2006 Thesis Abstracts

Sarah Knepper

Many computational science and engineering problems result in complex-valued systems of linear equations. At the same time, a large portion of equation solver software is written to solve only real-valued systems. Casting complex systems into equivalent real formulations (ERFs) enables the use of real solvers and preconditioners. Each ERF has unique properties that make it desirable in certain instances. We created a mathematical framework that permits easy conversions between different ERFs. This will allow, for instance, one ERF to be used as a preconditioner and another ERF to be used to iteratively solve the linear system by simply switching back and forth between the forms through scaling and permuting. Such transformations between ERF forms are attractive for simultaneously exploiting spectral and symmetry properties in different phases of a solver. My thesis describes the specific diagonal and permutation matrices needed as well as how to transform from one ERF to another.

Nicole Fritz

The Effect of Closeness and the Self-Concept on Decision Making

When leaders are faced with making a decision in a group, they may change their behavior in light of their relationships with group members and their self-concept. The current study evaluated the effect of partner closeness on decision making. A participant and confederate completed a decision-making task together. The closeness of the pair was manipulated by a relationship induction task. During a discussion, the confederate argued for the choice opposite that of the participant. The results of the study did not find that closeness or the relational self-construal had an effect on participants’ decision making. However, men were significantly more likely than women to change their decision after the discussion. The unexpected result may have been caused by the expectations of men and women about what a leader’s behavior should be when working with others.

Elizabeth Reisdorf

Dr. Amy Olson, Nutrition

The effect of dietary diacylglycerols on postprandial lipemia compared to triacylglycerols in college aged males and females.

Elevated levels of triglycerides in the blood following a meal [referred to as postprandial lipemia] is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome. Diacylglycerols appear to reduce the postprandial response in older, hyperlipemic, male populations. In this study, twenty one college students (2 male, 19 female) consumed cake with 20g of diacylglycerols (Enova oil) on one occasion and 20g of triacylglycerols (Canola oil) on another. Initial fasting triglycerides were determined and then at 2, 3, and 4 hours post consumption. Our results show no statistically significant difference in serum triglyceride response between the oils. From our understanding, this is the first study of the effect of diacylglyerols on the post consumption serum triglyceride response in college students.

Amy Orecchia

This study investigated the role of the relational self-construal in comparison and reflection behavior. Undergraduate students (N = 51) and a close, same-sex friend completed a measure of relational self-construal. They then answered several analytical questions and received positive or negative feedback. After each question, they predicted whether their friend or a stranger (another participant) answered the same question correctly or not. It was hypothesized that high relationals would make more positive predictions of their friends’ answers than low relationals, and that the number of positive predictions of the strangers would be about the same for all participants. The results did not support this hypothesis, however. This outcome challenges the use of priming in research to examine the self-concept.

John Wilder

A Machine Model for Color Constancy

Color constancy refers to the phenomenon that our perception of a color stays constant even if the illuminating light changes composition. The current study is an attempt to make a machine vision model that correctly identifies the color of a section of a Mondrian display (a poster made of many colored sheets of paper named after the painter Piet Mondrian) regardless of the spectral composition of the illumination. We start with a discussion of previous color constancy research, with a large focus on the studies by E.H. Land (1977 & 1986). Then we discuss how well our program functions at identifying the color of a portion of the Mondrian display in photographs taken under various lighting conditions.

Scott Nestberg

John Olson


Do Government Spending Shocks Increase Interest Rates?

A major debate in the field of economics in the 1980s was related to the topic of budget deficits and what affects they had on the macro-economy. The topic was heavily researched and the empirical results were mixed. Using annual data on the U.S. for the 1951 to 2001 time period, OLS regression analysis was used to test the affect real government total expenditure shocks have on both short and long-term nominal interest rates. The results indicate a statistically significant positive relationship between real government total expenditure and all of the interest rates tested for the fifty year time period. However, since 1978 the U.S. has been running huge current account deficits which are helping to finance the large amounts of government spending. As a result, the data indicates that desired national saving is not decreasing with the government spending shocks and therefore there is no upward pressure on interest rates. Instead, the U.S. government is acquiring a growing external debt, which means a continuing shift in net income received from abroad in favor of foreigners.

