Academics and Community

University Honors Capstone Project Showcase 2018 - Thurs. April 19.

Students in the University Honors program will present their capstone projects on Thursday, April 19, from 3:30 - 5 p.m. in Kirby Ballroom.

University Honors students engage deeply in a broad array of honors-level academic courses, cultural and leadership experiences, research and creative expression projects, and meaningful work within the Duluth community.

University Honors students, across all five colleges, commit hundreds of hours of work to expand their undergraduate experienceUniversity Honors members are required to take University Honors courses, engage in their communities, complete this honors capstone scholarship project, and maintain a high GPA to complete the program.


Poster Presentations

Kaitlin Albrecht, Healthcare Management and Finance
A Comparative Study of Moroccan and American National Healthcare Expenditures in Relation to Population Health Outcomes
Healthcare is a critical factor in every country’s existence. The health of a population has implications that extend to economic growth, education level, as well as social structure. However, since healthcare is one of the most expensive goods consumed worldwide, there is much debate on how to finance the provision of healthcare, and who is responsible for paying the substantial bills that pile up. As United States lawmakers attempt to untangle the complex healthcare system in the US, there is constant debate regarding government health care spending and its overall effectiveness. Faced with conflicting evidence, countries must make the difficult decision about whether investment in their health care sectors is what really matters when it comes to improving population health outcomes. My research examines the relationship between national health spending and select health outcomes in Morocco using data collected from 1995 to 2015. The objective was to determine whether the country’s health care expenditures had a significant impact on the improvement of key health outcomes.To provide further context, and improve the application of my findings, the same methodology was used to examine the United States of America. This research will hopefully shed some light on which direction the United States, as well as other countries, should focus its healthcare spending to witness the greatest improvement in the health of its population.

Persabelle Debela, Business Entrepreneurship
Impacts of coffee production on the growth of Ethiopia’s economy-with the focus on the power of purchasing value of coffee as a commodity and the negative effects on farmers in the agricultural sector
This report studies the presence and impact of the coffee being present as one of the most significant commodities to Ethiopia’s economy, accounting for 60% of exporting revenue alone. My objective of doing this research is to explore and analyze the drive behind the growth of this industry and assess the competence of the purchasing value that coffee holds in this competitive advantage of bigger companies. The monetary value of selling coffee as a commodity highly benefits the big corporations, while failing to fulfill the basic and, necessity accommodations that farmers withhold in the agricultural sector of this mass coffee production in Ethiopia.

Sarah Dettle, Cell and Molecular Biology
Bacterial Vaginosis: Historical stigmas and diagnostic methods influence modern-day perceptions.

For over a century research on the composition of the vaginal microbiome and its correlation to symptoms and disease has been of interest. Early studies have identified key Lactobacillus bacteria that are abundant in healthy women (Doderlein 1891), while other studies identified the possible pathogenic microbe, Gardnerella vaginalis, abundant in women with vaginal discomfort (Gardner 1957). The term used to describe the shift from a shift from the “healthy” bacteria to a different composition of bacteria in the vaginal microbiota is bacterial vaginosis (BV). The method that is universally accepted for diagnosing BV scores vaginal bacterial compositions morphologically by the amount of Gram-positive Lactobacillus versus the amount of Gram-negative Gardnerella and other Gram-variable present in the canal (Nugent 1991). Recent studies have indicated there are multiple unique bacterial community compositions in women asymptomatic for BV (Ravel 2011). Some vaginal communities lack a dominating Lactobacillus species, and are then classified as having BV based on Nugent score criteria. Women who lack Lactobacillus species often are of different ethnic groups (Anukam 2006), leading researchers to question the reason and find correlations for this phenomenon. The present analysis highlights the skewed diagnosis techniques of BV that establish a social stigma against certain ethnic groups.

