Psychology at Scholarship Sewanee 2016

Walter E. Nance ’54 and Nayna Avent Nance created an endowment that provides the McCrady Prizes at Scholarship Sewanee.  First given in 2013, the prizes honor the memory of Edward McCrady . . . 11th Vice-Chancellor (1951-1971) and Professor of Biology . . . a scientist of national reputation, a musician, a caver.  The Speaker’s Choice is a poster selected by The McCrady Lecturer without regard to field;  McCrady Prizes for Best Poster Presentation are awarded in Behavioral & Social Sciences, Biological Sciences, Environmental & Earth Sciences, and in Mathematics & Physical Sciences.

Scholarship Sewanee is a celebration of student research at the University . . . class projects, community-based projects, or independent student research.  They include data collection and analysis during the previous summer as well as the academic year, both on- and off-campus.  It is an expansion of Scientific Sewanee, first held in April 1994 . . . with an Invited Lecture and 20 student poster presentations.

Scholarship Sewanee 2016 included oral presentations Friday morning and later afternoon;  the McCrady Invited Lecture at 1 p.m.;  poster presentations starting at 2:15 p.m. (with researchers remaining close to their posters to discuss their project with those attending);  and a Sewanee Symphony Orchestra and University Choir concert Friday evening involving many student musicians.

The more than 165 students were mentored by 47 Sewanee and several faculty/graduate students from other institutions – notably Yale.  The 69 poster presentations were in Biology, Chemistry, Earth & Environmental Systems, Economics, Mathematics & Computer Science, Physics & Astronomy, Politics, and Psychology.  The 38 oral presentations were in Anthropology, Art & Art History, Biology, Economics, English, Earth & Environmental Systems, History, International & Global Studies, Music, Philosophy, Politics, Psychology, and Women’s & Gender Studies.

Petra Richer ’16, and Thomas Fernandez MD.  Insights from De Novo genetic variation in Tourette Syndrome.  Department of Psychiatry, Yale Univ. School of Medicine.  Mentor, Thomas Fernandez MD, Assistant Professor in the Child Study Center and of Psychiatry at Yale.  Richer is a Biology major with a minor in Neuroscience.

Tourette syndrome (TS) is a neuropsychiatric disorder characterized by combinations of motor and vocal tics that persist for longer than one year. In the general population, 0.5-0.7% of people are affected by TS at some point in their lives. The median age of onset among children is 6 years, and tics reach the peak of their severity at approximately 10.6 ± 2.6 years of age. Twin studies have found a concordance rate of 53% in monozygotic and 8% in dizygotic twins, indicating a substantial genetic component to the disease. Current treatment options for TS vary in effectiveness among individuals and include behavioral therapy and various medications for controlling disruptive tics. Remaining questions about TS pathophysiology and a need for new and improved treatment options has prompted the study of genetic causes that underlie the disease in the hopes of identifying novel therapeutic targets and increasing our understanding of this complex disorder.

Gosife Donald Okoye ’16, Lucianna Frick, and Maximiliano Rapanelli.  Acute disruption of striatal modulation by neuronal histamine results in Tourette Syndrome-like phenomenology.  Department of Psychiatry, Yale Univ. School of Medicine.  Mentor, Dr. Thomas Fernandez of Yale.  Okoye is a Biochemistry major. Frick and Rapanelli are Associate Research Scientists in Psychiatry at Yale.  Speaker’s Choice Award for best poster (2-way tie).

Tourette Syndrome is a complex neuropsychiatric disorder characterized by pathognomic motor and vocal tics, as well as by sensory and cognitive symptoms and its pathophysiology is not well understood. Recently, a high-penetrance mutation in histidine decarboxylase (Hdc), a key enzyme in the biosynthesis of Histamine (HA), was implicated as a rare cause of TS. Hdc knockout mice recapitulate core phenomenology of TS. The finding that the tic-like stereotypes observed in HDC knockout mice were mitigated by HA infusion into the brain has focused attention on disruption of brain HA as a potential causative factor in neuropsychiatric disease especially TS. To investigate the cause of the observed effects, we used cre-infused DREADDs to reversibly inactivate histaminergic neurons chemogenetically; importantly, peripheral sources of HA are unperturbed by this manipulation, and brain development is normal.

