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College of Arts and Sciences Three Minute Thesis

Past Participants

2015 • 2016 • 2017

2017 Participants


Jacob Day
First Place


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.

Lucy Johnson
Runner Up


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.

Mycah Harrold
People's Choice


Mycah Harrold

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.

Morteza Adinehnia


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.

Joyce Lui


Joyce Lui

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


Olesya Mikheeva

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.

2016 Participants


On Wednesday, March 2, 2016, the College of Arts and Sciences hosted a semi-final round of the 2016 WSU Three-Minute Thesis competition.

  • The CAS winner received a $1,000 fellowship for fall 2016 and advance to the WSU finals on Tuesday, March 22.
  • The runner up received a $500 fellowship for fall 2016.
  • The CAS people’s choice received a $500 fellowship for fall 2016.

Molly Perchlik
Winner


Molly Perchlik

The importance of nitrogen partitioning processes for plant performance


Nitrogen (N) is an essential nutrient that plants need in large amounts for growth and development. It is required for the synthesis of amino acids, proteins, nucleic acids and many essential metabolites. In industrial countries, extensive N fertilizer use guarantees high crop yield. However, this level of fertilizer production and application is not sustainable because of costly high-energy inputs and negative effects on human health and the environment through greenhouse gas emissions and water pollution. In developing countries, on the other hand, access to N fertilizer is limited and insufficient N nutrition results in low crop productivity and ultimately in reduced food supply. A solution to these issues could be the production of crops that use N more efficiently and require less N fertilizer. One potential strategy for improving N use efficiency in plants is to regulate N allocation to specific plant organs for optimum growth.

In general, partitioning of N within plants occurs in the form of amino acids. Transport proteins in cellular membranes are necessary to move amino acids into cells and over long distances. Our lab has identified transporters that play central roles in allocation of amino acids to growing plant organs. We found that manipulation of amino acid transporter expression in Arabidopsis and pea plants results in improved seed yields under high N conditions. In this study, it is hypothesized that the transgenic Arabidopsis and pea plants continue to outperform non-transgenic plants under reduced N fertilization, and that alteration of N transport processes leads to more efficient N use. The transgenic lines were grown under a deficient, limiting or sufficient N fertilization regime, and physiological, biochemical and molecular analyses were used to determine plant N use efficiency and nutritional status. Results showed that the transgenic plants display increased N use efficiency under all N conditions tested. Additionally, Arabidopsis and pea plants with modified N transport required half the amount of N to produce as many fruits and seeds as their non-transgenic counterparts. Overall, it was demonstrated that altering amino acid allocation presents an effective strategy to improve plant yields, while reducing the input of N fertilizer.

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Kayela Robertson
Runner Up


Kayela Robertson

Naturalistic assessment using a simulated environment: Cognitive correlates and relationship to functional status in individuals with neurologic conditions


Research has shown that neurologic conditions, such as traumatic brain injury, stroke, and multiple sclerosis, result in a number of cognitive and functional deficits. However, little is known about the relationship between various cognitive domains and ability to perform everyday activities. The Community Shopping Task (CST), a naturalistic assessment task conducted in a simulated environment, will be used to examine functional abilities and cognitive correlates of everyday functioning in individuals with neurologic conditions. Approximately 36 participants with neurologic conditions and 36 healthy controls will complete the CST as well as traditional paper-pencil tasks evaluating immediate and delayed memory, language, attention, visuospatial/constructional skills, and executive functioning. In addition, all participants will complete a questionnaire assessing instrumental activities of daily living. This will be one of the first studies to examine a novel naturalistic task in a simulated environment. The results will improve our understanding of how the CST is related to cognition and everyday functioning. If the CST is found to be related to everyday functioning more so than the traditional paper-pencil cognitive measures, the study will result in greater knowledge regarding the potential benefit of using more naturalistic tasks in assessment. Furthermore, the results of this study may help to provide support for the use of simulated environments in a number of settings due to the ability to create more ecologically valid tasks for assessment.

