Modeling Polarization in Mass Populations using Agent-Based Modeling & Novel Opinion Dynamics

By Justin Mittereder, Robert Carroll, Brandon Frulla

Faculty Mentor: Professor Stephen Davies

The 21st century has opened doors for large-scale simulations that were previously impossible due to computing power restrictions. Now, we are able to create large simulations of heterogeneous “agents”. These simulations allow researchers to discover what set of simple rules (behavioral rules of each agent) are sufficient to produce a particular phenomenon on the societal level. The particular phenomenon we hope to observe is political polarization. The results of this research will provide insights into how polarization arises, and how it may be prevented from escalating further. In our simulation, agents will have a predetermined number of different opinions that are assigned randomly from 0-1. At each step of the simulation, agents will choose another neighboring agent at random for an interaction. Then, they will look to see if they agree closely on a random issue. If the opinions of both agents are within a predetermined comparison threshold, then we will take the average of the neighbor and the agent’s opinion on another different issue and set that as the agent’s new opinion on that given issue. Throughout the life of the simulation, we will measure a number of different variables such as the average assortativity across all issues, the average opinion variance, the average persuasions per agent, and the number of opinion clusters for each issue. We will examine the data from many simulation runs to look for emergent behavior across all agents in the simulation. Our goal is to manipulate the parameters of the model in such a way that sheds light on how polarization develops in a society. Some of the tools used in this project are Mesa, Networkx, Python and Dash.


Shakespeare in the Modern Classroom

By Madison Simpson

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Janine Davis

This project is a demonstration of my time in both the College of Education and the English Department here at UMW. As the COE has taught me, the classroom is a constantly changing environment, and, unfortunately classrooms today aren’t necessarily changing with their students. I created 4 units surrounding Shakespeare’s Macbeth in hopes of creating an example of how teachers can use technology to make older texts, like Shakespeare valuable for their students. Each unit covers the same type of material, but modifies how the information is presented by grade level, adapting to the different Virginia SOLs for each grade. The following link is the link to my project, contained on a Google Site in order to provide the easiest navigation tool. You can visit my site here! Link is also listed in the description

Geometric Interpretations for Surfaces Using Technology

By Lynn Sherman

Faculty Mentor: Professor Y. Jen Chiang

This presentation is based on Math 491- Differential Geometries taken in Spring 2021. We first define the coordinate patch of a surface and provide a few examples of surfaces. Then we construct the tangent space and normal vector of a given a surface. Afterwards, we compute first fundamental form, second fundamental form and Christoffel symbol of a surface. Then we define mean curvature and Gaussian curvature of a surface. We also will discuss geodesic and parallel vector field of a surface. In the mean time, we will utilize Mathematica technology to sketch the graphs of various surfaces.

Where there is land, there is wealth

by Olivia Mason-Lucas

Faculty mentor: Professor Melissa Martínez

This presentation serves to capture the relationship between two variables, an increase in extractive industries and unrest over land reform, with the dependent variable, indigenous land (in)security. Two groups in South America: the Guaraní and the Yanomami, serve as case studies for this intersection.

Oda al patio

By Jennifer Ramos

Faculty Mentor: Professor Ana Chichester

En la obra que van a escuchar hoy en día, se platica sobre la idea del tiempo y la niñez. Aunque no hay un nombre a la cara de la niña, se habla de la experiencia que ella tuvo afuera en su propio patio. El patio es un lugar que fue sagrado e importante para la niña, una plataforma para la imaginación y creatividad que la niña tenia. El tiempo es importante porque explica la diferencia entre la muchacha hoy y la niña que era antes. Para ella el patio hoy en día solo es un patio, ella no lo puede ver como algo mas, pero para su niñez era cualquier cosa que se la venia a la mente. Esta obra enseña la idea de tener que crecer, pero también poder apreciar los momentos de inocencia que una persona tiene cuando solo tiene unos 7 años. Es algo que todos pueden relacionar en y admirar de su niñez.

Senior Seminar: Artist Talk

By Leland Burke

Faculty Mentor: Professor Jon McMillan

In this artist talk I walk through the body of work that I have created during my time at UMW. I include both modern and contemporary artists that have influenced my work in technique and in concept. I describe the progression of themes in my work over the last four years in the context of my experiences, with a focus on the most recent oil paintings from my senior seminar class.

This is America: Examining the International Press’ Coverage of American Foreign Policy Officials

by Nina Burges

Faculty mentor: Professor Surupa Gupta

There is universal recognition that the foreign policy making talent in the United States is woefully unrepresentative of America’s vibrant minority populations, and more is required to attract minorities to pursue public service careers representing the United States abroad and accurately reflect its diversity. However, little attention is paid towards the international response to America’s diversity as it relates to when people of color represent the United States as diplomats, foreign service officers and White House foreign policy officials, as well as in less official capacities as scholars and humanitarian workers. These concerns assume new relevance against the backdrop of the United States’ outsized cultural reach and the international popularity of American films that show “true American culture” and a global introspection about race in America. This presentation will examine the English Language foreign press coverage in 6 countries of the appointment of General Colin Powell, Dr. Condoleezza Rice and Dr. Susan Rice to senior WH and cabinet-level Foreign Policy positions of Secretary of State and National Security Advisor respectively from 2000 to 2013 during the Bush and Obama Administrations. Ultimately, the presentation will analyze and demonstrate the influence of gender and race in the coverage of these individuals to demonstrate the importance of diversity to offering a full understanding of the American experience.

Does Coffee Production Impact Ecosystems’ Regenerative Capacities?

By Tatjana Farjadi

Faculty Mentor: Professor Amrita Dhar

Arabica coffee beans are traditionally grown in cooler shaded environments, which benefit the quality of the beans. Shade-grown coffee beans also tend to have many positive impacts on surrounding environments, as the protection from the sun that these beans require, increases the variety of plants and animals around the coffee plant. However, reductions in income that coffee farmers and growers have received over decades have had impacts on the growing process of arabica coffee beans, with researchers and analysts examining whether this has impacted farmers to seek out more efficient ways to grow these beans that differs from the traditional shade-grown process. This transition out of shade-grown coffee, as researchers examine, allows for an increased quantity of beans produced which ensures more profit and income at the end of the production cycle, but might have adverse effects on surrounding environments. This research project puts the shade-grown preference of arabica coffee beans to the test, examining whether arabica coffee production has a significant positive or negative impact on the environment. The environmental indicator used in this research is biological capacity which measures the ability of ecosystems to regenerate an ongoing supply of renewable resources and to absorb waste from surrounding populations.

