Winning Undergraduate Research Grant Abstracts

2008-2009 Undergraduate Research Grant Recipients

Mary Shannon Huber (Art): “Decay: A Textural Appreciation of Maturity”
Faculty Mentor: Mariano Gonzales, Art
Abstract: My motivation and inspiration for this project comes from many different influences. The inspiration to explore the possibilities of experimental inkjet printing comes from a text book that we used in an experimental inkjet class (taught by Mariano Gonzales). “Digital Art Studio” authored by Karin Schminke, Dorothy Simpson Krause and Bonny Pierce Lhotka has been instrumental in inspiring me as to the possibilities of inkjet printing. Since then, internet sites have emerged from other artists exploring this type of medium, but the availability of other publications is limited at this time. What does this mean to me? I find it intriguing that this subject has so many possibilities, and that it is so relatively unexplored. The relative infancy of this medium is what appeals and captivates the adventurous side of my artistic personality. I endeavor to take something that is flat and transform it into something highly complex, textural and unanticipated. Thus, “Decay: a textural examination of maturity.”
This project aims to explore various substrates and printing techniques that transform the impression of digital art into two dimensional and three dimensional forms of texture and complexities. Various unusual substrates will be combined with pre- printing processes, and then digital content will be printed upon the substrates using large format inkjet printers. The goal is to completely transform the materials from their practical everyday use into a complex highly textural piece. Unusual fine art papers will also be used and manipulated in unexpected ways before the preprinting coatings are applied, then inkjet printed. Advanced digital manipulation techniques will be used to transform photographic and scanned images as well as original pieces created using the Adobe Creative Suite CS3 software. Many pieces will then be reformed into three dimensional pieces; two dimensional pieces will have more than one process applied to them, resulting in complex, textural and multi-dimensional pieces. 
 
Anthony Oliva (Theatre): “Aerial Fabric Aspirations”
Faculty Mentor: Tom Skore, Theatre
Abstract: Aerial Arts in performance are a magnificent thing to behold.  When I see these amazing feats of strength and physical awareness, I am not just inspired to train my body to move in such a specific and communicative way, but to make this rewarding art form more accessible to other performing artists throughout Alaska.  Simply stated, my project is a study of Aerial Arts with a focus on storytelling via aerial fabric, body language, and physical communication.  Under close tutelage at the New England Center for Circus Arts (NECCA) under Elsie Smith of Cirque du Soleil, and in workshops offered locally at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) by the Aerial Angels – a circus troupe based out of Kalamazoo, Michigan, I plan to safely explore and share the possibilities of expression through physical theatre and Aerial Arts with our academic arts community and our community at large.  

Aerial Arts currently have no local representation in Anchorage and very little exposure in our greater community.  Showcases and workshops are limited to the few times the Aerial Angels can travel up to Anchorage each year.  During my studies with the Aerial Angels this summer, I discovered an enthusiasm and widespread interest at UAA, in Anchorage, and across Alaska for this physical art form.  In answer to this interest and my own growing enthusiasm, I wish to obtain a greater education in Aerial Arts and then share my knowledge and increased capabilities with other here in Alaska.  The award of this grant proposal would allow me to participate in an Aerial Fabric Intensive as well as in private lessons in related disciplines at NECCA in Brattleboro, Vermont over Winter Break.  

Directly following, I will bring my new-found skills and the results of my supplementary studies to UAA and use them to collaborate with the Aerial Angels during their residency here in Spring ’09.  The directors of the Aerial Angels, Allison Williams and Zay Weaver, are going to take up a five-week residency at UAA to design and develop a physical theatre performance piece using UAA students.  I have been the main student liaison to the Angels in the development of this project, and as a part of this grant will continue to work closely with them during their residency in an assistant/mentor position.  

My projects will also include my own thesis performance and a tour of participating schools in the Anchorage School District.  The subject of my thesis performance is Icarus from Greek mythology, who with his father Daedalus, attempted to escape the island of Crete and through arrogance and ignorance, ended up falling to his death.  The show and post-show Q & A sessions during the showcase and tour will expose youth and the arts community in Anchorage to a modern performance of classic mythology using cutting edge artistic expression via Aerial Arts.  

 
Tina Thi Tran (Biological Sciences): “Expression of Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (GnRH) and gonadotropin inhibitory hormone (GnIH) in photoperiod responsive and nonresponsive morphs of Northern red-backed vole, Myodes rutilus”
Faculty Mentor: Ian van Tets, Biological Sciences
Abstract: Arvicoline rodents living at high latitudes typically undergo a seasonal cessation in reproductive activity during the winter in response to short day lengths and environmental conditions.  Although the inactivation of reproduction generally holds true, the phenomenon of winter breeding has been documented in most species and occurs sporadically.  Photoperiod non-responsive morphs are individuals within small mammal populations that possess the ability to maintain a reproductively active condition under short days breed in winter during mild years.  Responsiveness to photoperiod has many implications for seasonal and out-of season breeding, including an effect on populations of small mammals, predators, and secondary prey species.  To date, there is not a clear understanding of the mechanism by which non-responsiveness to photoperiod occurs, but it is likely to be secretion of gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) and gonadotropin inhibitory hormone (GnIH) in the hypothalamus, which then regulates other hormones downstream through hypothalamic-pituitary-gonad (H-P-G) axis.  This study will determine whether photoperiod responsiveness in high-latitude voles is regulated at the hypothalamic level, and whether there is an associated downstream regulation of the pituitary and gonadal hormones.  I will analyze sections of the pre-optic area (POA) and dorsal medial hypothalamus (DMH) that were collected from brains of male M. rutilus treated with either long (16L:8D, n=18) or short (8L:16D, n=76) day lengths.  Short day animals were grouped by reproductive phenotype and were categorized as either non-responsive, intermediately responsive, or responsive to photoperiod.  I will stain brain sections from each group using an established GnRH/GnIH immunohistochemical procedure.  I will then catalog microscope images of these brain sections to establish a photographic database and use digital image analysis software to compare expression of each neuropeptide among the groups.  I will compare this data with existing data for luteinizing hormone and testosterone in these study animals.  This study will provide insight on the effects of day length on GnRH and GnIH hormone production in different photoperiod – responsive morphs.  It will ultimately determine the mechanism by which reproduction is regulated via the H-P-G axis and thereby explain the physiological occurrence of winter breeding in small mammal populations.  

Specific Aim:  To test whether voles that regress their reproductive structures in response to short days exhibit higher levels of gonadotropin inhibiting hormone (GnIH) and lower levels of gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) in the hypothalamus than voles that maintain large reproductive structures under short photoperiods.   

