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McNair Scholars Program

Summer 2005 Research Projects

Scholar: Matt Anderson
Mentor: James Hamilton, Ph.D.


How Do We Understand Religious Diversity?: The Religious Pluralist Response

As human society has become more global, the religions of the world have come into greater contact with one another. These contacts have brought about greater understanding of the diversity of the world religions. This diversity has caused a question to arise in academia, especially in philosophy of religion: how can we understand and deal with the conflicting truth claims among the diversity of world religions? Within my research I have dealt with the religious pluralist and religious exclusivist responses, because they both rely on the assumption of some 'transcendent reality'. Religious Pluralism claims that all the world religions are responses to the same transcendent reality, while religious exclusivism claims that only one religion truly responds to the transcendent reality.

The most famous modern proponent of religious pluralism is John Hick, and so his work was the focus of this research. The goal of my research was to understand John Hick's religious pluralism and to find out the current state of the discussion. His book, An Interpretation of Religion: Human Responses to the Transcendent, provided the framework to his argument, and then I read many essays arguing for and against Hick's religious pluralism, and his responses to some of them. Out of these many essays, one argument in particular, given by Keith E. Yandell, was the most compelling, prima facie. Therefore, in this report, I explain John Hick's religious pluralism and Yandell's argument against religious pluralism.


Scholar: Evan Cullens
Mentor: William Kuhn, Ph.D.


Developing a Test Sequence for a Mars Micro-Transceiver Chip

Testing of an RFIC to be used in micro-transceivers on future Mars exploration vehicles is discussed. This test focuses on the receiver circuitry and involves creating a test signal for the BPSK (binary phase shift keying) modulated signal. The test sequence captures approximately 200 msec of idle sequence followed by an attached synchronization marker (ASM). Four different data sets are available via an arbitrary waveform generator for the four different bit rates that the RFIC will need to support: 1000, 2000, 4000, and 8000 bits per second. A pseudo-random bit sequence was included. An overview of the transceiver operations as well as a discussion of the development of the data sets is presented.


Scholar: Sara Hupp
Mentor: David Stone, Ph.D.

Holocaust Poetry as a Viable Means of Holocaust Representation

If it is true that certain types of Holocaust representations (films such as Schindler’s List, for example) cause a person to feel a certain type of excitement towards the material, then a question exists as to what kinds of material fail to provide titillation. As it stands there are arguments against violent or overtly emotional imagery in that it causes excitement (arousal) or sorrow (leading to joy). One is now forced to find a method of Holocaust representation that evokes a “proper” response.

Poetry in and of the Holocaust establishes a form of representation that does create an empathic reaction in that images of violence are not gratuitous. Although the poetry tends to have a strong emotional impact, much of it was written without the deliberate tugging of the reader’s heartstrings. The poetry, especially that written in the ghettos (or even outside, written by Jews while fighting as partisans), made calls for resistance (physical and spiritual) without using graphic imagery or deeply sentimental pleas.

Ghetto poetry can provide a strong empathic reaction without resorting to overly brutal imagery, making it an appropriate form of Holocaust representation. The component of memorialization shows how important poetry was to Jews in the Nazi ghettos. Not only was poetry used to memorialize events, but poetry was used to make calls for resistance. Finally, because of the use of poetry inside of the Nazi ghettos, it can be used as a historical source, as well as a piece of literature.


Scholar: Joseph Lancaster
Mentor: Alley Stoughton, Ph.D.

A Rich Text Manager for Use in the Rapid Development of eXene Widgets which Offer Moderate to Advanced Text and String Manipulation

There is currently no eXene text-field widget with capabilities comparable to those found in text editors in many operating systems today. While many text editors offered by these operating systems tend to support rich text, no eXene widget does. Those offered by eXene allow only meager plain text manipulation. I introduce a slightly convoluted but promising reusable module prototype or rich text manager (RTM) for automating advanced rich text manipulation for a widget, allowing the widget code to handle graphical and user interaction details, thus giving the widget programmer a break. Furthermore, the programmer may freely pursue functionality not offered by other text widgets by spending more time on additional peculiar details and little or none on mundane text manipulation. This module is a contribution to the incomplete and recently revived X-Window System toolkit eXene originally designed and developed by Emden Gansner and John Reppy. It is intended that this module be used to implement one or more unique and outstanding text manipulation widgets and remain available for any additional novel text manipulating widgets that may be required in the future. Adjustments may be made to the RTM where necessary when creating novel widgets.


Scholar: Beth Larrabee
Mentors: Mary Cain, Ph.D.

DCS in Amphetamine Reinstatement

A study was conducted to investigate the effects of D-Cycloserine (DCS) on amphetamine reinstatement. Thirty-six Sprauge-Dawley rats were classified as high (HR) and low (LR) responders based on responding to inescapable novelty. Rats received repeated amphetamine (1.0 mg/ml; s.c.) or saline injections during one-hour locomotor sessions. HR rats had a greater amount of amphetamine-induced hyperactivity than LR. Following training, conditioned hyperactivity was measured using a saline challenge. Both HR and LR rats displayed conditioned hyperactivity. The rats began extinction training with repeated saline injections. Following each session, half the rats received DCS (15 mg/kg; s.c.) and half received saline. There was a trend for DCS to facilitate extinction in LR, but not HR rats. DCS did not attenuate locomotor activity during a subsequent reinstatement test during which all rats received injections of amphetamine. These findings suggest that while DCS may facilitate extinction in LR rats, it may not attenuate reinstatement.


Scholar: Mathew Leonard
Mentor: Itzik Ben-Itzhak, Ph.D.

