SCARF Presentation Abstracts 2023

Art & Art History

Hannah Durham, How did the landscape of southern Appalachia govern life and the characteristics of traditional craft found within the region?

How did the landscape of southern Appalachia govern life and the characteristics of traditional craft found within the region, and to what capacity did this drive the narrative for women throughout Appalachia’s history.


Bonnie Elander, Discovering Iconographic Links in a Perpetual Silver Covenant Chain: Eighteenth-Century Portraits of Hodinöhsö:ni׳ Diplomats from British North America

Eighteenth-century portraiture of Haudenosaunee sachems (chieftains) by North American and European artists represents the socio-political ideology of a Silver Covenant Chain linking reciprocal treaties between their League and colonial nations. This covenant chain regulated policies of intercultural exchanges, particularly between the Haudenosaunee and the British. As a “living” doctrine, it was formed organically to respect traditions, beliefs, and governments while maintaining autonomy for both indigenous and European groups. Scholars note that such Northeastern Woodland heritage principles often materialize as tangible threads of mnemonic wampum designs. However, little to no research acknowledges how a small group of eighteenth-century portraits also reflect the Silver Covenant Chain and its relationship to Six Nations indigenous worldviews of peace, friendship, and loyalty. Analyzing a group of six artworks from 1710 to 1796, this paper establishes patterns of chieftain iconography revealing a progression of sachem agency, characterizations, and cultural authenticity. Portraits in this analysis include; Hendrick Teoniaghigarawe, Nicholas Etowaucum, Hendrick Peters Theyanoquin, David Karonghyontye, Joseph Brant Thayendanegea, and John O’Bail Gayёtwahgeh. Symbolic ethnographic artifacts in the paintings as well as letters and diplomatic speeches related to the chieftains speak to the duality of war and peace within alliances, shedding light on historic conflicts that factored into these portraits and New York’s changing geo-political landscape. Previous Eurocentric categorization of the portraits’ subjects as exotic subordinates disregards the significance that each artwork held as an illustration of Covenant Chain diplomacy. In contrast, this study of First Nations portraiture reveals a visual language of ongoing renewal within the covenant chain that demonstrates each portrait’s value to transnational relationships.



Claudia Prieto Alcaide, Genetic Diversity Within, and Hybridization Between, Two Imperiled North American Pitcher Plants

Habitat loss, environmental modification, and direct exploitation have led to many plant species becoming rare or endangered. These activities have also reduced population genetic diversity, which significantly influences the ability to adapt to environmental shifts. Sarracenia species (North American pitcher plants) are rare, perennial carnivorous plants typically found in bogs with acidic, nutrient poor soils. Sarracenia jonesii (Mountain Sweet Pitcher Plant; federally endangered) and Sarracenia purpurea var. montana (Mountain Purple Pitcher Plant; federal species of concern) co-occur in some habitats, and the presence of phenotypic intermediates in these sites led researchers to suspect that hybridization has occurred. Although the intermediates have morphological traits of both Sarracenia jonesii and Sarracenia purpurea var. montana, this potential hybridization had not been investigated with molecular genetic tools. In addition, the diversity of parental populations remains unclear. The purpose of this research was to determine levels of genetic diversity in populations of these rare plants, then confirm or deny hybridization between the species. Tissue samples from the two Sarracenia species and their potential hybrids were non-destructively collected from three western North Carolina sites, and DNA was extracted. Two sets of informative microsatellite loci were used to analyze DNA extracts; one indicated population level diversity, while the other determined hybrid ancestry. Fragment analysis was used to assess allele sizes, and results were analyzed with the polysat and poppr packages in R. Genetic diversity within populations was relatively high, though it varied among sites and species. Phenotypic hybrids had alleles from both parental species. Hybrids overrepresented ancestry of the less common species at their sites of origin, perhaps due to pollinator behaviors. Results will help conservation biologists preserve both discrete species and make management decisions, particularly during plants’ reproductive seasons.


