Below are the abstracts and details about each of the papers and posters being presented at the 2022 Mason Graduate Interdisciplinary Conference, listed in order of presentation in our agenda.

View the Conference Agenda

Opening Session

Merten Hall Room 1201: 9:00-10:05 am

The Opening Session of the Mason Graduate Interdisciplinary Conference is generously sponsored by the Mason 50th Anniversary Celebration Committee.

The Opening Session was livestreamed.

You may view a recording of the session here.  

Panel Discussion: Research for Broader Impact 

One of the primary goals of higher education is to create new knowledge. Whether this happens in a lab, through an online survey, or via creative productions, Mason faculty and students have always excelled in producing high-quality, novel research and creative works. This year’s panel asks how we can take this research to the next step: How can we, both faculty and students, conduct research in such a way that it has broader impact on society as a whole? How can we “translate” our research to a broader public audience? Join us as we feature graduate students and faculty at Mason in a panel discussion on how their research has broader social impact. The panel will be moderated by our Vice President for Research, Innovation and Economic Development, Dr. Andre Marshall.

The opening session will be livestreamed via Zoom. To participate in the livestream, please register here.


Dr. Charles Chavis

Dr. Charles L. Chavis, Jr. is Assistant Professor of Conflict Resolution and History and the Founding Director of the John Mitchell, Jr. Program for History, Justice, and Race at the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University. Dr. Chavis is a historian and museum educator whose work focuses on the history of racial violence and civil rights activism and Black and Jewish relations in the American South, and the ways in which the historical understandings of racial violence and civil rights activism can inform current and future approaches to peacebuilding and conflict resolution throughout the world. His areas of specialization includes Civil Rights oral history, historical consciousness, and racial violence and reconciliation. Professor Chavis has published more than twenty-five refereed articles, reference articles, essays, reviews, op-editorials, chapters and government reports and is author of the upcoming book, “‘Maryland, My Maryland’: The Lynching of Matthew Williams and the Politics of Racism in the Free State.”

Dr. Lisa Gring-Pemble

Dr. Lisa Gring-Pemble serves as Executive Director of the Business for a Better World Center and Director of Global Impact & Engagement.  A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of St. Olaf College, she received her M.A. and Ph.D. in rhetoric (U of Maryland). Since joining Mason in 2000, she has pursued teaching and research around global impact and engagement, argumentation and persuasion, and political communication and legislation. Gring-Pemble is committed to sustainability initiatives including: Co-Founder and Director of Strategy of the Honey Bee Initiative, and member of the Mason Sustainability Council, Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative and Principles for Responsible Management Education.

Rebecca Leung

Rebecca Leung is a health IT practitioner with over 15 years of experience in the public and private sectors. Previously, she led Dell’s Public Health practice where she was responsible for $100M+ per year business, and led the development and implementation of Dell’s overall Public Health growth strategy. Hyphen Group is her 5th venture after previous successful venture-backed exits. Rebecca received her MBA from Harvard University, currently a MSW student at George Mason, and she has a BSc. from the University of California at Berkeley.

Ayondela McDole

Ayondela McDole is currently a PhD candidate in Cultural Studies and instructor of record in the Women and Gender Studies and African/African American Studies departments. She holds a Master’s in Pan African Studies (with Distinction) from Syracuse University and a bachelors in Cultural Studies from Columbia College Chicago (Magna Cum Laude). Her methodological approach is located at the intersection of Black feminism and Black Marxism. Her aims are to have and distribute adequate media literacy to the working classes and her passions are deeply rooted in the humanities. Her dissertation is an ethnographic study of the workforce that supports the tourist industry and constructed nature of high-end tourism in the world today.

Shrishti Singh

Shrishti Singh is currently a PhD candidate in Bioengineering. Her work involves designing and developing contrast agents for non-invasive biomedical diagnostics with an interdisciplinary team of engineers and scientists. She is currently working on obtaining funds for clinical translation of the developed technology and eventually starting her own company.

Moderator: Dr. Andre Marshall, Vice President for Research, Innovation and Economic Development

Andre W. Marshall is Vice President for Research, Innovation, and Economic Impact at George Mason University and President of the George Mason Research Foundation. As the university’s senior research officer, Marshall provides overall leadership for the portfolio of research, innovation, and economic development activities.

Marshall joined George Mason University from the National Science Foundation, where he served as Program Director for the Industry-University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC) and Innovation Corps (I-CorpsTM) programs. During his tenure at NSF, Marshall advanced NSF’s university-based tech translation and commercialization programs through national initiatives strengthening industry-university engagement and collaboration, new partnerships broadening participation in innovation and tech entrepreneurship, and program virtualization increasing accessibility to the highly regarded national I-Corps Teams program.

Prior to NSF, Marshall served on the faculty at the University of Maryland, College Park in the Department of Fire Protection Engineering where he founded the Fire Testing and Evaluation Center (FireTEC) and launched a tech-startup based on patented technology stemming from his research and inspired by his participation in the NSF I-Corps program. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, FM Global, United Technologies Research Center, National Fire Protection Association, and various other institutions.

Marshall is a faculty member in the Mechanical Engineering Department of the Volgenau School of Engineering. His research and teaching interests are centered around experimental characterization and computational evaluation of complex turbulent reacting flows and sprays. His work in this area was inspired by early propulsion research he performed while at Rolls-Royce Corp., which influenced his approach to fire suppression and most recently agricultural sprays. He is the recipient of the NSF Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering (PECASE) and the Philip Thomas Medal of Excellence. He has served as Associate Editor for the Fire Safety Journal and on the USPTO Working Group for the National Council for Expanding American Innovation (NCEAI).

Marshall began his college career at Georgia Tech receiving a B.M.E and M.S. in mechanical engineering in 1991 and 1992, respectively. In 1996, he completed his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Oral Presentations: Session I 

Society and its use of AI/Technology
Merten Hall Room 1202: 10:15 am – 11:30 am
(20 minutes per presentation, 15 minutes Q&A)

“Warning: Pedestrian ahead”: The Impact of Monitoring Requests on Trust, Acceptance, Blame, and Praise of Autonomous Vehicles 

Liam Kettle, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Abstract: Vehicles with autonomous features are more prevalent in today’s society, though as the level of autonomation increases, so does the vehicle system’s control of the vehicle. As the driving control shifts from human to the vehicle system, concerns arise regarding the attribution of responsibility and blame following critical events (e.g., collisions or near-misses). In this study, we aim to understand how the public attributes blame and praise to both humans and autonomous vehicles (AVs) following critical events. In addition, we examine how an AI driving assistant that administers Monitoring Requests influences blame and praise attributions. Furthermore, we examine differences in acceptance, trust, and perceived anthropomorphism between an AV with and without an AI driving assistant. Results are provided followed by a discussion of the expect results and potential impact for research and legal issues.

“Two Many Cooks:” Understanding Dynamic Human – Agent Team Communication and Perception Using Overcooked 2 

Andres Rosero and Faustina Dinh, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Abstract: This paper describes a research study that aims to investigate changes in effective communication during human-AI collaboration with special attention to the perception of competence among team members and varying levels of task load placed on the team. We will also investigate differences between human-human teamwork and human-agent teamwork. Our project will measure differences in the communication quality, team perception and performance of a human actor playing a Commercial Off – The Shelf game (COTS) with either a human teammate or a simulated AI teammate under varying task load. We argue that the increased cognitive workload associated with increases task load will be negatively associated with team performance and have a negative impact on communication quality. In addition, we argue that positive team perceptions will have a positive impact on the communication quality between a user and teammate in both the human and AI teammate conditions. This project will offer more refined insights on Human – AI relationship dynamics in collaborative tasks by considering communication quality, team perception, and performance under increasing cognitive workload.

