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  • "I'm not trying to go back": Young women's strengths navigating their return from incarceration

    Author:
    Nina Aledort
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Gerald Mallon
    Abstract:

    This is a qualitative, grounded-theory study of thirteen young women between the ages of 18 and 26 who were returning back to their lives in New York City after prison or an extended jail incarceration. The women spent anywhere from 8 months to 8 years incarcerated and were home between three months and three years from the time of their release. The study includes findings based on analysis and interpretations of the interviews, implications for future research and practice that center around the women's use of time while incarcerated, their connectedness to family, friends and staff, both while in prison and upon release, and the impact of both of those on their ability to stay free. The study includes implications for social work and correctional research and practice, and is grounded in women's relational theory and developmental frameworks.

  • Quantum dislocations in solid Helium-4

    Author:
    Darya Aleinikava
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Physics
    Advisor:
    Anatoly Kuklov
    Abstract:

    In this thesis the following problems on properties of solid 4He are considered: i) the role of long-range interactions in suppression of dislocation roughening at T = 0; ii) the combined effect of 3He impurities and Peierls potential on shear modulus softening; iii) the dislocation superclimb and its connection to the phenomenon of “giant isochoric compressibility” ; iv) non-linear dislocation response to the applied stress and stress-induces dislocation roughening as a I-order phase transition in 1D at finite temperature. First we investigate the effect of long-range interactions on the state of edge dislocation at T = 0. Such interactions are induced by elastic forces of the solid. We found that quantum roughening transition of a dislocation at T = 0 is completely suppressed by arbitrarily small long-range interactions between kinks. A heuristic argument is presented and the result has been verified by numerical Monte-Carlo simulations using Worm Algorithm in J-current model. It was shown that the Peierls potential plays a crucial role in explaining the elastic properties of dislocations, namely shear modulus softening phenomenon. The crossover from T = 0 to finite temperatures leads to intrinsic softening of the shear modulus and is solely controlled by kink typical energy. It was demonstrated that the mechanism, involving only the binding of 3He impurities to the dislocations, requires an unrealistically high concentrations of defects (or impurities) in order to explain the shear modulus phenomenon and therefore an inclusion of Peierls potential in consideration is required. Superclimbing dislocations, that is the edge dislocations with the superfluidity along the core, were investigated. The theoretical prediction that superclimb is responsible for the phenomenon of “giant isochoric compressibility ” was confirmed by Monte-Carlo simulations. It was demonstrated that the isochoric compressibility is suppressed at low temperatures. The dependence of compressibility on the dislocation length was shown to be strongly dependent on long-range interaction. Non-linear behavior at high stresses was considered. The dislocation was observed to exhibit two types of behavior depending on the dislocation size: reversible and hysteretic. In the reversible regime responses of superclimbing dislocations exhibit sharp resonant peaks. We attribute this feature to the resonant creation of jog-antijog pairs. The peak in the compressibility results in the dip in the speed of sound which we believe was observed in “ UMASS-sandwich” mass-transport experiments. The hysteresis revealed an unusually strong sensitivity to the dislocation size signifying that the stress-induced roughening is a I-order phase transition in 1D at finite T.

  • Neural Effects of Exposure to the Environmental Chemical, Bisphenol A, During Development

    Author:
    Ayanna Alexander
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Biology
    Advisor:
    Victoria Luine
    Abstract:

    Exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA), an environmental chemical, has been linked to changes in physiology, neural development, and behavior. The focus of this study was to determine the effects of BPA exposure, during a short developmental window, on physiology, activity, anxiety, cognition, and neurochemistry. In prenatal study, dams were administered 100 mcg/kg/day orally, from gestational day 16 to parturition. Postnatal study pups received subcutaneous injection of 60 or 100 mcg/kg BPA from postnatal day 0 to 6. All pups were weighed, examined for evidence of vaginal opening, and, at adulthood, performed behavioral tasks measuring locomotor activity, anxiety, and visual and spatial memory. Brain monoamines were measured using high performance liquid chromatography in the postnatal group. Prenatal BPA contributed to low juvenile body weight in both sexes and adult overweight in male subjects. Hyperactivity and memory deficits were observed in both sexes of BPA treated subjects. Postnatal 100 mcg/kg BPA females experienced delayed vaginal opening, less anxiety behavior in elevated plus maze, and spatial memory impairments. BPA treated subjects of both sexes had increased norepinephrine and dopamine turnover in basolateral amygdala and hippocampus, areas which are implicated in anxiety and cognition, respectively. The data suggests that BPA exposure during perinatal life causes disruptions in physiology, behavior, memory and neurochemistry that persist to adulthood. In addition, postnatal effects of BPA may be mediated by alterations in central monoaminergic function.

