Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • "There" is Home: A Case Study of the Colored Orphan Asylum in New York City

    Author:
    Melba Butler
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Gerald Mallon
    Abstract:

    The General Report to the White House Conference on Child Health and Protection in 1933 stated that as a rule "public and private agencies for dependent children have not concerned themselves with the special problems of the Negro, Mexican, Puerto Rican and Indian...Differences in culture, tradition, language and other factors of race and nationality call for a special body of knowledge and specialized methods of meeting those needs that are common to all. Failure to understand this has resulted in the neglect of certain groups, and lack of the needed specialized care" (Folks & Murphy, 1933, 17). More than 75 years later, findings indicate that youth exciting foster care are still fairing poorly despite varied policy and practice initiatives; Black youth, who are disproportionately represented out of home placement, have poorer outcomes than other populations (Hilliard, 2011; Hook & Courtney, 2011; Naccarato, Megan & Courtney, 2010; Osgood, Foster & Courtney, 2010; Center for Urban Futures, 2011). This inquiry seeks to broaden the discourse about best practices for Black children through case study of the Riverdale Colored Orphan Asylum in NYC, (COA), an historical institution founded specifically to serve Black children. Through oral and written narrative it unearths the experiences of COA just prior to the dissolution of its institutional care program. Findings suggest further study of the role of congregate care that might lead to improved outcomes for targeted populations of youth. The study also identifies how positive outcomes for children in care were impacted by reciprocity between COA and its targeted Black community.

  • PRIVACY-PRESERVING QUERY PROCESSING ON TEXT DOCUMENTS

    Author:
    Sahin Buyrukbilen
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Computer Science
    Advisor:
    Spiridon Bakiras
    Abstract:

    Privacy-preserving query processing is an essential component for data processing, especially in outsourced databases, or in data operations which have special security and privacy requirements such as sharing of sensitive data. While cloud computing and data outsourcing attract an increasing number of customers, the security and privacy of sensitive data still remains an open problem. Encryption secures the data against unauthorized access, but it does not provide the ability to query the data unless the encryption scheme is searchable. Searchable encryption can be either private or public key depending on the needs of the user. In general, private-key solutions are faster but suffer from a key management problem. On the other hand, public-key solutions provide more flexibility but their running times are much higher than private-key protocols. Furthermore, parties may sometimes be forced to share data in order to comply with regulations or agreements. For example, different health care companies or intelligence agencies may need to find whether they have similar records in their databases without compromising privacy. Consequently, privacy-preserving similarity search between text documents is an emerging field as sensitive data sharing becomes inevitable. In this dissertation we present two privacy-preserving text processing protocols: (i) a ranked keyword search mechanism over outsourced public-key encrypted data and (ii) a similar document detection system. We introduce efficient algorithms for answering these query types and illustrate their feasibility in real-life applications.

  • THE EFFECTS OF PERSONALITY DISORDER TRAITS ON INDIVIDUAL THERAPY OUTCOMES IN INDIVIDUALS AT CLINICAL HIGH RISK FOR SCHIZOPHRENIA

    Author:
    Kathryn Byars
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Michele Galietta
    Abstract:

    Despite a high prevalence of comorbid personality disorder traits in those considered to be high risk (or prodromal) for schizophrenia (Woods et al., 2009), and the known negative effects of personality disorders on treatment in schizophrenia (e.g., Tyrer et al., 2000), little is known regarding the effect of personality disorder traits on the treatment of prodromal individuals. Using a ten-year sample from the Recognition and Prevention (RAP) Program at Zucker Hillside Hospital in New York, this dissertation used retrospective, naturalistic methods to investigate personality disorder traits and the ways in which these traits affected both the assessment and the treatment of prodromal symptoms. Results did not support that personality disorder traits moderated treatment outcomes, but did support that particular treatment techniques were used more often with certain personality traits (e.g., borderline personality disorder) or symptom severities. In addition, it was found that, overall, particular treatment techniques were associated with reductions in negative symptoms, but not with positive symptom or global functioning changes. Results also indicated that aspects of the suspiciousness and hallucinations scales from the Structured Interview for Prodromal Syndromes (SIPS) were associated with personality traits and not predictive of transition to psychosis. These results suggest that treatment planning could use symptom presentation on intake to determine the most effective treatment techniques. Further research is required to further the diagnostic and predictive ability of assessment measures, including the important determination of whether currently considered prodromal symptoms may be better accounted for by personality traits.

