Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

Filter Dissertations By:

 
 
  • ACCESS TO URBAN FOOD OUTLETS AS A PREDICTOR OF DIABETES

    Author:
    Philippe Amstislavski
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Earth & Environmental Sciences
    Advisor:
    Juliana Maantay
    Abstract:

    Background and problem statement:There is an unprecedented rise in diabetes in urban populations worldwide. A relationship between spatial concentration of other metabolic diseases and poor access to healthy foods in some underserved urban neighborhoods have been reported. Concurrently, a relationship between increased risk of developing diabetes and consumption of unhealthy foods and has been shown to exist. Neighborhood food contexts hypothesized to lead to developing diabetes need to be studied. Study goals:: The main hypothesis of this study is that the degree of access to food outlets near residences influences the outcome of diabetes. Covariates include individual-level variables of age and gender of the subjects, and neighborhood-level variables of educational attainment, percent of residents in poverty, of housing units without vehicles, and of female-headed households with children. Methods:Address, demographic, and health data extracted from medical records of black visitors to hospital emergency department were linked to geo-referenced socio-economic and food outlet data for the visitors' Census Tract (CT) of residence. Hierarchical linear modeling was used to consider the effect of variation in food and socio-economic environments on diabetes among the subjects. A cross-sectional study was designed and a multilevel logistic regression analysis was performed. Results: Spatial access to food outlets was not a significant predictor of diabetes in this study. However, subjects living in the socio-economically deprived neighborhoods had a higher probability of having diabetes. For every unit decrease in the neighborhood's socio-economic index constructed from the census variables, the subjects were 7 percent more likely to have diabetes (CI 1.03-1.12, p-value 0.0024). Female gender and older age were strongly associated with odds of having diabetes. Conclusions: Socio-economic context of neighborhood was shown to affect probability of having diabetes, while local food outlet access did not. The results indicate that there may be a critical difference between economic and spatial access to foods and the actual choices individuals make about their diets. These choices may be driven by individual cultural and social preferences. More research is needed to study these individual biosocial factors and to analyze how they affect diet and diabetes outcome.

  • Neuromodulatory and cytoprotective roles of zinc in the vertebrate retina

    Author:
    Ivan Anastassov
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Biology
    Advisor:
    Richard Chappell
    Abstract:

    There is increasing evidence that the role of Zn2+ in the central nervous system is more complex and widespread than originally thought. Chelatable Zn2+ is co-localized with glutamate in the terminals of mossy fiber hippocampal and first order retinal neurons. The co-release of Zn2+ with glutamate in a stimulation-dependent manner has been shown in the hippocampus and the distal retina, while the electrophysiological effects of photoreceptor-released Zn2+ suggest a neuromodulatory role at the first visual synapse. This dissertation examines the neuromodulatory and cytoprotective roles of zinc in the vertebrate retina. When endogenous Zn2+ release is chelated in a skate eyecup preparation, the photoreceptor-generated a-wave of the electroretinogram doubles. This treatment also depolarizes horizontal cells and enhances their light response, suggesting that in the absence of Zn2+ , tonic release of glutamate from photoreceptors onto postsynaptic neurons is increased. Live cell imaging demonstrates that Zn2+ is released from photoreceptor terminals following Ca2+ entry through synaptic voltage-gated calcium channels. In isolated photoreceptors from salamander, chelation of extracellular Zn2+ significantly increases Ca2+ entry at the terminal and this effect is abolished when voltage-gated calcium channels are blocked pharmacologically. In the skate, removal of retinal Zn2+ via intraocular injections of chelators severely damages the inner retina. In the absence of Zn2+ , the retina develops classic signs of glutamate excitotoxicity; cell and tissue swelling, pyknosis and spongy appearance of the inner plexiform layer. Similar tissue characteristics are observed with injections of kainate, a well-known and potent excitotoxic agent. Additionally, neurons in the ganglion cell layer become necrotic with either kainate or chelator treatments, suggesting they are particularly sensitive to overactivation of glutamate receptors. Taken together, these experiments show the importance of Zn2+ as a neuromodulatory agent at the first visual synapse, where control of glutamate release affects the transmission of the visual message and provides broad protection of the retina from excitotoxicity. Understanding the role of Zn2+ in the retina may provide novel insights into retinal diseases and contribute to our growing knowledge of zinc's important functions elsewhere in the CNS.

  • Object Relations, Internal Resources, and HIV/AIDS Risk: A Rorschach Study

    Author:
    Virginia Andersen
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Arietta Slade
    Abstract:

    Abstract The purpose of this study was to explore the quality of Rorschach scores of a population who self-reported sexual risk-taking behaviors that place them at increased risk for contracting HIV. It was hypothesized that this group would produce scores indicative of fewer internal resources available for impulse inhibition, specifically capacity for affect regulation and stress tolerance. It was further predicted that a measure of object relations would indicate that study participants would generally experience interpersonal interactions as imbalanced and possibly threatening. This group produced significantly lower scores with regard to affect regulation, but did not differ from the normed, non-clinical sample with regard to stress tolerance. Further, study participants produced scores in the healthy range on the measure of object relational development. The potential theoretical and clinical implications of this finding are discussed.

