Biology and Society Undergraduate Honors Theses

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Undergraduate Honors Theses for the Biology and Society major.


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    Ekanayake, Ruwanthi (2020-05-04)
    Despite large economic and developmental strides, India continues to grapple with the issue of stunting, which characterizes malnutrition and failure to thrive among children in early childhood. The complex nature of stunting as well as India’s state and district-level diversity mean that any attempt to address stunting must employ a multifaceted approach. A comprehensive literature review and focused regression analysis reveals the significance of economic and agricultural failures and long-held cultural practices in impacting stunting. These factors are often interrelated and have compounding effects. Current national nutrition programs serve mostly as universalized, “one-size-fits-all” measures that don’t always address the core causes related to stunting. India’s stunting rates have reduced in the past few years, but continued progress will require decentralization of interventions and specific, targeted measures that design solutions with communities’ unique needs in mind and incorporate measures beyond just food distribution.
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    Investigating the Gene Expression Strategy of Grapevine Red Blotch Virus
    Liou, Harris (2018-05-20)
    Grapevine red blotch virus (GRBV), a geminivirus, is the recently identified causative agent of the emerging grapevine disease known as red blotch. The monopartite circular ssDNA GRBV genome consists of genome-sense open reading frames (ORFs) (V1, V2 and V3), and complementary sense ORFs (C1, C2, and C3). Based on sequence comparisons to related viruses, C1 is hypothesized to be spliced with C2 to give rise to a C1-2 mRNA transcript. Recent unpublished data provides mRNA evidence of a possible seventh ORF referred to as V0 as well as evidence of V0 splicing with V2 to form a V0-2 mRNA transcript. So far, none of the predicted protein products have been detected, and gene expression mechanisms are primarily deduced from comparative sequence analyses. Thus, one aim of this study was to investigate the protein expression profile of GRBV in part by analyzing infected grapevine protein extracts with tandem mass spectrometry. Current GRBV diagnostic resources all depend on enzymatic amplification of viral DNA sequences, though false-negative results have been problematic. Another aim of the study was thus to determine the relative translation levels of the ORFs by expressing them in Nicotiana benthamiana and analyzing protein products by western blot in order to identify potential diagnostic protein biomarkers. Additionally, expressing the ORFs in N. benthamiana generated mRNA transcripts that were analyzed to test the hypothesized C1-2 and V0-2 splicing mechanisms. C3 and V2 proteins were detected by tandem mass-spectrometry in infected grapevine. Furthermore, C3 was found to have the highest translation level, followed by V2, and then by C1-2; other proteins were not translated at levels high enough for detection. Considering several factors, V2 appears to be the best candidate for a diagnostic biomarker against which antibodies can be developed. Lastly, PCR analysis of mRNA transcripts provides evidence for the hypothesized C1-2 and V0-2 splicing mechanisms.
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    Ah, Yes, I Remember It Well: The Impacts of Age on Memory for Emotional Stimuli
    Feigenbaum, Jamie (2009-06-19T14:10:23Z)
    As people age, cognitive abilities decline, while emotional processing abilities remain intact, or even improve (e.g., Fung & Carstensen, 2003). This experiment examined the influence of emotion on the recall of false semantic memories in older adults. The participants were a group of older adults (N= 32; range= 64-92 years) and a complementary group of younger adults (N=33; range= 18-27 years). All participants completed an adapted version of the Deese/Roediger/McDermott (1995) task that incorporated words of varying emotional valence, to examine their levels of true and false memory for auditory stimuli. Older adults demonstrated more false memory for positively-valenced stimuli. The implications of these results are discussed with respect to changes in emotional processing across the life-span.
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    The Confluence of Practice, Philosophy, Work Space and Education: A Case Study of Four Contemporary Midwives in Central New York
    Belkin, Zoe (2009-06-19T14:04:03Z)
    Despite the fact that the United States spends more money on maternity care than most other industrialized nations, it continues to have higher infant mortality rates than economically equivalent countries (Rooks, 1997). In addition, rising malpractice insurance costs and Caesarean sections in obstetrical practices are indicators that American approaches to childbirth need to be reevaluated (MacDonald, 2007; DeVries, 2001). Midwifery, which focuses on health care in pregnancy and birth, has been shown to be a successful healthcare approach for non-high-risk pregnancies (Rooks, 1997; Mander, 2001). Midwives are trained in a variety of childbirth-related practices and emphasize pregnancy and birth as normal. Although many midwives share views on how birth should be handled, midwifery has been divided into various schools of thought that range in their willingness to include medical interventions, affiliate with mainstream health care systems and incorporate alternative, homeopathic remedies into the practice. This study was designed to acquire in-depth knowledge about how midwives choose to develop their practices. Four midwives with different training backgrounds who work in Ithaca, New York, were selected to participate in the study. Interviews were conducted in the workplaces and/or homes of the midwives and further information was acquired through follow-up questioning. The information from the interviews was analyzed within the context of the history and politics of midwifery in the US. In addition, special consideration was taken for the midwives? international training and work experience. Comparisons were drawn between midwifery models in the US and other countries such as Canada, Cambodia and England. Analysis of the interviews revealed a complex relationship between the midwives? personal philosophies, training, workplace and practice. Each of the factors is inextricably tied to the other and influences how the midwives incorporate medical technology, female empowerment and spirituality into their care. Because philosophy, training, workplace and practice are all crucial in developing a midwifery practice, limitations on any of these elements could be detrimental to the field. For example, the US sets strict limits on where certain midwives can work and how they obtain insurance. As a result, many midwives are forced to make sacrifices in their practice to compromise for the legal and political restrictions imposed on them. Other regions, such as Ontario, Canada, have designed models for midwifery that promote quality health care without relegating midwives to one specific workplace, training style, philosophy or practice. There is reason to conduct further research to compare US and Canadian models so that evidence-based changes to maternity care in the US can be made.
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    Social Resource Management After Gastric Bypass Surgery: How Patients Construct Social Situations as They Strive Toward Weight Loss
    Baker, Audrey (2009-06-19T13:54:17Z)
    Weight loss surgery involves major changes in physical, psychological, and social aspects of a person?s life. This project sought to identify and understand how gastric bypass patients interpret and use social resources in the period following surgery. The researcher analyzed verbatim transcripts from two, in-depth, qualitative interviews with each of six women who were at least 2 years past gastric bypass surgery. Participants ranged in age from 36 to 63 years, varied in household type, lived in Upstate New York, and varied in maintenance of weight loss achieved after surgery. Coding and analysis of transcripts led to the categorization of social resources as to source (close-personal, other gastric bypass patients, spouse, experts, others, mirror), type (prescriptions, examples, appraisals, facilitations, supports), and judgment by the patient (e.g. adequate, inadequate, absent, wanted, unwanted.). A functional social resource management model was developed to represent the patient as an active, self-regulator of social resources. The findings provide concepts and a framework that can be used to advance understanding about how social support is involved in dietary change and health promotion processes.