Honors Students' Works

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This collection contains capstone papers and projects from UMD Honor Students from 2015 to the present.

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Now showing 1 - 20 of 142
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    Moral Foundation Theory: Moral Differences between Moroccan and American Young Adults
    (2024) Mohamed, Mariama
    This cross-cultural comparative study investigated the moral differences between Moroccan and American college students. Both groups completed an online survey that included the moral foundations theory questionnaire (MFQ) regarding the following foundations of care/harm, fairness/reciprocity, in-group/loyalty, authority/respect, purity/sanctity, and liberty/oppression, as well as a demographic questionnaire that focused on age, nationality, gender, religion, political views, and socioeconomic status (Graham, 2011). Results found significant differences in the care/harm, fairness/reciprocity, and liberty/oppression moral foundations. Specifically, the American college students at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) scored higher on the following moral foundations than the Moroccan students. The results suggest that the desire to care for others and their sufferings was of greater moral concern for UMD students as compared to Moroccan students. These results also suggest that American students prioritize principles of fairness, justice, and individual rights as compared to Moroccan students. In addition, we sought to explore the influence of socioeconomic status (SES) on morality as socioeconomic status (SES) has been consistently found to predict differences in morality. When analyzing the SES effects on morality, we discovered that the high SES participants scored higher on care/harm and fairness-reciprocity foundations as compared to the lowest SES participants.
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    Modeling and Mapping of Microstructure of Powder Bed Laser Fusion Additive Manufacturing Hybrid Milling of Maraging Steel
    (2024-05) Knight, Erin
    Additive manufacturing, (AM), has revolutionized traditional manufacturing methods by allowing for more intricate and customized part manufacturing. Industries including aerospace and advanced tooling utilize metal AM to design and manufacture complex components with high quality and performance. This study focuses on powder bed laser fusion (PBLF) hybrid milling (PBLFM), which is an additive hybrid subtractive manufacturing approach (AHSM). This relatively new AM manufacturing approach has gaps in understanding the influence of the process parameters on the manufactured parts’ mechanical and physical properties. Hence, in this study, the Taguchi L9 Orthogonal array was used to design an experiment to evaluate the influence of the PBLFM major process parameters, (laser power, print speed hatch space, and layer thickness) on the resulting microstructure, energy density, and mechanical properties of Maraging steel. It was found that print speed and layer thickness are the top contributors to mechanical properties and microstructure variance. The resulting process map from this project can be used to guide engineers to design the optimal PBLFM parameters for any given application.
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    Resilience of NCAA Division I Women’s Ice Hockey Players: An Interdisciplinary Autoethnography
    (2024-05-03) Davis, Katie
    The well-being of NCAA student-athletes is a growing concern due to the demanding nature of collegiate athletics. This autoethnography examines the impact resilience has on the mental health and injury rehabilitation of NCAA Division I (DI) women’s ice hockey players. While resilience is recognized as a vital coping mechanism for athletes to flourish, there is a lack of research specifically focused on NCAA DI women's ice hockey players. The author’s first-hand experience facing significant stressors related to academic demands, training, competition, and recovery from injury as a DI women’s ice hockey player negatively impacted their mental health–including the presence of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. Findings suggest that these symptoms are common amongst elite female student-athletes. Future research on the connection between athlete well-being and resilience should focus on a holistic approach to resilience intervention implementation for NCAA DI women’s hockey players' overall success both on and off the ice.
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    The Perceived Value of English in Moroccan Society Across Generational Lines
    (2024-04-18) Broten, Johanna C
    The importance of English cannot be ignored. Increasingly, non-native speakers need to communicate and interpret information in the English language worldwide. Morocco is no exception. Because of the growing importance of international tourism in Morocco and the rise of its status on the global stage, this research seeks to better understand the instrumentality and desirability of the English language in the eyes of Moroccans. The current understanding of the value of English in Morocco exists primarily from the perspective of students, providing an important but incomplete view of the importance of English in Moroccan society. To gain a fuller understanding of its perceived value, this research examines the attitudes and opinions of people across generational lines. This research was guided by the question “What is the perceived value of English in Moroccan society across generational lines?” We answered this question through a survey that gathered information on demographics, English language background, English use (e.g. what percent of your daily conversations are in English?), and English attitudes (e.g. how important do you think English will be in your future?). After comparing responses across generational lines to identify any important differences, we found a strong correlation between attitudes towards English and actual use of the language suggesting that English is highly valued in Morocco, especially among the younger generation.
