Abstracts: Tuesday, February 13th

9:00 - 10:00 

Michelle Hermes | Government
Breaking from the Stereotype: How German Collective Guilt Influences Public Opinion Towards Refugees 
Advisor: Jaime Settle
In light of the ongoing refugee crisis, Germany has proven itself as a humanitarian leader. The country has accepted more refugees than any other country in the European Union and has some of the most liberal policies In regards to refugee admittance. Some speculate that Germany’s policies and attitudes stem from a desire to break from stereotypes that remain from World War II and the Holocaust. At the same time, Germany has also experienced a rise in far-right populist attitudes, evident through the success of the AfD party in the 2017 parliamentary election. This majority of the AfD’s base is composed of younger individuals, those under 40. These nationalist, anti-immigrant ideas contradict the image Germany has been struggling to build for itself since the end of World War II. Older individuals are more familiar who this struggle. They experience collective guilt more intensely, as they lived through much of Germany’s turbulent history. I aim to understand how age affects the prevalence of collective guilt in decision-making towards the refugee crisis and the presence of refugees in Germany.

Dara Bright | Government
Fighting the Power: An Examination of Societal Expectations on the Educational Achievement of African American Men and Women at a PWI and an HBCU
Advisor: Claire McKinney
This research explores the intersectionalities between race, gender and institution, and the role these variables have on the types of social expectations African American men and women experience. Through this study, I delve into how these factors impact their attitude towards educational achievement at the collegiate level. Thus far, the findings show three primary themes: the tendency of African American women at a predominantly white institution to be almost twice as likely as African American men to rely upon the black tradition of self-help. In the coming months, I will continue to conduct research on a historically black college for common trends. Ultimately, this study will provide policy recommendations for these two types of institutions, as well as, culturally inclusive practices that would be highly beneficial to the growth, support, and security of African American men and women attitudes as they work towards educational achievement.

Andrea Powers | Government 
The Small Arms Revolution: How Advancements in Small Arms and Light Weapons Technology Transformed Conflict and State Security
Advisor: Amy Oakes
An estimated 150 million small arms are currently in circulation around the globe—an estimate which is conservative at best. These weapons have played a substantial role in the conflicts and organized violence at the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first.  Starting in the decades following World War II, advancements in weapons technology spurred a military revolution, overlooked in the extant literature. This military revolution, which occurred in the mid-twentieth century, enabled asymmetric conflict and previously weak actors to pursue previously unattainable goals. This “Small Arms Revolution” was a sea change on the international stage, increasing small and non-state actors’ capacity for violence and forcing major powers to engage in unconventional combat. Drawing on cases in Afghanistan and Colombia, this study illuminates the role small arms have played in increasing the capacity of a wider range of actors for violence, while also increasing the stakes of the resulting conflicts.

10:30 - 11:30 

Aparajita Sur | Mathematics
Modeling Social Interactions of Yeast Biofilms with a Stochastic Spatial Simulation
Advisor: Helen Murphy, Leah Shaw
Biofilms are microbial communities that are anchored to a surface and enmeshed in a protective extracellular matrix, shielding the microorganisms from antibiotics and other environmental hazards. As such, eradication of biofilms in medical and industrial settings can be challenging. These communities require individuals to cooperate and produce goods that will be used by all members, and thus are susceptible to “cheaters” who do not produce public goods, yet benefit from them. Could engineered “cheater” strains help eradicate biofilms? We use a stochastic spatial simulation to mimic the allocation and growth of a yeast biofilm and to predict the social dynamics between cooperative and cheater strains. We vary social interaction parameters and analyze growth curves, visual slices of our simulated biofilms, and quantitative measures such as the segregation of strains, to determine the feasibility of a “Trojan Horse” cheater strain disrupting a biofilm. This helps to explain how competition, cooperation and cheating affect a biofilm spatially. Lab experiments guide choice of simulation parameter ranges. If successful, this novel evolutionary strategy could be used to eliminate microbial infections.

Harsha Malapati | Biology 
The Evolution of C9orf72
Advisor: John Swaddle
Axon degeneration, the active process through which a neuronal axon is destroyed, is a pathway prevalent in many neurodegenerative conditions. A central member of this axon degeneration pathway is SARM1. To find a possible remedy against axon degeneration, it is important to learn about how SARM1 has have evolved over time. Here, I will detail the evolution of SARM1 with the use of various bioinformatics techniques. Then, I will use similar techniques to describe the evolution of C9orf72, the most common genetic cause of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

