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The Weight of Trash: Teaching Sustainability and Ecofeminism by Asking Undergraduates to Carry Around Their Own Garbage

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This essay outlines a recent assignment I designed for an upper-division cross-listed women and gender studies/social justice and human rights course I teach called, “Trash, Freaks, and SCUM.” In the context of the students reading Edward Humes’ (2012) Garbology, the

This essay outlines a recent assignment I designed for an upper-division cross-listed women and gender studies/social justice and human rights course I teach called, “Trash, Freaks, and SCUM.” In the context of the students reading Edward Humes’ (2012) Garbology, the trash bag assignment asked that students carry around their trash for two 48-hour periods and that they present it to the class. While the first two day period assesses their actual trash output, students are asked to produce as little trash as possible for the second two day period. This assignment aims to make trash visible and to help students learn about climate change, sustainability, conspicuous consumption, and how their individual carbon footprint contributes to the “big picture” of environmental strain. I describe this assignment and its goals in this essay, followed by an assessment of its role in teaching about social justice, in order to underscore the importance of experiential learning with trash and to highlight how this assignment fits the mission of my courses on feminism and social justice.

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2015

Caciques as Placeholders in the Guarani Missions of Eighteenth Century Paraguay

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This essay uses census data from the eighteenth century to examine the leadership role of caciques in the Guaraní missions. Cacique succession between 1735 and 1759 confirms that the position of cacique transitioned from the Guaraníes’ flexible interpretation of hereditary

This essay uses census data from the eighteenth century to examine the leadership role of caciques in the Guaraní missions. Cacique succession between 1735 and 1759 confirms that the position of cacique transitioned from the Guaraníes’ flexible interpretation of hereditary succession to the Jesuits’ rigid idea of primogenitor (father to eldest son) succession. This essay argues that scholars overstate the caciques’ leadership role in the Guaraní missions. Adherence to primogenitor succession did not take into account a candidate's leadership qualities, and thus, some caciques functioned as placeholders for organizing the mission population and calculating tribute and not as active leaders. An assortment of other Guaraní leadership positions compensated for this weakness by providing both access to leadership roles for non-caciques who possessed leadership qualities but not the proper bloodline and additional leadership opportunities for more capable caciques. By taking into account leadership qualities and not just descent, these positions provided flexibility and reflected continuity with pre-contact Guaraní ideas about leadership.

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2013-11-30

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Conversing With a Devil’s Advocate: Interpersonal Coordination in Deception and Disagreement

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This study investigates the presence of dynamical patterns of interpersonal coordination in extended deceptive conversations across multimodal channels of behavior. Using a novel "devil’s advocate" paradigm, we experimentally elicited deception and truth across topics in which conversational partners either agreed

This study investigates the presence of dynamical patterns of interpersonal coordination in extended deceptive conversations across multimodal channels of behavior. Using a novel "devil’s advocate" paradigm, we experimentally elicited deception and truth across topics in which conversational partners either agreed or disagreed, and where one partner was surreptitiously asked to argue an opinion opposite of what he or she really believed. We focus on interpersonal coordination as an emergent behavioral signal that captures interdependencies between conversational partners, both as the coupling of head movements over the span of milliseconds, measured via a windowed lagged cross correlation (WLCC) technique, and more global temporal dependencies across speech rate, using cross recurrence quantification analysis (CRQA). Moreover, we considered how interpersonal coordination might be shaped by strategic, adaptive conversational goals associated with deception. We found that deceptive conversations displayed more structured speech rate and higher head movement coordination, the latter with a peak in deceptive disagreement conversations. Together the results allow us to posit an adaptive account, whereby interpersonal coordination is not beholden to any single functional explanation, but can strategically adapt to diverse conversational demands.

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2017-06-02

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Predicted Rarity-Weighted Richness, a New Tool to Prioritize Sites for Species Representation

Description

Lack of biodiversity data is a major impediment to prioritizing sites for species representation. Because comprehensive species data are not available in any planning area, planners often use surrogates (such as vegetation communities, or mapped occurrences of a well-inventoried taxon)

