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2024 Abstracts

"Am I a good student?": Examining Motivation Style Influences on Coping Strategies to Perceived Academic Failure and Self-Efficacy

Authors: Broden Lund, John Jones. Mentors: John Jones. Insitution: Utah Tech University. Pursuing higher education credentials involves a significant investment of money, time, and energy. For many, this investment fails to pay off when students abandon their studies prior to graduation. Identifying factors that influence persistence to graduation has thus been the subject of a good deal of past research. The aim of this ongoing study is to explore the interaction between motivation type, responses to failure, and self-efficacy, on persistence among students at different stages of their academic careers. Participants will be 100 college students currently enrolled at a mid-sized university in the United States. Participants will complete measures of academic motivation, coping strategies in response to failure, and self-efficacy. We predict that the further a student progresses the more intrinsically motivated they will tend to be, and that this shift in motivation will be accompanied by increasing reliance on problem-focused coping and increased self-efficacy. Our results have the potential to provide a more nuanced understanding of the role intrinsic motivation plays in student success. Implications for students, parents, teachers, and administrators will also be considered.

"Cognitive Insights into Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches: Memory, Learning, and Motivated Behavior"

Authors: Brandon Barlow, Ethan Reese, Victoria Vazquez, Abbi Stark, Monica Sanchez, Alex Wilson, Rain Evans, Josef Becker, Amy Chevrier, James Taylor. Mentors: James Taylor. Insitution: Utah Valley University. This study focuses on memory and learning observed in Madasgascar Hissing Cockroaches (MHC). Research on insects can be used to inform our understanding of behavior and cognitive processes and add to our existing knowledge about the studied species. While there is existing literature focused on memory and learning in many insects, cockroaches are often chosen as a model due to their adaptability, resilience, and availability. Little research on MHC currently exists, especially in regard to memory and learning or drug seeking behaviors. This study uses a mixed model design, looking at arm choice percentages and latency to choose, between the control and experimental groups and comparing trials for each subject. In earlier trials, MHC demonstrated behavior that indicated they had learned not to fear light, a naturally aversive stimulus for cockroaches. Building on data collected in earlier trials, we developed a new protocol to evaluate the MHC associative learning behaviors and to test drug-seeking as a motivated behavior. Subjects are individually tested in a T-shaped apparatus in which they have to choose an arm to go into or are timed out. Each arm has a specific reward, either a sucrose and ethanol solution (experimental group) or plain sucrose solution (control group) in the left arm, and plain sucrose solution (experimental group) or water (control group) in the right arm. Each subject is run 2 days (6 trials per day) in these conditions, and then 3 days with the left arm lengthened to test if the subjects will seek their preferred reward even if it requires traveling a greater distance.

"Open Carry for All?": How Support for Open Carry Varies Based on Who is Carrying

Authors: Matthew Drachman, Caden Weaver, Nicholas Martin. Mentors: Kal Munis. Insitution: Utah Valley University. There has been a lot of public debate in recent years when it comes to the topic of guns in the United States. Scholarship on the subject has shown varying opinions on how people believe on gun ownership, along with the subject of carrying firearms in public. A Pew Research study found 46% of people supported concealed carrying in places, while support among gun owners was 67% (Parker et al., 2017). While research has been conducted on concealed carry, research on open carry support and the factors that contribute to it are rather unknown. Within our study, we attempt to see how support for open carry, which is legal in most places in the U.S., is affected based on who is doing the open carrying of firearms. Particularly controversial political and racial groups. Within our model we randomly assign survey respondents to either our control question to gauge their support for open carry, or one of four vignettes we have designed to see if exposure to the treatment causes a change in how support for open carry will change. Our results have important implications pertaining to attitudinal (in)stability on core civil liberties within the United States.

"Woke" what does it really mean?

