2008-2009 Honors Projects

Student Name: Amanda Albanese

Academic Major: Biology

Project Title: Induction of Cytochrome P4501A in Little Skate (Leucoraja Erinacea)

Advisor: Dr. Rebeka Merson, Biology Dept

Summary: The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) is an intracellular transcription factor that regulates many genes, including cytochrome P450 1A (CYP1A), following exposure to environmental contaminants such as polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins, PCBs and PAHs. These compounds are globally-distributed pollutants, which are toxic at low doses and linked to deleterious health effects in humans and wildlife. We use little skate (Leucoraja erinacea) to determine their susceptibility to dioxin-like compounds and to explore using skates as environmental models for toxicology. To describe the responsiveness of skates exposed to AHR agonists, CYP1A mRNA levels, protein levels and enzyme activity were quantified by real-time PCR, western blotting and EROD analysis, respectively from tissue of skates exposed to B-naphthoflavone (BNF) and skates captured in Boston Harbor, Massachusetts, at a site polluted with PCBs and PAHs. Expression levels of CYP1A mRNA and protein are highly variable; however, levels in skates treated with BNF and those sampled at Boston Harbor were higher than control skates. This study has shown the potential for environmental induction of CYP1A through exposure of little skates to AHR agonists. These results provide important information about the impacts of environmental contaminants on cartilaginous fishes, a group of organisms that are ecologically and economically important.
Student Name: Austin Allen

Academic Major: English/Creative Writing

Project Title: Objects in Motion (a collection of poems)

Advisor: Dr. Cathleen Calbert, English
Student Name: Stephen Burke

Academic Major: Justice Studies

Project Title: Effectiveness of Rhode Island Adult Drug Court

Advisor: Dr. Pamela Irving Jackson, Sociology

Summary: This study investigates the effectiveness of the Rhode Island Adult Drug Court. It examines the impact of the treatment modalities offered by the Drug Court on participants' likelihood of graduating successfully from the program. Anonymous, public data on the 71 participants in the Rhode Island Adult Drug Court during the 2005-6 court cycle provided the basis for the study. Data examined include clients' demographic characteristics, the type of offense for which each was charged (drug related or non-drug related), and also the type of treatment in which the participant was engaged at the beginning of his or her participation in the program. The study uses cross-tabulation, correlation and logistic regression analysis to evaluate the impact of client characteristics and court ordered treatment modalities on the likelihood of clients' graduation or failure from the program. The results suggest that outpatient treatment had the most consistent positive effect leading to the highest number of graduates. The Rhode Island Adult Drug Court Program seems to work best for those clients who came into the court specifically because of a drug offense, not because of other offenses that were a consequence of their drug habit. Men were more positively impacted by the program than were women; and blacks were not as well served by the program as non-blacks. The implications of these results are considered and contextualized through an interview with an experienced clinical coordinator responsible for administering the bio-psycho-social assessment instrument used to identify potential candidates for the Rhode Island Adult Drug Court Program.
Student Name: Shawn Bolduc

Academic Major: Music

Project Title: The Music of Richard Rogers

Advisor: Lila Kane, B.A., Music, Theatre, & Dance
Student Name: Carolyn Brunelle

Academic Major: Music

Project Title: The Rocky Horror Picture Show: The Film and Its Cultural Content

Advisor: Frederick Scheff, D.M.A, Music, Theatre, & Dance
Student Name: Andrew Cate

Academic Major: Film Studies

Project Title: 'New' Hollywood Narratives: An Analysis of Boogie Nights and Magnolia

Advisor: Dr. Vincent Bohlinger, English

Summary: This thesis focuses on the ensemble films of Hollywood filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson. Both Boogie Nights (1997) and Magnolia (1999) involve large casts of characters with interweaving storylines, and in my study I contrast Boogie Nights, an ensemble film with a singular central protagonist, with Magnolia, an ensemble film with no central protagonist. I discuss how Anderson's filmmaking choices seemingly divert from the typical Hollywood narrative format, so much so that his storytelling style is often classified as part of a 'New Hollywood' narrative trend. While New Hollywood narratives do appear to veer from the format of the conventional, or 'classical,' Hollywood narrative, I demonstrate that such narratives are not fundamentally different from the range of classical narratives that has dominated the film industry since its inception. I examine Anderson's use of crosscutting and other editing techniques to explore issues related to time and space within each film's narrative. I analyze how Anderson utilizes various editing conventions in order to not only accentuate the mood of individual scenes, but also sustain such emotional intensity across the narrative.
Student Name: Nicole Gadbois

