Student Research Symposium 2012
Oral Presentations - Monday, April 9 [2:00-6:00p.m.]


Hannah Jumper

An Investigation of Accent Perception


Stephanie Rhodes

Seasonal variations in diet of coyotes at Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge


Sara Atkinson, Megan Sexton and Rebecca Armentrout

Microarray analysis to identify genes involved in fungal development


Community Service Talk

Sparrow Scholars: Kira Dobbs and Holly Evans
Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity: Josh Bittinger


James Shumpert, Trent Edwards and James Sweeney

COMAP: Experiences With A Mathematical Competition


Monte Jackson

This Relationship Will Self-Destruct: The Break Down of the Interpersonal as a Reflection of Disillusionment with the Professional in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy


Ivy Aldrich

Idealism or Imperfection? The Representation of Women Through Four Gothic Novels


Marlin Ketter

Reaching children through music: A middle school choral clinic


Miranda Smith

Cyberspace and Virtual Reality: The Negative Effects

Poster Presentations - Monday, April 9 [5:00-6:00p.m.] & Tuesday, April 10 [11:00a.m.-12:00p.m.]
Idealism or Imperfection?  The Representation of Women Through Four Gothic Novels

Author: Ivy Aldrich
Faculty advisors: Drs. Margaret Godbey, Andrea Cabus and Rhonda Knight

My research into four Gothic novels (The Castle of Otronto, The Mysteries of Udolpho, The Monk, and Northanger Abbey) is to determine whether or not these novels, which were written (primarily) for and marketed to women were meant to inculcate these women with ideal traits.  In order to do this, I am doing a close reading of each text and paying special attention to how each female character behaves and whether she is rewarded, punished, or otherwise affected by her behaviors.  I am also using secondary articles and reference books in order to highlight Gothic themes and trends as well as to lend authority to my findings.

In my research, I expect to find that Gothic literature does in fact support Romantic ideals of femininity by rewarding female characters who adhere to the ideals while punishing those who do not; I also expect that certain ‘rewards’ will need further explanation in order for modern readers to understand why they are, in fact, rewards and not punishments.

Microarray analysis to identify genes involved in fungal development

Authors: Sara Atkinson, Megan Sexton and Rebecca Armentrout
Faculty advisor: Dr. Joseph Flaherty

The vast majority of fungi reproduce through the formation of mitotic spores (conidia).  To make conidia, fungi must undergo a defined developmental program, which presumably requires the coordinated expression of many genes and the involvement of signal transduction pathways.  In the cereal pathogen, Fusarium graminearum, the morphological transition from filamentous (hyphal) growth to forming conidia (i.e., conidiation) is critical for spreading and infection.  The genetic regulation of this important developmental process is poorly understood.  Genetic screens designed to identify genes regulating specific aspects of morphogenesis in fungi (such as F. graminearum), we identified several insertional mutants impaired in conidiation, which variously display a range of loss- and gain-of-function phenotypes.  One mutant that fails to produce conidia, designated 8B5, contains an insertion within a putative bi-directional promoter of genes FG_10779 and FG_10780.  To further understand the impact of the insertion on gene regulation, genome-wide analyses of gene expression were performed with microarrays [Fusarias520715 Affymetrix GeneChip] on the wild-type and 8B5 mutant strain under conditions either favorable or unfavorable for asexual development.  My goal was to analyze the microarray data set for genes whose expression patterns associated with the onset of conidiation.  We found 39 genes (out of 13,332 total predicted genes in the F. graminearum genome) exhibiting altered expression profiles (>4 fold change) in both wild-type and 8B5 strains.  Upon further bioinformatic analysis, we discovered the presence of 3 “mini-clusters” within this group of genes; each consisting of 2 to 4 tightly-linked genes that appear to be coordinately regulated.  We conducted comparative analysis of the clustered genes to determine the level of conservation of corresponding orthologs clustered together in other species (exhibiting gene synteny).  Our oral presentation will feature results stemming from this analysis as well as the current efforts to validate data from our microarray experiments using quantitative real-time PCR. 

Personality Traits and Morality Have An Effect On Political Party Identification

Author: Caitlyn Higgins
Faculty advisor: Dr. Julia Fisher

This research project investigates the correlations between the five main personality traits - openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism - as they affect a person's political party identification.  Morality measures were used as well, in order to demonstrate if there was any relationship between those who consider themselves more moral or less moral and which party that person chose.

