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Volume 1: Spring 2013


Greg Philbrook, “Interactive Technologies for Science Immersion”

Creative Media & Culture

Mentor: Dene Grigar

Interactive Technologies for Science Immersion is a project aimed at producing the medium and tools for an interactive immersive environment in order to teach scientific concepts to young learners. This project marks the first of three phases for a larger project, entitled Immersive Science, that aims to produce an augmented reality learning environment that builds on the direct experience model of learning by immersing young learners in simulations of scientific phenomenon. Specifically, phase one will build the environment needed for the Immersive Science project with commercially accessible technologies common to youth––an iPad, Kinect, and Falcon game controller. The particular scientific phenomenon that we will simulate for a proof of concept will be basic chemical reactions, like the ion exchange reaction between potassium iodide and silver nitrate.

Robert Warner, “The City of a Hundred Spires Becomes Digital: Bridging the Digital Divide Through the Use of New Media”

Digital Technology & Culture, Fine Arts, Honors

Mentor: Maria DePrano

The Internet is increasingly becoming a platform for the dissemination of information on a wide range of subjects, from a wide range of sources, presented in a variety of methods. According to the Pew Research Institute, nearly 50% of American adults today lack home Internet connections, but 88% have access to cellphones or smartphones, which provide a connection to the Internet. For this project, five historically significant monuments were selected in Prague, Czech Republic for study. The city of Prague was chosen for the vast range of history, and the variety of architectural artifacts that were preserved. Each monument was studied and an account of the building’s history was recorded, to provide the text for an interactive, immersive website. The final project was designed to increase the amount of information readily available from a wide range of platforms, from traditional desktops to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. The final presentation of the project is a widely available website, built using modern web technologies such as JavaScript and HTML5 and using original photographs. Information, presented in a way that is available to those who would not otherwise have access to it, is what can promote global learning, ultimately bridging the “digital divide”.

Emily Weeks “Spirit of the Wild: A Conversation with the Land”

Foreign Language/French, Honors Thesis

Mentor: Suzanne Anderson

The landscape in which we grow up profoundly and irrevocably shapes the way we view the world. I have been shaped by the landscapes of Western Washington; its glacial mountains, deep, dark forests, and misty hills. Though my whole life I have been inspired by the landscape and the animals that inhabit it, in recent years my creative work has come to more consciously focus around my relationship to the land, and why this is so important. When we lose respect for and connection to the land, we are devastated as a species. The evidence of such is apparent as fast-moving modernity surrounds us with anxiety, disparateness, isolation, and ultimately, meaninglessness. The autocatalytic rapidity of technology’s evolution is outpacing humanity’s ability to adapt emotionally, and we are left empty. Culture is swallowing up nature.

For my creative thesis project, I wanted to explore my relationship to my home ground through the making of an animated film. I hoped that in so doing, I would gain a deeper connection to the landscape. For this project, the question I investigated was how I could identify the qualities of Western Washington’s landscapes that make it so unique, and express them in an animated film. To explore this question, I ventured into the land to draw and paint from life. I wanted the creative choices I made to be determined by the land, by my conversation with it. While in the field, I created conceptual pieces which later drove the film I made. I wanted nothing that I had to say about the land, or the indigenous culture which appears in the film, to be false or misappropriated.

In making the film, as anticipated, I encountered the aesthetic setbacks and technical difficulties of using digital technologies. However, the final film cannot be discredited based solely on its use of digital media. Through my work in the field and my active engagement with the land, I was able to produce a work which portrays some of the qualities that make Western Washington unlike anywhere else. The procedures used in creating this film can be employed by other artists and film makers who wish to try to further understand their own home grounds. More films made that depict or intimate the intricacy and complexity of geographies would counter the harmful effects of mass media misrepresentation.

Danica Wixom “Cultural Expressions of Grief Through Art”

Humanities/General Studies, Honors Thesis

Mentor: Pamela Lee

My father died suddenly in October, 2003, when I was twelve years old. Art was one of the primary mediums in which I expressed my grief. In spring 2012, I began to explore how otherartists have expressed their grief, looking for similarities and differences in grief expression across cultures. Artists Marc Chagall (1887-1985), Frida Kahlo (1907-1954), and Motoi Yamamoto (1966) each experienced the significant loss of a loved one. I composed three case studies to analyze each artist’s visual expression of grief within their various cultural contexts.


Kendra Alexson “Giorgione’s Sleeping Venus: Function, Influences, and Inspiration”

Fine Arts

Mentor: Maria DePrano

Giorgione’s Sleeping Venus is one of the first paintings depicting a reclining nude, making it an odd painting in the context of sixteenth century painting. Scholars have deduced that it most likely functioned as a marriage painting. By exploring the artist and the patron, the social practices surrounding the nuptial process, marriage furnishings, the iconography of Cupid and Venus, and the traditions of epithalamium and poesia, confirm this theory. Through this investigation, the great interest of revitalizing ancient epithalamium as poesia, and the theorized movement of this subject matter from cassoni and onto the wall possibly suggests that the Sleeping Venus was intended to also function as a spalliere, or a painting hung at shoulder height. What makes this painting so different is Giorgione’s interest of combining the human element with nature. He expands on the idea of Venus resting in her sacred landscape, giving the painting a deeper interpretation of the theme. Overall, Giorgione followed the tradition of epithalamium, but created a beautiful marriage painting, with vision that was unique to Venetian art, that inspired artists years to come.

