Abstracts for Tuesday, February 25


Deborah Wood, Head and Heart: Science and Religion in the Medieval Middle East
Starting in the eighth century, the Abbasid caliphs (c. 750-945/1258) encouraged the systematic translation of foreign scholarship into Arabic, and as a result, Islamicate scholars had access to a wide variety of intellectual traditions on which they could expand. Moreover, the size of the empire, as well as its tolerance of monotheistic faiths, encouraged high religious diversity.  While significant centers of learning, such as Baghdad, enabled Arabic-speaking scholars from a variety of faiths to interact, my research suggests that their actual topical interests diverged along religious lines.  Namely, Muslims were statistically more likely to be primarily involved in mathematics, whereas non-Muslims typically preferred astronomy/astrology.  I attribute the medieval Muslim proclivity for math to the demands of Islam itself, changes in availability of foreign sources, the influence of two key scholars in particular, and to shifts in political power between Islamic sects with differing cultural priorities.

Zachary Woodward, Discordia in Concordia: The Two-Step Development of the Post-Gratian Gloss and the Emergence of a New Era in Canon Law
Around 1140, a canon lawyer named Gratian published a legal collection titled Concordia Discordantium canonum (“A Harmony of Discordant Canons”), which attempted to compile and reconcile the Church’s often contradictory laws. Because of its cohesiveness, comprehensiveness, and directness, canonists began using the Decretum (as it became called) as a textbook and legal reference, and some composed glosses to aid readers of this masterpiece. This thesis argues that the glosses on Gratian’s Decretum fall into two distinct subgenres—early glosses and late glosses. While early glosses seem geared toward providing understanding of Gratian’s original arguments, late glosses appear dedicated to promoting their own legal opinions. After surveying textual evidence for this two-step development, the thesis considers why such a development occurred. By offering new explanations for the dramatic legal shifts of the 12th Century Church, the thesis hopes to offer new insight into one of the most dramatic legal revolutions of Roman Catholicism.


Hannah Barnhart, Exceptional Histories: Cultural Mythology in the Novels of Salman Rushdie and William Faulkner
This project aims to investigate out how William Faulkner and Salman Rushdie, two authors from different time periods and different regions of the world, interrogate cultural memory and mythology.  It argues that their works reveal gaps in collective memory and in doing so, dismantle the myth that India and the American South have exceptional histories and identities.  The purpose of this study is to illustrate how exceptionalism still persists in the way we remember history and how literature can offer an alternative perspective.

Kyla Ainsworth, The Significance of Trauma in Inter-War Detective Fiction
Golden Age and hard-boiled detective fiction use different techniques to deal with the same issues of suppression and trauma after World War I. By contextualizing the novels of Dorothy Sayers and Raymond Chandler as post-war literature, I will seek to redefine similarities and differences between the two mystery writing styles.


Arlo Hollingshad, Spectroscopic Ellipsometry and Cryogenic Capability
This project consists of two major parts: spectroscopic ellipsometry of m-plane sapphire and the design and assembly of the cryogenic vacuum chamber for ellipsometry. In the first part of this project, I took reflectance ellipsometry and transmission intensity data between 0.6 eV and 6.0 eV using a Woollam Inc. variable-angle spectroscopic ellipsometer to obtain the anisotropic optical properties of a sapphire substrate. The data was modeled to obtain the frequency-dependent anisotropic optical constants of sapphire. The second part of the project was the vacuum chamber design. The ultra-high vacuum chamber was designed for reflection and transmission ellipsometry, as well as near-normal incidence reflection measurements at cryogenic temperatures, down to 4K. This would give us new experimental capabilities allowing us to obtain data in temperature ranges that have never before been probed with ellipsometry.

