TUESDAY, APRIL 12, 2022
9 A.M. TO 5 P.M.

Conference Schedule Overview

Welcome to the 24th annual Whitman Undergraduate Conference, a celebration of the research, scholarship and creativity of Whitman students.

This year's hybrid* conference provides presenters with the opportunity to share their research with the Whitman community as well as with community partners, alumni, family and friends near and far.  Panel sessions will take place in various venues across Whitman's campus and will also be live streamed via Zoom.  An in-person poster session will take place at Cordiner Hall, and digital images and abstracts of the posters will be available to read online. 

We invite you to deepen your understanding of the threats and environmental impacts of climate change by sitting in on the several panel sessions that resonate with Whitman's 2021-2022 academic theme, "Climate Reckonings, Climate Justice."

Enjoy the musical creativity and genius of Whitman students performing from the classical and jazz repertoires throughout the day.  All musical performances will be in person and live streamed through Vimeo.

Research conferences that span disciplines and occupy a full day are rare events, especially at small colleges. The Whitman Undergraduate Conference is a testament to the value of liberal arts learning and a showcase of original work sparked by course study, senior theses, faculty-student research, independent projects, fellowships, internships and study abroad.

The conference is organized by Fellowships and Grants, now an arm of the Career and Community Engagement Center. For more information contact director Jess Hernandez at hernand2@zoloftbirthdefectlawyer.com or administrative assistant Jenny Stratton at strattjm@zoloftbirthdefectlawyer.com.

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Attendance at the in-person event will be limited to members of the Whitman Community (students, faculty, and staff).

Panel presentations will not be recorded.

*Due to the sensitive nature of the unpublished data they contain, certain panel presentations will only be available in person and not on Zoom.  These are marked as such throughout the program below.

American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation will be available for all panel presentations via the Zoom sessions only.

If you have questions about accessibilty or need accomodations to experience the conference, please contact Jess Hernandez or Jenny Stratton (see email addresses above).

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Conference Schedule

The day's events weave together oral panel presentations, a poster session and musical interludes to create an engaging program that celebrates Whitman student learning. 

The general schedule is:

  • Panel Session I: 9 – 10:15 a.m. (various locations)
  • Chamber Music Interlude: 10:15 – 10:45 a.m. (Hall of Science Atrium)
  • Panel Session II: 10:45 a.m. – 12 p.m. (various locations)
  • Jazz Lunch Hour: 12 – 1 p.m. (Hall of Music: Chism Recital Hall)
  • Poster Session: 1 – 2 p.m. (Cordiner Hall Foyer)
  • Panel Session III: 2 – 3:15 p.m. (various locations)
  • Afternoon Jazz Intermission: 3:15 – 3:45 p.m. (Hall of Music: Chism Recital Hall)
  • Panel Session IV: 3:45 – 5 p.m. (various locations)

View a grid overview of the day's schedule or expand the sections below for more details on specific sessions.

Panel Session I: 9 – 10:15 a.m.

Location: Reid Campus Center Young Ballroom

Zoom Meeting Link

Ava Liponis, Moderator

9 a.m. MAX DUVALL, The Relationship Between Personality and Risky Decision Making

Risky decision making encompasses many different behaviors, such as skydiving or gambling, that can be associated with adverse health outcomes such as injury or financial instability. It is therefore important to identify and predict the factors that contribute to these behaviors. Individuals are more likely to make risky decisions when the outcome is framed as a loss rather than a gain; this finding is known as the framing effect. Personality traits influence the magnitude of framing effects. The present study aims to merge theories in economic and psychological research to advance a more comprehensive model for predicting risky decision making based on personality. I predict that personality traits will interact with decision framing on risky decision making, and that impulsivity will be positively associated with risky decision making. If the findings support these hypotheses, the cognitive process behind risky decision making can be more clearly understood for future research.
Faculty Sponsor: Nancy Day

9:15 a.m. JACOB NAM, MICHAEL CHANG, How Parenting Styles Influence Adolescents' Risk-Taking Behaviors

Adolescents as a group tend to take more risks than children or adults, with the leading cause of death for the age group between 10- and 24-year-olds coming from accidents. The current body of research suggests that parenting styles do influence how adolescents make decisions about risk. Less is known, however, about how, specifically, parenting styles impact risk-taking in adolescents. Our study focuses on the aspect of communication between parents and adolescents, and the relationship between communication and parenting styles. We surveyed young adults about their memories from adolescence and their risk-taking behaviors. By looking at the style of communication about risky behaviors and the adolescents’ responses to these conversations, we can examine what effect parenting styles might have on adolescents’ risk-taking behaviors. Understanding the influence of parenting styles on adolescents’ risk decisions is important because those decisions may impact their future health and well-being.
Faculty Sponsor: Erin Pahlke

9:30 a.m. ATISH BATLIWALLA, MICAH ASUNCION, Responses to a Slot Machine-Like Gambling Task in Pigeons (Columba livia)

Do pigeons prefer to gamble or play it safe when faced with a slot machine-like task? Studies have shown mixed results, with birds sometimes preferring to gamble on an uncertain outcome and sometimes avoiding doing so, depending on the procedure. In our study we developed a new slot machine-like task allowing us to manipulate two elements that make slot games appealing to humans: an informative display and near-hit events (where the participant loses on the last slot rather than on the first or second). We hypothesized that pigeons would display an overall preference to gamble, and that birds that were exposed to a higher frequency of near-miss trials would be more likely to gamble. Our results revealed an overall preference to gamble, but we found that a higher frequency of near-miss trials had no effect. These findings indicate that psychological phenomena impacting humans do not necessarily translate to other animals.
Faculty Sponsor: Wally Herbranson

9:45 a.m. JENNY KIM, Choosing the Right College: How Students of Color Perceive Commitments to Diversity

There is often a gap between an institution’s commitment to diversity and evidence that demonstrates it. Wilton et al. (2020) coined the term "diversity dishonesty," i.e., the belief that an organization is falsely inflating its actual diversity. For students of color (SOCs), believing that an institution is dishonest about its diversity may lead to detrimental consequences. My study examines how the racial diversity of an institution shapes SOCs' assessment of diversity dishonesty and belonging. I found that for both SOCs and White students, a more diverse college led to lower perceptions of diversity dishonesty. Similarly, a more diverse college led to greater perceived belonging for SOCs. Importantly, White students’ sense of belonging remained high regardless of the diversity of an institution. My findings suggest that a racially diverse environment leads to positive implications, echoing existing literature in support of continued efforts toward racial diversity.
Faculty Sponsor: Chanel Meyers
Research Funding Source: Department of Psychology

10 a.m. HELEN LEINBERGER, KAI STRAWN, COVID-19 and Consumer Choices

COVID-19 has exacerbated racial biases leading to incidents of racism, violence, and public discrimination toward people of Asian descent, especially Chinese people. These biases, including fear of contamination and a general animosity toward foreign goods, have negatively impacted sales of Chinese products and Asian commodities in general. In our study, we examined how COVID-19-priming terms impact restaurant selection. Participants took an implicit-association test to measure biases toward Chinese people. They were then asked to rate their interest in dining at hypothetical Asian, European, South American, and North American restaurants. We hypothesized that people exposed to COVID-19 terms who have strong implicit biases against Chinese people would show a specific aversion to Chinese restaurants and a general aversion to Asian restaurants compared to other cuisine options. Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on consumer choices is an essential step toward mitigating racial sequelae and highlighting the related effects on our day-to-day choices.
Faculty Sponsor: Matthew Prull

Location: Maxey Hall Auditorium

Zoom Meeting Link

Rohan Press, Moderator

9 a.m. MIRA ANDERBERG, Changes in Weathering and Topography Through Time at the Rulo Site, Southeastern Washington