A Tale of Two-City States: Early Modern Venetian and Florentine Perceptions of Melancholy

By Michelle Zillioux

Faculty Mentor: Professor Julia DeLancey

Despite the significant amount of scholarship produced about sixteenth century Venetian and Florentine visual cultures, there is a considerable lack of academic approaches to early modern research from the perspective of disability studies. However, this does not belie a lack of disability histories to analyze. In fact, Venetian and Florentine images of disability can be employed to paint a picture of early modern attitudes towards difference. Images of melancholy from Venice and Florence particularly speak to the significant difference between conceptions of the condition and the reality of the everyday lives of melancholics. Scholar Elizabeth W. Mellyn has supported this line of thought, arguing that those with privilege were afforded better circumstances in relation to their mental conditions than did the underprivileged. Thus, this presentation will argue that late 16th century Venetian and Florentine visual depictions of melancholy reveal early modern attitudes towards people with the condition that both ignore the lived experiences of the individual and provide persons with higher standing more privilege. Such disparities in privilege amongst those with diverse mental health conditions are relevant to contemporary perceptions of disability. Research for this project has drawn from interdisciplinary scholarship, translated primary sources, and visual analyses. Melancholy has a rich history, but scholarship often fails to represent the condition from the perspective of disability theory that acknowledges the ways in which the underprivileged have been left to disappear with time. The research employed for this project has aimed to address this issue, and therefore enriches the history of disability while providing considerable insight into two cultural hubs of the Italian Renaissance.


Turtle Population Sex Ratios at Urban vs. Rural Locations

by Abigail Conklin

Faculty mentor: Professor Bradley Lamphere

In many turtle species, the sex of an individual is strongly influenced by the environmental temperatures it experiences prior to hatching. Climate change and urbanization may raise the temperature of nesting habitat enough to strongly skew sex ratios in freshwater turtles, but data on that question are lacking. I sampled multiple urban and rural sites to examine the effect of urbanization on the sex ratio of turtle populations. Three urban sites and three rural sites were sampled.

Catholicism and Preservation

By Francesca Maisano

Faculty Mentor: Professor Michael Spencer

The preservation of historic structures is a controversial subject, as though people and organizations generally do not seek to demolish the historic built environment, they may not choose to preserve those structures and sites either. This paper focuses on one organization that owns much many historic structures and sites: the Catholic Church. Through the analysis and comparison of case studies, this paper seeks to investigate and shed light on the reasons, associated factors, and underlying trends behind the choices the Catholic Church in the United States makes when it comes to historic preservation. Within this research is a focus on the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, the Catholic diocese in Northern Virginia that includes Fredericksburg, to examine these reasons and trends at a local level and see how this particular diocese compares to the nation’s dioceses as a whole.

An Empirical Analysis of Economic Inequality on Economic Growth

By Brandon Williams

Faculty Mentor: Professor Steve Greenlaw

For the United States, one of the most important trends of concern is the growing level of inequality. It is widely accepted that the United States is currently experiencing historically high levels of economic inequality. There are numerous reasons for policymakers and citizens to be concerned about the rising level of inequality, such as its impact on the basic American social contract that says that hard work pays off; the diminishing of opportunity; the rise in societal unrest; and its impact on political functionality. It has been well established that inequality has a negative impact on undermining educational opportunities, lowering social mobility, hampering skills development, and less-productive labor inputs. Most research has studied the extent to which higher inequality is associated with less opportunity and mobility. This research studies if there is a causal linkage between higher inequality and slower macroeconomic growth. The main hypothesis is that inequality limits human capital accumulation primarily through the channel of educational attainment, which then dampens labor quality. Reductions in labor quality led to slower economic growth. This research attempts to measure this relationship through the dynamics of labor quality with the intention of incorporating economic inequality in the composition of labor quality. The results do not support the theory that economic inequality dampens economic growth. One suggestion is to use disaggregate data rather than aggregate data as some of the variation between the relationships are lost when conducting analysis in the aggregate.


Department of Psychological Science Spring Virtual Showcase of Student Research

The following student projects, listed by courses from spring semester 2021, are featured on the above linked virtual showcase site.

Professor Laura Wilson – PSYCH 362-01
The Association Between Virtual Interactions and Well-being
How Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Affect Participants’ Intentions to be a Primary Caregiver and Anticipated Parenting Styles
Instagram Influencer Content and Body Image
A Quantitative Study of the Association Between Self-Efficacy and Public Speaking Anxiety in Students
Social Buffering as a Moderator of the Relationship Between Anxiety and Attention
Anne Franklin
Camila Rodriguez
Carrie Van Orden
Colleen Cragun
Elizabeth Jones
Iliana Loaiza
Jenna Stewart
Katy Rose Price
Kendall McCracken
Kyle Cassidy
Laura String
Linda Dick
Monica Thompson
Nicole Segura
Paula Dorca
Sydney Dilick
Sydney Hassell

Professor Hillary Stebbins – PSYCH 362-02
The Effect of Social Anxiety and Approachability on Motivation in Online Classrooms
The Effects of Conservatism on Hesitancy Towards Receiving the COVID-19 Vaccine
Inherent Curiosity and the Effect of Error Generation on the Ability to Learn German Words
The Relationship Between Social Media Self-Presentation, Self-Efficacy, Academic Anxiety, Motivation to Learn, and Camera Usage in Synchronous Virtual College Classes
Amira Akam
Amy Rouse
Annie Del Zingaro
Chloe Billy
Kianna Simien
Kiara Toler
Kira Flinn
Lauren Johnson
Leonie Steele
Lexi Vukmanic
Mariana Haugh
Marie Bright
Rachel Remer
Sarah Dietz
Sydney Thompson
Tenyia Smith
Victoria Rulapaugh

Professor Hilliary Stebbins – PSYCH 362-03
The Effect of Affirming Scientific Belief on Existential Anxiety
How Divorce Conflict Relates to an Adult’s Capacity to Build and Maintain Friendships
Mental Well-Being of Varsity Athletes During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Parenting Style’s Influence on Sleep Quality and Sleep Hygiene as an Adult
The Relationship Between Extroversion, Social Media, In-person Interaction, and Well-being Late in the COVID-19 Pandemic
Self Affirmations and the Perception of Micro-aggressions
Aidan Finegan
Ally Jones
Courtney Haines
Courtney Hooker
Hannah Hoffman
Jackson Kirschner
Jasselyn Gallardo-Garcia
Madeline Berning
Madison Groves
Maggie Millar
Preston Boxley
Shelby A. Russell
Siena De Steno
Sydney Keating
Trimby Magarity
Valentina Leon-Ledezma
Walker Chilton

Professor Dave Kolar – PSYCH 411-01
Educational Influences on Sustainable Fashion Purchasing Behavior
Impact of Sustainable Advertising on Individual Behavior
Initial Environmental Knowledge and Pro-environmental Advertisements Effects on Purchasing Behavior of Electric Vehicles

Antonio Herold
Chelsie Valencia
Ishini Karanda
Jenna Whearty
Jesse Boles
Kevin Bach
Malhar Meeran
Mekayla Thompson
Rachel Beatty
Riley Gildea
Samia Hajjaoui

