CASCon2018 Program

Presentation Abstracts

2:00-2:55 pm (UC 105) | Don't Try This at Home Chemistry

Benjamin Alper (Chemistry), “Molecular basis for substrate specificity of human insulin degrading enzyme
Insulin-degrading enzyme (IDE) is a 110 kDa chambered zinc metalloendopeptidase that degrades insulin, amyloid beta, and other short hydrophobic peptides with roles in metabolic signaling and amyloid disease. Structural studies of IDE in complex with multiple physiological substrates have suggested a role for hydrophobic and aromatic residues of the IDE active site in substrate binding and catalysis. Here, we examine functional requirements for conserved hydrophobic and aromatic IDE active site residues that are positioned within 4.5 Angstroms of IDE bound insulin B chain and amyloid beta peptides in the reported crystal structures 2G54 and 2G47. Charge, size, hydrophobicity, aromaticity, and other functional group requirements for substrate binding IDE active site residues were examined through mutational analysis of the recombinant human enzyme and enzyme kinetic studies conducted using native and fluorogenic derivatives of human insulin and amyloid beta peptides.  A functional requirement for IDE active site residues F115, A140, F141, Y150, W199, F202, F820, and Y831 was demonstrated, and specific contributions of residue charge, size and hydrophobicity in substrate binding, specificity, and proteolysis were identified. We conclude that conserved hydrophobic and aromatic residues of the IDE active site are critical for substrate binding and enzyme activity, and report the identification of IDE mutant alleles that exhibit hyperactive proteolytic activity towards insulin or amyloid beta peptide derivative FRET substrates, as well as IDE mutants that exhibit increased selectivity for proteolysis of insulin and amyloid beta  peptides.

Todd J. Sullivan (Chemistry), “Computational Design of Novel Insulin Degrading Enzyme and Arginase Inhibitors”
Currently in our research group we are performing traditional medicinal chemistry techniques to discover compounds that are biologically active against different enzymes one that is involved in diabetes (Insulin Degrading Enzyme), the other that is in cancer cells (Arginase).  Employing computer software programs we have generated a model to produce docking studies data.  Docking studies reveal how tight the virtual compounds are binding at the active site along with structural data we are searching for a pharmacological hit.  Eventually, synthetic organic chemistry will optimize our hit.

Linda Farber (Chemistry), “Microwave”
The effectiveness of oxidation reactions of secondary alcohols using a mild environmentally friendly oxidizing reagent, along with the effectiveness of the oxidizing reagent is being study.  All these reactions are run using Microwave methodology which affords reduced reaction time and potentially increased yields.

Penny Snetsinger & Eid Alkhatib (Chemistry), “Optimization of preparation of activated carbons from renewable and low-cost precursors”
Activated carbon is and has been one of the most efficient agents applied in water and wastewater treatment. However, commercially produced activated carbon can be expensive and is normally produced from non-renewable sources. Our research has been interested in generating activated carbon from renewable and low cost materials that occur naturally and are normally discarded in many regions of the world including, olive pits, date pits, acorn shells, corn husks and coconut shells. We are looking at factors influencing the efficiency of the activation process using factorial design of experiments and several methods for determining surface area.

2:00-2:55 pm (UC 106) | Mercy, Mercy Me: Religion and Art

Nathan Lewis (Art & Design), “Art in the Age of Trump”
This talk and presentation will focus on art as political discourse and social critique.  How does art engage with society, how does it comment on and define culture? How does it resist or influence power? We will discuss artists who merge contemporary art with politics since Donald Trump took office as well as key points in art history where art and politics are intertwined.

Brian Stiltner (Religions Studies) & Daniel Rober (Catholic Studies), “Exploring (Christian) Humanism as a Response to Political and Technological Challenges”
This talk will explore the question of Christian humanism in light of today's challenges by pairing two papers on this theme.  The first, by Brian Stiltner, will explore the thought of twentieth-century philosopher Jacques Maritain in dialogue with the community organizing work of Saul Alinsky, with reference to the lived experience of contemporary Catholic parishes and communities regarding social justice.  The second paper, by Dan Rober, will explore the viability of humanism, Christian or otherwise, in a society where robotics and cybernetics seem to pose a threat both to employment and to the dignity of the human person as such.

