UG Blog Post #2

As of December, I will admit I was not yet on Pace University campus. I was finishing a semester abroad, and was reaching out to my research adviser (Tyler Kalahar) to begin catching up on tasks. I was revisiting our goals and outline, and I began to look into literature to support our goal. I found it difficult to find any published work that fit well with our goal, and we had to begin to adjust our focus. Instead of focusing on transitioning to college from high school, we decided a different approach would be necessary. We decided to instead change it to the success of transgender students, and decided to focus on that. I was not yet, at this point, doing any real work on the project- we waited for the spring semester to begin before I started the actual research portion of the project.

UG Blog Post #1

Transgender Student Success in Higher Education and Implications of Housing Policy aims to address the lack of understanding surrounding transgender students in their higher education experiences. It goes beyond just their success, delving into mental health concerns, and implications set forth by housing policies. I aim to use the policies of university to see where institutions are failing their transgender students, and crossing the policies to form a set of objectives and suggestions for Pace University to consider for the community. I expect to achieve from this a greater understanding of the needs of the transgender community at large, and to be able to propose change in order to support future transgender students in their experiences in higher education, specifically at Pace University. I intend to put together a literature review based on research surrounding transgender students in the higher education community, and then to combine this with an overview of housing policies currently in place across a range of universities within in the New York area.

2017-2018 #3: Digital Englishes

The grand debate of the Digital Age has become whether or not social media has wreaked havoc on/improved our command of the English language.  There is no doubt that technology, along with the advent of social media, has made a substantial impact on the English language. Twenty years ago, the word “selfie” surely would not have taken up residency in the Oxford Dictionary, let alone be declared as the dictionary’s Word of the Year.  Similarly, familiar words have taken on new meanings in the Technologic Age as well: “like”, “profile”, “troll”, etc. English is no stagnant; with the advancement of technology, it is constantly changing.

Yet does the purist argument of social media destroying English hold water? One commenter on an online forum firmly agrees that it does, stating that in recent years, “Slangs have creeped in and the purity of the language is lost. People do not want to complete sentences with required punctuations, as it wastes their time. . . And it’s not even amusing.” (Shilpa Taneja).  Another site that totes itself as a professional editing and proofreading service suggests that Spanglish, Chinglish, Hinglish are hindrances on the language because “English is a separate, self-sufficient language, which does not have to blend with other languages in order to be suitable for someone.” (“Effect of Social Media on Modern English Language”).

Perhaps the language hasn’t been left entirely untouched, but as the dominant international language of the 21st century, English has been transformed by the way we use it digitally. Digital English has become a way to preserve regional dialects, keeping them in rotation and in written form where they once may have dwindled in usage. Non-standard dialects, such as Hinglish, Singlish, southern white English, black American English, are being written more than they used to. As a result, other online users are experiencing these Englishes for the first time and may not have had the exposure to them if not for social media.

Finally, using Twitter as an example, social media has become an asset in teaching us how to become better communicators. The social media platform’s character limit pushes its users to stay within its confines, forcing us to craft short and deliberate arguments to get our point across. This quickness of words has pushed us towards getting to the core of what we want to convey, rather than spend our time filling our content with “fluff” and lengthy speeches. As a result, this quick crafting of arguments serves somewhat like a TV ad: short yet effective. In our daily interactions, this allows us to keep conversations going, causing others to reply in short yet effective responses that allow numerous people to join the conversation without the intimidation of a lengthy reply.


Psychosocial Benefits to Marching Arts Programs Blog #3 – Good News

Following up on my previous post, I have been writing up my results into a formal paper for publication. I have simultaneously been applying/interviewing with graduate schools. This has been particularly challenging but rewarding. I have found that my project has been a great talking point with the programs I have been interviewing with. The school that I have been admitted to and have decided to pursue, George Mason University, wants to help me to elevate and continue my line of research in the marching arts.

Also following up on my previous post, my project has been accepted as a poster presentation at the American Psychological Association Convention. I have also been accepted to compete in a project oral presentation competition for Division 10, psychology of aesthetic and the arts. Being accepted to present and compete is a huge honor and I am extremely honored for the opportunity.

While I am excited for the opportunity to present, I am nervous about it coming to fruition. Frankly, I am having trouble affording the costs to attend. I may have to withdraw from the competition and send in an absentee poster. I have been looking into attempting to get travel funds. There is a lot of difficulty in that the conference is after my official graduation date. While the poster, the research, and my project are all sponsored and attributed to Pace, this technicality makes me ineligible for a lot of the travel expense aid that Pace provides.

If anyone out there has any advice, please reach out…

March 19th Blog Post

After spending the latter half of fall semester through to January working on constructing my survey, I began distributing it on February 4th. This process proved very interesting seeing as the first people to take it were professors in the English department. Their results were skewed by the first question being, “List all of the curse words or phrases/profanity you know” followed by “List all of the curse words or phrases/profanity you use.” This first test takers felt that it was too long stopped taking the survey. In reaction, we then shifted these questions to the end as more optional questions. Unfortunately, offensiveness also played a role in these subjects not wanting to continue and was a little disheartening. However, the next day when people in some of my classes took it, I saw results shift and people express interest, (even laughing at some points) which was extremely motivating. After posting it on social media and talking in my classes it only took a few days to hit 100 (usable) surveys. Again, this was motivating that people were as interest in observing profanity as I am. There were some great results that highlighted my expectations and proved some of my preconceptions about the subject matter.

