The Haugean Diaspora
In 1796, Hans Nielsen Hauge walked off of his father’s farm and began a career in lay ministry that would forever change Norway. Both Hauge’s writings and widespread travel began a period of revival amongst the Norwegian people, both in a religious and economic sense. Hauge died in 1824, a year before the start of organized Norwegian emigration to the United States but many of his followers brought his message and form of Lutheranism to their new home. On the frontier, the Haugeans attempted to apply the teachings of Hauge to their new land and in the process began to deviate from their original form. This study will address the process of change that the Haugean movement experienced after its transplantation to America. How did the Haugean movement change in America and what caused it to do so? Utilizing letters, interviews, church meeting minutes, and architectural studies, this study will demonstrate that the Haugean movement evolved in America. The Haugeans’ religious rites and church architecture developed— all in response to a new religious environment on the American frontier, an environment that forced the Haugeans to encounter and syncretize with other Protestant churches. These findings indicate that the Haugean movement Americanized greatly during their time on the frontier, more so than previously believed and possibly more so than the other Norwegian Lutheran sects. This study will also explore ways the Haugean movement continues to influence the American Lutheran church even after the end of all prominent Haugean institutions.
Faculty Advisor: Robert Christman
Post-Holocaust Jewish Influence on Christian Thinking: Is God Intervening or Merely Present?
This paper explores the influence of Jewish thinkers on post-Holocaust Christian theologians on the question of theodicy, or the problem of suffering. The paper analyzes two significant Jewish thinkers, Elie Wiesel and Richard Rubenstein, and explores how their thought has contributed to the ways that Renee Splichal-Larson and Jürgen Moltmann have wrestled from a Christian perspective with the relationship between God and human suffering in light of the Holocaust. The paper pays particular attention to how Larson and Moltmann understand God’s activity in the world in the midst of suffering, including whether God is best understood as intervening and actively shaping events related to suffering, or if God is best understood as merely present in the midst of suffering.
Faculty Advisor: Todd Green
This project is centered around developing and building a movie recommender system based on data scrapped from IMDB website. A movie data set is collected from IMDB open API. Using this data set will enable me to create such recommendation system. The movie data set has the following features; movie title, director, revenue, all genres (each is its own variable with binary index), release year, movie length, IMDB rating score for the movie, number of voters, meta-score (a score provided by critic’s website). The target variables are the IMDB score and the meta score, combining both of the scores will enable me to have a unique score. The most important features are the ratings and the number of votes, because this feature will work as an indicator of how much people like a specific movie. The recommender will be content based, therefore, I will only need one user’s viewing history to be able to recommend new movies for them. The viewing history will be collected when using the final product of the project.
Faculty Advisor: Kent Lee
American Interventions and Foreign Public Opinion
An examination of global favorability towards the United States will reveal some intriguing patterns. In particular, countries in which America has engaged in a military intervention may hold counter-intuitive views of the U.S. An example of this is Vietnam, which maintains high favorability of the U.S. today, despite the U.S. war in Vietnam. Such patterns beg the question: What impact does an American military intervention have on a foreign public’s contemporary views toward the U.S.? This paper explores that question using multiple linear regression. There were no meaningful, generalizable effects of an American intervention on contemporary views of the U.S. This lack of meaningful effects may have been the result of examining contemporary views of the U.S., which may be better explained by more recent events than past interventions. Future research should use a prospective research design, in which public opinion data from immediately after an intervention is examined.
Faculty Advisor: Carly Foster
Beyond the Books: Luther College Social Impact Research Fellowship - Decorah Public Library
The Social Impact Research Fellowship was designed to partner students from Social Work and Business Management/Accounting in collaborative work with a local non-profit to strengthen the student’s research skills and give them an opportunity to support the community. In the summer of 2018, The Decorah Public Library, who had recently appointed a new director, was interested in assessing their organizational climate and how they may better serve the community. The fellows pursued research on the services of other public libraries and interviewed the library staff and numerous community stakeholders. Ultimately, the project led the students to create two separate surveys: one for the internal organization climate and one to assess community needs. The internal organizational climate survey was conducted over the summer, while the community needs assessment was conducted over the fall months. The efforts and conclusions of this Social Impact Research Fellowship suggest that the library is an extremely vital part of the Decorah community. The library provides valuable services to community members and is continuing to assess and alter these services to better meet the community’s needs. Furthermore, results from the internal organizational climate assessment reflect the positive and supportive atmosphere which is significant in the library.