  • Making Music in Latino Charlotte: Politics and Community Formation in a Globalizing City

    Author:
    Samuel Byrd
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Anthropology
    Advisor:
    Ida Susser
    Abstract:

    "Making Music in Latino Charlotte: Politics and Community Formation in a Globalizing City" examines how Latina/o immigrant musicians and their audiences form local communities centered around music-making that link to hemispheric social networks and operate within the context of global flows of capital, labor, and cultural practices. Drawing on ethnographic data collected from 2008-2011, I place musical communities in the context of Charlotte's political economy and document how musicians and audiences create musical community. Residential segregation, class divisions, and tensions around race and ethnicity divide Charlotte's Latin music scene into three districts that loosely correspond to genre categories of regional mexicano, música tropical, and Latin rock. Musical genre distinguishes between different social groups within the Latino population, marking class, ethnic, linguistic, and status difference, but also facilitating collaboration between groups with common experiences. Working musicians labor in the vulnerable context of immigration crackdowns, low-paying, contingent jobs, and varied class-based views on training and professionalism. The study analyzes how musicians engage with politics in their music and personal lives, revealing a relative lack of overt political activism among working musicians, because of their multiple vulnerabilities. Yet, musicians carefully consider political questions through storytelling and meta-discourse about music, and, through the everyday act of making music, recognize themselves as a group having agency. Latino cultural festivals reveal how community organizations market latinidad, drawing musicians and their labor practices into debates about cultural production and consumption. Local musicians draw on the agency they form through making music in Charlotte to engage with the uneven terrain of the global Latin music industry. I analyze what Charlotte`s Latin music scene means for a conceptualization of the city as a center of music-making, for Southern literature, and for the future of Latino music in the US South.

  • The Circulation of Blackface: Nostalgia and Tradition in US Minstrel Performance of the Early 1920s

    Author:
    Kevin Byrne
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Theatre
    Advisor:
    David Savran
    Abstract:

    The Circulation of Blackface: Nostalgia and Tradition in US Minstrel Performance of the Early 1920s by Kevin Byrne Adviser: David Savran Due to related issues of distribution and technology, the minstrel show was no longer a commercially viable form of professional entertainment in the second decade of the twentieth century. But the minstrel show did not disappear. Instead, it was absorbed into the technological mass-culture media that was either invented or reached new prominence during the era: national advertisements, promotional products, printed scripts, sheet music, audio recording, and film. This dissertation looks at the first years of the 1920s and analyzes the methods through which minstrelsy's elements were consumed by the US public, the individuals who circulated these conventions, and the racial hegemony of the time period. Some complicated questions arise when minstrelsy is mediatized. How are the show's conventions affected? And its message? What type of reification occurs under these conditions? In what way are there opportunities, particularly for minority performers, to challenge the racist hegemony when faced with such powerful, seductive, and lucrative performances? The chapters of this dissertation are a series of interlocked case studies that examine the pervasiveness of blackface and minstrel tropes in different levels and areas of US society. Chapter two examines how the legacy of Aunt Jemima helped shape the pancake mix advertising campaigns of the 1920s. Chapter three focuses on the mail-order amateur theatrical industry and the minstrel shows written specifically for non-professional performers. Chapter four contrasts three vaudeville circuits, their routes, and their business practices: Big Time white vaudeville; the Theatre Owners' Booking Association, a black circuit; and the Joe Bren Theatrical Company, which toured the country helping community groups stage minstrel shows. The final chapter analyzes the black musical comedies which performed on Broadway: Shuffle Along being the most famous and influential, but also lesser-known works such as Put and Take, How Come, and Chocolate Dandies. What this dissertation aims to prove is just how central blackface and minstrelsy still were to ideas of racial formation, how technology aided and changed these messages, and how adaptable these racist caricatures were to changing social conditions.

