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Student Research Conference Shows Breadth of Inquiry

Friday, April 12, 2013
At Marymount’s annual research conference, students delved into virtually every area of human endeavor, from analysis of hacking behavior, how use of social media affects etiquette, and college students’ sleep patterns and spirituality, to examination of the effectiveness of Marymount’s rain garden, a possible new Earth orbiting Alpha Centauri B, the pursuit of happiness by author Katherine Anne Porter’s heroines, and the outcomes of specific physical therapy treatments.

Anne Lammers ʼ13, a sociology major, used photography in her visual research project on the Arlington neighborhood of Buckingham. She found that it led her to “think more broadly about how creativity can be a part of research.”

Alexander Updegrove, who is pursuing a master’s in forensic psychology, used incentive theory to understand hacking behaviors of anonymous individuals. He compared the views of hacktivists to Native Americans, pointing out, “Hacktivists believe that web pages, like land, cannot be privately owned.”

Grace Omijie ʼ14, a graphic design major, outlined her rebranding research and resulting design for a bakeshop. Going with a 50s Americana feel, she developed a color palette, logo, website, and marketing plan. Grace has been in touch with the shop owner and said, “He wants to see it, and might incorporate some of my ideas.”

Eric Liu, in his final year of the Doctor of Physical Therapy program, presented a poster of his research on Physical Therapy Management of a Child with Congenital Femoral Deficiency. He explained that as the child’s shorter leg was lengthened, the muscles tightened – necessitating intensive PT therapy of at least two hours a day to maintain range of motion and strength. He noted, “There was no previous research describing PT interventions for this procedure.” In the case of the 4-year-old child that he followed, the intensive physical therapy resulted in “optimal knee range of motion greater than 60 degrees and the FIM [Functional Independence Measure] ambulation score was improved from one to four.”

Elizabeth Jahr ʼ14, a politics major, received the undergraduate proposal award for her research on Negotiating a Common Abortion Policy in German Reunification. She explained that “German leaders negotiating national reunification in 1990 had to reconcile West Germany’s more restrictive abortion policy with East Germany’s more permissive one.” The fact that “West German leaders reneged on their commitments to respect values that had been enshrined in the East German legal system, …suggest that future reunifications, for example between North and South Korea, may be even more difficult than currently recognized.”

Alyce Sustko, who is earning a master’s in Literature and Language, was presented with the graduate proposal award. Her project was entitled, Freeing the Voices: 1930s American Literary Representations of the Spanish Civil War. Focusing on authors Langston Hughes, Dorothy Parker, and Elizabeth Bishop, she said, “So often in literature, female and other minority writing is discounted, despite the important historical and literary implications of their perspectives.”

See the Conference Abstracts for details on all the research projects, and view more photos on Flickr.

Keynote Address: What Use is the Past?
Dr. Paul Sturtevant, a medieval studies expert and research fellow with the Smithsonian, gave the conference keynote address. He urged students to think outside the box of their discipline, noting, “Each discipline tells us to ask a certain set of questions, but the questions I wanted to know the answers to [as an historian] weren’t being asked.” He added, “What I’m most intrigued by is what we do with the past.”

Dr. Sturtevant pointed out, “History is used by everyone every single day. It tells us who we are, and what that means. …The study of the past can help us better understand our society. It can inform and enlighten us about why our culture exists as it does.”

He explained that history widens our perspective and can make us feel simultaneously insignificant and empowered. With the grand sweep of history, he noted, “it’s difficult not to feel insignificant. But in the stories of great people of the past, we see that we do have efficacy. We can change the world and be part of something greater than ourselves.”

– Matthew Griffin ʼ13, a DPT candidate, explains his research on an aerobic exercise program to treat cancer-related fatigue.

PHOTO 2 – Mursal Naison ʼ13, a biology major, talks with Jim Ryerson, dean of the School of Business Administration, as faculty mentor Dr. Eric Bubar, assistant professor of physical sciences, looks on.

PHOTO 3 – Luis Hernandez ʼ13, a multidisciplinary studies major with elementary education teaching licensure, received honorable mention for his analysis of eight stars through chemical tagging to determine if they are related (formed together). He found this unlikely but learned that six of them host exoplanets – providing new avenues for research.

PHOTO 4 – Cyndi Trang ʼ13, a biology major going on to medical school, reports on her sleep study with college students, using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index. Admitting that she does not get enough sleep, Cyndi found that residential students’ average sleep quality is only slightly below average.

PHOTO 5 – Dr. Paul Sturtevant