The University of Minnesota, Morris Undergraduate Research Symposium offers undergraduates the opportunity to present their research, creative work, or art performances to their peers, faculty, and the campus community. For more information, see the Undergraduate Research Symposium website . The 2016 Undergraduate Research Symposium was held on Saturday, April 16, 2016.
Agriculture was first introduced to the Tucson Basin of Arizona during the Formative period (also known as the Early Agricultural period) around 2000 BC. During the Classic period (AD 750–950), the later Hohokam people developed large-scale riverine irrigation systems. Despite the size and numbers of excavations that have been conducted at Hohokam sites, it is still unclear when the Hohokam developed a sedentary lifestyle and the degree to which they impacted the environment around them. One way to answer these questions is to look at the effects of human activity on animals, particularly whether anthropogenic environmental changes established new ecological niches for populations of small mammals; with this in mind, I measured remains of the genus Lepus (the jackrabbit) from the Marana mound, a Classic period Hohokam site, and compared this to a data set from Las Capas, a Formative period site also located in the Tucson Basin, to see if or how human-caused environmental changes affected the size of the jackrabbit. Jackrabbits are generally smaller and/or more variable in size in the later period, suggesting that the human impact on the local environment depressed the size of rabbits (either through poorer habitat or over-hunting) and that jackrabbits variety of microenvironments as hunting areas expanded to feed larger villages.
Bayesian Networks are networks of interconnected variables used to explain causal relationships with conditional probability. Latent variables or hidden variables are variables that cannot be directly measured, like depression or physical activity. They can be used inside of a Bayesian Network. This research looks at latent variables as a weighted sum of observed variables. We use these modeled latent variables as continuous variables in a Bayesian Network. As an example, we look at a Bayesian Network of the causation of diabetes using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) that is publicly available from the CDC and contains several health-related variables. In this example, we model physical inactivity, as a weighted sum of variables in the data. We found that physical inactivity can be modeled as a linear combination of the total number of hours watching TV and the number of hours spent doing vigorous/moderate physical activity. These variables were inversely correlated, meaning we contrasted amount of activity with time spent watching TV.
Legal development in the workplace has created an ever-changing environment for workers, especially workers with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act created requirements for hiring and providing accommodations for employees with disabilities, resulting in fewer people with disabilities being hired because employers viewed these accommodations as too costly. People with disabilities are disproportionately un- and underemployed, so research into how and why these disparities occur is vital. This study’s purpose is to examine factors that influence willingness to provide accommodations. This was achieved by administering a survey to Human Resources employees at various companies. The factors examined include company size, accommodation cost, and disability type. Previous research shows that employers view some types of disabilities as "easier to hire" than others (for example, people with chronic illness are seen as easier to hire than people with intellectual disabilities). Therefore, there were three segments of the survey: one concerning disabilities considered by past research to be "easy to hire," one concerning "moderately difficult to hire" disabilities, and one concerning "difficult to hire" disabilities. We anticipate that the three segments will yield distinct responses, showing that disability type has an impact on willingness to provide accommodations, that all employers will be more willing to provide low-cost accommodations than expensive ones, and that larger companies will be more willing to provide accommodations than smaller ones.
Garcinia mangostana, commonly known as mangosteen, is often referred to as the “queen of fruits” for its delicious flavor and numerous health benefits. Mangosteen has also attracted attention in recent dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSC) studies as the dye extracted from the fruit’s purple-red pericarp has exceeded many natural dyes in DSSC efficiency. In short, this dye is promising for the development of a natural products-based, sustainable DSSC, as it is a highly effective transporter of photoexcited electrons into the solar cell to be converted into electricity. The purpose of this study was to optimize the dye extraction from the mangosteen pericarp for use in DSSC applications. Previous studies have indicated that rutin, a prominent dye molecule in the mangosteen pericarp, is the main contributing factor to DSSC efficiency. However, the results from this study suggest that extracting cyanidins, another group of dye molecules present in the pericarp, in acidic conditions increases DSSC current substantially when compared to extractions of rutin in neutral conditions.
Broc S. Kokesh
Brachiopods are small animals that live on the seafloor and are abundant in the Devonian fossil record (420 to 360 million years ago), making them excellent subjects for studying evolution in ancient marine environments. Some species sported large spines that cover their exterior surfaces, although these spines are typically broken off during fossilization. Paleontologists have hypothesized that these spines developed as an evolutionary response to predation, yet few studies have tested this idea due to the scarcity of specimens with intact spines. Recent work has been able to get around this problem by examining injury markings caused by predators that brachiopods accumulate over their lifetime, which preserve well in the fossil record. In this study, I examined injury markings on fossils of the spiny brachiopod Atrypa rockfordensis and the spineless Atrypa devoniana. Results demonstrate that A. devoniana experienced attacks across all body sizes whereas A. rockfordensis was only attacked at smaller sizes, suggesting that spines were an efficient defense against predators. Furthermore, survivorship analysis based on the overall body size at the time of death suggests that A. rockfordensis has high juvenile mortality, possibly correlated to a higher rate of predation when spines are not fully developed. These findings provide evidence for predator-prey interactions as an evolutionary pressure for the origin of defensive structures.