Affordance Analysis of WordPress 

Maurine Kwende and Teresa Wu, College of Education and Human Development

Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to examine the digital affordances of WordPress as an educational tool. WordPress is a popular social media platform that educators can leverage to design learning activities that foster students’ problem-solving and critical thinking skills. In this research, we analyzed the technological and pedagogical affordances of the self-hosting WordPress (version 5.1) using Harston and Pyla’s (2012) typology of affordances and Bower’s (2008) affordance analysis process. The analysis revealed the digital features of WordPress that educators can leverage to design effective and engaging learning activities and interactions in an online course. It is concluded that WordPress is a powerful and flexible digital technology for beginner and experienced learning designers and educators to use to foster creativity, support articulation, reflection, and promote collaborative problem-solving.

Education and Wellbeing 

Merten Hall Room 1203: 10:15 am – 11:30 am (15 minutes per presentation, 15 minutes for Q&A)

Religious Help-Seeking in Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence 

Tahani Chaudhry, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Abstract: Help-seeking in survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV) is a thoughtful and iterative process that consists of defining the problem, deciding to seek help, and selecting a source of support (Liang et al., 2005). Religion plays an important role in the process of help-seeking for IPV survivors, but there is little quantitative evidence demonstrating this role. This study filled that gap, focusing on frequency and impact of religious help-seeking strategies. We gathered data from 486 individuals from three religious communities who have experienced significant relationship conflict: Christian, Muslim, and Jewish. Results revealed 33.9% of individuals experiencing relationship conflict sought help from people in their religious communities (e.g., leaders, community members and elders), with 82.6% rating their experiences as helpful and 23.6% rating them as harmful. Both frequency and harmfulness were greater in individuals who experienced fear in their relationship conflict than those who did not, but helpfulness did not differ by presence of fear. Further, those in the Christian group reported seeking religious help more often than the Muslim and Jewish groups and also were more likely to rate this help as helpful, but harmfulness ratings were similar across all the religious groups. However, religious group did not predict frequency of religious help-seeking above and beyond religiosity, stress and presence of fear in the conflict.

The Case for Latino/a Advocacy and Outreach: An Interdisciplinary Analysis of Strengths and Weaknesses in Institutional Practices at George Mason University 

Rafael Hoyos Justiniano and Carla Garcia, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Abstract: According to the 2020 U.S. Census, Hispanic/Latino is the second-largest ethnic or racial group in the U.S. with non-Hispanic White being the largest. Despite the prevalence and continued growth of the Hispanic/Latino population in the U.S., large educational disparities and inequities exist between these two student populations. These disparities are especially evident in higher education. Our research takes an interdisciplinary approach by linking Latino and critical race studies with the aim of assessing and providing solutions to the existing educational disparities that affect the George Mason University at large and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS) Hispanic/Latino undergraduate student population. To that aim, we chose a mixed methods approach in which we pulled from qualitative and quantitative data provided by a direct student survey along with institution-provided data reporting on enrollment, credit hours, attrition, retention rates, and more. Qualitatively, we found that COVID-19 revealed long standing inequities in access to resources within, as well as outside the university that are significant factors in enrollment, retention, etc. Overall, the data points to slow Latino growth over the last five years with particular vulnerabilities across programs, especially STEM. The student survey input and data analysis conducted highlighted the need for better Latino student outreach, advocacy, and further holistic academic and financial support mechanisms. The solutions proposed offer actionable goals and data-driven institutional practices with the intention of better representing the historically underserved and underrepresented Hispanic American undergraduate student population at George Mason University.

Evaluating the Impact of Wellness and Resilience Program 

Grace Nyambura, College of Health and Human Services

Abstract: In recent years, there has been an increase in mental health issues among college students in the United States. Students are experiencing stressors that are associated with anxiety and depression that are threatening their academic outcomes and persistence. Stress is inevitable but there are tools that can be implemented to help in navigating stressful events. Resilience is one of the tools that can help during those times. Resilience studies have been conducted on medical and nursing students but not on Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) students who also experience stress in their academic careers. Students from underrepresented populations often face barriers rooted in culture and society which impact their decision to pursue and maintain a career in STEM. In Spring 2021, the NIH Office of Intramural Training and Education developed a series called “Becoming A Resilient Scientist” to help trainees in the sciences develop the resilience needed to thrive in high-knowledge environments. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the outcomes after students have participated in the program. This study will utilize qualitative study to evaluate the impact of the one-semester resilience program. A phenomenological approach will be used to conduct this qualitative study. Semi-structured interviews will be conducted with students (N=9). Thematic qualitative analysis will be used to transcribe and generate data. Results from this project will be used to develop an extensive tailored and inclusive wellness and resilience for African American STEM students.

Critical Examination Of How GTA’s in Higher Education Are Navigating The Intersections of Power In Their Identities As Both Instructors and Students 

Aayushi Hingle and Breonna Riddick, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Abstract: As many universities are returning to in-person instruction, it is imperative to understand how students and instructors are performing their identities in the return to physically being on campus. The role of being both student and instructor as a GTA further nuances the re-entry experience after more than eighteen months of being virtual. GTAs are in a very unique position in higher education where they are not just graduate students, they are also instructors and often there have been spaces where the intersections of these two identities have led to struggles of power and privilege in this space. This research explores the intersection of identities  that graduate teaching assistants navigate (GTA’s).Therefore, understanding this navigation in the return to campus is important as universities move forward trying to support their student populations. The study consists of qualitative interviews and focuses on themes of identity, health, and social support. Our aim is to share narratives of GTA’s while also identifying practical ways to increase support for GTA’s.

New Methods in Science
Merten Hall Room 1204: 10:15 am – 11:30 am
(20 minutes per presentation, 15 minutes for Q&A)

Utilizing the Cardiff Model to Understand Characteristics of Individuals Reporting Violence

Gretchen Baas, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Abstract: Our purpose was to identify the characteristics of those that report violent crimes to law enforcement versus those that do not, explore how types of violent injury influence reporting decisions, and the association between encounter data points and reporting violent injuries to law enforcement. Secondary data analyses of the Cardiff Model Pilot Study dataset from May 2015-November 2017 from Grady Memorial Hospital were conducted, in addition to a chart review that was merged to the dataset. During the pilot study, participants were screened in the emergency room with the Information Sharing to Tackle Violence screen; of those screened, 300 were mappable violent injuries. Emergency department data was matched with law enforcement data at three location sensitivities: 100m, 500m, and 1000m. Analyses were conducted at each location sensitivity. Results conclude associations between means of arrival, mechanism of injury, acuity, gender, chief complaint, and financial class at various location sensitivities. Multivariable logistic regressions revealed predictors between means of arrival (walk-in; 100m, p=0.044; 500m, p=0.028), location of injury (street) (500m, p=0.031), and gender (500m, p=0.015; 1000m, p=0.010). We conclude that means of arrival, location of injury, and gender are predictors of reporting status. This study provides initial understanding of the associations and predictors of the characteristics of individuals when reporting violence. Research is needed with larger sample sizes to understand how these associations differ between races, genders, and socioeconomic status. Our results provide law enforcement a deeper understanding of whom is impacted by violence and how that differs from their reported violent crimes.