Weathering characteristics preserved in outcrops of basalt and flood-derived sediment throughout the Walla Walla Valley can tell us what the environment was like when these outcrops were exposed at the surface. The Rulo site in the Palouse Hills near Walla Walla, Washington currently sits at a drainage divide at a high point in the landscape. A basalt flow from widespread Miocene volcanic eruptions is overlain by cobbles from a stream deposit, capturing a period of time when this site was at a low point in the landscape. Using visual mapping and chemical analysis, we characterized the variability in weathering in the basalt flow and overlying sediment. We found that the basalt flow was significantly more weathered than was the later flood-derived sediment above it. These lines of evidence may allow us to determine how the Blue Mountain uplift, Cascade Mountain uplift, and Missoula floods shaped our landscape.
Faculty Sponsors: Nick Bader and Lyman Persico
Research Funding Source: National Science Foundation

9:15 a.m. EMMA GRIFFITH, Topoclimatic Controls on Hillslope Environments: Implications for Bedrock Weathering and Landscape Evolution at Wallula Gap, Washington

Hillslopes are shaped by physical and chemical weathering processes, which are in part controlled by environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity. In the Horse Heaven Hills of southeastern Washington, the Spring Gulch ephemeral stream trends east-west and as a result influences hillslopes in divergent ways: xeric conditions are produced on southern aspects and mesic conditions on northern aspects. In this study, we characterized hillslope weathering environments to better understand how environmental conditions influence weathering and overall hillslope form. To characterize differences in the climate between the two slopes, we collected internal and external rock temperature and humidity measurements, thin sections, rock strength measurements, and thermal imagery. We found greater moisture content and cooler temperatures on north-facing slopes relative to southern aspects. Rock strength measurements and thin section analysis indicated greater weathering and weaker rock on the northern aspects. Studying hillslope weathering patterns indicates how climatic changes affect hillslope environments.
Faculty Sponsor: Lyman Persico
Research Funding Source: Faculty-Student Summer Research Award

9:30 a.m. DYLAN JONES, Reconstructing Past Climates Using Ancient Soils Preserved in the Blue Mountains of Oregon

From 16 to 7 million years ago, a sequence of flood basalt eruptions blanketed much of Washington, Oregon, and western Idaho. Lava flows from each eruption preserve ancient soils that can tell us about the environment in which they developed: more highly weathered soils suggest warmer and wetter climates than weakly developed soils. The Bald Mountain site in the Blue Mountains of Oregon preserves four distinct basalt layers spanning over 500 thousand years. Using a combination of field observations and element transport calculations, we observed a marked change in climate conditions, suggesting a cooling and drying climate in the Columbia River Basin approximately 15 million years ago. Possible causes for this include the waning effects of the Mid-Miocene Climatic Optimum and the onset of the rain shadow from the newly uplifted Cascade Volcanic Range.
Faculty Sponsors: Nick Bader and Lyman Persico
Research Funding Source: National Science Foundation

9:45 a.m. JENNER SMITH, Columbia River Basalt Weathering in the Horse Heaven Hills: Paleoclimatic and Geomorphic Implications

Using exposures of bedrock, colluvium, and loess, I investigated weathering environments and geomorphic evolution of the Horse Heaven Hills at Spring Gulch, Washington. The hills are composed of Columbia River Basalts and capped by eolian and Missoula flood-derived sediments. I inferred the evolution of this landscape and its relation to changes in paleoclimate, tectonic uplift, and geomorphic processes using field-based morphological observations of degrees of weathering, supplemented by geochemical analysis of elemental abundances quantifying the degree of weathering relative to fresh bedrock. Varying degrees of weathering between these contacts indicate climatic changes over time. The youngest basalt flow top and weathering profile are not preserved, as tectonic uplift and subsequent incision of Spring Gulch likely eroded away this contact millions of years ago. The current basalt-loess contact displays minimal chemical weathering; however, more intense weathering is located between basalt flows, indicating a wetter climate in the Miocene relative to present.
Faculty Sponsors: Lyman Persico and Nick Bader
Research Funding Source: National Science Foundation

Location: Olin Hall Auditorium

Due to the sensitive nature of the unpublished data these presentations contain, this panel will not be available for viewing over Zoom.

Brandon Martínez Serrano, Moderator

9 a.m. ASHLEY NGUYEN, Biopolymers From Corn Protein and Application on Fiber-Reinforced Biocomposites

Bio-based biodegradable plastic films can be synthesized from zein, a major protein in corn endosperm. Due to zein's ability to form reasonably strong and elastic films with hydrophobic properties, it is well-suited for coating or drug delivery applications where short service life is required. Adapted from zein's film synthesis, our research focuses on synthesizing zein biopolymers and biocomposites to obtain renewable materials that can replace petroleum-based plastics. Bio-based biopolymers are brittle, so they need to be treated with plasticizers and crosslinkers to obtain flexibility and stability. Zein biopolymers can also be brushed over bio-fiber such as linen to produce zein-linen fiber-reinforced biocomposites, which show improved strength, ductility, and stiffness over zein biopolymers, however, plasticizers and crosslinkers show little effectiveness in improving their physical properties. Further research is required to solve the major drawbacks of zein biopolymers and biocomposites, including the lack of water resistance or degradability at room temperature.
Faculty Sponsor: Jon Collins
Research Funding Source: National Science Foundation

9:15 a.m. BORNIFACE KABONGO, Using Novel Techniques that Manipulate Exon Sequences in an Enzyme Associated with DNA Mismatch Repair Pathways to Improve Huntington's Disease Outcomes

Gene regulation, controlling which genes are turned on and off, is critical for normal development. Malfunctions during this process can lead to dysfunction and disease. Huntington’s disease is an example of gene dysregulation resulting in the progressive breakdown of brain nerve cells. Eukaryotic alternative splicing, a cellular process that generates transcriptome diversity, provides an opportunity for gene regulation. To leverage this naturally occurring splicing mechanism as a drugging modality for Huntington’s, I identified a poison target in the genome, Enzyme X, associated with DNA mismatch repair pathways. I manipulated the target with an inhibitor compound to investigate whether it contributes to the pathology of Huntington’s. Using genome sequencing to analyze which genome sections (exons) match with Enzyme X, I validated its role in the progression of Huntington’s disease. These findings provide preliminary data for the launch of a drug-discovery program to manufacture drugs to lower the poison target, Enzyme X.
Faculty Sponsor: Leena Knight

9:30 a.m. SHANNON HUSBAND, Assessing the Antifungal Potential of Probiotic Bacteria Against Candida albicans

The yeast species Candida albicans is a fungus that is normally present on and in our bodies, but which under pathological conditions can cause infections. Notably, strains of C. albicans have begun to demonstrate resistance to antifungal medications, creating major concerns for human health and medicine. To discover novel antifungal agents that may have the ability to modulate or restrict the growth and virulence of pathogenic C. albicans, researchers have focused on human gastrointestinal microbiomes. The human GI microbiome, composed of approximately 1,150 bacterial species, represents a relatively untapped reservoir of candidate antifungal agents. This study aimed to co-culture C. albicans and commercially available probiotic strains of bacteria to determine whether these probiotic bacteria can inhibit C. albicans growth. Although no bacterial strains were observed to have inhibitory capabilities, this research provided useful preliminary data on methodology and lent insight into the conditions required for microbial isolation and growth.
Faculty Sponsor: Ginger Withers
Research Funding Source: Faculty-Student Summer Research Award

Location: Reid Campus Center Room G02
Overflow room: Hunter Conservatory Kimball Theatre

Zoom Meeting Link

Alissa Berman, Moderator

9 a.m. SUNSHINE ALVAREZ DE SILVA, WEST SKROBIAK-BALES, OLIVIA BELL, CHRISTIAN WALLACE-BAILEY, Ghosts of an “Ancient” Present-Past

How does one see the ghosts that remain within? The theme of this presentation is the durability of imperial structures: specifically, their resistance to inspection by becoming like specters. These ghosts are residual, making themselves known in the present and yet haunting from the past as already “dead,” and thus, descriptions of them are “just ghost stories.” Even more difficult to inspect are the manifold, imbricated layers that one needs to confront and navigate when studying ancient Greco-Roman sources. Our group presentation will begin a conversation by unpacking several topics: women and Roman power, with Olivia Bell; art/ifaction and “classical” ethno-nationalism, with Christian Wallace-Bailey; violence through gender transformation in Roman imperial poetry, with West Bales; and structures of justification, with Sunshine Alvarez de Silva. Through these lenses we provide four perspectives on the presences of a past from which different futures have yet to be fully realized.
Faculty Sponsor: Sarah Davies

Chamber Music Interlude: 10:15 – 10:45 a.m.