Authors: Benjamin VanDreew. Mentors: Kal Munis. Insitution: Utah Valley University. America as we know it today is politically very polarizing, divided, and full of misinformation. In this climate, buzzwords have become as prominent as ever either being spouted by politicians or news outlets or even trickling out to the public. In 2023 the word “woke” became a popular buzzword and is used in all sorts of contexts. So much so that in a lot of ways “woke” has lost any of its original meaning that was trying to be conveyed. In this study, I am out to discover what “woke” really means to Americans from all different walks of life. We have set up a conjoint list experiment that will be sent out in the form of a survey featuring randomized options. We will be able to get a better look at what aspects of American life people feel are the most “woke” and help define what the buzzword really means. This research will give us a deeper look into modern American culture and help provide clarity to this polarizing subject.

3D Printable Thickness Accommodated Origami Flasher Patterns

Authors: Davis Wing. Mentors: Larry Howell. Insitution: Brigham Young University. Origami-based mechanisms provide the opportunity for constructing highly compact systems for deployment in space and other applications. One pattern that shows great promise in this field is the flasher pattern, which unfurls a flat, rotationally symmetric arrangement of panels from a cylindrical spiral. The fold pattern is complex, and in attempting to better understand how it can be made from non-zero-thickness materials, and desiring a model which could be easily 3D printed, the following research was developed.As a result of this research, a flasher model was constructed which folds out to a deployed state that has almost triple the projected area of the stowed state. The idealized flasher was designed using Tessellatica, a program developed by Dr. Robert Lang. Turning the two-dimensional output from Tessellatica into a structure suitable for 3D printing required beginning with the stowed form of the flasher and thickening it across all panels. Fold lines were preserved at zero-thickness to ensure correct kinematics, and the bottom face of the model was constrained to be flat. Initial attempts at fulfilling these design requirements made apparent the need for more constraints, such as constraining the thicknesses of different panel sections to be proportional to their distance from the center and ensuring that the final unfolded state involved no overhangs.The final step in designing the model involved the implementation of living hinges. In a 3D printed design, living hinges offer mobility without assembly at the cost of being potential failure points, depending on print line orientations. Any hinge built from paths running in line with that hinge would immediately fail upon bending. The solution to this problem of parallelism was to use two layers with 0.1mm thickness on the bottom of the model, at 90° angles to one another. This allowed for all of the hinges, regardless of orientation, to be able to have the strength necessary to form a workable part.This research advances the manufacturability of zero-thickness origami patterns by providing models capable of being conveniently manufactured by anyone with a 3D printer. Specifically, it demonstrates a method for developing a zero-thickness model into a foldable structure of non-negligible thickness, and how to use default 3D slicer settings to build robust living hinges. The models have been uploaded on two popular file-sharing websites, Thingiverse and Printables, and have been downloaded hundreds of times.

A gamified app that educates autistic population on social media safety

Authors: Changxi Xing, Kirsten Chapman. Mentors: Xinru Page. Insitution: Brigham Young University. Prior work from our lab has demonstrated that social media usage can be highly beneficial for autistic young adults. Simultaneously though, it can lead to physical or social harms. In order to better support the autistic community on social media, it is important to provide educational content on social media safety. As such, the BYU Social Technology and Privacy Lab has developed, and is currently validating, educational slides, quizzes, and practices modules.My work focuses on creating a gamified education app that will host these materials. This app will utilize effective gameplay strategies in order to motivate autistic users to meaningfully consume the materials. This app will be designed to cater to the needs of individuals in this community.The project started with a thorough literature search in September. I reviewed prior work on gameplay design and educational psychology of both neurodiverse and non-neurodiverse populations (n=12). We will be engaging in participatory design sessions that allow participants to contribute their own ideas and designs. These designs will be pieced together to form a preliminary prototype of the app. Based on these findings, a mobile application will be built and deployed in the autistic community. Statistics on user performance and the amounts of time they spend on the materials will be collected. These statistics will be analyzed and compared with the non-gamified version of the app. We will also collect qualitative data on participant attitudes towards the app.