The Dissociation of Water Molecules by Highly Charged Ions

An experimental apparatus is being constructed and tested in the J.R. Macdonald Laboratory (JRML). The new apparatus will utilize the latest techniques in molecular imaging, such as the use of a multi-hit position sensitive detector. As a test experiment, we will look at the dissociation of water molecules by highly charged ions. Previous experiments on the dissociation of water molecules by high energy ions have been performed. Bond rearrangement, namely H2O+ → H2+ + O, and its isotopic dependence, with HDO and D2O replacing H2O, has been studied in the past using a fast proton beam. Studies have also been done on bond rearrangement resulting from multiple ionization of water molecules, such as the dissociation channel H2O2+ → H2+ + O+. The new experiment will allow us to follow up this line of research, but with a different mechanism for removing electrons from the molecule, electron capture instead of ionization.


Scholar: Meredith Martin
Mentors: Bruce Babin, Ph.D.

Characterization of Convection Oven Heat Leakage

In the mechanical engineering department at Kansas State University research is being conducted to experimentally quantify an oven’s performance. For this purpose two analytical models have been developed by a student at Kansas State University. As a subset of that research, the goal of this particular paper is to experimentally characterize the heat leakage in an electrically heated household convection oven. This involves determining heat leakage as a function of oven temperature and reducing this information to an effective thermal conductivity. By applying an energy balance the global heat leakage was approximated as equivalent to the power supplied to the elements during steady state operation. The power consumption, and thus the heat leakage, was measured. The temperature of the oven cavity was also monitored during pseudo steady state operation. The power and temperature were both plotted as a function of time. The heat leakage as a function of the target oven temperature demonstrated a linear relationship. The effective thermal conductivity was calculated and found to demonstrate some temperature dependence. These results show a global heat leakage for the oven and were used to help quantify the oven’s performance.


Scholar: Megan Mascorro-Jackson
Mentor: Cia Verschelden, Ph.D.


The Governor's Multicultural Research Council's Kansas Bright Flight Project

"Bright Flight" is the phenomenon of educated persons migrating to other states, and is a dilemma that concerns Kansas. The purpose of this research was to determine whether or not young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 are actually migrating from the state. To address concerns brought to the Governor, a research council was formed. This research council worked in conjunction with the African American Affairs Commission, and was comprised of three McNair scholars, and their faculty mentors from three different universities. The universities represented were Kansas State University, the University of Kansas, and Wichita State University. The preliminary data suggested that there is not a significant net out-migration; however, there is not sufficient evidence to make a conclusion at this time. It is the opinion of the council that the state should invest in a more expansive research project concerning these problems, allowing for more resources and time.


Scholar: Pamela Rzodkiewicz
Mentor: William Schapaugh, Ph.D.


Screening Soybean Varieties to Iron-Deficiency Chlorosis

Iron-deficiency chlorosis is a disease caused by decreased iron in the soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] plant. The disease occurs in Kansas where soil pH levels above 7.0 interfere with iron uptake. Chlorosis can result in reduced seed yields. Planting soybean varieties with resistance to iron chlorosis represents an effective method to reduce yield losses. This study was conducted to determine if current soybean varieties available to Kansas soybean producers provide protection against iron-deficiency chlorosis. In a greenhouse experiment, 235 soybean varieties were planted in a randomized complete block design with 3 replications in pots filled with high pH soil. To evaluate level of resistance, chlorophyll concentrations were measured at the V2 and V3 stages of development, using a Minolta 502 Chlorophyll meter. Varieties differed in their resistance to iron chlorosis. Out of the 235 varieties tested, 20 commercial varieties possessed iron-deficiency chlorosis resistance as good as the resistant check.


Scholar: William Studer
Mentor: David Smit, Ph.D.


The Future of Teaching Technical Writing

In “The Future Of Technical Writing,” I explore the possibilities of how the field of technical/professional writing will be taught to potential technical/professional writers in the years to come. In making my case for what I believe to be the most likely path, I will synthesize pieces of evidence from several sources regarding the field of professional/technical writing, its recent history and evolution, its expanding roles and “identity crisis,” its current status as an academically taught discipline within collegiate English departments, and the relationship between academia and industry. My conclusion is that technical/professional writing will cease to be taught as an English discipline, due in particular to the increase in a need for “visual” expertise amongst professional/technical communicators, as well as the dissatisfaction amongst professional communicators with English departments.


Scholar: Lancelot Watson
Mentor: Marcelo Sabatés, Ph.D.

Descartes’ Dualism

The philosophical world is still experiencing the repercussions of Descartes’ substance dualism -- the view that mind and body are separate and distinct entities, physical and non-physical, with the non-physical (mental) exercising governance over the physical and the physical influencing the mental as well.

Descartes believes that mind and body are different because one thing cannot have two sets of properties that are different and unrelated in the way mental and corporeal properties are. His mode/attribute conception and description of substance embodies a strong notion of an individual substance as unified by means of a nature that determines and explains what types of properties it can have. This paper looks at how Descartes developed his view with special attention to his “Real distinction argument” by using essential elements of his ontology.

A wide range of arguments have been put forth to show that Descartes’ dualism had fatal flaws and many theories emerged as alternatives. Non-interactionism, idealism, behaviorism, physicalism, identity theory, and functionalism all had their era of popularity but over time were proven inefficacious in their pursuit. I survey these doctrines and in some cases examine their weaknesses. The views of Jaegwon Kim and John Searle as well as the critical interpretation of Descartes by Marleen Rozemond figure prominently in my survey.