Dietrich Undergraduate Colloquium 2013 - Schedule

Friday November 1, Opening Reception, 7 :00 pm – 9 :00 pm, Ginger’s Foyer (the new wing basement of Baker Hall)

Please join us for light refreshments as we celebrate the opening of the first annual Dietrich Undergraduate Colloquium. We will hand out name badges and gifts to our attendees. Presenters will also have the opportunity to test their presentations and poster-ers can scope out Ginger’s Foyer for poster placement (alphabetically around the room).


Saturday November 2, Sessions and Posters*, 9:00am-3:05pm, Giant Eagle Auditorium, Steinberg Auditorium, and Ginger’s Foyer

Refreshments will be available beginning at 9 :00 am. Sessions (15 minutes plus 5 minutes of questions/answers) will run from 9:30-12:00 and 1:00-3:05 (every 25 minutes). A dedicated poster session will be held in Ginger’s Foyer from 12 :00-1 :00, lunch will be provided to presenters and attendees. The Windows Surface raffle will be held during the day.


N.B. Abstracts (alphabetically by presenter/poster-er name) for all sessions and posters are available to view after the schedule.



Giant Eagle Auditorium

Steinberg Auditorium


Marcy Held

Meaning Through Photographs


Stephanie Park

Design for Learning Environment: The Effects of Seating and Surrounding Conditions on Participation


Felicia Alfieri

Prohibition and Violence, A Case Study: Smethport, Pennsylvania

Michelle McClory

A Future for History in a World of Social Studies: History Teachers and the NEA’s Social Studies Report of 1916


Meredith Crenshaw

Analysis of Linguistic Variation in French-language Comics with Implications for L2 Teaching

Seo Young Hwang

Japanese Youth Mentality and Social Phenomena Mirrored in Entertainment Media


Kathryn McKeough

Evaluating Statistics of Galaxy Cluster Detection

Christophe Combemale

Degrees of Separation: Leading Indicators for Refractory Materials


Adam Montgomery

Ostalgie: How East Germans Identify in a Unified Germany

Emily LaRosa

Egon Schiele: The Women Behind the Man


Manojit Nandi

Measuring the Strength of Contagions in Social Networks

Jonathan Yu

Spike Train Correlation in Random Walk Integrate and Fire Neurons

12 :00-1 :00

Informal poster discussions offered by Abhik Bhawal, Amelia Britton, Stephanie Chiu, Adelaide Cole, Daniel Davis, Wyatt D’Emilia, Elizabeth Kramer, Mei Kuo, Bryn Loeffler, Kevin Alastair M. Tan

Lunch available in Ginger’s Foyer

1 :00

Sara Fields and Margaret Marchese


Colleen Eagan

College Admissions Communications: Synthetic Personalization, Consumption, and Attribution


Yuna Oh

Paris, qui es-tu?


Berryhill Elizabeth McCarty

International Medical Graduates: The Balance Between Professional and National Identity


Maya Schumer

When Impulse Regulation Goes Wrong: A Study of Skin Picking and Related Disorders

Shruti Kuppa

Ingroup and Outgroup Effects in Competitive Environments


Alice Tripp

A Case for Regional Ocean Management

Nina Mast

The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy in the West Bank (1967-2012)


End of the first annual

Dietrich Undergraduate Colloquium


Presentation and Poster Abstracts


Presenter: Felicia Alfieri

Mentor: Dr. Gloria Hill

Prohibition and Violence, a Case Study: Smethport, Pennsylvania

Presentation abstract: The onset of the Prohibition movement was met with mixed reviews across the country. The purpose of this paper is to study a particular case: my hometown of Smethport, Pennsylvania, and the surrounding area. Smethport’s population initially doubted the future success of this amendment. Many bootleggers, sellers of illegal alcohol, began to crop up, however, and the community began to unite and support the law as much as they could. Despite the efforts of numerous officers, the County Judge, and a top-notch detective, Smethport and the surrounding areas went through an unintended phase of increased disobedience, crime and violence.