Jama Jacks ’16, Woodli Krutek ’17, Anne-Stuart Bell ’17, and Natalie Van-Why ’17.  You Are What You Watch:  short-term effects of media exposure.  Mentor, Assistant Professor of Psychology Jordan Troisi.  Bell is a double major in Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies.

Our study examined the short-term effects of sexist media exposure on sexist behavior and thinking. Undergraduates from a small liberal arts university were randomly assigned to either a control group, which viewed neutral video clips, or an experimental group, which was exposed to sexist video clips. Between each clip, distractor videos of animals were shown to both groups. After viewing the videos, each participant completed an aggression word completion task, the Modern and Old-Fashioned Sexism Scales, and the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory. We ran statistical analyses on gender and exposure group on sexism and aggressive word responses. We expected to find two main effects: men would have higher aggression and sexism scores than women and those exposed would have higher scores than those not exposed. We also predicted an interaction between gender and exposure; exposure would lead to an increase in men’s sexism and aggression scores, but exposure would not influence women’s scores.

Mary Gray Stolz ’17, Elizabeth Taylor, and Dr. Sherry Hamby.  Beyond Risk Factors:  an investigation of attributes contributing to scam compliance.  Mentor, Research Professor of Psychology Sherry Hamby.  Taylor is Project Manager of the Life Paths Appalachian Research Center.

Objective: Current research on scam compliance focuses on personal attributes of victims, yet is limited in its representation of factors that aid in scam compliance. Our study explores this limitation by examining challenges and features of legitimate solicitations versus malicious scams.
Methods: A sample of 65 participants from the rural Southeast participated in focus groups on technology use and digital privacy.
Results: Participants claimed the difficulty in detecting scams depends on the source (scammer’s physical appearance), content (emotion-eliciting content), and form of the scam. Online scams were particularly difficult to detect due to technology’s ability to mask deception.
Conclusions: Current literature on scam compliance focuses on individual risk factors and subsequently does not account for all scam victims. By analyzing scams themselves, this study not only shifts the blame away from victim characteristics, but also adds a new perspective on scam compliance.

Matthew Purvis ’16, Elizabeth Taylor, and Dr. Sherry Hamby.  Can spirituality help you move?  Exploring the impact of spirituality on residential mobility, well-being, and mental health outcomes.  Mentor, Research Professor of Psychology Sherry Hamby. 

Objective: In a fluid society, mobility is more relevant than ever. Past research, while neglecting mediating factors, shows that mobility is associated with poor health, lower well-being, and mental health issues. We studied the impact of religion and social support on well-being and mental health of mobile individuals.
Method: 1331 rural Southeastern individuals from a larger study completed a survey with a range of constructs.
Results: Religion and social support are associated with well-being; religion mediates the relationship of mobility and well-being; mobility and social support are associated with mental health; age mediates the relationship of mobility and mental health.
Conclusions: Our results suggest religion may help cope with issues related to moving. Also, as age increases, the risk for poor mental health linked with mobility decreases. Methods that focus on religion and social support may aid mobile at-risk youth, however, more research is needed in the clinical context.

Veronica Gordillo-Herrejon ’17, Emily A. Shriner ’18, Sonia C. Francone ’17, and William L.F. Wright ’16.  Size characterization and solubility examination of monolayer-protected quantum dots.  Mentor, Professor of Chemistry Deon Miles.  Francone is a double major in Psychology and Biochemistry.

Water-soluble, monolayer-protected quantum dots (QDs) were synthesized using several water-soluble thiols and alternative metal salts (e.g., cadmium acetate, zinc sulfate). QDs were synthesized at temperatures as low as -55°C in attempts to control the growth of the nanoparticles. The optical properties of QD solutions were characterized using UV-visible and fluorescence spectroscopies. The hydrodynamic radius of the QDs was determined using pulsed field gradient (PFG) NMR. The diffusion coefficient of the nanoparticles, in concert with a small reference molecule, was determined using PFG-NMR. Subsequently, the size of the nanoparticles was calculated using a modified version of the Stokes-Einstein equation. Size- exclusion chromatography (SEC) was employed in attempts to purify and separate the QDs by size. Also, the solubility and spectral properties of the QDs in different solvents (i.e., water, methanol, and ethanol) was studied.

