An End to Virtual Reality?

It’s a little shocking, to say the least, that the end of this is approaching so quickly, but it’s far from being over as there’s so much left to learn. Over the course of the past few months, I’ve worked closely with faculty advisor Dr. James Lawler researching some of the many educational virtual reality applications that are out on the market. Ultimately, most, if not all, the applications that we test on students will be implemented into a classroom for students with special needs. These past few months have been incredibly eye opening as I delved much deeper into the world of virtual reality. I had only ever used a VR headset for the first time when I met with faculty at the AHRC Middle/High School and it was only a snippet of students’ learning experience in the classroom. For the first few moments, I found myself standing in reality only to find myself standing under water the next watching as a whale swam over my head.

After reviewing the extensive collection of educational VR apps on gaming platform Steam, the Oculus Rift store, and Viveport, we were able to narrow down the applications that will be used in the upcoming weeks to test on students. As our control group, we will be using 24 Pace students and our main focus will be a group of 24 students with special needs. Both groups will be able to get the chance to use the apps that we have chosen on two different VR devices, the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, respectively. Listed below are the three applications that we are ecstatic for students to test out:

1. 3D Organon VR Anatomy:

3D Organon VR Anatomy allows individuals to learn about human anatomy with over 4,000 realistic anatomical models/structures with text descriptions per body structure. Bones, muscles, vessels, organs, and other anatomical structures can be manipulated in 3D space. Structures can be examined from all angles, and individuals can delve into the body systems, peek under the skin, and see what we are really made of.

2. Star Chart:

Star Chart offers users a VR planetarium allowing them to explore the solar system and night sky in an accurate real-time simulation. It includes an accurate real-time simulation of visible stars and planets while viewing them from Earth, a 3D solar system to explore, which includes the Sun, planets, major moons, and more, a Sky View mode that recreates a view of the night sky based on personal GPS coordinates, and much more.

3. Ocean Rift:

Ocean Rift is the world’s first VR aquatic safari park. Users are able to explore a vivid underwater world full of life that includes dolphins, sharks, orcas, turtles, sea snakes, rays, manatees, sea lions, whales, and even dinosaurs. It features 12 habitats for users to explore. Environments may range from coral reefs, mangrove swamps and shipwrecks, the deep sea, Arctic, and Atlantis. There is an education mode that can be activated to learn more about the animals that users come across and over 40 fully narrated information points to find.

We’re very much looking forward to the students testing these applications out for the first time, especially those who have never been exposed to virtual reality before.

While there is an extensive number of applications on the market, searching for educational apps that will enable students to grasp difficult concepts such as the human body and oceanography was difficult to do so. We ran into a few pitfalls along the way when we discovered that not every single application that we were interested in testing was compatible with the two devices that we had decided to focus on. That one issue alone had truncated the list of apps that we had initially to just a few. Making a decision on what to use was also quite difficult because we did not want to utilize applications that were difficult to use or did not provide enough of a learning experience for students.

Following the months that have gone by, I don’t think I would have ever taken the time to study and learn about virtual reality had it not been for this research experience. I had always known about VR and how it was making a significant impact in the world of technology, but I didn’t know that the impact went as far as helping individuals in an educational setting. It was very eye opening to be able to get up close and personal as I watched students using a VR headset and enjoying all that it had to offer. To individuals like you and I, it may not seem like much, but to other students with disabilities, being able to learn in such a creative manner is such an amazing experience. With this new knowledge, I know that I want to continue pursuing research in virtual reality and all that it has to offer if it’s going to be as important as something like artificial intelligence.