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    Evaluating variation in meiosis and the impact of light intensity on growth and development in Pellaea truncata Goodd. (Pteridaceae)
    (2024) Preisen, Jaina J
    Ferns are an ancient lineage of vascular plants and the closest relatives of seed plants, which include conifers and flowering plants. Additionally, many ferns provide ecosystem services, for example, by filtering heavy metals and toxins from the surrounding environment (Dhir, B., 2018). In this study, I examine the growth and development of a desert-adapted fern from the southwestern United States and Mexico, Pellaea truncata. Specifically, I studied variation in reproductive propagules (spores) to better understand how genome size differs among the offspring that are produced by a single leaf. Spores were removed from individual sporangia growing on pinnules spanning a single mature leaf. Spores from this specimen were also sown on nutrient-enriched agar and placed under multiple light-intensity treatments to determine if light intensity impacts the germination rate.
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    Synthesis of Hypervalent Iodine(III) Pseudocyclic Iodoarene Derivatives Stabilized by Internal Halogen Bonding
    (2024-04-18) Tyson, Daniel R
    Hypervalent iodine compounds can serve as highly efficient electrophilic group transfer reagents (Talavera et al., 2015). This unique property, as well as the wide commercial availability and low environmental impact of iodine, has led to increased use of hypervalent iodine reagents in many common synthetic pathways, including trifluoromethylation, arylation, amination, and halogenation (Talavera et al., 2015). Furthermore, halogen bonding has been widely used in the structural chemistry of hypervalent iodine compounds to improve stability, solubility, and reactivity (Li et al., 2022). Here, several ortho halogen substituted pseudocyclic [(hydroxy)tosyloxy]iodoarenes, stabilized by internal halogen bonding, have been synthesized as ideal precursors in the preparation of hypervalent iodine electrophilic group transfer reagents. Furthermore, their use in the preparation of electrophilic group transfer reagents is believed to have been demonstrated by the synthesis of a novel pyrrolidine derivative. Such pseudocyclic reagents are stabilized by internal halogen bonding, potentially affording a wider variety of applications in comparison to analogous unsubstituted reagents. In the future, this research can be furthered by the synthesis of other pseudocyclic pyrrole iodoarenes by reactions of these [(hydroxy)tosyloxy]iodoarenes with various pyrrole derivatives (as shown below). Long term, this project can be continued by the synthesis of pseudocyclic iodoarenes of other nucleophiles, such as trifluoromethane, halogens, and amines.
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    Measuring the Transition from Wrinkles to Crumples in Stamped Thin Sheets
    (2023-09) Hawkins, Vanessa M
    A sufficiently thin elastic solid will exhibit changes in its topography when it is confined to a spherical curvature. As the severity of this curvature is increased, a transition from a wrinkled topography (smooth and undulating) to a crumpled topography (sharp and geometric) occurs in the sheet. Previous experiments that examined this transition featured settings where a tensional load at the sheet’s boundaries allowed it to be constrained to a curvature. However, it is not known what criteria govern this transition in a sheet without a tensional load at its boundaries. Here, we show that the point of transition from wrinkles to crumples in a thin sheet without boundary tension depends on the sheet’s thickness, the sheet’s diameter, and the imposed radius of curvature. This was investigated by using a pair of curved glass lenses to stamp a thin sheet placed between them, and the point of transition between wrinkles and crumples is represented as the distance between the lenses at which this transition occurs. We propose an empirical threshold to predict this distance based on the aforementioned parameters. This work adds to a better understanding of topographical deformations in thin sheets, which can both lead to degradation of technologies that utilize such a design and be exploited as an engineering tool for applications such as studying cell mechanics and controlling surface microfluidics.
