Below are the abstracts and details about each of the papers and posters being presented at the 2021 Mason Graduate Interdisciplinary Conference, listed in order of presentation in our agenda.


Paper Session 1: Spectrum of Psychology and Neuroscience

Paper Title Presenters Abstract
Biofluid Mechanics-Image-based patient specific flow and physiology Salimi Ashkezari & Seyedeh Fatemeh Introduction
Many intracranial aneurysms (IAs) have well-defined blebs. The presence of blebs is considered a risk factor for rupture. Previous studies have shown that aneurysm walls can be extremely heterogeneous. They can have thin translucent regions or thick atherosclerotic walls. These structural characteristics can affect the strength of the wall. In this study we investigated the relationship between local hemodynamic environment and aneurysm blebs with different wall characteristics.
A total of 32 intracranial aneurysms harboring 41 blebs were selected from our database and studied with image based CFD simulations. Patient-specific vascular models were constructed from 3D images. Blebs were visually identified and interactively marked on the vascular models. Intra-operative videos were inspected to characterize bleb walls into three categories as ‘thin’, ‘atherosclerotic’, and ‘unremarkable’ walls. Identified blebs were characterized by computing several hemodynamic variables.
Based on the intra-operative videos, 22 thin and 19 atherosclerotic blebs were identified. Maximum oscillatory shear index (OSI) tended to be larger in atherosclerotic blebs but this association was not significant. A subset of eight aneurysms with multiple blebs of both kinds was analyzed. This analysis confirmed that thin blebs had lower OSI than atherosclerotic blebs of the same aneurysm.
The main message of this study is that not all blebs are the same and their distinguishing characteristics should be taken into consideration when studying the mechanisms of wall degeneration and evaluating aneurysms clinically to decide on immediate treatment or conservative observation.
“Welcome to your daily wellness check”: Feasibility and evaluation of a text-based AI conversational agent to improve student wellbeing.
Liam Kettle Navigating college life can be challenging and stressful for students. Students face high workloads and financial and social pressures while trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle including exercising, eating well, managing stress, and getting adequate sleep. Unfortunately, many students sacrifice healthy lifestyle in favor of academic and financial gain. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented changes to college life, such as online schooling, increased financial pressures, and reduced access to healthcare resources. To address the increasing pressures students face, artificial intelligence (AI) conversational agents in the form of textual chatbots can be implemented to mitigate these wellbeing challenges. Current AI chatbots address clinical concerns such as depression and anxiety in the general population; however, many students struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle while adjusting to college life. Therefore, an AI chatbot that can address perceived barriers and improve student wellbeing by cultivating healthy behaviors (i.e., physical exercise, nutrition, stress management, and sleep) is desired. This research is designed to examine the feasibility of a text-based AI chatbot on addressing student barriers to healthy lifestyle. This agent incorporates evidence-based theories and practices from the Theory of Planned Behavior, Motivational Interviewing, and Cognitive Behavior Therapy and engages conversations with college students over a two-week period. Additionally, user experience and usability of the chatbot will be evaluated. The results are expected to show positive impacts on wellbeing outcomes compared to an information-only control group and support the implementation of text-based AI chatbots to those with less accessibility to mental health resources.