2:00-2:55 pm (UC 107) | Good Planets are Hard to Find

Mark Beekey (Biology), Kirk Bartholomew (Biology), John Rapaglia (Biology), & LaTina Steele (Biology), “Coastal Tourism and Water Quality in Dingle Peninsula”
Coastal management requires an understanding of the complex dynamics between tourism, environmental and socioeconomic interactions, and their impact on sustainability.  Here we focus on how spatial and temporal changes in human density influence water quality between two similarly sized watersheds with similar land use characteristics on the Dingle Peninsula. We present an analysis of data collected over the past four years to determine how water quality varies between two similar natural environments that vary in their levels of human development.

2:00-2:55 pm (UC 109) | Law, Order and Identity

Bill Yousman (School of Communication and Media Arts), “Amazon Key and the Neoliberal Home Invasion”
In 2017, Amazon announced a new service, Amazon Key. Amazon Key customers will install a “smart lock” and an in-home surveillance system, “Amazon Cloud Cam an intelligent indoor security camera” allowing for packages to be delivered directly into the home and, according to Amazon, easy access for “thousands of [service] providers.” In this paper, I will argue that thus far most of the questions being raised about this innovation skirt the most significant and troubling concerns about the continuing insertion of powerful global corporate entities into our personal lives. While there has been some mainstream media debate about the safety of this system (whether allowing strangers access to your home could have unintended consequences including theft and home invasions), I contend that this discourse misses the most crucial issues, such as the continually advancing power of private corporations, gradual public accommodation to increasingly intrusive neoliberal practices, and disintegrating boundaries between our autonomous selves and the capitalist structures we inhabit.

James E. McCabe (Government), “Organizational Analysis of the Newtown Police Department”
The presentation reports the results of a longitudinal study of the Newtown, CT Police Department.  An employee job diagnostic survey and focus groups sessions were used in a two panel research design.  The department was first studied in spring of 2012 and again in the spring of 2018.  The results show an incredibly resilient organization with high levels of satisfaction and functionality even in the aftermath of the horrific events of the Sandy Hook murders.

Shanshan Wang (School of Communication and Media Arts), “Living in a Computer Simulation: The Implication of VR/AR as Races and Places of Identity”
Since the internet, there is virtual presence and telepresence. With the dazzling technological advancements of virtual and augmented reality, how will humanity’s future be impacted by our increasing dependence on remote presence? The impetus of my research grew from the fact that I was drawn to how activists are using the internet to recruit and arrange people for meetings and protests enabling some of the most influential social moments of today- Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, Women’s March, etc. What is the present tense of space? What does it mean to be human? What is human consciousness? How does virtual space perform as a social platform engage with an ever-changing pluralistic environment? We are depending on institutionalized forms of recognition, infrastructure that shapes our place and identity in the world. How do we “perform” and “present” gender, race, cultural background, and identity as a virtual and hyper-reality? Can VR and AR produce work that represents a variety of cultures, genders, and ethnicities, at the same time perpetuates stereotypes and human categorization that lead to a greater separation and misunderstanding? The topic brought forward here is an on-site study of off-site reality. My study combines scholarly research intended for publication with the making and curating of VR/AR artworks.This research moves forward current scholarly debates around the future roles of VR/AR. It also attempts to provide an expanded awareness of creative space and possibility of creating actions and VR/AR artworks that respond to and are fueled by political engagement and activist movements of today.

2:00-2:55 pm (UC 110) | Insane about the Brain

Mark Jareb (Biology; Neuroscience), “Protein Targeting in Cultured Neurons”
The development of distinct axons and dendrites of neurons and the correct protein targeting to these regions is essential for the proper development of the nervous system. The initial development of individual neurons suggests that the decision for a neurite to become the cell’s single axon is a random process that is heavily dependent on the targeting of axonal proteins to this neurite.  Recent work in the lab focuses on identifying axonally targeted proteins to investigate the mechanisms of targeting proteins specifically to the axon versus the cell body and dendrites of cultured neurons.