Presenter: Naomi Berman

Mentor: Dr. Jay Devine


Presentation abstract: To the modern day layman, Shakespearian English is a different language. The incoherency between these two dialects of English comes from the way that we encode cultural data into our language. Different cultures, or the same cultures across time, have different interests and needs which are reflected in the form and focus of its discourse. This is the fascinating field of historical sociolinguistics. The source text of Dr. Devine’s freshman seminar class, a log of a road trip written and taken by four young men in the later 1930’s across the Eastern United States, suffers from this incoherency and the aim of my project is to dissolve it by using etymological and contextual clues provided by new digital resources to create a glossary to go along with “The Log” explaining idiom and spelling quirks. While translating, I also hope to identify clues as to who specifically is writing this text using only the diction in “The Log”. For instance, we might see evidence that the boys are from the greater New York area, or that they come from a town with a large population of new wave immigrants or perhaps that one of the boys is currently in college.


Presenter: Christophe Combemale

Mentor: Dr. Candace Skibba

Degrees of Separation: Leading Indicators for Refractory Materials

Presentation abstract: This research was conducted on behalf of a private firm interested in quantitative models for raw materials relevant to the creation of refractories and designed for inclusion in company purchasing strategies.   In particular, salient results were achieved for zircon, graphite and calcined alumina.  Zircon is important to refractory production as a high specification component material for improving resistance to thermal shock, while graphite flakes and calcined alumina are used by the company in specialty shapes and bricks for refractory assemblages. 

Study of possible leading indicators combined elements of statistical analysis with the qualitative evaluation of these materials according to the variety of applications, features of the refinement or extraction processes and distribution channels that might bear upon major quantitative dimensions such as cost and export volume.         Political and social factors were given special consideration as a field with which the company’s internal analysts were less acquainted, and calcined alumina in particular showed very strong correlation with models comprising data for economic freedom and political upheaval.  Many non-refractory end uses were also considered as leading indicators or were fitted into causal chains beginning with other events.

Presenter: Meredith Crenshaw

Mentor: Dr. Carol Goldburg

Analysis of Linguistic Variation in French-language Comics with Implications for L2 Teaching

Presentation abstract: Second-language education in French often focuses on relatively formal written expression, which can differ greatly from informal or everyday spoken French, particularly in the register (level of formality) used. Register is context-dependent and many students of French have difficulty recognizing and using contextually appropriate levels of language. Authentic, non-pedagogical media can be a practical tool for teaching language learners about variation in register. The dialogue in Rork, a French-language comic, was analyzed to determine if the registers used in various contexts were realistic. This was done by tracking three variable features of discourse that can index formality: the second-person pronouns tu and vous, the first-person-plural pronouns on and nous, and the absence or presence of the particle ne in negation. These were compared with expected rates of use of each variant within analogous real-world situations. The dialogue in Rork is generally too formal to be a realistic representation of everyday spoken French, but comics might still prove useful as a way to expose students to the discourse of alternative genres of written French. This research can take two primary future directions: examining other discourse features, such as the complexity of verb tenses, and examining other comics, like Tintin.


Name: Colleen Eagan

Mentor: Dr. Jay Devine

College Admissions Communications: Synthetic Personalization, Consumption, and Attribution

Presentation abstract: With the number of students applying to institutions of higher education continuing to grow, the number of admissions decisions sent to applicants is also rising.  These admissions letters as a form of discourse represent a unique opportunity: the chance to examine the relationship of communication between the schools and the applicants using an analysis of the contained language.  This analysis is a corpus-driven account of acceptance and rejection letters sent from various universities and colleges.  The observations presented examine differences and similarities in three trends found in the letters:  (1) the assumptions that are being made by the school sending the letters, (2) the purpose/functional use of the letters, and (3) the attribution of responsibility for the admissions decision.  These three trends are explored using a framework based on the Norman Fairclough’s theories of synthetic personalization and the classification of universities as communities of consumption.  Ultimately, the presentation attempts to address the question of how the cultures of schools and the place of academia in modern society may play a role in how the school chooses to address applicants.


