University Honors 2017

university honors
April 13, 2017

University Honors' spring graduates present their senior capstone scholarship projects on Thurs., April 20, from 4:30–6 p.m. in Kirby Ballroom.

University Honors is comprised of UMD students across all five colleges. University Honors members are required to take University Honors courses, engage in their communities, complete an honors capstone scholarship project, and maintain a high GPA to complete the program.

University Honors' spring graduates present their senior capstone scholarship projects on Thursday, April 20. This event is open to the UMD community - feel free to come and go anytime between 4:30-6 pm.

University Honors 2017 Capstone Presenters:

Alycia Chmielewski
A Comparative Analysis of Early Life Experiences and Young Adult Career Choice    

The foundation of all behavioral, cognitive, and emotional development is deeply tied to the first five years of life. Researchers from various disciplines, such as developmental psychology, early childhood education, and behavioral sciences, strive to make connections between early childhood experiences and implications for lifelong health and development. Longitudinal studies, such as the HighScope Perry Preschool Study, have identified connections between the quality of early childhood care and future career success and reduced crime rates (Schweinhart et. al, 2005). It is assumed but not clearly known if these aspects influence young adult career choice. In order to explore this relationship, a survey of UMD undergraduate students was conducted around four categories: personality, early life experiences, undergraduate academics and future career choice. By evaluating the relationship between early life experiences and young adult career choice, the findings will add to a growing body of knowledge in the areas of child development and early career choice.

Angela Cowles
Cumulative Intervention Intensity in Speech-Language Intervention Plans      

Say you have a terrible migraine and get a medicinal prescription from your doctor. You look at the label to find that there is no description of how much you should take, or how often, or how many weeks you will use that treatment. You also find that there is a lack of credible research on dosage for that chemical drug. Would you trust it? Would you trust your doctor? Thankfully pharmaceutical medicine has kept an incredibly detailed account of dosage parameters. These strict measurements give researchers and doctors credibility. Everyone responds to treatment differently. Keeping track of dosage helps clinicians give a large enough dosage to help the patient and a small enough dosage to minimize side effect harm. Dosage is very important to any credible intervention system whether it be medicinal or behavioral therapy. The purpose of my research was to survey the extent that Speech-Language Pathologists in private practice ( outside the University clinic), hospitals and schools document "cumulative intervention intensity" ( or CII, a term for dosage in Speech-Language Pathology) in their treatment plans.

Carter Duncan
TMER 3 and 7 evaluation of gammaherpesvirus 68

A class of double stranded DNA viruses known as gammaherpesviruses (γHVs) establish a lifelong infection and survive latently in lymphocytes (Virgin 1999) until a point when the body’s immune system is weakened at which time the virus switches to lytic infection (Caesarman 2011). In this experiment we used the animal model γHV68 which infects mice and bears much resemblance to the human γHVs Epstein Barr virus and Kaposi’s sarcoma (Virgin 1997). It has been theorized that small non-coding RNA molecules play a role in regulating the latent and lytic cycles of the virus. γHVs form unique particles that have a non-aminoacylated transfer RNA (tRNA) attached to micro RNA (miRNA) forming a tRNA-miRNA-encoded RNA (TMER). The miRNA portion forms two stem loops (Pfeffer 2005). These TMERs are later processed into miRNAs and viral tRNAs (vtRNAs). TMERs are made via the polymerase III enzyme and type 2 promoters. Mature miRNA is formed from TMERs by tRNase Z allowing the miRNA to then repress messenger RNA (mRNA) and decrease protein production in the host cell. (Bogerd) It has been shown that if all of the TMERs are removed from a virus its virulence becomes reduced. Also, by removing only one TMER or just including the tRNA or stem loop portion of a TMER the virus is shown to gain or lose virulence. This strengthens that theory that miRNAs play a critical role in regulating latency of γHVs (Diebel 2015, Feldman 2015).  The purpose of this research project is to further characterize TMERs 3 and 7 from γHV68 leading to clues about its processing and biological function. TMER 3 lacks a canonical stop site which makes it an interesting target for investigation. Interestingly, the miRNA associated with TMER 3, mghv-mir-M1-4, shares a seed sequence with mir-151-5p (Zhu 2010) which has shown to be an oncogenic factor during tumor invasion and metastasis (Ding 2010). Unlike the other TMERs TMER 7 has a double stem loop where stem loop 1 usually resides and the processing of this feature is of particular interest.

