About CURCA:

The College of Arts and Sciences and University College will again present CURCA, an opportunity to showcase and celebrate your research and creative activity. CURCA is part of the Faculty of Arts and Science–Camden’s annual Research Week, which includes a graduate-level research celebration and a Faculty Research Fellow Lecture.

 

2022 CURCA Project Abstracts

Projects are in alpha order by last name of main presenter.

Tajae Ali ’22, Mary Fisher ‘22, Inbar Polak ‘22, Skylar Rucci ‘23, and Orgelys Vasquez-Home ‘24
Majors: Psychology and Criminal Justice (TA), Health Sciences (MF), Psychology (IP), Psychology (SR), and Psychology and Criminal Justice (OV), Minors: Forensic Science and Juvenile Justice and Youth Development (MF) and Philosophy (SR), Affiliations: Honors College (MF and OV)
Title of Project: A National Study of Whether Intimate Partner Violence Moderates the Impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) on Nicotine Dependence
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Courtenay Cavanaugh, Associate Professor of Psychology

Abstract: A National Study of Whether Intimate Partner Violence Moderates the Impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) on Nicotine Dependence

Background: Nicotine dependence is a significant public health problem in the United States. Both adverse childhood experiences (ACEs); including child abuse, child neglect, and child household dysfunction; and intimate partner violence (IPV) have been positively associated with nicotine dependence. However, little is known about whether IPV moderates the impact of types of ACEs on nicotine dependence. This study examined gender-specific models of whether IPV moderated the associations between child abuse, child neglect, and child household dysfunction on past year nicotine dependence while controlling for mental disorders including mood disorders, anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, and attempted suicide. Methods: Data were used from 33, 501 participants in wave 2 of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (n=19,368 females & n=14,133 males). Logistic regression models tested the main effects of child abuse, child neglect, child household dysfunction, intimate partner violence, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, and attempted suicide on past year nicotine dependence and the child abuse-IPV, child neglect-IPV, and child household dysfunction-IPV interactions. Results: For females, IPV moderated the impact of child abuse and child neglect; but not child household dysfunction; on nicotine dependence. Specifically, the effects of child abuse and child neglect on nicotine dependence were smaller for women who experienced IPV compared to women who had not experienced IPV. For males, IPV did not moderate the impact of types of ACEs on nicotine dependence. Discussion: Findings suggest the effects of ACEs on nicotine dependence are reduced among women who experience IPV. Future studies are needed to better understand how adversity across the lifespan affects risk for nicotine dependence to inform the etiology of nicotine disorder and inform nicotine prevention interventions.

Paige Arnold ’23 and Mason Rickerd ‘22
Majors: Computer Science (PA) and Digital Studies and English (MR), Minor: Communication (MR), Affiliations: Honors College (PA)
Title of Project: Johnson Park Ethnography Project
Faculty Mentors: Dr. James Brown, Director of the Digital Studies Center and Associate Professor of English, and Dr. Anthony Wright, Associate Director of the Digital Studies Center and Assistant Professor of Childhood Studies

Abstract: Johnson Park Ethnography Project

Digital Studies Center (DiSC) researchers are currently working on a collaborative project with the Institute for The Development of Education In the Arts (IDEA), the Department of Childhood Studies, the Proof Lab, and a number of Camden community groups to build media projects that reimagine the history of Johnson Park and the Cooper Branch Library building (which now houses the Digital Commons). The project is a response to the frieze displayed on the side of the building. The frieze, entitled “America Receiving the Gifts of the Nation,” has become a site of controversy, as Camden community members have spoken out against its racist and demeaning imagery. The goal of the Johnson Park Media Projects is to work with the Camden community to reimagine the space of the park, including the frieze, transforming it from a “read only” space to a “read/write” space. In order to do this, we are working with youth media makers from IDEA in order to create various forms of media that can be displayed in the park.

In addition to the media-making side of the project, DiSC researchers are also carrying out a review of controversial monuments and public art across the United States. We are using the news archive newspapers.com to locate examples of such controversies in order to get a better sense of the various ways in which diverse communities have responded to specific monuments. With this database of collected articles, the project aims to create a map of America that will showcase controversial monuments in each state. The map will provide a visual representation of the extent to which such controversies have affected the nation as a whole, and it will offer brief summaries and images of the various cases. In our presentation, student researchers will present some of the major themes and issues that have arisen in the cases we’ve found, and we will discuss how our work provides broader context for the controversy surrounding Johnson Park.

Blessing Awogbamila ‘24
Major: Biology
Title of Project: The Functions of Phosphatase and Kinase Regarding Photoperiodism in Neurospora crassa
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Kwangwon Lee, Associate Professor of Biology
Recipient of the Sandy Stewart Undergraduate Research Grant

Abstract: The Functions of Phosphatase and Kinase Regarding Photoperiodism in Neurospora crassa

Photoperiodism is the response of organisms to seasonal or annual changes in their environment , such as a change in day-length. Photoperiodism has shown to have a significant effect on the survival rate of organisms in nature. The photoperiodic mechanisms has not been well described, but current research in our lab sought to identify the genes that photoperiodism of Neurospora crassa are involved in. In that study, our lab developed the protoperithecia assay (PPA). Protoperithecia is a female sexual reproductive structure in N. crassa, and it is known that it is responsive to different photoperiods. That study identified a candidate gene for measuring photoperiodism in N. crassa. This project furthers the research presented in that study. We have created a working genetic pathway model in order to identify the complete genetic mechanism for measuring photoperiod in N. crassa. To create this model we used

previous data that was published and compiled in Fungi Database. We are especially interested in two mutants, FGSC13072 and FGSC11548. This is because FGSC13072 is a kinase mutant, which has a normal function of adding phosphate groups to proteins, and FGSC11548 is a phosphatase mutant, which has a normal function of removing phosphate groups from proteins.

According to previous studies cited in Fungi Database, the kinase mutant causes a severely reduced amount of protoperithecia to be formed. The phosphatase mutant causes an increase in protoperithecia production. In this study, we will repeat the experiment in order to replicate their data. We will also perform the PPA on the kinase and phosphatase mutants in different photoperiods in order to generate data on if they are involved in the genetic pathway for measuring photoperiodism in N. crassa or not. The current study will provide new perception on the functions of phosphatase and kinase regarding photoperiodism in N. crassa.

