Skeletons in Our Closet


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Where they male or female? Age? Where did they come from? When did they arrive? These are the questions that Lydia Lingerfelt and Dr. Pilger wanted to answer about the two skeletons that are owned by Agnes Scott College Biology department. They decided to use osteological information to learn about the biological history of the two  skeletons, historical records, catalogs, and surveys completed by Agnes Scott alumni to discover the year the skeletons arrived.

In addition to discovering the time the skeletons arrived, Lydia and Dr. Pilger wanted to find the age, sex, and health status of these two skeletons. They sent out surveys to Biology majors who attended Agnes Scott from the year 1965 and earlier years, looked at yearbooks dating back to the year 1889, and old catalogs to try to figure out when the skeletons arrived. It was discovered that one skeleton was used in a Physiology and Hygiene class in 1906 and the oldest alumni recalls seeing a skeleton when she attended Agnes Scott in 1931. Also, there is a reference to a skeleton in an Agnes Scott yearbook that was made in 1899 referring to the skeleton as Bonsey.

The sex was determined by using os coxae (pelvic bone) morphology and cranial features, It was discovered that one skeleton (skeleton A) was a male and the second skeleton (skeleton B) was a male. The age of the skeletons was discovered by using the dental development, bone fusion, and cranial suture fusion.

In conclusion, they discovered that the skeletons were both males and their age ranged from 35 to 55, one skeleton has been at the college since 1899 and the second arrived before 1931, skeleton A had servere periostitis of the left femur, and skeleton B had servere periodontitis and was a vegetarian.

Digital Storytelling with Middle School Refugee Girls


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As part of their Education 325 class, Neeraja Panchapakesan, Fikela Hill, Albertha Sabree, Dildora Sharipova, and Patience Shepard worked with middle school girls from the Global Village School (GVS) on a digital storytelling project. Their goal was to discover whether a digital storytelling project could improve language skills of the refugee girls. The project had three parts: first, the Agnes Scott students shared a personal story of their own. Then, the GVS students told their own personal stories. Finally, the GVS students turned their stories into fictionalized movies. The Agnes Scott students found that the project improved the GVS students’ written and oral skills and developed their technological skills.  The presenters developed bonds with the GVS students and hope to continue working with them.

Greenhouse Gases and Understanding your Carbon Footprint


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Meghan Franklin gave a sustainability talk on emissions inventories that track the amount of greenhouse gases emitted to or removed from the environment. In particular, she discussed Agnes Scott’s emission inventory with us. Although the 2013 and 2014 emissions inventories are not yet available, she pointed out that in two out of three categories our emissions have remained the same, and in the last category Agnes Scott’s emissions were greatly reduced from 2009 to 2012. This is great progress towards Agnes Scott’s goal of climate neutrality!

Her talk also sparked (or SpARC’ed, if you will) a discussion in the audience on several of Agnes Scott’s recent sustainability efforts. We learned that the power from the solar panels on the science center’s roof are actually sent to Georgia Power rather than powering buildings on campus. Meghan also told us about the geothermal wells on the science quad, which will provide heat and cooling to Campbell Hall.

Agnes Scott Dance Students


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Agnes Scott Dance 2

Agnes Scott Dance 1


The one thing that I love about Agnes Scott College is that I am able to witness different types of cultural events that are not available at some school. Dancing is a fun past time, but it is also a form of art that can be used to express emotions. These two videos consist of Agnes Scott dance students and they are performing dances choreographed by other Agnes Scott dance students.

L’académie Française: Upholding the Patriarchal Institution


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Macey Karr highlights the problematic aspects of the group charged with maintaining the pureness of the French language. L’académie Française was established in 1635 and preserves the French language from slang, new words, and the adoption of words from other languages into the French language. 