  • Factitious Virtue

    Author:
    Mark Alfano
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Philosophy
    Advisor:
    Jesse Prinz
    Abstract:

    The primary aim of this project is to argue that empirical challenges to moral theories like virtue ethics should be co-opted rather than resisted. Virtue ethics has much to offer. Its vision of a flourishing life seems a better object of moral contemplation and evaluation than the sometimes dry rules of deontology and consequentialism; its focus on "thick" concepts like honesty and courage seems to bridge the is/ought gap; its weaving together of reasons and motivations obviates concerns about moral schizophrenia. Furthermore, the virtue ethical account of action paints a detailed picture of sensitivity to reasons, careful and correct construal of ambiguous information, and thoughtful deliberation. Recently, however, philosophers informed by the situationist tradition in social psychology have begun to question the empirical presuppositions of virtue ethics, and a cottage industry has grown up around attacking and defending their arguments. To move the debate forward, I develop a comprehensive list of the empirical presuppositions of virtue ethics, the most contentious items of which are consistency (if an agent possesses a virtue sensitive to reason r, then she responds to r whenever it is relevant), explanatory power (if an agent possesses a virtue, then reference to that virtue sometimes explains her behavior), predictive power (if an agent possesses a virtue, then reference to that virtue sometimes enables prediction of her behavior), and egalitarianism (almost anyone can be virtuous). The empirical challenge relates to the conjunction of these four claims. Nearly a century of studies in social psychology has shown that most people respond primarily not to the reasons there are for them to act on a given occasion but to situational factors like ambient sounds, ambient smells, moods and emotions, and presence of bystanders. These morally irrelevant but causally powerful factors can be unified under the heading of attentional focus: loud and annoying sounds, unpleasant smells, negative moods and emotions, and the presence of bystanders all lead to the focusing of attention on a small number of situational features, while their opposites lead to the dilation of attention. When their attention is focused, people exhibit inattentional blindness, which leads them to miss or misconstrue important moral features of their situations. Insensible to the reasons there are for them to act, they deliberate poorly (if at all) and act in violation of virtue. Situationist psychology does not just deny character traits. It also explains away the strongly felt intuition that there are character traits, invoking a virtual pantheon of gods of error and ignorance that includes the power of (mis)construal (misinterpreting ambiguous information as evidence for character traits), selection bias (using non-representative samples of behavior, thus overlook cases where people act in violation of traits), availability bias (assuming that first impressions are representative), and confirmation bias (seeking and using only evidence that confirms first impressions). These mechanisms guarantee that intuition would lead us to believe in traits even if traits did not exist. Since one does not know that p if one would believe p were it false, we cannot know on the basis of intuitions that character traits exist. Three primary responses to the situationist critique can be identified in the literature. The dodge: virtue is a rare ideal, so data showing that most people are not virtuous is moot. The counterattack: the data do not support the situationist critique. The retreat: although the situationist critique shows that global traits do not exist, a naturalistic theory of virtue can still be formulated in terms of actions or local traits. Unfortunately, most versions of these arguments are either unsound or give up the consistency, explanatory power, predictive power, or egalitarianism of virtue. The dodge, for instance, is an outright denial of egalitarianism. Most versions of the counterattack fail to individuate virtues by their characteristic reasons, and thus are morally inadequate; others appeal to unreliable intuitions. Two compatible tactics for dealing with the challenge, however, do emerge from this literature: an emphasis on what I call the portability of context and a shift from situation-consumerism to situation-producerism. By recognizing the power of situations and identifying the types of situations (not) conducive to behavior in accordance with virtue, one can strategically seek (avoid) situations likely to lead to (non-)virtuous actions. And by recognizing the causal dialectic between agents and situations, one can shift to thinking of agents as active producers rather than passive consumers of situations - a point of view that encourages the creation of situations conducive to action in accordance with virtue. Along these lines, I argue that virtue (though not vice) attributions of the right sort should be made regardless of their truth-value. Drawing on formal work in multi-agent epistemic logic and empirical studies in social psychology, consumer research, and behavioral economics, I show that the plausible, public attribution of virtuous traits induces both identification with those traits and belief that others expect one to act in trait-consonant ways, which in turn leads to trait-consonant behavior. The notions of placebo effects and self-fulfilling prophecies are instructive parallels to virtue-labeling. Thinking of virtue attributions merely as true or false is too limited. We must recognize in addition a third category: factitious attributions, which become true by being plausibly, publicly announced. In another example of the portability of context and situation-producerism, I present a novel theory of social distance in terms of potential for interaction, group identity, and information. This theory draws support from recent work by experimental psychologists and economists, as well as an experiment that I myself conducted. By manipulating heuristics that track social distance, agents can be led systematically to underestimate it, which in turn leads to elevated levels of behavior in accordance with virtue.