Presenters: Sara Fields and Margaret Marchese

Mentor: Dr. Bonnie Youngs


Presentation abstract: This research examines how Carnegie Mellon University Freshman view and interpret the phrase "First World". We are curious in how this phrase is viewed by people from different countries as well as how it is interpreted by people studying different subjects. By putting together a non-bias, 8 question survey, we are collecting accurate, noninvasive data that will allow us to better understand how college students view the idea of "First World" countries and what they consider the weight of this phrase holds. We will then be able to connect this data back to the running comedic joke that brought this issue to our attention, the phrase "First World Problems". From our data, we will be able to tell if students actually understand what they are comparing their lives to when they say this phrase, and more seriously, if the vast spread of internet connection has actually caused a disconnect of caring from the issues of underdeveloped nations. 


Presenter: Marcy Held

Mentor: Dr. Nico Slate

Meaning Through Photographs

Presentation abstract: Photographic communication is inextricably linked with expressions of politics and power. Using Rolling Stone’s August 2013 cover image of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and the ensuing outrage as a case study, I will explore how and why this controversy arose. What happens when an image is used in a context that is interpreted as being a “violation” of either the purposes that image can fill or the content a certain publication can (or should) display? Why was this particular use of Tsarnaev’s photograph seen as being a “violation,” and how do the prescribed cues of visual culture contribute to this particular interpretation of the photograph as it was used in this context? How does Rolling Stone’s positioning within the current media landscape contribute to this situation? By analyzing this event, an evaluation can be made of how the public perceives what are “appropriate” uses for certain images, the role of print media in today’s society, and what line divides concepts of “fame” and “notoriety.” By understanding instances when visual codes are interpreted as being broken, a clearer view can be gained of what those codes actually are and how they are used and navigated on a daily basis.


Presenter: Seo Young Hwang

Mentor: Dr. Gabi Eichmanns

Japanese Youth Mentality and Social Phenomena Mirrored in Entertainment Media

Presentation abstract: Entertainment media is like a mirror reflecting the society of the time. In the course “Japanese Topics: Japanese Youth Culture” I studied how Japan’s popular culture mirrored its youth, which for the purposes of my study included individuals aged 12-25. I focused on representations of Japanese youth within Japanese comic books, Japanese animation works, and Nico Nico Douga. These parts of Japan’s popular culture are known of and enjoyed worldwide; however, very little research has been conducted into the creative works beyond their entertainment value. The entertainment works that I studied for my project showcased both social and cultural phenomena amongst Japanese youth, and the youth’s behavior and mentality in response to the phenomena. Several issues plaguing Japanese youth were presented, such as internet addiction, dual personalities, suicide, depression, social withdrawal, bullying, and extreme academic pressure. I attempted to identify possible sources and solutions of some of the problems currently facing Japanese youth, and the reason why it is so common within creative works to tackle these issues.


Name: Shruti Kuppa

Mentor: Dr. Mina Cikara

Ingroup and Outgroup Effects in Competitive Environments

Presentation abstract: Understanding the role of ingroup and outgroup effects in competitive scenarios is useful in social, political, and economic arenas. This research continued the efforts by Dr Cikara to understand the role of ingroup and outgroup relationships in scenarios where it is possible to have a perceived winner or loser in social settings. and conflict. The first part of each experiment was to conduct online human participation studies to develop unbiased constructs that could be used for future experimentation. An anchoring study was conducted where participants were provided an initial piece of information and then asked to apply that information to a completely different situation. We also developed various visual search tasks that were uniform in difficulty but were diverse in patterns.  After a number of online experiments and revisions, our efforts yielded a full set of images for future experiments. For my presentation I will be illustrating the development of the visual search task as well as the future applications of the images. I will also include the results of the anchoring study and its future implications. I found my research experience at Carnegie Mellon enriching because I was able to apply my knowledge from classes to real life problems.