Personality variables were measured using the NEO-PI.  A second survey was administered to gauge morality.  It was based on a study by Black and London (1966) and surveyed topics such as how acceptable certain behaviors were thought to be and guilt felt from participating in said behaviors.  These were scaled on a Likert scale between one and nine.  In the end, the numbers of all of these were added together to create one number that could be run in SPSS to create a statistical result.

When the results were run, it was determined that with a statistical significance range of .05, there was a relationship between political party preference and both conscientiousness and agreeableness.  The other personality elements, though still important, were not enough to show anything significant in the age range of 18-25 that was used in this research.  

Morality was found to be effected by gender.  Females were found to score higher on morality, and the result was the party preference Republican scoring the highest followed by Democratic, and then independent females.  Males were slightly different, with Republicans being the highest, followed by Democrats, and then Independents.

The results were consistent with the literature used for this research. 

Coyote diet at Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge

Authors: Mellissa Hughes, Stephanie Rhodes, Courtney Singleton, Hillary Davidson and Jeremy Curtis
Faculty advisor: Dr. Jennifer Borgo

Foraging behavior of coyotes (Canis latrans) in the Southeastern United States has not been studied extensively. Our project looks at the impact of coyotes on key prey species and seasonal variations in coyote diet.  Our study has taken place at Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge in McBee, South Carolina, from May 2010 to present.  The primary method to assess foraging has been collection and dissection of coyote scat samples from the study area.  Plant remains constituted roughly 52% of total scat compositions.  There was also evidence of heavy predation on mammal species (41%).  Arthropod and avian remains followed in smaller percentages (5% and 1%, respectively).  Through our undergraduate research at Coker College, we hope to increase current scientific knowledge concerning the behavioral patterns of these opportunistic predators and provide valuable information for local wildlife managers. Future research could shed light on specific species predated by coyotes in our area.

This Relationship Will Self-Destruct: The Break Down of the Interpersonal as a Reflection of Disillusionment with the Professional in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Author: Monte Jackson
Faculty advisor: Dr. Rhonda Knight

This research paper examines the ways in which the disintegration and eventual dissolution of romantic relationships in John Le Carré’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy act as a reflection of the similar building distrust and final disillusionment that forms between the same characters and the institutions for which they work.  Over time, scholars such as Victor Lasseter , Peter Wolfe, and Tony Barley have examined the meanings of relationships within Le Carré’s work, particularly that of George Smiley and his estranged wife, and this research both builds on their analysis of Smiley’s relationship and applies similar methods to the relationship of Peter Guillam and his girlfriend, which undergoes a similar and more rapid disintegration.  In addition, this paper briefly outlines parallels between Le Carré’s use of relationships to reflect institutional disillusionment and the similar use of romantic metaphor in both the reports of his contemporaries and in the accounts of modern historians when discussing the complex relationship between the USSR and Britain post World War II.

An Investigation of Accent Perception

Author: Hannah Jumper
Faculty advisor: Dr. Julia Fisher

This study was conducted to investigate possible effects of age and level of education on a person’s perception of different English accents. Participants in the study were 31 elderly participants between the ages of 54 and 95 and 42 college student participants between the ages of 18 and 34. Materials used were speech samples from George Mason University’s Speech Accent Archive, a demographic survey, as well as a survey measuring accent perception. Expected results are that age and level of education will have a significant effect on one’s perception of accent. The data for this project has been analyzed in SPSS, but is still being interpreted. The project will be complete by March 27th for a preliminary presentation to the project’s mentor and review committee.

Reaching children through music: a middle school choral clinic.

Author: Marlin Ketter
Faculty advisor: Dr. Will Carswell

Being a music education major, I wanted to do something that closely relates to my field of study.  A choral clinic will be the ultimate opportunity for me to combine everything that I have learned during my four years at Coker College.  What I have learned in my education courses, music education courses, rehearsals and applied lessons has been excellent preparation for me to successfully implement this honors project.  In addition, the core skills that I have strengthened while at Coker – analytical thinking, creative thinking, effective speaking, and effective writing – will help me excel with this project.  The ending goal of this honors project will be having a middle school choral clinic and concert.  The project will feature middle school chorus students from Darlington, Chesterfield, and Florence counties.  A guest clinician will work with the singers in both rehearsal and performance settings.  Parents of the students, as well as members of the community, will be invited to the closing concert.  At the conclusion of the clinic and concert, I will ask for feedback from everyone involved to determine what changes need to be made in order to improve the event for next year.  It is my hope that this be the first annual middle school choral clinic held in Hartsville.