Chamber Ensembles
Dr. Amy Dodds, Director
Hall of Science Atrium

Vimeo Live Stream

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Duetto No. 2: I. Largo - Allegro moderato
Nicolò Paganini

Joshua Meling, violin
Elizabeth Huang, bassoon

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Duo No. 1 in G Major, KV 423: I. Allegro
W. A. Mozart

Ben Kehrli, violin
Kainoa Kawabata, viola

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Panel Session II: 10:45 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Location: Reid Campus Center Young Ballroom

Zoom Meeting Link

Ava Liponis, Moderator

10:45 a.m. ABBY BERGEY, OLIVIA LIPONIS, Attachment Security, Sense of Belonging, and Depressive Symptoms Among Sexual Minority Adults: A Moderated Mediation Model

Our research investigated associations among attachment security, sense of belonging, and depressive symptoms in sexual minority adults (N = 364). We attempted a partial conceptual replication of a 2009 study by McLaren, which found that a high sense of belonging to the Lesbian Community was associated with lower levels of depression for lesbians who felt low sense of belonging to the general community. We tested whether sense of belonging to the LGBQP (lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, pansexual) Community mediates the relationship between attachment security and depressive symptoms, and whether sense of belonging to the general community moderates the relationship between sense of belonging to the LGBQP Community and depressive symptoms. Our results showed support for our proposed mediation, but not the associated moderation. This research contributes to a better understanding of mental health struggles among sexual minority individuals.
Faculty Sponsor: Pavel Blagov
Research Funding Source: Department of Psychology

11 a.m. DANA WALDEN, Intraracial Disidentification: Strategies of Whiteness in Racial Justice Movements

In this presentation, I provide a new theory of compensatory division, intraracial disidentification, that complicates rhetorical understandings of identification/division and further elucidates the strategic purpose of division within social movements. I argue that disidentification is rhetorically necessary for radical coalitional change; intraracial disidentification provides a needed framework for white involvement in anti-racist activism. Though intraracial disidentification can be used as a tool for coalitional solidarity building, the rhetorical strategy can also be used to reinscribe hegemonic structures of power. To better understand intraracial disidentification as a vital part of racial and class justice movements, I analyze the Young Patriots Organization (YPO), their involvement with the Original Rainbow Coalition, and their articulation of poor, white, Southern identity within interracial and enclaved discursive spaces.
Faculty Sponsor: Ellen Defossez

11:15 a.m. CHLOE YOUNG, The Chinese Government’s Recent Crackdown on Uyghurs

The United States recently declared the Chinese government’s treatment of Uyghurs -- a Muslim ethnic group native to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwest China -- to be genocide. Since the 2010s, the Chinese government has actively arrested and detained two million Uyghurs in localized re-education camps. In these camps, Uyghurs often endure forced sterilization, torture, forced labor, and draconian restrictions on religious expression. This is no coincidence; tension between the Chinese government and Uyghurs dates back to the Qing dynasty (1644–1912). Through my project, I aim to come to a better understanding of this tense relationship by exploring the following question: Why has the Chinese government increasingly imprisoned Uyghurs in the past decade, specifically? Drawing upon official Chinese governmental documents and international nongovernmental reports, my presentation reinforces the importance of applying a critical eye in the analysis of conflicting narratives.
Faculty Sponsor: Donghui He

11:30 a.m. MERON SEMERE, Historical Practice of Islamic Law in Eritrea

How do religious practices apply in intersections of intra-regional and trans-regional contexts? Eritrea, located in Northeastern Africa, is characterized by diverse religious practices yet surrounded by religiously homogeneous countries. Eritrea’s Muslim societies are heterogeneous as they belong to different ethnic groups, speak a variety of languages, and are socially and politically organized in diverse ways. Eritrea is at the meeting point of several frontiers such as the Arabian Peninsula, Sudanese Nile Valley, and Ethiopian highlands; its location along the Red Sea has brought many influences over several centuries. For my presentation, I will examine the regional distribution of madhab (Islamic school of law) and exemplify the layering of cultures and different Islamic practices that have been adopted. Exploration of Islamic law within a country with diverse religious distributions in both the nation and region of East Africa provides an opportunity to bring the nuances of religious jurisprudence to the forefront.
Faculty Sponsor: Lauren Osborne

11:45 a.m. CLARA EPELMAN, El Ver Lo Que No Está: Collective Trauma in Post-Dictatorship Argentina Photography

We see you between ourselves. We see you in our own reflections. We feel you everywhere. In 1976, Argentina suffered a coup d'état and entered a seven-year era of public disappearances, censorship, silence, and loss. In the wake of this traumatic collective event, variable fictional adaptations of Argentine concentration camps became popularized as a means of granting vision to the millions of Argentinians who were disappeared and murdered during the military dictatorship. Now, how does the medium of photography further complicate praxes of emancipation and resignification emphasized in Argentine film and testimony? This presentation offers a close reading of the works of post-dictatorship photographer Graciela Sacco to engage themes of collective trauma and multigenerational haunting. Specifically, Sacco's unconventional and three-dimensional photography installations function as a deconstructive rebellion art, uniting the viewer and subject of the work alike to the omnipresence and permanence of the specters of modern Argentine society.
Faculty Sponsor: Janis Be

Location: Maxey Hall Auditorium

Zoom Meeting Link

Rohan Press, Moderator

10:45 a.m. ISABELLE BEDICHEK, The Eastern Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis) as a Bioindicator of Land Use

Reptiles play an important role in ecosystem food webs and can be affected by urbanization and agriculture in many ways: habitat fragmentation, change in prey type, and direct human contact such as relocation, vehicular accidents, and etc. The garter snake, in particular, is a generalist snake species found in most regions of the United States where urban and agricultural land use has increased steadily over the course of the 20th century. Establishing the garter snake as a reptilian bioindicator of land use would be useful for quantifying the effects of humans on ecosystems. In this study, I recorded scale counts, body measurements, and GPS coordinates of 213 eastern garter snake specimens from the Carnegie Natural History Museum that had been collected between 1982 and 1988. My study will help determine whether eastern garter snakes sampled on land occupied by crops, humans, and forests exhibit significant differences in traits.
Faculty Sponsor: Kate Jackson
Research Funding Source: Carnegie Museum of Natural History

11 a.m. PATRICK HWANG, Characterization of Soil Enzyme PnpC1C2 through Site-Directed Mutagenesis

My research focuses on specific soil enzymes that are able to break down pollutants. These enzymes are unique in the types of pollutants they react with, specifically 6-membered rings known as aromatic substances. In this study, I focused on an enzyme called PnpC1C2 and the mechanism by which it metabolizes these pollutants. I edited the gene for this enzyme in order to mutate specific sites on the protein and learn more about gene function. This technique is known as site-directed mutagenesis and involves targeting specific amino acid sites, swapping them for different ones, and then studying the resulting proteins. The two sites in question were both glutamate amino acids which are negatively charged and close in proximity to the active site. Early data implies that the electric charge of the two sites is crucial to mechanistic function. This research could lead to more efficient and cost-effective breakdown of pollutants.
Faculty Sponsor: Tim Machonkin
Research Funding Source: M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust

11:15 a.m. MIA GROFF, Stories of Contaminants Past and Future: The Bioavailability of Toxic Manganese Based on Particle Grain Size and Structure

In the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, both anthropogenic and geogenic contaminants have entered and settled within the river, adjacent terrace, and dam sediment. Studying grain size and elemental abundances in fluvial sediment illuminates the complex geochemical relationships present, including the bioavailability of toxic manganese. The presence of manganese can be traced back to the underlying rock types (lithologies) and regional mining history. Of particular concern is soluble manganese, which can be harmful to humans, especially infants and children, at chronic low levels. It is vital to monitor and study the Shenandoah Valley region for potential contaminants since the Maury River provides water for many communities. I used grain size analysis and X-ray diffraction to assess the interactions between sediment composition, surface area, and water conditions and to identify the minerals present. This research will illuminate possible chemical processes that release toxins and help guide the future of dam removal processes.
Faculty Sponsor: Kirsten Nicolaysen
Research Funding Sources: Department of Geology, Keck Geology Consortium, National Science Foundation

11:30 a.m. RIVER TAYLOR, Prehistoric Representation of Unangan Culture in Relation to Recurring Volcanic Ashes

Human resilience expresses itself as a necessity in cultures that develop proximally to volcanoes, especially for the Unangan (Aleut) people. The volcanic Aleutian Island of Carlisle, Alaska, was home to an Unangan village from ~3800 calibrated years before present (yBP) until contact with Russian expansionists in ~1767 AD. Massive eruptions occurred ~1000 yBP leading to temporary abandonment of the island; carbon-14 dating of cultural sediment layers revealed another possible abandonment between 3600-3200 yBP. Interlayered ashes bounding the upper end of the cultural layers point to unstudied volcanic mechanisms. Studying the microstratigraphy of layers from Carlisle’s prehistoric village that have been exposed by coastal erosion, I characterized the volcanic ashes and identified carbon-rich cultural sediments, evaluating the cause for abandonment. Through backscattered electron imaging and compositional analysis, I compared minerals in a sample taken from the village to assess prehistoric volcanic activity impacting the Carlisle ecosystem and the Unangan culture.
Faculty Sponsor: Kirsten Nicolaysen

11:45 a.m. RENNY ACHESON, Grieving Beyond Only the Human: Exploring the Possibilities for Political Mourning in the Anthropocene

The effects of ecological collapse will precipitate irreversible losses of human and non-human bodies. While human-led political efforts to halt the warming of the earth and mitigate its destructive effects exist, these efforts largely neglect the possibilities of employing human affect and emotional experiences towards addressing the climate crisis. Historically, the deaths of everyday citizens, in events such as the AIDS epidemic, Hurricane Katrina, and 9/11 have led to individual, private experiences of grief and mourning becoming collective and public in the interest of political change. Drawing inspiration from political theorists and the environmental humanities, my presentation explores the possibilities of mobilizing collective grief. Whether anticipatory or present, these experiences have the ability to precipitate networks of care and community engagement in the age of the climate crisis.
Faculty Sponsor: Aaron Bobrow-Strain

Location: Olin Hall Auditorium
Overflow room: Olin 129

Zoom Meeting Link

Marian Sandoval, Moderator

10:45 a.m. JEFF MUTETHIA, Python, Data Visualization and Wall Street

Curious about work in financial technology? Over the course of last summer, I had the opportunity to immerse myself in the world of high tech on Wall Street. As a software engineering intern at Morgan Stanley, I worked on a proof-of-concept that leveraged technology such as Python and AWS Cloud to generate descriptive analytics on data concerning the firm’s research division. This kind of work is imperative to enhancing user experience while reducing waste and increasing productivity in any setting. In my presentation I will walk you through the thought process I used and methodologies I learned, as well as address the potential impact that a software engineering intern at a firm with 70,000+ employees can hope to achieve.
Faculty Sponsor: Janet Davis
Research Funding Source: Morgan Stanley

11 a.m. MAX HORNE, Measuring Reasonances of Guitar Top Plates at Various Stages of Fabrication

The shape, quality, and boundary conditions of an object affect its normal modes of vibration. Here, an apparatus consistent with electronic speckle pattern interferometry (ESPI) measured interference patterns on two potential guitar top plates as they were modified from a solid wooden rectangle into the final top plate shape with a sound hole and bracing. After each modification, the observed interference patterns for each plate were found to be similar at lower frequencies and different at higher frequencies. Experimental data was compared to theoretical data modeled in the simulation software COMSOL to test the accuracy of the input parameters characterizing the wood. We found that model results agreed with the experimental data well at low frequencies, but accuracy of the model decreased when higher frequency modes were considered. In sum, this project informed our understanding of the effects of top plate construction on the sound produced by a finished guitar.
Faculty Sponsor: Kurt Hoffman
Research Funding Source: Department of Physics

11:15 a.m. RAIN NAYLOR, Using Light Polarization in Astronomical Observations

My research takes a two-pronged approach investigating how light polarization (directionality of a light beam) is observed in astronomy. First, working at the University of Chicago, I calibrated polarization angles of Simons Observatory optical detectors for telescopes currently being installed in Atacama, Chile. The detectors are designed to survey the polarization of Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) photons in order to determine progress of early universe structure. Second, I practiced assessing key attributes of different light polarizations. We made measurements of light through samples of common extraterrestrial geological conditions as well as organic liquid concentrations, investigating what types of light would be seen by a telescope based on where the light had traveled. These data are crucial to CMB observations, as the structures through which light travels shape its polarization.
Faculty Sponsor: Frederic Liebrand
Research Funding Source: National Science Foundation

11:30 a.m. GERAINT WEBB, JAMES KLINMAN, Binding Dark Matter

Understanding the matter that makes up our universe is an important task for many physicists and astronomers. While the matter we primarily interact with makes up about 5% of the universe, dark matter makes up about 27% of the universe. However, we are unable to observe dark matter directly. To better understand dark matter, a variety of theories have been proposed that help guide us towards more realistic dark matter candidates. In our research, we explored few-body identical systems of fermions that could potentially model dark matter. To achieve this, we modeled these systems’ semi-relativistic ground state energy values using the Stochastic Variational Method and compared them to the non-relativistic ground state energy values. This allowed us to further refine our dark matter model. We found that the more bodies we add to a system, the less of an effect the semi-relativistic energy has.
Faculty Sponsor: Moira Gresham
Research Funding Source: Faculty-Student Summer Research Award

Location: Reid Campus Center Room G02
Overflow room: Hunter Conservatory Kimball Theatre

Zoom Meeting Link

Moderator: Alissa Berman

10:45 a.m. RACHEL GLASER, Is Rembrandt's Slaughtered Ox a Portrait?

