2016 Undergraduate Research Forum

Wednesday, April 20, 2016, 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Liberal Arts Center - Rotunda



Katrina Kotcho
Sponsor: Monica Pierri-Galvao, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Physics
Replicating the Focus of the Human Eye  

The human eye is a complex sense organ that reacts to light. The eye is composed of many different parts that must work together. Sight in the human eye is observed when light passes through the eyes’ cornea, the lens, and the two humors, aqueous and vitreous humor, to the retina. The image is received and carried by the optic nerve as electrical impulses then the impulse is transmitted to the brain. The ciliary muscle changes the shape of the lens for near and far objects. The pupil allows light into the eye which is regulated by the iris and the retina is the sense receptor for light. The lens will be flat and the ciliary muscle is relaxed when focusing on distance objects, whereas, for near objects the lens becomes rounded and the ciliary muscle contracts. The lens shape changes the focal length which would affect where the image will fall. One can use geometric optics to describe the image formation through ray diagrams. The goal of this project is to replicate the shape of a human lens with a variety of focal lengths and further study the image formation by the human eye through geometric optics. This eye model can be used by students in an introductory physics laboratory to study image formation and understand the focusing process of the human eye.

Rebecca Policello
Sponsor Deanne Dulik Garver, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Chemistry
Use of Essential Oil Derivatives to Discourage Pollination of Invasive Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica)

Pollinator declines and the spread of invasive plant species are global ecological threats that could have widespread effects. The purpose of this study was to determine if the addition of select essential oil components (methyl salicylate, 3-octanol and geranyl acetate) are able to reduce the pollination of invasive plant species Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica). The deterrent effects were tested in two phases; the first compared the effectiveness of the essential oils against a control. The second phase determined if the concentration of the essential oil changed visitation over time. Phase I showed no significant differences between treatment groups (p>0.05); however methyl salicylate showed observational deterrence. The second phase showed a strong correlation between time and bee visitation when treated with the pentane vehicle alone (r= 0.8736), suggesting that treatments may lose their efficiency over time. This study has potential applications in both conservation and agriculture to increase pollination efficiency. Future research should focus on optimizing deterrence by adjusting essential oil concentrations and using a more efficient vehicle.


Thomas Christopher
Sponsor:  Deanne Dulik Garver, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Chemistry
Potential for Essential Oils as Antimicrobial Agents against P. Acnes

Propionibacterium acnes, a bacterium which thrives within the pores of our skin, is one of the leading causes of Acne Vulgaris, a medical condition which plagues most adolescents and many adults. Recent studies show that P. acnes is becoming more resistant to modern antibiotics, a common occurrence among many other infectious bacteria. There has been an ongoing race among researchers to discover or develop novel antimicrobial compounds, as the risk from bacterial resistance is rapidly rising. Nature has been utilized extensively throughout history, using various plants to treat numerous medical ailments. The use of essential oils from plants has increased dramatically with new scientific studies, which prove the beneficial characteristics of many plants in nature. In this study, three major fragrance compounds, Geraniol, Nerol, and Phenethyl Alcohol, found in various plants and flowers, were evaluated to determine if they have the capability to inhibit the growth of P. acnes. This was done by measuring zones of inhibition, a common method used to test the effectiveness of antibiotics against a specific bacterium. Preliminary studies utilized data from previous published studies, where the three compounds of interest were tested against various species of bacteria. Results from the preliminary assays demonstrated that the prepared concentrations were too dilute, and higher concentrations of the three compounds were prepared and assessed. Further studies will be conducted at higher concentrations to determine the potential for efficacy of these natural products.

Thomas Christopher
Sponsor:  Deanne Dulik Garver, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Chemistry
The Antimicrobial Effect of Carvacrol on Biofilm Proliferation in Hydroponic Lettuce Farming

There are many well documented benefits to hydroponic farming, including reduced farming space, allowing for more crops in a smaller area, reduced water usage versus traditional farming, as well as reduced fertilizer and pesticide use. One of the challenges, however, is combating the biofilm that accumulates at the bottom of the reservoir supplying water for the system. While not comprised of pathogenic bacteria, this biofilm contains bacteria that can have an effect upon the development of the crops. Some of these problems include reduced oxygen for the crops, microorganisms introduced into the crops, as well as possible damage to the irrigation system. Currently the treatment of biofilm includes ozonation, high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide, and high concentrations of chlorine dioxide. It is the objective of this research to find a natural product to add to the hydroponic system that does not affect the toxicity of the crops, yet is effective in preventing biofilm from being able to adhere and grow. Toward this goal, a local hydroponic lettuce farmer donated a sample of biofilm growth from their reservoir which was then evaluated for its bacterial components. Through DNA analysis, four bacteria were determined in the biofilm sample: Bacillus thuringiensis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Bacillus amyloliquefaciens, and Pigmentiphaga daeguensis. The compound under investigation to reduce biofilm in hydroponics is carvacrol, an essential oil of Origanum vulgare (oregano) that has been linked toantimicrobial activity. Testing was performed over various concentration ranges for each bacterium to determine efficacy.