Presenter: Emily LaRosa

Mentor: Dr. Gabi Eichmanns 

Egon Schiele: The Women Behind the Man

Presentation abstract: Egon Schiele was a master of his time. Revolutionary, unexpected, and revered both during his lifetime and in the present, this Austrian artist used vibrant strokes and unparalleled technique to bring his subject’s souls to light. Born in 1890 in Tulln, Austria, Schiele was esteemed for his artistic prowess as an expressionist painter by such followers of the Secessionist movement as Gustav Klimt.  However, the artist's approaches to subjects were subject themselves to Schiele’s own perception of the world and his relationships. The most influential were with his sister, mother, mistress, and wife, respectively; this is best reflected in his work. Through the analysis of three separate pieces which exemplify his complex relationships, the emotionality and person behind the artistic process is revealed. These pieces (Nude Girl with Folded Arms (Gertrude Schiele), ca. 1910; Two Girls, Lying Entertwined (ca. 1915); Seated Woman (ca. 1918)) illustrate that it is not only man which makes the art, but the heart of man as well.


Presenter: Nina Mast

Mentor: Dr. Kiron Skinner

The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy in the West Bank (1967-2012)

Presentation abstract: While it is evident that the U.S. and Israel have had a special relationship since the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine, it is unclear to what degree the loosely-termed “Israel lobby” has contributed to the continuation and expansion of U.S. support of Israel.  This project aims to demystify the U.S.-Israel relationship by first understanding the various aspects of the Israel lobby, and then providing an analysis of the lobby’s influence. My research aims to answer two questions concerning the relationship between U.S. and Israel in the current Israeli-Arab-Palestinian conflict.  The first question asks: to what degree does the Israel lobby, a diverse coalition of interest groups which aim to promote policies of U.S. support for Israel, influence U.S. foreign policy?  The second question asks: to what degree does U.S. foreign policy influence Israeli political decisions, specifically with respect to Israeli settlement building in the West Bank?  With this project, I hope to provide a more comprehensive portrayal of the Israel lobby’s influence on U.S. policy in order to better understand American and Israeli behavior in the Israeli-Arab-Palestinian conflict and the prospects for a negotiated peace in the West Bank.  


Presenter: Berryhill Elizabeth McCarty

Mentor: Dr. Andreea Deciu Ritivoi

International Medical Graduates: The Balance Between Professional and National Identity

Presentation abstract: This project primarily seeks to explore the intersection between the national identity and the professional identity of the International Medical Graduate (IMG) and how this intersection contributes to their perceived personal identity or self-understanding.  It would be negligent to talk about this subject of identity construction without discussing the moral dilemma some of these physicians face when they choose to leave their native countries to practice in the United States, especially if these individuals are coming from a developing country in need of skilled and trained doctors.  Thus, a portion of this project will explore how these individuals view both their moral duty to their native country and their duty to themselves and the pursuit of their own happiness and professional goals as well as the political, economic, and social details that stand as barriers to their goal of practicing in the United States.


Presenter: Michelle McClory

Mentor: Dr. Bonnie Youngs

A Future for History in a World of Social Studies: History Teachers and the NEA’s Social Studies Report of 1916

Presentation abstract: In the early twentieth century, historians and history teachers began a campaign to defend the importance of history within the secondary school curriculum. At the same time, proponents of the other social studies began to raise questions about the legitimacy of history in its traditional form. This study addresses these concerns and the reaction of history teachers to the National Education Association’s Committee on Social Studies' The Social Studies in Secondary Education: A Six-Year Program Adapted Both to the 6-3-3 and the 8-4 Plans of Organization, through an analysis of submissions to The History Teacher’s Magazine between 1912 and 1917. Analysis indicates that while the answer to educators’ concerns seemed to lie in the recommendations of the 1916 Report, implementation proved nearly impossible. The problem was, despite the history teachers' concerns and through no fault of their own, they were inadequately equipped to carry out the implementation of the Committee's recommendations.


Presenter: Kathryn McKeough

Mentors: Dr Peter Freeman and Dr. Bonnie Youngs

Evaluating Statistics of Galaxy Cluster Detection

Presentation abstract: Telescope images show many galaxies scattered across the field of sight. A galaxy cluster is a group of galaxies drawn together by strong gravitational forces. Astronomers are interested in clusters because they are the most massive gravitationally bound objects in the Universe. Counting them gives us the ability to constrain parameters of cosmological models. Elisa Chisari from the Astrophysical Sciences Department at Princeton University has created a method to determine which clusters are statistically significant and which appear due to a cluttered sky. Elisa has chosen to use the G statistic in her analysis, which is not often used in the context of astronomy. This project compares the G statistic to maximum likelihood of the poisson distribution and chi squared statistics, to confirm that it is the best tool for determining the significance of galaxy clusters. The data is simplified to a one dimensional simulation. A simple model provides a good comparison of the statistics and creates a method of comparison before the complexity of true galaxy locations are added. The statistics are quantitatively compared by completeness, the number of true galaxy clusters detected, and purity, the number of correct cluster detections. Acknowledgement for help on the project goes to Dr. Rachel Mandelbaum.