Rachel E. Bowman (Psychology; Neuroscience), “Sexx & the Brain: Effects of Hormone Exposure on Rodent Cognition”
Bisphenol-A (BPA), a known hormone disrupter, exposure in adolescent rats, increases anxiety, impairs memory, and decreases dendritic spine density when measured in adolescence and effects extend into adulthood.  These studies were conducted in gonadally intact male and female adolescent rats; this leads to the question of the extent to which observed effects are due to BPA exposure versus natural fluctuations in gonadal hormones. Additionally, estrogen (E) is neuroprotective, enhances memory, and increases dendritic spine density in adult and aging rats; however, E replacement studies in adolescence are limited. Thus, we have conducted a series of experiments in Ovariectomized (OVX) females that examine: (1)  effects of adolescent BPA and E exposure on neuronal architecture in the adolescent brain, (2)  effects of adolescent BPA and E exposure on behavioral measures of anxiety,  cognitive performance, and spine density in adolescence, and (3)  whether possible effects observed in #2 are maintained when measured in adulthood.

Deirdre Yeater( Psychology) & Dawn Melzer (Psychology), “Utilizing Creativity to Discover Cognitive Skills in Dolphins and Preschoolers”
Few studies have investigated the development of creativity as a measure of intelligence/cognitive ability in non-human species and children. Creativity assessments are not associated with the same biases (e.g., gender, culture, etc.) often related to traditional intelligence tests and are therefore a valuable tool for studying cognition. Our current research focuses on using a modified creativity task to assess creativity in bottlenose dolphins and preschool aged children to provide insight on the evolution of cognitive abilities.

Nicole Roy (Biology), “Di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP), a common ingredient in plastics, induces craniofacial defects during embryonic development”
Di-n-Butyl phthalate (DBP) is a high production volume plasticizer added to increase the flexibility of synthetic polymers found in a variety of everyday items like food packaging, cosmetics and cleaning materials.  Given the widespread uses of and exposure to DBP, studies on developmental toxicity are needed.  We find concentration dependent defects in craniofacial development including loss of and/or disorganization of jaw cartilage development with concomitant defects in vascular innervation and neuronal patterning.  Vascularization of the cranial cavity also became disorganized.  We conclude that DBP, at environmentally relevant doses, is toxic to craniofacial development.

3:00-3:55 pm (UC 105) | Dots, Charts and Graphs

Isil Akbulut-Gok (Government, Politics, Global Studies), “Understanding Inclusion and Design in Multilayered Peace Processes”
This project investigates the impact of collaborative efforts in “multilayered” peace processes. Although some recent studies have examined how intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) collaborate in peace processes and how civil society organizations and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) account for the success of peacebuilding efforts, there have been no systematic efforts to assess relationships built between IGOs and NGOs and local actors and how the engagement of these multiple actors affect peace processes. This study asks whether different interactions and relationships built between parties to peace agreements and actors “above” the state – IGOs - and “below” the state – such as social movements, civil society organizations and NGOs – condition the success of peacemaking efforts.

Jason Molitierno (Mathematics), “The Algebraic Connectivity of Outerplanar Graphs”
A graph is a set of points (vertices) connected by a set of lines (edges).  Graphs have many practical uses such as representing maps for GPS systems, modeling airline routes, scheduling, and coloring maps.  A graph can be represented as an array of numbers (matrix).  There are properties of this matrix that give a numeric measure of how connected the graph is (algebraic connectivity).  In this talk, I explain a convenient way of labeling the vertices of outerplanar graphs with numbers to obtain a maximum value for the algebraic connectivity.

