Class of 2017 Thesis Award Winners

2017 Thesis Winners

The highest grade a thesis can earn is Pass with Distinction. At our commencement ceremony each spring, the Clark Honors College faculty recognize certain theses as worthy of honor even beyond that. Prize-winning theses evoke comments from advisors such as “a model for future students”; “deserves to be published as a scholarly article”; “comparable to doctoral work”; “stunning”. Students who win these prizes maintained a strong academic record, while independently designing and executing research projects. They not only wrote awless theses, but performed at the highest level in the oral thesis defense.

Thesis Summaries

Sisters: Exploring how choices, family, and the passage of time shaped the lives of Irish Nuns in Texas

By Emma Decker, Journalism

In the 1950s, two eighteen-year-old sisters from rural Ireland immigrated to a convent in San Antonio, Texas to become nuns. There, they taught in black segregated schools and spent the rest of their lives dedicated to racial justice and the education of marginalized communities. This thesis, a thirty-five-minute audio story and accompanying analytical paper, examines the series of life choices made by these two nuns, Sister Jo Murray and Sister Gabrielle Murray. Today, the average age in their convent is seventy-five. This thesis details their overlooked role in both United States and Irish history before their stories are gone.

Radiole Regeneration and Branchial Crown Structure of the Feather Duster Worm, Schizobranchia insignis

By Shannon Brown, Marine Biology

The feather duster worm, Schizobranchia insignis, is a marine invertebrate found in the northeastern Pacific Ocean. The main purpose of the study was to examine radiole regeneration and the branchial crown structure of S. insignis. Radioles are anterior appendages used for feeding and respiration. I identified twelve morphological stages with detailed descriptions of the external and internal features. In addition I observed multiple branchial crown patterns, including that radioles with more bifurcations are longer and located dorsally in the crown. As the only sabellid with branched radioles, my study of S. insignis provides a unique examination of appendage regrowth.

A Mesosystem Approach: Analysis of Family Functioning in the Juvenile Crime Prevention Assessment in the State of Oregon

By Molly Maloney, Psychology

This thesis evaluates the Juvenile Crime Prevention (JCP) intake assessment in the State of Oregon. A further review of each county’s intake assessment materials concludes that the JCP lacks sufficient information detailing family variables, as eighteen out of thirty-six counties employ an independent family questionnaire. Consequently, this thesis hypothesizes that in order to create a unified method for evaluating delinquent youth, the current JCP should expand to incorporate a mesosystem focus to the intake assessment. With this endeavor, juvenile practices in Oregon should be further equipped to understand the complex etiology of youth behavior and, ultimately, to better serve our youth in need.

The Creation of “Entangled”: Employing the Filmic Narrative to Explain the Differences between Classical and Quantum Mechanics

By Jordyn Roach, Physics

Entangled twin sisters must grapple with the effects of quantum mechanics in this physics-based fairy tale animation. Because the complexity of the math involved in interpreting particle physics has estranged a larger community of thinkers, this project intends to cultivate this science community by utilizing video entertainment, art, and story to explain basic principles of quantum mechanics, and the fundamental differences between quantum and classical mechanics. The fairy tale format has historically demonstrated its ability to provide the creative exibility and educational structure necessary to capture the emotional investment of, and impart knowledge to, a diversely aged audience.

La Sape: Tracing the History and Future of the Congos’ Well-Dressed Men

By Hannah Steinkopf-Frank, Journalism & International Studies

My thesis explored la Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes (la Sape), a social movement of well-dressed men that began in the two Congos in the 1980s. Sapeurs, members of la Sape, spend large sums of money on European designer clothes, which they use as signifiers of identity. Sapeur communities have developed within the African diaspora in France and Belgium, the former colonizers of the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo respectively. I conducted research in Paris and Brussels in January 2017, interviewing Sapeurs from different generations, places, and backgrounds, who represented the movement’s diversity.

Project Penelope: Learning from the Loom

By Lydia Bales, Material & Product Studies

Project Penelope explores the intersection between design, technology, and place. Formed from a foundational study in weaving and jacquard technology, this thesis explored programs such as Adobe Photoshop and tools such as the Versa laser cutter to aid in the weaving process. The weaving and research spanned Europe — from Paris to Belgium, Norway, and Italy — in order to inform the final products of this process. Through the generosity of the thesis research grant awards, much of the research was conducted at the Fondazione Arte della Seta Lisio in Florence, Italy.

Identifying the Neural Mechanisms of Approach Behavior: Studying the Role of Superior Colliculus

By Dolly Zhen, Biochemistry

In mammalian brains, two areas process information for image formation and goal-directed visual behavior: primary visual cortex (VI) and superior colliculus (SC). However, it is unclear how these regions support visually-driven orienting and approach behaviors towards naturally rewarding stimuli. We study the SC by investigating whether natural prey-capture behavior in mice is affected when regions of SC are turned off. Our studies so far indicate that inhibition of SC impairs ethological prey-capture behavior in mice. Our work builds a basic understanding of the neural circuitry of approach behavior, which provides insights into neurological disorders such as PTSD and addiction.

The Effect of a Patent Foramen Ovale on the Hypoxic Ventilatory Response

By Alex Chang, Human Physiology 

Foramen ovale is an opening between the left and right side of the heart — an essential anatomical fetal feature in utero that allows oxygenated blood from the mother to bypass the fetal pulmonary circulation. Upon birth, onset of breathing air causes the left heart pressure to exceed greatly, and as a result, the opening in the newborn’s heart is closed. However, in approximately 30% of the general healthy population, this opening fails to close completely, and is termed a patent foramen ovale (PFO). The purpose of my thesis was to explore the effect of a PFO on the hypoxic ventilatory response (HVR).

Contradictions in Left Zionism

By Ruby O’Connor, International Studies

My thesis focused on left Zionism before and after the founding of Israel, and how left Zionists attempted to reconcile Zionism (the support for a Jewish state in what is now Israel) and socialism. Through reading left Zionist theory and analyzing left Zionism in practice in Israel/Palestine, I found that the socialist aspects of left Zionism either worked to support the colonial, nationalist agenda or were avoided or minimized if they did not. Left Zionism’s nationalist and racial priority of Jews over Palestinians meant that Zionist concerns were always more important than the socialist ideal of emancipation for all workers.

Novel Method for Additive Manufacture of Rubber with Exploration in Support Structure and Material Performance

By Sarah Hashiguchi, Material & Product Studies

3D printing offers advantages in customizability, sustainability, cost reduction, precision, and accessibility over traditional manufacturing processes. The limitation of printable materials, however, is still a major barrier preventing 3D printing moving from prototyping to producing final products. My thesis addresses the need to be able to 3D print thermosets (more robust and customizable polymers). The main objectives of this project were to develop a new system of 3D printing to allow for additive manufacturing with rubbers, and to design a product dependent on this method for production that would utilize the resultant ability to manufacture new complex structures in rubber.

The Effect of a Patent Foramen Ovale on the Hypercapnic Ventilatory Response

By Alyssa Hardin, Human Physiology

Approximately one-third of the general, healthy population has a hole in the heart called a patent foramen ovale (PFO) that allows varying amounts of blood to flow directly from the right to the left side of the heart, bypassing the lungs. My thesis investigated the effect of this opening on breathing responses to conditions of increased carbon dioxide (CO2). We determined that the presence of a PFO is associated with a blunted breathing response to increased CO2, suggesting that individuals with a PFO may have a decreased sensitivity to CO2 and increased risk of developing conditions such as sleep apnea.