Macy Decker, Kaleb Davis
Sponsor:  Christopher Brey, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Science
Overexpression of klf-2 in the intestine of Caenorhabditis elegans

Coordinated regulation of fat storage is essential for fat metabolism and any disruption is associated with metabolic syndromes such as cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes in humans. A key family of Kruppel-like transcription factors, (klfs) are important in maintaining proper fat balance. Understanding how this fat balance is maintained can be gained by studying expression of these klfs in a model organism. In order to study the expression of these transcription factors, Caenorhabditis elegans were microinjected with the JS-1 plasmid containing promoters of the klf-2 gene and gfp gene and PRF-4 plasmid containing a marker gene. Briefly, we constructed a specific primer (JS1) that would lead to the amplification of the KLF2 gene with the promoter. From there, we used an expression vector, pPD95_67 which contained the segment of the gene and injected into the nematodes. Since pPD95_67 has a marker with it known as the green fluorescent protein, we can then view the worms under the fluorescent microscope to ensure that they took up the vector with our gene. By studying the expression of Klf-2, insight into the role this gene plays in fat metabolism can be learned, and applied to human diseases.

Paul Kraycer
Sponsor:  Christopher Brey, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Science
Caenorhabditis elegans Krüppel-like Transcription Factor Family Genetic Analysis: Examining klf-2 and klf-3 Double Mutant

The free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is a model organism that contain genes in the Krüppel-like Transcription Factor family (klf) that are homologues to klfs found in humans. klfs are important in the storage of lipids in the intesines of C. elegans and play a major part in the formation of adipose cells. Their control over adipose cells causes them to be linked to predisposition to obesity and type-2 diabetes in humans. Studies have shown that the klf-2 and klf-3 genes are both  important in the storage and utilization of fatty acids within the intestine by promoting fatty acid ß-oxidtaion, however little research has been done examining the interaction between these two transcription factors. The goal of this study was to create a klf-2/ klf-3 double mutant strain of C.elegans. klf-3(RB1603) hermaphrodites were mated with male CA151 mutant worms using standard genetic crosses to produce heterozygotes. After mating, worms were allowed to reproduce to the third generation. This process was again repeated with males form the previous mating and klf-2 hermaphrodites. Single worm PCR was utilized to confirm the presence of the cross. With a double mutant strain we will be able to examine if the genes enhance or suppress one another by examining fat deposition levels (o-red- stain), fecundity and morphological differences.

Rebecca Lukasak
Sponsor:  Lisa Antoniacci, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Biology
Genome-Wide Expression Analysis of 3 Mutant Yeast Strains

The yeast nuclear envelope protein Mps3 functions in several aspects of chromosome metabolism such as sister chromatid cohesion, telomere clustering, and DNA damage repair. In addition, Mps3physically and functionally interacts with the histone variant Htz1. Htz1 was previously identified as a histone variant that prevents DNA from forming silent heterochromatin as a way to regulate transcription. Because of the involvement of both of these genes in chromosome metabolism, it is hypothesized that both of these genes may also function in regulating gene expression. In order to assess genome expression wild type yeast, 2 Mps3 mutants (mps3-3 and mps3-5) and an htz1∆ strain were examined for genome wide expression levels in asynchronously growing cells. The data generated will be analyzed for both up-regulation and down-regulation of gene expression incomparison to the wild type strain. Identification of expression differences between the wild type and mutant strains would suggest a function for Mps3 and Htz1 in gene expression.

Bridgette Sisson, Justin Liu
Sponsor:  Robin P. Ertl, Assistant Professor, Biochemistry
Adaptation of Phytoplankton to Ocean Acidification

Increasing levels of C02 have a significant impact on the world's oceans by lowering their pH. The overall effects of ocean acidification (OA) are largely unknown. Phytoplanktons are ideal organisms for examination since they are on one of the lowest tiers of the food chain, which cannot defend against changes of more than half a pH unit. Conveniently, Nannochloropsis gaditana(NG) has been cryopreserved from the Great South Bay (GSB) since the1950s. Much like theever-decreasing ocean's pH levels from 8.23 to the 8.01, the GSB's levels have also been decreasing. This allows for tests to be performed to see whether organisms have been able to adapt to the environmental changes. This is a model for how algae in the ocean may adapt if the pH of the ocean continues to fall. This work demonstrates that NG collected in 1952 will not grow at a pH of 7.9, yet the same algae collected in 2015 is continuing to grow at a pH of 7.6. This is consistent with the idea that some organisms can adapt to the ocean's decreasing pH.

Communication Sciences and Disorders

Samantha Michael, Polina Odegova
Sponsor:  Bruce A. Wisenburn, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Communication Sciences and Disorders
The Effect of Music Therapy on the Speech of an Adult with Aphasia

People with a neurological injury such as a stroke may show language deficits characterized by slow, grammatically incorrect productions (such as with nonfluent aphasia). Using rhythms and melodies during therapy, such as in Melodic Intonation Therapy, may help an individual improve his/her speech production after neurological injury. This study seeks to evaluate the effectiveness of three music therapy techniques on nonfluent aphasic speech. The three techniques include (a) singing familiar songs (such as popular songs that the participant likes), (b) musically assisted speech (saying sentences to a melody), and (c) rhythmic speech cueing (tapping fingers to every syllable). The experiment used a single subject design to study a 65-year old male participant with speech-language difficulties due to aphasia, such as trouble coming up with the right word he wants to say, frequent pauses in his speech, and trouble producing complete sentences. Baseline measures were taken before therapy, and therapy measures were collected every week during therapy. The participant attended weekly music therapy sessions for 45 minutes. This study will evaluate the effectiveness of this therapy for measures such as words per utterance, fluency, mazes per utterance (filled pauses, corrections), and total number of words.