How Recollections of Positive and Negative Support Provision Experiences Influence Goal Motivation

Rachel Platko
March 19, 2018
Blog #3

In my previous blog I reported that all the studies were completed and the next step was to code the data. That is still the current stage I am at in the research project. My faculty leader Dr. Gosnell, other research assistants, and I have collected an amplitude of data from the study which is great for our results, however analyzing this data will take time. As I get started on this point of the research project I am more anxious to find out the overall results and conclusions our data will bring us to. In order to begin working with the data I had to get use to the SPSS program which I have never used before. This program provides advanced statistical analysis. I believe knowing how to use this program now will put me at an advantage for future courses and in the psychology field as a whole.
Something I have learned from this experience so far is how much time, people, and effort goes into each psychology research study. There is much work that is put into these studies, however the results help humans on a daily basis. Results from studies such as this one which is focusing on positive event support has the ability to teach us new ways in which we can motivate ourselves to reach personal goals. Psychology surrounds us in every aspect which is why I am a profound respect for this area and I am proud to be helping with this project!

Blog Post #3

At this point in my Research I have hit a bit of a standstill where I have gather all of this information and I am analyzing it, trying to see correlations between it all. It has been a very important year for my research topic because it is regarding something that is being heavily discussed in politics and affects the lives of so many of those whom we care about and know; including my fellow classmates. Which is why it is important for me to get my research across. Finding out the best ways for higher education facilities to provide the easiest access to information that is useful to first generation students is a big task that varies within schools. It also entails providing a system for these institutions to have in place. This is a challenge within my research which I’m plan to solve. Due to the fact that my research topic has so many layers I have divided it into sub topics of: What is the status of this frequently changing situation , what system is currently in place, what improvements can we can, how can we create an on going system for these institutions and more.

Infrared Spectroscopic Analysis of the Novel Complex Salt

My research, thus far, has involved the synthesis and X-ray crystallographic characterization of a complex salt, that was identified as [Co(II)(DMSO)6][Co(II)Cl3quinoline]2. In order to characterize the product further, we have used infra-red (IR) spectroscopy, which can tell us more about the frequency of specific vibrations within the molecule, and thus give us more structural information. Several Infrared (IR) spectra were acquired of each reagent used (i.e., anhydrous cobalt(II) chloride, quinoline, and dimethyl sulfoxide), and they were compared to that of the product, [Co(II)(DMSO)6][Co(II)Cl3quinoline]2. When analyzing IR spectra, one aims to identify the frequencies at which infrared radiation is absorbed by the molecule. The frequencies (reported as wavenumbers, 1/cm) that are absorbed are due to bonds within the molecule stretching or bending. The middle region, which includes the 4000-400 1/cm range is most useful for the analysis of organic compounds using IR spectroscopy.

Some common misconceptions about IR spectroscopy are that this technique is used to identify entire structures of an unknown molecule along with the necessity to identify each individual peak. IR is useful towards identifying certain functional groups, such as carbon-hydrogen vibrations in alkanes or alkenes and oxygen-hydrogen vibrations in alcohols. Oftentimes, the data acquired through this tool is complementary to other techniques such as UV-Visible (UV-Vis) spectroscopy, which will also be used in this study.

The preparation of a manuscript describing the results of this experiment took several months to prepare during the end of the fall semester. This process has provided me an introduction to research methodology (i.e., critical reading of scientific journals, preparation of an abstract, presentation of findings by poster). The finished paper was submitted to Acta Crystallographica and we are very excited that the manuscript was accepted in January of 2018. Along with analyzing the spectroscopic data acquired, I am also in the process of preparing my poster presentation for the convened poster session at the Society of Fellows Conference in March.

Undergrad Research Grant: Karina Roca, Blog #3

What a journey this has been!  My introduction to official research via the Undergrad Research Grant has really influenced my journey toward grad school and beyond.  Through the hard work, triumphs and challenges of this process, I am glad to say that I have really fallen in love with research and I am currently looking for research fellowships for grad school.  Being critically reflexive through this process has also steered me toward new interests and questions about related topics, such as seed saving.  My current research project centers urban agriculture, gentrification and Crit Race theory.  Through my research, seed saving has emerged as an extremely inspiring means of resistance and survival for small farmers in the city, belonging to networks of seed saving channels and communities.  I have previously examined the cultural weight of this practice for a capstone essay last semester, and I would like to revisit it with deeper field research.  This is the basis behind my ambition to re-apply for another grant for the summer with my mentor, Dr. Denise Santiago.