Paper Session 2: Perspectives on Social Change

Paper Title Presenters Abstract
Reconciliatory Approaches to Conflict Resolution: Approximating Expert Knowledge Using the Delphi Method Oakley Hill Scholars and practitioners conceptualize, model, implement, and assess reconciliatory conflict resolution processes in widely diverse ways, including: thick to thin approaches, grassroots to state-based strategies, structured to improvised tactics, and philosophical foundations from both the Global North and Global South. At present, few studies have either (a) critically assessed the strengths and weaknesses of these diverse reconciliation models and their efficacy in the field or (b) attempted to synthesize these models in a cohesive and useful manner. To address this gap in the literature, this exploratory study utilizes the Delphi method to compare and synthesize expert scholars’ and practitioners’ (N = 14) models of reconciliation processes. The first round of data collection is characterized by participants’ essay responses to prompts concerning strengths and weaknesses of five reconciliation models. The second round of data collection is characterized by participants ranking these models (e.g., coherence, agreement, importance, and relevance). The research team then synthesized these diverse models through a thematic analysis of participants’ testimonies. Combining participants’ testimonies with the research team’s analysis, a synthetic and integrative model of reconciliation is proposed, characterized by multiple levels, multiple dimensions, and transdisciplinarity. This model is built to guide future reconciliation research and practice.
China’s Soft Power: Using Foreign Direct Investment to Expand its Sphere of Influence
Joshua Stone This research proposal is situated in political economy examining variations in China’s foreign direct investments (FDI) to Southeast Asia from 1999-2019. A brief analysis of China’s outward FDI (OFDI) behavior toward Southeast Asia over this period reveals China has committed FDI disproportionally to Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Why have some of these Southeast Asian countries received more FDI from China than others? What is driving China’s variegated investment behavior across Southeast Asia? This proposal offers a research design using a Multiple-Interrupted Controlled Series (MICS) experiment to survey political and social acceptance levels for China’s FDI in a host country, Network Analysis to probe how spatial-gravity forces push and pull China’s FDI toward a host nation, and Game Theory to isolate cases where nations continue to engage in FDI arrangements with China, even when the terms of FDI agreements with a host country are altered. Notably, this research lays the groundwork for the excavation of a China OFDI model: does China have a unifying OFDI model, or is China’s FDI decision-making ad-hoc such that no unifying FDI model can be derived? Perhaps most significant about this enterprise is the import such a model holds for other regions of the world. An emerging consensus among international scholars suggests China is seeking to remake the international order. Central to any state actor’s expansionary strategy to reform international relations is economic power, making a China OFDI model prescient.
Democratizing NoVA Kellie Wilkerson Democratization is a crucial process by which everyday people can gain a “share in the decisions which affect their lives” (Flacks 1966; see also Flacks 1988 and 2015), whether in their work, school, or other areas of daily life. Democratizing NoVA is an innovative research project grounded in Next System Studies and in its first phase of implementation designed to identify how democratization has affected the Northern Virginia (NoVA) region. Next Systems Studies is an emerging field of inquiry dedicated to interdisciplinary collaboration and dialogues among diverse publics including researchers, activists, community organizations, and theorists; its vision is to promote systematic approaches to studying and addressing social issues through alternative solutions and community participatory values. The project’s immediate goal is to generate a database of contemporary and historical NoVA initiatives that increased NoVA residents’ ownership of and participation in varied areas of their life. The interdisciplinary graduate research team of public sociologists and faculty across multiple departments intend to produce and utilize an inventory of initiatives in the community George Mason serves, one of the first databases of its kind, to unpack how to approach a new political economy. Currently, we are in the initial stages of database formation and have begun researching initiatives in the area. The research team will also conduct outreach to these programs to both build community relationships and begin unpacking democratization processes in NoVA. This is the first phase in the long-term project of community engagement designed to produce an assessment of the prospects for community, economic, and political democracy in northern Virginia. The following phases involve pursuing external conversations with community partners (both existing and potential), public agencies, institutes and foundations.
Opportunity space for writing as a critical constituent of the social practice of discourse communities
Joan Hwang Writing scholars have identified graduate writing as a social practice (Bazerman, 1981; Bizzell, 1982; Faigley, 1985) and demonstrated graduate student writers learn their disciplinary practice by way of doing in the form of apprenticeship (Carter, 2007). Prior (1994) also characterizes graduate students’ writing as their “initiation into new academic communities” and a mediated tool of mastering the appropriate thinking strategies specific to their discourse communities (p. 485). He continues to assert that the production of texts and professors’ and peers’ responses to those texts are “activities central to disciplinary enculturation” (p. 489). In his argument, he introduces the term an opportunity space (Ochs, Smith, and Tayler, 1989) to emphasize the importance of the communicative interactions among the members of discourse communities as a space of “ temporal, spatial, and social moment which provides for the possibility of joint activity” (p. 515).
This presentation introduces the collaborative research conducted by a group of doctoral students in a research methodology class of the Writing and Rhetoric program, which reaffirmed the crucial roles the opportunity spaces play in graduate student writers’ writing life even during the pandemic outbreak. Despite disruptions in their writing life caused by the transition to the socially distanced work environment, graduate student respondents reported that their existing relationship with cohort groups, writers’ groups, peers, and faculty advisors transferred to virtual spaces and provided ongoing support for their writing life emotionally and professionally.


