Why the Mojave? Climate Change in the Mojave; Animals reaching thresholds; Current picture books available.
Merika Charupoom, Emily Carter, and Yasmeen Hernandez
What is a misconception? A view or opinion that is incorrect based on faulty thinking or understanding. Misconceptions may originate from personal experience, imprecise language, lack of examples and non-examples in concept formation, media representation of phenomena, errors in logic, and textbooks. Often occurs from the inconsistency in science curriculums among instittuions and education systems.
Effects of Misconceptions: Gap in knowledge/understanding that is taught from teacher to student; Decrease in the academic success of students.
Nevada is ranked 49th in educational attainment, 42nd in school quality, 46th in best school systems in America.
One way to help us understand whether science educators have a strong foundational understanding of science is to measure the perception of science called the Views of Nature of Science (VNOS).
Closing the Racial Gap: The Lack of Diverse Faculty at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and University of Nevada, Reno
Olivia K. Cheche
How does faculty racial diversity compare to student racial diversity at UNLV and UNR? How do faculty salaries affect this diversity? What policy recommendations can be implemented to attract more racially diverse academics to UNLV and UNR?
Olivia K. Cheche, Kristian Thymianos, and Katie M. Gilbertson
How do the Mountain West states (Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah) perform in the quality of mental health care services? How prevalent are mental health issues in the Mountain West? How accessible is the mental health workforce to adults and youth?
Exercise shown to improve mental health in variety of health histories. MIT shown to improve physical health in a variety of conditions when tested alone. Mental health problems and SUD have high comorbidity rates. Exercise shown to be effective recovery therapy for SUD.
Allister C. Dias
In reference to individual-level financial literacy: 1. What role does financial literacy play in determining food security? 2. What affect does race/ethnicity play in the likelihood of being food insecure? How does the effect of financial literacy vary across the dimension of race/ethnicity?
Key Takeaways: 1. Each low-wage occupation pays less than the mean hourly wage in their respective MSA. 2. Least amount of wage variance among MSAs in 2019. 3. In Las Vegas 2/3 of occupational wages increased, but employment dropped in 14/15 occupations. Leisure and hospitality occupations hardest hit and slowest to recover.
Background: U.S is worst in maternal care; Credible support for CNMs as a solution; Independent licensing has been ineffective; Other factors may influence access
Prediction: Postzygotic reproductive isolating barriers, relating to hybrid incompatibilities are contributing to the speciation of Metrosideros
Determining the effects of a commonly used cystic fibrosis antibiotic on nonmucoid Pseudomonas aeruginosa reversion
Summary: 1. CF lung environment selects for mutations in Pa --> Mucoid 2. Mucoid can revert to nonmucoid 3. Reversion rate w/ antibiotic vs. Reversion rate w/o antibiotic 4. Induced reversion as a potential CF therapeutic strategy
Superconductors are used in many different industries: Efficient power transmission, Maglev train, MRIs
Locating a Marketplace at the Ancient Maya City of Lakamha', Mexico using the Configurational Approach
Lydia Wolfe and Jonathan Roldan
Research Goal: Test configurational approach (Rejected markets, Confirmed markets), Propose market location at Lakamha', Mexico
Justin Alvarez, Kayla Cerminara, and Joshua Island Ph.D.
The quantum anomalous hall effect (QAHE) is a phase of matter in which a dissipationless current is made to flow around the edge of a two dimensional (2D) material. Making use of this effect for next generation electronics could lead to faster processors and low power devices. There are very few materials that exist in nature that intrinsically possess the QAHE, however by sandwiching target 2D materials together we can establish this highly sought after phase. By using three 2D materials: graphene, molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) and chromium tri-iodide (CrI3) forming a van der Waals heterostructure we can create a proximity induced magnetism effect. Here, we took highly sensitive capacitance measurements of graphene on MoS2 devices at low temperatures and high magnetic fields. By taking measurements of the penetration field capacitance vs charge density and polarization of a graphene and MoS2 device at 2 Kelvin and zero external magnetic field, we are able to see the charge neutrality point in graphene and the conduction band of MoS2. Using this method of capacitance measurements we plan to integrate thin CrI3 flakes into our graphene and MoS2 devices to develop a full device to study the proximity induced QAHE.
