2007 Thesis Abstracts

Michael Beckstrand

"Membership Conditionality in the European Union"

Advisor: Gary Prevost, Political Science

The all-inclusive United Nations has served as the cornerstone of the international system for over fifty years, and has been looked to as the main forum for conflict resolution and the universal promotion of human rights.  The European Union, now emerging as an alternative organization, uses a conditional model for inclusion. In this work, I examined the historical record of relations between the EU and two recent potential members, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Turkey.  Specifically, I addressed the EU's accession conditionality surrounding the absence of civil and international conflict, the respect of human rights, and economic viability, and compared the EU's behavior with the accepted scholarly criteria for the effective implementation of conditional structures.  My research demonstrates the mixed history the EU has exhibited in giving precedence to either economic or social (conflict and human rights) issues based largely on political forces.

Ethan Beilke-McCallum

"Effects of the Study Abroad Experience on the Self-Concepts of College Students"

Advisor: Dr. Pamela Bacon, Psychology

When students return from a semester abroad, many are convinced that they have experienced changes.  Although no studies have been conducted to verify these sentiments, existing research may support the possibility that the unique study abroad experience creates the proper environment for self-concept change. When studying abroad, students behave differently, and interact with a new social group; further, they do so publicly and under cognitive load.  Research suggests that these behaviors facilitate self-concept change (Tice, 1992).  Fifty-five undergraduates who are either currently abroad (N = 29) or enrolled in an upcoming study abroad program (N= 26) were asked to complete an online survey at the beginning of the fall semester and at the semester's end.  I predicted that students who spent a semester abroad would experience greater changes in self-esteem, relational self-construal, and self-concept clarity than students who did not study abroad.  Though results did not support my hypothesis, high rates of attrition raised concerns regarding the data that I collected.

Natalie Bly

"Carrots Love Tomatoes: A Mathematical Gardening Adventure"

Advisor: Dr. Robert Hesse, Mathematics

Combining concepts of square-foot gardening and companion planting, we quest for the optimal vegetable garden wielding curiosity, determination, and mathematical programming techniques.  The parameters of the garden lead to the formulation of a quadratic binary programming problem subject to linear constraints.  Reformulation the problem as an unconstrained optimization problems allows us to use metaheuristics for the QUBO problem.  We explore effective optimization methods using different applications and algorithms and compare their relative success.

Jennifer Busse

Advisor: Louis Johnston, Economics

My research has focused on incorporating human capital into a model of economic growth to determine the importance of human capital accumulation in Minnesota's economic growth.  The expanded model I shoes allows me to perform a cross sectional analysis of state per capita income for each decade from 1950 to 1990.  A regression analysis allows for more specific connections between human capital and personal income over time.

Mandy Buzzelli

"An Analysis of the situation of the Deaf in Latin America: Guidelines for foreign Collaboration"

Advisor: Nelsy Echávez-Solano, Spanish

The ignorance that exists in Latin America related to the topic of the deaf has contributed to an environment of discrimination.  Being deaf does not reflect negatively on one's intelligence; the deaf can enjoy a normal life: they can get married, go to college and have a satisfying career.  However, a lack of education and of family support has limited the potential of many deaf people.  In addition, in the legal arena, it has been difficult for the deaf to prosecute those who have violated their rights given the fact that many of the laws that are meant to protect the deaf are unenforceable.  Consequently, the deaf have had to create their own organizations to fight for their rights, and to begin a new and better era for this community.  The discrimination today is less than it was before yet if people want to help improve this situation, they should remember to work with and not for the deaf because too many volunteers have tried to help without involving the community. 

John Crompton

"The Impact of Light Intensity on Plant Support Mechanisms"

Advisor: Dr. Stephen Saupe, Biology

Herbaceous plants support themselves primarily by the hydrostatic pressure exerted by the cell wall.  Additional support can be gained by increasing wall thickness and lignification.  This study was designed to examine the tradeoff plants must make to support their leaves in light-limited environments. We tested the hypothesis that individuals of the herbaceous plant white snakeroot (Eupatorium rugosum) that grow in shaded woodlands, should have less support tissue than those that grow in the sun.  Consequently, shaded plants would be expected to rely more heavily on water pressure to support their leaves, so slight decreases in leaf water content should cause them to wilt more readily. 