Marlina Slamet (Chemistry; Physics), “Kinetic effects in 2D and 3D Quantum Dots: Comparison between high and low electron correlation regimes”
We study the properties related to the kinetic energy in the ground state of 2D quantum dot in a magnetic field and a 3D quantum dot (Hooke’s atom), both in the High and Low Electron Correlation regimes, respectively. The wave functions used are the exact closed-form analytical solutions of the Schrodinger equations. The properties studied are the electron density, single particle density matrix, kinetic energy density, kinetic ‘force’ and its divergence, kinetic field, and kinetic energy.

3:00-3:55 pm (UC 106) | The Many Representations of Christ: Christology in Theology, Art and Literature

Thomas Hurley (Catholic Studies), “Desire and Union: Perspectives on Jesus Christ in the Theology of Thomas Aquinas”; June-Ann Greeley (Catholic Studies; Theology and Religious Studies), “Lifting Up the Burden: Suffering and the Cross in the Paintings of William Congdon”; and Brent Little (Catholic Studies), “A Faith that Costs: Images of Christ in the Fiction of Flannery O’Connor”
This interdisciplinary panel will demonstrate the rich diversity of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition by exploring three different forms of representing Jesus Christ. Our panel will begin with Dr. Hurley’s research on the 13th century Dominican Thomas Aquinas, and his significant influence on theology and philosophy to this day, both through his synthesis of earlier Christian thought and his own creative developments. This presentation will discuss some of the reflections of Thomas on the significance of the Christian understanding of Jesus Christ as Word, particularly as contained in the Gospel of John. In relation to other images Thomas uses to understand Christ, these reflections point us to an understanding of how Thomas sees not only the meaning of Jesus Christ, but also what it means for us to be human in the light of Christ.

Next, Dr. Greeley will explore the American artist William Congdon (1912-1998), a respected painter in the modern school of Abstract Expressionism. In 1959, he underwent a spiritual conversion in Assisi, Italy and became a member of the Roman Catholic Church.  Thereafter, his art took on a deeply meditative aspect and, she will argue, a theological dimension in his desire to express the meaning of Christ for the post-war world.  As a non-combatant enlistee, Congdon had been with a medical unit that was one of the first to arrive at the Nazi concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen and that horrific experience, combined with his observations of human poverty, suffering and sorrow throughout the world (including the US) after the war led him to a profound reflection on the meaning of the Crucifix and Christ himself, and at a time when such themes were rarely represented in western art. Her paper will be an analysis of a set of Congdon’s paintings, specifically, the several ‘Crucifixion’ paintings he created over two decades (ca. 1960-ca. 1979) which became successively more abstracted and more self-reflective in his efforts to identify the Christian message of hope and redemption—and its viability—within the post-modern, deconstructed and dislocated world.

Finally, Dr. Little will present an analysis of the different symbols for Christ portrayed in the fiction of Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964), a Catholic writer whose fiction often critiqued the post-World War II modernity of an increasingly secular American society with startling depictions of God’s grace in the world. This paper will focus on several characters from O’Connor’s short-stories. O’Connor’s symbols for Christ frequently deconstruct American society in at least two overlapping ways. The first critique involves the disruption of accepted societal norms by her privileged, white characters, whether this is a disruption of their worldview based on economic status, education, or racism. The second, related critique concerns characters who are culturally Christian, but whose religious beliefs are often guises and justifications for their pride and self-righteousness. O’Connor’s representations of Christ thereby jar the reader to reflect on their own assumptions and hither-to unrecognized prejudices.

Through this research, this panel will demonstrate the creative ways believers in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition have imaginatively represented Christ for their age.

3:00-3:55 pm (UC 107) | Good Planets are Hard to Find II

LaTina Steele (Biology), “A tale of two plant communities: understanding community composition in coastal ponds and salt marshes”
Aquatic and marine plants provide shelter and food for inhabitants ranging from microscopic algae to economically prized fishes and shellfish. My work with undergraduates explores coastal pond and salt marsh plant communities. One project examines how plant chemical defenses affect the susceptibility of pond communities to invasion by non-native plant species. Other projects document overlooked salt marsh species and assess the use of restored marshes vs. natural marshes as a foraging ground.