Faculty Advisors: Alexandra White, Brittany Cord, Britt Rhodes
J.M.W Turner: From Romantic Realism toward the Abstract
Joseph Mallord William Turner, best known for his embracing of the expression of color and light in his later years, and this dominates most scholarship on the artist. What is often overlooked is that J.M.W. Turner began his career creating representative works. Even in these early more naturalistic works, however, we can see a glimpse of whom he would become as an artist in the 1840s. This paper will examine how art historians have explained Turner’s move towards abstraction. This critical analysis will be paired with a close examination of Turner’s maritime works in order to discern what is the most significant reason for this transformation, along with evaluating others. These seascapes change from true-to-life sea scenes of his early career to others that embrace wild color and light at the end of his life.
Faculty Advisor: Kate Elliott
Yelp Restaurant Recommender System
Recommender systems are widely deployed to predict the preferences of users. Yelp is a website that provides information about restaurants. Using Yelp’s dataset, collaborative and content-based features will be extracted to identify customer and restaurant profiles. This project demonstrates how a recommender system like Yelp is designed and implemented to fit the preferences of users. This project uses data mining and machine learning techniques in the implementation of a recommendation application.
Faculty Advisor: Kent Lee
Multiple Paternity in Wild White-tailed Deer Detected Using High-throughput Sequencing
Effective management of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) requires understanding of social behavior and breeding structure. Recent genetic studies in captive deer exhibiting multiple paternity within litters have challenged the view that deer exhibit a strict dominance-based breeding hierarchy with few males siring most offspring. To identify whether multiple paternity is occurring in wild populations, we performed genetic analyses on tissue from 63 road-killed does and their fetuses (n=199) collected 2013-2017 in Iowa. We used 2bRADsequencing, a novel approach for SNP identification and allele scoring that is potentially suitable for degraded samples. After successfully genotyping individuals from 49 litters at approximately 3000 SNPs, we calculated pairwise relatedness values to identify full- and half-siblings. Preliminary results show evidence of multiple paternity in 2 of 10 sets of triplets and 8 of 40 sets of twins (overall 20% of litters). 2bRAD was a viable and cost-effective option for genotyping degraded DNA samples from large mammals. Multiple paternity appears to be prevalent in wild white-tailed deer, indicating that mating opportunities are more widespread for males than previously assumed. Management policies should take into account this new information on the mating system, and additional research should investigate variables influencing rates of multiple paternity.
Faculty Advisor: Dawn Reding
Investigating Whether Dysregulation of Matrix Metalloproteinase Activity Causes Changes in the Structure of the Extracellular Matrix in C. Elegans
The regulation of the extracellular environment is essential to the development of multicellular organisms. The extracellular environment surrounding cells consists primarily of the extracellular matrix (ECM) and is critical for mediating a variety of cellular functions. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are secreted proteases that regulate the structure of the extracellular matrix (ECM) and are inhibited by a class of proteins known as the Tissue-inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs). Importantly, altering MMP activity through dysregulation of TIMPs causes detrimental effects on the organism. For example, Sorsby’s fundus dystrophy, a form of retinal degeneration in humans, is believed to result from mutations in the TIMP-3 gene. In order to understand the underlying pathophysiology diseases such as Sorsby’s, it is crucial to uncover new roles for MMPs. Here, we use the model multicellular organism Caenorhabditis elegans (C.elegans) to discover new functions for MMPs by reducing the expression of both TIMP genes identified in C. elegans: timp-1 and cri-2. Preliminary phenotypic observations indicate that reducing TIMP expression causes motor deficits, suggesting that MMP-dependent ECM turnover is important for muscle cell function. Using several microscopy-based assays, we aimed to determine if MMP activity requires TIMPs for regulation of the extracellular matrix surrounding muscle cells.