Presenter: Adam Montgomery

Mentor: Dr. Chris Hallstein

Ostalgie: How East Germans Identify in a Unified Germany

Presentation abstract: After the Reunification of Germany in the 1990, the Federal Republic had the problem of managing two Germanys that had been split for over forty years. East and West Germany had drifted apart not only on economic development and political inclusion, but the two Germanys because different culturally. East Germans sometimes look longingly back to the communist Era and reminisce about life under the German Democratic Republic. This kind of nostalgia has been termed by Germans as “Ostalgie” or a nostalgia for the East. Ostalgie is a means of East Germans coping with a radically new state and a means for themselves to preserve a kind of identity, which is distinct from that of a larger, unified Federal Republic. Ostalgie and the legacy left by communism in the East are factors which hinter understanding between the two Germanys and the development in the East even twenty five years after the reunification of Germany.  


Presenter: Manojit Nandi

Mentor: Dr. Adam van Compernolle

Measuring the Strength of Contagions in Social Networks

Presentation abstract: In observational social network data, if we observe person B starts smoking after observing person A starts smoking, is this because person A influenced person B to start smoking, or did they become friends because they both were likely to start smoking? In the social network literature, this problem is referred to as the “confounding of peer influence by latent homophily”. My hypothesis is there are certain sub-structures present only in network relationships that are generated by latent homophily, so detecting these sub-structures would allow researchers to determine if an observed relationship is due to peer influence or due to latent homophily. For my senior thesis, I am developing a machine algorithm that uses spectral learning to detect and classify these latent sub-structures present within the network dataset. This algorithm will be tested on both simulated data and on empirical observational data from SafeHaven, a forum for Non-Suicidal Self-Injurers, and Reddit, a user-generated social news and content website, to determine how emotionality diffuses throughout social networks.


Presenter: Yuna Oh

Mentor: Dr. Mame-Fatou Niang

Paris, qui es-tu?

Presentation abstract: The Eiffel Tower, baguettes and croissants, Coco Chanel, and most importantly...love. These are the words often associated with the City of Light. Paris, in its glory and beauty, is surrounded by all kinds of myths. But are all these myths and fantasies true? What are the origins of these images? What is the perception of Paris by locals? How is the city perceived by foreigners? What is Paris actually like? By taking a closer look at history, literary works, and films, this research will try to define Paris through the eyes of Parisians, French, and foreigners. It will examine the similarities and the differences in perception, as a way to truths and fantasies about Paris and to highlight the cultural and political importance of Paris in today’s global society. Overall, this research seeks to answer a simple yet complex question: Paris, qui es-tu? Who are you Paris? Through a variety of analysis and lenses, this research will hopefully lift the veil of mystery and fantasies that surround La Ville-Lumière.


Presenter : Stephanie Park

Mentor : Dr. Yasufumi Iwasaki

Design for Learning Environment: The Effects of Seating and Surrounding Conditions on Participation

Presentation abstract: The objective of this research project is to understand and explore the optimal design for a learning environment, specifically its effect on participation and engagement in a classroom. The study consists of analyzing both psychological and architectural aspects of the design with a scientific approach of research. The analysis includes data collection through case studies, observation, and survey, which examine the physical conditions of the environment, such as lighting, thermal comfort, ventilation, and seating configuration, and the relationship of those conditions and participation rate. The analysis will then be used to provide guidelines for optimal design in a learning environment with

its focus on participation rate.