Rembrandt’s Slaughtered Ox, painted in 1655, depicts the headless carcass of a freshly slaughtered ox hung up on beams, possibly inside the butcher’s home, to drain its blood in preparation for the butchering process. Though the Ox is generally regarded as a still-life painting, Rembrandt's use of lighting and perspective strongly recall Dutch portraiture. The ox is, therefore, made rhetorically comparable to a human being, rehearsing its eventual consumption and digestion, or the combining of human and animal bodies. This comparison represents a break in the logic of location, where within the borders of the human body, one is in commune with the animal body. My presentation asks us to consider how Rembrandt’s Ox tangles with the artificially rendered biopolitical caesura between humans and animals.
Faculty Sponsor: Matt Reynolds

11 a.m. REEVE BOYER, Glory's Death and Heroism's Facade in Homer's Iliad and Lucan's Pharsalia

Lucan was a Roman author, once a close friend of the "mad" emperor Nero before joining a plot to kill him. He lived to only 25 years of age and though his poem, the Pharsalia, was left unfinished, it acts as a radical revolution in the epic, attacking the very basis of the genre in the ideas of glory and heroism that make it distinct. Through this presentation, a summation of my honors thesis in Classics, I will explore the poem in relation to Homer’s Iliad and other classical works. Ultimately, Lucan’s poetry is a look into a world where doubt has set in, the Roman vision of Empire has disintegrated, and traditional literature has become a stifling presence for a young poet. I use the poem as a lens to understand his creative process and how Lucan radically re-envisions the genre.
Faculty Sponsor: Kate Shea

11:15 a.m. CALEB SHERMAN, Rhetoric of the Armenian Genocide

In this presentation, I take a critical look at the rhetoric surrounding the Armenian genocide, an event in which the Ottoman Empire and Turkish republic killed over a million Armenians over a 30-year span. As a descendent of survivors of the genocide, in my talk I will intertwine my family’s history with the larger systemic history of the region. My presentation is a response to the Turkish government’s continued denial of the event. I will first establish the historic foundation of the situation with a brief description of the genocide itself, then consider the political lessons to be learned from the Turkish republic’s tactics of state control, and finally dive into examples of Armenians' attempts to understand and cope with the extraordinary violence that has been targeted at them. I hope to challenge the frameworks normally used to view colonialism, knowledge production, and what it means to be a survivor.
Faculty Sponsor: Matthew Bost

11:30 a.m. LAUREN YUMIBE, Reconstructed Memories: The A-Bomb Literature of Seirai Yūichi

Japan is home to several large-scale trauma sites created during the Pacific War, such as the locations of the Battle of Okinawa and the A-bomb detonation. As firsthand survivors age, literary representations of these events are increasingly moving to being created by their children. Interestingly, some second-generation authors write from a point of identification within their parents' memories rather than their own lived experiences. Despite a lack of direct, firsthand experience, the proximity of second-generation authors to survivors and geographic sites of traumatic memories allows their work to have the same precision as that of first-generation writers. Examining Seirai Yūichi as a representative author depicting the Nagasaki A-bomb with his short story Insects, I demonstrate how his work evokes first-generation experiences, and analyze how his background allows him to reconstruct and reinterpret his inherited memories.
Faculty Sponsor: Yuki Shigeto

11:45 a.m. ALICIA EVEN, KAELAN SHAMSELDIN, TAYLOR CHAMBERS, Representation and Belonging in STEM

We investigated whether students’ sense of belonging in STEM fields is influenced by representation of various identities among STEM faculty relative to an individual’s own race and gender. It is also possible that exposure to diverse faculty in STEM influences implicit associations between particular identities and STEM professions. If true, we expect the sense of belonging in women of color (WOC) to be most positively affected by exposure to greater faculty representation, while White men would be less affected. To test this, we recruited participants to view one of four sets of professors that varied in their racial/gender composition. Participants were then asked about their interest and belonging in STEM, and completed an Implicit Association Test to measure cognitive associations between race and STEM fields. We anticipated that WOC participants will report a greater sense of belonging in STEM after seeing STEM faculty that match their race and gender.
Faculty Sponsor: Chanel Meyers

Jazz Lunch Hour: 12 – 1 p.m.

Jazz I Ensemble
Dr. Doug Scarborough, Director
Hall of Music: Chism Recital Hall

Vimeo Live Stream

***

Jonah Panzer and Will Weisz, alto sax
Warren Atkison and Alex Lamers, tenor sax
Jordan Null, baritone sax
Matt Hershkowitz, Jed Matthias and Madison Mischler, trumpet
Finn Henell and Andrew Hanson, trombone
Meghan McFadden, vocals
Philip Ratner, piano
Bennett Cooper, guitar
Myan Sudharsanan, mridangam
Merry Cockroft, bass
Bornnie Kabongo, drums

***

Shhhhh!
composed and arranged by Bill Potts
featuring Jonah Panzer, alto sax; Finn Henell, trombone; Philip Ratner, piano

Harlem Nocturne
 Earle Hagen, arr. Rick Stitzel
featuring Matthew Herschkowitz, trumpet

Midnight in Harlem
Derek Trucks and Mike Mattison
featuring Bennett Cooper, guitar; Meghan McFadden, vocals; Myan Sudharsanan, mridangam; Bornnie Kabongo, drums

Winter Solstice
Jihye Lee
featuring Warren Atkison, tenor sax; Myan Sudharsanan, mridangam

Back in Time
Pat Metheny, arr. Bob Curnow
featuring Jed Matthias, trumpet

Elegy
Jonah Panzer '24
featuring Jonah Panzer, alto sax; Philip Ratner, piano

Wobble
Jeff Coffin, arr. Bret Zvacek
featuring Warren Atkison, tenor sax; Philip Ratner, piano; Bennett Cooper, guitar; Bornnie Kabongo, drums

***

Poster Session: 1 – 2 p.m.

Visit the Cordiner Hall foyer for the poster session and discussion with student presenters. More information, including a list of presenters and poster titles, is available on the Poster Presentations page.

Panel Session III: 2 – 3:15 p.m.

Location: Reid Campus Center Young Ballroom

Zoom Meeting Link

Marian Sandoval, Moderator

2 p.m. KATHERINE PRUDENT, ALÍ RODRÍGUEZ, Do the Traits Openness, Neuroticism, and Conscientiousness Moderate the Correlation Between Objective and Subjective Prospective Memory?

Whereas many studies have explored how personality traits relate to different kinds of memory, little is known about the link between personality traits and prospective memory (PM). PM, the ability “to remember to remember” to do something, is essential to everyday adaptive functioning. In this study, we test whether the traits openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism moderate the relationship between subjective and objective PM. Subjective PM, measured via self-report, refers to peoples' opinions about their own memory functioning, while objective PM is measured as actual performance on relevant memory tasks. Healthy participants aged 18 to 85 were asked to complete a PM and personality questionnaire and two objective PM tasks. We hypothesized that the correlation between subjective (self-reported) PM and objective (task-based) PM scores would increase, separately, with higher openness and conscientiousness, and decrease with higher neuroticism. Overall this research could contribute valuable insight for the development of personalized memory strategies.
Faculty Sponsor: Pavel Blagov
Research Funding Source: Department of Psychology

2:15 p.m. GRACE HAMMARLUND, ALEX FELLER, "Don’t Act Disgusted!”: Nurses’ Disgust Sensitivity and Empathy as Predictors of Quality of Care

Research suggests that health-care providers demonstrate avoidance behaviors toward patients with disgusting symptoms (Hadjittofi et al., 2020) and nursing students’ care behaviors are related to their disgust sensitivity (Özkan et al., 2021). However, little examination of the connection between disgust sensitivity and care has been made in registered nurses, who have more overall autonomy. Empathy in nurses serves as a motivating force to provide care (Dijker & Raeijmaekers, 1999), but it is unknown whether more empathetic individuals, regardless of their disgust sensitivity, are more motivated to assist through caring behaviors. To explore these questions, we studied a data set of registered nurses who self-reported measures of empathy, caring behaviors, and disgust sensitivity. An interactive program, MouseView, was also used to test how frequently study participants looked at disgusting versus neutral images. With our work, we seek to bring a greater mindfulness to this issue among practicing registered nurses.
Faculty Sponsors: Erin Pahlke and Tom Armstrong
Research Funding Source: Whitman Internship Grant