Jennifer H. Mattei (Biology), “Climate Change: What can I do? Restore, Recycle, Reduce!”
Global climate change, coastal habitat degradation, and coastal erosion by human development ultimately result in a flat and barren shoreline. In Connecticut, we discovered that wave attenuation necessarily comes first for successful living shoreline installation and resiliency. Low marsh, high marsh, dunes and upland habitats were installed sequentially. Dune vegetation was lost when installed first (in 2012). Public hearings, guest lectures and volunteer opportunities help garner support of the restoration both locally and regionally.

3:00-3:55 pm (UC 109) | Nature's Way

Barbara Pierce (Biology), “To Breed or Not to Breed: the influence of diet on testosterone production in birds”
Birds during migration must complete energy-intense long-distance flights while ameliorating the production of free radicals that can potentially cause tissue damage.  Spring migration poses an additional challenge for birds since they must be physiologically ready for the breeding season upon arrival.  My current research project examines the interaction between dietary antioxidant levels and the ability of male birds to prepare for the breeding season after enduring a long-distance flight. 

Jo-Marie Kasinak (Biology), “What makes a house a home?: Assessment of juvenile horseshoe crab nursery habitat in Connecticut”
The population of horseshoe crabs (HSCs) in Long Island Sound (LIS) has been on the decline since the 1990’s despite management and conservation efforts. The population is spawning below its maximum rate and 1-3 year-old juvenile HSCs have low densities, and are absent from over half of surveyed habitats (n=10). We previously found that while all surveyed beaches had varying densities of spawning HSCs present, none of the parameters tested where significant indicators of juvenile presence. This study aimed to examine the effects of pesticide pollution and predation on juvenile HSC survival.

Tom Terleph (Biology), “Vocal Coordination in White Handed Gibbon Song Duets”
I will describe the complex vocal duets of pair-bonded gibbons, and how the coordination of these duets requires that individuals adjust their singing to that of their mate. Specifically, the precise coordination of duets appears to require that a male adjust the timing of his song in response to subtle spectral and temporal variations in his mate’s song. Although the vocal phrases of non-human apes are thought to be largely innate, these findings suggest vocal flexibility in the context of song duets.

Geffrey Stopper (Biology), “The evolutionary genetic history of divergence among domesticated and wild strains of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae”
Strains of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae are used for the production of bread, beer, and wine.  The strains used in these industries appear to be quite variable even within each industry, with many strains showing distinct heritable phenotypes.  Variable traits include the profile of metabolic byproducts produced during fermentation, among other variable characteristics. The process of domestication of yeast was probably inadvertently well under way thousands of years ago, but the pattern and timing of the domestication of Saccharomyces cerevisiae is poorly understood.  For example, it is unknown if strains have historically been frequently passed between these industries, and it is unknown whether there have been multiple individual domestication events from wild ancestors within these industries. Here we seek to identify genetic variation among many strains from these industries through PCR and sequencing of several genes. This identified variation will be used to understand the evolutionary relationships of these strains, and therefore historical patterns of divergence in their use within and among the three industries.  We intend to extend this study through whole genome sequencing, and hope to use the variation to also make steps toward developing molecular assays for rapid strain purity screening in the brewing industry.

3:00-3:55 pm (UC 110) | Literature Across Disciplines

Rick Magee (Language and Literatures), “Landscape and Literature”; Cara Kilgallen (Language and Literatures; Catholic Studies), “Athletics, Academe, and the American Dream”; Michelle Loris (Language and Literatures; Catholic Studies), “The Interdisciplinary Nature of Literature” and Peter Sinclair (Catholic Studies), “The Future of Religion and Literature”
This panel will introduce students to the dynamic, collaborative and interdisciplinary nature of literary studies and literary research. This panel will also show how our students are involved in our work. Dr. Rick Magee will feature his international research in Irish Studies and irish Culture; Dr. Cara Kilgallen will showcase her multi-disciplinary research in popular culture topics including sports narratives, disability studies, and environmental studies. Dr. Loris will highlight how her research includes  topics from psychology as well as theology and Dr. Sinclair will present his research on narrative and social sciences.

