2010-2011 Honors Projects

Student Name: Alycia Bedrosian

Academic Major: Justice Studies

Project Title: Women on Patrol: Impact of Gender Roles in the Predominantly Male Occupation of Law Enforcement

Advisor: Desiree Ciambrone, Sociology

Summary: This study examines female officers' experiences in the predominantly male occupation of law enforcement. My research provides insight into women's gender identity and how it impedes their experience in this occupation by analyzing twelve female law enforcement officers' experiences with discrimination and inequality in the workforce, as well as their sense of identity in the masculine culture that surrounds them. Results indicate various types of inequality and discrimination reported by female officers, including experiences of sexual harassment, discrimination with regards to promotion, inequality in recruitment and academy practices, and negative perspectives from offenders and the greater society. Women reported competition between other female officers, as well as a compelling interest to prove themselves to their male peers and superiors, while still maintaining aspects of femininity to avoid socially constructed stereotypes. Despite their increased presence in the field and legislative attempts to eradicate sex-based discrimination in the workforce, females continuously suffer from occupational segregation and gender stereotyping. This study sheds light on the isolation of female officers from their male contemporaries in many aspects of their recruitment, academy, and patrol experiences in the predominantly male occupation of law enforcement, while contributing to the existing literature on occupational segregation, sex-based discrimination, and women's gender roles in the workforce.
Student Name: Kayla Lee Botelho

Academic Major: Elementary Education

Project Title: Teaching Statistics to Elementary Children: Using a Problem-Solving Approach to Enhance Learning

Advisor: Lisa Owen, Elementary Education

Summary: When teaching statistics (or data analysis) to elementary children, it is beneficial to use a problem-solving approach that incorporates meaningful tasks to enhance the students' learning. This was determined through a careful review of literature, observations of elementary teachers, and the creation and instruction of a data analysis unit. The unit required the students to collect data on heights, organize the data in charts, and display the data in line plots. In addition, the students analyzed the data to calculate the average and other measures of central tendency and to answer questions that arose through the implementation of the lessons. In conclusion, using a problem-solving approach to teach statistics (or any mathematics) to elementary children is highly recommended.
Student Name: Katie Cliento

Academic Major: Psychology

Project Title: Variation in Maternal Input in Relation to Child Language Development

Advisor: Dr. Beverly A. Goldfield, Psychology Dept.

Summary: The present study examined the relationship between child language and 2 levels of maternal language: joint attention (whether mother and child are both visually attending to the same object or event simultaneously, Current Focus or not, New Focus) and content measures (types of maternal utterances). Child language measures consisted of parent-report of comprehension 12-months, production at 12, 18, and 24-months, and a standardized language test administered in the lab at 24-months. Mother-child play sessions were transcribed and maternal language was coded for the 2 levels of maternal speech for 24 dyads at 12-months; 13 males (7 firstborn and 6 later born) and 11 females (5 firstborn and 6 later born). Mothers talk more within joint attention (Current Focus) than outside of joint attention (New Focus) and the relationship between Current Focus joint attention and child language tend to be positive. Accounting for the majority of maternal language content, Language Related Maternal Utterances (labels, descriptions, and prompts), are more conducive of language "learning" and tend to be positively related to child language. Within joint attention, Attentional Directives (utterances that direct the child's attention) negatively correlated with 12-month child comprehension, whereas Behavioral Directives (utterances that direct the child's behavior) are positively correlated with 12-month child comprehension.
Student Name: Allison P. Corry

Academic Major: Management with a concentration in Human Resources


Advisor: Shani Carter, Management and Marketing

Summary: This paper examines the effectiveness of a variety of training methods that are commonly used in various industries. The four main categories of methods are: information presentation; information processing; simulation; and on the job training (Heneman, Schwab, Fossum, Dyer, 1989). This paper analyzes methods that fall into these categories and determines the industries and occupations in which they would be most effective. Training budgets should be used wisely, and when employers can pinpoint what works and what does not they can increase employee productivity through using these effective methods, which decreases costs and increases profit in the long run. I conclude that there is no one best training method; in fact each method has proven to be useful.
Student Name: Adam Corsair

Academic Major: Philosophy

Project Title: Speciesism in Modern Ethical Theory and Practice

Advisor: Dr. Glenn Rawson, Philosophy Department.