Lydia Boike | Chemistry 
An Analysis of Oxidative Damage to Lactate Dehydrogenase in Context of Neurodegeneration and Catechol-based Phenolic Antioxidant Chemistry
Advisor: Lisa Landino
Found both endogenously in cells and exogenously in anti-cancer drugs, anti-aging supplements, and food, antioxidants are well known for their ability to scavenge free radicals. Research shows that catechol-based antioxidants are readily oxidized by radicals to quinones. These quinones can further react with protein thiols, demonstrating the potential for beneficial antioxidants to become damaging pro-oxidants. We investigated the effects of oxidative stress on the glycolytic enzyme lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) as well as on alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH). Both proteins contain readily oxidized cysteine residues. Utilizing UV/Vis spectroscopy, fluorescence spectroscopy, and gel electrophoresis, we examined how LDH and ADH enzyme activity changed when respective available protein thiols were reacted with oxidized plant-derived phenolic antioxidants. We compared our results with the effects of oxidative stress from bleach – a common oxidant found in cancers and Alzheimer’s. Resulting data confirms these compounds inhibit LDH and ADH activity, suggesting that modification of key cysteine residues occurs.

12:00 - 1:00 

Yajna Jowaheer | Neuroscience
Measuring Effect of Implicit and Explicit Prejudice on Person Perception of Drug Users
Advisor: Cheryl Dickter
Conquering drug addiction is a daunting task in itself but without societal support and compassion, it often becomes an unattainable goal. Due in part to the frequent distorted portrayal of Blacks in the media, African Americans are perceived as more violent than Whites, and are often unfairly stereotyped as criminals and drug users. Society’s perception of African American drug users may be influenced by both explicit and implicit racial prejudice. While explicit racial prejudice refers to the conscious attitudes that people have about a certain racial group, implicit racial prejudice focuses on attitudes people are not aware they possess but that nevertheless affect the way they perceive the outgroup. My central research question is as follows: How are people’s perception of drug users of different races influenced by implicit and explicit racial prejudice?

Mark Pownall | Biology
Differential Response across Xenopus Species to Notch Signaling Perturbation
Advisor: Margaret Saha
This work investigates how embryos respond to genetic perturbations, specifically to perturbations of the Notch signaling pathway. Previous work in the lab has demonstrated that hyperactivation and inhibition of the Notch signaling pathway initially produce a clear disruption in neural development, but that embryos are able to recover over time and give rise to a normal nervous system, using pseudotetraploid Xenopus laevis as a model system. Polyploidy is relatively rare in animals, but most Xenopus species are polyploid, with ploidy ranging from diploid to dodecaploid. My honors research investigates the role ploidy may play in their robust compensatory abilities. This will be done by utilizing several polyploid Xenopus species, with emphasis on the tetraploid X. borealis. Perturbations in the Notch signaling pathway in X. borealis suggest that these embryos have a different response to the perturbation, which may suggest a role for polyploidy in previously observed compensatory mechanisms in X. laevis.

1:30 - 2:30 

Santana Afton | Mathematics
Symmetries of Generalized Quadrangles of Order (4,12)
Advisor: Eric Swartz
Abstract Coming Soon!

Yanxin Xu | Mathematics
Ultra-High-Dimensional Statistical Learning
Advisor: Guannan Wang
Compared with conventional datasets where there are much fewer variables than observations, ultra-high-dimensional datasets usually contain much more variables (p: number of variable) than observations (n: number of observations). My research aims to develop an efficient statistical learning method to analyze such ultra-high-dimensional data (n<

3:00 - 4:00 

Tyler Larson | Chemistry
Photo-Release and Report
Advisor: Elizabeth Harbron
My research involves the use of conjugated polymer nanoparticle systems consisting of a highly fluorescent polymer nanoparticle paired with a photo-release dye. These dyes release biologically relevant species upon FRET with the polymer nanoparticle. Current work involves synthesis of a zinc releasing dye to pair with the polymer nanoparticles that have been used previously.

Daniel Speer | Chemistry
Accessing Possible Light-Sensitive Cannabinoids through an Alkynyl-Prins cyclization
Advisor: Robert Hinkle
Daniel investigates the synthesis of possible light-sensitive cannabinoids through a novel methodology. He constructs compounds and utilizes a procedure similar to previously published literature by Dr. Hinkle. The compounds are tetracyclic in nature, including a conjoined pyran core, benzyl ring, and napthyl ring. The structures of these compounds attempt to mimic known cannabinoids to achieve their biological effects. In addition, these structures have shown interesting photochromic activity when exposed to UV light. This elucidates possible structural changes involving the pi-bond system within the rings.

Nita Takanti | Chemistry
Exploring the Effects of T7 Phage Viral Infection of E. coli through Proteomics HPLC-MS 
Advisor: John C. Poutsma
Through bottom up proteomics, we are looking at the effect of the T7 phage infection on the E. Coli bacterial cell after 0, 15, 30, 45, and 60 minutes by using HPLC-MS/MS.

