Blog #1

My name is Arva Turku and I am a communication science and disorders major here at Pace. I am an incoming senior with a new found passion for adult communication disorders. My interest peaked when I took a course with my professor and mentor, Dr. Linda Carozza. My heightened interest combined with Dr. Carozza’s experience and knowledge blossomed into this research project. Before I explain the project, I want to stress how important research in this field really is. Dementia is a common and chronic disease that severs daily mental abilities and brain function. It is a disease the health and science community still only know so much about. There is no cure and no definitive diagnosis. It is mentally debilitating, deteriorating most if not all brain functions including speech and language. This is where research means so much.

Temporal Structure of the Speech of Individuals with Dementia is the title of this research project my mentor and I are embarking on. The research question being; are there temporal characteristics in dementia that can be used as bio markers for dementia progression? At this point in time, our study is a “pilot” but our goal is to indicate whether motor speech decline patterns are associated with the decline in dementia. We plan on using statistical analysis of variance (ANOVA) which would compare means of different subjects (as compared to one another and also within the stimuli set) where we will analyze and note any individual differences. We are still gathering research participants and building up our data and knowledge as we are just beginning the basic measurements. However, we expect that the real bulk of this project will take place in the fall once we have accumulated enough data as well as completed our test- retest in which the participants are tested once again after 6 months in order to note dementia progression. Dr. Carozza is extremely knowledgeable in this field and it is truly such an honor and pleasure to be assisting her in research that can one day be ground breaking. I hope that you see what we see, as our research journey continues.

Blog Post 2, Part 2

My second research project is with Dr. Lavariega in which we are working on a book entitled “Voces” about the Latino experience and issues facing Latinos in the United States. So far we have sent a prospectus to a publisher and are currently in correspondence. I have been recruiting people to write for the book and we will then edit from there.

Reading all of the different essays makes me very proud to be Latina and shows how diverse our experiences and perspectives are. There is also so much history and so many real issues we face every day that are given an important spotlight in this collection of essays.

Hydrophobicity of Cyclic Siloxanes

The first variable I altered in trying to find the optimal time and temperature to make a surface hydrophobic using cyclic siloxanes was time. I allowed the reaction to run at 9 different time intervals: 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, 6 hours, 24 hours, 48 hours, 72 hours, and 168 hours. I had hypothesized that the longer the reaction was allowed to run, the more hydrophobic the silicon surface would become, and the thicker the siloxane layer coating the silicon would become. This set of reactions was done at 100°C with about 150 mg. of hexamethylcyclictrisiloxane present in each vile.

After running these reactions and gathering data through ellipsomerty and goniometry, I discovered that generally speaking, my hypothesis was right in regards to the change in hydrophobicity. The 15 minute reaction resulted in an average advancing contact angle of 68° and an average receding contact angle of 63°. By the time the reaction ran for 6 hours, the hydrophobicity increased to new advancing and receding contact angles of 96° and 89°, respectively. The additional 162 hours the reaction proceeded for only resulted in a 10° increase for both advancing and receding contact angles. What this data tells me is that most of the increase in hydrophobic qualities occurs within the first 6 hours under these conditions, and gradually plateaus soon after.

The results gathered regarding the change in thickness of the siloxane layer was different than what I had hypothesized. What I found is that, over the first 72 hours, the thickness has sharp increases and decreases. The thickness changed from 9.63Å to 3.27Å in 15 minutes, than went up to 7.67Å in just an additional half hour. This rise and fall in thickness continued until the third day, and after 72 hours there was a steady decline in thickness, which began to plateau.

The next variable I would like to alter after gathering this data is the temperature of the oven in which the reaction takes place. I am interested to see how the patterns from this experiment being performed at 150°C for the same time intervals will compare and differ to the patterns I found at 100°C.

Blog Post 2

Professor Colman and I have been working on this research project and after running some regressions, we have come to some conclusions regarding the data. Some of the conclusions we came up with are as follows. People who are unemployed, specifically for an extended amount of time, tend to be less educated, have less work experience and lower IQ’s. However, and to our surprise, once we controlled for these factors, unemployment had little impact on the memory of the subjects included in the data be pulled. As Colman and I looked deeper into it, some questions arose in regards to ways we could improve this research. One way this study could be improved, would be to expand the scope of intelligence measures. Instead of focusing solely on IQ, and how much education the subjects have completed, we could look at their numerical abilities. There is a popular cognitive ability test in which subjects are asked to countdown from 100 by 7 – it has actually been proven to be a good measure of cognitive ability. Professor Colman and I discussed using this test in future research. Another interesting way we would like to expand this research is to look at a wider demographic. The data we pulled focused on people between the ages of 45 and 55. We figured it would be more interesting if we shifted the demographic, or expanded it, to include people in their 20s and 30s. Once we change up the ages, Professor Colman and I would like to break up the study in terms of race and gender. By adding these variables, and switching the scope of the data, we may achieve different results.