  • The Problem of Malawi in Western Discourse: Power, Patronage, and the Politics of Pity

    Author:
    Norma Anderson
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    Barbara Katz Rothman
    Abstract:

    While recent sociological work on African social problems tends to focus on particular areas such as HIV/AIDS, this dissertation considers relationships and links between diverse social issues to argue that western-defined African social problems are not only disconnected from what Africans themselves see as their major needs but are also rooted in an historical pattern of power and inequality. Using Malawi as a case study I compare discourse about four diverse social problems--slavery, HIV/AIDS, climate change, and homosexuality. I demonstrate how these vastly different issues are related: each is framed and funded by foreigners and each is depoliticized, often blaming Africans themselves for various negative outcomes of global inequality. But despite the blame, these social problems are presented to the western public through a frame of pity that underscores the need for immediate western intervention. Since the mid-1800s Malawi has experienced numerous and distinct cycles of western "help," interest, and involvement but each individual issue revolves around a central troublesome notion--that Malawi and Malawians are flawed and in need of western guidance and assistance to (re)achieve a more ideal state. In this way, even the most "well-meaning" attempts to address legitimate health and social problems further long-standing stereotypes of African helplessness and western superiority. Engaging theories of stratification, development, and realist constructionism, and relying on interviews, ethnography, and survey data, I interweave historical and contemporary western discourse about Malawi to analyze shifting and competing conceptions of what is wrong with the country as well as how these understandings have influenced western interventions. By contrasting western understandings and images of Malawi with Malawians' views of the same problems, this dissertation not only builds on stratification and development theories but also investigates practical reasons why western policy interventions have so often failed to create sustainable change.

  • West Side Stories: Everyday Life and the social space of West Forty-Sixth Street

    Author:
    Christian Anderson
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Earth & Environmental Sciences
    Advisor:
    Cindi Katz
    Abstract:

    This is an ethnographic study of macro-structural change from the vantage point of everyday life on a few blocks of a single street in the Hell's Kitchen/Clinton neighborhood of New York City. The study tells stories from daily life on several blocks of West Forty-Sixth Street between Eighth Avenue and the Hudson River as documented over three years of close observation. These stories show how the actions of some residents serve to lubricate outcomes like privatization, rising housing costs, discriminatory policing, displacement, and eviction. These outcomes then negatively affect others who have less power--particularly undocumented migrants, the elderly, the poor, and people of color. This finding is complicated by the fact that people here are not acting malevolently, but more often than not out of well-intentioned common sense ideas about community, quality of life, and progress. What this means, I contend, is that processes like gentrification, neoliberalization, and inequitable urban development are not simply imposed from outside by macro forces such as real estate capital or top-down urban policy. I argue that these processes are also deeply contingent on everyday life--on the daily actions, ideas, and subjectivities of ordinary people in places such as West Forty-Sixth--which act as a kind of social infrastructure. This situation presents a mash-up of spatial, political, and structural questions about hegemony and power that span the intimate and the global in scope while complicating existing understandings of urban space and everyday life.

  • For Love and for Justice: Narratives of Lesbian Activism

    Author:
    Kelly Anderson
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Blanche Cook
    Abstract:

    This dissertation explores the role of lesbians in the U.S. second wave feminist movement, arguing that the history of women's liberation is more diverse, more intersectional, and more radical than previously documented. The body of this work is five oral histories conducted with lifelong activists and public intellectuals for the Voices of Feminism project at the Sophia Smith Collection: Katherine Acey, former Executive Director of the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice; Dorothy Allison, author and sex radical; Suzanne Pharr, southern anti-racist organizer and author; Achebe Powell, activist and diversity trainer; and Carmen Vázquez, LGBT activist and founding director of the San Francisco Women's Building. Taken together, their stories dovetail into a new narrative about the relationship between lesbians, feminism, and queer liberation, from the late 60's to the present. In addition to the edited transcripts, this dissertation includes a new chronology of gender and sexual liberation, demonstrating the interconnectedness of late 20th century social change movements, and a chapter on oral history methodology. This work adds to our collective knowledge about lesbian lives by sharing five important life narratives, contributes to a re-imagination of the vast and intersectional scope of second wave feminism and sexual liberation, and attempts to disrupt conventional methods of documenting and sharing history by privileging oral narratives.

  • "Double Consciousness" and "Dual-Voice": Ambivalence and Free Indirect Style in Novels and Films

    Author:
    Leah Anderst
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Comparative Literature
    Advisor:
    Andre Aciman
    Abstract:

    This project compares and analyzes five novels and three films: Jane Austen's Emma, Gustave Flaubert's Sentimental Education and Henry James' The Portrait of a Lady, The Ambassadors and The Golden Bowl, Alain Resnais' Hiroshima mon amour, Tomás Gutiérrez Alea's Memories of Underdevelopment and Eric Rohmer's My Night at Maud's. This dissertation describes a link between the uses of free indirect style, a "dual-voiced" narrative mode that combines two distinct perspectives into one instance of discourse: that of a narrator and that of a character, and psychological ambivalence, the back and forth wavering of a fictional character. This dissertation focuses on novels and narrative fiction films that center on one character, and it shows the ways in which these works call attention to a character's ambivalence and hesitations while relying on free indirect style, a formally ambivalent narrative mode, to expose and, at times, to create ambivalence in the mind of the reader or viewer. As an interdisciplinary project, this dissertation locates free indirect style in prose and cinematic narration, and it also explores the implications of analyzing a traditionally linguistic and literary mode within cinema.