Paper Session 3: Life-Changing Events and Migration

Paper Title Presenters Abstract
A Mixed Method Approach to Conceptualizing and Scale Development of Personal Reputations: A Multidimensional Approach Using Legitimacy, Social Evaluation, Parasocial Relationships, and Agency Farah Latif Personal reputations of public figures reveal a society’s values in the way they revere or deride a public figures and is a fundamental social function. Thus, this investigation involved conceptualizing personal reputations through a mixed study approach. There are four main characteristics of personal reputations: (1) public cocreate reputations with others; (2) reputations are enduring; (3) reputations are binary; and, (4) adversaries’ reputations reinforce one’s reputations. The research began with a grounded research approach by conducting in-depth interviews. The research relied on the Social Exchange Theory (SET) to develop a scale for the measurement of personal reputations of public figures (PF). The scale was tested on two United States Presidents, Barack Obama and Donald Trump, using four-factors: (1) perceived legitimacy of the PF (PLgt); (2) the PF’s social evaluation (SE); (3) the public’s parasocial relationship (PSR); and, (4) the PF’s perceived agency. Since Obama and Trump are generally considered adversaries, the data made some interesting comparisons about how the public formed their reputations. The results revealed that reputation management, which is commonly seen as a serendipitous occurrence, is a conscious act. In fact, favorable reputations can be cultivated in public with careful consideration for cultural and social norms. The researcher discussed how one’s social networks influence one’s views about PFs. The investigation presented recommendations for reputation management practitioners. The research opens doors for robust future research by highlighting an understudied area of strategic communication – personal reputations.
The Impact of COVID on an International Sample of Religious Leaders: A Comparative Case Study Approach Oakley Hill Prior literature suggests religious individuals can cope with powerful, challenging life events (e.g., the COVID pandemic) through an increase in participating in religious events and religious communities. Given how COVID has disrupted both community gatherings and celebrating religious events (likely preventing religious individuals from utilizing ‘typical’ religious coping mechanisms), our study asks: How have religious leaders and their congregations been impacted by and responded to the COVID pandemic? To answer this question, our research team conducted semi-structured interviews with an international sample of religious leaders from diverse countries (e.g., Pakistan, Finland, the UK), religious traditions (e.g., Christian, Muslim, Jewish), and positions of leadership (e.g., community organizers, ministers, youth group leaders) within their religious tradition. Interviews focused on three major themes: (1) the challenges of COVID to religious leaders and their congregations, (2) specific needs religious leaders and their congregations may have, and (3) sources and expressions of resilience during this challenging time. We utilize a comparative case study approach to analyzing the data, triangulating interview data with news media data to better capture the context of our study participants. Preliminary results suggest many religious leaders have transformed the challenges of COVID to (a) deepen their faith and religious practice, (b) better serve their congregations and constituents, and (c) experience respite during this time. These results suggest religious leaders and their congregations, while experiencing challenge and hardship during COVID, are creating innovative ways to take care of themselves, their families, and their communities throughout the global pandemic.
Migration in the Midst of a Pandemic: A Case Study of Pacific Islanders in Oregon Scott Drinkall The Pacific Islander population in the United States continues to grow due to heavy outmigration and a unique immigration arrangement. Under the Compacts of Free Association (COFA), citizens of three Remote Oceania states can travel to the United States to live and work without restriction. Given the special status of COFA migrants, there is a growing interest among policymakers and researchers to better understand this population, which has often been overlooked. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has recently spotlighted this community due to their exceedingly high rates of infection, hospitalization, and morbidity. This study examines how migration is experienced during a pandemic via a case study of first-generation Micronesians living in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, one of the largest Micronesian communities in the United States. Survey sampling and interviews with key stakeholders reveal how social determinants of health—such as economic stability, non-discrimination and equal treatment, access to healthcare, employment, and housing—may contribute to unequal health outcomes between Pacific Islander immigrants and other racial and ethnic populations. These determinants also contribute to human dignity. Using the Migration with Dignity framework, this study assesses how the pandemic has challenged the six recognized dimensions of dignity and disrupted the migration experience, including the push-pull factors for deciding to stay in the United States. Finally, the study assesses resources available for Pacific Islanders in the state and avenues for improved support.
Sowing Seeds of Trust in CouchSurfing
Fanni Farago Couchsurfing (CS) is a global community and online networking platform for travelers and travel enthusiasts. Founded in 2004, today CS has over 14 million members across 200,000 cities in the world “who share their life, their world, their journey” as the CS motto goes. CS made it possible for complete strangers (or “friends you haven’t met yet” in CS lingo) to start hosting each other during travel. But in order for CS to work, it must be able to generate trust: trust among its members, trust in its own platform, and in the company. Trust is a fundamental part of the classic CS-ing guest and host dynamic whereby: travelers search online through the CS website to find local hosts in their desired destinations, meanwhile, hosts screen the potential guests and decide who they are willing to host. While there have been many psychological studies of trust, there are fewer sociological studies that help us understand how trust develops between a guest and a host? How do surfers decide which potential guests or hosts can be trusted? What external social circumstances shape this decision-making process? These research questions guided the present study, which offers a qualitative, exploratory analysis of how experienced surfers make the decision to trust during the initial guest/host selection process. I rely on Goffman’s theories of self-presentation and the interaction order to conceptualize trust-building through a micro-sociological lens. The study’s results have several implications for understanding the development of initial trust during the CS guest/host selection process.