There were a few obstacles that Professor Colman and I faced while working on this research project.  The begin, the data was not very easy to find, and upon finding the data, it needed to be managed. Understanding the data was not an easy task either. Professor Colman and I had to really sit down and “get our hands dirty” with the data. Once we ran the regression, interpreting the results proved to be a little bit of challenge because they were not what we expected. When there was no direct link between unemployment and cognitive ability, we had to search deeper and try to come up with some reasons as to why that might be.

While there were many challenges along the way, there were definitely a lot of successes. First and foremost, I got to work on a topic I love with an outstanding professor. As I really do have a love for macroeconomics, behavioral studies and the labor market, I was able to delve deeper into topics I have a lot of interest in. Outside of my econometrics class, I had not really worked with data so heavily. Pulling all this data, managing it, and running all the regressions was definitely a huge learning process. Professor Colman truly knows his way around data and STATA, so he was an excellent resource throughout the course of this research project. I really learned how to analyze data and draw conclusions from results. Before that, and perhaps the biggest learning experience, was learning how to recode the data we pulled. Working with STATA in such detail, and for such an extended period of time, was definitely a huge takeaway from working on this research study. The way I used STATA throughout the course of this project helped prepare me for starting my senior thesis, as well.

Working on this project definitely sparked a lot of questions. Now that I feel more comfortable working with data and analyzing numbers, I hope to continue on with this research project and expand it. Professor Colman and I are currently discussing ways in which we can improve this study. Whether it be my adding new variables, or expanding the scope of the ones we used, there are ways in which we can improve this study and come up with more interesting results. Being that this topic encompassed a lot of topics that I have a particular interest in, I am hoping to pull ideas from this research project and branch them off into different research projects. I now feel more prepared to work on my senior thesis and complete a project that I am proud of.

Final Report

Methodology

The purpose of our project is to determine whether there is an association between the geographic location of industry leaders in an auditing firm and the auditing pricing and quality of that same auditing firm’s industry clients. Professor Reidenbach and I mainly focused on the Big Four accounting firm: Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC. I collected office location, industries served, services provided, the individuals leading each respective industry, and these leaders’ office locations information from these four accounting firms. It was quite challenging to determine the names of the industry leaders within each firm since they are not available within a database and are not always easily located on the audit firms’ websites. Then, we used the Wharton Research Data Services (WRDS) and picked the audit analytics dataset to collect audit pricing/fee and audit opinion data using excel format and SAS Windows_32 dataset format. Professor Reidenbach used the software application and the sets of data we have collected to come up with results for our study.

Research summary/ Accomplishments

We defined the major controlled variables for the regression analysis that Professor Reidenbach performed. The controlled variables are Log of Total Assets, Ratio of Long Term Debt over Total Assets, Ratio of EBIT over Total Assets, Qualified Audit Opinion, Inventory Record, Joint Leader (City and Nation), National Leader, City Leader, Leader CBSA (which means that the client company’s headquarter location is the same as the industry leaders’ offices) and groups of industries such as Oil and Gas, Retail and Utilities that we believe will have an impact on the result. We performed a two-tailed t test and used 0.05 as the significance level. For one of the most important controlled variables, Leader CBSA, we got the p-value as 0.2687, which is way greater than 0.05. This leads us to conclude that there is no association between industry leaders’ office locations and audit fee even when the office locations are headquarter locations. After discussing with Professor Reidenbach, we believe that one possible cause is missing data for certain industries. There is a major system called Standard Industry Code (SIC) that Professor Reidenbach used to pick out the industry data used to run the regression analysis. It is a coding system that experts created on breaking down various industries accounting firms work with and there are 99 groups broken down.  Therefore, this will be the main task for us to work on for finishing up the project.

