Abstracts for Wednesday, February 27
Nicole Brown, A Separated Sudan: Redefining South Sudanese Immigrant Transnational Identity
This study explores the social dynamics the South Sudanese community of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in the Washington DC metropolitan area. Through in-depth interviews and participant observation, this study examines how the political involvement of this community during the 2011 self-determination referendum has influenced their transnational identity.
Daniel Angeles, Cloning and Characterization of the Glycine Receptor Subunits in the Developing Nervous System of Xenopus laevis
A major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the forebrain, brain stem, and spinal chord is a neurotransmitter known as glycine. Glycine, like GABA, has been observed in the developing embryonic nervous system implying that it serves a role in the development of the early central nervous system. In an effort to gain a more complete understanding of glycinergic signaling, we have cloned the four alpha subunits and one beta subunit of the glycine receptor to characterize the expression pattern of the subunits throughout the development of the central nervous system. Through the use of in situ hybridization and histological analysis, we have found expression of the receptor subunits in the midbrain, hindbrain, and spinal cord during early embryonic development of Xenopus laevis. The early expression of the glycine receptor subunits demonstrates that glycinergic signaling plays a role in development and dysfunction of the receptor can possibly lead to the development of neurological disorders.
Lindsay Schleifer, How Neural Cells Acquire an Identity: Role of Calcium Signaling and Voltage-Gated Calcium Channels in Neurotransmitter Phenotype Specification
There has been a significant amount of research analyzing the ‘hard-wired’ aspects of nervous system development, such as the role of transcription factors. However, recent literature points to another, relatively novel, mechanism for neurotransmitter phenotype specification: spontaneous electrical activity in the form of calcium transients. Calcium plays a critical role in neuronal development and its activity is implicated in neuronal phenotype specification. Calcium ion fluctuations occur at early stages of neuronal development and alterations in this activity in Xenopus laevis have been shown to modify the ratio of excitatory and inhibitory neurons. The overarching hypothesis is that voltage-gated calcium channels mediate this spontaneous activity found in embryonic neurons. My project aims to elucidate the role of voltage-gated calcium channels in development – specifically in neurotransmitter specification.
Graham Bryant, What Was King Arthur? Illuminating the Welsh Nationalistic Origins and Implications of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Pre-Chivalric Arthur
This thesis seeks to examine the early Welsh literary and Latinate historical sources that influenced the first complete Arthurian biographical narrative in Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae and how that narrative in turn influenced the direction of Welsh Arthurian interpretations. Through this analysis of how early Welsh authors perceive and employ Arthur within their texts and how those texts fit into their historical moment, Arthur himself begins to become less of a who and more of a what--an ideological device reflecting how Welsh writers saw themselves and their nation.
Eliza Urban, Crossroads College, a Novel
For my honors thesis, I intend to write a fantasy novel. Set in a New England university of magic during America’s Gilded Age, the novel will explore, reflect, and blend together multiple subgenres of fiction, including alternate history, the campus novel, historical fantasy, and the academic thriller. I hope to avoid the pitfalls of so-called “genre” fiction and produce a work of fiction that is engaging, well-plotted, enjoyable to read, and not just a mere fantasy novel.