The Westminster University McNair Research Journal celebrates the intellectual achievements of scholars selected from our first 10 summer research intensives: 2004—2013. The McNair Scholars Program is a federally-funded initiative that encourages low-income first-generation and underrepresented students to pursue doctoral studies. It is an elite, national graduate school preparation program. Ultimately, we hope our scholars will enter the professoriate, changing the face of higher education. The program is a living memorial to Dr. Ronald E. McNair, an African American physicist and astronaut who died in the Challenger explosion over 25 years ago

The Westminster McNair Scholars Program is the first McNair program in the State of Utah. We serve students from Salt Lake Community College, University of Utah, and Westminster University. We are honored to be one of 158 McNair programs nationwide that support undergraduate scholars as they pursue their dreams. Westminster McNair Scholars are selected after completing a competitive application process; each June and July a group of 16 scholars hones their research skills and delves deeply into topics from a variety of disciplines under the guidance of their faculty mentors. They honor the memory of Dr. McNair by their original, sophisticated exploration of topics ranging from the visual arts in the 1950's and 60's to ethno-linguistic fragmentations and Africa's underdevelopment to students' perceptions of professors as affected by race.

Past Research Journals

2014 Research Scholars

Catherine Mullin, Westminster University

Mentor: Lesa Ellis, PhD, Neuroscience, Westminster University

The Influence of Cognitive Test Anxiety on Heart Rate Variability

Chronic anxiety and stress are on the rise among students and have been of growing concern to mental health professionals, as they have been linked to mental and physical health issues (Eisenberg, 2007; Furr, 2001; Gotlib, 1984; Holroyd, 1978; Irwin, 1990;Yokus, 2012). Cognitive test anxiety in particular is detrimental to mental health and academic performance, regardless of a student's degree of exam preparation (Cassady, 2002; Cassady, 2004). There are few empirically validated non-chemical therapies shown to alleviate test anxiety in students, and greater treatment diversity is needed to moderate levels of test anxiety. The purpose of this study is to develop a method of comparing the efficacy of potential test anxiety therapies in a realistic testing environment.

Chrono Nu, Westminster University

Mentor: Russ Costa, PhD, Neuroscience, Westminster University

The EggLink Brain-Computer Interface: Engineering and Performance Evaluation

Brain-computer interfaces, systems that operate electronic or mechanical systems using imaged brain events as operational input commands, have gained much ground in the research world over the last two decades, as they potentially provide rehabilitative and restorative functionality to a several clinical populations. The EggLink is an electroencephalography-based brain-computer interface that is being developed to operate common household computers based on machine learning classifications of fine motor signals generated in the brain. At this stage, the project involves designing and building the prototype system that will classify fine motor activity (the flicking of each of 10 fingers) to as high a degree of accuracy as possible. Future stages will involve classifying eye movements for computer cursor control, real-time processing, and other functional additions to the overall system design.

Willy Palomo, Westminster University

Mentor: Eileen Chanza Torres, PhD, English, Westminster University

"Whatever you do, don't judge my home": Poetic Homelands and Diasporic Identities in the Funerary Poems of Miguel Piñero and Javier Zamora

To study El Salvador takes stalwart resistance to the almost irreparable sense of loss and national deficiency centerpiece to Salvadoran identity and a refusal to submit to the disparaging ideologies of colonizers.

2012 Research Scholars
Yvonne Clark, Westminster University

Mentor: Christine Seifert, PhD, Communication, Westminster University

Power Play: A Feminist Reading of the Twilight Saga and the Wolves of Mercy Falls Trilogy

In this paper I would like to discuss how gender norms are constructed and maintained within two separate series' of young adult novels, The Twilight Saga and the Wolves of Mercy Falls Trilogy (Myers, 2005; Stiefvater, 2009). I will first go over gender typical behavior and stereotypes, move on to discuss an overview of the novels and then analyze the importance of the character's names, legitimizing myths for males and females, the supernatural element in the novels, the subtle differences in power and end with a discussion on why these gender role expectations are in place, and how they could be affecting the audience.

Nicholas J. Gailey, Westminster University

Mentor: Seong-In Choi, PhD, Psychology, Westminster University

Psychological Well-Being of Managers and Its Effect on the Productivity of Their Employees

For over seven decades organizational scientists have extensively studied the happy-productive worker thesis, which assumes that a happy worker is a productive worker. Previous research in the field has focused on the relationship of a worker's own happiness with their productivity. The purpose of the current study was to find a link between the psychological well-being of managers and the productivity of their employees. Eight managers from a manufacturing facility participated in this study and responded to two different measures of psychological well-being at the beginning and the end of the study. Productivity data from the employees underneath those managers were collected daily for five weeks, where a link was found between the psychological well-being of those in managerial positions and the productivity of their employees. However, more production data was collected over the next five months, to see if this link was stable over time. It was found that there was no apparent link between the psychological well-being of those in managerial positions and the productivity of their employees.