Michelle, Feyder, Financial Planning
Capstone title: The Department of Labor Fiduciary Rule
The Department of Labor Fiduciary Rule is a new and significant piece of legislation that enhances the ethical standards of Financial Advisors around the nation. Financial Advisors are required to act within a fiduciary role when advising clients with retirement accounts, meaning that they must be honest, act in the client’s best interest, and disclose the reasons for the actions made on behalf of clients. As a senior Financial Planning student, I will be graduating and entering the industry soon, and it is crucial that I prepare myself as much as possible for the new regulatory environment that will greatly affect my business and my future clients. I have interviewed several Financial Advisors in order to gain an understanding of how the Fiduciary Rule impacts large financial services firms, small firms, low net worth clients, and millennial advisors. I also examine similar rules put in place by the United Kingdom and Australia in order to form my predictions for the future of the DOL Fiduciary Rule and the financial services industry. By understanding how the Fiduciary Rule will impact investors, various types of firms, and the industry overall, I believe I will be a better asset to the firm I represent and the clients I serve.

Georgia Gates, Criminology and Sociology
Current Situation of Moroccan Women and Opportunities Amal Provides
My research looks at the current literature surrounding women's legal rights and attitudes and values in Morocco about women. I then use this knowledge as I examine the need for opportunities for women in this country and the quality of service that a women's training center in Morocco provides.

Victoria Grev, Human Resource Management
Presence of Uncertainty in Friendships: A study on Morocco and the United States
Communication is how we understand, relate, grow, and have experiences with one another. It is what connects us, helps us form relationships, and allows us to co-exist. Communication is the core aspect of relational development and formation (Knapp, 1984). One proposed condition of relational development is to reduce uncertainty between individuals during initial interactions. Uncertainty Reduction Theory (URT; Berger & Calabrese, 1975), posits that individuals typically find uncertainty to be unpleasant, thus, people are motivated to reduce it through communication. It is through communication that we learn how different cultures perceive and value their interpersonal relationships, especially in terms of what prompts relational progression as opposed to dissolution within various contexts. The goal of this study is to determine if and how the tenets of uncertainty reduction theory are practiced within Moroccan friendships and American friendships, and how differences in culture may affect uncertainty overall.

Emma Hartigan, Human Resource Management
Effective Management Practices for Formerly Incarcerated Individuals
This study aims to look at the relationship between formerly incarcerated employees and the managers that are willing to hire them. It has been proven time and time again that former convicts are one of the most difficult demographics to employ. In a comprehensive analysis of what employees and employers are looking for, I will bridge the gap between the two and apply a multitude of leadership principles to determine which styles would work best to make both entities feel as though they are getting a meaningful exchange out of the employment.

Katie Haus, Psychology, Spanish
The Examination of the Sexual Double Standard among Hypothetical Men and Women Engaging in Masturbation: An Application of Sexual Script Theory. 
Despite the well documented benefits, women report masturbating less frequently than do men. This gender difference may be a behavioral response to the Sexual Double Standard (SDS; the tendency to judge women’s sexual behavior more severely than men’s) in which women participate in masturbation less than men due to fears of social repercussions. However, no research has examined the SDS with respect to masturbation. Therefore, this study investigated (1) endorsement of the SDS when evaluating hypothetical targets engaging in masturbation, (2) gender differences in self-reported frequency of masturbation, and (3) whether relationship status influenced the SDS and frequency of masturbation. US adults have been recruited and randomly assigned to read one of four vignettes describing a hypothetical man/woman engaging in masturbation (while also manipulating relationship status). Participants then rated the target’s morality and completed a demographic questionnaire. Preliminary results revealed that women masturbators were perceived as being more moral than were men. Although relationship status did not influence endorsement of the SDS, it did influence gender differences in self-reported frequency of masturbation, in which single men reported masturbating more frequently than did men in committed relationships (relationship status did not influence women’s masturbatory habits). Contrary to our expectations, these findings indicate the existence of a reverse SDS when judging others and that these judgments do not appear to impact behavior, in which men reported masturbating more frequently than did women (particularly when single). It is unclear why men were judged more harshly than women, however, these results may be a reaction to the current prominence of men’s sexual misconduct in the media and the tendency to judge their sexual behavior more harshly as a result. As it is well-known that men masturbate more than do women, it is also possible that participants judged male targets more severely in accordance with their perceived masturbatory frequency in accordance with existing stigma.