A Glance into the Origin of Life through the Lens of the DNA Repair Enzyme MutY from the Lost City Metagenomes

Authors: My Nha Quyen Tran, Cindy Greaves. Mentors: Martin Horvath, Cindy Greaves. Insitution: University of Utah. I have been studying the DNA repair enzyme MutY found at the Lost City thermal field 3000 feet deep in the Atlantic Ocean with conditions similar to those that may have shaped the origin of life. With no sunlight and very little oxygen, life at the Lost City is driven by chemical transformations in rocks at extremely high levels of pH and temperature. DNA in all organisms strictly follows base pairing rules in which A pairs with T and G pairs with C. We all think of oxygen as beneficial, but it can cause damage to DNA. Oxidized guanine (OG) violates the base pairing rules and pairs with A. This causes mutations, which can lead to changes in the genetic information. The mutagenic potential of OG was a challenge that had to be solved early in the emergence of DNA-encoded life. The enzyme MutY functions in suppressing mutations and therefore protects us from developing cancer by finding and removing A from OG:A mispairs. In my effort to replicate conditions at the Lost City so as to explore how the DNA repair enzyme MutY evolved to function in this strange environment I need to purify the enzyme. I used DNA cloning to attach the MutY-encoding genes to a soluble bacterial protein called GST that hopefully will make it easier to purify the MutY proteins. Encouragingly, these fusion proteins expressed well in bacteria and appeared to be soluble. I am now exploring different conditions looking for optimal enzyme activity, which I predict to be different from what familiar bacteria can tolerate. Basic science research on how DNA repair enzymes adapted to the strange environment at the Lost City may inform future translational applications to treat and cure cancer and thus ensure a healthy society in Utah.

A Global Pandemic's Effect on Mobile Device Security

Authors: Ashton Walden. Mentors: Sayeed Sajal. Insitution: Utah Valley University. Cyber attacks are at an all-time high and mobile devices are some of the most highly targeted devices today. This is due to the shifting landscape of the workforce brought on by the coronavirus. December 12th, 2019 saw the first patients in the Hubei Province of China experience symptoms of what would become known as the Coronavirus that would eventually cause a global pandemic. Little did anyone know at this time the world would change drastically because of this virus. One of the areas that was hit the hardest was the global workforce. Many industries were forced to shut down or adopt a method of remote work. This led to companies adopting either a mobile device management system or a bring-your-own-device policy. Cybercriminals took notice of this abrupt shift and began taking advantage of the many vulnerabilities of mobile devices. This paper investigates those vulnerabilities, how cybercriminals take advantage of those vulnerabilities, and what can be done to prevent attacks on mobile devices. Interviews were conducted with 10 separate iPhone users on their mobile device habits and their basic knowledge of mobile device safety. Various papers related to the topic as well as industry-leading websites were consulted for industry standards and statistics as well as safety recommendations. Through multiple interviews and analysis, I have found that many users have a strong sense of confidence in their phone’s built-in privacy and security protections and many believe that this is sufficient cyber security and leaves them with little to no vulnerabilities. I have also found that security incidents on mobile devices are not uncommon, one 2021 report even showed that 46% of companies reported a security threat stemming from a malicious mobile application installed by an employee. I have concluded that as a result of many individuals believing that their mobile devices have pre-installed security measures they are not at risk of an attack. This may lead them to indeed become more vulnerable as cyber attacks on mobile devices and mobile device management systems have become extremely common in the modern world.

A Gyroscopic System for Magnified Coherent Diffraction Imaging

Authors: Tyler Daynes, Jair Gonzalez, Jeremy Tait, Josh Jumper, Ellie Purcell, Tyler O'Loughlin, Vern Hart. Mentors: Vern Hart. Insitution: Utah Valley University. Coherent diffractive imaging is a common method for resolving small objects such as cells in order to determine their morphology. In it's essence it takes the diffraction pattern of laser light attenuating through an object and computationally reconstructs them back into the image that the light goes through. On the downside resolution of these diffraction patterns resulting from CCD size and sensitivity can be poor resulting into a less than optimal reconstruction. We have set out to build a system that can magnify this diffraction pattern without distorting the original image of the pattern. We have done this by building our own rastering system that can magnify light on the far edges of our beam. It does this by taking images with a lens attached to the rastering camera. This also has a problem because when the camera moves our detected light quickly falls off the screen of the detector. To fix this we added a gyroscopic system to our camera and lens so that the incident light may hit the system asmuthally at every point on the raster. This in turn will provide a higher quality diffraction pattern for reconstructing in CDI.

