Undergraduate Research - 2018 Poster Abstracts

Poster Presentation Abstracts

Anthropology and Biology


The Ethnic Tourism Industry of Tibetan Sky Burials

Dixon, Sarah

Faculty Mentor: Kozak, David, Anthropology

Sky burials in Tibet have become a recent cultural attraction in the global tourist trade. Even in regions that were previously opposed to cultural tourism have revised their stance on globalization, because of the development it promises. Once the encouragement of the tourist industry occurs, people become aware of the ability to market cultural traditions to tourists, resulting in a new appreciation for the preservation of cultural diversity. This is currently occurring in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), as China has developed an ethnic industry off of Tibetan Buddhist culture. I argue that China has never cared about maintaining the practices of the Tibetan people, but rather saw an opportunity to boost their own economy. For prior to tourism China had a low tolerance for ethnic diversity, especially in relation to Tibetan Buddhism and their funerary customs of sky burials. Consequently, the preservation of Tibetan culture is now connected to the economic interests of China, commodifying cultural heritage and transforming some of their most sacred events into tourist attractions. Therefore, although globalization can increase social and economic opportunities through tourism, it can often be at the cost of local traditions.

A Geoarchaeological Study of Butler Wash, Utah: A Predictive Model for the Preservation of Bears Ears National Monument

Tucker, Ben

Faculty Mentor: Kozak, David; Tune, Jesse and Harvey, Jon, Anthropology

Butler Wash, Utah is Located on the eastern side of Comb Ridge, one of the still protected portions of Bears Ears National Monument. Comb Ridge and the surrounding landscape have a cultural history stretching back to the Clovis archaeological period based on the artifacts found in the area. This study examines the exposed stratigraphic section of an outcrop within the wash, gathering temporal information based on radiocarbon samples preserved within the bedding. Charcoal found in different observable sediment deposition periods was dated as far back as ~3500 years ago. The dates provide a solid base of understanding for where to find other layers of the same age, give clues to how artifacts are preserved in this specific landscape and how the geomorphology of the landscape can be correlated to environmental changes throughout the Southwest.



Interaction between the Neuronal-Specific Cytokine, NIL-16 and the Negative Memory-Regulating Protein, HDAC3 in Neurons

Baugh, Keith and Fenster, Steven

Faculty Mentor: Fenster, Steven, Biology

Neuronal Interleukin-16 (NIL-16) is the longer neural-specific splice isoform of the interleukin-16 (IL16) gene. In the brain, NIL-16 displays restricted expression to post-mitotic neurons of the hippocampus and cerebellum: brain regions associated with learning and memory. The N-terminus domain of NIL-16 is unique to the neuronal variant but shares an identical C-terminal protein-coding sequence to Pro-IL-16, the leukocyte-specific isoform that serves as the pro-inflammatory precursor to the secreted cytokine IL-16. The protein coding sequence shared between Pro-IL-16 and NIL-16 contains three PDZ protein interaction domains (PDZ-1, PDZ-2 and PDZ-2). In addition to its role as the IL-16 precursor molecule, Pro-IL-16 has been shown to regulate T cell growth through an interaction of the PDZ-2 domain with the nuclear-associated protein Histone Deacetylase 3 (HDAC3). The interaction between HDAC3 and Pro-IL-16 occurs once the C-terminus (IL-16) precursor has been secreted, unanchoring the PDZ-2 containing segment allowing for translocation into the nucleus leading to cell cycle arrest. Emerging evidence indicates that HDAC3 plays a critical role in brain development and in regulating fundamental mechanisms involved in long-term memory formation. Given that NIL-16 has the identical PDZ-2 domain found in Pro-IL-16, we hypothesized that NIL-16 also forms an interaction with HDAC3 and possibly an additional interaction with Dysbindin-1 to form a tri-partite protein complex in neurons. In this study, using a combination of biochemical analysis and immunofluorescence microscopy, we provide evidence that NIL-16 can interact with HDAC3 in both non-neuronal cells and cerebellar granule neurons. Thus, my study provides evidence for the role of NIL-16 as a scaffolding protein that can recruit nuclear-associated proteins to regulate critical events in neurons.

Assessing the Effectiveness of Combination Therapy using Metformin and Propranolol to Suppress Growth of Breast Cancer Tumor Cells

Cleary, Sean

Faculty Mentor: Fenster, Steven, Biology

While traditional breast cancer treatments have proven to be effective in alleviating cancer, these methods can be highly invasive and toxic. Due to the potential for long-term medical consequences, there is an urgent need for less toxic drugs and treatments. Metformin, the most commonly prescribed diabetic medicine, has been shown to slow the growth of cancer tumor cells. It is also much less toxic and cost-efficient compared to traditional treatment methods. One drug shown to increase the efficacy of metformin as a cancer therapeutic agent is propranolol, a _-blocker used to treat hypertension. I hypothesized that a combined therapy treatment of metformin and propranolol would result in greater suppression of breast cancer growth than either drug used alone. To develop a live animal tumor model, mice were injected in the rear flank with 4T1 cells, a breast cancer cell line. Upon tumor growth, the mice were administered either metformin independently, propranolol independently, or metformin and propranolol. The propranolol treatment group and the combination therapy treatment group showed statistical differences in prolonging mouse life compared to the control group. The results of my study indicate the combination therapy may warrant additional research as an effective treatment for certain forms of cancer.

Diversity and prevalence of _-lactamase genes of culturable soil bacterial in high, moderate and low human disturbed areas of La Plata County

Curley, Ashedin; Gonzales, Amanda and Kulesza, Caroline 

Faculty Mentor: Kulesza, Caroline, Biology

The production of antibiotics has greatly increased human life expectancy, but not without consequences. The emergence of antibiotic resistance has drastically increased with approximately two million people a year, in the US, become infected with an untreatable bacterial infection. To understand the prevalence and diversity of antibiotic resistance in La Plata County we sampled soil from three different locations of high, moderate and low human disturbed areas. We cataloged and compared the diversity of _-lactamase genes in an open range (low human disturbance), off a mountain trail (moderate human disturbance), and beside a mountain bike trail (high human disturbance). Soil samples were collected to be analyzed for the prevalence of antibiotic resistance, specifically to ampicillin. Our results show the moderate human disturbed area had the most prevalence of ampicillin resistant microbial growth compared to the other two locations. The high and low human disturbed locations exhibited similar microbial growth of little to no ampicillin resistance. We isolated DNA and sequenced three _-lactamase resistant genes (TEM, IMP and OXA2) from our environmental isolates. TEM is found in natural environments, while the other two are found in clinical setting. The most prevalent _-lactamase was TEM, though we did see expression of IMP.

Effects of Forest Restoration Treatments in Warm/Dry Mixed Conifer on Large Mammals in Southwestern Colorado, USA

Dees, Rachel and Korb, Julie

Faculty Mentor: Korb, Julie, Biology

Euro-American settlement introduced a variety of different pressures to warm/ dry mixed conifer forests, which altered their fire regimes and caused a shift in their species abundance. While restoration treatments can be used to help restore these forests back to their former structure, these treatments can also alter habitat conditions for wildlife species. We quantified the effects of forest restoration treatments on large mammal species in a warm/dry mixed conifer forest in the San Juan Mountains, CO in four replication blocks of three restoration treatments (burn only, thin/burn, and an untreated control). A motion activated game camera was placed in five permanent plots in each treatment (5 x 12=60 cameras). The objectives of our research were to observe differences in large mammalian richness and abundance across three different restoration treatment sites in 2017, and to compare our findings with data in 2015 and 2016 to quantify temporal differences. We hypothesized that the burn only and the thin/ burn treatment areas would have the highest large mammal species richness and abundance; and that there would be a higher abundance of large mammals in the treatment areas in 2017 compared to past years, due to increased vegetative cover as a result of above average winter precipitation and plants responding to time since treatment. The results of our research will allow managers to have a better understanding of how large mammal species respond to restoration treatments, which will help them manage areas in a way that maintains ecosystem function and conserves biodiversity. We found that large mammals utilized all three restoration treatments across all summer months and different times of day. This finding helps demonstrate how important it is to maintain a heterogeneous forest structure in order to help ensure a resilient and diverse ecosystem.

Quantifying the Stability of 5.0 kb Intron in Human Cytomegalovirus

Romero, Mercedes; Stilwell, Natalie and Kulesza, Caroline

Faculty Mentor: Kulesza, Caroline, Biology

Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is the leading cause of virus-induced birth defects in the United States, as 1 in every 150 babies is born with congenital HCMV infection each year. Congenital HCMV exhibits similarities to congenital Zika virus, an epidemic that has raised significant awareness of the impact of congenitally transmitted neuropathogens. 80% of infants contracting congenital HCMV display serious life-long neurological abnormalities, highlighting the need to develop new drugs and vaccines for HCMV. To do so, the replication and pathogenesis of HCMV in the host must be better understood. Non-coding RNAs are expressed by many cells and viruses and function as protein-independent RNA molecules that manipulate the host, helping to ensure evolutionary survival. One of these viral non-coding RNAs is the 5.0-kb RNA of HCMV, which is conserved in all HCMV strains. Since viruses are limited in genetic capacity and tend to only keep what is essential, the fact that this non-coding 5.0-kb RNA is well conserved suggests it may play a critical role in viral pathogenesis. Like HCMV, murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) also encodes a stable non-coding RNA intron known as the 7.2-kb RNA. We have shown when MCMV does not express the 7.2-kb intron, efficient persistent replication in the salivary glands of mice fails to establish. Further analyses revealed that the 7.2-kb RNA contains a long half-life of approximately 19.14 hours. To put these results into perspective, long-lived RNAs with high stability typically contain half-lives greater than 12 hours. Since the 7.2-kb RNA of MCMV is an ortholog of the 5.0-kb RNA of HCMV, we propose that the 5.0-kb RNA plays a critical role in persistent virus replication in the host as well, although this remains to be definitively shown. Despite the recognition of the 5.0-kb RNA of HCMV and the 7.2-kb RNA of MCMV as likely important determinants of viral persistence, their function during replication remains unknown. We will quantify the stability of the 5.0-kb intron via biochemical analyses and compare it to that of the 7.2-kb intron in order to understand the function of the non-coding RNA more in-depth.

Testing hybrid speciation in the rare endemic plant Packera mancosana (Asteraceae: Senecioneae) through comparison of nuclear and chloroplast gene phylogenies

Swindell, Emily and McCauley, Ross

Faculty Mentor: McCauley, Ross, Biology

The aim of this research was to determine if the rare and endemic plant species, Packera mancosana (Asteraceae: Senecioneae), is distinct by comparing nuclear and chloroplast gene phylogenies. There has been variable recognition of P. mancosana as a distinct species due to the complex taxonomy of the genus Packera that is caused by frequent hybridization and indistinct environmental boundaries. DNA of individual plants from 17 populations of P. mancosana, P. werneriifolia, P. neomexicana, P. dimorphophylla, P. franciscana, P. crocata, and Senecio atratus were extracted and amplified via the polymerase chain reaction. PCR products were sequenced, edited, and aligned and phylogenetic trees constructed. Strict consensus of both nuclear and chloroplast data were unable to show P. mancosana as distinct. Less stringent analyses, however, suggest incongruence between the two genomes, with nuclear genes associating with P. werneriifolia and chloroplast genes associated with a variety of other divergent taxa including P. neomexicana, P. crocata, and P. dimorphophylla. This pattern of incongruence supports the hypothesis of hybrid speciation in the origin of P. mancosana. The broader analysis also suggests that such processes are likely common among the complex of P. werneriifolia and related species, confirming the difficulty in classifying distinct species within the genus Packera.

Immunomodulatory Effects of MCMV Tegument Protein M25 on the Interferon Response

Thompson, Tezha and Reynolds, Colby

Faculty Mentor: Kulesza, Caroline, Biology

Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infections affect at least 50-90% of the world’s population, yet are generally asymptomatic. However, patients immunocompromised by bone marrow transplants are among the most threatened by this disease. In bone marrow transplants, about 70- 80% of complications are CMV-related infections, such as gastrointestinal disease and pneumonitis. Currently, there are no vaccines against HCMV but there are antiviral treatments available, such as Ganciclovir, to control HCMV infections in immunocompromised patients. A potential antiviral target against HCMV is localized within the viruses’ tegument layer. The viral structure of HCMV consists of an outer lipid envelope and an inner icosahedral-shaped capsid; the tegument layer is found between these structures. One of the proteins found in the tegument layer is called UL35. In a previous study using a mouse CMV model, the authors found that the homologous protein to UL35 called M35 had immunomodulatory properties on the host’s interferon response. Specifically, M35 caused a reduction in the expression of a proinflammatory cytokine called interferon beta, which would generally trigger an antiviral response against the infectious agent. In our study, we are focusing on the possible immunomodulatory effects of a protein found within the same family as UL35 called UL25 (M25 in MCMV) using MCMV as our model. We monitored changes in gene expression levels of interferon beta (IFN-B) in infected mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) and murine macrophages (RAWs) using quantitative RT-PCR.

Examining potential nuclear gene regions as molecular phylogenetic tools for closely related species complexes in the genus Froelichia Amaranthaceae

Towne, Elliot and McCauley, Ross

Faculty Mentor: McCauley, Ross, Biology

The large-scale phylogeny of Amaranthacae is well understood, but our understanding of small species group diversity is not.  Many genera consist of closely related species and traditional phylogenetic tools have not been sufficient to uncover these relationships. Closely related species of the genus Froelichia from South and Central America were investigated.  ITS (Internal Transcribed Spacer) is commonly used for phylogenetics but does not differentiate species well in Froelichia. Additional gene regions expressing greater variability should be investigated. We investigated the utility of the External Transcribed Spacer region and the PEPC gene for phylogenetic reconstruction in closely related species of Froelichia. PEPC occurred within the genome in multiple copies.  We generated 200bp sequence data from one of the gene copies.  The PEPC sequence was not variable and suggests that this region may not be useful for this group. The addition of ETS more than doubled the sequence length of the analyzed nuclear ribosomal DNA, but did not lead to full resolution of species in this closely related complex. Our analysis led to a more accurate depiction of species relationships. Further application of this region should be tried with other species complexes within Froelichia to evaluate its efficacy.

