Honors Research Symposium

April 25, 2013 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Villa Library

Honors students will be presenting their research in the form of lectures, posters, and PowerPoint presentations. All are welcome for any portion of the symposium. Refreshments will be served.

Presentation Schedule

1-1:50 pm: Poster Session
2-4 pm: PowerPoint Presentations
4 pm: Lecture Reading

Our student presenters and their research topics are as follows:

Alyssa Watkins: "Examining Post-Apocalyptic, Post-Colonial, and Feminist Elements in The Hunger Games"

Mentor: Marie-Therese Sulit, Format: PowerPoint

The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins centers around a young woman -- Katniss Everdeen -- in the post-apocalyptic dictatorship of Panem, the remains of the United States of America. After a great war, all that remains are thirteen districts, all ruled by President Snow from his Capitol. These districts call back to a time when the United States was first forming and its original thirteen colonies. After advancement and disaster, the country renamed Panem has reverted back to its original form: thirteen districts operating separately and yet for the good of the Capitol, all contributing valuable resources needed for the country to survive.

In this world where the privileged thrive in the Capitol, Katniss struggles to support her family as primary caretaker. A strong-minded woman with fierce loyalty to her sister, she is hunter and woman, saving her sister from the annual Hunger Games at, what she believes to be, the cost of her life. These Games are the Capitol's way of preventing rebellion and a great source of entertainment for the privileged: a reality TV show broadcast into every District in which 24 children enter an arena and fight to the death, the victor moving on to train the next year's "tributes." By using intelligence, cunning, and natural talents, Katniss survives the Games and inadvertently becomes the rallying point for rebellion led by another strong woman seeking to overthrow Snow's dictatorship. Her journey is inspirational for young women, with her character serving as a role model for today's culture: a woman who survives trauma and tragedy and, in the end, finds peace and survival.

Stephanie Weaver: "Jane Austen and Landscape"

Mentor: Daniel Shea, Format: PowerPoint

Throughout each of her novels, Austen presents her two protagonists at an intersection between the natural environment and the confines of nineteenth century British society. Through this juxtaposition of the romantic ideal of nature and “civilized society,” both the hero and the heroine become an avatar for the unity that characterized the marital bond. Where one protagonist is refined and proper, his or her counterpart is condition by nature and is in need of refinement. Austen’s construction of her heroic couples adhere to the Alexander Pope’s theories of humanity existing as a form of “nature methodized.” Pope’s theory illustrates a controlled version of the natural world that exists merely a few steps beyond the courtyard or a few leagues out to sea. Using Austen’s literature and Pope’s theories on the picturesque and nature, the piece interrogates the idea of the individual as “nature methodized,” in order to develop Austen’s view on Aestheticism and her Aesthetic theory which characterizes the creation of her literature. Essentially, the marriages that are instituted throughout Austen’s literature portray one party acting as the “wild child” whilst the other party seeks to control and harness the wilderness in their counterpart. In order to develop her Aesthetic theory, Austen acutely pinpoints the need for balance in a marriage; essentially she is criticizing her culture for the existence of extremities in marriage and calls for exactly what Alexander Pope defines in his neoclassical poetry, a refinement of the natural world in order to achieve ultimate happiness.

James Fitz Gerald: "Walt Whitman's Unique Approach Towards Death and Soul"

Mentor: Nancy Von Rosk, Format: Podium

Where does Walt Whitman fit into America’s literary cannon? Why is he important? When he died in 1892 at the age of 72, poverty stricken and relying on the financial aid of fellow writers and friends, surely nobody—with the exception, perhaps, of Whitman himself—would have foreseen the poet’s vast permeation into America’s literature and landscape. And yet, here he is. His works are recited in classrooms around the world, and even Levi Jeans made use of several of his poems in a recent advertising campaign. In the end, he is arguably America’s most recognized poet, and yet he cannot be placed. Is he to be associated with the Transcendentalists? Is he simply a carrier of their tradition, taking the breakthroughs of poets like Emerson and Thoreau and making minor literary touches with major style changes? Essentially, what I argue is that Whitman was not a Transcendentalist, and nor was he a bridge between the Transcendentalists and any other literary movement. Where Whitman fits is in a class all his own. His uniqueness in content and style is not necessarily what makes him well known today, but is what separates him from his contemporaries. More specifically, his revolutionary take on death and the soul, which stands in contrast with many Transcendentalist and 19th century Western thought, is what defines him as a disparate, unique voice in American literature. This revolutionary take, coupled with his unsettling and often awkward encounters with Transcendentalists—most notably Thoreau—forms the crux of my research into America’s most well-known, as well as enigmatic, poet.

