Abstracts: Thursday, February 15th

1:30 - 2:30 

Sophia Palia | Biology
Noise Pollution's Effect on Zebra Finch Behavior 
Advisor: John Swaddle
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Noise pollution is an increasingly prevalent anthropogenic stressor that has detrimental effects on wildlife. Songbirds, in particular, are sensitive to noise pollution as they are inherently vocal animals. We know that noise affects how birds sing and breed, but we know far less about how noise might influence patterns of within-species dominance and aggression, and the trade-offs between feeding and vigilance. My project aims to help us better understand how noise pollution, specifically traffic noise, affects patterns of aggression, expressions of social dominance, and the foraging/vigilance energy trade-off in a model songbird system, the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata).

Kristin Passero | Biology
Characterizing Mutant Thyroid Hormone Receptor A382PfsX7
Advisor: Lizabeth Allison
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Thyroid hormone receptors (TRs) are a class of nuclear receptor that respond to thyroid hormone (TH). They bind to DNA and activate (or repress) gene transcription, which precipitates changes in development and metabolism. TRs are regulated by multiple cellular processes, such as nucleocytoplasmic trafficking. Mutations in the import and export sequences of TRs have been implicated in a variety of diseases, including liver cancer and Resistance to Thyroid Hormone (RTH). This thesis explores how the intracellular localization of a novel TR mutant, A382PfsX7, may be affected by a mutation in a nuclear export sequence and the implications this has on the pathology of RTH.

Michael Salomon | Biology
Characterization of Mutant Thyroid Hormone Receptor
Advisor: Lizabeth Allison 
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Thyroid hormone receptor shuttles thyroid hormone to and from the nucleus. The correct function of thyroid hormone receptor is paramount to the healthy metabolic maintenance of the human body. Mutations within thyroid hormone receptor can contribute to different types of cancer. This novel research has characterized one such mutant: rc6-TRα1 Isoleucine-116-Arginine, Alanine-225-Threonine, Methionine-388-Isoleucine. The results suggest a possible mechanism for the misregulation of genes which may contribute to cancer formation.

3:00 - 4:00 

Elizabeth Ransone | Biology
Ultrasound's Effects on Yeast Colony Growth
Advisor: John Swaddle
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Ultrasound is a form of inaudible noise with a frequency over 20 kHz. While very high frequency ultrasound is commonly used in medical procedures, lower frequencies of ultrasound can be found in the human environment. Previous research found that ultrasound exists in many buildings on the William & Mary campus and is produced by electronic devices and lighting fixtures. Short-term airborne ultrasound exposure has been associated with nausea, fatigue, and headaches in humans, making exposure an important public health issue. Our study uses Sacchromyces cerevisiae yeast as a eukaryotic model system to investigate the effects of environmentally-relevant ultrasound on cell growth.

Alaina Shreves | Interdisciplinary Studies
Clinical Experiences of Patients with Screened Genetic Disorders: Sickle Cell Disease
Advisor: Monica Griffin 
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Newborn screening is a public health initiative that leads to early detection and treatment of serious genetic disorders. Newborn screenings typically consist of a blood test, a hearing test, and a pulse oximetry reading to test the level of oxygen in the blood. The conditions that are tested for in each screening exam are selected because their early identification can lead to significant reductions in death, diminish the severity of disease, and decrease other associated conditions. Although a recent scientific focus on human genomics has led to an increased support for genetic research, electronic medical records are a new and useful epidemiological tool that can be used to study how the clinical experiences of patients with rare genetic conditions, such as those with Sickle Cell Disease, diverge from the experiences of a typical patient.

Jacob Nelson | Government
Speeches or Sermons? A Quantitative Analysis of Religious Rhetoric in Presidential Campaigns
Advisor: Jaime Settle
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From Donald Trump’s “Two Corinthians” gaffe to President Obama’s remarks about Reverend Jeremiah Wright, religious rhetoric has been the source of much debate in recent presidential elections. In this paper, I analyze the ways in which candidates employ religious rhetoric strategically on the campaign trail to attract religious voters without alienating secular ones. The increasingly important and divisive role of religion in politics is well documented, but much of the existing work is qualitative in nature and focuses on incumbent politicians, not candidates. I employ a supervised-dictionary based textual analysis program to analyze the text of approximately one-thousand speeches given by the Democratic and Republican nominees for President in the 2000, 2008, and 2016 primary and general elections. The results of my analysis provide interesting insights into when and why candidates employ implicit and explicit religious rhetoric.