Our current research project has blossomed in the kitchens of small farmers, on plots of land ravaged by winter, and via email with food justice advocates that trot the globe with intentions for food revolution.  This has been an extremely rewarding journey and one that I would love to continue.  To see theory in practice is a mind-opening experience, connecting academia to the world in which it spectates.  The community health profiles I am building are almost at completion, and I am currently gathering more historic background of how and why community farms/gardens emerged in these areas to begin with.  The histories, as I am seeing it so far, mirror present-day conditions of food insecurity, land sovereignty and health disparities throughout the boroughs I am looking at.  The only challenges with this project, I would say, is studying urban farms in the off-season of harvest limits the amount of community members I meet in their natural elements. This, in turn, limits the amount of voices I get to incorporate.  However, I have learned so much from this project, and I plan to infuse my recent learnings into summer research on seed saving and community.

UGR Blog Post 3

Since the beginning of the semester we have made a great deal of progress with our research. In January I completed a literature review of some of the previously published research on the topic of HIV/AIDS studies on a college campus. I was very interested to learn that there was not much research done at an urban university such as Pace! We found that overwhelmingly, previous research has shown that while college students are fairly knowledgeable about HIV/AIDS, and have little concern with contracting the virus, they do not take the appropriate safe sex precautions to protect against transmission. Moreover, college students appear to be about as knowledgeable on HIV/AIDS as the average American, and slightly more knowledgeable than teenagers. Students have a basic understanding of the treatments for HIV and how HIV can lead to AIDS. Much of the current gaps in knowledge surround HIV testing and transmission. Many students, based on their belief that they are unable to contract HIV, have never been tested.

Based on the findings in the literature review we created a survey that touches upon 4 different topics: Knowledge of HIV/AIDS, HIV/AIDS Stigma, Testing Behavior, and Sexual Practice. These four categories will give us a comprehensive understanding of the current climate surrounding HIV/AIDS at Pace. Once the survey was completed we sent it for IRB approval and were happy to receive approval at the end of February! Now we are sending out the survey to as many Pace students as we can. At this time we have approximately 170 responses and we will be accepting responses for the rest of the month!

During the course of our research we have experienced an abundance of successes but also a few challenges. Our main challenge thus far was creating the survey and obtaining IRB approval. We went through many iterations of the survey before our final draft. We wanted to make the questions clear and relevant, while also protecting the anonymity of the students due to the sensitive nature of the questions. Once we crafted the survey and sent it to the IRB they had a few notes/edits for us before it was approved! I think one of our biggest success is simply getting this survey off the ground since research like this has not been done before at Pace!

Based on the survey responses so far I have learned that not very many Pace students are familiar with PeP and PrEP. These are two essential preventative measures in combating HIV and it is important that students are aware of them and where they can access them. I also thought it was interesting that a large portion of respondents did not know that HIV can become “undetectable” with the correct treatment and time.

I am very excited to obtain more responses and dive deeper into how we can use this information to help the community at Pace!

Spring Blog Post: “A Predictive Model for the Non-profit Market: From a macro to a micro perspective”

Student–Faculty Research Project 2017–2018 

“A Predictive Model for the Non-profit Market:

From a macro to a micro perspective”

Spring Blog Post: March 19, 2018


Prof. Francisco J. Quevedo – Andrea Katherine Quevedo-Prince

  • Introduction

Since June 2017, this project has studied the dynamics of the non-profit sector, first, from a macro perspective, then cause-specific, and, finally, now, of individual giving, which takes us to the micro level. Our purpose is to determine what variables come into play to push non-profit revenues, and which factors act as moderators.

After a detailed review of the literature, we started by casting a wine net on likeable variables, taking into account metrics such as GDP, and disposable personal income, to look for relationships between these, public awareness, TV and printed press coverage, regarding specific social causes, and non-profit revenues.

Our most firm conclusion indicated that non-profit revenues respond for the most part to the DPI, and to the level of public awareness regarding cause-specific issues, as reflected on TV coverage, in particular.