Jackson Coker, Gennie Bassett, Role of a dinucleotide signaling molecule in Staphylococcus aureus pathogenesis

The bacterial pathogen Staphylococcus aureus is a substantial threat to public health, and a better understanding of how it causes disease could lead to new treatment strategies. We investigated how the signaling molecule diadenosine tetraphosphate (Ap4A) contributes to pathogenic traits of S. aureus. We found that elevated Ap4A levels increase S. aureus susceptibility to the immune effector nitric oxide and decrease the ability of S. aureus to form biofilms (bacterial communities with enhanced immune and antibiotic resistance). Our current work aims to uncover the mechanisms that link Ap4A signaling with these phenotypes and explore the potential of this signaling network for future drug targeting.


Cassius Guthrie, Population Dynamics of the Lesser Chestnut Weevil in the Northeastern United States

The goal of this project is to examine population dynamics of C. sayi through genetic analysis to establish sources of origin, rates of population dispersal, and human impact on population spread. Combined with previous data on chestnut weevil phenology, this analysis will provide insight into population variation as well as potential species divergence of C. sayi in the Northeastern United States.


Ari Puentes, Effects of Prescribed Fires on Mycorrhizal Fungal Communities in DuPont State Recreational Forest

Fungi are often overlooked when planning forest management practices such as prescribed fires, but fungal communities are incredibly important to ecosystem health. Almost all trees have been found to rely on mutualistic fungal symbionts, known as mycorrhizal fungi. This study investigated the effects of prescribed fire on mycorrhizal fungi in Dupont State Recreational Forest in western North Carolina. Prescribed burn units in mixed oak-pine communities that differed only in the time since they were last burned (unburned, 1, 2, and 13 years) were surveyed monthly from June to September 2022. Surveys consisted of photographing, counting, collecting specimens, and taking notes on all mycorrhizal fungi found within the three 0.1 ha2 research plots per burn unit. Field collection was done by citizen scientists from the Asheville Mushroom Club and UNC Asheville student volunteers. The collected specimens were brought back to the lab for identification and detailed descriptions before they were preserved. Shannon-Weaver diversity index, species richness, and community composition were calculated and compared between burn units. There were no statistically significant differences in any of the diversity indices between the burn units, though the recently burned areas had higher diversity and higher richness than the unburned ones. There were different communities present in the recently burned and unburned areas indicating that certain species react more to fire than others. These preliminary data encourage further research so that forest management methods can take the mycorrhizal fungal communities into account. Viable specimens with DNA barcodes were deposited into the newly created UNC Asheville Fungarium. This information was digitized on the UNC Asheville Fungarium Mycology Collection Portal (MyCoPortal) and uploaded to iNaturalist. The results of this project provide many resources for citizen scientists, students, and researchers to utilize for continued mycological research


Chemistry & Biochemistry

Vesper Fraunfelter, Heterologous expression of Pseudomonas aeruginosa ATP synthase in E. coli to facilitate antibiotic discovery

Bacterial multidrug resistance (MDR) is a prevalent and increasing threat, necessitating the constant development of new antibiotics, preferably with novel mechanisms of action to avoid existing resistance. Targeting the bioenergetic pathways of bacteria has shown promise in overcoming drug-resistance, as demonstrated by the diarylquinoline bedaquiline, which is effective against the ATP synthase of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Expanding on this strategy, we are screening drug candidates to identify effective inhibitors of the ATP synthase of Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA), an opportunistic, Gram-negative pathogen that already exhibits MDR in the clinic. To facilitate the design and testing of new inhibitors, we constructed a plasmid to express PA F1Fo ATP synthase in Escherichia coli. The plasmid, pASH20, derived from the ampicillin-resistant vector pBR322, contains the PA ATP synthase (atp) operon under the control of the native E. coli atp (unc) promoter and encodes an affinity tag on the N-terminus of the beta subunit to facilitate future F1Fo purification. Expression of functional ATP synthase was verified by growth of transformant E. coli on succinate minimal medium. Additionally, inverted membrane vesicles prepared from transformant E. coli showed in vitro ATP synthesis and hydrolysis activities. Successful expression of PA ATP synthase from pASH20 enables future mutagenesis and purification experiments to aid in the design of effective antibiotics targeting PA bioenergetics.