2013 Research Scholars
Helen Makhdoumian, Westminster University

Mentor: Katy Evans, PhD, English, Westminster University

Armenian Coffee Houses, Community, and Cultural Knowledge: David Kherdian's Homage to Adana

Despite roughly a century of Armenian American literary production, the literary theory and criticism on this body of ethnic literature has only started to develop in the last few decades. David Kherdian is an Armenian American writer whose works range from poetry to prose, fiction to memoir, and translations to retellings of Armenian tales. My research focuses on David Kherdian's poetry collection Homage to Adana, published in 1970. Previous critics have analyzed Kherdian's poetry for themes such as childhood, familial relationships, self-discovery, and personal and collective memory. Some critics have read some of Kherdian's poems as reflecting the loss of Armenian culture due to assimilation in the U.S. In contrast, my paper analyzes the motif of the Armenian coffee house in select poems in Homage to Adana as a space where geographical, generational, and cultural identities are negotiated. Although on the surface these poems indicate a loss of Armenian culture, I argue that they actually indicate a continuation and adaptation of Armenian culture in the U.S. by the younger generation. To support my argument, my approach uses the theoretical lenses of New Historicism and Cultural Studies. I contextualize these texts with the history of the Armenian diaspora and immigration. Furthermore, I include the historical and cultural significance of Armenian coffee houses as well as the use of Armenian coffee in cultural knowledge sharing. In general, the themes I look for are references to the old country, representations of immigrant Armenian men and women, oral storytelling, and food traditions. Ultimately, this analysis reveals how the poems reflect the negotiation of passing on cultural knowledge. By both continuing traditions and adapting them for the everyday lived experiences, Armenian culture will remain vibrant in the diaspora.

Carolina Silva, Westminster University Mentor: Jennifer Simonds, PhD, Psychology, Westminster University

Contextualing Acculturation Research Inside and Outside of the Classroom

Latina/os in the United States have become the largest immigrant group in the United States, accounting for 43% of the immigrant population and 15% of the overall population (US Census, 2010). This growing population has been the focus of much acculturation research. Numerous acculturation measures have been developed specifically for the Latina/o community with the most researched group being Mexican Americans (Stephenson, 2000). Within acculturation research, the most widely accepted and used model of measurement is that of Berry and colleagues (Berry, 1980; Berry, 1992; Berry, 1996; Berry & Kim, 1988; Berry & Sam, 1997). Although Berry's model facilitates the categorization of an individual's acculturation experience, it does not reflect the immigrant experience well enough to make specific claims about differences within the Latina/o community (Stephenson, 2000). Furthermore, Latina/o students experience the most negative education outcomes, compared to any other ethnic group (Acevedo-Polakovich, Quirk, Cousineau, Saxena, & Gerhart, 2014).

Research has presented mixed findings on the relationship between acculturation and academic achievement (Acevedo-Polakovich, et. al, 2014). These mixed findings along with limitations of quantitative data, shed light on the need for qualitative research on this topic. This paper presents the argument that the complexities of the immigrant experience are not adequately captured by existing research and thus qualitative research is the necessary next step to further acculturation research. It is also important to contextualize acculturation research to gain a better understanding of how and why individuals adapt to a new culture in certain way. Furthermore, this paper emphasizes that in order to further culturally appropriate research on acculturation, immigrants must be included in the research process through Participatory Action Research. PAR is a research methodology that engages community members by allowing them to work with researchers in collective research efforts for social justice (Johnston-Goodstar, 2013). Lastly, recommendations on how to improve academic outcomes of Latina/o youth will be presented

2010 Research Scholars
Peter Dien, University of Utah

Mentor: Rebecca Utz, PhD, Sociology, University of Utah

Public Attitude and Opinion toward the US Health Care System: A Focus on Age Group and Health Status Differences

Purpose: This study evaluates whether age and health status affect public attitude toward the U.S. health care system. Opinions about health care are measured by confidence in and quality of care received as well as a perceived need for health care reform. Design and Methods: This study uses a sub-portion of the 2008 Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES), a nationwide survey which asked a representative sample of 1,000 participants several health-related questions. Results: Findings from this survey suggested an association between the participants' age and health status and their attitude toward health care. Interestingly, confidence in medical technology and quality of care was consistently high among all persons, regardless of age and health status. However, younger participants and those with worse health were less confident in their ability to pay for health care and were significantly more likely to support major reform. Those with worse health were also more supportive of universal health coverage, especially for children, than those participants with better health. Discussion: This study suggests an association between health status, age, and public opinion about the health care system and provides an urgent message for both policy makers and health care professionals to further investigate the underlying mechanisms causing these associations and to unsure that future health reform garner favorable public opinion.

Kamille Noor Sheikh, Westminster University

Mentor: Jennifer Simonds, PhD, Psychology, Westminster University

The Relationships Among Shyness, Fear, and Effortful Control During Middle Childhood

The current study explored the relationships among shyness, fear, and effortful control during the middle childhood years. The goal of the study was to learn more about the direct relationship between shyness and fear, and to examine the possibility that effortful control may attenuate the association between shyness and fear in children between the ages of 7 and 10. The Temperament in Middle Childhood Questionnaire for Children and Parents (TMCQ-C, TMCQ-P) was used to measure shyness, fear, and effortful control through both self-report and parent-report. A significant direct correlation was found between child-reported shyness and fear, but no shyness-fear relationship was found in the parent-report data. The hypothesis was not supported. Continued research may also explore what other factors, such as age and negative emotionality, are related to these constructs during middle childhood.

