Skip to main content

Celebration of Learning 2023 Oral Presentations II

11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m.


Featured presentation

Olin Auditorium (Session Room A)

Angie Mitchum '08 Sharp
Jordan Delp '09

→ Living Your Passion – Finding Your Community (Sharp, Delp)

Angie Sharp and Jordan Delp

Presented by Angie Mitchum '08 Sharp and Jordan Delp '09
Alumni presentation

Olin Auditorium (Session Room A)

Augustana alumni and Quad-Cities transplants Angie Mitchum '08 Sharp and Jordan Delp '09 will share their life and career journeys that have allowed them to apply the knowledge and skills they learned at Augustana to their personal passions right here in the Quad Cities.

Sharp's love of communication and storytelling led her to a successful career in local broadcast journalism at WQAD-TV and now to Bettendorf, Iowa, as a community engagement manager. 

For Delp, the same skills that first landed him an analyst position at a Moline investment firm — communication, critical thinking and problem solving — propelled him to start his own business developing basketball players from grade schoolers to NBA players.



Lindberg 205 (Session Room B)

Chair: Dr. Taddy Kalas
Dominique Valentine
Evan Juarez

→ The sovereigns of Racinian tragedies (Valentine)

Presented by Dominique Valentine; advisor Dr. Taddy Kalas

Lindberg 205 (Session Room B)

I will be presenting my analysis and understanding of the French playwright Racine's work through the roles of the kings in each play.

→ Power and Persuasion: the Struggle of Racinien women (Juarez)

Presented by Evan Juarez; advisor Dr. Taddy Kalas

Lindberg 205 (Session Room B)

In this research paper I analyze the works of Jean Racine and discuss both power and persuasion and the reasons for which women in positions of power are able to persuade others.


Political Science

Old Main 223 (Session Room C)

Chair: Dr. Xiaowen Zhang
Robert Fast
Mia Vu
Isabella Gmitrovic
Brendan Fritz

→ From Boss to Mob: Shifts in electability during the 2016 Republican Primaries (Fast)

Presented by Robert Fast
Political Science
Old Main 223 (Session Room C)

Description to come.

→ Precarious 'Bridge over Troubled Water': The Impact of Democratic Regression on Multilateralism in South China Sea Dispute Settlement (Vu)

Presented by Mia Vu; advisors Dr. Xiaowen Zhang, Dr. Mariano Magalhaes
Political Science
Old Main 223 (Session Room C)

This research explores the relationship between democratic regression in the Southeast Asian region and the likelihood of ASEAN-China multilateralism in South China Sea dispute management and settlement. Democratic regression was hypothesized to  have a negative impact on multilateralism, both in quantitative and qualitative aspects through the likelihood of ASEAN-China meetings and the likelihood of multilateral agreements on South China Sea dispute management respectively. The test shows mixed results. ASEAN countries and China becoming more autocratic increases the probability of multilateral meetings on South China Sea dispute management being conducted. However, a higher degree of autocracy is correlated with the decreasing number of ASEAN-China multilateral agreements on the South China Sea dispute being materialized. The findings thus confirm that democratic regression does have an effect on ASEAN-China multilateralism, yet they are inconclusive of whether the effect is positive or negative.

→ Augustana College as a Microcosm: A Study of how Social Media Usage is Related to Political Polarization in Young Adults (Gmitrovic)

Presented by Isabella Gmitrovic; advisors Dr. Mariano Magalhaes, Dr. Paul Baumgardner
Political Science
Old Main 223 (Session Room C)

As social media becomes more and more prevalent in everyday citizens' lives, so does the divide between political parties. Young adults (people aged 18-23) grew up using social media, therefore are impacted daily by the growing partisanship present on these platforms. As more and more people turn to digital news, social media is being utilized by news organizations and political actors to spread their messages; but because of the usage of algorithms on these sites, many people are only shown content that they already agree with, thus creating echo chambers of polarization. This project looks at how social media and political polarization interact with one another and the effects that they have on young adults. Specifically, this project will analyze a survey of Augustana College students to identify whether or not there is a correlation between increased social media usage and political polarization of specific public policy issues as well as how negative polarization is impacted.

→ How Judges Decide: Bail Reform and the SAFE-T Act (Fritz)

Presented by Brendan Fritz; advisor Dr. Mariano Magalhaes
Political Science
Old Main 223 (Session Room C)

I will present on judicial decisions and bias relating to bail reform and more specifically the SAFE-T Act in Illinois. My project asks whether judicial decisions will impact bail reform's success and how judges will do so. I review several different theories of judicial decision making including formalism and realism, I then decide on realism as a lens to analyze judicial decision making.


