By Leon Willis,2014-08-11 03:17
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    University Committee for Undergraduate Research

    8th Annual Undergraduate Research Poster Session


    Audiovisual Speech across Lifespan: Affects of Age-Related Sensory

    Change on Multimodal Integration

    Suzanne Allen and Michael S. Gordon

    Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences,

    University of South Alabama


    Audiovisual Speech across Lifespan: Affects of Age-Related Sensory

    Change on Multimodal Integration

    Older adults, even those with good hearing, have difficulty understanding language spoken in noisy conditions. Reasons for this difficulty may be related to degraded

    sensory processing and/or age-related cognitive declines. In this research, older and younger adults were asked to repeat audio-only and audiovisual sentences

    that had either high or low semantic context, and were embedded in background

    noise. The visual components were presented either without any blurring, or with a moderate blur (roughly equivalent to 20/50 visual acuity). Older adults were found

    to have disproportionate difficulty using the visually-blurred sentences relative to

    younger adults who had an advantage; thus, in the moderate blur condition the older adults had almost no visual enhancement, whereas in the no blur condition both younger and older adults had an advantage using the audiovisual speech over the audio-only. Surprisingly, younger adults benefited more from high context sentences, a finding that is in direct contrast with previous aging studies. Potentially, the cognitive demands for multimodal integration may have inhibited older adults‟ cognitive processing of semantic cues. The difficulty the older adults had with blurred visual stimuli suggests that distorted visual cues may overwhelm their ability to use top-down resources to understand the visual speech. This visual difficulty in combination with cognitive demands for processing context and the

    challenge of understanding auditory speech in noise may have produced this surprising result. Based on these findings, contributory factors associated with multimodal integration are closer to being pinpointed.


    University Committee for Undergraduate Research

    8th Annual Undergraduate Research Poster Session


    Dependency Theory

    Jennifer Blair-Smith and Philip Forbus

    Department of Economics and Finance, Mitchell College of Business,

    University of South Alabama

    Dependency theory developed in the 1950s and 1960s and arose primarily in response to the economic underdevelopment in Latin America. According to the various dependency theories, such as the false-paradigm model, the dualistic-

    development theory, the world systems theory, and the Prebisch-Singer

    hypothesis, developing countries find themselves continually dependent on developed countries economically and financially. Many dependent countries progressively pursue strategies such as import substitution, export promotion, and free trade agreements as a way to become more competitive in the free market. Two internal possibilities to help break the dependency cycle are land reform and microcredit. By using both externally and internally focused policies, dependent

    countries may lift themselves out of their dependent relationships.


    University Committee for Undergraduate Research

    8th Annual Undergraduate Research Poster Session


    Processing and Electrical Conductivity of Carbon Nanopaper Sheet

    Roy Blanco and Jan Gou

    Department of Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering,

    University of South Alabama

    Carbon Nanotubes and carbon nanofibers are predicted to hold excellent mechanical, electrical, and thermal properties. Their outstanding properties offer a promising method to improve the properties of traditional fiber-reinforced

    composites. The present research studied the dispersion process of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and carbon nanofibers (CNFs) in the solvent with the aid of

    surfactant. The carbon nanopaper sheet was composed of single-walled carbon

    nanotubes and vapor grown carbon nanofibers. The carbon nanopaper sheet was made through the filtration process of the suspension of carbon nanotubes and carbon nanofibers. To study the dispersion qualities of carbon nanotubes and carbon nanofibers, the carbon nanopaper sheets were made using various weight fractions of carbon nanotubes and carbon nanofibers and different vacuum levels. The microstructures of the carbon nanopaper sheets were characterized using

    scanning electron microscopy (SEM). In addition, the electrical conductivities of carbon nanopaper sheets were measured using four-point probe method. The

    measurement results show that 75% CNF-25% CNT, 50% CNF50% CNT, 25%

    CNF75% CNT carbon nanopaper sheets had resistivities of 1.1 mOhm meter, 400 nOhm meter, and 1.6 nOhm meter, respectively. Their electrical conductivities are highly comparable to those of metals, which offer potential lightning strike protection application of polymer composite structures. Moreover, this research studied the processing-morphology-property relationship of carbon nanopaper

    sheets. Further research focuses on processing of large size carbon nanopaper sheets and the optimization of the manufacturing process.