A look at Suicidality Among Various Demographics at Southern Utah University

Authors: Maggie Smith, Bryan L Koenig. Mentors: Bryan L Koenig. Insitution: Southern Utah University. Nationwide, Utah ranks 14th for suicide rates (CDC, 2021). To help prevent suicide, understanding suicidal ideation differences among certain populations such as sexual, ethnic, and racial minorities is important. One study found that LGBTQ+ individuals are three times more likely than non-LGBTQ+ individuals to attempt suicide at some point in their lives (di Giacomo et al. 2018). Religious background has also been connected to suicidality. Sterling and colleagues (2002) discovered that active LDS males aged 15–34 years have a lower risk of suicide compared with both less active LDS members and non-LDS individuals. Whereas some studies have samples of diverse ages and locations, research on suicidality among college students specifically in Utah is lacking. The purpose of the present research is to assess how demographic variables such as religious identity, biological sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and racial/ethnic identity are connected to suicidality at a regional university in the Southwestern United States, Southern Utah University. In this study, 1,397 SUU Students took at least one of two surveys that asked about mental health variables and demographics. Suicidal ideation was measured using the Suicidality Suicide Behaviors Questionnaire Revised (Osman et al., 2001). Results indicate that the more minoritized identities students had, the more likely they were to be suicidal. Other findings include that LGBTQ+ students were very likely to be suicidal, cisgender students were less likely to be suicidal, and female students were more likely than male students to be suicidal. Additionally, suicidality was lowest among LDS students and highest among non-religious participants.

A Metagenomic Analysis the Microbial Composition of Apis mellifera Pollen Preserves throughout the Foraging Season

Authors: Sydney Larsen. Mentors: Joshua Steffen. Insitution: University of Utah. Pollen preserves are crucial to maintaining Apis mellifera’s hive health. This pollen provides bees with a source of protein, amino acids, lipids, and other nutrients that are vital for larvae development (Dharampal et. Al, 2019). In addition to providing these essential nutrients, bee collected pollen also provides the hive with an excellent source of external pollen-borne microorganisms. These microbes provide a variety of benefits including serving as a major dietary requirement for larvae, assisting in biochemical processes such as bee bread fermentation, and assisting in bee resistance to pathogens (Gilliam, 1997). Despite the importance that these organisms play on bee health, there is currently little research on how the microbial composition of bee foraged pollen changes throughout the foraging season in response to abiotic and biotic factors. Rapid advancements in DNA metabarcoding approaches and DNA sequencing technologies have made the assessment of hive level foraging patterns easily accessible. We attempt to leverage the benefits of these new approaches to characterize how microbial composition in pollen provisions changes in relation to shifts in foraging preferences. Here we describe general patterns plant foraging behaviors for two hives across a single foraging season. In addition, we describe the variability of microbial diversity associated with pollen across this same time frame. Our initial description plant and microbial communities present in pollen provisions suggest that pollinator foraging preferences play a significant role in pollen associated microbial communities. This will allow for further research into how the presence of specific beneficial microbes is affected by changes in climate, floral availability, pathogen presence, etc..ReferencesDharampal, P. S., Carlson, C., Currie, C. R., & Steffan, S. A. (2019). Pollen-borne microbes shape bee fitness. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 286(1904), 20182894.Gilliam, M. (1997). Identification and roles of non-pathogenic microflora associated with honey bees. FEMS Microbiology Letters, 155(1), 1–10.