'Wait, Twilight is a Thing Again?': Examining the Ways in Which Different Social Groups Navigate the Complex Cultural Issues in Twilight
The four books and five movies in the extremely popular Twilight series give readers and viewers a lot to unpack, in both good ways and bad, and have led to fierce debates over the place the series should have in our culture, especially in regard to gender politics. However, most of the discussions of these texts and their cultural impact have tended to lack a robust, intersectional feminist perspective, one that attends to issues not only of gender, but also race, class, and sexuality. This research draws on both fan studies and feminist media studies to examine the various ways that Twilight fans, non-fans, and anti-fans engage with gender, sexuality, race, and other cultural issues in the Twilight series. Utilizing group interviews with participants who are diverse both in terms of marginalized identities and fan/non-fan/anti-fan status, my research draws upon multiple qualitative methods to examine the various ways in which audiences interpret and make sense of these texts and the larger debates surrounding them. I argue that in order to better understand how popular culture and media texts operate, feminist researchers must take into account not only the differing ways in which audiences negotiate meanings, but the limits of their own perspectives and methodologies, and make a conscious effort to diversify and expand their approaches when studying popular media.
Research specifically targeted at youth participation in STEM highlights the importance of community engagements outside of school to bolster interest in STEM. We ask the research questions: (1) How do girls who engage with a day-long STEM event at UNLV perceive hands-on science activities? (2) How did girls’ enjoyment of science activities shift their interest in science topics? The purpose of this study is to identify factors that influence middle school girls’ interests in STEM fields through a day-long STEM event. This research was conducted at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) in 2020 called Girls in STEM Day that hosts middle school girls in local minority populations (n=93). Participants attended two workshops, one that was Biology and Chemistry based, and one Physics and Astronomy based. Students’ interests in the respective science fields were assessed through exit tickets, free response questions answered on notecards. Of the students who attended the Biology and Chemistry, then Physics and Astronomy workshops, 79.7% and 91.2% respectively indicated an increased interest in STEM-based on the hands-on workshop activity and knowledge learned. The authors of this study contribute specific examples indicating middle school girls’ interests in STEM-based on experiences in a day-long STEM event.
Merika Charupoom, Emily Carter, and Erin Breen
Pedestrian and pedal-cyclist fatalities continue to be a concern in Clark County. Road users who are cited for pedestrian violations are given opportunity to an educational resource by attending a 3-hour pedestrian safety class to void their violation points and fines. An interactive dashboard was created to display class participant demographics, analyses of pre-/post-tests, and geospatial mapping of citation locations. Researchers collected participant data from September 2017 to March 2019 (N=1,321) and used Microsoft Excel to create this visualization tool. The components of the dashboard include basic demographics and an analysis of change in pedestrian behavior knowledge using paired t-tests of pre-/post-test data. The geospatial map displays participant citation locations overlaid with the Nevada Department of Transportation’s crash data (fatal and critical injuries), bus stop locations, pedestrian signal types, and school flashers. Analyses of pre-/post-tests shows a significant increase in knowledge of pedestrian behavior after participating in the court class. The significance of behavior knowledge retention across different demographic groups indicates the overall efficacy of the class in educating road users on pedestrian safety. The geospatial map displays citation location overlaid with where pedestrians and pedal cyclists were injured and/or killed. Offering educational resources like pedestrian safety classes enhances knowledge for road users which can foster an effort to help reduce pedestrian fatalities in Clark County. Using resources like geospatial maps and interactive dashboards enables a new sharing platform that can help analyze the efficacy of injury prevention programs.
In summer 2020, national attention on racial injustice brought into focus the culture of policing as a critical area of policy exploration for the United States. The purpose of this study is to examine the culture of policing in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, and specifically within Las Vegas’s largest police force, the Las Vegas Metro Police Department (LVMPD). Through this case study analysis, the racial, social and fiscal aspects of the culture of policing are investigated between the years 2016 & 2020. The research here presents data on disparities within policing found at the national and local levels. The current state of play in Las Vegas is also analyzed, as Black Lives Matter demonstrations and other social justice protests sparked difficult conversations between activists, elected officials, and police officers in the valley. Finally, short-term and long-term policy recommendations for state and local legislators to consider moving forward are provided. As one of the most diverse areas in the United States, the Las Vegas metropolitan area is an ideal case study for understanding the culture of policing, and an ideal laboratory for proposing meaningful, just policy interventions.