Tashmim Begum ’22, Joseph Mendoza-Martinez ’22, Ingrid Thone ’23, Kelly Adams ’22, and Laurel DiStefano ‘23
Majors: Health Sciences and Psychology (TB), Health Sciences (JM), Health Sciences (IT), Health Sciences (KA), and Psychology (LD), Minors: Psychology (JM), Spanish (IT), and Childhood Studies (LD), Affiliations: Honors College (TB, JM, and LD)
Title of Project: Academic Stressors, COVID-related Stressors, and Coping Strategies are Related to Physical Activity and Sleep among College Students during the Pandemic
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Kristin August, Associate Professor of Psychology

Abstract: Academic Stressors, COVID-related Stressors, and Coping Strategies are Related to Physical Activity and Sleep among College Students during the Pandemic

Background: Existing evidence suggests that stress may have an adverse impact on students’ engagement in important health behaviors such as physical activity (PA) and sleep during this time. In contrast, engaging in adaptive coping strategies may be related to healthier behaviors and may also serve as a buffer against the adverse effects of such stress. In this study, we examine how the frequency of exposure to academic and COVID-related stressors was related to students’ reports of both PA and sleep, and how different coping strategies mitigated the adverse effects of stress on health behaviors.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional online survey with 396 undergraduate students from March through September 2021.The mean age of participants was 22.58 years; 69.8% were women, 56.8% were racial/ethnic minorities, and 45.7% were first generation college students We assessed academic stressors (College Student Stress Scale; Feldt, 2008), COVID-related stressors (questions developed for this purpose), and used an adapted version of the Health Promoting Lifestyle Scale (Walker et al., 1987) to assess coping strategies, PA, and sleep. Regression analyses that controlled for race/ethnicity, gender, first generation status, income, and class standing examined main and interactive effects of stressor frequency and coping strategies on PA and sleep.

Findings: Both academic and COVID-related stressors were related to less sleep, but only academic stressors were related to less PA. The effects were larger for academic than COVID-related stressors. Additionally, all types of coping strategies were related to more PA and sleep. Cognitive and behavioral stress reduction coping techniques had the largest effect on sleep and exercise, while help seeking coping behaviors had the smallest effect. Only one interaction between stressors and coping emerged: the association between academic stressors and sleep was particularly strong among individuals who engaged in less coping that involved seeking help.

Implications: The findings from this study replicate findings from past research suggesting that stress experienced among college students during the pandemic is important for understanding students’ health behaviors, particularly sleep.

Liliana Berrios ‘22
Major: Biology, Minor: Chemistry
Title of Project: Less Temperature-Dependent than Respiration
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Angélica González, Assistant Professor of Biology
Recipient of the Arts and Sciences Opportunity Meets Innovation Challenge (OMIC) Undergraduate Research Grant

Abstract: Less Temperature-Dependent than Respiration

Over the last century, temperature and nutrients have experienced significant increases due to human activities. These environmental changes are affecting rates of ecological processes. While the global mean temperature has increased by 1.0 °C, boosting energetic processes from the organismal to the ecosystem level, nitrogen and phosphorus are increasingly and unevenly being deposited globally, causing ecological imbalances in consumer-resource dynamics. Many studies investigate the independent or interactive effects of temperature and nutrients, however, these studies are limited to specific taxa, habitats (temperate or tropical), and ecological responses. We aim to overcome these limitations by investigating generalities in ecological rate responses to these drivers across taxa and habitats. We seek to answer the question: what are the effects of warming and nutrient enrichment on rates of ecological change? We hypothesize that ecological rates will increase with temperature, but that the magnitude of these increases will be nutrient-dependent. To answer this question, we are conducting a meta-analysis, which is an important statistical approach for compiling, analyzing, and synthesizing data. This meta-analysis will allow me to determine the occurrence of general responses to warming and nutrient enrichment, and test predictions about their underlying mechanisms. Preliminary results show that heterotrophic rates (i.e., microbes and animals), are significantly increased in response to warming, nutrients, and their interactions. However, autotrophic rates (i.e primary producers) do not respond to these drivers. Heterotrophs may be more affected than autotrophs by temperature and nutrients because they undergo ATP synthesis, a temperature-dependent process, and are less flexible in their nutrient requirements. Autotrophs undergo photosynthesis, a less temperature-dependent process compared to respiration. In addition, autotrophs are less sensitive to nutrient enrichment because they vary their C:N:P stoichiometry by storing nutrients in their vacuoles, and by uncoupling carbon fixation and nutrient uptake, displaying greater stoichiometric flexibility. Changes in climate and nutrient inputs lead to changes in rates across ecological levels. Our study shows that these responses vary among trophic groups, which can cause imbalances and other negative consequences in consumer-resource dynamics.

Andrew Carpen ‘22
Major: Biology
Title of Project: Trophic niches of aquatic organisms decrease along a latitudinal gradient
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Angélica González, Assistant Professor of Biology
Recipient of the Arts and Sciences Opportunity Meets Innovation Challenge (OMIC) Undergraduate Research Grant

Abstract: Trophic niches of aquatic organisms decrease along a latitudinal gradient

The ecological niche, which describes the environmental conditions needed by a species and the roles that species plays, is a fundamental concept in ecology. Many studies have used the ecological niche as a means of understanding patterns of diversity, species interactions, and community structure. Yet to date, few studies have investigated how trophic niches of species, which are fundamental to their function, vary along environmental gradients at large geographical scales. In this study, we investigated ecological niche characteristics, specifically trophic niche breadth and overlap, along a latitudinal gradient using tropical aquatic invertebrate communities. To reconstruct species niches, we are using stable isotope analysis of carbon 13 and nitrogen 14. Isotope analysis of animal tissues allows for an integration of dietary information over long time periods, representing useful tools to describe trophic niches of groups of organisms. Using this approach, we can examine how environmental drivers such as temperature and nutrients can shape trophic behaviors, including prey specialization. Preliminary results suggest that trophic niches of aquatic invertebrates vary amongst trophic groups and environmental conditions. We are currently working on finalizing this dataset, and I am excited to present the results and conclusions at the CURCA event on April 14th, 2022.

