2021 Pioneer Scholars
Carroll University recognizes the 2021 pioneer scholars and their mentors for their academic and scholarly achievements.
Mirror, mirror in my feed: self-image is represented in demographic-based advertising
Facebook’s advertising algorithms have only been getting more specific to people’s interests. Not only does Facebook have access to demographic information for advertising purposes, but it also tracks users' friends’ interests, interactions with advertisements, and other website data. In short, Facebook knows its users well. Demographic based advertising is not new, but now users are being targeted for specific advertisements within the first days of signing up for a Facebook account.
Women are known to get advertisements that relate to body-image, cosmetics, and clothing, even if these are not topics they are interested in. These advertisements may be having an adverse effect on their target audience. This study aims to find if there is a correlation between women viewing advertisements on body-image, cosmetics, and clothing and women’s confidence levels.
Qualitative data will be collected from women and women-aligned social media users on how they view the advertisements they view and the effects they think they has on them. Women users of Facebook are the primary target for this study. Facebook users will be invited to complete a questionnaire of their experiences with Facebook advertising, with the prerequisite questions of age (18+) and gender identity (women and women-aligned) used to screen the sample. The questionnaire will be distributed by the creators via social media which encourages sharing by participants. Using snowball sampling method allows the sample size to grow organically but does limit the exposure to the questionnaire to those connected to the creators. While a weakness of snowball sampling is often the population bias, in this study we want two groups of women of different ages for possible comparisons.
For the questionnaire itself, advertisements are identified in the Facebook and Instagram Advertising Library. These advertisements will be placed into the questionnaire to gain insight into how women feel after seeing and reading these advertisements. The questionnaire will use a Likert scale to collect numerical data for descriptive statistics.
Example: On a scale of one to five, one being very poor and five being very good, how does this advertisement on makeup make you feel about how you look without makeup?
Averages from the Likert scale will be used to show findings in a way that accurately portrays how women view demographically based advertisements. As women are targeted in advertisements that correlate to body image, this research aims to find the harm these advertisements cause to women’s self-image. Marketing researchers, advertisers, and other social science researchers may use the information and data collected from this study to continue the research on the impact of advertising on women’s self-image.
Public Opinion and the Prayer Book Rebellion
Originally my research was focused on the events that led up to the English Civil War, however, due to Covid there was limited access to relevant sources. Both me and my mentor Scott Hendrix agreed that it was best to switch the focus of the project. My project focused on the seventeenth century pedagogue and reformer John Amos Comenius (Jan Amos Komensky) who is regarded by many scholars to be the father of modern education due to his advocacy for universal access to education. He also authored the first children's picture book in the west titled the Orbis Pictus. Despite his importance to the modern education system in America, Comenius is not as well known in America. One reason for this relative obscurity is that many of Comenius' writings disappeared for several centuries, and English translations of the Czech and Latin works was hindered by the Iron curtain that blocked off eastern Europe following WWII. This project was conducted in part to increase the English scholarship dedicated to this important figure in the development of modern education. My research uncovered that Comenius reform efforts were fueled by his belief that educational reform could incite the Millennium, a thousand-year period of peace and prosperity on earth that would precede the second coming of Christ and the final judgement of God. His belief in the millennium and the possibility of inciting it was the result of his educational experience as a student and a teacher, his life experience living through the horrors of the Thirty Years War, and his work with the Hartlib group of reformers in London. The research was conducted by reviewing the existing scholarship as well as Comenius' own writings which included the Orbis Pictus, the Great Didactic, and the Labyrinth.
