Alumni Dissertations and Theses

 
 

Alumni Dissertations and Theses

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  • MOLECULAR PHYLOGENETICS OF OTOPHYSAN FISHES: AFRICAN ALESTIDS (CHARACIFORMES: ALESTIDAE) AND CITHARINOIDS (CHARACIFORMES: CITHARINOIDEI), AFRO-ASIAN CHEDRINS (CYPRINIFORMES: CHEDRINI), AND NEOTROPICAL LORICARIINS (SILURIFORMES: LORICARIINAE) AS CASE STUDIES

    Author:
    Jairo Arroyave Gutiérrez
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Biology
    Advisor:
    Scott Schaefer
    Abstract:

    Otophysan fishes (Ostariophysi: Otophysi) are members of a morphologically and ecologically diverse clade of teleosts that includes most freshwater species of fish, and comprises four major lineages classified in the orders Cypriniformes, Characiformes, Siluriformes, and Gymnotiformes, respectively. Partly because of their tremendous diversity, many groups of otophysan fishes remain poorly understood phylogenetically and in a state of taxonomic disarray. This is the case--to a greater or lesser extent--of African characiforms of the suborder Citharinoidei and the family Alestidae, Afro-Asian cypriniforms of the tribe Chedrini, and Neotropical siluriforms of the subfamily Loricariinae. To address the lack of robust, comprehensive, and/or up-to-date phylogenetic hypotheses for the aforementioned groups, this doctoral dissertation investigated their systematics and evolution through phylogenetic analyses of comparative DNA sequence data, including molecular-clock analyses that resulted in the first time-calibrated phylogenies ever proposed for both alestids and citharinoids (and characiforms for that matter). The molecular phylogenies arrived at herein represent the most comprehensive hypotheses of relationships for each of the groups investigated. Although many of the relationships revealed by this study corroborated previous hypotheses based on morphological and/or molecular data, others are newly hypothesized or in conflict. Moreover, the results of this research revealed instances of para- and polyphyly in numerous nominal taxa (e.g., Brycinus [Alestidae], Nannocharax [Distichodontidae], Raiamas [Chedrini], Lamontichthys [Loricariinae]), prompting a reassessment of the taxonomies of the groups investigated. Information on the temporal context of alestid and citharinoid diversification was used to assess biogeographic hypotheses proposed to explain the Gondwanan distribution of characiforms. Likewise, the inferred chronograms shed some critical light on the historical processes that may have influenced diversification and biogeographic patterns in these and other groups of African freshwater fishes.

  • Geometric Interpretation of the Two Dimensional Poisson Kernel And Its Applications.

    Author:
    Sergei Artamoshin
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Mathematics
    Advisor:
    Jozef Dodziuk
    Abstract:

    Hermann Schwarz, while studying complex analysis, introduced the geometric interpretation for the Poisson kernel in 1890. We shall see here that the geometric interpretation can be useful to develop a new approach to some old classical problems as well as to obtain several new results, mostly related to hyperbolic geometry. For example, we obtain One Radius Theorem saying that any two radial eigenfunctions of a Hyperbolic Laplacian assuming the value 1 at the origin can not assume any other common value within some interval [0, p], where the length of this interval depends only on the location of the eigenvalues on the complex plane and does not depend on the distance between them.

  • Soviet Marxism Reconsidered: Dialectical Method in the Thought of Lev Vygotsky

    Author:
    Arto Artinian
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Jack Jacobs
    Abstract:

