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Exploring the Role of Student Religiosity in the Biology Classroom

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In response to a national call within STEM to increase diversity within the sciences, there has been a growth in science education research aimed at increasing participation of underrepresented groups in science, such as women and ethnic/racial minorities. However, an

In response to a national call within STEM to increase diversity within the sciences, there has been a growth in science education research aimed at increasing participation of underrepresented groups in science, such as women and ethnic/racial minorities. However, an underexplored underrepresented group in science are religious students. Though 82% of the United States population is religiously affiliated, only 52% of scientists are religious (Pew, 2009). Even further, only 32% of biologists are religious, with 25% identifying as Christian (Pew, 2009; Ecklund, 2007). One reason as to why Christian individuals are underrepresented in biology is because faculty may express biases that affect students' ability to persist in the field of biology. In this study, we explored how revealing a Christian student's religious identity on science graduate application would impact faculty's perception of the student during the biology graduate application process. We found that faculty were significantly more likely to perceive the student who revealed their religious identity to be less competent, hirable, likeable, and faculty would be less likely to mentor the student. Our study informs upon possible reasons as to why there is an underrepresentation of Christians in science. This further suggests that bias against Christians must be addressed in order to avoid real-world, negative treatment of Christians in science.

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2018-05

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The Importance of Art and the Creative Process

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Art is an inherent concept instilled in human nature, which utilizes the abilities of the creative mind to invent. Art has served many purposes in the history of mankind, including, but not limited to story telling, entertainment, decoration, exploration, propaganda,

Art is an inherent concept instilled in human nature, which utilizes the abilities of the creative mind to invent. Art has served many purposes in the history of mankind, including, but not limited to story telling, entertainment, decoration, exploration, propaganda, education, and therapy. The primary aim of this creative project was to explore the importance of the art, as a creative process, as a way to supplement academic endeavors. The idea derived from an observation made by myself that contemporary regard for art has been on a decline, which made me question if I also value art as much as I think I do, having done art in the past and recently added a studio art minor. I thought of ways to again incorporate art and the creative process into my life. I asked myself the question: can the creative process be used as a supplement to schoolwork in order to relieve stress? To explore this, an experiment was designed, which entailed my creation of drawings twice a week, accompanied by journal documentation for a full semester of college. Afterwards, analyses were done between the documented journal entries and the artworks to see if any relationships were apparent between various aspects of my life at the times of the drawings and the drawings themselves. Further research was also conducted in related areas of study and documented in written format, which cited and analyzed numerous journal articles, artworks, artists, and research papers. This included art therapy, art education, and the relationships between art and science. Results from the experiment indicated that art as a creative process allowed for the relief of stress by cleansing my mind from any concern or interferences, therefore offering myself a complete break and relaxation, effectively refreshing my mind and allowing me to resume schoolwork or other tasks more mentally taxing. In addition, the research also showed that art therapy could effectively utilize this palliative effect of art making to ease the problems of people in distress. The findings also concluded that art and science go hand in hand, which explains a lot of the similarities in methodologies utilized by scientists and artists. In conclusion, art is a paramount part of mankind in exercising the creative mind and is ubiquitous; we should learn to actively embrace it to enrich our lives.

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2016-05

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An Infusion Approach to Optimizing the Mutagenesis of Rhodobacter sphaeroides

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Photosynthesis is the process by which plants, algae, and bacteria use light energy to synthesize organic compounds to use as energy. Among these organisms are a kind of purple photosynthetic bacteria called Rhodobacter sphaeroides, a non-sulfur purple bacteria that grows

Photosynthesis is the process by which plants, algae, and bacteria use light energy to synthesize organic compounds to use as energy. Among these organisms are a kind of purple photosynthetic bacteria called Rhodobacter sphaeroides, a non-sulfur purple bacteria that grows aerobically in the dark by respiration. There have been many contributions throughout the history of this group of bacteria. Rhodobacter sphaeroides is metabolically very diverse as it has many different ways to obtain energy--aerobic respiration and anoxygenic photosynthesis being just a couple of the ways to do so. This project is part of a larger ongoing project to study different mutant strains of Rhodobacter and the different ways in which carries out electron transfer/photosynthesis. This thesis focused on the improvements made to protocol (standard procedure of site directed mutagenesis) through a more efficient technique known as infusion.