Sienna Casciato ‘22
Major: Biology, Minor: Chemistry, Affiliations: RU–MARC Fellow
Title of Project: Characterizing Genetic Mechanisms for Measuring Day-Length in Neurospora crassa
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Kwangwon Lee, Associate Professor of Biology
Recipient of the Arts and Sciences Opportunity Meets Innovation Challenge (OMIC) Undergraduate Travel Grant

Abstract: Characterizing Genetic Mechanisms for Measuring Day-Length in Neurospora crassa

There are predictable changes most of the organisms on Earth experience based on the daily rotation of the Earth and the rotation of the Earth around the sun. The biological rhythms with a period of about one day is called circadian rhythm and the seasonal rhythm with a period of one year is called circannual rhythm. Because ambient light condition is one of the strongest environmental cues, the predictable seasonal rhythm of a day length must play an important role in developing the circannual rhythm. Photoperiodism is a physiological response of an organism to changes of the ambient environment over a year and plays a major role in fitness of an organism in nature. For the past half century, the molecular mechanisms of the circadian clock have been characterized. However, the mechanisms of the circannual clock and the role of the circadian clock in the circannual clock have not been understood. We hypothesized that there are multiple genes that are involved in photoperiodism, and that the genes involved in the circadian clock might also be involved in photoperiodism. To test our hypotheses, we developed the protoperithecia assay (PPA). Protoperithecia is a female sexual reproductive structure in N. crassa. It is known that the number of protoperithecia changes in response to different day-length periods. We performed Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL) analysis on the change of the number of photoperiod-dependent protoperithecia as a trait in 91 F1 progeny of N. crassa. We found a major QTL on chromosome (Chr) 1 and characterized 17 knockout mutants in the target region on Chr 1. We identified a candidate QTL gene whose deletion had a significant deviation of the photoperiodic response from that of the parent genotype. We also performed PPA on 10 known classical circadian clock mutants and found that some of the clock genes showed altered photoperiodic responses. Our data support the view that the circadian clock is a part of the day-length measuring mechanism, and thus involved in the circannual clock.

Meagan Clark ‘22
Major: History, Minor: Economics
Title of Project: Art of Pre-Modern Women
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Susan Mokhberi, Associate Professor of History
Recipient of the Arts and Sciences Opportunity Meets Innovation Challenge (OMIC) Undergraduate Travel Grant

Abstract: Art of Pre-Modern Women

The Art of Pre-Modern Women examines the symbols in portraits that projected femalepower in Tudor England.

Ryan De Lorenzo ‘23
Major: Computer Science, Minor: Digital Studies, Affiliation: Honors College
Title of Project: CIRCLES (Congestion Impacts Reduction via CAV-in-the-loop Lagrangian Energy Smoothing)
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Sean McQuade, Department of Mathematics

Abstract:CIRCLES (Congestion Impacts Reduction via CAV-in-the-loop Lagrangian Energy Smoothing)

CIRCLES is a multi-college, Department of Energy funded project that aims to introduce a small percentage of Autonomous Vehicles (AV) into traffic flow to reduce congestion and increase fuel efficiency. The introduction of AVs allows the target of “Stop and Go” waves, which cause the phenomenon that is known as ghost traffic. The CIRCLES team has been able to demonstrate that the introduction of AVs will produce the desired results through numerous simulations and even a live experiment. Recently, a small-scale experiment involving 11 vehicles was conducted on the I-24 near Nashville, Tennessee. The results of this two week long test proved that introducing AVs into traffic can actually increase fuel efficiency. The group now aims to conduct a large-scale experiment involving 100 plus vehicles to be driven on the I-24 in late summer 2022 to prove the previously mentioned theory. As a research assistant I help in the development of the simulations that allow the testing of the AVs, planning the experiments that have been/will be held and numerous other tasks such as understanding how a certain method of traffic control can be incorporated into the CIRCLES project.

Isaiah Dingle ‘23
Major: English, Affiliation: Honors College
Title of Project: How to start an undergraduate journal
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Lee Ann Westman, Director of the Honors College and Associate Teaching Professor of Gender Studies
Recipient of the Arts and Sciences Opportunity Meets Innovation Challenge (OMIC) Undergraduate Travel Grant

How to start an undergraduate journal

Our project will discuss the process of working on The Undergraduate Review, the undergraduate journal founded by the Honors College at Rutgers–Camden.

The establishment of The Undergraduate Review has allowed students from all majors and academic years to show off their talent and dedication toward their respective fields. Being an outlet for Rutgers–Camden’s student body is something the journal’s editorial board takes great pride in. The production process of the journal: gathering and reviewing submissions, maintaining data spreadsheets, and formatting accepted submissions for print is a very nuanced process that has helped the undergraduate co-editors hone various skills. We would be honored to educate other students and faculty members on how they can start collaborative projects such as The Undergraduate Review from detailing our own experiences.

Nafisa Hasna ‘24
Major: Biology, Minors: Psychology and Health Sciences, Affiliations: Honors College, TRiO, and Tri-Alpha Beta Mu Chapter
Title of Project: Belonging Intervention among First-Year Students
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Andrew Abeyta, Assistant Professor of Psychology

Belonging Intervention among First-Year Students

Persistent negative stereotypes and underrepresentation can lead racial-ethnic minority and first-generation students to believe that they do not belong to college (i.e., feel unaccepted or unsupported). Belonging is important because first-generation and minority college students are more inclined to drop out when they struggle academically because they view academic struggles as evidence they do not belong in the college environment. The purpose of this project was to adapt and apply a well-established belonging intervention at Rutgers University–Camden in order to find evidence that the belonging intervention encourages a sense of belonging and self-efficacy in first-year students. As part of the intervention, we have also collected written samples from students on their journey in the first year of college and what they think will help other students transition to college. Students reported feeling like the belonging intervention activities were successful in encouraging their feelings of belonging and their academic self-efficacy. The belonging intervention seemed to be particularly impactful in promoting belonging among first-generation and racial-ethnic minority students. In contrast, first-generation and non-first-generation, white and students of color, seem to report similar benefits in academic self-efficacy. A recurring theme in the student writings was feeling anxious at the beginning of the first semester as they did not have an idea of what to anticipate from the new academic atmosphere. Also, the thought of not being enough to fit in triggered many students to not seek support. Over time, they were able to socialize more and connect with people and find the resources they needed in order to overcome their worries. The thematic focus of student writings implies that student involvement and building on-campus social support are critical in assisting first-year students to overcome their belonging concerns and feel at home in college.

Nabilah Hassan ’23 and Melissa Fernandez ‘22
Majors: Psychology (NH) and Psychology and Childhood Studies (MF), Minor: Biology (NH), Affiliations: Psi Chi (NH and MF)
Title of Project: Parental Knowledge about Dual Language Development and Children’s Dual Language Learning
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Rufan Luo, Assistant Professor of Psychology

Parental Knowledge about Dual Language Development and Children’s Dual Language Learning

The study examined what parents of dual language learners (DLLs) know about promising practices to support dual language development, and investigated the association between parental knowledge and their dual-language practices with their children under 5 years of age. Findings suggested a positive correlation between parental knowledge and children’s engagement in Spanish learning activities.

