Abstracts: Monday, February 20


Kexin Ma | Art History 
The Establishment of Ceramics Aesthetics in Song Dynasty
Advisor: Xin Wu
Ceramics of the Song dynasty has been appreciated by contemporary audience both as antiquities and as works of art. Nevertheless, the taken-for-granted idea that ceramics are born to be works of art in ancient China, is, in fact, a constructed interpretation. My thesis asks the question: when and how were ceramics transformed from utilitarian objects into works of art in ancient China? The thesis investigates ceramics developed under Emperor Huizong of the Northern Song dynasty (960-1127), during which influential cultural systems were reshaped and matured. My thesis examines the formation of the ceramics aesthetics through the life of the object in relation to tea ceremony, literati gathering and court ritual. It intends to connect elite class' perception of beauty with their philosophy and religious orientation, and investigates the relationship between the ceramics aesthetics and elite aesthetics promoted by the literati class and the court.

Tianchu Gao | Art History 
Nameless Art in the Mao Era
Advisor: Xin Wu
This research project focuses on No Name (wuming 無名), an underground art group in the Cultural Revolution which secretly practiced art countering the official Socialist Realism because of its non-realist visual language and art-for-art’s-sake philosophy. The history of No Name not only reveals the diversity of art under Mao, especially during the Cultural Revolution, but also suggests a new potential narrative of Chinese modernism that traces the inception of Chinese contemporary art to the Mao period.


Alex Williams | Psychology 
Vicarious Fear Learning: The Role of Empathy
Advisor: Christopher Conway
Researchers have identified three main pathways to phobia development: direct conditioning, observational, and instructional. My thesis investigates a phenomenon associated with the second pathway, called vicarious (or observational) fear learning. This phenomenon implies that we can learn to fear objects, people, or situations simply by observing others' reactions to them. In the first phase of my experiment, called the observation phase, participants watch a video of another person undergoing a Pavlovian fear conditioning procedure in which an individual receives an electric shock and loud noise in the context of one of two conditioned stimuli. In the next phase of the experiment, called the test phase, we present those same conditioned stimuli to the participants, but they receive no shock or loud noise presentations. During both the observation and test phase, we measure participants' electrodermal activity. We anticipate that trait fear and empathy will predict the vicarious acquisition of defensive responses. 

Jared King | Chemistry 
Development and Application of Ultrafast Two-dimensional Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Experiments in Single-sided Devices
Advisor: Tyler Meldrum
Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is one of the most powerful analytical techniques available. Single-sided NMR is a non-invasive analog to traditional NMR. While single-sided devices suffer from low sensitivity, long experiment times, and a loss of any spectral information, useful information may still be obtained through Laplacian NMR experiments (LNMR). Here, ultrafast LNMR experiments (i.e., inversion recovery T1-T2 and stimulated spin-echo T2-D), which acquire full data sets in a single scan via a frequency-swept CHIRP pulse to acquire full data sets in a single scan, are extended from traditional NMR devices to their low-field, single-sided counterparts. These experiments measure relaxations indicative of sample rigidity, moisture content, etc.–and molecular self-diffusion, which is pertinent to molecular organization (e.g. pore geometry determination and sample heterogeneity). Application of these experiments to projects such as food NMR, oil paint studies, and mortar analysis show the usefulness of ultrafast NMR with single-sided devices.


Jacqueline Chapman | Art History
The Paintings with Doors: Netherlandish Triptychs in the 15th Century
Advisor: Catherine Levesque
The Paintings with Doors uses Netherlandish triptychs to address the issue of how artists portray the sacred without being sacrilegious. Triptychs created by Robert Campin, Rogier van der Weyden and Hugo van der Goes are utilized as case studies to identify the artist's solution to this particular issue. Specifically, this thesis examines how physical and metaphorical framing is used to separate the viewer from the divine. In creating boundaries, these Netherlandish artists are able to establish a mode of communication that uses art as a visual tool. Although these Netherlandish artists are able to achieve a similar effect, the audience and function of each triptych is vastly different. Therefore each triptych exhibits a unique style of framing to address a different audience and function while also presenting a distinct artistic solution to separating the divine from the viewer. 

