Student Theses and Honors Collection

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Library, Information, & Technology Services (LITS) established the electronic Student Theses Collection in 2005. It contains over eight hundred e-honors theses created by MHC seniors from across the disciplines. By archiving your honors work in the Institutional Archive, you are contributing to the legacy of excellence in student scholarship at the College. 

To submit an honors thesis to the collection, please start by reviewing the information found here.

Once you are ready to submit, click on the "Login" link within the "My Account" box on the lower right side of this page. Click on the MHC logo, and then enter your MHC username and password. You will be redirected back to the Institutional Archive homepage. Scroll down to the "My Account" box and click on "Submissions. Then choose "Student Theses Collection."

For questions about the Student Theses Collection, please contact Digital Library and Academic Technologies.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 20 of 1051
  • ItemOpen Access
    Interactive Effects of Warming and Nitrogen Availability on Soil Carbon Fluxes: Implications for a Changing Climate
    (2024-05-23) Waldron, Emma; Hoopes, Martha
    The excess of greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide in the atmosphere urgently calls for a deeper understanding of existing natural mechanisms for carbon sequestration. Soils act as a critical natural carbon sink, storing at least twice as much carbon as there is globally in the atmosphere and in plant biomass combined. However, climate change and associated increases in average temperatures can impact soil carbon storage processes, converting carbon sinks to carbon sources. The response of soil carbon to warming is complex and depends on many environmental factors. This study focuses on nitrogen (N) availability, which may mediate the effects of warming on soil carbon via its influence on microbial activity and decomposition. Strong support for this hypothesis is lacking, however, as these variables are difficult to isolate in the field. In this greenhouse experiment, I cross two warming treatments with four N treatments in order to disentangle some of these relationships. To get a picture of how carbon fluxes responded to my treatments, I measured soil organic matter (SOM) as a proxy for the amount of carbon stored in the soil, and soil respiration rate to see how much carbon the soil was releasing. I also measured nitrate and ammonium levels as well as nitrification and mineralization rates in the soil to get a fuller understanding of how my treatments actually affected both N availability and the soil microbial activity governing N availability. I found significant effects from both my warming treatments and my nitrogen treatments, along with significant interactions between the two. Because my pots had living microbes and plants, there were feedbacks between N and C above and belowground, creating complicated relationships between warming, N, SOM, and soil respiration (as expected). Further clarification of these dynamics will be critical for making accurate climate predictions and for strategically targeting restoration efforts to mitigate climate change.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Finding the clitoris: using comparative anatomical methods to describe and characterize the clitorises of alpacas (Vicugna pacos)
    (2024-05-21) Thompson, Grace; Brennan, Patricia; Lijek, Rebeccah; Diewald, Barbie
    The clitoris, like many female reproductive organs, is a vastly understudied organ with a long history of misunderstanding. Despite poor representation in scientific literature, the clitoris plays an important role in pleasure, behavior, and reproduction among vertebrate animals. Clitoral stimulation has been linked to induced ovulation and increased rates of fertilization in domesticated agricultural animals. Alpaca (Vicugna pacos) clitoris anatomy has not been previously described despite the prevalence of alpaca farms across the world. Alpacas have unusually long copulation for an Artiodactyl (over 20 minutes on average), and a novel pattern of deep intromission with the penis causing abrasion and hematoma of the female mucosal layer along the upper reproductive tract and uterine horns. Through methods of dissection, histology, CT segmentation, and in vivo observation, we found that alpacas have a well-developed clitoris consisting of the primary components of corpus cavernosum, vestibular bulbs, extensive vascularization and innervation, and clitoral muscles. In addition to these expected structures, there is an unusual cartilage prong in the vulvar commissure and a clitoral lamina of unknown origin and composition that partially encircles the cartilage. These are possible subjects of future study.