Natalie Turner
Sponsor:  Bruce A. Wisenburn, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Communication Sciences and Disorders
A Systematic Review of Therapies for Spelling Deficits due to Aphasia

This systematic review is to objectively analyze the literature focused on spelling treatments for adults with aphasia (a language disorder due to a neurological injury). An exhaustive search of the online literature on spelling treatments for deficits due to aphasia was conducted using a variety of search engines, with ­­­­25 articles meeting the inclusion criteria. Articles were included that had participants with writing deficits due to aphasia and involved a behavioral therapy approach to spelling deficits. The pre- and post-therapy measures were used to calculate an effect size (an objective measure of the amount of gains made in therapy). Numerous therapies with evidence of effectiveness were found that involved copying target words numerous times (with or without distractor tasks); sounding out the words to come up with the correct letter; training to use a computerized writing aid; spelling to dictation with cues; and copying words in the context of facilitated group conversation. The average effect size for all therapies was 2.07, suggesting that participants made gains from therapy. The effect size range was from 0.40 to 8.76. There is evidence for effectiveness for numerous therapy approaches for spelling deficits due to aphasia.

Gabriella Trezza, Faith Harrison, Caytie Castells, Vanessa LaTorre
Sponsor:  Vijayachandra Ramachandra, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Communication Sciences and Disorders
Sweet Tastes Rounded and Bitter is Angular: Sound and Shape Symbolism in Aphasia

Cross-modal association tasks were used to understand multisensory integration in aphasia. People with aphasia and healthy controls were given word-shape, taste-shape, and taste word-shape association tasks. Results revealed that people with aphasia had deficits in multi sensory integration in the audio-visual and taste-visual domains. This indicates a deficit in the mirror neuron system in the frontal-temporal regions, which is important for multisensory integrative processes. These findings have important implications for language assessment and treatment in aphasia.


Elise Cargan
Sponsor:  Laurie McMillan, Ph.D., Associate Professor, English
The Challenging and Combining of Traditional Gender Roles in Disney’s Maleficent

Every young girl grows up with fairy tales, Disney princesses, and happily-ever-afters. These stories are read and films are viewed during a child’s formative years and can have a great impact on how they view themselves in society. The research that I would like to present for the Undergraduate Research Forum analyzes the oppressive nature of the female gender roles, specifically in relation to the treatment of the female villain, in the Charles Perrault and Grimm versions of the story of Sleeping Beauty, as well as in the 1959 Disney animated film. My research then examines Disney’s 2014 live action film Maleficent and how the title character embodies both typically male and female gender roles, creating a vision for the proper representation of women in film beyond just the beautiful damsel in distress or the ugly and evilvillainess. The discussion pertaining to the representation of women in literature and film is one that has been around for years, but is gaining a larger audience due to the increased publicity and social media awareness of feminism and feminist movements. By addressing the problems and lack of proper representation of women in films and literature that are household names, my research brings to light an issue that is seen in society every single day.

Riley Covaleski
Sponsor:  Laurie McMillan, Ph.D., Associate Professor, English
Harry Potter and the Fountain of Youth: Categorizing the Kid Wizard

Step into any library and search for the Harry Potter novels by J.K. Rowling; you will most likely find them sitting comfortably in the children’s section. It is true that some of the books fall into theumbrella genre “children’s literature,” but by the end of the seven-part series the events and the characters are more accurately indicative of the “young adult literature” genre. The children’s and young adult labels often fall into a binary rather than a spectrum, which leads to assumptions about a book’s content or audience based on how they’re categorized. While this isn’t inherently an issue, the fact that the Harry Potter novels are strictly regarded as children’s literature offers anargument for a category spectrum. By looking at Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, I will look at these novels as turning points in the series in regards to where the content deviates more towards either genre. The shifts in how authority figures treat Harry and how friends assist Harry in his goals help indicate the presence of both children’s and young adult literature in a series that spans both traditional age categories. Instead of calling a book or series one or the other label, why not acknowledge that a book can contain elements of both genres?

Amanda Thornley
Sponsor:  Laurie McMillan, Ph.D., Associate Professor, English
The Representation of deafness and Deaf Culture in Television  

Deaf culture is one of the most under-represented communities that live throughout all fifty states in America. Average people do not tend to know much about Deaf culture; many have a skewed view on the disability and its culture unless they were somehow connected with it. Switched at Birth, a modern television program for young adults written by Lizzy Weiss, aims to educate young people about Deaf culture. Although previous research I have gathered has proved that often enough disabilities such as deafness and its culture are often misrepresented or represented poorly in television, my analysis of a popular television program along with my previous knowledge of deafness and Deaf culture prove that both can be accurately portrayed. I would like to present the both the research I have gathered and the primary analysis I have completed and explain the varying differences between the two, aiming to prove why this TV program is doingsomething so different yet significant in today’s media.