Background. Dual-language learners (DLLs), children exposed to two languages at an early age, have the opportunity of becoming proficient bilinguals and enjoying the cognitive and social benefits of bilingualism (Luo et al., 2021). While the promising practices to support dual language development have been widely studied, the parental knowledge and beliefs that drive these practices are yet to be determined. This study aims to understand what parents of DLLs know about the evidence-based practices to support their children, and how their knowledge is associated with children’s dual language use and exposure at home and their engagement in English and Spanish learning activities.

Methods. The participants are 182 Spanish-speaking or Spanish-English bilingual parents whose DLLs were between 0 and 6 years of age. Parents reported demographic information (see Table 1), and rated 18 statements about different ways to support dual language development that were either consistent or inconsistent with scientific evidence (1-strongly disagree, 4-strongly agree; Cronbach’s alpha = .710). Higher composite scores indicated greater knowledge. Additionally, parents reported on the types of language children heard from (i.e., relative language exposure) and used with (i.e., relative language use) different family members (1-English only, 5-Spanish only), and how often children engaged in learning activities (e.g., reading, storytelling) in English and Spanish (1-Never, 5-Everyday).

Results. To examine the association between parental knowledge and children’s dual language experiences, partial correlations were conducted, controlling for child age, parental education, English proficiency, and Spanish proficiency. Parental knowledge was not associated with children’s relative language use (r = -.004, p = .960), language exposure (r = -.051, p = .499), or children’s engagement in English learning activities (r = -.009, p = .908). Yet, parental knowledge was positively associated with children’s engagement in Spanish learning activities (r = .221, p = .003). Children whose parents had greater knowledge about dual language development experienced more Spanish learning opportunities at home.

Conclusion. Our findings highlighted the importance of parental knowledge in supporting children’s Spanish learning experiences at home, calling for parent education services that help parents of DLLs better understand dual language development and translate their knowledge into practices.

References

Luo, R., Song, L., Villacis, C., & Santiago-Bonilla, G. (2021). Parental beliefs and knowledge, children’s home language experiences, and school readiness: The dual language perspective. Frontiers in Psychology, 12: 1-12, doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.661208.

Vinny Huang ‘22
Major: Chemistry, Minors: Forensic Science and Management
Title of Project: False Results of Kastle-Meyer Test and Why They Occur
Faculty Mentors: Dr. Alex Roche, Associate Professor of Chemistry, and Ms. Kimberlee Moran, Associate Teaching Professor of Chemistry

False Results of Kastle-Meyer Test and Why They Occur

Blood tests are important as they can help determine if an item or material has blood on it which can help officials capture suspects, through DNA testing. The Kastle-Meyer test is considered one of the best blood tests because it can give results in under 10 seconds, it’s inexpensive, it has better sensitivity in comparison to the other blood tests, and it’s easy to use. However, the problem with this method is that this test can have a potential false positive or negative result depending on substances that can interfere with “blood” or act similar to “blood”.

The test involves applying a cotton swab or filter paper to a “bloodstain”. The 3 reagents that are added in order are ethanol, phenolphthalin or Kastle-Meyer reagent, and hydrogen peroxide. If it turns from colorless to pink then it’s a supposed positive reaction, and if it remains colorless then it’s a supposed false reaction.

In this research, several substances that would usually give this blood test false positive or negative results have been tested. Horseradish and potato were tested as they have been documented as causing false positives. The majority of substances tested were those hypothesized to cause false negatives because the published research is lacking on this issue. To test the substances that might cause false negatives, a piece of cloth with “blood” stains on it was submerged in the substance which would cause false negatives. The Kastle-Meyer reagents were added onto the cloth, which should either show no color change or a color change. For the substances hypothesized as causing false positives, filter paper was smeared with the substances. Then the Kastle-Meyer test was added which would either show a color change or not. The false positives tested resulted in an incomplete false positive as some of them turned pink after a few minutes. For the substances that were tested to be false negative, the only substance that gave a complete false negative was vitamin C. Overall, the purpose of this experiment was to determine what substances can cause false reactions, and how those substances can act similar to or interfere with “blood”.

Julianna Jimenez ‘22
Major: Biology, Minor: Forensic Science
Title of Project: The Use of Barr Bodies to Determine Sex in Samples of Forensic Significance
Faculty Mentor: Ms. Kimberlee Moran, Associate Teaching Professor of Chemistry

The Use of Barr Bodies to Determine Sex in Samples of Forensic Significance

Barr Bodies are condensed, inactivated X-chromosomes that are typically found in female mammals. Barr Bodies can be used as substantial indicators of sex and can be found all mammalian cells except sex cells. Previous research has shown that Barr Bodies can be an aid in sex determination, particularly to the forensic science community, in buccal samples and hair shaft samples. For this study, the focus is on determining the reliability of detecting the absence or presence of Barr bodies in blood of unknown samples to provide an inexpensive and time effective screening method to determining sex while determining how feasible this method is for a novice to use in this line of work. Collecting samples of blood from crime scenes and analyzing these samples under microscopes can be a non-invasive tool to determining or confirming the sex of a victim or suspect of a crime when each is of the opposite sex. To determine the efficacy of this method, male and female volunteers were recruited to provide blood droplet samples via a safety lancet prick. These samples were used to produce blood smears on glass microscope slides, and have been viewed under a compound microscope at 100x magnification, after Giemsa staining, to detect the presence or absence of Barr Bodies under blinded and unblinded conditions. The unblinded trials have shown Barr bodies present in all blood smears of female origin and <2% in blood smears of male origin. In the unblinded trial, the sex of each sample was correctly determined 78% of the time. This non-invasive method of sex determination has the potential to simplify the standard protocol in criminal investigations where determining sex is essential to advancing in the investigation process in addition to alternative circumstances where the sex of an unknown sample is required to be identified.

Sydney Johnson ‘22
Majors: Theater and History, Minor: Political Science, Affiliations: Leadership Institute
Title of Project: Do the Greeks and Romans deserve the credit they are given of being the pinnacles of society?
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Evan Jewell, Assistant Professor of History

Do the Greeks and Romans deserve the credit they are given of being the pinnacles of society?

I am researching the ancient Western civilizations (such as Athenians, Romans,Spartans, etc.) and the part they played in our current society to add to subjects such as homophobia, sexism, xenophobia, etc. To conduct this research I used artifacts, ancient texts, and previous research that explores the racism our upholding of ancient society causes such as in Black Athens.

