Alumni Dissertations and Theses

 
 

Alumni Dissertations and Theses

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  • Entropy of Jammed Granular Matter

    Author:
    Christopher Briscoe
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Physics
    Advisor:
    Hernan Makse
    Abstract:

    Granular matter can be considered a non-equilibrium system, such that equilibrium statistics is insufficient to describe the dynamics. A phase transition occurs when granular materials are compressed such that a nonzero stress develops in response to a strain deformation. This transition, referred to as the jamming transition, occurs at a critical volume fraction, depending on friction and preparation protocol. Analysis of the jamming transition produces a phase diagram of jammed granular matter for identical spheres, characterized by the critical volume fraction, and the average coordination number. The boundaries of the phase diagram are related to well-defined upper and lower limits in the density of disordered packings; random close packing (RCP) and random loose packing (RLP). Frictional systems, such as granular matter, exhibit an inherent path dependency resulting in the loss of energy conservation, an important facet of equilibrium statistics. It has been suggested Edwards that the volume-force (V-F) ensemble, wherein volume replaces energy as the conservative quantity, may provide a sufficient framework to create a statistical ensemble for jammed granular matter. Treating a jammed system via the V-F ensemble introduces an analogue to temperature in equilibrium systems. This analogue, "compactivity", measures how compact a system could be and governs fluctuation in the volume statistics. Randomness in statistical systems is typically characterized by entropy, the equation of state derived from the number of microstates available to the system. In equilibrium statistical mechanics, entropy provides the link between these microstates and the macroscopic thermodynamic properties of the system. Therefore, calculating the entropy within the V-F ensemble can relate the available microscopic volume for each grain to the macroscopic system properties. The entropy is shown to be minimal at RCP and maximal at the minimum RLP limit, via several methods utilizing simulations and theoretical models. Within this framework RCP is achieved in the limit of minimal compactivity and RLP is achieved in the limit of maximal compactivity. The boundaries of a phase diagram for jammed matter could thereby be defined by the limits of zero and infinite compactivities, characterizing the RCP and RLP limits of granular matter.

  • Courting Utopia: The Romance Plot in Contemporary Utopian Fiction

    Author:
    Katherine Broad
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    English
    Advisor:
    Carrie Hintz
    Abstract:

    Utopian literature is typically read as a transformative genre that compels readers to rethink the norms and assumptions that govern their worlds. But what kinds of imaginative work does the genre perform with regards to women's status in the ideal society, and how has this work developed--or failed to--in more recent utopian texts? Courting Utopia: The Romance Plot in Contemporary Utopian Fiction focuses on a specific subgenre of utopian literature known as the feminist critical utopia, which emerged in the 1970s out of previous utopian genres and continues to develop today. Despite the genre's aspirations for social change, however, I observe an ongoing refusal to challenge, let alone transform, normative gender roles in feminist critical utopian texts, a limitation that persists because the novels remain wedded to traditional narrative conventions carried over from earlier utopian forms. Ultimately, the genre remains predominantly structured not around the rhetoric of social change, as utopian scholars generally presume, but around the rhetorics of romance. Looking at the work of Marge Piercy, Margaret Atwood, and Ursula K. Le Guin, who have been central to defining the field, as well as recent popular novelists Suzanne Collins and Scott Westerfeld who show where the feminist critical utopia is moving in the twenty-first century, I detail how the romance plot undermines the feminist utopian project by restricting the utopian imagination to traditional gender roles. Identifying romance as a key obstacle to the imagining of more radical forms of social change, I break company with those who see authors like Piercy, Atwood, and Le Guin as the paragons of the genre and instead look to Robert C. O'Brien, Samuel R. Delany, and finally Toni Morrison for alternative narratives that move beyond romance to reimagine feminist critical utopian worlds. The persistence of the romance plot in contemporary feminist critical utopias has been largely overlooked by utopian scholarship, but contending with how this pervasive plotline shapes utopian possibilities stands to offer new insights into the development of more open, oppositional, and liberatory female characters and feminist alternatives to the status quo.