Benson W. Stevens, Westminster University

Mentor: Brian Avery, PhD, Biology and Neuroscience, Westminster University

Developing an Assay for Polymorphisms in the 5-HTT, DAT1, and BDNF Genes to Determine Their Effects on Attention and Emotional Regulation

Dailey Haren, Dacia Holliday, and Takwa Sharif

Mentor: Lesa Ellis, PhD, Psychology and Neuroscience, Westminster University

English Proficiency in Mathematical Acquisition: A Case Study of a Math-Intensive Workshop

2011 Research Scholars
Nicole True, University of Utah

Mentor: Daniel Levin, PhD, Political Science, University of Utah

Preaching to the Choir: Framing Incompatibilities in the Same-Sex Marriage Debate

As a political institution used to define citizenship, marriage is a promising field for gay rights advocacy. Framing—a cognitive schema that gives direction for interpreting and responding to information and events—is employed by social movements to gain governmental and public support. The Christian Right utilizes morality frames to create a religious-political ethic, whereas the gay rights movement situates same-sex marriage in liberalism frames based on principles of liberty and equal rights, therefore applying civil rights rhetoric and comparisons to the Civil Rights Movement. Ultimately, morality frames and liberalism frames are incompatible with each other because they are based on different values. Incompatibility in argument frames leads to rhetorical misfire on both sides, making it ever more difficult to come to a resolution.

Duke Cruz, Westminster University

Mentor: Michael Popich, PhD, Philosophy, Westminster University

'I'm Late! I'm Late! For a Very Important Date!': Down the Rabbit Hole in Search of Rationality

What reasons could I offer for researching such a difficult and demanding problem such as rationality? Throughout my philosophy education, the issue of rationality has been lingering on the internal edifice of my intellect; waiting for words to give a meaning to its purpose. I wonder: why are some humans counted as rational and others as apparently irrational? What makes an action rational? What set of criteria could be given for rational actions? Is it possible that rationality is a function of our social surroundings? Could rationality be unconscious? Could other non-human beings be rational? These and other conjoining questions have confounded me, and thus I have decided to seek answers to a few of them. Thus, rationality is my primary research area. Specifically, I seek to discover whether rationality can be cut down into criteria; by doing this, ideally anyone could have identifiable characteristics to locate rationality in the world. The aim of my research is to see whether rationality can be enclosed in criteria—contained in a definition. By criteria, I mean that which defines essential characteristics of rationality; those properties that are needed for any discussion of rationality or needed for a being to be accounted as rational. For example, one major criterion of rationality is the 'use of a language'. So, in order for anything to be accounted as rational, it must fulfill this essential criterion. I'm researching rationality through a specific lens of the criteria needed for its existence, and this is aimed at proving my thesis that a private language-game exists. My analysis of rationality is a scientific account approached in a philosophical manner. That is, I seek an account of rationality which is concrete, and leaves no room for dispute. The result of whether this goal is accomplished will be seen in the pages to come.

2008 Research Scholars
Yvette Sonia González, University of Utah

Mentor: David Quijada, PhD, Education, Culture, and Society, University of Utah

The Pedagogy of Sistahood: Living in this Skin in the Classroom

Historical and contemporary social dynamics have constructed a 'commonsense' of Latina youth as submissive characters to el macho (the male), in addition to portrayals as sexually promiscuous, destined for marriage and pregnancy, quiet, resistant learners, and as lacking in ambition (Bender, 2003; Hyams, 2000; Bejarano, 2005). These deficit mediated images have done very little to challenge the 'commonsense' about Latina youth and even less to involve said youth in the process of speaking for/representing the self (Grossberg, 2005). Following the models set forth by youth cultural studies scholars (Quijada, 2007; 2008, Inpress) and participatory action researchers (Cahill, 2007) Living In this Skin brings together seven high school-aged Latina students (identified as "at-risk" by their school), to individually produce testimonios/testimonies that recount their lived experiences with oppression. These youth generated testimonies developed as participants owned classroom space, shared items from home, decided topics of discussion, agreed upon field trips and collectively determined what audience their testimonios will be presented to. It is through an analysis of their testimonios, in class and informal conversations, and my personal observations that I examine the ways in which Latina youth demonstrate personal investment in creating and telling stories that afford a viable critique of deficit mediated portrayals of Latina youth as quiet, submissive, and passive learners. Using a layered narrative, I illustrate tensions underlying youths participation, my researcher role, critical youth studies literature and ethnographic examples operating In the Skin to describe a distinct kind of education I call the Pedagogy Of Sistahood (POS). The Pedagogy of Sistahood demonstrates how youth create educative spaces by employing everyday language and embodied knowledge ('the flesh') to (re)conceptualize stereotypes and to offer critique of the institutions that maintain their positions of marginalization. Through this process the study (re)conceptualizes "education" through the relational teaching and learning practices that participants developed in the telling of their stories and through their active involvement with topics that intersected across race, class, gender and sexuality.