Academic Major: Biology

Project Title: Expression of Three Novel Alternative Splice Forms of UFD2A During Zebrafish Development

Advisor: Dr. Sarah Spinette, Biology

Summary: Ufd2a is a ubiquitylation enzyme that is involved in protein degradation. It is known to be critical to cell division and may also participate in apoptosis signaling in vertebrates. Ufd2a is most widely expressed in a form which includes exons 1-6 and 8-27 (referred to here as Ufd2a I). However, data has shown that cardiac and skeletal muscle cells of adult rodents and humans express alternatively spliced isoforms, Ufd2a II and III (which include exons 7 and exons 7 and 7a, respectively). In addition, Ufd2a I, the ubiquitous form, has been found to be expressed in murine myoblasts. However, upon differentiation, myotubes began to express Ufd2a II followed by Ufd2a III. Moreover, fully differentiated myofibers expressed Ufd2a III exclusively. Interestingly, when Ufd2a was knocked out in mice, embryos died in utero due to massive cardiomyocyte apoptosis. Since zebrafish are an ideal in vivo model organism for the study of skeletal and cardiac muscle development, we have begun to examine the expression pattern of the three Ufd2a isoforms in developing embryos and adult tissues.
Student Name: Chuck Galli

Academic Major: African and African American Studies

Project Title: Hip-Hop Futurism: Remixing Afrofuturism and the Hermeneutics of Identity

Advisor: Dr. Paul Saucier, Sociology

Summary: Explores some futurist hip-hop artists and their works and examines their predecessors in the Afrofuturist, surrealist, and postmodern traditions. Seeks to explain how hip-hop, through its modes of production, creates new ways of interpreting identity in the future. Afrofuturism is turned to as the pre-dating theory which manifested the themes of jubilee over utopia and of process rather than finished product being the source of identity - both of which inform futuristic hip-hop artists.
Student Name: Michael Harris

Academic Major: Justice Studies

Project Title: Stress and Gender: A Study of Retention and Promotion Issues among Rhode Island Police Officers

Advisor: Dr. Jill Hume Harrison, Sociology
Student Name: Christopher Harrigan

Academic Major: Nursing

Project Title: Recommendations for Providing Competent Nursing Care to Individuals with Pervasive Developmental Disorders and Their Families

Advisor: Patricia Malloy, M.S., Nursing
Student Name: Lisa Johnson

Academic Major: Secondary Education in History

Project Title: The Disney Strike of 1941, From the Animators' Perspective

Advisor: Dr. Robert Cvornyek, History

Summary: This study identifies and explores the tensions that led to the Disney Strike of 1941. The main goal of this paper is to demonstrate that this strike exhibited different problems than what was typical of strikes during the 1930s and early 1940s. There are clear indications that the animation industry experienced different problems in comparison with most industries of the time with regard to issues of intellectual property rights, screen credit, and professional differences over standards of excellence. Intrusive management practices contributed to tensions between workers and exacerbated conflict on the shop floor. There was also a growing sense of disparity between management and the workers, particularly as the Disney Studio expanded. These points of contention are not seen within the traditional historiography pertaining to the Disney Studios or Disney himself, but are seen within the reflections of animators themselves. These are problems that are more common in more recent labor history. Chapter One presents a narrative of the strike itself. Chapter Two addresses the question: Why is this strike different? Chapter Three scrutinizes the most recent historiography and questions its current validity. The Afterword explores the various roadblocks to the researching process with regard to this particular topic.
Student Name: Serena Kankash