Environmental Science

Zarlasht Abubakr
Sponsor:  Christopher Brey, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Science
A characterization of Caenorhabditis elagans hda-3, a homolog of the hd-1 of humans: A gene linked to Huntington’s Disease

Caenorhabditis elagans hda-3 gene (Ce-hda-3) is a member of histone deacetylase family, which is homologous to histone deacetylase (hd-1), the gene reported to be involved in the onset of Huntington’s disease in humans. The function of histone deacetylase enzymes is to removeexcess acetyl groups from histones. Towards the 5’ end of the human hd-1 gene are lengthy “CAG,” which encode for polyglutamine repeats. This unstable sequence causes an expansion in polyglutamine tract and lead to a neurodegenerative disease known as the Huntington’s disease. Caenorhabditis elegans is an ideal model organism to study hda-3 gene because it is easily managed in a laboratory environment, and it shares 40% homology to human genome. The goal of this project is to isolate Ce-hda-3 gene and characterize it function through in vivo expression localization assays (overexpression of the gene) and mutant analysis to learn how other genes may interact with hda-3 during the worm’s development. Currently, we have amplified a portion of the hda-3 gene. Our next step is to identify the deletion sequence in a hda-3 mutant worm supplied by CGC a C. elegans repository and characterize its function through a series of biochemical and molecular tests.


Susan Durand
Sponsor:  Thomas Kent, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Mathematics
Modeling Cracking in a Claypan Soil due to Desiccation

The evaporation of water from soil, known as desiccation, can lead to complex cracking patterns in clay soils. In 2004, Vogel created a two-dimensional model to simulate this cracking by using Hookean springs to represent the growing tension between soil particles as water is removed. When the tension of one of these springs reaches a threshold, the spring breaks, representing crack formation. We expand this model into three dimensions and use a C++ program to run the model for a given time interval, outputting the results for further review and critique.

Medical Laboratory Science

William Weiss,Thomas Christopher
Sponsor:  Deanne Dulik Garver, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Chemistry
Analysis of Phthalates in Unrecorded Alcoholic Beverages Using Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry

Unrecorded (non-commercial) alcohol production and use is at an all-time high in various places around the world and has been associated with toxicity and mortality due to high levels of various components produced during the distillation process. In collaboration with the University of Scranton and Northern Tier Analytical Labs in Scranton, we are analyzing for the presence of non-volatile phthalates, which are typically introduced into the beverage samples by storage in plastic containers. Samples were received from Estonia and Latvia in collaboration with the International Association for Responsible Drinking (IARD). A liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS) method was developed to analyze for five common phthalates in these samples. These results, in addition to analyses for toxic alcohols, aldehydes, heavy metals, esters, and ethylene glycol will help to determine the safety profile of these non-commercial samples procured from outside of the U.S.

William Weiss,Thomas Christopher
Sponsor:  Deanne Dulik Garver, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Chemistry
Antimicrobial Potential for Substituted Aromatic Compounds: A Pilot Study

“Bad bugs need drugs.” That’s the motto of the 10 x ’20 Initiative, which is a call to action to researchers everywhere to discover or create new antibacterial compounds. Antibiotic resistance is considered to be one of the top three threats to the world according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and it is estimated by 2020 we will enter into a post antibiotic era. According to Margaret Cho, General-Director of WHO, once antibiotics stop working, hip replacements, organ transplants, cancer chemotherapy and care of preterm infants will be far more difficult or even too dangerous to undertake. Failure to act on drug-resistant infections will lead to an additional 10 million deaths a year and cost the global economy $100 trillion by 2050. This call to action continues to inspire this research to assess the antimicrobial activity of aromatic compounds. Two aromatic compounds, pyrogallol and benzalkonium chloride, are the focus of this research to assess stability, solubility, and bactericidal effects. Solutions with and without starch binders (to improve adherence) as well as additional components, including hydrogen peroxide and silver nitrate, were observed and tested for viability as a stable solution before beingassessed for bactericidal activity. These compounds were initially evaluated against E. Coli and Staph. aureus. Future studies will assess activity against pathogenic bacteria MRSA and Clostridium difficile.

Music Therapy

Abaigael McMahon
Sponsor:  Anita L. Gadberry, Ph.D., MT-BC, Assistant Professor, Music Therapy
Feminist Therapy Techniques in Music Therapy

Feminist Therapy techniques emerged in the late 1970s as a part of the second-wave feminist movement (Brown, 2012). Early Feminist Therapy gave a safe space for women to talk about rape, domestic violence, discrimination, and sexism that they experienced in their daily lives (Rader & Glibert, 2005). These therapy techniques focus on building egalitarian relationships between the therapist and the client. The idea is to empower the client and dismantle power and privileges (especially regarding gender socialization) they experience both in, and outside of, the therapist’s office (Brown, 2012). Another goal of feminist therapy is empowerment. Self-empowerment means allowing the client to choose her own path to recovery with gentle guidance from the therapist (Winter, 1991). Oppression and privilege must be addressed in order for the client to feel self-empowered (Brown, 2010). These techniques of feminist therapy can be useful across many diverse population. The objective of this study is to find out if music therapists are using feminist therapy techniques, whether or not they are calling them feminist, and why they are or are not. This study will use the results to discuss the implications of the word ‘feminist’ and how people may misunderstand this type of therapy because of previous connotations of the word. Participants for this survey were recruited through the Certified Board of Music Therapists (CBMT), the qualifying factors for this study were as follow; Certified music therapist, practicing in New York, New Jersey, or Pennsylvania. A link to the survey (hosted on Survey Monkey) was sent to 1,213 BoardCertified Music Therapists, and 122 responded for a return rate of 10 percent. The survey consisted of three questions, two were analyzed using quantitative analysis and the other one was analyzed using grounding theory.