  • Mensura Incognita: Queer Kinship, Camp Aesthetics, and Juvenal's Ninth Satire

    Author:
    Michael Broder
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Classics
    Advisor:
    Craig Williams
    Abstract:

    The dissertation addresses four problematic aspects of scholarship on Juvenal 9. The first two are matters of reception history: first, the poem has been understudied; and second, most major extant studies of the poem have been grossly or subtly homophobic. The other two problems are matters of literary criticism: Juvenal's ninth satire has traditionally been read as an attack on homosexuality, when in fact it is neither an attack, nor is it about homosexuality. The current study addresses each of these problems, reassessing the ninth satire in the context of queer theory and camp aesthetics. Chapter One traces the homophobic tendencies in the modern reception of Juvenal 9 across reception modalities including expurgation, biographical criticism, and persona theory. Chapter Two reviews relevant concepts in queer theory and the discourse of camp. Queer theory emphasizes the performative dimensions of sex, gender, and kinship. Camp is a counter-normative discourse in which incongruous situations and juxtapositions are presented in a theatrical manner for humorous effect, expressing the relationship of sex, gender, and kinship deviants to dominant discourses of normativity and embracing the stigmatized identity of the deviant, marginalized other. Chapter Three reviews the debate over Juvenal's moralism among scholars of satire beginning in the 1960s. This debate serves as an unwitting proxy for a debate about camp aesthetics by emphasizing the role of perverse wit in articulating a moral satiric vision. Chapter Four offers a close, detailed reading of Juvenal's ninth satire within the framework of queer theory and camp aesthetics laid out in previous chapters. The reading identifies instances of camp incongruity, theatricality, and humor, the embrace of stigmatized identity, and the expression of solidarity with the deviant. Particular emphases are the parody of social and cultural institutions such as marriage and patronage; literary genres such as epic, elegy, and declamation; and literary motifs such as servitium amoris, militia amoris, and exclusus amator, among others. A Conclusion recaps and extends some of the major contentions of the study and indicates directions for further research. Finally, an Appendix provides an original translation of Juvenal's ninth satire.

  • ECONOMIC-MINDED PARTISANS: UNDERSTANDING HOW ECONOMIC PERCEPTIONS AND POLITICAL PARTISANSHIP CONDITION VOTING BEHAVIOR

    Author:
    Michael Brogan
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Charles Tien
    Abstract:

    In this dissertation, I will introduce a new way to understand economic voting. I argue there is an interactive relationship between how the economy and the political environment are recognized among voters when making a vote choice. The framework for determining vote choice can be explained in the following manner: (1) During economic downturns, economic perceptions are the impetus for voters' decision making; because the economy is performing poorly, voters punish the incumbent government. (2) During economic prosperity, voters focus less on the economy and more on politics; incumbent presidents are rewarded for economic prosperity to a lesser extent because voters focus primarily on political matters. (3) During periods of mixed economic performance, voters focus on the economy; however, this focus is tinged by partisan filters. My findings indicate a significant interactive relationship existing between voters' partisanship and voters' economic perceptions in voting behavior which demonstrates that voters do not uniformly engage in economic voting. The model estimates that less partisan voters are more likely to act as economic voters by rewarding (punishing) incumbents for a good (bad) economy while stronger partisans typically use their economic perceptions as a means to reinforce existing partisan preferences when making their voting decisions. 