Justin Van Elsberg, “Sprits & Selves: Contextualizing the Mind in Northern Thailand”


Mentor: Julia Cassaniti

This article is the product of a $1,500 WSU CAS Undergraduate Scholar Grant used under the mentorship of Dr. Julia Cassaniti in the formulation and carrying out of a relatively independent research project in northern Thailand. This project was formulated with the intention of unraveling an understanding of the structure of mind in the northern Thai Buddhist context and elaborating on a model of northern Thai mind. This article is also intended to contribute a dialogue surrounding the concepts of non-self and mindfulness in Western psychological study and practice. 10 monks were interviewed at Wat Suan Dok, a university temple in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand. Interview questions related to local spirit and mind concepts as well as concepts more generally embedded in Buddhist religious texts. Results generally supported the initial hypothesized conception of northern Thai mind. However, conditions were considerably more complex than initially expected. Western psychology’s use of mindfulness in experimental and clinical practice is reassessed. Historical, political and global processes are considered for further research intending to contextualize northern Thai Buddhist mind.

Lance Kidder & Alexandra Davis, “The Stone Canvas, Appreciating the Rich Existence of Australian Rock Art”

Honors (group project for 380)

Mentor: Pamela Lee

As a culture dating back over 50,000 years, the society and lifestyle of the Aboriginal people is highly connected to rock art, which can be interpreted through and is directly connected to the mythology and art technique of this ancient race. Analysis of Aboriginal rock art provides great insight into the history and lives of the Aboriginal people because their art was so integrally linked with religion, tradition, and daily life. Aboriginals prodigiously created a wide variety of work, including paintings and carvings with wide variety and unique qualities that allowed them to express themselves and their mythology through visual representations that were often quite sacred to the artist and his tribe. This paper intends to examine the motivations behind Aboriginal art, while focusing on the mythology and techniques surrounding its creation.


Powell Bagdon, “Development of New Hydrogen Sulfide Donors Activated by Light”

Department of Chemisty

Mentor: Ming Xian

Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) has recently been recognized as an important cell signaling molecule, but those interested in research its effects have been hampered by the lack of a controllable H2S source. Herein the progress towards a controllable light-activated H2S donor molecule is reported. A series of caged gem-dithiol based donors were designed and synthesized. The donors’ release capabilities were tested as well as their ability to deliver H2S to cells. These tests revealed the donors had a highly controllable H2S release mechanism and were an effective means for H2S delivery in cells.

Miranda Crowell, Meghan Camp & Lisa Shipley “The Role of Fiber and Toxins in Diet Preference by a Specialist and Generalist Herbivore”

School of the Environment/Wildlife Ecology

Mentor: Lisa A. Shipley

Physical and chemical attributes of plants influence foraging choices made by herbivores. Sagebrush contains high levels of plant secondary metabolites (PSMs) but relatively low levels of fiber. Therefore, we predicted that pygmy rabbits (Brachylagus idahoensis), sagebrush specialists, would show a stronger preference for low fiber diets than diets with low PSMs, whereas, cottontails (Sylvilagus nuttallii), generalist herbivores, would show the opposite. We also predicted that total intake of both species would decrease with the PSM and fiber content of the diets increasing. We conducted a series of double choice preference trials with captive pygmy rabbits and cottontails with pelleted diets ranging from 41 – 61% neutral detergent fiber and 0 – 5% cineole (a PSM in sagebrush). Both pygmy rabbits and cottontails selected the diet with the least cineole for most diet pairs, but pygmy rabbits maintained their total intake as cineole concentration increased, whereas cottontails reduced their intake at the lowest level of cineole. Pygmy rabbits consistently selected the diet with the least fibrous diets, whereas cottontails only distinguished between fiber content at the highest level. Total intake decreased with fiber concentration in pygmy rabbits, but did not vary in cottontails. These results suggest that pygmy rabbits and cottontails tradeoff fiber and PSMs differently when selecting diets, which explains foraging patterns when they reside sympatrically in sagebrush rangelands.