Anna Jensen, Economics and Political Science
Do “Immigrants Increase Unemployment of US Citizens?” An Empirical Examination of Trump’s Campaign Rhetoric?
The literature on the effects of immigrants on social values, culture, productivity, international trade flows, and innovation is extensive. The exact effect of immigrants on economic conditions, especially output and unemployment levels of their host countries, however, is not clear. For example, studies that examine the impact of immigration on labor market indicate that an increase in the number of immigrant workers leads to lower wages. Classifying workers by their education levels and age, and comparing differences across groups over time, Bojras (2013) reports that a 10 percent increase in the size of an education/age group due to immigrants reduces the wage of native-born men in that age group by 3.7 percent and the wage of all native-born workers by 2.5 percent. On the contrary, Ottaviano and Peri (2012) argue that all US workers gain from immigration because immigrants and native workers with the same level of education and age complement each other. Opponents of immigration place significant emphasis on the former observation.
A recent Washington Post (January 31, 2017) article, for example, points out that there are two complementary plans in the works by the current administration. The first plan aims at curtailing would-be immigrants who are likely to require public assistance, and — when possible — deporting immigrants already living in the United States who depend on taxpayer help, while the second plan calls for a substantial shake-up of the system that administers immigrant and nonimmigrant visas. 1 These plans appear to be direct reflections of president Trump’s campaign rhetoric that “… as recipients of U.S. social services, immigrants eat up significant amounts of federal resources, and more importantly, contribute to increased unemployment of U.S. citizens.” Using historical data on immigrant stocks, US Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and unemployment levels spanning the time period 1827 to 2015, and employing a time series regression analysis, I examine the relationships among the variables. I expect to see that beyond providing strong and unequivocal evidence suggesting that the rhetoric is unfounded, my results will likely show Granger causality running both ways between the stocks of immigrants and GDP level, and from increased unemployment levels to a fall in stocks of immigrants, but not vice-versa. Given the often highly charged debate surrounding immigration policy, and the potentially unfounded campaign rhetoric which is being translated into policy actions, my expected observations will have significant public policy relevance.

Mark Kallevig, Electrical Engineering, Physics
The Predictions of Basin Mode Waves in Large Lakes by Theory and Models
By analyzing idealized tanks through theoretical calculations and simulated models, I develop a theory for the presence and form of basin mode waves in the large lakes.

Racole Karels, Accounting and Management Information Systems
Cryptocurrencies and the Economy: A Review of Literature
Prior to the United States financial crisis of 2008, decentralized cryptocurrencies did not exist. In October 2008, pseudonymous developer Satoshi Nakamoto published a report on cryptography describing the digital currency Bitcoin. It was the first currency capable of working without a central bank or administrator. Research on cryptocurrencies is important to our society because they are global currencies that affect us in many ways: taxes, stock market, retirement portfolios, business transactions, etc. If the currencies are “a bubble” as some skeptics say, the repercussions of the cryptocurrency market failing would be detrimental: Billions of dollars would be lost. However, if cryptocurrencies remain successful, in several years the currencies will fuel business transactions and micropayments. This capstone will review research on how the traditional financial systems operate and the implications cryptocurrencies have within this environment. Through literature reviews, I will research the factors driving cryptocurrency usage and also the potential drawbacks the monetary system has to offer. I will discuss the benefits, consequences, and potential implications cryptocurrencies have on society, technology, and the environment.

Allison Krueger, Biology, Hispanic Studies 
Personal Perspectives on Alzheimer's Disease in Morocco
The number of people affected with dementia worldwide is expected to increase dramatically in the coming decades. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, which is characterized by progressive memory loss and increasing behavioral changes throughout the course of the fatal disease. This growing healthcare concern affects not only those with the disease, but caregivers and family members as well. Understanding the unique challenges of affected families across cultures can be useful in providing culturally competent healthcare and providing support resources for patients and their families. This study investigated the major issues faced by families affected by Alzheimer’s disease in Morocco and the support resources available through site visits, in-country library research, and qualitative interviews to gain an in-depth understanding of the effects of the disease from multiple perspectives. Results indicate that there are at least four aging centers in Morocco, either in construction or already functioning, to provide caregiver support and education on Alzheimer's disease. Two out of three of the interview participants believe that Alzheimer's disease is not a major health priority on a national scale compared to other acute diseases.