Emma Joseph, Westminster University

Mentor: Susan Gunter, PhD, Westminster University, English

"Queer" Behavior: Examining the Nature of Sex, Sexual Orientation, and Gender in Trash, Fun Home, and Stone Butch Blues

While Queer theory is not a single, unified practice, most theorists would agree that it means questioning what it means to be normal and asking whether normal is even desirable. In the late 1980's queer theory developed out of gay and lesbian studies to move away from dualistic concepts such as heterosexual/homosexual, male/female, and natural/ unnatural binaries (where the first term of each pair is privileged). This enabled people to consider identity, sexuality, and gender as fluid rather than as fixed. In part, this is why queer theorists refuse to define queer theory, but rather use it to deconstruct and challenge the power of heteronormative social constructs. Rather than embracing the Marxist concept that power is filtered down from top to bottom, theorist Michel Foucault argues that power is everywhere and that even in the smallest of exchanges there is always the possibility of resistance to and reversal of power structures. This concept is important, since resistance to power structures enables us to make changes within the system. In the realm of queer literary studies, queering a novel means undertaking a close critique of how the text represents gender and sexual norms and then how it questions and subverts those norms. Doing this exposes how the author polices, punishes, or rewards the characters. This critical process also demonstrates how moving away from concepts of normative sexual behavior allows for a humanity that possesses a more fluid and richer state of being. Therefore, it allows for questioning and troubling cultural norms in order to deconstruct gender, sex, identity, sexuality, race, and class binaries to confront the violence and shame that stem from what have been socially constructed as "good" and "bad" behaviors. First, I will briefly summarize theorists who have contributed significantly to the evolution of queer theory. Then I will critique Dorothy Allison's compilation of short stories Trash, Alison Bechdel's graphic memoir Fun Home, and Leslie Feinberg's novel Stone Butch Blues to illustrate that by subverting and troubling social constructs, each character demonstrates acts of courage, growth, and change.

Sheryl Saxton, Westminster University

Mentor: Jennifer Simonds, PhD, Psychology, Westminster University

Dyslexia Definitions among Psychology and Education Professionals

The purpose of this study is to examine dyslexia definitions from research articles, television and radio transcripts, and articles or websites from educational organizations for similarities and differences. A categorization scheme was developed for describing characteristics (components) in each article, transcript, and website. Discrepancies and similarities within research studies, television and radio, and education organizations as well as cross comparisons were analyzed. Popular components of definitions as a whole were: any reference to genetics and biology or a difficulty with phonological processes, dyslexia being a general reading and/or language difficulty, and dyslexia being unexpected in relation to IQ, motivation, and/or effective teaching. Results indicate significant difference in patterns of definition components by type of source. Conclusions drawn indicate that, although there are strong similarities in components used across source type, infrequently used definitional components may confuse dialogue among professionals in different disciplines. It is suggested that there is a need for a unified definition across disciplines.

Marvin Whitaker, University of Utah

Mentor: Hakan M. Yavuz, PhD, Politcal Science, University of Utah

A Despotically 'Benevolent' Policy: The Cherokee Indian Genocide

The deportation and relocation of the Cherokee Indians from the southeastern United States to Indian Territory in Oklahoma during the 1830s is examined as both cultural and physical genocide. Research methods included historical analysis and a careful reading of the Indian Removal Act of 1830, the statements of President Andrew Jackson and the implementation of these acts under President Martin Van Buren. The article argues that a genocidal policy against the Cherokee Indians was implemented by the United States during The Trail of Tears period (1838-1839), in which a little over half of the Cherokee population was reduced in number, through the means of concentration camps and a 1,200 mile death march. A new perspective on what constitutes genocide is examined in the recommendation and provision made by the United Nations Whitaker Report on Genocide (1985), a provision which includes 'advertent omission' as an act of genocide. The article argues that the U.S. government's 'advertent omission' to preserve Cherokee lives during The Trail of Tears period (1838-1839), can be considered an act of genocide.

2009 Research Scholars
Nichole M. Garcia, University of Utah

Mentor: Dolores Delgado, Bernal, PhD, Education, Culture, and Society, University of Utah

Negotiating Spaces: Non-Bilingual Chicanas/Latinas in Higher Education

While many researchers have identified the Spanish language as a source of Chicana/Latina identity (Bejarano, 2005; Gonzalez, 2001; Galindo & Gonzales, 1999, Hurtado & Gurin, 2004) few studies have investigated how Chicana/Latina women who are not proficient in Spanish negotiate their ethnic/cultural identities. In this research, I investigate: how U.S. born Chicanas/Latinas who are not proficient in Spanish negotiate spaces that include and exclude them while still holding on to their cultural ethnic identities as Chicanas/Latinas in institutions of higher education. My research demonstrates that Chicanas/Latinas that do not speak Spanish fluently also negotiate their culturalethnic identities and often embrace and perform a Chicana/Latina identity. I draw from my own "cultural intuition" based upon my personal experience, the existing literature, my professional experience, and the analytical research process itself (Delgado Bernal, 1998). My theory is grounded within a Chicana feminist epistemology and draws upon the responses of non-bilingual Chicana/Latinas in higher education who are negotiating their spaces of belonging. Transcripts of individual interviews with six individual women and a focus group serve as the primary source of data, the data was analyzed to identify categories, concepts, and relationships that address the overlying research question. This study allows for a discourse that is seldom visible in current bodies of scholarship. Through understanding the elements of the process that non-bilingual Chicanas/Latinas used to successfully negotiate various spaces, the Chicana epistemology that emerged will inform other Chicanas/Latinas who will have similar experiences as they continue their education.