  • ItemEmbargo
    Effects of Starvation on Matrix-Metalloproteinase 2 Expression in the Larval fat body of Drosophila melanogaster
    (2024-05-21) Wolfel, Zoe; Woodard, Craig
    Insulin sensitivity declines with age in mammals, leading to diseases such as type 2 diabetes and obesity, yet the precise mechanism is not well understood. The modulation of insulin signaling is implicated in the pathogenesis of the diseases and plays a critical role in various metabolic processes. The matrix-metalloproteinase (MMP) are a family of multifunctional Zn2+-dependent protease enzymes that play a role in tissue development, cell organization, and cell cycle control in mammals and the model organism Drosophila melanogaster which are a great model organism for research because it has a rapid life cycle, is small and easily cultured, male and female individuals are easily differentiated, and they share 75% similarity to all human genes implicated in disease. (Guo et al., 2022). Many MMPs are attached to the cell membrane by the protein glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI), which allows them to interact with the extracellular matrix (ECM). In Drosophila there are two MMPs: MMP1 and MMP2 which together degrade ECM components (Jia et al., 2014). I investigated the role of MMPs in the regulation of insulin signaling. Past studies have examined the indirect involvement of Drosophila MMP2 in insulin signaling (Bond, 2010). Along with a homolog for MMP2, MMP14 direct cleavage of insulin receptor in a murine model, consequently suppressing insulin signaling. In my investigation, I studied the role of MMP2 in insulin signaling during larval development by performing starvation experiments. I hypothesize that starvation induces MMP2 expression to allow MMP2 to cleave insulin receptor, which shuts off insulin signaling, allowing autophagy and nutrient release to occur. In order to test this hypothesis I have examined MMP2 transcript levels in the fat bodies of fed and starved third instar larvae using real time quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). The results of my experiments support my hypothesis that higher MMP2 transcript levels are observed in a starved condition compared to a fed control.
  • ItemRestricted
    A Laughing Matter: Translating the Humor of Catullus
    (2024-05-21) Moon, Lila; Arnold, Bruce
    Catullus, an innovative and sharp-tongued poet writing during the late Roman republic, has engaged generations of scholars and students alike with his unique wit. Generally, however, the humorous aspect of his poetry is overlooked in academic settings, especially when it comes to translations of his work. Beyond engaging readers, Catullus’ humor reveals many things about the society in which he lived. In this thesis, I explore how we can communicate Catullus’ humor in translation, so that those who do not read Latin may enjoy his poetry and the knowledge that comes with understanding it. Catullus’ work, and especially the humor of his work provides an accessible point of entry into the Roman republic, one of the richest and most enlightening periods of Roman history. In analyzing Catullus’ unique sense of humor, I consider his work through the lenses of two major philosophical theories of humor, as well as through the lens of the literary tradition that inspired the poet. Within this thesis, I offer my own translations of a selection of Catullus’ work in order to prove the feasibility of translating his humor and to demonstrate how this goal should be achieved. I also provide commentary on my translations in order to explain the choices I made to best display Catullus’s humor.
  • ItemEmbargo
    Blessed Politics: Christian Zionism, the Prosperity Gospel, and American Policy toward Israel
    (2024-05-20) Gallery, Lela; Hashmi, Sohail; Hilton, Adam; Barba, Lloyd
    Whenever scholars explain the belief system behind Christian Zionism, many scholars cite a complex theological worldview called premillennial dispensationalism. According to this theology, Jews must return to their homeland of Israel for the second coming of Jesus to happen. While this worldview certainly plays a role in Christian Zionist activism, there is another overlooked belief system which impacts this political movement: the prosperity gospel. Since the rise of charismatic Christians into political activism in the 1980s, Christian Zionism has become less about speeding up the end times and more about blessing Israel to gain God’s favor. This project has two goals: 1) to argue that Christian Zionism is a political movement and 2) to show how the prosperity gospel has impacted American policy toward Israel via Christian Zionism.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Recent interactions between an invasive (Phragmites australis) and a native plant species (Spartina alterniflora) in the upper reaches of Great Sippewissett marsh, Cape Cod
    (2024-05-20) Wang, Yuyang; Ballantine, Kate
    Salt marshes are critical coastal ecosystems characterized by tidal flow, halophytic vegetation, and muddy sediment, serving as nurseries for marine species, erosion buffers, and carbon sinks. However, the invasion of the salt-tolerant haplotype of common reed, Phragmites australis, in Eastern North America poses a threat to salt marsh ecosystems historically dominated by Spartina alterniflora. While a range of management strategies, including chemical, biological, and physical control methods, are utilized to address invasive species, the emphasis tends to be primarily on their removal rather than on the long-term impact of restoration efforts. This study investigates the competitive interactions between P. australis and S. alterniflora in Great Sippewissett Marsh on Cape Cod. I conducted a one-season experiment manipulating P. australis by cutting its stems at ground level in three treatment plots. I then measured the resulting changes in S. alterniflora percent cover and compared them to values in three control plots. The results revealed that the invasion of P. australis impedes the upland migration of S. alterniflora, potentially through shading effects. Clipping stems of P. australis led to a rapid increase in S. alterniflora % cover, nearly doubling that of unclipped areas by the end of the growing season. This result suggests cover of P. australis might be managed to encourage cover of native marsh vegetation and prevent habitat loss. On a broader scale, this project gives insight into not only into invasive species removal but also into ecosystem restoration, crucial for reinstating native plant communities and ensuring long-term ecological resilience.