Summary: Peter Singer, Tom Regan, and Joan Dunayer each have different ethical and philosophical approaches to what is known as speciesism. Speciesism can be defined as the belief that human beings are justified in using other species to suit their needs, based on the notion of an alleged inherent superiority of human beings. While I maintain that speciesism is a moral wrong and in need of attention, I also examine the differences between each of the aforementioned philosopher's approaches to it, as well as apply their approaches to several practices that could arguably regarded as speciesist; specifically, Factory Farming, Sport-Hunting, Vivisection, Having a Nonhuman Animal as a Pet, and Saving a Human Being Over a Nonhuman Animal.
Student Name: Lorenzo Crumbie

Academic Major: Biology

Project Title: Cotton and poly(vinyl alcohol) grafted with arylphosphonium satls by microwave-driven esterification reaction show antibacgterial activity

Advisor: John Williams, Physical Sciences

Summary: Aryl phosphonium salts (APS) are a class of lipophilic cations that have antibiotic properties. Derivatives with functional groups that can be used to attach the toxic monomers to a polymer have been made using microwave accelerated organic synthesis and solid-state methods. The goal is to produce polymers for fabrication of medical devices that would suppress biofilm formation. APS have been attached to cotton fiber, both cloth and lint, as well as to poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA). Solid-state reactions using machine mortar and pestles, an IR pellet press, as well as MAOS yield products with APS grafted to cellulose and powdered PVA. Decrease in the IR hydroxyl absorption and appearance of an ester carbonyl peak and carbon-oxygen stretch indicate the reactions' progress. Differential scanning calorimetry and thermogravimetric analysis of grafted PVA show glass transitions and decomposition curves consistent with the proposed structures. All microwave reactions show good yields and dramatically decreased reaction times over traditional bench-top thermal synthesis methods. The streak plate method shows bacteriostatic activity for APS-treated cotton and PVA. Generally, APS monomers are also toxic to fungi.
Student Name: Adrienne Gerard

Academic Major: Anthropology; Photography

Project Title: Apartheid in Transition: Assessing a Black Township Education in South Africa's Disparate Social System

Advisor: Gale Goodwin-Gomez, Anthropology

Summary: This is a paper based on personal observations gathered while working in a township pre-primary school in South Africa. While teaching, my experiences and observations led me to question the success of a township education. As the apartheid has been over for more than 15 years now, transition is underway to accommodate the previously disadvantaged peoples within multiple aspects of South African society. One area that is identified as needing improvement is the education system currently provided to the inhabitants of the still prominent township communities. Beginning before the start of apartheid, a system of education was established for the black population by the white oppressors that would prepare them for the menial jobs they would assume in their futures. From this point on black education was severely limited and filtered, resulting in passive and unenthusiastic students who would one day become teachers and parents. As a result of the establishment of a poor culture of learning, black students in townships have failed to receive the support and encouragement they need to succeed and prosper in the classroom. My research delves into the reasons for poor outcomes in township schools as I search for an answer that leads me to the cultural and domestic realms.
Student Name: Janis Hall

Academic Major: Biology

Project Title: Genomic Context of the Shark Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor

Advisor: Rebeka Merson, Biology

Summary: The Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor (AHR) mediates toxic effects within many organisms. The shark species, Squalus acanthias, has four copies of this gene. Learning the location of these genes can lend support for a possible whole genome duplication event that is said to have happened in early vertebrate divergence, once before and once after the lamprey divergence. I looked at this possible duplication of the four AHR genes and have found that it is possible that they are all duplicated, but continued research will have to be continued to support this hypothesis further.
Student Name: Daniel Irving

Academic Major: Secondary Education - Mathematics

Project Title: Where Can the Locker Problem Lead Us?