Functionalized Indocyanine Green J-aggregate platform for Near Infrared I Photoacoustic Imaging Shrishti Singh, College of Engineering and Computing

Abstract: Photoacoustic imaging (PAI) is emerging as a popular pre-clinical biomedical imaging method due to its ability to generate images of deep tissues with greater contrast. PAI collects acoustic signals generated by tissue expansion under laser light to create an image of the tissue under inspection. Currently, PAI relies on endogenous contrast agents like hemoglobin, lipids and DNA/RNA to generate an image, but these endogenous contrast agents have a low light absorption coefficient, hence they cannot be used to generate images with better contrast and resolution. Hence, PAI requires exogenous contrast agents with high absorption coefficient and characteristic spectral profile in the near infrared range for deep tissue imaging. Indocyanine Green (ICG) is an FDA approved cyanine dye which is used in its monomeric form for different clinical biomedical imaging applications like tumor biopsy, resection surgery and lymph node imaging. But, in its monomeric form, ICG suffers from high hepatic clearance rate, low photostability and high plasma protein binding rate. To overcome these disadvantages, a slip-stack arrangement of ICG monomer dye known as J-aggregates (JA) is used with a high absorption coefficient at 895 nm. In this work, we create a contrast agent platform of ICG-JA with tissue targeting capabilities. We also develop a facile method of controlling the size of ICG-JA from 1000 nm-100 nm, an advantage for different imaging applications. We demonstrate that ICG-JA are stable in-vitro upto 48 hours, show no toxicity to cells and have a maximum PA signal at 895 nm.

DNA Origami Nanoparticle Designed as a Novel Nano-Vaccine against SARS-CoV-2

Ersa Oktay, College of Engineering and Computing


Abstract: COVID-19 has brought out the growing threat of newly emerging viruses. From the beginning of its spread to now, SARS-CoV-2 has been continuing to rapidly transmit and mutate into new variants. Thus far, current efforts mostly have been centered on conventional vaccines including inactivated vaccines, subunit vaccines, or virus nucleic acid-based vaccines. Among those, nanoparticles (NPs) also emerge as potential tools to generate an efficient vaccine platform, offering reduced risks and increased efficacy.  Here, we designed and developed a DNA origami nanoparticle for vaccine delivery. The inherent feature of DNA allows conjugation of multiple biomolecules with the ease of different conjugation chemistries. Also, thanks to its programmability, sequence addressability, and biocompatibility, designing customized DNA origami nanoparticles in different dimension and sizes, along with controllable distances and numbers of molecules on DNA nanoparticles, might help adjustment of immune cell response. In this regard, we designed two-faced NP in three-dimension with total of 20 overhangs accommodating receptor binding domain (RBD) of SARS-CoV-2 S1 spike protein in trimeric form on one face and CpG adjuvant on the other face. Our in vivo results demonstrate that DNA origami nano-vaccine displaying tri-RBD along with CpG provide robust protection against live SARS-CoV-2 virus with high neutralizing antibody response and prolonged survival.

Poster Presentations 

Merten Hall Room 1202: 12:00 pm – 12:50 pm

Presenters will be available during this session to share their posters and visual presentations and to discuss their work with audience members.

Young Blood Plasma Treatment Reduces Neuroinflammation in h-tau Alzheimer’s type mice

Rachel Barkey, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Abstract: This study examined the effects of young blood plasma treatment on inflammation and neuronal loss in human tau (h-tau) Alzheimer’s disease (AD) type mice. AD is associated with increased neuroinflammation, including chronic microglia activation and neuronal loss. Injections of blood plasma from young mice reduce the accumulation of neuroinflammation in AD type mice. In this study, h-tau mice and wildtype mice were injected with either 1.5microliters of young blood plasma or saline 7 times over 21 days. Mice were then assessed for neuronal loss using Cresyl-Violet. The levels of CREB, phosphorylated CREB, brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), and Iba-1 were determined through Western blot analysis. AD mice treated with saline have significantly lower cell density than all other groups in the infralimbic region (p = 0.031) and parietal association cortex  (p = 0.034). AD saline groups showed significantly lower white matter density than all other groups in the corpus callosum(p = 0.014). Plasma treated mice had significantly higher white matter density at midline corpus callosum than saline treated mice (p = 0.002). and significantly higher cell density in the lateral cortex than saline treated mice (p < 0.001). Western blot analysis showed a genotype by treatment trend for levels of Iba-1 (p = 0.10) with plasma treatment reducing the levels of Iba-1 found in h-tau mice. These results suggest that the prevention of cell loss in AD plasma treated mice may be a result of the reduction of inflammation due to lower levels of chronic microglial activation following plasma injections.

Help-seeking related to LGBTQ Intimate Partner Violence

Maria Isabella Cristea, College of Health and Human Services

Abstract: Intimate partner violence is a problem that affects millions of people around the world. Social support, public and private resources, and victim protection can be totally different depending on the gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status of the people who suffer this type of violence. A systematic review of the literature has been carried out to learn more in-depth about the characteristics of the response that LGBTQ+ people received when they asked for help. From the results obtained, the following can be highlighted: 1. Women, regardless of their sexual orientation, are more likely to seek help than men. 2. Family and friends are the most recurrent informal source of help, while counselling and mental health services are the most requested formal resources. 3. Domestic violence services, medical services, and law enforcement are the least requested resources and even avoided on certain occasions. 4. Heteronormativity, isolation, and fear are the topics that reappear most frequently in the analyzed studies. It is considered that these three issues can make it difficult or impossible to seek help.

The Function and Utility of a Learning How to Learn Course: Middle School Voices

Beth Hose, College of Education and Human Development

Abstract: Self-regulated learning (SRL) is positively related to student learning and motivation (English & Kitsantas, 2013; Kitsantas & Cleary, 2016; Zimmerman & Kitsantas, 2014). Many higher education institutions have developed “learning how to learn” courses to teach college students how to become independent, self-regulated learners (Bowering et al., 2017; Brown-Kramer, 2021). However, there is a lack of these courses implemented in K-12 settings. This study examines a “learning how to learn” intervention in a rural mid-Atlantic middle school. Students (n = 15) participated in semi-structured focus groups that were used to learn and understand student perspectives on the function and utility of the intervention that they experienced. Thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006) revealed seven themes on the function and five themes on the utility of the intervention from the perspective of students. Overall, student voices indicate this intervention seems effective in developing curious, self-responsible learners. Students also discussed how teachers could support their development of SRL skills. These findings are in line with prior research indicating that teacher support and cultivation of SRL processes is vital to student success (Kitsantas et al., 2020). Limitations include that context must be carefully considered in generalizing the conclusions of this study especially given the school’s rural setting. Future research should gather more evidence on the effectiveness of “learning how to learn” courses on student SRL and developing professional development workshops on implementing this course in middle schools.


Reduced-order Computational Fluid Solvers for Simulating Large Cerebral Vascular Networks

Aseem Milind Pradhan, College of Engineering and Computing

Abstract: The effectiveness of the treatment of cerebrovascular diseases such as strokes and aneurysms depends on the structure of the entire cerebral vasculature. For example, while performing thrombectomy for a critical stroke patient, insertion of a catheter impedes the blood flow to the brain and might cause further harm to the sensitive brain tissue. Also, clinicians have observed that in some aneurysm patients are treated with a flow diverter, blood vessels distal to the intervention experience hemorrhage 1-2 weeks after the procedure. The answers to these clinically relevant questions could be obtained by computational simulations of the cerebrovascular network which may include up to 10^7 arteries. This is not feasible with the current 3D computational fluid dynamics (CFD) solvers due to computational constraints. Therefore, we are using reduced-order (1D and 0D) CFD solvers, which are computationally inexpensive, on these large vascular trees to analyze relevant blood flow conditions. We have validated the reduced-order models against benchmarked numerical simulations. The solvers also compare well with an experimental model with a maximum error of 4% for a steady flow case. Preliminary results using a 0D solver indicate that flow reversal in blood vessels distal to the treated aneurysms could be causing delayed hemorrhages as mentioned above. Future work includes modeling catheters in the reduced-order solvers for modeling stroke treatment scenarios and further analysis of the hemorrhage cases using the 1D solver that would model the physics more accurately as compared to the 0D cases already performed.

