Honors Summer Fellowship

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Honors Summer Fellowships provide a summer's focus on your thesis. Within the HSF community, there is opportunity for research, faculty connections, student gatherings, and public scholarship. 

Follow this link to view the Three-minute Thesis Presentation Videos on YouTube.

Meet Our 2014 Honors Summer Fellows

Taylor Barinka

I am trying to understand how the concept of pleasure fits into the history of Greek philosophy. My focus lies in a dispute over whether we ought to describe “intellectual” or “sensual” pleasure as the most “intense”, and therefore the most desirable. I’d like to show how different ideas about human nature might have influenced different decisions as to which kind of pleasure is best. This dispute actually reflects an extremely common trend in Greek thinking, where the notion of what kind of thing the human is “by nature”, be it rational or animal or even divine, is employed to explain what kinds of things it ought to do and enjoy.

 

Edna Chiang

Although invisible to the naked eye, microorganisms are ubiquitous and act as the driver of many ecological cycles, such as the global carbon cycle. Freshwater lakes play an important role in this cycle by emitting a significant amount of carbon. For my project, I am studying bacteria in the largest collection of freshwater in the world: the Great Lakes. Specifically, I am investigating the bacterial phylum Verrucomicrobia, a pervasive yet understudied group; I am interested in its distribution, origin, and metabolism of carbon in the Great Lakes. I hope that my project will help us elucidate the role of Verrucomicrobia in freshwater systems.

Carlina Duan

 "I eat táng (candy) and write shī (poems)." This sentence illuminates code-switching, a linguistic occurrence where bilingual speakers shift from one language to another within a single conversation. My English and Creative Writing theses explore code-switching in the environment of the poem. For my Creative Writing thesis, I’ll be writing poems that code-switch between Mandarin Chinese and English, and explore ideas of American girlhood, allegiance, and first-generation immigrant status. For my English thesis, I’ll be studying and analyzing poems/hip-hop lyrics that code-switch — seeking how language informs identity creation.

 

 

 

Adam Eickmeyer

I am interested in how social factors such as stigma, acceptance, and inclusion affect the health and health care-seeking behaviors of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons, as it is undisputed that this population has worse health and seeks care less frequently compared to heterosexuals. My research focuses on identifying the historical and contemporary factors that affect how this marginalized population seeks health care, and their health outcomes relative to the care they receive. I am also interested in the patient-provider relationship and how critical consciousness education for health care providers may build a bridge that leads to better health and well-being for LGBT persons.

 

 

Evan Field

My thesis focuses on exploring the biological mechanism underlying the onset and progression of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Specifically, I look at changes in the signaling patterns of the body’s immune system caused by a mutant protein expressed in many Rheumatoid Arthritis patients. It is my hope that this research will help to identify potential targets for future treatments to help ease the symptoms of this debilitating disease.

 

 

Andrew Garton

Self-relevant failures are associated with increased stress, rumination, impaired future performance, and negative mental health outcomes (e.g. depression); however, the mechanisms by which these effects occur are unclear. Therefore my study will utilize a modified psychosocial stress task to experimentally induce self-relevant failure and examine its impact on psychological and cognitive constructs, as well as the potential predictive capacity of cognitive styles. Hopefully, results from this project can be used to educate at-risk undergraduate students about the processes that arise from academic or other self-relevant failures.

 

 

Ana Guay

My honors research focuses on the Catalogue of Ships in the second book of Homer's Iliad. Although the Catalogue of Ships- which lists the leaders of the Greek army, their homelands, and the number of ships that follow them, with additional anecdotal material - has been criticized for its alleged tedium and irrelevance, I present new readings of the Catalogue that show its continuity with the Iliad's dramatic themes. I also examine how works of later Greek and Roman authors, such as Virgil's Aeneid, interact with and comment on the the Catalogue. Overall, I argue that the Catalogue of Ships introduces to the poem and its audience the potential for poetic memory to fail, and I explore the implications this fallibility of memory holds for the entire Iliad.

 

Zoe Hawks

My research aims to elucidate the processes that enable selective attention to relevant stimuli despite environmental distracters. Currently, there are two main accounts to explain selective attention:

1.) The feature repetition account suggests that learning and memory processes enhance selective attention when stimuli are familiar.

2.) The cognitive control account suggests that experienced conflict increases arousal, which in turn facilitates selective attention.

Using a prime-probe task, I aim to evaluate the interaction between feature repetition and cognitive control strategies. Do participants prefer one strategy to the other?

 

Sara Ann Knutson

My history honors thesis contemplates religious conversion and the Christianizing landscape during Viking-Age Sweden. I am focusing on the regional patterns in the Swedish runestones, monuments which Christians created to memorialize deceased relatives. Female sponsors feature quite prominently in the Swedish runestone material, especially in the region of Uppland. Since sponsoring runestones could hardly have been cheap, what the unusually high number of female sponsors might indicate about women’s social and economic status as well as their role in Christian conversion are questions that drive my research.

