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2008 McNair Program Abstracts

Breaking Point
Angela Bailey
Mentor: Chad Broughton, Ph.D.

This project examines the aftermath of the Rodney King Riots in Los Angeles. Methods include combining statistical information with interviews from a diverse group of twenty people in the community that were affected by the tragedy. The study attempts to determine whether the social problems that created the atomic atmosphere that allowed the riots to occur are still present today. The results of this project will determine whether another riot in Los Angeles is just one incident away from happening, or if not, how did the social problems of Los Angeles improve? The answers to these questions seek to provide information to researchers who want to further understand exactly what creates a functional social climate within cities across the country.

Savage Inequalities -- Inner City Chicago's Education Revisited
Quinnetta Bellows
Mentor:

Jonathan Kozol's Savage Inequalities presented evidence of inequality in education between students in Chicago's inner city neighborhoods and students in suburban communities during the early 1990s. This research is a quantitative and qualitative comparison between public educations offered at ManleyHigh School in the North Lawndale community in the inner-Chicago area, with that of the NewTrierTownship in the Winnetka community. My study examines whether inequality still persists by comparing New Trier and ManlyHigh school in regards to influences in the family and community, school funding in regards to tax distribution for education, and resources provided by the school. Three students and one teacher were interviewed from each school on their perspective of the issue of inequality, and how they felt about schools that had limited or exceeding resources. The purpose of this research is to identify if inequality still persists among the communities or whether there has been change since the publication of Savage Inequalities.

Masculinity, Sex and the Single Black Male
Tiffany Bradley
Mentor: Heather Hoffmann, Ph.D.

Previous studies have found inconsistent condom use by men in relationships. The current study examined condom use by single, heterosexual Black males aged 18-25 in the Chicago metropolitan area and asked whether consistency of condom use differed between males in committed relationships and single males. Participants completed a survey as well as a semi-standardized interview to assess attitudes about women, masculinity, and condom use. Results indicate that social and cultural norms influence attitudes about masculinity and sexuality. The group as a whole did not fully endorse traditional male role norms. Status was slightly supported with the highest average value, the toughest norm was neither supported nor rejected, and the anti-femininity norm was slightly rejected.

The Purpose of Art: Ideologies of the Harlem Renaissance
Joycelyn Hubbard
Mentor: Mark Holmes, Ph.D.

The Harlem Renaissance, a period when Harlem was in vogue as the poet Langston Hughes describes it, was a time from the 1920s to the late 1930s when black artists, writers, and musicians had the opportunity to redefine and celebrate their culture. Jacob Lawrence, William H. Johnson, and Romare Bearden are often thought of when the Harlem Renaissance is mentioned. While these artists were greatly influenced by the art world around them they were driven by the desire to reattach to their African roots. Many artist were put into a box of what their work should be because of the strong need to represent African Americans in a positive way. Paintings of the time where known for their political twist with an African aesthetic hand. The obligation to create for ones race may have limited African American artists from fully reaching their peak of creativity. With the downfall of the Harlem Renaissance around the corner African American artists of the Harlem Renaissance were going down with it. Although many of the paintings during that time were profound, illustrating horrific moments in African American history to where they have come today, they were still just illustrations that could be packaged up as the African American experience and stored in an art museum. The Harlem Renaissance was a positive movement for African American artists especially for those artists who could break out of the box to reinvent themselves in their work but for the many who could not it was somewhat of a crutch that African American artists feel obligated to this day.

Resource Management in Zacatecas, Mexico
Selene Gonzalez
Mentor:

The objective of my research was to investigate the natural resource management (NRM) practices that Mexico utilizes and their influence on Latin America as well as the United States. Interviews were gathered from various groups in the state of Zacatecas, Mexico -- farmers, consumers, and municipal and government officials -- in addition to chronological data on preceding NRM practices. I anticipate the my investigation will develop a better understanding of how Mexico is addressing land and water problems made worse by diminishing resources and increasing population in the context of the globalization era.

Creation of the 34-112 GrpE Mutant for Structural Analysis
Jeffrey Johnson
Mentor: Andrew Mehl, Ph.D.

The protein GrpE is a cochaperone the DnaK complex of E. coli. GrpE assists in DnaK's function of assisting proteins during the folding process. GrpE is a homodimer that forms a 4-helix bundle at the dimer interface, which is a unique feature in multimeric proteins. In previous work, GrpE's structure was probed through the formation of several deletion mutants.[1] Instead of forming a dimer, the first 112 amino acids formed a tetramer, which was an unexpected, interesting development. Determining the structure of this mutant has been difficult, because the first 33 amino acids are unstructured, long polypeptide appendages, which have hindered the formation of crystals for X-ray crystallography. Therefore, it is necessary to create the 34-112 GrpE mutant protein in order to further investigate its structure. The 34-112 GrpE mutant will be formed by digesting the first 33 amino acids with either papain or elastin protease. By removing these floppy ends, the mutant protein will be better suited for crystallization, which will lead to its structural characterization. With the structure of the tetramer 34-112 mutant, we will be able to further explore how four helix bundles are formed in multimeric proteins.
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[1] Mehl, Andrew F.; Heskett, Luke; Jain, Sumesh; Demeler, Borries. 2003. Protein Science. 12: 1205-1215.