Determination of Alternative Splicing Patterns in the Honeybee Dscam Gene Following Exposure to a Disease-Causing Pathogen

Trichie, Andrea R; Luc, August D; Schwarz, Dr. Ryan S and Fenster, Steven

Faculty Mentor: Fenster, Steven, Biology

Honeybee (Apis mellifera) immune response mechanisms that result from exposure to pathogens like Lotmaria passim (L. passim) are relatively unknown. L. passim is a gut parasite belonging to the trypanosomatidae family. In insects, Dscam is an immune-response protein that is known to undergo extensive alternative splicing. Dscam is a part of the immunoglobulin superfamily (IgSF) and has 10 Immunoglobulin (Ig) domains as well as a transmembrane domain. The honeybee Dscam gene is capable of producing an estimated 12,240 isoforms via alternative splicing that differ in their Ig and transmembrane domains. Dscam is known to regulate neuronal differentiation such as axon targeting and to mediate immune response from gut parasite infections. Preliminary evidence from our lab and others has demonstrated that the Dscam in honeybees undergoes alternative splicing when exposed to L. passim. In this study, the trans membrane-coding region of the protein was analyzed to determine if there is genetic variability in splicing of Dscam when honeybees were exposed or non-exposed to L. passim. We specifically focused on identifying splice variants found in the regions spanning exons 20-24 as this region has not been extensively studied. As previously reported, our results confirmed that the honeybee Dscam undergoes alternative splicing in this region. However, our analysis revealed that differential alternative splicing patterns in bees exposed to L. passim over an 8-day period versus unexposed bees. In addition, we also identified the use of an alternative splice donor site in exon 23 in a number of the identified splice variants that may lead to an alteration in the protein structure of the Dscam receptor.

Characterization of Antibiotic Resistance in a Riparian Community in Response to Anthropogenic Disturbance

Vigil, Deionna; Cooper-Sansone, Andrew and Kulesza, Caroline

Faculty Mentor: Kulesza, Caroline, Biology

The prevalence of antibiotic resistant bacteria is on the rise worldwide, and is becoming an increasing problem as sources of novel antibiotics dry up. This is an evolutionary process wherein antimicrobial resistance genes (ARGs) become more prevalent in microbial populations as human use of antibiotics increases. This process is accelerated by horizontal gene transfer of ARGs between microorganisms which can occur by a number of processes in which DNA is taken up by the recipient microbe. This has been happening before the advent of modern antibiotics and is influenced by a variety of both clinical and environmental factors. The presence of untreated wastewater in natural ecosystems has been shown to increase the prevalence of antimicrobial-resistant (AMR) bacteria. This study aims to investigate the effects of an untreated wastewater leak on the prevalence of AMR bacteria and the transferability of their ARGs in a prominent creek in Southwest Colorado. We hypothesize that both AMR bacteria and ARG transferability will be higher at sites along the creek which are downstream of the source of the wastewater leak. Our findings may elucidate some of the mechanisms of ARG spread in natural environments, as well as the effects of wastewater on aquatic ecosystems.



PyMOL based structural comparison and enzymatic activity of triosephosphate isomerase in Acidobacterium capsulatum grown on glucose

Brooks, Trevor; Laschinger, Taryn and Spencer, Harry

Faculty Mentor: Sommerville, Les, Chemistry

Acidobacterium capsulatum is a gram-negative, acidophilic organism first isolated from acid mine drainage in Japan. This bacterium is very abundant on the planet, found in a variety of environments, suggesting a key role in nutrient cycling in ecosystems. Heretofore, little biochemical research has been conducted on this bacterium. Genome directed techniques identified triosephosphate isomerase (TPI) as an enzyme of interest because of its involvement in glucose metabolism. In these experiments, A. capsulatum is cultured using glucose as sole carbon source; resulting in high expression of glycolytic enzymes. Previous studies in E. coli suggest that phosphoenolpyruvate (PEP) inhibits the activity of TPI indicating that PEP control of TPI may be a crucial regulatory site in glycolysis. Information from the following data banks: KEGG, NCBI, and PDB; is used to compare structural similarities between TPI in E. coli and A. capsulatum. While the sequence homology is low, the key catalytic amino acid residues are strongly conserved between the organisms. Preliminary amplification of DNA and RNA by quantitative real-time PCR suggests successful primer design to measure TPI mRNA expression levels. Herein we report these findings, as well as development of enzymatic assays aimed towards illuminating PEP’s influence on TPI activity in A. capsulatum.

Design and development of tools to study alcohol dehydrogenase from Acidobacterium capsulatum grown in the presence of ethanol and glucose

Contreras, Uriah and Joe, Tawnjerae

Faculty Mentor: Sommerville, Les, Chemistry

Acidobacterium capsulatum is a unique gram-negative bacterium of the phylum Acidobacteria. This bacterium is acidophilic growing optimally in pH 3.0-6.0, initially cultured from an acidic mine drainage. Minimal research has been conducted on the biochemistry and enzymology of A. capsulatum, this investigation described herein focuses on the enzymology of glucose fermentation. Specifically, these studies focus on the design and development of primers to be used for qRT-PCR, characterization of A. capsulatum grown with ethanol and glucose as the sole carbon sources, and development of an enzyme assay for alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH). Previously, a multitude of bacteria were shown to thrive in relatively high concentrations of ethanol. Using various databases: NCBI, NCBI-BLAST, NCBI Primer-Blast, KEGG and PDB, we were able to select ADH as an enzyme of interest, design primers for RT-PCR, show nucleotide and protein sequence homology and compare structural features of ADH between E. coli and A. capsulatum. Results show a strong primer design, strong conservation of catalytic residues in ADH between E. coli and A. capsulatum, and potential to detect ADH activity in A. capsulatum cell lysates. These are the first studies being done to understand how A. capsulatum can grow in the presence of ethanol.

Evaluating the importance of pseudoknot formation to HTLV-1 pro-pol -1 programmed ribosomal frameshift stimulation

Cooper-Sansone, Andrew; Williams, Marcus; Chadeayne, Devon; Mylroie, Elena; Contreras, Uriah; Davis, Summer; Greyeyes, Sean; Knewitz, Allison; Stelmaszek, Jordan; Joe, Natalie and Mouzakis, Kathryn

Faculty Mentor: Mouzakis, Kathryn, Chemistry

The Human T-cell Lymphotropic Virus Type 1 (HTLV-1) encodes two -1 nt programmed ribosomal frameshift (PRF) sites, which allow for the translation of enzymes critical to the replication of the virus. The frequency, or frameshifting efficiency, of this event is also thought to be important in the viral life cycle. Each PRF site includes a heptanucleotide slippery sequence, a spacer, and a downstream structure. The downstream structure in the HTLV-1 pro-pol frameshift site is predicted to be a pseudoknot. The importance of this structure to the efficiency of frameshifting has not yet been established. Here, we investigate the importance of pseudoknot formation to frameshift stimulation. Two frameshift site variants were designed to disrupt the pseudoknot structure. The impact of these mutations on -1 PRF was assayed using an in vitro dual luciferase assay. Preliminary data suggests that the removal or mutation of sequences important to pseudoknot formation significantly reduce the HTLV-1 pro-pol frameshifting efficiency. These findings are significant because they suggest that the pseudoknot structure plays a criticial role in frameshift stimulation.

Astrobiological Explorations of Amino- and Methyl-Substituted Nucleobase Anions

Dobbs, Alexandra; Dickinson, Molly; Metze, Bryan; Wegener, Aaron; Novoa, Diego and Cole, Callie

Faculty Mentor: Cole, Callie, Chemistry

The discovery of prebiotic molecules in the interstellar medium (ISM) provides incentive to investigate the extraterrestrial formation of biomolecules. This study aims to illuminate potential interstellar synthesis pathways of nucleobase analogs by analyzing their gas phase dissociation patterns. Purine analogs are of particular interest as the location of functionalization directly effects the conjugation of electrons around the ring (Beste et al., 2009), impacting fragmentation processes under CID.  The products observed in these processes are possible ionic precursors to nucleobase formation and often yield interstellar species, such as HNCNH/ H2NCN and NH3. 

Synthesis, Characterization, and Reactivity of a New Scorpionate-Phenylmalonate Cobalt(II) Dioxygenase Catalyst

Eades, Austin; Metze, Bryan; Wegener, Aaron and Morris, Aimee

Faculty Mentor: Morris, Aimee, Chemistry

Acetylacetone dioxygenase enzymes are responsible for degrading acetylacetone compounds identified in mammalian and marine organisms. Despite current knowledge of the enzymes overall function, mechanistic information is still debated. In an attempt to further understand dioxygenase enzymes synthetic models are utilized. In addition to understanding the dioxygenase enzyme mechanism, the dioxygenase catalysts are utilized in synthetic chemistry for carbon bond functionalization. Herein we report the synthesis and testing of a cobalt(II) dioxygenase catalyst, [Tp*CoII PheMal]. Through 1H and 13C NMR the proposed structure has been assigned. Dioxygenase activity was assessed in excess and 5% mol by determining the production of ethyl 2-oxa-2-phenylacetate through 13C NMR of the crude reaction which displayed the noted carbonyl peak.

Fragmentation of n-methylguanine Anions

Novoa, Diego; Girten, Willie; Wegener, Aaron; Dobbs, Alexandra and Cole, Callie

Faculty Mentor: Cole, Callie, Chemistry

A central problem in the field of astrochemistry is the formation of nucleobases and their analogues in the interstellar environment. Direct synthesis of these compounds in the gas phase is extremely complicated. However, by examining the reverse process of fragmentation, crucial information can be elucidated. These processes have been heavily studied for cation and radical nucleobases, yet anions remain comparatively without much investigation. Our research group has previously examined the fragmentation of deprotonated purine nucleobases adenine and guanine. This work presents an experimental and computational exploration of the fragmentation of a series of n-methylguanine anions. It is well known that variance in substituents can have a significant effect on bond strength. Thus, the investigation of substituted purines will provide further understanding of synthetic pathways to this class of compounds.

Quantifying Collisional Energies within an Ion Trap Mass Spectrometer by LabView Simulation

Seaney, Kyser D.; Grubb, Michael P. and Cole, Callie A.

Faculty Mentor: Grubb, Michael and Cole, Callie, Chemistry

The energetics involved in chemical reactions and the bond energies of ions are of fundamental importance to the field of chemistry.  Conventional methods of collision induced dissociation (CID) within an ion trap mass spectrometer provide invaluable structural information on the ions in question.  However, the energy imparted on the ions following repeated collisions with buffer gas often remains ambiguous and unexplored. These energies are often simply represented by a unitless quantity (such as normalized collisional energy, NCE %) instead of an absolute energy unit. In an effort to clarify this ambiguity, we herein present a LabView simulation combined with mass spectrometry experiments which will allow both experimentalists and theoretical chemists alike to develop a more intuitive understanding of the collision energetics within an ion trap mass spectrometer. An experimental calibration of collision energy is conducted by performing CID on a series of ions with well-known bond energies. Next, a LabView simulation is implemented and compared to the experiemtnal observations to test its accuracy. The simuliation is developed through the derivation of the  two dimensional position equations from the Mathieu potential differential equations, which are subsequently solved through Velocity Verlet step integration. The collisional energy distributions may be quantified from the velocity distributions of the simulated ion trajectories. For further verification of both the experimental method and simulation, each were checked against previously published energy metrics. Herein, an efficient method for understanding the collision energetics within an ion trap mass spectrometer during CID is presented.        

Synthesis of Diarylether Paracyclophanes with Varying Tether Lengths

Spencer, Harry; James, Gabby; Hofsetz, Zachary; Bricker, Christa; Hill, Tristan and Miller, Kenny

Faculty Mentor: Miller, Kenny, Chemistry

Cyclophanes are organic molecules that contain an aromatic ring linked by an intramolecular carbon tether of varying lengths. Although lacking a stereocenter, these molecules are still able to possess a chiral center through the restricted rotation allowed by the carbon tether. Little research has been done examining the structures that these molecules reside in at room temperature, and the relationship between the length of carbon tether affecting the ability of the compound to intramolecularly rotate. Diarylether paracyclophanes are variations of cyclophanes that contain two aromatic rings, rather than just one, and also possess the same opportunity to be held in a specific chiral confirmation by the tether. These kinds of compounds have been isolated from the Chinese bayberry tree, Myrica rubra, and have been found to demonstrate varying biological properties. It is the specific conformations of the compounds that generate these properties, and this is what makes this question of chirality so intriguing. Predicting that different tether lengths would change diarylether paracyclophanes conformational flexibility to rotate at room temperature; herein we report our efforts to synthesize multiple diarylether paracyclophanes with varying tether lengths.

Asymmetric Total Synthesis of the Natural Product Avrainvilleol

Wegener, Aaron and Miller, Kenny

Faculty Mentor: Miller, Kenny, Chemistry

The first total synthesis of the marine natural product avrainvilleol is presented. The total synthesis employs the transition metal-free coupling of a tosyl hydrazone with an aryl boronic acid in the preparation of a diarylmethane natural product. These synthetic efforts further detail the first circumstance of this coupling reaction incorporating a hindered di-ortho substituted hydrazone substrate.