Connor Elsner
Lime Kiln Optimization Through Lean Six Sigma                      

A lime kiln is a stationary piece of machinery that converts calcium carbonate into calcium oxide by heat. It is usually operated in a continuous manner rather than a batch system. These systems are used across multiple industries, but are most common in cement production, fertilizer manufacturing, and in pulp and paper processing. During my time at Sappi, I was assigned to a Lean Six Sigma project to improve the throughput and up time of our lime kiln. Although not considered to be among the largest kilns in the world, the kiln is of considerable size (350-450 tons of Calcium Oxide or "quicklime" per day), and was severely under preforming. Over a ten-month time period, my boss and I utilized many methods in the LSS "toolbox" to hone the kiln to its maximum performance capabilities, as well as avoid some overbearing environmental regulations. Over a twelve month period, the project saved the mill an estimated $2.1 MM dollars. My capstone is a cumulative report and explanation into the process of tuning such a massive piece of equipment, as well as navigating the inevitable personnel conflicts that arise with such a project.

Zhengzheng Gao
Measuring the Effect of Small Business Employment on the Growth in Mississippi and Louisiana Communities

Slow growth and high poverty continue to be major problems in several parts of the U.S. Specifically, U.S census data shows that Southern and Western U.S. states continue to register high poverty rates and slow growth rates. Most of these states have the highest proportions of minority populations. The states of Louisiana and Mississippi are among the top U.S. poorest states. Mississippi and Louisiana are among the poorest states in the U.S. The objective of this study is to investigate the economic impacts of pro-economic development small business ownership across and Louisiana and Mississippi counties for the period 2010 to 2012 after controlling for the factors that have been found to be important in explaining economic growth.

Hope Hollasch
President Trump’s Proposed Policies and Their Impact             

My capstone will look into a few of President Trump’s proposals and how they would affect public companies and accounting firms. I dive into the Dodd-Frank Act and how the proposal of deregulating banks could impact accountants, consumers, and businesses. I will also look at how public accounting firms would be affected if a Trump travel ban were to be enacted and in full force. Finally, I will discuss Trump’s proposal on stopping the SEC’s mandatory Corporate Social Responsibility reporting for all publicly traded companies and how those companies would be affected based on consumer preferences.

Weiqing Huang
Embracing World Hunger at UMD                                                                  

Alexis Humphrey
What drives customer loyalty?

When approaching the register at Kohl’s, the customer knows what is coming. “Will this be on a Kohl’s charge? Do you have our rewards? Could I have your email address?” Even though some dislike repeatedly being asked to sign up for something they think they don’t need, turning down a rewards program could actually cost the customer more. Although it may seem so, being a part of a loyalty program isn’t always a clear “yes” or “no” situation. Having complicated or not clearly defined outlines of the program can confuse customers, causing them to question their involvement and participation in the program. This study focuses on creating an ideal program, for both the customer and the company, that will increase customer retention and create true loyalty.

Ann Hunt
Field and petrographic evidence of migmatite formation near Lake Kabetogama, Voyageurs National Park, northern Minnesota

Lake Kabetogama, in Voyageurs National Park, lies within the Quetico metasedimentary belt of the Superior Province in northern Minnesota. This area was geologically active between 2,668 Ma to 2,550 Ma, when high-temperature metamorphism and plutonic events produced multiple granitic and leucogranitic bodies. As a result, the Lake Kabetogama area hosts widespread leucocratic injections and a variety of migmatites, including schollen/raft-structured diatexites, schlieric diatexites, and localized patch and stromatic metatexites. A field and petrographic study of the leucocratic migmatites was completed to determine the processes of migmatite development. Field observations of minor melt production, early-stage migration networks, and interactions between leucosome and melanosome borders indicate in situ development. Petrographically, melt pseudomorphs and other igneous textures also indicate local in situ migmatite production. Field observations of widespread leucocratic bodies; insufficient melanocratic material; and leucocratic-country rock contacts characterized by sharp borders, marginal shear, thin mafic selvedges, and chilled leucocratic margins indicate injection development.Ultimately, Lake Kabetogama's geological history is interpreted to be the product of high-grade metamorphism and melt injection combined with limited local anataxis.

Luke Lechtenberg
The Debt-to-GDP Threshold Effect On Output: A Country-Specific Analysis   

The recent economics literature has focused on establishing a general debt-to-GDP threshold across countries where output growth becomes negatively affected.  This paper, conversely, attempts to establish debt-to-GDP thresholds for individual countries, the purpose of which is to show that a country’s fiscal policy decisions should be based on data specific to that country, which should foster more informed and prudent policy-making.  