2:30 p.m. AUDREY PETERSON, Explicit Ratings Towards People of Poverty

People of high socioeconomic status (SES) have explicit and implicit biases toward people of low SES, which may manifest as the labeling of low-SES individuals as "dirty" or the act of avoiding contact with them for fear of being contaminated. These reactions occur both via conscious and unconscious emotions of disgust, eliciting different disgust responses in individuals according to their levels of sensitivity to disgust. These biases against low-SES individuals are demonstrated in studies through measures such as low ratings of feelings of warmth and high ratings of dehumanization toward people of low SES. For this project, we sought to discover whether study participants would explicitly dehumanize and act biased toward low-SES individuals. We found overwhelming support for the identification of these biases; furthermore, we found that participants’ own level of disgust sensitivity moderates the effects of explicit bias, but does not affect dehumanization.
Faculty Sponsors: Chanel Meyers and Melissa Clearfield

2:45 p.m. ELLA NELSON, HANNAH RUDMAN, Social Support and Recidivism

The United States has the largest incarceration rate of any industrialized country, with around 500 individuals currently incarcerated per 100,000 residents (Antenangeli & Durose, 2021). When incarcerated individuals are released back into society, they face a variety of challenges in the process of re-assimilating into a community. Using data from a local Walla Walla non-profit organization, STAR project, our research project examined the factors that contribute to recidivism among previously incarcerated individuals. The STAR project’s mission is to aid justice-involved persons as they reintegrate into the community as contributing members of society. The factors we examined include foster care, proximity to family members, quality of family relationships, proximity to friends, quality of friendships, and other social support systems. Our research is important because it investigates which support systems are most helpful for previously incarcerated individuals as well as providing the STAR Project with data about the efficacy of their program.
Faculty Sponsor: Erin Pahlke

3 p.m. JULIA HESS, Envisioning a Sustainable Future of Burial: A Comparative Analysis of Natural and Conventional Cemeteries

Burial is an important means of honoring and memorializing the deceased, and cemeteries hold important meaning for many families and communities. However, conventional burial is also resource- and land-intensive, and cemeteries are ever-growing. This reality necessitates a reckoning with what the future of burial may need to look like, in order for it to be both culturally adequate and environmentally sustainable. My sociology thesis research asks: how could a comprehensive understanding of the differences and overlaps in the practices and philosophies of natural cemeteries and conventional cemeteries inform a more sustainable future of burial in the United States? Unlike conventional cemeteries, natural cemeteries do not permit embalming, non-biodegradable caskets, or concrete grave vaults, intending to promote the natural decomposition of the body. Drawing on interviews with cemetery managers from a variety of cemetery types, I will discuss the potential for cultural change around burial practices.
Faculty Sponsor: Michelle Janning
Research Funding Source: Department of Sociology

Location: Maxey Hall Auditorium

Zoom Meeting Link

Rebecca Patterson, Moderator

2 p.m. JOSHUA GREGG, Aquatic Adaptations of Tooth-Bearing Bones in New World Coral Snakes (Micrurus)

New World coral snakes (Micrurus) are small, venomous, and often brightly colored members of the snake family Elapidae. Coral snakes are understudied due to their secretive habits; many coral snake species live on land in burrows or under leaf litter, but some are aquatic and prey on small fish and eels in streams or other small bodies of water. Most research on aquatic snakes has focused on sea snakes. Coral snakes present an opportunity to analyze aquatic features in snakes with a more direct comparison to closely related terrestrial species. My research involves analyzing computerized tomography (CT) scans of the skulls of terrestrial and aquatic New World coral snakes to identify aquatic adaptations of tooth-bearing bones. These adaptations involve tooth size, shape, and number as well as the shape of the bones themselves.
Faculty Sponsor: Kate Jackson

2:15 p.m. COLIN SPEIRS, Target Training of Crested Porcupine and Their Relative Dependency on Sight and Sound

Target training through reinforcement has been a cornerstone procedure for the training of novel behavior in animals. In the following study, two African crested porcupines (Hystrix cristata) were trained to touch their nose to a target, with and without bells, from any distance. I measured the amount of time that it took each porcupine to touch their nose to the target from 2 meters away. The study allowed for the examination of the porcupine’s relative dependency on their eyes when compared to their ears; hereto, there have been no studies concerning crested porcupines' dependence on eyesight or hearing. Our results enabled us to determine that bells at the end of a target help a porcupine find the target more quickly. Thus we can conclude that porcupines rely more heavily on sound, rather than on sight.
Faculty Sponsor: Kate Jackson
Research Funding Source: Whitman Internship Grant

2:30 p.m. GISELLE HAUSMANN, Shark Behaviors in the Mangroves and Shallow Reefs of South Caicos

Along with peers at the School for Field Studies, I sought to better understand the abundance and behaviors of nurse sharks and Caribbean reef sharks in two distinct habitats off South Caicos Island. To examine their behaviors and ecosystems, we set up baited remote underwater videos (BRUVs) in two ecosystems at six different sites. Three sites were in a marine protected area shallow reef ecosystem. The other three were in red mangrove systems, chosen based on their proximity to the town's dump and airport in order to study environmental impacts. Video analyses of the BRUV footage determined where shark numbers were highest or lowest and how sharks were behaving around each other and by themselves. Overall, we observed that mangrove ecosystems appear to support more juvenile sharks for a shorter period of time, possibly due to environmental factors, and reef systems sustain more adult sharks, on average, for longer periods.
Faculty Sponsor: Kate Jackson
Off-Campus Studies Program: The School for Field Studies: Turks and Caicos Marine Resource Studies

2:45 p.m. CHRISTA ULLERY, SIERRA SMITH, Effect of Increased Corticosterone in Ovipositing Hens on Song Learning in Male Zebra Finch Offspring

Prenatal stress is associated with adverse outcomes in child development. The effects of prenatal exposure to the stress-related hormone cortisol/corticosterone (CORT) on learning are still unclear in both humans and animals. This study aims to determine how prenatal stress affects vocal learning, a subcomponent of language, in male zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) offspring. To investigate this, we administered CORT to hens during egg formation. Hens were assigned to one of three conditions: (1) dosed peanut oil containing CORT, (2) dosed only peanut oil, (3) not dosed and therefore, not handled. Pupil learning was quantified by comparing how well pupils matched their song to their tutor’s. We predict that dosing CORT and handling will raise the levels of circulating CORT in hens and that this increase in stress-related hormone will affect the programming of the offspring's HPA axis, therefore making the offspring of stressed hens learn their tutor’s song less accurately.
Faculty Sponsor: Nancy Day

3 p.m. NICOLE SONG, Effects of Fluoxetine on Courtship Behavior in Zebra Finches

As diagnosis of depression increases, there is a growing need for pharmacological treatment such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs); unfortunately, these treatments end up in water systems as waste products and alter animal behavior. The cascading effects of SSRI contamination have been observed in wild Eurasian starlings fed wax worms that were dosed with fluoxetine, an SSRI; the male birds exhibited an increase in aggression towards dosed females. My project investigates whether the courtship behavior of male zebra finches is altered following administration of an environmentally relevant or pharmaceutically prescribed dosage of fluoxetine. To test this hypothesis, I analyzed changes in zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) courtship songs. Male zebra finches sing in two different contexts: undirected (alone) and directed (to females). Previous studies have shown directed songs are less variable; therefore, changes in song can be quantified to determine whether exposure to SSRIs impact reproductive fitness in songbird species.
Faculty Sponsor: Nancy Day
Research Funding Source: Faculty-Student Summer Research Award

Location: Olin Hall Auditorium
Overflow room: Olin 129

Zoom Meeting Link

Ben Grabau, Moderator

2 p.m. DANIEL DANG, KIMO BOWDEN, ESMI GALVAN, ALEXANDER JACKSON, Improving the Accessibility of Data Analysis in Online Mouse-Tracking Experiments

