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College of Arts and Sciences Three Minute Thesis

Participants

201520162017

2018

On Tuesday, March 20, 2018, the College of Arts and Sciences will host a semi-final round of the 2018 WSU Three Minute Thesis competition. The challenge begins at 9:00 a.m. in Avery Hall, Bundy Reading Room.

  • The CAS first-place winner will receive a $1,000 doctoral studies fellowship for fall 2018 and advance to the WSU finals on Wednesday, March 28.
  • The runner-up will receive a $500 doctoral studies fellowship for fall 2018.
  • The CAS “people’s choice” winner will receive a $500 doctoral studies fellowship for fall 2018.

Applications are still being reviewed. Accepted entries so far include:

Steven Hobaica
Winner

Stephen Hobaica
Sexual Minorities in Heteronormative Sex Education
The efficacy of modern sex education has been questioned, as students participate in high rates of unsafe sex after completion. Without exploring various sexual minority (SM, e.g., gay, lesbian, and bisexual) identities and forms of sex, sex education may be especially unhelpful for SMs by perpetuating the heteronormative (i.e., assuming everyone is heterosexual) environment they typically experience. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with SMs regarding their experiences in sex education using a grounded theory approach. Participants described their sex education as being heteronormative and exclusive of their identities, making them feel invisible in curricula, sexually unprepared, and shameful. Sex education also reportedly contributed to sexual hesitance with members of the same sex, experiences of sexual violence, and risky sexual behaviors (e.g., unprotected sex, hookups, etc.). Participants endorsed histories of depression, anxiety, and suicidality, often associated with their identity and general exclusion. To become more informed and sexually prepared, they sought information through conversations with others, online searching, college courses, and trial and error sexual experiences. Participants also advocated for inclusive sex education, which would incorporate all sexual identities and associated safe sex practices. They concluded that inclusivity in curricula could lead to various improved outcomes for SMs, such as safer sex, a sense of community, identity confidence, healthy relationships, and general resilience.

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Alyssa Neumann
Runner-up

Alyssa Neumann
Antidepressants During Pregnancy: Safer for Baby than Depression?
Maternal prenatal depression is a significant public health concern, given documented associations with temperamental negative emotionality, childhood behavior problems, and lifelong mental health risk in offspring. Currently, frontline treatments for clinical depression typically include the use of medication, the most frequently prescribed being selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. However, in utero SSRI exposure has been linked with deleterious effects both on physiologic development and on temperament characteristics detected as early as infancy. The current study involved regression analyses with data from a sample of 100 pregnant women, 37 of whom were being treated with SSRI antidepressants. Fetal middle cerebral artery pulsatility, a measure of brain bloodflow taken via ultrasound in the 2nd trimester, was examined as it can reflect a “brain-sparing” effect in adverse uterine conditions. The Infant Behavior Questionnaire was used to measure infant temperament at 3 and 6 months of age by mother self-report. Maternal depression symptoms were controlled for and pulsatility was considered as a moderator of SSRI exposure effects on infant temperament at 6 months. Higher fetal cerebral blood flow significantly predicted heightened fearful reactivity in infants. An interaction between SSRI exposure and pulsatility trended toward significance in models predicting fear and ability to be soothed when in distress; however, trending effects became significant when depression effects were not controlled. These findings suggest the risks associated with depression may outweigh the risks of its medical treatment, though the effects of both are complex, involving multiple systems. Future research is needed to inform clinical decision-making regarding the use of SSRI medications to treat prenatal depression. Interdisciplinary work must also investigate physiologic processes that underlie such “fetal programming” effects.

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Amy Nusbaum
People's Choice

Amy Nusbaum
Chronic Cannabis Users Use Different Means to Achieve the Same Cognitive Goals
As recreational use of marijuana becomes increasingly common, there is an urgent need to better understand the long-term consequences of its use. In terms of effects on cognition, the current literature on chronic marijuana use is equivocal. Here we contrast chronic marijuana users and control subjects on multiple measures of cognitive flexibility (CF), the ability to adjust cognitive and behavioral strategies to changing environmental circumstances. We also manipulated acute stress using the Maastricht Acute Stress Test to determine if chronic cannabis use is associated with different physiological and cognitive stress reactions. Self-reported chronic users (N=40) and non-users (N=43) were randomly assigned to stress and control conditions, and then performed two different tasks measuring CF: (a) a well-established task switching measure, which also included assessment of the ability to overcome response competition, and (b) a novel measure of the ability to adjust top-down control of attention with shifts in the validity of cues that predicted the identity of target stimuli. The acute stress manipulation was effective, leading to increased cortisol levels and subjective stress ratings. Chronic cannabis users generally performed well on the CF measures, but tended to use different cognitive strategies than did non-users. Overall, these results suggest that investigations of chronic cannabis use and cognitive functioning should focus less on “good” vs. “bad” performance and more on qualitative differences in performance.