The effects of listening to music on reading comprehension

Author: Brandi McGee
Faculty advisor: Dr. Julia Fisher

The importance and presence of music is increasingly prominent in today’s society. Music is being played constantly in many places such as elevators, offices, in homes, malls, and so forth. With the increase in technology, music is more available than ever before with the use of radios, iPods, and various other electronics. There has been a question as to what the advantages and disadvantages of music are. Over the past years there has been a lot of research to examine all the different effects music could have, but the findings have not been consistent. The hypothesis of my study was that students who listen to music while studying will have a higher score on a reading comprehension task than those who do not listen to music while studying. The participants in the study were undergraduate Coker College students. I went to classrooms and asked students to answer reading comprehension questions while music was playing and then fill out a brief study. The results of this study show that students who listen to music while studying more frequently scored higher on the reading comprehension questions in the presence of music.

Seasonal variations in diet of coyotes at Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge

Author: Stephanie Rhodes
Faculty advisor: Dr. Jennifer Borgo

Coyotes (Canis latrans) are known to rely on a wide range of prey items.  We studied seasonal variations in diet composition of coyotes at Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge during different times of the year and in their reproductive period.  Scats were divided up into the seasons when they were found (fall, winter, spring, and summer).  Scat samples collected from January to May were evaluated to determine the food source(s) most frequent in the coyote diet during the reproductive period.

Consumption of plant, mammal, and avian prey differed across seasons (H3 = 26.9, P < 0.0001; H3 = 21.5, P < 0.0001; H3 = 9.5, P = 0.02, respectively).  However, there was no seasonal difference in the amount of arthropod remains found in scat (H3 = 5.6, P = 0.13).  Summer and fall had higher percentages of plant matter consumed (mean percent ± SD; 94.50% ± 0.85 and 85.38% ± 0.28, respectively), while during the winter and spring, we saw an overall trend of mammal remains comprising the majority of coyote scat (74.66% ± 0.37 and 70.73% ± 0.36, respectively).  During the reproductive period (January – May), scat samples were composed primarily of mammal remains (72.52% ± 0.35). Plant material was present in all 15 samples collected in the reproductive period, with mammal remains being present in 14 samples. 

Coyotes seem to be opportunistic feeders, consuming food sources based on the availability of the items.  This is evidenced by the consumption of higher percentages of mammal food items during the winter and spring, and plant matter during the summer and fall when these sources are available and easy to obtain, in terms of energy expenditure.  Our results are supported by previous studies that also found higher use of mammal food items in winter.  Future studies in this area should evaluate the relationship between prey availability and consumption to determine if coyotes are showing any dietary preferences.   

Design modifications to a room-temperature chirped-pulse Fourier transform microwave (RT-CP-FTMW) spectrometer

Authors: April Ruthven, K. Michelle Thomas and Brandon Short
Faculty advisor: Dr. Gordon Brown

The design of a room-temperature chirped-pulse Fourier transform microwave (RT-CP-FTMW) spectrometer has been modified and tested. Room-temperature microwave spectroscopy has traditionally been performed by utilizing microwave waveguide as a sample cell. Microwave waveguide is an obvious choice for a sample cell, since it is engineered to transmit microwave radiation efficiently. Typically, one percent (0.041 dB) of microwave power is lost per linear foot of waveguide. However, using waveguide as a sample cell has a significant drawback; it does not hold very much sample. Waveguide in the frequency range often used in microwave spectroscopy (6 – 18 GHz) is narrow (< 1 inch across) and therefore does not hold a large amount of molecular sample. An alternative to using waveguide as a sample cell would be to fill a large (10 inch diameter) vacuum chamber with the sample of interest and use microwave horn antennae to broadcast and collect the microwave radiation. In this case, efficiency in microwave transmission will be sacrificed; however, the number of molecules (which is proportional to the molecular signal) interacting with the radiation will be much higher. The design of the waveguide and vacuum chamber RT-CP-FTMW spectrometers will be presented. The room-temperature spectrum of pyridine (C5H5N) as measured by the two spectrometers will be compared.

