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  1. Examining States' Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) [Download]

    Title: Examining States' Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
    Author: Goehring, Benjamin
    Description: The replacement of Aid for Families with Dependent Children with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) in 1996 revoked qualifying families' legal guarantee of cash assistance benefits and instituted a state-administered block grant program. Reflecting contemporary concerns over rising cash assistance caseloads and centralized government, TANF gives each state an annual block grant and the authority to allocate the funds in any way "reasonably calculated" to realize its statutory goals. States utilize this flexibility to fund a wide variety of programs in addition to cash assistance for needy families, including work supports, childcare assistance, pregnancy prevention initiatives, and refundable tax credits. Although consequential, little progress has been made in answering how states' allocations of their TANF block grants have changed over time and what political, economic, and social factors correlate with states' TANF expenditures. My research aims to further scholarship concerning both questions. Drawing on data published by the Administration for Children and Families, I created a database of every state's TANF expenditures in ten funding categories between fiscal years 1998 and 2013. To overcome significant methodological challenges in the data, I used funding categories developed by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and calculated three-year moving averages of the expenditures. Drawing on this database, I undertake a descriptive analysis of states' TANF spending. My findings indicate that over time, states shifted their expenditures away from cash assistance toward other sources, including pregnancy prevention initiatives and refundable tax credits. The reductions in cash assistance expenditures were dramatic: The median state spent 22% of its total TANF funds on cash assistance in fiscal year 2013, a decrease of 30% from fiscal year 1998. My descriptive study is the foundation for an analysis of what state-level factors, such as change in cash assistance caseload, partisan control of government, proportion of African Americans in the population, and proportion of Hispanics in the population correlate with states' TANF expenditures. Preliminary findings indicate that states diverted expenditures away from cash assistance as cash assistance caseloads decreased, implying a rational basis for reallocation. However, results also suggest strong and significant negative relationships between the proportions of African Americans and Hispanics in a state and cash assistance spending. If corroborated by further analysis, these findings would fit within broader themes in the welfare literature concerning the significance of race and ethnicity in United States' social policy.
    Keywords: Research Days 2017, social policy, TANF
    Date Uploaded: 04/17/2017
  2. A Statistical Analysis of Rudolf Laban's Dance Compositions [Download]

    Title: A Statistical Analysis of Rudolf Laban's Dance Compositions
    Author: Robertson, Kiara
    Description: Despite a growing number of publications in recent years documenting the impact of the German choreographer, Rudolf Laban, on 20th century European dance theater, his contributions to the dance world have yet to be explored from a statistical perspective. The prevailing literature points to Laban’s lifelong battle with mental illness, spasmodic manic depression; his affiliation with the Nazi Socialist German Worker’s Party; and the sociopolitical breakthroughs of his contemporaries, artists Cezanne, Matisse, and Picasso and psychologist Sigmund Freud; as the foundations of his unique approach to dance and human movement, without acknowledging the fundamental role statistics played in the life and work of the mercurial choreographer. Works such as “Symmetry and Topology: Rudolf Laban’s Theory Building Tools” by movement specialist Carol-Lynne Moore and “Development of Laban’s Movement Ideas and Practices: Coexistence of Analysis and Synthesis” by dance scholar Vera Maletic touch upon the importance of geometrical and mathematical models in Laban’s theories of movement, but fail to address the branch of applied mathematics from which these models derive: statistics. To appreciate the depth of Laban’s contributions to the dance world, this paper will correlate the statistical principles and methods that underlie the construction of his compositional structures. In this analysis, I focus specifically on statistics as a determinant of Laban’s success in the study and practice of dance and human movement. Statistics is defined as the “branch of mathematics dealing with the collection, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of masses of numerical data” (Merriam-Webster). Each of these components of statistics—collection, analysis, interpretation, and presentation— provide new avenues for understanding the choreographer’s career trajectory and life work. By analyzing the statistical techniques and research methods Laban implemented in these four areas, the explanation for the longevity of his movement theories, dances, notation system, and work efficiency studies will become clear. My dissection of Rudolf Laban’s work, “Crystal,” recreated for film by Laban’s former student and biographer, Dr. Valerie Preston-Dunlop, and Allison Curtis, a specialist in Choreology and faculty member at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London, will provide further insight into how Laban was able to stage successful productions and develop his theories of movement, using only the statistical properties he abstracted from his studies of British factory workers.
    Keywords: Research Days 2017, Laban, Labanotation, Effort theory of movement, Movement analysis, Choreutic
    Date Uploaded: 04/17/2017
  3. Differential Gene Expression in Primary Human CD4+ T Cells Induced by HIV Nef [Download]

    Title: Differential Gene Expression in Primary Human CD4+ T Cells Induced by HIV Nef
    Author: Goydos, Ryan
    Description: The Nef protein is responsible for T-cell activation and formation of a persistent state of infection in HIV disease. Findings from the Sydney Blood Bank Cohort and other case studies indicate that individuals infected with a variant of HIV containing a defective nef gene displayed a slower development to AIDS compared to individuals infected with wild-type HIV. Our study investigates the role of the Nef protein on cellular gene transcription in infected primary CD4+ T cells with the goal of understanding how HIV Nef promotes viral replication and subsequent cellular pathology.
    Keywords: Research Days 2017, HIV, RNASeq, Transcriptome, AIDS
    Date Uploaded: 04/17/2017
  4. Spacecraft Trajectory Design Near Asteroid 4769 Castalia [Download]