Macey makes the statement that when language is created and maintained by men then it becomes hard for a woman to be involved; this creates an environment that inadvertently maintains the patriarchy. The academy is currently 85% male with only one non-white member. Right off the bat, it is not very diverse for a group that has been around for 379 years. In these years there have been 25 female candidates for the academy and only eight have been elected. The first candidate appeared in 1874 and her name is unknown. The first female elected member of L’académie Française was Marguerite Yourcenar in 1980. The academy perpetuates aspects of French culture that are often seen as sexist. One example is the use of gender specific articles and when they pertain to words that imply higher education. In the case of the word <<Le Professeur>>, a male gender article is used regardless of the gender of the professor specifically. L’académie Française refuses the adoption of the female article when referring to a female professor and have offered the option of <<Madame le Professeur>>, but many still believe that because this translates to miss professor that there is still a negative connotation. Macey also mentions a quote from Benjamin Wasserman pertaining to how children who grow up with language that has more gendered vocabulary tend to have more sexist attitudes.

Although L’académie Française defends and upholds the patriarchy, there are some positive aspects for the future of the establishment. Because there is a growing number of women in the academy, there is hope for more equal representation within the group. So far, only female candidates have replaced previous female chairs. If this trend continues then the number of females is going to obviously increase. Another positive function of the academy is the preservation of the original French language, which is priceless. 

Two Talks on Cerenkov Radiation


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The physics room at SpARC started off strong with two presentations on Cerenkov radiation. Cerenkov radiation is light that is emitted when a charged particle travels faster than the speed of light in the medium it is in. Cerenkov radiation is used to identify charged particles at CERN and is also used for imaging in pre-clinical drug testing (called Cerenkov Luminescence Imaging).

The first presentation was from Melissa Hutcheson on Simulating Cerenkov Production from Radioactive Decays. This semester she simulated how decay mode would affect the imaging. Her model was a sphere of water with a radioactive isotope at its center, and she simulated the number of photons per decay for several different isotopes. Her results can then be used to select an isotope to use experimentally in Cerenkov Luminescence Imaging.

The second presentation was from Kim Luong on Cerenkov Radiation Detection using CCDs. Kim’s talk focused on the cameras that would be used in Cerenkov Luminescence Imaging. Her work was on checking the sensitivity of the CCD camera. She built a circuit with a blue LED as the light source and attached a power meter, and then graphed photons collected vs. distance.

Both Kim and Melissa work in Dr. Nicole Ackerman’s research lab. This work was part of the Physics 400 class, and they will both continue their work next semester.

The Role of SCN1A and Epilepsy


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Natasha has been doing research on a neurological disorder called Epilepsy at Emory University. Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that causes spontaneous and unprovoked seizures. It is characterized by hyposynchrony and excessive discharge of neurons. In order to be epileptic a person must experience two or more of these seizures. It is the fourth most common neurological disorder in the United States. 1/3 of the cases of people with epilepsy are refractory or resistant to treatment. Seizures are classified into two categories general and partial. Characteristics of general seizures are:

  • effects both hemispheres of the brain
  • loss of consciousness
  • absence seizures
  • convulsions
  • ex. Tonic clonic ( discussed in presentation)

Characteristics of partial seizures are:

  • focal seizures that start in one part of the hemisphere of the brain and then spreads to progress into a generalized seizure
  • simple-retain
  • complex-lose consciousness

The lab that she was working at researches epilepsies that are caused by genetic mutation. For her research experiment, she used mice that were wild type, heterozygous, and homozygous male and female. The heterozygous and homozygous mice were mutant. She  induced seizures into these mice. The wild type mice were not effected, but the heterozygous and homozygous mice either died or lose weight and died. It seems that losing weight comes before death. In conclusion, the DY mutant mice had an increase in susceptibility to seizures, homozygous mice had an average life span of 26.7 days, her mice model results are similar to the results of other SCN1A models, and mice models can be used to understand the mechanisms of epilepsy. She will do future tests that involve EEGs, drug treatments, and behavioral analysis.

Demographic and Environmental Variables Associated with Cognitive Test Participation of Monkeys in Large Social Groups


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NET/work in Atlanta has assisted many Agnes Scott neuroscience students in their undergraduate research pursuits. Rebecca Cross executed her research at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University, specifically with the Rhesus Monkey. These primates have very similar physiology to humans and can perform various cognitive tests. They live in an Open Field Station Environment which allows the monkeys to keep their hierarchy as they might in the wild while also remaining in a controlled testing environment.