We are now looking to define what variables make the individual donor give to one or another cause within this context, being individual donations the largest source of charitable giving, reaching $268.28 billion, or 71% of total giving. As a whole, the nonprofit sector contributes almost $1.0 trillion to the US economy, representing 5.4% of GDP, bigger than many national industries. There are approximately 1.53 million nonprofit organizations registered with the IRS.

Research has focused more on the micro than the macro view. Yi (2010) suggests that a better understanding of the factors that affect fundraising efficiency should be of great interest to charity managers, policy makers, and private donors. Wallace (2016) points to the fact that predictive modeling has focused big-donor analytics, largely aimed at the identification of potential donors. Sergeant (2010) said that the need for the development of a comprehensive model of giving behavior has never been greater, and Lesley and Ramey (2016) point to the higher education sector’s urgent need to improve fundraising.

We contribute to the field of study by bringing a macroeconomic model, and perspective, which creates a context for validation at the micro level.

  • Our Model

Factor Analysis allowed us to pinpoint the most influential variables in the Non-Profit Sector. Regression Analysis then showed most significant relationships between disposable personal income, TV coverage, and non-profit revenues for a specific cause, thus fitting the following model:

NPR Environment = -4351.29 + 519.039(DPI) +23.078(TVCoverage)

+ 3.823(PRINTMEDIACoverage) + Ɛ

We replicated the research of List (2011), who sought out relationships between macro-economic variables and total revenues of the non-profit sector. He discarded the correlation between GDP and Non-Profit Revenues as obvious, but did not explore Disposable Personal Income as a macro-economic variable. He seemed to stick to single variable searches, and found a correlation between the S&P index and NPR, working with lagged figures, and arrived at a correlation coefficient of 0.636.

Our model above, after extracting variables, arrived at a Pearson’s R of 0.935, with almost perfect significance levels.

  • Literature review: The micro view

Clark, Kotchen and Moore (2003) present a model that combines what they call the internal and external influences on donor behavior, pointing in the direction of our study. External variables, they say, consist of household income and standard socio-demographic characteristics. The internal variables determine their decision to donate.

Kumar and Henley (2007) concluded that potential donors need to be targeted with an appropriate message, if fundraisers wish to push their decision to give to a specific cause.

Misener and Paraschak (2006) point to the need to cultivate relationships between non-profit organizations and individual donors. They label relationship-building “a strategic approach to fundraising”, and would suggest that the female factor may drive donations to higher levels in the male-dominated sports segment. Owens-Erwin and Yarbrough-Landry (2015) reaffirm that fundraising is based on build­ing relationships with donor constituen­cies.

Wooden (2005) says that on an individual (micro) level, the vast majority of donors she interviewed were enthusiastic and positive about the organizations they give to and about charities in general. Leonhardt (2008) refers to the “warm glow” theory, which states that people give money to feel the “glow” associated with being the kind of person who helps a worthy cause.

  • Hypothesis:

On a micro level, we propose that (H3) individual donations will respond to individual commitment to the cause, where public awareness, the economy, and personal economic considerations would act as moderators. We would posit that former soldiers will give to veterans, alumni would donate to their schools, karatekas will support Olympic karate, and churchgoers would give to their church’s social causes. Our model, from micro to macro, is shown below.

  • Methodology

Using our database of individual donors, we will ask a sample of them a set of questions, considering prior research studies, to pinpoint specific motivations, hoping to confirm our hypothesis, derived from the macroeconomic model, crossing, however, with other views on the matter.

In particular, we will present them with simple agree – disagree statements on a Likert Scale like the following:

  1. Knowing about a specific social cause is important in deciding where to allocate my donations.
  2. My relationship with a specific cause is more important to me in deciding where to allocate my donations.
  3. Donating or not will depend on my view of the national economic situation.
  4. How much I donate will depend more on my particular situation and disposable funds for that moment.
  5. My charity donations are based mostly on tax incentives and considerations.
  • The Researchers’ Credentials

Professor Francisco J. Quevedo teaches Marketing at the graduate and undergraduate levels at Pace University. He graduated in Economics, from the University of Massachusetts in 1978, and holds an MBA, and an Advanced Degree from the Lubin School of Business, 1982 and 1983, where he is doing doctoral work now. He has raised funds for amateur sports since 2007, having exceeded US$ 4,000,000 in revenues, and directly supported winning 205 world medals between 2007 and 2015 in Tokyo and Cyprus. He has also advised several foundations and NGO’s in the US, Japan and Venezuela. He is a Trustee of the WSKF USA Foundation.

