Senior Honors students' capstone presentations on tap this week

Senior Honors students will present their culminating Honors capstone projects this week. These presentations and their accompanying written component are the semester-long independent research portions of our Life of the Mind students. With encouragement from their Heidelberg families and direct help from their mentors, these students are excited to present their best work (yet!) to you in Herbster Chapel.

Here is the schedule for the presentations.

Wednesday, November 30

3:15 p.m.: Cole Stoots, “‘The Language of Flowers in The Picture of Dorian Gray,’ an Ecocritical Analysis”
Abstract: Due to the rise of the middle class and earlier literary movements such as Romanticism, the interest in the natural world grew in Victorian England. This growing interest led to the creation of a system of communication through floral arrangements. Though known loosely prior to this era, these communicative floral arrangements are what we now refer to as the Language of Flowers. As this symbolic language grew in popularity and awareness in the minds of the middle class, it was codified and published into easy-to-read pocketbooks in 1884 by Edmund Evans with illustrations by well-known children’s writer and artist Kate Greenaway. This allowed for the mass distribution of Language of Flowers throughout Victorian England. Many authors of the time, knowing that their readers were predominantly this new middle class, used the Language of Flowers to subtly include characterization, foreshadowing, and meaning to seemingly innocuous scenes or sentences. One such author was well known Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde. In Wilde’s only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, the Language of Flowers is used to develop the characters of Dorian Gray, Lord Henry Wotton, and Basil Hallward. Using these floral symbols, Wilde goes as far as to foreshadow the eventual revelation of Dorian’s corruption.

Faculty sponsor: Dr. Barry Devine

3:30 p.m.: Liana Petitti, “What Makes a Successful Relationship?”
Abstract: This research analysis provides an overview of the key components of what makes for a successful relationship.  Within this analysis theories such as the rules of attraction, different love styles and types, Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love, attachment theory, and other factors such as communication will be further explored and explained. Rules of attraction include everything from that first encounter with a potential partner to simply the physical attraction levels. Similarity amongst individuals has been demonstrated to be the main key to attraction and a lasting relationship.  Dr. John Allan Lee and Gary Chapman developed styles and languages of loving others. Both researchers concluded that partners who have similar styles of loving, are able to develop a healthier relationship in which both partners feel loved.  Furthermore, Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of love identifies passion, intimacy, and commitment as the critical components of any relationship. Through his theory, connections can be made to Mary Ainsworth and John Bowlby’s attachment theories. Watson and Ainsworth centered their attention on how a child is raised and the connection between them and their guardians. They then theorized that these bonds will later affect an adult’s capabilities to be in a successful relationship. Over the course of this analysis all of these theories come together and incorporate things such as communication and John Gottoman’s ideas on what makes marriages last. 

Faculty sponsor: Professor Neil Sass

3:45 p.m.: Travis Fletcher, “Religion in Metro 2033”
Abstract: Dmitri Glukhovsky’s Metro 2033 is a post-apocalyptic novel in which the residents of Moscow, Russia are driven into the metro to seek shelter from nuclear fallout. Several elements of the text fit a Christian lens. The main element of this Christian lens is a group known as The Dark Ones. The Dark Ones are evolved humans that can be interpreted as angels who have fallen from heaven due to nuclear warfare. The Dark Ones attempt to work together with humanity but are faced with violence, symbolizing humanity’s rejection of God. Other Christian elements in the story include the main character’s similarities to Jesus Christ and the existence of mutated creatures named Demons. The text heavily features a nihilistic position on humanity and how they respond to war, and through the application of a religious literary lens this can be better understood. 

Faculty sponsor: Rev. Paul Stark

4:00 p.m.: Logan Nicely, “The Economics of College Athletics and How NIL Deals Have and Will Change Collegiate Sports”
Abstract: The economics of college athletics is a topic that has long been debated about and discussed across the country. It is a giant business that brings in billions of dollars, yet for the longest time, its biggest stars weren’t allowed to profit. With the recent changes to rules and the introduction of Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) deals, that has changed. NIL has opened a path for student-athletes to get paid for their talents. Is this a good change for college athletics or a bad thing? The answer to that question largely depends on who you ask. There are many quotes from high-end college football coaches like Dabo Swinney about the concerns of college athletes getting paid. There are questions about past players who got in trouble for getting paid. And there are major concerns about the competition further separating due to the bigger programs attracting more money. How will this change the money being brought in by universities with athletics? All of the questions and concerns surrounding this change, but the biggest change is allowing these student-athletes to be more fairly compensated. Finally, some of these athletes can live comfortably while putting their bodies on the line for these universities. 