Reflection

So far, working with Professor Reidenbach has been a great opportunity for me to get the initial exposure of research in auditing. This study provides additional insight into the way that the auditor industry specialization construct works in practice. It also has shown me an interesting insight into whether the way audit firms structure their industry leadership and their market share are related. There is definitely more depth we could research further for the topic, which we will continue working on.

Changes in Host Cell Proteins upon infection with Cryptosporidium Parvum

The beginning of this summer has served as preparation for the next step into our experiments. During our lab time, Dr. Yarlett and I discuss the steps that should be taken in order to move forward, maintain reliable results, and creative viable and repeatable experiments. The beginning of the summer started with an experiment that would measure cell viability upon infection with Cryptosporidium, and as a dependent variable, different concentrations of a compound were used based on previous experiments. The cell viability was measured using two different dyes: one that would fluoresce with living cells, another one that would fluoresce with dead cells. The following experiments conducted examined the binding of these dyes to the parasite oocysts, and upcoming experiments will use a fluorescent marker that would solely bind to these parasites, as opposed to any living or dead cell.

Outside of the lab, I would study the methods that would be conducted during lab time in order to produce better protocols and reduce the margin of error. This time was also used to extend my knowledge of Cryptosporidium by learning about the nature of this parasite, the different outbreaks that have occurred, and the conditions in which this parasite thrives and survives. The amazing traits of this parasite revolve around the ability to survive extreme conditions. Due to its small size, it is more likely to remain in water after filtering, and because of its adaptability to extreme conditions, it is capable of surviving in solutions with high chlorine content past twenty four hours. One of the intriguing facts about this parasite is its mode of infection. Rather than existing in the cell’s cytoplasm, this parasite infects the cell in an intracellular and extra cytoplasmic way—or in other words—it resides inside the cell, but it does so by creating its own compartment made of a phospholipid bi-layer that separates it from the cell’s cytoplasm.

I look forward to continuing this project with Dr. Yarlett because of the importance of treatment for this parasite across the globe. Several deaths across the globe have been recorded across the globe due to cryptosporidium. Although the parasite can be abolished by the immune system, immunocompromised patients—such as young children and people living with aids—have died due to infection with this parasite. The most common way to currently treat this parasite is through therapy to strengthen the immune system; however, a viable treatment for cryptosporidiosis still remains unknown.

The Drug Analysis using Solid Phase Extraction of Methemphetamine with Different Sorbents

Hello, my name is Robert Marvin, better known as Bobby.  I am a senior at Pace double majoring in both Forensic Science and Chemistry and minoring in Biology.  I have started my research this fall with Prof. Elmer-Rico Mojica on developing  methods for innovative drug testing techniques.

Although most of the materials and equipment to be used have been purchased, I have yet to start doing experiments because of the most important ingredient needed in my research: methamphetamine. We are still awaiting clearance from the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) for the purchase of this illicit drug. While awaiting for the order, I was asked to look into the price of synthetic urine and I have been given a technical book on the concept of solid phase extraction (SPE) to be read.

I am currently researching scientific journals and scientific papers in order to get a broad spectrum of knowledge about the properties of methamphetamine, preparation of solutions, and mechanics of SPE I am beginning to understand how drug testing is being done using  various chromatographic techniques. First, standard  drugs such as methamphetamine in solutions of different concentration will be injected in either liquid chromatography mass spectrometer (LC/MS) or gas chromatography mass spectrometer (GC/MS) in order to determine its specific chemical structure by way of signature spectra. The size of the peak is dependent on the amount of the injected sample. After which, known amount of drugs will be added to water sample or synthetic urine. These samples will be extracted by SPE and will be analyzed and compared with the initial results of different concentrations. This way I can determine which is the most effective SPE sorbents in recovering methamphetamine. Solid phase extraction (SPE) is used in high resolution separation of different chemicals and molecules to determine if a drug is present.  Manipulation of different factors of preparation and testing in SPE over many variables that can be used to determine the best retention of methamphetamine present in the synthetic urine solutions.

This analytical and instrumental research on drug analysis of methamphetamine with Prof. Mojica is related to my prospective career field.  I ideally hope to be a part of the FBI, but my research has broadened my career path to prospects of being a DEA employee.  SPE is used in the crime labs by forensic scientist to examine many biological substances like urine, blood, sperm, and saliva.  I believe my participation in this program and research over the next year will give me the experience and knowledge in order for me to become a better scientist.