Madison Bunderson ’18.  Mood modulation by music:  neural arousal and attention.  Mentor, Assistant Professor of Psychology Brandy Tiernan.  Bunderson is a Psychology major with a minor in Neuroscience and a certificate in Creative Writing.

Previous literature suggests that mood modulates the neural response to emotional stimuli. In the proposed study we will induce mood states with music, then use an oddball paradigm in which participants will categorize images as positive, negative, or neutral while brain activity is recorded. Our research questions include: a) if music is salient enough to change and stabilize mood and b) whether mood influences attention and arousal for negative events. We expect that mood states will elicit differential neural activity for negative images when participants are asked to categorize emotionally salient images. More specifically, neural response to negative images will be greater than the response to positive or neutral images when a positive mood is induced, an indication of increased arousal and attention shifting. The understanding of music’s influence and of the neural mechanisms underlying emotion, mood, and affect is invaluable due to their roles in our everyday life and behavior.

Alli Smith ’16, and Dr. Nicole Noffsinger-Frazier.  Don’t Yak Back:  effects of media usage and feminist identity on body satisfaction in college women.  Mentor, Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology Nicole Noffsinger-FrazierSecond Place, McCrady Prizes for Posters in Behavioral and Social Sciences.

Downing & Roush’s (1985) model of feminist identity development has inconsistently been linked to body satisfaction. Moreover, Downing & Roush’s model has been questioned for its relevance to young women today. This study examined the associations between feminist identity development, feminist self-identification, body satisfaction, and media usage, including social media and streaming websites. Participants were 79 undergraduate women, who completed a survey measuring the preceding factors. Results supported Erchull and associate’s (2009) theory that synthesis may be a natural starting point for young women’s feminist identity today. Support for the relationship between feminist identity and body satisfaction was inconclusive. Yik Yak, an anonymous discussion app, was predictive of body dissatisfaction. Future research should consider a more relevant model of feminist identity for young women today, as well social media’s mediation of both feminist identity and body dissatisfaction.

August Kirchner ’16, Alli Smith ’16, and Dr. Sherry Hamby.  Why Don’t You Just Text Me?  Investigations in the effects of technology on face to face and interpersonal communication.  Mentor, Research Professor of Psychology Sherry Hamby. 

Purpose: Technology greatly affects how we communicate on a face-to-face basis. Literature has shown that technology has a large impact on the way we communicate with others, but it has failed to show precisely how it affects our relationships.
Method: 65 participants from rural Appalachia participated in focus groups on technology use and digital privacy.
Results: We found that technology negatively impacts face-to-face communication, thus harming interpersonal relationships. Themes include overuse of texting, lack of personal contact outside of the virtual world, and unawareness of one’s surroundings.
Conclusions: Unlike previous literature, this study shifts from a broader focus on communication to the impact of technology on our relationships. While technology is a great aid to society, it can also be detrimental to our relationships. Further research should seek to understand the societal and interpersonal implications of our changing methods of social interaction.

Cody Bartz ’18.  Mood and memory in college students.  Mentor, Assistant Professor of Psychology Brandy Tiernan.  Bartz is a Psychology major with a minor in Neuroscience.

Sad moods impact memory. For example, depressed individuals retrieve less information than healthy controls on episodic memory tasks. Unfortunately depression is common on college campuses, where adequate retrieval is essential for high performance and achievement. Research suggests increased cognitive load affects memory. Full time college students enrolled in extra activities may feel stressed, which, in turn, influences mood and suboptimal memory retrieval. In this experiment, we examine the relationship between mood, cognitive load, and memory retrieval. Participants will complete self-report measures of mood, memory, and current workload, followed with a computer-based task to test cognitive load and memory. We expect that higher scores on measures of depression and sad mood will perform poorly on these tasks. Moreover, we expect that increase cognitive load will impact mood. We will use the results to support students and find useful strategies to promote work-life balance.