Evan T. Creed

Dr. Linda Tennison


Sex Differences in Long-term Effects of Endogenic Cannabinoid Agonists and Early Stressors on Memory

Cannabinoid exposure can result in long-term cognitive and behavioral effects in adolescent and juvenile, but not adult, rats. Maternal deprivation during early development can also contribute to cognitive deficits in adult rats. Interestingly, recent animal model research identifies sex differences in long-term behavioral and physiological effects of cannabinoid exposure during adolescence. The purpose of the current study was to test for sex differences in the interaction between cannabinoid exposure and maternal deprivation on memory. The current study identifies a sexually dimorphic effect of cannabinoid exposure in adolescence on long-term memory performance. While adult females exposed to cannabinoid agonists as adolescents performed significantly worse than those receiving vehicle only, adult males exposed to cannabinoid agonists performed better than those in the control condition. The current study found no significant findings relating to maternal deprivation.

Connie Hoskins

Dr. Rodger Narloch

Adult Perceptions of Adolescent Culpability: The effects of age and intent

This project integrated existing research regarding the effects of intent on blameworthiness and the mitigation of age on culpability. The purpose of this research was to examine the effects of offender age and level of intent on adult perceptions of adolescent culpability. One-hundred sixty-five college students read five vignettes and assigned a culpability rating for the actor in each scenario and provided a brief explanation for each rating. The age of the principle actor and whether or not the act was premeditated or intentional varied across the five scenarios. There was a main effect for Intent such that participants assigned higher culpability ratings to actors who acted intentionally than those whom acted without intent. There was a main effect for Age such that higher culpability ratings were assigned to 19-year-old actors than both 16 and 14-year old actors. There was no interaction effect between Age and Intent.

Roxanne Rabe

Ethical Convergence: The driving forces of globalization and a means of bridging cultural divide for multinational corporations in joint ventures

In international joint ventures, globalization is leading to ethical convergence in order to overcome more sensitive cultural conflict. This paper will utilize extensive case study analysis to explore the possibility that a “universalist” rather than “relativistic” mechanism is at work as international ethical standards converge toward Western models. The “universalist” mechanism toward a ‘Westernized’ ethical convergence is a result of unequal-sided negotiation and resolution of ethical differences. Western (U.S. and E.U.) multinationals tend to impose their own ethical standards on non-Western joint venture business partners because Western multinationals wish to maintain good relationships with their generally wealthier and/or more influential Western partners, and therefore, non-western multinationals accede to these standards.

Kevin Koenig

The reducibility of consciousness to brain states was investigated using David Chalmers’ book, The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory, to provide the non-reductivist argument and the neurophysiology of memory, binding and pain to bolster the reductivist argument. David Chalmers’ use of Supervenience Theory was layed out in addition to two of his strongest arguments of modal logic in aid of his position: the Zombie Argument and Colorblind Mary. Next the neurophysiology of memory and studies on neural synchronization and gamma-band oscillations were presented as evidence that consciousness is dependent on physical processes. The neurobiology of pain was also shown in an effort to rescind David Chalmers’ belief that the qualitative states of consciousness cannot be reduced to physical descriptions. In the last part of the paper, Type Identity Theory was presented in order to reconcile mental causation with physicalism and an evolutionary perspective on consciousness was briefly outlined. The implications of this research are that consciousness must be understood with a new understanding: the mental and the physical being equivalent.

Stephanie Mansano

Mike Heroux

Computer Science

Abstraction and its Effects on Runtime Performance: An analysis of the Thyra package

Abstract interfaces support the separation of functionality from implementation, providing the ability to adapt concrete capabilities to fit the user’s view. This generic type of programming is the purpose of the Thyra package, which contains a number of interfaces for accessing numerical algorithms. Yet by using interfaces, we are forced to accept a certain amount of overhead added to a program’s run time. To help understand more about how interfaces affect performance, access to Epetra classes via the Thyra interfaces were tested against direct access to these classes. Times were collected for running a number of numerical algorithms, and the amount of overhead for specific problem sizes and algorithms were generated. Interfaces can be very useful to a programmer; however, when to use interfaces depends on how much overhead someone is willing to accept.

Erika Nelson

Fr. Nathanael Hauser

The Semiotics of the Tomb of Pope Julius II

The topic of my thesis is the Semiotics of the funerary monument of Pope Julius II. This thesis topic presents a successful marriage of the Communication and Art History disciplines, as it uses a well-established Communication theory to more closely examine an image of art. Semiotics is a Communication theory that has been applied to Art methodology. It studies the representation of symbols in language, writing, and art, and what messages these symbols convey. In my thesis, I will apply the theory of semiotics to the tomb of Pope Julius II, and in a broader sense, the Renaissance era and the papacy. I will use the model of Charles Barthes, who applied Semiotic to language and art, to examine the funerary monument. I will use art historical methods of analyzing the social, religious, and political climate during the period in which the image was produced. I will attempt to establish the importance of the Renaissance funeral monument as a means to recall classical civilization and relate it to the della Rovere family using classical and Christian symbolism.