Poster Session 1

Poster Title Presenters Abstract
Extracellular Vesicle Activation of Latent HIV-1 Is Driven by EV-Associated c-Src and Cellular SRC-1 via the PI3K/AKT/mTOR Pathway Gifty Mensah HIV-1 is a global health crisis that has infected more than 37 million people. Latent reservoirs throughout the body are a major hurdle when it comes to eradicating the virus. In our previous study, we found that exosomes, a type of extracellular vesicle (EV), from uninfected cells activate the transcription of HIV-1 in latent infected cells, regardless of combination antiretroviral therapy (cART). In this study, we investigated the specific mechanism behind the EV activation of latent HIV-1. We found that phosphorylated c-Src is present in EVs of various cell lines and has the ability to activate downstream proteins such as EGFR, initiating a signal cascade. EGFR is then able to activate the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway, resulting in the activation of STAT3 and SRC-1, culminating in the reversal of HIV-1 latency. This was verified by examining levels of HIV-1 TAR, genomic RNA and HIV-1 Gag p24 protein in cell lines and primary cells. We found that EVs containing c-Src rescued HIV-1 despite the presence of inhibitors, validating the importance of EV-associated c-Src in latent HIV-1 activation. Lastly, we discovered an increased recruitment of p300 and NF-κB in the nucleus of EV-treated infected cells. Collectively, our data suggest that EV-associated c-Src is able to activate latent HIV-1 via the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway and SRC-1/p300-driven chromatin remodeling. These findings could aid in designing new strategies to prevent the reactivation of latent HIV-1 in patients under cART.
NsP3 phosphorylation as a mediator and influencer of alphaviral virulence through protein:protein interactions Allison Bakovic Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV), a mosquito transmitted alphavirus, can cause inflammatory and encephalitic disease upon infection. Although a category B select agent, FDA-approved vaccines or therapeutics against VEEV are lacking. Previously, a proviral role for IKKβ was demonstrated and revealed a direct interaction with VEEV non-structural protein 3 (nsP3). Here, we show that IKKβ kinase activity can directly phosphorylate VEEV nsP3 at sites 204/5, 142, and 134/5. Alanine substitution mutations at these sites reduced VEEV replication corresponding to a severe decrease in negative-strand RNA synthesis. Serial passaging rescued viral replication and negative-strand synthesis, and sequencing of revertant viruses revealed reversion to the wild-type TC-83 phosphorylation capable amino acids. Generation of phosphomimetic mutants revealed phosphorylation at site 204/5 as important for negative-strand RNA synthesis, and phosphorylation at site 134/5 supports improved packaging efficiency. The hypervariable domain (HVD) of the C-terminus of nsP3 facilitates cell-specific host factor preferences among alphaviruses. We coupled mass spectrometry with bioinformatic analyses to identify putative host interactors and small molecule inhibitors against alphaviruses. Three inhibitors were identified in vitro as efficacious against VEEV attenuated and wild-type strains, demonstrate broad-spectrum potential, and/or provide promise as post-exposure strategies. Mechanistic studies utilizing siRNA knockdown of eIF2S2 demonstrate importance for efficient TC-83 replication and genomic RNA translation but had no measurable impact on subgenomic translation. Together, these data identify the first reported kinase phosphorylating VEEV nsP3 and provide the first evidence for nsP3 possessing roles outside of the replication complex and present a new host protein significant for VEEV replication.
Traumatic Brain Injury Increases Tau Tangle Formation and Cell Loss in Double Transgenic APP/tau Alzheimer’s type mice Rachel Barkey This study examined the effects of repetitive mild TBI (rmTBI), administered during adolescence, on dual transgenic (tg) mice modelling Alzheimer’s disease (AD) at 8 months of age. Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by the formation of neuritic plaques composed of amyloid, and neurofibrillary tangles composed of tau protein, in the brain. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) increases the risk of developing AD. Increases in tau protein and amyloid plaques as well as neuronal degeneration are seen in TBI and may play a role in the progression of AD, as these changes overlap with AD neuropathology. In this study, adolescent dual Tg mice that express both amyloid and tau sustained 5 closed-head injuries with 48 hours between each hit. A Controlled Cortical Impact (CCI) device was used. Cortical Infralimbic (IL) and hippocampal brain regions were assessed for amyloid and tau pathology, and neuronal loss, at 8 months of age. There were significantly more tau tangles seen in several brain regions in the Tg mice that sustained rmTBI compared to Tg mice who did not receive rmTBI (p< 0.01). However, there were no increases in amyloid plaques. There was significantly lower cell density in dorsal brain regions closes to the site of impact in mice who received rmTBI compared to SHAM mice (p < 0.01).This study demonstrated that rmTBI during adolescence can cause progressive the neuropathology of AD later in life and is a risk factor for this disease.
The Impact of School Resource Officers and Lockdown Protocols on School Safety during a Simulated Active Shooter Scenario Beth Hosek Since 1999, the United States has seen 249 school shootings and 240,000 students have been exposed to gun violence in school (Cox et al., 2018). With a goal of improving the outcomes of these rare but high impact situations, the School Security Simulation Experiment (SIMEX) used virtual reality (VR) to examine safety protocols related to casualty mitigation. A full-factorial, within-subjects design was used to explore whether presence of a School Resource Officer (SRO), door locking policy (automated versus manual), and lockdown notification protocol (centralized versus decentralized) had a significant impact on school safety. A replication variables of shooter mission (targeted or mass casualty) was also investigated. Confirmatory analysis was used to examine data collected through automatic event logging and participant surveys. Presence of an SRO was significantly associated with reduced fatalities and ammunition usage by the shooter and increased incidences of students in a safe location and completed lockdowns. In comparison to manual locks, automatic door locks were significantly associated with increased rates of student evacuation and/or lockdown and completed classroom lockdown procedures. Centralized communications, meaning the school administrator issued the school lockdown, results in reduced situational awareness for teachers and the SRO. Decentralized communications resulted in increased situational awareness for the shooter. These findings provide valuable recommendations for school operating and safety policies in that SRO presence and automatic door locks may reduce fatalities and increase the number of students able to remain safe during an active shooter event.
Characterizing the activation states of Merlin-regulated proteins in NF2 tumors as potential target sites for novel therapeutics Dylan Scarton Background: Neurofibromatosis type II (NF2) is a genetic condition in which nervous system tumors spontaneously develop as a result of mutations to the cytoskeletal tumor suppressor protein Merlin. By linking actin filaments, transmembrane receptors, and intracellular signaling molecules, Merlin regulates several essential pathways that control proliferation and survival. It is encoded by neurofibromin 2 (NF2) and mediates contact-dependent inhibition of proliferation. Although NF2 mutations play a crucial role in the pathogenesis of most meningiomas and schwannomas, their complexity has prevented useful clinical insights or successful therapies to date.

