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Disgust Sensitivity and Prejudice: The Mediating Relationship of Dangerous World Beliefs and Social Conservatism on Disgust Sensitivity and Prejudicial Attitudes

2016 McNair Scholar: Shelby Boggs

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Natalie Shook

Humans have adapted many strategies to avoid disease and infection in order to increase survival (Miller & Maner, 2012). One psychological process in particular, the emotion of disgust, has evolved to aid in pathogen avoidance and limits the transmission of diseases (Clay, Terrizzi, & Shook, 2012). Researchers have theorized that disgust is part of the “behavioral immune system” (BIS) which Also contributes to the avoidance of other people or situations that are potentially harmful or toxic to the individual (Schaller, 2006). As a result, some humans are more sensitive to experiencing disgust than others, particularly people who tend to be more conservative (Inbar, Pizarro, & Bloom, 2009). Conservatism has previously been correlated with beliefs in a dangerous world; the perception that the world is perilous and erratic (Altemeyer, 1988). Additionally, previous research indicates that conservatism is correlated with prejudicial attitudes (Faulkner et al., 2004; Navarrete & Fessler, 2006) .The current study will analyze the correlational and causal relationships that potentially exist among disgust sensitivity, dangerous world beliefs, prejudicial attitudes and conservatism. This study can help explain the role that disgust and disgust sensitivity plays in avoidance behavior among conservatives.

Developing a Vaccine Against Pseudomonas aeruginosa Using Iron-Acquisition Receptors as Targets

2016 McNair Scholar: Shelby Bradford

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Mariette Barbier

Over the past fifty years, many attempts have been made to develop a vaccine against Pseudomonas aeruginosa for the most susceptible populations, however none of these have made it to market. This research project will utilize P. aeruginosa’s high need for iron by attacking its iron-acquisition receptors. The aims of this study are to design, clone, purify, and test iron-acquisition receptors-HasR, PhuR, FptA, and FpvA-for use in a preventative vaccine in a murine pneumonia model. It is hypothesized that targeting these proteins will starve P. aeruginosa of iron, limiting virulence, and stimulate an effective immune response to clear the infection.

Effects of Racial Discrimination on Stress and Depression in African Americans

2016 McNair Scholar: Deja Clement

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Daniel McNeil

African Americans are vulnerable to a number of detrimental health outcomes due in part to racial discrimination in the United States. African Americans report experiencing racial discrimination in various settings including academic, occupational, and social. Disadvantages associated with racial discrimination may act as chronic stressors for African Americans. Previous studies have demonstrated the connection between the stress of racial discrimination and negative mental health outcomes (e.g., depression and anxiety). The literature has not fully addressed the interaction among discrimination, stress, and depression. This study aims to examine how racial discrimination affects stress and depression in African Americans. The sample will include African Americans residing in the Appalachian region of the United States. It is hypothesized that a history of lifetime racial discrimination will mediate the relation between stress and depression in a sample of African Americans living in Appalachia.

Exploring Community and Culture in EVE Online

2016 McNair Scholar: Aaron Colhouer

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Susanna Donaldson

This study seeks to understand how community is formed within EVE Online: an online, virtual world where social rules are dictated by users who work with or against each other (forming sub-groups and sub-communities) to control territories and resources. Social science research on virtual worlds has yet to focus on worlds like EVE Online—massively multi-player online games that grant users a large amount of player freedom and control. This ethnographic study aims to explore EVE Online to determine the structure of this virtual community and to examine how sub-groups or sub-communities (formed within the game) interact and affect the greater community of EVE.

The Effect of Miscategorization on College Students’ Self-Esteem

2016 McNair Scholar: Adam Cruz

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Adam Dasari

Miscategorization is the act of assigning a multiracial individual into a racial group or category that does not accurately represent them. This miscategorization is caused by the lack of sufficient racial category options offered. Literature suggests that miscategorization of multiracial individuals can lead to psychosocial issues that can affect varied self-esteem levels. College is a vital time in which miscategorization can significantly influence one’s self-identity. This study aims to identify the effects of racial and multi-racial identity on college students’ self-esteem.  Students will be asked how their self-identified racial identity options influence their self-esteem through completing surveys.

