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College of Arts and Sciences Graduate Studies

Three Minute Thesis

College of Arts and Sciences Qualifier

Congratulations to our winners!


Three grad students

Left to right: Mycah Harrold, people’s choice; Lucy Johnson, runner up; Jacob Day, first place.


The college first place winner will receive a $1,000 fellowship for fall 2017 and advances to the WSU 3MT competition on Tuesday, March 28, 2017.

The college runner up and people’s choice winner will each receive a $500 fellowship for fall 2017.


The 3MT research communication competition challenges Ph.D. students to present a compelling oration on their thesis and its significance in just three minutes—and using just one visual slide—in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.

3MT is not an exercise in trivializing or “dumbing down” research, but an opportunity for students to consolidate their ideas, their motivation and their research discoveries so they can be presented to a wider audience.

2017 CAS Qualifier

The six graduate students profiled below participated in the College of Arts and Sciences qualifying event on Wednesday, March 1, 2017.

Rules and Criteria

Visit for judging criteria and specific guidelines.


The CAS qualifying event is limited to doctoral students. Click here for details.


Contact the Office of the Dean at or 509-335-4581.

2017 Competitors

Six graduate students are scheduled to participate in the CAS Three Minute Thesis qualifying round:


Morteza Adinehnia
“Designing Photoactive Porphyrin Crystals”


We provide a structure–function relationship study of an organic crystalline photoconductor composed of oppositely charged ionic porphyrins. Nano to millimeter size crystals with well-defined morphology composed of stoichiometric amounts of meso-tetra(N-methyl-4-pyridyl)porphyrin (TMPyP) and meso-tetra(4-sulfonatophenyl)porphyrin (TSPP) were grown in a controlled and reproducible manner. To predict the size distribution of the crystal we developed a computer model, based on nucleation and growth. The rod shaped TMPyP:TSPP monoclinic P21/c crystals have a pseudo-hexagonal cross section and their internal structure consists of highly organized molecular columns of alternating porphyrin cations and anions. Experimental characterization of the TMPyP:TSPP solid was performed using powder-XRD, AFM, SEM, DRS UV-visible, and photoconductivity measurements. For the first time the morphology of an ionic porphyrin solid is predicted. The TMPyP:TSPP crystals are non-conducting in the dark but become conductive with illumination. The n-type photoconductive response is significantly faster with excitation in the Q-band than with excitation in the Soret band. Quantum mechanical calculations were performed to determine the electronic band structure and density of states and to explain the photoconduction in TMPyP:TSPP. Based on these results we propose a model in which two types of photoconductivity occur: (1) band conduction which occurs at all excitation wavelengths and (2) hopping conductivity caused by metastable photoinduced defects that form primarily at higher energy excitations. This work combines the results from structural and theoretical studies and correlates them with electronic and optoelectronic properties thereby opening the road to the engineering of highly-organized functional materials from organic π-conjugated molecules.


Jacob Day
“BTS, a Water Soluble, Slow Releasing Sulfur Dioxide Donor”


Sulfur dioxide (SO2) has long been considered a toxic environmental pollutant and byproduct of industrial processing. Recently it has become evident that SO2 may also have regulatory functions in mammalian pulmonary systems. However, the study of these effects has proven to be challenging due to the difficulty in administering SO2 in a reliable manner. In this work, we report the discovery of a new pH-dependent and water-soluble SO2 donor, benzothiazole sulfinate (BTS). We have found BTS to have slow and sustained SO2 release at physiological pH. Additionally, we have explored its vasorelaxation properties as compared to the authentic SO2  gas solutions. The slow release of BTS should make it a useful tool for the study of endogenously generated SO2.


Mycah Harrold
Experimental Psychology
“Explaining Incredible Basic Information to Dolts: Negative Reactions to Failed Persuasion Attempts”


Classic research demonstrates that individuals consistently direct negative attitudes to members of out-groups. I proposed this effect would be amplified in cases where another person was viewed as definitively, rather than ambiguously, a member of the out-group. Participants (n=210) imagined a conversation with a hypothetical other who disagreed with them about an important political issue. Participants assigned to the Opportunity to Persuade condition imagined failing to persuade this person to change their mind about the target political issue to suggest that the out-group member’s views were unchangeable. Participants in the No Opportunity to Persuade condition imagined failing to persuade the opponent about an unrelated issue. I expected participants in this second condition to see their partners’ views as relatively malleable, compared to those in the Opportunity to Persuade condition, because they had not tried and failed to persuade their partners on the target issue. Further, I predicted this difference in perceptions of the malleability of the opponent’s views would lead participants to see the other person as less similar to the self which, in turn, would amplify negative attitudes (less interpersonal liking). Contrary to predictions, no condition effects were observed. However, some support for the proposed process did emerge. Participants who viewed the opponent as unlikely to ever change their mind perceived them to be less similar to the self, which produced decreased rates of liking, when compared to participants who believed the opponent’s views to be more malleable. These findings suggest that perhaps it is not failing to persuade an opponent, but instead perceiving that persuasion attempts would never work that drives some of the animosity directed at political opponents.