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2014-05

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Highly Gifted Students in the Sciences: Predicting Academic Proficiency Based on Personality, Conative, and Cognitive Traits

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This study sought to identify traits that act as possible predictors of academic science proficiency of highly gifted adolescent students. A combination of cognitive, personality, and conative traits were selected for evaluation as predictors of scientific proficiency using student General

This study sought to identify traits that act as possible predictors of academic science proficiency of highly gifted adolescent students. A combination of cognitive, personality, and conative traits were selected for evaluation as predictors of scientific proficiency using student General Ability Index (GAI), Revised NEO Personality Index (NEO-PI R), and Kolbe Index scores to evaluate each, respectively. Statistical correlational analyses revealed that high expressions of the conative trait Fact Finder and the personality traits Ideas and Straight-forwardness predicted higher degrees of academic science proficiency. In contrast, lower expressions of the personality traits Excitement Seeking and Order predicted higher degrees of scientific proficiency. Further, stepwise regression confirmed that the NEO-PI R facets of Excitement Seeking and Ideas traits were significant predictors of science proficiency and suggested that the personality trait Vulnerability may also be a predictor. The repeated appearance of the Excitement Seeking and Ideas facets and the dependence of the other identified traits suggests that these traits were the most promising possible predictors of scientific proficiency in highly gifted students and should be the target of future research.

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2014-05

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The Hwang Woo-Suk Scandal and the Development of Bioethics in South Korea

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In 2004, the South Korean geneticist Woo-Suk Hwang published what was widely regarded as the most important research result in biotechnology of the year. In the prestigious American journal Science, he claimed that he had succeeded in cloning a human

In 2004, the South Korean geneticist Woo-Suk Hwang published what was widely regarded as the most important research result in biotechnology of the year. In the prestigious American journal Science, he claimed that he had succeeded in cloning a human blastocyst, an embryo in its early stages (Hwang et al. 2004). A year later, in a second Science article, he made the earth-shattering announcement that he had derived eleven embryonic stem cell lines using his cloning technique (Hwang et al. 2005). The international scientific community was stunned. American scientists publicly fretted that President George W. Bush‘s 2001 executive order limiting federal funding for stem-cell research in the United States had put American bioscience behind the Koreans‘ (Paarlberg 2005). These breakthroughs offered potential solutions to immune system rejection of transplanted organs and possible cures for diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson‘s, Down‘s syndrome, and paralysis (Svenaeus 2007). However, within a year, Hwang was exposed as a fraud who had faked his results and pressured his female colleagues to donate eggs without informed consent. Despite protests against his methods from Korean religious and nongovernmental organizations, Hwang had used his prestige to ignore his ethical obligations. The Korean government, too, was slow to investigate Hwang and to subject his work to appropriate regulation.

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2012-12

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The Impact of IL-36γ Treatment on HSV-2 Replication and Immune Cell Recruitment in the Female Reproductive Tract

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Herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STI), affecting over 267 million women worldwide. HSV-2 causes a chronic, latent infection that increases the risk for acquisition with other STI, including HIV. Currently, there

Herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STI), affecting over 267 million women worldwide. HSV-2 causes a chronic, latent infection that increases the risk for acquisition with other STI, including HIV. Currently, there is no vaccine against HSV-2 and novel anti-viral treatments are needed. IL-36γ is a newly characterized cytokine that has been shown to play a role in inflammation and be upregulated in response to microbial infection and tissue damage. We have shown that IL-36γ is expressed in the female reproductive tract (FRT) and is upregulated by HSV-2 infection in vitro and in vivo. IL-36γ in turn induces production of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines in human vaginal epithelial cells (VEC) that can aid in immune cell recruitment. We hypothesize that IL-36γ is a key regulator of mucosal inflammation in the FRT and functions to limit HSV-2 infection. We have demonstrated that IL-36γ treatment prior to infection protects against HSV-2 replication, disease severity, and promotes survival in a lethal mouse model. Thus, the objective of this study is to understand the mechanisms whereby IL-36γ inhibits HSV-2 replication. To understand the impact of IL-36γ on the HSV-2 lifecycle, we pretreated VEC with IL-36γ and evaluated viral titer during virus attachment and entry, replication, and cell-to-cell spread by plaque assay. Pretreatment with IL-36γ 4h prior to infection did not significantly reduce viral titers in VEC monolayers relative to untreated groups. This suggesting that IL-36γ may play a more significant role in immune cell recruitment during HSV-2 infection. To test this, FRT tissue samples from HSV-2 infected IL-36γ -/- and WT mice were analyzed by histochemistry to characterize immune cell recruitment. No clear pattern was determined for tissue samples in which cell clusters were observed and cell type within recruited clusters was unable to be identified at the current magnification. As these projects continue, the data will aid in elucidating the mechanism and level to which IL-36γ impacts HSV-2 infection in human VEC and FRT models.