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    Skillful Engagement with Community Perceptions of Climate Change in Morocco
    (2024-04-01) Yehlik, Oliver R
    What does it mean to seek out stories? How do I talk about my own life story? Where do I find activists who might tell me the story of their work? How can I receive these stories and what might we learn? These are questions I contend with as I prepare to leave for Morocco. My research leads me around the country, to beautiful conversations on rooftops and climate workshops with activists. I bring these moments with me to Duluth, where I seek out experiences to carry on the conversation and understand my work across contexts. My research builds frames as I begin to notice the skills for engaging with climate change in the words of the activists I speak with. In all of this, I recognize that the work calls into being a new question that might reveal what it is I hope to know. How do we support and empower one another to find the climate narrative that is also the story of our one-and-only life?
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    The Utilization of Filler Words in Relation to Age and Gender
    (2024-04-17) Ruschy, Sarah A
    Filler words play a pivotal role in human communication. This review explores the multifaceted nature of these words through analyzing the early development of filler words as well as their correlation with age and gender. Filler words consist of two subcategories; filled pauses and discourse markers. Examples include ‘um’, ‘uh’, ‘I mean’, ‘like’, and ‘you know’. These words can have distinct and important functions in conversation, contrary to the common association of filler words with disfluency in speech or anxiety. Research suggests that the social factors of age and gender greatly influence filler word usage, as younger females tend to utilize these words and sounds more frequently than any other social group. While societal norms may predispose women to exhibit more accommodating speech patterns with the use of filler words, deeper analysis reveals more complex explanations. These explanations for younger people as well as women using these words more frequently than others include, but are not limited to, the natural maturity of speech with age, heightened awareness of semantic meanings, and a more sophisticated use of the English language. Research gaps in comparing the use of filler words across different languages and with non-native speakers as well as filler words in different conversational settings is advancing. By unpacking the complexities of age and gender in relation to language, this review contributes to a deeper understanding of language dynamics and societal norms. With the recognition of these linguistic patterns in certain societal groups, we can create more inclusive communication between people and better understand human interaction as a whole.
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    The Effects of a Living-learning Community within the Department of World Languages and Cultures
    (2024-04) Williams, Molly S
    As the Resident Advisor for the University of Minnesota-Duluth’s inaugural year of the World Languages and Cultures Living-Learning Community (WLC LLC), Molly Williams conducted a comprehensive study of the community’s effectiveness over the course of a year. The study delves into the academic and social impact on first-year students’ transition to higher education within this unique LLC, where students study Spanish, German, French, or Chinese. Employing an autoethnographic approach, data was collected quantitatively and qualitatively through observations, interviews, and surveys. The research has yielded valuable insights that contribute to the growth of the WLC LLC at UMD, shedding light on effective strategies for building a robust social and academic foundation.
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    Constraining the Long-Term Tectonic Uplift Rate of Araki, Vanuatu using Coralline Algae
    (2023-11-16) Morgan, Mackenzie
    Araki is an island in the Republic of Vanuatu in the South Pacific Ocean between Fiji and New Caledonia. This island lies on the convergence of two major tectonic plates, the Australian Plate and the New Hebrides Plate. This feature makes this area one of the most tectonically active places on the planet. As a result of the collision, Araki initially subsided and is now uplifting. Coral terraces surround the island, and as it uplifts, fossil coral terraces are left behind. Coralline algae grow on some corals, forming branches or crusts on the coral surface. A specific crustose species, Porolithon onkodes, is restricted to the upper three meters of water. Its presence in the fossil coral record indicates shallow water at the time of growth. In 2019, Dr. Christina Gallup went to the island to collect samples of these fossil corals and associated coralline algae along the uplifted terraces from the summit to the bottom of the island. In 2022, previous undergraduate honors student Rayann Rehwinkel dated the samples from the summit of the island. Using these dated samples, and the presence of Porolithon onkodes, a new long-term uplift rate can be determined, revealing a more refined tectonic history of Araki.