Sandra Wamsley: "The Development and Student Opinion of College-Specific Smartphone Applications"

Mentor: Maureen Markel, Format: Poster

More and more, schools are adopting technology. Students can contact their teachers through online learning systems and find their school on facebook to get the latest updates on events and games. Schools know that their students have technology with them. The increase in smartphones has led some schools to create smartphone apps specifically about their school, with information, calendars, and much more. Mount Saint Mary College has grown with technology, much like other schools, but has not yet made this step to having a smartphone app. Using a survey of students and interviews with members of the school's administration, this project sought to discover student interest in a smartphone app for MSMC, and the process to move forward with the creation of one.

Lindsey Oro: "Psychology of Injury in Collegiate Athletes"

Mentor: Sarah Uzelac, Format: Poster

In the world of competitive sports, injuries are just a part of the game. They are an expected obstacle that every collegiate athlete must face at some point in their career. Even though injuries are to be expected, they are difficult to overcome, both physically and mentally. The present research examined three collegiate soccer players and their psychological experiences with injury. There are basically three stages of injury that an injured athlete can be in: returning to play after being injured, currently suffering from an injury, and having to stop competing all together due to injury. Each of the athletes answered a series of open ended questions that were tailored to their individual experiences with injury. Two of the three athletes completed a standard assessment of either the Social Support Survey or Athletic Identity Measurement Scale. Their answers were compiled and synthesized with current research about the psychological trials and tribulations that an injured athlete goes through.

Kerrin Rowe: "Teaching Children How to Read Food Labels: A Step Towards Combating Childhood Obesity"

Mentor: Ellen Rodriguez, Format: Poster

Over the past three decades, childhood obesity has shifted from a health concern to a full-fledged epidemic. According to the Center for Disease Control, obesity has tripled over the past 30 years, with nearly one third of children and adolescents classified as clinically obese in 2008 (Center for Disease Control [CDC], 2012). The main cause of childhood obesity is an imbalance between caloric intake (foods consumed) and the caloric expenditure (calories burned off through physical activity) (CDC, 2012). In the United States, there are countless contributing factors to the epidemic of obesity, such as decreased daily physical activity, advertisement of unhealthy foods, increased cost of healthy foods compared to that of unhealthy foods, increased portion sizes, and the prevalence of sugary sports drinks and sodas. The growing obesity epidemic has not gone unnoticed in America. After reviewing the exorbitant amount of research regarding childhood obesity, I began to formulate my topic and plan how I would execute my project. Specifically, I took the data collected in the research phase and I focused on primary prevention strategies, such as how to read food labels, in an elementary school setting.

Alexis Coronato: "Mythology in Harry Potter"

Mentor: Peter Witkowsky, Format: PowerPoint

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series first came out in the United States in 1998, with the last book being published in 2007. Since then, these seven books have transcended into more than a good read; they have become a cultural phenomenon. What most people don't realize about the books (but which doesn't make them any less entertaining) is that Rowling incorporated components of myth and legend into her writing. In The Deathly Hallows, Professor Dumbledore states, “That which Voldemort does not value, he takes no trouble to comprehend.” The same goes for those who dismiss myths as lies; those who do not truly value the importance of mythology will not see the worth in drawing upon their connections in Rowling’s series. For those who do value mythology, I have narrowed the series down and explored myth and legend in terms of select people, creatures, and objects. My focus is on each of the books, though some of these ideas might also be applicable to the films. While some aspects of Rowling’s use of myth and legend parallel the classical accounts of such, others stray away from what was once understood to allow her to create her own world.

Jennie Rouleau: "How to Prevent Weight Gain During Freshman Year of College: 'The Freshman Fifteen'"

Mentor: Priscilla Sagar, Format: PowerPoint

As part of the Healthy People 2020 initiative, I researched the phenomenon commonly referred to as "The Freshman Fifteen" and used this information to teach the freshman students at MSMC how to maintain a healthy weight during their first year in college. Various Healthy People 2020 objectives were addressed, including: Reduce the proportion of obese adults and Increase the proportion of adults who are at a healthy weight. I will present current statistics on college weight-gain, as well as causes and healthy ways to maintain a healthy weight throughout the college years. I assessed my teaching effectiveness through the evaluation of a pre-test and post-test that were distributed to the students before and after my presentation. The results displayed increased knowledge about weight gain during the first year in college and healthy ways to prevent weight gain, including resources available on campus.

Ellen Slocum: "The role of perspective geometry in education"

Mentor: Zachary Kudlak, Format: PowerPoint

There has long existed a connection between mathematics and art. Most commonly, this is seen when examining the relationship between geometry and art. When it comes to the teaching of mathematics, and really any subject, experts agree that it is important to relate the material to the students’ life. An important part of education is showing students that what they are learning matters; that they are learning something that can be used in the “real world”. Perspective geometry is perhaps one of the greatest of examples of mathematical applications; specifically how they can be incorporated in many different levels of schooling. Including specific examples of how mathematics and art combine to illustrate situations that students come across every day, perspective geometry is an extremely important topic. These real life situations are the main reason that it is important for the ideas of perspective geometry to be incorporated in schools across varying skill levels. This incorporation should exist not only as a part of a separate subject curriculum, meaning solely as a part of the mathematics curriculum, but as a part of a multidisciplinary curriculum, incorporating mathematics, art, and history. Beginning with a brief history of perspective and leading to how this topic can be incorporated in today’s classroom, this research project will stress the role the topic of perspective should play in education, throughout various academic subjects.