Casey Kellogg, Two-tiered approach to combating antibiotic resistance

Antibiotic resistance in Gram-negative bacteria is exacerbated due to decreased antibiotic development and accumulation issues. Prior research has shown that natural products and their derivatives account for 73% of approved antibacterial agents between 1981 and 2014 due to their unique structural motifs. When under a competitive environment with minimal media conditions, non-pathogenic rhizosphere soil bacteria possess the ability produce novel natural products in co-culture. It has also been demonstrated that antibiotic accumulation in Gram-negative bacteria is increased with the addition of guanidinylated functional groups. Herein, a two-fold approach to combating antibiotic resistance using natural product isolation and adjuvant-antibiotic hybrids will be discussed.


Bryce Pugh, Development of cleavable antibiotic-adjuvant hybrid compounds for increased accumulation in gram-negative bacteria

For decades antibiotics have been synthesized and modified as we try to evade their inevitable loss of efficacy due to the increasingly severe health crisis of antibiotic resistance. Developing new methods of overcoming resistance mechanisms in bacteria is an essential approach to combatting this crisis. Gram-negative bacteria are specifically difficult to treat, one reason being that they contain a negatively charged lipopolysaccharide outer membrane (OM). The OM has low permeability and often prevents antibiotics from accumulating within the bacteria. This research uses a novel approach with adjuvants and cleavable linkers to allow for selective release of unaltered antibiotics while improving accumulation. Here, we describe the synthesis and evaluation of a series of antibiotic-adjuvant hybrid compounds for their ability to act as antibiotics against wild-type Escherichia coli (EC) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA). Previous work in the Wolfe lab has generated a series of novel adjuvants capable of potentiating various antibiotics in wild-type EC and PA and will be used for the hybrid synthesis. The hybrids are being synthesized using a cleavable carbamate or urea linker which will be cleaved via esterase hydrolysis in the periplasm. Upon synthesis, the antibiotic-adjuvant hybrid compounds will be evaluated in vitro using a variety of assays including cell death and accumulation assays. The findings of this research are expected to lead to a lower dosage of antibiotics needed to achieve the same level of cell death, renewed activity among antibiotics facing resistance, and progress towards a novel method of antibiotic development.


Sam Shepard, Negative charge disrupts the chemical microenvironment of the H+ exit channel in Escherichia coli ATP synthase

In order to sustain life, cells must generate and utilize the high energy molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP). An essential protein, ATP synthase, is responsible for synthesizing ATP, and is ubiquitous in living organisms. F1Fo ATP synthase is located in the cell membranes of prokaryotes or the energy converting organelles of eukaryotes, and utilizes a rotary mechanism to generate ATP. Rotation is driven by proton movement through the Fo motor, where protons bind to the membrane-embedded c-ring and move down their electrochemical gradient. The resulting torque is then transferred through the central stalk to drive conformational changes in the F1 catalytic region to catalyze ATP synthesis. Understanding how the protons enter and exit binding sites on the c-ring is key to understanding the mechanism of Fo. Previous work identified the subunit c Arg50 and Thr51 residues, which form part of the H+ exit channel, as potentially important for function. Here, to elucidate chemical characteristics required in this region, we constructed 11 mutants and probed their in vitro ATP synthesis and H+ pumping activities. We found that introducing a negative charge in this region disrupts both functions, suggesting that the altered chemical microenvironment in the H+ exit channel may disrupt key ionic interactions or protonation events that facilitate H+ exit.


Computer Science

Luke Foster, Caleb Styles, Cameron Martensen, Gilbert Matos, and Lake Smith, Fleet Management System

The students, in collaboration with Prof. Rashid in Computer Science and Prof. Muthukrishnan in Engineering, are developing a Fleet Management System. The system is designed for an organization such as a college to manage a fleet of vehicles. They are “upcycling” an old golf cart with a battery system and electronics and they are developing an interface for administrators and users for reserving vehicles and tracking the vehicles’ locations and attributes such as remaining battery charge.


Matthew Kothe, uMaxEnt Deep Learning

Under the direction of Prof. Bogert, Matthew is studying deep learning (a form of machine learning) and uncertainty in artificial intelligence. Using image recognition as a test case, he demonstrates by using synthetic data as the training set that a popular deep learning model fails to accurately approximate the true distribution of the data. This is because there is a “hidden dependency”, namely, the training set distribution. By properly accounting for the hidden dependency, his project demonstrates that it can produce the best possible model, improving current known methods.