 
Stephen Deutsch, Dax Ehrhart and Peter Bradley (Economics): “Breaking the Plurality Bandwagon: An Experimental Test of Instant Run-off Voting”
Faculty Mentor: James Murphy, Economics
Abstract:  Plurality voting, the most commonly used system of voting around the world, is rife with flaws. Instant run off voting (IRV), which is already used by some governments, is widely thought to be a superior system. Numerous mathematicians and amateur logicians have proven that theoretically IRV will yield equal or greater social welfare. However, no one has ever systematically tested the theory in a lab. Time and time again in experimental economics, accepted theory has been tested and found to be flawed. Considering the possible increases in social welfare that switching from a plurality system to IRV can provide it is necessary to test the assumptions and models in a lab setting. We will run numerous experiments in the UAA Experimental Economics Lab using subjects recruited from its pool. Subjects will be assigned preferences and will be asked to vote for propositions under both the plurality system and IRV. Subjects will be paid in cash based on their performance in the experiments. We will take the data from the sessions and, using an accepted measure of social welfare, Bayesian Regret, we will compare plurality and IRV with both the theoretical outcome and with each other.

Specific Aims:  We will test the plurality and IRV voting system in a controlled lab setting using subjects assigned preferences. Using statistical models, we expect to find that IRV will yield a more socially optimal outcome than plurality. This will support the theoretical finding that IRV organizes people's preferences better than plurality.

Mike Redlinger and Kelcie Ralph (Economics): “Property Rights, Inequality, and Endowments: A variation on the standard dictator game”
Faculty Mentor: James Murphy, Economics
Abstract: Perceptions of property rights and inequality influence individual preferences for distribution and redistribution of wealth.  Experimental economics has used the dictator game to investigate individual reactions to perceived unfairness and property rights.  Current research has failed to identify the impact of unequal endowments on participant behavior.  This project will remedy this shortcoming by using various unequal endowment treatments to examine behavior.  Furthermore, this project expands on the recent work studying taking behavior in an environmental setting.  This will determine how different levels of inequality affect dictators’ choices to take earned wealth.  

Specific aim: Explore how different levels of inequality affect dictators’ choices.  We will test how different levels of inequality affect individual preferences for taking the earned endowments of other subjects.  Each pair of subjects will take a quiz of GRE subject test questions, and the subject with the higher score will receive the higher endowment.  The lower scoring subject will be Player A, and he or she can then choose how the endowment will actually be allocated.  Both subjects will be award that their relative score on the quiz determined whether he or she received the higher endowment, and both will know each subject’s quiz score and endowment.  We test how varying the inequality of endowments changes Player A’s behavior by implementing three endowment splits between Player A and Play B:  $0 and $20, $5 and $15, and $9 and $11.  Our findings will contribute to a better understanding of how rising inequality impacts individual choices to reallocate earned wealth.  

Uzma Manzoor (Psychology): "Observational Learning in Dwarf Hamsters"
Faculty Mentor: Gwen Lupfer-Johnson (Psychology)
Abstract:  Observational learning is a phenomenon observed in many species, including dogs, pigeons, and golden hamsters.  Animals able to acquire information by observing others can benefit themselves by saving time in the discovery process and learn more rapidly how to obtain food (Social Learning chapter).  The purpose of the current study is to investigate whether young drawf hamsters (Phodopus campbelli) can learn to lever-press for food reinforcers by observing a trained demonstrator.  Juvenile dwarf hamsters will be divided into five groups”  Observational Learning, Observational Learning Without Scrounging, Local Enhancement, Social Facilitation, of Control.  Hamsters assigned to the Observational Learning group will be exposed to lever-pressing behavior performed by their trained father.  Hamsters assigned to the Observational Learning Without Scrounging group will be treated similarly, except that a wire partition will prevent them from consuming pellets earned by the father.  Hamsters assigned to the Local Enhancement group will not observe a lever-pressing demonstrator, but will be provided with a stimulus (i.e., feces from a parent) applied to the important areas of the operant chamber (i.e., the active lever and the food tray).  Hamsters assigned to the Social Facilitation group will be placed in the operant chamber with an untrained parent, in order to control for behaviors “aroused by the mere presence of another member of the species” (Zajonc, 1965 in Frieman, 2001, p. 386).  Finally, Hamsters assigned to the Control group will be placed in the operant chambers alone, with no demonstrators or cues.  Dwarf hamsters are social animals in the rodent world.  Therefore, I hypothesize that lever-pressing behavior will be facilitated by observational learning.  Specifically, I predict that hamsters in the Imitation Without Scrounging will acquire the lever-pressing behavior most rapidly, whereas hamsters in the Control group will acquire the behavior most slowly. 

Specific aims:  (1) To document the acquisition of lever-pressing behavior in juvenile dwarf hamsters, as well as whether any type of social learning play a role; (2) To categorize dwarf hamster social learning as imitation, social facilitation, or local enhancement and relate the type of learning to the natural history of the species; and (3) To publish or present this project in order to gain more experience in research and facilitate my professional development.   

Spring 2008 Grant Recipients 

Amanda Fitzgerald (Biological Sciences):  "Determining the Role of Individual Domains on Williams Syndrome Transcription Factor in Xenopus laevis" 
Mentored by Jocelyn Krebs, Biological Sciences
Abstract:  Williams Syndrome is a developmental disorder exhibiting visual/spatial defects and mental retardation in affected patients.  Individuals with Williams Syndrome are missing the Williams Syndrome Transcription Factor (WSTF), a gene that together with Imitation Switch (ISWI) forms the WICH complex.  This complex exists in a family of ATP-dependent chromatin remodelers which utilize the energy from the hydrolysis of ATP to alter the nucleosomal arrangement of DNA. This is done to allow the precise expression of specific genes throughout an organism’s development.  Xenopus laevis embryos can be induced to inefficiently express WSTF by injecting them with anti-WSTF morpholino, resulting in abnormalities in neural and eye development. Xenopus injected with anti-WSTF morpholino should exhibit restoration of normal developmental function of WSTF if they are also injected with normal WSTF, this is known as a “rescue” experiment.   Mutants of WSTF can be constructed with deletions of specific domains, including the bromodomain and the PHD finger. These mutants will also possess a mutation in the region that the anti-WSTF morpholino recognizes, ensuring that the morpholino’s presence will not affect the expression of the mutant WSTF.  Site-directed mutagenesis will be used to create these domain-lacking WSTF mutants. I will use these mutants in a series of rescue experiments, by injecting them into Xenopus embryos that are WSTF- depleted. These embryos will be monitored for their ability to rescue phenotypes including those in brain development and eye formation. I will also test whether these mutations can cause phenotypes themselves. Relatively little is known about the role of these individual domains in the functioning of WSTF, and this study will determine whether the bromodomain and/or PHD finger of WSTF are required for the rescue of developmentally functioning WSTF.

Aim # 1: To determine the role of the bromodomain/PHD finger domains in WSTF
For this aim, I will microinject Xenopus embryos with the anti-WSTF morpholino, causing a knock down in WSTF expression. mRNAs encoding WSTF mutants lacking the specific domains will then be microinjected into the embryos. The embryos will be monitored for deformities in development using a dissecting microscope. A comparison of the embryos to WSTF-knockdown control embryos, as well as wildtype embryos, will determine if the bromodomain or PHD finger play significant roles, if any, to the proper function of WSTF.  If a mutant lacking a specific domain cannot rescue the defects, it indicates that that domain is essential for WSTF’s normal role in development.

Aim # 2: To test whether WSTF mutants behave as dominant negatives
For this aim, I will inject just the mRNAs encoding the mutant forms of WSTF and monitor the effects on embryonic development. Mutants that fail to rescue WSTF-knockdowns in Aim 1 will be tested to determine whether the mutation on its own can create a dominant phenotype when injected into normal embryos.             