Faculty sponsor: Dr. Diane Monaco

4:30 p.m.: Chayenne Powers, “Perceptional Poetry and Visual Art”
Abstract: Representation itself is often the perception of reality that a human being is living. It is traditionally understood that imagery is what is visually descriptive or figurative using language, especially in a literary work. It is also understood that visual art is, well, visual. It is often representational—perhaps not representational in the visual-art world semantics, as abstract art exist, but in a colloquial sense. It may be universally understood that visual art represents some arguable aspect of the human experience. In exploring a poetry-to-visual art pipeline, there can be an exploration of how we mirror our human experience within these mediums and the challenges of perceiving them to be an interchangeable experience. Through a mixture of my own poetry, my own art, pre-established author’s work, and pre-established visual artists' work, a pattern of different substance can be clarified. 

Faculty sponsor: Professor Harry Melroy

4:45 p.m.: Hannah Huthmaker, “An Analysis of Second Language Acquisition”
Abstract: Gone are the days where speaking multiple languages was seen as a disadvantage. Evidence is accumulating to support a more recent phenomenon, which is the bilingual advantage. Studies have demonstrated that bilingual speakers, especially earlier learners, have increased activity and stronger connections between vital processing areas of the brain. Differing patterns of activity and more consistent use of skills, such as ignoring misleading information, have led to non-linguistic cognitive advantages. Acknowledgement of differences between the monolingual and the bilingual brain implies that there are methods by which bilingual language acquisition in young learners can be scaffolded so they reap the benefits. This study investigates the differences in the bilingual brain, explains the advantages bilinguals possess, and summarizes ways in which bilingual language acquisition can be cultivated during the critical period. 

Faculty sponsor: Dr. Cindy Lepeley

5:00 p.m.: Ben Pollizi, “All the World's A Stage: But Only the Men Make the Money”
Abstract: Broadway serves as an easily identifiable marker for the desirable “pinnacle” that aspiring theatre artists strive toward. However, does Broadway truly offer equitable opportunities for actors?  This paper focuses on gender equity in casting by analyzing published commentary and casting data from both Broadway and local Ohio theaters to ascertain whether Broadway is really the professional role model we suppose it to be. A review of published interviews, news stories, tweets, and commentaries provided insight into perceived gender disparity present in the professional theater community. The scope of the research is limited to Tony-nominated Broadway productions and compared these to productions from three local theaters: Fort Findlay Playhouse, The Ritz Players of Tiffin, and Bellevue Society for the Arts, between the years of 2010 and 2022. From this data, one can conclude that while both Broadway and local theater provide more roles for men, local theater has been more successful in achieving gender equity in casting. Both professional and amateur theaters provide more gender-equitable opportunities when casts are small, but professional opportunities for men become more numerous as cast size grows. The data suggest that professional production teams are preferentially selecting male-centric scripts particularly when cast size is large, which results in the gender disparity. If we were to broaden the research to include directors, designers, stage managers, etc., it seems likely we would observe similar disparities. Broadway could learn from local theaters on how to best create an equitable environment for theatre artists.

Faculty sponsor: Dr. Amy Berger

5:15 p.m.: Shelby Sinclair, “Assessment of Science in Media”
Abstract: In today’s society, we are constantly surrounded by various forms of media. From movies and T.V. shows to social media, it is impossible to escape the constant supply of information. In an age of misinformation, finding both informative and entertaining media is harder than ever. This project investigates how science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) topics are presented in several forms of media. Media was collected and analyzed over the course of the Fall 2022 semester. The media ranged in form and the target audience’s age range including children's educational T.V. programming, general audience T.V. shows, mature audience programming, and college-level Tik Toks. Media was ranked by the depth of its topic and its accuracy. Each form of media’s depth of information was ranked on a scale of 1 to 5. One represented “little to no depth in the topic or surface level” and five represented “documentary-like information presented”.  Additionally, the understanding for general audiences was ranked out of five. One represented “no explanation, the audience is expected just to know and understand the information” and five represented “made to educate or great explanation that is accessible to the general audience, no previous knowledge needed”. Finally, the media was ranked in a similar manner on its entertainment value. 

