2001 Thesis Abstracts

Eric B. Brever

"All's Fair in Love and WAR: Combinatorics in a card game"

Advisor: Marc Brodie

A popular, yet very basic, card game is War. Played by children and adults alike, War is a game thought to have very little strategy involved in the game's outcome. Unlike card games such as blackjack and poker, in War, it seems the luck of the deck alone will determine the fate of the players. Under this commonly held assumption, a player has no idea when starting a game his or her chances of winning. An observant player, however, may recognize patterns in a game. For example is it possible that a game may not end? Is it plausible that an entire game be played without a match occurring? Some of these questions were asked and answered by Angela Chappell in her 1998 senior honors thesis. To find her answers, however, she had to establish a set of assumptions for the way the game was to be played. To illustrate, she generated her data using the convention that, if player A and B were playing War, and on the first hand player A's card was greater than player B's card, then A's card would go back to A's hand first before B's card. My project, then, is to change several of Ms. Chappell's assumptions and replay the games. In this way, I hope to further knowledge about the conjectures and theses she made in her research. In terms of the mathematical application, this project will explore a specialized use of permutations and optimally define them in group theory. As permutations have seemingly infinite potential, the ability to categorize and conjecture would add to a better understanding of their behavior.

Caroline P. Capecchi

"The Simultaneity of the Past and Present in Marcel Proust's Combray."

Advisor:  Camilla Krone

In this project I looked at the concept of time as portrayed in Combray, the first section of the French novel A la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Time Lost) by Marcel Proust.  I focused particularly on three aspects of the novel:   the role of synesthesia in evoking memory, the role of the church of Combray as a physical symbol of the presence of history, and the role of the character Francoise as a living symbol of the traditional past of France.  These three elements function to break down our preconceived notions of time as linear and introduce the idea of time as a fourth dimension, in which past and present exist simultaneously.

Nicholas T. Charboneau

"Interactive Voice Events Calendar: A Feasibility Project Using VXML

Advisor:  Carl Burch

The purpose of this project is to explore and test the concept of having an existing visual, PC-based application become audio, telephone-based.  The content of this project will be the College of St. Benedict/St. John's University Events Calendar located at www.csbsju.edu/calendar.  We will create an interactive VXML application to allow users to use a microphone connected to a "virtual telephone" to access the same information that is online on the Events Calendar web site.

Once the VXML application is completed, observations will be taken of users interacting with the visual-interface (web browser) Events Calendar and users interacting with the voice-interface Events Calendar.  Types of observations include time taken to accomplish each task, time taken to accomplish entire outline, and interface intuitiveness according to the user.  It is our hypothesis that users of the voice-interface Events Calendar will:  1) require more time for user to obtain information and 2) experience greater difficulty of use (more frustration) than users interacting with the visual interface of the PC.

It should be noted that there is an inherent bias in this study.  This bias is the fact that the users chosen, while having not used or seen the Events Calendar interface, will have knowledge of the computer interface (mouse, web browser, text on screen).   This will give those using the computer interface an edge over those that use the voice interface, and my hinder results.  All efforts will be made to keep this bias to a minimum.

Jeffery M. Freihammer

"Ambiguous: A Novel Exploring Gender and Identity"

Advisor:  John Kendall

Gender is one of the most fundamental elements of characterization that a reader considers when examining a novel.  In particular, readers tend to track a character's compliance with, or resistance against, certain sexual norms and expectations in order to build a relationship with that character, and understand the character's relationships with others.  In Ambiguous, I attempt to illustrate the importance of gender considerations by creating two main characters that are essentially gender neutral.   This is achieved through utilizing the first-person and second-person points over view, narrative voices that exclude gender specific pronouns.  Into this gender-neutral atmosphere, I introduce character elements that seem indicative of a particular gender, but can actually be displayed by either sex, such as emotional distance, discomfort in intimate situations, vulnerability, and negative body image.   Research for this project consisted in examining novels by men and women, representing both the heterosexual and homosexual perspective, and identifying their various viewpoints on gender.