Jayci Robb, Westminster University

Mentor: Cathleen Power, PhD, Psychology, Westminster University

Attitudes of Ambivalent Ableism: Measuring Attitudes of Ambivalent Ableism toward Women with Disabilities

In this study, Jayci Robb and Dr. Cathleen Power investigated stereotypical attitudes about people with disabilities, focusing on ambivalent prejudice. Such attitudes of ambivalent prejudice toward people with disabilities are demonstrated in the "incompetent-but-warm stereotype" (McGroathy & Fliske, 1997, as cited in Fliske, Cuddy & Glick, 2002). This stereotype may be exemplified with an emotion of pity toward someone with a disability who is unable to control the limitations posed by his/her disability. Ambivalent prejudice may also include admiration for someone attempting to overcome his/her disability or anger for someone challenging the treatment of people with disabilities. To test ambivalent prejudice toward women with disabilities among university students, we surveyed undergraduate students at Westminster University. Participants were given a survey with three photos of a young woman posing as either a person using a wheelchair or as a person not using a wheelchair. Participants were then asked to describe what was happening in the photo, how the woman in the photo was feeling, and how the participants felt in response to the photo. When presented the photos of the woman using a wheelchair, participants reported emotions of pity toward the woman when she was unable to go down a flight of stairs, admiration when she won a race, and anger when she participated in a protest for disability rights. As such, these results support the claims of ambivalent prejudice toward the disabled.

Vanessa Seals, University of Utah

Mentor: Wilfred Samuels, PhD, English, University of Utah

Selling My Birthright: Novels of Passing from Larsen and Fauset to Senna

Passing as white is, of course, how modernists would have understood the term. But even in this, its first cultural sense, passing is far more complicated than the notion of wearing a mask or of assuming a fraudulent identity would suggest…Passing—actual and imaginary, conscious and unconscious—at once produced profound shifts in thinking about the boundaries of identity and aroused ambivalence about those shifting, unstable borders (Caughie 387).

Zain Siddiqui, University of Utah

Mentor: Thomas Maloney, PhD, Economics, University of Utah

Occupational Assimilation of Foreign-born Workforce: Evidence from Six OECD Countries

Foreign-born labor inflows have been marketed both as course to native-born displacement in the labor markets and as the most proficient anti-poverty program available for the migrants themselves. Previous literature has provided comprehensive insights into immigrants' occupational activities in American labor market, but few have managed to perform a rigorous estimate of occupational and employment distributions between foreign-born and native-born workforce across sin high-income economies. Drawing on the most recent individual datasets from the Integrated Public Use Micro-data Series International (IPUMSI), we examine labor market outcomes for foreign-born and native-born males and females conditioned on their human capital. The Statistical Analysis Software (SAS) was used to disaggregate the individual datasets to construct the findings and results. The study provides groundwork to extend the investigation to unobserved characteristics, such as, self-selection policies, immigrant performance differentials conditioned on source-countries, social capital of immigrant groups in host-countries, integration laws in host-countries, etc. We hope that the study would allow a discourse about how different immigration and integration policies could manipulate the labor market outcomes for immigrants and natives alike.

Angela Swensen, Westminster University

Mentor: Lesa Ellis, PhD, Psychology and Neuroscience, Westminster University

Serious and Persistent Mental Illness (SPMI): The Impact of Clubhouse Participation on the Utilization of Mental Health Services

Persons with serious and persistent mental illness (SPMI) are frequent users of mental health services. Such services may be delivered by mental health and/or other medical professionals in a hospital, emergency room or outpatient clinic setting. In addition, individuals with SPMI may participate in community-based mental health care programs known as Clubhouses. Here they are considered members, and participate in the day-to-day business of running the Clubhouse. This business includes placement of members in supported employment opportunities, housing, educational assistance, and a variety of other activities that promote recovery and integration into the community. However, there is no direct delivery of mental health services, such as counseling or medication management. The current study seeks to measure the impact of Clubhouse participation on the use of other mental health services. Billing records for 37 individuals with SPMIs were analyzed to determine use of inpatient, outpatient, and emergency services for a three-year period before joining a local Clubhouse, as well as the three-year period following initial contact with the Clubhouse. It was hypothesized that usage of other mental health services would decrease after participation in Clubhouse. Statistical analysis indicated no significant difference in utilization of outpatient and emergency or crisis care before, as compared to after, Clubhouse participation. However, there was a trend towards significance particular to the decrease in hospital readmission after Clubhouse participation.

2006 Research Scholars
Asia Ferrin, Westminster University

Mentor: Bridget Newell, PhD, Philosophy, Westminster University

Moral Responsibilities and Extreme Poverty: Rethinking Our Affluent Lifestyles

Approximately 1.5 billion people—one-quarter of all human beings alive today—live below the international poverty line. 827 million people experience malnourishment. 114 million children do not attend elementary school. Each year, 10.8 million children die under the age of five due to malnourishment and preventable diseases. 1.2 billion people do not have access to improved water sources. 2.4 billion lack access to adequate sanitation. Extreme poverty is by far the number-one cause of human misery. In 1998, approximately 1.3 million deaths resulted from war, homicides, and violence, while starvation and preventable diseases claimed 18 times that; deaths due to poverty-related causes, such as malnutrition and diseases that can be prevented or cured cheaply, account for one-third of all human deaths. And the problem is only worsening; according to philosopher Thomas Pogge, "The number of persons who are poor… 'rose from 1.2 billion in 1987 to 1.5 billion [in 1999] and, if recent trends persist, will reach 1.9 billion by 2015.'" Much philosophical, economic, and political debate has ensued over whether the disparity between affluent nations and impoverished nations engenders moral obligations for individuals to act.

