Eight Research Methods projects presented as posters at Scientific Sewanee

Eight (of 32) Scientific Sewanee posters were presented by psychology students. At least one researcher remained close to each poster to discuss the project with those attending.

Scientific Sewanee is supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Physical Plant Services.  The Coordinating Committee were Martin Knoll (geology), Deborah McGrath (biology) Helen Bateman (psychology), and John Shibata (chemistry)

Alysia Belle ’09, Paige Nelson ’10, & Emily Randolph ’09. The effect of instrumental and lyrical music on verbal memory. [Psychology 251, Research Methods, project; Karen Yu, instructor]

  • We investigated whether instrumental and lyrical music have different effects on verbal memory. We asked twenty-two students from an introductory psychology class to listen to instrumental music for five minutes while studying a list of thirty words. They were then asked to write down as many words from the list as they could remember. We then repeated the process with the lyrical version of the same songs and a second word list. Because one word list may have been more easily remembered, each word from the first list had a corresponding word in the second list with approximately the same frequency of appearance in the English language. Also, the word list given with the instrumental music for half of the students was given with the lyrical music for the other half. Through the study, we found that students were more easily able to recall words studied while listening to the lyrical versions of the songs than they were the words studied while listening to the instrumental versions.

Morgan Cannon ’09, Melonye Cleveland ’09, & Chris Vaughn ’09. Can Sewanee students tell a difference between can and fountain Coca-Cola and Sprite soft drinks? [Psychology 251, Research Methods, project; Karen Yu, instructor]

  • The heavily publicized Pepsi Challenge sparked our interest in investigating the difference in soft drinks. We specifically focused on the difference in taste in can and fountain soft drinks of two soda products: Coca-Cola and Sprite. We hypothesized that most students would be able to taste the difference between the two types of each drink. At selected sites on campus we will hold different taste testing stations for each soda (Coca-Cola and Sprite) and each type (can and fountain). Before and after each taste test, participants will be asked to indicate if they can tell the difference between each type of drink (can or fountain) as well as which one they prefer.

Catherine Couey ’09, Shanna Drinkwine ’09, & Kendra Rocca ’09. The effects of running water on a person’s urge to urinate. [Psychology 251, Research Methods, project; Karen Yu, instructor]

  • Urban legend tells us that running water increases one’s urge to urinate. However, to our knowledge, this hypothesis has not yet been studied. We conducted a within-subjects study of a convenience sample. It took place in two sessions. After giving informed consent, ten males and ten females were divided randomly into two groups, placed into separate classrooms, and were instructed to drink 24 oz of water in ten minutes. Both rooms had a movie playing during each session so that the participants would not be idle for long periods of time. The participants were then timed as to how long it would take between their ingesting the water and their needing to use the restroom. The participants stayed in their assigned rooms for both sessions. To help control for order and carryover effects, half of the participants received the conditions in one order (Session 1: running water; Session 2: no running water) and half in the other order (Session 1: no running water; Session 2: running water).

Catherine Couey ’09, Daniel Hinkle ’08, Edward Keithly ’10, & Paige Nelson ’10. Students’ attitude towards and compliance with the Sewanee Honor Code. [Psychology 251, Research Methods, project; Karen Yu, instructor]

  • With 75% of American college students reporting having cheated on a paper or test (Thomson 2004), we felt that Sewanee’s student body may no longer share the ideals of its Honor Code. An online survey of 651 undergraduate students at Sewanee aimed to gather data on their compliance with and attitudes toward the Sewanee Honor Code. The majority of the student body responded in favor of the Honor Code and most reported that they have never cheated. However, data suggested students fail to report their classmates cheating, an important tenet of the honor code. Despite possible flaws associated with question wording, participant selection and self-report the study suggests that the incidence of cheating at Sewanee is far less than the national average. While this is promising, student failure to report cheating suggests poor understanding of what the Sewanee Honor Code means.

Anne Porchér Flynn ’09. Driver response in yielding to pedestrians and seemingly disabled pedestrians. [Psychology 251, Research Methods, project; Karen Yu, instructor]

  • Experiment investigated factors expected to influence yielding by vehicles to a pedestrian attempting to cross University Avenue in Sewanee, TN. A teenage female and a middle age female were instructed to cross the street in four different ways: walking normally, with a crosswalk sign present, with crutches, and with a wheelchair. The behavior of 25 motorists was observed for each subject in each situation.