  • Property Enhancements of Dielectric Nanoparticles via Surface Functionalization

    Author:
    Andrew Byro
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Chemistry
    Advisor:
    Stephen O'Brien
    Abstract:

    This thesis describes the surface modification of barium strontium titanate nanoparticles for use in polymer/ceramic composite thin film capacitors with resultant improved dielectric and film-making properties. Phosphonic acid-type ligands proved to be most effective for surface conjugation to the surface of the barium strontium titanate nanoparticles. Amine-terminated ligands proved to be effective at removing surface adsorbed water before being almost entirely removed during the sample washing stage. Carboxylic acid terminated ligands proved to adhere less well to the nanoparticle than the phosphonic acid, but resulted in thin films with a higher dielectric constant, which was more stable in the measured frequency range than the phosphonic acid. This is seen via a systematic change in thin film variables, including ligand length, ligand reactive head, presence of polymer composite, and concentration of ligand. The nanoparticles were synthesized, ligands attached, then a series of thin film capacitors were fabricated to study the chang in dielectric properties. The results show a stabilized dielectric constant over a wide frequency range, a dramatically decreased loss, and better film-making properties. The new materials presented in this study are potentially useful as dielectrics for low-energy-density/low-loss capacitors.

  • Phantoms of Home Care and Victims of Designed Neglect: A Qualitative Study of Home Care Nurse and Social Worker Perceptions, Decisions, and Coping with Persons with Alzheimer's disease

    Author:
    William Cabin
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Irwin Epstein
    Abstract:

    Abstract PHANTOMS OF HOME CARE AND VICTIMS OF DESIGNED NEGLECT: A QUALITATIVE STUDY OF HOME CARE NURSE AND SOCIAL WORKER PERCEPTIONS, DECISIONS, AND COPING WITH PERSONS WITH ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE by William D. Cabin Adviser: Professor Irwin Epstein Alzheimer's disease is a major cause of illness and death in the United States, imposing significant social, economic, and psychological burdens on clients and their caregivers. Over 5 million, primarily older, Americans were estimated to have Alzheimer's disease in 2007, with most living at home, cared for by family members or friends (Alzheimer's Association, 2007a, 2007b). A literature review indicates that there are psychosocial, rather than medical, interventions which currently benefit the Alzheimer's population. Despite these findings, the Medicare home health benefit provides virtually no psychosocial care to this population. The literature review also indicates that there has been no research on how home care social workers and nurses perceive, cope with, and make decisions about this population and the consequent impact on their care needs. The dissertation addresses this research gap, interviewing thirty-three home care nurses and thirty-nine home care social workers. The overall finding is that the Medicare home health policy, as mediated by home health agencies, nurses, and social workers, significantly influences the care of persons with Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers. Both home care nurses and social workers assert the lack of coverage results in a system with many unmet client and caregiver needs, high costs, and limited quality. As a result, nurses characterized persons with Alzheimer's disease as "phantoms" while social workers characterized them as "victims of designed neglect". Overall social workers and nurses conformed to policy, with social workers more conformist than nurses. Both social workers and nurses agreed that the more conformist their practice, the more limited the care and greater the unmet client need. Nurses and social workers were virtually equal as innovators, seeking creative, legitimate means to provide greater care, and rebels, invoking illegitimate means to achieve their goals. These coping strategies validated, in part, pre-existing theory of Merton (1938, 1957). Home care nurses expressed greater job satisfaction, ability to effectively deliver care, and ability to use professional training than social workers. The dissertation recommends research, policy, practice, and advocacy actions to create more cost-effective Medicare home health coverage of the needs of persons with Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers.

  • Essays in Market Efficiency

    Author:
    Juan Cabrera
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Economics
    Advisor:
    Tao Wang
    Abstract:

    This dissertation investigates the market inefficiencies of both foreign exchange and equity markets. On the one hand, the efficiency of foreign exchange markets is explored through the measurement of the contribution to price discovery of the spot and futures market, and the its effect on intermarket mispricing. On the other hand, the efficiency of equity markets is tested by examining the martingale behavior of recently popular international stock index ETFs. The first chapter provides a comprehensive analysis of the dynamic intraday price discovery process of the Euro and Japanese Yen exchange rates in three foreign exchange markets based on electronic trading systems: the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) GLOBEX regular futures, E-mini futures, and the EBS interdealer spot market. Contrary to evidence in equity markets and more recent evidence in foreign exchange markets, the spot market is found to consistently lead the price discovery process for both currencies during the sample period. Furthermore, E-mini futures do not contribute more to the price discovery than the electronically traded regular futures. In the second chapter, we examine the daily return predictability for eighteen international stock index ETFs. Out-of-sample tests are conducted, based on linear and various popular nonlinear models and both statistical and economic criteria for model comparison. The main results show evidence of predictability for six of eighteen ETFs. A simple linear autoregression model, and a nonlinear-in-variance GARCH model, but not several popular nonlinear-in-mean models help outperform the martingale model. The allowance of data-snooping bias also substantially weakens otherwise apparently strong predictability. The final chapter investigates the relationship between the deviations of prices from their no-arbitrage value and the differences in informational efficiency across foreign exchange markets trading the same underlying asset. This relationship is examined by jointly modeling the dynamics of the futures-cash basis and information share differential across futures and cash markets. Evidence of two-way Granger causality between the no-arbitrage futures-cash basis and the relative speed of adjustment measure is found. Shocks to the no-arbitrage basis predict future differences in the speed of adjustment, and vice versa. The evidence is robust to different currency markets and different degrees of liquidity.

