Typically, the complete loss or severe impairment of a sense such as vision and/or hearing is compensated through sensory substitution, i.e., the use of an alternative sense for receiving the same information. For individuals who are blind or visually impaired, the alternative senses have predominantly been hearing and touch. For movies, visual content has been made accessible to visually impaired viewers through audio descriptions -- an additional narration that describes scenes, the characters involved and other pertinent details. However, as audio descriptions should not overlap with dialogue, sound effects and musical scores, there is limited time to convey information, often resulting in stunted and abridged descriptions that leave out many important visual cues and concepts. This work proposes a promising multimodal approach to sensory substitution for movies by providing complementary information through haptics, pertaining to the positions and movements of actors, in addition to a film's audio description and audio content. In a ten-minute presentation of five movie clips to ten individuals who were visually impaired or blind, the novel methodology was found to provide an almost two time increase in the perception of actors' movements in scenes. Moreover, participants appreciated and found useful the overall concept of providing a visual perspective to film through haptics.
A low temperature amorphous oxide thin film transistor (TFT) backplane technology for flexible organic light emitting diode (OLED) displays has been developed to create 4.1-in. diagonal backplanes. The critical steps in the evolution of the backplane process include the qualification and optimization of the low temperature (200 °C) metal oxide process, the stability of the devices under forward and reverse bias stress, the transfer of the process to flexible plastic substrates, and the fabrication of white organic light emitting diode (OLED) displays. Mixed oxide semiconductor thin film transistors (TFTs) on flexible plastic substrates typically suffer from performance and stability issues related to the maximum processing temperature limitation of the polymer. A novel device architecture based upon a dual active layer enables significant improvements in both the performance and stability. Devices are directly fabricated below 200 ºC on a polyethylene naphthalate (PEN) substrate using mixed metal oxides of either zinc indium oxide (ZIO) or indium gallium zinc oxide (IGZO) as the active semiconductor. The dual active layer architecture allows for adjustment in the saturation mobility and threshold voltage stability without the requirement of high temperature annealing, which is not compatible with flexible colorless plastic substrates like PEN. The device performance and stability is strongly dependent upon the composition of the mixed metal oxide; this dependency provides a simple route to improving the threshold voltage stability and drive performance. By switching from a single to a dual active layer, the saturation mobility increases from 1.2 cm2/V-s to 18.0 cm2/V-s, while the rate of the threshold voltage shift decreases by an order of magnitude. This approach could assist in enabling the production of devices on flexible substrates using amorphous oxide semiconductors.
Reverse engineering gene regulatory networks (GRNs) is an important problem in the domain of Systems Biology. Learning GRNs is challenging due to the inherent complexity of the real regulatory networks and the heterogeneity of samples in available biomedical data. Real world biological data are commonly collected from broad surveys (profiling studies) and aggregate highly heterogeneous biological samples. Popular methods to learn GRNs simplistically assume a single universal regulatory network corresponding to available data. They neglect regulatory network adaptation due to change in underlying conditions and cellular phenotype or both. This dissertation presents a novel computational framework to learn common regulatory interactions and networks underlying the different sets of relatively homogeneous samples from real world biological data. The characteristic set of samples/conditions and corresponding regulatory interactions defines the cellular context (context). Context, in this dissertation, represents the deterministic transcriptional activity within the specific cellular regulatory mechanism. The major contributions of this framework include - modeling and learning context specific GRNs; associating enriched samples with contexts to interpret contextual interactions using biological knowledge; pruning extraneous edges from the context-specific GRN to improve the precision of the final GRNs; integrating multisource data to learn inter and intra domain interactions and increase confidence in obtained GRNs; and finally, learning combinatorial conditioning factors from the data to identify regulatory cofactors. The framework, Expattern, was applied to both real world and synthetic data. Interesting insights were obtained into mechanism of action of drugs on analysis of NCI60 drug activity and gene expression data. Application to refractory cancer data and Glioblastoma multiforme yield GRNs that were readily annotated with context-specific phenotypic information. Refractory cancer GRNs also displayed associations between distinct cancers, not observed through only clustering. Performance comparisons on multi-context synthetic data show the framework Expattern performs better than other comparable methods.