    Title: Spacecraft Trajectory Design Near Asteroid 4769 Castalia
    Author: Kulumani, Shankar
    Description: In this paper, we extend the design method previously developed in the three-body problem to motion about asteroids. The authors present a systematic method of generating optimal transfer orbits about asteroids. Our systematic approach avoids the difficulties in selecting an appropriate initial guess for optimization. We instead utilize the concept of the reachability set to enable a simple methodology of selecting initial conditions to achieve general orbital transfers. This method allows us to avoid the difficulties inherent in choosing valid initial conditions for the computation of optimal transfer trajectories. We develop the optimal control formulation and apply this method to an example transfer about asteroid 4769 Castalia.
    Keywords: Research Days 2017, Astrodynamics
    Date Uploaded: 04/17/2017
  5. Chiral Extrapolation of Light Mesons from the Lattice [Download]

    Title: Chiral Extrapolation of Light Mesons from the Lattice
    Author: Hu, Bin
    Description: The ρ(770) meson is the most extensively studied resonance in lattice QCD simulations in two (Nf=2) and three (Nf=2+1) flavors. We analyze all available phase shifts from Nf=2 simulations using unitarized Chiral Perturbation Theory (UCHPT), and allowing not only for the extrapolation in mass but also in flavor, Nf=2→Nf=2+1. The flavor extrapolation requires information from a global fit to ππ and πK phase shifts from experiment. In the chiral extrapolations of Nf=2 simulations, the KKbar channel has a significant effect and leads to ρ(770) masses surprisingly close to the experimental one. We also discuss recent results on the chiral extrapolations of Nf=2+1 lattice QCD data.
    Keywords: Chiral Perturbation Theory (UCHPT), Research Days 2017
    Date Uploaded: 04/17/2017
  6. Social Identity Exploration: International Students from Mainland China [Download]

    Title: Social Identity Exploration: International Students from Mainland China
    Author: Gao, Shuai Janet
    Description: Drawing upon current literature of Chinese international students as well as existing knowledge of social identity theory, this qualitative research explores the impact of ethnic identity on Chinese international students' identity development in the United States. Based on the data from the interviews with participants self-identified as Chinese international undergraduate students from a large private not-for-profit research university, findings support Phinney's (1995) model of ethnic identity development and has confirmed that the acculturation process for Chinese international students is two-dimensional rather than linear. Taken together, results of the current study add strength to current literature and will inform research on identity development for international students in the United States. Furthermore, policy implications derived from this study will benefit higher education practitioners and increase Chinese international students' overall international exchange experience on campus.
    Keywords: Research Days 2017, International students, Social identity
    Date Uploaded: 04/17/2017
  7. Numerical Investigations of Pattern Formation in Binary Systems [Download]

    Title: Numerical Investigations of Pattern Formation in Binary Systems
    Author: Jiajun Lu
    Description: In this paper, we investigate pattern formation in a two-phase system on a two-dimensional manifold by numerically computing the minimizers of a Cahn-Hilliard-like model for micro-phase separation of diblock copolymers. The total energy of the system includes a short-range term - a Landau free energy and a long-range term - the Otha-Kawasaki functional. The short range term favors large domains with minimum perimeter and the long-range inhibitory term favors small domains. The balance of these terms leads to minimizers with a variety of patterns, including single droplets, droplet assemblies, stripes, wriggled stripes and combinations thereof. We compare the results of our numerical simulations with known analytical results and discuss the stability of the computed solutions and the role of key parameters in pattern formation. For demonstration purposes, we focus on the triaxial ellipsoid, but our methods are general and can be applied to higher genus surfaces and surfaces with boundaries.
    Keywords: Research Days 2017, Cahn-Hilliard, Landau free energy, Otha-Kawasaki functional, Pattern formation, Math, Maths, Mathematics, Two-dimensional manifold
    Date Uploaded: 04/17/2017
  8. Assessing Edge Damage in MSA Lithic Assemblages: Experimental Proxies for the Analysis of Use and Post-Depositional Damage [Download]

