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McNair Scholars Program

Research Abstracts 2002

Scholar: Akua Crum
Mentor: Richard Harris, Ph.D.

Perceptions of Ethnically Ambiguous Entertainers

Although the primary categories that come to mind when talking about race are black and white, but how about those individuals who are in the middle? Many individuals who are not clearly defined as black or white are often left out in the "in between". There are few studies about the perceptions of ethnically ambiguous entertainers in the media and how they may influence people's perceptions of the characters' quality of performance. In this study, fifty-seven Kansas State University students (15 female and 42 males) watched a series of 16 short video clips (eleven ambiguous, five unambiguous). The term "ambiguous" is defined as being difficult to distinguish between two or more ethnicities. After each clip, a questionnaire was completed to evaluate the entertainer's performance. The findings support that participants who viewed the ambiguous characters did not as a group show consensus on identifying characters' ethnicity/race. Many participants showed a tendency to evaluate African-American entertainers higher than European-American entertainers. Future research will focus on a larger sample size and to increase diversity among participants.


Scholar: Whitney Gebhart
Mentor: Jerome Frieman, Ph.D.

Cross-Modal Evaluative Conditioning with Perfumes and Colognes as US's and Pictures as CS's

This experiment used an evaluative conditioning procedure to examine whether positively-rated perfumes and colognes increase attractiveness ratings for neutral-rated photographs of faces. After each subject rated a series of perfumes and colognes and a series of photographs of faces, six pictures that were rated neutral and four odors rated as highly positive were selected. Then subjects were presented with contingent odor-picture pairs. Four combinations of odor-picture pairs were presented to each subject: For two of these combinations the gender of the odor and the gender of the person in the picture matched, and for two of these combinations the gender of the odor and the gender of the person did not match. Subjects were also presented with a picture of a male and a female not paired with an odor. Finally, the odors and pictures were rated again. The final attractiveness ratings for the people in the photographs did not shift in the direction of the odors, and no significant differences were found between the gender of subject or for the different odor-picture combinations. Subjects exhibited significant changes in ratings for the perfumes and colognes used in the experiment. The instability of the odor ratings most likely decreased the possibility that the ratings of the pictures would shift in the direction of the odor.


Scholar: Heather Harlan
Mentor: Tracy Turner, Ph.D. 


Does Public Housing Assistance Affect Savings Behavior?

In this paper, I investigate the savings behavior of low-income households to examine the potential future effects on saving as a result of receiving rental subsidies and project-based public housing assistance. My hypothesis is that poor households receiving housing assistance will have increased wealth when compared to those households similarly situated who are not receiving housing assistance. I test this hypothesis using 1993 and 1994 longitudinal wealth data and supplements from the University of Michigan's Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID).

The empirical method used for my research is a Heckman two-stage regression. The first stage identifies the likelihood that those low-income households within the sample will have positive wealth, and the second stage examines how the level of positive wealth among that subsample is affected, if at all, by the variables that I am controlling for-mainly, a rent subsidy, income, demographic factors and employment status.

Results from the first stage regression indicate that low-income households receiving rental subsidies and/or public housing assistance have a decreased likelihood of having positive wealth, whether in the form of savings or assets. The results of the second stage regression were statistically insignificant. While it has not been determined whether housing assistance impacts the level of positive wealth holding over the lifetime, further research should be done to address the significance of this, perhaps using a larger sample, and additional control variables.


Scholar: Anthony Johnson
Mentor: Louise Breen, Ph.D.

Are "All Men Created Equal"?: Thomas Jefferson on race and freedom in Early America

The purpose of this research is to explore Thomas Jefferson's attitudes toward race, slavery, and African Americans throughout the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. My paper will draw upon the works of other historians as well my own interpretation of Jefferson's primary documents. I will expose Jefferson as a racist, hypocrite, and an exploiter of African American women, and accept the possibility that he had sexual relations and fathered children with his slave Sally Hemings.

Historians are still debating this man's life today, expanding our understanding of his significance by exploring not just his political career but also his personal activities and views. Now historians can reevaluate and study Jefferson's "other side," dealing with slavery, race, and his relationship with Sally Hemings. "Sugar coating" the bad aspects of history does not help us to learn from our mistakes so as to improve the future. Jefferson always believed that slavery was wrong, but did not know what to do about it. As he aged, he believed that the next generation should do something about it. It is a shame that here it is the twenty-first century and Jefferson descendants still will not allow Hemings or slave descendants of Monticello to be buried on the plantation. Those Jefferson scholars who deny all that seems unpleasant about Thomas Jefferson will not do anything to better his character; it will only make matters worse.


Scholar: Chris Lavergne
Mentor: Tracy Rutherford, Ph.D.

Identifying and Clarifying Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service Organizational Core Values

The purpose of this study was to (1) determine organizational values of Kansas State Research and Extension personnel and add validity to the identified values that will be representative of Kansas State Research and Extension and (2) investigate possible relationships between the expressed values and the employee's age, gender, race, job tenure in K-State Research & Extension Service, level of formal education, primary appointment responsibility, and position within the organization.

The population consisted of all employees and supporting collaborators listed in the most recent Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service directory, (N=1,375).

Responses were received from 261 employees, a response rate of 19%. Responses were divided between three primary responsibilities: teaching, research, and extension. Fifteen (15) respondents did not specify primary responsibilities. Twenty-six (26) responses were received from teaching personnel, forty-two (42) from research personnel, and one-hundred and seventy-eight (178) were received from extension personnel.