Methods: Microscopic images of H&E slides from two unique patient tumor sets were captured and analyzed for gross tissue morphology. One sample set contained two tumors and the other consisted of a fractured mass that was separated into more and less aggressive growth regions. Through RPPA analysis, FFPE slides were processed and macrodissected, printed onto nitrocellulose, stained for tumorigenesis markers, and scanned to quantify the endpoints.

Results: Elevated levels of phosphorylated AKT, ERK, FAK, and mTOR were detected in tumor samples from both patient sets. In the second set, significant differences were observed between the more and less aggressive growth regions for AKT (9-fold), ERK (2-fold), and FAK (3-fold).

Conclusion: Studying the interaction between Merlin and its various pathway partners may reveal additional types of protein-protein interactions that could represent druggable sites for developing signaling activators. Small molecules or peptides that mimic the interaction between wild-type Merlin and its metabolic targets may be effective tumor-reducing therapeutics for patients with NF2.

Effects of Nicotine on Tyrosine Hydroxylase Protein Levels and DARPP-32 Phosphorylation in Female and Male Adolescent and Adult Mice
Tresa Proffitt Nicotine acts directly on nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) in the brain and indirectly stimulates tyrosine hydroxylase (Th) gene transcription, as well as stimulating dopamine release from mesocorticolimbic neurons. Dopamine-and-cAMP-regulated phosphoprotein (DARPP-32) integrates glutamatergic and dopaminergic signaling via contrasting phosphorylation events at different protein sites. The nAChR stimulation of Ca2+ promotes an increase in Th gene expression, as well as phosphorylation of DARPP-32 at Ser130, which increases the net phosphorylation at Thr34 of DARPP-32. In this study, TH protein and DARPP-32 phospho-Ser130 were measured in the ventral tegmentum (VT), ventral striatum (VS), and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) of adolescent and adult mice after subcutaneous nicotine injections. In the mPFC, nicotine injections decreased TH protein in adolescent females, but increased TH protein in adult females. DARPP-32 phospho-Ser130 decreased in the adult male mPFC after nicotine injections, but increased DARPP-32 phospho-Ser130 in the adult female mPFC. We also observed a highly-significant nicotine-induced decrease in TH in the VT of adult males, but not adult females. Moreover, DARPP-32 phospho-Ser130 decreased in the adolescent male and female VT after repeated nicotine injections. In the VS, DARPP-32 phospho-Ser130 increased only in adult males. These observations demonstrate novel aspects of the modulation of dopamine signaling by repeated nicotine exposure. In particular, the dramatic sex differences in the responses of TH in the adult VT likely play key roles in producing the known sex differences in withdrawal from drugs of abuse.
Metagenomics of the Greater Sage-Grouse Cecum Madeleine Becker Biologists are increasingly recognizing the integral roles that microbiomes play in a variety of vertebrate host functions, including metabolism, immunity, development, and reproduction. In wild populations, studying gut microbiomes is an emerging application which can provide insight into host diet, health, and ecological adaptation. The greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) is a species of conservation concern whose diet almost entirely consists of sagebrush (Artemisia spp.). The grouse is relatively unique in that a) sagebrush is toxic to most other species and b) unlike other birds, the grouse does not have a muscular crop to physically aid digestion. Therefore, it is hypothesized that the grouse’s gut microbiome must be facilitating sagebrush digestion, with specific taxa (Athrobacter spp.) responsible for mitigating the sagebrush’s toxicity. To investigate the microbiome’s role in host digestion, we performed shotgun sequencing on the sage-grouse cecum. Previous study demonstrated that the cecum, an intestinal pouch, harbored the richest microbiota and the greatest microbial distinctiveness compared to other regions of the grouse intestinal track, making it a promising candidate for functional analysis. Vouchered grouse specimens (N=30) were sequenced and processed with a modified MetaWRAP assembly and analysis pipeline. Metagenomic assembly was successful with an N50 of 4034, and bin abundance starkly differed by sample state of origin (Montana, Wyoming). Notably, we found evidence of Arthrobacter presence in the sage-grouse cecal microbiome, which had not been picked up by prior 16S sequencing methods. This finding demonstrates the utility of high-throughput shotgun metagenomics in understanding the adaptations of wild populations.


