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Posters at the Capitol

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 are below.

Jeanne Hanna

Faculty Mentor: Dr A. Katherine Lambert-Pennington

“The Role of Religion, Identity, and Activism Among the Islamic Community in JeanneTennessee 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 voice.


Ryan Wilson   

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Firouzeh SabriRyan

 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 failures.


Hummad Tasneem

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Esra RoanHummad

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-GravesBlake

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 deficient (VDD).

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.


Nicole Whitaker

Faculty mentor: Yongmei Wangnicole

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.


Thien-Khoi Phung      

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Christopher M. Waters, University of Tennessee Health Science Center

Analysis of In Vivo, Dynamic Tantalum Bronchograms for OVA-Sensitized RatsTK

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.


Alexandra Slater

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Max Louwerse

The Effect of Valence on the Perception of CharacterAlex

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.

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Last Updated: 3/5/13