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Celebration of Learning 2021 panel presentations by major, I-Z

Here is a list of pre-recorded panel presentations from Celebration of Learning 2021 by major, I-Z. See also a list of panels from majors A-H.


Daniel Zwiener, Mattew Corke, Ngoc Nguyen and Emmanuel Yeboah: Famous Impossibilities

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Advisor: Dr. Stacey Rodman

Abstract: There are several easily described tasks that mathematicians have wrestled with for thousands of years, attacking again and again only to fail. By applying modern mathematical techniques four of these tasks have been proven to be impossible. These are doubling a cube, squaring a circle, trisecting an angle and finding a formula for the roots of a degree five polynomial. During our presentation we will explore the statements and history of these problems, concluding with proofs of why they are impossible.

Multimedia Journalism and Mass Communication

Olivia Smith: Don’t be Deceived: The Importance of Number Literacy

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Advisor: Dr. Stacey Rodman

Abstract: Numbers appear in all forms of communication, so why not make the most out of writing about them? The taboo intersection of numbers and writing is crucial for both STEM and Humanities fields in developing effective written communication.

This presentation walks through common mistakes in both reading and writing about numbers. Using published examples to highlight both excellent and poor examples of written numbers, it focuses on primary mistakes in writing, including how to detect missing information/identifiers, and how to avoid being misled by deceptive charts and graphs. The ideas presented are a continuation of the conversation started by Jane Elisabeth Miller in her book The Chicago Guide to Writing about Numbers.


Teresa Mckay and Kalli Majewski: The Effect of Disgust on Directed Forgetting

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Advisor: Dr. Daniel Corts

Abstract: Proactive Interference (PI) occurs when learning new information becomes difficult due to the amount already learned. In daily life, we either fail to encode or forget most information we encounter; thereby minimizing PI. To study these processes, researchers use directed forgetting methods in which they present individual stimuli to participants followed by an instruction to remember or forget. This research shows that the ability to selectively forget is a viable explanation for how we prevent PI in everyday experience. The current project examines what happens when people encounter information that is difficult to ignore or forget, specifically images that trigger disgust.

Knowles et al. (2019) proposed that disgust stimuli affect cognitive processing through memory bias, interpretation bias, expectancy bias, and attentional bias. We hypothesize that disgust-related visual stimuli will elicit these biases, interfering with the ability to selectively ignore or forget information presented in the same context; that is, a neutral memory item will be difficult to forget if it is paired and presented simultaneously with a disgust stimulus. Additionally, we will measure electrodermal activity as a measure of reactivity to the images. We expect this to correlate with memory. For stimuli, we will pair neutral words (e.g. truck, ball) with images that provoke disgust or have neutral content. We will minimize semantic association between the images and words. During the trials, individual words will be presented superimposed on an image (e.g. one slide may be the word BALL presented on an image of roadkill). Our study is currently analyzing the results.

Our data collection was cut short by COVID-19, and we ended collection with 25 participants. We will attempt to analyze.

Kalli Majewski: Psychopathological Testing & Creativity

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Advisor: Dr. Ian Harrington, Senior Inquiry project

Abstract: This study explores the possibility of a link between mania in Bipolar Disorder (BD) and creativity. Many well-known artists, musicians, and creators in general have experienced symptoms of or been diagnosed with BD. There is no one measurement or definition of creativity, but the linkage between mania and creativity would be in their associated components.

In a first study, a sample of 119 participants (ages 18+) was recruited using social media to complete an online survey measuring manic tendencies and creativity abilities. Participants were asked to complete 9 surveys assessing Mental Fluidity, Mindfulness, Motivation, Ambition, Racing Thoughts, Mind Wandering, Loosening Associations, and Imagination. A demographic survey was included to collect information on participants such as mental health and hobbies.

Results suggested a positive relationship between high-risk factors for psychosis/personality disorders and (a) existing mental disorders, (b) mind wandering (an associated creativity component), and (c) racing thoughts. These relationships were present within the sample as a whole and were not dependent only on those with a mental health diagnosis. Results are discussed in terms of relationships between hypothesized components to investigate the factors underlying creativity. A continuation of this research that focuses on fewer components is ongoing.


Elyzabeth Sherrell: Disabilities and Society Through the Lens of Nietzsche

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Advisor: Dr. Roman Bonzon, Senior Inquiry project

Abstract: Friedrich Nietzsche believed in a species of humans that would rise above the others. The way that this would occur is by returning to the concepts of Darwinism where those who are best adapted will survive and the others will not.