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Enrique Alvarado

Enrique Alvarado
A Property of Smoothed Images
In our day-to-day life, there is always a need to filter out certain information about the world around us that is not particularly useful at the moment. Perhaps, that peculiar looking leaf on the ground is not useful information when walking across a busy road! If we want computers to be successful at completing a particular task, we usually need methods for getting rid of information that is not useful for the success of completing that task. If a computer is given the task to analyze pictures, because pictures can come out blurry and noisy, we need to come up with ways to denoise images before we let the computers perform further analysis. One particular way to denoise an image is by using what is called the ‘L1-TV Functional’. This method takes an image, rounds out corners, takes away small specks, and leaves a cleaned-up, smooth version of the original image. We will see how this cleaned-up version of the image has a property called “reach bounded from below”; a property that is useful for performing further analysis.

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Joseph Hantho

Joseph Hantho
A Comparison of Enzyme-Directed Pro-Immunostimulants for Cancer Immunotherapy
Herein, we propose the synthesis and activity of enzyme-directed pro-immunostimulants to determine their efficacy cancer immunotherapy. Immunostimulants have long shown efficacious anticancer effects, but intravenous administration yields systemic toxicity. Prodrugs have recently shown promise in cancer therapy by caging a cytotoxic drug with a substrate that is specific to the tumor microenvironment, thus mitigating toxicity, and allows for release of the cytotoxic payload only within the tumor microenvironment. Previously, substrate cages for beta-galactosidase, alpha-mannosidase, and nitroreductase enzymes have been employed for enzyme-directed targeting approaches. However, the bystander effect, the phenomenon when a prodrug is activated by one cell and interacts with or kills another, has shown off-target toxicity in surrounding tissues caused by diffusion of the drug away from tumor cells. By using a caged immunostimulant, diffusion of the active immunostimulant would be desirable, as immune cells are commonly found in or surrounding tumor microenvironements. Additionally, we could harness the anticancer potential of immunostimulants while mitigating off-target systemic toxicity. Modification of the critical moiety of a known immunostimulant, either through oxidation or by covalent attachment of an enzyme-cleavable cage, will selectively activate anticancer immune responses only in the presence of the corresponding enzyme. We expect to see various levels of anticancer immune responses due to differences in activities of the respective enzymes in cancer cells. To test this hypothesis, we will synthesize a small library of enzyme-directed imidazoquinolines with cages for beta-galactosidase, alpha-mannosidase, and nitroreductase, and compare their conversion by exogenous enzymes ex vivo and native enzymes upregulated in cancer cells in vitro.

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Kimberly Lackey

Kimberly Lackey
Leprosy and Human Milk – Exploring the Unknown
Leprosy is a disfiguring disease that still affects hundreds of thousands of people, most of whom are among the poorest of the poor. It is also one of the world’s the most stigmatized diseases; people with leprosy are often ousted from their families and communities and are frequently left destitute. The good news is that leprosy is curable, and the World Health Organization offers free treatment to all diagnosed cases. The bad news is that we still do not know how leprosy is transmitted from one person to another. Until recently, most experts believed that leprosy was transmitted by direct contact between infected and healthy persons. More recently, the possibility of transmission by respiratory route has gained ground. We hypothesize that an unappreciated mode of leprosy infection is breastfeeding, and that milk produced by infected women can contain Mycobacterium leprae, the bacterium that causes the disease. Using molecular techniques that I helped develop, I am investigating this hypothesis in collaboration with clinicians and researchers at Anandaban Hospital outside of Kathmandu, Nepal. The study is ongoing, but the results will likely impact recommendations for treatment of breastfeeding women and their infants in leprosy-endemic regions around the globe.