MouseView.JS is an online alternative to traditional eye tracking methodology that is currently being used to study affective sciences such as disgust, sexuality, depression, and specific phobias. However, the software that psychology researchers use with MouseView.JS provides data from the experiment in the form of complex spreadsheets that cannot be easily interpreted. With so many participants and trials in a single experiment, psychology researchers with often little to no programming experience find it difficult to derive meaning from their data. In our project, we wrote software that makes sense of this data and presents it in a much more comprehensible format. In doing so, we make mouse tracking experiments more accessible to researchers and allow this kind of research to expand into other areas of psychology.
Faculty Sponsors: William Bares and Tom Armstrong

2:30 p.m. VRENI TODD, ETHAN BERMAN, JAKE TORREY, Whitman College Technology Services' Shift-Scheduling Application Revamp

Whitman College Technology Services employs students in a variety of positions on campus with flexible hours. The shift management process has revamped their system to streamline the process of scheduling student shifts. The updates to the system allows administrators to create weekly shifts within the application to avoid the tedious work of having to manually enter in students’ availability. Students benefit from the new system as it now incorporates Google Calendar capabilities and automatically synchronizes to students’ personal calendars. Utilizing MongoDB, React, NodeJS, and FullCalendar, this tool allows student workers to use their Google Calendars to indicate their availability. With improved CSS styling, the shift management tool makes it easy for students to view their shifts for the week and to pick up or drop any unclaimed shifts.
Faculty Sponsor: William Bares

Location: Reid Campus Center Room G02
Overflow room: Hunter Conservatory Kimball Theatre

Zoom Meeting Link

Julien Comardelle, Moderator

2 p.m. CARMEL STEPHAN, Implications of a Dark Ontology

This talk puts Charles Mills’ “Dark Ontologies” and Sander Gilman’s “Are Jews White? Or the History of the Nose Job” into conversation with each other in order to show how the two arguments –– each about race –– supplement one another. Both arguments refer to what Mills terms a “global dark ontology,” which he defines as a social ontology that invokes a “Herrenvolk [master race] Kantianism” in which all people are considered human, but only White males are respected. However, Mills and Gilman disagree on where Jews are located within this dark ontology, that is, they disagree about whether or not Jews are "white." This tension invites exploration of Gilman’s focus on the physiological and psychological implications of racism and antisemitism, expanding Mills’ argument in a manner that allows for further reflection on what it means to be positioned within a "dark ontology."
Faculty Sponsor: Julia Ireland

2:15 p.m. KEZIAH ECKERT, Classification, Disease, and Bureaucracy: The Modern Tools of the Holocaust

This paper extends the argument put forward by Zygmunt Bauman in exploring how racism differs from simple prejudice in that it is characterized by classification and enabled by bureaucracy. I begin by discussing how Enlightenment rationality, specifically the typological thinking of Immanuel Kant, was instrumental in the creation of a system of racial classification that was ontologically explanatory. These classifications influenced the dangerous pseudoscience of eugenics, whose racial biologism was a key part of Nazi ideology. In the 20th century, bureaucracy allowed these ideas to be executed in the form of the Holocaust. The realization that racism is necessarily systemic, rather than based on individual beliefs, implies collective responsibility in confronting the complicated history of race.
Faculty Sponsor: Julia Ireland

Afternoon Jazz Intermission: 3:15 – 3:45 p.m.

Jazz Combo I
Dr. Doug Scarborough, Director
Hall of Music: Chism Recital Hall

Vimeo Live Stream

***

Meghan McFadden, vocals
Jonah Panzer, alto sax
Jed Matthias, trumpet
Philip Ratner, piano
Bennett Cooper, guitar
Merry Cockroft, bass
Bornnie Kabongo, drums

***

Panel Session IV: 3:45 – 5 p.m.

Location: Reid Campus Center Young Ballroom

Zoom Meeting Link

Brandon Martínez Serrano, Moderator

3:45 p.m. SIENA HOGAN, Finding Feminine Identity After Franco

For roughly a third of the twentieth century, Spain was under rule of the dictator Francisco Franco. Under his regime the media was heavily censored; however, after his death, a countercultural movement named La Movida exploded in Madrid. This included artists such as Andy Warhol and Pedro Almodóvar who sought to create a space for rebellion after a long period of being silenced. This talk is an investigation of the reclamation of power and identity for women after the Franquist dictatorship in Spain, in conversation with “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,” a film by Pedro Almodóvar. I will discuss La Falange, a group that spread conservative discourse about women and gender roles during the dictatorship, and the ways Almodóvar used color and clothing to demonstrate how the main character, Pepa, broke the mold of traditional femininity in Spain.
Faculty Sponsor: Aaron Aguilar-Ramirez

4 p.m. JOZIE MUNCH-ROTOLO, Her Dreams Are True: An Expression of Intergenerational Plains Womanhood

My presentation analyzes Wendy Red Star’s print, Her Dreams Are True, which was featured in the Sheehan Gallery’s Fall exhibit, You Are Here. Whitman has acquired the piece as a part of its permanent art collection. Due to Red Star’s prominence in the art world and the striking qualities of the piece, Her Dreams Are True makes a valuable addition to Whitman’s collection. However, the acquisition of this piece should not be the end of the discussion. The lithograph employs visually striking forms that symbolize Plains Indian culture and womanhood, along with historical photographs of Red Star’s own grandmother. Through my presentation, I aim to demystify some of these cultural symbols and show the power behind putting them into conversation. The manipulation of these images puts forth a message about identity and generational ties, giving them new meaning and new life.
Faculty Sponsor: Lisa Uddin
Research Funding Source: Sheehan Gallery

4:15 p.m. ISSABELLA ZITO, Strong and Unmoving: Creation with Her Children in the Sheehan Gallery

Centuries of genocide and colonization have sought to destroy Indigenous communities throughout what is now known as the United States, but faced with this persecution, these communities continue to survive and grow. Through a close analysis of Merritt Johnson's and Nicholas Galanin’s piece Creation with Her Children, which was recently featured in the Sheehan Gallery’s Fall 2021 show You Are Here, my research looks at the defense and continuity of Indigenous identity. How does Creation with Her Children operate in the physical space of the gallery? How are the viewers influenced by that operation? What, then, is Creation with Her Children doing in the Sheehan Gallery? My presentation will examine these questions and put them into conversation with Johnson's and Galanin’s treatment of colonial infrastructure, clothing, and generational cultural language, so as to read Creation with Her Children as a project of protection.
Faculty Sponsor: Lisa Uddin

4:30 p.m. GABI MARSHALL, A Blanket Statement

What are blankets? What can they do? Why are they made, and for whom? To address these questions, in this presentation I offer a close reading of Seneca artist Marie Watt’s 2011 textile work, Part and Whole: Remnant, Requiem, Hand. Watt's blanket piece is made up of creamy-colored textile boxes with rows of darker gray boxes that are dotted with colors extending inward from the sides. To most, a blanket may just be another object that we use in our day-to-day lives. Part and Whole turns toward Watt’s Seneca tribe to activate the blanket as a form for storytelling among members of her Seneca tribe and other Indigenous nations. Here, the stories of the Haudenosaunee people stitch together reclaimed wool textiles as a broader act of reclamation. The piece becomes part of Watt’s larger practice of blanket-making circles, holding space for Indigenous women to gather and materialize their stories.
Faculty Sponsor: Lisa Uddin

4:45 p.m. WEST SKROBIAK-BALES, Trans Formations: Gender, Violence, and Bodies in Ovid’s Metamorphoses

In Metamorphoses, the Roman poet Ovid presents an interwoven collection of bodies shaped into political, cultural, and social norms moved into unstable states, continually shape-shifting between reconstituted forms of being. Bodily boundaries are repeatedly crossed, violated, and redrawn. My presentation conducts a close reading of the only six gender-based transformations—where a person crosses from one gender role/identity to another—in this imperial-Roman act of poetic violence. Ovid’s poetic crafting forcibly center-stages anxieties regarding culturally-contingent conceptions of body, identity, and violence. Transformations involving the physical form represent a reminder that what might be considered unchanging aspects of behavior are built upon mutable foundations. I argue that Ovid has an interest in projecting poetic authority in “horrific delights” via bodily mutability. Through poetic, metamorphic processes, he suggests an undoing of norms, thereby calling into question (while never answering, and even attempting to claim a sort of immortality via) oppressive notions of “order.”
Faculty Sponsor: Sarah Davies