He believes that God is dead, and with him ought to be our beliefs about equality. He thinks we should let those who are not well adapted to the environment simply die off so that the new age of humans can arise. One group of people that he thinks are not worth keeping around are those with disabilities.

I will argue that our feelings about equality do not come from God, so we do not have to release them. I will also suggest that people with disabilities may have an important role to play in the coming of a better age for humans as they may have untapped resources we can access by helping to mitigate some of the consequences of their disability. 

Kayley Larson: The Misunderstanding of Free Will Believers on Nietzsche

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Advisor: Dr. Roman Bonzon

Abstract: Friedrich Nietzsche was a German philosopher in the nineteenth century who wrote on topics such as morality, truth, and religion. He is one of the most influential thinkers and has left a lasting impression on philosophy. One of his central ideas is eternal recurrence.

In this paper, I argue that the concept of eternal recurrence, as well as amor fati and character stylization, is misunderstood by free will believers specifically because of their belief in free will. This belief affects how they approach the ideas that Nietzsche presents. In reality, Nietzsche is a determinist and his work should be understood with that in mind. This misunderstanding of free will believers is ultimately due to Christianity.

Will Ford: Truly Loving Your Fate

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Advisor: Dr. Roman Bonzon, Senior Inquiry project

Abstract: German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche spent most of his adult life wrestling with the idea of existential nihilism and how to best avoid its crushing emptiness. He believed in the idea of eternal recurrence; that everything across time and space repeats itself endlessly, including our own lives.

The conclusion one could make from this idea, assuming it to be true, would be that life has no value or meaning since it will eventually occur repeatedly until the end of time. He ultimately concluded that the solution to this problem, as well as the solution to self-improvement, was a psychological mindset that actively sought the value in all things. In his highly influential work The Gay Science, He coined the phrase amor fati, which is Latin for “loving fate,” to describe this phenomenon. While it may not be permanent or easy to obtain, in this essay I set out to prove that it is indeed both possible and worth striving for.

The way I see it, amor fati is an essential component of improving the self. It has the ability to empower a person, endowing him/her with a sense of purpose that makes life worth living. It means surrendering the thought that free will is entirely plausible, but I argue that the thought of free will is already a burden in itself. While amor fati may not be entirely based in reality as we know it, it is far more preferable than to admit the opposite: The pit of nothingness that is existential nihilism.

Physics and Engineering Physics

Joshua Lawrence: Internship experience at Solar Plastics as an engineering intern

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Advisors: Dr. Joshua Dyer, Dr. Nathan Frank, Dr. Robert Keller

Abstract: My experiences as an engineering physics student and an engineering intern at Solar Plastics have further developed my future career skills. My classes have given me a great foundation, and I apply many of the skills taught in my engineering/physics/math courses to many of the projects and jobs I have to complete at work. Whether I have to collect data or solve the torque on a machine arm, my professors and classes have given me the tools to successfully perform these critical and everyday tasks at work.

Since entering Augustana, the STEM professors constantly reminded us how important communication is. My experience has further displayed how vital it is to talk to others and let them know what is going on; it is essential in manufacturing. Collaboration between team members and team departments is crucial for success. Similar to group labs/projects, each member has to be on the same page and put forth the effort and fulfill their assigned duty. Working within a strong and knowledgeable team, having team members with excellent communication skills is vital to success in any project.

My position constantly requires critical thinking and problem solving, which is a theme in STEM classes. Many of the professors I have had will make you look at issues from different viewpoints and often use problem-solving skills when looking at homework or lab questions we have. At work, all us engineers often need to solve daily problems, which calls for detailed examinations.

Kristian Mrazek: Python Modeling of Algol- and RS CVn-Type Binary Star Systems

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Advisor: Dr. William Peterson, Senior Inquiry project

Abstract: This experiment proposes a computer model simulating magnetic fields in Algol- and RS CVn-type binary star systems. These are systems containing a hot primary star and a cooler subgiant companion in so close of an orbit that the primary interacts strongly with the secondary, triggering bursts of magnetic activity on the surface. The model simulates stars as simple dipole magnetic fields with coronal loops that indicate flares and prominences.

A variety of different images generated by the model are then compared to radio images of real Algol- and RS CVn-type binaries, and a best-match algorithm is used to determine the electromagnetic parameters of the system. This means finding the magnetic field structure that best fits what is seen in the real images. The radio images were processed and analyzed using Astronomical Image Processing Software (AIPS).

This experiment helps to develop inquiry skills through reading technical papers on close binary systems, as well as technical skills through programming models in Python and using advanced image-processing software. The results of this research will be presented.