Professor Mindy Erchull – PSYCH 411-02
The Effect of Parental Division of Labor and Gender/Sex-Based Bullying on Women’s Gender Beliefs, Attitudes, and Behaviors
The Investigation of Authenticity as a Moderator in the Relationship Between Conformity to Feminine Gender Norms and Relationship Satisfaction
Perceptions of Social Media Influencers Based on Race, Gender, and Interest
Perceptions of Women Violating Gender Norms in the Gym
Alyssa Titzer
Caroline Hieber
Christina Buchanan
Corrianna Calloway
Dalton Charron
Destiny Kay
Em Converse
Eva Aloezos
Gabby Roughan
Gina-Marie An
Hannah McCarthy
Lindsay Fedder
Maya Vera
Nancy Martin

Professor Dave Rettinger – PSYCH 413
Direct and Indirect Peer Pressure and Its Effects on Students’ Opinions about Cheating
Effect of Instructor Effort on Students’ Academic Motivation
The Effect of Responsibility to Report Cheating on Honor Codes
Social Norms Messaging Influence on Student Perception of Cheating
Alexander Lee
Alexis Thompson
Ashley Stewart
Charlene Parker
Courtney King
Derek DelGross
Gretel Kreider
Magaly Delgado
Mariah Bright
Nicholas Graves
Olayemi Fadahunsi
Rachel Thibodeau
Robert Ashworth
Teresa Siburn
Waverly Atkinson

Professor Virginia Mackintosh – PSYCH 414
The Association Between Sexual Orientation and Media on Identity Development
Importance of Parenting: Exploring Effects of Parenting Style on Identity Status, Risk Behaviors, and Self-Esteem in College Students
Social Media Social Comparison and Identity Development in College Students
Alex Sharpe
Anne Spady
Carmen Nichols
Emma Snyder
Grace Gartman
Hannah Schmidt
Haylee Beish
Kennedy King
Kourtney Chiles
Lucy Bondje
Rylie Cole
Simone Levendosky

Professor Mindy Erchull – 201-01
Infographic presentations
All About Blended Emotions
The “Athlete’s” Selves
The Confirmation Bias During Covid
Detecting Deception
Impression Management
Virtual Self-Presentation
Alise Thaler
Ann Camp
Elizabeth VanSumeren
Fabian Rosales
Kennedy King
Martin Eykamp
Tiya Jeffreys
Veronica Moore

Ignite talk presentations
Elizabeth VanSumeren

Professor Mindy Erchull – PSYCH 201-02
Infographic presentations
Automatic Processing
Belief Perseverance
Caution: Self-Handicapping
Confirmation Bias in Social Media
Counterfactual Thinking
Heuristics, Biases, and Police Activity
Non-Verbal Communication
Ally Holden
Andrea McGrath
Harper Cowan
Krista Rodgers
Lovetta Rogers
Tyler Clift
Veronica Ahmed

Ignite talk presentations
Commitment and Consistency
Lovetta Rogers 
WGST 485
A Crumpled Flower: Sexual Assault’s Moderating Effect on the Relationships between Purity Culture, Rape Myth Acceptance, and Mental Health

  • Christine Wehner

    491/492 Teams (combined list across instructors)
    Color Cues and Consumption: Who Falls Victim to Menu Design?
    COVID on the Brain: Anxiety Sensitivity and Mindful Awareness Mediate the Relationship Between COVID-19 Obsession and Anxiety
    The Effects of Shaping on Verbal Behavior in a Simulated Alien Invasion
    The Influence of Knowledge and Personal Norms on Pro-Environmental Behavior
    Mindfulness as a Mediator and Moderator in the Relationship between Adverse Childhood Experiences and Depression
    Mindfulness as a Mediator in the Relationship between Social Media Engagement and Depression
    Mindfulness in 1st Grade at Riverview Elementary School
    Allie Wills
    Amelia Jones
    Angeline S. Gnanasekaran
    Carly Kingston
    Elsa Baumgartner
    Emily Beitzell
    George Stifel
    Haley McKeen
    Hannah J. Checkeye
    Hope Rivers
    Jenna M. Holland
    Jennifer Abrahamson
    Kaitlyn R. Ownbey
    Kathleen E. Daley
    Lily Goldberg
    Madison Schifflet
    Megan Hook
    Paige Arnau
    Purnaja Podduturi
    Sydney Dahl

COVID-19 Through Nepali Teachers’ Perspectives

By: Isabella Burns, Rachel Walters, Jenna Holland

Faculty mentor: Dr. Leslie Martin

The Nepali education system has been affected by the extensive spread of COVID-19. Before the pandemic, Nepal was in a period of growth regarding educational policy after suffering from a civil conflict that lasted 10 years (Valente 2015; Parker et al. 2013). Although Nepal was in the process of recovering, they have a considerable digital divide with a lack of Internet access for many citizens (Mandal, 2020). Nepal has supplemented the lack of Internet access with TVs, radios, and phones (Dhamala 2020; Radhakrishnan-Nair et al. 2020; UNESCO 2020). Because the pandemic is current, there is a lack of research on how COVID-19 and the lack of Internet access have affected the teachers in the Nepali education system. In our research, we investigate Nepali teachers’ perspectives of COVID-19 affecting the education system.

An Epidemiological Simulation of COVID-19

By Miles Spence

Faculty Mentor: Professor Jennifer Polack

This project is a cross-section of multiple disciplines in mathematics as well as computer science. In particular, it incorporates differential equations and data analysis to create a model, in the Python coding language, to estimate the spread of COVID-19. The model used for the simulation is a self-generated SIRDSV deterministic compartmental model. The presenter explains the SIR model and how it has been altered to fit the current context with COVID-19. The presenter also explains where data is found and how it is manipulated to fit in the model. In addition, the presenter demos the program that gathers the data, manipulates the data, checks the accuracy of the model, estimates the spread of COVID-19 in the next thirty days, and then finally estimates the spread of COVID-19 in one hundred days with decreased stringency. The model proves to be accurate in some cases and only breaks down over a long period of time and with changing rates and probabilities.

Relationship Between Economic Development and Environmental Degradation.

By Quinn Lipetz

Faculty Mentor: Professor Amrita Dhar

The Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC) is an economic model that describes the relationship between economic development and environmental degradation. This study aimed to determine if the pattern theorized by the EKC is visible in data from 32 countries from 1990 to 2015. The EKC states that as economic development increases within a country, there will be an increase in environmental degradation, but eventually a turning point will be reached, after which point environmental degradation will decrease as economic development continues to increase. This study used carbon dioxide emissions per capita as the measure of environmental degradation (dependent variable) and GDP per capita and the Human Development Index (HDI) as the measures of economic development (explanatory variables). The statistical analysis consisted of two fixed effects regressions; in the first carbon dioxide emissions per capita were regressed on GDP per capita, and in the second carbon dioxide emissions per capita were regressed on HDI. The result of both regression were significant and supported the EKC hypothesis; however, both regressions produced low R-squared values, which indicates that much of the variation in carbon dioxide emissions per capita was unaccounted for. In the future, a larger sample size and more explanatory variables should be included to provide a cleared picture of the relationship between environmental degradation and economic development.

16th Annual Kemp Symposium

The Department of English and Linguistics is hosting a live virtual symposium for its students via Zoom on Thursday April 29th, and Friday, April 30th, 2021. Below is the published program of student presentations.