Valerie Gonzales, Westminster University

Mentor: Steven Kern, PhD, Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of Utah

Investigation of Concomitant Administration of Morphine and Methadone

Pain management strategies employed for chronically ill children admitted into the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) most often include sedation and analgesia.[1] Provision of such treatments is most effectively carried out by the delivery of opioid agonists, morphine and fentanyl.[2,3] Although these medications serve as an immediate remedy for chronic pain, prolonged infusions have been recognized to have adverse effects. It is known that tolerance results due to opioid-induced analgesia.[3-6] Thus, intravenous opioid concentrations required for adequate pain reduction increase throughout the duration of the treatment. Opioid abstinence syndrome (OAS) results from physical dependency and is especially evident when distressful symptoms occur upon the discontinuation of the administered drug.[3-6] Undesired neurological side effects due to OAS consist of: irritability, myoclonus, ataxia, vomiting, sweating, fever, diarrhea, visual and auditory hallucination, seizures and rejection to food/drink.[5] In the occurrence of OAS in the pediatric population, methadone, also an opioid, is used to treat opioid abstinence syndrome.[7] The lack of data from pharmacokinetic tests on the pediatric population however attributes to the uncertain half-life and detailed pharmacokinetics of methadone in children.

Brenda Robles, University of Utah

Mentor: Mary Ann Villarreal, PhD, History, University of Utah

A Reflection of America: Reconceptualizating Westside Discourse Oral Histories of Westside Latino Residents

The documentation of Latino resident experiences who grew up or live in Salt Lake City's "Westside" has received a smattering of attention through oral histories and photo exhibits. The dominant rhetoric text devaluates the Westside through the process of "Other-ing" (Villenas & Deyhle, 1999; Martinez, J. M., 2000; Garcia, J., 1998), creating a repeating public rhetoric that casts the Westside in terms of racial urbanization and deficit based notions. As an ever-expanding community, there is a necessity to create space for voices historically devalued as a legitimate community. Labeled as "missing," the Westside population has rarely remained quiet or passive. My research both collects and examines oral histories, as they give insight into the lives of Latino Westside residents over two generations. This paper specifically explores questions of empowerment, self-determination, and community collectivism based on these accounts. Their stories reveal the ways in which resistance manifests itself individually and within the larger community, and at times produces contradictory struggles between each of the two. Prevailing notions of the survival, education/educación values, and border and space dynamics portrayed about the Westside are called into question as the life stories of five residents unfold. Though the process of oral story telling does not fit an academic strategy of resistance, through further examination these oral histories provide alternative histories to the dominant narrative of Utah and the Intermountain West. My interviewees detail complex histories contrastingly different from their homogeneous construction. These stories reveal a booming and inclusive community; where a multiplicity of identities, cultures, and classes collide to generate a diverse living space. They further expand our understanding of how persistence towards change in the prevailing structures and discourse is performed across generations, time, and movement.

Shontol Torres Burkhalter, Raquel Antoinette Gabbitas, and Kareen Limansky

University of Utah and Westminster University

Mentors: Brian Avery, PhD, and Lesa Ellis, PhD, Westminster University

The Effectiveness of Positive Body Affirmations on Global Self-Esteem

This study examines how self affirmations may improve body image and overall self-esteem in young adult females. Self-esteem refers most generally to an individual's overall positive evaluation of the self (Gecas 1982; Rosenberg 1990; Rosenberg et al. 1995). A more specific definition of self-esteem is global self-esteem; global self esteem is a combination of an individual's positive and negative views of oneself, and is a more holistic way of approaching self esteem (Rosenberg, Scholler, Schoenbach, 1995, 141). The way a young woman feels about her body is more important than other domains contained within global self-esteem which include: academics, athletics, and popularity (Harter, 1986). To examine factors that may influence body image, two groups, one experiemental and one control, of ten young-adult women, ages 18-25, participated in a 21 day study that measured the effectiveness of body image affirmations on global self-esteem. All participants were required to log onto a WebCT computer program and type four sentences that appeared on the screen daily for 21 days. The control group typed sentences about male athletes' accomplishments in sports, and the experimental group typed positive body affirmations. This study hypothesized that the positive body image affirmations would affect a woman's body image positively, and in turn improve her global self-esteem. Such a study represents an attempt to empirically measure the effectiveness of self-affirmations in improving body image and self esteem. To measure the effectiveness of this method, both pre- and post-study self-esteem evaluations were obtained from the participants. However, the results showed no statistical difference between the experimental and control group demonstrating that other factors outside of affirmations need to be taken into consideration in order to improve body image.

