2015 Celebration of Undergraduate Research Panel Program

The panel sessions for the sixteenth annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research will be held in rooms located on the third floor of the Frank Porter Graham Student Union. Panel sessions have been organized according to thematic tracks. Each presentation will last a maximum of 15 minutes. There is a 15-minute break in each session from 2:00-2:15.

Click on the title of the student's poster to read the abstract and see any other research contributors.

Please also view the Poster Program or use the Searchable Program of All 2015 Presenters.


Panel Session I: Diversity & Equity

Moderator: TBA
Room: TBA

1:00-1:10 — Maximillian Seunik Health Policy & Management
Human Rights Mainstreaming in the World Health Organization: a Comparative Study of Regional Offices
Advisor: Benjamin Meier (Public Policy)

Abstract: Abstract: In 1997, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Kofi Annan mandated the full mainstreaming of human rights into all of the organization???s principal activities and programs as a ???cross-cutting??? approach. This call spurred the development of an increasingly shared understanding of human rights among UN agencies including within the World Health Organization (WHO). Specifically, WHO has faced obstacles in these efforts in each of its six largely autonomous regional offices: Africa, the Americas, South-East Asia, Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Western Pacific. With a lack of human rights leadership in a fragmented global health governance landscape, regional health offices have sought individually to advance human rights and support states in realizing a rights-based approach to health, aided by organizational structures uncommon within the UN system. Through documentary analysis of regional office policies and semi-structured interviews with human rights focal points in each of the six WHO regional offices, regional implementation of human rights through regional health governance was analyzed. Interviews examined factors related to the development, implementation and future application of human rights in regional office policies and programs. Documentary records from regional offices contextualized information gleaned from interviews. Comparisons across regions were drawn to isolate several of the factors critical to human rights success.
1:10-1:20 — Griffin Lerner History
Neither Black nor White: Louisiana Creoles, and South African Coloureds, and the Struggle for Identity, Nationhood, and Belonging
Advisor: Lisa Lindsay (History)

Abstract: Race as a social construct and sign of demarcation has played a significant role in the shaping of modern society the last 300 years. In Reconstruction Louisiana and apartheid South Africa, Creoles of color and ???Coloureds???, respectively, occupied a middle ground in two extreme racial conflicts. Neither white nor black, these groups looked to find belonging under white supremacist regimes that robbed them of their rights under racial pretenses. Under differing demographic contexts, Creoles of color were lumped into the monolithic minority African-African category, while Coloureds occupied a third caste above black Africans and below white Afrikaners, and the nonwhite groups were intentionally fragmented under minority white rule. This thesis uses the case studies of mixed-race groups under racist regimes to explore the power-driven agenda behind racial construction. In legalizing and codifying race, South Africa and Louisiana gave legitimacy to abstract concepts, as constructed racial identities had tangible effects on peoples??? lives. Creoles of color and Coloureds challenged the idea of a black-white racial dichotomy and illustrated the shades of grey of race, identity, and nationhood.
1:20-1:30 — Kevin Jacoby Undecided
The Role of the Internet in the Evolution of Human Communication
Advisor: Leslie Frost (English)

Abstract: Twice as many people are alive on Earth today than there were in 1968. With a population of 7.2 billion and counting, we collectively face the challenge of sustainably allowing every man and woman their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Internet will play a central role in our ability to accomplish this goal ??? the world must become more connected, efficient, and mindful than ever before for us to build a society where everyone has equal access to education, news, and other valuable information that helps drive economic growth and well-being. Already, nearly 3 billion people use the Internet. As the remaining 60% of the world???s population connects to the Internet over the coming decades, tremendous social change will continue to progress at an unprecedented scale and rate. Because the Web allows people to converse with others around the world in real-time, cultural boundaries may become increasingly blurred and ideologies will gradually change. As this occurs, we must recognize that communication via the Internet is fundamentally different than other methods of communication and might affect both the way we convey information and the way we interpret what we hear. I am interested in further researching the subtle roles the Internet plays in shaping human communication and cognition which we must be cognizant of as the Internet plays an increasingly critical role in our daily lives.
1:30-1:40 — Raleigh McCoy Public Policy
Transportation that treats us well: the mobility needs of transit users with disabilities in La Paz and El Alto, Bolivia
Advisor: Daniel Rodriguez (Dept of City and Regional Planning)
Graduate Student Contributors: Gwen Kash