Cooperative Learning in Secondary Mathematics

By: Katherine Safian

Faculty Mentor: Professor Marie Sheckels

Cooperative learning, or CL, is an instructional model commonly used in schools across the country, especially in mathematics. It involves the use of small group learning where students work collaboratively towards a common goal. Throughout my semester-long independent study, I researched how to incorporate cooperative learning into the secondary mathematics classroom and then made various lessons based on my findings. This presentation will discuss the meaning behind the term cooperative learning, its history, its benefits for both students and teachers, and why educators should consider incorporating this instructional practice into their classrooms. I will also discuss the various types and models of cooperative learning that I found in my research, along with best practices for how to successfully implement CL activities in the classroom. Finally, I will describe two mathematics lessons that I designed which incorporate various types and best practices of cooperative learning that I discovered throughout my research.

Quantifying Hyperforin in St. Johns Wort

By Chase Forster

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Josephine Antwi

Hyperforin is a known compound naturally produced by St. Johns Wort plants and has been proven to help treat mild depression. The purpose of this project was to determine optimal growing conditions for this plant to maximize efficiency of hyperforin production.

Literatura carcelaria y los derechos humanos en cuatro obras del siglo XX

By Sarah Patterson

Faculty Mentor: Professor Ana Chichester

Esta tesis es un estudio de la literatura carcelaria en cuatro obras del siglo XX. El ya reconocido género de la literatura carcelaria denomina un tipo de texto en cual un autor escribe cuando está encarcelado o rememora la experiencia carcelaria luego de abandonar la cárcel. Durante el siglo XX, muchos activistas políticos han protestado por sus derechos humanos por medio de sus obras. Algunos de estos activistas políticos fueron escritores y poetas de América latina, de los Estados Unidos y de otras partes del mundo, como Domitila Barrios de Chungara, Martin Luther King Jr. Roque Dalton y Otto René Castillo. Mi ponencia se enfoca en las comparaciones y contrastes de estos cuatro ejemplos de literaturas carcelarias: el tipo de texto, la representación y las circunstancias de la cárcel, la desobediencia civil, la subjetivación plural y la denuncia social.


The Great Narrative: The Evolution of State Censorship in Soviet Era Museums

By Emily Harvey

Faculty Mentor: Professor Steven Harris

Before the Revolution of 1917, Russian museums were created by and for the ruling elite. Strict limitations on attendance and what objects could be viewed by what persons defined Russia’s imperial era. After the Revolution, the Soviet Union began to open its museum doors and create more museums by and for the working-class people and their struggle. Starting in the 1920s, a “Great Narrative,” as I call it, came into being that shaped the themes and missions of each museum in the Soviet Union. The Great Narrative was developed by Soviet leaders and the censorship bureau and often changed regularly, requiring frequent museum renovations. While museum attendance flourished and millions of objects went on display, the Great Narrative of the Soviet Union was constantly changing, therefore the museum network was under revision at all times from the beginning to the end of the Soviet Union. The revision of the Great Narrative led to large amounts of censorship in Soviet era museums, however this censorship was also not stagnant. Starting in 1917 and through the 1980s, Soviet museums were subjected to comprehensive state censorship, whether about the overall narrative being told or the objects themselves. However, the censorship was not stagnant and increased or decreased depending on the Soviet leader of the time and what policies and narratives were being developed under their leadership.

Crude Measures: Analyzing the Success and Failure of Economic Sanctions

By Dillon Schweers

Faculty Mentor: Professor Jason Davidson

The Trump Administration implemented a series of intense economic sanctions against the Venezuelan government in 2019 and 2020 in an effort to oust autocratic President Nicolas Maduro. After two years of the U.S. targeting the Venezuelan oil industry with these measures, Maduro remains entrenched in power. Alternatively, similar measures against Iran were ultimately successful in compelling the Islamic Republic to participate in negotiations that led to the Iran Nuclear Deal of 2015. The student researcher endeavors to answer why sanctions were successful in Iran, but not Venezuela. By analyzing each case from three perspectives (i.e., target-centric approach, third party-centric approach, and sender-centric approach), the student synthesizes an explanation for the outcomes of both sanctions episodes. Based on the findings from the two case studies, the student offers five policy implications that might inform future U.S. administrations in implementing maximum pressure economic sanctions.

Climate Change, Paris Accord, and Challenges for the Fashion Industry

By Madeline Enderle

Faculty Mentor: Professor Wei Chen

The case study examines the Paris Agreement’s climate change mitigation efforts and the fashion industry’s global carbon footprint. To lessen its greenhouse gas emissions, the retail industry has partnered with the United Nations to develop the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action. The action plan encompasses emissions reduction targets for the fashion industry that support the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement. Additionally, tactics of leading fashion companies are evaluated to bring awareness to the environmental impact of the fashion industry.

Untitled: Into the Mind of Margaret Sutton

By Elianna Bowman, Katheen Daly, Tai Frazier, Jennifer Glazebrook, Wilson LeCount, Luka Molloy, Carolyn Riley, Madison Roberts, Katie Toomey, Maddy Williams

Faculty Mentor: Professor Marjorie Och

This semester students working on the New York painter Margaret Sutton ’26 were struck by the number of works the artist left untitled. When the works came to Mary Washington in 1993, gallery staff catalogued hundreds of untitled paintings, drawings, and sketches using descriptive terms. A daunting task considering Sutton’s fantastic imagery and the number of works to consider! Without a title the viewer is left to imagine and create significance on their own. Sutton encourages us, over and over, to be creative and playful, to check our experiences and define them within a fantastic environment that offers little certainty. The mind of Margaret Sutton remains a mystery, but the artist opens a door for our own minds to search for meaning. “Untitled: Into the Mind of Margaret Sutton” is the spring 2021 exhibition produced by students in ARTH 317: Laboratory in Museum Studies, and exhibited in the Phyllis Ridderhof Martin Gallery at UMW from April 8 through August 1, 2021, and in the online exhibition.

Works by Margaret Sutton featured on web exhibition “Untitled: Into the Mind of Margaret Sutton”

The Influence of Habitat Disruption and Induced Overstimulation on Working and Spatial Memory and Hippocampal BDNF Levels in CD1 Mice

By Katie Warlick, Chloe Dishong, Jada Ramos, Olivia Asbell

Faculty Mentor: Professor Parrish Waters

Our experiment aims to explore the influence of habitat disruption and induced overstimulation on working and spatial memory in CD1 mice, and consequently, hippocampal Brain- Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) levels. We hypothesized that, because of the significance of the role of BDNF in the regulation of neuroplasticity, overstimulation onset by habitat disruption will result in diminished cognition, including working and spatial memory, and decreased intracellular output of hippocampal BDNF. Following a two-week acclimation period, the second of which we began habitat disruption, we conducted a behavioral testing paradigm on a group of ten CD1 mice (n=5) to assess working memory known as the Y-maze test. Contrary to our hypothesis, results showed that mice who were subjected to overstimulation induced by habitat disruption performed better in the Y-maze and displayed an enhanced capacity for working memory compared to the control mice, but the difference in BDNF concentration between groups was not statistically significant. We therefore retained the null hypothesis that overstimulation does not influence hippocampal BDNF levels in CD1 mice.