Carly Craig (Biological Sciences): "Testing the Role of ISWI in Xenopus laevis development with a dominant negative ISWI mutant"
Mentored by Jocelyn Krebs, Biological Sciences.
Abstract:  Williams Syndrome is a genetic disorder that is characterized by visual and spatial processing dysfunction and growth deficiency.  Individuals with the disease lack the Williams Syndrome Transcription Factor (WSTF) which forms the WICH complex in conjunction with ISWI.  Imitation Switch (ISWI) is a chromatin remodeler that orchestrates gene activation or silencing in an organized process.  Previous Xenopus laevis studies have shown that fatal neurological and visual impairment results from ISWI inhibition during embryonic development (Dirscherl et al. 2005).  Additionally, depleted ISWI concentrations led to cataracts in embryos and may illuminate mechanisms responsible for congenital cataracts in humans.  Transgenesis involving a dominant negative ISWI mutant will eliminate all function of the ISWI gene following induction of heat shock in vivo.  This will determine if critical developmental periods demand a functional ISWI complex or if continuous expression is necessary for normal growth.  Presently, it is not known if the late abnormal phenotypes (cataracts or brain defects) correspond to ISWI function at specific stages or a downstream effect of an early requirement during neurulation.  The significance of this research is that it will increase our understanding of how an essential remodeling enzyme serves as a master regulator of brain and eye development.  

Ruby Kennell (Fine Arts):  "Performative Intimacy: A Self-Portrait" 
Mentored by Garry Kaulitz, Art and Sean Licka, Art
Abstract:  As part Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) Program at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) I have the opportunity to present a thesis exhibition in the Kimura Gallery located in the UAA Arts Building.  This semester the BFA committee approved my proposed thesis to have a self-portrait video and printmaking installation in the Kimura Gallery during the last two weeks of the Fall 2008 semester.  For this exhibition, I will be researching various types pre- and post-video production including: filming, storyboarding, editing, filtering, and display/projection.  Printmaking is my primary emphasis/major within the BFA program so I will also be experimenting with ways to combine prints and the act of printmaking with video, performance and installation.  

One of my goals with my thesis is to alter the Kimura Gallery space so that is becomes an alternate reality engaging the audiences’ senses of sound, sight, smell, curiosity, and emotions.  Because the exhibition is a self-portrait I want the audience to also have a better understanding of who I am, and on what it’s like to be living within a body, mind and world.  Cultivating my understanding of film editing, camera handling, and film photography presentation is also one of my goals.  To execute this project is to present the abstract, intangible, and unspeakable qualities of “self” in a way that an audience member can relate to.                      

Linda Blackwell (Psychology), Jennifer LaCasse (Psychology) and Sarah Roberson (Psychology): "Effects of Flavor Variety on Food-Motivated Behavior in Dwarf Hamsters (Phodopus Campbelli)" Mentored by Gwen Lupfer-Johnson, Psychology and Eric Murphy, Psychology. 
Abstract: As obesity becomes more and more problematic in our society, understanding food-related motivation becomes increasingly important.  Food motivation is frequently studied using operant conditioning, a process in which food rewards are made contingent on specific behaviors.  The rate at which an individual performs those behaviors can be used as a measure of his or her motivation.  When working for food reinforcers, both human and non-human subjects typically increase and then decrease their rates of responding within an operant session.  Two competing explanations exist for these within-session changes in response rates:  (1) Satiation, and (2) Habituation to the sensory properties of the reinforcers.  The proposed project will utilize dwarf hamsters (Phodopus campbelli) to discriminate between these two theories because the hamsters do not immediately consume food reinforces but rather store them in their cheek pouches.  In addition, the sensory properties of the food reinforcers will be manipulated so that the hamsters sometimes earn a single flavored food pellet and sometimes earn one of two different flavored food pellets.  We predict that the hamsters’ rates of responding will decrease more slowly with two flavors of reinforcers than with one, indicating that habituation to the sensory properties of the reinforcer, not post-ingestive factors such as satiation, are responsible for within-session decreases in responding.  This result would confirm previous findings that dietary variety plays a role in overeating and would suppor the use of dwarf hamsters as a model for human obesity. 

 
2007 - 2008 Undergraduate Research Grant Recipients

Eric Mathews (Chemistry): "Investigation of Chlorinated Fatty Acids within Phospholipid Classes Found in Tissue of Alaskan Sea Otters"
Faculty Mentor: John Kennish, Chemistry
Abstract: Phospholipids are the main component of cell membranes that contribute to structural integrate and fluidity.  Structural changes in phospholipids, such as chlorination, result in altered physical characteristics of these lipids and ultimately the membrane. Chlorinated lipids are the major chlorine bound organic molecule found within extracts of most marine biota.  The toxic effects that have been correlated with increased concentrations of chlorinated lipids include inhibited cell growth, occurrence of apoptosis, and other biologically adverse effects.  These toxic effects have given cause to continual investigation of the emerging biological significance of chlorinated lipids.  While there has been a growing body of knowledge pertaining to chlorinated lipid, much remains unknown.  For instance, the distribution of chlorine atoms attached to specific phospholipids found in nature has yet to be examined.  Therefore, an investigation into the distribution of the chlorinated fatty acid components of phospholipid classes would shed more light on this topic of interest.  This research is to be completed with tissue samples obtained from Alaskan Sea Otters.  The analysis required to process these samples involve an extraction of the lipids, followed by separation of lipids using liquid chromatography, derivation into fatty acids, and finally separation and detection by gas chromatography with use of  a halogen sensitive detector (XSD).  This research project has been designed to accomplish the following goals: 1) develop a method for liquid chromatographic separation of phospholipid classes 2) demonstrate the distribution of CFA within phospholipid classes 3) Obtain concentrations of CFA within phospholipids found in Alaskan Sea Otter tissue.

Jeremy Chignell (Biology):  "Effects of Nutrients and Light Availability on the Nature of Sphagnum Exudates with Respect to Bacterial Growth"
Faculty Mentor: Bjartmar Sveinbjornsson, Biology
Abstract: Sphagnum moss is a dominant plant species in wetlands in northern latitudes.  Past research suggests that Sphagnum moss is an “ecosystem engineer,” exuding organic substances that may inhibit the activities of microbes in the surrounding soil that are essential for the functions of vascular plant competitors.  This study investigates whether Sphagnum exudes microbe-inhibitory substances under conditions of increased nutrient availability, when sufficient light is present to synthesize organic substances.  The microbe-inhibitory role of Sphagnum is important both in terms of its role in peatland plant communities as well as from the perspective of climate change.   Since increased deposition of nitrogen and other nutrients is likely with increasing fossil fuel use and since temperature-dependent microbial respiration of CO2 is a primary form of terrestrial carbon release to the atmosphere, a microbe-inhibitory response of an abundant species such as Sphagnum may have significant implications in terms of global carbon cycling.  