4:00-4:55 pm (UC 105) | OK, Computer?

Sajal Bhatia (Computer Science & Engineering), “Towards Security and Resilience of Cyber-Physical Systems”
Cyber-Physical System (CPS) are closed loop systems with seamless integration and coordination of physical and cyber (computational and communicational) components. The extraordinary complexity of such systems due to a tight coupling of two rather orthogonal worlds – cyber and physical, and the potential effects that these systems can have on societal welfare renders them critical and in-turn stipulates them to be inevitably secure and resilient. This talk first gives an overview of different aspects of CPS security and subsequently relates my research work to each of these aspects. It presents the design and implementation of DDoS attack detection techniques that utilizes selected network traffic and server load features to detect a wide range of DDoS attacks, thereby distinguishing them from Flash Events. It also presents a traffic generation and testbed framework, cooperatively developed as part of this research, to synthetically generate different types of realistic DDoS attacks and FEs, and to monitor their effects on the target. Finally, it gives an overview of the work done in immunization strategies, threat modeling and performance impact of security mechanisms in CPS.

Cenk Erdil (Computer Science & Engineering), “Honey, have we paid our AI bill this month?”
John McCarthy, one of the founders of the AI discipline, envisioned in 1961, a utility computing concept, where computers someday be organized as a public utility. Leonard Kleinrock, Chief Scientist at ARPANET in 1969 predicted the spread of computer utilities as [computer networks] grow up and become sophisticated. These all have resonated in science fiction movies in entities such as HAL-9000, Skynet, and Cylons, our “friendly” services with their constant threat to rise up against us. As the term Artificial Intelligence generally refers to the ability of machines to perform intellectual tasks, how we make use of these machines to organize them in best possible ways   has also become something of interest. In particular, machine learning and deep learning, two most recent branches (and re-branches) of AI, are where we start seeing importance of cloud computing. One of the first activities in my regularly offered cloud computing course is to ask my students what their take on the word cloud computing is. We generally form a “word cloud” (pun intended) and storage always come up the first. Although being able to “store our files and data” has definitely been one of the primary forces behind the popularity of the clouds, being able to provide efficient, reliable, and scalable computational capabilities has always been the primary focus of many cloud scientists and architects. In other words, we, as humankind, have reached to a place where we can really say that “We got this!” to creating, storing, and managing data. In fact, the amount of data we can produce is tremendously larger than our capabilities to process it. Recently, we have entered an era now where we need to complete the next big step, and figure out how to make information out of all of that data. Luckily, cloud computing is still here to help.

Tolga Kaya (Computer Science & Engineering) and Alicja Stannard (Physical Therapy and Human Movement Science), “How Sweaty Are You?”
A calorimetric based flow-rate detection system was built and tested to determine sweat rate in real time. The proposed sweat rate monitoring system has been validated through both controlled lab experiments (syringe pump) and human trials. The overall prototype is capable of sending sweat rate information in real time to either a smartphone or directly to the cloud. This wearable device will allow athletes and exercise physiologists another avenue to analyze athlete performance.

Eman Abdelfattah (Computer Science & Information Technology), “Analysis of Computer Networks”
Enterprise and home networks have developed in innumerable combinations of wired and wireless networks since the explosion of the Internet. Before installing enterprise hardware, network engineers use simulators to test the strain of network traffic in terms of cost-effectiveness. Engineers select the simulation criteria based on points of concern with the network such as frequently used protocols, applications, or expected throughput. A high degree of user-friendliness, a rich GUI, and software familiarity drove the decision to use Riverbed Academic Modeler for creating different networks to analyze their performance. Riverbed’s comprehensive reservoir of pre-loaded network tools and protocols allow users to perform various network-simulations, as well as produce clearly illustrated results. Different research topics were conducted such as:

Analysis of Routing Protocols in an Emergency Communications Center, Evaluation of Routing Protocols with FTP and P2P, Analysis of Ping of Death DoS and DDoS Attacks

Study Analysis of Integrating a Firewall in a Wide Area Network, Analyzing the Effect of DoS Attacks on Network Performance, Performance Evaluation of Routing Protocols and the Effect of a Firewall in a WLAN.