Laura Wilant

Like mother, like daughter? An analysis of proteins expressed by wild type and mutant phenotypes of Candida albicans using SDS-PAGE”

The dimorphic fungus Candida albicans causes both surface and systemic infections depending on its morphology. The ability to switch between a yeast and mycelia form plays a significant role in the organism’s virulence.  Dr. David Soll and his students showed that Candida albicans has a second mechanism of generating phenotypic variability which he called white-opaque phenotypic switching. Both white and opaque forms are fully dimorphic. Though dry weight, titer, and Bradford Assay, quantitative amounts of protein among the wild type strains (WO-1 opaque, WO-1 white, L26 smooth/opaque, L26 wrinkly/white) and CSB/SJU series mutants (A-72 03EU p7-1, A-72 03EU p7-5, and M246 op 4/10) were measured. SDS-PAGE was used to compare several potential cell lysis methods and to separate cellular proteins.

Martina Talic

Bolaños y Theisen

Miguel de Unamuno y Georges de Bernanos: El camino de la cruz en la literatura

Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo (Bilbao, 1864 - Salamanca, 1936), la eminente figura literaria española, y Georges Bernanos (París, 1888 - París, 1948), el distinguido literato francés, son dos escritores coetáneos. Vivieron en la época de las grandes agitaciones sociales, las Guerras carlistas (1833 - 1871), la Guerra de Marruecos (1909 - 1927), la Primera y la Segunda Guerra Mundial, la Guerra Civil española (1936 - 1939), que dejarán una huella profunda en la vida y en la obra literaria de los autores. Tuvieron una amplia cultura antigua, filológica, literaria y filosófica. Los dos autores recibieron una educación religiosa muy estricta, Unamuno de su abuela y de su madre, y Bernanos, en la escuela primaria y en el instituto, de tal modo que, en cierto punto de su vida, los dos autores consideraron la posibilidad de entrar la vida monástica. Pero ambos Unamuno y Bernanos se enamoraron y optaron por el matrimonio, que en los dos casos resultó en una vida serena familiar. De todas maneras, la preocupación religiosa queda incrustada en la extensa literatura de los dos autores. En el caso de Unamuno, dado su carácter polémico, inquieto, de notable valentía y de áspera veracidad, muchos críticos tienden a considerarle anticatólico, o al menos cuestionan su catolicismo. Los críticos tienen la dificultad de clasificar en una categoría la personalidad paradójica de Unamuno. Por ejemplo, Landensberg consta que “Tampoco se puede contestar a la pregunta de si habrá que considerarlo como un pensador católico, más que de una manera dialéctica e insegura. Está uno tentado de decir que es y no es católico” (45). A pesar de eso, nadie puede negar la preocupación espiritual del escritor español, tanto en la vida diaria como el las obras. Según Marías, Unamuno era “Espíritu hondamente religioso, arraigado en el catolicismo, pero fuera de la ortodoxia, que vivió su religión agónicamente, pretendiendo hacer que todos vivan inquietos y anhelantes, con una fe insegura y con frecuencia angustiada” (72). En cuanto a Bernanos, los críticos parecen ser menos severos. Según Moeller, que escribió un compendio de artículos sobre los autores católicos, “Bernanos est un écrivain prophète. De son regard profond, en une saisie fulgurante, il nous transporte dans l’éternel… la justesse théologique de ses visions éclate. Nous avions besoin de lui” (389).

Gwen Parks

Returning Home: The Experience of Reentry after Studying Abroad

Studying abroad is a common experience in the life of students at College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University. Research shows that student sojourners find the transition home to be harder than the initial adjustment to the foreign culture. Upon returning home, difficulties in communication, alienation from friends and other psychological, emotional or social hardships often greet them. This qualitative study seeks to identify the primary issues experienced during reentry for CSB/SJU returning sojourners. Twenty-one students participated in focus groups designed to assess academic, social and emotional experiences during reentry.

Joseph Iverson

David Paul Lange, OSB


Investigating the Gender Variable: A Sculpture Examination of Material Gendering in the Production and Perception of Art

My main premise is that there are artistic materials and processes that have strong presumed correlations with gender. This paper focuses on the modern Western (and likely American) presumed pairings of femininity with textiles in art, in order to explore how such gender associations affect the artist’s working process and the audience’s perception. However, the term “gender” is a relatively ambiguous, used in research and literature as a term to describe multiple aspects of human condition. To develop a basis for discussion of how perceptions of gender can affect perceptions of artwork, I will discuss the diverse, stereotypical, and standard conventional definitions of gender, masculinity, femininity and androgyny.