The Synthesis of Several Naturally Occurring Variants of the HTLV-1 -1 Programmed Ribosomal Frameshifting Site

White, E.*; Abrams, T.; Banks, T.; Chadeayne, D.; Cooper-Sansone, A.; Contreras, U.; Dailey, L.; Davis, S.; Eades, A.; Greyeyes, S.; Harrison, J.; Hamilton, A.; Joe, N.; Knewitz, A.; Mylroie, E., Nash, H., Stelmaszek, J.; Williams, M and Mouzakis, K.

Faculty Mentor: Mouzakis, Kathryn, Chemistry

Human T-cell leukemia Virus Type 1 (HTLV-1) utilizes two -1 programmed ribosomal frameshifts (PRFs) to translate its enzymatic proteins. This translational mechanism induces a change in the ribosomal reading frame during elongation, which allows for the production of proteins from alternate reading frames within a single transcript. Frameshifting is utilized by many retroviruses and is often required for successful replication. Each frameshift site includes three components: a heptad “slippery sequence”, a spacer, and a downstream structure. Preliminary data from our group suggests that the HTLV-1 pro-pol frameshift site structure is a pseudoknot. Interestingly, multiple HTLV-1 isolates include point-mutations within this tertiary structure, however, how these mutations effect the -1 PRF efficiency is uncertain. Here, we synthesized several naturally-occurring point-mutations into the pseudoknot of the HTLV-1 pro-pol frameshift site. Site-directed mutagenesis was used to insert these mutations, and the variants that were produced will later be measured for their in-vitro frameshifting abilities. The mutated template DNA for each variant was transcribed, translated, and purified, which will allow for the calculation of the -1 PRF efficiencies for each mutant. Our preliminary data suggests that these point-mutations create significant differences in the -1 PRF efficiency.

Evaluation of pro-pol Frameshifting Efficiencies for Naturally Occurring Variants of HTLV-1

White, Emily; Abrams, Tara; Banks, Terrance; Chadeayne, Devon; Cooper-Sansone, Andrew; Contreras, Uriah; Dailey, Leandrew; Davis, Summer; Eades, Austin; Greyeyes, Sean; Harrison, Jacob; Hamilton, Adam; Joe, Natalie; Knewitz, Allison; Mylroie, Elena; Nash, Hannah; Stelmaszek, Jordan; Williams, Marcus and Mouzakis, Kathryn

Faculty Mentor: Mouzakis, Kathryn, Chemistry

Human T-cell leukemia Virus Type 1 (HTLV-1) utilizes two -1 programmed ribosomal frameshifts (PRFs) to translate its enzymatic proteins. This translational mechanism induces a change in the ribosomal reading frame during elongation, which allows for the production of proteins from alternate reading frames within a single transcript. Frameshifting is utilized by many retroviruses and is often required for successful replication. Each frameshift site includes three components: a heptad "slippery sequence", a spacer, and a downstream structure. Preliminary data from our group suggests that the HTLV-1 pro-pol frameshift site structure is a pseudoknot. Interestingly, multiple HTLV-1 isolates include point-mutations within this pseudoknot structure. How these mutations effect the -1 PRF efficiency is uncertain. Here, we investiage the impact of several pseudoknot point-mutations on the HTLV-1 pro-pol frameshift efficiency. Site-directed mutagenesis was used to insert these mutations into a dual-luciferase vector that includes the HTLV-1 pro-pol frameshift site. The mutated DNA for each variant was transcribed, translated, and used in a dual-luciferase assay, allowing calculation of the in-vitro -1 PRF efficiencies for each mutant. Our preliminary data suggests that these point-mutations create significant differences in the -1 PRF efficiency.

Exploring the Significance of the Human T-cell Lymphotropic Virus Type-1 pro-pol Frameshift Site Pseudoknot

Williams, Marcus; Cooper-Sansone, Andrew; Chadeayne, Devon; Mylroie, Elena; Contreras, Uriah; Davis, Summer; Greyeyes, Sean;  Knewitz, Allison; Stelmaszek, Jordan; Joe, Natalie; and Mouzakis, Kathryn

Faculty Mentor: Mouzakis, Kathryn, Chemistry

Programmed ribosomal frameshifting (PRF) is a viral mechanism used to regulate levels of enzymatic and structural proteins. PRF events are stimulated RNA elements within the viral transcript that change the ribosomal reading frame. PRF occurs at a frameshift site that includes a "slippery" sequence and a downstream structure. Human T-cell Lymphotropic Virus Type-1 (HTLV-1) uses two, independent -1 PRF sites to express three viral enzymes. We are examining the role of the RNA structure in the HTLV-1 pro-pol frameshift site in -1 PRF stimulation. The structure was predicted to be a pseudoknot. The importance of this structure to frameshifting has not been established. We examined how mutations that change the RNA structure impact -1 PRF efficiency. We hypothesized that mutations that disrupted the pseudoknot structure would decrease frameshift efficiency (FSE). Likewise, mutations that restored pseudoknot structure should have no impact on FSE. To test these hypotheses, we measured FSE for several variant frameshift sites using an in vitro dual-luciferase frameshift assay. Preliminary data suggests that when the pseudoknot structure is disrupted, there is a significant decrease in FSE. Surprisingly, a mutation that restored pseudoknot formation increased the FSE. These results suggest that the pseudoknot structure plays role in frameshift stimulation.

Synthesis and Characterization of a New Octahedral Cobalt(III) Complex Containing 1-Methylimidazole Ligands

Winder, Delainey and Morris, Aimee

Faculty Mentor: Morris, Aimee, Chemistry

Transition metal-centered complexes are of interest due to tunable redox properties and the ability to act as an anti-cancer prodrug. Ruthenium(III) metal complexes are efficacious for primary tumors or metastases. The purpose of this research was to determine if cheaper cobalt(III) metal centers can also act as effective prodrugs. Starting with the previously characterized trans-dichlorotetrakis(pyridine)cobalt(III) chloride complex, 4 to 50 equivalents of 1-methylimidazole ligand was refluxed in methyl isobutyl ketone for two hours. Evidence of complex formation between the Co(III) and 1-methylimidazole was obtained using 1H-NMR and elemental analysis of the products. Elemental analysis of a 50:1 1-methylimidazole:cobalt product showed a 51:49 mixture of trans-dichlorotetrakis(1-methylimidazole)cobalt(III) chloride and hexakis(1-methylimidazole)cobalt(III) chloride. Crystallization of products occurs at higher ligand to metal ratios, where as lower ligand to metal ratios yield a mixture of powder products. It is suspected that the higher ligand to metal ratio also promotes the formation of the hexa-substitiuted-1-methylimidazole products over the tetra-substituted 1-methylimidazole product. In order to determine the optimal ligand to metal ratio and solvent that yields a crystalline trans-dichlorotetrakis(1-methylimdidazole)cobalt(III) chloride complex, further research should be conducted.

Engineering and Environmental Studies


Design of a sustainable automatic air release valve

Day, Rachel and Nelson, Danielle

Faculty Mentor: May, Don, Engineering

The Village Aid Project, at Fort Lewis College, has helped design and construct gravity fed water systems in developing communities of Nicaragua. The terrain in Nicaragua causes development of air pockets in the water systems, which can decrease or stop the flow. The team designed an affordable, effective automatic air release valve (AARV) to remove air within the water system. The AARV prototype was tested on different system setups using 1-1/2" PVC pipe. The prototype must release air from the pipeline during filling and steady state operation in a manner that reduces accumulated air pockets, while releasing no more than 1% of flow. A second test was to determine the clearing velocity at varied slopes, using different amounts of air and then increasing the flow rate until all air pockets are washed out. The average Froude number for each slope was calculated to be 0.790, 0.789, 0.826, and 0.909. This proved that the Froude number was not dependent on the air discharge. A final test was to determine head loss on the running system by taking the differential pressure at both high and low point at each slope and solve using Bernoulli’s Equation.

Design of an efficient hydropower gristmill

Day, Rachel; Roman, Paul; Schwantes, David and Van Slyke, Michael

Faculty Mentor: May, Don, Engineering

People have been using gristmills for centuries to grind grain into flour for consumption. Gristmills have industrialized over the years with technological advancements and a higher demand for flour production. These industrialized systems require high power inputs from large motorized transmissions. These large systems are the main form of flour production in many developed countries. In developing countries, small-scale gristmills are often powered by alternative power supplies. In developing communities that have sufficient access to running water, hydro powered gristmill systems are feasible. This project covers the process of designing a hydro powered gristmill system for the rural, developing community of Chyamtang, Nepal. System losses and poor grinding plate design can decrease the production of the gristmill, especially in a complex, small-scale system. Implementing such a gristmill in a developing community is constrained by the access to and maintainability of parts, as well as the required simplicity of construction and assembly of the system. Limited amounts of water can be a hindrance to these gristmills, but efficient hydraulic system design can be a solution to low hydropower. Through iterative testing on gristmills, the design team fabricated a prototype and a final design for implementation in Chyamtang.

Subterranean Navigation in The Bonita Peak Mining District

Haas, Phillip; Richmond, Kelton; Wadle, James and Yazzie, Carlisle

Faculty Mentor: Smith, Ryan, Engineering

Robotic exploration in the subterranean domain is a difficult task specifically due to the GPS-denied nature of the environment. The team has been presented with the challenge of developing an unmanned prototype platform to explore abandoned mines in the Bonita Peak Mining District, with a focus on the Gold King. Development of a platform that can operate in such extreme conditions requires addressing three primary challenges: Locomotion, Navigation and Localization, and Communication. Methods for locomotion can vary from basic wheeled vehicles to aerial or aquatic means and the team has considered various concepts for the different environments seen in different mines. Navigation and Localization in these environments, requires specialized methods for mapping the area and pose estimation within the developed map. After exploring current technology, the team has focused on developing a solution that is human operated and assisted by on board processing for obstacle avoidance. Since a tether presents issues with becoming snagged and adding drag the team is utilizing traditional methods of wireless communication on the 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz frequency bands. Ultimately, the team has proposed an Ultra Lightweight Vehicle for exploring the Gold King, and presented options for exploring the other mines around Silverton, CO.

Mechanical Pressure and Acceleration Switches for Rocket Applications

Hanley, Cooper; Aragon, Israel, Bunn, Dylan, Cavale, Joey; James, Jeremy; McMaster, Anthony and Paciaroni, Megan

Faculty Mentor: Paciaroni, Megan, Engineering

Fort Lewis College has partnered with Sandia National Laboratiory (SNL) in the development of mechanical pressure and acceleration switches for space applications. SNL is a federally funded research and development center specializing in Nuclear Weapons, Defense Systems & Assessments, Energy & Climate and Global Security. The design team has been tasked to design switches in compliance with the SNL specifications including: survive a maximum acceleration of 27 g's, sense a rocket launch environment and mechanically sense a vacuum environment specified by a pressure of less than 10-1 Torr. A bladder and piston system was designed to mechanically sense a vacuum environment of less than 10-1 Torr. The design utilizes a pressure differential to cause a physical displacement of a piston causing switch activation at an average pressure of 0.7 Torr. To meet the requirement of sensing a launch event, an amorphous metal called metallic glass was used. The design utilizes a unique material property of sinusoidal buckling owing to centrifugal forces caused by the rotation of the sounding rocket. Using this technique, an average activation acceleration of 7.33 g's was achieved.

Fabrication and Optimization of a Prototype Lung-on-a-Chip

Mancha, Sophie; Hamilton, Adam; Jessing, Jeff; Blake, David; Li, Yiya and Crawford, Jerry

Faculty Mentor: Jessing, Jeff; Blake, David; Li, Yiyan and Crawford, Jerry, Engineering

An Organ-on-a-Chip is a new biomedical technique which provides a microenvironment that mimics the structural and mechanical properties of an organ more adequately than traditional in vitro studies and in vivo animal testing.  Our research is focused on designing and fabricating a Lung-on-a-Chip. To mimic the lung, we constructed a device that has two outer layers made of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) separated by an inner porous silicon membrane.  Our project is unique in that the membrane will be made of porous silicon (PS) which has realistic biological dimensions.  The PS will be fabricated by anodization etching and the PDMS channels by photo-lithography. Our current prototype is a compiled tri-layered structure consisting of the two outer PDMS layers with integrated channels, and a porous silicon membrane in between. The porous silicon membrane has pore sizes of about 200 nm and a thickness of about 20 um.  Our future work includes co-culturing cells within the current prototype, analyzing the cells for metabolic activity, and adjusting the anodization parameters to increase pore size (ideally to 4 um) and decrease the thickness (ideally to 0.4 um). Overall, the Lung-on-a-Chip has potential to significantly reduce animal testing and to produce effective individualized treatment plans.


Environmental Studies

Historic Land Use, Fire, and Reforestation in La Plata County, Colorado

Bartley, Michael

Faculty Mentor: McCormick, Peter, Environmental Studies

The San Juan Mountains have been inhabited since the end of the last Ice Age. However, the group that had the greatest influence on the land were Anglo-Americans, who settled the area in 1860. Practices such as grazing, logging, and most notably fire suppression were key contributors to the mass accumulation of biomass that ultimately led to the 2002 Missionary Ridge Fire as well as the 2003 Bear Creek Fire. These fires burned 73,000 acres, eliminating seedstock and reducing the possibility of natural regeneration, making both areas prime candidates for reforestation. This paper focuses on human influence on forest structure, fires, and reforestation in La Plata County, Colorado. A literature review was conducted focusing on historic land use, fire, and reforestation in the Southwestern United States, as well a data analysis of seedling mortality post-reforestation on Missionary Ridge and Middle Mountain outside of Durango, Colorado.  Seedling mortality and climatic data indicated that there were no correlations between variations in climate and seedling mortality. The analysis helps to understand what drives the success of seedlings under the context of landscape change and climate variability.