Interrogating the transcriptomes of developmental mutants to identify conidiation-specific genes in Fusarium graminearum

Authors: Megan Sexton and Rebecca Armentrout
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Joseph Flaherty

In the cereal pathogen, Fusarium graminearum, the morphological transition from filamentous growth to conidiation is critical for dissemination and infection.  In spite of this, very little is known about the genetic regulation of this important developmental process.  From genetic screens designed to identify genes regulating specific aspects of morphogenesis in F. graminearum, we identified several insertional mutants impaired in conidiation, which variously display a range of loss- and gain-of-function phenotypes.  One mutant that fails to produce conidia, designated 8B5, contains an insertion within a putative bi-directional promoter of genes FG_10779 and FG_10780.  To further understand the impact of the insertion on gene regulation, genome-wide analyses of gene expression were performed with microarrays [Fusarias520715 Affymetrix GeneChip] on the wild type and 8B5 mutant strain under conditions either favorable or unfavorable for asexual development.  A total of 39 genes exhibited altered expression (>4 f.c.) in both wild-type and 8B5 under various culturing conditions.  Analysis of these candidate genes revealed the presence of putative transcription factors (such as a white-collar homolog), structural genes (such as a chitin synthase homolog), five orphan genes, as well as two putative gene clusters.  Additional findings stemming from our functional and comparative analyses of developmental mutants will be presented. 

Ab initio calculations of binding energies of van der Waal’s complexes

Author: Brandon Short
Faculty advisor: Dr. Gordon Brown

We have performed ab initio calculations to calculate the binding energies of examples of two types of van der Waal’s complexes.   In the first experiment, the binding energies between various nitrogen-containing cyclic organic rings and carbon dioxide are calculated.  The motivation for this project is to better understand the fundamental interactions between CO2 and functional groups found in materials used for carbon capture and storage (CCS).  The nitrogen-containing organic rings have been chosen due to their similarity with the key functional group of a recently discovered material that is capable of efficient CCS.  By studying the molecular interactions between these compounds and carbon dioxide, it is hoped that we will be able to provide guidance for the design of the next generation of CCS materials.  In the second experiment, the binding energies between various halogen-bonded complexes are calculated.  Halogen bonding (the attractive interaction between a halogen atom and an atom possessing a lone pair of electrons) plays an important role in materials chemistry, biological chemistry, liquid crystal formation, and chemical separations.  We have calculated the binding energies between various complexes, including self-halogen bonded complexes, where two of the same type of molecule are halogen bonded to each other.  The ab initio calculations presented here complement microwave spectroscopy studies of similar compounds, which we plan to undertake in our laboratory in the near future.

Parallelization of the Single Machine Weighted Tardiness Problem

Authors: James Shumpert and Trent Edwards
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Paul Dostert

This is a continuation of previous research in which the primary goal was to solve an NP-Hard problem of weighted tardiness.  In short, the previous research was to take a data set, consisting of what are called ‘jobs’ which are simply processes to be carried out.  Each of the processes has a weight (importance), a processing speed (the time it takes to do), and a penalty for being late.   In a large set, where there are multiple jobs the goal is to order the jobs in a manner so that when all of them are considered there is the least possible penalty.  In continuation of this we have turned this into a massive parallelization of our problem.  What this means is that we will be taking the job set and dividing out the amount of work that it takes to calculate the optimal solution.  Using not only the GPU (graphical processing unit), but the CPU (central processing unit) we have split this problem not only over multiple processors, but multiple machines.

The goal of this project is to not only use a brute force algorithm on both the CPU and GPU and compare the speeds between the two, but to parallelize and use multiple graphics cards, in multiple computers to run the weighted tardiness problem.  This allows us to potentially split a problem that has N factorial solutions onto multiple processors, giving each processor a piece of the total work that is needed to optimize our solution.  Doing so on the GPU rather than the CPU provides a theoretically large amount speed up.  This is because in parallel a process does not need to wait for a previous process to be finished in order to run, meaning that multiple solutions can be run at one time rather than back to back.