Andrea Katherine Quevedo-Prince, 19, is a Dean’s List PA-Track student at Pace University, who maintains a 3.82 GPA. A member of the Alpha Lambda Delta honor society and the Lambda Sigma sophomore honor society, she has won nine world medals in Karate-do since 2010, and a total of 90 medals between the US, Japan, Cyprus, and Venezuela, 56% of them Gold. She was a member of the WSKF Venezuelan Karate Team between 2007 and 2016, and was instrumental in its fundraising efforts. She is also a Trustee of the WSKF USA Foundation.

Production Day

After a month or so of planning Linda and I were finally able to get together and work on the stop motion project. This day took almost a year to get to and was very rewarding. The production itself was pretty seamless, the only issues we ran into were minor placements of materials.

Stop motion is a very tedious process, pieces must be moved precisely and accurately to convey motion. Of course the artist can choose to embrace the chaos of choppy motion, but a lack of continuity can make the project look sloppy and not chaotic.

The main takeaway from this project was that I should have more fun with my art. It is very easy to become so obsessed in the process of making as well as the thought process of subjectivity and meaning of a piece. This project showed me that I should prioritize a solid scheduled. But that I should always take joy in what I create and embrace every curveball.

Blog Post #3

Due to the fastidious nature of Mycobacterium bovis-BCG and the minimal media that I am attempting to culture it in, I have run into multiple different problems. Once I was finally able to establish a media that was suitable for my bacterium and experiment, I began growth trials. Initially, I was dealing with a contamination problem, so I was unsure if my media was successful, or if another organism was using it for itself. After weeks of waiting, my research team was able to culture pure, uncontaminated BCG, that we are now able to use for all our experiments.

Normally when growth trials are conducted, we dilute our cultures down to an optical density of 0.1, where after a week we are able to see a steady growth curve. Following this procedure, I conducted two more growth trials with the new BCG. I noticed that all my samples were remaining at an optical density of 0.1 for more than a week, which is abnormal. Assuming that the bacteria needed more time to adjust to the minimal, nutrient depleted media, I allowed it to continue to grow for another week. After two weeks the optical density remained the same. With both of my growth trials following this pattern, I started to think my media was unsuccessful. Then I thought maybe the bacteria weren’t dying after all. Maybe they were protecting themselves from their harsh environment by entering non replicative persistence.

I am now conducting experiments to determine if the BCG has become dormant. I am currently conducting viability trials, where I allow the bacteria to grow in the cholesterol media for a week (hopefully they will have entered NRP), and plate them on 7H11 plates. After two weeks of incubation, I can count their colonies and see if the bacteria are still alive, or if I need to alter my 7H12 media.

Post #3

Since my last post, things have been somewhat slow in the research lab. We are aiming to conduct experiments on male worms. To obtain male worms of the correct mutant strain. First, we have to conduct RNAi on wild-type worms. Once these worms have successfully grown into their L4 stage we pick them off and place them on a separate plate which we then place in an incubator which is ~5 degrees Celsius higher than their optimal growth temperature. This is called heat shocking. The reason we do this is that under increased temperatures, the worms experience reproductive stress which is supposed to give a higher yield of male worms, which at standard temperatures occur only 0.1% of the time by spontaneous non-disjunction. After the worms are in the intense heat for about 6 hours we then transfer them back to the standard temperature and await their reproductive cycles completion. After 2 days we then check the plates every few hours for 2-3 days in hopes of finding male worms. So far we have been unsuccessful and so we will continue to repeat these steps until we find males so that we can proceed with more experiments.