Straw Bale Homes: An Analysis of a Potential Housing Market on the Navajo Nation

Benally, Amber Nicholene

Faculty Mentor: Hilimire, Kathleen, Environmental Studies

I conducted the following research and synthesized that the Navajo Nation can play a pivotal role in developing a new sustainable housing business by focusing on straw bale home design. I concluded that the biggest obstacles to former housing developments on the Navajo Nation were widespread poverty levels, multiple bureaucratic entanglements, and a faulty housing service under Navajo Housing Authority. By analyzing the basic human needs and the cultural ideals of the Navajo people, I reasoned that the latter obstacles can be combated by combining the services of experienced laborers living on the Navajo Nation, the local proximity to straw bale materials, and the resurgence of conventional Navajo sustainability home designs.  Finally, to present the new strategy, I developed a detailed Geographic Information System (GIS) map to illustrate the availability and abundance of building materials on the Navajo Nation. 

Marvelous Mycorrhizae: The function, role, and importance of fungal-plant symbiosis in wild ecosystems and agroecological landscapes

Brown, Keaton

Faculty Mentor: Hilimire, Kathleen, Environmental Studies

This research explores how mycorrhizal fungi influence wild ecosystems and why the symbiotic relationship between fungi and plants is beneficial to crops in an agroecological setting, particularly in the arid and temperate climate of southwestern Colorado. A comprehensive literature review has identified that mutually beneficial relationships between plants and fungi occur on a widespread, global scale. Various biotic and abiotic factors have an impact on whether or not mycorrhizal symbiosis will occur as well as the type of mycorrhizal interaction that takes place (Pagano and Covacevich 2011, Bauer et. al. 2012). Of the four recognized types of mycorrhizae, arbuscular mycorrhizae (AM) is best suited for agricultural application. AM fungi have the ability to benefit crops and cropland interfaces by; increasing soil aggregate stability, obtaining phosphorus (P) from outside of the host plant’s P depletion zone, mineralizing organic nitrogen (N) in the soil for host plant uptake, increasing host plant biomass, and improving host plant tolerance to environmental stresses like drought, disease, and toxicity (Maiti 2011, Yang et al. 2017). Species of AM fungi that are native to southwest Colorado can be found in association with plants such as big sagebrush and cheatgrass (Busby et al. 2013).

Ecotourism and the Environment: Establishing a Framework for Tourism Infrastructure Analysis in Pagosa Springs, Colorado

Nordendahl, Shelby

Faculty Mentor: McCormick, Peter, Environmental Studies

Ecotourism is a sector within the tourism industry that centers on “pristine” natural environments. While ecotourism is viewed as a form of conservation in many countries and generates income for local people, this type of tourism is increasing globally and has underlying environmental impacts. Pagosa Springs is located in southwestern Colorado, and is surrounded by federally managed lands. The conservation of the surrounding landscape makes Pagosa Springs an ecotourism destination.

This study utilizes literature review, GIS spatial analysis, and Google Maps to establish a framework for the analysis of tourism infrastructure in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. This study concludes that origin to destination transportation, accommodations, restaurants, and activities all have a negative impact on the environment. There was a lack of data found in the literature regarding transportation within a destination. Pagosa Springs was found to have high greenhouse gas emissions resulting from transportation while staying in the destination.

This research suggests programs to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions generated by transportation while staying in the destination. This research also indicates the need for further study utilizing data from local municipalities to calculate the ecological footprint, life cycle analysis, and/or water footprint of ecotourism within the area to better mitigate impacts.

Complementary means of protecting ecologically significant areas outside of Federally Owned Public Land

Perry, Benjamin

Faculty Mentor: Hilimire, Kathleen, Environmental Studies

The management of federal lands has long been the subject of protest and scrutiny by groups ranging from ranchers and developers to environmentalists. While the federal government holds over a quarter of the country’s total landmass, and land overseen by federal land management agencies is often perceived as the best opportunity for conservation practices, there are more effective opportunities to manage land for conservation purposes. This paper analyzes potential alternative land management practices to protect sensitive environmental resources by states and private parties through State Trust Land management practices and conservation easements. Through a literature review, historical accounts of State Trust Land management strategies were assessed and alternative strategies proposed. Similarly, private party conservation easements were investigated and the motivation of involved stakeholders and productivity considered. Private land makes up the majority of terrestrial land cover, houses a disproportionate amount of sensitive species and ecosystems, and is under great threat to development and fragmentation. State owned or controlled land is less numerous but offers unique opportunities to develop stewardship practices that work in collaboration with multiple use agendas. While no best management strategy offers a completely impeccable solution, the abolition of any level of management would be highly deleterious. Instead, the most beneficial means of promoting ongoing conservation on federal, state and private land involve collaboration and compromise between involved agencies that preserves not only the ecological resources but opportunities for economic gain as well.

Possible Solutions to Pre-Consumer Food Waste at Post-Secondary Educational Institutions to Increase Campus Food Security

Scheig, Ali

Faculty Mentor: McCormick, Peter, Environmental Studies

This paper addresses the issues of overproduced pre-consumer food waste at Fort Lewis College (FLC) and addresses possible solutions to the inevitable waste produced from all-you-can-eat-dining operations. This study examines food waste, causes and repercussions. It analyzes rates of food insecurity nationally, rates in the US college population, rates at FLC, and how to utilize edible food waste to feed more students who face food insecurity. A literature review was performed to analyze past cases of food waste at similar institutions in the United States. A waste audit was completed in order to measure pre-consumer food waste at FLC. Six total audits were conducted. Once results of the audits and the literature review were examined, possible solutions were explored for the future of food waste at FLC. Possible solutions include awareness of waste by dining hall staff and students who attend the dining hall, portion reduction, and food recovery initiatives. Ideally, overproduced food from the FLC dining hall will be used to feed food insecure students to address these issues simultaneously, but other options for food insecure students are also explored.

Maintaining the Urban Jungle: Understanding the Role of Tree Inventories for Natural Resource Management on College Campuses

Thaden, Andra

Faculty Mentor: Hilimire, Kathleen, Environmental Studies

The purpose of this research is to identify the benefits of both the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Campus USA Program (TCUSA) as well as tree inventories, how tree inventories are created and conducted, and how the information gathered may be applied to Fort Lewis College to better understand and manage its campus urban forest. Urban forestry has become increasingly important as more than half of the population lives within urban areas. College and university campuses can be considered “small cities” due to their population sizes and hold special responsibility to uphold and create a sustainable environment. Dozens of academic institutions across the nation have partnered a TCUSA program with an inventory to promote sustainability and create a healthier campus environment. In order to properly study the benefits associated with both, a number of randomly selected academic institutions were chosen to complete an online survey of questions directed towards their experience with the TCUSA program and campus tree inventory. Institutions saw a great increase of student involvement when applying the two programs, thus expanding knowledge of urban tree care and sustainability. Colleges expressed that they often use students to collect data, and inventories typically included similar attributes such as species name/type, location, DBH, and quality/health of the tree. Results suggest that the combination of both a TCUSA program and a tree inventory would provide Fort Lewis College (FLC) with the proper tools to create a more sustainable campus environment. The product from this research is a tree inventory prototype that will allow FLC to successfully record all aspects of its urban campus forest and aid in proper maintenance decision making. 

Historic Land Cover and Land Use Change in the Animas Valley Using GIS Methodologies

Wilt, Thomas

Environmental Studies

The Animas Valley has seen a shift of human uses between the 19th and 20th centuries, changing from a countryside of farms to a suburban region of Durango. Previous studies have discussed the growth of Ranchette development in Colorado: low density, high acreage residential parcels that were once agricultural land. This study aims to quantify the land cover change in the Animas River Valley from the 1950s to the present. This study also aims to present the historical and cultural frameworks that contributed to such change. Land cover maps of the Animas River Valley were developed using georeferenced Ariel Photography and NAIP Natural Color Imagery, and analyzed using image classification and GIS methodologies. The study found a drop in cultivated land cover classes and an increase in developed and grassland land cover types within the study area. Findings show that most percent change is found within high and low density residential zones.

Exercise Science and Geology

Exercise Science

Biomechanical Changes in Developing Runners

Brown, Annette; Gillen, Andrea; Mallow, Samaria and Thompson, Melissa

Faculty Mentor: Thompson, Melissa, Exercise Science

Abstract: Biomechanical aspects on human bodies change, as we age. There is sufficient literature on the biomechanics of the older population of runners, so this study looks at the younger population of runners ages 19-23. Previous studies have found that there is a decrease in ground reaction force (GRF) in older runners and contact time among younger runners was lower than older runners. The purpose of the current study was to examine the biomechanical changes in runners as they age. Specifically, we examined ground reaction force (GRF), foot strike, and stride length measurements from motion analysis of different running speeds (5 mph, 7mph, and max speed). Eleven participants (Female: 7, Male: 4) were measured for anthropometrics at seven skinfold sites, standing Q Angles (L 175.9 ± 2.16, R 174.9 ± 2.62), supine Q Angles (L 177.4 ± 2.11, R 177 ± 2.3), height (65.27 ± 3.75) and weight (139.58 ± 16.65). The runners performed a VO2 max test, were submitted to a protocol running on a treadmill at a constant 1% grade, and increasing speed by 1 mph every 3 minutes during which video data was recorded. Additionally, the participants ran across a 20m runway over a calibrated force plate to measure GRF. The results show no relationship between the biomechanical changes such as joint angles, ground reaction force and stride length among runners as they aged. The lack of statistical significance may be due to a narrow age range and a varied training status of the participants. Future studies should take into consideration the amount of training and neuromuscular control that each runner possesses, as well as recruiting a larger age range.

Optimal Stride Length and Stride Frequency In Uphill Ski Mountaineering

Bach, Rasmus; Norris, Karl and Thompson, Melissa

Faculty Mentor: Thompson, Melissa, Exercise Science

Ski mountaineering involves racing up and down mountain terrain as quickly as possible, with events sometimes lasting multiple days. Ski mountaineering is an up and coming sport, and hence there has been little research conducted in the field. The purpose of this study was to examine differences in step length (SL) and step frequency (SF), as well as the relationship between these variables and velocity, when ascending different slope angles. A total of 8 male and 5 female participants in a ski mountaineering race took part in this study. We collected video data from 3 GoPro cameras that were located on 3 uphill slope angles in the first uphill section of the course. The first section was 39 m and had an average slope angle of 10o, the second section was 19 m at 15o degrees, and the third section was 25 m at 23o. The correlations between step length and velocity were statistically significant at each slope angle (10o, R2 = 0.96; 15 o, R2 = 0.97 and 23 o, R2 = 0.86). On average we found that longer step lengths were related to faster finishing times. However, we noticed potential evidence that at a certain slope angle step length plateaus and can no longer be used to increase velocity. Despite a limited sample size we found conclusive results that a longer step length correlated with a faster uphill velocity at all three slope angles.

Effects of Zumba Dance on Cardiorespiratory Variables in Older Adults

Bordeaux, Skyler; Hall, Brent and Hwang, Gwang Yon

Faculty Mentor: Hwang, Gwang Yon, Exercise Science

Approximately 80% of older adults have at least one chronic disease, and at least 70% of Medicare beneficiaries have two or more chronic health issues. Older adults are disproportionately affected by chronic conditions, such as diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease.  The purpose of this study was to determine how a Zumba Gold Dance Program would impact cardiorespiratory function in older adults. The participants were recruited at a local senior center who all engaged in the Zumba class prior to the research. At the beginning of the study, Heart Rate, Blood Pressure, Force Vital Capacity, and Forced Expiratory Volume in 1 sec, baseline data were measured in five females aged 59-84 (M±SD: 67.2±10.3). These dependent variables were measured following 4-week Zumba program, 2 days/wk for 45 min. The mean of each dependent variable in the participants were calculated for data analysis. A pair t-test was used to determine if there was any significant difference between pre and post data in each dependent variable in the participants. The significance value was set at p ≤ .05 to reject a null hypothesis of this research. As a result, it was concluded that no significant change occurred in each dependent variable in the participants following the 4-week Zumba program.

A Description of Athletes' Perceived Team Environment and Coach's Goal Orientation

Brust, Ryanne; Cabrera, Taylor and Iwasaki, Susumu

Faculty Mentor: Iwasaki, Susumu, Exercise Science

There are many motivational climate studies in sport psychology, which demonstrate that when athletes perceived a positive and supportive motivational climate, they are likely to report positive psychological responses. However, little research has been conducted to describe how athletes’ perceptions of the motivational climate may be related to coaches’ goal orientations and their intentions in Achievement Goal Perspective Theory framework. The purpose of this study was to describe athletes' perceptions of a caring, task-, and ego-involving climate, coach’s task and ego orientations, and the intentions to create certain motivational climates. A survey consists of Perceived Motivational Climate in Sport Questionnaire (PMCSQ) and Caring Climate Scale assessed athletes' perceived motivational climate. Another survey, modified (coaching context) Task and Ego Orientation in Sport Questionnaire and modified PMCSQ inquired coach’s goal orientation in coaching and his/her intention to create the motivational climate: caring, task-, and ego-involving climate. Descriptive statistics revealed that player’s perceived the same climate that the coach intended to create as well as the coach’s goal orientation. Coaches and athletes are significant contributors to create the motivational climate, which can be either ego or task/caring depending on their goal orientations and intentions. Future research should examine athletes' goal orientations and intention to create a motivational climate, as well as examining the coaching staff's perceptions, intentions, and goal orientations.