MJ Gamelin, Theatre of Play: Exploring the Intersection Between Drama and Roleplay Gaming

A poster presentation outlining an experiential LARP/theatre workshop where participants improv as pre-determined characters interacting with one another in-character, solving puzzles, and working together to uncover a mystery.


Brónagh O’Shea, Elektra Properties Design

I will be presenting a poster presentation on the design plan for the MainStage production of Elektra.


Maggie Schall, Theatrical Makeup Aging

I will have two different examples of how I did an aging up makeup look on two different skin tones. I will have the process broken down and also talk about the importance of diversifying our understanding of makeup and skin tones.


Various Students, Scene from Elektra

A short scene from the upcoming production of Elektra.



Jacob Diehn, Differences in Category of Immigrant on Economic Assimilation Rates

Since the early 1970s, the rate of immigration into the United States has been rapidly increasing. Many of the immigrants entering the U.S. are attempting to escape violence, poverty and other hardships. Those who are highly skilled and educated are searching for growth opportunities within their careers, but one commonality among all immigrants is the desire to increase their earning potential. The earnings of immigrants in the U.S., particularly low- skilled immigrants, tend to be initially much lower than their native counterparts, and it can take up to 15 years to reach the level of a native worker (Friedberg, 1992). The rate at which immigrant wages reach that of natives is called the assimilation rate. This paper will examine how assimilation rate varies among different categories of immigrants: (1) foreign-born immigrants who, before immigration, were non-citizens, (2) immigrants from U.S. territories who, excluding American Samoa, were citizens prior to immigration, and (3) foreign-born immigrants born to American parents who were citizens at birth. This paper uses cross-sectional data from the American Community Survey (ACS) to estimate differentiations in immigrant assimilation rate within each of the three categories. The paper finds that immigrants without U.S. parents outside of the U.S. territories earn more initially and assimilate faster than immigrants from the U.S. parent and U.S. territory categories. These differences can be attributed to the difference in selection between the three categories; Immigrants from the Immigrant category are positively selected while U.S. territory and U.S. parent immigrants are negatively selected.


Aubrey Emmett, The End(s) of Economics: Towards a Theological Economics of Eschatology

Questions of the End Times seem of particular relevance today. In the US, the failure of the moderate political projects of the 1990’s to maintain popular support for their vision of the ultimate future (hereafter referred to as eschatologies) has led to the rising popularity of more extreme eschatologies. In order to address these rapidly accelerating divisions, explicitation of eschatologic vision is necessary. Several risks exist if systems of thought, such as economics, are unable or unwilling to address the eschatological. This paper seeks to explore a number of questions. How do we define eschatology? What form does eschatology take? What are its components? How are they interlinked? How can we robustly depict this kind of thought? Are there explicit or implicit eschatologies within non-religious belief systems? Are there economic eschatologies? How do we make the eschatology vision of a certain system of belief explicit in a way that is healthy, responsible, and productive? Perhaps by reconstruction and renegotiation, we as a society can create a healthier vision of, and attitude toward, the eschatologic future.



Riley Johnson, Love That Dismembers: Constructing A Subversive Monster Story In “Appetite”

Originally written as an assignment for What We Write in the Shadows: A Horror Fiction Workshop, “Appetite” was written as an exercise in subverting the “Horror Love” trope in which 1) there is a love story between a monster and a human, and 2) the protagonist of that story is human. “Appetite” also serves as an opportunity to play with the defining tropes of the monster story, where the monster, in this case a werewolf, must grapple with different struggles: instinct, repression, shame, loneliness, and the approach of a usually tragic end. The character playing opposite of the protagonist, a man who goes by the name Rabbit, introduces ambiguities into the story that call the monster’s struggle into question: How does loneliness shape our perception of what love looks like? How does repression or control blur identity? The more the characters try to keep the things in their lives separate from each other, the more they become one–until they have to tear them apart. This SCARF presentation introduces these ideas in a visual way, including imagery and text from media that inspired this work, and elements of genre discussed within the What We Write in the Shadows course.