Shiming Liu ‘22
Major: Chemistry, Minor: Biology, Affiliations: Honors College
Title of Project: Competitive Hairpin Hybridization for Detecting Single-Nucleotide Mutations with High Specificity and Sensitivity
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jinglin Fu, Associate Professor of Chemistry
Recipient of the Arts and Sciences Opportunity Meets Innovation Challenge (OMIC) Undergraduate Research Grant

Competitive Hairpin Hybridization for Detecting Single-Nucleotide Mutations with High Specificity and Sensitivity

Single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) describe the variation of a single nucleotide at the genomic level in DNA sequences. Such variations may have minor or no influences on human bodies, and may also cause diseases. The ability to detect SNP is critical for disease prevention and treatment. We have developed a specific and sensitive competitive hairpin sensor to detect SNP associated with CYP1A2 mutation. The hairpin specially hybridizes with a target sequence, while unfavors the hybridization with another sequence containing SNP. Computation-aided design and simulation are used to evaluate a library of hairpin designs. NUPACK is a software that allows us to simulate the base pairing in DNA sequences and analyze the thermodynamic properties of the interaction between the target probe and the sensor. Simulation results indicated that the sensor efficiency is sensitive to the target probe on certain mutation positions. Gel electrophoresis was initially used to observe the experiment outcomes of the bindings of the design. Further plan includes the development of hairpin sensors to detect SNPs for polymerase chain reaction and isothermal amplifications.

Malaika Mahmood ‘22
Major: Biology, Minor: Chemistry
Title of Project: Using 3D Pose Analysis of Natural Behavior in Spinal Cord Injured Mice for Enhanced and Reliable Assessment of Functional Recovery
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Victoria Abraira, Assistant Professor of Biology at the School of Arts and Sciences in Rutgers–New Brunswick
Recipient of the Arts and Sciences Opportunity Meets Innovation Challenge (OMIC) Undergraduate Travel Grant

Using 3D Pose Analysis of Natural Behavior in Spinal Cord Injured Mice for Enhanced and Reliable Assessment of Functional Recovery

Just as a writer creates an essay with letters, words, sentences and paragraphs, complex movements can be composed in a sequences of millisecond long sequences. A major challenge in pre-clinical Neurotrauma research is our inability to understand how individual movements can be aligned after injury. The scale that is currently used for locomotor recovery (BMS, BBB) tackles this challenge by observing free moving animals over a sequence of minutes. To improve on this, a three-dimensional computer vision and deep learning method has been adapted and further developed in our lab to break down movement recovery into a series of sub-second events. We use this technique to scale locomotor recovery as a series of individual events that accumulate over a long time period. In this study, we have tested the validity and reliability of BMS in regard to predicting lesion and demyelination volume. In addition to this, we further tested the reliability of BMS using motion sequencing (MoSeq) to observe if there are in fact variations in how one observer rates locomotion versus another.

Tania Martinez ‘22
Majors: Political Science, Philosophy, and Global Studies, Affiliations: Honors College
Title of Project: Voices of Immigration
Faculty Mentor: Dr. James Brown, Director of the Digital Studies Center and Associate Professor of English
Recipient of the Arts and Sciences Opportunity Meets Innovation Challenge (OMIC) Undergraduate Travel Grant

Voices of Immigration

“Voices of Immigration” is an interdisciplinary research podcast. The goal of this podcast is to discuss the different layers of immigrant experiences across our nation, and we research why it is that their narratives are distinct. We hope to bring awareness to the various struggles that generational immigrants undergo. The podcast would promulgate what the “American Experience” truly is by changing the typical narrative. The first phase of this project focuses on student voices and tells what their story is by connecting it to the political and social issues we hear about in the news or on social media. These stories can range from students’ experiences as a DACA recipient to living as a Middle Eastern Individual in a post 9/11 world. The student experiences and storytelling lead us to the task of collecting relevant data and research and provide a unique analysis of how their story represents a more significant issue. This research will also be revelatory to how systematic the various problems are. This approach through podcasting achieves the same message in two different manners. It humanizes the politics/social issues we hear about while also giving the many voices that are affected an elucidation of why these political and social problems exist.

Listen to our episodes at https://open.spotify.com/show/3v25ClhHNcq6wHTEhgL8MD?si=JORiHnFuQvy63oPbfxD-5A

Gina Monahan ‘22
Major: Art History, Minor: Anthropology
Title of Project: Jewelry of Renaissance Italy
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Elizabeth Pilliod, Assistant Professor of Art History

Recipient of the Arts and Sciences Opportunity Meets Innovation Challenge (OMIC) Undergraduate Research Grant

Jewelry of Renaissance Italy

This paper will attempt to confirm the attribution of a 16th century double portrait found in the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Holden collection titled Portrait of a Gentleman and a Lady. Giovani Battista Moroni, a Lombardian painter prolific during the 16th century, is accredited for this work up until the mid-20th century, when this attribution begins to waver. The Bolognese painter Lavinia Fontana as well as the Netherlandish painter Anthonis Mor are more recent suggestions. This paper will explore each of these attributions. I will also analyze the jewelry worn by the couple featured and demonstrate how certain accessories were potent symbols of power, status, and wealth in Renaissance Italy. The golden marten’s sash as well as the laced veil prove to be culturally significant to the women who wore them. I will also attempt to identify the sitters of the portrait, and by doing so confirm a Spanish as well as Italian influence on the work itself. The jewelry and clothing worn by the sitters exemplify Spain’s influence on the region of Italy during the 16th century, as well as show the distinct gender roles of men and women during this time and the inherent power men held over their female counterparts.

Anthony Monte Carlo ‘22
Major: Biology, Minors: Chemistry and Leadership Studies
Title of Project: Photon Energy Transfer Along DNA Nanowires Enabled by G-Quadruplex Enhanced Fluorescence
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jinglin Fu, Associate Professor of Chemistry
Recipient of the Arts and Sciences Opportunity Meets Innovation Challenge (OMIC) Undergraduate Research Grant

Photon Energy Transfer Along DNA Nanowires Enabled by G-Quadruplex Enhanced Fluorescence

In nature, biological systems have evolved to efficiently capture and convert light energy into chemical energy for biochemical processes. Scientists have been working to generate synthetically made systems that can capture light energy with that same efficiency for use in small scale technologies like nanorobots and disease therapies. The efficiency of light energy transfer is mainly limited by the distance over which the transfer is occurring. Some chemicals like fluorescent dyes can absorb a certain excitatory wavelength of light energy, and emit that energy at a different characteristic wavelength. The energy output of some dyes can be enhanced when bound to a family of special self-folding DNA structures known as G-quadruplexes. While certain methods of harvesting light energy at the nanoscale are not incredibly efficient, we proposed that by leveraging the enhancement activity of G-quadruplexes, the distance over which efficient energy transfer can occur might be increased due to the increased fluorescence output of a G-quadruplex bound dye.