Advisor: Ying Zhou, Mathematics and Computer Science Department

Summary: The locker problem is a fascinating investigative activity in exploring factorization of integers, constructing subsets of the natural numbers, and algorithmic design that is interdisciplinary between math and computer science education. The extensions analyzed in this research provide tiered examples for studying the construction of both basic and complex brute force and decrease-and-conquer algorithms. The locker problem/puzzle has been extended in many directions and studied in the fields of combinatorics; probability; analysis and design of algorithms; and even developed into current television game shows such as Deal or No Deal

The scenario developed involves arrays of n lockers, each filled with randomly generated permutations of 1 to n (player numbers), and team color corresponding to that player. Each player is given the same number of selections (predetermined by the computer program user) to make distinct selections of lockers to find their player number. A team will win if each player finds his/her player number in the allotted number of guesses; else the entire team losses. As players make their selections, the contents of each locker are not revealed to any other players. The probability formulas for various scenarios were derived, proved, and analyzed in this research project.

Student Name: Celestine Kibe

Academic Major: Studio Art

Project Title: mAD world: a tale of visual literacy & the love story between an advertisement and its viewer

Advisor: Mary Ball Howkins, Art History & Heemong Kim, Graphic Design

Summary: This project examines, through examples of symbols such as the written language, signage, brand logos and icons, as well as broader visual information such as entire advertising campaigns, how we as consumers are taught to "read" images. I am theorizing that, because of the iconography and instructional signage with which we are bombarded in our everyday lives, we are used to being told "what to do," and to push it further, "who we are" by graphic imagery. The "gaze" of the viewer will be studied, in order to establish the type of relationship the viewer and the ad share, as well as what type of visual cues are given and what information is received. This research will shed light upon the extent to which graphic designers shape our culture today.
Student Name: Sarah Lawson

Academic Major: Graphic Design

Project Title: Painfully Beautiful: A Study of Early 1900s Women

Advisor: Nancy Bockbrader and Elana Wetzner

Summary: A visual exploration of early 1900s women in accordance of the fashion industry and advertising.
Student Name: Michelle LeBlanc

Academic Major: Elementary Education

Project Title: The Effect of Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) on Elementary School Student Academic Performance and Behaviors

Advisor: MacGregor Kniseley, Department of Elementary Education

Summary: Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) is a school-wide management program designed to improve student academic performance by providing a positive behavioral environment. Research was conducted to determine if there were any direct correlations between proper and consistent implementation of the PBIS framework and an overall increased student achievement on assessments such as the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP). Test results were examined and 12 interviews were conducted with principals, teachers, and PBIS coordinators from six different Rhode Island public schools. The results demonstrated that a majority of the schools have improved over the last few years on the NECAP testing and positive student behavior as well. However, PBIS is fairly new within Rhode Island. It is still too early to tell whether or not this change in academics and behavior is a direct effect of PBIS.
Student Name: Lori-Ann Lima

Academic Major: Nursing

Project Title: Utilization of Nurses in Developing Countries: Prevention and Treatment of HIV/AIDS

Advisor: Joanne Costello, Nursing

Summary: This paper is an exploratory study of nursing care in the prevention and treatment of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) in developing countries. Dr. Hesook Suzie Kim's (2000) model of Human Living and the Social Ecological model of health care (CDC, 2007) provide the theoretical foundation in this paper for defining nursing's unique role in managing a complicated and chronic disease such as HIV/AIDS. Epidemiological studies show that AIDS disproportionately impacts the African continent with 67% of the world HIV prevalence. Therefore, Africa figures prominently in this discussion. In recent years several non-governmental organizations have spearheaded comprehensive AIDS care programs in Africa. The most successful of these programs utilize nurses to extend and improve care and outcomes of HIV/AIDS care. This paper reviews current programs and the associated research and results of HIV/AIDS care in developing countries where nurses are the key to effective treatment and prevention of the disease.
Student Name: Kayla Pelletier