Carrie Kulibert, Communication Sciences and Disorders
Development of an Adapted Access Protocol for an Interactive Robot
Authors: Carrie Kulibert , Dr. Jolene Hyppa-Martin
Robot technology may increase social participation, independence, and integration for individuals with severe speech and physical disabilities. However this technology must be interfaced with reliable, switch- based alternative access in order to benefit individuals with such impairments. The present study examined whether robots can be controlled reliably with alternative access, and systematically examined (a) accuracy and latency of response, (b) required learning curve, (c) durability, and (d) setup complexity for switch-robot interfaces.
The present study sought to help individuals with physical disabilities to use a Double Robot on their own without assistance from another person by identifying, testing, and enabling the use of capability switch or adaptive switch access. Specifically, the study addressed the following research questions: Can movement of the Double can be adapted for alternative access for individuals with limited fine motor skills through the use of compatible switches? Specifically, can switch adapted access be used to operate a Double Robot? Secondarily, if so, what type of adapted switch or switches are best suited for this purpose? What are the benefits and drawbacks of each type of switch when using it to control the Double? Finally, can other commercially available robots be fitted with alternative access for individuals with limited fine motor skills?

McKenna Meyer, English
How We Choose to Engage: A Television State of Mind
This study aims to look at the relationship viewers have with television and determine if there is any overlapping correlation between how people view themselves and the types of shows they ultimately choose to watch. My research will begin with an examination of how television has evolved over the years, including a review of several different studies that have previously been conducted within the field, and will conclude with a summary of findings from my own survey study.

Eden Miller, Music Performance
Teaching the Traverso: Pedagogy of the Flute in 18th c. Paris
This project is partially a translation of works from their french to english and partially a comparison of teaching methods by different flutists of the time. The goal of this research is to discover the similarities and differences of the pedagogical teachings of contemporaries in 18th c. Paris. Some of these sources are still used today to teach the traverso, and it could potentially be helpful to teachers and students to have a more critical look at their treatises.

Nawal Mirza, Accounting, Financial Markets
Gender and White Collar Crime
This paper analyzes the trends of women committing white collar crimes in the white collar industries. Over the past few decades, women at home and the workplace have been impacted by technological, social, economic, and political changes across the globe. Based on research, it is made clear that some of these changes have brought about increased participation by women in criminal activities. While financial need and personal greed are the most common motivations for committing fraud, embezzlement, counterfeiting, economic espionage, money laundering and tax evasion, it is important to take gender differences into account when analyzing criminal motivation. Research suggests that men and women have varied reasoning for committing crime which affects how they carry out their schemes. This literature review examines the topic of white collar crime and analyzes the role gender plays in offenders’ motivation and the tactics used by them. It also takes into account the extent of, and possible reasons for, women’s participation in white collar crime world compared to men (Haantz, 2002). Women’s access to organizational power structures is rising, but still remains limited. This article considers the question of whether the detection rate for female white-collar criminals is simply lower than for males, or if women tend to be actually more successful at breaking the law. As a consequence, more attention should be paid to characteristics of female white-collar crime and criminals in future criminology research and law enforcement. (Gottschalk & Glasø, 2013)

Avery Morse, Chemical Engineering
Computer Modeling of Iron Ore Pelletizing Thermal Processing in Grate Kiln Furnaces
Iron ore mined from Northern Minnesota Iron range accounts most of the United States total iron ore pellet production. In iron ore pelletizing there are many opportunities to recycle lost energy to produce a more efficient process. While there are areas for improvement in this process it can be very costly to trial these methods in full-scale production due to the large scale of the furnaces and large through put. Using equations to model the process is an economical way to identify areas of improvement, and along with computer modeling tools creates a useful way to increase the efficiency and cut the cost of Iron Ore Pelletizing in terms of energy consumption and quality.

