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The Fourth Annual UA Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Conference was held April 11, 2011. Below is the list of oral and poster presentation winners from College of Arts and Sciences. The winners, as well as all presenters, are to be congratulated.

In addition to the A&S awards listed here, two of the top awards given by the College of Commerce and Business Administration went to Arts and Sciences’ students.  Nathaniel Corder, a senior mathematics major from Pickerington, Ohio, won first place in the CBA poster contest.  Austin Collins, an economics major from Amissville, Virginia, won third place in the poster contest.

Fine Arts/Humanities Winners

Social Sciences Winners

Natural Sciences/Mathematics Winners

 

Division of Fine Arts/Humanities

Pictured: William Cotton , Greg Banks, Margaret Brandl
Not pictured: Shannon Lindamood, Lindsay Lindsey, Laura Abston

Oral Presentation Winners

Division of Fine Arts/Humanities

College of Arts and Sciences

First Place

Greg Banks, Music

Faculty Mentor: Jennifer Caputo, Music

Demonstrating the Role of the Atsimevu in Ghanaian Drumming

In Ghanaian drumming, the atsimevu (master drum) is the heart and soul of the ensemble. It controls how fast the ensemble plays, signals moves for the dancers, and which songs and sections to perform. The Azaguno (Master Drummer) is similar to the orchestral conductor. However, whereas the conductor simply leads the ensemble, while the Azaguno leads while playing. In my experience as a western percussionist I have learned the atsimevu through a hybrid learning method using both written notation and oral training, a process that I will explain. In this presentation I will demonstrate the atsimevu’s role in Ghanian drumming.

Second Place

Shannon Lindamood, Theater & Dance

Faculty Mentor: Sarah Barry, Theater & Dance

Creative Being

The term “creative” is often used to describe the unusual, but such broad application muddles its specific meaning.  Creativity is best defined when analyzing its impulse, process, and motivation.  In a critical investigation, I chose to analyze each defining facet by studying artists and individuals considered to be creative within their disciplines.  By researching and synthesizing each person’s views and habits, I clearly establish the creative act.  I then applied these theories of creativity to my work in dance choreography.  A deeper understanding of creativity helped produce more successful work efficiently and develop original methods in my creative process.

Third Place

Margaret Brandl, English, Honors College

Faculty Mentor: Emily Wittman, English

Selig sind: A Work of Translation and Requiem

I created a book-length, nonfictional work of translation that conveys how, one semester, I navigated the death of my aunt through singing the Brahms Requiem. Scraps-journal entries, emails, and pieces of the score-are interwoven with and justified by a personal essay. My aim, fueled by research of translation theorists like Walter Benjamin and Vladimir Nabokov, was to explore how awkwardly-translated German and Latin can become more poignant than correct English and how impossible it is to translate into words the experience of making music. This work is an investigation into the complexities of translation, mourning, and music.

Poster Presentation Winners

Division of Fine Arts/Humanities

College of Arts and Sciences

First Place

Lindsay Lindsey, Art

Faculty Mentor: Craig Wedderspoon, Art

The Fibonacci Project

In 1202, Leonardo Pisardo introduced his Fibonacci sequence, a sequence which plays a huge role in science, nature, music and art; bridging the divide between science and art.  The Fibonacci Project acts as a tangible example of this bridge.  There are two aspects to the project.  The first is a 6 ½ foot tall, three dimensional representation of a Fibonacci Spiral constructed from stainless steel.  The second aspect is the Fibonacci Field Day that will provide an opportunity for young students to get a taste of science, math, music, and art in an environment that is exciting and educationally beneficial.

Second Place

William Cotton, Theatre & Dance

Faculty Mentor: Andy Fitch, Theatre & Dance

Lighting Design for Moby Dick

For a recent production of Moby Dick, I brought together elements from the story and my own ideas mixed with state of the art technology to implement a successful lighting design. Breaking down the script, I explored the contrast between dream and memory from real life, took an abstract approach to the many action sequences, and the sanctification of Captain Ahab. Lighting also helped define many locations throughout the production, while still allowing the audience to imagine the world of the play. The design relied heavily on state of the art technology to tell this classic story with modern elegance.

Third Place

Laura Abston, English

Faculty Mentor: Amy Dayton-Wood, English

Literacy and ESL in Alabama: A Survey of Adult ESL Education in Tuscaloosa

My thesis provides a broad overview of the available adult English as a Second Language (ESL) programs in the Tuscaloosa area and the impact these programs have on the community, through reviewing ESL research and interviewing leaders involved in ESL outreach. I begin by addressing the need for ESL programs. Next, I explain the categories of ESL programs, defining the program characteristics I used, and summarize my interview questions and findings. Finally, I assess these results and propose options for expanding Tuscaloosa’s ESL efforts. This research presents teachers, researchers, and community members with a constructive synopsis of local ESL efforts.