The goal of study is to determine where environmental conditions, i.e. availability of nutrients (Nu) and light affect the microbial inhibition of Sphagnum moss exudates.  A growth chamber will be used to grow moss under four treatment combinations of Nu and light.  The collected exudates will be applied to bacterial cultures over a period of six weeks and the resulting growth of the treated cultures will be compared with a control.  

Rebecca Volino Robinson (Psychology):  "Postpartum Depression, Social Support, and Perception of Birth"
Faculty Mentor: Claudia Lampman, Psychology
Abstract: Postpartum depression (PPD) is a mood disorder affecting 10% to 15% of women following childbirth (Surkan, Peterson, Hughes, & Gottlieb, 2006; Baker, Cross, Greaver, Wei, & Lewis, 2005; Boyce & Hickey, 2005). The relationship between psychosocial risk factors and PPD are strong, particularly the inverse relationship found between social support and PPD. Women’s childbirth experience and outcome is a strong predictor of PPD as well, specifically, difficult deliveries and birth complications (O’Hara & Swain, 1996). The aim of this study is to identify the relationship between postpartum depression, social support (quality and quantity), and a woman’s perception about her childbirth experience in a diverse sample of Alaskan women, birthing in various settings across Anchorage.

Paul Bilodeau (Engineering):  "Design of Three-Dimensional Precision Positioning Compliant Mechanism"
Faculty Mentor: Nicolae Lobontiu, Engineering
Abstract: The project aims at developing a three-dimensional, three degree-of-freedom compliant mechanism for precision positioning. The mechanism design will be based on analytical and finite element modeling and simulation, followed by wire electro-discharge machining of the actual device and experimental testing. This project considers expanding the knowledge gained while working on developing a two-stage planar mechanical-motion amplification compliant device. Compliant mechanisms, which employ the deformation of elastic members (flexure hinges) to transmit mechanical motion, are increasingly implemented in small-scale applications such as micro/nano electromechanical systems (MEMS/NEMS) or macro-scale precision devices. The three-dimensional precision-positioning mechanism will consist of three identical actuator units, each formed of a flexible frame and a linear actuator, either piezoelectric or voice-coil. Various compliant frame designs will be considered and an optimized variant will be selected to provide the maximum displacement amplification. The design phase of this basic unit will be a three-tier effort, as it will use simplified (lumped-parameter) modeling, analytic modeling and finite element analysis. Simulations will be performed that will also take into consideration the presence of the linear actuator and the corresponding change in stiffness. The actuation frames will be machined by a specialized company, based on CAD-generated production drawings. The final actuation stage and full mechanism assembly, as well as the experimental testing, will be performed in the School of Engineering’s labs at UAA. The experimental testing will first investigate the performance of individual stages in realizing the model-predicted motion amplification, followed by checking of the overall mechanism capability of producing smooth three-dimensional motion within a one millimeter-side cube envelope. A comparison between theoretical models and experimental data will allow assessing quality of model predictions against fabrication/measurement errors.
The main objectives of this project are:  (a)    Design of an optimized base compliant flexure-hinge device that utilizes linear actuation (piezoelectric or voice-coil) based on simplified models, precise analytical models and finite element simulation  (b)   Design of a three-dimensional, three degree-of-freedom compliant manipulator that employs three identical base linear actuators to realize spatial motion within a one-millimeter side cubic envelope (c)    Production of part drawings for wire electro-discharge machining and of assembly drawing for final mechanism prototype realization(d)   Experimental testing of individual actuation devices and of the assembled three-dimensional compliant mechanism  (e)    Comparison between model predictions and experimental results; performance assessment
   

Austin Roach (Music):  "A Little Night Music (Eine Kleine Nachtmusik): A Musical Study and Performance of Mozartian Style"
Faculty Mentor: Mark Wolbers, Music
Group Members: Mario Ayerdis, Lance Hagood, Kacee Muth, Sofia Lagos, and Brian Moon

Kali Bennett (Art):  "Sensorium: A Photographic Exploration of Man and Nature"
Faculty Mentor: Mariano Gonzales, Art
Abstract: Sensorium, a photographic exploration of man and nature will be an exciting and fresh investigation of today’s digital world. With the use of digital photographs and large format printers images will be translated onto silk and cotton fabrics. The textiles will then be cut and sewn together into pieces of wearable art. This innovative project will push the domains of conventional photography and its presentation, focusing on the details of the image and its inherent relationship to the canvas.

This project will be an exploration in process and design. Vivacious imagery, bold colors and animated textures will be created to illustrate man’s dynamic relationship to nature. Sensorium will culminate as a final show in April of 2008 to fulfill the bachelors of fine arts thesis requirements. The goal of this show is to produce a provocative and experimental body of work that gets the viewer thinking about human sensory and man’s relationship to nature. It is through this sensory that man realizes he is in fact a part of nature, not separate from her. 

 
Alison Eshenower (BS, Biochemistry): "Cold sensitivity of S. cerevisiae histone H2A Mutants"
Faculty mentor: Jocelyn Krebs, Biological Sciences
Abstract:  The regulation of gene expression in DNA occurs in the highly compacted structure known as chromatin.  Chromatin is composed of DNA wrapped around a histone octomer containing two copies of each of the H2A, H2B, H3, H4 histones.  Any mutation of a specific histone, such as H2A, will alter the folding of chromatin and have an effect on the expression of genes in the cell, especially under conditions of stress such as cold shock.  The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, commonly used in fermentation and baking, is a powerful model organism in which to study responses to stress.  Stress responses are highly conserved from yeast to humans, so understanding how yeast cells cope with cold shock and freezing will be relevant to our understanding of how many species cope with low temperatures. 
This project has two specific goals: 
Specific aim #1:  To test the cold sensitivity of a collection of S. cerevisiae histone H2A mutants available in Dr. Jocelyn Krebs' lab. 
Specific aim #2: To measure the levels of expression of cold-inducible genes in the mutants that show cold sensitivity, in order to determine the different roles H2A mutations have in cold-shock gene expression. 
 
Kevin Connaker (BS Geological Sciences):  "The Occurrence and Speciation of Iron and Associated Potentially Toxic Metals in Groundwater of Anchorage, AK:  A Focus on Private Drinking Water Wells."
Faculty mentor:  LeeAnn Munk, Geological Sciences 
Abstract:   The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) drinking water standard for iron is 300µg/L (parts per billion, ppb).  Above this concentration, iron can stain water utilities and give water an undesirable color and taste.  If iron concentrations of 1000 ppb or more are persistently consumed damage to the cells of the gastrointestinal tract, bloodstream, heart, and liver commonly occur.  In recent years, iron has been discovered by the Municipality of Anchorage (MOA) to be in concentrations above the EPA standard and in some cases the toxicity level in some parts of the groundwater resources of Anchorage, Alaska.  The highest recorded iron concentration is 21,900 ppb, well above the EPA standard of 300 ppb and the toxicity level of 1000 ppb. 