Poster Session 2

Poster Title Presenters Abstract
Redefining “Years Lost”: The Impact of Wrongful Convictions on Lifespan Mary Catlin Exonerations take an incredible personal toll. Exonerees often suffer severe psychological consequences, physical pains, and post-release struggles (e.g., Grounds, 2004; Westervelt & Cook, 2012). Over 24,770 years of life lost to incarceration (National Registry of Exonerations [NRE], 2020), but there is an additional toll on mortality that has not received direct empirical attention. A total of 153 exonerees have passed and were included in our sample. On average, exonerees were 52.69 years old (SD = 12.75) at their death, and lived 8.42 years (SD = 7.89) post-release. Exonerees spent 12.76 years (SD = 8.57) wrongfully incarcerated, and were 31.30 years old (SD = 11.45) when convicted. Results indicated that exonerees died 19.33 years (SD = 12.71) earlier than expected. Specifically, exonerees were expected to live to 72.02 years old (SD = 4.74), but only lived to 52.69 years old (SD = 12.75); a statistically significant difference, t(152) = 18.81, p < .001, d = 2.00, 95% CI of d [1.70, 2.32]. Even when the effect of incarceration is accounted for, exonerees died 6.51 years (SD = 22.38) earlier than expected. Specifically, exonerees were expected to live to 59.20 years old (SD = 18.06) after accounting for the incarceration tax. The difference between diminished life expectancy and exonerees’ age at death remained statistically significant, t(152) = 3.60, p < .001, d = 0.41, 95% CI of d [0.18, 0.65]. These results have implications for how the cost of wrongful conviction is conceptualized and policy recommendations aimed at mitigating these costs.
Race & Amazon Studios May Santiago Amazon has come under wider scrutiny in the COVID age for its ballooning profits, making Jeff Bezos the richest man in the world thanks to a racialized and brutalized workforce. All the meanwhile, Amazon Studios has risen as a formidable film studio, coming from an arthouse-independent background in 2015, surviving a #MeToo scandal of its top leader in 2017, and now in 2021, becoming its own fully-functional film studio that handles its own production, marketing, and distribution of its content. This rise in reputation is not only due to Bezos’ deep pockets, but also with the co-signing of first-look deals with creators such as Steve McQueen to Nicole Kidman. Jennifer Salke, Amazon Studios’ head of operations, has said as recently as 2020 that the goal for the studio is to release as radical content as possible to amplify marginalized voices.

Yet, how can this be reconciled with Amazon’s labor practices at-large? My research examines a bevy of press releases, trade articles, magazine profiles, and studies ranging from 1998 to 2021 to build the history and context of Amazon Studios and its operations within Amazon at large. Furthermore, I investigate the contradictions in Amazon’s stances for racial and gender equality, particularly in the moment of civil rights demonstrations sweeping the physical and virtual spaces of 2020. At the core of this research are the practices of ex-CEO Bezos himself, an avid participant in Amazon Studios’ day-to-day and the chief architect of the oppressive workplace practices Amazon benefits from.