Faculty Advisors: Brian Hiester, Robert Fitton
“And it was soon over”: Negotiating Memory in Austen’s Persuasion and Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day
Literature often confronts the question of how we make sense of our memories, especially when memories entail national and personal trauma. As humans, we go through life collecting memories and deciding how to deal with them. But that process isn’t always simple. Both Jane Austen’s posthumously published 1817 novel Persuasion and Kazuo Ishiguro’s Booker Prize-winning 1989 novel The Remains of the Day feature main characters in Anne Elliot and Stevens who spend most of their time grappling with their painful memories. Through the ways in which they use memories, these novels, though separated by a century and a half, are really trying to answer the same question: how should we make use of our capacity to remember? Drawing on the work of literary critics and philosophical approaches to memory, I explore how these characters connect or fail to connect their memories to action. I argue their choices determine whether they are able to maneuver through their memories toward a future or whether they remain stuck in their memories, unable to move on.
Faculty Advisor: Lise Kildegaard
Exploring Gender-Based Violence in Bolivia
My research will explore the gender-based violence (GBV) landscape in Bolivia, in regard to their recent political history and how it compares to other existing GBV research globally. This research is meaningful as preparation for my future work in Bolivia this summer, to create a sexual education program for young girls in collaboration with Etta Projects (a public health organization). The methods for this research include reviewing the current GBV literature and theories. GBV is a persistent issue in the world, regardless of development status. Scholars have also linked GBV to widespread patriarchy. Additionally, scholars have noted that GBV thrives during times of turmoil or military conflict. Therefore, this research will also draw connections between GBV theories and the social-political shift in Bolivia to a neoliberal state; in 2006 Evo Morales was elected as the first indigenous president in Bolivia. This shift has changed the way Bolivians see themselves in society in the twenty-first century. The goal of this research is to explore the culture of GBV in Bolivia with regard to their political shift and what is deeply rooted in Bolivian society to allow GBV to thrive in the twenty-first century.
Faculty Advisor: Maryna Bazylevych
Connecting Communities: How to Bridge the Gap through Volunteering
Decorah nonprofits struggle to reach Luther College’s student body. Nonprofits tend to jump through hoops to try to advertise to Luther students without knowing if the information will ultimately reach the students. Luther students are a big resource within the Decorah community who can benefit from the experience and opportunities the nonprofits offer. This poster showcases the work Italee Castellon (’19) and Lauren Voigt (’19) did under the Social Impact Research Fellowship project and in collaboration with Helping Services for Youth and Families to address this issue. The work ultimately has two main goals; the first is to find the means to advertise the information to the students in a way that’s easily accessible. The second is to make it easy and efficient to send this information to Luther and have it advertised to the possible student volunteers. The solution is to develop a new Luther volunteer webpage where contacts and information about volunteer events could be posted for the student body to easily see. A new student position with policies and procedures has been put into place to facilitate this procedure. This ongoing project is in hopes of making a stronger community connection between Decorah and Luther College.
Faculty Advisor: Alexandra White
The Buddha Bowl: Food Ethics in Zen Buddhism
In Summer ‘18 I was granted a student-faculty research position to study “Buddhism in the Predominantly Christian Midwest.” For my symposium presentation, I would like to narrow my focus to what I learned about Buddhist food-ethics. To begin, I will give an overview of the method of my research as well as other pertinent background information for an audience unfamiliar with Buddhist practices. I will then speak about the practices I observed and took part in surrounding food and culture at a Buddhist Monastery; to contextualize, I will draw comparisons and contrast with Christian touch-points such as “communion.” Finally, I will conclude with my findings and ask the audience a call-to-action question to instigate further thought on the topic, even after the presentation is complete. My presentation will be verbal, with the aid of a Powerpoint to provide visual context as well as definitions for terms that exist in the Japanese context of Buddhism.