  • ItemOpen Access
    A 2D microfluidic model of cerebrospinal fluid flow in periarterial spaces
    (2024-05-17) Toole, Sasha; Nordstrom, Kerstin
    The glymphatic system is a pathway for metabolic waste clearance in the brain. In a crucial step of this pathway, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) enters the brain via periarterial spaces. Previous studies in live mice have found that peristaltic waves in the arterial wall, driven by pulsatile blood flow, can induce the flow of CSF in the surrounding periarterial space. However, the exact mechanism driving CSF flow remains unclear among multiple possible contributing mechanisms. We developed a microfluidic device that serves as a two-dimensional model of the arterial wall interface between the periarterial space and inner artery to study the flow of peristaltically driven CSF. With this microfluidic model, we tested pulsation frequencies motivated by human, rat, and mouse heart rates and observed trends in both the oscillatory and bulk components of the model CSF flow. We additionally observed a relationship between the approximate membrane waveform and the fluid motion in the model periarterial space. These observations contribute new insight to the understanding of CSF flow mechanisms.
  • ItemRestricted
    New Constraints on the Timing of Deformation in the Maberly Shear Zone in the Grenville Province of Southern Ontario
    (2024-02-02) Fulmer, Anya; Markley, Michelle
    I present new U-Th/Pb monazite dates for the development of the Maberly Shear Zone (also known as the Sharbot Lake Shear Zone) in the Grenville Province of Southern Ontario, Canada. This shear zone is of regional tectonic significance as a major boundary within the Central Metasedimentary Belt; it juxtaposes the Sharbot Lake Terrane to the west against the Frontenac Terrane to the east. My sample is a granitic gneiss with well-developed foliation and lineation parallel to the regional fabric in the Maberly Shear Zone. I report dates based on in-situ electron microprobe analysis of monazite grains, and compositional domains within these grains, conducted at the UMass Geosciences Electron Microprobe/Scanning Electron Microscope Facility. Dated monazite grains occur both within garnets and in the deformed matrix of the schist, and range in size from tens to hundreds of microns in scale; grains are relatively round and equant, although a few show unusual shapes. I dated domains in ten monazite grains, many of which show multiple domains that I defined based on domain geometries and variations in Y and Th content. I present twenty-six dates that range from 1222 ± 2.6 to 1145 ± 6.5 Ma (all errors reported here at 1 sigma). High-Y cores of monazite grains yield dates whose mean is 1206 ± 3.5 Ma, and lower-Y inner regions of grains yield mean dates of 1190 ± 4.4 Ma. Inner mantles yield a mean date of 1182 ± 3.4 Ma; outer mantles yield a mean date of 1172 ± 4.0 Ma. Some grains show geometric rims, not distinguished by unusually high Y content as is common in similar rocks; and mean rim dates are 1163 ± 4.2 Ma. All of these dates are in excellent agreement with predictions based on field mapping in the region and dates yielded by U-Pb analysis of zircon from neighboring granitoids (Corfu and Easton, 1997; Davidson and van Breemen, 2000). I interpret these dates as a record of shearing and high-grade metamorphism of metasediments in the Maberly Shear zone starting before and continuing through the later phases of the Shawinigan Orogeny.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Quantifying and Analyzing Plastic in Seabird Nests in the North Sea
    Karapin-Springorum, Anna; Werner, Alan
