Summer 2023 Provost’s Student-Faculty Undergraduate Research and Creative Inquiry Awardees
Faculty Mentor: Nancy A. Krucher
Project Title: Testing of a New Method of Measuring Invasion in Melanoma Cells
Cancerous cells undergo uncontrollable proliferation, forming a cancer cell tumor, and increased invasive behavior. Melanoma is the rarest, yet deadliest form of skin cancer, responsible for the majority of skin cancer mortality. It is the ability of melanoma cells to spread from the site of the primary tumor (invasion) and break move into adjacent tissues that confers this type of cancer its deadliness. The focus of Dr. Krucher’s laboratory is to investigate the biochemical processes involved in how melanoma cells undergo invasion. In addition, we are testing a class on molecules called ACLY inhibitors for their ability to block invasion. ACLY converts cytosolic citrate into Acetyl-CoA, which acts as a precursor to fatty acid and cholesterol synthesis. Fatty acid synthesis is necessary for phospholipid synthesis and the construction of the phospholipid cell membrane required for cell proliferation and invasion.
Alessandra C. Arnoldi
Dyson | Biology
Faculty Mentor: Eric D. Brenner
Project Title: Analysis of Flopping Behavior During Early Development of the Invasive Weed, Microstegium Vimineum (Japanese Stiltgrass)
Microstegium vimineum (Japanese Stiltgrass) is an invasive weed that was introduced to North America around 1919 when it was used as bedstraw (1). Like many other invasive species, J.stiltgrass can tolerate a wide range of environments including disturbed sites such as roadsides; along with a wide range of light types including shaded habitats. [destructive]M. vimineum is a warm season grass that uses the C4 photosynthetic pathway. C4 plants are generally more drought resistant than C3 plants however they can require more energy and do worse under low light conditions. M. vimineum is an exception however and can tolerate low light conditions such as 5% full sunlight (2).
Nicolina G. Barone
Dyson | Writing and Rhetoric
Faculty Mentor: Dana Jaye Cadman
Project Title: A Starless Sky
My creative project is a fiction novel that has aspects of both romance and literary fiction. A woman diagnosed with cancer is given a few months to live and looks back on her life and wonders what really mattered. She asks herself how important all types of love are and as an artist what it means to follow passion. The novel asks how one can cope and deal with grief. I began my creative project with Book One of a trilogy series for my Honors Creative Thesis. I have been working with my advisor for the entire school year on Book One and believe that having the opportunity to further cultivate my work with my advisor with support from the institution would be incredibly essential to my growth as a writer. Book One is essentially the framework for this project and creates the initial background of the narrator and her life. However, the essence of the story and its depictions of grief are only translated if I get the
opportunity to continue working on this project to write Book Two.
Seidenberg School of CSIS | Computer Science
Faculty Mentor: Francis Parisi
Project Title: How Interest Rate Movements Impact Real State Property Sales in the United States
The purpose of this research paper is to examine how federal interest rates impact property sales in the United States. The study focuses on analyzing the relationship between changes in federal interest rates and the number of property sales in New York City The research paper uses a combination of publicly available data on federal interest rates and property sales from various sources like New York City Open Data to conduct the analysis. The results of the analysis indicate a strong correlation between changes in federal interest rates and property sales.
Dyson | Political Science & Modern Languages
Faculty Mentor: Amy L. Freedman
Project Title: The Absence of Economic Development in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic
Why has Laos remained so poor when neighboring countries, such as Vietnam which is also governed by the Communist Party, have initiated economic reforms that led to high levels of economic growth? Literature on economic development offers different explanations for countries’ success or failure. Are countries taken advantage of by global economic powers, as Wallerstein (2004) argues, or have they failed to liberalize enough as Vogel (1991) and Page (1994) argue? Or, is there something intrinsic to Laos that explains their situation, and if so, is it due to inter-elite rivalries, their relationship with China, or just poor policy-making (St. John 2006, Hansen, Bekkevold & Nordhaung 2020, Rehbein 2020 and PP Souvannaseng 2019)? Have other social factors such as poor education and mistreatment of ethnic minorities stunted the country’s economic growth, and why is it that the few economic development strategies the country has implemented have only further impoverished marginalized groups as Alston (2019) states?
Dyson | Film and Screen Studies
Faculty Mentor: Viktoria Paranyuk
Project Title: Deathly Defiant: The Overlooked Value of the Dead in American Cinema
I am interested in exploring American narrative cinema’s relationship to cultural death defiance. Having been considered the world’s leading nation for so long – the poster child of freedom, of democracy – Americans have an unmistakable pride in their cultural identity. Consequently, we have never taken well to losing. Death, however, is the ultimate loss, but countless Americans seek to conquer it. With growing promises of life-sustaining medical practices and a fascination with always prevailing, the possibility of an eventual triumph over death does not seem inconceivable to many, even if it is far away. The adverse effect is that Americans are avoidant of death and do not know how to confront it gracefully when it arrives. Anthropologists, psychologists, and proponents of death education, such as Ernest Becker, have tracked this growing pattern over the span of the last century through memoirs, behavioral studies, books, and even documentaries.