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Cristina Wilson
People’s Choice


Cristina Wilson

High trait anxiety individuals improve decision making over time despite increased vulnerability to bias


High trait anxiety is associated with vulnerability to biases when making decisions with uncertain outcomes, i.e., risky decisions. When risk information is provided (descriptive risk) trait anxious individuals’ exhibit increased decision bias, leading to suboptimal choices. In contrast, when risk information must be learned through previous decision consequences (experiential risk) the impact of trait anxiety is not well understood. The present study examined how experience with decision outcomes reduces framing bias in risky decision making, and whether people high in trait anxiety may benefit from experience with decision outcomes. Participants completed a decision making task in which repeated choices were made between a sure option (gain or loss), and a risky gamble option. In this task, framing bias appears as a preference for the gamble over the sure loss and preference for the sure gain over the gamble. Advantageous decision making requires overcoming the framing bias through experience with choice outcomes. Affective reactions to choice outcomes were measured using skin conductance response. Results showed that high trait anxiety individuals were more susceptible to framing bias, but were capable of reducing the impact of bias and improving advantageous choices over time. Skin conductance response results revealed that vulnerability to framing bias with trait anxiety was attributable to stronger affective reactions to sure gain outcomes. Interestingly, when trait anxious individuals were given more time to consider their choice, they made less-biased decisions, similar to their non-anxious counterparts. This suggests trait anxious persons are capable of overcoming affect-driven bias through the experience of choice outcomes, thereby optimizing their decision making over time.

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Greg Atkins


Greg Atkins

Evangelical Mecca: Boosters, business, and ministries in Colorado Springs


In the 1990s, Colorado Springs gained notoriety as one of the nation’s most conservative cities, an “Evangelical Mecca.” But behind that identity lays a complicated and far more diverse history. From the city’s founding in 1871, Christian leaders, business owners, and politicians have allied as boosters and collaborated to market, control, and sanctify their city. Rallied around control of the town’s image, these city boosters—religious and otherwise—administered charities, pledged their region to the Republican Party, and diversified the economy. By the 1990s, their work had produced a conservatism that blended neo-liberal economics, neo-conservative politics, and evangelical faith.

I argue that Christian leaders adapted and shaded into boosterism and politics to produce the “Evangelical Mecca.” This research holds important insights for the West, conservatism, and religion. Over time, the work of the city’s long-standing Republican establishment and its Christian leaders was mutually reinforcing. Together they grew in power by combining religion, boosterism, and conservative political values. What began as the privileging of denominational churches and ecumenical organizations ended with the rise of new, politically active, corporate forms of Christianity represented by nonprofit evangelical corporations like Focus on the Family. From their base in Colorado Springs, these organizations transformed politics and culture around the nation.

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Ekaterina Burduli


Ekaterina Burduli

Comparing birth satisfaction across US and UK mothers


Objective: This research sought to test the measurement invariance of the Birth Satisfaction Scale-Revised (BSS-R) and compare birth satisfaction levels across United States (US) and United Kingdom (UK) samples. Background: Recent healthcare advances around the world emphasize exceptional health care service that in turn leads to greater patient satisfaction. Because satisfaction is one of the most widely reported outcome measures of quality of care, an evaluation of birth satisfaction can be considered a direct measure of maternal care quality. Additionally, testing the measurement invariance of the BSS-R can shed light on the usefulness and accuracy of the scale within and across cultures. Method: Using Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA), data previously collected from 409 mothers (181 US mothers; 228 UK mothers) were used to examine the multiple-group measurement invariance of the BSS-R model across US and UK samples. Results: A correlated factors BSS-R demonstrated partial measurement invariance. US mothers had significantly lower birth satisfaction levels on the three BSS-R subscales of quality of care, stress experienced during labor, and women’s attributes. Conclusions: The BSS-R is a robust tool that can be used to reliably measure women’s birth satisfaction within and across the US and UK. However, the cultural differences revealed in this research strongly suggest that higher caesarean rates, along with costly practices, higher rates of hospital births, and under-utilization of midwives are negatively influencing women’s birth satisfaction in the US.

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Candace Fanale


Candace Fanale

Attitude toward mental health treatment and reasons for cannabis use


Among young adults who use cannabis, the prevalence of anxiety is two- to five-fold compared to non-users. Anxiety relief is the most common expected effect of cannabis use; however, using a substance to relieve negative affect, such as anxiety, is associated with cannabis dependence and has the potential to negatively affect academic and cognitive functioning. Therefore, young adults and college students who use cannabis for coping motives (i.e. to relieve negative affect) are at increased risk for incurring negative consequences associated with cannabis use. Research has found that seeking mental health treatment is effective in reducing coping motives; however, barriers to treatment, such as a negative attitude toward mental health treatment, may prevent someone from seeking help and learning healthier coping strategies. Studies have not yet evaluated whether those who have higher levels of stigma toward treatment are more likely to use cannabis for coping motives instead of treatment for mental health concerns.