Georgina Provencio Martinez, Masala Shakespeare

The word masala means “spice mixture”, it is the combination of many flavors with the end result of a new one. This project seeks to showcase the universality of Shakespeare’s plays, as they are portrayed in Bollywood films, by focusing on the adaptations of “Romeo and Juliet”, “Othello”, and “Hamlet”. By exploring the change of scenery, socio-economic status, caste system, gender roles, political context and other themes found within these stories, we will be able to better understand the complexity of Shakespeare’s plays in different cultural contexts. While also exploring our biases as American watchers and pushing against the notion of generalizing or perpetuating stereotypes of cultures we are unfamiliar with. While critiquing the material we are shown and expanding our worldview and understanding of Shakespeare and Bollywood films.


Shelby Sizemore, Hedda’s Pistols and Jane’s Wallpaper: Gender Role Rebellion in Nineteenth-Century Literature

Nineteenth-century society witnessed a rise in innovation and technology; a rapid growth in industrialization; and an emphasis on women’s domestic dutifulness. Women were seen as masters of the domestic sphere, called “angels of the house;” the moral superiority that cares for the home, her children, and her husband. This presentation will focus on two Victorian texts that push-back against patriarchal gender roles, and give their respective female characters agency and intelligence; two traits historically reserved for male characters. Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” zeroes in on the atrocities women were facing as they endured various “treatments” for neurodivergence like insomnia, anxiety, or, in this case, postpartum depression. The narrator remains unnamed until the very end of the story, in the moment where she restores her identity through choosing insanity. Similarly, Hedda Gabler—a play written by Henrik Ibsen two years prior to Perkins’ influential work—features the protagonist of Hedda. Hedda slings pistols, lies to further her agenda, and views others as intellectually below her. At the end of this play, Hedda chooses to silence herself through death, thus liberating her from male oppression. By looking at these two texts in conversation with one another, we can understand how these characters impacted the women who read and watched them, and how these liberated feminine characters gave legs to the earliest inklings of the feminist political movement.


Environmental Studies

Andrea Carver, Lights Out! Asheville

Andrea’s McCullough Fellowship research focused on enacting the new Lights Out! initiative that was part of the recently passed Bird Migration Awareness Proclamation by Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer in Feb. 2021. This program is designed to increase awareness of migratory bird collisions with buildings and to promote practices that both help prevent bird mortalities and reduce energy use. Andrea met with many business owners in downtown Asheville and educated them about this project – and documented a significant reduction in light use at night after her outreach efforts.


Joseph Walston, Evaluating Endangered Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia jonesii) Leaf Morphology and Flowering as They Relate to Soil Nutrient Status

There is extremely limited information on Sarracenia jonesii, which is a federally endangered and critically imperiled carnivorous plant. This study will give a greater understanding of how soil nutrients affect this pitcher plant’s ability to stay carnivorous and catch its own prey, as well as how it affects the plant’s ability to flower and spread its dwindling genetic diversity. This information can be used to inform future conservation strategies to ensure plants are propagated and planted in appropriate soil conditions for ideal growth, carnivory, and reproduction.


Health & Wellness

Karlee Fish, The Impact of Income Inequality on Health

Karlee Fish’s video project explores the role that property taxes play in introducing/widening the disparities already present in the Western North Carolina region. As a senior public health student, Karlee was enrolled in a Health and Wellness promotion special topics course on Social Epidemiology. She leveraged her training in health and wellness and her understanding of social epidemiologic principles to apply to a final deliverable (a short video) that served a Dogwood Health Trust funded grant ( The Just Accounting Coalition Project). Karlee’s efforts addressed a need to translate the work being done by the Just Accounting team into something more “digestible and convenient”. The Just Accounting Coalition project is composed of leading local and national experts in the areas of public health, tax productivity, and building stronger, more financially resilient cities. Karlee Fish’s work in animating, producing, and writing the script for the video project, helped to dilute the complexity of the situation and turned it into something where ‘plain language’ was used. The usage of ‘plain language’ is a key component in developing health communication materials.