Academic Major: Biology

Project Title: Localization of Ufd2a Transcripts in Adult and Fry Zebrafish

Advisor: Dr. Sarah Spinette, Biology

Summary: Critical inquiry concerning biological pathways is crucial when attempting to understand how living systems function. Like a jigsaw puzzle, pieces must be successively investigated and then combined to comprehend the larger picture. Examining the spacio-temporal expression of the three alternative splice forms of Ufd2a, an enzyme involved in protein degradation, may only be one piece to how life functions at the cellular level, but understanding its novel roles, specifically in muscle development, will help to envision the grand scheme. Using zebrafish as a model organism, in situ hybridization techniques were employed on tissue sections to investigate where and when Ufd2a is expressed.
Student Name: Kelsey Kanoff

Academic Major: Criminal Justice/Sociology

Project Title: Careers in Corrections: Perceptions from the Inside

Advisor: Dr. Jill Harrison, Sociology Department

Summary: This research provides a unique insight into correctional officers and their work. It examines their perceptions on recruitment, retention, and promotion processes within the Rhode Island Department of Corrections. In this systematic random sample of n = 45, I examine the extent to which gender, and to a lesser degree race, impact officers at all three stages of their career. I find that although male and female correctional officers hold similar views on issues that can affect recruitment, retention, and promotion, answers vary from sexual harassment, credibility in the promotional process, and coworker support. White male officers have higher levels of job satisfaction and tend to agree with current promotion practices more than women and officers of color. Female officers are more likely to report sexual harassment, and officers of color and women tend to recognize the importance of coworker support on and off the job. Although much progress has been made toward diversity and equity, this study shows that female officers and officers of color still face barriers that are linked to this historically white male field of law enforcement.

Student Name: Kimberly Kent

Academic Major: Psychology

Project Title: Racial Differences in Food Shopping Behavior: An Observational Study

Advisor: Dr. David Sugarman, Psychology

Student Name: Caitlin Laboissoniere

Academic Major: Justice Studies and Sociology

Project Title: How to Make After School Programs Work

Advisor: Dr. Mikaila Mariel Lemonik Arthur, Sociology

Summary: This study explores the factors that make a high school after school program successful. Eight programs from five states participated in the study by completing a voluntary survey in 2009. Student input and passionate staff were reported as being important in a majority of the programs. Fifty percent of the programs were categorized as being a success due to their fulfillment of at least two of the four factors used to measure success. The results of the analyses point to the types of activities available to teen participants as being the most important aspect to ensure the success of an after school program.
Student Name: Caitlin Lantagne

Academic Major: Sociology

Project Title: What Qualities Do Parents Value in Their Children? A Revision of Earlier Findings

Advisor: Dr. Roger Clark, Sociology

Summary: In this paper I examine what qualities parents have valued in their children since 1986. When I looked at research that has been done during much of the 20th century, I found that there had been trends away from valuing obedience in children and toward valuing autonomy, but that no one had examined whether these trends had continued over the last twenty years. I used General Social Survey data to determine whether these trends still obtained, controlling for other variables (such as social class, religion, race, sex, and age) that had been found to be associated with what qualities parents value in their children. I found that autonomy was no longer increasingly valued by parents in their children during period from 1986 to 2006, and that the trend away from valuing obedience had also slowed dramatically. Other determining factors, like social class and religion, however, continue to shape whether parents will value obedience and autonomy in their children.
Student Name: Melissa LeBlanc

Academic Major: Elementary Education/Special Education

Project Title: Synthesizing Synthesis: A Unique Step Beyond Summary

Advisor: Dr. James Barton, Elementary Education

Summary: My senior honors project is about synthesis and how teachers can incorporate it into their classrooms. Synthesis is often referred to as a higher order thinking skill or a reading comprehension strategy that more advanced thinkers/learners master. I believe everyone has the ability to synthesize. I also argue that synthesis goes beyond the classroom and can be applied in everyday life. When you synthesize, you do more than just summarize information, you generalize to create your own unique interpretations of newly learned information. When you generalize you connect what you have just taken in with your prior knowledge, as well as other viewpoints, culture environments, stereotypes, and emotional reactions. In other words, when you synthesize you gather disperse parts and link them together to form a whole picture. I worked on this project throughout my junior and senior year with the help of my advisor, Dr. J. Barton. I created my own model of what I think synthesis looks like and how it works. During my study, I surveyed eleven professionals to find out how they define synthesis and how they use it in their fields/careers and everyday lives. I then took the results from my survey and compared these findings to my model. This process helped me consider ways I could teach students/thinkers to synthesize.
Student Name: Jennifer Magaw