  • Does Discovery-Based Instruction Enhance Learning?

    Author:
    Louis Alfieri
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Patricia Brooks
    Abstract:

    Since Bruner's (1961) call for research into discovery-based learning, controversy has surrounded the efficacy of such a constructivist approach to instruction (e.g., Tobias & Duffy, 2009). For decades, research has investigated to what extent discovery-based instruction enhances learning tasks or conversely, detracts from them. Research has included wide varieties of domains and discovery-based instructional approaches. Samples have included both children and adults and both novices and experts within their specific domains. It seems that what the field needs is a definition of discovery learning from a practical perspective because a review of the literature reveals that although there might be an implied sense of what discovery learning is, the methodologies employed vary greatly. Furthermore, the characteristics of effective discovery methodology(s) need to be examined with careful consideration of the domain involved, the age of the sample, the comparison condition, and the outcome assessments. Therefore, two meta-analyses were conducted using a sample of 164 studies: the first examined the effects of unassisted discovery learning versus explicit instruction and the second examined the effects of enhanced and/or assisted discovery versus other types of instruction (e.g., explicit, unassisted discovery, etc.). Random effects analyses of 580 comparisons revealed that outcomes were favorable for explicit instruction when compared to unassisted discovery under most conditions, d = -.38 (95% CI = -.44/-.31). In contrast, analyses of 360 comparisons revealed that outcomes were favorable for enhanced discovery when compared to other forms of instruction, d = .30 (95% CI = .23/.36). The findings suggest that unassisted discovery does not benefit learners, whereas feedback, worked examples, scaffolding, and elicited explanations do.

  • The Temporal Relationship between Daytime Napping and Memory Consolidation

    Author:
    Sara Alger
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    William Fishbein
    Abstract:

    An extensive body of literature exists substantiating the idea that sleep facilitates the strengthening, stabilization, and protection of newly formed memories, aiding in consolidation from short-term to long-term stores. However, research as to the temporal boundaries of the benefit of sleep to declarative memory is deficient. It has been established that sleep benefits memory compared to equal time spent awake, but when sleep needs to occur relative to the learning period, as well as how much and what type of sleep is necessary, has been little explored. Additionally, researchers have focused on how the brain works on previously encoded information during sleep, but very few have addressed whether sleep prepares the brain to take on new information when it occurs prior to learning. Using efficient daytime naps, the present series of studies addressed these shortcomings and the results provided support exclusively to an active role for sleep in memory processing. Study I unexpectedly demonstrated superior performance for recognition memory with increased delay before sleep onset, resulting in increased slow wave sleep (SWS) in the later nap groups. Study II determined that sleep must progress into SWS, rather than merely Stages 1 and 2, for better short-term retention, subsequent protection from stimulus-related interference, and long-term consolidation, although even a brief nap provides temporary retention benefits over remaining awake. Examining sleep prior to learning in Study III, it was found that a 60-minute nap prepared the brain to more efficiently consolidate information, despite the fact that nap and wake groups encoded material equally. Overall, the present research provides clarification, although perhaps task-dependent, to the existing questions regarding the temporal relationship between sleep and learning. Additionally, the results proffer support for active processing during sleep potentially through standard consolidation and/or homeostatic downscaling of synaptic potentials, the major mechanistic theories ascribing a role for SWS in declarative memory processing.