    Title: Assessing Edge Damage in MSA Lithic Assemblages: Experimental Proxies for the Analysis of Use and Post-Depositional Damage
    Author: Jirsa, Courtney
    Description: Given the low frequency of retouched stone tools in many Middle Stone Age (MSA) assemblages, the analysis of edge damage on simple unretouched artifacts offers a promising depth of insight into tool-use behavior. Taphonomic process such as trampling, however, can also cause edge damage on lithic artifacts. As part of the investigation of GaJj17, an MSA site in the Koobi Fora region (Kenya), we conducted an experiment designed to investigate differences between edge damage resulting from use and that resulting from post-depositional damage. Damage was inflected on the edges of a series of ignimbrite flakes in a variety of experimental contexts (e.g. butchery, trampling). These experiments mimicked processes that may inflect damage on tool edges. We assessed the relationship between edge andle and the intensity and continuity of edge damage in these experimentally damaged artifacts. A qualitative assessment of the intensity and continuity of edge damage was used to distinguish use from post-depositional damage. These criteria were applied to in situ and surface collections from GaJj17. These analyses sought to test whether the archaeological assemblages exhibit patterns of damage more similar to experimental use or trampling. This research was sponsored by the National Science Foundation IRES Program (OISE-1358178 and 1358200).
    Keywords: Research Days 2017, Paleolithic archaeology, Archaeology, Edge damage, Middle Stone Age, Lithics, Stone tools, Usewear
    Date Uploaded: 04/17/2017
  9. Annotation of the Gene Ci on Contig 3 Dot Chromosome of Drosophila Eugracilis [Download]

    Title: Annotation of the Gene Ci on Contig 3 Dot Chromosome of Drosophila Eugracilis
    Author: Kwon, Yong Kyu
    Description: In many Drosophila species, the fourth chromosome is very small and bears relatively few genes. This "dot" chromosome is mostly heterochromatic, has low rates of meiotic recombination, and replicates late in the S phase of mitosis. Despite these hallmarks of suppressed gene expression, genes on the dot chromosome are expressed at normal rates. This unusual pattern piqued the interest of the Genomics Education Partnership (GEP), a research consortium centered in the Biology Department and the McDonnel Genome Institute of Washington University in St. Louis. GEP's mission is to allow undergraduates to participate in genomics research through course curricula and includes consortium members at over 150 universities. GW students in BISC 2208 Genetics Laboratory learn to annotate genes to improve genomic resources for non-model species, facilitating genomic analysis and leading to a publication. My annotation was focused on the gene cubitus interruptus (ci), which encodes for zinc-finger proteins in the Hedgehog (Hh) signaling pathway. This gene is involved in integumentary system development (cuticle pattern and epidermis formation) and organ formation (eye, heart, and nerves). I began by identifying the correct D. melanogaster ortholog and confirming this in D. eugracilis using BLAST and RNA-seq evidence. Then, specific isoforms of ci were identified, and their exon coordinates, frame, and phases were recorded for all existing unique exons. The corrected exon coordinates were then processed through the Gene Model Checker and assessed for similarity with D. melanogaster. Isoform ci-PA had small gaps in exons 2, 3, 4, and 6, and ci-PB presented small gaps in exons 2, 3, and 5. Isoform ci-PC presented gaps in exons 2, 3, 4, and no match in exons 5 and 6. All the exon mismatch corresponds the respective protein alignments. There were mismatches within and at the end of exons, especially in exons 5 and 6. I found substantial evolutionary divergence between D. melanogaster and D. eugracilis lineages in these exons, accounting for only 77% amino acid similarity overall. These results suggested relaxed selection and lower functional significance in this portion of the protein.
    Keywords: Research Days 2017, Drosophila, Melanogaster, Eugracilis
    Date Uploaded: 04/17/2017
  10. Investigating Gender-Inclusive Hate Crime Statutes [Download]

    Title: Investigating Gender-Inclusive Hate Crime Statutes
    Author: Jacoby, Jocelyn
    Description: This paper is an exploration into the variation of how different states in the United States legislate and prosecute anti-female hate crimes to determine whether hate crime legislation is an effective response to violence against women, especially sexual assault. The first step of investigating the effectiveness of hate crime legislation is is to examine the literature, like Gelber and Chen, that explores how violence against women, especially sexual violence, can and should be covered under hate crime law. In order for violence against women to be included as a hate crime, gender must be considered a protected class. Despite gender being included on the federal level since 1993, only twenty-four states and DC statutes include the term "gender" or "sex." I explore the literature on policy diffusion, where there is very little on hate crimes and even less on gender. However, using Soule and Earl and Makse and Volden works, I can see if their theories on hate crime policy diffusion applies to whether states adopt gender-inclusive statutes. There is significant variation in how even these twenty-four states write their laws, some are lengthy and specific while others are brief and vague. I investigate if the variation in the state statutes creates different outcomes. My data is state level statutes and their annual crime reports, and the variations in data can be presented in charts and maps. My findings were that the amount of anti-female hate crimes reported in each state is usually less than five per year, regardless of the state's population or the detailed language of the statute. A potential explanation for the low reporting is found in McPhail and DiNitto's interviews showing that prosecutors are often not aware of the law allowing for sexual violence against women to be classified as a hate crime, and that even when they are aware of it, they often don't agree with it. In conclusion, I will discuss the policy implications. If gender-based hate crime statutes are not efficient in addressing violence against women, activist communities must decide how many resources to put into enacting this. However, gender-inclusive language in hate crime statutes can have further policy inclinations, such as more effectively protecting trans individuals. This adds to current literature by bringing the discussion from can sexual violence be classified as a hate crime, to what happens if we legally do.
    Keywords: Hate crimes, Sexual violence, Research Days 2017, State policy, Policy diffusion, Violence against women
    Date Uploaded: 04/17/2017