The Philosophy of Zoning
Zoning laws are an unavoidable government incursion into the free market. They define our basic rights to use and enjoy the most significant private property most people own--their house. But there is no coherent and consistent theoretical principle behind their implementation. Zoning laws are implemented ad hoc, inconsistently, and always with an eye towards protecting entrenched interests rather than the common good. In this project, I will attempt to develop and defend a consistent philosophical and political principle for the application and design of zoning laws. One important (and frankly lonely) piece of literature on the topic is Matthew Iglesias’ book “The Rent is Too Damn High”. In which he shows the truly curious state of zoning in this country. Curious in that on one of the few issues conservatives and progressives agree on, they may both be wrong. He highlights the many ill-effects of zoning in the economy: such as the deepening wealth inequality it creates, the environmental pollution, the horrific effects on folks’ mental health, and the racial divides it solidifies. All of which will be further investigated in this paper. In Richard Reeves’ book “Dream Hoarders” identifies a problem that he calls opportunity hoarding. Opportunity hoarding is the cycle of upper-middle class families staying upper-middle class, and crowding out space for upward mobility. This is done, in part, through zoning. In upper-middle class areas, schools tend to be better, crime is lower, and community is stronger. This becomes exclusionary when developers are banned from building multi-family units and apartments- homes primarily inhabited by lower-middle and low-income families. Given that conservatives tend to be the greater proponents of the “free-market” in this country, it is strange that they uphold such restrictive practices. It seems that the reason for this is what many sociologists call “NIMBYism”, or not-in-my-backyard-ism, characterized by the active resistance by local residents to building basically anything that may be believed to decrease property values or increase crime rates. In other words, it's the restriction of residential zoning to be exclusive to single-family homes, blocking out multi-family units and apartment buildings. While aesthetically this may seem to be the best practice for those families currently residing there, this paper will expose the devastating effects this has on a nation’s culture and economy. As was touched upon before, this exacerbates racial inequality and wealth inequality. If the free-marketeers believe in freedom over equality, they should be fascinated and excited to hear that by overhauling our system of zoning, the market can allocate resources (in the form of *affordable* housing) most efficiently, and achieve greater equality as a result. The American left worries that if zoning laws are eased, predatory developers and multinational corporations will change the cultural landscape of the working class that lives in an area, along with the historic local businesses, by paving over it with a new Starbucks or Walmart, and build luxury apartments and increase the rent on current tenants, and forcing them out of their communities. This worry, however, is also misguided. Drawing again from Iglesias’ book, we see that the crowding-out of low income residents only occurs as an effect of gentrification when zoning laws restricting high-density housing are in place. If developers are allowed to build more housing units in a given area, rent costs go down; it’s simple supply and demand.Finally, there is something to be learned from Communist China. They do not allow private ownership of property, yet they too have zoning regulations. Dr. Guilfoy and I will study the regulations they impose, the effects, and the philosophy behind them, explicit or not. This will provide an incredibly unique and valuable perspective given the chasm of differences between our nation and theirs.
Objects have no goals but utilities: Sexual agency, the path that women who try to achieve their sexual goals as objects ignore.
Within healthy sexual interactions, men and women express their thoughts, feelings, and desires as agents of their sexuality. Yet, women are socialized to self-objectify, in which they think of themselves as sexual objects of desire as opposed to someone with thoughts, feelings, and desires (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997). This research seeks to examine factors that predict when women will choose to engage in self-objectifying behaviors as opposed to sexually empowering behaviors when a sexual goal is activated. In this experiment, female participants will be randomly assigned to one of three conditions in which a sex goal is active or absent, and the sex goal is either general (e.g., activated through a word completion task) or context-specific (e.g., through visualizing an upcoming romantic date). After the manipulation, participants will be asked to indicate their interest in engaging in behaviors that focus on appealing to a sexual partner (self-objectification) versus their desires (sexual agency); these behaviors will be determined through a focus group. Women may consider self-objectifying behaviors in response to an activated sex goal due to socialization processes that communicate to women that appealing to men is an essential part of being feminine (Chrisler, 2013; Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997). To explore whether women choose specific behaviors because self-objectification shapes feelings of belonging in their gender group, participants will also report on the extent to which they perceive themselves as embodying womanhood. Moreover, we will assess individual differences related to chronic levels of self-objectification and sexual agency, beliefs about gender, and internalization of societal messages regarding sex appeal and power differences between the sexes. These individual differences are hypothesized to shape women's interest in behaviors; women who internalize objectification and sexism are expected to choose self-objectifying actions upon sexual goal activation.
Purifying and characterizing the mechanism of Bacillus subtilis DNA repair glycosylases
Background: DNA is known as the carrier of all genetic material for living organisms. Although DNA is generally stable, it can be damaged when exposed to chemicals in the environment (1,2). Even addition of a single carbon atom to a DNA base poses as a serious threat to cells because it can cause genetic mutations or cell death (Figure 1) (2,3). Cells have evolved many pathways to combat DNA damaging chemicals, including the Base Excision Repair pathway that begins with a glycosylase enzyme. Enzymes are proteins that catalyze reactions, meaning they make a reaction go faster. Glycosylase enzymes remove damaged bases from DNA (3). This project focuses on glycosylases that remove alkylated bases, meaning bases that have single carbon atom modifications. In bacteria, the main glycosylase is called AlkA, while human cells have AAG glycosylase (3-6). Almost all types of organisms have either AlkA or AAG, but not both (5,7,8). This differs in the case of Bacillus subtilis, a bacterium commonly found in soils and the human gastrointestinal tract. Interestingly, B. subtilis contains AlkA, AAG and another proposed alkylation repair glycosylase, YfjP (9-12). It is not understood why B. subtilis has extra glycosylase enzymes, and whether they act in the same manner as their counterparts in other bacteria and humans. The overall goal of this project is to characterize these DNA repair enzymes in B. subtilis. Project Methods: In our research, we aim to purify and characterize the glycosylase enzymes present in B. subtilis. In order to do so, we must first grow bacteria, so it produces a lot of our target enzyme. We will then isolate the protein via protein purification. Protein purification is a commonly used technique in biochemistry as it allows us to study the protein of interest without contamination of other proteins (13). We will be using an ÄKTA FPLC to purify our glycosylases (14). This high-tech instrument was purchased for the new Jaharis Science Laboratory building but has not yet been operated. We are excited to have this resource available and to use it in current biochemistry undergraduate research at Carroll University. After we purify our glycosylases, we will react them with damaged DNA to determine the speed of individual mechanistic steps. By setting up reactions with different concentrations of protein and DNA, and different types of damaged DNA, we can define an overall kinetic mechanism for the glycosylase (Figure 2) and determine its specificity for different damaged DNA bases. Description of Individual Student Project: In my part of the project, I will be purifying and characterizing the AAG glycosylase enzyme. AAG glycosylase is the enzyme that is found in human cells (5). As mentioned above, it is odd that B. subtilis also contains the AAG glycosylase (10,12). This work will build on our knowledge of B. subtilis DNA repair and explore why the bacteria evolved to uniquely contain this glycosylase.