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Maren Mossman

Maren Mossman
Using Ultracold Atoms to Study Quantum Mechanics
In classical physics, the behavior of matter is relatively well understood. However, under extreme conditions, such as small dimensions or ultracold temperatures, matter behaves differently. The corresponding theory, quantum mechanics, describes a mysterious and complex world, riddled with concepts and phenomena that are not well understood. With the general trend of technology becoming smaller, it is crucial to understand the physics encountered on the nanoscale. By cooling down large collections of atoms to temperatures near absolute zero, we are able to study macroscopic quantum systems with extreme control and tunability. Ultracold atoms ultimately bring the quantum world to our fingertips.

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Anna Pratt

Anna Pratt
Building an Organelle-specific artificial microRNA Library to Identify Elusive Chloroplast Transporters in Arabidopsis Thaliana
The conversion of light energy into chemical energy through photosynthesis is the foundation of life on Earth. However, our understanding of this process remains far from complete. Filling the gaps in knowledge regarding this fundamental process will benefit humankind in a myriad of ways ranging from securing food production to creating artificial photosynthetic devices to harness light energy. Key to deciphering photosynthesis is to gain a holistic understanding of the organelle called the chloroplast, which houses the pathway in plant and algal cells. My current project addresses two questions: 1) Can I build a genetic tool to accelerate my own research on photosynthesis and the chloroplast that simultaneously empowers other plant scientists? 2) What role does the second messenger calcium (Ca2+) play in attuning photosynthesis to changing light conditions? A major role for Ca2+ transients in regulating photosynthetic efficiency has been suggested many times; for instance, as a switch between carbon fixation and carbon catabolism or directly through the oxidation of water by photosystem II. In nature, quickly changing light conditions make it crucial that Ca2+ flux across several chloroplast membranes occurs almost instantaneously. Rapid Ca2+ flux can be facilitated only by specialized chloroplast Ca2+ transporters. However, traditional genetic tools have failed to identify their genes. To overcome this hurdle, I have constructed a chloroplast specific artificial microRNA expression library that can suppress entire gene families from a single construct. As this avoids pitfalls of traditional genetic tools, it will empower other plant scientists working on chloroplasts. In the next step of my project, I will combine a Ca2+ sensor with my library tool in a high-throughput approach to identify the genes that facilitate calcium flux in the chloroplast. This molecular tool promises to be a useful and valuable piece in the toolbox of plant geneticists and could be a starting point for unpacking many diverse physiological processes.

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Brian Stack

Brian Stack
"In Certain Western Areas of the United States”: Bestiality, Animals, and Sexuality in the Twentieth-Century American West
In 1948, Alfred Kinsey claimed that sixty-five percent of men engaged in bestiality “in certain Western areas of the United States.” While this dissertation does not posit that bestiality was more common in the American West than any other region of the country, it does explore why Kinsey would make such a claim and the implications of his findings. This study charts both the actual occurrence of bestiality in the American West and Americans’ changing ideas about bestiality in the region from the 1880s to the 1970s.
As of 2018, bestiality is technically legal in five states—Hawaii, Kentucky, New Mexico, West Virginia, and Wyoming. During the time period examined here, several other states, in the west and elsewhere, decriminalized bestiality, but recriminalized it in the mid-2000s. Whether to classify bestiality, as a “sex” crime, as animal abuse, or even a crime at all, is a historical question that has not been resolved. This dissertation seeks to do so.
I demonstrate how sexologists and other medical professionals created ideas about animal abuse, bestiality, and the people who engaged in them; in the process, helping to erase bestiality as a serious concern in the minds of criminologists and legislators. I explore how and why animal welfare advocates did not challenge those definitions and generally avoided expanding their purview to include cases of bestiality. I also show how ideas about and associations between sexuality, animals, and bestiality were reproduced in American popular culture and associated especially with the American West. Most significantly, I argue that modern American ideas about, and western American regulation of, bestiality, sexual behavior, and animal abuse coalesced and converged with changing perceptions of same-sex sex and animal welfare, explaining that modern sexual identities and animal welfare protections grew up in tandem.

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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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Matthew Frye


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
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Stefani Crabtree, runner-up
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Jeremy Eskelsen
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Jessica Tufariello
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