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Psychology at Scholarship Sewanee 2015

Walter E. Nance ’54 and Nayna Avent Nance created an endowment that provides the McCrady Prizes at Scholarship Sewanee.  First given in 2013, the prizes honor the memory of Edward McCrady . . . 11th Vice-Chancellor (1951-1971) and Professor of Biology . . . a scientist of national reputation, a musician, a caver.  The Speaker’s Choice is a poster selected by The McCrady Lecturer without regard to field;  McCrady Prizes for Best Poster Presentation are awarded in Behavioral & Social Sciences, Biological Sciences, Environmental & Earth Sciences, and in Mathematics & Physical Sciences;  McCrady Prizes for Best Oral Presentation are awarded in Arts & Humanities, History, and in Politics.

Scholarship Sewanee is a celebration of student research at the University . . . class projects, community-based projects, or independent student research.  They include data collection and analysis during the previous summer as well as the academic year, both on- and off-campus.  It is an expansion of Scientific Sewanee, first held in April 1994 . . . with an Invited Lecture and 20 student poster presentations.

Scholarship Sewanee 2015 began on Thursday evening with a trio of student-directed one-act plays by Tennessee Williams (repeated Friday and Saturday evenings);  included oral presentations Friday morning and later afternoon;  the McCrady Invited Lecture at 1 p.m.;  poster presentations starting at 2:30 p.m. (with researchers remaining close to their posters to discuss their project with those attending);  and a Sewanee Symphony concert Friday evening involving many student musicians.  The full program of abstracts.

The more than 180 students were mentored by 58 Sewanee and eight faculty/graduate students from Tennessee–Knoxville/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Vanderbilt, and Yale.  The 71 poster presentations were in Art & Art History, Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Chemistry, Environmental Studies, Forestry & Geology, International & Global Studies, Mathematics, Physics, Politics, Psychology, and included interdisciplinary projects such as those in Art & Environmental Studies and Biology & Spanish.  The 47 oral presentations were in Anthropology, Art & Art History, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Economics, Education, English, Environmental Studies, History, International & Global Studies, Music, Politics, Religion, Spanish, and Theatre (including Dance).

Yiruo Zhang ’16.  Sexual Liberation and HIV transmission in China.  Department of Politics.  Mentor, Professor Amy Patterson.

This paper examines four factors in present-day China to explain the country’s phenomenally increasing rate of sexually transmitted HIV/AIDS cases in the past decade: 1) liberal sexual attitudes among young women has moved away from the conventional rejection of premarital sex; 2) there exists a growing pattern of casual sexual relationships among young Chinese, including risky sex dates with strangers; 3) the de facto existence of commercial sex work industry has wildly spread throughout the nation; 4) Chinese living in contemporary society have showed increasing acceptance of homosexuality. The study uses as its methods case studies of a feminist movement, The Vagina Monologues, and a popular dating app, Momo, policy analysis of regulation of prostitution, and LGBT surveys in China. It argues that the liberal attitudes, a growing pattern of risky sex, the spread of prostitution, and the acceptance of homosexuality have caused the increase in sexually transmitted HIV/AIDS in China.

Garrett Heatherly ’16, Casey Hassett ’16, Jamie Chauvin ’16, and Jordan D. Troisi, Ph.D.  Have Your Cake and Eat It Too:  Emotional and Relational Correlates of Comfort Foods.  Mentor, Assistant Professor Jordan Troisi.

Previous studies support the role of social surrogates as temporary replacements for social interaction (e.g., watching a favorite television show, or eating a comfort food). The current study measured liberal arts students’ attitudes toward comfort foods via an online survey. The survey included both open-ended and close-ended questions, allowing participants to describe associations with comfort food, and measuring participant’s mood before and after consuming comfort foods. The data suggest that comfort foods decrease negative mood (e.g., loneliness), and tended to be associated with relational words (e.g., family, home, warmth, etc.).

Britta Carlson ’15, and Nathan Warren ’15.  The Effects of Error Management Training (EMT) on Critical Thinking.  Mentor, Visiting Assistant Professor Timothy Jesurun.  Third Place, McCrady Prizes for Posters in Behavioral and Social Sciences.

This research project looks at the effectiveness of error management training (EMT) on critical thinking skills. EMT is a technique that explicitly encourages learners to make errors under the assumption that students learn better from their mistakes. Students were placed in one of four different training conditions and their mean scores on an argument evaluation test were compared. Students were in one of four groups depending on whether they read or wrote about logical arguments and whether they were exposed to successes or mistakes beforehand. We used argument evaluation as a narrow measurement of critical thinking and we hypothesized that students in the active error condition would learn the most. We also surveyed individual differences to determine what types of people were most affected by the different training procedures, with tests of IQ, stress reactivity, and conscientiousness. Implications for critical thinking training in the college student population are investigated.