Ashley Murr, Civil Engineering
A Feasibility Study of Glass Pozzolans in Marine Concrete
Marine concrete can be especially susceptible to chemical and physical deterioration, including corrosion of the reinforcement steel. For this reason, pozzolans such as fly ash, blast furnace slag, and silica fume, are commonly used to reduce corrosion in concrete subjected to marine environments by decreasing the permeability of the concrete matrix. The permeability of a concrete matrix is commonly used to indicate the susceptibility of a concrete to the corrosion of the steel reinforcement due to its effects on initial corrosion and subsequent corrosion The water/cementitious materials (w/cm) ratio, binder type, curing conditions, and compaction factors can impact the level of permeability. A lower w/cm ratio can reduce the permeability, as does the addition of pozzolans. Ground glass is currently under intense scrutiny for its potential as a pozzolan in portland cement concrete, as it differs from other pozzolans due to its high alkali content (~10-12% Na2Oeq by mass). This research considers the potential for ground glass use as a pozzolan in marine concrete applications by investigating concrete mixtures made using 10, 20, and 30% ground glass replacement by mass. In order to determine whether ground glass reduces the permeability and therefore, chloride ion penetration, of marine concrete, an investigation of the hardened air void system and measurement of the electrical resistivity will be carried out on the aforementioned concrete mixtures.

Mert Okyay, Management Information Systems
Seventh Sense: A Neural Network Based Real-Time Image Recognition Application
I will use Google Tensorflow platform to manipulate a deep convolutional neural network model called Inception v3. The main goal of this manipulation is to recreate the last layer of the Inception with categories more relevant to my project. I want the model to be able to predict everyday objects once provided as an image feed. To make this more user-friendly, I will code an application for iOS platform using Core ML Machine Learning developer kit. This kit will allow me to integrate the image recognition model from Tensorflow to the application. For regular users, I want to show capabilities of this model by using cutting-edge technologies that are available today. The application will allow users to tag objects within space using ARKit: Augmented reality platform of Apple. 
I aim this application to be more than just “fun.” The main focus for this application will be integrating VoiceOver capabilities that iPhones already offer system-wide. Many visually impaired individuals depend on the VoiceOver technology that Apple perfected over the years with their haptic feedback system. The application should adapt and create an interface that can be used easily by visually impaired individuals once it detects VoiceOver setting is enabled on the phone. I want the application to be able to speak out the predictions that are being made so that individuals who cannot see can hear what is in front of them. This application will work offline without any dependencies on cloud computing or servers, making it available whenever and wherever it is needed.

Gavin Sanford, Actuarial Science
What statistics have the greatest effect on wRC+ in Major League Baseball in 2017
Baseball is growing statistically and they have come out with more raw numbers than ever before. How do these raw numbers like speed, the velocity a ball leaves the bat, and the angle it leaves a bat relate to predicting the new analytic offensive statistics? This research examines players in Major league Baseball in the year 2017 and had 180 batted balls in play.

Rebecca Sauter, Cellular and Molecular Biology
Germination of Argania spinosa: Overcoming genetic and physical barriers of Morocco's infamous seed 
Argania spinose (argan tree) is one of the oldest trees on the planet. It also has a long history with humans of providing necessities. The argan tree is secluded to growing in the southwest region of Morocco at the edge of the Sahara Desert. But what physical and chemical traits does this tree have that enables successful germination in such a dry climate? Through working with the National Institute for Agricultural Research- Agadir, the answer to this question was explored.

Ellie Strafelda, Psychology and Hispanic Studies
Relationships with Females and Attitudes Towards Sexist Language
This study aims to analyze various relationships that an individual has with females, including guardians, siblings, significant others, and friends, to search for a correlation with attitudes towards sexist language in various different settings.

Maria Jose Tapia, Accounting and Financial Planning
The influence of women and minority members of corporate Boards of Directors on firm performance measures. Faculty Advisor: Geoffrey Bell
For my capstone, I am examining the influence that women and minority groups have as members of a company’s Board of Directors, focusing mainly on financial performance as an outcome. Since this information is already published and available to the public, my contribution to this field of study is to provide a detailed literature review of extent research, separating it into two topics. First, I will make a summary of the literature available regarding the role of women in the board of directors and their impact on performance. In 2014, there was a literature review published on this topic, examining the findings of 140 studies done over several years. Since this publication, there has not been another similar meta-analysis like that one, so I will review the literature from the date of that article, 2014, until today, compiling and updating all the relevant information on this topic. Second, I will do a second literature review on the presence of minority groups in board of directors and their effect on financial performance. Up until now, nobody has done a review focusing just on ethnic diversity, so I will be providing this work using publications from 1980, when this discussion started, until the most recent works done on this topic. One of the reasons why there is not a literature review done on this topic is because diversity means different things to different people. I will be addressing this issue by looking into the typology of diversity, and providing how researchers define this word within their work to have a better understanding on this topic.