    While intellectual engagement with the legacy of the Soviet experiment continues, objective and critical engagement with Soviet Marxist theory remains a barely-studied and marginal area of political theory. A commonly-held view suggests that little of political theoretical substance has been produced in the Soviet Union after the death of Lenin. Marxist theory in this context is often portrayed as dogmatic pseudo-Marxism, burdened by the heavy hand of Stalinist authoritarianism and handicapped by the execution and prosecution of creative Marxists living in the USSR. I will argue that this is an incomplete and distorted picture of Soviet Marxism. I propose that the work of Lev Vygotsky forms an alternative and highly original tradition of Soviet Marxist dialectics. As a thinker writing in the immediate aftermath of the October Revolution, his work is an attempt to apply Marxist dialectical method to the unique challenges of post-1917 Soviet society. Whereas most students of Vygotsky focus on his fundamental contributions to psychology, I argue that Vygotsky's work on dialectical method represents an original and significant contribution to Marxist dialectics, in both continuing the work of Gyorgy Lukacs and anticipating contemporary theories developed by Bertell Ollman and Roy Bhaskar. I will conclude by briefly engaging with Gilles Deleuze's "Difference and Repetition", which I want to argue can be read as a work of Marxist dialectics, struggling to make sense of the crisis of 1968 in France. Contrary to readings of this work as "moving away from Hegel and Marx and toward Nietzsche and Freud" (as stated on the back cover of 1994 English translation) I will argue that Deleuze was in fact moving beyond, but not outside Marx.

  • Assessing Emergent Bilinguals: Teacher Knowledge and Reading Instructional Practices

    Author:
    Laura Ascenzi-Moreno
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Ofelia Garcia
    Abstract:

    Assessments are viewed as primary vehicles for improving the educational outcomes of all students since they can lay the foundation for effective teaching practices. However, assessment can only achieve this effect of supporting student learning if the knowledge that teachers gain from using them is put into direct use in classrooms. This process of administering assessments, analyzing them, learning from the results, and subsequently tailoring instruction based on what has been learned about students is referred to as the assessment-instructional cycle. The assessment-instructional cycle is critical for all students. Yet, assessments of emergent bilingual students, in this case those students who are becoming bilingual by developing English language and literacy (often referred to as English Language Learners or Limited English Proficient students), most often do not accurately capture these students' knowledge. The problem lies in that for these students, assessments in English measure content knowledge as well as language (Abedi, 2009; García 2009). This obscures teachers' understanding of what these students know and may steer the assessment-instructional cycle off course. Using interviews and surveys, this mixed-methods study focuses on how teachers of emergent bilinguals view and use summative and formative assessment. The study also attempts to ascertain the kinds of knowledge that these teachers gain from the use of assessments, as well as the consequences that acquired knowledge has on their practices to teach reading. In the climate of test-based accountability, teachers are caught in a cycle of ritualized assessment practices. Ritualized assessment practices direct teachers to sort and group students under the guise of "analysis," and do not engage teachers in a solid examination of bilingual students' reading development. Ritualized assessment practices ultimately do not yield teacher knowledge that is meaningful to instruction. Furthermore, these ritualized practices change the character and use of these assessments - summative assessments are used formatively and formative assessments become summative. This study provides evidence that both summative and formative assessments are missed opportunities for teacher learning and do not fulfill the potential of providing teachers with a solid knowledge base of their bilingual students' reading development so as to meaningfully direct instructional practices.

  • Cerebrospinal Fluid Biomarkers for the Differential Diagnosis of Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus and Alzheimers Disease

    Author:
    Stephanie Assuras
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Lisa Ravdin
    Abstract:

    Differential diagnosis of Idiopathic Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH) is complicated by symptomatic overlap with neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimers Disease (AD). Efforts to improve diagnosis through the use of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers have led to the identification of more than a dozen potential diagnostic markers for NPH. However, no single biomarker has proven sufficient for differential diagnosis in clinical practice. The current study uses proteomic analysis of CSF to identify sets of protein markers that are expressed differentially in NPH and AD. Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis was used to analyze the CSF of 8 probable NPH and 8 probable AD patients. Gels were stained with SYPRO Ruby and the percentage volume of over 1339 spots was determined. The Random Forest statistical method was used to identify proteins that optimally segregated NPH cases from AD. Protein identification was achieved by the use of a previously published CSF map and mass spectrometry. Eleven protein spots were found to optimally distinguish the groups, correctly classifying 100% of all NPH and AD samples. Of the 11 proteins of interest, six were identified and include the following: beta-trace, serum albumin A, serum albumin B, apolipoprotein A-IV precursor, pigment epithelium-derived factor, and complement component 3 precursor. The current study identifies CSF biomarkers that differentiate between NPH and AD cases. The highly successful separation of cases obtained in this study suggests that multiplexed CSF markers have the potential to improve the differential diagnosis of NPH from one of its most common competing diagnoses.