Nicholas PenthornPrecision Polarimetry of Polarized 3He
This work presents the progress of an experimental procedure designed to do precision polarimetry on polarized 3He targets used in electron scattering experiments. Targets are polarized via spin-exchange optical pumping (SEOP), a process that uses circularly polarized laser light to give a spin polarization to the 3He nuclei by way of spin transfer with a small amount of atomically polarized alkali metal in the cell. With this process, the polarization of a 3He target that contains an alkali metal can be extracted via the frequency shift in the alkali metal's electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) line; _0 is a constant that relates that frequency shift to the cell's polarization. Thus, the ultimate goal of this study is to reduce the uncertainty in _0;Rb and _0;K (the polarization constants associated with rubidium and potassium, respectively). Using a cylindrical cell and taking EPR measurements in two orthogonal cell orientations in an external magnetic holding _eld allows for the isolation of _0. The experimental setup entailed fabrication of an EPR frequency generator coil, a photodiode to detect light from EPR-driven electron transitions, and an oven to keep a portion of the alkali metal in a vaporous state at 210_C. Additionally, setup required optics to focus a polarizing laser tuned to the rubidium D1 transition onto the cell for the purpose of SEOP. Relative cell polarization was measured using NMR signals from the helium nuclei, a process that required making NMR generation and pickup coils. Finally, measurements were taken on EPR frequencies associated with 41K, 39K, and 87Rb. The values of _0 for 41K, 39K, and 87Rb were found to be 6:900_0:188, 8:752_0:148, and 7:328_0:334, respectively. The current research is focused on an alternate form of NMR-based absolute polarimetry using pure water as a reference point.


Elise Elwood, Demographic Analysis of a Population of American Chestnut Trees and the Implications for Re-Introduction
The American chestnut was decimated by a blight that spread through the entire range of the species in the early 20th century. Currently, there is little demographic data known. This study uses new data collected between 2011 and 2013 on growth, survival, and fecundity rates from a regenerating chestnut population in Maine to develop a matrix model. Over 1100 chestnuts were measured. Population matrix models predict changes in a population by using known demographic parameters about groups of individuals that are similar in age or life stage.  The model will make long-term projections about the population growth rate for American chestnut populations. In addition we will use the model to predict a stable stage distribution, and through prospective analysis, better understand how different management actions may affect population growth rates and re-introduction attempts. Matrix models provide valuable information on the population level to a successful re-introduction plan for the American chestnut.

Kelly O'Toole, An Environment up in Smoke?: Evaluating the Effects of Fire Management Practices on Red-Backed Fairy-Wren Habitat Usage
Fire plays a huge role in shaping wildlife behavior within tropical savannas of the Northern Territory, Australia. According to previous studies, the red-backed fairy-wren (Malurus melanocephalus, RBFW), an endemic passerine, is negatively affected by fire. However, specific factors behind this unfavorable impact remain relatively unknown and unexplored. This study further explores the effects of fire management on RBFW habitat usage at Coomalie Farm in Batchelor, NT. Vegetation surveys are analyzed via occupancy modeling and GIS to explore the effects of vegetation parameters and recent burns on RBFW presence. Interviews are conducted to study interactions between individuals involved in fire management on RBFW habitat. Micro-scale approaches demonstrate the importance of including a combined analysis of vegetation characteristics and burn history to explain RBFW presence, while a macro-scale qualitative model vividly illustrates that consistence and collaboration between groups are crucial for maintaining an ideal heterogenic habitat for RBFWs and other native wildlife.


Rachel Faith, One State, One People, One Language: A Comparison of Russian and Chinese Language Policy in the 20th Century
When faced with the task of creating a unified socialist state, both the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China saw language planning as a means to bring together the wide variety of ethnic groups and vast tracts of land that fell under their newly established control. Although both began by developing policy which sought to unify through the acceptance and support of linguistic division and diversity, they ultimately lacked the resources and effective implementation required to succeed at this. As a result, the USSR and PRC turned to a policy course which sought state unity through complete linguistic unity. The successes, failures, and generals arcs of Chinese and Soviet Russian language planning can be seen in the microcosm of their interaction with the Mongolian language in Mongolia and the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region.