Sonia Francone ’17, Joanna Poprawski, Kyle Brimacombe, Min Shen, Mathew Boxer, Anton Simeonov, Matthew Hall, and Michael Gottesman MD.  A high-throughput screen of the MLSMR collection to identify substrates of P-Glycoprotein.  Mentor, Michael Gottesman MD, Chief, Laboratory of Cell Biology, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health.  Francone is a double major in Psychology and Biochemistry.

As cancer mortality increases, it is necessary to understand why certain treatments are effective whereas others fail. A great challenge in cancer treatment is the acquirement of multidrug resistance (MDR). Cells with MDR overexpress proteins of the ABC family of efflux transporters, particularly P-glycoprotein (P-gp). This efflux protein scans the membrane and cytosolic space for molecules that are chemically unrelated to the cell, such as anticancer drugs. The poly-specificity of P-gp allows it to recognize several potential toxins and expel them from the cell, rendering treatment with anticancer drugs ineffective. To identify P-gp substrates, high-throughput assays were conducted using parental, non-resistant cell lines and their corresponding MDR sublines. Compounds were obtained from the NCATS MLSMR collection and the results showed that P-gp has several potential substrates, which are currently under further examination to determine if common pharmacophores are present.

Social Research Lab:  Dr. Jordan Troisi, Julian Wright ’17, Dr. Bethany Fleck (Metropolitan State University of Denver), Rachel McGill (Metropolitan State University of Denver), Garrett Heatherly ’16, Anna Bradley ’18, Meaghan Gray ’17, and Alex Evans ’16.  Grading Scheme Study.  Mentor, Assistant Professor of Psychology Jordan Troisi.  Heatherly is a Psychology Major with a minor in Neuroscience.

Many college level classes are graded on point-based systems determined by the amount of points earned throughout the semester. Students’ perceptions of the amount of points in a course have not been empirically examined. Using an experimental paradigm with online surveys, students (n = 216) at two universities reported their perceptions of college course vignettes: one in which 100 points were available and one in which 1000 points were available. Participants then completed a series of surveys. Results showed that students prefer and would be more likely to sign up for a course with a 100-point based grade scheme. Results also revealed that those in the 1000-point based condition experience more negative mood at the prospect of having points deducted. These effects were enhanced among female participants. Additionally, statistically controlling for income and race did not alter the results. We recommend that college courses offer fewer total points.

Kathryn Dickinson ’16, Abby Cole ’16, Claire Huskey ’16, and Charles Colhoun ’16.  Plating and Perception:  investigation the role of plating on the perceived enjoyment of food.  Mentor, Assistant Professor of Psychology Jordan Troisi. 

There is significant research investigating the relationship between the way food is plated, and the subsequent enjoyment of the food. We decided to compare the perceived enjoyment of the food on two types of plates and utensils and two different descriptions (detailed and limited). We hypothesized that the exact same meal served on ceramic plates with a detailed description would be enjoyed more than the meal served on disposable plates with a limited description. We had a total of 63 participants from ages 18 to 22, all undergraduate students at the University of the South. Contrary to previous research, we did not find a significant difference between the enjoyment of the food based on the plating and the descriptions. Contingent results, possible reasons for deviating conclusions, and further research directions are discussed.

Loren Ketelsen ’17, and Heidi Syler.  Study of library use and impact on academic success.  Mentor, Associate Professor of Psychology Helen Bateman.  Syler is Information Literacy and Instruction Librarian in duPont Library.  Third Place, McCrady Prizes for Posters in Behavioral and Social Sciences.

Research has shown that people who study in the library have a higher GPA. In a study by Thomas & Wang (2014) it was found that students who used the library had a higher GPA by 0.34%. George & Foster (2013) examined how people function in different areas of a library and found that students perform better in quieter environments with no distractions. Students spending time in groups are more easily distracted as they want to be included in conversation and prefer not to be left out. Our hypothesis is that if a student has a high GPA they will have frequented a quiet space in the library and they will also know how to use the library’s resources. In this study 75 students will be given a survey that examines their library use and how it impacts academic success. We predict that the higher GPAs represented will have a high correlation with the amount of time that students spend in the library.