Perceptions of Race Relations, Black Lives Matter, and the Shaping of 2020's Politics: How Race Influenced Political Participation in the Year of George Floyd
Olivia Cheche and Elizabeth Maltby Ph.D.
This study aimed to investigate the impacts of Black Lives Matter protests and perceptions of racial discrimination on political participation in 2020. Survey responses from the 2020 Collaborative Multiracial Post-Election Survey are matched with data on protest locations across the United States. From here, linear regressions are ran to determine the effects of the aforementioned two independent variables on political engagement. A third hypothesis tests if Black Lives Matter protests and perceptions of racial discrimination had an interacting effect on individual-level participation. The results of this study show statistically significant results for Black respondents - Black Lives Matter protests and increased perceptions of racial discrimination each had a positive relationship with political participation, but the interaction between these two variables had a negative relationship with participation. This study does not yield statistically significant results for non-Black respondents, indicating that these two concepts had greater impacts on Black communities in 2020.
The following thesis includes a literature review of the immediate and long-term effects of sexual assault on victims in regard to their physical, mental, and emotional health and romantic relationships, followed by a proposed workbook for sexual assault victims/survivors. Being that typical responses immediately after an assault are fear, disbelief, and activation of the sympathetic nervous system, it is to no surprise that long term issues of depression, anxiety, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) often arise as well. Thus, a workbook was created with the intention of educating readers about sexual assault and helping victims/survivors to heal from the trauma with the incorporation of writing prompts, therapeutic artwork, self-diagnostic questionnaires, and resources. Ultimately the workbook will be published in English and Spanish, online as a PDF, and distributed to shelters, clinics, and hospitals across Southern Nevada.
Monica Cordova-Medina, LaShawn Tith, and Fitsum A. Ayele
Data censoring occurs when researchers have only partial information about the value of a variable. For example, one study investigated depression among participants taking psilocybin (magic mushrooms). If participants took extra psilocybin outside of the study context, then the dosage is known to be at least as much as a certain value, but it might have been higher. Left censoring occurs when the left-hand side of a distribution is obscured by censoring; right censoring when the right-hand side is obscured. The R package lava can estimate the correlation that would have been obtained between the uncensored variables when provided with the data from the censored variables. We conducted a Monte Carlo study to evaluate the extent to which lava estimates are biased for data sets of 500 cases with various correlations (-.95, -.50, -.05, .25, .50, and .95) and various degrees of left censoring (10% on both variables, 50% on both, 20% on one and 80% on the other, and 95% on both). When there was low to moderate censoring, lava estimates were unbiased. However, when there was 95% censoring on both variables, lava estimates were biased. When the correlation was -.05 or -.50, bias was large and negative (-.24 or -.35, respectively). For other correlations, bias was typically moderate (e.g., -.02 to .06). If researchers are interested in negative correlations between variables that may be left censored, we recommend they minimize censoring to avoid biased estimates.
Determining Whether Differences in Morphology Across an Elevation Gradient is the Result of Long Term Environmental Plasticity or Genetic Population Differentiation in Keystone Biocrust Moss: Syntrichia caninervis
Unlike vascular plants, mosses are at higher risk for water scarcity in deserts because they experience higher temperatures and intense solar radiation which are known to limit growth and abundance, and because they lack specialized tissues and structures to transport water internally from below ground. Prior research done in the Mojave Desert on a keystone soil moss species, Syntrichia caninervis, observed differences in morphology related to plant size across three life zones (vegetation communities) influenced by elevation (low-890m, medium-1680m, high-2060m) and a water-stress gradient. Our study used a laboratory common garden by culturing 22 S. caninervis genotypes compiled from each life zone and measuring the resulting adult morphology to determine if phenotypic variation was due to genetic differences in a given population or environmental plasticity. Common garden morphometrics were compared to source field genotypes and included length of shoots, leaves, and leaf points (awns), and leaf length and width. We found that mean field shoot height, awn and leaf length, and leaf width trended upwards with elevation. In garden shoots, we found evidence for genotypic effects as this pattern was largely retained except for shoot height, which is thus a stress-induced trait. Three genotypes lacking field awns developed awns in culture, evidencing plasticity. This research advances moss ecology by confirming phenotypic plasticity for shoot height and awns over an elevation gradient. Second and third generation cultures will be grown in the future to confirm whether the observed life zone trait patterns are genetic or due to long-term plasticity.