    Plastics in the environment are of increasing concern for many organisms including seabirds. In this study, I examined the nests of four seabird species – northern gannets, black-legged kittiwakes, great cormorants, and gulls (herring and lesser black-backed gulls) – on two small islands in the North Sea. I quantified the proportion of plastic in each nest following methods described by Thompson et al. (2020), and compared the types and colors of plastics in their nests to those found in the environment. I examined the proportion of nests of each species that contained plastic, and found that northern gannets (98%) and great cormorants (95%) were both more likely to include plastic in their nests than kittiwakes (44%) and gulls (28%). I also found that the average amount of plastic in nests differed across species (northern gannets 36%, great cormorants 9%, black-legged kittiwakes 2%, gulls 1%). These differences in proportions of nests containing plastic and average amount of plastic in nests are likely due to differences in materials used in nests and whether a species reuses nests each year. In comparing plastics in the environment to that in nests, I found that fibrous plastic, in particular dolly rope, a type of sacrificial chafing material used in commercial bottom trawling fishing, was highly preferred by all the studied seabird species. Orange dolly rope was also favored over other colors of dolly rope. Chemical testing of dolly rope pieces found that it was polyethylene, which is consistent with previous reports for the North Sea, and mechanical testing of dolly rope strands highlighted the dangers of entanglement posed by the material. There is a strong preference for orange dolly rope by nesting birds that may be due to morphological similarities to natural nesting material and an ease in locating the brightly colored material in the water. While seabird deaths by entanglement alone are not likely to lead to a population decrease, these deaths are often slow and painful and should be prevented if only for humanitarian reasons. I explore different methods of mitigating deaths by entanglement and reducing plastics in the marine environment, as well as ways in which plastic monitoring in seabird nests can provide information regarding the levels and types of pollution in the marine environment.
  • ItemRestricted
    The individual differences of bilingual readers when using phonological information in word identification
    (2024-02-01) Yuan, Jingyi; Breen, Mara
    Two theories have been proposed to explain how readers access the mental lexicon through written words: phonological mediation theory suggests that the sound of words activates the meaning of words; direct access theory suggests that the orthographic representation of words activates the meaning. Prior work has demonstrated that readers rely on phonological mediation in both alphabetic languages (e.g., English), and in less phonologically predictable logographic languages (e.g., Chinese); however, little research has investigated the relationship between bilingual readers’ phonological activation in both languages. Therefore, the current study assessed bilingual readers’ reliance on the phonological route for both English and Chinese reading. We hypothesized that readers who show a strong reliance on the phonological route in one language will show a similarly strong reliance on it in their other language. Replicating prior work, our study showed that in both Chinese and English tasks, readers made slower and less accurate judgments on homophone distractors. However, we did not observe a significant correlation between individual’s reliance on phonological routes in different languages.