Pole Pilates Program: Development

Charley, Gwendolyn; Weeker, Krystin and Gaumond, Kirsten

Faculty Mentor: Thompson, Melissa, Exercise Science

Nordic Walking and Pilates are exercise programs that have been shown to offer physiological benefits, such as improved cardiovascular function, recovery from injury, and weight loss. We created a pedagogy that combined Nordic Walking and Pilates, termed Pole Pilates, which consisted of three different difficulty levels and assessed if the exercise levels were appropriate. Subjects underwent an initial assessment and were placed in level one, two or three. Level one was the easiest and subjects had to use the poles to perform the exercises. Level two was an intermediate difficulty and subjects executed the exercises with minimal pole use. Level three was the most difficult meaning that subjects did not require the poles to perform the exercises. Our exercises were created based four categories: cardiovascular, flexibility/stability, balance, and strength, and combined aspects of Pilates and Nordic walking. Out of the total 26 subjects, only eight subjects successfully completed all exercises within their level. The subjects rated each exercise, from one to three; one being easy, two being moderate and three being difficult. The chair sit, six-minute-walk, squat, 90o plane, and toe touch tests receiving ratings of one and two. The Bosu ball balance test and the one-foot balance tests received ratings of three.  Our results indicated that our exercises were appropriate for the different levels and there was a good balance of easy and difficult exercises within each level.

Factors Affecting Rock Climbing Performance

Grillos, Lacey; Henson, William; Thompson, Melissa and Williams, Nicole

Faculty Mentor: Thompson, Melissa, Exercise Science

Rock climbing has been around for centuries, but the sport has gained the public's attention in the last few decades. Given rock climbing's rise in popularity, there has been growing interest in understanding physiological and biomechanical variables related to climbing performance. Previous research has examined isolated factors related to rock climbing performance; however, no prior studies have examined the relationship between strength, endurance, anthropometrics and climbing performance. Therefore, the purpose of our research was to determine the relationship overall rock climbing ability. Our participants were healthy active volunteers who were involved in some sort of physical activity for at least 30 minutes five days a week. The average amount of time that our participants have been climbing was 3.2 years. We had a total of 16 participants (7 males; 9 males), age range was 19-37 years, average height was 68.7 inches, and average weight was 152.9 pounds. Strength was evaluated with a maximum number of pull-ups. Endurance was evaluated with a locked out chin-up test for time. Anthropometrics evaluated included: dominant hand width (in.), dominant arm length (in.), wingspan (in.), height (in.), weight (lbs.), sex (male/female), and age (yrs.). ROM included flexion and abduction of the glenohumeral joint. We correlated these variables with overall rock climbing performance, this was evaluated by taking the height completed of the route by the participant divided by time it took them to do the three bouldering routes of varying difficulty. Based on our sample size correlations greater than .482 were considered as statistically significant. We found that shoulder strength and endurance had a significant positive relationship with rock climbing performance, but flexion and abduction of the shoulder joint had little relationship with rock climbing performance. Our main findings were that dominant arm length and height correlated strongly with performance, although these are not trainable factors. However, strength and endurance show a strong correlation and are proven to be trainable factors that will increase overall rock climbing performance.

Relationship Between Anxiety and Eye Fixation

Nugent, Jake; Barela, Michael and Iwasaki, Susumu

Faculty Mentor: Iwasaki, Susumu, Exercise Science

Attention focus can be explained by eye fixation. Anxiety could affect individuals’ attention focus during their performance. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship among participants' perceived performance anxiety and eye fixation performance. 21 participants were randomly split into two groups; group 1, competition group, and group 2, focus attention group. Pre and post anxiety (cognitive, somatic anxiety, and self-confidence) were assessed using Competitive State Anxiety Inventory-2 (Martens, Vealey, & Burton, 1990). Number of fixations and duration were tracked by an eyeball movement tracking device (Tobii Pro 2 glasses). Each participant attempted 10 dart throws. There was no significant difference in anxiety and eye fixations. Follow-up analyses revealed: 1) Pre and post somatic anxiety scores were significantly associated with eye fixation performance in group1; 2) Pre cognitive anxiety score was significantly correlated to eye fixation performance in group2. The results did not support our main hypothesis statistically, however, follow-up analyses suggested that two differentiated conditions (competition versus non-competition) may affect individuals’ performance anxiety and eye fixation performance uniquely.

The Effect of Fatigue on Ski Mountaineering Performance

Nunes, Geordan; Oyebi, Carrie and Woods, Cara

Faculty Mentor: Thompson, Melissa, Exercise Science

Ski mountaineering is an endurance sport that is rapidly growing in popularity among winter athletes. Like many other endurance activities, fatigue plays a vital role in performance. The highly technical downhill sections of ski mountaineering can be very dangerous, especially as an athlete fatigues. Therefore, given the unique demands of ski mountaineering and its relatively new arrival to the endurance sports world, it is a sport that can greatly benefit from an investigation regarding fatigue and performance. The purpose of our study was to determine how fatigue affects downhill ski mountaineering performance. To examine the effect of fatigue on downhill performance we analyzed GPS data from 7 competitor (5 males and 2 females; age 38 ± 12 years; mass 67 ± 17.5 kg; height 178.5 ± 13.5 cm) racing in a ski mountaineering event. The competitors' average velocity, peak velocity, distance traveled, descent time, and speed variability were examined over three descents to observe how they changed due to the onset of fatigue. Average velocity, peak velocity, descent time, and speed variability differed significantly across the three different descents (p < .05). However, pairwise comparisons indicated that the differences varied across the different descents and did not suggest a clear indication of fatigue. Our results may have been limited by our small sample size, further research is needed to examine the role of fatigue in ski mountaineering performance.

Effective Testing Program for Pole Pilates

Pinckley, Grace; Wood, Josie; Thomson, Missy and Stillwell, Greg

Faculty Mentor: Thompson, Melissa, Exercise Science

Injury due to falling is one of the primary reasons why older populations and people with disabilities avoid exercising. Combining Pilates and Nordic Pole walking is a way for individuals to exercise with better stability. While there is considerable research regarding the individual benefits of Nordic Pole walking and Pilates, these two types of exercise have not been previously combined. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to combine Nordic pole walking and Pilates, termed Pole Pilates, to create a safe and effective exercise program that improves strength, balance, endurance, and flexibility. We created an initial assessment for the Pole Pilates exercise program that evaluated the participant's ability to perform the domains, which include cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, static, dynamic balance, and flexibility. Testing these domains were used to place participants in the appropriate fitness level for the Pole Pilates exercise program. We recruited 30 volunteers (15 male and 15 females) that ranged in age from 15 to 80 years old, and had a wide range of physical abilities. Subjects performed 5 tests, which included the sit and reach test (flexibility), 6-minute walking test (cardiovascular endurance), sit to stand test (dynamic balance), single squat test (muscular strength), and balance error scoring system test (BESS) (static balance). The duration of testing was approximately 20 minutes and the participants received their results immediately upon conclusion of the test. Our results showed that our tests were appropriate for the participants and accurately placed the participants in the correct fitness level.

The Effects of Alpine Ski Programs on Emotional States and Quality of Life in Veterans with Injures

Ruetschle, Shannon and Homner, McKenna

Faculty Mentor: Hwang, Gwang Yon, Exercise Science

Millions of veterans in the United States have injuries that have caused them physical, social, and psychological problems. These injuries can range from mental to physical disabilities which affect their quality of life. Adaptive sport programs have been created to aid veterans in rehabilitation and coping mechanisms. Previous studies suggested that adaptive sports and outdoor activities have been beneficial for injured veterans in reducing PTSD symptoms and increasing quality of life. Of the various adaptive programs there was a lack of previous studies conducted on the effects of an adaptive alpine ski program for injured veterans. The purpose of the study was to determine if an adaptive alpine ski program is beneficial for veterans and can positively change their quality of life and emotional states. The study was conducted through the Adaptive Sports Association’s winter alpine adaptive ski program at Purgatory Resort in Durango, Colorado. One injured veteran was given two surveys during a week long adaptive ski program. The surveys included the Physical Activity Affect Scale and the McGill Quality of Life Survey, which were given before and after the program to analyze how much the veteran’s emotions and quality of life changed. The case study found that the adaptive ski program showed no significant change in the veteran’s emotional states, but demonstrated a positive change in quality of life. The results of the study indicated that the adaptive ski program was effective for the injured veteran by improving their quality of life.This research suggests that there should be more available programs that can give injured veterans a safe environment for a positive experience which improves their quality of life.

Emotional changes in athletes during home & away games

Sandoval, Tanaya and Flora, Emily

Faculty Mentor: Hwang, Gwang Yon and Iwasaki, Susumu, Exercise Science

Collegiate athletes experience different emotions when competing in sports in different areas. This study contributes to narrow the gap in research, which studies the emotional effect of home and away games on collegiate athletes before and after a competition. Few previous researchers have not investigated the emotions of female collegiate athletes and softball game location. Game location (home vs. away games) is crucial for collegiate athletes since playing in their territory enhances the athlete’s performance, motivates them, and improves their emotional states. This study investigated the effects on female softball athletes at a Division II College before and after competition in one home and away game to determine what the relationship is between emotions and the location of a competition. A total of 13 Softball athletes responded to two survey tools: The Discrete Emotion Questionnaire (DEQ) and the Physical Activity Affect Scale (PAAS). The DEQ is based on a discrete approach to emotions which examined five potential emotional states: happiness, sadness, anger, anxiety, and relaxation. The Physical Activity Affect Scale measured four emotional states: positive affect, negative affect, tranquility, and fatigue. Differences between home and away game emotions were observed. Using the PAAS, collegiate athletes experienced significant differences of positive emotions and tranquility at home and away games, while no significant differences of negative emotions and fatigue were found. Using the DEQ happiness and relaxation were shown to be significant at the home game, while sadness, relaxation, and anger were not significant. During the away game, the collegiate athlete's emotions showed significance in all the subscales in the DEQ were significant except anger. Collegiate athletes experienced more positive emotions when they had home field advantage. This study of athlete’s emotions before and after participation in home and away games demonstrated how collegiate athlete’s emotions changed based on a location.

Effect of Motivational Climate on Mindfulness During Injury Recovery for Female Athletes

Warmouth, Kelli and Iwasaki, Susumu

Faculty Mentor: Iwasaki, Susumu, Exercise Science

This study analyzed the relationship between motivational climate on an athlete’s mindfulness and thus their well-being throughout injury recovery. This study hypothesized that athletes within a task-involving climate will have employ a greater amount of mindfulness during recovery than athletes within an ego-involving climate. Participants volunteered to complete a three-part study. The first section assessed their Motivational Climate on the athlete’s sports team. Next they completed a journal entry where they were asked to recall the specifics of their most severe injury experience. Lastly, with the emotions of the injury now on the surface, they were asked to complete a scale assessing their mindfulness during their rehabilitation session. The results supported our hypothesis in that task-involving climate positively correlated with greater mindfulness. Therefore, task-involving climates may aid injury recovery and overall well-being.



A Comparison of Geochemical and Helium Isotope Signatures of Thermal Fluids, Rico and Dunton Springs, San Juan Mountains, Colorado

Burch, Sara; Holt, Ben; Whyte, Colin; Crossey, Laura; Karlstrom, Karl; Darrah, Tom and Gonzales, David

Faculty Mentor: Gonzales, David, Geosciences

The western San Juan Mountains are home to a regional geothermal system, distinguished by numerous thermal springs. Previous studies revealed that thermal waters at Rico and Dunton had distinct geochemical signatures, despite their close proximity and similar host-rock plumbing. In this study, water geochemistry and helium-gas isotopes at the two sites were compared to identify spatial trends, and further understand source variations and fluid circulation. These data reveal distinctions in fluid sources and mantle-gas contributions, and offer insight into the complex regional “plumbing” system of the thermal springs.

Average pH and temperature values vary across the study area: Rico (6.58, 46.5˚ C), Dunton (6.82, 42.7˚ C), and Paradise Spring (6.42, 37.0˚ C). Total dissolved solids (TDS) are highest at Paradise Spring (6,756 ppm) compared to Rico (3,426 ppm) and Dunton (2,669 ppm). R/Ra values range from 5.43 to 4.09 at Rico, 2.70 to 2.52 at Dunton, and 2.33 at Paradise Spring. These data hint that either that: 1) different proportions of mantle gases are contributed to the emissions; 2) there are different degrees of near-surface mixing; or 3) both mechanisms are involved.

Thermal spring samples at Rico and Dunton are characterized by high concentrations of HCO3. Rico samples have relatively higher concentrations of SO4, Ca, Na, K, and Mg compared to Dunton sites; the latter is distinguished by slightly elevated Cl. Samples taken at Paradise Spring are characterized by high concentrations of Na (1947 ppm), K (327 ppm), and Cl (3,407 ppm), and elevated Li (11 ppm).

Our results indicate different mantle contributions to gases in the Rico-Dunton thermal springs with an overall decrease to the west. Distinctive geochemical signatures in fluid geochemistry reveal that sources and fluid-rock interactions vary between Rico and Dunton springs though the causes of these variations are not uniquely constrained by major-element chemistry. Water-rock interactions coupled with mixing are evaluated as processes to explain the differences.

Mineralogy and Chemistry of Silicate Minerals in Skarn Deposits on Expectation Mountain near Rico, Colorado: Insight into Metamorphic History and Controls

Hagglof, Aaron

Faculty Mentor: Gonzales, David, Geosciences

Skarn deposits in the Rico Mountains are hosted in Paleozoic carbonate and clastic sedimentary strata.  Although previous studies have described the general mineral associations of the ore deposits, the petrologic features of the skarn are not well constrained.  In this research, silicate mineral assemblages associated with Fe-Cu skarns from Expectation Mountain were investigated to determine metamorphic grade and paragenetic evolution.