As the results were winded down and I began to shift back to my literature review. I began to gather more academic papers to synthesize and I was lucky to find a paper with a plethora of papers to delve into. I have found more papers regarding pragmatic issues such as politeness and speech act theory. These new sources proved to be at the right time considering that now I can apply these theories to the actual data I have gathered. With the combination of my data and my literature review I hope to begin to structure my presentation more and fill in my desired concepts. I have my key concepts and have those working definitions but the presentation is far from finished.

Through this experience, I have learned more about how to structure future surveys, which is a skill that will be dire in grad school. I also have been able to explore my personal interest in the field I wish to study in through this latest literature. I am excited to continue with this project and apply the concepts to my research and further develop my ideas. This has been an exciting few weeks for the research and now I feel motivated to complete and flesh out my idea. Then hopefully, provide some interesting results on the complexities of profanity for my presentation.

Blog Post 3

On March 26th, 2018 China will release there first Yuan backed oil future on the Shanghai International Energy Exchange. This is one of their first initiatives to implement the grand One Belt One Road plan. China is in talks with Pakistan on a Yuan denominated currency-swap on crude oil. China’s president Xi Jinping’s plan to internationalize the Yuan will start with the oil market and accelerate into other commodities.

Professor Daly and myself will watch China’s oil future price closely in the next coming week, as it will set the tone of the Yuan’s presents in the international markets for the rest of the year. There is an increasing amount of coverage on China’s One Belt One Road initiative from United States banks who are looking at the plan as an illusive investment opportunity.  The importance of the success of the oil future is imperative for China as it will finance economic investment in railroads and ports into Eurasian states.

Through the past month our research has led us to hypothesize the dethrone of the Dollar and the rise of the Yuan. 2018 will be a crucial year for the implementation of Yuan denominated commodity markets to finance any more Chinese infrastructural builds in surrounding countries. For the foreseeable future there will be decreased presents of the Dollar in international trades. The rise of the Yuan will solidify China as a economically stable powerhouse in the international community.


Blog #3-Reflections

What I love most about science is that it is made up of basic building blocks; including elements in chemistry and cells in biology. When it comes to the chemical aspect, different molecules are made up of different elements which also exhibit different atom connectivity. These different elements and bonds behave in different manners both physically and chemically (i.e while two molecules might have the same ratio of elements, they may react differentely based off the bond strengths and differences. This concept of science is what I continuously have to think about in my research.

Before being able to even test for our goal, the most important part is the formulation. If the formulation is not homogeneous, meaning evenly spread out, our results will not be as accurate. For example, if we test a portion of our samples that has more/less of the components that affects bacterial results, this will skew our results. While one oil and butter mixture may evenly disperse, another may not. Thus, it is important to perform many literatures searches as to why this happens. Do the two oils have different polarities? Different solubilities? Different melting points/boiling points? Different bond strengths? Different densities? What are the differences in their chemical makeup? These are only some of the questions that need to be answered when figuring out why two things behave differently, and why one works better over the other. If we are able to pin point some of the advantages within a substance to be antimicrobial and a UV protectant, this will lead us to a more efficient experiment. This is why literature searches are very important. Science is very much a collaborative field and it’s vital to dissect past research in the concentration.

As of today, we have about a few dozen formulations that are active against killing bacteria as well as acting as a natural sunscreen. Since we now have a good amount of positive, and negative results, we are in the process of differentiating the good from the bad and starting to answer those questions. I am excited to pin point the “perfect” formulation and order new exotic oils/butters to test!

Blog #3

I am very happy with how my project has been going so far. I have struggled in the beginning to determine what exactly my topic will be, and when I found the right sources they were the ones that led me to my topic. Because I found the right sources, I was able to narrow down my topic and let my project grow from there. I’ve learned a lot about Hitchcock’s films and the treatment of women both on and of screen, and I also learned about the historical context his movies were surrounded by. I am close to being done with my project, and am adding finishing touches which will determine how the paper looks and reads

Blog 3

At this point in our research study, Dr. Greenberg and I are waiting for our participants to complete the study. We have obtained consent and administered our pre-intervention surveys. After they completed the pre-intervention testing, the participants were given an inhaler containing lavender essential oil to use through-out the week for four weeks. Currently, all of the participants are in their fourth week of the intervention. Once everyone completes their four weeks of aromatherapy intervention, the participants will then go back and complete the same pre-intervention testing. After this has been completed, I will analyze the data to see if there are any deviations from the answers given pre-intervention.

One of the most difficult challenges that I came across was getting participants to sign up. Dr. Greenberg and I utilized various means of recruitment, such as social media, email, flyers, and agency website announcements. Often times, individuals would reach out to us and express interest in the study, but then we would never hear back from them.

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.