Mass Communication

Xander Lord, Dana Stewart, Sawyer Serdula, Walker Lezotte, Seth Maile, Luke Beijer, Jane Turlington, Betrayal (short film)

College Student Stanley Doyle returns home one day from a hard day of work to find that the sandwich he’d been looking forward to eating has been stolen by one of his roommates. Not taking this lightly, he adopts the persona of Stanley Darkside, Private Eye, to snuff out who the culprit is. However, his good buddy Marshall, foreign exchange student and rival Gabriel, and his worst enemy David only give him a few pieces of the puzzle.


Master of Public Health

Irene Ulrich, Gender-Affirming Primary Care: Research and Materials

This three-part project, conducted in collaboration with the Campaign for Southern Equality, included research related to gender-affirming primary health care and the development of materials to for health care providers to better support clients.


Mathematics & Statistics

Morgan Lancaster, DEI in the Mathematics Classroom

A look at the underrepresentation of women and minorities in mathematics and how issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion can be addressed in the mathematics classroom.

Spencer Guess, Wallis’ Method and Wallis Curves

John Wallis, a contemporary to Newton, had a method for discovering the slope of the tangent
line to a curve at a point, derived from Apollonius, without the use of limits. In modern terms,
Wallis’ method assumes that, over an interval, for or where is the slope of the tangent line.
Wallis curves are a newly introduced concept. In technical terms, a pair of curves and , form a
Wallis pair at over an interval if and for any . This relationship is denoted by . We use a
rigorous version of Wallis’ method, along with the concept of Wallis curves, to derive the forms
of the derivative shortcuts in special cases.



Clayton Jordan, Composing Under the Influence: Incorporating the Techniques of my Favorite Musicians in Original Songs 

I undertook this project to further my experience in the fields of composing, recording, and producing music. By observing how my musical influences evoke emotions in their writing, utilize ensemble instrumentation, achieve desired sounds with miking techniques, and articulate their ideas with a well-intentioned mix, I was able to craft three songs of my own: one in the style of the Jacob Mann Big Band, one in the style of the Funky Knuckles, and one that combines the two. I’ve documented my research with performance videos that play off of the style of these bands as well as a website, both of which will be available publicly.


Political Science

Braden Ball, “Stop the Steal” and other Lies: Partisan Cheerleading and Misinformation

This project investigates the nature of misinformation and how it contributes to potentially detrimental outcomes for democratic institutions. It focuses on the question: What motivates one to spread allegations of electoral fraud is US? Do these claims represent sincere concerns for the safety and security of democratic institutions, or do they exist primarily as partisan weapons used to subvert the opposition? To answer these questions, the researcher conducted an incentive-based survey experiment of 203 Republicans in the US in order to assess if their belief in electoral fraud is genuine and caused by motivated reasoning, or, if their belief is disingenuous and informed by partisan cheerleading. The results indicate that Republicans are aware that widespread electoral fraud did not take place but that they may still be inclined to spread misinformation indicating otherwise. While previous research finds that both sides of the aisle engage in partisan cheerleading, these findings suggest that some Republicans are knowingly misrepresenting the existence of electoral fraud for some perceived partisan benefit, presenting worrisome implications about the future of American democracy.



Morgan Hopkins, Attitudes toward generic singular pronouns in text

This study is an investigation of the impact of different styles of pronoun use in text on readers’ comprehension, perceptions of the quality of the writing, perceptions of gender bias, and beliefs about the gender identity of the text’s author. Participants will read one of three essays, each differing only in use of pronouns: (1) all singular “they” pronouns, (2) all s/he pronouns, or (3) no pronouns. Because the study is based in part on older studies of strategies for avoiding sexist language, it will be possible to measure change in attitudes toward singular generic pronouns over time.