Jenny Gardner

"A Modern Heroic Journey: An Exploration of Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut"

Advisor: Scott Richardson

The Heroic Journey is an archetypal pattern found in myths and folktales all over the world.  The universality of the journey has allowed for its widespread use of both literary and film narratives as a way for writers and filmmakers to explore human nature.   The journey the hero embarks on is a process of separation, initiation, and return that ultimately will produce a revelation that will better the hero's life.  This paper examines the pattern of the Heroic Journey and its archetypes, in an effort to demonstrate along with an in-depth analytical approach that Stanley Kubrick's final film, Eyes Wide Shut, follows the process of the Heroic Journey.  I propose to show that the film's protagonist, Dr. Bill Harford, is a hero who undergoes a separation from the world he knows, faces challenges and temptations in a night-time world of the unknown, and finally emerges with an awakened consciousness to confront a reality which his eyes were previously closed to; and in effect manages to challenge the idea of the traditional hero.

Kate Francis, Jerry Tischleder, and Sean Whitehead

"Reflections on Betrayal by Harold Pinter: A Creative Theatrical Project"

Advisor: Kaarin S. Johnson

Jerry Tischeleder, Sean Whitehead and I collaborated together to design, build, perform, direct, and publicize an independent student theatrical production of Harold Pinter's play, Betrayal.  All three of us have aspirations toward a career in professional theater and so our senior project served to bridge the transition from a sheltered, educational environment to a more professional world of theater at large.   The three of us received a grant through the Undergraduate Research Program so we could perform the production for the CSB/SJU community without admission fees.  We rehearsed throughout January 2001, engaging in both physical and mental explorations of our acting craft.  We performed three performances for over 300 people in February 2001.  Our Honors Senior Creative Project allowed us to gain confidence in our abilities as actors and to develop a more complete understanding of theater, while providing a worthwhile theatrical experience for our community.  Our experience with Betrayal has deepened our appreciation of our art and given us a number of skills that will help us in our future endeavors.

Shawn Hermans

"Nonuniversal Effects in the Homogenous Bose Gas"

Advisors: Thomas Kirkman and Eric Braaten

In 1924 Albert Einstein predicted the existence of a special type of matter now known as Bose-Einstein condensation.  However, it was not until 1995 that simple BEC (Bose-Einstein Condensation) was observed in a low-density Bose gas.  This recent experimental breakthrough has led to renewed theoretical interest in BEC.  The focus of my research is to more accurately determine basic properties of the interacting Bose gases.  In particular nonuniversal effect of the the energy density and condensate fraction will be explored.  The validity of the theoretical predictions obtained is verified by comparison to numerical data from the paper Ground State of a Homogeneous Bose Gas: A Diffusion Monte Carlo Calculation by Giorgini, Boronat, and Casulleras.

Marcy Hochhalter

"Education Success:  Achievement as a Function of Expectation

Advisor:  Linda Tennison

The present study compared the performances of forty-eight Introductory to Psychology students' scores on a mathematical exam before and after receiving manipulated written feedback regarding their scores.  Students in the positive feedback condition received scores eight points higher than their actual scores, and students in the negative feedback condition received eight points lower than their actual scores.  A statistically significant difference in the positive direction was found between pre- and post-test score of students in the negative and positive feedback conditions, indicating that feedback on performance has an effect on subsequent performance.

Sarah E. Holker

"The Effect Enrollment in a MN Charter School Has on the Academic Achievement of Its Students"

Advisor: Lynn Bye

The cost and effectiveness of public education has come to the forefront of public debate in America.  Statistics have shown that the educational system we currently have is failing our children.  Some parents are turning to private and other non-traditional schools in search of a better education for their children.  Are these new trends more cost effective, and do they provide a higher quality of education?   This paper will use a case study approach to examine on of these non-traditional schools, specifically public charter schools.  By examining City Academy, the nations first charter school, we will be able to determine the extent to which the school is succeeding in providing an alternative environment for high school drop outs to earn their diploma.

Kris Kampshoff

"Parallel Sparse Matrix Computations on Beowulf Clusters"

Advisor:  Mike Heroux

Sparse matrix computations are a critical component of computer simulation in many scientific and engineering applications.  Faster and more efficient methods for doing computations with sparse matrices are extremely beneficial to scientists and engineers, allowing them to study larger models and perform more detailed simulations of their problems.  Fluid dynamics, structural mechanics, and molecular dynamics are a few examples of the engineering and scientific areas of study that make extensive use of sparse matrix computations.

Heterogeneous computing clusters are designed to take advantage of rapidly improving technology.  Such clusters are made up of two or more different types of computers, often with greatly varying speeds and capabilities, which communicate through a central network.  New computers can be added to the cluster to take advantage of new technology; old nodes with obsolete technology can be removed altogether.  The Beowulf cluster, with which this study was performed, is an example of a heterogeneous computing environment. 