A Natural Advantage: An Eye-Tracking Analysis of Indoor and Outdoor Spaces

Authors: Samuel Weisler. Mentors: Brandon Ro. Insitution: Utah Valley University. Contemporary architecture and design increasingly prioritize sustainable, healthy, and aesthetically pleasing indoor environments, acknowledging the fact that we spend most of our lives inside buildings. However, this research brings up a critical question: are we undervaluing the inherent beauty of the outdoors within our built environment? While the concept of beauty is a subject of heavy debate, the universal beauty of nature remains a constant. This study aims to substantiate the superiority of outdoor spaces over their indoor counterparts by comparing the visual appeal of AI-generated images. Specifically, it will create image pairs for five different activity categories: contemplation, recreation, social interaction, education, and creativity. Each image in the pair must embody essential elements: sunlight, biophilic components, and privacy. For each activity category, AI will be instructed to generate an outdoor space image and an indoor equivalent. Next, visual eye-tracking software will analyze these images, enabling us to quantitatively gauge their visual appeal. The analysis will provide insight into whether outdoor spaces surpass their indoor counterparts in aesthetics. Anticipating that outdoor spaces will exhibit greater visual appeal, this research carries valuable implications for the architectural and design industries. In a world increasingly focused on enhancing the human experience, these findings will advocate for the greater incorporation and prioritization of outdoor spaces in built environments. Increasing our access to outdoor living spaces will undoubtedly improve the quality of human experiences.

A novel method of predictive thermodynamic property mining using AIMD simulations of molten salts for use in molten salt nuclear reactors

Authors: Maggie Wu, Ashley Littlefield, Bryant Jones. Mentors: Bryant Jones. Insitution: Snow College. A novel method of predictive thermodynamic property mining using AIMD simulations of molten salts for use in molten salt nuclear reactorsSolving the worlds energy crisis has been a heavily debated and researched topic for many years. One proposed solution to this problem is the micro molten salt nuclear reactor (MMSR). The MMSR is a small portable nuclear powerplant that can provide an affordable source of energy that is completely safe, readily available, and passively controlled. The waste products from this reactor are also heavily sought medically important isotopes. One final hurdle for MMSR development is the mining of the thermodynamic properties for previously unstudied eutectic mixtures of molten salts. Due to the hygroscopic nature of molten salt eutectics, experimental techniques for measuring thermodynamic properties are time and cost prohibitive. Modern supercomputing techniques provide a solution for property mining. However, computational methods have been historically limited to previously experimentally studied salts. There has always been a need for experimentally measured values to be determined first to provide tuning for the computational techniques. This group has developed a novel technique for tuning the values for previously unstudied salts. This greatly enhances the predictive capabilities of computation methods. This technique was then employed to successfully measure the density, Heat capacity, and coefficient of thermal expansion for two promising uranium salt eutectics. These studies provided the data to also study the molecular structure of these salts. This study showed interesting new aggregation of the uranium atoms that will be presented.

A Passion for Regression: The Psychology of Hume’s Skepticism at THN 1.4.1

Authors: Brandon Ascione. Mentors: Katie Paxman. Insitution: Brigham Young University. T 1.4.1 contains what appears to be a skeptical regressive argument that ultimately leads to a complete loss of belief. Yet, Hume claims that neither he nor anyone else is compelled by this argument because like breathing, it is the nature of humans to form beliefs. Thus, it becomes challenging to understand why anyone would engage in such a skeptical thought process from the start. Drawing on Peter Millican’s critique of this iterating skepticism and Donald Ainslie’s interpretive work on T 1.4.1, it becomes clear that there is disagreement over what Hume’s intended purposes for T 1.4.1 might be. This paper argues that T 1.4.1 is an account of the psychology of a particular kind of skeptical disposition. Hume’s work on the passions can account and explain the psychology of the skeptic with this skeptical disposition. By taking a more holistic analysis of passages from Books 1 and 2 of the Treatise and citing Margaret Watkins’ conception of delicacy of passion, a compelling case is made that Hume’s own skeptical crisis from T 1.4.7 was motivated by such a skeptical disposition that was driven by the passion of fear.