For this study the monkeys were implanted with a chip similar to the chips that are often found in cat and dog collars for locating. The test subjects were free to participate in cognitive testing on their own accord. The typical test flashed a photo for the monkey to observe, then the monkey was presented with four photos and required to identify the photo that was the same as the first photo. When a monkey passed the test, then they receive positive feedback in the form of a sucrose treat and a happy sound. When a monkey does not pass a test, then they receive negative feedback with no reward and a bad sound. The cognitive testing locations were inside of the monkeys’ enclosure and accessible to them at all times.

Rebecca looked at the monkeys’ participation and not their results in the cognitive tests. Her two questions in this study were:

– How does testing participation change over the course of a year?

– Does giving birth lead to changes in cognitive test participation?

To answer the first question, Rebecca grouped her results into three seasons: Winter (January-April), Summer (May-August), and Fall (September-December). She found that participation was around the same rate in both the Fall and Winter while it was significantly higher in the Summer. A different approach was used to answer the second question. Rebecca examined the monkeys’ participation in the testing 30 days before giving birth and 30 days afterward. Rhesus Monkeys are seasonal in their breeding and so the females give birth in the summer. What she found was that participation was lower 30 days after giving birth than 30 days before.

The results of this study have great significance for the future of participation testing when it comes to planning the best times of the year to introduce tests to the monkeys. Rebecca also wishes to test her study with changes in variables such as: weather, age, and time of day.


Parental Acceptance-Rejection Theory: The Father’s Influence and Fluctuation of Anxiety Level


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Another Developmental Psychology research presentation focuses specifically on the role of the father when it comes to a person’s anxiety levels. Brittany Williams and Jessica Teare focused on three levels of anxiety in their experiment: Interpersonal Anxiety, State Anxiety, and Trait Anxiety. Interpersonal Anxiety is social anxiety in general, not necessarily romantic. State Anxiety is a person’s temporary emotional state. Trait anxiety refers to a person’s baseline anxiety level. Their hypotheses were:

– Interpersonal Anxiety is higher with more rejection from the father than the mother.

– State Anxiety is higher with more rejection from the father than the mother.

– Trait Anxiety is higher with more rejection from the father than the mother

With a sample size of 114 females averaging about 29.56 years in age, Brittany and Julia administered the Adult Parental Acceptance-Rejection Questionnaire: father/mother, the Interpersonal Anxiety Questionnaire, and the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Questionnaire to all participants. Their results managed to support the opposite of all three hypotheses. The results showed that participants felt higher anxiety of all levels when rejection is higher from the mother than the father.

Brittany and Julia concluded that mothers perhaps have a higher effect on their daughter’s anxiety level than fathers. Some weaknesses that they found in this study were that that most of their participants were fairly young and not particularly diverse. On the other hand, because these questionnaires were administered online there was no bias. Because of these interesting results, Brittany and Julia are interested in testing out other factors such as: the father/son relationship, differences between races and cultures, and specific changes between the number of children and their birth order.

The England They Knew : Carribean Abolitionst and Transfomation of the English Society 1770s to 1838


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It is 9:00 am and Agnes Scott’s SPARC is starting. The first presentation that I saw was a history presentation by Ashley Lawrie entitled The England They Knew. The main topic of her presentation was to discuss England and the West Indies and the effect that these places had on each other particularly during the time of slavery and the slave trade. There are many documents and reports about how England was the oppressor and the West Indies were the oppressed, but she took a different route and decided to research on how the English viewed themselves during this time. Did they view themselves as oppressors or should outlying factors be considered? Before she started to talk about her research she gave out some background information about event occurring during this time period. Some background information included:

  • change in diet (more sugar was consumed)
  • West Indies experienced competition from the United States colonies in sugar production
  • sugar revolution lead to the expansion of the slave trade
  • debates about the ethics of slavery were based on a religious perspectives
  • proslavery advocates viewed slavery as god’s divine will, while antislavery advocates view-point was treat others the way you want to be treated
  • 1713 was the beginning of British national law that legalized slavery, but around the 1770s slavery was beginning to be frowned upon

It was interesting that in such a short period of that people’s views about slavery began to change, particularly the views of people in England. This change in viewpoint was due to the events that were happening in England that placed a lot of emphasis on human rights. Some influences that caused these changes were the Enlightenment, Industrial Revolution, and England’s civil war against the monarchy. The desire for equality, human rights, and the questions about freedom caused these great shifts in slavery view points. People were starting to realize that since they were being treated unfair in their homeland that the slaves in the West Indies must have been experiencing the same unfairness. However, the English people did not know the extent of their treatment.
It should also be taken into consideration that due to the distance of these two places that people were not aware of the actually realities of that were happening to the slaves in the West Indies. They simply thought of slavery as being a work force. It was not until the Quakers, who were traveling in the West Indies to spread their religious views, saw the horrifying treatment of the slaves in the West Indies that people became aware of what was happening. Soon people started writing journals about the things that they had witnessed.
By 1770 there was a case called the Somerset case that had such a major impact on the views of slavery and human rights that many people believe that it led to Britain stopping the slave trade. Charles Steward was a slave owner and he took his slave with him to England. His slave ran way, but he was found. Charles Steward decided to sell him to Jamaica and this decision concerned Somerset’s English godparents, which many slaves had during this time, along with many abolitionist who wanted the antislavery movement to progress. In the end of the case it was concluded that since the slave laws were only colonial laws they did not apply in England. As a result, it was that Somerset was not a slave.
After many debates in parliament it was decided in 1814 to get rid of the slave trade which had significant economic implications on the West Indies because the work force was now gone, it was cheaper to bring slaves in. England soon tried to spread their views about slavery to the United States. It seem that they felt that since they were “Mother” England that they had to right to influence the other colonies.
After listening to Ashley’s presentation it seems that her main points were slavery was everywhere and no one country played a major part in starting slavery it was a group of countries that each played a role in the establishment. The point that I got from her presentation is not to believe every portrayal that you see, just because everything on the internet portrays England as an oppressor does not, mean that every English person approved of the treatment of the slaves. Generalizing is not always an acceptable, because it keeps people from considering all factors and seeing the overall truth about England. Should England be considered an oppressor? In my opinion no, because the fact is that even though they helped to start the slave trade and colonies they have no control over how the colonial slave masters treated their slaves and could not possible know the extent of the treatment since they are not over there.

The Role of Parental Rejection in Trait Anxiety and Interpersonal Relationships


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Natacia Pereira and Lexi Pulice-Farrow start off the PSY 400 SpARC presentations with their study on the role of parental rejection in Trait Anxiety and interpersonal relationships. This is a two part study where both Natacia and Lexi analyze the same effects but with different interpersonal relationships. The focus for Lexi’s study was on romantic relationships, specifically with couples who are cohabitating. Natacia’s focus was on interpersonal relationships in general. The section of their study connected to rejection used the PARTheory. This is a bi polar scale based on acceptance and rejection in early development. Another part of their study was related to Trait Anxiety, which is a person’s baseline anxiety.

Lexi’s study had four hypotheses: 

- Participants who cohabitate with a romantic partner will report more parental rejection than those who do not.

- Participants who cohabitate with a romantic partner will report more maternal rejection than those who do not.

- Relationship between parental rejection and trait anxiety will be greater.

- Relationship between maternal rejection and trait anxiety will be greater.

Through the use of the Adult Parental Acceptance-Rejection questionnaire: father/mother and the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety surveys Lexi was able to conclude that Cohabiting had marginally more rejection within participants. There was also a strong correlation between trait anxiety and rejection.

Natacia’s hypotheses were:

- Trait anxiety mediates the relationship between paternal rejection.

- Trait anxiety mediates the relationship between maternal rejection.

