2004 Diamond Research Scholars
Mentor: Dr. Brian Butz
Pasma is studying in the Department of Electrical Engineering’s Universal Virtual Lab under the supervision of Professor Brian Butz. The UVL is creating a software environment that emulates an real-life electrical engineering laboratory, offering the user an alternate way to learn different aspects of instrumentation and circuitry. Pasma’s task is to perfect the first version of the software called Teaching Assistant (TA) so that this virtual environment will emulate an actual teaching assistant in an actual labratory. When a student asks TA for a definition or a procedural question, TA gives the student a series of tutorials that are based on the student’s query. To answer the question they want to establish a dialogue between the student and the machine and they also intend for TA to answer conceptual and all other kind of questions, especially why-type questions. For example, the TA will be able to compare the electrical circuit created by the student to the required one. If TA discovers and error, it will lead the student through several tutorials designed to clarify the material.
Lyntonia Nicole Clyne
Mentor: Dr. Robert Stanley
Nicole is investigating the enzyme DNA photolyase which repairs DNA that has been damaged by UV light. The enzyme uses light to break bonds between thymine (a DNA base) dimers and thus restore the DNA to its natural form. This research will eventually prove useful in the making of a topical medication that could help treat and possibly prevent skin cancer caused by overexposure to UV light.
Nicole’s project is to find a piece of RNA (ribonucleic acid) or DNA that can be a suitable aptamer for the enzyme, trypanothione reductase. An aptamer is any selected nucleic acid or nucleic acid analog that can bind to a particular protein or small molecule with high affinity. The selection procedure consists of first preparing a large library of DNA or RNA molecules, presenting them with the target molecule and then selecting and amplifying those molecules that bind successfully to the target molecule. The enzyme trypanothione reductase is present in parasitic protozoa that cause the diseases African sleeping sickness, kala azar, Chagas disease and leishmaniasis. In their hosts, these parasites face a vigorous oxidizing environment, which arises internally as a result of oxidative metabolism and externally, due to the immune response of the hosts. The enzyme keeps trypaniothione, the parasites’ major thiol, in its reduced form, hence maintaining a reducing environment which counteracts the oxidative environment described previously. If an aptamer were found for trypanothione reductase, the enzyme would not be able to function and the parasite would not survive in its host and better drugs or vaccines could be developed to treat people with these parasitic diseases more effectively.
Crystal Ann Dick
Mentor: Dr. David Farber
Crystal is studying the long-term effect credit has on African American wealth accumulation. She is looking at four areas: home ownership and mortgages, business loans, general personal wealth and credit, and consumer cooperatives. She plans to present a two-pronged argument based on statistics and culture. In general the statistics will present the problem using census information as well as other studies done by the Federal Reserve. Statistics will also help to explain the problem in the form of analyzing bank locations and the quality of the programs they offer. The cultural approach will address issues of tradition that are fundamental to this type of project.
Mentor: Robin Moore
Liam is studying La Musica Tejana, the music of the Tejano. It is a brand of music created by a rich mixture of Mexican ancestry and Czech/German settlers who came to bake in the stunning expanse of South Texas. This is a young style of music that draws heavily upon the experiences of its creators, performers and followers who are a minority in a foreign land. Many of the topics of song relate to politics of the moment as well as the timeless classics such as love, loss, and personal achievement. Liam is drawn to this topic for two reasons: his admiration of the music itself (he reports that is has an intoxicating mix of Czech/German polka, mariachi, northern Mexican folk songs or corridos, and modern day Western music such as rock and roll/country/blues)
and his fascination with Mexican Americans culture and the effect Tejano music has in the art and politics of this culture.
Mentor: Professor David Post
Steven is pursuing the ethics of intellectual property rights. In particular, Steven is researching the fundamental question that drives the peer-to-peer downloading of computer files, especially music and movies. How and when can a person claim property rights in an intellectual product? He is looking at how one philosophical argument--Lockean property theory--can justify IP rights. Under Professor Post’s direction, Steve is considering the view that the literature has a few shortcomings on the issue, all the result of misreading Locke’s original text. There are two that are particularly egregious. First, scholars have misread a sufficient condition for property ownership as being a necessary condition. What they call the "Lockean proviso" (that in order to appropriate one must leave "enough and as good" for others) is not a proviso at all. Instead, it is a sufficient condition. In cases where the laborer leaves enough and as good for the rest of mankind, appropriation is certainly just; but it is also just in other cases. Second, scholars seem to ignore Locke's storyline. He begins his treatise in the state of nature and ends up talking about civil societies (with governments). His property theory, in its pure form, is the guideline for the State of Nature. Civil societies can rightly change the laws for appropriation if citizens consent to those changes. Scholars make no reference to the fact that his justifications may or may not be equally applicable in all situations. To question the Lockean justification for property, one must first be sure what laws govern the situation. In the state of nature, Locke's natural laws are sufficient. But in a civil society, one must refer to the positive laws of the state while realizing what natural laws are in play. Steve hopes to first present a more accurate reading of Lockean ("real") property theory and then analyze how easily the fundamental components of his "real" property theory can be imported into a discussion of intellectual property theory. Then he will analyze when and how Lockean intellectual property justifications can be meaningful when discussing files in cyberspace.