The flexibility of a heterogeneous cluster seems like a perfect fit for sparse matrix computations, but with that flexibility comes the necessity to avoid certain pitfalls of clustered computing.  The amount of work to be done on each separate node must be carefully measured and divided.  Also, older computing nodes must be eliminated from the cluster when they become obsolete.  This study focuses on these two problem areas of heterogeneous computing, and provides guidelines for the types of problems and data that are best suited for use with heterogeneous clusters.

Christi Kubista

Apple growers in Minnesota must control a variety of economically harmful insects.   To combat these pests, farmers must weigh the benefits of chemically controlled strategies (arbitrary pesticide spraying) to those environmentally based (organic farming).  I have found that a combination incorporating aspects of both methods (integrated pest management) is the most productive.  Farms that use the two extremes are not productive.  Pesticides are harmful to the environment, and cause crop depreciation.  Results of a survey indicate organic farming/natural predation is not economically feasible in Minnesota.  Parasitic insects have a narrow viable time frame for parasitism.  Research I conducted on the oblique-banded leaf roller, a fruit boring insect, supports this claim.  Due to the boring patterns exhibited by third instar larvae, natural predators can only come in contact with them during their first or second instar, before they enter the fruit.  Pesticides must be used to combat these pests.  A combination of integrated pest management, physiological research on parasitic and predatory insects and the use of natural predators is most economically viable.

Thomas Lewandowski

"Exploring Don DeLillo's Underworld: Counterhistory, Language, and Hope

Advisor:  Mara Faulkner

Don De Lillo's Underworld confronts suffocating cold-war ideology, seemingly infinite media power, and endless accumulations of consumer and military waste, yet continually grasps for deep connections between people and events.  The novel asserts that despite the heavy hand of ideology and capitalism, marketing, profit margins, and consumer waste, real community and living language exist in the world.  My thesis surfaces and analyzes several of  Underworld's most engaging themes:  the way language works to resist or reinforce dominant ideology, mass media's vice-like control over national narratives, spaces of resistance in which
DeLillo's characters act to reappropriate their personal narratives and tell their own stories.  In the end, my work asserts that our greatest assets are our voices and the language which lives in them.

Mark Mudrinich

"The Tragedy of Kosovo: A Contemporary analysis of the factors leading up to the widespread ethnic violence in the Kosovo Province of Yugoslavia"

Advisor:  Gary Prevost

The question that is raised is what factors led up to the widespread ethnic violence in the Kosovo Province of Yugoslavia?  In addition, who is to blame for this tragic succession of events that eventually unfolded?  In the West, we usually only hear or read one perspective, that of the United States government.  Were the Serbian people to blame for the tragic events of Kosovo or does some of the blame lie with the Ethnic Albanian inhabitants of Kosovo?  Finally, what role did the politics and policies of Serbian nationalist Slobodan Milosevic play in the outbreak of violence in Kosovo?

Before its savage civil war and break up in the early 1990s, what we in the West officially recognized as Yugoslavia was a nation that was established in the aftermath of World War I.  True of many lands or nations, Yugoslavia was a land of major diversity.  Not only were the people diverse in cultural identity, but also religious identity.  The creation of Yugoslavia allowed within the same country a polyglot range of people, including Serbs from Serbia and closely related Montenegrins from Montenegro, Croats, Slovenians, Muslim Bosnians, Herzegovinians, Macedonians, Albanians, and others. 

Kosovo, a province in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is a land of great beauty and majesty with picturesque mountain landscapes and lush green valleys.  by June of 1998 this picturesque heaven had de-evolved into a maelstrom of hell.  What had once resembled a beautiful countryside speckled here and there with an occasional village became a visage of a level from Dante's Inferno.

Justin Piggush

Human Virtue and Education:  An application of the Insight of Jean-Jacques Rousseau to Liberal Arts Education

Advisor:  Dennis Beach

The thesis examines the philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and his idea of human virtue.  His first two philosophical works, "Discourse on the Sciences and the Arts" and "On the Origins of Inequality" are used to develop an idea of what Rousseau believes is wrong with the present relationship between our society and the individuals who make it up.  The later works of Emile and On the Social Contract are used to construct an idea of how individuals can live together while remaining true to the principles of their nature.  One theme evident in each of these works is the role of education.  Thus the final part of the thesis considers how education received at the College of St. Benedict and St. John's University helps and hinders a student's process of becoming keenly aware of his or her human virtue.