We measured the wilting rate of E. rugosum from three different habitats. Time-lapse videos were made of the wilting leaves and wilting rates were determined using ImageJ.  In addition, we measured leaf area, water content and rate of water loss. 

The amount of leaf support tissue (g cm-2), was greatest in plants from the sunniest habitat (p<0.0001).  Time-lapse video analyses showed that there was little change in wilting rate between plants from the sun and shade habitats (p = 0.409).  Plants from the forest interior lost water at a slower rate than those at the forest edge (p<0.0001), so when the wilting rate was expressed as a function of water loss  (θ cm2 mg-1 H2O), plants from the forest interior wilted after losing less water than those at the forest edge (p<0.0001), as we hypothesized.

Danielle Delwiche

"RAP(E) CULTURE: An Analysis of Eminem's Role in the Cycle of Rape Culture in the United States"

Advisor: Martha Tomhave Blauvelt, History

The issue of sexual violence is one that has plagued society in the United States for centuries.  The prevalence of sexual violence today is in part due to the "rape culture" that is present in our society.  The presence of a "rape culture" has allowed for attitudes and imagery supporting physical violence, sexual violence, gender inequality and misogyny to become mainstreamed and accepted.  In order to understand the "rape culture" phenomena, this project examined the antifeminist backlash of the '70s and '80s, explored the role of media in socialization utilizing Social Learning Theory, and analyzed the lyrical imagery of popular rap artist Eminem.  The prevalence of "rape culture" in the United States was found to allow for the popularity of these images, particularly in popular culture and the media.  These same images reinforce the same ideals and attitudes encompassed in a "rape culture" through their role in desensitizing individuals to and normalizing the acts of sexual violence.  Until this cycle is broken, therefore, the presence of a "rape culture" in the United States will persist.

Elizabeth Donovan

"The Association between Alcohol Consumption and C-Reactive Protein Levels in College-Aged Individuals"

Advisor: Dr. Amy Olson, Nutrition

Current screening methods fail to identify over half of individuals at risk for cardiovascular disease. C-reactive protein [CRP], a marker for inflammation, is a new screening tool to improve the assessment of risk for cardiovascular disease and is influenced by alcohol consumption.  This project examined the levels of C-reactive protein in college-aged individuals relative to alcohol consumption. College-aged individuals completed surveys which assessed factors that can affect CRP levels. Three groups, non-drinkers (N=6), moderate drinkers (N=10), and heavy drinkers (N=9), were matched based on survey responses. The average CRP level across all alcohol consumption patterns was 0.9 mg/L (low risk for cardiovascular disease).  A J-shaped pattern emerged indicating that even in a young, otherwise healthy population, heavy drinking increases CRP levels. If CRP levels are predictive of future risk for cardiovascular disease, college-aged individuals may be beginning this pattern, which is an additional reason to be concerned about heavy drinking in college-aged individuals.

Benjamin Durheim

"Implications of Trinitarian Theology for Inter-Denominational Eucharistic Celebration: The Contribution of John Zizioulas"

Advisor: Miguel H. Diaz, Theology

The Eucharist is the heart of Christian identity and worship.  In the Eucharist, the many who are the one Body of Christ gather together to express their oneness.  Consequently, this celebration may also starkly expose the schisms which splinter Christianity.

This thesis applies the Trinitarian theology of John Zizioulas, a renowned Orthodox theologian, to the question of "intercommunion," the practice of inter-denominational Eucharistic sharing.  Specifically, this thesis investigates the notions of communion and personhood in Zizioulas' theology, and explores his ecclesiological vision based upon the nature of God as persons in communion.  This thesis then argues that a closed Eucharistic table is inconsistent with Zizioulas' Trinitarian theology and ecclesiology.  The Body of Christ must genuinely gather as one for the Eucharistic Celebration to be true and full, but the Eucharist cannot divide those who are one in Baptism into many.