Academic Major: Graphic Design

Project Title: The Relationship Between Music and Design

Advisor: Heemong Kim, Art Department

Summary: This project was an exploration of Music and Graphic Design. I chose to visually interpret songs from the band Flyleaf. Each poster, which is 20 inches by 40 inches, illustrates the lyrics of a specific song. Together they form a set of posters that visually proclaim the heart of the songs. Most songs were taken from the 2009 album, Memento Mori, which means to "remember your mortality."
Student Name: Lisa Perry

Academic Major: Anthropology

Project Title:The Culture of Food: A Study of the Formal and Informal Forces in Driving the Evolution of the Locavore Movement in Rhode Island

Advisor: Mary Baker, Anthropology

Student Name: Daniel Reeves

Academic Major: Biology

Project Title: Gene Diversity and Developmental Role of AHR in Elasmobranchs

Advisor: Rebeka Merson, Biology

Summary: The distribution of persistent organic pollutants around the world poses a serious threat to the health of habitats, wildlife, and especially humans. Of key importance to the understanding of the precise mechanisms behind observed toxicity, and to development of potential medical applications, is a familiarity with the function of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR). A family of transcription factors found in both invertebrate and vertebrate taxa, AHR exhibits a dual role in toxic mediation of environmental pollutants and in normal embryonic development. In this study, both roles are explored using sharks and skates as model organisms. First, the discovery of a novel gene encoding a fourth AHR in the spiny dogfish shark is reported, with evidence to suggest a close relatedness to the single AHR present in humans. Second, the formulation of methods used to study the expression of this receptor during embryonic development of the little skate is described, with suggested alterations to future experiments. It is proposed that an evaluation of the coupling of AHR's roles in toxicology and normal physiology will prove vital for the development of medical treatments of toxic exposure.
Student Name: Sara Reilly

Academic Major: English

Project Title: Old Made New: Neil Gaiman's Storytelling in The Sandman

Advisor: Spencer Hall, English

Summary: First published in 1989, Neil Gaiman's The Sandman attracted a wider range of readers than DC Comics had previously known. What set this series apart was Gaiman's complex and innovative experiments with traditional comics forms. Foremost concerned with storytelling, Gaiman drew upon and challenged established generic, narrative, and formal elements in order to present comics fiction in a new and sophisticated way for an intelligent and receptive contemporary audience. In my project, I examine the historical context of The Sandman, frame the series as a form of fantasy fiction unique to its author, and then discuss important and interesting elements of his overall storytelling in the series: intertextuality, characterization, mythopoeia, and metafictional commentary. I end with a close reading of the first collected volume of stories, Preludes and Nocturnes, arguing that, despite most commentary, the first seven issues do in fact display Gaiman's idiosyncratic storytelling.
Student Name: Melissa Ryan

Academic Major: Psychology

Project Title: The Effect of Intergroup Affect on Intergroup Behavior

Advisor: Thomas Malloy, Psychology

Summary: The present study examined the relationship between intergroup affect and intergroup behavior, specifically responses to one's in-group and out-group. Past research in the field has indicated that many variables play a role in this complex interaction; such as in-group and out-group favoritism, status effects, and affective state, but little research has been done on how these factors interact to produce behavior. Data was collected using a minimal group paradigm in a laboratory setting. Findings show that affect, particularly negative affect, plays a role in generating in-group favoritism among high status groups, and out-group favoritism among low status groups, when evaluating an out-group member. Results also show that in-group and out-group status interacted to determine how much reward allocation would be given to the in-group and the out-group. The implications of the findings and the contribution they bring to previous theories of social psychology are discussed.
Student Name: Amanda St. Germain

Academic Major: Biology

Project Title: Disparate Biniding Affinities of Ufd2a isoforms with VCP/p97 and its Inclusion Body Myositis in Association with Paget's Disease of the Bone causing Mutants R155H and A232E