 

Sarah Leddon

For my history thesis I will be studying Tomasa Titu Condemayta, an indigenous local leader in colonial Peru. Tomasa's surprising participation in the Tupac Amaru Rebellion led to her brutal execution in Cuzco's main plaza by Spanish authorities in the late 18th century. Through studying the obscured microhistory of Tomasa and her surprising participation in an often-studied rebellion I want to also examine the particular tensions that arise in the maintenance of a global, multi-ethnic empire and in the lives of powerful women in a patriarchal society.

 

 

Stephanie Leitzel

Information pending.

 

 

Emma Maniere

My research examines the deployment of conservative arguments in family planning politics.  More specifically, I study rhetoric used by Planned Parenthood of Mid-Michigan in the 1960s and 1970s – an era marked by the fear of the supposed “population explosion” – that appealed to desires for lower taxes and increased personal freedoms.  At the same time, a revitalized Republican party emerged that valued these same ideas.  By studying the apparent contradiction of a liberal organizations using conservative ideology to meet its own ends, I seek to further illuminate the complex history of reproductive rights and justice.

 

Nick Martin

My thesis work investigates a molecule called inorganic polyphosphate. This molecule is found in all organisms from bacteria to mammals and plays diverse physiological roles such as modulating bacterial colony formation and promoting human blood clot formation. Though this molecule is ubiquitous in nature, the enzymes which mammals use to synthesize the polymer are unknown and if discovered, they may prove to be useful tools in studying this ancient molecule's functions in humans. The goal of my thesis project is to develop methods of detecting polyphosphate in mammalian cells in order to discover the enzymes used to produce it.

 

Isabel McKay

Laughter is fun.  We all like laughing.  But in addition to being fun, laughter is an important tool that we use to communicate meaning.  It signals that we are playing with something, be they words, puppies, or people’s feelings.  In my thesis I’ll be looking at the ways we take advantage of laughter as a communicative tool online.  Do we find lol and haha in contexts where we might expect laughter in face-to-face talk, or are they performing a different function entirely?  It is my hope that this project will shed light both on the meaning of laughter in context and on the relationship between body language and their textual equivalents online.

 

Paola Mendez

My research centers on the real world dynamics of pursuing social and environmental justice through urban planning, I'm conducting a case study of Focus: HOPE, a community-based non-profit organization in central Detroit, and gathering qualitative data about how they prioritize social justice needs and environmental goals in participatory planning and placemaking work in their HOPE Village Initiative. I'll examine the effectiveness of their programs in improving the quality of life for their community as well as explore the challenges and trade-offs associated with social justice and sustainability work in an impoverished neighborhood.

Meg Scribner

My thesis considers women’s issues and the representativeness of this category. My research examines the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, using this legislation as a case study with which to trace how political processes transform women’s interests and activism into federal policy. I am particularly interested in the nature of the state and its role in structuring institutional practices and public policy. Drawing from critical race theory and feminist political theory, I hope to draw broader conclusions about how women’s issues are conceptualized within the policymaking process and what this reveals about power dynamics and privilege within political institutions.

 

Jean-Pierre Seguin

Information pending.

Dan Whorf

More than 140 million individuals live in high-altitude environments, including populations of the Qinghair-Tibetan Plateau, the Andean Altiplano, and the Semien Plateau of Ethiopia. Despite the low oxygen levels that characterize these locations, these populations have physiologically adapted over thousands of years. Previous research has identified the EGLN1 gene as essential to high-altitude adaptation. My research will focus on specific single nucleotide polymorphisms in theEGLN1 gene to determine their roles in successful high-altitude adaptation. This research will impact understanding of hypoxia-related diseases, such as chronic pulmonary obstructive disease and lung disease.

 

 

Seth Wolin

Information pending.

Kaidi Wu

Would you rather be a big frog in a small pond (e.g., a stellar student at a subpar college) or a small frog in a big pond (e.g., a mediocre student at a selective college)? My psychology honors thesis examines competition entry decisions across European American and Chinese populations. Specifically, it explores 1) if there is an evident entry preference towards performing well in a less selective group across European Americans and Chinese, and 2) if any cultural variation exists in the psychological tendencies underlying these entry decisions.

 

Marisa Xheka

My history thesis explores the Albanian post-war narrative of communism fused with xenophobia. I am studying the relationships between the Albanian communist partisan resistance leaders and American, English, and Soviet intelligence agents during World War II. These relationships were seminal to the East/West political orientation of Albania after the war and its eventually isolation from the rest of the world. And to examine the manifestation of how the political elite shaped politics and national identity in the post-war years, I will analyze the educational and cultural programs of the Albanian communist party.

 

Alisa Zoltowski

I am interested in studying the process of how we infer someone's motivations from his or her actions.  My thesis will approach this by using two-player games, in which players' strategies necessarily depend on making a prediction about the opponent.  My goal is to discover typical patterns of reasoning when making inferences in these interactions.  This will hopefully contribute useful knowledge about how we navigate social situations in our daily lives.