  • "Double Consciousness" and "Dual-Voice": Ambivalence and Free Indirect Style in Novels and Films

    Author:
    Leah Anderst
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Comparative Literature
    Advisor:
    Andre Aciman
    Abstract:

    This project compares and analyzes five novels and three films: Jane Austen's Emma, Gustave Flaubert's Sentimental Education and Henry James' The Portrait of a Lady, The Ambassadors and The Golden Bowl, Alain Resnais' Hiroshima mon amour, Tomás Gutiérrez Alea's Memories of Underdevelopment and Eric Rohmer's My Night at Maud's. This dissertation describes a link between the uses of free indirect style, a "dual-voiced" narrative mode that combines two distinct perspectives into one instance of discourse: that of a narrator and that of a character, and psychological ambivalence, the back and forth wavering of a fictional character. This dissertation focuses on novels and narrative fiction films that center on one character, and it shows the ways in which these works call attention to a character's ambivalence and hesitations while relying on free indirect style, a formally ambivalent narrative mode, to expose and, at times, to create ambivalence in the mind of the reader or viewer. As an interdisciplinary project, this dissertation locates free indirect style in prose and cinematic narration, and it also explores the implications of analyzing a traditionally linguistic and literary mode within cinema.

  • Economic Episodes: Crisis and the Affective Politics of Everyday Life

    Author:
    John Andrews
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    Patricia Clough
    Abstract:

    This dissertation advances critical scholarship around the performative character of "the economy" in the wake of neoliberalism. I argue that public moods - what Paolo Virno calls the emotional situation - have become fundamental to how "the economy" is understood and represented by economists, politicians, pundits, and everyday people alike. Moreover, the emotional situation affects how the economy is experienced - both psychically and culturally. I examine four economic moments in the last 40 years - stagflation, Reaganomics, dotcom bubbles, and most recently mass home foreclosures - alongside the respective moods attendant to them - depression, burn-out, euphoria, and rage. A goal of my dissertation is to demonstrate how depression, burn-out, euphoria, and rage shape understandings and ideologies of what is economic or non-economic at different points in history since the 1970s. I argue that the barring of feelings and mood from the strictly economic has become a key mode of governance in the United States, even as "the economy" increasingly becomes the object of public concern and attention. Thus my dissertation takes to task how "the economy" functions as a kind of genre with reverberations in policy-making, mental disorders, social protest, to name a few.

  • A SPIRIT OF THE EARTH: VITALISM IN NINETEENTH-CENTURY LITERATURE

    Author:
    Anastassiya Andrianova
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Comparative Literature
    Advisor:
    Felicia Bonaparte
    Abstract:

    A Spirit of the Earth: Vitalism in Nineteenth-Century Literature studies a movement that began in reaction to Mechanism, the view that all natural phenomena, including life, could be explained by observable physical causes. Due to its emphasis on material causation, Mechanism is interchangeable with empiricism, which holds that knowledge is based on experience and regular observation, and, by extension, with the Positivist application of the scientific method outside the natural world. Unlike the Mechanists, Vitalist scientists insisted that there was more to life than physico-chemical processes; life demanded a special cause: what Henri Bergson called the élan vital and Bernard Shaw--"the Life Force." What started in science acquired much broader philosophical ramifications. Vitalism became the sole source of hope for writers, philosophers, and artists committed to deeper questions of being who found it morally objectionable to turn to empiricism and mechanistic science for answers. Mechanism was objectionable on several counts. It emphasized the external over the internal, and framed our connection to the world as that of a subject observing a dead nature. Second, it denied human and artistic freedom, reducing agency to reflex action. Third, it denied existence any higher purpose: Charles Darwin, in Samuel Butler's famous accusation, banished Mind from the universe and replaced it with random selection, thereby raising ethical and existential questions. The nineteenth-century authors examined in this dissertation (George Meredith, Leo Tolstoy, Butler, and Shaw) did not reject science altogether and were drawn to contemporary evolutionary theories; seeing nature as a living being, they reinvented science and gave evolution a purpose, claiming that we could reconnect with nature through instinct, not reason, and becoming part of this organism, come to know it as well as ourselves. As a philosophy, Vitalism allowed them to expose everything unnatural: from abstract theories to outdated social institutions; as an aesthetic, it gave them an imagistic language to embody what Walter Pater called the "spirit of the Earth" in women, children, and child-like individuals. Each chapter reflects a separate area of Vitalist critique: the philosophy of science; poetry; the spiritual quest; Victorian education; and social evolution.