Division of Social Sciences

Pictured: Taylor Payne, William McCarty, Johnna Dominguez, Charlotte Cover, Isabella Morales
Not pictured: Lisa Elizondo, John Harris, Matthew Jones

Oral Presentation Winners

Division of Social Sciences

College of Arts and Sciences

First Place

Isabella Morales, History

Faculty Mentor: Jenny Shaw, History

Abuse and Influence: Reconstructing the Lives of Seven Enslaved Women, 1830-1856

In 1856, Alabama planter Samuel Townsend died, naming as heirs his nine biological children and their mothers—seven enslaved mistresses.  This research attempts to piece together the paradoxical roles of these Townsend women.  Between Samuel’s death in 1856 and his will’s probation in 1860, the Townsend women were under the law both legal heirs and legal property.  The tenuous positions they occupied opened them to danger—sexual vulnerability in the private plantation house, legal vulnerability in the public courtroom, and social vulnerability as individuals who confused racial divisions in the wider population—even while providing opportunities for socio-economic advancement.

Isabella’s research project also won the2011 University Libraries Undergraduate Research Prize in Humanities and Social Sciences. This is the first year this award has been given.

Second Place

Charlotte Cover, History

Faculty Mentor: Renee Raphael, History

The Universities of Early Modern Italy

Italian universities were transformed by the humanist movement and the development of the new science in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Galileo taught at the universities of Pisa and Padua and received many requests for letters of recommendation for various university positions. My project involved analyzing letters written to Galileo to learn about the selection process for hiring professors. The letters emphasize intellectual quality and the quality of written work as well as good connections and fame. These findings will add to understanding of early modern universities and how they were both agents and recipients of change in the period.

Third Place

Lisa Elizondo, American Studies

Faculty Mentor: Michael Innis-Jiménez American Studies

Off the Border: Mexican Americans in Washington State

Two distinct communities in Western and Eastern Washington were active during the 1960s and 1970s.  Students in Western Washington took the lead as activists in the greater Seattle community, and the organizations they created are still important fixtures in the state.  Eastern Washington activists were tuned into the plight of the farmworker, especially in the agriculture-rich Yakima Valley.  Oral histories collected from members of the community, as well as from activists involved in both the student and farmworker movements, help expand public knowledge of organization, activism, and the legacies of the movement that continue to impact the state of Washington

Fourth Place

Johnna Dominguez, Anthropology

Faculty Mentor: Christopher Lynn, Anthropology

Performances of Power: Crossing the Boundaries of Aggression and Sexuality in American Football and Burlesque

Many people place football and neo-burlesque shows on opposite sides of a spectrum, where the former represents masculinity and aggression while the latter represents femininity and sexuality. In my current studies of these events, however, I have found a great deal of similarities among the groups of people involved with each. These similarities reveal that both events are performances of power as played in a community, and are useful events in societies with strict social boundaries. These similarities reflect characteristics of rituals and cults in other ancient societies, most notably the Greek cult of Dionysus.

Poster Presentation Winners

Division of Social Sciences

College of Arts and Sciences

First Place

Taylor Payne, Anthropology

Faculty Mentor: Lisa LeCount, Anthropology

An Analysis of Tempers in Ceramics from the Archaeological Site of the Asphalt Plant, AL

The Asphalt Plant site(1TU50)is located approximately 0.5 miles from Moundville, a large prehistoric Mississippian town. During the fall 2009 archaeological field school, the mound and surrounding area were tested. By comparing ceramics on and off the mound, it is possible to determine if the occupation of these areas were contemporaneous. Around 600 sherds are analyzed by temper type. Grog tempered ceramics date to the Woodland period, while shell tempered pottery dates to the Mississippian period. Although both areas contain shell tempered pottery, the presence of grog tempered pottery off the mound would indicate would indicate earlier occupation in this area.

First Place

John Harris, Psychology

Faculty Mentor: Rosanna Guadagno, Psychology

Social Influence Online: The Impact of Social Proof and Likeability on Compliance

McKenna and Bargh (2000) reported four main ways computer-mediated communication (CMC) differs from face-to-face (FtF) communication and these four aspects likely affect how influence tactics are perceived online.  This study examined the influence principles of likeability and social proof on individuals’ willingness to volunteer in an online setting.  Participants read fictitious blogs asking them to volunteer time for a pro-social cause. These blogs varied in communicator likeability and availability of social proof confirmation.  Results revealed social proof affected compliance but communicator likeability did not.  Thus, our results suggest that some influence principles are not successful in online contexts.

Third Place

Matthew Jones, Psychology

Faculty Mentor: Rosanna Guadagno, Psychology

Good vs. Evil: A Study of Gender in Avatar Selection and Alignment

Self-presentation among online avatars (online virtual representations of individuals) is a well-documented phenomenon, but is it also related to how we act in real life? We examine whether people self-represent their moral alignment and personality as well when creating an avatar while playing a role-playing video game.