Lack of biodiversity data is a major impediment to prioritizing sites for species representation. Because comprehensive species data are not available in any planning area, planners often use surrogates (such as vegetation communities, or mapped occurrences of a well-inventoried taxon) to prioritize sites. We propose and demonstrate the effectiveness of predicted rarity-weighted richness (PRWR) as a surrogate in situations where species inventories may be available for a portion of the planning area. Use of PRWR as a surrogate involves several steps. First, rarity-weighted richness (RWR) is calculated from species inventories for a q% subset of sites. Then random forest models are used to model RWR as a function of freely available environmental variables for that q% subset. This function is then used to calculate PRWR for all sites (including those for which no species inventories are available), and PRWR is used to prioritize all sites. We tested PRWR on plant and bird datasets, using the species accumulation index to measure efficiency of PRWR. Sites with the highest PRWR represented species with median efficiency of 56% (range 32%–77% across six datasets) when q = 20%, and with median efficiency of 39% (range 20%–63%) when q = 10%. An efficiency of 56% means that selecting sites in order of PRWR rank was 56% as effective as having full knowledge of species distributions in PRWR's ability to improve on the number of species represented in the same number of randomly selected sites. Our results suggest that PRWR may be able to help prioritize sites to represent species if a planner has species inventories for 10%–20% of the sites in the planning area.

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Date Created
2016-10-27

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Downscaling Patterns of Complementarity to a Finer Resolution and Its Implications for Conservation Prioritization

Description

Given species inventories of all sites in a planning area, integer programming or heuristic algorithms can prioritize sites in terms of the site's complementary value, that is, the ability of the site to complement (add unrepresented species to) other sites

Given species inventories of all sites in a planning area, integer programming or heuristic algorithms can prioritize sites in terms of the site's complementary value, that is, the ability of the site to complement (add unrepresented species to) other sites prioritized for conservation. The utility of these procedures is limited because distributions of species are typically available only as coarse atlases or range maps, whereas conservation planners need to prioritize relatively small sites. If such coarse-resolution information can be used to identify small sites that efficiently represent species (i.e., downscaled), then such data can be useful for conservation planning. We develop and test a new type of surrogate for biodiversity, which we call downscaled complementarity. In this approach, complementarity values from large cells are downscaled to small cells, using statistical methods or simple map overlays. We illustrate our approach for birds in Spain by building models at coarse scale (50 × 50 km atlas of European birds, and global range maps of birds interpreted at the same 50 × 50 km grid size), using this model to predict complementary value for 10 × 10 km cells in Spain, and testing how well-prioritized cells represented bird distributions in an independent bird atlas of those 10 × 10 km cells. Downscaled complementarity was about 63–77% as effective as having full knowledge of the 10-km atlas data in its ability to improve on random selection of sites. Downscaled complementarity has relatively low data acquisition cost and meets representation goals well compared with other surrogates currently in use. Our study justifies additional tests to determine whether downscaled complementarity is an effective surrogate for other regions and taxa, and at spatial resolution finer than 10 × 10 km cells. Until such tests have been completed, we caution against assuming that any surrogate can reliably prioritize sites for species representation.

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Date Created
2016-05-18

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Analysis of Differential Secondary Effects of Novel Rexinoids: Select Rexinoid X Receptor Ligands Demonstrate Differentiated Side Effect Profiles

Description

In order to determine the feasibility of utilizing novel rexinoids for chemotherapeutics and as potential treatments for neurological conditions, we undertook an assessment of the side effect profile of select rexinoid X receptor (RXR) analogs that we reported previously. We

In order to determine the feasibility of utilizing novel rexinoids for chemotherapeutics and as potential treatments for neurological conditions, we undertook an assessment of the side effect profile of select rexinoid X receptor (RXR) analogs that we reported previously. We assessed pharmacokinetic profiles, lipid and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels in rats, and cell culture activity of rexinoids in sterol regulatory element-binding protein (SREBP) induction and thyroid hormone inhibition assays. We also performed RNA sequencing of the brain tissues of rats that had been dosed with the compounds. We show here for the first time that potent rexinoid activity can be uncoupled from drastic lipid changes and thyroid axis variations, and we propose that rexinoids can be developed with improved side effect profiles than the parent compound, bexarotene (1).

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Date Created
2015-03-16

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Integrating Images From a Moveable Tracked Display of Three-Dimensional Data

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This paper describes a novel method for displaying data obtained by three-dimensional medical imaging, by which the position and orientation of a freely movable screen are optically tracked and used in real time to select the current slice from the

This paper describes a novel method for displaying data obtained by three-dimensional medical imaging, by which the position and orientation of a freely movable screen are optically tracked and used in real time to select the current slice from the data set for presentation. With this method, which we call a “freely moving in-situ medical image”, the screen and imaged data are registered to a common coordinate system in space external to the user, at adjustable scale, and are available for free exploration. The three-dimensional image data occupy empty space, as if an invisible patient is being sliced by the moving screen. A behavioral study using real computed tomography lung vessel data established the superiority of the in situ display over a control condition with the same free exploration, but displaying data on a fixed screen (ex situ), with respect to accuracy in the task of tracing along a vessel and reporting spatial relations between vessel structures. A “freely moving in-situ medical image” display appears from these measures to promote spatial navigation and understanding of medical data.