Faculty Advisor: Anita Carrasco
Exploring Community Flooding Experiences in the Upper Iowa River Watershed
Flooding has long been a reality in communities within the Upper Iowa River watershed, but both experience and research demonstrate that flooding frequency is increasing in the US Midwest. Increased flooding frequency can stress infrastructure, as well as disproportionately impact vulnerable communities. Thus we ask: what are direct and indirect impacts of flooding on the residents of the Upper Iowa River Watershed? In particular, we present findings from an in-depth case study of the flooding experiences of people in the community of Freeport, as well as from a watershed-wide mail survey of 2250 residents. Our Freeport case study demonstrates the deep financial and emotional impacts of flooding, while our survey indicates that even when people are not directly flooded, many (38% in our sample) experience indirect impacts such as having to drive a different route to work or needing to secure additional childcare. Ultimately, our research suggests the importance of multi-faceted flood management that includes a broad set of strategies from strengthening communication networks among residents to mitigating flooding through land use practices.
Faculty Advisor: Rachel Brummel
PluggedIn: Connecting Musicians with Opportunities
In an age where information spreads within nanoseconds and people are increasingly connected through a variety of platforms, how is it possible that the only way for musicians to find opportunities to perform is by word of mouth? When the internet has no boundaries, why should information? These questions inspired the development of PluggedIn-- a professional social network designed for musicians, ensembles, and venues. Created using the .NET framework, React.js, and Bootstrap, PluggedIn seeks to make it easier for musicians to find auditions and gig opportunities by connecting them with ensembles and venues through a single platform. Gone are the days of looking around for places to perform-- simply log on and watch the opportunities unfold before you. Users are able to update their audience, post images or recordings from their latest performances, and host their musical resumes. Ensembles are able to create auditions for prospective members, and venues are able to create gig opportunities to attract performers. From garage bands to symphony orchestras, PluggedIn is a space to develop your professional musical profile and get connected with opportunities to share your talents.
Faculty Advisor: Roman Yasinovskyy
Economics of Cover Crops
This research paper analyzes the economic viability of using cover crops. Cover crops have many benefits both economically and otherwise. The best understood effects are increased yields (which directly tie to profitability), as well as increased soil health, better drought protection, and a decreased need for chemical herbicides. The data suggest that cover crops make economic sense for individual farmers in the Midwestern US, where seed acquisition costs for cover crops are low. The effects are even more pronounced with naturally high-yield crops like corn. In the West, however, the high cost of seeding cover crops entirely negates any potential economic benefits to the farmer. Data for the Northeast suggest cover crops are economically viable, but not necessarily profitable. The yield benefits come close to offsetting the seeding costs, but little more. Cover crops in the Northeast may still still be worth pursuing, depending on how much the farmer values the non-monetary benefits of cover crops. Not enough data was available to assess the South. Overall, the data suggest that, even when excluding the benefits not directly tied to money, cover crops can still be a profitable pursuit, provided they are done under the correct circumstances.
Faculty Advisor: Timothy Schweizer
Human-Robot Soldiers of the 17th Century: How Louis XIV's Army Inspired the Human Automaton
Nation-building efforts by Louis XIV, with the general goal of centralizing power structures in favor of the monarchy, impacted many aspects of French 17th-century society. The Sun King’s successful creation of a centralized army is often attributed to his skillfully surreptitious removal of command from nobles and the formation of military academies to train military intelligence, but this conclusion overlooks the important changes impacting the common foot soldier. This research paper will address how the representation of an ideal soldier changed under Louis XIV’s rule, and determine to what extent this new mold inspired 18th-century depictions of human automatons in texts such as De La Mettrie’s l’Homme Machine. My research will include analysis of historical sources and army ledgers to show in what ways the army was restructured during the 17th century, and I will examine plays and military parades commissioned by Louis XIV to identify the similarities between the depictions of the soldiers in these pieces with the depictions of human-machines in modernist 18th century texts. This comparison will help impart understanding on how Louis XIV set a precedent for a centralized modern army, and how this new structure led to the first philosophical impressions of human machines.
Faculty Advisor: Anne-Marine Feat
Since 1884, Luther Chips, the official student newspaper of Luther College, has provided the campus community with a priceless platform in which students, faculty, staff, and Decorah community members can come together to participate in lively discussions surrounding current Luther and Decorah events. It is entirely run and maintained by students, which inspired our team to rebuild the student newspaper website, lutherchips.com, from the ground up not only to improve staff efficiency when it comes to publishing and editing content, but to more effectively engage Luther Chips’ online audience as well. LutherCHIPS allows staff members to directly publish content to the site themselves and preview articles before publication. Avid Luther Chips readers can create online accounts with LutherCHIPS so they can upvote their favorite articles and submit comments. Designed to promote discussions and engagement around current events, LutherCHIPS encourages users to let the chips fall where they may time and time again.