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    A Cross-Cultural Investigation of the Perceived Benefits and Barriers to Adopting a Plant-Based Diet
    (2023-05) Raddatz, Brianna M
    Drawing on the transtheoretical model (TTM), this study examines the link between stages of change for following a plant-based diet and individuals' perceived benefits and barriers to adopting a plant-based diet. The purpose of this study is to develop a more comprehensive understanding of how to best promote plant-based diets via stage-specific health interventions and communication campaigns. The primary result(s) of this study is that there was a significant effect of stage in the transtheoretical model on a student's perceived benefits to adopting a plant-based diet [F(2, 141) = 16.9, p =.001]; there was also a significant effect of stage in the transtheoretical model on a student's perceived barriers to adopting a plant-based diet [F(2, 141) = 9.38, p =.001].
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    How Prenatal Maternal Stress Predisposes Offspring Toward Development of Gastrointestinal Disorders
    (2023-04-20) Boehmer, Abigail
    Prenatal maternal stress is highly prevalent in different circumstances, whether it’s depression, anxiety, an adverse major life event, or a difficult living situation. The stress experienced during pregnancy triggers a biological response in the mother which can transfer stress to the fetus through hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, serotonin, cytokines, reactive oxygen species, or the gut microbiota. This transfer of stress can induce alterations in fetal development, predisposing offspring of stressed mothers to developing gastrointestinal (GI) disorders such as colitis or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), specifically through gut dysbiosis. Ongoing research is necessary to determine the biological mechanisms of stress transfer, and how probiotic treatments may be used to correct dysbiosis and prevent or treat GI disorders.
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    An Empirical Analysis of the Effects an Increased Minimum Wage has on Poverty
    (2023) Kray, Aidan
    Recently, minimum wages have been a newsworthy topic, particularly in relation to poverty. This paper examines empirical evidence across all 50 states and Washington D.C. to evaluate the impact minimum wage increases have had on poverty rates. Using 19 years (the years 2000 through 2018) individual states are analyzed to provide a broader understanding of the relationship. The Years examined provide a a large sample size while avoiding the effects of the COVID years and related fiscal policy. Panel regression analysis was utilized to determine the effects different variables have on poverty rates. The main area of focus was the effects of changes in the real minimum wage, and the results indicate that there is a negative relationship between real minimum wages and poverty rates; however, years that had increases in the nominal minimum wage did not have lower poverty rates. The combination of these two results indicate that the declining real value of minimum wages result in an increase of poverty rates. Such findings can be informative to current policy debates on the value of increasing minimum wages.
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    Investigating Organization of Eye Gaze Communication Devices: Comparing Response Times in Grid Displays and Visual Screen Displays
    (2023-04) Morris, Abigail
    Eye gaze augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices are primarily implemented in populations with severe speech and physical impairments (SSPIs). There are two main methods of organizing these devices: a grid display and in a visual screen display (VSD). In order to facilitate efficient communication, language development, and meaningful connections in people who have severe SSPI, it is imperative to investigate the organization of eye gaze communication devices in a wide variety of communicative contexts. Tobii Sticky, an online eye-tracking software was used to compare initial fixation time and total response time between a grid display and a VSD with a sample of 7 UMD students. It was hypothesized that the VSD would warrant faster initial fixation times and the grid display would warrant faster total response times. There was no significant difference at a 95% confidence level between the two displays in terms of initial fixation and total response times. Further research must be conducted comparing the visual patterns of those using eye gaze communication devices, in youth and adult populations of those with and without SSPI.