Revising the Horror Novella

By Katherine Cavallaro

Faculty Mentor: Professor Ray Levy

I began my independent study project with the goal of revising an incomplete and unedited novella draft I had worked on the previous semester. I had hopes of creating something close to a finished and polished novella at the end of this semester. I approached this goal from two directions. First, the novella I am working on is an adventure/horror hybrid, so I began the semester doing research and work on how to write an effective work of horror. In the second half of the semester, I shifted to research and focused on effective techniques for editing and revising fiction drafts. Throughout the semester, I continued to edit and revise my novella, using the skills I gained in both horror and editing practices to make continual improvements. I produced several writing exercises throughout the semester, but my most important product I made was the actual drafts of my novella. The final draft showcases everything I have learned this semester and during my overall time in UMW’s creative writing program. The novella is well over fifty pages, so I have chosen to include selected excerpts that I think best highlight the work I have done. A brief description of the novella can be found alongside these excerpts.

Using BLAST to Detect Horizontal Gene Transfer in Pathogenic Fungi

By Christopher Good

Faculty Mentor: Professor Theresa Grana

Similarly to antibiotic resistance, antifungal resistance is a growing challenge for clinicians. Mechanistically, one method of antibiotic resistance acquisition is through horizontal gene transfer (HGT). Although associated more with prokaryotes, past studies show limited evidence of HGT in Candida yeast, warranting additional comparative, genomic and proteomic research on the evolutionary forces behind fungal virulence. This honors capstone project used the NCBI’s Basic Local Alignment Search Tool (BLAST) to quickly and statistically compare existing biological sequence data in conjunction with EMBL Multiple Sequence Comparison by Log-Expectation (MUSCLE) alignment and Molecular Evolutionary Genetics Analysis (MEGA) to visualize likely evolutionary relationships. Thus, the objective of this project was to use bioinformatics tools to identify potential instances of Horizontal Gene Transfer (HGT) between pathogenic yeast and viruses, specifically HGT as an evolutionary mechanism for antifungal resistance gene (ARG) acquisition. Of the subset of ARGs searched, BLAST showed more support for ERG3 (C-5 sterol desaturase) HGT between edafosvirus and C. glabrata and between orpheovirus and C. albicans and C. californica, respectively. However, the ML phylogeny contradicts these BLAST results and shows more support for ERG3 HGT between both viruses and Hypopichia burtonii. Thus, while BLAST showed limited evidence for ERG3 HGT between three Candida species and two viruses, the ML phylogeny fails to support these evolutionary events. For the purposes of HGT, BLAST might be better suited to certain organisms (i.e., prokaryotes) and its use should be reinforced as a non-definitive predictor of such evolutionary events. Furthermore, increased understanding of the numerous uncharacterized Candida genes could reveal new evidence of fungal HGT and guide treatment options. Word Count: 261

Researching & Creating Children’s Literature for the Frederickburg StoryWalk Project

By Eli Keith, Beth Anderson, Kira Frazee, John Giannini, Kayla Havert, Mariah Lipscomb, Stephanie Martens, Katie Molina, Juliette Sanusi, Kendall Wilkinson

Faculty Mentor: Professor Melissa Wells

At the beginning of the 2021 Spring semester, we decided as students in EDUC311 that we wanted to author and illustrate a book featured at the Fredericksburg StoryWalk on the River Heritage Trail. Though COVID-19 was a barrier to the way this had been done for this course in the past, we took a series of steps to accomplish what we needed to in order to produce our book, “Alex’s Day on the Rappahannock.” In one of the first weeks of the course we met with the Outdoor Recreational Supervisor for Fredericksburg Parks, Recreation, and Events, Callie Brown, to discuss what the book would need to look like in terms of length, content, page dimensions, and time frame for finishing. Once that information was known, we spent several weeks researching children’s literature and the Virginia Standards of Learning (VSOL’s) to decide what the book would be about. Callie had mentioned that river safety was a topic that is always important to teach children, so our aim was also to incorporate that if possible. Once we decided what to teach with the book, we delegated duties so that each of the ten students in our class took care of two of the pages. Everyone spent time planning the writing and illustrations for their pages, and this culminated in in-class illustration work. Eric Carle, a well-known children’s book author, uses a collage style for all of his illustrations that we emulated for our book. We spent three class periods painting, cutting, and pasting together illustrations, which were later scanned in order to preserve the artwork for the StoryWalk. Finally, once all of the pages were completed and ordered, we edited and revised the book as a class to make sure everything was exactly as we wanted it. Steps: brainstorming, research, delegation of duties (writing), painting day, cutting/pasting day, revising and editing, finished product!

Government and Music during the Bosnian War

By Kassie Phillips

Faculty Mentor: Professor Brooks Kuykendall

The purpose of my research is to survey music as it was deliberately used as a means to an end during the Bosnian War from 1992 to 1995, particularly as it applies to the state promotion of certain music by Serbian and Croatian leadership at the time. Investigation of popular music commonly heard during the war reveals that while Serbian music was often directed at both a domestic and enemy audience (for the purpose of demoralization), called on traditional musical styles and instrumentation, and featured lyrics promoting bold and aggressive messages, Croatian music was meant to appeal to an international audience, and thus relied upon modern, western musical genres and lyrics that emphasized peace and elicited sympathy. Less is consistent about the war music of the Bosniaks, which is difficult to single out because of the diversity in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the exodus of Bosnian Muslims from the area that occurred both before and during the conflict, but Western portrayals of the music scene in besieged Sarajevo definitely played a large role in creating the city’s images as the capital of Bosnian resistance.

Oda a la Bicicleta

By María Colón

Faculty Mentor: Professor Ana Chichester

My Project is inspired by the work of Chilean writer Pablo Neruda’s Odas. His remarkable work was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. Neruda’s Odes are inspired by all things that surrounded him. He found beauty in the simplest things, such as an artichoke, a lemon. His work aims to portray an enthusiastic approach from the lenses of positivism and realism. My inspiration was my bicycle. My child’s memories around it and all the happiness that I had because of it. I hope you enjoy it!

Communicating Preservation Planning

By: Colette Fralen, Gabrielle Gallier, Faith Hamman, Kyann Holman, Jessica Lynch, Emilia Michalkiewicz

Faculty Mentor: Professor Andrea Smith

The Preservation Planning Lab (HISP 469) serves as a capstone in the Historic Preservation Major. This year, the course focused on communicating preservation planning. This field is still misunderstood, so educating the public is a relevant and timely concern. The course was divided into two sections. First, the six students completed a team project. We were contacted by the City of Fredericksburg Planning Office to redesign the brochure for the Historic District. The old brochure was at least twenty years old, didn’t reflect current rules, and had no graphics or colors. The City asked us to create two new brochures – one for residential owners and one for business owners – and to incorporate newly adopted City branding. All six students in the course produced mockups and chose the best features of each to be integrated in the final designs. Colors and graphics use the new branding standards adopted by the City in 2021, ensuring that these brochures will be useful for many years to come. The brochures are now posted on the City of Fredericksburg website and are being printed for distribution. In the second section of the course, students created individual projects based on their interests. Three students utilized social media platforms to make aspects of preservation planning (such as preservation economics) accessible to the public. The other three created print media to discuss more locality-specific preservation planning projects. Throughout the entire course, students learned how to use industry standard design software, communicate complex concepts, and work collaboratively.