The occurrence of iron in groundwater is in direct relationship to other environmentally important elements such as lead, copper, zinc, and arsenic.  Arsenic has recently been found in the groundwater of Anchorage at levels above its EPA drinking water standard of 10 ppb, the highest levels detected are near 90 ppb.  Above this level, arsenic is known to be a carcinogen and to have negative health effects to the respiratory system and is also linked to diabetes. As of yet, there is not a complete understanding of these findings related to arsenic or other metals in the groundwater.  Therefore, the proposed study will investigate the occurrence and concentrations of iron and other metals in addition to other water quality variables including temperature, dissolved oxygen, water level, and pH (acidity) to determine why certain elements are elevated, their seasonal fluctuations, and their bioavailability. There will be monthly to bi-monthly samples of groundwater taken from private drinking water wells, MOA wells, and from a well on the UAA campus.  These samples will be preserved and then analyzed by Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) in the Applied Science, Engineering, and Technology (ASET) lab at UAA. 

One of the most significant compounds that iron forms in the environment is the intermediate phase iron hydroxide (Fe(OH)3)that is of importance, because when this compound is reduced it releases any sorbed metals or other trace elements into the environment. Because of this, iron is an important tool in determining the oxidation-reduction conditions of the environment.  Therefore, the determination of iron species (Fe2+/Fe3+) will allow me to determine the state and phases of iron compounds in the groundwater.

This research will not only advance the understanding of iron geochemistry in groundwater systems but will also provide vital information to the Anchorage community who relies on groundwater as a drinking water source.

Eric Addison (BSE, Electrical Engineering): "Combining Geophysics and Geochemistry to Understand Anomalous Occurence of Permafrost in Anchorage, Alaska"
Faculty mentors: Jens Munk, Engineering and LeeAnn Munk, Geological Sciences
Abstract:  "Permafrost is a significant feature in the arctic and sub-arctic environments of Alaska.  The occurrence and vulnerability of permafrost to change in climate (i.e. warming trends) is of particular interest from an engineering standpoint.  For example, roads, pipelines and other structures can be adversely effected by changes in permafrost extent. 
An unexpected lens of permafrost has been encountered by the Alaska Railroad Association in Eagle River near Chugiak High School.  The climate in South Central Alaska is generally too warm for permafrost to exist, particularly at lower elevations.  The discovery of this particular lens of permafrost is the motivation for my research.  The goal of my proposed study is to better map the extent and age of this lens.  A combination of geophysical and geochemical techniques will be implemented to achieve this goal.  In addition, by assessing physical characteristics of the environment, including topography, vegetation, and solar radiation, we hope to develop a predictive model for permafrost occurrence in Southcentral Alaska. 
 
Andrew Yaden (BS Natural Sciences):  "Contingent Valuation of Visibility in Seward, Alaska"
Faculty mentor:  Steve Colt, Economics
Abstract:  The City of Seward is considering options for greater energy self-sufficiency.  A number of these options have environmental costs that are either intangible, unknown, or both.  Specifically, a coal-fired power plant might have significant effects on the visibility within the Resurrection Bay viewshed.  We propose to conduct a contingent valuation (CV) study of the willingness to pay (WTP) for visibility (eg, clear viewsheds) in Seward, AK.  CV's are empirical studies of the value of environmental resources based on the stated preferences of the affected population.  These preferences are elicited through a survey.  Even though the use of CV's in legal proceedings and policy making is still debated by some, their employment has become widely accepted. 
It is the author's and mentor's understanding that a study similar to this has not be undertaken with this population.  This study would, therefore, serve two purposes.  First, it would provide direct evidence about the value of visibility to leaders and citizens of Seward who may soon be making decisions about local energy projects in their community.  Second, this effort would be a pilot study of key aspects of coal-based energy technologies in Alaska.  Coal is among the serious contenders to replace natural gas as the source of baseload electricity for the Alaska Railbelt.  In fact, the visibility question has already been the subject of litigation and dispute with respect to the Healy Clean Coal Project.
 
 
Randy Ashford (BS Psychology): "Coexistence Dynamics: Testing an Integrative Model of Human Conflict"
Faculty mentor: Shelley Theno, Psychology, Kenai Peninsula College
Abstract:  This study introduces the concept of coexistence dynamics as a theory-integrative model of human conflict, and presents and experimental test of one dimension of that model.  The experiment tests whether the manipulation of an individual's belief in their conflict management style results in a subsequent change of style.  Participants will be assessed for conflict management style and randomly assigned to either a control group, receiving accurate feedback on their conflict style, or to an experimental test group, receiving feedback that is diametrically opposed to their style.  Participants will then play a modified version of the Iterated Prisoner Dilemma game, which will measure gains made through cooperative or competitive strategies.  Results will be discussed in terms of the proposed coexistence dynamics model.
 
 
 
2006-2007 Undergraduate Research Grant Recipients
 

Vanessa Bergstedt (BS, Chemistry): “An Investigation of Chlorohydroxy Fatty Acids”
Faculty mentor: John Kennish
Abstract:  My proposed experiment is as follows:  Six biologically pertinent chlorohydroxy fatty acids will be synthesized, separated and run for structural analysis on GC, MS/MS, IR, and NMR.  The starting materials will be the cis isomers of tetradecenoic acid, hexadecenoic acid, and octadecenoic acid.  The 14, 16 and 18 carbon fatty acids were chosen because these are the most common in biological tissue. The cis isomers are the most common isomer.  Each of these compounds will be treated with N-chlorosuccinimide to produce the two chlorohydroxy regioisomers per compound.  The goal will be to learn more basic information about their structure and identification.  Without this fundamental information further research on the compounds cannot proceed.  There are several unanswered questions regarding chlorinated and chlorohydroxy fatty acids.  For example, chlorinated and chlorohydrosxy fatty acids disrupt the cell membrane.  They also have derogatory effects on the reproductive system of the organism.  However the cell gives no known indicator to register either of these compounds as toxic.  There is no current explanation for this.  Currently all chlorinated fatty acids are described together.  However having a hydroxyl group can greatly affect the chemistry of a compound.  Also the formation of a chlorohydroxy fatty acid requires different conditions than that of a dichloro fatty acid.  There have been speculations about the presence of chlorohydroxy fatty acids that differ from that of dichloro fatty acids.  Therefore I wish to increase the knowledge of chlorohydroxy fatty acids separately so that their individual role in these questions can become more apparent.

Arthur Schultz (BS, Biological Sciences): “Molecular and Morphological Diversity of Stylaster Corals in Alaska”
Faculty mentor: S.V. Drovetski
Abstract:  Alaskan deepwater corals have received attention in recent years due to the possible impact of commercial fishing on slow growing habitat.  Corals appear to be easily damaged by commercial fishing gear.  Alaska has an abundance of coral species.  Stylasterid “stony” corals are found in regions of heavy trawling activity.  Virtually noting is known about Stylasterid growth or reproductive ecology.  Some species have been described from single specimens and no significant work has been done with North Pacific Stylasters since 1938.  The literature repeatedly warns of classification problems.  Identification of Stylasters cannot be reliably performed using a dichotomous key for Alaskan species.  Recent molecular work has helped to revise another Stylasterid genus.  New species of Errinopora have been identified using DNA sequencing and it is likely that many species of Stylaster remain unknown.  Identification of Stylasterids is difficult.  It is thought that homoplasic morphological characters have been used in Stylaster taxonomy.  This project will sequence 16S mtDNA of Stylaster specimens for phylogenetic analysis.  The specimens will also be examined using scanning electron microscopy.  It is anticipated that revisions of the genus Stylaster will result from this project.  Molecular methods will help to resolve the problems in using morphological characters, or point to more indicative characters to aid in field identification.  This project is an important first step in future research on Stylasterid phylogeny, reproductive ecology and phylogeography.  A greater knowledge of Stylasterid ecology could have profound implications for commercial fisheries regulation and habitat conservation as managers integrate ecosystem based management practices. 