Philosophy, English, Classics

Hanson 102 (Session Room D)

Chair: Dr. Timothy Bloser
Henry Webb
Blake Traylor
Hayden Bradt

→ The Antikythera Mechanism and the Role of a Model in Science (Webb)

Presented by Henry Webb; advisor Dr. Mischa Hooker
Hanson 102 (Session Room D)

The Antikythera Mechanism (AKM), an Ancient Greek mechanical device and the most complicated surviving example of its kind, was found off the coast of the Greek island of Antikythera by sponge divers in 1901. It was designed such that, with the turn of a knob on its side, it would show the motions of the planets and predict eclipses, among other things, relative to a calendar of the Corinthian family located on the back. While the AKM's functionality and appearance are well understood and have been extensively studied especially since CT scans were carried out in 2005, the context of its creation and its role in ancient science is not as well understood. In this paper, I attempt to clarify the geographical, cultural, and chronological background of the AKM. Just as early modern and modern scientific models can be studied to define possible usages of models in science, study of the AKM also illuminates the role of models in science. A common idea in the philosophy of science is that scientific models are primarily used to visualize and understand existing ideas and theories. However, the AKM demonstrates that scientific models can also be used for the discovery of new ideas and knowledge.

→ Faith and Female Flesh: Sex and Sexuality in Julian of Norwich's Showings (Traylor)

Presented by Blake Traylor; advisor Dr. Joseph McDowell
Hanson 102 (Session Room D)

During the medieval period in Europe, mystical women proliferated across Christendom. Many of these mystics provide us with rare glimpses into medieval women's voices, though their writings were mediated at many levels by male control: male scribes, male Church officials, and concepts of sexual difference that empowered the male as the ideal standard. Julian of Norwich was an English anchorite, a woman who arranged to have herself permanently walled into the side of a church so she could devote her complete focus to God. Julian's hermitage and her writing, The Book of Showings (also known as the Revelations of Divine Love), are rooted in her near-death experience at the age of 30. She prayed for mortal suffering, and she received a severe illness in whose grip she saw many wondrous "showings" granted her by the God she sought. The early chapters of Julian's Book contain startlingly vivid imagery of Christ's physical suffering during the Passion. Through Julian's pain, we come to know Christ's pain; their senses are linked intimately together by symbols that recall medieval concepts of human sex and sexuality. Come see me talk if you want to learn more about how exactly sex and spirituality come together in the work of the English language's first (known) published female author.

→ Virtue, Flourishing, and Non-deceptive Self-respect (Bradt)

Presented by Hayden Bradt; advisor Dr. Timothy Bloser
Hanson 102 (Session Room D)

Virtue ethics has emerged as one of the three leading schools of thought among major modern theories in the fields of moral philosophy and meta-ethics. I will be defending a particular form of virtue ethics proposed by Julia Annas. Thomas Hurka, lays out his famous objection to all flourishing accounts of virtue ethics (Annas among them) known as the charge of foundational egoism. Along with Annas' own responses to the objection, I offer an additional defense to her account of virtue ethics using an idea of non-deceptive self-respect, a reformulation of the way we think of self-interest.


Texas Medical Center

Old Main 117 (Session Room E)

Chair: Dr. Heidi Storl
Isaiah Valentine
Jared Reiling
John Le
Lindsay Saulsberry
Madison Knutsen

→ Modeling the consequences of seizures on behavioral outcomes in CDKL5 deficient mice (Valentine)

Presented by Isaiah Valentine; advisors Dr. Rodney Samaco, Dr. Heidi Storl
Texas Medical Center
Old Main 117 (Session Room E)