Game Chromatic Number on Segmented Caterpillars

By Paige Beidelman

Faculty mentor: Professor Jeb Collins

Graph theory is the study of sets vertices connected by known as edges, which are depicted as lines. The graph coloring game is a game played on a graph with two players, Alice and Bob, such that they alternate to properly color a graph, meaning no adjacent vertices are the same color. Alice wins if every vertex is properly colored with n colors, otherwise Bob wins when a vertex cannot be colored using n colors. While strategies for winning this game may seem helpful, more interesting is the least number of colors needed for Alice to have a winning strategy, which is called the game chromatic number. We classified a specific tree graph noted as segmented caterpillar graphs that have vertices of degree 2, 3, and 4, for which the game chromatic number have not yet been explored.

Computer Science Extravaganza

The Department of Computer Science is holding a live Zoom event for all UMW Students Who Love Computer Science, Data Science, and Cybersecurity on Friday, April 30th at noon. Students present a project (software, data science, cyber security) completed this
All projects are welcome. The project can be a classroom assignment or something you created for fun.

Student projects featured at the live event:

Ryan Phillips – Simple Encryption and Decryption in Python

Brandon Frulla, Rob Carroll, Justin Mittereder – Modeling Polarization in Mass Populations Using ABM & Novel Opinion Dynamics

David Miller, Tyler Viacara, Alexander Loveland, Jema Unger, Joanna Osam, Samuel Adler, Lauren Pittman, Jacob Barker – UMW Outreach – The University wants ways to help connect parents with UMW students who could serve as tutors or even childcare (virtual tutor, maybe in-person childcare).

John-Paul King – CPSC 430 Alumni Project

David Craig – CPSC 444 Final Project

Sarah Riddell – ButterSpy – Online Identification Guide for Butterflies of Alexandria, VA. A unique take on virtual identification: removing the concept of instant gratification. Most nature identification apps (think PictureThis or iNaturalist) include a camera for quick and convenient results. While awesome, this approach does not encourage development of a user’s observational skills, which is one of the most important skills when it comes to identification. ButterSpy removes the camera element, requiring the user to observe and input distinct identifiers on their own. The app returns possible matches, following the principle “the more you give, the more you get.”

Miles Spence – An Epidemiological Simulation of COVID-19. Use past data from the CDC and Our World in Data (OWID), as well as Differential Equations to create a model to simulate as best as possible the spread of COVID-19.

Makayla Ferrell – Baby-step giant-step algorithm and discrete logs applied to public-private encryption.

Supreet Singh, Madison Williams, Madeline Phillips, and Paula Dorca – Data Science
Analysis of board game engagement

Redlining, Tree Cover, and Temperature Variation

By Caylie Sims

Faculty Mentor: Professor Melina Patterson

Redlining is an environmental justice issue where, in the past, neighborhoods were graded based on a number of factors, one of which being race and class of its residence. These neighborhoods were given a grade, ranging from A as the highest grade, then B, C, and finally a D as the worst grade. Findings suggest that lower graded neighborhoods, occupied by people of color and poorer citizens, have higher internal temperatures and lower tree coverage, which can greatly affect health of residents. Certain regions of the United States have lower temperature differences between high graded neighborhoods and low graded ones .This project sought to analyze whether the variation in temperature is due to differences in tree coverage. High tree canopy coverage was analyzed in 2 cities (one low temperature difference and one high temperature difference) within 4 regions of the US (Midwest, South, Northeast and West). The tree coverage was tabulated to then calculate the mean of high tree coverage in each grader (A, B, C, and D) In all regions, for the lower temperature difference cities, there was more area covered by high amounts of tree canopy in the low graded neighborhoods than the high graded neighborhoods.


Somos el mundo: Global Medical Education for Children

By Angeline (Shanthi) Gnanasekaran

Faculty mentor: Professor María Laura Bocaz

As part of the Global Health Fellowship hosted by the Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children (FIMRC), two activity workbooks were produced to educate the FIMRC youth population in Huancayo, Peru about two major health topics, violence and the five senses. These workbooks were written and illustrated in conjunction with the Dale la Mano program in Huancayo, Peru, which is targeted toward greater access to health services and education for young Peruvian Children. Each workbook was designed with a story and various activities pertaining to either violence or the five senses, and followed a style similar to the popular magazine, Highlights. The workbook on violence, “Las aventuras de José y Juana,” was approximately 68 pages, and sought to teach children about physical, psychological, and sexual violence, from the perspective of two fictional alpaca children. The workbook on the five senses, “Hecho con amor,” was approximately 30 pages, and utilized the story of a young boy and his grandmother cooking a traditional Peruvian dish, Papa a la huancaína, to demonstrate the five senses. Each workbook contained educational but enjoyable activities to encourage the children to recognize and speak out about the different types of violence, and to observe their sensory environment from a health perspective. Together, these workbooks were and continue to be used in both FIMRC sites in Peru, to further the global health awareness of impoverished children and their families.

Oda al piano

By Madison Minvielle

Faculty mentor: Professor Ana Chichester

This is a creative writing assignment from my Spanish literature class where we wrote odes to objects similar to the poems written by Pablo Neruda. We had to include two similes and two metaphors and have a minimum of five stanzas.

The Development of a Sediment Pollution Pilot Study in Hazel Run

By Briana Edmunds

Faculty Mentor: Professor Pamela Grothe

Excess sediment runoff, as a result of anthropogenic activity, is one of the major contributors to the pollution of the Chesapeake Bay, Rappahannock River, and Hazel Run. To reduce the sediment entering different watersheds, different best management practices (BMPs) have been implemented. Agencies like the Chesapeake Bay Program and United States Geological Survey use models to predict how effective different BMPs are. Traditional models used by the USGS like ESTIMATOR use streamflow-based regression. However, regression relations fail to account for the variableness of sediment transfer during storm events (Jastram et al., 2009). Leigh et al. (2019) concluded that turbidity-based models which include temporal autocorrelation and heteroscedasticity were the most accurate and precise in predicting sediment and nutrient concentrations from high-frequency water-quality data, which we will be following. The Rappahannock River’s possession of only one monitoring station and how both it and Hazel Run have degraded water quality make it appropriate to conduct a pilot study. We will be utilizing in-situ sensors, which collect and store data, compared to manual samples. Using in-situ measurements allows data to be frequently collected, even during high-transport events like storms and floods, giving better records of the water quality. The goal of this capstone is to detail a pilot study project and complete a grant proposal to apply for the Jeffress Trust Awards Program in Interdisciplinary Research grant. The project in question will be a pilot study utilizing a proxy-model methodology using the deployment of many in-situ sensors to monitor and predict sediment and nutrient load in Hazel Run, a tributary of the Rappahannock River.

