their decision of accurately recalling phrases when they did not hear the phrases than the phrases they did hear. These findings further contribute to our understanding of how the human brain processes vocal information related to the perception of voice attractiveness.

Kristen DePalma

Mental Illness Expressed in Visual Art

Abstract: This thesis is based off of the inspiration of individuals that live with mental illness in their everyday lives. Mental Illnesses Expressed in Visual Art is a body of work with about eight pieces, each portraying a different mental illness. Some of the disorders expressed are, but not limited to, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Addiction and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The medias used through out the series is mostly acrylic paint, but also include wax, gel, and ink. Most pieces are simply done on canvas; however, a couple of the works are on different surfaces, such as a table, in order to enhance the emphasis of the mental illness effects. This series is made to be more expressive and resemble an emotion, rather than be a direct representation of the disorder.

Mia Felix

Investigating the diagnostic value and cost-efficiencies of imaging tests in small animal emergency medicine

Abstract: Diagnostic imaging, such as radiographs and ultrasounds, is an important tool utilized in veterinary medicine for canine and feline patients in emergency situations. These two imaging tests encompass two different approaches to create images that will provide insight about the internal organs or the orthopedic health of the patient. The purpose of this research to analyze both qualitatively and quantitatively if a relationship exists between a particular imaging test and medical diagnosis and if so, how can these findings be used to minimize overall expenses to pet owners while maximizing the accuracy of diagnosis. The hypothesis of this work is that significant relationships exist between a particular diagnostic imaging test and a confirmed medical emergency diagnosis. Data was collected from canine and feline patients of Berks Animal Emergency and Referral Center (BAERC) from 2015-2017 and used to perform statistical analysis. Ultimately, the most common diagnosis was foreign body object (FBO) obstruction in both species and was utilized primarily to compare to all other potential categories of diagnoses in a log-linear analysis. The coefficients used to calculate the likelihood of a medical outcome was successful and overall demonstrated that strong relationships do exist between a certain diagnosis and type of imaging test performed. As a result, this research is significant because it can tests if relationships exists and therefore determine the minimal number of diagnostic tests needed to confirm a diagnosis. From this, there is potential to reduce overall veterinary cost to the client as well as provide the greatest diagnostic value to the patient by undergoing only the necessary imaging test.

Alyssa Kates

Effects of the Hollow Mask Illusion on Children

Abstract: The Hollow Mask Illusion depicts a concave mask (pointing away from you) that is painted in a manner that creates an illusion of convexity (pointing towards you), making the face appear as it normally would. The illusion itself has been used before in various areas of research, including infant (< 1 year old) perceptual development and areas regarding perception in individuals with schizophrenia. The current study aimed to examine potential differences in children’s (4-6-years old) perception of this illusion in comparison to adults. We hypothesize that the illusion will be stronger in adults than in children. Additionally, a new mask was created from a popular character (Elmo), to investigate if there are other faces that may be more palatable to children for this experiment, as the human mask has the potential to appear less friendly to children. Data analyses found that children see a stronger illusion than adults suggesting the tendency to perceive faces is stronger in children, who may be primed to see faces as convex even when context is deceitful.

Tyler Kiwak

The Building of a Conditional Lethal Plasmid for Agrobacterium

Abstract: The goal of this research was to build a plasmid made from multiple other plasmids by ligating them together. The other plasmids that were to be used were PEXT22, PMT413, pCambia and a Rhamnose promoter. Unfortunately, the final plasmid was never created as the PEXT22 gave unforeseen problems during the isolation and amplification processes, and thus stalled the research. The PEXT22 and the PMT413 were finally isolated, amplified and then ligated and transformed supporting that a new plasmid was created made of PEXT22 and PMT413.

Francis Mele

Evaluating Rhamnose Promoter Leakiness Using GFP

Abstract: The overall goal of our research is to create a plasmid that is under control of a rhamnose promoter and can be used to kill Agrobacterium. Previous students have shown that the plasmid’s genes are expressed when rhamnose is not present, which is known as promoter leakiness. We want to quantify the promoter’s leakiness using the green fluorescent protein (GFP). We were unsuccessful in creating the plasmid and we are troubleshooting the reasons the plasmid was not created. After the plasmid is created, we will use fluorescence microscopy to determine promoter leakiness.

Rebecca Morgis

Characterization of the Epidemal Growth Factor Ortholog of Ectromelia Virus

Abstract: Many poxviruses produce gene products with a high degree of similarity to mammalian epidermal growth factor (EGF). Sequencing of the genome of ectromelia virus (ECTV) revealed the presence of a possible EGF homolog, Ectromelia growth factor (EcGF). EcGF is shorter than related sequences, yet predicted to be functionally similar. This study looked to characterize EcGF. Through the use of Western Blot assays, we have demonstrated that EcGF is functionally similar to other related sequences. We have also shown that EcGF has glycosylations, specifically N-linked glycosylations that vary from related poxvirus sequences. However, our results suggest that the functionality of EcGF is not dependent on the presence of these N-linked glycans.

Julia Pevarnik

Ectromelia virus lacking the E3 gene is replication-defective

Abstract: Many orthopoxviruses, including ECTV, contain a common gene, E3L. This gene produces a protein, E3, that binds to viral double stranded RNA and helps evade host immune pathways, such as PKR. Using a mutant virus with an interrupted E3L gene (ECTV) we found that this mutant had a halted replication cycle that resulted in no translation of any late genes. This replication was rescued in cultures where E3L was added to cells or where PKR was knocked out.