Mackenzie Liebl
Synthesis and Reactivity of Vinyl Iodonium Salts                       

Transition metals have multiple oxidation states, meaning that they can participate in a wide variety of reactions. For example, an alkali metal like sodium (Na) has one oxidation state, which is +1; this means that at most it can be in reactions where it donates one electron. A transition metal, like vanadium (V) has five common oxidation states ranging from +2 to +7, so it can be in reactions where it donates anywhere from two to seven electrons. Most nonmetals, such as the halogens that iodine is in a period with, only exhibit one oxidation state in order to not exceed its valent, or outermost, electron shell, but iodine can be hypervalent. This means that iodine can accept more than the typical single electron that halogens accept by utilizing the electronic shell beyond its normal outermost shell; this is the same method transition metals use to have multiple oxidation states, and hence why iodine is so special in chemistry. It is also very important because unlike transition metals, iodine is environmentally friendly, commercially available, and safe to work with.

Sirui Lu
The Impact of Income on Uninsured rate in Massachusetts State

Uninsured rate and high cost of medical bills are the poignant problems among the American society. President Obama made it one of his primary targets to increase the number of insured people in the United States. And although he did succeed in this, premiums and deductibles have started to rise out of control, which could potentially have a harmful effect on people with low incomes who may not be able to afford these rising costs.  The goal of this study is to determine the effect that income level has on the uninsured rate amongst the Massachusetts states population, including effects before and after the initiation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). I will also look into the effects of gender, age, race and education level on the uninsured rate. Based on survey data from 2014 uninsured rates have declined since the initiation of the ACA, however, the extent to which they decline varies based on several of these variables (Collins, 2015).

Matt McDermott
Analysis of Post-Installed Glass Fiber-Reinforced Polymer Anchorage in Beam-Column Joints

I performed an Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program project studying the application of post-installed glass fiber-reinforced polymer (GFRP) bars as a replacement for mild steel bar in common structural connections during Spring 2017. Post-installed anchorage is fundamental in the construction of concrete structural systems. This type of anchorage system has many benefits, including: low cost, fast installation speed, installation at any orientation, and the ability to apply load immediately following installation. Furthermore, GFRP bars have potential to be advantageous compared to conventional mild steel. GFRP bars are lighter, noncorrosive, and often economically preferable relative to steel bars. This project assessed the behavior of two GFRP bar types and two different embedment depths in a beam-column joint connection. Four specimens were constructed and the anchorage was tested by static loading. After analysis, the corresponding anchorage capacity and bar stresses were determined for each specimen. Development of stresses in reinforcing bars depends on the type of fiber-reinforced polymer employed, so a careful examination of differences in performance between the two types of GFRP was conducted. Additionally, the GFRP performance was compared to previous research results of specimens with cast-in-place steel bars to determine if the behavior of post-installed GFRP bars was equivalent or superior to that of traditional steel reinforcement.

Cyrina Ostgaard
A Substitute for Dystrophin: Why Utrophin Fails                      

Dystrophin is a muscle protein integral to maintaining muscle structure under stress. Both the severe Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy (DMD) and the milder Becker’s (BMD) muscular dystrophy are associated with mutations in dystrophin. DMD leads to death as a young adult due to weakened muscles. This calls for a viable replacement. One proposed option has been an upregulation of the fetal homolog of dystrophin, utrophin, but past studies have shown utrophin to eventually fail as a substitute. An answer is sought to why this failure occurs. Utrophin, like dystrophin, is composed of multiple spectrin repeats and at the N-terminus has actin binding domain 1 (ABD1) that contains 33% of the DMD mutations. This ABD1 region has been proposed as the main functional region of the protein. Utrophin ABD1 is very similar to dystrophin ABD1 with a 73% identity, but utrophin ABD1 has more hydrophilic residues in the helical regions of the protein. The mutated forms of dystrophin ABD1 compare with a 1.6% hydrophilic mutations seen in BMD while DMD has 3.5% increase compared to wildtype dystrophin ABD1. It is predicted that the increase in hydrophilic residues of utrophin ABD1 will affect the thermodynamic properties compared to dystrophin ABD1 stabilizing utrophin. This stabilization could result in an inability of utrophin to absorb shock without permanent damage to the cell.