Advisor: Dr. Sarah Spinette, Biology

Summary: In a Yeast2Hybrid system, I will determine whether the binding affinities for the mutant versions of VCP/p97 is stronger than the binding affinity for VCP/p97 wild type. In previous research, it has been discovered that there is a binding affinity for Ufd2a but the binding affinity for Ufd2aIII is not known, through this system we also wanted to discover if VCP/p97 bound to Ufd2aIII.
Student Name: Erin St. Jacques

Academic Major: Communication

Project Title: The Relation Between Speech and Reading

Advisor: Harriet Magen, Communication

Summary: This research paper is going to analyze the connection between speech and reading, and language and reading, and how both are related to a Speech-Language Pathologist's job in a school setting, working with struggling readers. Research about the process of learning how to read and how a SLP can be brought in at different stages will be examined. This research paper is going to look at how a child learns to read; programs will be done involving young readers with reading disabilities. It will also examine the different stages of learning to read and how an SLP can try to help. The tactics will be examined more closely as well as the examination of how writing a narrative and being able to tell a story play into learning how to read.
Student Name: Larissa Swenson

Academic Major: English

Project Title: "Religion has indeed produced a Phillis Whatley," but Could it Produce a Poet?: Literature and the Nation According to Thomas Jefferson and Phillis Wheatley

Advisor: Zubeda Jalalzai, English

Summary: According to Thomas Jefferson in 1787's Notes on the State of Virginia, "America has not yet produced one great poet" since its independence from Great Britain (Notes 190). Yet in eighteenth-century America great poetry was composed by Phillis Wheatley, an African-American slave who supported the Revolutionary cause and the humanizing of blacks through her classical, secular, and religiously-themed verse. Jefferson believed Wheatley's poetry to be "below the dignity of criticism," thus declaring her unfit for nation poet status due to the religious implications of her verse (267). Through historians such as Sacvan Bercovitch and nationalist theorists such as Ernest Gellner and Anthony Smith, I suggest that while both supported the nation during the Revolutionary period, Wheatley and Jefferson diverged mainly on their views of nationalism. Wheatley believed that a common language as well as support for the patriot cause defined one's American-ness. Jefferson, on the other hand, determined the nation to be based upon a shared ethnicity rather than a shared history that would include both blacks and whites into the United States. His rejection of Wheatley as a poet indicates the contrasting definitions regarding the nation at that time.
Student Name: Stephen Tetreault

Academic Major: Computer Science

Project Title: Musical Pattern Recognition

Advisor: Kathryn Sanders, Mathematics/Computer Science
Student Name: Peter Weinberg

Academic Major: Public and Professional Communications

Project Title: A Critical Rhetorical Analysis of Selected White Supremacist Hate Sites: Assessment of Threat Posed to Youth

Advisor: Dr. Audrey Olmsted, Communication Department

Summary: Since the development of the modern internet, the numbers and activities of online extremist groups have been steadily on the rise. This paper explores the contemporary issue of online hate speech with a focus on the recruitment of youth by anti-Semitic hate groups. Through research, discussion, and a critical rhetorical analysis of selected hate sites, this paper seeks to answer the question: what is the overall threat level posed to youth by online hate groups, their members, and the messages they disseminate? The results of this study have concluded that the threat posed to youth by online hate groups is both significant and real. The caliber of hate that exists on these sites, including interactive, textual, and multimedia based content, is intrinsically and excessively hateful. Furthermore, rhetorical analysis has suggested that recruitment efforts targeted at youth are often successful. In turn, exposed youth are at a high risk of being victimized by these groups. While there is a lack of sufficient concrete evidence to suggest governmental restriction of online hate speech, which is protected under the First Amendment, the implications of this research suggest a need for further scholarly research and the exploration of potential non-governmental solutions to this problem.

Page last updated: Jan. 28, 2013