Disgust and Same-Race Bias in Physical Attraction

2016 McNair Scholar: Evan Dorsey

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Natalie Shook

Feeling disgust can lead individuals to report higher levels of prejudice. However, less is known about the effect of disgust on interpersonal attraction across racial groups. The purpose of the proposed experiment is to test whether feelings of disgust result in same-race bias in physical attractiveness ratings. Participants will be randomly assigned to watch a disgusting, sad, or neutral video clip. They will then rate images of individuals belonging to different racial groups. Individuals who are induced with disgust are expected to exhibit more same-race bias in their attractiveness ratings than individuals in the sad or neutral conditions.

The Entrance of Contraception on the Political Agenda

2016 McNair Scholar: Mariah Felty

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jeffrey Worsham

Contraception and reproductive rights are policy issues that cycle through the U.S. policy agenda at regular intervals. Baumgartner and Jones (1993) suggest agenda entrance is a function of attention, which involves both private and public actors. This research will map this process, developing indicators of attention for the public, governmental, and decision agendas. A second goal involves determining who sets the agenda—whether it occurs as a result of outside initiative with interest groups as the source of attention, or mobilization where government entrepreneurs use interests to set the agenda, or some combination of the two. 

Titanium Dioxide Foam for Direct Writing Thin Structures

2016 McNair Scholar: Lynnora Grant

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Kostas Sierros

Nanoscale Titanium dioxide (TiO2) exhibits properties that make it a promising candidate for a plethora of applications.  TiO2 is a semiconductor with photocatalytic properties.  Grätzel utilized TiO2 as the electron transport layer in dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSC).  DSSCs require low cost manufacturing procedures as opposed to Si-based photovoltaics.  Such cells are often fabricated using traditional printing methods.  However, these methods have limitations.  We are currently working to improve the manufacturability of DSSCs using contemporary direct writing methods.  This study will seek to develop a TiO2 ink to be printed using a nozzle based robotic deposition system.  The printed thin films will be used as the electron transport layer in DSSCs.

Differences in Outcomes of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy Implemented with and without Incentives

2016 McNair Scholar: April Renee Highlander

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Cheryl McNeil

Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) is an evidence-based intervention for children ages 2 to 7 years who display disruptive behavior problems. Research has demonstrated PCIT’s effectiveness for decreasing child behavior problems and increasing positive parenting skills. However, the overall impact of PCIT has been negatively affected by high attrition rates (40 to 60%). To address the attrition problem across a range of concerns (e.g., substance abuse, health behaviors), research has examined the use of incentives (e.g., gift cards) to increase treatment adherence. The current study will use a randomized controlled trial to evaluate treatment adherence and outcomes in two conditions: PCIT with incentives and PCIT without incentives. We hypothesize that the use of incentives will increase treatment adherence and attendance, resulting in greater improvements in child behavior problems and parenting behaviors.  

The Image of Greek Life at West Virginia University: Students’ Perceptions through Real Experiences

2016 McNair Scholar: Roselyn Edinam Kumazah

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Amanda Sanchez

Historically, fraternities and sororities originated to promote unified bonding through leadership, service and integrity.  Although this ideal of Greek life may still hold true, Greek “party” culture has been the center of national attention and research, especially with regards to negative problem behaviors (i.e. problem drinking, hazing rituals and sexual assault).  For this project, student perceptions of and actual experiences with Greek life at West Virginia University (WVU) will be investigated through content analysis of the qualitative component from the results of the WVU Campus Climate Survey administered in 2016.  It is hypothesized that students’ experiences will reinforce this typical image of Greek party culture at WVU, highlighting the connection between Greek life and problem drinking, hazing, and sexual assault.  The results will assist in changing the overall image, culture, and reality of Greek Life, ultimately creating a safer and more positive campus climate for all students.