Melissa Knudson, “Topographic Influence on Phosphorus Forms After 30 Years of Soil Development on a Mount St. Helens Pyroclastic Flow”

School of the Environment

Mentor: John Harrison

In terrestrial ecosystems, nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) are essential for primary production. However, P differs from N in that it has no gaseous input that continuously contributes to its availability in soils. Nearly all P present in terrestrial ecosystems is derived from the weathering of the primary minerals. These minerals contain a fixed initial supply of P that decreases over time. Walker and Syers (1976) have proposed a theoretical model of ecosystem P dynamics based on such a fixed supply. Their model predicts that as P is liberated from parent material through weathering, it is stored in plant and soil pools before it is made locally unavailable through occlusion or lost from the system by leaching. While considerable work exists investigating P dynamics and soil development in well-developed tropical systems, less exists for very young, temperate systems. The soils developing near Mount St. Helens, Washington provide a rare opportunity to examine P dynamics more closely as it is unclear to what degree this recovering system conforms to such a model. This study investigates the significance of topography on bioavailable and total P by examining depression and surrounding upland soils and comparing these results to historical data in an attempt to reveal how relative P amounts and forms have changed in these topographic sites since the 1980 eruption. Our results indicate a significant relationship between topography and total and available P and support the Walker and Syers (1976) model that total P in this system has decreased over time.

Thomas Sexton, “in vivo Rubisco Kinetics in Rice”

School of Biological Sciences, Biology with Botany option

Mentor: Asaph Cousins

Yield increases in agriculture are needed to feed the growing world population. Rice is a staple crop for much of the world’s population. The two main photosynthetic pathways that plants utilize are termed C3 and C4. Plants that utilize the C4 pathway have higher photosynthetic capacities, are more water and nitrogen use efficient, and generally have greater yields. Currently, rice yields are limited by photosynthetic capacity; therefore, there is a large research effort, called the C4 Rice Project, directed toward improving yields by introducing the C4 photosynthetic pathway into rice. If the C4 pathway is successfully introduced into rice, then the properties of the photosynthetic enzyme Rubisco will likely need to be optimized for the C4 system in order to maximize rice yields. However, the kinetic properties of Rubisco in rice are not known, making it difficult to predict how it will perform in a C4 system. The aim of my project is to define the kinetic parameters of rice Rubisco with in vivo gas exchange measurements. Rice Rubisco kinetics and the conductance to CO2 movement within a leaf were determined at 25 ᵒC and compared to previous in vivo measurements.


Katherine Martucci, “Inferential Learning in the Domestic Dog”


Mentor: Samantha Swindell

Stimulus equivalence is a complex form of inferential learning in which an organism forms novel relations between stimuli in the absence of direct training and based only on prior knowledge. The criteria for equivalence relations requires that a given set of stimuli be reflexive (a stimulus is equivalent to itself), symmetric (equivalent stimuli are reversible), and transitive (equivalent stimuli can be related through an intermediate stimulus). These three characteristics can be used to experimentally evaluate task comprehension and abstract problem-solving abilities in both human and nonhuman animals. However, studies involving nonhuman animals have produced variable results, raising questions about species-specific cognitive abilities. The present study tested for stimulus equivalence in the domestic dog using an interactive matching task presented on an automated touch screen training system. The dogs failed to master the prerequisite conditional discrimination task, and thus were unable to be tested for stimulus equivalence. The results suggest that domestic dogs may be incapable of this type of problem-solving, or, alternatively, that the methods used may have undermined their learning. Modifications have recently been made to the training apparatus to eliminate any methodological inconsistencies, and the study will be repeated with this new apparatus.

Kendall McGill, “Rediscovering Granite Point Bringing Past Excavations into the Digital Age”


Mentor: Mary Collins

Excavation of Granite Point (45WT41), situated along the Lower Snake River, was directed and funded by Washington State University, in cooperation with the National Parks Service, during the 1967 and 1968 field seasons. This fieldwork uncovered the site’s long history of occupation and revealed a record of 10,000 years of cultural change which made Granite Point an important component to building a cultural chronology of the Lower Snake River region. Fifty years later, limited awareness and access to its collection are affecting Granite Point’s continued contribution to archaeological research. Regional and national programs have been implemented to increase electronic visibility and sharing of archaeological collections, but the physicality of Granite Point’s records impedes its dissemination into the digital world. This project has focused on bringing Granite Point up to the technological present, with digitized field records and internet accessibility, identifying the potential for future student led projects.

Julia Spaude, “Commercial Farming in Guatemala Correlated with Chronic Malnutrition for Indigenous Mayan Population”

Department of Critical Culture, Gender, & Race Studies

Mentor: Marian Sciachitano

The socio-economic situation in Guatemala today is severe, approximately 75% of the entire population lives under the poverty line with a 90% majority of the indigenous Mayan population living below the extreme poverty line. This research looks at trends in the privatization of land in Guatemala for use in cultivating cash crops for export to income distribution in the region. Particularly the study is focused on rates of poverty and malnutrition within the indigenous Mayan population to determine how the increasing allocation of arable land away from the production of subsistence crops for local consumption affects the populace. Primary statistical data for this study has been drawn from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, U.S. Agency for International Development, UNICEF, National Statistics Institute, & United Nations Development Programme. The research has found that rates of malnourishment are particularly concentrated among the rural agricultural class, and that this trend is positively correlated with the expansion of the cash crop industry.