Blog 4

While my research with Dr. Guevara-Escudero did not have a specific research question, it did have a research goal. The main goal of our research was to update the current historical dictionary of Honduras to include current events, people, and institutions within Honduras and the surrounding countries that have relations with Honduras. The organizational structure of the dictionary was also updated so the information would be more accessible for those utilizing the dictionary as a reference for Honduran history.
Among the topics that are included are Spanish Conquest and Settlement, Independence of Honduras, Presidents and Dictators, the United States and the United Fruit Company, Politics and Economy, Military Coups, and Government Institutions, among many others.
Engaging in research with Dr. Guevara-Escudero was very beneficial because it allowed me to research an area that I had never studied before. It enhanced my learning in some of the classes I am taking and was the first time I engaged in research for a professor outside of class. I have enjoyed the Undergraduate Research Program and hope that it will continue to inspire students to research areas that may not be the same thing they are studying while at Pace.

Blog #4: Esther Carpenter Pierce: Daughter, Wife and Confidante of Freedom’s Friends

Hello all… Shawna Wright chiming in one last time on the research project titled, Esther Carpenter Pierce: Daughter, Wife and Confidante of Freedom’s Friends.

 

As I noted in my third blog, after reading all three of Frederick Douglass’ autobiographies, many connections can been made between Pierce and Douglass; both were New Yorker’s, abolitionists, attendees of anti-slavery conventions, and most significantly, participants in the Underground Railroad.

 

Faculty member Dr. von Huene Greenberg has since suggested that I read Carol Faulkner’s biography of Lucretia Mott, Lucretia Mott’s Heresy: Abolition and Women’s Rights in Nineteenth-Century America, to see if I could identify any connections between Pierce and Mott.  Interestingly, there are many.  Most notably, that Pierce and Mott were both Quaker abolitionist women.

 

Pierce and Mott were devoted daughters, wives, mothers, and grandmothers.  Both came from families with anti-slavery convictions, and both were inspired by their families to become abolitionists themselves.  Both had husbands who were important abolitionists.  And both had large families; Pierce had six children, and Mott had five.  One disturbing correlation between the two is that they each suffered the loss of a child.  Coincidentally, both of the children were boys, and both died at the age of two.

 

Pierce and Mott were American Quakers, members of the Society of Friends, and supporters of Elias Hicks—an important Quaker minister and key figure in the Separation of 1827, which divided “American Quakers into ‘Hicksite’ and ‘Orthodox” (Faulkner 6).  Pierce and Mott belonged to the same close-knit Hicksite group and shared Quaker beliefs—beliefs that supported gender and racial equality.  Quakers believe in equal education for boys and girls.  And women are also accepted as preachers and elders.  Quakers “[believe] that the divine light of God [is] in every human being” (Faulkner 5)—for this reason, they are against racial prejudice, religious intolerance, and war or violence of any kind.  This lead Pierce and Mott to be against slavery.  They even abstained from using and consuming slave-made products (such as cotton and sugar), which they believed was “showing” their opposition towards, and hindering, the institution of slavery.  Quakers also empathized with slaves as they experienced persecution themselves for their religious beliefs; and, like slaves, they were “imprisoned, whipped, and even executed” (Faulkner 11).

 

Other, less direct, connections between Pierce and Mott include being among the few women to attend early anti-slavery conventions and meetings.  Pierce was “one of three young women who attended the convention in New York City in 1833, that organized the New York Anti-Slavery Society” (Greenberg 15).  And Mott was “one of [at least eight] women present at the founding meeting of the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1833” (Faulkner 4).  In addition, Pierce and Mott both have connections to the Nine Partners Boarding School in Dutchess County, New York.  Although Pierce did receive a Quaker education, she did not attend Nine Partners; however, her mother-in-law, Hannah Sutton, did.  Mott had many connections to the school: she and her husband, James, attended and taught at the school, her younger sister, Eliza, attended the school; James’ grandfather co-founded, taught, and was superintendent of the school; and the infamous Elias Hicks was a “founding member of the school committee” (Faulkner 27).