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2017-08-23

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A Hands-On Activity to Demonstrate the Central Dogma of Molecular Biology Via a Simulated VDJ Recombination Activity

Description

Essential or enduring understandings are often defined as the underlying core concepts or “big ideas” we’d like our students to remember when much of the course content has been forgotten. The central dogma of molecular biology and how cellular information

Essential or enduring understandings are often defined as the underlying core concepts or “big ideas” we’d like our students to remember when much of the course content has been forgotten. The central dogma of molecular biology and how cellular information is stored, used, and conveyed is one of the essential understandings students should retain after a course or unit in molecular biology or genetics. An additional enduring understanding is the relationships between DNA sequence, RNA sequence, mRNA production and processing, and the resulting polypeptide/protein product. A final big idea in molecular biology is the relationship between DNA mutation and polypeptide change. To engage students in these essential understandings in a Genetics course, I have developed a hands-on activity to simulate VDJ recombination. Students use a foldable type activity to splice out regions of a mock kappa light chain gene to generate a DNA sequence for transcription and translation. Students fold the activity several different times in multiple ways to “recombine” and generate several different DNA sequences. They then are asked to construct the corresponding mRNA and polypeptide sequence of each “recombined” DNA sequence and reflect on the products in a write-to-learn activity.

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Date Created
2017-08-11

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Functional Characterization of Two Elongases of Very Long-Chain Fatty Acid From Tenebrio Molitor L. (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae)

Description

The elongases of very long chain fatty acid (ELOVL or ELO) are essential in the biosynthesis of fatty acids longer than C14. Here, two ELO full-length cDNAs (TmELO1, TmELO2) from the yellow mealworm (Tenebrio molitor L.) were isolated and the

The elongases of very long chain fatty acid (ELOVL or ELO) are essential in the biosynthesis of fatty acids longer than C14. Here, two ELO full-length cDNAs (TmELO1, TmELO2) from the yellow mealworm (Tenebrio molitor L.) were isolated and the functions were characterized. The open reading frame (ORF) lengths of TmELO1 and TmELO2 were 1005 bp and 972 bp, respectively and the corresponding peptide sequences each contained several conserved motifs including the histidine-box motif HXXHH. Phylogenetic analysis demonstrated high similarity with the ELO of Tribolium castaneum and Drosophila melanogaster. Both TmELO genes were expressed at various levels in eggs, 1st and 2nd instar larvae, mature larvae, pupae, male and female adults. Injection of dsTmELO1 but not dsTmELO2 RNA into mature larvae significantly increased mortality although RNAi did not produce any obvious changes in the fatty acid composition in the survivors. Heterologous expression of TmELO genes in yeast revealed that TmELO1 and TmELO2 function to synthesize long chain and very long chain fatty acids.

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Date Created
2017-09-08

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Advanced Nonlinear Dynamics of Population Biology and Epidemiology

Description

Modern biology and epidemiology have become more and more driven by the need of mathematical models and theory to elucidate general phenomena arising from the complexity of interactions on the numerous spatial, temporal, and hierarchical scales at which biological systems

Modern biology and epidemiology have become more and more driven by the need of mathematical models and theory to elucidate general phenomena arising from the complexity of interactions on the numerous spatial, temporal, and hierarchical scales at which biological systems operate and diseases spread. Epidemic modeling and study of disease spread such as gonorrhea, HIV/AIDS, BSE, foot and mouth disease, measles, and rubella have had an impact on public health policy around the world which includes the United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Canada, and the United States. A wide variety of modeling approaches are involved in building up suitable models. Ordinary differential equation models, partial differential equation models, delay differential equation models, stochastic differential equation models, difference equation models, and nonautonomous models are examples of modeling approaches that are useful and capable of providing applicable strategies for the coexistence and conservation of endangered species, to prevent the overexploitation of natural resources, to control disease’s outbreak, and to make optimal dosing polices for the drug administration, and so forth.

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Date Created
2014-12-22