Judicial Actors and the Subversion of Gender Equality in Morocco
In 2004, the Moroccan Code of Family Law or Moudawana was rewritten and ensured women numerous advances in gender equality. In 2011, Morocco revised its constitution, adding a section meant to cement the notion that “the man and the woman enjoy, in equality, the rights and freedoms of civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental character.” Morocco, therefore, now has legal gender equality on paper. However, there has been a disconnect from these laws and their implementation by the courts. The Moroccan legal system continues to uphold traditional, often unequal, gender norms without a clear reason for doing so. Our project seeks to understand why this is the case despite changes to the Moroccan legal code to specifically address gender equality. We have two preliminary hypotheses. First, Morocco’s judges feel compelled to rely on Islamic Law rather than national law to make rulings as a result of their legal training or adherence to cultural norms. Second, and building on the first hypothesis, there may be a generational shift happening in light of these legal changes that has not yet reached most courts. Younger judges, even those trained in Islamic legal schools (fiqh) will be more likely than older judges to support gender equality in their rulings due to changes in legal education after 2011. Overall, the disconnect between Moroccan Law and the Moroccan legal system brings attention to the lack of gender equality in practice and encourages further research to better understand this phenomenon. In order to attempt to provide such a better understanding, during the course of this project, we will examine the existing law in Morocco that ensures gender equality and a set of cases in which those laws have been considered. Through our consideration of these cases, we will be able to formulate a series of factors to explain why, when, and how gender equality is and is not supported by the courts. We will also produce a scholarly, peer-reviewed article, containing our findings, to be submitted to a political science journal.
Water Extraction from Lunar Regolith
In the late 2000s, multiple missions detected hydration on the lunar surface. However, it was not until 2020 that NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) identified water molecules in the Moon’s southern hemisphere (Wasser, 2020). Previously, some form of hydrogen had been detected, but it was not clear if it was water or hydroxyl (Potter, 2020). This is a significant discovery, as water extraction has several useful purposes. It could be a source of drinking water for astronauts or be broken into oxygen to make it breathable. The hydrogen and oxygen could even be used as fuel for the rockets (Jenish, 2016). In order to extract the water, various methods have been proposed, such as evaporation, hydrogen reduction, and the use of microwave technology (Hsu, 2009). One of the things that these methods have in common, is that all of them require the same amount of energy to succeed. It is important to point out that the binding energy of water to regolith is likely to be quite different from soils on Earth, and that binding energy must be known in order to predict the energy required and rate achievable for extraction. The main goal of the project is to determine the binding energy between the water and the lunar regolith in order to find out the energy needed to extract the water from it. We will measure the saturated vapor pressure as a function of numbers of adsorbed molecules at a given temperature, which will provide us with the necessary data to calculate the binding energy. An apparatus will be built based on a physisorption procedure. Physisorption is the process of mechanically locking up molecules in a solid material by Van der Waals forces (Erkey, 2011). This method will be used in the experiment with water molecules and lunar regolith as the solid material. The simulated sample of lunar regolith will be acquired from Sierra Nevada Corp. through the Space Grant Consortium; of which the mentor is a member. The data will be collected from repeatable measurements done on a vapor deposition isotherm system connected by copper tubes and valves. The system will be connected to a vacuum that will get all the air out of the system. Argon, a noble gas, will then be used to characterize the sample. The procedure involves placing a small sample of the lunar regolith in a test tube and then opening the valves, allowing a known volume of pure water to go through until the saturated vapor pressure is achieved. With the values recorded, a moles vs pressure graph will be plotted to determine the saturated point, from which the binding energy will be determined. The process will be repeated with different temperatures as many times as needed.