Taylor D. Montbriand
At present, the body of research on chemical dependency programs does not adequately address gendered barriers to treatment. A gendered approach is needed to conceptualize and address women’s experiences with addiction as distinctive from that of men. A gendered approach sheds light on how gender plays a role in the entrance, continuance, and success of women in treatment programs for chemical dependency. In my research, I argue that applying a gendered lens will lay the groundwork for addressing women’s specific needs in regards to substance abuse treatment. The research design for this project utilizes an analysis of existing secondary sources. Specifically, I will also examine historical, ethnographic, and narrative accounts of treatment programs. I assert that applying a gender lens to the study of women in drug treatment programs reveals women's particular barriers, stigmas, and struggles. Applying a gendered lens will thereby be beneficial to the future of women’s treatment and continued sobriety. Findings from research projects such as this one raise awareness about the inequalities women face and advocate for heightened responsibility on the part of medical practitioners to develop treatment plans within recovery institutions specific to the needs of women.
Christina Nyquist and Hannah Wahstrom
According to the US Census Bureau, the Latino population of Stevens County increased by almost 300% from 2000 to 2010. Previous research in the Morris community focused on the concerns of the Latino population and education staff at Morris public schools. This project examines the perspectives and experiences of English-dominant Morris residents, particularly civic leaders and business owners, to better understand how they view their communities and the changes taking place. Our project conducted 15 semi-structured interviews where questions focused on how participants understand their own identities, their knowledge about and interaction with the Morris Latino population, and the challenges of serving Latino community members. Building on preliminary analysis from fall 2015, we will argue that the community leaders in our sample have intersecting cultural and racial identities of varying salience to the individual, and have a diverse and typically positive understanding of the Morris Latino population. Nonetheless, language and cultural barriers were frequently mentioned as the main difficulty in serving Latino community members. This analysis considers the idea that these concerns, while real and well-founded, may also indicate hesitation to interact across cultural and linguistic boundaries. Our project contributes to social science research on the dynamics of changing rural communities. Findings will be used to increase inclusiveness in Morris through improving UMM service learning endeavors by collaborating with Argie Manolis and the Office of Community Engagement, and to contribute to the ongoing research by Oscar Baldelomar concerning Latinos in Morris.
In the Ancient Egyptian context, the pharaoh was the main authority figure. To assume this role, an individual was typically a member of the royal family, was seen to be predestined by the gods, and was usually male. An exception to these last two rules was the female pharaoh Hatshepsut, who reigned from 1478-1458 BC, during the New Kingdom period. Scholars have observed that over the course of her reign Hatshepsut was depicted as a mixture between a male and female, until she ultimately conformed to the prototypical masculinized representation of the pharaoh. My research revealed that even when she was eventually depicted as a male, her female identity caused her to approach her portraits as pharaoh differently. For example, she abandoned the typical military representation of a warrior pharaoh, and instead she adopted religious-based images that illustrated her interactions with the gods and her participation in trading expeditions. Using contextual evidence and images, I was able to determine that Hatshepsut’s female identity had the largest impact on the artwork that she had commissioned at the beginning of her reign. In addition, it is evident that Hatshepsut continued to have internal conflicts with how to express her gender as her reign progressed. For example, in her masculinized portraits, she continues to incorporate feminized labels. These results are significant because they help us to better understand the wide variety of cultural and biological gender representations that she experimented with, which included female, androgynous, and male appearances, and to see that she never became completely male.
William White and Jonas Newhouse
The Killer Wingfield Theatre & Film Company has been producing original works with a primarily student ensemble for the past two years. Company co-founders Jonas Newhouse and William White have focused their efforts researching all aspects of production, striving to create an opportunity for themselves and their peers to create high-quality original works, including five plays and nine short films. As part of this research, Killer Wingfield produced a thirty-minute short film entitled “Relationship Advice." Originally produced as a one-act play, the film follows a young man struggling with anxiety and low self-esteem; his thoughts are represented as "characters" with whom he communicates. After the script was revised multiple times, filming took place over approximately thirty-two hours. The project required significant planning, with White preparing storyboards, shooting schedules, and securing equipment. They also worked on location scouting, securing props, and planning costumes for all characters. White then spent upwards of eighty hours editing the film for online release. Following initial video editing, Newhouse and White composed, performed, and recorded an original score. "Relationship Advice" represents the culmination of the company's collective learning experience in the area of film. Newhouse and White plan to apply this knowledge in their future professional lives. The presentation, including the screening of select film clips, will highlight specific examples of both the process and results of this collaboration.