4:00-4:55 pm (UC 106) | Behind the Veil: Mythic Dimensions of C.S. Lewis' Till We Have Faces

Christopher Kelly (Theology and Religious Studies), “Overwhelming Presence: A Plotinian Reading of Till We Have Faces”; Ono Ekeh (Theology and Religious Studies), “ Divine Darkness as the Reward of Faith in C. S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces and St. Bonaventure’s, Journey of the Mind to God”; and Brent Little (Catholic Studies), “Language and its Limits: Ritual and Symbol in Till We Have Faces’”
C. S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces is a masterful retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche. In this reimagining of the genesis of the myth, Lewis weaves together a complex web of literary, theological, philosophical, and poetic ideas. This panel’s presentations will explore aspects of the richness of this text. The presenters will unearth echoes of Plotinus, explore the limits of language, and discuss the notion of divine darkness.

4:00-4:55 pm (UC 107) | Reading, Writing, Thinking

Stephen Briner (Psychology), “What Do We Learn From Reading Fiction?”
Most of us spend substantial time with narratives like movies, novels, or TV shows. These narratives often feature many “social simulations” with characters interacting and responding to each other’s emotions. Do these social simulations influence the way we interact with other people in the real world? In the Language and Literacy Lab, we investigate how narratives help us understand the people and the world around us. Specifically, we are investigating how the level of emotional detail in a work of fiction may aid in recognizing emotions in other people. 

Sandra Young (Language and Literatures), “Who I am.  Where I'm Going.  Why I'm Coming Home.  Student Edge Out of Their Nests by Writing Their Worlds”
My students are posers. They’re juiced to graduate; ready for that real world.  Then, in the writing workshop, they confess their concerns; in their writing, they reveal their truths about their fears of separating from home but wanting to stay connected. They want to go into the world, but also come home to make their own homes. 

In “Writing and Identity,” students question themselves:  Who am I?  Is my voice effective?  How does my family factor into writing about my life?  In their writing, they reexamine, reconsider, and reflect on their lives, values, beliefs, experiences, and feelings.  They tell their own truths using the essential “I.”

This paper analyzes a creative nonfiction class focused on writing and identity.  It examines how students wrote about themselves; explains how students used rhetorical and writing skills in ways that will be relevant in their careers; includes student writing, and research.

David Shaenfield (Psychology), “Development and Assessment of Critical Thinking”
A description of the efforts to develop and assess critical thinking skills in the first-year course.

Mary Treschitta (Art & Design) & Kerry Milner (Nursing), “The PICO Card Game: A Collaboration between Art and Nursing”
Games motivate students, engage them in learning, promote self-confidence, foster group cooperation and interaction (Bessinger, 2015).  Games can be used to teach the EBP process (Mick, 2016). Finding relevant research to answer a clinical question is step 2 in the EBP process.  Healthcare providers are taught to use the PICO method (P=intervention, I=intervention, C=comparison intervention, and O=outcome) to create focused clinical questions that can be used to search for research in databases to answer the question. Intervention:  We developed a homemade card game to help students practice the skill of creating PICO questions. We evaluated the effect of the game on student learning and published the results (Milner & Cosme, 2017). We received emails from around the world asking to buy the card game so we reached out to Mary Treschitta, Chair of the Art Department, for help on producing the game.

Conclusion: The collaboration between nursing and art has made it possible to produce this game and distribute it to nursing programs and healthcare systems globally.

4:00-4:55 pm (UC 109) | The Challenge of John Moriarty's Discovery of the Links Between Ecology and Spirituality

Michael Higgins (Language and Literatures), Mark Beekey (Biology), Rick Magee (Language and Literatures), and John Roney (History)
John Moriarty is one of the most significant Irish philosophers of the twentieth century; his ideas have become guideposts to life-long learning and a concern for humanity and the environment. The panel will present ways in which Moriarty’s ideas can be used as educational units in a variety of classrooms: literature, theology, history, and science. The future goal is to offer educational units that include short readings accompanied with thought-provoking questions to help students engage in the material and ideas.