Colt Edin

"Do Female Prairie Voles Prefer Intra- Versus Inter-population Males"

Advisor: Dr. Shawn A. Thomas, Biology

Mate choice involves assessment of potential partners and culminates in preference for and mating between individuals.  One criterion assumed to be of importance in mate choice is genetic relatedness between individuals.  Much is understood about the negative effects of close inbreeding in natural environments.  Studies across taxa have shown that the offspring of closely related individuals can show a marked decrease in viability compared to non-inbred members of the same population (reviewed in Ralls et al. 1988; Crnokrak and Roff 1999).  This reduction in fitness following a matting of closely related individuals is referred to as inbreeding depression (Hedrick and Kalinowski 2000) and is thought to be caused by the segregation of recessive alleles (Wright 1977)

Rachel Enge

"Defining Third Wave Feminism at a Women's College: How Students At the College of St. Benedict Perceive Feminism"

Advisor: Sheila Nelson, Sociology

The term feminist has had numerous different meanings and connotations.  Feminism started as a late nineteenth century movement which has progressed though several waves.  The first wave of feminism is best known for its surge at the beginning of the twentieth century with a focus on women's suffrage.  The second wave of feminism occurred between 1960 and 1980 with a focus on economic equality and reproductive freedom for women (Baumgardner, 13 - 14).  Now some believe feminism is embarking on its third wave.  For many this is a wave with no distinct definition or platform.

Cody Fischer

"Trade Liberalization and Development: Welfare Implications of Outward-Orientation in the West African Economic and Monetary Union"

Advisor: Charles Rambeck, Economics

Despite an abundance of research on the topic, conclusive evidence has yet to be found supporting a positive relationship between trade liberalization and development.  Testing various measures of policy orientation in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), this study uses a panel data series and Pooled Least Squares regression to estimate the effects of outward-orientation on trade growth, and trade growth on economic growth.  In addition to using a traditional measure of economic welfare, GNI per capita, this paper operationalizes and applies broader measures of welfare derived from Catholic social teaching.  The evidence suggests that greater trade leads to higher income and faster growth. However in terms of human dignity and the conditions necessary for the common good, the results are mixed.  Most of the countries continued to improve in these terms, but not at rates higher than pre-liberalization.

Alison Frank

"Istiklâl Sayfa: The Freedom Pages"

Advisor: Mara Faulkner OSB, English

A novella that explores how people of faith integrate belief with a world which continues to grow more secular. The novella is set in Turkey and encompasses a snapshot of this country as a world divided between rural vs. urban and traditional vs. modern. These opposing forces are paralleled with the main female character who is experiencing a similar conflict within herself. The novella raises questions relevant to any person of faith who struggles to remain integrated within a fragmented secular world.

Michael Karp

"Modeling the Breakdown of Pharmaceuticals in East Gemini Lake"

Advisor: Mike Heroux, Computer Science

In addition to theory and experimentation, computer modeling has emerged as a third approach to scientific discovery. The Virtual East Gemini Lake Project is the beginning of an effort to develop a computer model of East Gemini Lake at Saint John's University in order to simulate the flow and breakdown of pharmaceuticals in the St. John's wastewater treatment system.  The project seeks to increase understanding of how pharmaceuticals enter the system, breakdown, or otherwise leave it. The final goal of the project is to be able to simulate speculative changes to the Saint John's wastewater treatment system through a model of East Gemini Lake and to seek changes that may improve the quality of our water supply, with the possibility of providing guidance for water treatment efforts beyond the Saint John's community.  In order to begin constructing a model for East Gemini Lake, a program was developed which is able to calculate the rate of direct photolysis in a water body for a particular chemical. This program was created by following the work of Richard Zepp and David Cline. The program calculates photolysis rates as well as half-lives for a chemical as a function of location on Earth, time of day and year, depth of the chemical in the water body, the molar extinction coefficient of the chemical, the quantum yield of the chemical, and the absorption coefficient of the water body in question.