The spectacular geological panoramas of Grand Canyon National Park (GCNP) motivate the curiosity of visitors about geology. However, there is little research on how well these visitors understand the basic geologic principles on display in the Canyon walls. The new Trail of Time (ToT) interpretative exhibit along the South Rim uses Grand Canyon vistas to teach these principles. Now being visited by thousands daily, the ToT is a uniquely valuable setting for research on informal learning of geologic time and other basic geologic concepts. At the ToT, visitors are not only asked to comprehend a linear timeline, but to associate it with the strata exposed in the walls of the Canyon. The research addressed two primary questions: (1) how do visitors of the National Park use elements of the geologic landscape of the Grand Canyon to explain fundamental principles of relative geologic time? and (2) how do visitors reconcile the relationship between the horizontal ToT timeline and the vertical encoding of time in the strata exposed in the Canyon walls? Semi-structured interviews tracked participants' understanding of the ToT exhibit and of basic principles of geologic time. Administering the verbal analysis method of Chi (1997) to the interview transcripts, the researcher identified emergent themes related to how the respondents utilized the landscape to answer interview questions. Results indicate that a majority of respondents are able to understand principles of relative geologic time by utilizing both the observed and inferred landscape of Grand Canyon. Results also show that by applying the same integrated approach to the landscape, a majority of respondents are able to reconcile stratigraphic time with the horizontal ToT timeline. To gain deeper insight into the cognitive skills activated to correctly understand geologic principles the researcher used Dodick and Orion's application of Montangero's (1996) diachronic thinking model to code responses into three schemes: (1) transformation, (2) temporal organization, and (3) interstage linkage. Results show that correct responses required activation of the temporal organization scheme or the more advanced interstage linkage scheme. Appropriate application of these results can help inform the development of future outdoor interpretive geoscience exhibits.
Self-awareness and liberation often start with an analysis of the relationship between individual and society, a relationship based on the delicate balance of personal desire and responsibility to others. While societal structures, such as family, tradition, religion, and community, may be repressive to individuals, they also provide direction, identity and meaning to an individual's life. In Kate Chopin's The Awakening and André Gide's L'Immoraliste the protagonists are faced with such a dilemma. Often informed by gender roles and socio-economic class, the container or filter that society offers to shape and mediate human experience is portrayed in both novels as a fictitious self donned for society's benefit --can seem repressive or inadequate. Yet far from being one-dimensional stories of individuals who eschew the bonds of a restrictive society, both novels show that liberation can lead to entrapment. Once society's limits are transgressed, the characters face the infinitude and insatiety of their liberated desires and the danger of self-absorption. Chopin and Gide explore these issues of desire, body, and social authority in order to portray Edna's and Michel's search for an authentic self. The characters' search for authenticity allows for the loosening of restriction and embrace of desire and the body, phenomena that appear to liberate them from the dominant bourgeois society. Yet, for both Edna and Michel, an embrace of the body and individual desire threatens to unsettle the balance between individual and society. As Edna and Michel break away from society's prescribed path, both struggle to find themselves. Edna and Michel become aware of themselves in a variety of different ways: speaking and interacting with others, observing the social mores of those around them and engaging in creative activity, such as, for Edna, painting and planning a dinner party, or for Michel, teaching and writing. Chopin's 1899 novel The Awakening and André Gide's 1902 novel L'Immoraliste explore the consequences of individual liberation from the constricting bonds of religion, society, and the family. In depicting these conflicts, the authors examine the relationship between individual and society, freedom and restraint, and what an individual's relationship to his or her community should be.
The advent of advanced reproductive technologies has sparked a number of ethical concerns regarding the practices of reproductive tourism and commercial gestational surrogacy. In the past few decades, reproductive tourism has become a global industry in which individuals or couples travel, usually across borders, to gain access to reproductive services. This marketable field has expanded commercial gestational surrogacy--defined by a contractual relationship between an intending couple and gestational surrogate in which the surrogate has no genetic tie to fetus--to take on transnational complexities. India has experienced extreme growth due to a preferable combination of western educated doctors and extremely low medical costs. However, a slew of ethical issues have been brought to the forefront: the big ones manifesting as concern for reduction of a woman's worth to her reproductive capabilities along with concern for exploitation of third world women. This project will be based exclusively on literature review and serves primarily as a call for cultural competency and understanding the circumstances that gestational surrogates are faced with before implementing policy regulating commercial gestational surrogacy. The paper argues that issues of exploitation and commodification hinge on constructions of motherhood. It is critical to define and understand definitions of motherhood and how these definitions affect a woman's approach to reproduction within the cultural context of a gestational surrogate. This paper follows the case study of the Akanksha Infertility Clinic in northern India, a surrogacy clinic housing around 50 Indian surrogates. The findings of the project invokes the critical significance of narrative ethics, which help Indian surrogates construct the practice of surrogacy so that it fits into cultural comprehensions of Indian motherhood--in which motherhood is selfless, significant, and shared.