The Cu-Fe skarns hosted by the Permian Cutler Formation on Expectation Mountain are distinguished by assemblages of garnet + quartz + calcite + epidote-clinozoisite ± actinolite-hornblende ± muscovite ± adularia ± retrograde chlorite.  These associations are consistent with a broad peak metamorphic temperature of ~500°C in a low pressure environment (estimated at 0.02 GPa). Complex zoning in garnet (82.9% Adr, 15.2% Grs) porphyroblasts reveal fluctuations in composition that were probably influenced by rapid shifts in oxygen fugacity or other environmental conditions.  Micron-scale oscillatory zoning and anisotropism highlight the chemical variations between andradite-rich and grossular-rich zones.

The silicate-carbonate assemblages of skarn deposits in the Cutler Formation are broadly similar to those of Pb-Zn-Cu-Ag skarns in the Rico district hosted by carbonate and pelitic strata in the Leadville Limestone and Hermosa Formation.  These skarns are distinguished by the presence of carbonates + garnets ± epidote-clinozoisite ± tremolite ± diopside-hedenbergite ± actinolite-hornblende ± chlorite ± albite ± potassium feldspar.  Our investigation reveals, however, that the mineral assemblages in high-grade Fe-Cu-Au skarns at Expectation Mountain are more compositionally restricted which is indicative of these deposits.  These results are consistent with historical accounts of Fe-Cu-Au skarn deposits in the Cutler Formation in the La Plata Mountains, and other locations in the western San Juan Mountains.

A geomorphic study on the fluvial incision history of the San Miguel River, from Telluride to Placerville, Colorado

Heitzler, Craig and Gonzales, David

Faculty Mentor: Gonzales, David, Geosciences

In the Past, regional fluvial systems flowed westward off the flanks of the western San Juan Mountains. In the middle to upper Pleistocene, incision of the San Miguel and Dolores Rivers coincided with a major shift in the transport directions of the drainage systems in the area.

In this investigation, terraces within the study area were grouped by elevation and studied to determine clast provenance, and fluvial mechanisms. Field reconnaissance revealed three stages of river incision and terrace development. Deposits that define the terraces are sedimentary and igneous rocks exposed near Telluride, with an increase in intrusive igneous rocks in lower terraces; implying late entrenching of the headwaters into shallow plutons.

The San Miguel River has beheaded the ancestral west-flowing streams. Factors that led to this stream piracy are uncertain, but likely involved glacial-interglacial events, tectonic uplift, or changes in regional Colorado River system base level. The timing of incision for the San Miguel River likely happened before deposition of outwash terraces near Ridgway at ~80 ka. Field data, combined with pending 40Ar/39Ar age constraints on sanidine may provide insight into the timing of stream capture and an average rate of incision for this segment of the San Miguel River.

An Assessment of the Metallogenesis and Mineral Potential of Cu-Pb-Ag-Zn Deposits near Andrews Lake, West Needle Mountains, Southwestern Colorado

Hobson, Logan

Faculty Mentor: Gonzales, David, Geosciences

Limestone strata of the Pennsylvanian Hermosa Group in the area east of Lime Creek host epithermal and replacement deposits. These deposits were explored by small-scale mining and prospecting in the late 19th to early 20th century. An investigation of these deposits was done to further constrain the nature of mineralization and assess the economic potential.

The deposits are focused on the north-bounding fault of the Grenadier block which was likely the main conduit of fluid introduction into the limestone. The deposits are distinguished by breccia zones coated with rinds of malachite, azurite, and tenorite. Mineralization is mostly replacement type, but small veins formed within the brecciated strata.

The deposits contain chalcopyrite, galena, tetrahedrite, sphalerite, and pyrite. Fractured pyrite was an early phase followed by chalcopyrite and tetrahedrite, and late state argentiferous galena. Secondary dolomite is widespread in zones of mineralization along with veinlets of quartz.

Tetrahedrite is silver rich with concentrations ranging from 0.1 to 4.8 ounces per metric ton. Most samples also have elevated concentrations of copper (1950 to >10000 ppm) and zinc (1040 to 9010 ppm). Ag is higher in prospects and mines in the western part of the study area (Azul claim) whereas Cu and Zn have higher concentrations to the east of the study area near Andrews Lake. This hints at a crude zonation of metals in the area.

Although certain samples show high concentrations of silver, the small dimensions of the mineralized zones and the sparse concentration of mineralization within them, makes for low economic potential. Small zones within these show promising exploration targets with Ag grades of 0.1 to 4.8 ounces per tonne, but the tonnage of these zones appears to be on the order of 20 tonnes or less.

A Review of Fluid Inclusions and their Application to Understanding the Origin of Skarn Deposits

Kindsvatter, Bret

Faculty Mentor: Gonzales, David, Geosciences

This literature review presents an overview of fluid inclusions as applied to understanding the conditions of thermal metamorphism. Fluid inclusions are small capsules of fluid and gas that are trapped in minerals during crystallization. These microcapsules can provide information about crystallization temperatures, salinities and chemistry of fluids involved in metamorphism, fluid pressures, and stable isotope signatures.

Fluids inclusions are trapped as gas, liquid or gas + liquid in single events or multistage crystallization. They are classified as primary (during crystallization), secondary (in fracture and cavities after crystallization) or pseudo-secondary (in fractures during crystallization) inclusions. 

Several samples of skarn were analyzed from Rico, Colorado. These data reveal a complex history of fluid inclusions inclusions.  Early high temperature (prograde) garnet contains inclusions that formed at ~500 ºC, while later primary quartz tapped fluids at temperatures of 244 to 163 ºC.  This was followed by retrograde (lower temperature) crystallization of quartz and calcite from 260 to 199 ºC.  The salinities of the fluids over the history of crystallization ranged from 22.7 to 14 weight percent dissolved constituents.  The fluid inclusion information provides important insight into the formation of Cu-Fe-Au mineralization in the rocks, which formed during the retrograde stage.

A Comparison of Nd, Sr, and Hf Isotopic Signatures for Late Cretaceous to Pliocene Plutonic Rocks in the Rico Mountains, Colorado: Insight into Magmatic Sources at 68 and 4 Ma

Lang, Otto

Faculty Mentor: Gonzales, David, Geosciences

The Rico Mountains host 68 and 4 Ma plutons emplaced as stocks, sills, and dikes. The 68 Ma plutons are alkaline to calc-alkaline hornblende diorites to monzonites and are associated with Fe-Cu skarn mineralization, whereas the 4 Ma plutons are alkaline monzonites and are related to porphyry Mo deposits. Chemical distinctions hint at different magma sources for the two generations of plutons. In this investigation, bulk-rock Nd and Sr data along with zircon Hf data were employed to test this idea, and constrain potential melt sources.

The absence of 28-20 Ma plutons, widespread elsewhere in the western San Juan Mountains, distinguishes the Rico Mountains. The 68 Ma plutons originated from subduction-driven magmatism during the Laramide orogeny. Pliocene magmas are bimodal, and were generated during a period when mantle melts invaded the crust in a zone of incipient "extension" related to slab rollback after 25 Ma.

Late Cretaceous plutonic rocks are characterized by _Nd of -0.6 to -1.7, 87Sr/86Sr (i) ratios of 0.704825 to 0.705923, and _Hf zircon signatures of -7.5 to 6.7. In contrast, Pliocene intrusive rocks have _Nd values of -6.3 to -6.5, 87Sr/86Sr (i) ratios of 0.704825 to 0.705923, and _Hf zircon signatures of -4.7 to 2.8. Collectively, the distinct Nd and Hf data for Late Cretaceous and Pliocene plutonic rocks argue for different melt sources with overall similar "crustal" 87Sr/86Sr ratios.

The results of this investigation reveal that there was an extensive shift in magma sources in the Rico Mountains from 68 to 4 Ma. The presence of inherited Proterozoic zircons in the 68 Ma plutonic rocks suggests the incorporation of 1.8-1.3 Ga basement rock. We argue that the 68 Ma plutonic rocks were formed by partial melting of the lithospheric mantle or lower crust. Data suggest the 4 Ma magmas melted a more "evolved" crustal source during a period of elevated thermal gradients and emplacement of mantle magmas into the upper crust. Whether this period of magmatism involved melting of 68 Ma plutonic rocks or Proterozoic basement is uncertain. The different melt sources at 68 and 4 Ma could provide insight into the influence of magmas on base- and precious-metal mineralization in the area.

Insight into the Composition, Origin, and Age of Clastic Dikes in Ouray County, Colorado

MacDougall, Kade

Faculty Mentor: Gonzales, David, Geosciences

Clastic dikes cut Paleozoic to Cenozoic strata between Placerville and Ouray.  Trends and dimensions, clast populations, and U-Pb detrital zircon age analyses were employed to test hypotheses on the mechanisms and timing of emplacement of these clastic dikes.

Within the study area, clastic dikes trend 250 to 320 with vertical to near vertical dips.  The dikes are up to 4 m thick and have strike lengths up to a kilometer.  The dikes are clast to matrix supported and contain angular to rounded fragments up to 35 cm in dimension.  Proterozoic basement rocks dominate clast populations in dikes near Ouray; fragments of Mesozoic sedimentary rocks and ~66 Ma granodiorite make up lesser proportions.  Clastic dikes at Stony Mountain contain pieces of Proterozoic basement, underlying sedimentary units, and gabbro from the 27 Ma Stony Mountain stock.  All the dikes preserve different degrees of chlorite + epidote alteration, and most contain secondary calcite and minor Cu mineralization.

Zircon populations from dike samples reveal the highest proportion of ages from 1800 to 1300 Ma, smaller and dispersed populations from 1200 to 25 Ma, and a small number of ~2500 Ma zircons.  A dike exposed near Ouray yielded a zircon population ~64 Ma similar to ages of adjacent granodiorite plutons.  Field relations show that these dikes are older than the ~30 Ma San Juan Formation constraining emplacement from 64 to 30 Ma.  The dike exposed at Stony Mountain contains 25 Ma zircons, and is cut by a 12 Ma rhyolite pluton which constrain timing of emplacement in the Oligocene to Miocene.

The results of this study reveal that the clastic dikes in the Ouray area formed thousands of meters below the paleo surface from 64 to 25 Ma where Proterozoic basement fragments were entrained. Clast populations and features in the dikes are consistent with explosive sub-surface gaseous eruptions that were emplaced along existing fractures to form clastic dikes.  Zircon population ages along with the close spatial proximity with igneous masses, and field evidence for the transition from magmatic dikes to fragmented magmatic and clastic dikes, adds support for a heritage involving Late Mesozoic to Cenozoic magmas.

Ore Sulfide and Oxide Mineral Assemblages and Paragenesis in the Skarn at Expectation Mountain, Rico mining district, Colorado

Mastenbrook, Allison and Gonzales, David

Faculty Mentor: Gonzales, David, Geosciences

The Rico Mountains are noted for Pb-Zn-Ag vein and skarn deposits that formed in Paleozoic carbonate sequences. Fe-Cu-Au skarns, that formed in the clastic rocks of the Permian Cutler Formation were documented, but not well studied. In this research, the associations and geochemistry of the metallic mineral associations in the skarn-hosted deposits of the Cutler Formation were investigated to assess their economic viability. A paragenetic sequence of mineralization and geochemical signatures of possible ore minerals are also presented.

Skarn deposits in the Cutler Formation are exposed as prospects on the flanks of the Rico dome near Expectation Mountain. These deposits are distinguished by assemblages of magnetite + pyrite + chalcopyrite + hematite. Magnetite dominates the early stages of mineralization, with Fe-Cu dominating the later stages; hematite appears to be a late stage metamorphic or deuteric mineral. The paragenesis of the metallic minerals reveals fluctuations in oxidation states. A single bulk-rock chemical analysis reveals high concentrations of Cu (122 oz/ton) and Zn (0.96 oz/ton), along with minor Ag (<0.015 oz/ton) and Au (0.16 oz/ton). Elevated REE in the rocks are attributed to the dominance of garnet in the gangue assemblages. Microprobe analyses show that both pyrite and chalcopyrite contain minor concentrations of Au and Ag. Preliminary SEM analyses reveal that Ag is concentrated in the telluride inclusions within chalcopyrite.

The Fe-Cu-Au skarns in the Cutler Formation were previously mined on a limited scale for copper. The small size of these deposits limits their economic viability, but the presence of gold-bearing pyrite and chalcopyrite holds promise for future exploration.

Constraining the Geomorphology of the Rico Dome in Southwestern Colorado with GIS and Field Studies

Sumner, Peter and Gonzales, David

Faculty Mentor: Gonzales, David, Geosciences

The Rico dome in southwestern Colorado is an uplifted structural feature cored by a ca. 68 Ma pluton. The dome deforms the surrounding strata into a 15-mile-long and 12-mile-wide structure. It was previously thought that the longest dimension of the dome was oriented ~280° and that its geometry was directly tied to emplacement of the stock along east-west trending fault zones. In this investigation, the elevation, slope, and position data for several exposed stratigraphic contacts were employed along with GIS software to construct 3D models of the pre-erosional architecture of the dome. These results reveal new insight into the subsurface morphology and geomorphic controls on the Rico dome.

The digital models are derived from published geologic maps at 1:24,000. We first established points along several prominent geologic contacts within the study area and assigned elevation values to them using a 30 m elevation model. For each contact, Esri ArcGIS software was applied to build a 3D surface fitting between each point. The result is a series of digital 3D surfaces which represent the subsurface stratigraphy of the structure. Strike and dip measurements of strata at several stations throughout the study area were measured in the field to confirm the data presented on the geologic maps.