Brian Smith


Advisor:  Lisa Ohm

English (Creative Project):  Morgan is the story of one boy's growth to adulthood.  I am primarily concerned with the extraordinary, ordinary life of the main character.  Through the trials and triumphs of his life, Morgan explores his existence.  The end of the novella is both a culmination of what he has gleaned from the first twenty years of his life and a look forward to a new beginning.

German (Self Critique):  This essay in German includes both a procedure and an analysis section.  The procedure section describes my writing process, my intentions as an author, and my reaction to the experience.  The analysis section includes a critical look at my own work, allowing me to reflect on the story wrought both from my conscious intentions and manifestations of my subconscious.

Joseph Tinguely

"On Values"

Advisor:  Jeffery Anderson

This thesis explores the relationship between human beings and values.  Using the philosophy of Frierdrich Nietzsche as a context, the thesis accounts for the emergence of such values as good and evil as coming out of the long and sordid history of humanity.   The thesis attempts to unravel the paradox of the value of these particular values.   What do these values mean?  What purpose do they serve?  Do we as humans have any reason to accept or reject our values?

Brianna Turnquist

"Selling More Than a Chevy Tahoe:  An Analysis of the Use of Guilt Appeal Within the Chevy Tahoe Green Marketing Campaign"

Advisor:  Terence Check

By visually placing the Chevy Tahoe within the context of a natural surrounding, Chevrolet is tapping into the value our culture places on preserving and maintaining a clean and healthy environment.  Consumers are thrilled with the idea of being able to purchase power, comfort and luxury, yet maintain an image of environmental concern.   Chevrolet acknowledges this feeling and utilizes it in their marketing technique.   By using the concept of green marketing to alleviate the feeling of guilt many consumers face when purchasing environmentally harmful products, Chevrolet creates a false sense of environmental security within the consuming population.  By exploring advertising and green marketing, the use of guilt appeals, the implications behind the visual and textual features of the advertisement, and the implications of this type of vehicular representation, the SUV advertisement was assessed in regard to its relation with consumerism and overall effect on the environment.  The drawn conclusion was that the Tahoe advertisement relieved consumer guilt by enticing consumers to focus on nature's traits and project them onto the Chevy Tahoe.

David Weber

"The Cost of War:  A Focus on Nicaragua's Civil War and Some Reflections on Guatemala"

Advisor:  Ernest Diedrich

Both Nicaragua and Guatemala experienced civil conflicts in the recent past.  In this study the process of these conflicts is examined in a number of ways.  The price of the Nicaraguan conflict is determined by measuring direct costs to the Nicaraguan government, as well as by measuring the indirect costs of the war.  The indirect cost analysis is computed through a hypothetical model that examines consumption rates in both the actual economy, and  a war-free economy.  Guatemala's situation is also examined in order to provide a glimpse of the social costs of civil conflict.  The two countries experiences are compared and the cost of the civil conflicts are then estimated.

Mark Whipple

"America's Politically Convenient Ideology: The Relationship Between the American Dream and Attitudes Toward the Poor"

Advisor:  Sheila Nelson

From magazine articles to advertisements, grade school history lessons to university seminars, the American Dream is a concept of American cultural, social, and political life that is seemingly universally understood and accepted.  Despite its abstract nature, the American Dream is described in uniform fashion, most often related to individual opportunity, advancement, and fulfillment.  But what are the social implications of the American Dream?  Who benefits from this national conviction?  In a nation that prides itself on its dream of equal opportunity for all, why are poverty and economic inequality so high?

The current paper studies the American Dream from inside the framework of the high rate of poverty in the United States - rates which continue to be the highest of any industrialized country in the world.  The current study interviews twenty middle-class adults in an attempt to explore the relationship between the American Dream and attitudes toward the poor.  Although I hypothesized that the contemporary American Dream is in a state of slow evolution, the data from my sample reveal that the American Dream remains defined by traditional ethics of hard work, sacrifice, individualism, and personal responsibility.  The impact these seemingly positive ethics have on attitudes toward the poor is that they allow poverty to be blamed on individuals rather than external social structural circumstances.  Thus, the current ideological American Dream conveniently justifies the prevailing conservative and reactionary attitudes of the American middle class toward the poor.