Karen Luz

"The determinants of Female Participation in Interscholastic Athletics among Minnesota High Schools"

Advisor: Dr. Margaret Lewis, Gender and Women Studies

There are many factors that can influence a female's decision of participating in high school sports.  What happened with the supply and demand in the late 1970's and early 1980's that caused such a movement in the number of females participating in high school sports?  If the factors that had the greatest influence on female participation in high school sports can be determined, there is a possibility that these factors can be influenced today so that more females participate in high school sports now and stay active.  There is a need of further exploration to examine these factors that are affecting the supply and the demand of females participating in high school sports.

Kelly Prosen

"Beyond the Unmoved Mover: Rahnernian concepsts of Grace in the Fantacy Works of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis"

Advisors: Fr. JP Earls OSB & Dr. Noreen Herzfeld, Theology

The intersection between Theology and English Literature has been visited by a number of writers.  Many authors have explored motifs of sin, grace, redemption, and salvation through their works.  Yet while academics write on these themes, literature aimed at a younger generation in inundated by the same messages.  The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Chronicles of Narnia have recently come into vogue with young people and adults alike.  If these novels were simply "fairy stories" their popularity would be understandable.  The works of Tolkien and Lewis possess a number of adult themes; which at first glance might seem inappropriate for their younger audiences.  One of the most prominent "adult" themes is the struggle against sin, the quest for redemption, and the role of grace.  I propose to pursue these themes as they appear in the fantasy series of both these authors.  I intend to locate the different levels of sin and redemption in the works and discuss the role that grace plays in each of them and asking why these themes are targeted by both young adult and adult audiences.

Carliene Quist

"Invisible Privilege, Invisible Men: Exposing and exhorting the need for Transformational Research and Active Participation among Males as an Essential Component to Sustainable Gender Violence Prevention and Eradication in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico."

Advisor: Bruce Campbell, Hispanic Studies

Since 1993, more than 400 assassinations against women have been counted in Ciudad Juárez. Such patterned gender violence has been termed femicide, or the "the murder of women motivated the condition of gender". [1] As the direct violence against women has continued, an institutional violence has also been revealed: local authorities as well as state and federal judicial bodies have repeatedly been accused of negligence and impunity in the cases of crimes against the women.

It has become evident that in order to eradicate femicide and prevent other forms of violence against women, a deep and widespread transformation gender inequalities and acceptable gendered behavior is essential. This transformation must be facilitated by nuanced understandings of current gender experiences for both women and men, and it requires active participation among women and men. Yet research has failed to take into account the gendered experiences of males in Ciudad Juárez. Thus, further research into femicide and other forms of violence against women in Ciudad Juárez must uncover how males are impacted in very gender-specific ways by the social, political, economic, and cultural realities of their city. Specifically, implementing models of Transformational Research should yield essential information as to how men can become aware of their gendered identities and behaviors as well as become more active participants in the quest for the cessation of gender violence and the achievement of gender equality in Ciudad Juárez. 

Roxanne Rabe

"Ethical Convergence the Driving Forces of Globalization and a Means of Bridging Cultural Divide for Multinational Corporations in Joint Ventures"

Advisor: Sanford Moskowitz, Management

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.

Richard Raile

"King Lear and The Idiot"

Advisor:  Scott Richardson, MCL

One upon a time in England there was a king who had three daughters... Once upon a time in Russia there was a prince who set out to save a troubled woman...

Indeed, both Shakespeare's King Learand Dostoevsky's The Idiot have a fairy tale feel about them - at least at the beginning.  Some have even noted about King Lear that it might very well have made a nice comedy.  I think the same for The Idiot (though it is less likely Dostoevsky would have written one).  Yet both authors wove their tales in a much darker direction, making them tales of psychological and physical suffering, madness, blindness (both spiritual and physical), botched suicide, and the finality of death.  But all tragedy centers on dark themes and images.  What is it specifically about these that makes them unique and at the same time akin to each other?