  • ItemOpen Access
    (2023-07-14) Griffin, Julia; Chen, Wei
    The hydrophilization of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) using poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVOH) thin films has been studied to utilize hydrophilic materials in PDMS-based micro- and nanomanufactured devices more effectively. Previous studies have determined that PVOH spontaneously adsorbs from aqueous solution onto hydrophobic substrates due to the hydrophobic effect. Following spontaneous adsorption, PVOH thin films are stabilized via crystallization driven by hydrogen bonding. PVOH thin films can also be prepared via adsorptive spin coating on flat substrates. We have found that the PVOH-PDMS system varies from the well-established Meyerhofer model, which predicts film thickness from spin rate, solution viscosity (polymer concentration), and other variables. We proposed a new model to describe film thickness (h) from spin coating, which includes polymer-substrate interactions (spontaneous adsorption) and polymer-polymer interactions (e.g., crystallization and the hydrophobic effect). We hypothesized that these two types of interactions form the h1 and h2 thicknesses of the multilayered spin-coated PVOH-PDMS thin films. However, recent evidence has shown that the structure of polymer thin films is even more complex and nuanced. In this study, we continue to elucidate the complex structure and dynamics of PVOH-PDMS thin films via static adsorption, adsorptive spin coating, and water annealing experiments. We use PDMS polymers of various molecular weights (MWs) (PDMS340, MW = 340 Da; PDMS2k, MW = 2 kDa; PDMS9k, MW = 9.430 kDa; PDMS49k, MW = 49.350 kDa) since the PDMS polymers vary in hydrophobicity and mobility. We also study two different PVOH polymers (PVOH88%H, MW = 85-124 kDa, 87-89% hydrolyzed; PVOH99%H, MW = 89-98 kDa, 99+% hydrolyzed) since the PVOH polymers vary in hydrophobicity and crystallinity. We vary the time before water annealing (0 h vs. 24 h) to determine the stability of partially dry vs. completely dry films. We characterize film thickness, wettability, and morphology to identify changes in the PVOH thin film layers. We can separate the spontaneously-adsorbed h1 layer into sublayers: a tightly-bound h1 layer and a loosely-bound h1 layer. The tightly-bound h1 layer is first formed when PVOH adsorbs onto the PDMS substrate and is resistant to desorption in water. We found evidence of this layer on almost all of the PVOH-PDMS systems in this study. The only exception was the PVOH99%H-PDMS340 system, in which the hydrophobicity of the substrate and the polymer were insufficient to drive spontaneous adsorption. The loosely-bound h1 layer is formed on top of the tightly-bound h1 layer and is desorbed during water annealing. We found evidence of this layer on PDMS9k substrates alone. While a hydrophobic substrate is generally sufficient to form a tightly-bound PVOH h1 layer, it is insufficient at forming a loosely-bound h1 layer.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Haunted by the Past: Battles over Civil War Myth-Making in Gettysburg
    (2023-07-14) Morikawa, Sari; Renda, Mary
    As the smoke began to dissipate over the small town of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863, what was revealed was a scene of unimaginable carnage. The battle that lasted for three long days had left a scar on the town and its residents. It is well known that the Battle of Gettysburg was the turning point of the Civil War. Lesser known are the ways that the event changed Gettysburg from a small and beautiful town surrounded by nature to a place that commemorates and commodifies the battle. Other towns also saw extensive changes, but change in Gettysburg was unique: the site of a national historic park, with some 20 museums, countless tourist shops, and one to two million visitors from the 1980s to 2010s, Gettysburg still carries the legacy of that bloody battle. This project explores how tourists, activists, and others interested in the meanings of narratives of the Civil War centered on Gettysburg. By examining guidebooks, maps, and newspaper articles, I analyze the remaking of Gettysburg in relation to heritage tourism, civil rights struggles, and politicians' rhetoric about American exceptionalism. Times of commemoration and division — the World Columbian Exposition, the battle’s 1913 reunion, and the Vietnam War — prompted Americans to revisit Gettysburg, to reclaim their citizenship, national memories of the war, or a romanticized past. To understand the development of Gettysburg tourism in recent decades, how current residents engage the town’s history, and the battle’s resonance in relation to contemporary political struggles, I conducted oral history interviews with 18 Gettysburg residents and Gettysburg College students. These accounts highlight some of the recurring issues in modern American society, such as the presence of right-wing militia groups in the context of political polarization and the challenge of teaching accurate American history. Gettysburg continues to serve as a battleground in contests over the Civil War and its legacies.
  • ItemRestricted
    El Pacte Nacional per la Llengua: una exploración contemporánea de la función del catalán desde la perspectiva glotopolítica
    (2023-07-14) Barber, Gabrielle; Castro, Esther
    This thesis explores the process of El Pacte Nacional per la Llengua (henceforth: PNPL), a contemporary initiative in Catalonia, Spain by the Generalitat of Catalonia, its Department of Culture and its Secretariat for Language Policy, to improve the linguistic situation of Catalan, in terms of its use and the population’s competency. The PNPL, which was mandated by a 2021 resolution of the Catalonian Parliament, has sought to study the current linguistic situation through a sociolinguistic report, to inform both citizens and organizations of its findings and efforts, and to encourage widespread participation in the process. Besides justifying a glottopolitical study of the PNPL, describing the process, documenting the materials it has produced, and contextualizing it historically, this thesis addresses the way in which the sociolinguistic report talks about language, drawing on Riera Gil (2013) and Woolard (2016 & 2018) to consider the PNPL alongside the concept of common language and the ideology of linguistic anonymity. The thesis ends with a consideration of how the sociolinguistic report views the juridical framework which pertains to Catalan, dialoguing with the overarching perspective of this thesis, glottopolitics, as well as theories regarding language rights.