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    Minneapolis 1967 & 2020: An Analysis of Uprisings as the Manifestation of Inequities in the Urban Landscape
    (2023-04-20) Maras, Tony
    Many American cities, including Minneapolis, have a long history of racism built into the urban fabric. By implementing racial covenants and through the process of redlining, the city was segregated on the basis of race, religion, and class. These forms of explicit segregation led to community disenfranchisement and created a strained atmosphere like a powder keg waiting to explode. The 1967 Plymouth Avenue Uprising in the Near Northside neighborhood was a response to the decades of neighborhood divestment and isolation. Plymouth Avenue marked a turning point in the history of Minneapolis. In the decades following the uprising, the city underwent extensive renewal projects with the goal of creating the model city of the 20th century. The city would also diversify in tandem, changing the image of what it means to be a Minneapolitan. Community leaders in 1967 prophesied that if the city didn’t undertake radical change that addressed the root problems behind the Plymouth Avenue uprising, tensions would continue to simmer and eventually would erupt once again. These words rang true in 2020 with the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent uprising that was on a scale never before seen in Minneapolis. Analysis of the two instances of upheaval in the city’s history offers a number of crucial lessons from the past that look to the future. Historical and comparative analysis was conducted using primary and secondary source material. This analysis has led to the identification of parallels between the two uprisings and a call for reckoning. Racist practices continue to impact the trajectory of Minneapolis's history, and we cannot continue on this path.
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    Virtual Reality Exercise Effects on College Students with Anxiety and Depression: A Pilot Study
    (2023) Larson, Hanna
    Both within and outside of the classroom, mental health has become a primary concern across college campuses. Using virtual reality (VR) to provide an alternative exercise environment may amplify the beneficial effects of traditional exercise on mental health that have already been established. The purpose of this study is to investigate the physiological and psychological effects of VR exercise on college students with anxiety and/or depression. A sample of fourteen participants (Mage =19.86 ± 1.16; 11 females) with symptoms of anxiety and/or depression was recruited from the University of Minnesota Duluth campus. Participants performed two 20-minute sessions of VirZoom immersive VR exercise biking and VirZoom biking without the VR system (traditional condition) on separate days. Participants’ heart rate (HR), rate of perceived exertion (RPE), enjoyment, self-efficacy, and mood were measured at various points during each of the two biking sessions. The VR biking sessions resulted in significant improvements in exercise self-efficacy, as well as the mood subscales of anger, confusion, depression, tension, and vigor. The traditional sessions resulted in significant improvements in only three mood subscales (depression, tension and vigor). A paired t-test indicated there were no significant differences in average HR or RPE between the two exercise conditions. College students suffering from symptoms of anxiety and depression can benefit from 20 minutes of exercise biking, regardless of the use of VR. While the physiological response may be comparable between the two exercise conditions, VR exercise may be more effective in enhancing mood and self-efficacy compared to traditional bike exercise. The results of this study may lend themselves to improved long-term exercise adherence in individuals suffering from mental illness and suggest a potential way to improve mood supplemental to traditional therapies.
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    Melainabacteria Metabolism Pathways in the Ground Squirrel Gut Microbiome
    (2023-03-31) Walters, Alexis
    Mammals and their associated microbiomes have been coevolving for 300 million years providing a consistent environment for the microbes and in turn the microbiome supports host health. However, for mammals that hibernate, the internal microbial home environment is radically disrupted with near-freezing temperatures and little or no food availability for up to six months. We know that the gut microbiome undergoes extreme restructuring during hibernation but remains active producing nitrogen and amino acids that facilitate host tissue protein synthesis.The thirteen-lined ground squirrel (Ictidomys tridecemlineatus) uses hibernation to combat nutrient shortage in winter. In preparation for this hibernation state, the ground squirrel transitions from actively functioning to a state of torpor. This transition is marked by a drop in internal body temperature from 37℃ (active state) to about 5 ℃ (torpor state). Throughout winter hibernation, the ground squirrel experiences interbout arousals where body temperature rises back to 37°C for ~24 hours. One bacterial phylum thrives during hibernation, Melainabacter. Melainabacteria are a deep branching phyla of cyanobacteria but are non–photosynthetic and appear to have the ability to survive in warm and cold environmental conditions. During torpor and interbout arousals, levels of Melainabacteria increase to above those of the active state cycle. These complex conditions create an extraordinary set of challenges for the microbes involved in the gut metabolism process. This study reveals the mechanisms behind Melaniabacterial carbohydrate metabolism, carbon fixation, and amino acid metabolism through genomic reconstruction and explores key microbial pathways during hibernation.