Alexandria Lahm, A Reddit Post is Worth a Thousand Words: Conspiratorial and Magical Beliefs

Despite the extensive availability of scientific knowledge, endorsement of conspiracy theories, magical thinking, and other pseudoscientific concepts is pervasive. Why do people still hold these beliefs? To address the conundrum, this study investigated the potential reasons for the beliefs and the people that hold them. Some research on conspiratorial beliefs already exists, but the literature on magical thinking is lacking. Therefore, the objective of this study was to compare the similarities and differences between the two categories of beliefs. Using the social media platform, Reddit, a content analysis was conducted on a total of 200 blog posts. Individual subreddit groups representing two types of conspiratorial thinking (UFOs and flat earth) and two types of magical thinking (healing crystals and psychic phenomena) were randomly selected. For each of the four subreddits, 50 posts were evaluated according to emotional tone, mental state, intent, and justification for users’ beliefs. The study found notable differences between the two groups. The presence of positive emotions, including expressions of curiosity, was markedly greater in the magical thinking posts, and almost half of the posts requested advice from other users. In contrast, conspiratorial posts demonstrated a greater tendency to express anger or frustration. Furthermore, there were more attempts to provide information and the posts frequently made pseudoscientific claims. These findings could suggest possible personality differences between the individuals that endorse magical thinking vs. belief in conspiracy theories; for instance, openness to different points of view seems more present in the former group. This work has important implications for understanding the individuals who endorse non- scientific thinking and could bolster educators’ efforts to incorporate critical thinking skills into the curriculum.


Caroline Scholer, Examining Music and Its Perceived Effects on Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder

This study seeks to understand the relationship between engaging in music and symptoms of autism spectrum disorder. This study attempts to determine if there is a correlation between the amount of time individuals with autism spend listening to music and their experience with various characteristics of autism.


Laura Searles, The Effect of Smartphones on Working Memory

Ward et al (2017) reported that a phone’s mere presence, even without using it, reduced cognitive capacity because subjects were devoting some amount of attentional processing to the phone. Some studies have successfully reproduced the finding, but others have found inconsistent or opposing results, suggesting that one’s relationship to one’s phone, or how one uses it, may affect whether its presence is distracting or not. The present study primarily attempted to replicate Ward et al’s original finding by having half the subjects keep their phones next to them while they performed a cognitive measure of working memory (the OSpan task), while the other half were asked to leave their phones in an adjacent waiting room. At present, results do not replicate Ward et al’s finding of a significant decrease in mean OSpan score for the phone present vs phone absent group. However, a significant negative correlation between OSpan and FoMO scores (measuring “fear of missing out” on social events and friend activities) replicates a similar negative relationship previously reported, suggesting that cognitive drain may have less to do with phone presence per se and instead may be a function of general social anxiety.


Sociology & Anthropology

Christian Donaldson, THE LANGUAGE OF GRIEF: Autoethnographic Reflections of Loss in American Culture

In Disrupted Lives: How People Create Meaning in A Chaotic World, Gay Becker explains what disruptions are and the imprints they leave on our lives. “In all societies, the course of life is structured by expectations about each phase of life, and meaning is assigned to specific life events and roles that accompany them. When expectations about the course of life are not met, people experience inner chaos and disruption. Such disruptions represent loss of the future. Restoring order to life necessitates reworking understandings of the self and the world, redefining the disruption and life itself”1. What is more chaotic and out of order from what we expect than the sudden loss of a child? The loss of one’s child is one of the most disruptive events that can occur in a person’s life, and many bereaved parents would agree that it is the ultimate disruption. Becker also states that “Studies of disrupted lives afford an opportunity to examine out of the ordinary life experiences for what they can tell us about cultural constructs that are taken for granted”2, such as the natural order of life and death or the culture of toxic positivity in the US that leads to the avoidance of negative emotions because people do not know how to respond to those who embody them3. Bereaved parents often find themselves ostracized, misunderstood, and pathologized. With an ethnographic lens and situating my grief in the context of disruption, I write about the struggles with belonging, identity, and meaning that parents experience after the sudden loss of a child and the ripple effects those crises have. Taking inspiration from Renato Rosaldo’s poetic and ethnographic account of grief in The Day of Shelly’s Death, I use poetry to both describe and unravel the grief of my own daughter’s death. I also integrate the accounts and experiences of other bereaved mothers using archival methods of data retrieved from blogs and other public forums to explore the ways in which culture and language interact with the grief from losing a child and the repercussions those interactions have on belonging, identity, and meaning for bereaved parents.