  • ItemRestricted
    Modularity and integration of copulatory structures in male Ratfish, Hydrolagus colliei
    (2023-07-14) Serna-Solis, Valeria; Brennan, Dr. Patricia
    Genitalia are one of the most diverse structures in nature. Different evolutionary processes, such as natural and sexual selection, influence their diverse and complex morphology. A combination of these processes may operate simultaneously in complex genital structures on a single system because they can have multiple modules and different genes that are responsible for the phenotype development. Male spotted ratfish, Hydralogus colliei, have modular structures that function together to achieve copulation, including two grasping structures, a frontal tenaculum paired pre-pelvic tenacula, and one intromittent structure, paired claspers. We produced 3D models of structures of adult and juvenile males and used a 3D geometric morphometric approach to study their allometric patterns, and their integration. We asked what the roles of ontogeny and function are in shaping the modular patterns and the integration among the components of these complex genital traits because they are unlikely to share the same development. In adults, we found that there is no significant relationship between body size and the pelvic tenacula and claspers, but the relationship between body size and frontal tenaculum size was significant. In juveniles, we found different significant relationships between body size and the copulatory structures. Interestingly, we found that the structures’ centroid size and shape change suddenly and significantly when the juveniles become adults. This discrete rather than continuous growth pattern for genitalia has not been previously described in vertebrate groups.
  • ItemOpen Access
    The Effect of Compulsory Primary Education on Mother's Labor Force Participation
    (2023-07-14) Baskar Prabhakar, Deepika; Ted, Gilliland
    India’s female labor force participation rates have been steadily declining for the last decade. Low female labor force participation is often associated with a reduction in GDP per capita and economic growth. Thus, as part of a strategy for increasing economic growth, it is necessary to examine factors that could potentially increase female labor force participation. One of the aspects that could increase labor force participation is childcare. However, in low-income countries like India, childcare is often expensive and inaccessible. In my thesis, I examine if relaxing this constraint by providing free and compulsory education to children as substitute childcare will encourage higher female labor force participation. I find that the probability of a woman’s decision to enter the labor market increases by 1.7% − 1.8% in some states. However, my results remain statistically insignificant when I include all states in India in my estimation. Thus, other factors such as gender norms, safety for women in the workplace, and wage disparity should be explored to encourage higher female labor force participation in countries like India.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Transcending Time and Space: Historias de Convivencia in Rural El Salvador
    (2023-07-14) Villatoro-Alvarez, Rebeca Sarai; Renda, Mary
    Yucuaiquin is a small pueblo in La Union, El Salvador, hidden between mountains. In Poton, the Indigenous tongue to Lenca peoples, it means “tierra de fuego” or “land of fire.” My research asks about the history of daily life in Yucuaiquin before and after El Salvador’s war (1979-1990), and for yucuaiquinenses who subsequently moved to the Greater Boston area. My approach to this work honors the oral history and storytelling tradition of Yucuaiquin by using interviews and convivencia (shared life, time, and dwelling) with people to learn the history of the pueblo. Given the limited scholarship on the history of Yucuaiquin, this project required a creative approach. Interdisciplinary scholarship from sociologists, anthropologists, economists, psychologists, and historians of other places filled in some gaps, as did memoirs. But sharing time with yucuaiquinenses who migrated to Greater Boston and with community members in Yucuaiquin, engaging in their daily routines of selling, cooking, building, attending church, and such, has been crucial to my research. From these community relationships my central question emerged: How have rural salvadoreñes and yucuaiquinenses understood what it means to live together? I explore this question through histories of water, commerce and labor, and migration. Routines around access to water, street commerce, and transnational migration have been areas of struggle as yucuaiquinenses have contended with systemic forces – colonialism, privatization, wealth disparities, and imperialism.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Relative Levels of Drice Expression During Metamorphosis In Larval Fat Bodies of Drosophila melanogaster
    (2023-07-14) Bloomgarden, Abigail; Woodard, Craig
