Posters at the Capitol celebrates the research and scholarly achievements of undergraduates
from across the state of Tennessee. The event highlights the high caliber of research
being conducted by undergraduate students at state universities in Tennessee, and
it helps members of Tennessee's legislature and the governor realize the importance
of providing undergraduates with the opportunity to engage in scholarly research.
Each year, some of the best students from the University of Memphis are chosen to
represent the university in Nashville. The 2013 Posters at the Capitol participants
Faculty Mentor: Dr A. Katherine Lambert-Pennington
“The Role of Religion, Identity, and Activism Among the Islamic Community in Tennessee in Combating Stigmatization and Islamophobia”
My research looks at the various motivations driving activism among Muslims in Tennessee.
The so-called “Sharia Law Bill,” proposed in the state legislature in 2011, and the
ongoing controversy over a new Islamic center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee have brought
Muslims across the state together to counter the stigmatization of their faith and
oppression of their community. Over several months, I conducted anthropological fieldwork
through participant observation research as an intern with a locally-run political
advocacy organization working with Muslims in Tennessee. Open-ended, semi-structured
interviews with key community members and leading activists provide deeper insight
into the personal and collective motivations inspiring grassroots activism. Working
from an identity politics lens, I argue that this activism is a direct response to
the recent increase in hostility towards Islam from both the Tennessee state legislature
and loosely organized groups of private citizens. Furthermore, I find that a shared
sense of injustice has galvanized Muslim Tennesseans across many ethnic and social
boundaries creating a more unified community seeking to assert a collective political
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Firouzeh Sabri
Metal-polymer Bilayer System Characterization Under Low Temperature Conditions
Thin film diffraction gratings on soft elastomeric substrates have, in recent years,
attracted much attention in the materials science world as biosensors and flexible
optical telecommunication devices. Such systems often respond to external stimuli
and environmental conditions such as mechanical, electrical and thermal stresses which
in turn affect the reflection/ diffraction patterns formed by the bilayer. In this
study, thin AuPd films were sputter-deposited onto a flexible space qualified polymeric
substrate-RTV 655. The polymeric substrate was either under predetermined strain,
or, in a relaxed state prior to the metallization stage. The metal-substrate system
was exposed to a number of external stimuli in particular thermal stress/ strain and
the surface morphology of the system was characterize and studied as a function of
the environmental parameters. The reflection pattern formed by the metallic surface
was monitored and information inferred from the interference pattern was related to
the amount of stress/ strain that the bilayer was exposed to. This forms the foundation
of a remote sensing tool for extraterrestrial applications where change in environmental
parameters can alter material properties that could in turn lead to material and device
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Esra Roan
Comparison of Fixation Strength of Adhesives and Sutures with Mesh on Abdominal Wall
Traditional ventral hernia mesh repair surgery using sutures has successfully reduced
recurrence rates. However, post-operative pain associated with sutures still remains
a major concern. An alternative technique for fixation does exist in the form of adhesives,
but before using adhesives in practice a better understanding of fixation strength
between the mesh and the tissue with adhesives or sutures is needed. Therefore, this
study compared the adhesive strength between mesh and tissue when mesh is fixed two
different ways: a) adhesives, b) sutures. An ex vivo experiment using animal specimens
was implemented were each specimen had two pieces of mesh fixated onto their abdominal
wall with adhesive and with sutures, respectively. Lap shear test was conducted to
test the fixation strength of the interface between tissue and mesh at 24 hours, 1
week, and 2 weeks. Maximum force to failure was recorded and then normalized by the
original mesh width during testing. As early as, 1 week both methods yielded similar
results, i.e. interface strength exceeded the material properties (i.e. mesh or tissue).
At 24 hours the sutures had 54% stronger interface than glue (10.5 +/- 5.6 (STD) N/m,
4.9 +/- 3.0 (STD) N/m).