Desire Shepler (BA, Psychology): “Effects of Yoga on Self-Objectification in Adolescent Girls”
Faculty mentor: Gwen Lupfer-Johnson
Abstract:  Objectification theory postulates that women exist in a cultural milieu of sexual messages that serves to socialize women and girls to view themselves as objects to be examined by others (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997).  As a result girls and women internalize an observer’s perspective of themselves, concentrating on how they look at the expense of being aware of how they feel, an effect termed self-objectification.  Self-objectification exists in two forms: trait self-objectification, relatively stable individual differences in self-objectification; and state self-objectification, which can be triggered and amplified by specific situations (Fredrickson, Roberts, Noll & Twenge, 1998).  Adolescence is the time when the negative consequences of self-objectification, including body shame (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997), are first seen in young women.  Yoga is a mind-body exercise which emphasizes awareness of internal states at the expense of awareness of outward appearance.  In a study examining the effects of yoga, body awareness and self-objectification, Daubenmier (2005) found in a sample of women age 18-87 that more hours a week of yoga participation was associated with less self-objectification and greater body satisfaction.  Participation in yoga could serve to adolescent females as protection from internalization of observers-perspective and therefore, the negative repercussions of self-objectification. 

Christopher Smith (BA, Anthropology):  “Tlingit Tourist Art 1870 to Present”
Faculty mentor: Phyllis Fast
Abstract:  Tlingit market artists (1870-present) have been largely ignored, and even reviled, by Native art scholars and historians.  The contribution of these men and women has been incalculable in terms of cultural continuity and transmission of traditional knowledge for well over a century.  Market carvers are also driving forces in the maintenance of language, oral traditions and self determined economic development within Southeast Alaska.  Due to the fact that Tlingit market art does not always fit the pattern of what non-native scholars believe “traditional” Tlingit art should look like, these men and women have been excluded from art history literature.  Despite this exclusion, Tlingit market artists often fill the role of civil rights advocate, culture bearer, and of course, cultural ambassador for the Tlingit people to a worldwide audience via tourism.  These artists have yet to be recognized for their integral role in the continuation of the art form, and it creates a gap in written Alaska Native art history that ranges roughly from 1870 to 1965.  Though market art escaped the attention of many western art historians, it did not escape the attention of the federal government, as evidenced by the passage of federally sanctioned authenticity verification programs as early as 1935.  This research will ask what sort of relationship formed between the carvers and the federal government through Indian art policies, and who the intended beneficiaries of such legislation were.  How were the transactions between the carvers and the curio shops who sold these wares affected by such programs?  How did market art fit into the assimilation model set forth by missionaries and government agencies, and what was the discourse used to justify this dichotomy?  This research aims to enlighten the public on the fascinating lives and art of these culture bearing men and women, and the hardships they faced in an era of oppression, racism and assimilation.

Nevada Start (BM, Music Education) and group members Joseph Bourgeois (BA, Music), Nate Foerster (BA, Music), Destiny Jeffery (BM, Music Education), and Adam Weber (BM, Music Education):  “University Guitar Ensemble Research and Performance Project”
Faculty mentor: Rozanne Wilson-Marsh
Abstract:  The University Guitar Ensemble has been invited to present a recital in February, 2007 in Portland, Oregon at a Northwest Divisional Conference of MENC (The National Association for Music Education).  Our existing repertoire includes important works by Arcangelo Corelli, Antonio Vivaldi, Franz Josef Haydn, and Isaac Albéniz.  These works were not originally written for a guitar ensemble but have been transcribed from music for other instruments.  To be able to present a more historically accurate interpretation of the music we will research the original scores and the performance practices of the Baroque and Classical Periods.  Our program also contains five stylized dances that cover a wide scope of instrumental dance music.  By researching these as danced forms and by viewing videos of dance performance, we will be ale to create a more authentic performance.  Our new repertoire includes an arrangement of Russian folk music which will require research into the current and historic musical practices of that country to accurately interpret the music.

Rachel Steer (BA, Journalism): “Belugas and Bridges: A Rhetorical Analysis of Public Science Communication in Southcentral Alaska”
Faculty mentor: Jacqueline Cason
Abstract:  A rhetorical analysis of local media, expert, advocate, and layperson accounts concerning the declining Cook Inlet beluga whale population and its potential for federal designation as an endangered species. 

Revathy Thiagarajan-Smith (BS, Chemistry): “Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers in Bowhead Whale and Alaskan Sea Otters”
Faculty mentor: John Kennish
Abstract:  The goal of this study is to measure amounts of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) compounds in bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) and Alaska sea otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni).  I would like to obtain a ratio of different isomeric forms of pBDE compounds found in the blubber of bowhead whale and sea otter heart tissue samples.  This analysis will be conducted using gas chromatography equipped with electron-capture detector (ECD).  Recently, sea otters in Kachemak Bay have been very prone to fatal heart infections (USFWS, 2006).  Some of the sea otters washed up to shore have been severely paralyzed and eventually died.  Most have been found dead.  Studies show that elevated levels of different pollutants such as tributyltin, PCB, and DDT compounds found in dead sea otter tissues are suspected to suppress their immune systems and thus making them more susceptible to various infections (Kannan et al., 2004).  Recent studies show that PCB and DDT levels in the environment have reached a plateau. However, PBDE levels have continued to climb and there is no evidence that it has reached its maximum level.  In fifteen years, it will surpass PCB as the most ubiquitous organic pollutant in the environment (Groc, 2005).  PBDE compounds are very lipophillic and will bioaccumulate as they travel up the food chain.  Bowhead whales have always been an interest to me since they are consumed mostly by the Alaska Natives.  The relatively high concentrations of lipophillic compounds present in whale tissue bioconcentrate in tissue of Native Alaskans.  Currently, there is no data on the toxicity limits of PBDE in humans.  However, several animal studies have revealed disturbing side effects of PBDE exposure.

 
2005-2006 Undergraduate Research Grant Recipients

Joshua Anderson (BS, Geological Science): "Source and Transport of Granite Glacial Erratics in Chugach Mountains"
Faculty mentor: Kristine Crossen
Abstract: The purpose of this research proposal is to determine the source origin of granitic glacial erratics that are deposited on the Chugach Mountains to the east of Anchorage, Alaska. The closest sources of granite for the erratics lie hundreds of kilometers away in a variety of directions. This suggests that glaciers advanced to Anchorage from one of these directions. If the source of these rocks can be established, the results could have profound implications regarding the glacial history of south central Alaska. Four potential sources for the Anchorage granitic erratics have been recognized. The geochemical, petrographic, and age characteristics of each of these areas are well-documented. By conducting similar analysis methods on these granitic erratics, I hope to trace them to their source by comparing our results with published data. Once the source has been identified, a basic glacial flow model will be developed and used to assist in the determination of past glacial flow patterns in the upper Cook Inlet region and southcentral Alaska. This model will be compared with existing Anchorage glacial flow models to confirm whether it supports or contrasts with previous glacial studies. No previous studies have been conducted on the sources of granitic glacial erratics in southcentral Alaska. The results of this research project will enhance our knowledge and understanding of how glacial flow patterns have influenced Anchorage and the surrounding areas.