Karen Borst: "Bullying"

Mentor: Evelyn Barese, Format: PowerPoint

Bullying has always been a problem, but most recently, it has been brought to everyone’s attention; the most prevalent form of bullying is cyber bullying. The culture and the times have a heavy impact on bullying and how it affects children. Together, as a world, we must cooperatively collaborate to counteract bullying and the huge burden it causes people. But first, we must be made aware of what causes bullying and the negative effects it has. There are various types of bullying that occur in today’s world; cyber bullying, verbal bullying, and school bullying are the most popular. Each year, about 2.7 million students are bullied; 160,000 miss school every day in fear of being bullied. There is a notable difference in where the most bullying occurs, but bullying prevention at all ages is increasing. Hopefully, making people aware will help to stop school bullying in all. This is a research based study which discusses the types and causes of bullying. Books related to bullying, documentaries and videos, and journal articles are the main sources of information. This research project will delve into the types of bullying that have the greatest impact on children and what causes them to occur leading to the strong negative affect they have on children. There will be no interviews or personal information revealed. Research on Bullying contributes to an anti-bullying policy and changes what is happening now; New York State has implemented the Dignity Act and it has a strong impact on bullying.

Pablo Escotto: "The Neuroscience of Moral Cognition"

Mentors: Sarah Uzelac and John Hofbauer, Format: PowerPoint

Thirteen years after the “decade of the brain,” the booming study of neuroscience shows no signs of slowing down. One of the many specialty fields borne of this trend is neuroethics, the study of the neural underpinnings of moral cognition. As the neuroscientific paradigm continues to generate such cross-disciplinary research, contemporary students interested in human biology, psychology, and philosophy must be prepared to call on a basic understanding of its influence and the ability to critique its expanding reach. Aimed at bridging the accessibility gap between undergraduate and graduate level material in both neuroscience and ethics, the culmination of this project is an introduction to the field of neuroethics for students seeking further study of moral reasoning as a human cognitive phenomenon. Results of neuroscientific research on moral cognition will be discussed in the context of popular schools of ethical thought.

Katie Ketterer: "The Existence of Culture Bound Syndromes; Are Future Psychology Professionals Culturally Educated?"

Mentor: Sarah Uzelac, Format: Poster

In the cultural diverse world we live in today, the differences in mental illness between cultures are something that researchers focus on in the field of psychology. One area that is of specific interest and importance to researchers seems to be the phenomenon of Culture Bound Syndromes. Varying from country to country, there seems to be specific mental illnesses prevalent in one location of the world, but not in another. As the times are changing, and the world is becoming a much more diverse place, with many cultures living together in one area, it is a current worry that people may not be well equipped to deal with certain syndromes that they may have never seen before. Specifically, those entering the mental health field. It is thought that they should have the most cultural knowledge in order to effectively help individuals from many different cultures. My study attempts to review the current literature regarding the rate and prevalence of both nonwestern and western culture bound syndromes, and to examine the level of cultural performance and adjustment of those entering the mental health field versus other major individuals. Does the rate indicate a need for more cultural psychology education and awareness? My hypothesis is that those entering the mental health field will have a higher level of cultural performance and adjustment.

Allison Cowan: "Game Theory in Television"

Mentor: Lee Fothergill, Format: Poster

Game shows have been in existence for many years and use games to reward the players. More recently, reality television shows have started incorporating games to create tension between the reality stars and intrigue the viewer. This study investigates two well-known games that branch from two different categories of games. There are strategies for both types of games that have the potential to either hurt or harm the player in terms of payoff. This research used books and articles on various topics in game theory to learn the mechanics of the games presented and try to develop “winning” strategies. This study also used survey results from students from Mount Saint Mary College to consider what different people would do in these situations and why they would choose that course of action. The surveys essentially ask the age-old question, “What would you do?” to gain an insight to the driving forces that guide different people to make different choices.

Valdilene Mauricio: "The High Corporate Tax System of the U.S Is Suppressing the Economy of the Country"

Mentor: Dr. Andrew Weiss, Format: Poster

The creation of the federal corporate income tax occurred in 1909, when the uniform rate was 1% for all business income above $5,000. Since then the rate has increased to as high as 52.8% in 1969, and the single rate has become eight different rates for different income levels. Today's rate for companies with over $18.3 million in income (the top category) is 35%, the highest among all countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Since 1980s, other OECD economies have been steadily lowering their corporate tax rates. But while other nations have been racing over the past few decades to cut corporate tax rates to welcome multinational corporations, the United States has stagnated since 1993 when it had its last cut in the statutory rate. The objective of this study is to analyze the impact and consequences of high corporate tax in the U.S economy.

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