Dyson | Biology
Faculty Mentor: Elmer-Rico E. Mojica
Project Title: Health Benefits of Ready-to-Drink Tea
Tea is the second most utilized beverage after water worldwide due to its health benefits. Tea contains polyphenols which act as antioxidants defending against the harmful effects of free radicals in the body. Polyphenols can counteract oxidative stress via hydrogen atom transfer from their hydroxyl group which neutralize free radicals. Research has found that green tea exhibits the greatest number of polyphenols and thus more antioxidants to fight against diseases caused by oxidative stress. Ready-to-Drink beverages have gained increasing popularity as a result of their convenience but there is a little research that quantifies the health benefits of these brands.
SOE | Childhood Education
Faculty Mentor: Eric D. Brenner
Project Title: Analysis of Different Light Intensities in the Developmental Stage of Arabidopsis Thaliana’s Effect on Circumnutation
Circumnutation is the mysterious swaying back and forth conducted by plant organs. For roots the purpose is known as it helps the root tip bore into the ground. For shoots the purpose is unknown, except in twining plants that use it to climb. But for most plants, the purpose of circumnutation in shoots is still unknown, even though it was described by Darwin over 150 years ago.
Dyson | Behavioral Neuroscience
Faculty Mentor: Jeanmaire Molina
Project Title: Detecting the DNA of Rafflesiaceae, the “Panda of the Plant World” for Conservation
The plant family Rafflesiaceae is known for producing the largest flowers in the world, up to a meter in diameter, that reek of rotting flesh, hence the common name, corpse flowers, to lure carrion fly pollinators (Pallardy, 2021). Unlike most plants, members of this family do not have stems, roots nor leaves and lack the ability to photosynthesize, even completely discarding their chloroplast genome, which is yet unprecedented in other plants (Molina et al. 2014; Pennisi 2014). Rafflesiaceae species are solely parasitic to the plant genus Tetrastigma (Vitaceae). Their unique life history makes members of Rafflesiaceae – Rajflesia, Sapria, and Rhizanthes – evolutionary marvels. Unfortunately, they are critically endangered, as their forest habitats in Southeast Asia are being decimated. However, it is virtually unknown how Rafflesiaceae infects its hosts, which makes it difficult to conserve and propagate them.
Lubin | Accounting
Faculty Mentor: Joseph Tse-Hei Lee
Project Title: Chinese Rock and Roll: Non-Violent Resistance and Resisting Censorship
Chinese rock and roll has been deeply entwined with politics since its conception, as reflected in both artistic expressions and creative limitations. Lyrics, instrumentals, and musical compositions are all characterized by Chinese culture and social politics. Chinese rock rose to prominence during the 80’s struggle for democracy, through music, youths openly expressed their discontent towards the corrupt authoritarian regime and an increasingly bleak future. The rock scene hit a critical turning point post 1989’s Tiananmen Square pro-democratic protests; the government escalated censorship tactics, resulting in curious effects on the genre extending all the way to the 21st century.
Sahtrese S. McQueen
Dyson | Digital Journalism
Faculty Mentor: Katherine Fink
Project Title: Content Analysis over the Decades; Finding Trends in College Newspaper over Time
This project will explore changes over time in how college newspapers cover news. Using Pace University student newspaper archives as a case study, this project will take a content analysis-based approach to examine changes in the types of stories covered, the ways newspaper content is organized, sources, and/or writing styles.
Journalism studies research has oftenn used content analysis to compare changes over time in the ways news organizations have covered stories. Such analyses have been used to develop and test theoretical concepts such as agenda-setting, or the decisions journalists make that result in some issues being perceived by the public as more important than others (Coleman, McCombs, Shaw, & Weaver, 2009) and framing, which relates to the ways journalists represent problems and solutions of public interest (Entman, 2007). College newspapers have been much less studied than professional news media in academic research. Of the studies that focus on college newspapers, few use content analysis. One study compared the readability of college newspapers to professional dailies (Bodie, 1992). Another found a coverage gap between men and women’s sports in college newspapers (Schmidt, 2013).
Lulu M. Moquete
Dyson | Mathematics
Faculty Mentor: Emilio Fernández
Project Title: An Applied Analysis of Cultural and Social Formations Through the Lens of the Novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
Culture is an essential aspect of our lives. It shapes our beliefs, values, and behaviors, and most importantly, it operates on us implicitly. One of genesis of my independent studies with Dr. Fernández has been that culture, as part of a tripart matrix1, often times affects all sorts of capitals that human can achieve. Therefore, understanding the formation and operation of culture is crucial for individuals to navigate the complexities of the world we live in. This research proposal aims to create an introductory analytical course to help us study how Dominicans in the diaspora are both connected and disconnected from their mother culture. The course will be guided by the theoretical framework presented in “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses” by Louis Althusser and Black Skins White Masks by Frantz Fanon.
Dyson | Biology & Lubin | Business Management
Faculty Mentor: Wei Fang
Project Title: Modern Cities along the Ancient Silk Roads
The overall challenge that we are seeking to explore is the state of Central Asia’s vegetation due to climate change and population growth. The personal objective I am taking during this research process is investigating and focusing on the legacy of the USSR on Central Asia. I will be collecting data points from five – stan countries in Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.