Kristina Sales

"Styles of Parental Interaction and College Student Social Adjustment"

Advisor: Dr. Richard Wielkiewiez, Psychology

The effects of interparental conflict and subsequent social adjustment of college age children were examined.  A measure to assess the recalled conflict level between one's parents was also created and evaluated.  The social adjustment of the students was assessed by looking at their feelings about intimate relationships and the negativity of their current social interactions.  The relationships among the Retrospective Interparental Conflict Scales (RICS), the social adjustment measures, various family structures (such as intact and non-intact families) were analyzed.  Significant correlations between reported conflict and reports of fear of intimacy were found.  There were also some correlations between reported conflict and negative social exchanges.  Various family backgrounds, such as divorce, were also associated with higher reported conflict.

Erin Saupe

"Evolution and phylogeny of the Late Cretaceous Heterohelix rajagopalani - Gublerina cuvillieri lineage(planktonic foraminifera)"

Advisor: Dr. Larry Davis, Natural Science

Restructuring the classification of Cretaceous age planktonic foraminifer requires studying morphological changes through time and phylogenetic relationships between species.  In the following study, Gublerina cuvillieri and its proposed ancestor Heterohelix rajagopalaniwere picked from Ocean Drilling Program Hole 761B (Exmouth Plateau), and their relationship was evaluated using biometric analyses and morphological observations from SEM images.  The relationship and taxonomy between G. cuvillieri and H. rajagopalani has been the subject of some debate.  Gublerina cuvillieriwas first described by Kikoine (1948) from southern France, and Govindan (1972) described Gublerina rajagopalanifrom southern India.  Nederbragt (1991) has since suggested that G. rajagopalani actually belongs in another genus, Heterohelix.  In this study, quantitative data from x-ray image measurements suggests H. rajagopalani resembles G. cuvillieri. The measurement data for the two species are virtually identical for the biserial portion of the tests, indicating a close phylogenetic relationship. Heterohelix rajagopalani and G. cuvillieridiverge later in their ontogenetic history as expressed in G. cuvillieriby separation of the serial chambers, development of a multiserial stage, greater chamber number, and concentration of ornamentation elements in bands extending around the chamber edge. Isotope data indicates the two species lived at relatively the same water depth.

Gabriel Schlabach

"Doing God's Work in the Devil's Playground: The Christian Right and the Republican Party"

Advisor:  Claire Haeg, Political Science

Christian Right organizations have been some of the most active and visible influencers of American politics for nearly three decades.  Much has been written about the movement, both in the press and in academia.  This paper is an evaluation of the Christian Right's influence on politics, with the framework of the political process model of social movement theory as its starting point and foundation.  More specifically, it is an analysis of the response to the movement from the three levels of the national Republican Party - party in organization, party in government, and party in the electorate - in order to begin to judge the efficacy of the Christian Right in framing the debate and shaping governmental policies concerning abortion, gay marriage, and the role of religion in public schools.  It finds that Christian Right organizations have seen varying levels of favorable change in the rhetoric of the party organization and in the votes of the party in the federal government but have seen mixed results in the change of opinion among Republican voters.

Matthew Smith

"Creating an Independent Film From Concept to Screen"

Advisor: Kaarin Johnston, Theater

Film is an incredibly powerful, important, and prevalent art form.  Sharing aspects with literature, theater, and photography but existing as a medium of its own, film can tell stories that resonate with audiences in complex and numerous ways. 

For this project, I will write, direct, shoot, and edit an independent feature-length film.

The popularity and simplicity of digital equipment (i.e., DV cameras and non-linear editing software) have reduced both the time and money required for film production.  The word 'film,' in fact, is a misnomer for this project - I won't be using any actual film; from shooting to editing to screening, this film will exist only in digital form. These tools consequently allow for an ambitious digital project - like a feature-length student production - to be completed on a tiny fraction of the budget required by its celluloid equivalent.  Though this project may appear incredibly daunting for a college student, I firmly believe that, with digital equipment, careful planning, and hard work, it is completely feasible.

My aim is not to document a real-world problem or situation, nor to create a video-art installation - those are worthy pursuits, but they aren't what I intend with this project.  Rather, my film will tell a narrative story of my own creation.  Like any story-telling text, it will be subject to literary analysis and criticism, and, with diligence and luck, it will hopefully please, inform, and fascinate its audience.