Faculty Advisor: Roman Yasinovskyy
The goal of this project is the development of a web application that enables data collection and management for small teams. The teams should be able to make their data public and specify various levels of access to the data. Deployed on Heroku, this application is built using the Flask framework for server-side operations and MongoDB for the data storage. Teams can collaborate to meet their deadlines through task setting. The application is intended to be used by the government of the Marshall Islands and will help them solve the lack of proper online data collection and distribution. The user interface has been developed to be simple, allowing for users to jump in and minimize the learning/training time. As part of this project, our team created a working application and learned about many aspects of software engineering, such as working together in a group, learning a new technology, and applying our skills to a real-world job scenario.
Faculty Advisor: Roman Yasinovskyy
The Track Tracker is an application designed for track athletes and coaches of all levels. The application is designed to provide both coaches and athletes a powerful tool to simplify the process of keeping accurate records of race times. Both coaches and athletes have the ability to time numerous athletes running at once all from one singular stopwatch. The app is able to keep a record of the total time, splits or lap times, distance, date, and other various statistical data of races. This data is kept in a database and able to be accessed with ease at a later date from both coaches and athletes. The Track Tracker has been designed as a web application as well as a native IOS application. With ease of use in mind, athletes and coaches will be able to access and keep track of their recorded times via the website or the mobile application. Through the use of this app, recording and accessing race times is made simpler and easier than ever before.
Faculty Advisor: Roman Yasinovskyy
Testing the Effectiveness of a New Drug on Mitochondrial Trifunctional Protein Deficient Patient Cell Line
Mitochondrial trifunctional protein (TFP) deficiency is a beta oxidation disorder that results in hypoglycemia, cardiomyopathy and neuromyopathy, among other symptoms. It results from a mutation in one of the two subunit genes for TFP, alpha and beta, which leads to a reduction in accessible energy for the body. The purpose of this project is to examine the potential use of TA001, a new drug, to treat TFP deficiency and other fatty acid oxidation disorders, including MCAD and VLCAD. Normal and TFP deficient patient cells were treated with TA001, and Western blotting and cellular immunofluorescence were used to quantitate TFP protein concentration. Activity of medium and very long chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenases (MCAD and VLCAD, respectively) was used as a marker of upregulation of fatty acid oxidation genes. Western blotting and immunofluorescence studies showed a 75% decrease in TFP Beta protein in the patient cell line and a 50% increase in control cell lines. There was not a significant increase in the TFP alpha protein concentration in the patient cell lines or in the control cell line. The VLCAD protein concentration in the control cell line between 0nM drug concentration and 15nM drug concentration decreased by 20%, but it returned to a nonsignificant change after that. The patient cell line did not present with a significant change in the VLCAD protein concentration. MCAD activity was doubled in patient cells at lower drug concentrations and VLCAD increased by 50%. These results identify TA001 as a promising drug to treat TFP deficiency and other fatty acid oxidation disorders, which could improve the lives of many patients living with the disorder and lessen symptoms like hypoglycemia and cardiomyopathy.
Faculty Advisor: Kirk Larsen
Northern Ireland: Brexit, Borders and Identity
An increasing amount of academic literature has focused on Northern Ireland and the Irish border issue within the context of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union. While scholars have focused on the future impact of Brexit on Northern Ireland, Northern Irish voters’ opinions in the referendum have been largely ignored. The current divisions over the border issue and Brexit are clearly divided along party and identity lines, but this has not always been apparent. This research aims to assess whether ethnic-religious identity in Northern Ireland was influential in voting to leave or remain in the European Union in the 2016 Brexit referendum. The study will use Northern Ireland Life and Times survey data to analyze choices in the referendum and voters demographics including identity, age, and other factors. Furthermore, it will use historical and sociological perspectives to explain why identity and politics are so tightly intertwined in Northern Ireland. This research will provide a better understanding of the extent to which the Brexit and border issues in Northern Ireland have the ability to reignite conflict in the region like many have speculated.