Yubisan Ventura ’16.  Gender differences in E-Cigarette use among adolescents.  Mentors, Dr. Grace Kong (Associate Research Scientist) and Dr. Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin (Professor), Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine.  Ventura is a Psychology major with a Neuroscience minor.

Studies have shown that there are gender differences in tobacco use (i.e. cigarette smoking, smokeless tobacco, cigars, pipe, etc.). Adult and adolescent males smoke more cigarettes per day than adult & adolescent females. Significantly fewer females inhale, if they do, fewer inhale deeply with every puff as compared to males. Females take fewer puffs than males and men have a larger puffing volume and longer puff duration than females. E-cigarette use continue to grow among adolescents. However, research has not analyzed whether there are gender differences in e-cigarette use. I hypothesize that there is a gender difference in e-cigarette vaping behavior among adolescents. Adolescent females will take fewer puffs as compared to adolescent males. Adolescent males will take deeper and longer puffs as compared to adolescent females.

Anna Bradley ’18, Dr. Jordan Troisi, Dr. Regan Gurung, Sara Balte ’17, Alex Evans ’16, Meaghan Gray ’17, Garrett Heatherly ’16, and Julian Wright ’17.  Pride and Prejudice:  consequences of race and exposure to the Confederate Flag.  Mentor, Assistant Professor of Psychology Jordan Troisi.  Heatherly is a Psychology major with a minor in Neuroscience.  Dr. Gurung is Professor of Human Development and Psychology at the Univ. of Wisconsin Green Bay.

Past research suggests that exposure to the Confederate Flag affects judgments toward nonwhite individuals. Our study furthered this research by focusing on different racial groups’ reactions to the Confederate Flag. Participants were Sewanee students (n=41), 35 of which were white, and 6 of which were nonwhite. Participants were randomly assigned to view one of two sets of news headlines with accompanying images: one with stories featuring the Confederate Flag, and one without the flag. Afterward participants completed a series of questionnaires. Our results indicate that exposure to the Confederate Flag did not influence whites towards whites intended attitudes when encountering racism and personal attitudes about the flag. However, exposure to the Confederate Flag did significantly influence the responses of nonwhite individuals. Overall, the results suggest that exposure to the Confederate Flag has a greater impact on nonwhite individuals than white individuals.

Joshua Treadwell ’16.  Creation by Destruction.  [oral presentation]  Mentor, Professor of Art Greg Pond.  Treadwell is a double major in Psychology and Art.

This body of work explores the tactile components of self-destructive experiences, using techniques, which exemplify tactile processes. The use of these techniques to construct work serves to rationalize nonsensical damage and pain. Creation of the work provides an outlet for these self-destructive tendencies and gives them purpose. The self-destructive nature shown in this body of work also speaks to a need for control. Artistically this control can relate to the control of material, surface, color, or any number of things. In conjunction with these artistic qualities, elements of control in human nature are also expressed. People seek to control: their bodies, emotions, and even thoughts. These works, which explore both artistic and human control, build on the hyper-controlling nature of our society and also work to embrace what cannot be controlled or contained.

Petra Richer ’16.  Exome sequencing in Tourette Syndrome and genetic screening in a C. elegans model of Machado Joseph Disease.  [oral presentation]  Mentors, Assistant Professor of Biology Elise Kikis and Thomas Fernandez MD, Assistant Professor in the Child Study Center and of Psychiatry at Yale.   Richer is a Biology major with a minor in Neuroscience.  Based on work at the Sewanee-at-Yale Directed Research Program.

Gene discovery has played an integral role in elucidating mechanisms underlying neurological disorders. Sequencing studies have identified variation between cohorts to implicate genes in disorders like Tourette syndrome (TS), while neurodegenerative disorders have been modeled in C. elegans, where RNA interference (RNAi) screens have identified regulators of polyglutamine (polyQ) aggregation. Here, I describe an exome sequencing study exploring de novo genetic variation in TS. Implicated genes were assessed for their functional roles and expression and were found to be vital for a variety of cellular processes and had distinct spatiotemporal localization. In a separate project, an ethyl methanesulfonate mutagenesis screen was performed to identify genes that suppress the aggregation of the ataxin-3 protein in which a polyQ expansion causes Machado Joseph disease. C. elegans expressing the human ataxin-3 protein were mutagenized and are currently being characterized.