Exploring Collaborative Learning Features in the International Baccalaureate Curricula Middle Years Programme (MYP) through Content and Network Analysis Beth Hosek Collaborative learning can positively impact students’ social skills and ability to work in groups, individual accountability, as well as interdependence (Lou et al. 2001), particularly in science education contexts (Wright et al., 2013). The goal of the present study was to identify and assess key collaborative learning features within the International Baccalaureate Curricula Middle Years Programme (MYP). Nine curriculum documents were examined using content and network analysis. All documents were examined for phrases related to a priori or emergent codes and code frequencies were noted. Categories establishing trends within each code were identified, and similar categories across codes were merged to establish themes. Nine themes were found during analysis, related to individual student behavior and cognition during collaborative learning, educator behavior and classroom environment, and curriculum learning goals. Network analysis was then used to examine the coded data which enabled social structures to be explored graphically using their connections (Dado & Bodemer, 2017; Kashyap & Saritha, 2018) as well as assessing how the various parent and child codes were interconnected throughout the nine examined documents (Peters-Burton & Baynard, 2013). Educational implications for practice are discussed.
Motivational Teaching Strategies ESOL Teachers Use to Enhance Student Motivation in Language Learning Classrooms
Ward Othman One of the main factors to second language achievement is motivation. Motivational teaching strategies provide numerous benefits to language learning. It can foster students’ motivation to learn the language and help maintain their interest despite encountering language difficulties. In second language learning research, it is important to analyze teachers’ behaviors on motivation and student learning. This aids in comprehending the relationship between teacher practice and student motivation. If teachers becomes more self-aware of how their pedagogical decisions can positively or negatively influence students, teachers can make changes to develop a productive language learning environment. The classroom context is a vital tool in motivation research. However, current second language research does not utilize this situation specific context. This study investigates how ESOL teachers identify and implement motivational teaching strategies within their own language classrooms. The intellectual goal is to understand a teacher’s perspective on the motivation of his/her students and explore the specific motivational teaching strategies she/he uses in an ESOL classroom to enhance student motivation. For this study intends to improve or formally evaluate existing motivational teaching practices used by teachers in the classroom context. Teacher’s pedagogical philosophies and classroom practices affecting motivation in their ESL students were examined from a qualitative perspective. The semi-structured interviews provided an in-depth view into teachers’ motivational strategy use which contributes to future research in language motivation and pedagogy. With the findings, this study helps teachers have a better understanding of effective motivational teaching strategies and apply these strategies to their own classrooms.
Community Position Statements as Tools for Biocultural Conservation and Community Activism: A Case Study from the Peruvian Amazon Elizabeth Schierbeek Indigenous Peoples have long participated in forms of collective action to rectify previous injustices, to protect and promote present and future rights, and to conserve Indigenous ancestral lands, resources, and cultures. An important component of biocultural conservation and community activism is ensuring that voices of Indigenous Peoples are heard by those with power to influence change. Here we present community position statements as tools for amplifying the views and concerns of Indigenous communities. We highlight a position statement writing project conducted in partnership with the Maijuna and Kichwa peoples of the Peruvian Amazon. Maijuna and Kichwa federation leaders, elders, and other community members, as well as scholar-activist allies, took part in the community-based project, from which a multilingual (Máíjɨḵì, Kichwa, Spanish, and English) community position statement was developed collaboratively. The position statement leverages Indigenous and Western knowledge systems and speaks out against a planned government road project threatening Maijuna and Kichwa ancestral lands and lifeways. Building on rich histories of resistance and resilience, this shared community statement has enabled the Maijuna and Kichwa to fight together in solidarity toward a common vision for present and future generations. Through this case study, we explore the power of position statements to achieve contextually-rooted, socially just outcomes in biocultural conservation and community activism processes and products. Given the potential for community position statements to empower communities, bridge knowledge systems, inspire collective action, and defend Indigenous lands and lifeways, we feel strongly that they should play a role in biocultural conservation and community activism.
A Critical Literature Review on Gender-Appropriateness in Adolescence Sports Participation Zikun Li In the academic domain of adolescence development, the discussions around gender-stereotype in adolescence sport participation have been lasting for more than a half century. Numerous scholars have attempted to examine the stereotypical effects of “gender-appropriate sport” on adolescence development from various research perspectives.
This critical literature review selected to summarize and analyze ten influential and representative papers deliberately, aiming at sketchily encompassing the major discussion foci in the existing literature on gender stereotype in adolescence sports participation. Together, these ten papers embraced five primary research perspectives in the current academic field, namely, the impacts of gender-appropriateness on the adolescence cognitions of sports participation, on the adolescence attitudes towards sports participation, on the adolescence decisions on sports participation, on the importance of sports in adolescence livelihood, and on adolescence self-concept development.
Through the literature review, the researcher recognized that sports participation pertains to the sociocultural activity in which the social values and norms are deeply embedded. As sports have been symbolically labelled as masculinity, the notion of gender-appropriate sports is influencing adolescence sports participation in terms of cognition, psychology, and behavior, in both explicit and implicit way. Meanwhile, the invisibility of the gender-linked detriments to the adolescent boys in sports participation and the paradox between the stigma associated with gender-appropriateness and the behavior of cross-gender sports participation are also disclosed, indicating the potential research directions in the future.
Handling Missing Data with Randomization Tests Xiao Tan Randomized clinical trials serve as the gold standard when evaluating the treatment effect of a new drug in clinical trials. Randomization tests can provide this analysis without requiring the random sampling assumption as parametric methods. They are versatile in dealing with nearly all types of primarily encountered outcomes in clinical trials. In practice, missing data can seriously compromise the comparison in treatment effects from a statistical perspective by introducing bias and decreasing power. Strategies for handling missing data problems are extensively proposed and well investigated in the context of parametric methods. However, there remains a lack of methods dealing with missing data when applying randomization tests to compare treatment effects. In this proposal, we describe techniques to conduct randomization-based inference when there are missing outcomes after assuming a randomization procedure is implemented, such as the random block design, the permuted block design, etc. Two methods are described, based on complete and conditional reference sets, and justified through simulation studies. Under different overall missing proportions and missing data mechanisms, the type I error rate and statistical power of randomization-based methods are evaluated and compared with parametric missing data methods, such as single imputation, multiple imputation, and the maximum likelihood method. Also, randomization-based methods outperform several parametric methods in terms of power while keeping type I error rates under control in most simulation scenarios when simulated responses are affected by time trends, which are often observed due to the sequential recruitment of patients.
First Validation of GEDI Vegetation Structure Metrics in African Savannas Xiaoxuan Li Savannas have complex vegetation structure that varies greatly in its vertical and spatial arrangement and researchers are eager to determine how well the new GEDI data characterizes them. This study validated GEDI structure metrics by comparing the GEDI waveform metrics (Relative Height – RH) to the simulated GEDI metrics derived from Airborne Laser Scanning (ALS) data across a range of forest types (savanna, thicket, sand forest) in South Africa. From the first year of GEDI (v.1) data released to date, 56 orbits intersected 12 sites with 2018 ALS data, providing a total of 65 test cases (each orbit per site = 1 test case) after applying quality flags to filter bad quality data. Only RH 98 statistical results were presented here. Thirty five out of 65 test cases under evergreen or leaf-on phenology conditions had strong relationships between on-orbit GEDI RH98 metrics and simulated RH98 GEDI metrics, with a mean R2 of 0.613, biases between -0.52-2.17 m and RMSEs between 0.17-2.44 m. Twenty-one test cases under transition or leaf-off conditions had relatively weak relationships, with mean R2 of 0.432, biases between 0-2.78 m, and RMSEs between 0.461-1.615 m. Overall, GEDI RH 98 underestimate heights about 1.26 m. Test cases under leaf-on conditions had a slightly stronger relationship (R2 = 0.719) than leaf-off conditions (R2 = 0.459). The strong relationship between GEDI and ALS metrics demonstrated that GEDI data have very good potential to measure complex vegetation structures in diverse forest types, including savannas.