Faculty Advisor: Victoria Christman
Slavery: A Comparison between the Life of the Roman ‘Paedagogus’ and the Biracial ‘Mulatto’ Slave in the Antebellum South
During the abolition movement in America, anti-abolitionists defended slavery with the fact that the Romans, whom ideals attributed to America’s foundations, established their own system. However, abolitionists argued that the Romans showed more sympathy to their slaves, compared to the treatment of the slaves in the South. This essay will deal with those implications, specifically focusing on the Roman paedagogi slaves and the biracial ‘mulatto’ slaves of the American South. The essay will determine if both household slaves had the same amount of privilege in garnering acceptance and power, or not and what subtle differences may have prevented them from being accepted as members of their respective society. Overall, were the Roman paedagogi better treated than the ‘mulatto’ slaves in America? The conclusions require examining letters between Roman elites, the biographies of American slaves, and general scholarly works on both forms of slavery. The essay will conclude that while both slaves had more opportunities than other slaves, the paedagogi were not socially limited by an integrated racial ideology. This find indicates that both the paedagogi and the biracial ‘mulatto’ slaves were tolerable in both societies, with the exception that the ‘mulatto’ slaves had to convey ‘white’ identity.
Faculty Advisor: Mark Thorne
Meals that Heal: How Mealtime can Buffer Trauma and Affect Eating Disorder Formation
In modern society, eating disorders present both an increasing phenomenon and a source of great distress for many individuals. Links have been established between adverse childhood experiences and the formation of eating disorders (e.g., Neumark-Sztainer et al., 2004), as well as between mealtime environment and eating disorder formation (e.g., Ackard & Neumark-Sztainer, 2010). However, there exists a dearth of literature examining the potential mediating or moderating effects of mealtime environment on this trend. This project utilized online survey platforms to collect data regarding the impact of childhood mealtime environment on the formation of eating disorders in a retrospective design. Data from 369 participants between the ages of 18-50 revealed strong correlations between adverse childhood experiences (e.g. traumas) and current disordered eating patterns. However, analyses also revealed a strong potential buffering effect of family mealtime environment. This means that family mealtime environment, particularly the frequency of meals together, could prevent the formation of eating disorders in individuals who have experienced childhood traumas. This research has strong connotations for the fields of psychology, family science, and childhood development.
Faculty Advisor: Joseph Breitenstein
Politics and Human Rights: The Human Rights Paradox and the Madres de Plaza de Mayo
On March 23, 2017, Hebe de Bonafini, president of the Madres de Plaza de Mayo Association, made a shocking announcement stating “the Madres are no longer a human rights organization... We are a political organization.” In the statement, she clearly separated the Madres Association from other Argentine human rights organizations. This paper explores important questions that arise from this declaration. First, what provoked such a strong reaction from the Madres Association? Second, what is the significance of this statement for the Madres Association? Although the Madres Association has long been categorized as a classic example of a human rights organization, analysis of their rhetoric shows they have been political from the very start, demonstrating a clear tension between human rights and politics. Borrowing the idea of the human rights paradox, this paper examines universal and local contexts of human rights to understand how the Madres Association fits into the realm of human rights and human rights organizations. By rejecting human rights in favor of politics the Madres Association is rejecting the narrow way human rights have been treated in Argentina. Moreover, this rejection does not signify that the Madres Association has changed in ideology, rather it shows their desire to escape the local context of human rights in favor of the universal definition.
Faculty Advisor: Nancy Gates Madsen
Brexit, Bregret, and the "Point of No Breturn": Examining the Linguistic Implications of Brexit
On June 23rd, 2016, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, a referendum commonly referred to as Brexit. While the political, economic, and cultural effects of Brexit have been widely researched, Brexit has also had a profound linguistic effect. This study analyzes how Brexit has impacted the English language and seeks to predict the lasting linguistic effects of Brexit. Brexit has led to the creation of new words, or neologisms; the association of existing words with new meanings, such as Leave and Remain; and a divide in the ways different political factions use common language. To understand the usage of neologisms and key terms, I analyzed newspaper articles from counties that voted strongly Remain and strongly Leave. To predict the lasting linguistic impact of Brexit, I studied the linguistic effects of previous political events including Irish Independence and the Northern Irish Troubles. Based on this historical precedent and the frequency of current usage, I predict that some neologisms will quickly fall out of use while others will remain in popular vocabulary. However, the connotations that have formed and the subtle and overt politicalization of common language will likely continue to influence English for decades to come.