Noah Petters
Perceptions of Women and Gaming: Exploring Implications of Intersectionality through Quantitative Analysis of Blog Comments

The goal of this study is to determine how the general gaming public perceives women in the gaming culture differently by certain visual criteria portrayed on the internet in the form of a blog. More specifically, it pursues to find out how the same perspective of women in gaming culture is received by the public, despite differences in only gender and racial representation. Under the context of intersectionality, the proceeding criteria were used to determine the perception of women in the gaming culture and issues that surround them. Comments or public reactions of blog pages were analyzed by conditions of race and gender, which then were expert coded and used to conduct a qualitative analysis of “hostility” and “acknowledgment”. The categorized reactions were then used to produce a quantitative measurement to determine the public perception of women within the gaming culture. Results indicate examination of condition (Black female, Black male, White female, White male) revealed statistically significant differences in the pattern of hostile and non-hostile responses. Furthermore, an examination of conditions also revealed statistically different patterns related to acknowledgment of a problem. Noted patterns of hostility and acknowledgement may help to further determine implications of the intersecting aspects of one’s identity in an expanding culture and industry of games.

Rachael Prozinski
The Controversy of Intercollegiate Sports

Intercollegiate sports have been around for hundreds of years. Today, intercollegiate sports play a huge part in many college campuses across the world. Sports not only bring the campus together, but the community as well. Some believe that sports are more prominent in deciding where to attend college than the academic aspect of the school. However, the controversy lies in whether the universities should realign their focus on marketing themselves as highly accredited institutions or market the high rank of their winning sports records attracting the top athletes and coaches. The discrepancy comes from the many different benefits and costs of focusing solely on the athletic part of an institution. The institutions need to focus on what the mission and overall goal of their school is in order to reach a conclusion. Although prominent Big Ten schools, much like the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, seem to be very influential to the intercollegiate world, the benefits as well as the costs must be taken into account when thinking about the institution as a whole.

Kallie Quinn
Undergraduate Business Schools Should Require Theatre to Develop Soft Skills and to Better Employees

This project proposes the idea that undergraduate business schools should implement a required theatre course for students to develop soft skills and emotional intelligence. Because emotional intelligence has been shown to be a key indicator of employee success, it is incredibly important for students to have an adequate understanding of these soft skills prior to entering the work force. Emotional intelligence requires students to have an understanding of themselves and their own emotions as well as a variety of communication skills, empathy, and understanding of others' emotions. Not only are current means of training lacking in schools, but employers are seeing little, if any, return on investment for current training. By requiring students to take a theatre class geared toward soft skills development, students would save employers money and be more competitive in the work force.

Madison Sachs
Exploring Precious Metal Mining in Peru through Film            

Precious metal mining in Peru has been an extremely controversial issue for hundreds of years, largely due to the variable distribution of wealth produced and the environmental implications. Although mining and the problems associated with it have been in Peru for centuries, in recent years Peru has become increasingly attractive for the growing number of international businesses, including mining companies, due to its natural wealth and unsaturated markets. This demands that fair and sustainable business practices are firmly established in order to insure the wellbeing not only of Peru as a nation but also to its rural community members who are oftentimes most negatively affected by mining. These community members have faced relocation, unfulfilled promises, and serious health effects despite being represented by their government and even talking directly to the mining companies. This is forcing rural people in mining areas to search for different outlets to have their voices heard. Film has progressively become a popular vehicle to do this, and critical analyses of these films help reveal the root issues related to mining. The films analyzed in this paper are all produced in Spanish, filmed in Peru, and include locals. En el corazón de Conga, the documentary focused on most, was produced in 2012, and it includes in-depth interviews with the local people of Cajamarca who are affected by the Conga mine. Molinopampa is a short film that illustrates how damaging mining-related water contamination would be for one local community. Finally, La hija de la laguna reveals the intense effort an Andean community puts forth to stop the local mine. By directly exploring mining issues through film, the medium local Peruvians are utilizing, an authentic perspective is revealed, and the people’s messages are echoed to new audiences.

Abby Savolt
The Economic Impact of Mountain Biking in Duluth                  

Duluth has been working hard to create the first 100+ mile system of single-track mountain biking trails within an urban environment. Thousands of dollars have been invested in the creation of new trails that are attracting mountain bikers to Duluth. My study is intended to quantify the economic impact that both local and nonlocal mountain bikers are contributing to the Duluth economy.

Elizabeth StAmant
Building the Backbone to Student Success                                 

My capstone project will be a guide to help parents and professionals understand all the educational pillars that help students succeed in their career as a student. I believe in three pillars that support students throughout their educational career: parents, general educators, and special educators.There are many miscommunications between the three pillars of a child’s education. This creates conflict and slows down the process in helping the child receive the services they need. I have found that parents and professionals are not getting the information that they need from one another to help the student. Outlined in my paper are the situations where communication is lacking and solutions that will help any student succeed.