She used the same questionnaires for her study as Lexi with the addition of the Interpersonal Relationship Anxiety Questionnaire because her study focused on general interpersonal relationships as opposed to Lexi’s focus on romantic and cohabiting relationships. Natacia’s results pointed to the conclusion that parental rejection led to more trait anxiety and more Interpersonal Relationship Anxiety. 

Both Lexi and Natacia expressed similar strengths and weaknesses for their study. Through their use of the internet and social media in distributing their questionnaires they were able to reach a very wide geographical range. Unfortunately, they both studied predominately caucasian females. Both have expressed an interest in studying a much more diverse sample and Natacia would like to look at other correlations.



Law and Gender Inequality in the US


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Can the legal system be used to address the continuing income gap between women and men? This is the main question guiding Danli Lan’s probing look into the concept of democracy and its impact on gender. Using a series of milestone legal cases, Lan highlights how institutional and social barriers have prevented women from being treated equally when it came to salaries and pension benefits (the Lily Ledbetter case and subsequent law is one of the better knowns.) Based on her reading and interpretation of these cases, Lan concludes that a better coordination of judicial and symbolic laws needs to happen in order to lessen the income disparity. Acknowledging that laws in themselves won’t change inequality, Danil Lan encouraged the audience to think about productive solutions themselves.

Hubert Scholars Around the World


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It is 9:00 am and SpARC is starting.  Four women stand at the front of the room – Xinyu Zhan, Su Myat Thu, “Lexis” Xi Wang, and Eia Gardner.  They have traveled abroad to Ghana and Burma, and home to China and California, working on public service projects funded by the Hubert Scholars Program.  They are busy before the presentation working with the computer – one of their number, Danli Lan, is studying abroad at Oxford this semester and is hoping to Skype in.  Wifi and Skype aren’t cooperating though, and the presentation starts without her.

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Professor Doug Falen’s Sociology/Anthropology majors, together with Public Health majors with a social science focus present the results of TWO semesters’ hard work: selecting a research question and research design, reviewing literature, learning methods and getting institutional review board approval, followed by data collection and analysis, and now, today, the presentation! sparc 13 audience

Everyone sets up, presenters get nervous, and the inevitable technology misconnections are fixed, thanks to help from Matt Ruby, Calvin Burgamy and Tami Stanko!

These notes present on-the-spot reporting of the news from the front lines by your friendly emerita professor of anthropology, yours truly, Martha Rees: mwr sparc 13followed by a short analysis and commentary!

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Conflict Within the Refugee Community of Clarkston, Georgia


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Maureen Klein ’13 presented again on a different issue, but still in her study of sociology and anthropology.  Klein looks at refugees leaving conflict in their own countries and meeting conflict again in their new refugee living conditions.  Clarkston, GA has refugees from Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Vietnam and many others — several foreign languages are spoken in this community and it has been called “a modern day Ellis island.”  Klein studied the experience of Clarkston refugees and their satisfaction with living in Clarkston, potential conflicts between other refugees and violence, and a desire to return to their homeland.  Klein worked with this refugee community during her time at Agnes Scott College and wanted to study the refugee community more deeply as part of her senior research.

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Relationship Satisfaction, Confidence, and Outness in Lesbian Identified Facebook Users


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The Psychology presentations wrapped up with a second study from Lexi Pulice-Farrow. On a slightly different spin from her first presentation, Lexi is moving from orientation disclosure to relationship satisfaction, specifically among lesbian identified Facebook users.

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Selling Degeneracy: Five Case Studies of the Exportation of Modern Art from Germany to New York


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Emma Kearney ’13, an art-history and English major from Peachtree City, Georgia, presented on the topic of degenerate art in the era of the Nazis.  An exhibit at the Modern Museum of Art brought art the Nazi’s seized from museums in Germany to New York City.  Emma explored why.

Degeneracy is defined as a decline from a previous peak.  The Nazis cast off art from different periods, especially the Weimar period in German art — “Basically anything Hitler didn’t like!” Emma said.

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