2007 Research Scholars
Raquel Antoinette Gabbitas, Westminster University

Mentor: Lesa Ellis, PhD, Psychology, Westminster University

Examining the Role of Executive Functioning in the Implicit Association Test

Although explicit measures such as surveys and questionnaires have provided some knowledge regarding prejudice, they are limited in the information they can provide due to confounding variables such as social desirability and self deception. With issues like prejudice, individuals may be reluctant to share information that is unfavorable, and may even deceive themselves into thinking that some destructive behaviors are not harmful ( The Implicit Association Task (IAT) is a tool that measures underlying feelings and cognitive processes through a series of timed pairings, and it allows researchers to look at an individual's reactions on a micro level in a way that previous measurement tools have not. It is a useful way to measure possible underlying feelings of discrimination towards the Latina/o group, because it can quantify snap-judgments individuals make regarding the Latina/o population and show potential inherent group preferences through a latency or timing method (Greenwald et al. 1998). This study will examine any potential links between explicit and implicit views of prejudice regarding the Latina/o community in Salt Lake City, Utah and will explore any correlations to feelings regarding the current immigration debate. It is hypothesized that the White community will show a preference for their own group resulting in shorter reaction times when pairing positive words with White symbols and longer reaction times when pairing positive words with Latina/o symbols. It is also hypothesized that individuals who take a longer time pairing positive words with Latina/o symbols will also demonstrate greater prejudice on the immigration and prejudice survey than individuals who do not.

Dusty Moore, Westminster University

Mentor: Brian Avery, PhD, Biology, Westminster University

A Preliminary Genetic Analysis of Hybrid Oaks in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah

Oak trees play a vital role in the ecosystem of the Wasatch Mountains of Utah, providing both food and shelter for numerous organisms. Most of the Wasatch Oaks are Quercus gambelii (deciduous scrub oaks), shedding their leaves during the harsh high elevation winters. There are several unexpected evergreen oaks which appear to be hybrids of the Wasatch scrub oaks and the evergreen oak, Quercus turbinella (live oaks), primarily located in Southern Utah. The suspected hybrids were presumably present prior to a rapid decrease in winter temperatures of the area several thousands of years ago, resulting in several hybrids live oaks able to withstand the cold climate that other evergreen oaks physically could not. We selected common microsatellites of the oak genome were selected from previous studies done on European oaks and six RAPD primers were selected from a study evaluating Q. gambelii. Several primers have shown conservation of PCR fragments throughout the gambelii as well as some which appear in the suspected hybrids also. Although there are not enough data to determine absolute genetic relatedness, there are several primers, including MSQ13 and RAPD 290, which show a relationship that is not coincidence.

2004 Research Scholars
Sarah Janel Jackson, University of Utah

Mentor: Kimberly Zarkin, PhD, Communication, Westminster University

Representations of Minorities in Utah's Local News

An analysis of Utah's primary local news sources was conducted to discover if and how people of color are represented. The results were also manipulated to discover if the exclusion of classically stereotypical news categories would significantly alter representation. Findings reveal that Utah's largest ethnic group is primarily ignored while other ethnic groups often but not always fall into stereotypical representations or no representation at all.

Anya Gurholt, Westminster University

Mentor: Michael Markowski, PhD, History, Westminster University

The Androgyny of Enlightenment: Questioning Women's Status in Ancient Indian Religions

This paper examines the relationship between women's role in early Indian religions and the concept of androgyny found in ancient Indian texts. In many ways, the practices of early Indian Religions (Buddhism and Vedic Religions), were extremely andocentric and patriarchal. However, when further examining some of the textual foundations and principles of these religions, it becomes clear that a number of their fundamental teachings are neither sexist nor patriarchal. Indeed, they possess concepts and principles that are exactly contrary to patriarchy and sexism. Therefore, although early Indian religious institutions were often patriarchal and discriminatory towards women in practice, many of the fundamental principles of these religions were egalitarian.

Jim Moreno, University of Utah

Mentor: Paul Monty Paret, PhD, Art History, University of Utah

Robert Rauschenberg, Performance and the Visual Arts in the 1950's and 60's

Photos and Figures

This paper will consider Robert Rauschenberg's use of performance to further explore ideas already embedded within his visual artworks. His compositional processes and operational strategies will be scrutinized to distinguish commonalities and dissimilarities in his approaches. In particular, Rauschenberg's effort to conflate seemingly disparate genres or concepts will be examined not as a mere act of blending, but as a method of juxtaposition that allows differences to coexist and manifest into an artwork not already defined.

Laura Richey, Westminster University

Mentor: Lesa Ellis, PhD, Psychology, Westminster University

The Relationship between Risk-Taking and Adolescent Pubertal Status

While there are a number of social theories for increased risk-taking in adolescence, certain biological theories suggest an evolutionary component for adolescent risk-taking. It has been suggested that biological brain changes associated with puberty may play a role in such increases (Spear, 2000), as well as decreases in fear levels. The current study examines whether adolescent pubertal status is related to their levels of temperamental surgency, a construct encompassing individual differences in high intensity pleasure, fear, and shyness. Ninety middle school students in the Western United States (38 males and 52 females) ranging from age 11.5—14.5 (mean = 13.1) completed self-report measures of pubertal status and surgency. Results indicate that adolescent levels of surgency increase as pubertal status increases. Age, however, was not significantly associated with surgency levels. These results suggest that biology (specifically puberty) may be a significant factor in adolescent behavior. Future research should seek to employ improved measures of adolescent pubertal status as well as risk-taking behavior.