Abigail Simon | Classical Studies
Expanding the Elegiac Horizon: Reading Sulpicia as an Active Commentator and Influence on the Elegiac Movement
Advisor: Vassiliki Panoussi
This thesis gives a close reading of the work of the Roman elegist Sulpicia, examining her unique poetry not as an aberration from the elegiac canon but as a commentary on it.  In part through her use of a female narrator, Sulpicia re-envisions elegiac conventions in a way that asks her readers to question the tropes which her fellow elegists employ.  In the upcoming semester I plan to read the work of the later elegist Ovid in light of my research on Sulpicia, since his poetry presents a similar commentary on the genre but few scholars have explored any connection between the two.


Jen Hartley | Interdisciplinary Studies
Provision of Public and Private Funding of Domestic Violence Service Providers in Virginia
Advisor: Claire McKinney
This work is intended to provide a comprehensive investigation and evaluation of existing public and private funding structures for non-profit organizations serving survivors of domestic violence in Virginia. This presentation will focus on the role of private donations in funding domestic violence services, with specific attention to the narratives that service providers must produce to solicit donations. As grants provided by the government impose quantitative requirements on service providers, this piece aims to illuminate the constraints that private funding place on these organizations and recommend ways that funding can be increased. 

Michael Testa | Public Policy
The Political Environment of Federal Rulemaking: An Analysis of Comment Submissions on Regulatory Outcomes
Advisor: Paul Manna
Throughout the Obama administration, a wave of new federal laws were passed requiring significant regulatory changes to the healthcare and financial industries.  While Congress passed the laws, the appropriate federal bureaucracies were tasked with specifying these new regulatory requirements which included reviewing and responding to the views and opinions of public commenters on these rules. This study examines a sample of the final rules published by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Health and Human Services from 2012-2015 to determine which, if any, organized interests have an advantage during the notice-and-comment period of rulemaking required by the Administrative Procedures Act, and more broadly, what factors encourage agencies to change proposed rules.


Courtney Blackington | Government
Hooligans or Saboteurs? Post-Accession Backsliding in Eastern Europe
Advisor: Paula Pickering
In Eastern Europe after Communism collapsed, many politicians pursued EU membership by implementing political and economic reforms--some of which appeared to fundamentally change these states' institutions. However, since joining the EU, some countries' politicians have stalled and backtracked democratic reforms, while others have continued to reform institutions in order to improve the quality of their democracies. This thesis seeks to understand under what conditions Eastern European democratic institutions were more likely to consolidate. By examining institutional engineering, political culture, and leadership hypotheses, this thesis will suggest the circumstances under which leaders might have opportunities to reverse democratic deepening. It will also highlight which societal or institutional structures might be most central to maintaining and fortifying democratic structures to protect against attacks by self-interested or anti-democratic politicians.  

Justin Canakis | Kinesiology
Efficacy and Safety of Pre-Workout Supplementation In Resistance Trained Rats
Advisor: Michael Brennan Harris
Pre-workout supplements contain various compounds to improve athletic performance, muscle strength, and hypertrophy. However, the efficacy and safety of many of these supplements are unknown. The purpose of this study is to determine whether 6 weeks of pre-workout supplementation in rats undergoing a resistance training program significantly improves performance without adverse effects on kidney or vascular function. 3 month-old, male, F344 rats were divided into two groups (n=12/group): 1) control (CTRL) and 2) supplemented (SUP). The SUP group was given Pro Supps Mr. Hyde - a pre-workout that contains 2-3 times the amount of caffeine compared to other brands. Resistance training consisted of climbing a 1 m wire ladder, at an 85° angle, 3d/wk for 6 weeks with increasing weight added progressively to the tail. Aortic dose response curves to phenylephrine (PE, 107-104 M), sodium nitroprusside (SNP, 108-105 M), and acetylcholine (ACh, 10-7-3x105 M) were constructed. Two-way ANOVA indicated a significant main effect of supplementation on the amount of weight lifted.  No differences in body weight or muscle weight were observed.  No changes in vascular function or urinary creatinine levels were observed. These data suggested that 6 weeks of pre-workout supplementation in rats undergoing resistance training resulted in modest efficacy with improvement in amount lifted but no change in muscle size. Furthermore, no safety concerns were indicated following 6 weeks of use as no changes in vascular or kidney function were observed.