Adaptive Modeling for Infrastructure Restoration Following Extreme Events

Yitong Li, College of Engineering and Computing   

Abstract: Infrastructure systems, such as transportation, energy, water, and telecommunication, are vulnerable to extreme events (e.g., hurricanes, wildfires, and severe storms). Following extreme events, the rapidly changing environment continuously causes infrastructure damage (e.g., highway inundation, power outage, and water pipeline damage) that impacts community lifelines and hamper emergency response, and thus, efficient infrastructure restoration is essential. The goal of this research is to facilitate the management of infrastructure systems to build resilience in the face of extreme events. To achieve this goal, this research proposes an adaptive data-driven modeling framework that connects the physical and organizational dimensions during infrastructure restoration. The proposed framework quantitatively connects physical and organizational dimensions through deriving models that link system, component, management, and response perspectives. The derived models inventively integrate emerging big-data and Bayesian statistics to derive reliable results by incorporating uncertainties associated with small data, and to achieve the dynamic result updating as new information becomes available. During infrastructure restoration, the proposed framework provides solutions that enable decision-makers to efficiently identify damaged infrastructure components, reliably measure system performance, perform real-time control of the restoration progress, and quickly assign responsible stakeholders to targeted restoration operations. The knowledge derived from the research serves as an essential step to streamline the analysis infrastructure restoration process, thereby facilitating decision-makers to efficiently adjust plans and resource allocations.

International Baccalaureate Teachers’ Perceptions of Global Competence Education

Abby Dennison, College of Education and Human Development

Abstract: Globalization has created both opportunities and challenges in the educational specter. Students need to be prepared to communicate, empathize, understand, and take action in order to be productive and effective global citizens, and global competency education serves as one solution.  International baccalaureate (IB) teachers strive to internationalize their curriculum and practices using elements of global competency education.  This study aimed to describe IB teachers’ understandings of global competency education in their classrooms. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with IB teachers and then coded and analyzed for themes. The findings revealed that teacher’s backgrounds influenced their understanding of global competency and their attitudes toward it. In key responses, only two aspects of global competency education per Asia Society/OECD framework were emphasized by all teachers, and two respondents noted issues of equity and diversity. This research serves to address some of the gaps of teachers’ understandings of global competency. Implications include a streamlining of IB and global competency framework and additional teacher professional development of deficient global competency constructs.

Exploring Digital Recruitment for Student-Focused Organizations and Activities at GMU 

Ashish Hingle and Rafeef Baamer, College of Engineering and Computing

Abstract: The research objective of this project is to explore student digital recruitment efforts at George Mason University (GMU). As many higher-education institutions switched to online learning in 2020 in response to the COVID pandemic, student-focused organizations relied heavily on online engagement methods to recruit and retain students in organizations across campus. Where groups could recruit for meetings, events, and workshops by physically setting up a table at one of the busier campus walkways before the lockdowns, this was no longer possible with concern for the health and safety of the campus community. Although many organizations were already recruiting online, this type of recruitment became the primary means for organizations to encourage participation and membership. Therefore, it warrants a better understanding of the platforms students and organizations use to support these activities. This project explores two online community recruitment and engagement platforms currently used at George Mason University: Mason 360 and Twitter. Our overall research question was, how do organizations at GMU engage with students through online recruitment efforts on these platforms? We collected data from both platforms related to student-focused recruitment to address this question. We used topic modeling, phrase spotting, and event diversity metrics to analyze these datasets and better understand the characteristics of online recruitment in the GMU micro-environment. Our findings indicate that different types of organizations use each platform for recruitment, and there is some diversity among the type of events advertised on each platform. Additionally, we outlined a set of recommendations for student-focused digital recruitment.

The Epidemiology of Injuries in Middle School Girls Basketball Between the 2015/16 and 2019/20 School Years

Samantha Hacherl, College of Education and Human Development

Abstract: Context: Limited research describes injuries among players at the earliest levels of organized basketball. The purpose of this study is to describe the epidemiology of injuries in middle school girls’ basketball. Methods: Certified athletic trainers collected injury and athlete exposure (AE) data for all events for the 16 school-sponsored girls’ basketball teams. Injuries were classified as non-time loss (NTL; <24 hours participation restriction) and time loss (TL; ≥24 hours participation restriction). AE was defined as one athlete participating in game or practice. Injury frequencies and rates (IRs) were calculated. Injury rate ratios (IRR) with 95% Cis compared IRs between events. Results: Overall, 1,033 injuries were observed (IR=27.84/1000AE; 95% CI: 26.14-29.54) during 37,107 AEs. Girls were more likely to sustain an injury during games (n=406; IR=36.67; 95% CI:33.11-40.24) than practices (n=627; IR=24.08; 95% CI:22.20-25.97; IRR=1.9, 95% CI:1.45-3.71). There was a greater proportion of NTL (n=770, 74.5%) than TL injuries (n=260, 25.2%). The IR for TL injuries was greater during games than practices (10.57 versus 5.49/1000AEs; IRR=1.93; 95% CI:1.12-11.51). Conclusions: Middle school girls’ basketball players experienced higher injury rates than that of their high school and collegiate counterparts. girls were 2 times more likely to sustain an injury during a game than a practice.  Although, most injuries resulted in NTL, we also observed the rate of TL injuries to be higher than previously reported. Collectively, these findings reinforce the importance of onsite AT services within middle school sport settings.

Novel technology for “in situ” controlled drug release for cancer immunotherapy

Dlal Baljoon, College of Science

Abstract: Cancer immunotherapy has shown impressive results in treating different cancer types such as melanoma and lung cancer, but still is less effective for breast cancer. Many efforts have been developed to increase the therapeutic options for breast cancer. Anti-Programmed Death Ligand (anti-PD-L1) therapies which prevent immune suppression to the tumor and have shown promising results, however for triple negative breast cancer efficacy has been limited (1, 2). We developed a new delivery strategy for TNBC by creating a novel biomaterial for “in situ” drug delivery to stimulate the immune recognition and block the cancer-immune suppression. A non-imbibing  (NYLON 6) was functionalized with Cibacron blue F3GA, loaded with an immune cell chemoattractant CXCL9, and anti-PD-L1 antibody , nivolumab,  to determine their ability to reduce tumor burden in a syngeneic mouse model. The association/ dissociation kinetics of the biomaterial with CXCL9 and Anti-PDL1 was determined in vitro and showed the proteins were slowly released over 48 hours. Preliminary results showed in BALB/c mice that the tumor size became smaller after implanting the drug loaded threads after 24 hr treatment. Tissue samples were collected for immunohistochemistry and mass spectrometry analysis to investigate the proteome of mouse tissues. In conclusion, we have developed and validated a novel biomaterial for in situ drug delivery. Future work is needed to determine the bioactivity of the released drug, and optimize the nylon binding conditions. If successful, this biomaterial enables animal model experiments where the effect of a drug can be studied ‘in vivo’ with precise topological information.