Ansley McDurmon ’16, and Thea Edwards.  Mate Guarding, Testosterone, and Fraternity Parties: A Test of the Challenge Hypothesis.  Department of Biology.  Mentor, Visiting Assistant Professor Thea Edwards.

Originally studied in birds, the Challenge Hypothesis posits that male-male competition increases testosterone (T) in reproductive males. In birds, elevated T increases mate fidelity by eliciting male mate-guarding behavior to fend off competitors, but can also increase risky behavior, such as unnecessary, violent aggression. Here, we propose testing the Challenge Hypothesis in single college-age men. We hypothesize that men will respond with elevated T when exposed to environments with high mate availability (and presumably competition), such as fraternity parties. We will measure T in saliva samples collected from 40 college-age men in two settings, using ELISA methods. The first setting, a quiet, unstressed study environment, is expected to elicit lower T values than a fraternity party setting. This study of links between salivary T and social setting could inform related studies of male violence, supporting risk-management efforts concerning the college party scene.

Hallie Crosby ’16.  Predicting Mentalizing Abilities in Adolescents with N170 Amplitude and Latency.  Yale University:  Child Study Center:  Developmental Electrophysiology Laboratory.  Mentors, Associate Research Scientist Helena Rutherford and Distinguished Visiting Professor Linda Mayes.  Second Place, McCrady Prizes for Posters in Behavioral and Social Sciences.

Mentalization is the process of interpreting mental states of others and is the determinant of actions. Emotions can be inferred from facial expression, voices, and whole-body movements, while eye gaze direction and body movements can be used to read desires and intentions. Children with ASD have been found to lack the metalizing abilities normally seen in children, and has been partially attributed to them focusing their attention on the mouth rather than the eyes of others. The N170 is an ERP component that distinguishes faces from objects. Negative and neutral male and female faces were used to generate N170 ERP data, and the significance of emotion, gender, and hemisphere on the data was investigated. Participants also completed the RMET. Their RMET accuracy scores were then correlated to their N170 amplitude and latency data generated from the faces. We investigated the possibility of the N170 data being able to predict how the participant would score on the RMET.

Jordan Buck ’15, Alysse Schultheis ’16, and Jessica Siegel.  Effects of Early Adolescent Methamphetamine and Nicotine Exposure on Behavior and Cognition in Adolescent Mice.  Mentor, Assistant Professor Jessica Siegel.  [Jordan Buck is a Psychology minor.]  First Place, McCrady Prizes for Posters in Behavioral and Social Sciences.

The rising rates of adolescent methamphetamine (MA) use necessitate that we understand the effects of MA exposure on the brain. Adolescent MA users show high rates of nicotine (NIC) use and NIC can mediate the effects of MA. Adolescent male C57BL/6J mice were administered meth, nicotine, meth and nicotine, or saline over 2 days. Mice were tested in the open field test, novel object recognition test, Porsolt forced swim test, Morris water maze, and MA-induced conditioned place preference to evaluate locomotor and anxiety-like behavior, object memory, depression-like behavior, spatial memory, and MA craving, respectively. The mice administered MA or NIC spent more time in the center of the open field, indicating increased risk taking compared to the other groups. There was a trend for decreased corticosterone in MA-exposed mice compared to saline-exposed mice. These results contribute to a greater understanding of how concurrent MA and NIC exposure affects an understudied age group.

Simey Emerson ’16.  Cognitive Abnormalities in Obsessive Compulsion Disorder.  Yale University:  Department of Psychiatry, OCD Research Clinic.  Mentor, Postdoctoral Fellow in Psychiatry Patricia Gruner.

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is associated with cognitive inflexibility. In this study, our long-term goal is to improve OCD by ameliorating cognitive inflexibility, through specific mental exercises – cognitive remediation. A critical first step towards this goal is to investigate the nature of the cognitive inflexibility seen in OCD patients. To do so, we administered cognitive tasks to OCD patients and controls with a computerized battery.

Ethan Burns ’16, William Jenkins ’15, Elizabeth Nugent ’15, and John Myer ’15.  Alleghanian Deformation in the Raccoon Mountain Formation Immediately Downstream from Sycamore Falls in Fiery Gizzard.  Department of Geology.  Mentor, Professor Bran Potter.  [John Myer is a Psychology minor.]

