On June 30, Wesleyan hosted a virtual Summer 2020 Research Poster Session to celebrate the accomplishments of more than 150 student researchers.
To emulate the excitement and camaraderie of the live poster session, students hosted their own individual presentations on Zoom and answered questions live.
Examples of student research projects are below:
Tyler Boone ’21 shared his poster titled “Probing the Effects of YTA7 on Genetic Silencing in S. cerevisiae.” Boone is double majoring in molecular biology and biochemistry and biology with a minor in chemistry. In order to better understand how the structure of chromatin, a complex of DNA and protein found in eukaryotic cells, affects gene silencing specifically, Boone studied the gene YTA7 in a species of yeast known as Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Boone’s advisor is Scott Holmes, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry.
Sydney Lodge ’21, who is double majoring in psychology and African American studies with a concentration in cultural psychology, presented “An Analysis of the Impact of History and Sociological Factors on the Future of Affordable Housing.” Her project offers various perspectives on the past, present, and future of affordable housing in Texas and California and explores the attitudes of women of color who advocate for affordable housing and whose work centers around anti-gentrification and anti-displacement efforts. Her advisor was H. Shellae Versey, a former assistant professor of psychology.
Fiona Skerrett ’21, who is double-majoring in biology and environmental studies with a minor in data analysis, presented her study titled “In Hot Water: Increasing Extinction Risk of Marine Species.” Skerrett explored whether the threat to marine species has increased in the last 13 years by using a data set consisting of 227 marine species that changed status from “Data Deficient” to any other “Red List” category (least concern, vulnerable, endangered, critically endangered, or extinct) during the years 2007, 2009–2019. Her results demonstrate the profound impacts of habitat degradation, overharvesting, pollution, and climate change on marine species. Her advisor is Barry Chernoff, Robert Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies, professor of biology.
Bob Liu ’22, who is majoring in the College of Social Studies and economics, and Vanshika Virmani ’21, who is majoring in majoring in psychology and economics with a minor in data analysis, presented “Measuring Risk: A Sector-Based Analysis of Irish Stock Listings Using the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM).” This research collects Irish equity data from the Dublin Stock Exchange archives during 1948–1958 to study historical economic trends. Equity prices and returns give insight into how different sectors of the Irish economy, namely banking, breweries, railway, finance, gas, bakery and milling, drapery and the commercial/industrial, performed over time. In addition, the data reveals how the stock market reacted to macroeconomic shocks historically, as well as the top end of the wealth distribution of Ireland over time. Their advisor is Richard Grossman, professor of economics.
Seth Larner ’23, a projected astronomy and physics double major, presented his poster titled “Investigating ACIS Spectra in Archival Chandra Data.” Larner analyzed 136 X-ray sources from an existing database of Chandra X-Ray Observatory Spectrometer (ACIS) observations to learn more about extragalactic X-rays.
Psychology and sociology major Arianna Jackson ’22 is interested in examining the racialized experience of students of color in higher education. Her study, “The Relationship Between Connection to Community and Prosocial Behavior,” explored the ways in which connection to community—a concept created from social identity theory—informs on prosocial behavior in a sample of female housing activists and organizers of color. Participants were asked more than 15 open-ended questions concerning their journey to activism and organizing, their insight on challenges for achieving equitable housing, and their thoughts on how COVID-19 and the recent Black Lives Matter protests have impacted housing and the communities they work with. This study found that connection to community was integral for prosocial behavior as participants also advocated for marginalized communities outside of their paid work. Connection to community was also vital for the community members to gain self-efficacy and generativity for the neighborhoods in which they lived.
The student research was conducted under the auspices of the College of Integrative Sciences, Research in the Sciences Program, the Quantitative Analysis Center, College of the Environment, the McNair Program, the WesMaSS program, and students who are funded by their individual mentors or departments.
The poster session was supported by Wesleyan’s Office of Academic Affairs, College of the Environment, individual departments, individual mentors, the McNair program, the Quantitative Analysis Center, the CIS Research in the Sciences program, WesMaSS, and alumni donors: Joshua Boger ’73, Hon.’18, P’06, ’09; Shonni Silverberg ’76; Stephen Baker ’64; and the Sonnenblick, LaCrosse, and Siegal families.