  • MENTORING IN THE LAW ENFORCEMENT CONTEXT: A CASE STUDY OF THE TURKISH NATIONAL POLICE

    Author:
    Selcuk Atak
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Maria Haberfeld
    Abstract:

    The TNP has undergone many changes as a result of Turkey's decision to seek European Union (EU) membership. One ramification of these changes is the TNP codification and implementation of formal mentoring relationships to increase the effectiveness of mentoring relationship. Based on a survey of 400 high ranking officers from the Turkish National Police (TNP), this study examines the effects of mentoring relationships on job satisfaction and organizational commitment. The findings indicate that an effective mentoring relationship has a positive effect on job satisfaction and organizational commitment.

  • DIASPORA AS DEVELOPMENT ACTORS: A SOURCE OF HUMAN AND SOCIAL CAPITAL FOR LOCAL DEVELOPMENT IN TURKEY

    Author:
    Meryem Ataselim
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    Irving Markovitz
    Abstract:

    This dissertation provides an analysis of Turkish-American diaspora philanthropy - done through social and human capital transfers - and its role in impacting local development in Turkey. The study offers the consideration of a new kind of diaspora philanthropy, namely innovative philanthropy, which channels ideas, skills and experiences that have the potential to impact social change in local communities through social and human capital transfers. The dissertation presents and analyzes two cases that have been supported by the Turkish-American diaspora. Case studies show that even though diaspora philanthropy towards Turkey is still relatively new and small in financial terms, there are members of the diaspora who make a difference in their local communities beyond what any other international actor can develop. Study highlights the impact of these diaspora members, whose philanthropic contributions are a combination of motivation, and persistence; and uses the term "diaspora champions" to define them. These diaspora champions connect back home not just by sending money but sharing the experiences and skills they gained in the United States and tapping into their personalized networks. The study depicts the social process of these philanthropic transfers with a particular emphasis on the roles of social and human capital transfers. The study finds that diaspora champions have been instrumental in 1) the emergence of local civic leaders; 2) the launch and initiation of local social initiatives; and 3) the expansion of these social initiatives beyond local regions. Accordingly, this research suggests that philanthropy done by diaspora champions through social and human capital has an important role to play in creating a new paradigm for local development, as it offers some powerful insights.

  • Postmodern Metafiction Revisited

    Author:
    Lissi Athanasiou Krikelis
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Comparative Literature
    Advisor:
    Mary Caws
    Abstract:

    By its ostensible definition, metafiction is fiction that dramatizes its own construction, proffering constant reminders of its artificiality. The term "metafiction," however, is hardly transparent. "Metafiction" is in danger of having an array of definitions, and, because it is believed to be equated with postmodern fiction, it is often associated with the literature of the eighties and therefore appears outdated. Through an examination of various novels mainly from the twentieth century and literature of the West, this dissertation unifies the multiple definitions that have been assigned to the term and provides a typology that facilitates the identification of the metafictional novel. In addition, this dissertation revisits certain assumptions that have clung to the term arbitrarily, namely that metafiction is ahistorical and apolitical because it is self-referential. Beginning with a theoretical approach that views metafiction as a postmodern phenomenon borrowing from structural and post-structural thought, this study comparatively explores metafiction's most recent manifestations and concludes by questioning metafiction's affinity to postmodernism. Moreover, this study identifies and explores two new examples of metafiction, the metaautobiographical novel and the post-millenium metafictional novel. The metaautobiographical novel is a hybrid genre, where a fictional author-character reconstructs their biographical record through the act of writing fiction. For a metaautobiographical protagonist, fiction cannot define the self nor write the past, but is bound to reinvent both, thus turning itself into a what-if version of the protagonist's reality. In the wake of conversations that explore the potential death of postmodernity, post-millennium (or post-technological) metafiction can be contrasted to postmodern metafiction. It deviates from postmodern practices by responding to technology and by combining its astute fictionality with the dramatic realization that fictionality and reality converge in the realm of fiction. Whereas postmodern metafiction projects that the world may be a fictional construction, post-millenium metafiction proclaims that even highly self-reflexive texts share a profound relation with the world, influencing and affecting what lies beyond them.