Nutrition and Dietetics

Despina Bubaris
Sponsor:  Jessica Bodzio, MS, RDN, LDN, Clinical Assistant Professor, Nutrition and Dietetics and Tracie Pasold, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Psychology and Counseling
Relationship Between Nutrition Education and Dietetics Students' Disordered Eating Attitude Eating and Behaviors

Although not significantly different, nutrition and dietetics (ND) students tend to have unique dieting attitudes and behaviors compared to students pursuing other areas of study. Nutrition education can elicit behavior change. One objective of this study was to examine the influence of nutrition education (number of completed nutrition courses) on the eating attitudes and behaviors of ND students. Methods: Undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in the ND program at Marywood University (n=33, 18-31y, 78% female, BMI 23.86 kg/m2) volunteered to complete the Eating Pathology Symptoms Inventory (EPSI) and questions regarding the number of nutrition-related courses completed. Descriptive, correlational and predictive statistics were performed. Results: Students who completed fewer courses (1-12) had higher total EPSI scores indicative of negative behaviors (60.7±14.4) compared to those who had completed more courses (13-24; 50.9±21.0, p=.098). Specifically, nutrition knowledge was significantly negatively correlated to cognitive restraint (r=-.462, p=.007) and purging (r=-.471, p=.006). A non-significant, direct correlation was seen between nutrition education and negative attitudes towards obesity (r=.028, p=.879). Conclusions: Nutrition education helps improve eating attitudes and behaviors but seems to parallel negative attitudes towards obesity. Students who display disordered eating should not be discouraged from entering the ND profession but should be encouraged to self-evaluate periodically.


Emily Banfield
Sponsor:  Joshua Dobias, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Psychology and Counseling
Working Memory Processing with Unpleasant and NeutralPleasant Words Considering Anxiety Levels

The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between working memory processing for unpleasant, neutral, and pleasant affective stimuli and anxiety levels. Research suggests that anxiety may affect working memory processing. It is suggested that anxiety inhibits working memory because it takes up cognitive and attentional resources by looking at potentially threatening and anxiety provoking stimuli leaving less resources to attune to a task. It is still questioned whether or not unpleasant stimuli will then leave anxious individuals with an advantage and increased working memory performance because they already are attuned to this type of information. The rationale for this study was to examine the relationship between anxiety and working memory processing of neutral, pleasant, and unpleasant stimuli to see if a relationship exists and to what extent they are correlated. Participants took the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory for Adults measure to indicate anxiety levels. Neutral, unpleasant, and pleasant words were shown to participants followed by a complex OSPAN task involving simple math equations. Participants then indicated whether or not words on a list were the words they had previously seen.

Ashley Buckley, Julia Lettieri, Ashley Akers, Caroline Drob
Sponsor:  Joshua Dobias, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Psychology and Counseling
The Effects of Mandala Meditation on Mood

In this experiment, we will be measuring the extent to which Mandala meditation affects an individual’s overall mood. We hypothesize that Mandala meditation will cause an increase in an individual’s overall mood. To measure how effected the individual’s mood is, we will be implementing a mood scale before and after the meditation process. The mood scale is called the Brief Mood Introspection Scale (BMIS). The individual will rate their mood on a series of scales. He or she will then begin the meditation process, which will occur for eight minutes. The individual will be seated in a room, placed in front of a computer. On the computer, the individual will watch a series of Mandalas form, accompanied by relaxation music. The individual will focus on the Mandalas while listening to the music to feel a sense of relaxation. Following the relaxation exercise, the individual will again rate their mood on a series of scales. Based on the information from the before and after mood scales, we will statistically determine whether Mandala meditation does have an impact on one’s mood.

Angelina Carbone
Sponsor:  Joshua Dobias, P.D., Assistant Professor, Psychology and Counseling
Effects of Secondary Education Level on Making Decisions Based on Empirical Probability

Differences in college level were examined against a certain situation involving empirical probability, in the context of the Monty Hall Dilemma. The Monty Hall Dilemma comes from a game show. Participants pick one door they believe the prize to be behind, the host opens up a second door which reveals no prize, and the participant is asked if they would switch their choice. This study attempts to connect learning development within the college environment with the ability to recognize and adapt to a losing situation to make it winning. College students age 18 and older and enrolled in an undergraduate program at Marywood University were chosen to participate in this study. Each participant was told to sit in front of a laptop, which showed a website with a simulation of the Monty Hall Dilemma as it would look at a game show. Participants were asked to play the game ten times in a row and the results were recorded. Participants were observed on the ratio of switches to stays and wins to losses. Results have so far shown no correlation between college level and game wins. More research is recommended with a higher number of participants.

Lisa D'Abbene
Sponsor:  Joshua Dobias, P.D., Assistant Professor, Psychology and Counseling
Judgement and Decision-making: An Investigation of Risk Propensity and Personality

Evidence from several studies suggests it is impossible to engage in riskless judgment and decision-making (JDM). The purpose of the current study is to confirm these findings and determine the effects of personality and risk propensity within JDM. It is supposed that risky judgment and decision-making are linked to personality traits such as extroversion, neuroticism, and openness to experience, whereas personality traits consistent with introversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness, will be linked to lower levels of risk in JDM. Personality factors, measured with the Big Five Inventory (BFI), will be assessed to determine their impact on a person’s risk propensity. It is speculated that a person’s risk propensity, measured with a translated copy of the Factorial Objective Risk Test (FORT), and the Risk Orientations Questionnaire: Attitudes Towards Risk Decisions (ROQ), will be higher for those associated with the personalities consistent with extroversion, neuroticism, and openness to experience and be lower when an individual’s personality is characterized by conscientiousness, introversion, agreeableness, and low levels of neuroticism. Finally, overall levels of risk taking in the past and present, captured by the Risk Taking Index (RTI), will be analyzed to determine correlations between increased risk propensity and personality traits associated with risky JDM.