Academic Major: Women's Studies and Political Science

Project Title: Abstinence-Only Education in the United States: A Case Study of Federally Funded Discourse in Sex Respect

Advisor: Dr. Lesley Bogad, Educational Studies and Women's Studies

Summary: In this paper, I examine the ways in which the author of Sex Respect, a federally-funded abstinence-only textbook for teens, speaks to students and uses language in order to frame concepts of sexuality, responsibility, and normalcy. Textbooks, just like television, magazines, and other elements of popular culture, have meaning to their consumers. This meaning informs the choices we make and the way we view ourselves, others around us, and the world. When one message in particular is being funded by the government, the personal issue of meaning becomes political as well. Programs such as Sex Respect exemplify how a federally funded abstinence-only program goes beyond restricting the discussion of birth control, but teaches students to uphold traditional standards of gender and sexuality as well. Therefore, I demonstrate in this paper that such programs not only create a public health problem by supplying students with factually incorrect information, but also have a profound role in identity formation that is discriminatory against students who break gender norms; such programs, federally funded and therefore federally approved, are ultimately harmful to students and are not at all effective in reaching program goals.
Student Name: Katherine Nadeau

Academic Major: English

Project Title: Jane Austen's Persuasion: A Study in Literary History

Advisor: Dr. Stephen Brown, English

Summary: From a scholarly perspective, literary Romanticism is currently in crisis. This crisis began in the early twentieth century, and has manifested itself in various ways through the present. Temporal boundaries, genre, defining characteristics, and canon are all at issue in the debate, and matters are so complicated that some have even rejected the idea of Romanticism entirely as either a useful or accurate category for literary criticism or history. To explore this crisis, I turn to late-eighteenth-century British novelist Jane Austen, whose critical history lends itself to gaining an understanding of the study of Romanticism, both past and present. In looking at Austen's critical reception, and more specifically in looking at her novel Persuasion in relation to that of a more generally accepted Romantic author, Jane Eyre, the work of Austen's fellow (and disapproving) British novelist Charlotte Brontë, I not only attempt to shed light on the current state of Romantic studies, but also to demonstrate that while Romanticism may be a fluid and evolving concept, it is nevertheless a fascinating and a useful one.
Student Name: Casey Pellerin

Academic Major: English

Project Title: Putting the Spotlight on Smaug

Advisor: Dr. Russell Potter, English

Summary: This project looks at Smaug from The Hobbit. Using Tolkien's other stories, critical writing, personal experiences, and other dragons in literature, I examine how Smaug was created and determine his role within the story. I also examine how Smaug fits into the literature of dragons - how he fits into the traditional dragon mold and how he breaks it. Because Smaug is not a typical dragon - evil and set on destroying the world, or at least part of it - but a thinking, feeling creature capable of responding to his environment with a logical response, one who has expectations regarding himself and the world around him and whose role is significant and necessary to the story.
Student Name: Melissa Phillips

Academic Major: Chemistry - B.A.

Project Title: Basis set effects on AB initio calculations of intermolecular interactions in anisotropic dispersive systems

Advisor: Dr. Glênisson de Oliveira, Physical Science Department

Summary: The hydrogen sulfide - argon dimer was a case study of how basis sets affect quantum mechanical results. The calculations were compared to experimental data from spectroscopic data to examine whether the modifications to the basis set were either an improvement or not. This system was selected because it is highly dispersive and anisotropic. Other methods we developed recently were applied to this system to see how widely applicable they were. A scheme that was useful for those systems was truncation, which turned to be not as accurate. This showed that the method was less effective in representing high order dispersion terms that contributed significantly to the total interaction in H2S-Ar. The uncontraction schemes yielded better results. There was one lower level approach (second order Møller Plesset theory [MP2] using a triple zeta basis set) that mimicked the upper level (MP2 using a quadruple zeta set) however the well was shallower for the lower level, which may negatively affect the dynamics, and it is yet to be determined whether that will be the case. Deficiencies in potential energy reported in the literature were mostly due to basis set incompleteness.
Student Name: Roxanne Roca