Abstract: In this paper, we examine the needs of disabled residents of La Paz and El Alto, Bolivia with regards to public transit. Through semi-structured interviews with people with mobility impairments, we identify the most pressing problems as seen by disabled people themselves. We find that, while the transit system in LP/EA fails to meet any standard of physical accessibility, respondents were more concerned with the lack of support from drivers and fellow passengers than with the physical condition of streets and vehicles. Pervasive discrimination from bus operators results in long wait times and the obligatory use of more expensive modes of transport such as taxis. Overcoming these barriers is vital for the social inclusion of disabled residents. We trace these problems to the economic incentives created by the region???s informal transit system. Respondents favorably evaluate recent efforts by the municipality to create a formal transit system. We argue that the continuation of such efforts is the best opportunity to improve mobility for disabled residents. However, it is imperative that policymakers devote attention to the human aspects of transit service rather than just the physical design.
1:40-2:00 — Questions
2:00-2:15 — BREAK
2:15-2:25 — Abigail Cooksey History
'In a Nice Way': Moderation as a Tool of Racial Oppression in North Carolina after Brown from 1954-1956
Advisor: James Leloudis (History)

Abstract: After Brown, the North Carolina Executive Branch and the Pearsall Committee???s used the discourse of moderation as a tool to keep North Carolina public schools open. In practice, however, these men prioritized the public opinion of the white majority over the rights of African Americans, openly excluding them from the decision making process and continuing the Southern tradition of paternalism and racial oppression. From 1954 to 1956, the executive branch defined moderation through the tactics that they used to keep segregation as the status quo in North Carolina including active inaction, voluntary segregation, and the Pearsall Plan.
2:25-2:35 — Bridie McDonough Sociology
A Disappointing Democracy? Political Representation, Inequality, and Policy in South Africa Since 1994
Advisor: Andrew Perrin (Sociology)
Faculty/Postdoc Contributors: Dr. Andrew Reynolds

Abstract: How important is the composition of a nation???s legislature in determining politicians??? responses to citizens??? needs or interests? The theory behind descriptive representation maintains that democratic politicians should represent the population in terms of politically important characteristics, such as ethnicity or gender, which would help them to better understand the constituency???s policy preferences and respond appropriately. With a descriptive representation frame, this study examines the relationship between the changes in political representation in South Africa and the economic inequality since the start of majority rule in 1994 through today, and how this association can be explained by policies. Past research has focused on inequality and economic policies in South Africa; however, scholars have yet to discuss these two important topics within the context of the South African Parliament descriptive representation. My research found that the government has become more representative of the South African population since 1994, which has generally correlated to more of a policy focus on inequality. Over the past 20 years, poverty has reduced, but not economic inequality. Patterns revealed in the study reflect on whether descriptive representation can lead to substantive representation. In addition, my results contribute to literature on the connection between political justice and economic justice in a democratic setting, specifically after a transition period.
2:35-2:45 — Anuradha Bhowmik Women's Studies
Between Two Selves: Reuniting Dual Cultural Identity Through Life Writing
Advisor: Jane Danielewicz (English and Comparative Literature )

Abstract: Racism makes it difficult for ethnic minorities to reconcile their dual cultural identities. I???m American, but I was born Bangladeshi. I felt American while growing up, but I was treated as a foreigner for being brown in a white, suburban New Jersey town after 9/11. Hyphenated-Americans like me are pressured to negate their ethnic identities in order to avoid ridicule and stereotypes; this erases personal cultural history. I???ve created a collection of poetry and memoir work to study how life writing can document my efforts to reconcile two conflicting cultural identities. Caught in a cultural collision, I feared rejection and struggled for acceptance in both American and Bangladeshi worlds. I narrate my experiences in post-9/11 America and my first time traveling in Bangladesh this summer. I reflect on how my desire to learn about my cultural history in Bangladesh made me realize that I couldn???t claim either country as home. While traveling in four regions in Bangladesh, I visited cultural institutions and engaged with locals and family. However, across both cultures, skin color is used to discriminate and determine self-worth and superiority. Assumptions about my identity, based on appearance, were still used to designate me as a foreigner. My writing portrays the raw emotional truth about racism, which erases the experiences of ethnic minorities like me. Dual cultural identities are complex; merely changing the cultural environment does not solve this conflict.
2:45-2:55 — Rani Reddy Public Policy
Reversing Racial Disparity Trends in School Discipline
Advisor: Patrick Akos (Education)

Abstract: This research project is a study of the causes of disproportionate suspensions in public schools and how to prevent these disproportionate suspensions. Black, male, and low-income students are overrepresented in school discipline. Evidence shows that implicit bias in schools causes teachers to hold lower expectations for African American and Latino children compared to European American children. This implicit bias manifests in school discipline as African American and Latino students are more likely than their white peers to receive expulsion or out of school suspension as a consequence for the same behavior. This study examines strategies and tactics for teachers and school personnel to use that can reduce and eventually eliminate the disproportionality in school discipline.
2:55-3:15 — Questions