Kaethe Fajardo, Thomas Ford
Sponsor: Joshua Dobias, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Psychology and Counseling
Short Term Memory and Quality of Images and Words

The study being presented is intended to find a positive correlation between the quality of images and words and short term memory. The study aims to expand on the findings of Carretti et al (2007) conducted a study in which they found that memory training, using on an imagery-based strategy, can be enhance the performance of older and younger adults in a list recall task, and this improvement can be extended to working memory performance. Stuart et al (2000) also conducted a study in which they found that associations between lexical representations stored in long-term memory influence short-term memory performance. The participants of the study will be undergraduate students of Marywood University that are at least 18 years of age and older. Each participant will first view a set of images in color and in black-and-white on a PowerPoint slideshow provided by the researcher. Next they will be given a post-test in which they will identify if they have previously seen the images in the slideshow. They will then be given a set of words in color and black-and-white on a PowerPoint slideshow. Finally, they will be given second post-test in which they will identify if they have previously seen the words in the slideshow. The results will discuss whether the participants retained images and words better because they are colored, supporting the hypothesis.

Ciarra Falzone
Sponsor:  Joshua Dobias, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Psychology and Counseling
How Different Genres of Music Affect the Memory of a College Student

In this study, the goal was to determine whether or not a certain genre of music helped or hindered college students when studying material that they were tested on. For this study, male and female college students from the ages of 18-25 were tested. Each student was assigned to a group that listened to a certain genre of music or no music. The genres of music that were used in this study were classical, pop, rap, electronic dance music (EDM), and no music. Each participant was given the same list of 20 words to memorize while they listened to a song or no music. They were given three minutes to memorize the words. After the time was up, participants were asked to write down as many words as they can recall from the list. There was no time limit for this part. The added pressure of a time limit may hinder participants’ performance when they are writing down the words and as a result may cause them to forget some words.

Ashley Frederick, Claire Rybak
Sponsor:  Joshua Dobias, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Psychology and Counseling
Can Affective Priming Change Opinion?: A Study on How Words Change an Individual's Opinion of Music

Affective priming refers to the implicit memory effect, where exposure to one stimulus influences the response to another stimulus in regards to emotion. The purpose of this study was to conduct research on the effects of affective priming on Marywood Undergraduate students. Participants were primed with eight related words, each set associated with either having a positive connotation or a negative connotation. Students used Likert Scales to measure their opinions of music before and after one of the eight musical clips was presented. The researchers examine the relationship between affective priming on the overall opinion of music.

Allison Fruehan
Sponsor:  Tracie Pasold, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Psychology and Counseling
A Preliminary Examination of Stereotype Lift of Language Arts Skills in an Undergraduate Population of Women

The current study seeks to further the knowledge pertaining to the influence of stereotype lift on specific skills and performance. Using traditional downward social comparison, as well as purely stereotype lifting messages, participants were tested in language arts, an area in which women stereotypically excel. Previous relevant research examined the influence of stereotype threat, as well as stereotype lift, on performance but did not specifically examine stereotype lift among women in a female dominated academic area, such as language arts. As a preliminary examination, the present research did not produce any statistically significant findings, but continued research with larger available samples is recommended. Research regarding how stereotypes affect academic performance is relevant to the education system and the psychological understanding of learning and academic performance, as these stereotype effects can contribute to or perpetuate ideas regarding an individual’s potential to succeed.

Morgan Miller, Martha Laytos
Sponsor:  Joshua Dobias, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Psychology and Counseling
Does Anxiety Correlate With Substance Abuse?

Anxiety is a disorder that affects millions of people a year. One in five people and over twenty five percent of the population have reported feeling symptoms of anxiety at one point or another (Horwitz, 2013). Among the people it is affecting the most are college students. College students experience severe levels of social anxiety and stress. The stress and social anxiety leads to using substances to make them feel normal or fit in with the crowd. When students use substances to cope with anxiety they have a heightened risk of developing other, more serious, psychiatric disorders (Schry, Roberson-Nay, & White, 2012).The purpose of this study is to determine whether a predisposition to an anxiety disorder has a correlation with substance use. Participants will be given a survey that will be broken down into two sections; anxiety and substance abuse. The survey will be made up used preexisting scales so the results can be accurately measured. The first part of the survey will provide researchers with information regarding exposure to anxiety, personality traits, and current stresses. Following the first half, participants will be given another survey asking about substance use. The results will be examined and research to show if there is a correlation.