Presenter: Maya C. Schumer

Mentor: Dr. David Creswell

When Impulse Regulation Goes Wrong: A Study of Skin Picking and Related Disorders

Presentation abstract: Impulsivity is the failure to resist a temptation or urge. For most, the ability to control one’s impulses and regulate this control is innate, and sometimes learned. However, when that impulse cannot be regulated, it can have physical, psychological, and neurobiological consequences.  My research focuses on a particular impulse control disorder called Dermatillomania, or Skin Picking Disorder (SPD). SPD is part of a class of OCD-spectrum disorders that include Trichotillomania, or hair pulling. Studying SPD and its current treatments provides deeper insight into what it takes to control an impulse, or at least manage it. My research suggests that the interventions that involve self-induced control, such as cognitive behavioral and habit reversal therapy, foster the most improvement for individuals with SPD. Since SPD is part of a larger class of impulse control disorders, studying and learning more about how to treat SPD can provide more insight into psychiatric disorders that feature impulsivity and ultimately deepen our understanding of human behavior. 

Presenter: Alice Tripp

Mentor: Dr. Laurie Eisenberg

A Case for Regional Ocean Management

Presentation abstract: Increased understanding of the planet and its natural systems has demonstrated the importance, biologically, ecologically, economically, and politically, of the world’s oceans.  Action must be taken to better protect and manage this resource.  My research advocates regional ocean management because of the basis of biological and ecological processes at the regional level, political stagnation in the international arena and limits of local authority, and proven success of regional coalitions for management.


Presenter: Jonathan W. Yu

Mentor: Dr. Carol Goldburg

Spike Train Correlation in Random Walk Integrate and Fire Neurons

Presentation abstract: In many multi-electrode recordings, it has been observed that spike count correlations seem to increase with length of time observed between two neurons. In addition, electrophysiological data from single-unit recordings of rhesus monkeys have been observed to be modeled by a balanced random-walk integrate and fire model. For my project, I plan to study spike train correlations as part of a year-long project in which the purpose of this research project is to be able provide a random-walk integrate and fire model for studying correlation of two neurons under varying conditions. I will first look at the relationship of spike count correlation, across two neurons, to firing rate when there is multiplicative trial-to-trial variability in the inputs to the two neurons. After this step, I will then look at the way synchrony i.e., synchronous firing of two neurons in close temporal proximity, varies with the inputs. Professor Robert E. Kass in the Department of Statistics will serve as my primary thesis advisor as well as Pengcheng Zhou, a graduate student in the CNBC PhD program in Neural Computation, will be a very important mentor as well.



 Presenter: Abhik Bhawal

Mentor: Dr. Brian Junker

Will We Die or Go Crazy First? Predicting the Onset of Dementia in Seniors

Poster abstract: Dementia is a progressive deterioration of mental ability that afflicts people at very old age. Much about its causes and predictability is unknown. This study is meant to shed some light on the demographic and health factors that may lead to dementia. 300 subjects aged between 59-93 were diagnosed over a series of visits on whether they were normal, had Mild Cognitive Impairments (MCI) were demented, or had died. Some demographic information and health variables were taken. After performing some exploratory data analysis and logistic regression, we have seen that MCI tends to act as a precursor to dementia, but it doesn’t guarantee an onset of dementia. Females tend to be more susceptible to MCI, but not dementia. Caucasians tend to stay healthier longer. Having diabetes led to both quicker MCI and dementia. Other things that make one more likely to get dementia in our data is age and the presence of hyperlipidemia, and most of all, any history of stroke. Due to competing risks, hypertension and obesity seemed to decrease chances of dementia, because they lead to quicker death instead.


Presenter: Amelia Britton

Mentor: Dr. Mame-Fatou Niang

The Arab Spring and the French Revolution: The Virtual versus the Palpable

Poster abstract: In a revolution, communications determine the structure of networks among revolutionaries. These operate independently of the regime they hope to undermine. In the French Revolution of 1789, a class of intellectual elites hoped to redistribute power through the National Assembly. However, once this proved ineffectual, the proletariat took to the streets and formed violent, volatile mobs. In contrast, the Arab Spring has used virtual communications and social media to completely alter its organization and mobilization.

How did mobs become key factors in the French Revolution of 1789 and the Arab Spring of 2011? Will the Arab Spring, for its use of social media and the internet, actually produce a working democratic system, or, like the French Revolution of 1789, will the citizens of the Arab world fall back into dictatorship?