Academic Major: Music

Project Title: Moral Ambiguity in Contemporary Musicals

Advisor: Lila Kane, B.A., Music, Theatre, & Dance
Student Name: Kiely Schultz

Academic Major: Biology

Project Title: Species vs. Height as Predictors of Increased Growth Rate in New England Canopy Trees

Advisor: Dr. Roland de Gouvenain, Biology

Summary: This study is part of a larger study on the effect of an experimentally-created gap on adult canopy trees. The results of a non-linear regression model showed that within ten meters of the gap edge the tree species that showed the greatest significant growth response to the gap was Acer saccharum (sugar maple), a shade tolerant species. My question was whether this response in growth rate was due to a species effect or due to a height effect. Tree radial growth response to the gap was calculated for a total of fifty trees within all four transects next to an experimentally- created large gap. A two-way ANOVA was conducted with the predictors being species and height class, and the response being tree radial growth. A two- way ANOVA was also conducted with the same predictors and response, but with data for only trees within the first ten meters from the gap. The results of both two-way ANOVAs showed that species was a predictor of tree radial growth response and that height was not. Thus, it appears that whether a tree is of canopy or subcanopy height does not affect its radial growth response to a gap. However, the species of a tree does affect its radial growth response.
Student Name: Dianne Schuman

Academic Major: BFA Studio Art (Ceramics)

Project Title: Using The Directional Characteristics of Soda Firing to Unify the Elements of Sets of Ceramic Pouring Vessels

Advisor: Bryan Steinberg, MFA, Art

Summary: For this project I examined the effects that soda firing has on ceramic vessela and how it can be used to enhance glaze surfaces. I than used what I learned about the nature of atmospheric firing to unify sets into a cohesive whole.
Student Name: Kian Shenfield

Academic Major: Mathematics

Project Title: Irreducible elements in the integers modulo n

Advisor: Dr. Kovac Raimundo, Mathematics

Summary: In certain commutative rings of integers modulo n, there exist elements that can only be expressed as a product involving a unit in the ring (meaning an element whose product with another element yields the multiplicative identity). Different rings have different sets of units and irreducible elements, whose patterns are studied in this project. It was observed that determining what the irreducible elements in a ring are depends on the prime factorization of n, and also relates to the equivalence relation of associativity, or mutual divisibility.
Student Name: Nicholas Urban

Academic Major: Psychology

Project Title: The Relationships of Cell Phone Use, Academic Self-Regulation, GPA, Happiness, & Loneliness

Advisor: Dr. Joan Rollins, Psychology

Summary: The use of cellular phones has increased dramatically in recent years. To understand experiences of cell phone use among college students, 190 undergraduate students (142 women and 48 men) completed a self-report questionnaire. In addition to GPA and questions pertaining to cell phone use, previously validated scales measuring problem cell phone use, academic self-regulation, happiness, and loneliness were included. Correlational analyses revealed that time spent talking/text messaging on a cell phone was negatively correlated with GPA. Women spent more time talking and text messaging on cell phones and had higher problem cell phone use scores than did men. Academic self-regulation was positively correlated with GPA and happiness. Negative correlations were found for loneliness and talking/text messaging and for loneliness and academic self-regulation. Implications of these findings are discussed and suggestions for future research are offered.

Student Name: Tyler Zalobowski

Academic Major: Biology

Project Title: Mechanism of Transcript Diversity of Shark Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor 2 (AHR2)

Advisor: Dr. Rebeka Merson, Biology

Student Name: Julie Zanni

Academic Major: Anthropology

Project Title: Rape myths as cultural mandate and their impact on the recovery of sexual assault victims

Advisor: Dr. Mary Baker, Anthropology

Summary: In this paper, I examine the relationships among societal and cultural perceptions of rape, as disseminated through rape myths and media images, and the ability of rape victims to recover from their attacks and subsequent psychological injuries. How do our thoughts about rape affect the recovery of rape victims? What problems arise through this treatment of rape, and how can they be solved or avoided? If a victim's response to her rape diverges from the model suggested by rape myths, she may not be taken seriously or may not be considered to have suffered psychologically. If a victim responds in the culturally "appropriate" way, her recovery may be hindered or even prevented. I argue that rape trauma can be aggravated by the existence and prevalence of culturally prescribed responses.

Page last updated: Jan. 28, 2013