CDKL5 deficiency disorder (CDD) is a developmental epileptic encephalopathy derived from loss of function mutations to the X linked cyclin-dependent kinase like 5(CDKL5) gene, characterized by seizure onset within a few weeks of life. Additional symptoms include developmental, motor, behavioral and cognitive impairments. While these alternative phenotypes are expressed in CDD mice models, they don't display the spontaneous seizures observed in humans. This requires pro-convulsant-inducing drugs, such as pentylenetetrazol(PTZ), to be used as a means of mimicking this phenotype. In this study, we used a within-subjects experimental design to assess the impact of PTZ-induced seizure events on motor, cognitive, and nociceptive performance. We show that CDKL5 KO mice have a significant resistance to PTZ-induced seizures, marked by the necessitation of a higher dose for induction. We predict all mice exposed to PTZ-induced seizures have significantly impaired performance in locomotion, motor coordination, hippocampal and amygdala-dependent fear memory, and pain nociception. While there were significant differences between genotype, there weren't differences in most of the injection conditions. The only exception to this was in the contextual memory assay, in which Wild Type mice suffered significant deficits post seizure-induction. These results indicate that the additional clinical expressions in CDD patients may be linked to factors extraneous of seizure presentation, which offers guidance both for disease pathology and for clinical treatment of disease progression.

→ Machine learning: guided engineering of fluorescent voltage indicators (Reiling)

Presented by Jared Reiling; advisors Dr. Heidi Storl, Dr. Francois St-Pierre
Texas Medical Center

Old Main 117 (Session Room E)

To understand the complexity of biological systems, neuroscientists rely on tools to optically monitor cellular activity. Genetically encoded voltage indicators (GEVIs) are fluorescent proteins that report voltage changes and can be used to monitor neuronal activity. We and others have produced GEVIs that can monitor neuronal spiking in awake behaving mice. However, responses to action potentials (APs) remain small, making it difficult to reliably detect APs with conventional microscopy equipment. GEVIs can be improved by directed evolution, but the low screening throughput typically limits mutagenesis to a single site. In this study, I explored machine learning as an alternative approach to guide protein evolution. I hypothesized that performance data on GEVIs of known DNA sequence could be used to create a Machine Learning model that suggests promising new combinations of mutations. I developed a database that contains each GEVI variant and its corresponding performance metrics - response amplitude, brightness, and photostability. I excluded variants with data that did not mean our quality control standards, for example due to insufficient signal during data collection. Using this curated database, I performed classification and clustering models. Using the computer language Python, I will develop a program to predict sequences that will improve performance. I anticipate that this approach will become an integral aspect of protein engineering and that the approaches developed here could be extended to the optimization of other fluorescent protein indicators of cellular activity.

→ Impermissibility of Social Harm: Impersonal Harm, Social Values, and Genetic Enhancement (Le)

Presented by John Le; advisor Dr. Amitabha Palmer
Texas Medical Center

Old Main 117 (Session Room E)

I will argue that the theory of impersonal harm has the capacity to fit a social aspect, and that because of this, the principle of procreative beneficence fails to be an ethical guideline. In replacement, I will further contend that the principle for the prevention of harm along with a principle I will stipulate as a principle for respect of social values, based off values espoused by Michael
Sandel, are able to account for social impersonal harm, and thus would be a better guideline for the
ethical implementation of genetic enhancement.

→ Novel P-selectin Glycoprotein Ligand-1 Inhibitor Exhibits Potential Macrophage Repolarization in Acute Myeloid Leukemia (Saulsberry)

Presented by Lindsay Saulsberry; advisor Dr. Heidi Storl
Texas Medical Center

Old Main 117 (Session Room E)

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is an aggressive blood cancer and is the most common form of acute leukemia in adults, often characterized by poor clinical outcomes. There are two generalized categories of macrophages - M1 representing a pro-inflammatory macrophage that supports the immune system and M2 contrastingly representing an immunosuppressive, tumor-promoting category of macrophage. Current research suggests that macrophages in AML patients are polarized towards an M2 phenotype and PSGL-1 (p-selectin glycoprotein ligand-1) is currently identified as a checkpoint in modifying this macrophage polarization. My work consisted of testing a novel PSGL-1 inhibiting antibody called FXT-10, to explore its ability to repolarize macrophages from M2 to M1 through observation of phagocytic ability and changes to cell surface phenotype in macrophages cultured from both healthy donors and AML patients. Macrophage cultures were treated with FXT-10 and isotype control antibody at different concentrations and analyzed via flow cytometry. These cultures were used for live cell imaging via IncuCyte to observe phagocytic activity when co-cultured GFP expressing leukemic cells. While results from IncuCyte experiments were inconclusive, macrophages from AML donors exhibited significantly less M1 macrophage markers in comparison to healthy donors. Both AML patient-derived macrophages and healthy donor macrophages show an increase in M1 markers when treated with FXT-10 in comparison to the control. FXT-10 does appear to exhibit repolarization of M2 to M1 macrophages phenotypically but not in phagocytic capacity. Consistently high expression of M2 markers in all macrophages studied attests to the complexity of the M2 classification and the heterogeneous nature of macrophage differentiation.

→ Texas Medical Center Internship: LATINO Project in Storch Lab (Knutsen)

Presented by Madison Knutsen; advisors Dr. Andrew Wiese, Dr. Eric Storch
Texas Medical Center
Old Main 117 (Session Room E)

In the summer of 2022, I interned in Dr. Storch's lab in Houston for the Texas Medical Center Internship Program. I worked on the LATINO project, which aims to identify the generic mechanisms contributing to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in Latin Americans. In my presentation, I will discuss the LATINO project and how my work in the lab contributed to it.


Senior Art Show

Wallenberg Hall, second floor, Denkmann Memorial Building (Session Room F)

Chair: Vickie Phipps
Carley Anderson
Tran Bui
Carly Davis
Alyssa Duckett
Chris Ferman
Andrew Gray
Elizabeth Hord
Hannah Knuth
Nhung Tran Nguyen
Cassidy Petrie
Faith Pickslay
Chris Rosland
Riley Scranton

Read more: Senior Art Show 2023


Sociology and Anthropology

Old Main 132 (Session Room G)

Chair: Dr. Paul Croll
Claire Bess
Lilia Rangel
Katie Cooper

→ Rethinking Acculturation: Food Security Barriers During Refugee Resettlement (Bess)

Presented by Claire Bess; advisors Dr. Paul Croll, Dr. Christopher Strunk
Sociology and Anthropology
Old Main 132 (Session Room G)

During resettlement, multiple factors can affect the food security of refugees. To reduce food insecurity for refugees during resettlement, the barriers themselves must be identified in order for them to be addressed. This study collected data about the barriers to refugee food security in the Quad Cities, a small metropolitan area located on the Mississippi River in Northwest Illinois and Eastern Iowa. Participatory observation data was collected through a local refugee resettlement agency. Further data was collected through six semi-structured one-on-one interviews with resettlement workers, both American born and New Americans (resettled refugees) to gauge how former refugee status might affect one's viewpoint of barriers. This study identified three primary barriers impacting refugee food security in the Quad Cities: Economic Accessibility, Transportation and Distance, and Language and Literacy. Research showed that refugees encountered issues with applying, using, and losing federal food assistance benefits, the long distance to food resources like grocery stores and food pantries, a lack of translation services, lingual barriers and cultural and financial literacy. Future research should analyze the effects of the fiscal cliff on supplemental food assistance programs like SNAP and WIC to see if a gradual decline in benefits would reduce food insecurity and how food security barriers impact refugees who have arrived first vs those who arrive to already established family and friends.

→ A New Model For Voluntourism in Latin America (Rangel)

Presented by Lilia Lizet Rangel; advisor Dr. Paul Croll
Sociology and Anthropology
Old Main 132 (Session Room G)

This project will analyze the purpose and traditional methods of service trip and voluntourism while simultaneously exploring the efficiency of voluntourism in Latin America. I propose that the current model of voluntouorism is inn-effective in creating change or progress for the receiving countries and instead only benefits the tourist. The most beneficial way for voluntourism to work is if Non Government Organizations (NGOs) work with grass root organizations or with other social justice organizations that will allow for the tourists to truly learn about the receiving country's culture as well as the social, political, and economic problems they face. By working with local organization made by the community members the tourists will also be able to help the people work directly at the root of the cause and not just with the programs that many NGOs propose that do not provide any long term solutions.

→ The Interrelationship Between Dental Insurance, Socioeconomic Status and Self Esteem (Cooper)

Presented by Katie Cooper; advisor Dr. Paul Croll
Sociology and Anthropology
Old Main 132 (Session Room G)

Self-esteem and mental health are rising issues in the United States and around the world. Many individuals are focused on the ways in which they are perceived by others whether it be their hair, skin, or the way in which they dress. Conversing, smiling, and eating are all parts of the normal daily routine, making your teeth and overall oral hygiene another significant contributor to low self-esteem. This study  focuses on socioeconomic status, gender, ethnicity and the correlation between the ability and accessibility of receiving dental care and overall self-esteem. A core element to this research is the use of dental insurance. As a pre-dentistry student at Augustana College, this research topic interested me as I hope to aid in the fight against inaccessibility to care and work to improve self-esteem amongst individuals as a dentist. This study will help me understand how individuals are impacted by socioeconomic status, race, and gender in regards to dental care and self esteem.