            Traditional revolutions succumb to sub-fragmentation if a leader does not emerge. This was certainly the case in the French Revolution, as the oligarchical Directory turned on itself and Napoleon Bonaparte established an autocracy. The Arab Spring is less clear; protests were more efficient and organized but lacked obvious leadership. The quick revolution meant less time to establish transitional governments, and very few countries are now politically stable.


Presenter: Stephanie Chiu

Mentor: Dr. Kenya Dworkin

Obstacles in Translating Manzai for American Audiences

Poster abstract: In today’s increasingly globalized world, the impact of other cultures upon our own is clearly visible. Japanese culture in particular has a large presence in American culture, through video games, anime, and so on. However, other forms of pop culture are not as popular, thus posing the question: why are some forms successful in other countries and others not as much? Using manzai or Japanese comedy as an example, I will explain and answer this question.

Through data gathered through watching manzai videos, analyzing fan translations, and creating my own translations, I’ve come to the conclusion that the differences between the structures of the Japanese language and the English language, alongside the cultural differences in the two countries’ comedies, make manzai difficult to translate.

             For foreign culture to be accepted, it must first be understood by the native culture. Because translation plays a large part in this, it explains why some parts of foreign culture would then succeed less than others. If structural conflicts impede the former and cultural conflicts the latter, then not only would there be a possibility of fewer translations and therefore less exposure, but also a lack of understanding of those parts of foreign pop culture.


Presenter: Adelaide Cole

Mentor: Dr. Michael West

Variability in French Interrogative Sentence Structure

Poster abstract: Concerning stylistic variation in the interrogative, French speakers can employ a variety of different question structures based on the formality of their particular social situations. When forming both closed questions and open questions, a speaker may use inversion (the most formal sentence structure), the interrogative marker est-ce que (less formal), or intonation (least formal). Speakers must use an interrogative word-tool when forming a question, such as an interrogative pronoun, adverb, or adjective; additionally, they can combine the word-tool with a pronoun, a verb, or est-ce que. Different socio-situational contexts determine which combination of the interrogative elements to use, since typically about eight different permutations of a single question exist. For non-native students of French, the methods and usage of forming questions should be more frequently incorporated into lesson plans, in order to better instruct students as to the proper contexts for using formal and informal question structures. 


Presenter: Daniel Davis

Mentor: Dr. Tom Werner

Historical and Linguistic Analysis of Samaritan Hebrew

Poster abstract: While the name may sound familiar, Samaritan was not originally a term applied to those who engaged in the practice of helping others.  The Samaritans, at the time of the Christian Bible story to which they lend their name, were a religious sect distinct from and in conflict with the Judeans.  Due to their dissociation from mainstream Judaism, Samaritan culture and language have evolved in a manner which sets them apart from the other descendant languages of Ancient Hebrew; in fact, given their relatively sedentary history and general lack of cultural interference, many argue that the form of liturgical Hebrew which they use today is far more loyal to the original than any current Hebrew dialects, a proposal for which there is significant linguistic evidence. 

My research concerns the language of Samaritan Hebrew and intends to compare it to other dialects of Hebrew, both Ancient and Modern, in the context of phonology (sound systems) and affixational morphology (prefixes/suffixes in word structure).  I will especially focus on making my research accessible to non-linguists, as the Samaritan language is of value to Jewish, Christian, and secular academics in a wide range of disciplines.


Presenter: Wyatt D'Emilia

Mentor: Dr. Anna Fisher

Measuring Development of Semantic Knowledge in Preschool Children

Poster abstract: This study focuses on how children organize their knowledge.  Previous research shows that only a small percentage of preschoolers can spontaneously make category-based inferences (Godwin, Matlen, & Fisher, 2011). Research also shows that as domain knowledge increases, children shift their focus from perceptual similarity to relational similarity (Rattermann & Gentner, 1998).  Such results appear to show category-based reasoning increasing with age and cognitive development.  This study aims to examine the development of children’s knowledge organization, which will help researchers to ultimately understand how children make inferences.