  • Ridiculous Geographies: Mapping the Theatre of the Ridiculous as Radical Aesthetic

    Author:
    Kelly Aliano
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Theatre
    Advisor:
    James Wilson
    Abstract:

    Abstract Ridiculous Geographies: Mapping the Theatre of the Ridiculous as Radical Aesthetic by Kelly Aliano Adviser: Professor James Wilson This dissertation is a comprehensive study of the artists associated with the Theatre of the Ridiculous. The discussion begins with Charles Ludlam, the most famous practitioner of the form and then extends to artists with whom he collaborated, including Jack Smith, the Play-House of the Ridiculous, Ethyl Eichelberger, and Charles Busch. The argument traces the overlapping aesthetic qualities of all of these theatre practitioners; they all shared a reverence for popular culture of the twentieth century; they all blended references from high and low culture in their dramaturgy; and they all created performances that took a unique approach to cross-dressed performance. The objective of this project is to "map" the Theatre of the Ridiculous in order to display that it was a coherent and cohesive theatrical movement that contained a radical, queer quality. To do this, this dissertation engages Ludlam as a kind of apotheosis of Ridiculous play making, displaying how his works exemplified all three of these key aesthetic elements. Then, the discussion turns to Ludlam's inspiration, experimental artist Jack Smith, who was preoccupied to the point of obsession with twentieth-century cinema. I then look at the Play-House of the Ridiculous, headed by director John Vaccaro and playwrights Ronald Tavel and Kenneth Bernard, as the site for the genesis of Ridiculous Theatre. Here, I highlight a preoccupation with textual collaging, or remixing, in playwriting, especially insofar as it valued popular references alongside of or even over highbrow ones. I then study gender performance in the Ridiculous, looking at the mashed up performances of Ethyl Eichelberger, which create identities that defy gender categorization. Finally, I consider the legacy of the Ridiculous, tracing both direct inheritors of the form as well as those whose more contemporary work appears to be influenced by it.

  • IN THESE BONES THE ECONOMY OF THE WORLD: A MULTI-LOGICAL, MULTI-REPRESENTATIONAL CULTURAL STUDY

    Author:
    Carolyne Ali-Khan
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Kenneth Tobin
    Abstract:

    In this work I offer critical interpretations of street skaters, images in schools, collaborative writing and discourses on Muslims in schools. Employing a phenomenological, hermeneutic approach, I have thought back on my experiences, made claims and supported them hermeneutically. As I have (in the tradition of critical pedagogy) told stories of being in the world, a critical perspective has anchored these stories to broader social, political and economic frameworks. Axiological concerns are at the forefront of this work, and the "so what?" question implicitly weaves through it. I do not seek to provide the answers, but rather to illuminate, through example, that asking questions of that which is taken for granted and connecting these questions to issues of power is a valid undertaking. In a world of truncated educational "accountability" this work joins those that seek to offer a counterpoints. This dissertation explores work that has been done over the past three years in a variety of pedagogical contexts. As a manuscript style dissertation, it sews together freestanding texts with the thread of critical pedagogy. Each chapter (including half of the first chapter) has been published, only the last chapter (which discusses future work) is new. In each of these research projects I set out to use interdisciplinary and multi-textual approaches to focus on "other" ways of being in the world, and to question privileging practices and discourses that have been normalized in everyday life. As a bricolage, this work brings together multiple disciplines and theoretical discourses. I draw from a range of critical pedagogies and visual and literary methods. Throughout, I employ autoethnography as an entry point, to render accessible the worlds and worldviews that I seek to shed light on.

  • Power Supply Considerations for Capacitive Deionization Water Purification Systems

    Author:
    Mohammad Alkuran
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Engineering
    Advisor:
    Professor Norman Scheinberg
    Abstract:

    This research is about the power supply considerations and energy recovery schemes in water purification systems utilizing the Capacitive De-Ionization (CDI) method. The first chapter is a general introduction about the ever rising need for water in the world. It also talks about the drive behind this research. The most common methods for water desalination are discussed in Chapter II. Then, the method of CDI is discussed in detail in Chapter III. The model, applications and design considerations for CDI are discussed. Energy recovery in desalination methods is talked about in Chapter IV, with emphasis on energy recovery in CDI. Then a novel method for energy recovery in CDI is presented, showing superior results to prior art. Simulation and experimental results confirmed the validity of the method, and are presented. Power supply considerations for the CDI method are presented in Chapter V. Then, a novel power supply scheme is suggested.

  • Marvel Comics and New York Stories: Anti-Heroes and Street Level Vigilantes Daredevil and The Punisher

    Author:
    Jesse Allen
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Liberal Studies
    Advisor:
    Cindy Lobel
    Abstract:

    Abstract This thesis argues that the creation of street level, vigilante heroes The Punisher and Daredevil created by Marvel Comics authors and illustrators in the late 1970s and early 1980s reflected the socio-economic environment of New York City at this same moment in history. By examining an era of New York that was fiscally and socially tense along with the development of characters created by the New York based Marvel Comics, I aim to show how their creation was directly related to the environment which they were produced in.