Nicholas Muskopf-Stone and Tatenda Nyoni: Using and Creating Web Applications to Explore Thermal Comfort

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Advisor: Dr. Joshua Dyer, Senior Inquiry project

Abstract: Now more than ever, thermal comfort is important to health, well-being, and productivity. Existing applications that aim to interpret and explain thermal comfort present a barrier of understanding between engineers and their clients. Some tools are too complex for the average client to understand, and others lack enough content to make sense of the engineer’s input.

This research prompted the creation of a web-based thermal comfort tool to bridge the gap between engineers and their clients regarding the discussion of thermal comfort applying to interior spaces.

In this case, thermal comfort is defined as the extent to which people feel comfortable in a setting given its air temperature, mean radiant temperature, air speed, humidity, metabolic rate, clothing level, and solar glare. We used an existing thermal comfort tool as a foundation for our new application and improved upon it with research in solar irradiation, historical weather data, and solar calculations.

We created a tool that could determine if the parameters of an interior space for a given location in the United States would follow the thermal comfort specifications listed in ASHRAE 55-2017 during the location’s hottest day and coldest night of the year. Checking its compatibility with these two extremes guarantees its compliance with the standard in 95% of all scenarios for that location.

This technology will be instrumental in helping both engineers and clients better understand thermal comfort from a holistic perspective.

Georgia Votta: Trace Fitting of a Charged Particle Detector Telescope

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Advisor: Dr. Nathan Frank, Senior Inquiry project

Abstract: Performing experiments on neutron-unbound nuclei requires the detection of a neutron, a charged particle, and in some instances, gamma rays. A charged particle detector telescope has been developed by the MoNA Collaboration to facilitate the detection of these particles in coincidence with one another.

This device has since been installed at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory on the campus of Michigan State University to be used with radioactive beam for these types of experiments. Since its installation, a test run with the telescope was performed at the NSCL in January of 2020. Traces from the detectors that make up the telescope were recorded and analyzed to assess the performance of the device.

In the fall of 2020, the MoNA Collaboration also ran an experiment to study the population of a long-lived isomeric state in 12Be from neutron-unbound states in 13Be. This presentation will focus on the test run data analysis and how that work is being implemented into the ongoing analysis of the fall experiment data.

Political science

TJ Coleman: Bridging the Divide on Campaign Finance Reform

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Advisor: Dr. Dave Dehnel, Senior Inquiry project

Abstract: America's campaign finance system has come under more scrutiny in recent years as we are finally starting to understand the full effects of the 2010 Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court decision. Despite the need for reform becoming more and more evident, public discourse on the topic of campaign finance reform seems to be mired in discord and perpetually unproductive.

I believe this is in part due to the nature of the campaign finance issue where there are both different policy proposals, but also different fundamental values coming into conflict. In this paper I have sought to bridge the divide in values and analyze various policy proposals to find a solution which both meets the need of our campaign finance crisis, while also satisfying the various fundamental values at play in the debate.

Alyssa Twilbeck: The Syrian Crisis: An Outlook For Change

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Advisor: Dr. Mariano Magalhães

Abstract: This project examines several aspects of the conflict in Syria, including responses from the surrounding region. Through discussion regarding the need for humanitarian aid, the refugee crisis, and the development of the domestic conflict into a series of proxy wars involving regional and international actors, this presentation will emphasize strategic steps which can be taken to hopefully bring an end to the crisis moving forward.

Owen Greenfield: The Constitutionality of Current Legal Representation of Low-Income Americans

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Advisor: Dr. Dave Dehnel

Abstract: Legal Representation is an integral part of the American Justice System. It is guaranteed to all American citizens by the Sixth Amendment...or so we're told. Does everyone get their fair day in court? The short answer is no. The American poor frequently are on the short end of the deal in a legal sense, which is particularly impactful since they need to use the American Justice System a lot. They are disadvantaged so much that their current situation in regards to the access and quality of legal representation is unconstitutional.

Shelby Limbach: "Real Policing is Done When the Gun is in the Holster": Evaluating Law Enforcement's Policies for Responding to Mental Health Crises

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Advisor: Dr. Dave Dehnel, Senior Inquiry Project

Abstract: This paper sought to evaluate the current policies and practices surrounding mental health crises, and their overlap with the criminal justice systems, in order to showcase why new alternatives policies should be put into practice in order to better protect and serve citizens of the United States.

