Rainbow Connection is an integrated choir with members on and off the autism spectrum. It was founded in the spring of 2012 by Barrett students Ali Friedman, Megan Howell, and Victoria Gilman as part of an honors thesis creative project. Rainbow Connection uses the rehearsal process and other creative endeavors to foster natural relationship building across social gaps. A process-oriented choir, Rainbow Connection's main goals concern the connections made throughout the experience rather than the final musical product. The authors believe that individual, non-hierarchical relationships are the keys to breaking down systemized gaps between identity groups and that music is an ideal facilitator for fostering such relationships. Rainbow Connection operates under the premise that, like colors in a rainbow, choir members create something beautiful not by melding into one homogenous group, but by collaboratively showcasing their individual gifts. This paper will highlight the basic premise and structure of Rainbow Connection, outline the process of enacting the choir, and describe the authors' personal reactions and takeaways from the project.
Blindness has evolved repeatedly in cave-dwelling organisms, and many hypotheses have been proposed to explain this observation, including both accumulation of neutral loss-of-function mutations and adaptation to darkness. Investigating the loss of sight in cave dwellers presents an opportunity to understand the operation of fundamental evolutionary processes, including drift, selection, mutation, and migration.
Here we model the evolution of blindness in caves. This model captures the interaction of three forces: (1) selection favoring alleles causing blindness, (2) immigration of sightedness alleles from a surface population, and (3) mutations creating blindness alleles. We investigated the dynamics of this model and determined selection-strength thresholds that result in blindness evolving in caves despite immigration of sightedness alleles from the surface. We estimate that the selection coefficient for blindness would need to be at least 0.005 (and maybe as high as 0.5) for blindness to evolve in the model cave-organism, Astyanax mexicanus.
Our results indicate that strong selection is required for the evolution of blindness in cave-dwelling organisms, which is consistent with recent work suggesting a high metabolic cost of eye development.