Abstracts: Wednesday, February 22nd


Bernadette Deschaine | Biology
Harnessing Microbial Community Dynamics for Biofilm Disruption
Advisor: Helen Murphy
Biofilms are microbial communities in which individual cells cooperate to secrete an extracellular matrix. Biofilm-forming pathogens can grow on medical implants and can exhibit increased virulence and resistance to antimicrobials. My Honors research explores a novel approach to biofilm disruption. The budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, is both a model research organism and an opportunistic pathogen. I work with strains of S. cerevisiae in which the spatial structure of biofilm formation provides a competitive advantage. I aim to disrupt biofilm formation using a second competitive phenotype, the production of yeast "killer toxins." I am competing biofilm- and toxin-producing strains to observe their interaction. I am also attempting to engineer a "Trojan Horse" strain with inducible toxin production, with which to infiltrate and eliminate biofilms.


Ebimene Doubeni | Africana Studies
Understanding Colorism Through Perceptions and Social Interactions of African Diasporic Women
Advisor: Iyabo Osiapem
I am exploring the ways colorism operates in Trinidad and the United States through the unique narratives of 20 female individuals. The purpose of my research is to investigate the way colorism is discussed on college communities to better focus discussions and forums on the negative effects of colorism within the black community at a small liberal arts college in the southeast and at a small liberal arts college in Trinidad. Entrenched in a skin tone hierarchy, the post slavery countries United States and Trinidad are exemplars of the how the racial caste system perpetuates in the Black community.  I provide literature on how the racial skin hierarchy affects females of the African Diaspora and what stereotypes are attributed to certain skin tones in both Trinidad and the United States. I will explore how these individuals understand and interpret colorism and how colorism influences the self perceptions and perceptions of others in their social interactions at their universities.  I will use their personal narratives and cultural experiences to gain insight to the ways in which the participants think about colorism. My research will bring awareness and create forums of discussions about intra-racial issues that exist within Black communities, locally and abroad. In this grounded theory approach I am going to rely on the opinions provided by my interviewees on how to best undergo these conversations on colorism in the black community.  

Francesca Maestas | History
In Between and Nowhere at all: How an Autobiography Reveals Multicultural Hybridity
Advisor: Ayfer Karakaya-Stump
The Algerian colonial experience was chaotic and ended in a brutal war. Consequently, the history of colonial Algeria cannot be described using the classical binary of Christian French colonizer and Muslim Arab colonized without neglecting those who fall in between or nowhere. Although they may present obstacles to historical research, autobiographical accounts can prove valuable when studying the history of individuals whose cultures favor oral tradition over written tradition. The autobiography that this paper examines was written by an Algerian Berber woman named Fadhma Amrouche. She embodied the concept that hybrid identities were formed out of the colonial experience and preserved it, in the form of an autobiography, for her descendants. In conclusion, this paper touches upon notions such as folklore and oral tradition vs. Western and written tradition, multicultural hybridity in colonial and post-colonial societies, maternal and familial history and the historical value of a long forgotten autobiography.


Natalee Price | Psychology
Maternal and Peer Emotion Socialization Predicting Adolescents' Social Experiences
Advisor: Janice Zeman
Research has demonstrated that parents' socialization of their children's emotions plays an important role in their children's social functioning. In recent years, researchers have begun to examine how peer emotion socialization (ES) processes may also contribute to adolescent outcomes. Still, few studies have examined how mothers' influence on their child's ES may then affect their child's close friendships research that could provide compelling insights into how adolescent friendship quality may be improved, starting at home. Thus, the current research examines how maternal and peer ES processes may predict adolescents' later social experiences (i.e., bullying behaviors, victimization status, receipt of prosocial behaviors) in a longitudinal sample of 170 middle-school age youth. Maternal and peer ES processes were assessed via mother report and a peer observational task at Time 1. At Time 2, roughly two years later, follow-up interviews were conducted with these youth, in which they reported on their social experiences. Analyses will investigate these prospective links between ES and social experiences, while accounting for youths' baseline Time 1 social experiences. These findings may generate important implications for adaptive and maladaptive ES practices in both parent-child and adolescent peer interactions and our understanding of how these practices may lead to later adolescent social outcomes.


Katherine Peck | Anthropology
Understanding Human-Landscape Interaction: Geoarchaeology in the Society Islands, French Polynesia
Advisor: Jennifer Kahn
In this study, I explore the impact of human actions on the Society Island environment, as well as the ecological resilience of these islands over the 1,000 year sequence of human occupation. I utilize geoarchaeological methods to analyze soil samples collected from archaeological excavations on the islands of Maupiti and Mo'orea in the Society Islands. Using these data, I examine whether humans (anthropogenic factors) or climate (natural factors) influenced the depositional processes at these sites, and if Tahitians altered their behavior to modify their impacts on island environments. I also compare the relative effects of human-induced impacts between two islands which differ in age and natural resources.

Kharis Schrage | Biology
Hemichordates as a Model System for Investigating Intertidal Zonation in Soft Sediments
Advisor: Jon Allen


Matthew Ribar | International Relations
Things Fall Apart: The Role of Arms Acquisition in Insurgent Fragmentation
Advisor: Jeffrey Kaplow
Insurgency is a label applied to a large variety of armed political actors, but all these actors have one need in common: the need to arm their fighters. This paper examines how the manner in which insurgent groups acquire arms affects the likelihood that the group will fragment or cohere over time. Specifically, if an insurgent group has a highly centralized process of arms acquisition, such as direct transfers to insurgent commanders by a third party, the cost of defection for insurgent field commanders will be high. If the cost of defection is high, then a splinter group is less likely to form. To test this hypothesis, this paper deploys a mixed method approach, combining an analysis of the Uppsala Conflict Data with two case studies in the Central African Republic and the Solomon Islands.  

Nairuti Shastry | Sociology
Master of None: Understanding the 1.5 Generation of Asian Indian Immigrant Youth
Advisor: Jennifer Bickham Mendez
As the fastest growing, highest-skilled immigrant group in the U.S. today, Asian Indians are commonly referred to as the "model minority of model minorities." Based on a qualitative analysis of the 1.5-generation of Asian Indian youth in the D.C. metropolitan area, I hope to unpack the lived experiences of this population within the public school system. How does this population make sense of the paradoxical interaction between their privileged SES and an oppressed ˜forever foreign" identity? My findings indicate that Asian Indian youth, despite high levels of institutional support (e.g. H-1B visa program), still report sentiments of social exclusion in schools. By focusing my research on lived experiences of exclusion in education, specifically those of an ethnic group that play a balancing act of seemingly oppositional identities, I provide a model that could be useful for future research on non-traditional, ˜unwanted" immigrants (e.g. undocumented immigrants, refugees).