Matt Arnold

Manju Parikh

Peace Studies and Spanish

Post-9/11 Mexican Immigration in the United States

Expectations were high for comprehensive immigration reform in the early months of George W. Bush’s presidency.  In early September of 2001, Bush held a three-day State Visit with Mexican President Vicente Fox, which reflected their “special friendship and authentic partnership” (“Joint Statement” 1).  This was the first State Visit between the Administrations and marked a high point in Mexico-US relations.  During the three days of meetings, the two presidents discussed important issues such as NAFTA, the water supply, and, most importantly, immigration reform, which was described as “the most fruitful and frank dialogue we have ever had on a subject so important to both nations”(2).  Immigrant advocates saw a potential for remarkable change in outdated immigration policy to a new system that was “safe, orderly, legal and dignified” and focused on “respecting the human dignity of all migrants, regardless of their status” (2).  This new approach was perceived to be truly groundbreaking.

Jennifer Kruse

Dr. Rodell


Genetics of Larval Heart Rate in Drosophila melanogaster

In order to assess the genetic influence of larval heart rate in Drosophila, I have examined the characteristic mean heart rates of five strains, analyzed the outcomes of all possible interstrain crosses, and estimated heritability of heart rate in specific parent-offspring relationships.  I show that significant differences that exist among strains and that larval rates of offspring have evidence of maternal, dominant, and additive genetic effects.  I further show that heritability is positive for each strain.  Based on these results, I assert that there are several types of genetic effects influencing inheritance of heart rate in natural populations of Drosophila melanogaster and that there exists significant genetic variability of this character.

Susan Moen

Rober Fulton, Michael Ross, and Richard White


Simultaneous Determination of the Acid-Dissociation Constant and Partition Coefficient of Benzoic Acid in Heptane and Water-A Gas Chromatographic Analysis

The concepts of acid-dissociation and partitioning are used extensively in undergraduate chemistry classrooms and laboratories.  The acid-dissociation constant is generally first presented in introductory courses when teaching about acid-base chemistry and is used as a measure of acid strength and for buffer formulation.  It isn’t until Organic Chemistry that the concept of the acid-dissociation is paired with partitioning to a significant degree.  In the organic laboratory an acid or base is often added to an aqueous solution to aid in extraction when purifying and isolating a product.  It is the coupling of equilibria that is employed in this experiment to experimentally determine the acid-dissociation constant and partition coefficient for benzoic acid using water and heptane as the aqueous and organic phases, respectively.  When benzoic acid, heptane and water are mixed, the benzoic acid partitions itself between the heptane and aqueous layer.  By determining the amount of benzoic acid that partitioned into the heptane using gas chromatography and measuring the pH of the aqueous layer, the acid-dissociation constant and partition coefficient were simultaneously determined.  This experiment was designed to be used in undergraduate laboratories to familiarize students with gas chromatographic analysis, give a deeper understanding of the two equilibria, and to investigate the effects of ionic strength on equilibrium constants. 

Dragana Vidovic

R. Rau


The Actors and The Production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream

The actors were observed for the tow and a half months; the data have been collected during rehearsals and the performances in Gorecki Theater.  The statistical analysis using the Pearson’s coefficient r, revealed a significant positive linear relationship between those people who scored high on conscientiousness and value of rehearsals at the end of rehearsal period based on actors’ self-perception.  The correlation analysis of the data did not show any other significant results in relating other personality traits to rehearsal, performance, and group dynamics factor. 

Eric Stinson

Dr. Brian Campbell


Siafu!: The Musical

Siafu!: The Musical was conceived after watching a documentary about killer ants.  Siafu are in fact killer ants—they can strip a horse to the bone overnight!—but the audience should not be aware of that until the characters on stage are.  Until Saifu are revealed as killer ants, they should be known only as a “silent killer” whose form is not known.

Ryan Smith

Michael Opitz


Everyone Who Used to Live Here Still Lives Here

I have been living in St. Judas, MN for about a year now.  I have walked through its streets and into its bars and churches, where I always sit inconspicuously in the back.  I have wandered into the homes of its residents unannounced and unnoticed and peered into their lives.  At least, that is my dream as a writer.  In reality, St. Judas is always just vanishing, barely real, and only almost palpable.  Buildings stand gaping open where whole walls are missing, not yet constructed.  Characters wander into songs with vague features and vanish as soon as the final chord decays.  And no matter how hard I try, I can never quite seem to remain inconspicuous.  I pop up in the most unexpected places, intruding on a song in the form of a character, a sentiment, or an idea.