  • A MINUS-GAMETE-SPECIFIC GENE IN FUSION-DEFECTIVE CHLAMYDOMONAS MUTANTS AND ANALYSIS OF BIOSYNTHETIC PATHWAYS UPREGULATED DURING GAMETOGENESIS

    Author:
    Dmitry Brogun
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Biology
    Advisor:
    Charlene Forest
    Abstract:

    To gain insight into the mechanism of gamete fusion during fertilization, it is crucial to identify molecular, metabolic and genetic factors required for this process. Gamete fusion in C. reinhardtii cells proceeds via four genetically defined stages: 1) flagella recognition 2) signaling 3) mating structure adhesion and 4) fusion with subsequent zygote formation. During this study we used insertional and temperature sensitive conditional mutants that do not proceed to stage 4, but can agglutinate and adhere to each other via their mating structure. A homolog of the sex-restricted HAP2/GCS1 gene has been shown to prevent gamete fusion in C. reinhardtii. A SiteFinding-PCR search was conducted on the fusion-defective Chlamydomonas insertional mutants that could not be complemented with the wild type copy of the HAP2/GCS1 gene. We confirmed that mutant clone 5 had an insert in a copia-family retrotransposon on chromosome 13. We collaborated to discover that a gene, located 3 &rsqou; to the retrotransposon is a minus-gamete specific gene (MGS). We hypothesized that MGS might be a second gene required for gamete fusion. Our main objective was to identify whether there is a defect in the DNA sequence in MGS in any of our fusion-defective mutants. We performed a chromosome walk on coding, promoter and 5 &rsqou; upstream and 3 &rsqou; downstream regulatory regions (UTR) of MGS via PCR. PCR products then where sequenced and aligned. We used qRT-PCR to determine MGS expression levels in the control and fusion defective mutants. Analysis of the sequencing and expressional results showed no defect in the MGS gene. For the systematics study we used comparative genomic and phylogenetic approaches enabling us to study metabolic pathways that are upregulated in gametes of Chlamydomonas. Congruent experimental results show that the nuclear-encoded and chloroplast localized MEP pathway leading to the biosynthesis of the isoprenoid precursor molecules is upregulated in Chlamydomonas gametes. It is expected, that the results from these studies will provide further insights into regulatory mechanisms occurring during gametogenesis, some of which might be necessary for gamete fusion in algae as well as in higher eukaryotic organisms.

  • Francisco Sanchez y el redescubrimiento de la duda en el Renacimiento

    Author:
    Marcelo Broitman
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Hispanic & Luso Brazilian Literatures & Languages
    Advisor:
    Isaias Lerner
    Abstract:

    The purpose of this study was to explore philosophical skepticism from its origins in Greece to its resurgence in the European Renaissance, in particular in the work of Francisco Sanchez, the Hispanic medical doctor and thinker of the XVI and XVII centuries. In order to provide the background to Sanchez' book, Quod nihil scitur (That nothing is known), which called in question any possibility of knowledge, an analysis of the various stages of skeptical thought was conducted. Special attention was paid to the work of three ancient philosophers: Pyrrho of Elis, the legendary founder of the skeptical school who left no written work behind, but whose life, as told mainly by Diogenes Laertius, was a model for his followers; Arcesilaus, who helped to steer Plato's Academy towards skepticism during the period of that school that is known as the Middle Academy, and Carneades, who headed the so called New Academy. In the Middle Ages, skeptic doubt was displaced by dogmatic certainty, based mainly on the authority of Aristotle and the Church. With very few exceptions, such as those found in some texts by Henry of Ghent, dogmatism reigned during this period. This dissertation also deals with some characteristics of medieval dialectic. In this regard, it presents the translation of two important critical texts, one by Francesco Petrarca and the other by Juan Luis Vives, anticipating the criticism of Francisco Sanchez. This work also considers the role that two religious reformers, Girolamo Savonarola and Martin Luther, could have played in the revival of skepticism during their time. The last section of this study is devoted to Francisco Sanchez, and analyzes two of his works, Carmen de cometa anni M.D.LXXVII, and Quod nihil scitur. The latter was instrumental in the rediscovery of critical thinking, and was well known and highly appreciated, or defamed, in its time. It is the work that placed Sanchez in the history of Western thought.