Conformational changes in biomolecules often take place on longer timescales than are easily accessible with unbiased molecular dynamics simulations, necessitating the use of enhanced sampling techniques, such as adaptive umbrella sampling. In this technique, the conformational free energy is calculated in terms of a designated set of reaction coordinates. At the same time, estimates of this free energy are subtracted from the potential energy in order to remove free energy barriers and cause conformational changes to take place more rapidly. This dissertation presents applications of adaptive umbrella sampling to a variety of biomolecular systems. The first study investigated the effects of glycosylation in GalNAc2-MM1, an analog of glycosylated macrophage activating factor. It was found that glycosylation destabilizes the protein by increasing the solvent exposure of hydrophobic residues. The second study examined the role of bound calcium ions in promoting the isomerization of a cis peptide bond in the collagen-binding domain of Clostridium histolyticum collagenase. This study determined that the bound calcium ions reduced the barrier to the isomerization of this peptide bond as well as stabilizing the cis conformation thermodynamically, and identified some of the reasons for this. The third study represents the application of GAMUS (Gaussian mixture adaptive umbrella sampling) to on the conformational dynamics of the fluorescent dye Cy3 attached to the 5' end of DNA, and made predictions concerning the affinity of Cy3 for different base pairs, which were subsequently verified experimentally. Finally, the adaptive umbrella sampling method is extended to make use of the roll angle between adjacent base pairs as a reaction coordinate in order to examine the bending both of free DNA and of DNA bound to the archaeal protein Sac7d. It is found that when DNA bends significantly, cations from the surrounding solution congregate on the concave side, which increases the flexibility of the DNA by screening the repulsion between phosphate backbones. The flexibility of DNA on short length scales is compared to the worm-like chain model, and the contribution of cooperativity in DNA bending to protein-DNA binding is assessed.
Via my personal, academic and professional journey, I closely examine my career growth and how my perspectives on early childhood environments developed in reference to free play. Using a narrative format, I share personal experiences that have shaped my views on free play. Free play is a type of play that features choices, freedom of selection, cognitive and social development, and child interest. I review relevant literature and weave in my personal and professional experiences in order to reflect on free play from two different perspectives: participant (child), and the Early Childhood Professional (teacher and/or administrator). I also demonstrate how my professional and academic milestones have contributed to my developing beliefs and ideas put into practice about free play in early childhood environments.
The Adult Basic Education/Literacy (ABEL) system in America can suffer critique. In a system that is staffed mostly by volunteers and plagued by funding woes, the experience of adult learners as participants within the institutional structure can be easily overlooked. Adult students are described as transient and difficult to track. Even so, and maybe because of this characterization, leaders within the local ABEL discourse make it their mission to reach these students in order to assist them to a better quality of life. However, there is more than one discourse circulating within the system. A discourse of outreach and intervention is one strand. The complex relationships education centers engage with more powerful government institutions causes another, more strident political discourse that constrains and influences the discourse within ABEL education centers, down to the classroom level. Within the vortex of motivations and needs created by institutional discourse, an institutional critique may give voice to those who experience the discourse in a way that hinders their education. This paper pursues critique, not through direct reconstruction, but through the encouragement of alternative discourses as additional institutions enter the system. AmeriCorps is presented as an institution that allows for more democratic participation through its distinct organizational features. The features that emerge in AmeriCorps projects offer hope for alternative models of participation within the highly politicized ABEL discourse.
Studies have demonstrated that anthocyanins can function as antioxidants, reduce inflammation, and improve dyslipidemia. Tart cherries are anthocyanin-rich, making them particularly attractive as a functional food to improve cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. There have been few published studies to date examining the impact of tart cherries on biomarkers of dyslipidemia and inflammation, particularly in overweight and obese individuals at high risk for these conditions. This study evaluated the effect of consuming 100% tart cherry juice daily on blood lipids including total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), calculated very low density lipoprotein cholesterol (VLDL-C), triglycerides (TG), high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), and the CVD risk ratios, as well as the inflammatory biomarkers interleukin 6 (IL-6), interleukin 10 (IL-10), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), C-reactive protein (CRP), monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1), and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) following a 4-week period. Based on the high anthocyanin content of tart cherries, it was hypothesized that the lipid and inflammatory profiles would be significantly improved following the intervention. A total of 26 men and women completed this 4-week randomized, single-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study. Participants were randomized to drink either 8 ounces of placebo beverage or tart cherry juice daily for 4 weeks. Following a 4-week washout period, the alternate beverage was consumed. Ultimately, this investigation demonstrated no statistically significant alterations in any of the lipid or inflammatory biomarkers when analyzed across time and between interventions (p > 0.05). As expected, glucose and insulin parameters remained stable over the duration of the study, as well as self-reported physical activity level, total calorie consumption, and macronutrient intake. However, trans-fat was reported to be significantly higher during the cherry arm of the study as compared to the placebo arm (p < 0.05), potentially confounding other results. Although the results of this study were equivocal, it is feasible that a higher dose, longer treatment duration, or more susceptible target population may be required to elicit significant effects. Consequently, further investigation is necessary to clarify this research.