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2009 McNair Program Abstracts

Time Constraints: Temporality and Femininity in Otto Preminger's Laura (1942) and Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca (1940)
Elizabeth Barrios
Mentor: Dr. Robert McClure Smith, Knox College

Although Hitchcock's Rebecca (1940) and Preminger's Laura (1942) initially appear to be about the eponymous title characters; the focus ultimately lies on how men perceive these women in relation to other female characters. This results in a split depiction of femininity, which reflects cultural anxieties about an evolving definition of womanhood in the United States of the 1940s. On the one hand, we have absent female ideals, women possessing beauty, strength, wealth and, as is the case with Laura, fruitful careers. On the other hand, the present women, often the film's protagonist, cannot measure up to the idealized absent woman

The Solving of the Quintic Equation
Daniel Guzman
Mentor: Dr. Andrew Leahy, Knox College

For centuries, mathematicians have tried and failed to come up with a formula for the general quintic equation. We will determine why this is so by exploring both the history and mathematics behind the unsolvability of the quintic from contributions made by mathematicians in the eighteenth and nineteenth century as well as works by Saul Stahl and Hans Wussing.

Perceptions of Serial Killers and Celebrities
Christina Pfaff
Mentor: Dr. Frank McAndrew, Knox College

In this study, we attempted to understand the different ways people respond to serial killers. Specifically, we were interested in discovering the factors that would increase interest in and sympathy toward serial killers, and also in determining which of these factors were essential in creating "celebrity status" for serial killers. Our results were based on a sample of college students who filled out Maltby et al's version of the Celebrity Attitude Scale (CAS) along with a survey of attitudes towards serial killers. We found no significant correlations between interest in serial killers and scores on the CAS, though their overall relationship was negative.

Windows of the Second Country: An Inquiry into the Creative Writing of Inmates
Alejandro Rivera
Mentor: Professor Robin Metz, Knox College

This is not a study about prison writing as a genre. Rather, it is a study of how an inmate creates, an act of total freedom, in a space designed for subjection and anonymity. It is an exploration of the writing of those we deem the social outcasts, people who have broken the law and, consequently, our trust, left to be warehoused away from our sight. With this paper, I hope to generate more interest in prison studies that are not just from a sociological point of view but from a multitude of concentrations.

Imagines of Femininity in Japanese Animation
Nicole Ruffin
Mentor: Dr. William Young, Knox College

This study is an analyzation of anime, Japanese animation, from a feminist perspective with the aim of understanding the effects that viewing anime may have on an audience's views of femininity and Japanese women. I have interviewed subjects who are fans of anime as well as cosplay designers in order to discover their views of femininity. This data will be cross-examined with the analysis of the animation. Negative views of women must be vanquished in the media, but, in order for that to happen, we must first discover how those portrayals effect public opinion.
You can't look, but you can touch: The effect of eye position in hidden reach tasks
Sarah Williams
Mentor: Dr. Alex Varakin, Knox College

This study examined the role of eye movements on speed when performing hidden reaches. Subjects were put under five eye position conditions while performing reaching tasks in which they (1) had no eye position constraints while reaching, (2) looked in different "mismatched" directions while reaching, (3) looked in the same "matched" direction as reaching, (4) fixated their eyes on one spot while reaching, and (5) only moved their eyes. Blind tasks involved reaching for objects inside a box apparatus which prevented subjects from seeing the objects while looking at one of six different colored squares on top of the box. Prompts for where to look and reach were displayed on a computer simultaneously: the prompt for eye position showed a color corresponding to one of six of the colors on the top of the box, and the prompt for reach target object showed a number which corresponded to one of six numbered objects within the box. Reaction times for the reaches under the different eye positions were gathered, and the results showed a significant relationship between eye position and reaches, such that reaches were quicker when eye position was in the same area as the reach.

Methodology Enhancement for the Spectroscopic Determination of Formation Constant Values for Terbium/EDTA Complexes
Toshia Reneé Zessin
Mentor: Dr. Lawrence Welch, Knox College

The goal of this study was to examine the possibility of using spectroscopy to find accurate formation constants (Kf) values for terbium/EDTA complexes. It is believed that terbium's unique luminescent properties, which increase in relation to the concentration of EDTA bound to the terbium ion, can be used to find Kf values. The Kf values were found to be based on the degree of luminescence of the complexes in relation to the concentration of terbium and EDTA. Steady-state luminescent data were collected using an OLIS spectrophotometer, and analyzed using the software program, pHAB. The validity of this technique is discussed.

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