Faculty sponsor: Dr. Aaron Roerdink

Thursday, December 1

3:15 p.m.: Kendall Wright, “Effect of Media Reports of Sex and Race on Societal Punishment”
Abstract: Previous studies have shown that implicit racial and sexual biases can heavily influence punitive behavior. For example, white males viewing news stories regarding criminal cases tend to grant more generous evaluations towards other white male suspects than they would for a suspect of color. Thus, ingroup biases can lead individuals to be more punitive when the accused offender is of a different race. The purpose of this study tests the hypothesis that the general public will be more likely to sentence a person of color (POC), particularly a male POC, more harshly. This study had a sample size of 61 participants who took an online Qualtrics survey, distributed via the researcher and research advisor’s social media, as well as through a campus-wide email server. Participants were presented with four news articles of differing criminal cases and were asked to recommend a punishment for the offender. Each article varied in the offender’s race and sex between subjects. Factorial analysis of variance (ANOVA) tests revealed the effects of the offender’s race and sex on subjects' recommended sentence length were of marginal to no significance. Limitations of the research design are discussed.

Faculty sponsor: Dr. Aaron Sell

3:30 p.m.: Lillian Whitcomb, “Lobbyists and Presidential Appointees: Deterrents to the Successful Passage of Impactful Environmental Legislation”
Abstract: The United States of America’s corporate lobby on environmental legislation has become a fierce competitor in the realm of legislative drafting. The systems of control in place to limit lobbyists’ influence on political actors are failing. This may be exacerbated by the lack of bipartisan support for environmental policy. Some easily conceivable adjustments could discourage the symbiotic relationship between corporate lobbyists and politicians. Solutions to the problem of voices being represented disproportionately in federal political arenas include the reinstatement of a Congressional education office; stricter punishments for breaking mandatory ethical codes; analysis of proposed policy and its potential impact on average Americans; attempts to reduce the anonymity of dark money through reporting and transparency measures imposed upon companies harboring this money; and overturning federal precedent surrounding the citizenship status of corporations. No matter the financial feasibility of any of these solutions, however, bipartisan support will be necessary to see any changes to fruition.

Faculty sponsor: Dr. Susan McCafferty

3:45 p.m.: Audrey Kaufman, “The Codependence of History and Mathematics in the 20th-21st Centuries”
Abstract: In schooling, math is considered a core subject; however, students often find it hard to connect meaning to what they are learning. The bigger picture of math’s impact on the outside world is seldom considered beyond its application in science and technology. This research explores the interdisciplinary connection that exists between math and history in a world of math and science. It is demonstrated through various historical examples that math both influences and is influenced by history. Looking at the last two centuries, events that were caused by advancements in technology are rooted in new applications of mathematics. The two most notable events covered are World War II and the Cold War. In turn, history has also played a role in advancing mathematics at a fast pace. This leads to a cyclical pattern between math and history. The concept of counterfactual history is also taken into consideration, noting that, while the results of an event could have altered history had it never occurred, there is no guarantee that history would have changed entirely. Overall, this research utilizes various examples of historical events and mathematical advancements to prove the interdisciplinary existence of a cyclical pattern of growth in math and history.

Faculty sponsor: Professor Sean Joyce

4:00 p.m.: Lauren Gronsky, “The History and Continued Relevance of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act”
Abstract: In July of 2002, after a series of accounting scandals, then-President George W. Bush officially signed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act into law, an act drafted by Senator Paul Sarbanes and Representative Michael Oxley. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act, commonly referred to as “SOX,” implemented new rules aimed at improving auditing, internal controls, and public disclosure standards. SOX came as a result of scandals at companies such as Enron, WorldCom, and Tyco. The goal of SOX was to improve the accuracy and reliability of corporate disclosures in order to better protect investors. This paper will look deeper into the events leading to SOX’s creation, as well as the challenges of its rollout. Lastly, it will look at SOX’s continued relevance to the financial world at its twentieth anniversary.