Faculty Advisor: Laurie Zaring
“Sunflowers” is a short story that explores the emotionality of art and the role of art in our lives. I will present a brief genesis of the story and then do a reading of key scenes. “Sunflowers” follows the main character Charlie on a journey to view his recently deceased mother’s favorite works of art by Van Gogh. As Charlie travels through London and Paris, he is forced to confront his complicated relationship with his parents and relive his final moments with his mother. Influenced by my readings of Van Gogh’s letters, A.S. Byatt’s The Matisse Stories, and Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, the story meditates on grief, family, travel, and home. Through his physical journey, Charlie begins to understand the various emotions art can evoke and why these painting mattered to his mother. He must grasp the interconnectedness of art and humanity in order to come to terms with the death of his mother. Ultimately, “Sunflowers” reflects on the power of art to bring people together, reveal our humanity, and shape our lives.
Faculty Advisor: Kate Narveson
What Makes a Story Worth Telling: An Analysis of the Many Adaptations of Hans Christian Andersen's 'The Little Mermaid' through Character Transformation
A single story can be told an infinite amount of ways; how and why these stories are told is what ultimately makes them worth telling. As one of the most beloved and admittedly problematic fairy tales in the western canon, Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid has withstood the test of time, and undergone a plethora of transformations since its original penning nearly two-hundred years ago. Each retelling of this classic tale proves more distinctive than the last in the ways they portray femininity, love, and the journey from adolescence to adulthood. For my purposes, I chose to research how adaptors handled the metaphorical and literal transformations the young heroine underwent through her story in a selection of the most popular retellings of Andersen’s story, as to find out how these storytellers successfully, or unsuccessfully, handled the problematic themes of the original text. Through text analysis, visual style analysis, and comparisons to the original publication, I will bear witness to how these adaptations were formed to tell this young woman’s story, and find out how and why certain choices worked in portraying the little mermaid’s many transformations to her audiences.
Faculty Advisor: Jeff Dintaman
Investigating Protein and Transcript Variants of Akirin2, a Gene Critical for Mammalian Development
Akirins are a family of small proteins (22-27 kDa) with highly-conserved nuclear localization signals that have been shown to regulate patterns of gene expression. While deletion of Akirin1 in mice results in no obvious abnormalities, deletion of Akirin2 leads to early embryonic lethality (Goto et al., 2008). Deletions in proximal chromosome 6q in humans, where the Akirin2 gene is located, have recently been linked to behavioral and developmental abnormalities, including brain abnormalities, congenital heart defects, hypotonia, seizures, and autism spectrum disorder (Engwerda et al., 2018). Western blot analysis of Akirin2 shows higher molecular weight bands in addition to the expected 25 kDa band, suggesting the possibility of protein and/or transcript variants via post-translational modification or additional retained mRNA sequence. In this study, I explored the possibility of an alternative mRNA transcript of Akirin2. I performed a series of rtPCR experiments with RNA from mouse brains amplifying a region of the gene spanning an intron of interest. The larger PCR product was excised from the gel, purified, and TOPO cloned. Sequencing suggested that intron 4 of Akirin2 is sometimes retained. These preliminary data can help in understanding the mechanism behind the multiple forms of the protein Akirin2.