Dirty Blood: A Social Construct. An analysis of the relationship between girls' menstrual attitudes, media exposure, and body dissociation.
Mercedes Klein
Mentor: Heather Hoffmann, Ph.D.

Menstrual taboos have existed for over a century in American culture, and they are still prevalent today. Mothers, female friends, and the media (e.g. advertisements, magazines, Internet, TV, film, and educational materials) are the major sources of information for girls regarding their periods; yet, these sources often perpetuate socially constructed messages instead of challenging them. This study looks at girls' attitudes towards their periods and how the media help to shape such attitudes in an attempt to see how girls today are navigating these age-old taboos. Girls from 11-18 years of age were asked to complete surveys measuring menstrual attitudes, media exposure, and how one relates to one's body. A subset of these girls were shown menstrual product ads and asked to critique the messages portrayed. They were later interviewed to discuss their attitudes in more detail. In a patriarchal society girls are taught to disconnect from their bodies. Menarche may be a crucial time for this. Such a disconnection can lead to further consequences such as unhealthy sexual behavior, eating disorders, and low self-esteem. Thus, girls' initial attitudes towards their periods can continue to have consequences throughout their adult lives.

Changing Face of Chicago's Little Italy
Louis Munoz
Mentor: Chad Broughton, Ph.D.

In the late 1800's an immigration boom brought many diverse groups of people into the United States. Chicago and other growing cities attracted immigrants searching for work; each group of immigrants inhabited areas of these cities where their home culture was most abundant. Italian immigrants inhabited the Near West Side of Chicago which came to be known as "Little Italy." Many of the immigrants were eventually able to achieve middle class status as the area developed. Currently the area is in a condition of great change. What seems to be occurring is a large shift away from the previously dominant Italian culture into what might be called 'college culture.' With its close proximity to the University of Illinois in Chicago (UIC), there has been a great influx of college-age students into what were traditionally family neighborhoods. This study takes interviews from long time residents, business owners, and campus officials from UIC and analyzes them in order to find out the actions being taken by the college and the manner in which the neighborhood is reacting and responding.

The Tupamaros -- The Roots of Resistance
Alejandro Muzzio
Mentor:

The Tupamaros or MLN (moviemiento de liberation nacional) were a group of Marxist- Leninist guerrillas in Uruguay. They waged a guerrilla warfare based in the Capital, Montevideo. The MLN was active from 1962-1972 employing a variety of different revolutionary tactics. By succeeding in performing daring operations they challenged the governments power in the country and grew in popularity. However, due to shifting tactics and opposition, by 1972 most Tupamaros were dead, imprisoned, living clandestinely, or exiled. In 1973 Uruguayan military ended democracy, establishing a military regime. While in prison the Tupamaros consolidated their networks amongst themselves and other leftist political prisoners. When the military dictatorship ceded power in 1985 the Tupamaros emerged from prison organized and began working within the democratic system. They gradually gained political power and are now one of the most widely voted political parties in Uruguay. This paper explores individual experiences and attitudes among the Tupamaros interviewed in Uruguay. The interviews focus on their social and political backgrounds, reasons for joining the movement and the later shift to non-violent means for political change. This research serves to add to the body of knowledge regarding the Tupamaro-MLN organization on an individual level exploring personal struggles, the factors that influenced individuals to join, and the motivations that kept the movement active after the initial defeat.

All Good Things
Michael Prentice
Mentor:

Terror management theory (TMT) states that individuals defend their cultural worldview more strongly when death thoughts are made salient. This study examines whether individuals' conception of the good life changes when mortality is made salient. Subjects rate their agreement to statements about the good life that relate to ideas of eudaimonia (flourishing according to human potentials) and hedonism (seeking pleasure). The subjects are college students and residents in a small, Midwestern regional city. It is hypothesized that subjects will increase their investment in their idea of the good life when faced with death thoughts. Support for the hypothesis may indicate another way in which value systems are integral to terror management.

Who's Behind the Curtain? Content Analysis Stylometry for Authorship Resolution
Yvonne Ramirez
Mentor:

Previous research by Jose Binongo determined that The Royal Book of Oz was written by Ruth Plumly Thompson and not by Lyman Frank Baum, as was originally attributed. This study re-evaluates these findings using stylometric analysis to determine whether notes written before Baum's death may have inspired Thompson's work. Building off of previous stylometric techniques involving neural networks and content analysis, this paper details a new method of analysis that evaluates the instrumental and terminal moral values present in a text. Using this concept, a computer program is written that is able to determine which author The Royal Book of Oz is more closely aligned. The success of this method will enable other cases of texts with questionable authorship to be resolved using the same technique in further research.

In the late 1800's an immigration boom brought many diverse groups of people into the United States. Chicago and other growing cities attracted immigrants searching for work; each group of immigrants inhabited areas of these cities where their home culture was most abundant. Italian immigrants inhabited the Near West Side of Chicago which came to be known as "Little Italy." Many of the immigrants were eventually able to achieve middle class status as the area developed. Currently the area is in a condition of great change. What seems to be occurring is a large shift away from the previously dominant Italian culture into what might be called 'college culture.' With its close proximity to the University of Illinois in Chicago (UIC), there has been a great influx of college-age students into what were traditionally family neighborhoods. This study takes interviews from long time residents, business owners, and campus officials from UIC and analyzes them in order to find out the actions being taken by the college and the manner in which the neighborhood is reacting and responding.

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