Application of Further Evidence-Based Neural Properties to Existing Simulations of Rodent Spatial Navigation

Nate Sutton, College of Engineering and Computing

Abstract: New levels of biological realism can be attained by fusing together existing theoretical models of rodent spatial navigation cognition with greater degrees of evidence-based neural properties data than they currently have. Hippocampome.org provides a key resource for retrieving such evidence. The use of high-performance computing (HPC) further aids in the ability to simulate both large neural network scales and complex neural signaling dynamics. Research in this proposal plans to investigate the ability to translate current theoretical navigation models into lower-level models with the use of Hippocampome.org neural characteristics and HPC. Characteristics will include biophysical properties of neuron types found to exist in appropriate brain subregions, ways neurons process communications between each other, and the directionality that network connections have in signaling. Advantages that can be gained from research into this topic include greater knowledge of spatial navigation in rodents that could translate into understandings of human processes. Diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, can be particularly affected by spatial navigation learning and memory issues. Insights found through this research can contribute to better knowledge of navigation and potentially lead to new disorder detection or intervention methods. This work could also contribute to understandings of learning and memory mechanics within spatial navigation which may generalize to better knowledge about those topics in other cognitive functions.

Teacher Effectiveness Training Model:  How do SEL classroom management strategies impact students’ behavior and self-awareness?

Rachel Knowles, College of Education and Human Development

Abstract: All participants in this study were a part of the Multinational Conservatory at Louis Clark Middle School. There were a total of 40 participants in this research project, including teachers and students. The focus of this project was to determine whether S.E.L (social emotional learning) based classroom management strategies impacted students’ behavior and social emotional development. This project focused on one specific aspect of social emotional development, which was self-awareness. To answer this question, I implemented strategies from the Teacher Effectiveness Training model. (T.E.T) Within this seven-week study, I implemented I-Messages, Behavior Window, Method III Conflict Resolution, as well as established an enriched classroom environment and positive teacher-student relationship. My data collection included exit tickets, interviews, pre- and post-behavior surveys, behavior reflections, the school’s behavior referral logs, and observation notes. In the end, this research project showed that the strategies from T.E.T didn’t drastically change the students’ behavior but may have impacted their level of self-awareness.

The Heterogeneous Distribution of Non-coresident Family Across Metropolitan Areas in the United States

Unchitta Kan, College of Science

Abstract: It is well-known that adults in the United States often live close to family members such as parents and siblings. However, a gap in the literature is how this proximity varies between different geographic areas. In this study, we analyze large-scale data from the American Time Use Survey, conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, to study the heterogeneity in the proximity to and availability of non-coresident family across 258 different metropolitan areas in the United States. We find surprising quantitative evidence that in larger metropolitan areas, individuals on average tend to have lower chances of having family members nearby as well as spend less time with them if they are available. We perform further spatial analyses to identify clusters of high and low average time with non-coresident family across the country. Finally, we observe that, across the board (i.e., nationally), individuals who spend more time with non-coresident family tend to spend less combined time with other non-coresident social contacts such as friends and co-workers. At the metropolitan level, areas where individuals collectively spend more time with non-coresident family on average also see lower average friend and co-worker combined social time. Implications of our findings range from social structures of cities, economics of family, epidemic disease spread dynamics, drivers of relocation, travel patterns, to the creation and tuning of models of population distributions.

Oral Presentations: Session II 

COVID-19 and Society

Merten Hall Room 1203: 1:00 pm – 2:15 pm (20 minutes per  presentation, 15 minutes for Q&A)

Adaptation and use of a postmarket evaluation model for digital contract tracing mHealth tools using observational data

Kevin Cevasco, College of Health and Human Services 

Abstract: Objective: To evaluate the adoption of COVID-19 digital contact tracing (DCT) applications deployed in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic. Case investigation and contact tracing are core public health tools used to interrupt disease transmission. It is unclear whether current DCT applications can supplement understaffed manual contact tracers. Materials and Methods: We conducted an evaluation of COVID-19 digital contact tracing (DCT) applications using the American Psychological Association (APA) App Evaluation Model (AEM) framework. We used data from a nationally representative survey of COVID-19 related behaviors and experiences. Logistic regression analyzed characteristics of segments adopting and interested in DCT applications. Results: A total of 17.4% (n=490) of the study population reported adopting a DCT application, 24.7% (n=697) reported interest, and 58.0% (n=1637) were not interested. Younger, high income, and uninsured individuals were more likely to adopt a DCT application. In contrast, people in fair to poor health were interested in DCT applications but did not adopt them. Application adoption was positively associated with visiting friends and family outside the home, not wearing masks, and adopters thinking they have or had COVID-19. Discussion: Overall, a small segment of the population adopted DCT applications. Consequently, these applications may not be effective in protecting adopter’s friends and family from their maskless contacts outside the home given low adoption rates and DCT technology false negative detection issues.

Coexistence of Globalization and Nationalism in the Olympic Games — A Case Study of Tokyo 2020 

Zikun Li, College of Education and Human Development 

Abstract: The modern Olympic Games are one of the grandest global mega-media events. Although many scholars are asserting that the COVID-19 pandemic has been driving the world economy to retreat from global economic integration and accelerating the process of deglobalization in many countries, the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics still attracted a total of 11,091 athletes from 206 countries participating and competing, which manifested the connected and interdependent world under the irreversible influences of globalization. On the flip side, despite of the Olympic Truce inviting countries to pause conflicts and pledge to build “a peaceful and better world through sport and Olympic ideal”, nationalism-fueled competition is still the most salient characteristic that makes the Olympics enduring. Hosting the Olympics in Asia has historically been about nationalism and pride, and it is no exception for Japan. Tokyo 2020 was not a simply international sporting event, instead, it was a symbol telling the world that “Japan is back” after years of economic ossification and turmoil from natural disasters. This research essay took Tokyo 2020 as the case to examine the distinctive mechanism through which globalization and nationalism are woven into the fabric of the Olympic Games in a coexistent and tensional manner. In the conclusion, the research argued that the vitality of the Olympics needs both: as globalization endows the Olympics the unparallel capacity to attract capital, labor, and ideas at the global level, and nationalism is the root cause of its enduring attractiveness.

“We Need Our Kids Back in School”: The 2018 West Virginia Teachers Strike and the Crisis of Public Education in the Age of the Pandemic 

Severin Mueller, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Abstract: In March of 2018, as he announced the agreement between union leadership and state legislators on an end to a headline-making nine-day statewide strike of teachers and school employees, West Virginia governor Jim Justice expressed: “We need our kids back in school. We need our teachers back in school.” In hindsight, after a nearly two-year fight of school workers for proper public health measures against the threats posed by a potentially deadly or debilitating virus and unsafe reopening-policies alike, this statement appears particularly ominous. What is more, the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic have thrown into relief the political-economic centrality of public education amidst an aggregate of too big to fail, or, essential lines of work. The 2018 West Virginia teachers strike, triggered by the insufferable infringement of the rights to health care and a decent standard of living at the backend of decades of effective decline of wages and cuts in public expenditure, thus can be seen as a warning to the widespread deficiencies exposed in the working conditions of the education system, as public schools have increasingly taken on the character of battlegrounds in the present age of the pandemic. In this presentation, I aim to contextualize the growing levels of social unrest expressed in struggles for the defense of democratic rights and the values of education by way of highlighting, through the lens of West Virginian history, against the background of the unresolved contradictions of rising social inequality substantially worsened by the arrival of SARS-CoV-2.

