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2011 McNair Program Abstracts

Song Learning in the Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus)
Erica Laine Badger
Mentor: Dr. Jim Mountjoy, Knox College,

The goal of this study was to examine song learning in the Red-eyed Vireo. A sample of birds (both new individuals and individuals identified in previous years) was banded and their songs recorded. One individual was analyzed and an estimate of his repertoire size was established. For 2008, 309 songs examined contained 80 different song types. Of 340 songs examined for 2009, there were 39 new song types and 15 song types carried over from 2008. A previous study by Scholl (2009) examining two years of recordings for two Red-eyed Vireos found that both individuals possessed a completely new repertoire in the second year. These results, as well as those presented in this research, strongly suggest that Red-eyed Vireos exhibit extended song learing.

Heat Shock Protein: Chaperones of the Cell
Shirley Dehn
Mentor: Dr. Andrew Mehl, Knox College

When a cell comes under stress, enzyme mis-folding can have grave impacts on cellular processes. Heat shock proteins are responsible for making sure these enzymes can reassume their correct structure or transport them to disposal sites in the cell. This study focused on the structure of GrpE, a heat shock protein found in the bacteria E. coli. GrpE contains a four helix bundle region joining the two subunits of the protein together. In order to determine whether a monomeric form of GrpE can be isolated, internal deletion mutants were created with portions of the four helix bundle missing. These mutants will then be compared to the wild type protein in terms of size and cross-linking.

The Economics of an Illegal Industry
Jessica DeMory
Mentor: Dr. Roy Anderson, Knox College

This study is about the economics of the cocaine industry. There are different characteristics that are looked at between supply and demand. For supply, the characteristics include the number of growers, wholesale bulkers, production, distributors, means of distribution, and the transfer from wholesale to retail. These characteristics are then compared to those of the illegal marijuana industry, to see the different operations between the two. The characteristics of the demand side of the cocaine industry are studied by the differences of demand between occasional users and addicts, the availability of substitute goods and income elasticity. These are then compared to the demand characteristics of the marijuana industry. Researching the characteristics of supply and demand, along with the costs and benefits of keeping cocaine illegal, I am trying to find the probability of the United States winning the War on Drugs. My tentative conclusion is the War on Drugs is not winnable. Yet, to make a definitive conclusion there are still some questions concerning the costs and benefits that need to be answered.

The True Cost of Procuring Male Condoms
Isaac Juarez
Mentor: Dr. Carol Scotton, Knox College

This cost analysis of male condom purchases for college students in a small Mid-Western city takes into account time, effort, and emotional costs as well as monetary costs. I am especially interested in the cost differential between males and female purchasers. Latex condoms are effective at preventing pregnancy and reducing the spread of STDs if used properly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2008); however, both men and women face psychological costs when using condoms. This includes, but is not limited to: responsibility, stigma, pride, and awkwardness. These "psychic costs" overlap with the obtainment of condoms, which is the first step to their actual use. Twenty-seven college students were interviewed to gather information on where condoms are obtained, the emotions experienced when procuring condoms, and the factors and considerations involved when deciding where to buy condoms. The interview questions are open-ended. Store and organization visits occurred to observe the extent of the obstacles that students faced at each location; looking at factors that were mentioned during interviews.

Creating Positive Personal Growth for Low-SES Students and Students of Color
Jordan K. Lanfair
Mentor: Dr. Stephen T. Schroth, Knox College

This project will present an innovative method for the inculcation of school age children. Using enforceable consequences and critical pedagogy, the current methods of interaction and education have been measured to yield subpar effects and result in negative relations between teachers and students. Initiatives that foster positive student behavior and academic performance show conclusive agreement with theoretical predictions and significant improvement over previous efforts by school reformers. The work presented here will have important implications for future studies of pedagogy and may one day alleviate the problem of retention and performance of school age students due to ineffective management.

A Novel Synthesis of Chiral β-Aminophosphonic Acids
Sasha Murphy
Mentor: Dr. Diana Cermak, Knox College

β-Aminophosphonic acids are important biologically active compounds that can mimic the enzyme-inhibiting activity of naturally existing amino acids. In order for these synthetic acids to be useful in biological systems, we must have reliable methods by which to create chiral β-aminophosphonic acids with high enantiomeric purity. My research this summer focused on improving known methods of asymmetric β-aminophosphonic acid synthesis and investigating new methods by which these acids can be created. This research will contribute to the growing body of knowledge in organic chemistry about both β-aminophosphonic acids and reliable asymmetric synthetic methods, working toward the ultimate goal of putting these acids to use in future drugs and herbicides.

How poetry functions in communities in the Midwest: A map of voices
Emily Oliver
Mentor: Professor Monica Berlin, Knox College

After reading many books by contemporary Midwestern poets, Knox College creative writing major Emily Oliver travelled to cities around the Midwest looking to discover where poetry and prose lives in the community. She documented her travel by recording audio poems and stories by writers living in each location and creating The Knox Writer's House, a website where the audio is posted and organized by city. The greater scope of this project is to continue recording writing through North, South and Central America, filling out a Map of Voices of the Americas. Her paper reflects on the experience of this travel, website making and addresses the common threads in both the poetry in the books she read and what she recorded in Midwest of the United States.

The Disneyfication of America: How the Disney Films of the 1990s Influenced a Generation
Rachel Perez
Mentor: Dr. Lori Schroeder, Knox College

Part fairy tale, part myth, and all corporate capitalist entity, the Walt Disney Company has a powerful stake in American culture. America likes to think of itself as a "melting pot," a place where people of every imaginable country, color, and creed not only coexist peacefully, but manage to create a national identity out of the pieces every individual member contributes. We like to think of ourselves as having a unified American culture: no easy feat. In order to achieve an identifiably American culture, we must find what makes us familiar to one another. We must define what makes us American. By presenting a common experience for children through the medium of animated film, Disney has become an authority of cultural signification in our country. This project focuses on the animated Disney films released between 1989 and 1998, and discusses the role these films play in the culture of the current college-aged generation in particular, as well as American society at large.

The Synthesis of β-Aminophosphonic Acids via β-Ketophosphonates
Antonina Pondo
Mentor: Dr. Diana M. Cermak, Knox College

The focus of this research will be the asymmetric synthesis of β-aminophosphonates - analogues of naturally occurring amino acids that exhibit potential biological activity. Acting as enzyme inhibitors, these biological mimics have been shown to terminate undesired cellular processes, thus greatly contributing to research in biomedical and agricultural applications. Once a methodology for creating these β-aminophosphonates is perfected, it can be utilized to synthesize an array of derivatives of other amino acids with varying biological effects. Progress toward the synthesis of β-aminophosphonates will be presented.

An examination of Americans' stereotypes of the French through 20th century films
Alison Spataro
Mentor: Dr. Frank McAndrew, Knox College

Americans' stereotypes concerning the French were explored through an examination of popular American films since the 1940s in which the French are portrayed. The relationship between the stereotypes found in scholarly sources and films and the political climate during the decades studied was examined. The goal of the project was to gain a clearer understanding of Americans' stereotypes about the French as they relate to changes in the relationship between France and America.

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