Apoptosis in Crithidia fasciculata

By Kaelynn Parker and Abigail Delapenha

Faculty mentor: Professor Swati Agrawal

Crithidia fasciculata belongs to a group of parasites called kinetoplastids that comprise many important human pathogens. Evidence of apoptosis has been found in these parasites with pathways that appear to be different than in mammalian cells. Therefore, careful characterization of these pathways can provide ways to manipulate parasite infection which could be used to create better treatments for these diseases. In this study, potential apoptosis genes conserved across all kinetoplastid parasites were identified using gene prediction programs in Tri-TrypDB and BLAST searches. Homologous genes were identified in C. fasciculata and a comprehensive q-PCR analysis showed differential upregulation upon induction of apoptosis. One of the genes significantly changed was Bax1 inhibitory gene (Bax1i), an inhibitor of the putative apoptosis promoting Bax1. In order to characterize this gene further we made gene modification constructs for tagging and gene deletion using the CRISPR-Cas-9 system. A homologous repair template was created for Bax1i using 500 bp homology arms and a drug resistance gene using a fusion PCR protocol. Constructs were made using both Puromycin and Blasticidin resistance genes. We have successfully created and optimized the fusion PCR protocol for generation of 3.5Kb drug repair cassettes. The same process was repeated for Phosphoglycerate mutase family member 5 (PGAM5). Drug selection trials using Puromycin found the optimum concentration of drug is 50 µg/mL. Blasticidin trials are still being performed. The optimization of the fusion PCR protocol and drug selection procedure, along with the identification of genes done in this project will be important for continuing work.


Carpe Diem and Consolation Horace’s Imitation and Manipulation of Greek Lyric Models

By Ruth Wilmot

Faculty Mentor: Professor Angela Pitts

This thesis examines the influence of Greek lyric, namely Sappho and Alcaeus, on Horace’s carpe diem poems. Horace imitates Greek lyric in themes and meter. He also imitates the structure of alternation scenes and injunction passed down in the lyric tradition from the poet Archilochus. However, Horace distinguishes himself by adding uniquely Roman elements and varying the tones of his speaker. He utilizes the variety of tones or perspectives in order to highlight the proper response to death, enjoying the symposium.


The Influence of Olfactory Stressors on Anxiety-like Behaviors (ALB) and Amygdalar Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) Levels in CD1 Mice

By Mary Zagrobelny, Bradley Torrington, Olayemi Fadahunsi, Laiba Murad

Faculty Mentor: Professor Parrish Waters

Cat odors serve as stressful stimuli for mice, leading to profound anxiety-like behaviors (ALB). These ALB are possibly the result of decreased brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels in the amygdala. Although the anxiogenic effects of cat odors have been established extensively, the relationship between long-term cat urine exposure and amygdalar BDNF levels has yet to be studied. To explore this relationship, we conducted a 21 day experimental study, in which mice were intermittently exposed to urine-soiled cat litter. Our study determined that long term intermittent cat urine exposure induced ALB in mice, which were negatively correlated with amygdalar BDNF levels. However, we observed no significant changes in the amygdalar BDNF levels in response to stress.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

By Siddhartha Rao

Faculty mentor: Professor Steve Greenlaw

The COVID-19 Pandemic has caused the worst economic decline since the Great Depression. Both President Trump and Biden have passed stimulus packages to get the economy to recovery as quickly as possible. Since these packages have just been implemented there is no way to know the possible long term impacts they will have on the economy. The ARRA stimulus package that was implemented in 2009 was the last stimulus package to be passed by the US Government before the COVID-19 pandemic. This makes it the best comparison point for the most recent stimulus packages. This paper aims to find out the effectiveness of the ARRA stimulus using two approaches. One uses simulations of increasing government spending to see the impact of increasing all of the stimulus while the other looks at the estimated economic impact of each program funded by the ARRA. The first approach found that if the stimulus was five times greater then the economy would have recovered by 2012. The second approach found putting more funding into programs with a higher chance of increasing economic activity could have closed the worst part of the recession only if all of the funding was used at once. These approaches help to give insight to what can make a stimulus more effective at setting the economy on a course for recovery.


Understanding Rural Healthcare in America: A General Survey of Rural Healthcare Systems

By Macy Justice

Faculty Mentor: Professor Tracy Citeroni

With the recent election and the current global pandemic, health care has been on the forefront of almost every political conversation in America. With discussions growing around populations and communities that face gaps in health care access, it is important to understand the barriers and gaps in rural health care systems. Nearly 20% of Americans live in rural areas, and rural communities face unique challenges to accessing healthcare systems compared to their urban counterparts. Understanding these unique challenges will allow for policies and initiatives targeted at rural communities to be more efficient and more effective. This presentation will perform a general survey of the rural healthcare system in America, analyzing how the word ‘rural’ is used and what barriers rural residents face in their attempts to access healthcare systems, in hopes that the audience will better be to understand and represent the challenges faced by rural healthcare systems and rural residents. To apply the findings from the survey of rural healthcare systems, a case study of McDowell County, West Virginia will take place, highlighting trends and barriers that all rural communities face in some way.

Lab Manual by a Lab Aide, for Lab Aides

By Theresa Vierow

Faculty Mentor: Professor Swati Agrawa

For my Capstone project, I created an online lab manual. My intention with this document is to provide guidance for future lab aides of BIOL 125 and BIOL 126 – the series of introductory honors biology classes referred to as Phage Hunters. This document is online for easy access when in the lab, and contains information on where to find needed materials for labs in the spring and fall, from wet labs to observational labs to bioinformatics. Also included in this lab manual is information I have picked up as a lab aide for three years that will not be immediately obvious to newcomers to the job.

Toxoplasma gondii SUB4 Gene Deletion Mutants and Their Viability in Host Cell Invasion

by John Asmus

Faculty mentor: Professor Swati Agrawal

Toxoplasma gondii is a microscopic parasitic protist. It is responsible for the disease toxoplasmosis which can cause severe health problems in immunocompromised individuals and babies whose mothers become infected while pregnant. T. gondii is an obligate intracellular parasite that can infect almost any warm-blooded mammal. Because of this, host cell invasion is a key function that T. gondii must perform. Vital to this process is a group of secretory organelles including rhoptries, micronemes, and dense granules. Research has shown that subtilisin-like proteases act in processing and cleaving certain sites on proteins associated with these secretory organelles. T. gondii has a set of 12 genes that code for these proteases. While much research has been done on SUB1 and SUB2, little to none has been done on other genes such as SUB4. To determine the vitality of SUB4 in T. gondii host-cell invasion, I am creating gene knockout mutants using CRISPR-cas9 and will observe their ability to invade mammalian fibroblast cells. I created a drug repair cassette by adding SUB4 homology arms to a drug marker amplified from pJET plasmid. I designed and am currently in the process of amplifying two sgRNAs that flank the gene on both 5′ and 3′ ends. Once these are constructed, I will transfect T. gondii ΔKU80 cells, which cannot perform nonhomologous end-joining repairs, with these vectors to knockout the SUB4 gene. Following drug selection and screening to determine if the parasites successfully recombined the SUB4 locus, I will characterize mutant parasites using microscopy and biochemical techniques. Finally, I will conduct invasion and egress assays to determine the ability of Toxoplasma gondii to invade host cells without expression of the SUB4 gene. I expect that they will invade the fibroblast cells but at a slower rate compared to the wild-type parasites, elucidating the role of SUB4.