Faculty sponsor: Professor Scott Miller

4:15 p.m.: Guy Tibbels, “AIG & The Ethics of Bailouts”
Abstract: The 2008 government bailouts under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) have been a focal point in the minds of economists everywhere since the Great Recession. The American International Group (AIG) was at the center of the discussion, as this bailout was the largest of a publicly owned company at the time. The unprecedented risk taken by AIG in their investments caused many to question why the government bailed them out. Billions of taxpayer dollars were spent to save a company that put ethics second to profits, and much of the money was used to cover their own losses. The defense of these actions was that AIG was “too big to fail.” We have put safeguards in place to prevent another crash, but would they actually work? We can learn a lot from analyzing AIG and the ethical implications of their actions.

Faculty sponsor: Professor Scott Miller

4:45 p.m.: Sophia Weaver, “Starshine Grove: Implementing Entrepreneurship and Leadership”
Abstract: The present research explores the methods and machinations of small-business-owning and the curation of an unconventional, yet successful, business. Combining the accumulated knowledge of several experts in the field with literary resources and personal observation allows the lens to focus on what key elements come together to create a sustainable business. There are countless examples of small towns and villages that become a tourism destination because they offer a unique experience along with the ability to meet the basic needs of their guests. Alongside the attraction, they have places to eat, sleep, park, and shop. It is conceivable that a singular business entity could encompass those services into one location. Finding the thread between flourishing businesses like Cedar Point, Lakeside Chautauqua, Dollywood, and many others, can provide methods to emulate within a smaller setting. This business plan synthesizes education, training, resources, and research that will be used in a future endeavor. 

Faculty sponsor: Dr. Carol Dusdieker

5:00 p.m.: Courtney Temple, “Contraceptive Ability of Queen Anne's Lace Flower Seeds and Petals in Female Rats”
Abstract: It is becoming increasingly popular for individuals to desire natural alternatives to everyday medications, including contraceptives. In ancient times, Daucus carota, better known as Queen Anne’s Lace (QAL), was regarded as being a natural substance that was successful in minimizing the chance of pregnancy. Therefore, in this study, the effectiveness of QAL flowers and seeds as a contraceptive was investigated using female rats. It was hypothesized that if female rats ingested treats made from the florets or seeds from QAL, they would be equally less likely to get pregnant, and/ or would give birth to less viable, or fewer, offspring compared to the control. However, while QAL did not seem to have an effect as a contraceptive, results suggested that the rats who consumed QAL flowers or seeds did experience unusually aggressive behavior when mounting attempts were made. They also birthed relatively smaller pups and minimized their litters more often to a greater extent by consuming individual pups.

Faculty sponsor: Dr. Pam Faber

5:15 p.m.: Skylar Sloan, “The Stressful Reality of Declining Mental Health in Educators”
Abstract: The past few years, the United States has been in a catastrophic teacher shortage. This can be attributed to poor mental health, burnout, low pay, lack of respect, workload, or a combination of reasons. It seems that COVID-19 has only magnified the issues that were already there. This paper highlights reasons teachers experience poor mental health and burnout, how this can affect their classroom and themselves, and resources and tips to manage work-life balance from the demands of the profession. While mental health has become a more accepted topic of discussion in the past half-decade, educators are still expected to not have any flaws, whether that be their appearance, the way they teach, or their activities outside of school. The purpose of this research is to find out how teachers have been affected by this crisis. The method of this research is looking at data from surveyed teachers on the state of their wellness before and after the pandemic. The goal is to shine light on the poor state of education and to provide a voice for teachers in order to make a change. The overwhelming pressure put on many teachers across the country has resulted in low mental health and high burnout rates among educators, which directly affects our students.

Faculty sponsor: Dr. Stacey Pistorova

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