Lucy Johnson
“Seeing Power, Seeing Struggle: Exposing Appropriation in Ancient and
Contemporary Visual and Digital Literacy”


I have always been interested in cultivating and exploring issues surrounding critical digital literacy. Accordingly, I argue that the divide between the public sphere and classroom does not subscribe itself to merely alphabetic composing practices. Increasingly, the writing public is shifting toward image as language, notably with the Japanese Unicode system of emoji. While other instantiations of visual composing practices have surfaced in various new media contexts, emoji have become a ubiquitous composing practice in everyday communication, infiltrating both mobile and laptop communication practices. As a result, the rise of the image in digital contexts has become absorbed within the ways in which epistemologies are constructed and maintained (Elkins; Mitchell; Stephens; Wysocki).

In seeking to bridge the divide between public and classroom reading and writing practices, I argue that visual composing is a necessary component of our first-year writing classrooms, particularly as pertains to Latin@ students. In understanding the relationship of the visual to this particular demographic, my dissertation looks to the indigenous rhetoric of Latin America at the time of Contact with Western Europe.  The indigenous peoples practiced visual composing as language. As such, they developed a historiography of the visual, which I will argue can trace connections to contemporary society. Ultimately, I will argue that we ought to be mindful of the larger cultural contexts surrounding visual and digital literacy, coming to better understand how language becomes colonized. Colonized appropriations of language not only lend themselves to a critical gaze on the “default” user both in design and context, but they also ask us to pay attention to the ways in which the contemporary visual symbol system of the emoji allows us to better understand marginalized cultural rhetorical practices in conversations concerning critical digital literacy.


Joyce Lui
Clinical Psychology
“Casual Accounts of Psychopathy and Legal Decision-Making: The Influence of Gender”


Research suggests that evidence of psychopathy in the courtroom largely has a prejudicial impact (e.g., increased guilty verdict and punishment) among jurors and judges (Edens et al., 2003; 2013). In recent years, there has been an increase in the use of biological/genetic explanations to mitigate responsibility in courtrooms (Forzano et al., 2010; Owens, 2011). Heine and colleagues (2011) argued that genetic information about behaviors is often evaluated in a biased manner, where behaviors are seen as immutable, determined, and representing an essence of the individual. Cheung and Heine (2015) found that genetic account of criminal behavior was associated with perceptions of both diminished agency and support for mitigating defenses and perceptions of increased recidivism and recommendation for lengthier sentences. Only one study to date has examined the effect of genetic attributions of psychopathy on legal decisions. Aspinwall and colleagues (2012) found that biological evidence increased the likelihood of considering psychopathy as a mitigating factor (e.g., reduced culpability) and an aggravating factor (e.g., higher recidivism). The present study extend previous research by examining how decision-makers perceive and sentence psychopathic violent offenders when presented with different etiological accounts of psychopathy. The present study also explored how offender and perceiver gender may affect these decisions. Two-hundred and thirty eight undergraduates participated in the study. Participants read a vignette about a physical assault and completed questions related to legal outcomes. Offender gender (male vs. female) and etiology of psychopathy (genetic vs. environmental) were manipulated between groups. Results showed a significant three-way interaction between perceiver gender, offender gender, and etiology in predicting criminal responsibility. For female perceivers, genetic accounts of psychopathy were perceived more harshly for female (i.e., most criminally responsible) than male offenders. In contrast, environmental accounts of psychopathy were perceived more harshly for male than female offenders. The opposite pattern was evident for male perceivers. Thus, the function of genetic evidence varies depending in part by perceiver and offender gender and may be a ‘double-edged sword’, serving as both a mitigating and aggravating factor in legal proceedings.


Olesya Mikheeva
Clinical Psychology
“Personality, Eating Disorders, and Alcohol Use”


Eating disorder behaviors are highly comorbid with alcohol use problems. Researchers have examined personality features such as impulsivity and negative emotionality in those who engage in eating disorders and alcohol abuse to try to explain the relationship between the maladaptive behaviors. This study was the first to conduct a latent profile analysis in a large college student sample to determine how negative temperament, negative urgency, and drinking to cope characterize individuals who engage in both disordered eating and alcohol abuse behaviors. Results indicated that a six profile solution with gender as a covariate yielded the best combination of fit and theoretical value. The six profiles were named as follows: low risk, negative temperament, moderate risk, college drinking, coping, and high urgency. The coping and high urgency profiles exhibited the highest scores on coping and urgency, respectively, as well as demonstrated the highest risk for disordered eating. However, the high urgency profile showed the highest risk for alcohol abuse and alcohol-related problems. These results suggest that students who engage in both disordered eating and alcohol abuse behaviors may be differentiated by the mechanisms that drive the behaviors, such as impulsivity and coping motives.