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Date Created
2019-05

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An Analysis of the Incoherence of the Philosophers: Greek Aversion and Philosophical Neutrality

Description

The Islamic Golden Era of the 9th through 11th century is considered the apex of Muslim philosophical and scientific development. Having translated, improved upon, and preserved the texts of ancient civilizations, the Abbasid Caliphate was said to be the intellectual

The Islamic Golden Era of the 9th through 11th century is considered the apex of Muslim philosophical and scientific development. Having translated, improved upon, and preserved the texts of ancient civilizations, the Abbasid Caliphate was said to be the intellectual powerhouse of its time. In stark contrast, contemporary Muslim societies are perceived by many science historians as being shadows of their former selves. This deterioration of intellectualism is thought to have started with Al-Ghazali and his Tahafut al-Falasifa, or The Incoherence of the Philosophers in the mid-11th century. Many of these scholars believe that Al-Ghazali and his influential text shifted sociopolitical power into the hands of those most against the Greeks, and consequently, against the development of philosophy and science. However, this presumption overplays the power of a single text as well as its intentions to cease intellectual pursuits.

This thesis will explore the Incoherence of the Philosophers from several layers. Attention will be given to analyzing the cultural and historical contexts by which the text was created to understand the purpose of the text and its interpretation by contemporary historians. Several theories by the historians will be explored. Additional analysis will also be conducted within the text to illustrate Al-Ghazali’s aversion to Greek metaphysics and ambivalent attitude towards philosophy. As such, this thesis will dive into the most controversial aspects of Al-Ghazali’s text, namely his criticism of the eternity of the world theory as well as his attitude on causality. The former will elucidate his willingness and mastery of philosophy, whereas the latter will be utilized to address and quell the concerns of those who believe that Al-Ghazali and his text wished to devastate the development of science in the Muslim world.

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Date Created
2019-05

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How Purported Scientific Failures Have Led to Advancements in IVF

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In vitro fertilization, or IVF, is currently a worldwide medical procedure designed to give infertile men and women the ability to have children of their own. An IVF procedure takes place outside of a woman’s body, often in a laboratory

In vitro fertilization, or IVF, is currently a worldwide medical procedure designed to give infertile men and women the ability to have children of their own. An IVF procedure takes place outside of a woman’s body, often in a laboratory setting. However, before scientists used the procedure on humans, they initially performed IVF on animals for selective breeding and agricultural purposes. After scientists realized that the procedure had potential to become a treatment option for infertility, they expanded their research subjects to include using the technique on humans. During the procedure’s initial development, scientists began to conduct numerous IVF trials on humans that often ended in early miscarriages. This thesis shows us the history of how some of the first attempts at IVF in humans using various options such as donated egg cells and cryopreserved embryos, often ended in early miscarriages. At that time, most members of the scientific community and general public responded to those trials by regarding them as insignificant. In 1998, the success rate of women under the age of 38 having children with the use of IVF was 22.1%. Over time, scientists began to acknowledge those published findings that detailed various “failed” human IVF experiments. Scientists learned to use them as a guide for what to do differently in future IVF experiments. Because of that, scientists have since developed more effective IVF methods which have ultimately improved the procedure’s success rate. In 2016, the success rate of IVF had increased to 39.6% for women. Therefore, what we might initially think of as a “failure” is in reality not a failure at all, but rather is a “purported failure” because we can use it as a stepping-stone towards an end goal. By looking at the history of IVF research, my thesis illustrates how some of the most important science comes from acknowledging the purported failures along with the triumphant successes.

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Date Created
2020-05

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Plant-derived Virus-like Particles and Recombinant Immune Complexes as Potential Components of a Future HIV Vaccine

Description

HIV continues to remain a global health issue, in particular in many low and middle-income countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that of the nearly 38 million HIV-1 positive individuals, 25% are unaware they are infected. Despite decades of

HIV continues to remain a global health issue, in particular in many low and middle-income countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that of the nearly 38 million HIV-1 positive individuals, 25% are unaware they are infected. Despite decades of research, a safe and effective preventative vaccine has yet to be produced. The HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein41 and the Gag structural protein have been identified to be particularly important in HIV-1 transcytosis and cytotoxic lymphocyte response, respectively. Enveloped virus-like particles (VLPs) consisting of Gag and a deconstructed form of glycoprotein (dgp41) comprising the membrane proximal external region (MPER), transmembrane domain and cytoplasmic tail may present a unique and safe way of presenting these proteins in a state mimicking their natural formation. Another form of presenting the immunogenic glycoprotein41, particularly the MPER component, is by presenting it onto the N-terminal of an IgG molecule, thereby creating an IgG fusion molecule. In our lab, both VLPs and IgG fusion molecules are highly expressed and purified within GnGn Nicotiana benthamiana. The results indicated that these recombinant proteins can be assembled properly within plants and can elicit an immune response in mice. This provides a preliminary step in using such Gag/dpg41 VLPs and RIC as present a safe, effective, and inexpensive HIV vaccine.

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Date Created
2020-05

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Reading and Writing Military Science Fiction

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Discusses the reading experience and writing strategies in relation to four prominent novels from the genre

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Date Created
2013-05