Jemima Senoga ’16.  Crowdsourcing:  a new culturally relevant measure of assertiveness.  [oral presentation]  Mentor, Associate Professor of Psychology Al Bardi.

The Rathus Assertiveness Scale (RAS, Rathus, 1973) is a widely used measure of assertiveness but does not measure the construct as it manifests in differing cultures. The purpose of this study is to use crowdsourced data from African-Americans and Latino/a Americans to conduct reliability and validity analyses to build a new, more culturally inclusive measure of assertiveness. We created 98 items using focus group data from African-American, Latino/a American, and female participants regarding aggression and assertiveness within their communities. These items, the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale (Crowne & Marlowe, 1960), the RAS, and the Expanded Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure (EMEIM, Gaines, Marelich, Bunce, Robertson, & Wright, 2013) were administered to 208 Latino/a Americans and 207 African Americans via a crowdsourcing platform. Psychometrics of the resultant measure will be discussed.

Daniel Fortner ’16.  Colluvial mass movements below the bluff line:  using LIDAR to survey Domain landslides.  [oral presentation]  Mentors, Dr. Kevin Hobbs and Professor of Geology Steve Shaver.  Fortner is a Natural Resources major with a minor in Psychology.

Mass movements, particularly rotational landslides, are a major mechanism by which Southern Appalachian slopes erode. Importantly, the advent of airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), which can be used to generate high-resolution digital elevation models (HRDEMs) and to rapidly visualize forest-floor topography, presents a possible mechanism for greatly enhancing the efficiency of local mass movement studies. Our study, which uses LiDAR and ground-truthing to survey approximately 50% of Domain slopes, represents the only recent inventory of Sewanee-area landslides. By comparing DEM and field findings for more than a dozen mass movements, including several previously undocumented rotational landslides, we demonstrate that LiDAR rivals and, especially for decades-old slides, even exceeds field surveying as a tool for time-effectively locating and measuring colluvial mass movements. We also find LiDAR effective for remotely generating accurate landslide volume estimates. In addition, by performing dendrochronology within slides, we propose a general mechanism by which local slides back-propagate and evolve over time. We find a strong tendency for slides to initiate in colluvium derived at least partially from carbonate-rich bedrock (rather than exclusively from sandstone), and we show that slides are especially likely to occur on slopes steeper than 20°. We further find that anthropogenic influences (roads, drainage culverts, logging) disproportionately encourage landsliding, and we propose that 1) colluvium saturation level, 2) slope inclination, 3) colluvium textural composition, and 4) anthropogenic slope destabilization represent the most important local controls on slope susceptibility. We discuss the advantages and limitations of LiDAR with regard to false-positive and false-negative landslide identification.

April Kosakoff ’16.  Hymen Mythologies:  blood, pain, and self-fulfilling prophecies.  [oral presentation]  Mentor, Professor of History and Women’s & Gender Studies Julie Berebitsky.  Kosakoff is a double major in Psychology and Women’s & Gender Studies.

The hymen is potentially the most misunderstood and dangerous part of anatomy in the human body. This thesis focused on the hymen myth, the false idea that having an intact hymen is proof of a girl’s virginity. This myth will be de-bunked and traced across history, through Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, early Jewish culture and religion, and Christian gospels, to modern day implications in medicine, sexual education, and modern American culture. The hymen myth affects everyone in some form, having the power to kill over 5,000 women every year. The only way to combat this dangerous myth is through education and consciousness raising.

Scholarship Sewanee, a campus-wide celebration of student scholarship and creative activity, is made possible by numerous generous benefactors including Walter and Mayna Nance;  The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation;  The Undergraduate Research Advisory Committee;  The Office of the Dean of the College;  Elizabeth Ellis, Erin Cassell, & Charles McClain;  Physical Plant Services;  and Print Services.