Dorene Asay-Wilkinson (BA, Philosophy): "The Implications of Foundational Epistemology on Date Rape and the Law"
Faculty mentors: Tom Buller and Stephanie Bauer
Abstract: The project to be proposed is a 30-page publishable quality thesis concerning the epistemological implications in date rape. I will be arguing that the definition of date rape has been shown through research to be different between genders. The male definition of rape id shown in the standards of law and society, whereas the woman’s standard is not reflected. I will argue that the traditional epistemological theory supports this gender- biased notion of reason hurting women and aiding in the development of a “culture of rape,” that is extremely hazardous to women. This gendered notion of epistemology leaves out women’s ways of knowing deeming their ideas of rape as unreasonable and less credible. I will conclude by positing the need for a rejection of the traditional Foundational epistemology that allows the gender-biased approach that is reverberated in the law and a restructuring of the law to represent the woman’s idea and definition of rape.

Stephanie Engel (BSW, Social Work): "Assessing Caregiver Needs to Develop a Caregiver Support Program"
Faculty mentor: Tracey Burke
Abstract: The proposed research is a collaborative project with the non-profit Hospice of Anchorage (HA) intended to assist in the design of a support group for caregivers of HA patients. The student investigator is a senior Social Work major doing her internship at the HA. The HA is aware that the needs of caregivers for the dying are unique and have been unaddressed in Anchorage. Part of the student’s internship is helping design a support group and then coo-facilitating it in the spring, 2006. This qualitative research project consists of 2 focus groups with caregivers of now-deceased HA patients, with groups formed according to how long ago the lives one died. A 3 rd focus group will consist of current HA staff and volunteers. Key questions will address caregivers’ needs and how they could have best been met. Participants will be asked to respond to the preliminary thematic analysis to increase its depth and validity. Participants’ stories and reflections will be an invaluable resource in developing a successful and meaningful caregiver support program. The final report will be given to the HA in written and oral form. Findings will also be presented at various UAA forums.

Ruby Kennell (BFA, Art): “Dysfunction: An Exploration on Relationships”
Faculty mentors: Kat Tomka and Sean Licka
Abstract: Dysfunction: An Exploration on Relationships is a performance art piece that explores the dynamics of dysfunctional relationships. In combining body art (i.e., painting, henna, costuming) and performance (i.e., dance, theatre, video) the production will tell a story, or legend of two individuals in a relationship that don't know themselves or each other. The point of the project is to combine visual art with performance art, and theatre with dance in a way that has not been experienced at the University of Alaska Anchorage. The concept deals with relationships on the literal and abstract level: relationships between lines and shapes, relationships between lights and darks, relationships between people and drugs, between people interacting with people as well as the relationship between art, theatre and dance. This project is an opportunity for students in the various artistic disciplines to come together and collaborate on something they can all relate to: relationships. The legend tells the story of a male and female who are trying to find their individuality and get to know one another through all the wrong ways. They attempt to connect through drugs, sex, looks, and fashion. These tactics never seem to work and the couple ends up uncomfortable and dysfunctional in one way or another. As they experiment and become more honest, their clothing--their "shells"--start to fall away; revealing everything that they have been hiding from each other in the form of intricate line drawings on their skin. As a result, the couple comes to the realization that their beauty lies within. The piece will end with their bodies intertwined in such a way that the drawings on their skin connect to make a larger different drawing.

Sofia Lagos (BM, Music): "Classical Era Research/Perfomance Project"
Faculty mentor: Mark Wolbers
Abstract: Six UAA music majors have formed a clarinet ensemble to explore, and investigate the form, style and performance practice similarities and differences between three works composed by three generations (early, middle, and late) of Classical era composers. Works by Stamitz, Haydn, and Beethoven have been selected for research, study, practice, and performance. Dr. Mark Wolbers has agreed to serve as faculty mentor and coach, as well as the soloist for one of the three works. The ensemble has been invited to perform the results of their project in a concert in Homer as part of the Winter Recital Series of the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra on February 5, 2006.

Jessica Reyna (BA, Psychology): "Meeting Places and the Longevity of Relationships: Distal Factors of Correlation"
Faculty mentor: Robert Boeckmann
Abstract: Relationships begin in a variety of places. This study will examine the underlying influences of meeting place and social networks on relationship longevity in attempt to replicate previous studies conducted over a decade ago by Michael, Gagnon, Laumann, & Kolata (1994). A focus will be put on preselected places (i.e., places which are not assumed to be directly tied to social networks), and the internet as locations of meeting. The main distal factors to be investigated are the number of shared social networks and the amount of similarity between the two individuals in the relationship. The main goal of this study is to determine how meeting places may contribute to the longevity of relationships.

Reem Sheikh (BS, Biological Sciences): "Fluorescent Analyses of Asthma Associated Mucin Protein Expression Exposure to Environmental Contaminants"
Faculty mentor: Carol Jones
Abstract: Asthma is a chronic respiratory illness caused by inflammation of lung tissue and its episodes have dramatically increased within the past two decades. Asthmatic patients exhibit mucus over-production, which can cause overall decreased lung function and development of severe symptoms, Mucus in lung epithelia is produced by mucin glycoproteins that are primarily produced by the MUC1, MUC5AC, and MUC5B genes. Research has shown an increase in lung inflammation and asthma in people exposed to environmental carcinogens, particularly those found in cigarette smoke and car exhaust. These contaminants both contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) that stimulate the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) response. Also, a highly toxic PAH, 2, 3, 7, 8-tetrachlor-odibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) has shown to activate the AhR and induce immune response. Last Spring, I investigated the molecular pathway between TCDD- activated AhR and mucin genes found in lung epithelia (MUC1, MUC5B, MUC5AC). To continue investigating a molecular pathway connecting asthma to environmental carcinogens, production and location of mucin proteins from MUC1, MUC5B and MUC5AC expression after TCDD exposure to A459 cells will be analyzed through immunofluorescence microscopy. DNA expression of mucin genes was analyzed during Spring 2005 and now protein production and location within the cell will be studied. Changes in mucin protein location may suggest how asthmatic patients react to allergy attacks based on TCDD exposure time and concentration. We hypothesize that production and localization of mucin core proteins in A459 cells will vary in relation to TCDD-dose and time dependent treatments.