Ian Neville
Sponsor:  Joshua Dobias, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Psychology and Counseling
Personality Types and Alcohol Consumption

This current study used two self-report questionnaires in attempt to determine whether there is a relationship between personality type and the consumption of alcohol. The first questionnaire, the narcissistic personality inventory, was used to assess participant’s levels of narcissism. The second survey was the self-report AUDIT (The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test). In the AUDIT, participants were asked to report the amount and types of beverages that they consume to determine whether personality type is related to the amount and types of alcohol they consume. The participants were asked to take a small amount of their time to fill out these surveys to come up with results of the hypothesis that the higher the participant is on the narcissistic scale, the more alcohol that participant consumes. Concluding the experiment, the results may vary due to the controlled population in use. The expected results should show a strong relationship with high levels of narcissism and high amounts of alcohol consumption. The relationship between low levels of narcissism should have low amounts of alcohol consumption for the population being tested. The implication of this study is to find correlations between two variables. The two variables being a participant’s personality and the amount of alcohol the participant consumes.

Courtney Nolan, Patrick Houlihan
Sponsor:  Joshua Dobias, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Psychology and Counseling
Performance and Focus in Class Based on Eating Beforehand

The research study examined the impact of breakfast on a student’s performance and focus while in the classroom. The participants consisted of 20 male and female Marywood University students who were asked to complete a survey. The survey included a variety of questions asking specifically about their breakfast habits, their academic performance, and their ability to focus in their classes. The survey took participants about 10 minutes to complete. The goal of the research study was to explore the relationship between eating breakfast and doing well in school in addition to being able to stay focused during class. A correlational design method was used to conduct this research study. The data was examined and analyzed by the researchers by using an Excel Spreadsheet and SPSS. It is expected that students who report eating breakfast before going to class will also report greater focus while in class and better academic performance.

Amanda L. Paci
Sponsor:  Joshua Dobias, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Psychology and Counseling
Binaural Beats and Cognitive Function

For this study, each individual wore noise-cancelling headphones and participated in four events. Event #1: the participants listened to nothing through the headphones. Event #2: participants listened to an instrumental track. Event #3: participants listened to a track that contained binaural beats in the alpha frequency range (8hz), as this is the range most studies have associated with elevated attention and cognitive function. Event #4: the participants listened to a track that had the beats embedded in the same instrumental song. While each participant completed all four events, they did not do the events in the same order. During each event, participants had five minutes to work on a math quiz sheet that contained 20 mathematical Order of Operations problems. The goal is to find out what audio track, if any, participants make the most correct calculations to. My hypothesis, based on research from previous studies on binaural beats in the alpha frequency range, is that participants will perform better to the tracks that contain binaural beats.

Cara Pohida, Deanna Eilenberger
Sponsor:  Joshua Dobias, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Psychology and Counseling
Accuracy and Satisfaction of Body Image

The purpose of this study is to examine Body-Esteem, body fat percentage, and their effects on accuracy in answering questions about body type, satisfaction in personal body type, and perception of the referred body type of the opposite sex. . The present study will attempt to investigate the role of Body-Esteem in body image perceptions. Participants will have their body fat percentage calculated, will be asked three questions to gauge accuracy as well as satisfaction with body image, and will be tested on a revised version of the Body-Esteem Scale. This revised Body-Esteem measurement will focus on scoring participants in regards to two subsets of body esteem: weight concern/upper body strength and physical condition. The study will attempt to discover a correlation between Body- Esteem and accuracy in picking out personal body image, satisfaction in body image, and perceptions of what the opposite sex finds attractive. It is expected that the different scores participants receive in the subsets of Body-Esteem will correlate to different ability levels for accurately perceiving body image as well as displaying satisfaction with personal body image. It is also expected that participant body fat percentage will relate to these abilities as well.

Abby Reid
Sponsor:  Joshua Dobias, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Psychology and Counseling
The Effects of Parenting on Personality

There are many events that may influence the development of one’s personality including genetics and environment, one of particular interest is parenting styles. It is believed that early childhood is when the personality is influenced the most. Because of this, parenting styles have a huge impact since children spend most of their time with parents or other authority figures. However, just as parenting styles effect the child’s development, the child also effects the parenting style. It is important to note that the parents’ psychological well-being can change the parenting style and therefore the child’s personality. It is also suggested that parenting style and personality traits may be passed down from generation to generation, though not necessarily through genetics. This study looks to find the relationship between parenting style and child’s personality based on the Big Five personality traits. Participants first completed a survey about the parenting style of their own parents. Then the participants completed the Big Five Personality Test. These scores will then be compared to see if there is any correlation between the two in regards to personality development later in life.

Nicole Roberts, Mary Ware, Thomas Warden
Sponsor:  Joshua Dobias, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Psychology and Counseling
The Role of Music on Stress

Stress influences everyone in their everyday life, and many people try to escape from it. Further, many people consider music to be useful as a stress reliever. This project explored the influence that specific genres of music have on a participant’s stress levels. The participants involved in the study were Marywood University undergraduate students. Stress was assessed using a standardized stress test, both before and after participants listened to certain genres of music. The three types of music samples used in the study were heavy metal, jazz and R&B. It is predicted that certain genres will lower the participant’s stress levels, while others might raise stress levels due to the content and nature of the music samples. The study also predicted that instrumental versus vocal music made a difference in stress levels.

Amelia Sersen, Kayla Sweet, Shanyra Prandy
Sponsor:  Joshua Dobias, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Psychology and Counseling
Physical Activity Hours and Self-Esteem

Research that has been conducted to understand the relationship between self-esteem and physical fitness has used self-assessment questionnaires and surveys that measure self-esteem while assigning participants to physical fitness intervention programs. The purpose of the current survey is to determine if an increase in the number of hours of physical activity also increases the level of self-esteem. The important question asked is whether or not an increasing activity level can result in a higher level of self-esteem and will self-esteem continue to climb as physical activity increases. Previous research suggests that physical activity directly influences physical self-esteem and physical self-esteem is also a strong link between not only physical activity but, also, the quality of life (Joseph, Royse, Benitez, & Pekmezi, 2014). The expectation of this study is that the level of self-esteem will be higher for those who participate in regular physical activity.