Presenter : Elizabeth Kramer

Mentor: Dr. Kari Tremeryn

Losing the Blame Game to Win for the Family: The Continued Benefits of the No-Fault Divorce Movement, 1969 to Today

Poster abstract: Historically, American law grappled with divorce in relation to families’ well-being. Original divorce sentiments relied on various colonial ideologies that aggregated to an inconsistent interpretation of marriage as permanent but also as a contractual agreement requiring both parties’ consent. This engendered the traditional punitive divorce process, which required identifying a breach of marital commitment in order to dissolve a marriage. In subsequent years, the punitive assumption that the fault in a deteriorating marriage belongs to one party created a compromised court system that allowed gender bias, perjury, and combativeness that hurt families. In 1969, Governor Ronald Reagan passed the California Family Care Act, allowing the dissolution of marriage by irreconcilable differences which ended fault-based divorce in California and more largely incited a national movement  for a non-punitive legal interpretation of divorce. Though, my research shows that the No-fault divorce movement’s original ideals goals were not completely realized because the No-fault model relies upon judges’ subjective assessment of each family’s circumstances, My findings argue that judges’ new subjective methods of allowing evidence and testimonies, determining asset allocation, and deciding child custody under the No-fault system universally bettered families by addressing the fault system’s failings.


Presenter: Mei Kuo

Mentor: Dr. Yoshihiro Yasuhara

Prediction of a Housing Bubble Burst in Taiwan Through the Use of Empirical Evidence and Indicators

Poster abstract: The main goal of the research is to explore the possibility of a housing bubble to form and burst in Taiwan.  We first explore current existing theories and models that define and identify the formation of a housing bubble, as well as the causes of the bubble burst. After selecting important indicators that affect the housing market, we take empirical evidences from the United States and Japan during their housing bubble crisis, and compare the results to the current Taiwanese data to see the similarity within three markets. Once the appropriate housing indicators are set, we formulate an econometric test to demonstrate the significance and accuracy of these indicators. Finally, we use the most effective housing indicator(s) to predict the potential bubble burst in Taiwan.


Presenter: Bryn Loeffler

Mentor: Dr. Candace Skibba

All That Glitters is Not Gold: The Political Implications of the Economic History of Spain

Poster abstract: Throughout history, political and economic events are inevitably intertwined.  This is especially true when discussing the development of Spain as a modern nation.  From the fifteenth century to modern day, Spain’s political events reflected the economic atmosphere of the time and vice versa.  By tracing each successive currency, going as far back to the influx of gold during the age of exploration, it is possible to monitor the changes within Spain and how they contributed to its current political state.  This manner of analysis provides a new perspective concerning the growth of Spain as a modern nation in both economic and political terms and explores the extent to which political events and the relevant economy are intertwined.


Presenter: Kevin Alastair M. Tan

Toward a Pathophysiology of Rumination: Effects of Serotonergic and Behavioral Interventions on Dorsal Nexus Resting-state Functional Connectivity in Depression

Poster abstract: Research on the neural bases of mental illness has the potential to alleviate the subjectivity endemic within psychiatry as compared to other fields of medicine. Rumination is a primary symptom of major depressive disorder (MDD), and is characterized as recurring self-referential internal worry. Rumination usually occurs during periods of wakeful rest, taking the place of normal mind-wandering (daydreaming). Resting-state neuroimaging measures brain activity during wakeful rest, and recent studies have found a brain region—the dorsal nexus—that features anomalously high connectivity in depressed individuals. Specifically, the dorsal nexus is hyperconnected to three neural networks: the default-mode (DMN), affective (AN), and cognitive control networks (CCN). These networks are thought to underlie rumination, and are implicated in depression overall. Connectivity strengths between the dorsal nexus, DMN, AN, and CCN were found to correlate robustly with rumination self-report scores. Thus, these connectivities may be integral to the pathophysiology of rumination, serving as a putative physiological measure of symptom severity. Currently, measures of MDD and most other mental illness are purely behavioral. This research may contribute towards the integration of physiological measures in psychiatry, as well as aid in the development of novel therapies for MDD. Acknowledgement goes to Greg J. Siegle, PhD of University of Pittsburgh, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic  & Thomas Kraynak, BA of UPMC, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic.