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Interdisciplinary Studies

The Spirit of Oaxaca

Volk, Nathaniel ('10);  Pinkel, Sheila
Interdisciplinary Departments: Art and Media Studies

In 2006, the city of Oaxaca, Mexico, was shut down for months as an annual teachers’ strike evolved into a popular movement against the state government. The movement utilized the power of radio and television to protest an unpopular state governor that was seen by many as corrupt. I spent six weeks traveling in Mexico this summer, developing my skills as a photojournalist and better familiarizing myself with the local culture and language. These activities prepared me to create a photo documentary about Oaxaca, its people, and its annual festival Guelageutza in light of the 2006 protests. I participated in a photojournalism workshop in Mexico City, took language courses in Oaxaca, and visited a number of other museums and culturally important sites. My work captures the strength and spirit of the people of Oaxaca and their city. It will be exhibited on campus later this fall.
Funding provided by: Stonehill Grant

Quartz Crystal Microbalance (QCM-D) Investigation of GDI-Gint3 Interaction

Nordmann, Amelia ('09);  Cheng, Connie ('09);  Yang, Amanda ('10);  Cheney, Clarissa;  Johal, Mal;  Rawle, Robert ('08);  Amin, Palak ('08)
Interdisciplinary Departments: Biology and Chemistry 

Membranous vesicles transport materials into, out of, and within eukaryotic cells. Small GTPases called rabs embedded in these vesicles direct each vesicle from a donor membrane to a specific target membrane. A protein called GDI (GDP Dissociation Inhibitor) extracts rabs and returns them to their donor membranes at the end of this cycle. GDI is hypothesized to differentiate between different rabs by interacting with a host of other proteins. A protein called Gint3 (GDI Interactor 3) was previously found to interact with GDI in the yeast two hybrid system. QCM-D monitors changes in frequency of oscillation of a piezoelectric quartz crystal as mass is adsorbed to the crystal. By sequentially exposing the crystal to bacterially expressed proteins in solution, it is possible to observe whether two proteins bind to one another. QCM-D was used to confirm the GDI-Gint3 interaction and to narrow-down the binding domain to the amino terminal region of Gint3.
Funding provided by: Merck Institute for Science Education and AAAS (AN);  Rose Hills Foundation (CC, AY)

Scalable Optimization of Adaptive Scheduling in Swift for Large Parallel Computations on Grids

Morshed, Ragib ('09);  Small, Steven*;  Hasson, Uri*;  Hategan, Mihael**
*Brain Research Imaging Center, Surgery Brain Research Pavilion, University of Chicago Hospitals, Chicago IL;  **Computation Institute, University of Chicago, Chicago IL

Interdisciplinary Departments: Computer Science and Mathematics 

In typical fMRI studies, data are collected from an individual while that person is presented with particular stimuli. During such scans, the scanner collects an enormous amount of data from spatial locations (voxels) in the brain that can reach ~400K functional time series per participant via interpolation. This vast amount of data requires computationally intensive operations. Performing such analysis on these datasets on a single machine is very time consuming. By taking advantage of the potential parallelization of such analysis, and the use of grid computing resources like the Teragrid, neuroimaging researchers can complete such tasks more quickly. Swift is a system for rapid and reliable specification, execution and management of such large-scale workflows. In this paper, we develop an optimization for adaptive scheduling in Swift that is scalable and can potentially speed up computationally intensive tasks on grids.
Funding provided by: Research Experiences at the Biological-Mathematical Interface (REBMI) grant. NSF grant # DMS-0634592

Using Stormwater In-Lieu of Detention Fees to Better Understand Green Building Policies

Hodge, Chelsea ('09);  Cutter, Bowman

Interdisciplinary Departments: Economics and Environmental Analysis 

Altering construction practices is key to making progress in many environmental areas including global warming, air quality, and water quality. Little is known, however, about the relative merits of two types of policies used to regulate construction practices: regulatory policies (the traditional norm) and incentive-based policies (favored by many economists). This project uses stormwater in-lieu fees, a type of incentive based policy, as a case study for examining this question. In-lieu fees are fees developers can pay in lieu of constructing on-site stormwater detention devices. We are currently administering an online and telephone survey of 70 local governments across the country that have pioneered the use of in-lieu fees and expect that the results will allow us to better understand in-lieu fees and support a comparative analysis of whether in-lieu fees or direct regulation manage urban stormwater water more cost-effectively and to extrapolate our findings to green building generally.
Funding provided by: The Paul K. Richter and Evalyn E. Cook Richter Award and Aier Grant

Habitat Restoration of California's Coastal Sage Scrub: Can Allelopathy Play a Role?

Cerny-Chipman, Kathryn ('09);  Hanzawa, Fran
Interdisciplinary Departments: Environmental Analysis and Biology 

Coastal sage scrub (CSS) is a highly endangered habitat threatened by human development. Within coastal sage scrub, many plants compete for resources through the use of allelopathy, in which plants emit secondary chemicals that inhibit the germination and development of neighboring plants. The allelopathic properties of California sagebrush (Artemisia californica) and White sage (Salvia apiana) were studied in treatments by making a solution from these plants for two treatments, and by using sagebrush branches as cover for a third. The impact of sagebrush solution and white sage solution on germination time of seeds within the CSS seed bank demonstrated a trend of inhibition, but was not statistically significant. Further study using native allelopathy to slow the germination and development of invasive species is important, as it could allow native plants to regain dominance. If further research proves successful, it could provide a new approach to habitat restoration in CSS.
Funding provided by: Pomona College SURP;  The Schenck Fund

Oil Politics of (In)Justice in Latin America

Embrey, Monica ('09);  Dorsey, Michael K.*
*Dartmouth College, Hanover NH
Interdisciplinary Departments: Environmental Analysis and Latin American Studies

As the world becomes more concerned about environmental issues, it is important to understand the role that power plays in distributing environmental goods and harms on local, national, and international levels. This is especially important concerning oil politics in Latin America, where actors including private and federal transnational energy corporations, local indigenous and international resistance organizations, and the international oil consuming market, come together to produce a highly contentious issue. While focusing on events in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela, I addressed the topic by working directly with environmental and social justice organizations and interviewing renowned scholars. As an assistant to Professor Dorsey for his upcoming book, I focused on three main topics: resistance efforts, green-washing campaigns, and the quantification environmental harms. The great diversity of responses to oil politics within Latin America provides environmental justice communities around the world valuable lessons.
Funding provided by: Pomona College SURP

San Francisco Unified School District: 1906-1970

Cohen, Jacob ('10);  Summers Sandoval, Tomas
Interdisciplinary Departments: History and Chicana/no Studies

This summer, in collaboration with Professor Tomás Summers Sandoval, I mined the San Francisco Unified School District’s historical archive, housed in San Francisco’s public library. Through close inspection of primary documents—ranging from board of education minutes to high school newspaper clippings—my primary objective was to explore how race operated in the school district. This poster will briefly document some of my findings, spanning from the earthquake and fire of 1906 to the mid-1960s, when debates over de fact segregation intensified among San Francisco community groups and education administrators. In my search through the archive explicit references to race or ethnicity as a determinant in policy formulations were rare, and blatantly discriminatory practices even harder to extrapolate. Nonetheless, the poster will share those documents and findings that were most relevant to issues of race and ethnicity, along with questions that surfaced while in the archive that may be deserving of greater scrutiny.
Funding provided by: Pomona College SURP

Cultivating Resistance in Colombia: Analysis of the Floriculture Industry with Environmental Justice and Feminism

Follett, Marie-Ana ('09);  Mayes, April
Interdisciplinary Departments: History and Environmental Analysis

Colombia is the second largest flower exporting country in the world, employing 110,000 workers, with 65% of them being women. Originally endorsed by USAID, the floriculture industry1s rapid growth has led to problems of labor injustices, pollution of the land, water, and air, the displacement of food growth, and the contamination of the bodies of the workers and their families. In response, Colombian non-profits, flower workers, organizers, and town officials are building coalitions that seek to correct the injustices of this giant industry. By researching in Colombia and interviewing flower workers and organizers, we can analyze their fight for justice through the lens of an environmental justice paradigm and feminism. Emerging themes showed the intersection of environmental justice and feminism, resulting in an international ecofeminism that spoke to class, gender, activism, and capitalism.
Funding provided by: The Aubrey H. and Eileen J. Seed Award

En Las Calles: Protest and Identity in Argentina

Blaney, Alexandra ('09);  Tinker Salas, Miguel
Interdisciplinary Departments: History and International Relations

Protest against the state appears to be relatively common in Argentina and social protest seems accepted almost as a part of its political and cultural identity. The purpose of this research is to determine to what extent this observation is true and what it means in terms of Argentine national identity and the sphere of political action. Building upon the theoretical base of many cultural scholars, this research focuses on the changing portrayal in periodicals of violent events in Argentina during the last century, concentrating on three: “La Semana Trágica” of January 1919, “El Proceso” of the military dictatorship of 1976-1983, and the economic crisis of 2001. Scholars usually portray these events as unconnected economic and political struggles but this research analyzes these moments of protest against the state as manifestations of “cultural contestation” in the continual process and the constant struggle of imagining, defining, and redefining an Argentine national identity.
Funding provided by: Pomona College SURP, Arango Latin American History Grant

Made in Chinjnaya

Russell-Einhorn, Rebecca ('10);  Bolton, Ralph
Interdisciplinary Departments: Media Studies and Anthropology

Chijnaya is located 13,000 feet above sea level in the altiplano of Peru. The small town was once situated two hours away on the shores of Lake Titicaca. After years and years of flood damage, Ralph Bolton, then a Peace Corps volunteer, was given the daunting task of moving the town to a new location. To help the town get back on its feet, the villagers began to create beautiful large embroidered scenes (bordados) on sheep’s cloth to raise money. However, over time the project fell apart. Last year, volunteers from Pomona worked with the community to re-establish the embroidery program. Some of the art was later submitted to the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Out of four hundred applicants, the artwork from Chijnaya was chosen along with about a hundred other artist groups. I spent six weeks in Chijnaya helping organize the project and prepare the bordados for the market in Santa Fe.
Funding provided by: Stonehill Grant

Modeling Senescence in Ciliates

Adachi, Marie ('09);  Cavalcanti, Andre;  Radunskaya, Ami
Interdisciplinary Departments: Molecular Biology and Mathematics

Ciliates are single celled organisms whose nuclear organization of chromosomes is significantly different from other organisms. They have macronucleii, which contain hundreds to thousands of copies of each chromosome, and divide via amitosis rather than regular mitosis during vegetative growth (Prescott 1994). The way in which amitosis occurs puts the cell at risk of losing all copies of a certain chromosome, at which point the cell is thought to die. We have replicated the results of simulations done by Duerr et al. (2004), which show the generation at which the cells “die” given different initial chromosome types and copy numbers. We would like to add to these models in order to simulate other aspects of the evolution of nuclear organization in ciliates. We are especially interested in looking at how the excess copies of chromosomes relates to the way they fragment their chromosomes and eliminate non-coding DNA.
Funding provided by: The Elgin Fund for Summer Student Research

Christianity in China: A Study of the Underground Church

Tien, Joanne ('09);  Crighton, Elizabeth;  Ng, Zhiru;  Kassam, Zayn
Interdisciplinary Departments: Religious Studies and Politics

Although religious freedom is protected by the Chinese constitution, Protestants in China continue to face persecution because Christianity is only legally practiced in government-approved “Three-Self Churches”. However, of approximately 70 million Protestants in China, only 10 million attend the Three-Self Church;  the rest attend underground “house churches,” risking persecution. This study examines why this is so. It also examines the extent to which the underground church resists the Communist government and is more sympathetic to Western ideologies. Research was conducted through 52 qualitative interviews in Beijing, Lanzhou, Zejiang, and Anhui, and by attending both house church and Three-Self services for 2 months. Analysis of these interviews reveals that the key reasons behind the underground church’s rapid growth are extremely fundamentalist and literalist interpretations of the Bible. This study also found that underground Christians have more positive views of Westerners and Western ideals. No active resistance against the government was found.
Funding provided by: Oldenborg Travel and Research Grant

Research at Pomona