Anthony Monte Carlo ‘22
Major: Biology, Minors: Chemistry and Leadership Studies
Title of Project: Inactivation Kinetics of G-quadruplex/Hemin Complex and Optimization for More Stable Catalysis
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jinglin Fu, Associate Professor of Chemistry
Recipient of the Arts and Sciences Opportunity Meets Innovation Challenge (OMIC) Undergraduate Travel Grant

Inactivation Kinetics of G-quadruplex/Hemin Complex and Optimization for More Stable Catalysis

G-quadruplex DNA has great potential for use in many biochemical applications. In the field of nucleic acid nanotechnology, G-quadruplexes can facilitate chemical reactions, mimicking the function of an enzyme when bound to hemin, collectively referred to as Gquadruplex/hemin (abbv. GQH). In many published studies, GQH shows unstable and inconsistent catalytic activities, especially regarding the suicide inactivation of GQH, often observed when using it as a peroxidase replacement in reactions. The unstable catalysis of GQH limits its biotechnological applications. Here, we report how varied environmental conditions and the use of different substrates influence inactivation kinetics of GQH, while posing potential solutions to improve the catalytic stability of GQH over long reaction periods. These solutions include optimization of pH condition, protection of hemin through the utilization of polyhistidine chains, and generation of H2O2 utilizing enzyme cascades.

Utilizing several enzyme activity assays, quantitative details regarding and comparing the inactivation kinetics of GQH are provided by our work. We demonstrate the pH and substrate concentration effect on the speed at which GQH is damaged, showing that more basic pH conditions and higher substrate concentrations lead to both higher activity, but extensive damage. We confirm previously demonstrated results of protection of hemin from damage through utilization of polypeptide-DNAzyme aggregates. Interestingly, we demonstrate a trade-off in overall initial velocity with long-term catalytic activity. Unprotected GQH had higher initial velocities than protected complexes, but protected complexes were significantly more stable. Overall, our results characterize the inherent inactivation kinetics of the peroxidase mimicking GQH DNAzyme caused by product color depletion and hemin inactivation in the presence of H2O2 across several environmental conditions. We also explored potential options as detailed above to improve the stability of GQH catalysis. We hope to provide useful kinetic information for future applications of GQH in biomimetic systems, DNA-based nanotechnologies, and other future applications.

Kadine Powell ‘23
Major: Biology, Affiliations: Active-Duty Military
Title of Project: Exploring the Impact of Science Identity on Self-Advocacy in the STEM Classroom
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Nathan Fried, Assistant Teaching Professor of Biology

Exploring the Impact of Science Identity on Self-Advocacy in the STEM Classroom

“Self-advocacy” can be defined as the span of activities or behaviors undertaken by an individual to address and overcome what they determine to be barriers to their individual success. This can range from asking for necessary resources, to seeking additional training and accommodations, to challenging unconscious and conscious biases, and, in general, knowing when and how to communicate and advocate effectively on one’s own behalf. Relatedly, research strongly suggests that “science identity” (which can be defined as a feeling of belongingness underpinned by representation and inclusion) bears much effect on a student’s motivation to enter into and persist in a STEM discipline. In the case of students with low “science identity”, this deficit may require supplementation with intrinsic or extrinsic components, reinforcements, engagement, and activism to fill the gap between themselves and their peers. The current study proposes that the intersection between “science identity” and “self-advocacy” may provide answers to key questions about how to improve success in the STEM classroom, particularly among students who self-identify as possessing low “science identity”. Collectively, the results of this research may provide a foundation to develop interventions and facilitate cultural change to improve science identity, self-advocacy, and inclusion in STEM across the Rutgers University network of campuses and beyond.

Derek Millen Ledesma Puyat ‘22
Major: Chemistry, Affiliations: Honors College
Title of Project: Competitive Aptamer Switch
Faculty Mentors: Dr. Jinglin Fu, Associate Professor of Chemistry, and Dr. Sung Won Oh, Postdoctoral Associate
Recipient of the Arts and Sciences Opportunity Meets Innovation Challenge (OMIC) Undergraduate Research Grant

Competitive Aptamer Switch

Aptamers are short, single-stranded DNA or RNA molecules that can selectively bind to a specific target. The aptamer complex is comprised of an aptamer labelled Cy3 dye and is quenched by a BHQ-2 complementary strand. To show a signal, the aptamer will want to bind with the ligand but is blocked by the complementary strand. Different tests like increasing magnesium concentration, increasing aptamer complex length, and introductions of competing strands will switch the complementary strand off the aptamer and increase the binding of adenosine. Before running experiments, computational simulations were run on different complement and competing strand lengths, different magnesium concentrations, and singlenucleotide polymorphisms(SNP) strands. The simulations showed that increasing the magnesium concentration and strand length is favorable for the binding of the aptamer to adenosine. The SNP simulations showed differences in equilibrium concentration yields for mutations at different sites. The experimental results were obtained by annealing the aptamer complex and adding it to solutions with buffer, adenosine, and competing strands, depending on the experiment. The experimental tests showed that increasing the magnesium concentration stabilized the reaction, but higher concentrations had the same effect as ones at lower concentrations. The competing strands were tested with 12bp aptamer duplex and showed similar results to the simulations, where smaller competing strand increased the dissociation constant, Kd. The Kd value is smaller when the aptamer is binding with the adenosine. Similarly, the experimental tests showed decreased Kd values for the different SNP mutated strands which depended on the location of the mutation. The goal of the experiment is to advance the detections of single-nucleotide mutations in a practical manner.