Moana Hansen, University of Utah

Mentor: Haruko Moriyasu, Ethnic Studies, University of Utah

The Loss and Transformation of the Tongan Culture and its Effect on Tongan American Families in Utah

The process of acculturation has resulted in the loss and transformation of the Tongan culture, values and traditions. Several Tongan customs and traditions have been altered or neglected in order for Tongans to conform to the American way of life. This modification of the Tongan culture has impacted the Tongan American born generation and has contributed to a loss of Tongan identity. The reconstruction and neglect of Tongan values has inevitably effected the younger American born generation and has contributed to social ills among the Tongan American communities such as gangs, the breakdown of the family structure, the lack of respect between the youth and elders and many young Tongans not succeeding or advancing in the American educational system. These issues, which were once foreign to Tongans in the islands, are now becoming acceptable behavior among the younger Tongan American generations. There is a growing concern among many Tongan Americans that the Tongan culture will become lost and that the younger generation will lose a sense of their cultural identity.

2005 Research Scholars
Mario Castillo, Westminster University

Mentor: Michael Popich, PhD, Philosophy, Westminster University

The Efficacy of Nonviolent Militancy: An Examination of Two Successful Nonviolent Movements

The aim of this research project is threefold. The first and second objective is to provide a historical portrait of Mohandas K. Gandhi's Salt March of 1930 and the Birmingham Campaign of 1963 led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Three questions will be addressed in the examination of these two successful nonviolent social movements: first, what was the problem or condition that necessitated nonviolent civil disobedience? Second, what was Gandhi and King's intended purpose for violating the law? And third, what action was taken in favor of the oppressed as a result of the demonstrations that made the movement a success? The final objective of this research project is to identify the 'base criteria' that were essential to the success of both movements. I will argue that the three components of a nonviolent social movement that are conjointly necessary for its success include: planned, organized, and strategic direct action; the type of leadership (charismatic); and the type of government (democratic).

Kasey Serdar, Westminster University

Mentor: Lesa Ellis, PhD, Psychology, Westminster University

Multicultural Relations in Higher Education: Students' Perceptions of College Professor Verbal Immediacy as Impacted by Race

As the percentage of minorities enrolled in education increases, it is vital to consider how the racial background of students and teachers impacts students' capacity to communicate with their instructors. The present study examined whether students' ratings of professors' verbal immediacy differed based on both the race of the student, and that of the professor. Two-hundred-seventy-eight university students (from White/Caucasian, Black/African-American, and Hispanic/Latino backgrounds) were surveyed about their perceptions of the verbal immediacy of a fictitious professor of a race either congruent or incongruent with their own. Results indicated that students viewed professors of an incongruent race to be less verbally immediate. This difference approached significance at trend level, and was strongest for the Black/African-American group. These findings underscore the impact of racial relations and perceptions on interactions in educational settings, regardless of subject content and pedagogical style.

Aliesha L. Shaw, University of Utah

Mentor: Karol Kumpfer, PhD, Health Promotion and Education, University of Utah

Strengthening Families Program: Outcomes for African-American VS. non African-American Families

Over the past 10 years research into risk and resilience has increased significantly as well as interventions to improve resilience to negative unhealthy behaviors, such as substance abuse, risky sex, violence, and poor nutrition. However, little has been explored when it comes specifically to African-Americans. This purpose of this research study is to examine the level of resilience in African-Americans compared to non-African Americans who are participating in the first prevention program designed specifically to increase resilience to unhealthy behaviors—namely the Strengthening Families Program (Kumpfer & Whiteside, 2005). The authors will explore baseline differences in the risk and protective factors associated with African-American resilience, particularly in regards to substance abuse as compared to other non-African Americans. People of different races/cultures tend to be raised in different environments and therefore may be exposed to different risk and protective factors. Depending on the environment in which one was raised, certain protective factors may have been stressed more than others while certain risks may have been more prevalent than others. Even if people of different races/cultures are exposed to the same risk and protective factors, it still isn't clear if these factors affect African-Americans differently than non African-Americans.

James A. Garang, University of Utah

Mentor: Thomas Maloney, PhD, Economics, University of Utah

Ethno-Linguistic Fragmentation and Political Institutions: Sources of Africa's Underdevelopment

This paper examines the relationship between Ethno-Linguistic Fragmentation (ELF) and economic growth in Africa. Theories of African underdevelopment are reviewed. The recent emphasis on Ethno-Linguistic Fragmentation as a source of underdevelopment is examined in detail. A simple regression is estimated to test the relationship between ELF and economic growth using recent data (1983–2001). The regression shows that there is negative correlation between growth and ELF. From the regression results, I identify a few countries for further study aimed at identifying the effect of political institutions on ethnic conflict. I find that African nations have used various tactics to combat the negative effect of ethnic divisions. Some African nations have employed inclusive while others have resorted to exclusionary approaches to politics. Overall, this study suggests that there is some negative correlation between growth and ethno-linguistic fragmentation and that political and social institutions may lessen these effects of ELF.