Fourth Place

William McCarty, CBHP, Computer Based Honors Program, Honors College

Faculty Mentor: Amy Holmes-Tagchungdarpa, History

Revolutionizing Jonang Buddhism Research: Digital Mapping for the Jonang Foundation

The Jonang tradition is one of the numerous traditions of Buddhism in Tibet. As with each institutionalized form of Tibetan religion, a vital aspect of the Jonang  is its historical and active sites. However, there is no comprehensive geo-spatial depiction of such locations. This project attempts to meet this need by creating an interactive satellite map of Jonang sites derived from the database of the Jonang Foundation, an NGO dedicated to preserving and promoting research about the Jonang tradition in Tibet.  This project marks a development in digital Himalayan studies and provides an invaluable tool for both scholars and non-specialists.


Division of Natural Sciences/Mathematics

Front Row:  Emma Catt, Jessica Duke, Yi Chen, Haley Leuch, Lauren Nelson, and Paige Dexter
Back Row:  Awuri Asuru, William Weathers, Matthew Hicks, Coston Rowe, Daryl Outlaw, and Sarah Boyd
Not pictured: Leslie Gentry, Paige Dexter, Chelsea Raulerson, Yi Chen

Oral Presentation Winners

Division of Natural Sciences/Mathematics

College of Arts and Sciences

First Place

Darryl Outlaw, Chemical & Biological Engineering, Computer Based Honors Program

Faculty Mentor: David Dixon, Chemistry

Structure Predictions of the Properties of Metal Ammonia Borane Complexes

There is substantial interest in the development of new materials for the chemical storage of hydrogen for use in fuel cells in the transportation sector for economic, environmental, and national security. We are predicting the properties of chemically modified ammonia boranes to tune their ability to release hydrogen.  We are predicting the thermodynamics and kinetics for the release of H2 as compared to the energy of breaking the B-N bond for the main group and
transition metal complexes derived from binding (NH2BH3)- or (BH2NH3)-to cationic main group, alkali, alkaline earth, and transition metal centers.

Second Place

Matthew Hicks, Biological Sciences

Bwarenaba Kautu, Biological Sciences

Faculty Mentor: Kimberly Caldwell, Biological Sciences

Investigating the Role of Heterotrimeric G-protein Signaling in a C. elegans Parkinson’s Disease Model

Two hallmarks of Parkinson’s disease are the degeneration of dopamine neurons and the aggregation of α-synuclein. It has been shown that α-synuclein overexpression in dopamine neurons elevates intracellular dopamine levels, leading to neurodegeneration. Heterotrimeric G-protein signaling mediated by GOA-1 and EGL-30 regulates dopamine signaling in C. elegans. We hypothesize altering this pathway may impact the integrity of dopamine neurons. Preliminary findings suggest loss of GOA-1 and EGL-30 causes neuroprotection and neurodegeneration, respectively, when α-synuclein is overexpressed. These data suggest this heterotrimeric G-protein signaling pathway regulates the integrity of dopamine neurons and could represent a novel therapeutic target for Parkinson’s disease.

Third Place

William Douglas Weathers, Mathematics

Faculty Mentor: Roger Sidje, Mathematics

Computing the Exponential Function with Laguerre Polynomials The exponential function arises in the modeling of many physical and biological systems, most notably when such systems are modeled with Markov chains. This study will demonstrate a method by which to numerically compute the exponential using a modified Laguerre exponential series based on the three-term recurrence of Laguerre polynomials. It is shown that this method is more accurate than the Taylor method for scalar quantities and converges where the Taylor series diverges in finite precision arithmetic, as is the case when modeling real-world systems with computers.

Fourth Place

Awuri Asuru, Chemistry

Leslie Gentry, Chemistry

Faculty Mentor: Laura Busenlehner

Use of Chemical Crosslinking to Determine the Interaction between the Mitochondrial Proteins Frataxin, Ferrochelatase, and Aconitase

Frataxin is a mitochondrial protein that participates in iron-sulfur cluster assembly, heme biosynthesis, and cellular iron homeostasis by functioning as a proposed iron chaperone to various iron-containing proteins such as ISU, ferrochelatase, and aconitase. Decreased levels of frataxin are responsible for the progressive neurodegenerative disease Friedreich’s ataxia, which affects 1 in 30,000 Americans. Cells which do not have sufficient amounts of frataxin exhibit toxic buildup of iron, which causes free radical damage to nerve and muscle cells. However, the mechanism by which frataxin binds iron and associates with several unrelated proteins is still unclear. We will describe the use of photo-reactive chemical crosslinking to covalently trap interactions between frataxin and proteins that require iron for function such as ISU, ferrochelatase, and aconitase. These interactions were subsequently probed by mass spectrometry to identify regions responsible for the interactions. Chemical crosslinking experiments will provide a better understanding of the mechanism of iron transfer