Friday, August 30, 2019

USTF Student Emma Wright Performs with her Choir at Carnegie Hall in New York City

The trip was great! I sit here today reminiscing about this trip: the bustling streets of New York, the powerful sound of multiple choirs put together, and the glorious stage that we performed on. The opportunity to perform at Carnegie Hall was made possible because of the University. As a musician, I know how important it is to have a lot of experiences. Experiences shape the delivery of the pieces we sing and play. The opportunity to sing at Carnegie Hall made a trip with my choir into the chance of a lifetime. I had a lot of fun with my friends in the city and learned about many things both musically and personally. For example, how to strengthen your connections to those you perform with. I have learned a lot more about my friends than I had in the past, we'd sit together on the big rock in Central Park and tell each other stories or eat ice cream together as we sit near the fountain at night, without a care in the world. I believe it was these moments that brought us closer together, connecting the experiences we had with each other, to the music we made together. I have made worthwhile memories that will last a lifetime. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

URTF Student Evelyn Bright Studies Relationship Between Transgender Students Health Care and Academic Success

I attended the annual meeting of the Southern Sociological Society from April 10th to 13th, 2019, where I delivered a presentation titled “Healthcare Access and Academic Success Among Transgender College Students.” This presentation concerned research I performed as an undergraduate capstone project. I collected primary survey data from transgender students at colleges and universities to examine whether their academic performance was correlated with their healthcare access. This research is important for several reasons. Existing research is sparse, but broadly suggests poor mental health outcomes and negative experiences in academic spaces among transgender students. These issues are exacerbated by a lack of knowledge about transgender people among medical practitioner.

 My research employed an online survey method to collect information about the healthcare experiences of transgender students as well as their self-reported sense of academic well-being, grade point average, whether they had failed classes, and whether they expected to graduate on time. Results indicated a possible correlation between medical treatment and having failed classes. However, those who were not given proper medical treatment reported greater well-being than those who were. I speculated that trans people who did not receive appropriate treatment may, in some contexts, be able to avoid discrimination if others are not aware that they are transgender. 

At the meeting of the Southern Sociological Society, I presented at one of the first sessions of the conference. My presentation was a success, with about a dozen people came to one of the first paper sessions of the conference. I also had the opportunity to attend several other paper sessions, including some with similar topics to my own, where I was exposed to new ideas and met new people. I also volunteered at the conference’s registration desk for several hours, during which time I was able to meet some of the conference’s organizers and many attendees. Overall, the conference provided me an opportunity to develop my presentation skills, network with others in my field and gain a glimpse into the kind of work I may find myself doing in graduate school.

Friday, August 23, 2019

URSP Student Kendra Coleman Researches Relationships Between Correctional Officers and Restricted Housing Units

In the summer of 2018, as undergraduate, I participated in the OSCAR summer impact project Changing the Whole Mind led by Dr. Danielle S. Rudes, GMU Criminology, Law & Society. As a member of her team and working with a partner, I conducted countless interviews of staff and inmates in the restricted housing units (RHU) within Pennsylvania Department of Corrections institutions. Which is when I became interested in a certain faction of data dealing correctional officers. Specifically, how all of the correctional officers interacted and depended one another in the form of a team. To date, my analysis of existing data suggests the success of the CO team within a RHU are dependent on CO’s self-ability to adapt and develop functional and relational skills needed to manage the unit. Correctional officers in the RHU also listed several undesired behaviors which act as impediments to team operationalization. On a weekly basis, I work on the project’s paper for completion and future publication.
One thing I have discovered this semester is how important the art of articulation is. At many points this semester while composing my paper, I realized to describe such riveting data with flat words did not do the data justice. There is a need to transition from always thinking one word can encompass everything the data is saying. Not to treat this paper as a class assignment, but rather a potential peer-reviewed journal article. To date, I am still attempting to separate the two methods of writing in my mind. As this is a new skill I am currently trying to hone and hope as I continue to work in the world of research I get better at being able to extend out what the data is saying with the proper words. I know overall it’s a balance trying to find the right way to convey what the data is saying and to do the best by the data. But to date, my experience working on my spring URSP has been opportunity I am very grateful for.

Friday, August 16, 2019

URSP Student Colin Moore Studies the Affects of AZT on Zebrafish

I am studying how a chemical called Atrazine (ATZ) affects sexual development in Zebrafish. I originally heard about this issue online when male African Clawed Frogs, exposed to ATZ, developed female characteristics such as the growth of ovaries or even viability as an induced female. It is hypothesized that this feminization is caused by exposure to ATZ when these anamniotes (fish and amphibians) are in their embryonic stage. Therefore, I decided to test this on Zebrafish to get a better understanding of how this chemical alters their sexual development.
            I monitor the pH, ammonia, nitrates, nitrites, and temperature of the fish tank daily. I feed the fish twice a day and I monitor the water levels constantly. I must ensure that the water level stays consistent and flowing, so that none of the fish will suffer from hypoxia. I must also look for, and remove, any deceased fish so that their decomposition does not harm any others. I counted the number of alive males and females per treatment and found that there was a skewed ratio in the ATZ group, with 11 females to 7 males. However, the Zebrafish still have another week or two before they will be fully developed so this ratio will be recounted and analyzed at that time. I set aside a batch of fish embryos in February for immunofluorescence and I am currently in the process of detecting aromatase (indicator for estrogen) expression. After cursory analysis, there was increased aromatase expression in the hearts of the ATZ-treated group, but this process is still on-going. By comparing the results from both tests, we can obtain a better understanding of how ATZ feminizes anamniotes and to what extent.