Public Health and Society 

Merten Hall Room 1204: 1:00 pm – 2:15 pm (15 minutes per presentation, 15 minutes for Q&A)

A Mixed Methods Study of Factors Associated with HPV Vaccine Uptake Among Male College Students 

Maha Hassan, College of Health and Human Services

Abstract: Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the US. The prevalence of oral HPV infections in the US is significantly higher among males than females (11.5% vs 3% respectively). Males also have higher rates of genital HPV infections than females (45.2% and 39.9%, respectively). Despite these statistics, uptake of the HPV vaccine among males between the ages of 18 and 26 remains very low. Therefore, more research is needed to focus on increasing the update of the 9vHPV vaccine among men. The goal of this study is to identify factors that are associated with HPV vaccine uptake among male college students. We conducted a convergent parallel mixed methods study with male college students (n = 134). In the qualitative phase of the study, semi-structure interviews were conducted with a subsample (n=12) of the quantitative phase participants. The interviews were aimed at developing a deeper understanding of the sociodemographic, behavioral, and cultural factors associated with uptake of the HPV vaccine among male college students. The theory of planned behavior was used as the theoretical framework for the interview guide. The qualitative data from the interview transcripts will be analyzed using an iterative, inductive coding process. The results of the study will be used to inform the development of a health promotion intervention aimed at increasing HPV vaccine uptake among male college students.

Mealtimes are opportunities for emotion-focused teaching in preschool

Emma Casey, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Abstract: Substantial time in the preschool day is dedicated to mealtimes but are not commonly leveraged as teaching opportunities. Mealtimes are unique, social, semi-structured times where teachers may support emotion development through emotion-focused teaching (EFT; i.e., how a teacher models, responds to, and instructs about emotions). This study uses video observations to describe EFT during mealtimes. Teachers (N=47), primarily LatinX and White females, from 17 preschool classrooms from four centers in two large metropolitan areas were included in the study. Video footage from 163 mealtimes (including breakfast, snack, and lunch) was collected and rated for EFT quality via The EMOtion TEaching Rating Scale (Zinsser et al., 2021). Common mealtime incidents (such as when a child spills or plays with utensils dangerously) that may be opportunities for EFT have been identified via the Mealtime Observation Childcare Checklist (Dev et al., 2020) and rater observation. Data analysis is underway. This study will 1) quantitatively describe EFT during mealtimes; 2) qualitatively describe the mealtime incidents that may be opportunities for EFT via vignettes of observed exemplars of high- and low-quality EFT that occurred during the incidents; and 3) will provide recommendations for how to improve EFT at mealtimes. This work has the potential to inform broader guidance for teachers in supporting emotional development throughout the day.

The United States Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) role in creating quality care for limited-english proficiency (LEP) patients

Syreen Goulmamine, College of Health and Human Services

Abstract: Language is a crucial instrument in communicating needs effectively in any society. Studies have shown limited-English proficient (LEP) patients experience poor quality of care, higher medical errors, and worse clinical outcomes when compared to their English-proficient counterparts (Green&Nze, 2017). With just under 10 percent of the US population identifying as LEP, the risk for adverse events due to language barriers makes poor communication a principal concern (AHRQ, 2020). The responsibility of creating and implementing programs to assist with these issues lies with stakeholders, including hospitals, clinicians, and community organizations directly involved with LEP patients. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regulations mandate that institutions receiving federal financial assistance from HHS should provide language services to individuals with LEP when it is required (OCR, 2007). However, the vagueness of HHS recommendations has provided limited guidance to stakeholders. We analyze the HHS Health Access Plan last published in 2013. Our findings show that remaining with the status quo will result in wasteful federal spending and continued mediocre care. In addition, minor edits to the current Health Access Plan might put temporary fixes in place but not long-term solutions. New policy recommendations could be beneficial if funding, support, and trust from the American people can be attained in the climate of the 21st century. Overall, our primary goal is securing equitable and quality care for LEP patients. Our suggestions can reduce overall spending by the US and assist in securing a healthier population in the US.

Disparities in Adherence to Cervical Cancer Screening among Women with disabilities by Race/ethnicity in the United States

Orji Amarachukwu, College of Health and Human Services

Abstract: Given the established racial disparity in cervical cancer screening and the association between disability and poorer adherence to cervical cancer screening in previous studies. The purpose of this study is to examine the racial/ethnic differences in adherence to cervical cancer screening through self-reported Pap testing among women with disability, and to determine which disability type is more likely to predict lower adherence to cervical cancer screening guidelines. Data will be obtained from (2016, 2018, and 2020) of the Behavioral Risk Factor and Surveillance System (n = 307,142). The study population will include women aged 21–65 years old, stratified by self-reported disability status. The primary outcome measure is cervical cancer screening behavior in the last 3 years. Factors found in earlier research to be associated with disability and uptake of Pap tests will be included in this study as predictor variables: education attainment, marital status, income, health insurance, behavioral factors (smoking, self-reported health status, routine health checkup), and chronic health conditions (obesity, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cardiovascular disease). Multivariate logistic regression models will be used to identify factors that predict adherence to cervical cancer screening. We hypothesize that race/ethnicity will have a statistically significant relationship with adherence to cervical cancer screening guidelines. The results from this study will fill in current gaps about differences in racial/ethnic disparities in cervical cancer screening among women with disability and serve as critical contributions for this population so that appropriate initiatives to increase their adherence to cervical cancer screening guidelines may be developed.

Oral Presentations: Session III 

Society in a Global Arena 

Merten Hall Room 1202: 2:30 pm – 3:45 pm (15 minutes per presentation, 15 minutes for Q&A)

Development-induced displacement and resettlement: Encounter of realities, histories, and cultures

Judith L. Mane, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Abstract: Development-induced displacement in the global south have produced various outcomes which are differently perceived by groups of people. While official discourses usually describe the impacts of a project as positive, accounts from those affected paint another reality. In this paper I analyze the contrast of successful infrastructure construction and community-perceived outcomes using the case of the World Bank-funded Dakar-Diamnadio Toll highway (DDTH) Project in Republic of Senegal in West Africa. This question guides the analysis: beyond the officially acclaimed socio-economic benefits of the DDTH how do the displaced individuals describe the impacts of the highway on their social and economic livelihoods? I combine the project literature from the World Bank and other funding institutions, with interviews data community members and Government officials and then compares the different discourses around the highway’s outcomes. The results show disconnected levels of perceptions in the framework of a development project setting, which shape actors’ outcomes assessments. This study portrays the development project as an encounter of realities, histories, and cultures of which participants appear to be unaware. The underlying principles of this encounter or its frameworks bears intrinsic conflicts and a power structure under the disguise of a deceitful and discursive common ground, which in turn tends to predict the way in which each actor describes the outcome of the project overtime. The awareness of a development project setup with its de facto disharmonies, conflicts, and power dynamics between the participants, is important for researchers and development scholars to explore as a North-South interaction.

Ethnic Identity and the Prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation in Africa

Aisha Yusuf, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Abstract: How do traditional ethnic practices and experiences influence the rate of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) over time? Can the high and low trends of FGM be linked to pre-industrial characteristics associated with ethnic groups? Motivated by a large amount of literature that suggests that past events affect gender norms, I explore how deeply-entrenched ethnic norms determine FGM today. Using both ethnographic and contemporary survey data for over 130,000 women across 9 African countries, I find evidence that (i) there is a positive correlation between ethnic identity and FGM; (ii) FGM rates among women whose ancestors relied on pastoralism and plow agriculture has declined across birth cohorts; (iii) FGM rates are rising among women from ethnic societies with historically loose kinship structures and norms regarding premarital sexual behavior.