4:30 - 5:30 

Dana Florczak | English
Fighting Against the Backlash: Women’s Solidarity in "The Handmaid's Tale"
Advisor: Francesca Sawaya
In my research, I am analyzing The Handmaid’s Tale as a feminist response to the “backlash” of anti-women policies and rhetoric originating in the 1980s and still occurring today. Atwood’s use of the dystopian genre and focus on women throughout the novel highlights woman-specific issues and the possible solution of women’s solidarity as a balm or defense against backlash. The Handmaid’s Tale has continued to be relevant into the modern day, with women using quotes from the novel on signs at women’s marches around the world and the 2017 television adaptation from Hulu winning numerous awards. This novel – regardless of Atwood’s explicit intent – is a feminist novel, and it is important to see it as such. The Handmaid’s Tale is a powerful tool for women everywhere; it strengthens the message for women’s equality by using a woman-centered dystopian to highlight the oppressive dangers of a patriarchal and sexist society.

Emma Johnson | English
Between Models of Mythologized Manhood in Modern Literature
Advisor: Melanie Dawson
The Self-Made Man has become a most arresting American myth— one that still fascinates and captivates today. Engaging The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mourning Becomes Electra by Eugene O’Neill, and The Rise of Silas Lapham by W.D. Howells, Emma Johnson explores the terrible agonies and tensions that the would-be self-made man faces at the intersection of class, character, and coin. From that vast and complex intersection, Johnson chooses to focus on how self-made men in literature understood their identities and agency, particularly in reference to previous models of manhood and success.

Elijah Levine | English
Allen Ginsberg and the Spiritual Incantations of "Howl"
Advisor: Richard Lowry
In approaching Allen Ginsberg's seminal poem "Howl," we tend to focus on the work's political implications. We agree that "Howl" is revolutionary because it dares to say what no one wanted to hear - that its explicitness was part and parcel of it societal significance. However, through a deeper investigation of Ginsberg's biography - especially his literary inspirations - "Howl" emerges as a deeply spiritual text. Borrowing concepts and language prominently from William Blake and Walt Whitman, "Howl" fits in to a dialectic in which Ginsberg explores the worldly manifestations of spiritual struggles. While Ginsberg's personal and relationship struggles deeply inform "Howl's" material, his keen search for understanding the metaphysical implications revealed to him largely by Blake underscore his prophetic voice and mission.

6:00 - 7:00 

Rachel Plummer | Psychological Sciences
Female Models Affect Implicit Responses to Food
Advisor: Catherine Forestell
The goal of this study was to determine whether exposure to commercials featuring thin versus plus-size women affected women’s implicit cognitive responses to food. College-age women (N=118) watched a neutral film interrupted by two commercials. The second commercial contained a very thin woman, a plus-size woman, or was a neutral pet commercial. After the video, participants completed two implicit cognitive tasks; the Flanker task and the Affective Misattribution Procedure (AMP), which measured implicit attention to and evaluation of high and low calorie foods. Preliminary analyses revealed no significant between-group differences in women’s evaluation of high and low calorie foods. However, only those participants who watched the commercial of the plus-size woman were more distracted by high calorie than the low calorie foods. These results suggest that watching plus-size models may not affect women’s evaluation of high calorie foods, however their ability to resist consuming high calorie foods may be reduced.

Ryan Wilmington | Physics
Enhancing the Capabilities of Infrared Microscopy Apparatus
Advisor: Mumtaz Qazilbash
This honors thesis research centers on the development and expansion of experimental research capabilities for a microscopy apparatus at the Photon Spectroscopy Laboratory at the College of William & Mary. Specifically, the project endeavors to optically and electronically connect a Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) Spectrometer to an Infrared Microscope, and to optimize microscope throughput intensity and signal quality. Additionally, the plan includes an optical path to a Bolometer detector to allow more wavelengths of light to be detected, and a purge gas housing to remove contamination in the light beam path. The finalized microscopy apparatus will be utilized to observe the properties of microscopic MoS2 and MoSe2 dichalcogenide samples.

Yoojin Kook | Psychological Sciences
Social Support and Mental Health Among Underrepresented W&M Freshmen 
Advisor: Elizabeth Raposa
Underrepresented college students – including first-generation college students, students from lower-income backgrounds, and minority students – have lower rates of college completion. One set of factors that could play an important role in lower rates of college persistence for these students might involve higher rates of emotional distress, coupled with greater barriers to utilizing mental healthcare resources on campus. The current study used a sample of 59 underrepresented students and 62 non-underrepresented students at the College of William and Mary to compare rates of mental health problems in these populations, as well as attitudes toward and utilization of mental health resources. Analyses examined: 1) how underrepresented social identities were associated with perceived social support, sense of belonging at college, and rates of emotional distress, and 2) whether underrepresented social identities were associated with perceived barriers to utilization of mental health resources, as well as reduced utilization of mental health resources.