Astronautics: The Physics of Space Flight

By Britteny Backus

Faculty Mentor: Professor Varun Makhija

Over the course of the semester, my professor and I have collected notes and did research on the book: Astronautics, The Physics of Space Flight. In general, I learned how to apply Newtons laws and the Laws of Thermodynamics to the physics of rockets. Taking simple equations such as, thrust force and the equation of rocket motion and applying them to abstract and complex situations to determine the ideal space flight path of a spacecraft. In this talk I will explain some fundamental concepts. More specifically I will discuss how the speed of gas exhausted from the rear of the rocket increases its forward momentum. In addition, I will discuss some of the details associated with achieving a high rocket speed. Many of the equations used are too complex to solve by hand and therefore a computer software is needed to find the solutions of these problems. However, these equations tell us how to make a rocket go fast and how to direct the energy for an ideal rocket launch.

Symbolic Methods in Synthesized Cryptosystems

By Dalton Chichester

Faculty Mentor: Professor Andrew Marshall

I will be giving a brief overview of recent, and I think, interesting work on applying automated reasoning to cryptography. In particular to the automatic generation and security proofs of cryptographic systems. As well as introduce a new tool which is an implementation of some of these methods.

by Sarah Riddell

Faculty mentor: Professor Jennifer Polack

ButterSpy is a butterfly identification website serving the Alexandria, VA area that invites the user to observe a butterfly and then enter observations they make. The website then checks the database of butterflies and returns all possible butterflies matching the information provided. The purpose of this project was to develop an online identification application that did not involve a camera as to remove the concept of instant gratification and make the user practice their observational skills. It is geared towards people who want to practice their identification skills but consider a field guide a too overwhelming place to start. This project was written in HTML/CSS for front-end development and PHP for back-end development. SQL was also used to communicate with the database, but the administration tool phpMyAdmin was used to do most of the database interactions. An algorithm had to be designed to conduct the search for butterflies in the database with column values that matched the user input. Users had the option to input primary color (required) and then a secondary color and/or the shape of the antennae. By using multiple nested if-then statements and logical operators, ButterSpy effectively conducts a search and accurately gives results. Through the process of developing ButterSpy, I increased my proficiency in HTML/CSS, PHP, SQL and JavaScript (though JS was not used in the final product.) Additionally, I was able to practice my time management and self discipline skills, about which I discovered have lots of room for improvement. The project is available for viewing at

Human Trafficking and the Kafala System

By Casey Johnson

Faculty Mentor: Professor Farhang Rouhani

For my Middle Eastern Studies Minor and Honors Program capstone, I studied the Kafala sponsorship system practiced within the Gulf states. The Kafala system is the state program that facilitates labor related immigration to these countries. The system requires a citizen or company within the country to act as a sponsor for an immigrant to be able to travel to the host state and become their employee. This sponsor-employee relationship has specific legal obligations laid out by the state. The sponsor becomes responsible for the residential, medical, and legal wellbeing of the employee. The employee, in return, fulfills various work projects that have been contractually agreed upon. The Kafala system sees immigrants employed in various sectors; however, I focused solely on female immigrants employed in the domestic sector by individual citizens. The problem I argued is that the Kafala system has fostered a new form of contemporary slavery and has increased the likelihood of human trafficking within the region. I believe this topic is important for further study to create greater awareness of the issue. The emphasis of more popular and internationally recognized human rights abuses in the Middle East has, like other regions of the world, has facilitated a situation where the abuses taking place under the Kafala system are not as known or understood. It is also important as the states where abuses are taking place are often seen as economic powerhouses and have close ties to the West compared to other countries in the region. Additionally, I thought this topic was equally as important as it has implications beyond the borders of countries within the Middle East. The issue of human rights regarding immigration is a global problem, particularly for immigrants who come from the Global South and lack the agency to advocate for their own rights. I felt that it was important to cover a topic that had greater meaning beyond a few countries in one region of the world.


Catechism and Constitution: The Role of Faith in Recusal on the Supreme Court

By Hanna Carey

Faculty Mentor: Professor Emile Lester

This project explores the role of Catholicism on the decisions of Supreme Court Justices in capital, high-profile cases, and what role religion plays on recusal of Justices from the Court. The research covers Catholic doctrines and teachings on capital punishment (among other life-or-death issue areas) and the different interpretations thereof. It also explores the influx of Catholic and Christian members of the Supreme Court and how the want to universalize and evangelize can put pressure on high-profile members of the Church in their secular jobs. It includes works from Catholic Church leaders and prominent decisions on capital cases decided by a heavily Catholic bench. In a culmination of looking at different ideas of morality and responsibility of a trials judge versus an appellate court, along with modern and traditional interpretations of Scripture, it concludes that religion is still not a preexisting condition or vested conflict of interest. While the No Religious Test Clause indicates that it is unconstitutional for a judge to be disqualified solely on their faith, it is unfair for the parties in a trial to be subject to a significantly altered Supreme Court bench because of personal interpretations of religion. If one’s religion will keep a Justice from carrying out their position on the Court in certain issue areas simply because of the subject matter, then the Justice cannot carry out their duties to the highest court in the land.

The Effect of Cultural Relevance of a Text on the Comprehension of 4th Graders

by Sabine Wills

Faculty Mentor: Professor Courtney Clayton

This study investigates if the cultural relevance of texts as rated by students has an effect on their comprehension scores of those same texts. The literature suggests that there might be a connection between comprehension to culturally relevant texts, especially in students who are underrepresented in children’s literature in general. This study was performed in a virtual classroom and consisted of reading aloud picture books to fourth graders in a low-income school twice a week over five weeks. After each read aloud, three students were assessed on their perception of the cultural relevance of the book and their comprehension of the text. These students were randomly selected for a purposeful sampling while the rest of the class worked on an ungraded independent activity. The comprehension of the text was assessed using written retellings and the cultural relevance was measured with a Likert scale. Each fourth grader’s responses resulted in different correlations between the cultural relevance and comprehension scores for all the stories. This could be due to several reasons, including the exposure that some of those students have to seeing themselves reflected in children’s literature. This is based on the predictability power of certain questions within the culturally relevant survey. Cultural relevance did show a correlation for students who were historically underrepresented in children’s literature. This shows a need for more diversity in children’s literature to be accessible and inclusive to more students.