    University Committee for Undergraduate Research

    8th Annual Undergraduate Research Poster Session


    1,3 Azulene Substitutions and Their Effects on the Symmetry and Energy of

    the Product

    Anna Blice-Baum and Greg Spyridis

    Department of Chemistry, College of Arts and Sciences,

    University of South Alabama

    Using Spartan ES computer chemical modeling system, the calculations for the

    bond lengths and angles were performed on several substitutions of azulene, a

    hydrocarbon consisting of a five-member ring connected to a seven-member ring.

    When azulene has no substituents, it is a planar molecule and transmits a brilliant blue color due to its excited electrons. Over the course of the summer, calculations

    were completed for seven substitutions to azulene in the 1,3 position. The C2 symmetry usually found in azulene was preserved throughout most of the calculations except for the one where the 1 and 3 positions did not contain the same substituents. In the cases where the components of the substituents nearly touched, they would shift because of electron repulsion to become a non-planar

    molecule. The Hartree-Fock method of calculation was used to determine the ground-state energy and geometry of each of the molecules.


    University Committee for Undergraduate Research

    8th Annual Undergraduate Research Poster Session


    Estimating Sampling Distributions of Coefficients of Similarity for Normally

    Distributed Populations

    Jeffrey M. Boone and Madhuri S. Mulekar

    Department of Mathematics and Statistics, College of Arts and Sciences,

    University of South Alabama

    Measures of similarity are useful in estimating the degree of similarity or differential in two populations. A deviate of one such similarity measures is used for estimating

    the proportion of genetic deviates in segregating populations. Mulekar and Mishra (1994) studied the problem of estimation of four different measures of similarity for two normally distributed populations with heterogeneous variances, because

    normal distribution is most widely used to describe outcomes from a variety of processes. In order to develop parametric inference procedures, the knowledge of sampling distribution of similarity measure is required. In this project, we used

    simulation and multiple regression techniques to estimate sampling distributions of four different measures of similarity, including a measure of overlap and a measure of distance. The results of the Monte Carlo study showed that all four sampling

    distributions can be described using a beta distribution, parameters of which are functions of sample size, difference in means, and the ratio of standard deviations of the two sampled populations.


    University Committee for Undergraduate Research

    8th Annual Undergraduate Research Poster Session


MPP+ Induces a Cell Cycle Arrest in Rat Substantia Nigra Cell Line at the

    G1-S Phase Transition

    Amy Boyd, Christopher Koczor, Ray Hester, and Susan LeDoux

    Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience and Flow Cytometry Laboratory,

    College of Medicine, University of South Alabama

    Parkinson‟s Disease is a neurodegenerative disease that affects predominantly the elderly. Patients with this disorder experience selective loss of neurons in the substantia nigra of the brain, thereby affecting their muscular control. The mechanism by which these neurons die remains unknown, though the development of model systems have aided in its understanding. RCSN-3 cells, a

    rat substantia nigra cell line, were exposed to MPP+ to develop a relevant PD

    model. Initial observations suggested RCSN-3 cells treated with MPP+ do not die

    but experience a cell cycle arrest. This research was focused on exploring this observation. MPP+ treatment was found to arrest RCSN-3 cells at the G1-S phase

    transition, and the RCSN-3 cells appeared responsive to a double thymidine block.