Steve Peichel

Dr. Dean Langley


Fiber-Optic Gyroscope

Fiber-optic gyroscopes are known for their great performance in making ultra-sensitive measurements of rotational motion.  The device measures the Sagnac phase shift, where two light beams travel via fiber optic cable in opposite directions around an area and interfere at a detection point.  The interference signal measured is proportional to rotation rate, and the performance breaks down to three major components: light source, fiber optic technology, and signal processing.  The experiment aims at incorporating the technology needed for making slow rotational measurements, and rotation rates as slow as 1/1000 to 5/1000 revolutions per second were accurately measured.

Jacob Vos


Searching for Harmony

All of my stories and essays are crafted to have some sort of singleness of effect, producing a change, a reaction in my audience.  The stories hopefully work on other levels as well, confronting my audience with questions and connections that linger on.  If my stories don’t affect my reader I feel like I’ve somehow failed as a writer.  All of the best stories I’ve read have left me changed somehow, and hopefully my work has the same effect on others.

Jason Vievering

Political Science

Modernizing the Conception of the Multinational Corporation in Developing Country Regulatory Policy: An analysis of firm structure, FDI network development, and their relationship to regulatory policy

This thesis addresses the question of why developing have become increasingly unable to successfully regulate the actions of multinational corporations (MNCs).  I argue that the reason this failure occurs is connected to the outdated definitions of MNCs used by nations which defines multinational corporations as primarily production based entities thus ignoring the increasing role the formation of networks facilitating the increased flow of capital across national borders play within these corporations.  This paper is divided into three sections.  The first will involve a historical overview of MNC organizational structure and developing world policy from the 1960s to the 1970s.  The second section utilizes an analysis based on bargaining theory to explain the connection between these two historical narratives.  The final section included two case studies on Asia and Latin America aimed at testing the points how the type of regulations instituted by developing countries influence the quality of FDI entering their economy.

Stephanie Hartje

Louis Johnson


Corruption and Growth in the Philippines

In order to explain the gap between the rich and poor countries, this paper examines the effect corruption levels have upon the investment rate and the Gross Domestic Product per capita growth rate for a cross-country data set and, specifically, for the Philippines.  The effects of ethnolinguistic fractionalization, colonization, and regional spill-over are also examined.  the results show that there is a negative significant relationship between corruption and ethnolinguistic fractionalization, and the investment rate.  There is also a negative, but insignificant relationship between corruption and ethnolinguistic fractionalization, and the Gross Domestic Product growth rate.  When these models are applied to the Philippines they accurately predict the investment rate and approximate the Gross Domestic Product growth rate.

Sarah Ahlfs

Dr. Pamela Bacon


Implicit Egotism: How Johnny from Saint John’s Makes Decisions and Enhances the Self

People tend to prefer things that remind them of themselves, such as their name.  This unconscious preference is known as implicit egotism.  Two studies were conducted to extend archival research of implicit egotism to different name spellings and college attendance and to extend experimental research to highly negative and highly positive stimuli.  The archival study looked at four Minnesota colleges and universities.  Students were more likely to attend a school that resembled their first or last name than a school that did not resemble their name.  The experimental study asked participants who had either experienced a self-threat or not to evaluate a target that had either highly positive or highly negative traits and a last name that was either similar or different from their last name.  Implicit egotism did not seem to affect the target ratings.  These studies indicated that implicit egotism’s impact may depend on the decision’s characteristics.

Jonathan D. Casper

Dr. J. Scott Johnson

Political Science

Eminent Domain: Property Rights vs. Redevelopment

Cities lacking the ability to prosper economically ultimately begin to deteriorate, which leaves a shell of what was once a thriving community.  In hope of alleviating lack of economic vitality, necessitating community expansion, many cities have turned to economic development projects as conduits for desired advancement.  These projects are meant to create more job opportunities while rejuvenating sections of the city and providing an expanding tax base.  City redevelopment and renewal, at first glance, seem to be positive activities; however, these projects often lead to questionable actions regarding property rights.  Individuals who own property in the redevelopment zone often do not want to sell.  Their reluctance creates a dynamic where the city is forced to choose between discontinuing the project and forcing property owners to forfeit their assets through an eminent domain condemnation.  In Kelo v. City of New London., 125 S. Ct. 2655, 2005 a recent Supreme Court decision, the Court found eminent domain to be a constitutionally admissible means for cities to use when forwarding economic development plans. 

Marian Studer

Marcy Twete

Jeff Clobes

Sam Boggs

Edward Heisler

Steven Henle Jr.

Shayne Kusler

Indra Lukas