Malia Triebold, Cell and Molecular Biology
Capstone Title: Using Conditional Autophagy Inhibition In Mice To Study Neurological Disorders
Authors: Malia Triebold, Anderson CA; Einat H; Anderson GW.
Autophagy is a cellular mechanism involved in the clearance of aggregated cytosolic proteins, and has been studied in relation to neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and depression. This project aims to create a mouse model of neurodegenerative disease and affective disorder through a conditional, targeted knockout of the autophagy associated Atg 5 gene. Mice carrying a floxed Atg 5 allele were cross-bred with transgenic mice carrying a Cre-recombinase enzyme driven off an inducible, neuronally expressed promoter. Resultant progeny were genetically selected to carry both the floxed Atg 5 allele and the Cre recombinase, thus allowing induction of gene deletion to occur at a defined age. Conditional knockout mice were induced at 6 weeks of age and assessed via a battery of behavioral and physical tests, including open field, beam traversal, grip strength, RotaRod performance test, gait analysis, clasping analysis, black and white box, cookie preference, sweet solution preference test, amphetamine induced open field, and replenishment of L-Dopa. In addition, expression of autophagy related proteins was assessed using western blot techniques. Preliminary data suggests that deletion of the Atg 5 gene results in the development of a manic phenotype revealed by increased activity observed in the open field test within 5 weeks of gene deletion. No evidence of motor impairments was noted at this time point post induction. However, at 9 months post-induction a significant neurological phenotype emerged with knockout animals continuing to demonstrate increased open field activity, but now also demonstrating reduced ability to remain on the spinning RotaRod, reduced grip strength, abnormal gait, uncontrolled tremor, and abnormal clasping reflex. Deletion of theAtg 5 gene results in age-dependent development of behavioral and physical changes associated with the phenotype of “mania” and “neurodegeneration”. This novel mouse model is amenable to screening studies for the discovery of novel small molecule drugs for the treatment of psychiatric and neurological disease.

Leah Wahl, Teaching Mathematics
Teacher Stress on a Sample of Moroccan Educators
Life is stressful, and it is experienced through many daily realms: families, friendships, school, and work. Due to the commonality of stress as a theme, many professionals have studied it. Specifically, certain researchers have focused their attention on stress in the education profession. These studies indicate that students, work resources, and school organizations seem to be major contributors within teacher stress. This project looks at the universalities of stress for educators. To do so, this paper looks at a particular population of eight teachers in Morocco via a qualitative survey addressing the following questions: “To what extent do Moroccan educators feel overwhelmed with stress? What makes Moroccan educators stressed?”, “To what extent do Moroccan teachers leave their profession because of teacher stress? What effect does stress have on Moroccan teachers?”, and “To what extent do Moroccans utilize coping mechanisms to handle teacher stress? What makes Moroccan educators stressed?”. The respondents indicated that they are stressed through their education profession, to the point that some are considering leaving their career. The participants suggest that the factors that cause them stress are the size of the school, the lack of administration, the style of the school, the location of the school, the students, and the parents. In order to manage their stress, the respondents ranked their coping strategies. The implications of this study invite conversations about the potential of universality of stress, the potential experiences of stress, and possibilities for managing professional stress in education.

Jaden Wright, Accounting
Empirical Study of Corporate Tax Avoidance
How should we value corporate tax avoidance? Corporations have a variety of ways to reduce their tax burden and improve their bottom line, but what effect does this have on the return of the firm? This study is structured on fundamental research in the field and uses predefined tax measurements to analyze how tax avoidance effects the return of a company. We account for multiple variables in our asset pricing model, such as risk, firm size, profitability, and firm growth. Prior literature is robust in defining the spectrum of tax avoidance. This paper sticks to the respective measurement levels as a caveat for avoidance. Our test sorts firms into measurable portfolios based on avoidance measurements and adjusted risk levels. In each case, we find the risk of the associated measurement to be a significant indicator of firm valuation. Conversely, we find profitability to be an insignificant factor for valuation. Our work contributes to the literature by providing insight into the relationship between firm return and avoidance risk.

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