    University Committee for Undergraduate Research

    8th Annual Undergraduate Research Poster Session


Ingroup Bias Among Current Members of Greek Organizations: A Pilot Study

    Hope Brasfield and Jennifer Langhinrichsen-Rohling

    Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences,

    University of South Alabama

    The aim of this pilot study was to examine the phenomenon of ingroup bias in

    current members of Greek organizations. Ingroup bias is defined as occurring “when ingroup members give the ingroup more favorable evaluations” than the outgroup (Raden, 2003, p.805). Ten participants in the pilot study, ranging in age from 19 to 25 years (M = 20.80) were asked to pretend to be active members of a sorority in completing a packet of surveys. Participants were randomly assigned to one of 3 hypothetical sororities. General descriptions of the sororities were provided. Participants then rated on a Likert-type scale how descriptive they found

    certain words (intelligent, attractive, foolish, and helpful) to be of their imaginary sorority chapter versus other hypothetical sorority chapters. It was hypothesized that participants would give more positive ratings to their ingroup as compared to those given to other groups. Results indicated that participants generally rated their ingroup more positively than outgroups. However, this difference was not statistically significant, t(9) = 1.70, p = 0.30. This is likely due to the absence of

    participants from actual Greek organizations and the small number of participants in the sample. The actual study, which is in progress, will include current members of Greek organizations and a larger number of participants.


    University Committee for Undergraduate Research

    8th Annual Undergraduate Research Poster Session


    Dissolved Oxygen Analysis in the Cahaba River Watershed

    Robert Cox and Manish Misra

    Department of Chemical Engineering, College of Engineering,

    University of South Alabama

    The Cahaba River watershed, located in northern Alabama, has experienced many environmental problems due to the rapid urbanization of the surrounding areas. The ecosystem of the river could be compromised by unnatural environmental

    occurrences, most notably large scale algal bloom. This project set out to determining the portions of the river experiencing these problems and their severity.

The method of determination was nonlinear regression modeling of continuous,

    time series data for six stations along the river. Specific conductance, turbidity, pH,

    and temperature were the input parameters for the model and dissolved oxygen

    concentration was the output. Data was chosen to train the model based on the

    saturated dissolved oxygen levels; portions of the data at or below saturation were of greatest interest. Coefficients for the nonlinear model were generated using the

    nonlinear regression function, nlinfit, of the MATLAB programming software. The

    difference between the predicted value of the model and the actual value of dissolved oxygen was used to determine the magnitude of the error term of the model, essentially the variation in the dissolved oxygen levels not accounted for by

    the input parameters of the model at times of normal dissolved oxygen saturation

    levels. Data exhibiting error terms of magnitude four or greater, variation that is dangerous for most marine animals, indicates unnatural variations in the dissolved oxygen levels due to external influences such as algal blooms.

    The data analyzed indicates unnatural variations in the dissolved oxygen levels for site one, the furthest down stream. Sites five and eight have signs of unnatural variation but the results are less conclusive than that for site one. Further analysis using the technique of principal component analysis could be done to look more closely at the contribution of the individual inputs to yield more conclusive results on the variations in dissolved oxygen levels.


    University Committee for Undergraduate Research

    8th Annual Undergraduate Research Poster Session


    Football Helmet Affects on Acoustic Properties

    Jose E. DeAnda, Michael S. Gordon, and Charles Brown

    Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences,

    University of South Alabama

    In a football game, players need to hear which play has been called and the snap count. During the huddle and especially on the line of scrimmage, the players will

    generally not be facing the talker directly, which, given the design of the pinnae

    (i.e., the outer ear), puts the listeners in a non-ideal position for hearing. In addition,

    hearing will be complicated by the helmet, which partially obscures the pinnae, changes the resonance properties of sound, and reflects a large portion of the acoustic energy originating from the back and sides of the head. In the current research several analyses were conducted to determine how much energy was lost when listening through a football helmet. To test the helmet-related changes in

    acoustics we considered the following: hearing condition (hearing with a helmet or with no helmet), spectral condition (peak and average intensities across frequencies for a set of stimuli) and stimulus (sentences or multi-talker noise, i.e.

    babble). There was an important interaction between hearing condition and stimulus type in that there was more loss of energy in the helmeted condition relative to the no helmet condition for the babble. In general, helmeted recordings

    had less energy than no helmet recordings for both peak and average intensities.

    Behavioral data were partially consistent with these data. Based on our results,

    we recommend changes in helmet design that improve sound transmission from

    the back and the sides, and an ear-hole shape that would decrease unwanted



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