Fiery Gizzard, located on the Cumberland Plateau near Tracy City, offers rare bluff exposures of the Pennsylvanian-aged Raccoon Mountain Formation (interbedded sandstones, mudstones, and bituminous coal). A previously unmapped cliff immediately downstream from Sycamore Falls shows 10+ meter-scale folds and faulting that support previous work documenting a northwest tectonic transport during the Alleghanian orogeny. Locally, this strain is evident in a lens-shaped, fault-bounded, block and in highly sheared coal zones that core, northeast (N31E) trending folds in the more competent sand and mudstone layers above. These folds are asymmetrical with shallow southeast limbs (10-20°) and steeply dipping to overturned northwest limbs. The deformation coincides with two décollement zones previously described above Sycamore Falls thought to intersect the Sequatchie thrust 14km to the southeast. An annotated and detailed panoramic photograph allows analysis and synthesis of the entire outcrop.

Jordan Buck ’15, Jacob Zalewski ’16, and Amiel Emerson ’16.  HDAC-Mediated Transcriptional Control of GIMAP Genes.  Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology.  Mentor, Associate Professor Alyssa Summers.  [Jordan Buck is a Psychology minor.]

HDAC expression/activity is increased in cancer, and GIMAPs exhibit aberrant function/expression in T-cell lymphomas/leukemias. Given the increasingly common use of HDAC inhibitors (HDIs) to augment various cancer treatments, understanding the effects of HDAC levels/activity on GIMAP expression is crucial to developing/ improving such treatments. Thus, we analyzed the relationship between HDAC3 and GIMAP 4/7 in human lymphoma cells treated with HDIs and HDAC-KO mouse thymocytes. Data from qRT-PCR and luciferase assays revealed significant effects of both HDI treatment and HDAC3 up-regulation on GIMAP 4/7 expression and promoter activity, and HDI treatment attenuated T-lymphocyte proliferation/survival. Our findings implicate HDAC3 in the transcriptional control of GIMAP expression and suggest a novel locus for the therapeutic effects of HDIs.

Tia Strickland ’16, Elise Anderson ’16, and Megan Quick ’15.  Three by Tennessee.  Department of Theater Arts.  Mentor, Professor Peter Smith.

Student-directed and acted productions of three of Tennessee William’s one act plays–”Moony’s Kid Don’t Cry,” “The Pretty Trap,” and “Interior: Panic.” The plays will be presented April 23rd to 25th at the Tennessee Williams Center.

Rachel Schuman ’15.  The Politics of Global Health:  An Analysis the Factors that Influence the Global Political Prioritization of Global Health Issues.   Department of Politics.  Mentors, Professor Amy Patterson and Visiting Assistant Professor Timothy Ehresman.  [Rachel Schuman is a Psychology minor.]

What allows certain health issues to gain global political prioritization? This is a central question to the study of global health governance. In a world of finite resources, it is impossible to allocate equal resources and attention to the vast number of global health issues. This has created a system of inequalities in which some issues are highly prioritized, while others are grossly neglected in the international system. This study analyzes the factors that have allowed HIV/AIDS to receive global political prioritization, and the factors that have hindered cervical cancer and cardiovascular disease from gaining equivalent global political prioritization. I will analyze five factors that I hypothesize will effect global policy setting, including 1) power of the actors, 2) political context, 3) frames, 4) characteristics of the issue, and 5) the media. Through this study, I seek to gain a more holistic understanding of the factors that effect global health policy setting.  [oral presentation]

Ellie Clark ’18, Zack Gardner ’15, Arthur Ndoumbe ’16, Hilary Smith ’15, and Fridien Nana Tchoukoua ’16.  More Than Two:  An Informal Showing of Dance Choreography.  Department of Theatre Arts and Speech.  Mentor, Visiting Assistant Professor Courtney World.

Dance Composition students will present works featuring more than two dancers. Drawing inspiration from visual arts, music, narrative, props, and physical/kinesthetic impulses, these projects highlight the creative implementation of compositional structures in dance-making. Additionally, David Terrell will present “House of Desire,” an original production replicating the Vogue Ballroom experience. Immediately following the performance, the audience will be invited to engage with the artists in a talkback session.

Scholarship Sewanee, a campus-wide celebration of student scholarship and creative activity, is made possible by numerous generous benefactors including Walter and Mayna Nance;  The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation;  The Undergraduate Research Advisory Committee;  The Office of the Dean of the College;  Denise Davis;  Erin Cassell;  Physical Plant Services;  and Print Services.