4:30 - 5:30 

Justin Yu | Chemistry
Physicochemical Studies of Solvent Ingress into Paint via Mobile NMR
Advisor: Tyler Meldrum 
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This research thesis is on the spatially resolved measurements of solvent ingress into polymeric paint films using low-field NMR. Justin is treating traditional and water mixable oil paints with various solvents used in the conservation of artwork such as water, acetone, and methoxypropanol and seeing how they interact with and ingress into the paint films. More specifically, Justin is using single-sided NMR to probe the change in relaxation time (T2) of the solvent as it ingresses through various depths within the 200 micron thick paint films.

Isabel Ritrovato | Biology 
Intensity and source of ultrasound noise pollution and the impact of chronic exposure on humans and wildlife
Advisor: John Swaddle
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My honors thesis research investigates the extent, intensity, and source of terrestrial ultrasound noise pollution. Ultrasound is high frequency noise that is inaudible to humans. Nevertheless, chronic exposure has the potential to be harmful for humans and wildlife. Terrestrial ultrasound is poorly studied and the impact of exposure is unknown. As a preliminary step, this project quantifies human exposure to ultrasound on the William & Mary campus. To my knowledge, this is the first systematic survey of terrestrial ultrasound.

Caitlin Taylor | Psychological Sciences
From Biases to Behavior: Predicting Discriminatory Behaviors Directed Towards Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Advisor: Cheryl Dickter
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Research has found that individuals with greater explicit biases towards other races exhibit more verbal prejudice during interracial interactions. Similarly, individuals with greater implicit biases, measured through Implicit Association Tests (IATs), exhibit more nonverbal prejudice. The present study examines whether these results apply to interactions with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Studies show that biases do exist towards individuals with this diagnosis, but there is not yet research studying how these biases may manifest in behaviors during interactions with this population. Over the course of two research sessions, participants complete several measures of explicit and implicit bias and then interact with either someone who they are led to believe has ASD or with a neutral control. These interactions are filmed and audio-recorded and will be coded for behaviors such as eye contact, posture, and speech errors to measure whether a relationship between biases and prejudiced behaviors exists for ASD.

6:00 - 7:00

Rose Olwell | History 
The Devil's Café au Lait: African mothers, French fathers, and the métis question in colonial French West Africa 1870-1940 
Advisor: Guillaume Aubert
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Métis children and the intersection of race, gender, and colonial power they represented posed a problem for the expanding French empire as it struggled to define its relationship to its colonial possessions. During the latter half of the 19th century the French colonial administration began to found schools and orphanages dedicated to bringing up métis children to be productive members of the French imperial project. The records surrounding these institutions offer a unique insight into the lives of métis children, their French fathers, African mothers, and the wider imperial and societal contexts in which they lived.

Heather Lawrence | Interdisciplinary Studies
Imagining Oppression in Contemporary Young Adult Fiction
Advisor: Monica Griffin
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This thesis seeks to study how contemporary young adult fiction depicts oppression and how these depictions are relevant to our social world. This project uses interdisciplinary, qualitative coding and thematic analysis to analyze the representation of oppression in seven contemporary young adult novels. In this thesis, I study the representation of group membership, conflict, and rebellion present in the narratives and worlds of these novels. I also attempt to highlight connections between these representations and real-world oppression. With my thesis, I hope to demonstrate how young adult literature can be used to better understand the culture that produced them and real-world constructions of marginalized and oppressed groups.

Jessica Campbell | Linguistics
Stress Perception in L1 and L2 English and Spanish
Advisor: Anya Lunden
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Word-level stress occurs on a specific syllable of each word and can help distinguish word boundaries, as well as affect a word’s meaning. Three correlates are most often used in languages to denote stress: pitch, vowel duration, and intensity. However, languages differ on which of these correlates are most important or necessary at all: for Spanish, pitch is the primary correlate, but for English, duration is more important. The goal of this research is to determine the threshold of perception of duration, pitch, or both together for speakers of English and Spanish in determining the location of word stress, and to determine how these thresholds are affected by speaking multiple languages. Half of the participants (native English speakers who speak Spanish) were tested at the College of William and Mary, and half (native Spanish speakers who speak English) were tested at La Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas in Lima, Peru. Both groups were prompted in both languages to determine the location of stress in words with a syllable altered in duration, pitch, or both, and these results were compared to the speakers’ reported familiarity and use of their second language. I examine whether the threshold of perception changes depending on the language of instruction for the groups, as well as how the levels for the speakers differ based on their native language. This experiment will contribute to the field of language acquisition and can eventually be applied to second language education methods.