Example Abstracts

Creative Works

Throughout my college career I have been researching social and environmental issues surrounding food for classes and independently. After several years of making functional pottery it seemed natural to combine these interests. This set of six plates features hand drawn scenes in black underglaze on white stoneware portraying issues from the food industry. I have chosen to highlight subjects touching on immigration, biodiversity, and our relationship with what we consider edible. The food industry in the United States is complex and controversial. My goal with creating Food Plates is not to convey a specific viewpoint, but to serve as a reminder of unseen things that are occurring everyday before food becomes available to us

Oral/Paper (Communication and Media)

Compared to other professions and endeavors, scientists and scientific work are vastly underrepresented on the TV screen. Further, the limited representations that do exist promote problematic stereotypes. Scientists as protagonists are portrayed as individuals isolated from their community due to their inflated intelligence. Science as a discipline, however, is either presented as elaborated science fiction or appears loosely constructed, coming across as more of an enhancement of the setting than a driving force of the narrative. These instances are found in television shows for adults and children across genres. This rhetorical analysis focuses on the trend of scientist protagonists represented as unattainable geniuses, often coupled with divergences from accepted behavioral norms. A combination of characters and television shows are analyzed. The storylines of each show are discussed to highlight the unproductive effects of these portrayals, as well as introduce the disappointingly unrealistic treatment of science as a discipline. In analyzing the significance of these representations, recognizing the absence of a middle ground to stand in contrast to these over-exaggerated depictions exacerbates the problem. Ultimately, cultivating more accurate portrayals will clarify misconceptions surrounding the subject. For scientists and science on television, average has never looked so appealing. 

Oral/Paper (History)

Before Technology, one way to connect with someone was by writing letters, especially within connections of business, family and politics in the late 1840s. Digging into some of the letters helps to decipher what life was like and what was deemed important during that time. Thanks to a neighbor’s garbage and one mans life, John Brice Gordon, insight has been given to historians of a small county’s communications before the Civil War. Without local correspondence, we miss the big picture, Local history matters. Most of history is known by the national events during a particular time. What we fail to focus on is local and state history making headlines as well for those in the era.


A Lesson to be Learned is a student submission developed from a group project as part of the final for the Introduction to Theatre course (THE 100). The group of five students (non-performance majors) developed, designed, filmed and edited a performance that reflects on today’s “normalcy” of gun violence and school shootings, and the struggles today’s students experience with anxiety, bullying, depression and hopelessness that can result in mass tragedy. For an original student project in an introductory course, the performance exhibits a strong understanding of narrative, performance elements of design, point of focus, film editing, collaboration, and commitment. Creating this piece in just over a month, the work is a testament to our students’ ability to use performance as a platform to make positive social commentary through story to affect change. It is a short but moving story that shows the volatile state of the human condition in our current cultural milieu. In just 6 minutes, the film exhibits how we live in this world together, and how we must be more aware of our actions as well as sensitivities and emotional states of others, or trauma and tragedy will continue.

Poster (Anthropology)

Forensic anthropology relies on the skeletal material that is retrieved during the recovery of remains. The more intact the skeleton, the easier the job is, just as the more damaged the remains are, the harder the job becomes. One of the most fragile parts of the skeleton, the skull, tends to be used for sex estimation when the os coxae, the pelvis, is not present. In cases where the skull and the os coxae are not present, alternative sex estimations must be used. This study looks at the application of alternative sex estimation methods on a box of commingled archaeological remains. The remains are Monongahela, which was a southwest Pennsylvania Native American tribe and were excavated at the Campbell Farm Site. Methods were tested on a sample of previously sexed individuals within the population and then applied to the commingled remains to determine accuracy of the methods on the specific population.

Poster (Art History)

Women have been involved with the making of art since prehistoric times. They have played and continue to play integral roles as creators, patrons, collectors, and subject matter. Yet, until the 1970s, their roles in the history of art have been overlooked and/or misunderstood. Characteristic of this tendency is Ernst Gombrich’s The Story of Art (1950). This book is the best-selling art book of all times and has been translated into over 30 languages, yet it included no women artists. In our class, we completed a collaborative writing of the history of western art from 1450 to the present with an awareness and a sensitivity to the ideas we have been discussing in class. Students were divided into four groups, each of which focused on a different chronological period. We also selected several themes, which we explored over the course of history. Our poster will present our problem, our process, and our final product, a collaboratively written history compiled in a wiki format.