Alli Kestler: It's Not EU, It's Nationalism: Brexit, the United Kingdom, and Independence

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Advisor: Dr. Xiaowen Zhang, Senior Inquiry project

Abstract: In the aftermath of Brexit, it is no wonder that the United Kingdom's various regions (Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, and England) are experiencing regional crises. What role does nationalism play in sovereignty? Will Scotland, for instance, hold another referendum to leave the United Kingdom? Nationalism is the name of the game, but with Brexit forging new paths and sovereignty on the line, this presentation seeks to explore the many facets of nationalism within each region of the United Kingdom and their roles in independence movements.


Megan Schlebecker: Augustana campus attitudes and beliefs regarding Title IX and campus climate

Advisor: Dr. Austin Williamson

Abstract: Sexual assault, harassment, and misconduct have been a continuous and significant issue for college campuses, and unfortunately, Augustana is no exception. Due to historical and recent cases, the campus atmosphere has become increasingly hostile and overall the campus is dissatisfied with responses to cases.

There has become a need to evaluate campus attitudes and beliefs regarding the current campus climate related to sexual assault, harassment, and misconduct. Additionally, there is a need to investigate attitudes and beliefs regarding how the campus responds and programs related to these issues, more specifically the campus’s Title IX program as it is the most common resource used.

This project will aim to evaluate these attitudes and beliefs held by Augustana’s campus in order to make improvements in the campus climate and possible processes of campus responses to cases. A mass email will solicit student participation of a well-known campus climate survey called the Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct.

This survey will measure their beliefs of campus attitudes and risks of sexual assault and misconduct, their experiences on campus (including sexual assault and misconduct), and their attitudes towards campus programs for sexual assault survivors, most specifically Title IX. After collecting information from the survey, data will be analyzed for any specific trends or issues related to campus beliefs in order to suggest possible ways of improvement.

This project will be helpful for establishing an understanding of how the campus feels about these issues related to sexual assault, harassment, and misconduct and point the campus and administration to valuable ways for improving feelings of campus safety and well-being.

Faculty-Student Research Collaboration: Psychology

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Lauren Licursi, Haider Ali, Kalli Majewski: Veganism, Motivation, Process, and Identity: Findings from Semi-Structured Interviews

Advisor: Dr. Christopher Moyer

Abstract: Veganism, the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, is a minority position but is increasingly becoming mainstream. We conducted a series of semi-structured interviews with vegans to identify their motivations for becoming vegan, the process by which that occurred, and the ways in which they view veganism as a part of their identity and a reflection of their values. By comparing the findings from numerous individual interviews we endeavor to identify commonalities and themes that will further our understanding of this social movement and guide subsequent research.

Public Health

Bobby Papiernik: Small Text, Big Meaning: Prescription Labels and Patient Health Literacy at Walgreens Pharmacy

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Advisors: Dr. Lena Hann and Noah Ayika (Walgreens Pharmacy), Senior Inquiry project

Abstract: When patients receive a new prescription at Walgreens, the pharmacists consult on how to properly take the medication and communicate what side effects the medication may have. The patients receive so much information that they may forget the instructions the pharmacist gave them. Patients then fail to utilize prescription labels, leading them to take the medication incorrectly.

This Senior Inquiry project used the Social Cognitive Theory to create an illustrated fact sheet to explain each part of a prescription label to improve the health literacy of the patients at Walgreens pharmacy. This illustrated fact sheet informs patients what they can find on their medication prescription labels and improves their health literacy by breaking down and explaining each part of the prescription label. The illustrated fact sheet also shows patients how to utilize the information to help remind them how to take their medication, the warnings the medication has, and how many refills the prescription has. Patients who can read and understand their prescription labels can be more self-sufficient regarding their prescription management and use.

Andrew Goodwin: Athletic Identity: Understanding Mental Health in Student Athletes at Augustana College

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Advisors: Dr. Lena Hann and Mike Zapolski (Augustana College Athletic Director), Senior Inquiry project

Abstract: This Senior Inquiry project collaborated with the Athletics Department at Augustana College to explore the impacts of COVID-19 on student athletes’ mental health due to athletic identity and the shortened and canceled athletic seasons.

Using the Health Belief Model to create educational sessions, this project brought awareness to student athletes on campus, explained the importance of knowing what athletic identity is and what implications come with it regarding public and mental health, and what resources are available for student athletes’ mental health. The educational sessions included presentations to team captains and other student athletes explaining athletic identity and the mental health obstacles that come with it. The presentations aimed to positively impact the student athlete population and increase positive mental health awareness in athletics on campus to ensure a healthier student athlete population.