 

In addition to the many similarities observed between Pierce and Mott, there are some telling differences.  Though Pierce and Mott both harbored strong abolitionist beliefs, Mott was a visible figure in the abolitionist movement and Pierce was not.  Mott was a public advocate of racial equality locally and internationally, while Pierce remained a local, more private, supporter of the cause.  Pierce was an active participant in the Underground Railroad (her home was a stop on the Underground Railroad in Westchester County, Pleasantville, New York), and Mott was not.  As an abolitionist, Mott felt that slavery was wrong and unjust.  But she thought it best to use one’s time, energy, and finances to overthrow the slave system as a “whole,” and emancipate “every” slave, rather than focus on one fugitive at a time.  In this context, it is not surprising then that Mott and the rest of the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society protested against the “British abolitionists’ purchase and liberation of Frederick Douglass” in 1847 (Faulkner 6).  Mott felt that purchasing a fugitive’s freedom was actively acknowledging a founding idea of slavery—that slaves were property, not human beings, and that their master’s had a right to their ownership.  In Douglass’ case, Mott and the other members of the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society felt that “Douglass’ effectiveness as an abolitionist lay in his bondage” (Faulkner 115), not in his freedom.  Mott and Douglass became personally acquainted when, in the summer of 1847, they travelled together for a week attending anti-slavery gatherings along with Mott’s husband and William Lloyd Garrison.  As it happened, Douglass did not harbor any resentment toward Mott for her opinion regarding the purchase of his freedom.  In fact, Douglass is known to have described Mott as “noble” and “eloquent,” and Douglass even defended Mott against other Quakers who challenged her radical ways.

 

Although the paths of Pierce and Mott, and, Pierce and Douglass do not appear to have physically crossed—their abolitionist beliefs and shared goal of abolishing slavery links them together.  They all had the courage to fight against the popular practice of slavery, to expose themselves to physical violence, and to risk being socially ostracized—in support of their progressive opinions and as a result of their radical actions.

 

Participating in the Undergraduate Student-Faculty Research Program has been a remarkable and rewarding experience.  My research skills have improved considerably—especially my critical reading, data collection, analysis, and reflection skills—though my organizational skills still need some improvement.  I have developed a greater understanding about the topics of slavery, the Underground Railroad, the abolitionist movement (including abolitionists and Quakers), and even the associated topic of the women’s rights movement.  And, perhaps most importantly, I have developed a wonderful mentorship with Dr. von Huene Greenberg—an experience I have and will continue to cherish.  Working with Dr. von Huene Greenberg on her current project has ignited my interest in conducting research in the future.  And I hope to continue to work with her for the rest of my time here at Pace, and perhaps in the years to come.  I have gained a trusted advisor to help guide me through the rest of my educational career, and I have gained a dear friend.

Applications for Quadrotor UAVs Blog 4

The more we work on the project, the more ideas we have on what we could potentially do with it, which is the whole point of our research.  Mainly, we’ve learned the even getting one in the air is a challenge.  From what we can tell thus far though, any sort of surveillance would be ideal for this type of vehicle.   It is a stable, mobile platform, which is great for getting a video feed from above a point, even if it’s moving.  Also, the communication methods that exist today (Wifi, 3g, etc) make it easy to send our telemetry and video back to another point.  For journalism, this is one of the best ways a news organization or even an individual can get a live feed of an event, taking advantage of relatively cheap and easily deployable technology, compared to news helicopters that exist now.  In addition to this, law enforcement could take advantage of these in a manhunt or car chase.  Advanced imaging algorithms can be applied to the video from the UAV, automating the search process to look for a particular face or car/license plate.  The primary limitation we have is flight time.  Our battery only lasts for approximately 20 minutes of flight, though this could be extended logarithmically by adding more/larger battery packs.

 

Since our last update, we have started finalizing our virtual cockpit to display relevant flight data.  It provides details on motor output, craft orientation and altitude, which are the key pieces of information we need to test and fly.  From here, we’re working on getting a video stream from our new camera and computer system that will sit on the quadcopter.

 

Once we get a stream from the vehicle, we’ll be able to plug that into other pieces of code we’ve created.  We’ll be able to create a live stream to our droneserver site, as well as implement any video processing once the stream is open.  This is where the bulk of our work will take place, and it’s unfortunate that it took us so long to get to this point.  Still, we should have some really cool stuff to show by the end of our deadline.

 

 

This project has taught me a lot of things.  Namely, that there’s much more to a research project than the meaty “research” itself.  There’s a lot of documentation, reports, and back and forth with involved people.   In addition to that, it has shown me that a project can evolve over time, changing the work you expected to be doing by introducing new problems.