Mentor: Andrew Karpinski
Courtney’s survey research will measure racial attitudes using implicit psychological measures in addition to explicit ones. Direct or explicit measures ask participants to agree or disagree with certain statements. The problem, especially in matters as politically charged as race, is that data may not represent true attitudes, but, rather, beliefs that people think they ought to have. In addition, some people may unconsciously hold attitudes that are not directly expressed. Her research, directed by Dr. Andrew Karpinski, will include both types of measure in order to distinguish the difference, if any, between concealed and overt attitudes. Implicit measures are relatively new and untested. While other studies have also examined racist attitudes, they have failed to successfully include measures of racist behaviors. My project will include a measure of behavior for comparison. This research will fit snugly with Dr. Karpinski’s research on developing new measures of implicit attitudes and confirmation of their effects, including self-esteem and racial attitudes.
Mentors: Dr. John Raines
Daniel is researching differences between religious versus secular standards of ethics. He intends to argue that it is necessary for individuals to possess a religious standard of ethics in order for political state formation and the creation of laws. Professor Raines is guiding Dan through some deep ideas of ethics, law and religion. Dan has a prestigious scholarship to study in Scotland this year where he will be able to study first hand the evolution of ethics and religion in Great Britain and Ireland where he will travel frequently.
Mentor: Kathy Hirsh-Pasek
The field of developmental psychology has, since the early 1980’s, approached the subject of language acquisition in terms of nouns and verbs. The claim has been that verbs are more difficult to learn than nouns, and has been supported by young children’s lexicons, which invariably contain more nouns than verbs. Under the direction of Professor Kathy Hirsh-Pasek Bob began researching the idea of “imageability,” a factor that, it had been suggested in the late 90’s, may have more to do with age-of-acquisition than lexical class.
A word’s imageability is the ease by which it produces a mental image in the mind of a native language user, and therefore is an attribute that categorizes across lexical class. They developed an experiment with the hope of demonstrating imageability as a significant factor in children’s vocabulary learning. If they can show that children have an equally easy or difficult time processing words of equal imageability, it will be a very significant and unique finding in the field.
This topic in language acquisition studies is being researched by linguists, psychologists, neuroscientists, and speech pathologists.
Mentor: Dr. Robert Levis
Josh is studying cyclic ozone. Normally, ozone has two bonds and is bent, which is not true of cyclic ozone. It is one continuous strand. Cyclic ozone would hold a third more energy than ozone and would readily release that energy. Therefore, cyclic ozone could be used as a portable energy source in a closed system. The problem is that no one has been able to make cyclic ozone. Under the direction of Dr. Levis, Josh’s project is to do just that. The first step, just completed, was to build a laser that could detect the structure of a molecule. It is called a CARS (Coherent Antistokes Raman Spectroscopy) laser. This type of laser is very sensitive, dealing with a million-billion pulses a second.
Mentor: Dr. Shohreh Amini
Victoria Palermo (left) with Dr. Shohreh Amini
Victoria is studying the JC virus at the Center for Neurovirology and Cancer Biology under the direction of Dr. Shoherh Amini and Dr. Mahmut Safak. They are researching the JC virus and its affect in AIDS.
Mentor: Dr. Paul Swann
Autumn is studying the art of anime, a Japanese form of animation. She is delving into the "posthuman" concept of technology defining our bodies, feminist discourses on gender construction, and investigating various aspects of the animated medium. She has found a great deal of literature that supports her theory that animation is a valuable tool to explore the way we read the human body. Japanese animation is a rich source for this type of research because the Japanese society allows its filmmakers freedom to portray a wide variety of subjects via animation. It is not strictly a child-oriented medium. They have as many anime shows and films as The U.S has live action ones
Mentor: Dr. Jena Osman
Emily is studying the poetry of Mina Loy. She is concentrating on two unpublished manuscripts to use their contents to help illuminate Loy's use of the asterisk in her poetry.