Despite evidence of common coping-related motives for cannabis use, there remains a dearth of research that examines the relationships between mental health symptoms (e.g. anxiety, depression, stress), coping motives for cannabis use, and seeking mental health treatment. This study aims to inform best practices for cannabis interventions among college students by testing whether a negative attitude toward treatment interacts with mental health symptoms to increase the risk of coping motives for cannabis use. Results from this study have the potential to establish that addressing stigma toward treatment during interventions could contribute to the effective reduction of coping motives and reduce harmful consequences related to cannabis use.

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Candace Fanale


Candace Fanale

Writing + Time = More complex argument support?


This dissertation examines the use of supporting evidence in undergraduate writing to track epistemological development in the first two years of college. The central study builds on fifty years of personal epistemology research (e.g. Perry, 1968; Belenky et al., 1986; Baxter Magolda, 2002; Baxter Magolda & King, 2012). Much of this research has found that individuals enter college grounded in outsider-based epistemologies, believing that knowledge is discovered by experts (e.g. scientists) and communicated to the masses through them. Over time, college students begin to view knowledge as contextualized by the knower’s prior experiences. However, these studies rely heavily on interviews, a method that is not only time consuming but prone to error as interviewees (consciously or not) shape responses to fit the interviewer’s purpose.

Rather than rely on interviews, this study uses writing produced independent of this study from 80 college students—ranging from pre-enrollment writing exams through WSU’s mid-career writing assessment—to develop a method for performing this research more efficiently on larger scales and to test whether the prevailing beliefs about epistemological development hold true outside the interview setting. The results of this study will better inform post-secondary educational practice, as it examines epistemological development independent from major (e.g. diSessa, 1993; Chi, 2008) and on a scale larger than an individual semester (e.g. Nowacek, 2011).

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Alexander Iveson


Alexander Iveson

Using trace metals to track fluid movement in magma chambers


My research involves a detailed experimental and analytical study of important economic metals (e.g. Li, Cu, Zn, Mo, Au, and Pb) in order to understand their volatile behaviour in magmatic-hydrothermal systems. My research is concerned with the optimum geochemical conditions required for their efficient transport in fluids released from cooling magmas.

The mobility of these metal-bearing fluid phases is vital for producing large economic ore deposits, like those found along the Cascadia and Andean subduction zones. I combine high-temperature and high-pressure experimental evidence with in-situ microanalytical techniques (conducted at WSU, the American Museum of Natural History in NY, and the University of Auckland in New Zealand) in order to simulate the conditions of magma storage and examine the distribution of these metals between molten magmas, crystals, and fluids.

My results indicate that complex, intrinsically-linked factors determine the preferential mobilisation of these metals, and it is not a simple function of any one geochemical variable. The new data I am obtaining has applications to the eruption dynamics of explosive volcanoes, and implications for the exploration of ore deposits.

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Taewoo Kang


Taewoo Kang

Democrats and Republicans use different words


In polarized America, the two political parties own different words, and campaigns tend to use the words owned by their party and avoid the words owned by the other party. This partisan word ownership is observable in issue areas, but it also applies to – and is more commonly found in – non-issue areas, including the words referring to ideological labels (e.g., “I am proudly conservative and he is liberal!”) and particular political actors (i.e., attacking members of the out-group). In this research, I take both theory-driven and data-driven approaches to examine the partisan use of words in campaign rhetoric. My data consist of 2,349 emails sent by candidates running in 2014 U.S. Senate races. As the partisan rhetorical differences in issue emphasis are only a small part of the big picture, it seems unlikely for the campaign rhetoric to help citizens learn where each party stands on the issues of the day.

2015 3MT Participants


The CAS winner received a $1,000 fellowship for fall 2015 and advanced to the WSU finals.

View a photo gallery of the event

Brian Hauck and Sciences Three Minute PhD competition Friday, March 13, 2015 in the Thompson Hall on the Pullman campus.Brian Hauck
CAS 3MT Winner

Participants

Brian Hauck, winner
Decreasing False Alarm Rates of National Security Technology

Stefani Crabtree, runner-up
Archaeological Lessons on Food Scarcity

Ashish Bhattarai
Thermodynamics and Kinetics from Microscopy

Jeremy Eskelsen
New Organic Nanostructures for Flexible Solar Cells

Larissa Gribat
Behavior of Technetium-99 for Nuclear Forensics

Jessica Tufariello
Detection of Marijuana from Human Breath using Breathalyzer-IMS