Alison Ng: Why Water? Addressing the Gender Disparity to Increase Interest in the Water Industry for Her2O™ International

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Advisors: Dr. Lena Hann and Brianna Huber (Her2O™ International), Senior Inquiry project

Abstract: Around the world, gender disparity in the workplace is a major concern and disproportionately affects women, including those in the water industry. Less than one in five water industry workers are women and on average, women make up only 18% of the workforce in water utilities. Gender equity provides business, economic, and social benefits, and a more diverse workforce can help view water challenges in a broader way. Her2O™ International in East Moline conducts outreach and education workshops to promote working in water to women.

To spread awareness on the issue of gender disparity, this Senior Inquiry project created a pamphlet that explains the importance of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), employment in water, and encourages women to participate in the industry by providing potential ways to get involved in water. Using the Social Marketing Theory, this pamphlet serves as a communication tool and educational resource to increase women’s interest and knowledge in the water industry. Young women studying in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields have access to the pamphlet through a collaboration between the Public Health, Environmental Studies, Chemistry, Geology, and Geography academic departments at Augustana College. This cross-disciplinary approach can educate and promote opportunities in water for young women.

Kara Eder: Distanced Donations: Addressing Concerns Regarding COVID-19 and American Red Cross Blood Drive Safety in Schools

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Advisors: Dr. Lena Hann and Gwendolyn Bartoluzzi (American Red Cross), Senior Inquiry project

Abstract: Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Red Cross (ARC) has faced a significant decline in blood drive participation of which schools have previously made up nearly 20% of all collections. Research shows that schools are an ideal partner for blood drives due to their large community involvement and healthy target population.

In an effort to increase school participation in blood drives using the theory of planned behavior and health literacy practices, this Senior Inquiry project produced a fact sheet that outlines COVID-19 safety precautions taken by ARC blood staff and educated the community about the crucial role that educational institutions have in blood collection efforts. This project created an easily shareable document that initiates conversations between ARC representatives and school officials to mitigate safety concerns before they result in the loss of a blood drive altogether.

Given that the effects of COVID-19 will last for months to come, and safety precautions will forever be more stringent, this fact sheet is a useful tool for future ARC representatives, interns, and community members to emphasize the care taken when planning blood services within academic institutions.

Taylor Kies: Treatment for Substance Use: Barriers to Care in the Quad Cities and How Quad Cities Harm Reduction Fights Against Them

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Advisors: Dr. Lena Hann and Kim Brown (Quad Cities Harm Reduction), Senior Inquiry project

Abstract: Drug use is a highly stigmatized topic that can lead to a lack of resources for treatment and lack of care for those who use drugs. Quad Cities Harm Reduction (QCHR) works to improve the quality of life for those who use drugs or are seeking support for substance use.

This Senior Inquiry project utilized the Harm Reduction Model to identify barriers and solutions to treatment programs in the Quad Cities and created an information sheet to provide an accurate representation of care options to QCHR participants. The information sheet discusses the accessibility of care options and resources that QCHR provides. To reduce the stigma surrounding drug use, there needs to be clear communication about access to treatment options and other resources.

The information sheet aims to reduce the negative consequences of drug use and put the decision-making power and control into the hands of the participants. The information sheet will be distributed to QCHR and used to reduce the stress participants have when deciding what treatment and care options are best for them.

Christianne Albers: Independence and Information: Nutrition Education Among a Refugee Population at World Relief

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Advisors: Dr. Lena Hann and Jen Osing (World Relief), Senior Inquiry project

Abstract: Nutritional education among the refugee population is important to address in an effective way. The Buy. Eat. Live Healthy Program is a nutritional educational course by the University of Iowa Extension and Outreach department in partnership with World Relief, a non-profit agency providing services to refugees and immigrants in western Illinois and eastern Iowa.

The Buy. Eat. Live Healthy Program aimed to provide nutrition education to the refugee population in order to address health literacy with nutrition. Potential refugee participants in this program hesitated to commit to the educational course due to barriers such as the long time commitment (1.5 hours per session, for 8 sessions) and the specific class time as it interfered with work and family obligations. The need for nutritional education, without time-consuming courses as an available option, is important in order to reach a larger audience.

The Social Marketing theory targets a specific population of people using marketing techniques in order to acquire a beneficial health behavior. This Senior Inquiry project created a nutritional pamphlet offered in refugees’ first languages that also provided locations of markets in the Quad Cities area allowing for education and independence. These pamphlets can be read when it is convenient for the clients at World Relief, thus avoiding the barriers that are stated prior.