4:00-4:55 pm (UC 110) | The Self and Other

Maureen Conard (Psychology), “What's Personality got to do with it?”
The overall goal of the research program was to bring the theoretical and empirical knowledge of personnel selection and development to the college admissions and student development process. More specifically, the research examined the roles of internal (e.g. personality traits, other individual differences) and external factors (e.g., incentives, workload, multitasking) on performance and related outcomes (e.g., stress, leadership, participation, retention).

Suzanne Marmo (Social Work), “Social Justice, Social Work, and SHU”
The concept of social justice is included in the Code of Ethics of the social work profession as well as in the mission of Sacred Heart University (NASW, 2018). Social justice orientation has been defined as how one views and uses oneself, as a member of a larger collective, to positively impact societal change (Astin & Astin, 1996). Previous studies by this researcher have shown social workers to be motivated by a desire to provide service to others (Marmo & Berkman, 2018; Vincent & Marmo, 2018). This has been suggested to better understand potential motivators for entering and remaining in professional helping roles. Social workers, as a profession, promote social justice and social change with and on behalf of the populations they serve. One of the main goals of social work education is to develop these skills to prepare students for professional social work careers. Similar to the profession of social work, as stated in the mission of Sacred Heart University, the university also embraces concepts of social justice as service to others to “make a difference in the global community”. The university’s mission and the values of service may also be motivators for a decision to pursue education at a school like Sacred Heart University. A better understanding of motivators of students’ choice of pursuit of study may better assist educators in designing curricula to meet the needs of those seeking to enter professions of service and care at a university like Sacred Heart. The purpose of this proposed presentation at College of Arts & Sciences Conference (CASCon) will be to: 1) discuss this faculty member’s research agenda of exploring social justice orientation with non-profit middle managers and a planned study of social justice orientation with hospice social workers and nurses, 2) highlight the inclusion of student research opportunities through a research practicum with this faculty member, 3) Discuss the experience of mentoring two Sacred Heart University master’s level social work students in their current study exploring social justice orientation of Sacred Heart social work students in graduate, online and undergraduate programs.

Jessica Samuolis (Psychology) & Victoria Osborne-Leute (Social Work), “Opiod Use and Prevention in College Students”
This presentation will review the project activities and associated results of a grant-funded project for the prevention of opioid use among college students. The project included a multi-disciplinary collaboration between psychology faculty, social work faculty, and Wellness Center counseling staff at Sacred Heart University. Project activities included 1) the dissemination of public awareness materials, 2) conducting an on-campus colloquium for faculty, staff, and students, 3) conducting a workshop for health professionals on campus, and 4) the implementation of a campus-wide survey for undergraduates.

Bronwyn Cross-Denny (Social Work) and & Christina Gunther (Health Science and Global Health), “Changing Social Attitudes through Cultural Immersion Experiences”
International cultural immersion experiences for students present opportunities to develop cultural competence, professional identity, and insights into their existing world views. The purpose of this study was to understand the impact of diversity content and cultural immersion experiences on social attitudes, cultural acceptance, and the capacity to adapt to diverse cultures.  Students who participated in a Global Health and Social Work immersion trip to India were administered a pre- and post-test to assess the effect on student attitudes.  Initial study findings will be presented and discussed.

Amanda Moras (Sociology), Stephen Lilley (Sociology), & Leonora Campbell (Human Resources), “The Campus Climate Survey”
A panel of administrators and faculty describe their collaboration on the Campus Climate Survey.  This survey of SHU faculty, staff, and students addresses sexual harassment and violence and the attitudes that discourage or encourage sexism, manipulation, and abuse.   Panelists cover key measures, implementation, data collection, strategies of data analysis, strength and limitations. They situate the Survey within the broader institutional goals of prevention, education and programming.

Closing Reception (University Commons Auditorium): 5:00-6:30pm

Join us to continue the conversation with food and drinks.

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