  • Exploration of Unknown Structured Environments with Multiple Robots

    Author:
    Flavio Cabrera-Mora
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Engineering
    Advisor:
    Jizhong Xiao
    Abstract:

    Multi-robot systems are expected to perform faster than their single-robot counterpart in different areas of robotics such as exploration, localization and mapping. For exploration, a faster task completion is only one of the advantages of using multi-robot systems. Among other benefits are better reliability, increased robustness and improved efficiency. Coordination of the movement of the robots is required in order to attain those benefits. As such, a fundamental problem in multi-robot exploration is to know how the robots should coordinate their movements inside the environment in order to perform the exploration process either faster or more efficiently. In this work, we propose two coordination algorithms that address two of the constraints imposed on multi-robot systems: exploration time and total traversed distance. We characterize their behavior mathematically and find out their performance in time and distance. We consider the situation of multiple robots exploring a structured environment, modeled as a graph, from a single starting vertex. The graph is initially unknown; the existence of edges becomes known only when a robot sees one end of the edge from a vertex, and the other end of the edge becomes known only when the robot actually follows that edge. This models an environment of sites with passages between them, where the passages are opaque: from either end it is not clear where the passage goes. The mathematical analysis allows us to obtain the main properties of the algorithms and the bounds of the exploration time. In order to compare the efficiency of the algorithms in time and traversed distance, we derive three criteria of performance for multi-robot systems. In the last part of this thesis we study the effects of the number of robots in the exploration process. Given the fact that the exploration time cannot be reduced indefinitely, even when the number of robots is increased infinitely, we perform an analysis in order to obtain the limit on the number of robots that produces the maximum reduction in the exploration time.

  • ENVISIONED COMMUNITIES: AFRICAN AMERICAN LIFE AND THE MOVING PICTURES, 1896-1927

    Author:
    Cara Caddoo
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Stuart Ewen
    Abstract:

    This dissertation investigates the role of cinema in the modern black experience and the generative role that African Americans played in the creation of American modernity. Two questions animate this study. First, how did African Americans consolidate their institutions and social bonds amid the distending forces of turn-of-the-century migration? Second, how and why did cinema--as a location, medium, and set of practices--become so important to the collective articulation of black identity in the early twentieth century? By mapping the patterns of turn-of-the-century migration with the development of black cinema practices from 1896 to 1927, this project traces black economic, social, and cultural practices across space and time. It begins in the post-Reconstruction period, when African Americans looked inward to fortifying the institutions that stood at the center of black life. Yet at the same time, hundreds of thousands of black migrants were departing the countryside for the urban South and West. At this curious juncture when black life was both turning inward and expanding outward, African Americans used film as a tool for collective racial progress. Black churches, halls, and schools hosted moving picture exhibitions, which brought the race together and raised money for the construction of buildings that conspicuously demonstrated black material progress. Eventually black film exhibition moved into colored theaters, which became celebrated monuments of black life and public claims to urban space in the Jim Crow city. During this time, African Americans associated race and cinema primarily with tangible, physical locations. Yet when colored theaters started to compete with black religious institutions, middle class blacks were forced to reconsider the ideas of racial uplift, which championed both piety and black-owned businesses. After 1910, a series of events--including Jack Johnson's victory as heavyweight champion of the world--further shifted the focus from the exhibition site to the screen. Black conceptions of freedom and natural rights based on new sensibilities of racial representation informed the first mass protest movement of African Americans in the twentieth century as well as transnational formations of racial identity articulated by the race film industry.