Margaret Ramos: ¿Qué son las purebas genéticas? Bringing Awareness to Hispanic/Latinx Individuals in the Quad Cities Regarding Genetic Testing and Counseling

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Advisors: Dr. Lena Hann and Jodie Kavensky (NormaLeah Ovarian Cancer Initiative), Senior Inquiry project

Abstract: Although Hispanics and Latinx populations have an overall lower incidence rate for all cancers combined, they are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced stages of ovarian cancer and experience lower survival rates as compared to non-Hispanic whites.

The NormaLeah Ovarian Cancer Initiative works with individuals around the nation to provide educational material and bring awareness to ovarian cancer. Most of NormaLeah’s constituents are predominantly white even though there is a sizable Hispanic/Latinx community in the Quad Cities. Hispanic and Latinx individuals face barriers in understanding what genetic testing and counseling is and its importance in early detection of disease.

This Senior Inquiry project created a brochure written in both English and Spanish informing Hispanic/Latinx individuals about the significance of genetic testing and counseling. The brochures were distributed to Hispanic and Latinx community organizations, such as the Greater Quad Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Esperanza Center, with the goal of increasing genetic counseling and testing among Hispanic and Latinx Quad Citians at risk of ovarian cancer.

Sherifah Muzungu: Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the U.S. Homeless Population

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Advisor: Dr. Rebecca Heick, Senior Inquiry project

Abstract: The homeless community is one of the populations most susceptible to disease in the US. The homeless live in congregate settings where poor hygiene is common, leading to increased risk of communicable disease transmission in a population that often has underlying comorbidities that place them at high risk of severe manifestations of diseases like COVID-19 (Bhopal, 2020; Yancy, 2020; Zvolensky, 2020). In addition, the homeless population has limited access to healthcare services (Tsai & Wilson, 2020).

All these risk factors motivated the focus of this study which is to examine the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the homeless population in the US. To investigate this question, 2019 pre-COVID-19 Point-In-Time (PIT) estimates will be compared with 2020 PIT estimates that were taken in the midst of the pandemic. Furthermore, a more focused study will be done on four cities, one from each of the four major geographic regions used by the US Census Bureau. In these four cities, quarterly changes in the rates of homelessness during the course of the pandemic will be assessed.

The information gathered in this study will help improve planning for future outbreaks, pandemics, and disasters at multiple levels. This study will be informative for the local, state, and federal government agencies and will help them understand the urgent need to develop an outbreak/pandemic preparedness plan that specifically addresses the needs of the homeless population.

DiAngelo Gonzalez: COVID-19: Race, Ethnicity, and Lack of Representation of Diverse Populations in Medical Texts

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Advisor: Dr. Rebecca Heick, Senior Inquiry project

Abstract: The 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, which originated in Wuhan, China in December of 2019, has come to impact nations all over the globe. Given the health disparities which existed within the United States prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, this pandemic continues to pose a significant challenge to the health of the public. This outbreak has been plagued by miscommunication from government officials, including variability in the conciseness, clarity, and consistency of information being presented. This miscommunication has added to public confusion and potentially to overall inaction.

The aims of this research proposal are threefold: (1) Describing the incidence rate of COVID-19 among different racial and ethnic groups within the United States; (2) describing disparities among these groups and their attitudes, behaviors, and perceptions toward COVID-19; and (3) examining potential associations between health disparities and current medical training texts. For Aims 1 and 2, data will be collected from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID Data Tracker. For Aim 3, data will be collected through examination of multiple medical texts.

This study will review data on COVID-19 to date, with a focus on disparities, and add to the limited existing literature regarding the potential to reduce disparity by revising medical texts to be more inclusive and representative of diverse populations. Overall, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated health disparities within the United States. Understanding the magnitude of these disparities and the potential impact of medical education in reducing them is critical in improving the health of the general population.

Jessika Lobb: Exploring a Relationship Between STD Incidence in Adolescents and State Sex Education Policy Inclusiveness in the United States

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Advisor: Dr. Rebecca Heick, Senior Inquiry project

Abstract: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States’ leading authority on health-related affairs, has noted that adolescents aged 15–24 years acquire half of all new STDs each year, despite contributing to only 25% of all sexually active individuals. While people tend to generalize the issue of sex education by dividing it into comprehensive and abstinence-only, this is no longer an accurate representation of the diversity that exists in America.

Because regulation of education completely lies within the jurisdiction of state governments rather than at the federal level, each state decides on an individual basis what topics they choose to include in their sex education curricula. The purpose of this study is to explore a relationship between inclusiveness of school-based sex education and adolescent STD rate on a state-by-state basis.