The results of this study show that the structure’s longest dimension is oriented ~218°, contrary to the originally suggested direction. Due to the discrepancy between this direction and the dominantly east-west striking faults, we argue that the faults were not dominant controls on the position and geometry of the dome. Results from this investigation invite a new interpretation of factors which could have influenced the dome’s formation. This opens the possibility of previously unexplored controls such as weak stratigraphic zones or deep, unexposed fractures.

NAIS, Philosophy, Physics and Political Science

Native American and Indigenous Studies

Hozho: Bringing Peace and Harmony back to the Diné

Yazzie, Shawna

Faculty Mentor: Holmes, Kay, Native American and Indigenous Studies

Colonialism has disembodied the world and has become the carriers of so called 'true knowledge.' Native American such as the Diné have adopted the notion of blood quantum into their society. Therefore, prevalent issues of identity continue to be discussed at the federal, state, and tribal levels. The Diné are the largest tribe in North America, and make their home within the four sacred mountains that encompass Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. The Diné were placed there to care for the land, stories, ceremonies, relationships, and prayers. Changing Woman, a Holy Diety, molded clay to create the Diné in her image and she established the four clans. I introduce the importance of Navajo Kinship, story as Indigenous Methodology, and Sa’ah Naaghei Bik’eh Hozhoo philosophy. By returning to the teaching of the Kinship System, we as Diné will reclaim peace and harmony. Throughout this paper, I often asked myself the questions of what my grandmother would do. Therefore, I cover the importance of utilizing the kinship system known as K’e to heal, be it with your community or yourself. In my study I incorporated the different perspectives of Diné intellectuals, who valued the factors of the kinship system and analyzed them.



Is Your Desire for a Romantic Relationship Justified?

Bennion, Mikayla

Faculty Mentor: McBrayer, Justin, Philosophy

Romantic relations have become a thoroughly normalized and commonplace experience in contemporary society. So much so that the majority of present-day individuals are either already romantically involved or are actively aspiring to become so, with little regard for the intrinsic reasoning behind their pursuit. With an array of motivations to consider, the three most common were investigated: intimacy, status, and identity. Though it remains unclear as to whether or not motivations based in intimacy and status are justifiable, studies seem to affirm that individuals with high levels of self-esteem could justifiably desire a romantic relationship for reasons relating to identity and self-development.

What Psychopaths Can Tell Us About Morality

Farrell, Isabelle

Faculty Mentor: McBrayer, Justin, Philosophy

Studies have shown that people with psychopathic tendencies tend to judge actions that cause accidental harmful outcomes as significantly more morally permissible than the rest of the population.  This finding, along with fMRI studies, provides us with insight into why and how people make such judgements.  This begs the question, which process is most likely to lead us to the truth?    

Philosophical Implications of Biases: An Analysis of Racism

Maxwell, Bethany

Faculty Mentor: McBrayer, Justin, Philosophy

This paper explores the complex manifestation of biases which present themselves through both implicit and explicit preferences. The paper develops potential theories of the origins and explanations for these biases using racism as the dominant example. Further, the philosophical implications of these explanations are discussed in relation to multiple prominent philosophical concepts of ethics, evolutionary psychology, equality, morality, and human relations.

A Moral Conversation

Porter, Tyler

Faculty Mentor: McBrayer, Justin, Philosophy

Given the modern concern with political correctness, it is pertinent to examine what makes a conversation respectful. I evaluate empirical evidence concerning what features of conversation make people feel respected, then I will draw philosophical implications about what that empirical data shows both about what respect is and how we ought to respect other people. I argue that empirical data can help us understand how to show respect.  Ultimately, I conclude that it is morally permissible to disrespect another only if you are attempting to accomplish an otherwise morally permissible goal.

Why Joshua Greene is Wrong

Spalding, Owen

Faculty Mentor: Owen, Dugald, Philosophy

Joshua Greene is the author of Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them. In this book, he suggests that there are two types of moral problems: Me versus Us and Us versus Them. He argues that science shows that we are naturally equipped to handle the first type but not the second type and that only utilitarian ethical thinking can solve the second. My project challenges this conclusion by clarifying Greene’s initial set up, evaluating the conclusions he draws from his research, and rejecting his defenses of utilitarianism

Undermining a Millian-Utilitarian Defense of Free Speech

Tinguely, E.E.

Faculty Mentor: McBrayer, Justin, Philosophy

Few thinkers were more formative than John Stuart Mill in the development of the contemporary dialectic regarding free speech. His utilitarian defense is perhaps the most relevant it’s been in centuries, given our existing political climate of contention, polarization, and “red vs. blue” politics. Over the course of this essay, I’ll attempt to shine a contemporary light on some of the claims made in Mill’s On Liberty in defense of a utilitarian conception of free speech and demonstrate how contemporary evidence undermines classic utilitarian arguments for free speech.



Digital Inline Holography

Cly, Cody

Faculty Mentor: Paciaroni, Megan; Palmer, Randy and Guildenbecher, Daniel, Physics

Digital In-line Holography (DIH) is an imaging technique used for taking a two-dimensional image of a three-dimensional object. The process is accomplished by capturing the diffraction patterns produced by a particle field with a digital camera or a charged coupled device (CCD) camera. With the images of the diffraction patterns of the particle fields Sizes of particles can be estimated through a MATLAB command based script, called HoloSAND. HoloSAND was created at Sandia National Labs for the purpose of solving the Fresnel-Kirchoff diffraction equations, in order to solve for a point sources of a spherical objects. The goal of this project is to create a graphical user interface to create an ease of access for HoloSAND because it holds up to thirty plus commands.  To test this user interface, images of particle fields composed of microspheres were taken in the optics lab at Fort Lewis College. These images were processed through the graphical user interface and their sizes, median, and standard deviations were determined.


Political Science

What's Your Story Again?: How Refocusing on Personal Narrative could affect the Evolution of Protest Activism

Drummond, Jaclyn

Faculty Mentor: Dichio, Michael and DeBell, Paul, Political Science

The increasing modernity of American culture has led to a dilemma for political activists; extreme and sensational actions achieve their goal of exposure but consequently appear to alienation and disassociate the moderate masses. In an attempt to propose a solution, this research utilizes a survey based experimental model to discover how individuals react emotionally and politically to both traditional extreme protest tactics versus a single narrative depicting a personal grievance born from a much larger public policy issue. While using American Immigration policies as a case study, most subjects that self-identified with the extremes of the political spectrum found themselves reaffirming their own radical activism and policy outcomes, however, moderates who experienced the narrative treatment over the extreme recorded higher levels of empathy, shared-identity, and thus voted for more free and open immigration policy. This complex dilemma for activists comes at such a politically active time and now leaves them in search of new and evolving ways to attract and fortify strength for their specific social movements. Perhaps refocusing on the common humanity expressed through narratives could potentially be a pivotal tool to achieve unify and bridge divided community.

High Crime from High Country: An Analysis of Policy Spillover in Recreational Cannabis Legalization

England, Brewer

Faculty Mentor: Dichio, Michael, Political Science

Why do states seem so eager to pass policies legalizing the use of cannabis in the wake of their neighbors doing so themselves, and why are states suing Colorado for alleged spikes in crime? This project looks at 22 counties in Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah over a six-year period to test whether or not proximity of a county to Colorado is correlated with that county’s cannabis-related crime. I find significant evidence for a positive correlation between proximity of a county to Colorado and that county’s cannabis crime levels, supporting the idea that Colorado’s legalization is to blame for higher crime in neighboring jurisdictions. With this project I hope to spark a wider discussion about how spillover occurs and how it may be prevented.

What Contributes Lasting Peace in Post-Conflict Societies? A case study of DDR programs in Angola, Central African Republic, Rwanda, and Uganda  

Hussian, Emma

Faculty Mentor: Dichio, Micheal and Alminas, Ruth, Political Science

What impedes the success of DDR programs? Disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) programs are standard for international peace-building efforts. Existing DDR research clearly defines the impact of economic and political stability on peace. However, halting the re-emergence of violence in post-conflict societies is far more complex. I predicted that DDR programs that included psychosocial therapies such as narrative exposure therapy and interpersonal therapy would produce lasting peace compared to DDR programs that only offered traditional healing rituals. Past studies have examined the impacts of mental health on the individual level however; I examined the effects of mental health on the peace building process. The case study analysis shows that the most important factor on determining peace is taking into account the cultural landscape of the country and applying therapies to fit the landscape.  

Psychology and Sociology


Susceptibility to False Memory and Emotion

Apergis, Andonia and Santos, Ava

Faculty Mentor: Santos, Ava, Psychology

This study focuses on people's susceptibilities to false memories when emotions are involved. There were three different conditions. In the positive condition, a photograph was presented with a positive description of what was going on in the photo. In the negative condition, the same photo was presented, but with a negative description. In the neutral condition, the photo was presented with a neutral description. Eighty-one participants were randomly assigned to one of the three different conditions. They were asked to remember as much as they could about the photo and then fill out a questionnaire that had a misleading question in it. The purpose of the misleading question was to induce a false memory of a lady in the photo of having a suitcase, when she did not. The hypothesis was that the negative condition would have more false answers of the suitcase than the other two, based off of previous studies. The results were nonsignificant, but notably, the positive and negative conditions had almost double the number of false memories compared to the neutral condition. These results suggest that emotions may need to be implanted in the individual remembering the target event in order to see significant effects.

Chunk Learning and Working Memory

Baxter, Tim and Santos, Ava

Faculty Mentor: Santos, Ava, Psychology

Many studies have been written on multi-stores memory. Although memory experts concur on many points regarding how memory is structured, they also disagree on some key points. In particular, they have differing views regarding the effects of chunking on working memory. I conducted a study to further examine this issue. Participants were presented with a 16-digit string. Consistent with past studies on working memory, I hypothesize that participants will recall seven plus or minus two digits. Also, I introduced three different study conditions. In Condition 1, the 16-digit string is shown with even spacing. In Condition 2, the 16-digit string is shown grouped into four groups of four digits each. In Condition 3, the 16-digit string is shown grouped into eight groups of two digits each. I hypothesize that the Condition 2 participants will recall more digits compared to Condition 1 or Condition 3 participants. My first hypothesis was supported: on average, participants recalled seven plus or minus two digits. My second hypothesis was not supported: there was no difference among Conditions 1, 2, and 3 with respect to the number of digits recalled. Everyday applications of this type of study are noted, and proposed future research is suggested.

Acculturative Stress Among Bicultural College Students

Castillo, Mariela and Wrona, Megan

Faculty Mentor: Wrona, Megan, Psychology

Acculturation describes the changes of an individual adjusting to a new culture that influence the conditions of her/his life. Acculturative stress affects many individuals who are a part of two different cultures. Berry’s Acculturation Model (1987) states that individuals fall into four categories of acculturative stress: integration, assimilation, separation, and marginalization. Acculturative stress on individuals can lead to poor psychological functioning. This study will explore the acculturative stress levels of students who identify as bicultural or identify more with their ethnic identity. Participants (N=54) were recruited from an Introduction to Psychology course and a Psychology Sophomore Seminar course at Fort Lewis College. The questionnaires in the study consisted of Berry’s Acculturation Model, the Social, Attitudinal, Familial and Environmental Acculturative Stress Scale (SAFE), and the Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure (MEIM).  The study found that Native American students reported experiencing a significantly higher number of stressful experiences compared to their White/Non-Hispanic counterparts. The study also found that the strength of ethnic identity correlated with a higher number of total stressful events and stress overall, suggesting that individuals who are less connected with their own culture and ethnic identity were less likely to report or be aware of experiences of stress related to acculturation.

Sleep and Memory: How Sleep Affects Memory Recall in College Students

Cook, Taylor and Santos, Ava

Faculty Mentor: Santos, Ava, Psychology

This study explores the relationship between sleep and memory among college students. I hypothesized that college students who are sleep-deprived will have poorer memory recall, and that college students who are not sleep-deprived will have better memory recall. I collected information from 17 college students, ages 18 to 26. I had the participants study 20 Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) vocabulary words. This was followed by a maze buffer task. The participants were then asked to recall as many of the 20 SAT words as they can. Finally, the participants completed the sleep portion of the study, where they answered general demographic questions and questions about their experiences with sleep. My data did not support my research hypothesis. My research showed that sleep had no correlation with memory recall. In other words, being sleep-deprived does not affect a college student’s ability to recall information. However, the sleep scores indicate that college students in general are sleep-deprived, which leads me to infer that they developed various strategies to deal with their sleep deprivation so that it does not affect their ability to recall information.

Attachment Style and Gender-Role Conformity

Franklin, Emma and Tidwell, Natasha

Faculty Mentor: Tidwell, Natasha, Psychology

This study seeks to address the missing link between adult attachment styles and conformity to traditional gender roles. Though previous research has examined these two concepts, the literature has not yet identified the nature of their direct relationship on one another. To study this relationship, 21 students at Fort Lewis College were asked to complete measures of both attachment and gender-role identity. These measures were analyzed with a correlational test. I hypothesized that among female participants, there would be a positive correlation between anxious attachment styles and feminine gender-role identity. In male participants, I hypothesized a positive correlation between avoidant styles and rigidly held masculine gender-role identity. Although the initial hypothesis was not supported, exploratory analyses revealed several interesting patterns. For female participants, attachment avoidance had a marginally significant negative correlation with masculinity. For male participants, attachment anxiety was significantly negatively correlated with femininity. Further investigation is necessary to better understand these expected results.

Queer Athleticism: Interactions between queer identity and athletic identity on self-perceived levels of masculinity, femininity, and androgyny?