Janelle Domantay and Brendan Morris Ph.D.
Awareness detection technologies have been gaining traction in a variety of enterprises; Most often used for driver fatigue detection, recent research has shifted towards using computer vision technologies to analyze user attention in stationary environments such as online classrooms. This study aims to extend previous research on distraction detection by analyzing which visual features contribute most to predicting awareness and fatigue. We utilized the open source facial analysis toolkit OpenFace in order to analyze visual data of subjects at varying levels of attentiveness. Then, using a Support Vector Machine (SVM) we created several prediction models for user attention and identified Histogram of Oriented Gradients (HOGS) to be the greatest predictor of the features we tested. We also compared the performance of this SVM to deep learning approaches that utilize Convolutional and/or Recurrent neural networks (CNN's and CRNN's). Interestingly, CRNN's did not appear to perform significantly better than their CNN counterparts. While deep learning methods definitively performed better, SVMs utilized less resources and, using certain parameters, were able to approach the performance of deep learning methods.
Jessica Farnsworth and Joshua Island Ph.D.
Molybdenum disulfide transistor devices were fabricated utilizing muscovite mica as dielectrics in order to test the hydrophilic behavior of mica. This was done by probing the device for its transconductance plot to show hysteretic patterns. Devices were fabricated using a clean van der Waals technique to stack two-dimensional materials into heterostructures. The devices showed a hysteretic trend in the transconductance curve. We compared the hysteretic behavior from mica with that of another well-known dielectric, silicon dioxide. The devices with mica dielectrics showed larger hysteresis in the gate sweeps than silicon dioxide. Devices utilizing mica as dielectrics are expected to have hysteretic behaviors due to the interfacial water on the mica surface. It is also speculated that water accumulation will continue to grow on the surface as long as the device is in ambient conditions, so the hysteresis may worsen over time. We aim to mitigate water absorption at the surface of mica and suggest future work to accomplish this goal.
Samantha Giannantonio and Laurel Raftery Ph.D.
Cells communicate by producing molecular signals that activate a signal-specific pathway to elicit a response in neighboring cells. Signaling pathways share similar elements that include the signal and receptor, and intracellular components to relay the signal and effect a change in gene expression. Two signaling pathways, the Wnt pathway and the Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP) pathway, which contribute to the establishment of body plans for all multicellular animals, have been thought to be independent of one another. However, recent evidence suggests that the Wnt and BMP pathways share a signal transducer that has a necessary function in both pathways. This hypothesis has not yet been tested with the definitive genetic method of using a genomic deletion. This is a progress report of such a definitive test. I am testing whether Mad is required in both the BMP and Wnt signaling pathways using the Mad[KO] allele to generate Drosophila embryos that lack Mad. Whether Mad is required for Wnt responses will be determined by examining the denticle belt patterns of exoskeletons from embryos that lack Mad. The denticle belt pattern will be compared to that of embryos that lack the signals necessary for either the BMP or the Wnt pathway. The results obtained will provide critical evidence for whether Mad functions only in the BMP signaling pathway, or both BMP and Wnt signaling pathways.
Tahner Green and Kimberly Nehls Ph.D.
If Americans include insects as part of their diets, global pollution will decrease. Insects use less water to farm, produce 85% less methane than regular barn animals, and are packed with nutrition. As I analyzed the world population, I discovered that 80% of the world already eats bugs as part of their diets. It’s especially popular in underdeveloped countries. Spreading the popularity to America will be difficult, as the most consumed meat is Chicken, Cows, and Pigs. These animals are mass produced and cause a huge impact on the environment. In conclusion, if we work together to bring insects in American meals, we can decrease global warming and create a sustainable environment.