Anthony Sbarra ‘24
Majors: Chemistry and Philosophy, Minor: Mathematical Science
Title of Project: Expanding the Classical SIR to Capture Mutability of Viruses
Faculty Mentors: Dr. Benedetto Piccoli, Distinguished Professor of Mathematical Science; Dr. Sean McQuade, Department of Mathematical Science, and Mr. Ryan Weightman, Lecturer of Mathematical Science

Expanding the Classical SIR to Capture Mutability of Viruses

Our project researches using mathematical modeling and computational methods to build predictive models of viruses with variants to better understand how epidemics spread throughout our population. The model uses ordinary differential equations like the original SIR model, plus the addition of Markov chains and measure theory to encompass more dynamics of the virus. This helps to be able to better understand how a virus will spread while accounting for the possible variant mutations. The project is able to display a predictive model that is able to show the epidemiology of the virus. Having this information on how it spreads through our populations helps to be able to make better decisions when facing an epidemic. Just knowing alone how the model for the virus works makes knowing what types of interventions need to be used to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Using this methodology is able to capture many dynamics of a virus while leading to greater insight on how they travel. Many models have been developed however none really tried to capture the dynamics of the virus while accounting for the mutations that the virus has. Here with a measure theory approach to differential equations a compartmental model was able to be constructed that also helped to understand how an epidemic will spread as the virus mutates and continues to infect the population. Since they make the system so much more complex it becomes important to know how this will affect the virus spreading through the population. Setting out to encompass these dynamics was the main goal of this project which became a success and was able to be constructed to make these predictions.

Ashley Scavuzzo ‘24
Major: Chemistry, Minor: Mathematical Sciences
Title of Project: Identifying Polymers in Cultural Heritage Materials using the Bruker ALPHA FTIR
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Georgia Arbuckle-Keil, Professor of Chemistry
Recipient of the Arts and Sciences Opportunity Meets Innovation Challenge (OMIC) Undergraduate Research Grant

Identifying Polymers in Cultural Heritage Materials using the Bruker ALPHA FTIR

In the 1930’s, advances in macromolecular chemistry provided a variety of materials with new properties while also giving a cheaper alternative to replace natural materials with synthetic ones, such as plastics. Once thought to be imperishable, it is now known that plastics break down over time. Plastics are increasingly identified in museum collections and these cultural heritage materials are showing visible signs of decay. Therefore, methods for in situ and rapid characterization of plastic artifacts are greatly needed to outline proper conservation strategies. The integrity of the object is a priority in the conservation field, so non-invasive/non-sampling analytical techniques are preferred methods. Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR) techniques have been found to be among the most effective and suitable for identifying synthetic polymer blends in three-dimensional materials. At the Philadelphia Museum of Art, buttons, jewelry, and other design elements associated with historic textiles were analyzed and identified utilizing both the external reflection and attenuated total reflection module of the Bruker ALPHA FTIR. The non-invasive approach chosen for this project aided in the identification of various plastics from the “early plastics,” as well as fully synthetic polymers.

Ajay Shah ‘24
Majors: Physics and Chemistry
Title of Project: High salt nanopolymersomes for delivery applications in sea urchin embryos
Faculty Mentors: Dr. Julianne Griepenburg, Assistant Professor of Physics, and Dr. Sean O’Malley, Associate Professor of Physics

High salt nanopolymersomes for delivery applications in sea urchin embryos

Polymersomes are fully synthetic, tunable vesicles which self-assemble from diblock copolymer, PEG20-b-PBD35. They are versatile carriers due to their dual compartments, a bilayer membrane with a hydrophobic core, and a hydrophilic core (aqueous lumen).1  Polymersomes, unlike liposomes, are fully synthetic, which provides the ability to tune the amphiphilic diblock copolymer for particular needs (e.g., membrane thickness, self-assembled structure).2  Recently, our laboratory developed methods for rendering these polymersomes light-responsive by including plasmonic gold nanoparticles within the hydrophobic membrane of the vesicle which would allow for high spatiotemporal control over cargo delivery.3  Metal nanoparticles can be incorporated into the hydrophobic membrane as photosensitizers to facilitate rupture and cargo delivery with high spatiotemporal control.4  While prior studies have been focused on fundamental studies and system development, we seek to begin applying these vesicles to biological systems that could benefit from delivery with high spatiotemporal control. For example, the ability to deliver cargo to specific locations and times would be transformative for developmental biology research, where the time and location of processes (i.e., gene expression) is often difficult to ascertain.5 Sea urchin embryos are an important model organism for developmental biologists, however, often require challenging microinjection techniques to introduce materials into the developing embryo.6 We hypothesis that by acclimating polymersomes into seawater environments, embryos can be incubated with vesicle samples for potential uptake without microinjection. The self-assembly process is highly sensitive to its environment (e.g., temperature, osmotic pressure), thus, this work seeks to develop methods to acclimate nano-scale polymersomes to an appropriate osmotic pressure solution (seawater) such that they can be incubated and uptaken by the developing sea urchin embryo. The incorporation of various cargo (e.g., fluorescent dyes, oligonucleotides) will also be studied. Additionally, we propose to study the use of pulsed laser irradiation to rupture and/or porate the vesicles to promote cargo delivery to model biological organisms.

Akshay Shah ‘24
Major: Chemistry, Minor: Mathematics, Affiliation: Honors College
Title of Project: Plasmonic-triggered formation of DNA nanopores with spatiotemporal control
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jinglin Fu, Associate Professor of Chemistry

Plasmonic-triggered formation of DNA nanopores with spatiotemporal control

Creation of nanopores on DNA origami with spatiotemporal control is important for the control of smart carriers. Plasmonic nanomaterials such as gold nanoparticles (AuNP) can use its plasmonic properties to modify the surfaces of nanostructures upon laser irradiation. Laser irradiation the gold nanoparticle will heat up and directly transfer the thermal energy from the gold nanoparticle to the DNA origami structure and the gold nanoparticle will dissociate from the original nanostructure. This heat transfer will cause an expansion of the origami and the formation of nanopores. To control the exact placement of these nano pores. The testing of this research has yet to be completed, however, the testing of the gold nanoparticle dissociation is currently underway. The use of nano pores on nanostructures can be useful in the biomedical research by having a smart carrier deliver therapeutics to specific areas of the body with the therapeutic not reacting with unintended organs and organ systems.

Adam Soliman ‘22
Majors: Political Science, Religion, and Global Studies, Minor: Spanish, Affiliations: Honors College and Phi Beta Kappa
Title of Project: Online Shivrati: Insights into the Recruitment Strategies of the Brahma Kumaris in the United States
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Nicole Karapanagiotis, Associate Professor of Religion

Online Shivrati: Insights into the Recruitment Strategies of the Brahma Kumaris in the United States

The Brahma Kumaris are a Hindu-inspired new religious movement founded by Lekhraj Kripalani (1876-1969) in the Sindh region of modern-day Pakistan during the 1930s. Although this group organization is very active in proselytizing and maintains a substantial number of vibrant religious communities in the United States, their efforts to recruit new members in the U.S. have received little scholarly attention. In order to provide a lens on the Brahma Kumaris’ recruitment efforts, this Field Note examines a March 2021 Brahma Kumari event entitled “Shivrati: The Night Before Dawn Invocation and Experiencing the Love of One.” In what follows, I argue that the Brahma Kumaris use a two-pronged approach to promote their movement to potentially interested religious seekers: first, by systemically critiquing the conceptions of God proposed by other religious traditions and second, by promoting to this audience a deliberately concealed idea of their own tradition’s ontology. That is to say, the Brahma Kumaris aim to obscure their view of the divine from interested seekers, while simultaneously drawing them into the movement through vague references of God. Implications of this argument are discussed, including whether the Brahma Kumaris try to utilize transposable messaging (as proposed by Csordas, 2007) in promoting their concept of God.

