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Honors Program

Honors Program

Honors Thesis Abstracts - Spring 2011 - Winthrop Students' Research

Comparative Analysis of Adolescent Pregnancy in Central America, Mexico and South Carolina

Presented at the Honors Thesis Colloquium, Winthrop University, April 2011

Student: A. Elizabeth (Betsy) Jenkins    Social Work   2011

Honors Thesis Director: Dr. Wendy Campbell

CAS – Department of Social Work

This paper addresses the issue of adolescent pregnancy in Mexico, Central America and South Carolina and implications for social work practice with immigrant communities. The paper is based on current literature and on cross-national, on-line survey of local and international pregnancy prevention programs. The paper analyzes and discusses various psychosocial causes of pregnancy in adolescents, including: limited opportunities for formal education, infrequent open discussions about sexual health, rising costs of adequate birth control, and difficulty in obtaining contraceptives in remote locations. This research paper analyzes current statistics on the effectiveness of existing projects and programs and compares and contrasts research about the validity and efficacy of these programs in both South Carolina and abroad. Finally, the paper addresses implications for social work practice with adolescents in immigrant communities.

An Exploration of Variables that Predict College Students’ Attitudes Toward Mandatory Service Learning

Presented at the Honors Thesis Colloquium, Winthrop University, April 2011

Student: Amanda McLeod    Psychology    2011

Honors Thesis Director: Dr. Donna Nelson

CAS – Department of Psychology

Service Learning is an education practice that promotes learning and community engagement. Many universities have incorporates service learning into their curriculum and research suggests these experiences have various positive outcomes (e.g., Bringle, Phillips, & Hudson, 2004; Taylor and Pancer, 2007). My study extended the existing literature by exploring variables that may be linked to students’ perceptions of service learning in college. Participants completed and 36 question survey that assessed a series of demographic items. It also measure family attitudes toward service and service participation, religiosity, personal social values, attitudes toward mandatory service learning, and attitudes toward community service in general. I found that family influences were important to participants’ perceptions and behaviors in relation to service. Those participants who reported their families encouraged them to be involved in community service or whose families were actively involved in service tended to view community service more favorably, felt a greater sense of personal social responsibility and were more active in service learning projects. Consistent with those findings, I also found a trend that service participation before college was related to service participation during college. In addition, I found that participants who had completed more service learning projects tended to express greater personal commitment to serving others. They also tended to have more favorable attitudes toward community service and mandatory service learning. Overall, students reported more favorable attitudes toward community service in general, compared to mandatory service learning.

 Epidermal Dividing Cells in Aeolosoma headleyi (Annelida, Oligocheata)

Presented at the Honors Thesis Colloquium, Winthrop University, April 2011

Student: Sara Merlie   Biology   2011

Honors Thesis Director: Dr. Julian Smith III

CAS – Department of Biology

Previous studies in annelids suggest that these worms may possess a replicating epidermal stem cell population; however, the position, identity, and whether these cells correspond to the previously described basal cells are unknown. This study uses 5-ethyl-2’-deoxuridine (EdU) and anti-Phosphorylated Histone H3-labeling to examine epidermal synthesis-phase (S-phase) and mitotic (M-phase) cells in Aeolosoma headleyi, an annelid known to possess basal cells. S-phase and M-phase cells were found in the epidermis both in the fission plane and general body wall, but not all were basally located. Furthermore, some S-phase cells had the nuclear morphology of differentiated cells. Based upon progressively shortened EdU labeling times, the length of gap 2 phase was estimated to be less than 60 min. This study suggests a method of epidermal replacement dependent on dedifferentiation and the division of differentiated epidermal cells and also establishes this species as a model organism, for the study of stem cells in annelids.

Content of Macronutrient Intake before and after Endurance Exercise for Optimal Performance and Recovery

Presented at the Honors Thesis Colloquium, Winthrop University, April, 2011

Student: Carly Moss  Human Nutrition  2011

Honors Thesis Director: Dr. Carlton Bessinger

CAS – Department of Human Nutrition

The purpose of this literature review is to assess primary research studies on the appropriate nutrient content of meals before and after competition and training of different intensities and durations for optimum athletic performance in endurance sports. Studies show the effects of the amount of ingestion of lipids and carbohydrate before exercise of physiologic and metabolic responses and on physical performance during the exercise. Topics in this review include the effects of different types of pre-exercise fat intake and the glycemic index of pre-exercise foods on substrate availability and oxidation and exercise performance. Other studies demonstrate the effects of protein and carbohydrate intake after exercise on physiologic and metabolic responses during recovery and on athletic performance during subsequent training sessions. This review addresses the effects of post-exercise carbohydrate and protein intake on glycogen and skeletal muscle synthesis. This review aims to expand on the cited literature by explaining the mechanisms behind the determined metabolic and physiologic responses during exercise and recovery as well as by examining how these responses affect athletic performance. The Food Processor Computer Software was utilized in the formulation of adequate pre and post-exercise meals based on conclusions drawn in the review.

 A Bioinformatic Investigation of the Regulatory Networks of the HMGA Proteins

Presented at the Honors Thesis Colloquium, Winthrop University, April, 2011

Student: Carol Perkins Chemistry  2011

Honors Thesis Director: Thesis Director: Dr. Takita F. Sumter

CAS - Department of Chemistry, Physics, and Geology

The High Mobility Group A (HMGA) proteins, HGMA1a, HMGA1b, and HMGA2 are elevated in human cancers and have a distinguishing role in cancer initiation and progression. Despite emerging and understanding of the mechanisms of action, intricate details of exactly how these proteins trigger cancer initiation is still unclear. To better understand how these proteins are elevated in the cell, we are exploring the role of the Wnt signaling pathway in regulating HMGA proteins. Bioinformatic analysis of the HMGA1 and HGMA2 promoters was conducted to identify sequences and evaluate whether putative TCF binding sites (5’-WWCAAAG-3’) were homologous. For HMGA2, nine homologous sequences and two homologous potential TCF binding sites were identified. For HMGA1, four sequences were identified and aligned. Several potential TCF binding sites were found within these sequences, but they were not homologous. These studies provide a basis for further investigations in the regulation of HGMA by Wnt signaling. Moreover, work to better understand the molecular networks surrounding HGMA may provide opportunities to develop more effective therapies for cancer treatment.