Tahnee Trenberth
Stigmas of mental illness and drug abuse in Moroccan Culture            

I plan to focus my research on the stigmas of mental illness and drug abuse in Moroccan culture. Using the data that I obtain via survey and interview, thorough ethnographic research to build a theoretical framework, and statistical methods, I will compose a comparative analysis of the differences in these stigmas from those in American culture. I chose this topic because it is something I have advocated for many years now, watching many people that I love battle both mental illness and addiction. By watching the downward spiral as they succumbed to these things, it became a goal of mine to do what I can in order to help those struggling with such painful experiences. Although I have spent a great deal of time analyzing and researching the prevalence of these issues in the United States, as it relates to and directly affects those that I know and love, I have never considered researching it as a worldwide issue until I became a part of this program. This is a fantastic opportunity to explore further and delve deeper in order to better understand the implications that other countries experience when faced with these subjects.

Lesheng Wang
Dynamics of a Singularly Perturbed Quadratic families            

The bifurcations of the families $ x \to x^2+c+\frac{\beta}{x^d}$ are described. It is treated both as a real system. This paper was based on the various trials done in the Mathematica 10. The main focus is done for the parameter $\beta$ and c. Specifically, the summarisation was done to present the general behaviors of the real case. Meanwhile, this paper create some general behaviors of the system with different parameter d. The dynamics of one dimensional quadratic maps is present.

Jordan Wolf
Applications in Martian Astrobiology

The study of extremophiles, microorganisms that live in extreme environments, is a rapidly growing area of research. It is only recently that scientists have discovered that these types of microorganisms exist; discovering extremophile existence in locations such as toxic acid drainage sites, cold Antarctic deserts, and deep under the Earth’s surface.  While all extremophiles differ vastly, they are connected by one trait: their ability to thrive in environments where no other life can survive, such as outer space. This review will focus on current research of Martian astrobiology.  Because of the characteristics many extremophiles possess, they are common model organisms for extraterrestrial life.  The environments discussed in this literature review serve as terrestrial analogs for Martian environments. The most recent literature is sending extremophiles in space and simulated extraterrestrial conditions to measure survival rates. Future applications include discovering life on Mars or possibly populating others planets with life (Rampelotto).

Qianyu Zhang
The impacts that Entrepreneurship have on Economic growth in the counties of Georgia,Kentucky, and New Mexico                 

The study is primary analyzing the impacts that entrepreneurship have on economic growth in Georgia, New Mexico and Kentucky counties between 2010 and 2012. The three states form 313 counties altogether. Economic growth in a given county can be measured by looking at the growth rate of personal per capita income, and the eight control variables include education, government spending, per capita income, unemployment, white population, rural dummy and farm dummy variable. The variables of interest are firm, establishments and employment at all sizes less than 500, which composed 15 models in terms of different firm, establishment and employment sizes. The results of this study present clear relationships between the control variables and economic growth. Farm-based counties and personal per capita income are positively related to economic growth; while government spending and population density are inversely related to economic growth. These coefficients of the variables are statistically significant and robust to all models. The coefficients for rest of the variables are not statistically significant, which means that they cannot be used to explain the economic growth in the specific period of this study.

Yishu Zhang
Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of Simple Baylis-Hillman Carboxylic Acid Esters as Potential Anticancer Agents                 

Baylis Hillman (BH) reaction is important for C-C bond forming reactions in organic synthesis. Allyl alcohols can be synthesized readily by this reaction and these alcohols undergo nucleophilic rearrangement to provide wide range of useful synthons for organic and medicinal chemistry. We are interested in the development of new molecules based on BH reaction and we have initiated this project to explore novel functionalized allyl esters derived from BH reaction as potential anticancer agents. We synthesized several carboxylic acids derived analogs of bromomethyl phenyl acrylate obtained from BH reaction. The allyl ester was further dihydroxylated using OsO4. The synthesized molecules have been evaluated against several cancer cells including triple negative breast cancer cell line MDA-MB-231, and pancreatic cancer cell line MIAPaCa-2. These studies have indicated that several of the synthesized compounds show good cytotoxicity with EC50 values in the range of 3-73μM. Interestingly, the removal of electrophilic double bond in both compounds 2 and 4 reduced the biological activity.

Past Presentations:

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