Location: Maxey Hall Auditorium

Zoom Meeting Link

Rudy Gupta, Moderator

3:45 p.m. SAMANTHA STEWART, Sargassum: The Atlantic Ocean’s Most Unique Ecosystem

Sargassum is a family of algae that grows in the North Atlantic Ocean and floats on the ocean surface. These floating sargassum masses create a unique ecosystem in the Sargasso Sea, where wind and water currents push sargassum into the North Atlantic Gyre. Sargassum provides food and shelter for hundreds of species, from invertebrates to dolphins. I collected samples of Sargassum from three large marine ecosystems along the North Atlantic Coast and analyzed the communities living on and around them. These data can be used to understand how different measures of temperature and salinity, as well as different sargassum species, affect their communities. Understanding what animals live among these communities increases our understanding of Sargassum's importance to the world.
Faculty Sponsor: Kate Jackson
Off-Campus Studies Program: SEA Semester: Marine Biodiversity and Conservation

4 p.m. EMMA BEAVER, Effects of Edge-Length-to-Bed-Area Ratios in Seagrass Beds on Shiner Perch

Seagrasses (Zostera marina and Phyllospadix spp.) are vital to marine ecosystems because they provide nursery habitats for many fish species, prevent erosion by trapping and stabilizing sediment, and sequester carbon dioxide; however, seagrass beds are shrinking and becoming patchier. In this study, we sought to determine whether there was a relationship between the edge-to-area ratio in seagrass beds, and the populations of the common small fish, shiner perch (Cymatogaster aggregata). We conducted surveys in the intertidal and upper sub-tidal areas during the summer low tides by taking aerial drone photos to measure the seagrass bed area and performing a beach seine to count and measure the various fish species in the area. Our results can inform longer-term restoration efforts in eelgrass beds as well as better inform other research as to whether fish species are being affected.
Faculty Sponsor: Tim Parker
Research Funding Sources: National Science Foundation, University of Alaska Fairbanks

4:15 p.m. ALEX GERBER, Climate-Related Decline of an Ecologically Important Perennial Grass

Bluebunch wheatgrass is a perennial bunchgrass native to the western United States. Recently, its numbers have been on the decline. At Spring Gulch in the Wallula Gap Biological Station, bluebunch is much more common on north-facing slopes compared to south-facing slopes. The low density of bluebunch wheatgrass on south-facing slopes may be a result of higher temperatures and less soil moisture due to increased solar radiation. To test this hypothesis, we created shaded and open (unshaded) plots on the south-facing slopes of Spring Gulch and tracked bluebunch seed germination and seedling survival in both plot types. On top of this, we ran naturally and experimentally seeded trials to create a robust data set. Our observations of dramatically lower seed germination and seedling survival in unshaded plots suggest that climate change may drive the decline of bluebunch populations not only on south-facing slopes, but everywhere that it is found.
Faculty Sponsor: Tim Parker
Research Funding Source: Faculty-Student Summer Research Award

4:30 p.m. MADDIE BOWERS, Plant Size as a Predictor of Mortality in Bluebunch Wheatgrass

Perennial plants in semi-arid systems typically have low survivorship early in life and decreased mortality as the plant ages. This life history pattern has been observed in bluebunch wheatgrass at Spring Gulch in Wallula Gap, Washington, over the last ten years, leading us to hypothesize that plants that reach a large size may live for several decades. To better understand survivorship of large bluebunch wheatgrass plants within this system, we tracked individuals over multiple years. We found that proportional decline in plant size is related to an increased likelihood of death. In our observations, large bluebunch plants died at least one year after declining in size. It would thus appear that senescence is a precursor to death in large bluebunch wheatgrass plants. Furthermore, while we did explore the influence of hillside aspect on plant death, the hotter conditions on south-facing slopes did not appear to increase the risk of mortality.
Faculty Sponsor: Tim Parker
Research Funding Source: Faculty-Student Summer Research Award

4:45 p.m. LEAH SAMUELS, Testing the Mechanisms of Pattern Formation in Monkeyflowers

Complicated and diverse patterns arise in a multitude of organisms, from a zebra's stripes to the alternating leaves of a fern. One way in which these patterns may arise is through positional specificity, wherein visual components correspond to specific landmarks on the organism.  F2 hybrids of Mimulus cupreus and Mimulus luteus var. variegatus (monkeyflowers) show diverse, novel pigmentation patterns, which provide an ideal system to study pattern formation. In this study, I hypothesize that petal veins may act as positional markers for anthocyanin spots, testing the idea by experimentally altering vein location. I applied several compounds (IAA, PATI-3 and OVP-2) to buds and grew plants on chemical-infused agar plates to induce changes in vein location during bud development. I also identified a gene involved in vascular development that could be targeted to disrupt petal veins. My findings suggest multiple experimental avenues for future investigation of pigment pattern development.
Faculty Sponsor: Arielle Cooley
Research Funding Source: National Science Foundation

Location: Olin Hall Auditorium
Overflow room: Olin 129

Zoom Meeting Link

Ben Grabau, Moderator

3:45 p.m. NOAH KAPLAN, MAX HARVEY, Lab Automation to Explore the Synthesis of Silver Nanocrystals

Many materials take on novel properties when they have dimensions on the nanoscale, opening up new opportunities for applications. For example, gold and silver nanocrystals are being explored for applications ranging from photothermal cancer therapy to antimicrobial agents. Our group designed and built a software architecture that connects a liquid-handling pipetting robot, an intuitive Google Sheets User Interface (UI), and a UV-vis spectrometer to measure nanocrystal color. This platform allows for complex automated experiments to explore recipes for synthesizing silver nanocrystals. In its default mode, the system executes a Google Sheets reaction protocol designed by a chemist, but our team has designed an extension to the system that allows the robot to run fully autonomous experiments, where an algorithm generates the recipes for the robot to run. These enhancements may lead to discoveries within nanocrystal synthesis, allowing for exciting discoveries in the material sciences.
Faculty Sponsors: Mark Hendricks and William Bares
Research Funding Sources: Faculty-Student Summer Research Award, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust

4:15 p.m. LEILA PETERSON, STEPHANIE FULTON, ERROL BUCY, DANIELA VILLAGOMEZ, KALILOU ALI KADIRI, CORBIN ATACK, Creating a Website for a Currently Inaccessible Chemical Database

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Standard Reference Database 46 provides chemists around the world with access to thousands of critically evaluated stability constants for ligands and metal complexes. It is an essential resource for conducting research involving these materials. However, the database application has not been updated since 2004, and chemists who wish to view thisese data are currently forced to run this program on a computer with the Windows XP operating system. A previous capstone team extracted the chemical constants from the deprecated database, and we created a website to display thisese data in a more user-friendly manner. In this presentation, we will provide an overview of both the technologies we used and our process of creating the “Aggregated Properties of Aqueous Equilibria” (APACE) website. We are grateful both to Whitman College for their monetary support and to NIST for allowing us to use their data.
Faculty Sponsors: John Stratton and Nate Boland
Research Funding Source: Amazon Corporation

Archives for Presentations

Presenters archive their research in Penrose Library's ARMINDA Collections for viewing after the conference. Please refer to these instructions for further information.

Past WUC presentations are available for viewing in the ARMINDA Whitman Undergraduate Conference Collections.

For any corrections to this page, please contact Jenny Stratton (strattjm@zoloftbirthdefectlawyer.com).