The 15-24 age group STD incidence rates for 15 selected states were calculated using US census data and AtlasPlus, the CDC’s interactive tool for creating tables based on communicable disease surveillance data. These data were compared with state sex education policies as documented in the 2018 SIECUS State Profiles report, particularly the inclusion of topics such as HIV/STI education, abstinence, contraception, and LGBTQ+ education. An “inclusiveness score” was calculated for each state based on the number of topics mandated for sex education programs. Data analysis will be performed using SPSS software to establish the statistical significance of the relationship between the 15-24 age group STD incidence rates and the state policy inclusiveness scores.

Joe Timm: Pandemic Communication Strategy: Creation of a Survey to Enhance Infrastructure with Public Organizations

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Advisor: Dr. Rebecca Heick, Senior Inquiry project

Abstract: The need for assessment of pandemic preparedness and response has increased due to rapid emergence of novel viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2 and the COVID-19 pandemic. Communication is central to such pandemic policy regardless of county, state, or region. Better communication between health agencies and community organizations will lead to more favorable health outcomes.

The most imperative factors in successful pandemic preparedness and response are communication, data sharing, and collaboration. Communication should be addressed for proper preparedness and response nationwide, especially in rural areas as they pose a uniquely complex challenge. Studies addressing communication and interdependence related to these methods in rural communities are rare. Identifying information and communication successes and challenges will allow for greater efficiency and progress for both pandemic preparedness and response. Past studies have demonstrated numerous barriers and gaps within the established communication strategies. Additionally, a more unified response could eliminate misinformation campaigns and strategy opposition.

This survey is intended to determine the success of pandemic communication and collaboration in preparedness and response efforts of rural counties. It will assess the communication structures within communities, the health system, and across counties by allowing health officials to disseminate accurate, timely information to the public they serve with the intention of understanding how to better work together. Failure to implement comprehensive communication strategies is likely associated with less successful outcomes and should be addressed for future pandemics.


Caleb Gruden: Colonization, Exotic Capital, and Popular Culture. The Trifecta that has Shaped American Vodou

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Advisor: Dr. Eric Stewart, Senior Inquiry project

Abstract: Since the implantation of Vodou in the United States, Vodou practice has been misinterpreted as ‘exotic’, ‘mystical’, and even ‘witchcraft’. In other countries, such as Haiti, Vodou does not carry this connotation. These misconceptions developed through colonization and further exacerbated in modern-day by popular culture and the influence of exotic capital.

All of these factors together have invalidated Vodou medicinal practices in the U.S. over the years, even though in other cultures it is still seen as a legitimate medical practice. Through insider and outsider perspectives, I aim to further analyze these factors that influenced the misrepresentation of Vodou in the United States in comparison to Haitian Vodou practices over the years.

Chloe Anderson: American Ideals and Pauline Freedom: Redeeming Scriptural Concepts of Freedom from American Politics

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Advisor: Dr. Eric Stewart, Senior Inquiry project

Abstract: Much of the current political climate demonstrates a general trend of white American evangelicals utilizing the Christian scriptures to support their political ideologies. A specific way evangelicals make their political claim takes place is by decontextualizing Paul’s representation of freedom in his writings to present it as synonymous with the American concepts of rights and freedoms.

Utilizing this false synonymity, these Christians defend actions that go against governmental regulations as exercising an ideal they hold as biblical. The triangulation between American freedom, biblical freedom, and Christians combing the two is a product of current American politics utilizing Christian ideals to gain and maintain power by manipulating Christian voters.

By recontextualizing Paul’s writings to understand the definition of freedom by which he was functioning and comparing it to modern uses, it becomes clear that the disparity between the two concepts is large and that an argument that assumes otherwise is fundamentally flawed.

Molly Bastida: "Love your neighbor as yourself”… easier said than done according to the Catholic Church

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Advisor: Dr. Eric Stewart, Senior Inquiry project

Abstract: Beginning in 1962 the Catholic church embarked on a journey towards reform starting with Vatican II. One stance that the church began to revisit and revise was her opinion on interactions with people of other religions and other Christian denominations. After Vatican II, four forms of dialogue were established for Catholic laity and teaching authorities of the church: dialogue of life, of deeds, of specialists, and for understanding.

By examining the current models of interreligious dialogue from the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Monastic Interreligious Dialogue Catholic, laity can understand how monastic men and women engage in a dialogue of specialists and for understanding.

Although official church documents from Vatican II clearly state that the magisterium encourages the Catholic laity to engage in a dialogue of life and of deeds, the Catholic church does not provide any guidance to the laity on how to approach these forms of dialogue. By examining the structure of a national non-profit interfaith dialogue organization, Interfaith Youth Core, the Catholic laity can gain guidance on how to actively participate in interreligious dialogue.