A Concept of Inter-Societal Relations

Max Rollins, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Abstract: Social science is an exercise in finding the optimal frame of analysis to illustrate the phenomena being researched. Finding the right frame can be a challenge when attempting to explain global phenomena; where meaningful events may occur because of the act of one individual or of a million, and interlocking webs of cultural and social institutions range in scope from the local to the transnational. Contemporary theoretical families of global change, International Relations and Worlds-System Analysis are lacking as they either over privilege the administrative cohesive apparatus of the state, or reduce societies out of the analysis and instead focus on inter-regional and transnational division of labor and resource flows. There is a need for a framework of global change that allows for the retention of non-state societies as a unit of analysis, while retaining the ability to analyze larger global processes and phenomena. This work proposes a theory of Inter-Societal Relations which explores the interactions of society’s situation within a milieu of meta-societal institutions. The theory proposes that meta-societal institutions, which both emerge from, constrain, and channel societies, are the primary lens through which global change should be observed. The advantage of such a framework is that it retains the ability to analyze both large and small societies, while at the same time broader geopolitical and economic phenomena. The paper illustrates this framework through an exploration of the history of East and High Asian societies (Tibetan Plateau, Mongolian Plateau, and Tarim Basin).

Diasporic Parents and Schooling: A Palestinian Experience

Jehad Halawani, College of Education and Human Development 

Abstract: Palestinians have experienced displacement at various levels. Some are internally displaced within historic Palestine; either as refugees or have reestablished a life in the West Bank or Gaza, others are culturally, politically, and nationally displaced as they live under the Israeli regime as second-class citizens or residents (Makkawi, 1998), and others scattered around the globe, as refugees or immigrants. The Palestinian exodus started in 1948 when over 700,000 Palestinians extirpated out of their homes and again in 1967 with another 250,000 forced out when Israel expanded to occupy the West Bank, Gaza, the Sinai Peninsula, and the Golan heights (Tessler, 2009). Many Palestinians experienced a series of displacements within their lifetime, making one diaspora not representative of the change happening in their lives (Smith, 1986). This generational exodus has been studied in research mainly from political, cultural, and national identity perspectives. Using individual interviews, this study aims to capture a few Palestinian voices as they reflect on their educational experience growing up and the ways they view their children’s schooling. The research question to be addressed: How do Palestinian parents in the diaspora reflect on, describe, and evaluate both their own K-12 schooling experiences and their children’s? Participants in this study are six Palestinian adults living in three different western countries, the United States, Germany, and New Zealand. They come from different backgrounds. All participants are native Arabic speakers, some are bilingual in Arabic-English. All participants have been raised within a Palestinian household.

Environment and Society
Merten Hall Room 1203: 2:30 pm – 3:45 pm
(20 minutes per presentation, 15 minutes for Q&A)

Socioeconomic Impacts of Payment for Ecosystem Services model in Royal Chitwan National Park’s Buffer Zone Community Forests on Local Community Development

Olga Cheltsova, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Abstract: This research project is aimed to analyze a specific location of Baghmara Buffer Zone Community Forest in Royal Chitwan National Park and how the community-park relationship impacts both the conservation and development, such as poaching of a one-horned rhinoceros or the indigenous livelihoods. The goal is to analyze the existing models that are implemented in Nepal, such as Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) schemes, Compensation Programs for Livestock Depredation by Wildlife, Integrated Conservation and Development Projects (ICDPs), and Buffer Zone management. The study aims to find out opportunities for a more integrative conservation approach which would take economic and social factors into consideration. It will assess the long term conservation efforts and the potential associated costs for the local communities. The predicted outcome of the study, based on existing research, is a data-based portfolio for how ecosystem management and people’s livelihoods can coexist in a justified manner that benefits both. The study aims to provide place-based qualitative and quantitative geospatial data for environmental and social mapping, contributing to the community resilience and climate adaptation in Chitwan’s buffer zones. Geo-tagged qualitative information  would help to organize or construct databases. Such data collection would also provide an informational baseline for conservation and development practitioners in a variety of conservation areas across the borders.

The Mysticete Mystery: Combining Disparate Phylogenetic Matrices to Assess the Relationships of Early Baleen Whales

Nickolas Brand, College of Science

Abstract: Extant baleen whales lack teeth and possess baleen, though the oldest members of the group possessed teeth. Baleen rarely fossilizes and there is no commonly accepted method of determining whether a fossil cetacean possessed baleen. Differing hypotheses have suggested that baleen may have co-occured with teeth or alternatively evolved after a toothless stage, and both models have been supported by recent studies. Resolution to this problem is rendered more complex by a lack of understanding of the evolutionary relationships between the stem mysticetes and their relatives. Novel basal mysticete genera have been described rapidly over the last decade, and their relationships have been tested primarily in either of two morphological phylogenetic datasets. These two matrices are here combined into a single dataset to clarify these relationships. Two new characters were added and 101 characters were removed as duplicates. The basal mysticete Coronodon havensteini, present in only one of the starting datasets, was coded fully into the matrix. The final result is the largest morphological phylogenetic dataset of extant and extinct mysticetes with 535 total characters across 126 operative taxonomic units (OTUs), of which sixty were exclusive to either starting matrix. The matrix was analyzed in PAUP using a random stepwise addition heuristic search of 500 billion rearrangements of the best tree over 15 replicates. The clades Mysticeti and Aetiocetidae are both recovered as monophyletic and Borealodon is recovered in a monophyletic clade with Mammalodontidae. The ChM mysticetes are placed as the basalmost mysticetes while Coronodon and Llanocetus are closely allied.

Learning from the Path: Examining Land-Use within Environmental and Development Sociology

Blake Vullo, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Abstract: This presentation investigates the potential benefits of strengthening the ties between environmental sociology and the sociology of development. Specifically, this work aims to interrogate popular and lasting theories within environmental sociology—e.g., ecological modernization theory, central place theories, and the treadmill of production—with the modernization theories of development. By threshing out the synergistic merits and utilities of these seemingly disparate sociologies, there is an intention to provide a robust contemplation of how they can be of service to different, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research designs and frameworks that concern the continually evolving dynamics of land-use while prompting the questions that guide current practices involved in natural resource partitioning. In examination of both the economic and political drivers that have spanned multiple waves of historical turmoil and change across various nation-states within the nineteenth and early twentieth century, this presentation intends to enrich and supplement existing theoretical frameworks towards the future of land-use changes in acknowledgment of climate change, “the development project,” and growing economic inequality.

A Look into Social Symbolism
Merten Hall Room 1204:  2:30 pm – 3:45 pm
(20 minutes per presentation, 15 minutes for Q&A)

Ursula K. Le Guin’s Anarchist Anthropology

David Heilbrun, College of Humanities and Social Sciences 

Abstract: Science fiction author Ursula K. Le Guin is known for her portrayal of an anarchist society in her 1974 novel The Dispossessed. But Le Guin’s anarchist vision extends beyond this one novel. In this presentation, I will examine Le Guin’s 1984 novel Always Coming Home and 1982 essay “A Non-Euclidean View of California as a Cold Place to Be” as part of a larger anarchist, utopian project in her fiction. To understand Le Guin’s anarchist fictions, I draw upon the theories of the late David Graeber. In his 2004 book Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology, Graeber calls for a radical anthropology that would question dominant assumptions about the state and capitalism and expand our view of what human societies can be. Always Coming Home is presented as a fictional anthropology of the Kesh people, drawing upon Le Guin’s experiences growing up in Northern California and the work of her anthropologist father, Alfred Kroeber. Like what Graber does with anthropology, Le Guin uses her science fiction to critique our present while presenting utopian possibilities for the future. Her humanism is based on a radical view of human nature as open to possibility and renegotiation. By looking at these works through the lens of anarchist anthropology, we can come to a better understanding of the radical potential of science fiction to imagine alternative worlds.