  • Essays On The Information Flow From Option Markets To Stock Markets

    Author:
    Yigit Atilgan
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Business
    Advisor:
    Turan Bali
    Abstract:

    Informed traders might prefer the option markets over stock markets due to advantages offered by option trading such as reduced transaction costs, enhanced opportunities for taking short positions and higher leverage. The first chapter of this dissertation provides a brief review of the empirical and theoretical literatures related to this question. The second chapter investigates the intertemporal relation between volatility spreads and expected market returns. If informed traders who prefer to trade in the option markets demand more put (call) options before negative (positive) price movements due to their private information, then one would expect to see a significantly negative intertemporal relation between put minus call implied volatility spreads and aggregate returns. The results indicate that volatility spreads are significantly and negatively related to expected market returns after controlling for conditional variance and macroeconomic variables that proxy for the changes in future investment opportunities. Since the volatility spreads may also proxy for skewness, direct physical and risk-neutral skewness measures are constructed and the results indicate that there is no significant relation between various measures of skewness and expected market returns. The predictive ability of volatility spreads is stronger when consumer sentiment index is unusually high or low. The third chapter brings a more thorough look into the predictive ability of deviations from put-call parity on stock returns. If the trading activity of informed investors is an important driver of deviations from put-call parity, then the predictability of stock returns should be more pronounced during major information events such as earnings announcements. These deviations are measured by the implied volatility spreads between pairs of matched put and call options. During a two-day earnings announcement window, the abnormal returns to a portfolio that buys stocks with relatively expensive call options is about 2 percent greater than the abnormal returns to a portfolio that buys stocks with relatively expensive put options. The informational role of option markets is further supported by the findings that the degree of announcement return predictability is stronger when deviations from put-call parity are measured using more liquid options, information environment is more asymmetric and stock liquidity is low.

  • Public Market to La Marqueta: Shaping Spaces and Subjects of Food Distribution in New York City, 1930-2012

    Author:
    Anne Babette Audant
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Earth & Environmental Sciences
    Advisor:
    Setha Low
    Abstract:

    From Public Market to La Marqueta: Shaping Spaces and Subjects of Food Distribution in New York City, 1930 to 2012 by Anne Babette Audant Advisor: Setha M. Low Public markets are definitive parts of the urban landscape. Policies shaping municipal food provisioning, including public markets, produce and reproduce differentiated subjects and unevenly developed spaces. Social science has not paid sustained attention to public food markets; this research contributes to a fragmented and multi-perspective body of work that demonstrates the many ways in which markets intersect with urban processes. I look at the geographic distribution of food in and through New York City's public markets from 1930 to the present by mapping intersections of politics, citizens, consumers, social class, gender, ethnicity, race, government, capital, and the retailing landscape. Tracing these processes over more than a century, this study demonstrates that food distribution is a dynamic and highly contested aspect of urban life, underscoring a deep if sometimes under-articulated recognition of the work done by the flow of food through city streets. Focused on New York City's public markets, particularly the enclosed retail markets built in the late 1930s and early 1940s to contain New York City's pushcarts and street peddlers, this study explores how the immigrant working classes became the objects of municipal food policy. Food habits became a means through which to Americanize - and civilize - the masses. Along with their bodies, their food landscapes became the targets of state intervention. Working class neighborhoods were - and are - vulnerable to state interventions that too often further alienate already disempowered populations. Food policy has the potential to advance social justice. In New York City, we are witnessing the emergence of a new municipal food policy, which, if implemented, will be the first comprehensive policy to be proposed since the Progressive Era. Aimed at reducing inequities and improving public health, and integrated with broad goals of environmental and economic sustainability, the proposals on the table point in promising directions.