Alden Blake Daniels
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Patricia Adams-Graves
Bone Mineral Density in Vitamin D Deficient African Men with Sickle Cell Disease
Objective: To describe the bone mineral density (BMD) by densitometry (DXA) of adult
U.S. African American (AA) males with sickle cell disease (SCD) who are vitamin D
Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria: All SCD phenotypes were eligible
Data Collection: Demographics, body mass index, SCD phenotype. Laboratory: albumin,
ferritin, calcium, phosphorus, 25-hydroxy vitamin D, and intact-parathyroid hormone
(I-PTH) were obtained. BMD, T, and Z-scores: T scores at the lumbar spine were used
to categorize normal (> -1.1), osteopenia (-1.1 to -2.49), and osteoporosis (<- 2.5).
Statistical Analysis: We described continuous data by mean + SD and categorical data
by counts & percentages. Chi-Squared test (χ2) was used for categorical variables;
student t test or one-way ANOVA, when appropriate, for continuous variables. Prevalence
of low-BMD was determined and the proportion’s 95% confidence interval was constructed.
Similar analysis was done for osteoporosis.
Results: We found that 42% [95% CI 31—53 %] of the men studied had low-BMD (osteopenic
or osteoporotic) when T scores at the lumbar spine were used to establish densitometry
strata. The prevalence of osteoporosis was 14% [95% CI 6—22 %].
Conclusions: A large proportion of adult African American males with SCD and VDD showed
low-BMD or osteoporosis.
Faculty mentor: Yongmei Wang
Assessing the stability of HIV-1 monomer and kissing dimer
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the causative agent for acquired immune
deficiency syndrome (AIDS) which has become a worldwide epidemic. Highly Active Antiretroviral
Therapy (HAART) is the current treatment, but due to the emergence of resistance strands
of HIV alternative approaches to prevent the replication are sought. The areas of
HIV’s life cycle that are currently being studied in order to stop replication are
genome dimerization, selection and maturation. The area of this research pertains
to genome maturation which involves a conformational change from the kissing dimer
to the extended dimer duplex. Research has shown that there is an adenine nucleotide
(A272) in the 272 position (sequence position within the genome) the rate of this
conformational change is enhances when A272 become protonated. The current research
focuses on the potential roles of the protonation of this adenine.
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Christopher M. Waters, University of Tennessee Health Science
Analysis of In Vivo, Dynamic Tantalum Bronchograms for OVA-Sensitized Rats
Airway hyper-responsiveness (AHR) is a fundamental feature of asthma that is defined
by an exaggerated response of the airways to nonspecific stimuli. These stimuli trigger
bronchoconstriction in the lungs which limits the lungs’ capacity to properly ventilate.
Recent studies utilizing PET, MRI, and synchrotron CT showed that the bronchoconstriction
from AHR causes patchy patterns of ventilation defects dispersed throughout the lungs.
To further analyze the mechanical cause of ventilation defects, computational models
of airways have been used to simulate mechanical deformations. From these previous
methods of analysis, only the large airways of static lungs could be used for imaging,
and many biological factors affecting lung physiology could not be accounted for in
the computational models. Through an in vivo study of rat lungs using tantalum dust
and microfocal X-ray imaging, dynamic imaging of airways in the form of tantalum bronchograms
can be obtained allowing for direct visualization of the small and large airways in
an intact animal model. From the tantalum bronchograms, airways can be measured to
d identify the size and location of airways responsible for changes in lung physiology
with respect to AHR.
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Max Louwerse
The Effect of Valence on the Perception of Character
Is it possible to distinguish good and bad characters based on language statistics?
This project explores the relationship between emotional valence and characters in
text by investigating what words that do not explicitly describe positive or negative
characteristics of a character go with good and bad characters. The similarity in
meaning between words with affective norms such as avalanche, ennui, pasta, and the
good and bad characters in Harry Potter were measured using the computational algorithm
Latent Semantic Analysis. A significant interaction was found between the affective
norms and the characters, with the good characters having a higher semantic similarity
with the high-affect words and the opposite for bad characters. This research has
been used on a fictional novel, but could be applied to any other persons, including
non-fictional ones in entertainment, corporations, and politics.