Public Symbols and Voting Behavior: Confederate Symbols in the Post-Reconstruction South

Alexander Taylor, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Abstract: Public symbols are a frequent sight in large cities and small towns alike. Who and what these symbols honor are not dictated by chance, but rather are consciously chosen with a public purpose in mind. They create a “shared knowledge” in their communities, and promote specific values. These values are upstream from social, political, and economic activity, and influence human behavior. Here, I investigate the impact of public symbols on political behavior. Specifically, I explore the impact of Confederate symbols on voting behavior in the Post-Reconstruction South. I find that counties that dedicated public Confederate symbols during this period saw a significant increase in the percentage of voters voting for Democratic candidates in congressional elections. This is robust to accounting for restrictive voting laws passed during this era, lynchings that may have depressed Republican turnout, and the racial makeup of the county.

Atelophobia, Perfectionism and the Fear of Failing in Disney’s Encanto

Munira Mutmainna, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Abstract: In the recent decades, there has been a rise in the nature of themes portrayed in American television and other media, including the animation movies industry. By examining Disney’s animation movie Encanto (2021), this paper seeks to explore specific mental health issues reflected through several characters of the movie. Through content analysis, it addresses the following research question: How do the characters in Encanto exhibit traits of atelophobia, perfectionism and the fear of failing? Walt Disney Animation Studio is popular worldwide for its movies that appeal to the youth and the adults alike. Their more recent offerings, especially post-2000, address several issues relevant to society and the audience. These movies generally have common tropes such as the protagonist’s journey, their realization of self-worth, them saving the day and so on, the driving themes being more than romantic love or a prince and a princess. Disney’s latest animation movie, Encanto (2021), contributes further to this trend. Television and media have the potential to deeply impact the psyche of its audience and contribute to the shaping of their identities. Since the initial research for this paper did not generate any significant scholarship in the area of atelophobia, perfectionism and fear of failing in popular culture, this paper aims to highlight how these mental health issues influence many of the characters’ behavior and actions in Encanto, much like people in real life, and how popular culture can be integrated in classrooms for mental health education for students.

Prosecutorial Discretionary Power Through the Lens of Institutional Logics and Legal Endogeneity Theory

Clayton Drummond and Suraiya Shammi, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Abstract: U.S. prosecutors possess immense power within the criminal legal system. Their duties are pivotal in day-to-day legal processing, from deciding which cases will be declined for prosecution to making recommendations on sentence length or post-incarceration release. Yet, there are few mechanisms for oversight of their undisputed, often unchecked power. Research has largely shown that prosecutorial discretion lacks the accountability and clarity merited by their actions while maintaining civil protections through absolute and qualified immunity. In this paper, we examine the practice of prosecutorial discretionary power and underlying issues from a micro-level perspective. The purpose of this paper is to further explore how prosecutors operate within organizations through the theoretical lens of legal endogeneity and institutional logics. As a final step, we pose implications and solutions using both organizational models through an accountability model. Ultimately, this model is driven by organizational control (i.e., institutional logics) and symbolic compliance to regulatory checks (i.e., legal ambiguity). The theoretical application explored in this paper has merit for advancing the knowledge on prosecutorial behavior and future reform.

Three-Minute Thesis® (3MT) Competition Finalists (in order of appearance) 

Merten Hall Room 1200: 4:30 pm – 5:45 pm

Ultrasound Based Measures of Muscle Fatigue and Recovery After Electrical Stimulation

Joseph Majdi, College of Engineering and Computing

Subsurface Transport and Migration of Per-polyflouroalkyl Substances through Landfill Liner Systems

Aamir Ahmad, College of Engineering and Computing

Ethnic Identity and the Prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation

Aisha I Yusuf, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

The sociocultural perception of climate change and its effects on maternal and prenatal health outcomes among Nigerian women, West Africa 

Adebanke Loveth Adebayo, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

When Job Demands Undermine Recovery Experiences: Unpacking the Recovery Paradox 

Carol M Wong, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

The Effect of Overground Locomotor Training on Walking Turns in Parkinson’s Disease 

Randy Jamil Pugh, College of Health and Human Services

Understanding the relation between sexual identity, social rejection, and suicidal ideation using a multimethod approach 

Roberto Lopez, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Addressing Analytical Challenges in Endogenous Peptide Identification 

Amy Carfagno, College of Science

Synthesis and Characterization of Novel Polar Metallic Oxides, Intermetallics and Thermoelectrics Callista M Skaggs, College of Science

The Use of Behavior-based Management in Avian Reintroduction Science 

Jessica Roberts, College of Science

Network Analysis of Biological Systems: Adaptation and Inferring Dynamics

Tracey G Oellerich, College of Science

Commanding Military Adaptation: Explaining Operational-Tactical Change in Combined Arms Warfare

Matt Fay, Schar School of Policy and Government  

Three-Minute Thesis® (3MT) Competition Judges

Koko Ives

Koko Ives is the Manager of the Bank Secrecy Act / Anti-Money Laundering (BSA/AML) Section in the Supervision and Regulation Division at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. She oversees the development of supervisory policy, guidance, and rulemakings.   Ms. Ives participates in interagency and industry groups to develop and communicate BSA/AML policy guidance for financial institutions and represents the Federal Reserve domestically and internationally. Before joining the Board, Ms. Ives served as the Deputy Assistant Director of the Office of Regulatory Policy at the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, from 2007 – 2012.  Prior to joining FinCEN, she spent more than 10 years as an attorney focusing on issues related to the banking industry. Ms. Ives is a graduate of Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law and St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland.

Robert Duncan, PhD

Robert C. Duncan received his education at the University of Maryland, College Park, BS, MS and PhD. After a post-doctoral fellowship at the National Cancer Institute, he joined the FDA Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER) where in a 20-year career, advanced to a Principal Investigator and Regulatory Reviewer. His broad experience includes over 25 years of research encompassing virology, bacteriology, parasitology, cell biology and new technology for pathogen detection. He has published over 50 peer reviewed papers in these fields. He is an internationally recognized expert in the area of blood donor screening for protozoan parasites having chaired FDA committees for product license review, written FDA policy documents and served on World Health Organization standards committees.

Christopher DiTeresi, PhD

Christopher DiTeresi is the Director for Research Integrity at George Mason University, where he leads Mason’s Responsible Conduct of Research and Conflict of Interest programs. He is also University Affiliate Faculty in the Department of Philosophy, where he was an Assistant Professor from 2010-2019. Chris holds a PhD in Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science, a MA in Philosophy, and a MS in Developmental Biology, all from the University of Chicago. Chris collaborates with units and researchers across Mason to foster integrity and to cultivate ethics and social responsibility in Mason’s thriving research culture.

Bethany M. Usher, PhD

Dr. Bethany M. Usher, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education at George Mason University, works in partnership with the Mason Community to create transformative and inclusive undergraduate experiences through the Mason Core, Undergraduate Council, and the Curriculum Impact Grants. Undergraduate Education also supports the students through the Office of Academic Advising, Office of Fellowships, OSCAR, and CECIL. Dr. Usher established Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities, and Research (OSCAR), and earlier served as Associate Director of the Center for Teaching and Faculty Excellence (now Stearn’s Center for Teaching and Learning). Dr Usher is a biological anthropologist, and her research informs her popular undergraduate and graduate courses “Humans, disease, and death” and “Food and human evolution.”

Candace Parham Lacayo, PhD

Candace Parham Lacayo is an Assistant Professor and Clinical Education Coordinator of the George Mason University Master of Science in Athletic Training Program. She is also the creator and Program Coordinator of the Bolstering Excellence in Athletic Training Students (BEATS) Mentoring Program for ethnically diverse athletic training students. She earned her Doctor of Philosophy in Education and Master of Science in Exercise, Fitness, and Health Promotion degrees from George Mason University. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Physical Education from the University of Virginia. Dr. Lacayo’s research interests are cultural competence in healthcare, racial and ethnic health disparities, microaggressions, and retention of students of color. She is an active member of the Fairfax County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.