Data were collected using a two-section questionnaire. Section 1 included two, four-point Likert scales containing forty value statements. The population was asked to rate the degree to which he/she values the statement and also to rate the degree to which the value is evident in K-State Research and Extension organizational procedure and policy. Response categories ranged from 1 representing "never value" or "not evident;" and 4 representing "always value" or "extremely evident." Section 2 of the instrument collected demographic information of the respondents.


Scholar: Monique Quinton
Mentor: LouAnn Culley, Ph.D.


The Role of Religion in the Lives and Careers of Three Early Twentieth Century African American Visual Artists: Henry Ossawa Tanner, Edwin Augustus Harleston, and Laura Wheeler Waring

Historical research into art, religion, and African American history are combined within this paper to support the conclusion that due to the exclusionary practices of mainstream America, the black visual artist's success depended upon the social phenomenon of religion. A bishop of the Methodist church sponsored Henry O. Tanner's first solo exhibition. Edwin A. Harleston received funding to attend a school sponsored by the American Missionary Association. Laura W. Waring graduated from a college founded by missionaries. These are just a few of the many examples of organizational religious links to these three early twentieth century African American visual artists that are discussed in detail. In addition, many of these artists used religious iconography in their art. And interestingly, many black visual artists were introduced to the ethics of religion, either through family of origin or through friends. Research shows that one of the most important patrons in the history of these early artists was a deeply religious man by the name of William Harmon.

Religion was intrinsically linked to the development of the early black American twentieth century artist. The 1880s to the 1920s is a sliver of time compared to other great chunks of documented art history when religion influenced art. But, it is a sliver of time when religion (in the form of patrons, organizations, and family), influenced the lives and careers of the artist - - - specifically the African American visual artists of the early twentieth century.


Scholar: Randy Regier
Mentor: Christopher Sorensen, Ph.D.

Westermann's Dæmon

My experience with the linear, chronological, and categorical focus of art education has been that it ignores some very significant artists - artists who, by virtue of their extreme individuality, are too complex and unwieldy to snap fit into a mass-market curriculum. They are "outsider" artists and their significance is underestimated.

Such is the case with the American sculptor H.C. Westermann, 1922-1981. In my research I had access to numerous personal letters, both actual and reprinted, from the artist to his friends and family. His correspondence is an intense, evocative and moving portrayal of a very complex and talented man. In my case, the limitations of my methodology mirrored the results of my research. In using Westermann's letters to understand his passion, drive, and blunt nonconformity, I became aware of two things: First, if H.C. Westermann could have exorcised his personal demons in his writing, he would have had no need of sculpture. His letters contain insights, not answers. Second, his letters are just that: his letters. I did not have access to the other half of his correspondence, and thus I was lacking much contextual information. All that aside, the most important result of my research is the profound level of respect and admiration I now have for a man who gave his life for his art.


Scholar: Lisa Valentine
Mentor: Tracy Turner, Ph.D.

The Effect of Parents' Asset Accumulation on the Asset Accumulation of their Children

Parents' financial shrewdness may affect their children's wealth accumulation. Households where parents are knowledgeable and practice sound judgment in financial matters will tend to have children who are knowledgeable in financial matters. Households where parents are not knowledgeable of building financial wealth are likely to have children who are not knowledgeable of building wealth and, therefore, less likely to accumulate assets. This is important because if some households have low wealth, and if parent savings behavior helps to form the savings behavior of their offspring, then these low-wealth households will continue to have low wealth across generations. This project examines the extent to which parents influence their children's asset accumulation. We provide a careful review of existing research and conduct an empirical study. Our findings indicate that stock ownership is fundamental to building wealth, parent asset accumulation dramatically increases the likelihood that their children will accumulate assets as young adults, and education, both through the parent effect and through formal channels, plays a critical role in enabling young households to accumulate wealth. Since parent savings behavior has been proven to help form the savings behavior of their offspring, then low-wealth households must receive education or training regarding financial issues in order to construct a legacy of financial stability and wealth building for their children.


Scholar: Kai Wong
Mentor: Don Gruenbacher, Ph.D.

Simulating Bluetooth Networks Using Opnet

In recent years, consumers have developed a growing interest in wireless electronic devices, such as personal digital assistants, cell phones, wireless laptop computers, and other portable devices. Each of these devices only meets part of our needs, so we need to develop a networking interface to interconnect them. Bluetooth is on target to fulfill such a need, and it is rising as an essential standard for short range, low-power wireless communication. Bluetooth is ideal for the wireless task because of its low power consumption, its flexibility to allow devices to talk spontaneously and its mobility that allows users to move from the range of one access point to another. This paper provides insights into issues related to internetworking such as arranging small groups of "piconets" to form a larger "scatternet", within the constraints imposed by the Bluetooth Specifications. The paper then introduces the simulation software called Opnet to build the piconet and scatternet models. Opnet is a simulation environment that has high-reliability and discrete-event models. It allows the user to predict performance characteristics and study behavioral interaction for personal area network (PAN) applications that use both on existing and emerging wireless technologies. This paper presents the models and the analysis of the simulation results produced by Opnet. It also evaluates the properties within the networks that lead to good performance in terms of end-to-end delay and link utilization for both piconets and scatternets.