Nicole Solberg

"Microarthropod Diversity, with an Emphasis on Collembola, of the St Johns Prairie in Burned and Unburned Areas"

Advisor: James Poff, Biology

Samples of microarthropods will be collected from both burned and unburned areas of the St Johns prairie.  Once collected these samples will be processed using a Tullgren drying funnel.  Then the samples will be extracted from the receiving flask, identified and counted.  The data collected for the burned and unburned areas will be compared to determine the extent of correlation between prairie treatment and microarthropod diversity.

Amy Vannurden

"The Relationship of Faith, Family, and Fears, and Sexual Abstinence in Emerging Adults"

Advisor: Rodger Narloch, Psychology

Although there is much research available on the sexual behaviors of emerging adults, there has been little investigation about the reasons why approximately 20% of emerging adults (Arnett, 2004) remain sexually abstinent.  This study examined some possible reasons for sexual abstinence, including faith, family, and fears. Over half of the sample reported themselves as sexual abstinent at the time of the study (52.7%), and the rest reported themselves as sexually active (47.3%). This rate of abstinence is much higher than the rates in other samples, which may be related to the location of the institutions or their religious affiliation. The results revealed that overall emerging adults who are sexually abstinent tend to be more intrinsically religiously motivated and more fundamental in their faith beliefs than sexually active emerging adults. Upon closer examination, however, results only revealed this effect for females. No overall differences appeared with feelings of family connectedness or actual family connectedness between abstinent and not abstinent students. In terms of biological sex, however, sexually abstinent female emerging adults did report feeling more connected to their family than sexually active female emerging adults. Additionally, over one quarter of all students noted fears as a reason for their sexual choices. These data suggest that to some degree emerging adults' sexual choices are influenced by their faith, their family, and their fears, though the relationship between these variables and sexual abstinence is not consistent across sex. 

Lindy Watanaskul

"Ageing effects on heart rate and heart arrhythmia of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster"

Advisor: Charles Rodell, Biology

Invertebrate hearts share a common evolutionary origin with hearts of vertebrates.  As such, Drosophila melanogaster is a useful model with which to examine genetic and environmental effects on heart function.  My project explores the effects of ageing on heart rate and heart arrhythmia of adult fruit flies.  Heart rate is influenced by major-effect genes (single gene effects), and by the cumulative effect of many genes (polygenic effects).  Most studies have focused on single gene effects; few studies have emphasized the polygeneic basis of heart rate.  My project focuses on a polygenic analysis.  Polygenic expression is influenced by both the underlying genotype and environment.  For this reason, a polygenic approach to the study of heart rate is a useful model of cardio-vascular health in humans.  My study of adult heart rate takes a comparative approach by studying four different populations descended from flies collected in the Mississippi River Valley, Minnesota to Mississippi.  For each population I determine heart rate and arrhythmia pattern for both male and female adults at ages 1, 10, 20 and 30 days.  Adult flies were observed at low power with phase-contrast microscopy, heart contractions recorded on DVD using a video camera, and heart rates analyzed from slow-motion replays.  In all populations, heart rates declined significantly with age, but patterns did not differ between males and females except in the LaCrosse population. Significant differences were not found among population.  Arrhythmia also exhibits a decline with age, with LaCrosse having a significantly greater amount of heart irregularity while Natchez shows a more uniform heart pattern. No significant differences were observed in the expression of heart irregularity while comparing males and females.  This population difference opens the possibility to pursue further genetic analysis as well as other traits influenced by polygenic effects.

Nicole Zappa

"Marital Love: A Decision of the Will"

Advisor: Kari-Shane Davis, Theology

Have you ever wondered why the Church and popular society are at such odds when it comes to the ideas of marital love and sex? This project will investigate the differences of each approach and seek to draw on strengths and critique weaknesses as a way of exploring a more integrated understanding of love. This thesis will argue that marital love is a decision of the will and will draw out the implications of such an understanding for marriage and sex.