  • The Effect of Using Art Activities in Home Literacy Bags

    Author:
    Heather brookman kadish
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Helen Johnson
    Abstract:

    The present study examined the impact of including art activities in family literacy materials on parents' beliefs about reading and their self-efficacy beliefs about their ability to teach reading to their young children. The study took place over five weeks in a private day school in New York City with middle to upper-class population. The 70 student participants (i.e., across kindergarten through second grade) were randomly assigned to either treatment (i.e., literacy bags with art experience) or control (i.e., no art), with assignment done separately for males and females. Multi-item measures were used that assessed demographics, home literacy environment, family involvement in school, children's interest in literacy, and parental efficacy and reading beliefs. Though not statistically significant, parents' self-efficacy scores in the experimental group improved and their enjoyment scores increased over time while the parents' scores in the control group fluctuated randomly across the four weeks with marginally significant differences between the two groups found during the last week. A modest statistically significant correlation was found between parents' self-efficacy and parental involvement. The students in the experimental group reported that they enjoyed the artwork. The current study suggested that offering a broader range of literacy activities can enhance and increase the impact of parent involvement initiatives in children's literacy learning. The findings suggest a relationship between parental self-efficacy and parental involvement, and that art activities affect both of these factors. Results raised the possibility that there is value in exploring ways to extend the benefit of art activities. Limitations of the study included the variable aspects of self-reporting for data collection, potential incongruence between books used and students' particular interests and skills, limited and homogenous population sample, and limited family background information. Future research should further explore the effect of incorporating art on parents' self-efficacy and reading beliefs.

  • PARADIGMS FOR FREEDOM: HALE WOODRUFF, THE NEW NEGRO AGENDA AND LANDSCAPE

    Author:
    LeRonn Brooks
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Art History
    Advisor:
    Katherine Manthorne
    Abstract:

    During the 1920s and 1930s, the painter Hale Woodruff practiced New Negro portraiture and landscape painter. Would he be a "race man" or an individualist that followed his interest in modern landscape, and not a racial art? This dissertation follows Woodruff's career (from 1900 to 1940) as he negotiated the influence of his early mentors (Alain Locke and W.E.B. Du Bois) in his search for an authentic identity.

  • Paradigms for Freedom: Hale Woodruff, The New Negro Agenda and Landscape

    Author:
    LeRonn Brooks
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Art History
    Advisor:
    Katherine Manthorne
    Abstract:

    The painter Hale Woodruff was the product of New Negro communities in Nashville, Tennessee, and Indianapolis, Indiana. During the 1920s and 1930s, the artist created portraits of New Negro architypes. After visiting France (1927-1927), the artist took a serious interest in painting modernist landscapes. This dissertation examines the artist's navigation of the New Negro ideals of his early mentors (Alain Locke, W.E.B. Du Bois and Walter White) and his painterly interest in landscape and non-figuration as well as his tenure at Atlana University.

  • Financial Reporting Differences and Debt Contracting

    Author:
    Anna Brown
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Business
    Advisor:
    Donal Byard
    Abstract:

    I examine the relationship between contracting parties' familiarity with one another's accounting information and the terms and structure of debt contracts. I use the differences in generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) among contracting parties domiciled in different countries as a proxy for how familiar a lending bank will be with a borrower's accounting information. I find that a larger difference between the GAAP of the lender and the GAAP of the borrower is associated with a higher credit spread and higher fees. I also find that a larger difference between the GAAP of the lender and the GAAP of the borrower is associated with a more concentrated loan syndicate, suggesting a closer monitoring relationship between the borrower and the lender. Finally, I find that when there is a larger difference between the GAAP of the lender and the GAAP of the borrower, banks rely less on financial covenants as a contracting tool. Moreover, banks tend to alter the types of covenants they write, relying more on capital-based financial covenants and less on earnings-based covenants. My results are consistent with banks experiencing information problems when contracting with parties whose accounting information they find to be unfamiliar. These results provide new evidence on the importance of financial reporting for debt contracting.