Johnson, Scott and Wrona, Megan

Faculty Mentor: Wrona, Megan, Psychology

With the 2018 Winter Olympics held in Peyongchang, South Korea this past spring, the United States was able to witness its first introduction of two openly queer male winter Olympians (Gus Kenworthy and Adam Rippon). These athletes caught the attention of both local, national, and international news, with the main question of every interview being, what is it like being a queer athlete? Although both athletes typically answered the question by stating that there is no difference; athletes are just athletes, several researchers have begun to question if there are any statistically measureable differences between queer and nonqueer athletes? The focus of this study was to analyze the effects of queer identity and athletic identity on self-perceived levels of masculinity, femininity, and androgyny. A sample population composed of 6 Durango community members and 64 Fort Lewis College students (25 queer, 44 non-queer, 1 non-disclosing) were administered the Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI) and the Athletic Identity Measurement Scale (AIMS) to measure levels of masculinity/femininity/androgyny and athletic identity respectfully. A Pearson’s R Correlation found a statistically significant positive correlation between AIMS score and masculinity with an r = 0.249 and p = 0.039. There was no statistically significant correlation between AIMS score and femininity nor androgyny. The Two Way ANOVA test showed no significant effect of queer identity on masculinity, femininity, nor androgyny, no significant effect of athletic identity on masculinity, femininity, nor androgyny. The Two Way ANOVA test also did not show a statistically significant interaction of queer identity and athletic identify on masculinity, femininity nor androgyny.

Do Crime Shows Change Perspectives on Mental Health?

Kah, Cassandra and Wrona, Megan

Faculty Mentor: Wrona, Megan, Psychology

Do mental health, stigma and the media go hand and hand?  In the media, mental health is often shown as very inaccurate.  People with mental health disorders are frequently portrayed as lazy, unpredictable, faking it to get out of trouble, etc.  As media influences other parts of our lives, it can also influence others depiction on mental health.  For this study, the hypothesis was: Does Television Shows and Movies of different genres influence a student's perception and view of mental illness?  This particular study included 44 participants, all students attending Fort Lewis College, (72.7% females and 27.3% males).  These participants were selected in an Introduction to Psychology course and a Bilingualism course.  A demographic scale, a CAMI scale and a survey in which each participant determined whether there choice of television show was accurate in describing mental illness was used.  Although this study showed no statistically significant result, it is still important to realize stigma with mental health does occur.  The fact that a persons perspective from the media can effect perspectives of others in your life: friends, family and peers, shows that stigma does exist. 

The Impact of a Person’s Athleticism on Their Feeling of Belongingness in Durango

Loewenstein, Max and Wrona, Megan

Faculty Mentor: Wrona, Megan, Psychology

The purpose of this study is to examine how accepted a person feels in regards to their athletic ability. Durango is an open minded and largely accepting place to both its residents and its visitors, it is also a popular outdoors destination for tourists and athletes. Surveys will be administered to college students of all types at fort Lewis College. All of these surveys are volunteer based, and are completely voluntary. The goal is to see if Durango has been more accommodating to those who exercise regularly and/or play sports, than to the students who do not take interest in participating in activities such as team sports and outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, running, and water sports.

Suggestive Language and Memory Recall

Richardson, Amber and Santos, Ava

Faculty Mentor: Santos, Ava, Psychology

The purpose of this study was to distinguish if there was a difference between suggestive language and non-suggestive language when asking someone to recall an event. This is important to explore because if suggestive language can affect the accuracy of recollections, forensic psychologists and law enforcement officials could use different methods that preserve the accuracy of eyewitnesses' memories. Each participant was asked to watch a short clip of a car accident and then was given a questionnaire to fill out after. The questionnaires were distributed randomly, and some participants received non-suggestive language questionnaires and others received questionnaires with suggestive language. I hypothesized that participants that received questionnaires with suggestive language would have a more difficult time remembering what exactly happened during the car accident and would be affected by suggestive language. The results supported the hypothesis. Participants who received the suggestive language incorporated the misleading suggestive information into their later recollections of the target event, and participants who did not receive the suggestive language did not mention the misleading suggestive information in their later recollections of the target event. These results indicate that suggestive language continues to be a concern, especially in situations where truthful recollections are important.

The Affects of Religiosity/ Spirituality on Alcohol Consumption

Rottschafer, Joshua and Wrona, Megan

Faculty Mentor: Wrona, Megan, Psychology

This study will examine the effects of Religiosity and Spirituality on alcohol consumption. Questionnaires will be given to a sample of Intro to Psychology students at Fort Lewis college students. These questions will assess the students religious/ spirituality commitment, or lack thereof, and its relationship to the student's alcohol consumption. The hypothesis of this study is that religiosity and spirituality has a significant effect on alcohol consumption. The independent variable being religiosity and spirituality, and the dependent variable being alcohol consumption. The results showed no significant correlation between the two variables.

The Effects of Romantic Media on Young Adults Perceptions of Soulmates and Romantic Love

Taha, Kersti

Faculty Mentor: Tidwell, Natasha, Psychology

Previous research suggests that media sources greatly influence consumers' beliefs and attitudes about their own lives (Hefner & Wilson, 2013). Of particular relevance to the current study, movies and other forms of entertainment media often depict idealistic portrayals of romance; exposure to this message can potentially impact individual perceptions about love and relationships. The present study examines how viewing romantic genres of media affects young adults' perceptions of soulmates and love. Undergraduate students in two Introduction to Psychology classes at Fort Lewis College were recruited for this study and were assigned to one of two experimental conditions: exposure to romantic media or non-romantic media. It was hypothesized that participants in the "romantic media" condition would report higher beliefs in soulmates and romantic ideals (e.g., love conquers all, love has no boundaries, and love never fails). However, results did not support this hypothesis, as participants' responses did not significantly differ by condition. Future directions for this work may include collecting data from a larger, and more diverse population to eliminate some cultural bias. As well as creating a scale that is more specific to romantic relationships, rather than focusing only on individuals attitudes towards growth and destiny beliefs.

Stereotype Effects on Memory

Toya, Natisha and Santos, Ava

Faculty Mentor: Santos, Ava, Psychology

In this study the effects of stereotypes on memory were examined. The participants were randomly assigned to one of two different conditions. In both conditions, they answered a series of questions, watched a video of a bank robbery, completed a buffer task, and answered questions about the bank robbery video. Condition 1 was the non-salient or control condition, which meant that participants were not made unaware of their stereotypes prior to watching the target video. In this condition, participants solved a maze. Condition 2 was the non-salient or experimental condition, which meant that participants were made aware of their stereotypes before the video. In this condition, participants were asked to describe what they think a stereotypical bank robber typically looks like, such as the robber's gender, age, presence/absence of facial hair, and general body build. The results of this study found that there were no effects of stereotype awareness on one’s recollection of a crime scene. A possible reason for the results is that legal dramas are common as TV shows and may have demonstrated to the target population that perpetrators can often defy stereotypes. This research has implications for eyewitness testimonies and media literacy.

A Study on Football Players: Concussions and Working Memory

Valdez, Chrystianne and Santos, Ava

Faculty Mentor: Santos, Ava, Psychology

Research shows that brain damage can have serious long and short term effects on a person's memory and overall function of life. Football has the most recorded concussion injuries of any other sport. What has yet to be examined is the relationship between playing football and working memory recall when there is no concussion. This study looked at 56 college football players and 28 non-football players to examine the effect concussions have on a person's working memory. This study found a significant interaction between group type (football player or non-football player) and concussion status (history of concussion or no history of concussion) with respect to working memory performance. Specifically, non-football players with no concussions earned the highest working memory test scores, followed by non-football players with concussions, then by football players with concussions, and finally football players with no concussions. Possible reasons for these findings are discussed. Further research is needed to understand why these outcomes occurred.

The Effect of Injury on Perception of Athletic Identity

Warmouth, Kelli and Wrona, Megan

Faculty Mentor: Wrona, Megan, Psychology

This study analyzed the effect of injury on an athlete's perception of their athletic identity. Participants were asked to complete a three-part study. The first section was the Athletic Identity Measurement Scale (AIMS) which measured how much they identify with being an athlete. Next they completed a journal entry where they were asked to recall the specifics of their most severe injury experience. Lastly, with the emotions of the injury now on the surface, they were asked to complete the same AIMS measurement. We hypothesized that the post-test AIMS results would be lower than the initial AIMS results. A paired sample t-test was used to analyze the results. We found no significant difference between the overall pre-test and post-test AIMS. However, we did find a significant difference between the pre-test and post-test subscale measure of social identity within the overall AIMS. Based on these results, the conservation of athletic identity may not need to be a point of emphasis to address during injury rehabilitation before and after the athlete recalls their injury. However, social identity does shift throughout the injury process. Further research is needed before drawing firm conclusions.



The Correlation with Increase in Latino Inmates and the War on Drugs

Benavidez, Cassandra

Faculty Mentor: Clausen, Becky, Sociology

My research suggests that the War on Drugs caused a significant increase in Latino inmates. There are thirty million Latinos living in the United States in the year 2000 and 16% of those are now incarcerated (Aguirre & Baker). I researched two policies that resulted from the War on Drugs: the three strikes law and the zero-tolerance policy. Since these have been enacted, social movements have worked to change these policies and give people of color a better chance of succeeding in the United States.

Technology’s Effects on Public perception of Law Enforcement

Di Lorenzo, Alec

Faculty Mentor: Seis, Mark, Sociology

Many communities trust in law enforcement has eroded due to a long history of unjust policing and a technological disconnect within the criminal justice system. This semester I immersed myself within the La Plata County Sheriffs office for three months of fieldwork to study this disconnect first hand. I interviewed many different individuals in both law enforcement and the community gathering data on why there's a disconnection between police and the community. Using my data findings as well as analyzing secondary data sources I discovered that mass media and technology hinder a positive relationship rather than support it.

The School-to-Prison Pipeline and Disparities in Native American Youth Incarceration

Jefferson, Nicole

Faculty Mentor: Clausen, Becky, Sociology

Over the last twenty years an invisible pipeline has been built stretching from coast to coast and boarder to board of the United States. This pipeline, however, does not funnel water, oil or gas, it is filled with our youth. At the end of this pipeline, youth are met with the doors of jails and prisons, and it is known as the school-to-prison pipeline. I was personally able to see this pipeline in action as I began field work at the Rite of Passage Robert E. DeNier Youth Service Center in Durango, Colorado and conducted research on incarceration rates and causes of youth incarceration. Between my work and research I noticed data was missing for the second most incarcerated people per capita, Native Americans. Why was this? Native Americans are three times more likely to be incarcerated then their white peers, they are disproportionately represented in jails and prisons yet lack the corresponding data and acknowledgment. In this project, I am bringing the data forward and highlighting at-risk factors for Native American youth.

The Positive Impact of TRIO Student Success Center at Fort Lewis College

Montoya, Katherine

Faculty Mentor: Fitzgerald, Janine, Sociology

My research for this project is based on my thesis that TRIO Student Success Center empowers marginalized students. To support my thesis, I gathered data from multiple sources including the TRIO Student Success Center database called Blumen. I wanted to incorporate student voices and interviews because the most meaningful aspect of TRIO Student Success Center is the community within it. The most intriguing information I discovered is that 35% of the Fort Lewis College population is eligible for TRIO Student Success Center services but the program has the budget to serve only 200 students. In my conclusion, I suggest that Fort Lewis College advisors should incorporate the TRIO Student Success Center approach to advising and student recognition.

The Indigenous Streaming toward the School to Prison Pipeline: A Historical Shockwave

Nuvayestewa, Lewis

Faculty Mentor: Clausen, Becky, Sociology

Understanding the School to Prison Pipeline (STPP) requires consideration of many factors. In this project I research the historical context of the criminal justice system and the unique position of the Indigenous peoples of America within that framework. I explain the stark differences between two major cultures, the problems that arise from the “Double Consciousness” self-formation as defined by W.E.B. Du Bois, and lastly, the detrimental effects of the boarding school era on the Indigenous population.  I explore how these factors translate to the framework of the current STPP.

Families, Isolation, and Adverse Childhood Experiences: A Social, Historical, and Individual Look into Healing Trauma

Petty, Savannah

Faculty Mentor: Fitzgerald, Janine, Sociology

Adverse Childhood Experiences are our nations number one health risk. This research is intended to name root causes of Adverse Childhood Experiences involving divorce, child neglect, and alcoholism. This paper also suggests prevention and treatment of trauma resulting in adverse experiences including: EMDR, art therapy, yoga and meditation, medication and healthcare, and grieving ambiguous loss. My fieldwork with Big Brothers Big Sisters and Denier Youth Services serve to assist my research regarding ACE scores and the healing of trauma. The choice to recognize and heal trauma is necessary for the future of American children.

The Heartbreak of Masculinity in the United States Today

Wilson, Cindy

Faculty Mentor: Fitzgerald, Janine, Sociology

This project researches how culture is the predominant factor of why Domestic Violence (DV) exists.  We often blame individuals instead of looking at what kind of cultural behavior is valued in society. As I conducted research into the parameters of DV, I realized that the problem is much more complex that just getting women or "victims" to leave their homes or families to find a way out.  These perpetrators often move on to someone else once they are convinced that they can no longer control their present "target". They live in a society that represents masculinity as being in control, that anger is good and powerful, and displaying anger is acceptable.  I researched how showing other emotions is considered weak and feminine and that men in the United States are fearful of displaying it.  We need all the systems that we have in place right now to help with DV, and yet culture also needs to change, allowing men to feel free to be who they are and define masculinity as they see it. I concluded that modern culture of the United States continues to maintain a system of powerlessness, no matter what gender we are.