Poster (Biology)

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is the most common cardiac disease for Americans forty years and older. CHF causes the irreversible loss of cardiomyocytes, muscle cells that help the heart to beat. If a patient is diagnosed with CHF they have less than five years to live. Stem cell therapies provide a possible means of developing mature cardiomyocytes, which could be inserted into patients' bodies to replenish and repair their heart. To induce pluripotent stem cells to become mature cardiomyocytes, the stem cells have to undergo a series of step-wise transformations, with different protein pathways being employed at each step. The last steps in the differentiation process are the transition from primitive cardiomyocytes to chamber-specific cardiomyocytes to mature cardiomyocytes. Currently, researchers are only able to produce large amounts of the primitive cardiomyocyte. This poses a problem because the primitive cardiomyocytes are too small, possess low contractility and low velocity. All these factors stand in the way of achieving efficient and mature cardiomyocytes to use for stem cell therapy. This project has tested a variety of cardiomyocyte differentiation protocols, and additionally examined whether targeting the Notch pathway – a key signaling pathway in cardiomyocyte maturation – can help promote the differentiation of chamber specific cardiomyocytes. Cultured cells were exposed to various dosages of Jagged-1 (a ligand of the Notch pathway), in the hopes that increased Notch receptor activation might produce a small but significant increase on cardiomyocyte maturation. This research could help stem therapy that treats CHF.

Poster (Business)

There are many people out there who do not trust the Salvation Army. Rumors circle about donations being misused, or executives being over compensated. I wanted to see if there was any truth to these beliefs. I analyzed the financial statements of the Salvation Army to calculate how much money is spent on what in their organization. My analysis showed that approximately 81.5% of their total expenses are used for programs, and 18.5% of expenses are used for Administrative costs. This tells us that for every $1 donated to the Salvation Army, $0.82 goes toward their community centers, rehabilitation programs, and other community services, and the other $0.19 goes toward compensating employees, and fundraising expenses. This shows that Salvation Army is not as bad as some people are led to believe. The Better Business Bureau says that Administrative Expenses should be no higher than 35% of income. So, with that benchmark, the Salvation Army is doing extremely well.

Poster (Education)

This study examines factors that predict dropout rates of school districts in Washington County, Pennsylvania (WCPA). Other studies have found that dropout rates have been impacted by achievement, retention, socio-economic status, sex, and extra-curricular involvement (Wood, Kiperman, Esch, Leroux, &Truscott, 2017); however, none of the previous studies included schools in our local area.  The study will identify to what extent relationships exists between student dropout rate (DR), low socio-economic status (LSE), percent population of Emotional Disturbance (ED), and English Language Arts state assessment proficiency (ELAP). This will be a brief analysis using multiple logistic regression. We believe this study to be beneficial because it will identify factors that highly correlate to dropping out which may allow schools to produce more directed intervention strategies. Based on the results, the researchers will provide recommendations that will help guide schools in the development of academic, social, and behavioral curricula that may reduce dropout rates.

Poster (Psychology)

In this study levels of stress and happiness were examined in comparison to an individual’s hemispherical dominance. Participants were given an online survey and asked to complete a demographics survey, the Perceived Stress Scale, the Subjective Happiness Scale and a Hemispherical Dominance Inventory. Participants who had higher levels of stress were found to have lower levels of happiness. Those who were found to be primarily left hemisphere dominant had levels of happiness that were significantly higher than those who were right hemisphere dominant. This suggests that hemispherical dominance has a large effect on an individual’s happiness. Data analysis revealed a significant interaction between hemispherical dominance and gender. Right hemisphere dominant individuals had higher levels of stress than left hemisphere dominant individuals. Together, these findings suggest that left hemisphere dominant males have the least amount of stress.

Poster (Social Work)

Prejudicial attitudes are a pervasive and complicated problem in modern America. Social service agents often fill the gap of compassion that can be created by an unwelcoming community. When social service agents are battling prejudicial attitudes of their own, care can be compromised, and clients will ultimately suffer. Research is lacking on the ways in which rearing environments impact attitude development; social service students of a public, rural university in southwestern Pennsylvania were asked to complete a survey in order for the researcher to evaluate whether there might be any statistically significant connections between one’s upbringing and their attitudes in the social services setting. The goal of this research was to examine these connections and ultimately find ways to address them in social service (more specifically, social work) education.