Judy Schafer

My research will investigate the reported phenomenon of increasing numbers of unaccompanied Central American youth migrating to the United States from May 2011 to July 2013. I will examine these questions: Why are these children migrating alone? Will this overall trend continue? Or is there a push/pull factor that is influencing this recent surge? What can be done to make this journey safer for these children? My study begins in the detention facilities and immigration courts of Arizona and Texas, then continues as I travel southbound through Mexico and by bus into Guatemala. Through participant observation and interviews with adults who regularly interact with the children, I will take the reverse route of the children migrating northbound atop freight trains. My project will culminate in an ISF senior honors thesis.

S. Zayd Enam

In this project we plan on using parallelized computation to build realistic sparse coding models for neurons in the primary visual cortex (V1). Sparse coding is a stimulus encoding technique used by V1 neurons that aims to minimize the number active neurons required in encoding any input image. Due to computational constraints, previous sparse coding models have been limited in their ability to match the biology of lateral geniculate nucleus projections to V1. Our models will allow us to better describe recorded biological data and provide further evidence that V1 relies upon sparse coding of input images.

Minda Murphy

Northern Uganda is in the early years of recovery following a twenty year civil war which devastated the region. For an entire decade of that war, nearly two million people from Acholiland were forcibly displaced from their homes and detained in internment camps, living as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), refugees in their own country. With the vast majority of the camps now closed, and the Acholi community working to rebuild villages, homes, and infrastructure, new challenges have arisen. Minda’s work in Acholiland will seek to identify the barriers of access to HIV treatment and prevention that former IDP returnee women are experiencing, examine how HIV healthcare is situated as a function of post-displacement recovery, and explore the discourse and practices of humanitarian and medical stakeholders.

Laura Carolina Rodriguez-Adjunta

Salmonella is the leading source of food-borne diseases in the United States. Infection by Salmonella Typhimurium causesdiseases ranging from self-limiting gastroenteritis to life-threatening systemic infection, provoking around 1.3 billion cases every year worldwide. Moreover, no vaccine to prevent salmonellosis exists. Recently, 19 small noncoding bacterial RNAs (sRNAs) located in salmonella SPIs were discovered, of which IsrC is one of the newest forms. Bacterial sRNAs regulate the expression of their target genes in pathogenesis, essentially contributing to bacterial invasiveness. My research will focus on the interaction between IsrC and its predicted target, HilE, a global negative regulator of salmonella virulence genes. This research seeks to further clarify the role of sRNAs in the molecular pathogenesis of salmonella virulence as well as increase the possibility of developing new strategies against bacterial infection, thus lowering salmonella infection rates.

Brendon McNicholas

Research in alternative energy has become increasingly urgent in recent years due to constantly increasing pollution and depletion of traditional energy sources. One of the most compelling devices in the field is the fuel cell, a means for converting hydrogen and oxygen into useful energy. To contribute to the advancement of the field of alternative energy, this thesis aims to further the characterization of an oxygen reduction catalyst for a PEM fuel cell. Literature has shown that certain first-row transition metal corrole complexes are active for catalytic oxygen reduction, and the projects primary objective is to electrochemically characterize these complexes to determine which compounds are most effective in oxygen reduction catalysis.

Kaitlin Kimmel

In the 1980s, newborns with complex congenital heart disease (CCHD) began to survive into adulthood in larger numbers than ever before due to advances in cardiothoracic surgery and cardiovascular medicine. Growing up, many were told they would either be fixed, once they reached adulthood, they would die in childhood, or that their prognoses were unknown. Now that the first generation of CCHD children has survived into adulthood, there is a gray area between cure and death. Kaitlin will conduct ethnographic interviews with CCHD adults who have undergone major cardiac hospitalizations, procedures, and/or surgeries within the past year, along with adult congenital heart disease medical specialists. Using disability studies and medical anthropology lenses, Kaitlin’s research will explore what being fixed actually means for adults with CCHD and the implications of life with a prognosis unknown.

Christina Marie Hamilton

Marine-atmosphere gas exchange plays a major role in the global carbon cycle. A key parameter of oceanic CO2 uptake and sequestration is the biological carbon pump (BCP). The BCP is composed of planktonic organisms that fix CO2 in photosynthesis, converting it to food and tissue. The biomass of these organisms turns over about once every week, exporting the carbon they contain away from the ocean-atmospheric interface to greater oceanic depths as they are consumed and expelled in the form of particulate organic carbon aggregates. This process, known as sedimentation, is currently a large mystery to oceanographers and climate modelers. To parameterize the BCP sedimentation process in ocean and climate modeling, the Bishop research group has designed Carbon Flux Explorers (CFEs)–relatively small but powerful robots– to study this rapidly changing system on biologically significant time scales. My research project will design, code, and implement data processing algorithms onto CFEs, thus completing […]

Ayden Parish

Ayden is exploring the metaphors used to describe transgender identities and experiences. Cognitive linguistics understands metaphor as central to language and human cognition, allowing us to grasp abstract concepts via physical sensations and everyday experiences. There has, however, been very little put forward for a cognitive linguistics of gender: How are the meanings of gender expressed and perceived? What are the effects of particular linguistic structures on how gender is thought about and performed? How are identities in general rendered meaningful? Ayden will collect data from public sources such as newspaper articles and analyze their underlying structures and assumptions, as well as how they impact the real lived experiences of transgender individuals.

Yanyue (Adelina) Wang

As Chinese economic reform deepens and widens its scope, finding a model for sustainable growth is of paramount importance. In this research, I will investigate how changes in the personal income tax structure would boost domestic demand as a stable driving force for economic development, focusing mainly on a flat tax structure. I will analyze past income tax reforms, collect and analyze empirical data and personal stories, build and extensively test models, develop a policy proposal, and analyze its international impacts. Since income tax directly affects the disposable income of the majority of the residents in China and thus directly influences domestic demand and social equity, my research results may expand our understanding of the precise economic reforms that lead to sustainable and stable economic growth for China and abroad.

Muska Fazilat

Every thirty minutes an Afghan woman dies due to birth complications. Skilled providers attend only 5% of births. My research compares traditional cultural practices of midwifery with Western medical practices. I will explore the role that the cultural practice of Purdah separation of women from men plays in shaping maternal health. Since the U.S. occupation, USAID has funded midwifery schools. However, current political tension between the Taliban and the U.S. military generates a concern for the future of maternal health care. I will investigate how midwifery practices have evolved from the Taliban regime to the current U.S. occupation and have impacted midwives, medical practitioners and women. I will conduct case studies in the city of Kabul and Kunduz. My methodology consists of participant observations and oral histories. My purpose is to contribute to research on medical training and cultural practices that can positively affect child and maternal health.