A Place for the Arts: Creating Spaces for Cross-Community Contact in Belfast

Authors: Addie Ressler. Mentors: Jacob R. Hickman. Insitution: Brigham Young University. Since the conflict named “the Troubles”, infrastructure and symbolic imagery have been used to divide areas within Northern Ireland and mark territory between Loyalist and Republican communities. While the larger community in Belfast is still held by these physically and socially enforced boundaries, the art community actively defies these restrictive borders by renting, renovating, and then transforming buildings and spaces within segregated areas. In this paper, I analyze the unique and incomparable role that artists can play in pushing against the sectarian attitudes that persist within Belfast. Their success is dependent, in part, on the spaces they occupy and the use of those spaces. I argue that because artists infuse their studios and buildings with metaphysical meaning, artist collectives are able to provide neutral spaces where individuals from the opposing communities can come in contact with one another. Ultimately, members of the art community in Belfast strive to produce a commune-like entity that can act as a microcosm for an ideal Belfast.

A portable device for measuring Achilles tendon stresses in dancers

Authors: Joey McConkie, Jackson Wilcox, Eli Smith, David Phair. Mentors: Christopher Dillon, Matthew S Allen. Insitution: Brigham Young University. Elevated strain in the Achilles tendon places ballet dancers at high risk for tendinopathy, which in severe cases can terminate a dancer’s career. Typical methods of measuring in vivo tendon stresses—which could be used to predict and prevent tendinopathy—are invasive, making them impractical for professional dancers. We use a portable, non-invasive, externally mounted system of one transducer and two accelerometers to generate and record vibrational motion within the tendon. The speed of sound waves propagating through the tendon is used to calculate the stresses present. The portability of the system allows it to be worn by a dancer during an actual dance routine instead of requiring measurement to be taken at a fixed location where mobility is limited. This system results in data that can noninvasively quantify tendon stresses regularly experienced by ballet dancers. The improved understanding of in situ stresses measured by this device will have great potential for improving the prediction and prevention of debilitating tendinopathy.

A Qualitative Review of the Stronger Families Project at Utah Valley University

Authors: Sage Wettstein, Kaicee Postler, Rachel Arocho, Julie Nelson. Mentors: Kaicee Postler. Insitution: Utah Valley University. Research has shown the efficacy of improving and strengthening family relationships through family life education programs (FLE; Darling, et al., 2019). The Stronger Families Project (SFP) at Utah Valley University (UVU) is a FLE program offered to the community to provide skills regarding communication, problem solving, conflict resolution, and general family function (Stronger Families Project, 2023). The current study aims to identify qualitative themes of satisfaction among participants from SFP across three semesters, including Fall 2022, Spring 2023, and Fall 2023. Qualitative data has been taken from satisfaction surveys administered in the final session of the program to determine the elements of the SFP program that have the most positive effects on families. Thematic analysis will allow for comprehension of the data in an aggregate form, with specific quotes to support identified themes. Implications for future research and practice will be discussed based on identified themes.

A Study of Polymer Bonding and the Restoration of Fragmented Ancient Pottery

Authors: Ellie Martin. Mentors: Cynthia Finlayson. Insitution: Brigham Young University. Pottery reconstruction allows archaeologists to better understand their artifacts and gain a more complete understanding of ancient ceramic techniques. Reconstruction techniques have evolved over time that strive for both better conservation practices and long-lasting results, as well as the use of bonding materials that are reversible rather than permanent. This poster examines the process of utilizing an acetone-based glue consisting of dissolved polymer beads of differing strength solutions. The entire process with be illustrated by step-by-step photos and directions as well as the quality of the final results. Two layers of different solution consistencies are applied to the pottery in different stages before the pieces are joined together. The first layer of glue is a thin coat made of 5% polymer and 95% acetone, and it is applied to any edges that will be refit. This layer fortifies the sherd and ensures that the glue applied is not stronger than the sherd itself. After the first layer has dried, the second coat of glue, made of 12% polymer and 88% acetone, is added to each piece. The sherds are then joined and placed in a secure location to dry, such as a bin of silica beads. Acetone-based polymer glue is strong and flexible, yet also dissolvable. Any mistakes can be unmade with the careful application of small amounts of acetone, and no restoration action is utilized on the pottery fragments that cannot be undone. This method of reconstruction is safe, secure, long-lasting, and meets modern conservation standards.