The Use of Visible Light to Bias the Movement of Self-Propelled

Ruthenium Catalyzed BZ Droplets

2016 McNair Scholar: David Mersing

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Kenneth Showalter

Chemical systems exhibit a range of nonlinear behavior in both space and time.   Examples include temporal oscillations, multistability, chaos, stationary spatial patterns, and a variety of traveling and standing waves.1  Researchers have discovered much about the behavior and mechanisms found in these nonlinear systems.  Studies of these remarkable behaviors have been linked to similar behaviors in other fields, such as biology, physics, and engineering.  However, there is a gap in our understanding of microbiomes, due to the lack of computational tools and models to investigate these important populations.  This study will seek to explain how light can be used to bias the movement of chemically driven particles using a nonlinear reaction.  This study could lead to a better understanding of how microbes create locomotion, and how they are drawn to particular areas.

What it will take for Project-Based Learning to take off: The Teachers Perspective

2016 McNair Scholar: Madeleine Niang

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Sharon Hayes

Project-Based Learning (PBL) provides a more authentic learning experience and opportunities for students to construct deeper understanding of content and real world problems. PBL is not widely implemented in classrooms due to a number of challenges. In order to have PBL more widely implemented in the future, teachers need to be able to overcome these barriers. This study will unveil teachers’ perspectives about PBL and the ways in which barriers to implementation can be addressed. A survey of middle and high school teachers in Morgantown, WV will provide insight into the possible actions that may be necessary to make PBL reality in K-12 institutions. 

Assessment of a Health Coach Model for Diabetes Prevention and Management Program

2016 McNair Scholar: Omobola Oluwafemi

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Ranjita Misra

West Virginia ranks 4th in the prevalence of diabetes in the U.S. Factors associated with the high burden include barriers to healthcare, poor lifestyle, Appalachian culture of fatalism and low health literacy. An efficient method to reach these individuals is to promote prevention and self-management of diabetes using health coaches, change agents for lifestyle modifications. This study will use data from the Diabetes Prevention and Management (DPM) program in WV to examine the effectiveness of health coaches. It is expected that a positive health coach-participant relationship will yield a greater decrease in participants’ weight, waist circumference and A1C level.

High vs. Low Self-Directed Exposure Therapy to Treat Dental Anxiety

2016 McNair Scholar: Rachael Petrie

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Daniel McNeil

Dental anxiety and dental phobia are serious disorders that can disable individuals from necessary tasks such as attending dental appointments. People who avoid receiving dental care face a greater risk of deteriorating oral health and eventually overall health. It is important to study how to treat dental anxiety further in order to diminish the symptoms anxious individuals feel. Exposure therapy has been shown to be effective in treating fears and anxiety, and it may be possible to treat dental-care related fear with exposure through a new format (e.g., mobile phones). It is hypothesized that participants who watch the exposure videos three more times daily will show decreased Dental Fear Survey (DFS) scores in comparison with those who may watch the video less than three times.

Investigation of the Medical Efficacy and Research Constraints on Schedule I Substances

2016 McNair Scholar: Chelsi Sayti

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Mark Wicclair

The United States scheduling system, defined by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, strictly limits medical research of controlled substances, particularly substances within schedule I classification. With the emergence of studies indicating the medical potential of certain schedule I substances, these federal research constraints have been called into question. This qualitative study aims to assess the justifications given for limiting medical research of schedule I substances via comprehensive document analysis. It will explore the historical context of federal drug regulation and studies which point to the medical viability of schedule I substances in an attempt to determine if allowing further medical research is justified.

Examining the Accuracy of Adolescent Perception of Risk for Burns from E-Cigarettes

2016 McNair Scholar: Hailey Taylor

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Christina Duncan

Electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use is on the rise among adolescents, however, some adolescents are still not aware of the harms associated with these devices. Specifically, adolescents may not be aware of the newly-reported potential risk of burns from malfunctioning or misused e-cigarettes that catch on fire. This proposed research aims to examine the accuracy of adolescent perception of risk for burns from e-cigarettes and whether this perception accuracy differs by certain characteristics (e.g., age, gender, user versus non-user, source of e-cigarette information). Anticipated results will help to determine how well youth understand possible burn risk associated with e-cigarette use, from where risk information is being acquired, and how risk perception differs as a function of key variables. Our results can help to inform and guide prevention efforts.