    Programmed cell death (PCD) is the self-destruction of a cell as part of development or maintaining homeostasis. The main drivers of apoptosis are a family of enzymes called caspases. The two main caspases in Drosophila are Dronc and Drice. Dronc is an apical caspase, which means it is directly activated by apoptotic signals and in turn activates Drice. Drice is an effector caspase, which means it cleaves certain molecules in the cell which lead to cell death. During Drosophila pupation, larval salivary glands die at 10-12 hours after puparium formation (APF). Unlike most larval tissues, the larval fat bodies of Drosophila do not undergo apoptosis. Instead, they remodel, going from a sheet of fat cells to individual cells at around 12 hours APF. Therefore, it would be expected that larval fat bodies would have much lower levels of Drice than larval salivary glands. In this project, relative levels of Drice protein between Drosophila larval salivary glands and larval fat bodies at 0, 6, 10, and 12 hours APF were measured using Western blotting. It was hypothesized that at all time points levels of Drice protein would be lower in the fat bodies than in the salivary glands. Unfortunately, difficulties with the Western blotting protocol and the antibody used led to a lack of statistically significant results. However, troubleshooting of the experiment did lead to revisions of the Woodard Lab Western blotting protocol that will increase the efficacy and efficiency of future blots. Despite the issues with the project, future study in this area would be very valuable and should make use of the updated Western blotting protocol.
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    Being Realistic About Reducing Incarceration: Political Approaches to Incarceration Reform in Michigan, What Works, and What Does Not
    (2023-07-14) Wadhwani, Avni; Smith II, Preston
    Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness took the criminal justice space by storm. Published in 2010 just as states began reversing War on Drugs policies, the book transformed the way activists and policymakers think about prison and the state’s role in incarceration. The book’s core premise posited that incarceration’s purpose is to systematically and intentionally disenfranchise African American men. My research challenges the dominance of Alexander’s narrative on the carceral system and aims to answer the question: what is the most effective political approach to getting criminal justice reform policy passed that significantly reduces the incarcerated population given existing political conditions in Michigan and other states with similar conditions? My research draws on interviews with state policymakers and activists, political messaging in newspaper articles, press releases, and legislative hearings, and successful and unsuccessful legislation passed in Michigan’s 100th and 101st state legislative sessions to create a comprehensive analysis of when and where certain political approaches succeed and fail. I argue that Alexander’s “race approach” is not the most effective political approach to reducing incarceration on a messaging or policy basis. I argue instead for the success of the “economic approach” in passing reform legislation. This economic approach aims to ameliorate the effects of the carceral system, both by making it easier for offenders to access socioeconomic resources after incarceration and through preventative but piecemeal measures before incarceration, such as increasing funding for an individual program or resource. I argue that while the economic approach has achieved the most success from a messaging and policy standpoint thus far, mass redistribution into working- and middle-class communities is needed to truly shrink the carceral state. This thesis categorizes and measures different political approaches to carceral reform, which previous scholars have not done, and creates a political framework for how legislators in purple states can get reform legislation passed.
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    The Taste of Spoiled Earth
    (2023-07-12) Kilroy, Rebecca; Hong, Anna Maria
    The Irish Famine of 1845-1852 is an event defined by silence. Despite its tremendous demographic impact on both Ireland and the worldwide Irish diaspora, the Famine received relatively little literary or historical treatment prior to the late 1990s. Even now, a crucial element missing from both history and scholarship is the voice of the victims, which nineteenth-century chroniclers struggled to convey. One way in which chroniclers sought to convey the destruction and suffering of the Famine was through supernatural and often apocalyptic imagery of “living skeletons” and “walking dead.” Drawing on this legacy, “The Taste of Spoiled Earth” presents a speculative history novella in which the Famine dead rise, imbued with a hunger for living flesh. The figure of the undead allows for a blurring of boundaries that defies traditional rationalist narratives of history, while remaining true to, and commenting on, the social and political realities of hunger in a colonial state.