Morgan Smith, Alayna Gatto, Deanna Ramdeo
Sponsor:  Joshua Dobias, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Psychology and Counseling
The Role of Perceived Stress and the Adaptive and Maladaptive Coping Mechanisms Used by Undergraduate College Students

It is safe to say that undergraduate college students undergo a very stressful life, which can cause complications to other lifestyles. The purpose of this study is to examine a college student's life and test their stress levels during their undergraduate career. The study specifically pertains to whether college students respond to their stress with an adaptive coping mechanism (fitness, seeking therapy, religion, or meditation). This study will test for these variables by providing a quantitative survey to the participants asking to rate themselves on a scale for each stressful situation. The scores from the sample group will be averaged and this will determine whether or not undergraduate student' population responds to stress positively or negatively. The prediction of this study is that both male and female college students have highs stress levels but females have a higher rate of maladaptive coping mechanism than men.

Amanda Snody
Sponsor:  Joshua Dobias, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Psychology and Counseling
Social Networking Sites: Self-identification and Self-esteem

Social networking sites (SNS) allow people to portray themselves to the online world however they wish to be viewed. This cyber self-portrayal can be considered a display of self-identification through the various aspects of SNS sites: photos, likes, dislikes, commentary, etc. The usage of these cyber accounts is highly common in today’s society, especially in industrialized countries like the United States with access to the Internet available at nearly any desired moment. Many SNS users fall into the age range of 18 to 25, also known as emerging adulthood. During this time in the average, industrialized human lifespan, people have the opportunity to explore or to avoid the possibilities of their identity. These virtual spaces also easily allow social comparison and the questioning of self-worth. This study examined aspects of self-identification and levels of self-esteem through SNS usage.

Taylor Zieno
Sponsor:  Joshua Dobias, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Psychology and Counseling
Happiness in Young Adults Resulting from Access to Financial Information

The purpose of this study is to attempt to find a connection between a young adult’s financial situation and their current level of happiness. The connection between money and happiness has been highly researched. This study differs from these popular studies in that it attempts to find a connection between how much financial information parents share with their children and their children’s happiness. The study looks into how much access a young adult has to their family’s financial status and also how secure they are with their own finances. Participants were questioned about how openly their parents or guardians discussed finances with them and if they had any stress resulting from their own or their parent’s financial situation. They were then asked questions to survey their own current level of happiness. The goal of this study is to find a correlation between the accessibility of financial information and a participant’s happiness.

Social Science

Nicole Tanana
Sponsor:  Samantha Christiansen, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, History
The “Come-at-Me-Bro” Olympics: U.S. and Soviet Foreign Relations Played Out Over an Olympiad

The United States’ decision to boycott the 1980 Summer Olympic Games to be held in Moscow was one that has been debated since President Carter announced his request. The U.S. boycott was in response to the perceived invasion of Afghanistan in late 1979. Over the course of this paper I look closely at President Carter’s decision to boycott and what exactly an Olympic boycott entails. I look at the politicization of the Olympics, specifically the 1980 Games, and how the boycott was an act of American foreign policy. Certainly, American politicians understood the boycott was an act of foreign policy, but my question is whether the American public understood that this was the case. Using periodicals, I consider this question of how the American public understood the relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union in light of the Olympic Boycott.

Social Work

Kathleen Caroscio, Shannon Evarts, Jocelyn Hillman, Gina Morgese, Taylor Reed, Elisabeth Wilson
Sponsor:  Kielty Turner, Ph. D., Assistant Professor; Director of Bachelor Social Work Program
Cultivating Empathy in Bachelor of Social Work Students

The hypothesis for the experiment is that Bachelor of Social Work Students who read the Loving-Kindness Meditation (LKM) poem will experience higher levels of empathy than those who read the Social Work (SW) poem. Empathy is measured using the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI). Participants are grouped into group X, who read LKM first, and group Y, who reads SW first. Participants read their assigned reading daily. Group X and Y switch readings after 3 weeks, taking the IRI at the beginning of the study, at the changeover, and at the end. The hypothesis was not supported; those who read LKM had decreased levels of empathy. The findings seem to point to a third variable, such as stress of the college semester, to account for the decreased empathy. Further studies in how to cultivate empathy are needed.


The Undergraduate Research Review Committee

Honors Program Director
Erin Sadlack, Ph.D.
Honors Program Assistant Director
Brian Monahan, Ph.D.
College of Health and Human Services
Diane M. DellaValle PhD, RDN
Munley College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Dr. Michael Kiel, Ph.D.
Insalaco College of Creative and Performing Arts
Susan Jenkins, MFA
Reap College of Education and Human Development
Vijayachandra Ramachandra, Ph.D.
School of Architecture
Margaret McManus, M.Arch
Representative of Institutional Review Board
for the Protection of Human Participants
Laura Ann Camlet Houser, Ph.D.
The committee gives deepest thanks to Ms. Kristie Congdon, Ms. Jill Lynott, Ms. Katlynn Whitaker, and Mr. Brendan Brown for all their assistance in organizing this forum