Faculty Advisor: Stephanie Fretham
Developments in the Study of Anatomy in Seventeenth-Century France
The study of anatomy in seventeenth-century France was flourishing (Moxham and Plaisant). The developments in this field were a reflection of the shift from accepting the work of well respected pre-Renaissance anatomists to direct observation through dissection. Though anatomy was flourishing during this period, its history is often reduced to general accounts. This study will address the changes in the teaching of anatomy at medical schools in Paris and Avignon as well as the anatomical work of the Académie des Sciences in seventeenth-century France. It will explore specifically the movement towards dissection as a method of teaching and the contrast between the collaborative nature of anatomy in the seventeenth-century and an earlier more individual approach, demonstrated by Duverney and da Vinci, respectively. Through an analysis of scholarly work on anatomy in seventeenth-century France, I have gathered examples that illustrate these changes in medical classrooms and scientific collaboration during this period. Works by Ghosh, Guerrini, and others provide evidence for my hypothesis that increased collaboration between academics and direct participation in the study of anatomy through dissection allowed France to become a center for the advancement of the field in the seventeenth century.
Faculty Advisor: Anne-Marine Feat
“A More Favorable Soil”: U.S. Propaganda in Norway During the First World War
On April 13, 1917, one week after the United States joined the Allies in their fight against the Central Powers in the First World War, President Woodrow Wilson established the American Committee on Public Information (CPI) by executive order. The CPI was effectively a government-sponsored propaganda organization, with duties spanning the “voluntary censorship” of the American press to spreading the “Gospel of Americanism” to the nations of the world. The Foreign Section of the CPI developed a Scandinavian Bureau to work not only with Scandinavians living in the United States but with Scandinavians in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark as well. This senior honors paper utilizes the records of the CPI held in the US National Archives to tell in greater detail the story of the Scandinavian Bureau—its representatives and their work—in Norway and Sweden. It argues that American propaganda in Scandinavia served not only to create and reinforce Allied sympathies during the war, but also to lay the foundations for post-war commerce and the influence of American ideals.
Faculty Advisor: Anna Peterson
The Application of Steady-State Fluorescence Spectroscopy to Investigate the Binding of Curcuminoids and HAS
Curcuminoids are a family of fluorescent, organic molecules derived from curcumin, a component of the Indian spice turmeric. Curcuminoids are potential candidates for use in Photodynamic Drug Therapy (PDT). PDT is a noninvasive cancer treatment in which light of a particular wavelength is focused on the cancerous area. Through energy transfers, reactive oxygen species form and cancer cell death is triggered.To determine each curcuminoid’s effectiveness as a drug in PDT, binding to the carrier protein Human Serum Albumin (HSA) needs to be explored. If a drug binds weakly to HSA, it will not be transported properly around the body, but if it binds too strongly it will not be released in target areas. This study characterized the binding relationship between curcuminoids and HSA through steady-state fluorescence. This study suggests that there is a relationship between the structure of the curcuminoid and how strongly it binds with HSA.
Faculty Advisor: Olga Michels
Toulouse-Lautrec: A Development from High Society Ladies to Lesbians in Love
Henri Toulouse-Lautrec was a post-impressionist painter who worked in 19th century Paris. After a childhood injury, he was rejected from high society and began a career in painting. As Toulouse-Lautrec grew more and more accustomed to mingling with members of the lower class, they accepted him and he sympathized with them. As a result of this, Toulouse-Lautrec began painting members of the lower class more humanely and more dynamically. Thus, Toulouse-Lautrec presents a unique view of this social class by giving them accurate, controversial portrayal; an excellent example of this is Au lit, le baiser in which he pictures two lesbians, likely prostitutes, sharing a kiss in bed. This work is a stark contrast to Toulouse-Lautrec’s earlier portraits of high society women in all their finery or nudes without discernible facial features; therefore, I will utilize comparative analysis through a lens of identity theories to examine how Toulouse-Lautrec’s depictions of women were altered over time.
Faculty Advisor: Kate Elliott
An Analysis of Historical Olympic Games Data
Sports analytics applies mathematical and data science principles to sports and athletes This project analyzes Olympic data from 1896 to 2016. The goal is to predict if individual athletes will win a medal in their event based on the athlete’s characteristics such as height, weight, age, what country they are from, etc. Additionally, trends in the Olympics over time are also explored. Various Python libraries, along with data mining techniques and algorithms are used to analyze the data. An analysis such as this could potentially be applied to other athletic events and used to predict the success of individuals or teams in their various sports.
Faculty Advisor: Kent Lee