Elijah Soto ‘22
Major: Art, Affiliations: EOF
Title of Project: The Golden World
Faculty Mentor: Ms. Margery Amdur, Professor of Art
Recipient of the Arts and Sciences Opportunity Meets Innovation Challenge (OMIC) Undergraduate Research Grant

The Golden World

Throughout history, mankind has made stories that reflected the times. In today’s time climate change and representation have become important topics, with the effects of human-caused climate change being seen and felt throughout the world and with minority groups fighting to be seen and heard. This is a creative project in which the presenter will showcase four finished oil paintings. Through the use of art and mythology, the presenter has created a story that details the relationship between man and nature, and what are the core problems driving climate change, while also depicting minority characters, and exploring the relationship between each character.

Tiana Summers-James ‘22
Major: Chemistry
Title of Project: Synthesis and Structure Property Relationship of IL Functionalized Cellulose
Faculty Mentor: Dr. David Salas-De La Cruz, Associate Professor of Chemistry
Recipient of the Arts and Sciences Opportunity Meets Innovation Challenge (OMIC) Undergraduate Travel Grant

Synthesis and Structure Property Relationship of IL Functionalized Cellulose

Cellulose is a natural organic polysaccharide that makes up most of a plant’s cell walls, which is composed of β linked d-glucose units in a linear chain. For this particular study, ionic liquids (ILs) will be used to functionalize the backbone of cellulose, since native cellulose is not a conductive material. Upon functionalization, the morphology and chemical properties were modified to control the ionic conductivity. Not only can these new materials be used as an electrolyte membrane, but also as filtration membranes to remove carbon dioxide and as bionics in the medical field. In order to observe the different morphological changes, as well as the thermal and conductivity properties of the new synthesized cellulose-based poly ionic liquids, several different characterization techniques will be performed. These tests include Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR).

Tasjane’ Taylor ’23 and Russell Flores ‘22
Majors: Health Sciences and Economics (TT) and Economics (RF), Minor: Computer Science (RF)
Title of Project: Are Vaccination and Lockdown Policies Effective Against the Coronavirus Pandemic? A Comparison of Japan, Sweden, Taiwan, UK, and USA: Operation Under Different Healthcare Systems
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Tetsuji Yamada, Professor of Economics

Are Vaccination and Lockdown Policies Effective Against the Coronavirus Pandemic? A Comparison of Japan, Sweden, Taiwan, UK, and USA: Operation Under Different Healthcare Systems

Background: COVID-19 has resulted in the unprecedented lockdown of over 4.5 billion people globally in attempts to reduce virus transmission, infection, and deaths [about 6 million], and to protect health care systems as of February 2022. In the world, 435 million people have been infected and 80 million people are still suffering. Governments have been taking a wide range of measures in response to the pandemic. A clear decision-making framework should guide these vitally important national/regional decisions.

Objectives: We explore the impact of vaccination and lockdown-exit strategies in the U.S., U.K., Japan, Sweden, and Taiwan. This study aims to compare the effectiveness of vaccination and lockdown-exit strategies when dealing with the pandemic and seeks to propose a policy framework for addressing response operations after any emerging outbreaks.

Method: Data was obtained from Nature Human Behavior, Our World in Data, Oxford Index, and Deep Knowledge Group of daily data from January 1, 2020~August 31, 2021. Vaccination and different lockdown strategies and plans for safe and staged exit strategies to reopen society were analyzed with the concentration index. Ordinary-least-squares analysis with effectiveness and evaluation of vaccination and lockdown strategies was conducted. For analysis, we also used COVID-19 Knowledge Group Safety Ranking and Risk Assessment, 2020.

Results: Vaccination policy is most effective in stringency compared to lockdown-exit strategies regardless of healthcare systems. Outcomes reveal that there is a difference between stringent government policies. Many policies/plans share similar vital healthcare principles including the maintenance of social distancing to prevent ongoing community transmission, the closure of high-risk businesses such as bars, increased testing capacity, protection of healthcare systems and their employees.

Conclusions/Implications: Critical uncertainties lie ahead regarding moving forward during lockdown periods and in when and how to release the population back to a new normal state. Plans for lockdown-exit strategies should consider the impact on the societies’ social and medical health. Vaccination policies serve an important implication. The risk of openness should not be undervalued. Public information campaigns and emergency investment in healthcare systems are essential. Taiwan, the U.S., and the U.K. implemented determinant government procedures/actions to differentiate the outcomes caused by COVID-19.

Ethan Trieu ‘23
Major: Psychology, Minor: Childhood Studies, Affiliation: Honors College
Title of Project: Existential Agency’s Effect on Rates Help Seeking in the Form of Campus Residences
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Andrew Abeyta, Assistant Professor of Psychology

Existential Agency’s Effect on Rates Help Seeking in the Form of Campus Residences

Meaning in life is an important psychological need, and research has found that people who identify their lives as meaning are better able to overcome life challenges and maintaining commitment to important goals. Frankl’s (1946) approach to psychotherapy, called Logotherapy proposed that being able to identify and maintain the sense that one’s life is meaningful and has purpose is a vital part in persisting through stress and maintaining psychological health. We refer to a person’s ability to discover and maintain meaning in life with the term existential agency (XA). Past research on XA suggests that people high in XA are more committed to personal goals. Sometimes accomplishing important personal goals requires assistance. For example, college often face academic struggles and would benefit from reaching out to professors or making use of campus resources. We explored whether XA would be associated with seeking help and utilizing campus support services. Would students high in XA be willing to ask for help or be more invested in persisting alone? We tested this by surveying undergraduate students at Rutgers University–Camden. Results suggest that students high in existential agency are less resistant to reaching out for help and making use of campus support services. Based on the results, XA could be an adaptive trait for college students’ persistence in college and academic success.

 

 

View 2021 CURCA Abstracts