Adults' Perceptions of Safety on Facebook and Willingness to Befriend a Stranger

Presented at the Honors Thesis Colloquium, Winthrop University, April, 2011

Student: Amy Rivers  Psychology  2011

Honors Thesis Director: Dr. Merry Sleigh

CAS - Department of Psychology

Previous research demonstrates that the popular social networking site Facebook has an impact on users’ behaviors on- and offline (Orr, Sisic, Ross, Simmering, Arseneault, & Orr, 2009; Sheldon, 2008). However, little research has been done on Facebook users’ perceptions of safety and willingness to interact with complete strangers, which has become an important issue due to Facebook’s increasing popularity and internet safety concerns. To examine these research questions, we created a two-tiered project: an experiment to investigate how individuals would react to friend requests from Facebook users they obviously did not know, and a survey, to gather information on Facebook users’ perceptions of safety and willingness to interact with online strangers. Abiding by Facebook guidelines, we created four profiles under two names on Facebook (one male profile with a real picture and one with a cartoon picture - likewise for female), randomly added a total of 400 American and Spanish users, and observed differences in acceptance rates. We also distributed a survey online. Overall, we found that users would rather accept a random friend request from a woman and from someone using a real picture instead of a cartoon. There were differences between genders and countries. Participants reported feeling generally safe on Facebook, but utilized a number of strategies to achieve that feeling of safety. We also found that factors such as length of time on Facebook, level of education, number of friends, and age affected users’ willingness to share information and interact with online strangers. These findings could be used to understand the complex interactions that take place on Facebook and potentially help to inform young users to utilize the site and perceive their actions as safe.

Seasonal Water Quality of the Guacimal Watershed, Monteverde, Costa Rica

Presented at the Honors Thesis Colloquium, Winthrop University, April, 2011

Student: Kevin A. Ryan   Biology    2011

Honors Thesis Director: Dr. Peter Phillips

CAS - Department of Biology

Costa Rica, which is renowned for its biodiversity and eco-tourism, is struggling to enact sound environmental management of its surface waters. This honors thesis in biology comments on the overall health of the Guacimal River in the Pacific North West region of Costa Rica. Physical, chemical, and biological parameters were recorded for 18 sampling sites and evaluated along a downstream gradient within the watershed. While pH, dissolved oxygen, and water temperatures were considered normal, the turbidity, specific conductivity, and nutrient concentrations within some sampling sites indicate degraded water quality. In general, macroinvertebrate diversity and density corroborate the observed chemical water quality trends. It is suggested that degraded water quality within some headwater streams is due to historic dairy farming and a growing tourism industry surrounding the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve. The effects from these pollution sources are discussed according to an extreme seasonal hydrologic regime characteristic of North West Costa Rica. Offering baseline water quality data for the watershed, this study recommends further monitoring as the biological corridor is managed in the midst of a thriving tourist destination.

Hunger Vulnerability Resulting from International Economic Involvement in Sub Saharan Africa

Presented at the Honors Thesis Colloquium, Winthrop University, April, 2011

Student: Amy Schober   Political Science   2011

Honors Thesis Director: Dr. Tim Boylan

This paper looks at the particular causes of food crises in Africa, particularly in the context of a globally organized economy. Many African nations experienced especially high crop yields in 2008 amid low yields elsewhere in the world. Supply and demand dictated that in a year of overall low yields the price of food would increase. However, shifts in ownership of the means of production along with shifts towards export- led economies prevented Africans from benefiting. Rather, those who have turned away from subsistence farming were pulled into the market economy and found themselves vulnerable to entitlement failures when the world market experienced these jolts. Vulnerability to fluctuations on the world market can have devastating outcomes for people who spend such a high percentage of their earnings on food.

The Parallel Religious Commentaries of Miguel Cervantes and Nathaniel Hawthorne in Don Quixote and The Scarlet Letter

Presented at the Honors Thesis Colloquium, Winthrop University, April, 2011

Student: Sybil Senn    Spanish    2011

Honors Thesis Director: Dr. Jane Smith

CAS - Department of World Languages & Cultures

Critics Have noted Nathaniel Hawthorne’s criticism of the Puritan religion in The Scarlet Letter, but while critics have observed a religious commentary on Catholicism in Miguel Cervantes’ Don Quixote, criticism of Catholicism is not argued. This paper explores the parallels between the biographies of Cervantes and Hawthorne, the historical context of each novel, and the critical commentaries of each authors’ respective religions. I will also discuss the importance and significance of these religious commentaries in terms of the historical context of both novels and the biographies of the authors. In order to thoroughly analyze the authors’ religious commentaries and to illustrate evidence of this assertion, I will complete a stylistic analysis. I will compare similar scenes from each novel that demonstrate religious criticism and then detail how the role of the main characters, Hester Prynne and Don Quixote, reveals commentaries of Hawthorne and Cervantes as criticism of Puritanism and Catholicism.

College abbreviations

CAS = College of Arts & Sciences

CBA = College of Business Administration

COE = College of Education

CVPA = College of Visual & Performing Arts