G. Matthew Snodgrass (BA, Justice): "Sexual Assault Case Processing: A Model of Attrition and Decision Making"
Faculty mentor: Andre Rosay
Abstract: As defined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, forcible rape is the “carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.” For well over 20 years, Anchorage has experienced a persistent and severe problem with forcible rape. In 2003, the rate of forcible rape per 100,000 in Anchorage was 180.4% higher than in the U.S. (Uniform Crime Report, 2003) To Make matters worse, the prosecution of forcible rape is dismal at best. Many offenders are not being held accountable for their actions. This research seeks to explain why cases reported to the Anchorage Police Department are not being fully and successfully prosecuted. The ultimate goal of this research is to assist the Anchorage Police Department in preparing cases that have a higher likelihood of being fully and successfully prosecuted. By explaining why cases are rejected by prosecutors, the Anchorage Police Department will be able to correct their investigative strategies so as to improve the convictability of suspects. In an effort to document this filtering process and increase offender accountability, this research models the flow through the criminal justice system of 1,074 sexual assault cases reported to the Anchorage Police Department between 2000 and 2003. This project will describe not only case outcome and case attribution, but will also describe the reasons given by prosecutors for decision making at each point. Equipped with knowledge on case attribution and the reasons given for this attrition, law enforcement official will be able to prepare more robust cases, thereby increasing offender accountability.

2004-2005 Undergraduate Research Grant Recipients

Heather Arkinson - (BS, Civil Engineering): "Investigation of Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products in Anchorage Water Sources"
Faculty mentor: Craig Woolard
Abstract
: I propose to perform a scientific study investigating the anthropogenic influence of wastewater on Alaska's natural waters. The proposed study provides a preliminary examination of chemical pollution by pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs), a class of chemical compounds emerging as potentially dangerous environmental pollutants. The study involves collecting samples from sewage effluent and ground water in Anchorage, Alaska and analyzing the samples for two target PPCP compounds, namely caffeine and acetylsalicylic acid. My goal in performing this project is to collect preliminary evidence of two common PPCP compounds in wastewater and ground water samples in Anchorage in order to pave the way for future, more comprehensive studies of PPCPs in Alaska. Samples will be collected from a municipal wastewater treatment facility in Anchorage and from a few select residential septic systems, as well as from an accessible source of ground water in West Anchorage. Sample analysis will be performed in the Applied Science and Engineering Technology (ASET) laboratory at University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) via Solid Phase Extraction (SPE) and High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC). Concentrations of the two analytes will be calculated using appropriate calibration standards, and the resulting data will be analyzed with respect to other published data for additional insights and global context.

Julia Cohen – (BS, Geological Sciences): "Contributions of Chemical Weathering of Bedrock to Natural Waters in Anchorage, Alaska"
Faculty mentor: LeeAnn Munk
Abstract: The chemical composition of natural waters results from both geogenic (natural) and anthropogenic sources. The proposed research will investigate the geogenic contributions to natural waters through the chemical weathering of the bedrock (McHugh Complex) and the surrounding geologic deposits (glacial outwash and till) and soils. The four major streams in the watershed that will be studied are Ship Creek, Chester Creek, Campbell Creek, and Rabbit Creek. Bedrock, glacial till, soil, meteoric water and groundwater will be sampled within each drainage and the chemical constituents will be measured using x-ray fluorescence (XRF) and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). In addition, representative bedrock samples will be experimentally weathered in the laboratory. The chemical composition of the experimental water samples will be compared with that of natural stream, ground, and meteoric water samples in order to determine the contributions of chemical weathering to the overall composition of natural waters in the Anchorage watershed.

Virginia Cress - (BS, Psychology): "An Examination of the Relationship Between Hardiness, Stress and Health-Promoting Behaviors Among College Students"
Faculty mentor: Claudia Lampman
Abstract: Stress and particularly its negative impact on a person's health is an important concern to society. Research suggests hardiness acts as a resistance resource in the encounter of stressful life events. Research also shows stressful life events can increase illness among people, however hardiness was shown to play a key role in decreasing the likelihood of the onset of symptoms. The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between hardiness, perceived stress and health-promoting behaviors among college students. The variables will be measured using four surveys. Participants will be assessed using the Personal Views Survey III-R (PVS III-R), the Health Promoting Lifestyle II (HPLP II), the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), and the College Schedule of Recent Events-Modified (CSRE-M). Results will be analyzed using multiple regression analysis. Based on the data retrieved, hardiness, perceived stress and gender will be examined to see how positively correlated they are to health-promoting behaviors. Gender differences among hardiness, perceived stress, and health-promoting behaviors will also be examined using descriptive statistics. The outcome of the study will help psychologists better understand the relationship between health-promoting behaviors, stress, and a hardy personality.

Cedar Cussins - (BA, Theatre): "Homeless at 20 Below: A Photographic Investigation of Life"
Faculty mentor: Thomas Skore
Abstract: Nearly 1.5 million homeless youth live in America today, the richest nation in the world. In an effort to understand how some of these children end up on the streets, I would like to conduct a photographic expose on what it means to be homeless in Anchorage, Alaska. My goal is to interview and photograph individuals in their environment in order to present their stories to the public. This project will coincide and partner with the UAA Theatre production of Polaroid Stories in February, 2005. Polaroid Stories is based on the popular photographic expose of homeless youth around Los Angeles, "Raised by Wolves." The end result will be a public display during the run of Polaroid Stories that will be viewed by approximately tow thousand people over a three-week period. Many of the photographs will be taken with simple Polaroid one-step cameras which capture a stark realism in their images. A Polaroid is a story, a quick snapshot of a moment of another person's life, this is the concept from which Polaroid Stories derives its title.

Joel Matthew Hunt - (BA, Justice): "Ecology of Gun Crime in Anchorage Alaska: Testing the Collective Efficacy Measure as an Indicator of Crime Rates"
Faculty mentor: Sharon Chamard
Abstract: This study proposes to test the measure of "collective efficacy" as originally measured in the study "Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods" and subsequent works by Robert Sampson, Stephen Raudenbush, and Felton Earls (Earls, et al., 1997). In their study, they administered an interview to respondents to gather data on two main variables, cohesion and social control, that combine to form collective efficacy. This study will attempt through archival research of prior studies in Anchorage and the 2000 United States census data, to calculate these variables on a community council level for the Municipality of Anchorage. This measure or index is inferred by Sampson, Raudenbush, and Earls to be a predictor of crime, specifically violent crime (Sampson, et al., 1997:918). To test the legitimacy of this index rate it will be correlated with gun incident rates for the Municipality of Anchorage's community councils. The gun incident rate will be obtained through the Project Safe Neighborhood Study that is ongoing in the Municipality of Anchorage. This study will accept the measures as being accurate measures for a community council analysis and does not aim to disprove the theory of collective efficacy, but merely tests the application of the theory with respect to gun crime in Anchorage.

Cassie Iutzi-Mitchell - (BA, Languages): "Linguistic and Cultural Barriers to Health Care for Spanish-speaking Patients in Anchorage: A Qualitative Analysis"
Faculty mentor: Francisco Miranda
Abstract: Anchorage, Alaska is one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse cities of its size in the United States with over 13.6% of the population speaking a language other than English at home. Almost 4% of the Anchorage population speaks Spanish at home, making it second only to English. There are numerous factors that can impede access to health care, two of the largest being language and culture. Language barriers are addressed at all of the major hospitals in Anchorage; all offer full interpretive services. The cultural expectations that change when a different language is used are often forgotten because they ar