Paper Session 4: Discussions of Ancient, Early Modern, and this Post-Modern Moment

Poster Title Presenters Abstract
Ancient Silk Route Visualization and Simulation Jajwalya Karajgikar This panelist will be focusing on utilizing historical data and its limitations by answering the following research questions:
Which parts of Eurasia were connected across the years?
How successful are computational methods in deciphering historical data?
This digital history project raises questions about the largest globalization endeavor during medieval era encompassing 600BCE to 1900CE and offers access to the visualization to answer some of them. Stretching from Chang’an 長安 (modern day Xi’an 西安市 in China) to Antioch (Turkey), as far as Venice and beyond, the ancient silk route is an interconnected mesh of nodes (in the form of funduks / fondacos / loggias / hospices / caravanserais / khans) across the Afro-Eurasian landmass. The main aim of this project is to analyze these movements and view interactive maps, networks, and animations viewing the ancient economic redistribution of luxury goods in action would be really cool.
In this Digital Humanities research presentation, the panelist will be talking about unbalanced data, data sparsity, null values, and even biased data that contributes to digital history research with its own unique set of challenges. The visualization dashboard serves as a part of the larger project on Ancient Silk Routes Visualization and Simulation for the courses CSI 703: Scientific Statistical Visualization and CSS 610: Agent-based Modeling Simulation.
A New Jerusalem: Flavius Josephus in Early America Kristofer Stinson This project argues that the first century Jewish historian, Titus Flavius Josephus, was of central importance to early Americans as they wrestled with how to construct a divinely upheld polity and who would be included within it. Between the onset of the first English translation of Josephus in 1602 and the “discovery” of Masada, the place of the climatic conclusion of the Jewish war with Rome, in 1858, Josephus was published and mobilized at a rate that made him second only to the Bible itself. By placing the prefaces and introductory material in dialogue with the surrounding print culture, this paper provides insight into the larger popular context in which these editions were printed. Understanding the ways Americans appropriated and applied Josephus and his history opens up new ways of thinking about how the text came to be understood and interpreted. Josephus’s history of God’s ancient, chosen nation came to be a model that enabled Americans to envision their own society as a new Israel in a new world, albeit one that had little room for the Jews who had constituted the first Israel.
Nietzsche and Wilde on Art, Life, and Ethics: Dorian’s Abuse of Beauty as Self-Annihilation Matthew Zavitz This paper explores the development of character as it relates to the connections between beauty and ethics in the work of Oscar Wilde and Friedrich Nietzsche. Specifically, it examines Wilde’s critical work and The Picture of Dorian Gray, using Nietzsche’s work to flush out some of Wilde’s ideas and themes. It deals particularly with the problem of decadence, both as a literary genre and as a philosophical concept. Dorian’s ‘use of beauty’ as a distraction from suffering rather than using suffering as a way to develop his character stunted his moral development, as suffering is perhaps our greatest teacher in developing compassion and in dealing with life on life’s terms. Both Nietzsche and Wilde both have a remarkably similar outlook on how one is to remain ‘healthy,’ honest, and ‘creative’ in a modern world which is filled with hypocrisy and ‘life-denying’ ways of understanding the world. For both of these thinkers, maintaining one’s individuality through creative activity is of paramount importance. One ought not to try and eliminate parts of one’s self that he or she dislikes or abhors, because it is these parts of oneself that bring a sort of artistic richness to his or her character. In Nietzschean terms, one will be unable to distinguish between the healthy and the sick (which is a sort of aesthetic judgement) if he or she has never been sick, so sickness (as well as suffering in general) ought to be embraced willingly and with enthusiasm.