In the attempts to parallelize on the GPU, it was found that the GPU was simply not as effective as we had imagined.  The GPU, while extremely powerful, is built to only do simple processes, quickly, and repetitively.  The method of optimizing our job set is not as simple, as we use a full recursive method to run through every possibility.  However, due to the complexity of the problem algorithm the GPU is simply not useful unless the job set is extremely large, or the operation is the brute force method of finding a solution. However, in testing the 16 computers and 64 processors that were used to compute a solution were able to effectively solve a 13 – 14 job set. Considering that when using the brute force algorithm that for a 14 job set there are in excess of 87 billion different solutions, the times were suitable.

COMAP: Experiences With A Mathematical Competition

Authors: James Shumpert, James Sweeney and Trent Edwards
Faculty advisor: Dr. Paul Dostert

COMAP, the Consortium for Mathematics and its Applications, provides an opportunity to participate in an MCM, or Mathematical Contest in Modeling.  This contest is in place to challenge teams of students to “clarify, analyze, and propose solutions to open-ended questions” in mathematics.  This year Coker College accepted this challenge and created a team for the competition.  In a five day process, the team is to choose a problem, analyze this problem, and create not one, but multiple solutions and models for this problem;  Summing all of the work into a mathematical paper.

The problem that was chosen was that of an optimization problem.  The question proposed that there was a river rafting company that was in need of help.  This company allowed people to rent their boats and camping facilities 225 mile stretch of the Big River.  The job of the team is to take in the information provided and to optimize the number of people that could possibly be let down the river in a 180 day period, under some constraints provided.

In all of the solutions, the team attempted to create and algorithmic solution to the problem. The first solution attempted was to use a brute force method to map out the absolute maximum number of people that could be moved through the Big River in a 180 day period.  Once finding the maximum, the team added some of their own constraints to make the solution more realistic.  There were four total solutions, each of which became more realistic in the constraints than the last.  The last two solutions provided the most interesting results.  The third solution matched the optimized number of boats in the first method by 95%, meaning that the model was both nearly optimized as well as realistic.  However, the most realistic model, and final solution, created a decrease in the total number of boats by around 65% simply due to the number of constraints that were added.  Therefore, in terms of optimization, a brute force method allows for optimization while the methods following provide realistic optimization.

Cyberspace and Virtual Reality: The Negative Effects

Author: Miranda Smith
Faculty advisor: Dr. Rhonda Knight

As technology continues to advance, online relationships, virtual worlds, and online jobs become mere commodities among the human race.  One of the main questions concerning this is whether the impact it has on humans is positive or negative.  Many humans tend to believe that technology will make their lives easier with no harm at all.  However, as shown through scientific research, easier is not always better.  In He, She, and It, Marge Piercy shows how cyberspace and virtual reality are becoming an essential part of human existence through stimmies, online jobs and behaviors, and online dating.

Combining Robots and the Internet

Author: Joshua Turner
Faculty advisor: Dr. Zhe Zhang

Almost all of the technology that we use today is connected to a network. Whether it’s a local network at your home or workplace, phone network, or the Internet, it’s all connected. Alongside this quick evolution of networking, we have an increased need of automated devices. Originally, these devices were most useful in manufacturing environments because it automated mundane or dangerous tasks that people did not want to do. But now, such devices are found all around a person’s home. Combining these “robots” and the internet allows the consumer, now the user, to have complete control from anywhere around the world. People are now able to change thermostat temperatures, set or change home security system settings or unlock their doors from remotes and even their smartphone.

The objective of this research was to explore areas of remotely controlling robots via the Internet. Not only did I want to set up a remotely controlled robot, I wanted to set up a system that would allow the robot to be remotely programmable. The first task was to learn how to program the robot. I chose a robot called the Finch. It is programmed using the Java language and is loaded and powered through USB. I chose this one to be remotely programmed because it is always connected to the server. The Finch was connected to a local web server and a webcam was placed in front of it. A web site interface was created that had the webcam feed embedded to enable me to view the robot via Internet and present a graphical ‘control panel’. The web interface allowed me to control the robot; move forward, move backward, turn left, and turn right. Getting to the point where I could remotely program the robot was not obtainable but I believe it would be a great project for another student in Coker’s Computer Science department.

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