Kara Holcomb ’09, Amy Jackson ’09, & Kendra Rocca ’09. The relationship beteween gender and frequency of student participation in a college classroom. [Psychology 251, Research Methods, project; Karen Yu, instructor]

  • The relationship between gender and class participation has been previously investigated with inconsistent results. Our study aimed to find a possible correlation between a student’s gender and his or her frequency of class participation. A total of 651 participants took part in three different sections of the study: observation, a student survey, and a professor survey. The observational data show that in our sample, males participated slightly more than females. The majority of survey participants believed males and females participate equally.

Amy Jackson ’09, Steffi Renninger ’10, & Callie Sadler ’09. Did you lock the door? The effects of caffeine on test performance. [Psychology 251, Research Methods, project; Karen Yu, instructor]

  • Forty-eight college students were randomly asked to participate in an experiment testing the effects of caffeine on test performance. 24 participants were given two Foosh mints, which is equivalent to two cups of coffee. The other 24 were given two placebo mints. After 35 minutes, the participants were given two tests—one that tests their hand-eye coordination and one logic test with basic math problems. We predicted that the subjects who were given the caffeinated mints would have enhanced performance on the hand-eye coordination task, but that there would be no difference in the logic test.

Emily Randolph ’10, Shanna Drinkwine ’09, Callie Sadler ’09, & Chris Vaughan ’09. When describing a picture and aspects of their personal life, who tends to be more descriptive: male or female undergraduates? [Psychology 251, Research Methods, project; Karen Yu, instructor]

  • Descriptiveness can be defined in numerous ways, involving adjective use, creativity, or even word count. This study examines whether men or women tend to be more descriptive. In order to determine which gender is more descriptive, 80 participants (40 male and 40 female) which consisted of students from all four years of undergraduate studies completed a survey which included 3 questions. Descriptiveness was determined by total word count in their responses. Overall, females tended to be more descriptive, with senior males as the least descriptive group.

Matt Hess ’07, & Valerie Moye ’07. Insect inventory of the new Shakerag Hollow addition. [Biology 200, Entomology; Kirk Zigler, instructor]  [Matt Hess is majoring both in Psychology and in Environmental Studies: Ecology and Biodiversity]

  • Shakerag Hollow is one of the most species-rich forests in the South (Shoumatoff 2004). Shakerag is known to have an impressive diversity of butterflies and a “full complement of silk-moth species” (Shoumatoff 2004). The University purchased and placed this 208 acre tract under a conservation easement in 2004. E.O. Wilson supported conservation of Shakerag Hollow, saying that “one precious remnant of the original forest area of the Eastern United States will remain in its original, pristine state.” Why inventory? It’s new and has not been explored in detail. Recently several new plant species for the Domain have been found in the new addition. We expected to observe a great diversity of insects due to the impressive diversity of flora in Shakerag Hollow.

George Twitty ’07, Bradley J. Waffa ’08, & Russell Riehl ’08. Purification and analysis of Histidinol Dehydrogenase.  [Bradley J. Waffa is a Biology major taking a minor in Psychology]

  • Production of recombinant enzymes and genetically altered enzymes allows for the characterization of molecular, structural and functional properties of the protein. Histidinol dehydrogenase (HisD, EC1.1.1.23) catalyzes the conversion of L-histidinol to L-histidine. The cloning and expression of recombinant poly-his tagged HisD was performed in chemically competent TOP10 Escherichia coli (E. coli). Successful transformation was confirmed by purification of DNA and restriction endonuclease analysis. Purification of poly-His tagged HisD, a 46 kD monomer, was carried out using the incorporated polyHis affinity tag and a cobalt IMAC binding resin. Recombinant poly-his tagged HisD was quantified and characterized by SDS-PAGE analysis. Imidazole (150mM) eluates initially indicated protein in column fractions which could not be confirmed with SDS-PAGE analysis. Gln-188 is predicted to be a critical residue for HisD function and we have designed a site-directed mutagenesis strategy for testing the importance of this residue in recombinant enzyme activity.