Joseph Knapik: From Spiritualism to Spirituality, The Remnants of a Victorian Movement

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Advisor: Dr. Eric Stewart, Senior Inquiry project

Abstract: This essay establishes a relationship between the nineteenth century religion movement known as Spiritualism and contemporary conceptualizations of "spirituality." I argue that the dialogue taking place within the Spiritualist community in the late 1800s helped to establish a dichotomy between spirituality and religion. This is further complicated by Spiritualists also defining themselves within the confines of religion as a social classification.

Miranda Sharp: The Mediation of Christianity within Trauma Recovery: Association Between Christianity, Posttraumatic Growth, and Social Support

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Advisors: Dr. Eric Stewart and Dr. Daniel Corts

Abstract: After a traumatic event, there are two main paths that an individual could follow which impact the way that they recover. The first being a decline in mental health which usually results in depression, anxiety or posttraumatic stress disorder. The other would be a path of posttraumatic growth, which would be a general increase in overall well being as a result of the traumatic event.

One possible mediator that is associated with posttraumatic growth is Christianity, however the reason is generally unknown. Community and a strong sense of social support within the religion may be a factor. These associations were examined in this study with the Brief Religious Cope, the Religious Support Scale, the Impact of Events Scale, and the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory. The participants of this study were concentrated with students from Augustana College with ages ranging from 18-77.

This study showed a significant relationship between positive religious coping, religious social support, and post traumatic growth. This relationship stood even when the severity of the traumatic event was low. This project allowed for a discussion to be opened about the terms that we are using within the field of psychology to identify religiosity and how this needs to shift within the years to come.

Scandinavian Studies

Alex Hart: "Constructing Speech In Danish": A Therapeutic Model for Danish-speaking Children with Apraxia of Speech

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Advisor: Dr. Kathy Jakielski

Abstract: The primary goal of this ongoing project is to transfer the English-oriented methodology of "Building Speech & Quantifying Complexity: The Manual" to a new therapeutic process which is phonemically based on and phonotactically concordant with the Danish language. (At the time of this application, the Danish model is titled "Constructing Speech in Danish".)

This presentation aims to provide an undergraduate perspective on the development of a cross-linguistic model for therapy of childhood apraxia of speech (CAS), which began in the spring of 2020 and is ongoing. Interwoven with the presentation will be a layman's navigation of English and Danish phonology, addressing the simplicities and complexities of the research process, and why this research is groundbreaking.

It is the presenter's aim to inspire students to push beyond their fields of study when considering what research they can get involved in, and to cultivate consideration for the crucial values of communication and language.

Studio art

Rachel Oliver: Revitalized

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Advisor: Kelvin Mason, Senior Inquiry project

Abstract: The show Revitalized contains 6 works that represent my diverse interests in various cultures and theoretical debates, as well as issues related to mental health and identity. The term “revitalized” derived from the challenge of bringing imaginary characters and philosophical ideas to life via images.

When I first began, the initial goal of the show was to distance myself from the chaotic world and escape into my imagination and creativity. As the works progressed, the artwork was more representational of what I loved in the real world: diversity, nature, and the human mind. Thus, Revitalized changed from bringing imaginative characters to life to be about reviving personal appreciation for the world.

Although some pieces are lighter-hearted than others, each piece embraces the need to appreciate diversity. For example, my works Morning Bus and Troublesome Goblins reference various traditions, and folklore from around the world. Morning Bus represents how all people are connected despite their various backgrounds.

In the painting, five figures share the same space, connected by the same bus experience, but each figure is vastly different in culture and the story they tell. Both Name? and Façade of Ice and Stone showcase different abilities, one physical and one mental. Façade of Ice and Stone embraces different mental states and appreciates moments of weakness and sadness, while Name? and Morning Bus have depictions of different physical disabilities. Thus, the show acknowledges diversity across all human life, not just race nor culture.

All pieces have various layers of meaning. Thus, I encourage the audience to find a meaning that is most significant to them, rather than thinking there is a correct way to look at any of my pieces.

Jordan Delinski: Same But Different

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Abstract: The goal for this year was to create a series of eight charcoal drawings that will depict one man and one woman under a starry night sky. This series has the title of "Same, but Different." Not only does the short phrase have a personal connection to my childhood, but it also applies to the message I wish to convey with these drawings. A message that while some events may drastically change how we live as a society, the very core ideas and beliefs can be seen staying consistent and steady.