Students who at the end of their junior year have earned an overall grade-point average of 3.0 and a 3.5 in their major, are invited to participate in departmental honors work during their senior year. The prestigious and highly selective yearlong program is designed for students who wish to pursue intensive research or a special project. Papers and projects are presented at a special forum in the spring.
In consultation with a departmental faculty adviser, students choose a topic of interest, usually in their major, and select a committee of two additional faculty members to serve as advisers and readers.
Students who complete departmental honors papers, which are included in the permanent collections of the Beneficial-Hodson Library, are designated Christine P. Tischer Scholars, in honor of the 1965 alumna of the College who has generously supported the program.
Carly Berkowitz ’17
Major: Communication Arts
Project: The Women in Ink: A Study of Women in Modern Mainstream Comics
Mentor: Elizabeth Atwood, Ph.D., assistant professor of journalism
Committee Members: Katherine Orloff, assistant professor of journalism; and Heather Mitchell-Buck, Ph.D., assistant professor of English
Watch Carly's Video Summary
In the past, female comic book characters have been plagued with many issues ranging from over-sexualization, to excessive violence, to being nothing more than a plot point in the story of a male hero. This study examines current comics with female leads from the two big-name publishers, Marvel and DC Comics, and analyzes the characters' actions, appearances and dialogue. Are female heroes treated like sexy props? Are they murdered, maimed or otherwise mistreated for the sake of male characters? Or are they the well-developed, compelling heroes they should be? Find out in our next issue: The Women in Ink: A Study of Women in Modern Mainstream Comics.
Quote: “I went into this study with expectations and suspicions driven by my own experiences as an avid comic reader. I began to notice trends with the stories I read, and this study gave me a chance to not only test my theories, but to share my results with anyone who, like me, loves comics.”
Alexandra Cook ’16
Major: History and English
Project: Frances Burney’s “Cecilia, or Memoirs of an Heiress” and Eighteenth-Century Britain
Mentors: Emilie Amt, D.Phil., professor of history and chair of the department; and Trevor Dodman, Ph.D., associate professor of English
Committee Members: Katy Fulfer, Ph.D., Sophia M. Libman NEH Professor of the Humanities
Watch Alexander's Video Summary
Abstract: Frances Burney’s 1782 novel, “Cecilia, or Memoirs of an Heiress,” tells the story of an heiress who is set to inherit from her uncle, with the unusual stipulation in his will that requires her future husband to take her last name upon marriage. I examine the historical context of this condition, as well as other aspects of the novel, particularly relating to gender roles. Experiences in Burney’s personal life influenced this fictional world, and I analyze how the opinions of the novel have changed from the 18th century to the 19th century. Additionally, I discuss the representations of lack of voice in the historical and gendered context and how that translates in the novel.
Quote: “One reason I chose to write my paper on “Cecilia” was its seemingly unique plot in which a woman’s last name is to be taken by her husband instead of the customary reverse. In the course of research for this paper, I have learned that this actually was not so uncommon and was practiced in the 18th century with a name and arms clause that could be written into wills. I have also learned much more about Frances Burney’s life as well as the circumstances around the writing of this novel. The most challenging part of this project was focusing on such a small part of the novel when there were so many fascinating avenues that I wanted to explore!”
Lew Dean ’16
Major: Mathematics and Studio Art
Project: Optimal Digital Filtering Techniques for the Analysis of Pore Water Pressure
Mentor: Gwyneth Whieldon, Ph.D., assistant professor of mathematics
Committee Members: John Boon, associate professor of computer science and information technology; April Boulton, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology and director of the master’s program in environmental science
Watch Lew's Video Summary
Abstract: Debris flows are a geological phenomenon that occur in mountainous landscapes and consist of a complex mixture of saturated sediments ranging from silt to boulders. It has been theorized that pore pressure, the pressure exerted by interstitial fluid, is a contributor to the levels of entrained sediments in a debris flow and to overall flow behavior. In laboratory flume experiments using a 3 m. flume apparatus at the University of Minnesota, machine noise and particle collisions caused a great amount of noise in pore pressure data. For this reason, it is necessary to establish the most efficient method of data filtration. This study tests the efficiency of the Butterworth and Chebyshev 1 digital filters of increasing order n. The Butterworth filter has maximally flat pass and stop bands and a smooth transition period at a defined cutoff frequency ωc that steepens as n increases. The Chebyshev 1 filter has a steeper roll-off, reducing the length of the transition period, but has a ripple effect in the pass band as an artifact of the Chebyshev polynomial, which may cause data distortion. These are implemented as low-pass filters to remove system white noise and stop-band filters to remove waveforms that occur as a result of flume vibrations at the onset of each experiment. Establishing the most effective and efficient digital filter can contribute to the standards of small-scale flume experimentation.
Quote: “I was given this project as a result of the research that I had completed last summer. Noisy pore water pressure data was a problem that my summer adviser had run into in the research of her graduate advisees, and she asked me if I would like to continue our working together and if I was interesting in investigating potential solutions. As a result, I was exposed to the field of signal processing and digital filters, in which I had had no prior experience. This project has taught me that with a mathematics background, I am able to comprehend theories in a breadth of scientific disciplines. Over the course of my departmental honors, I have been exposed to particle physics, electrical engineKirsteng and data science to understand the behavior of debris flows and digital signals. With my research, I have learned that scientific collaboration is essential in finding innovative solutions to practical problems.”
Major: Global Studies
Project: Communication is Key: Analyzing Foreign Language Education in the United States
Mentor: Paige Eager, Ph.D., associate professor of political science, chair of the department
Committee Members: Roger Stenersen, visiting instructor in education and director of the educational leadership program; Janis Judson, Ph.D., associate professor of political science
Watch Lydia's Video Summary
Abstract: Our world is currently home to three and four thousand different languages, with the average American only knowing one: English. Despite the fact that the successes of the United States are based in part on the influx of immigrants from all regions of the globe, the inherent push for assimilation and the adoption of English has inhibited second- and third-generation Americans from practicing their native tongue. Generations of the current U.S. populace lack the opportunity to learn foreign languages, as the necessary educational opportunities to learn a foreign language are substandard in many states.
Where is the intrinsic human desire for global communication among the American people, especially those moving forward in the 21st century? Why is there minimal interest from Americans to learn foreign languages and cultures? Why is an emphasis on foreign language education not initiated for American students at a young age, where language retention has been scientifically proven to be higher? Is it America’s geographical positioning and its global influence leading others to learn English that contribute to the shortage of bilingual Americans?
This paper analyzes various standpoints as to why Americans are not receiving the proper foreign language education necessary to function and thrive within an ever-increasingly globalized society. It will assert that the lack of foreign language education negatively affects the United States from both a national security and economic standpoint. Lastly, it will examine the innate benefits of knowing two or more languages and how the improved implementation of foreign language education within the United States can benefit the individual as well as the entirety of the country.
Quote: “This has been the hardest project I have ever had to complete at Hood, but the most beneficial. This project allowed me to explore what I was really interested in, and oftentimes I found myself excited when finding new information or a new resource that applied to my research. The main challenge I faced was time management. This project is so large, and to complete it along with classes and campus activities was not an easy feat. With the support of my adviser, Dr. Eager, and a lot of late nights writing and researching, I was able to make it this far.”
Ingrid Gooch ’16
Project: Do Fathers Know Best: Associations Between Paternal Parenting and
Effective Management of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms
Mentor: Diane Oliver, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology
Committee Members: Elizabeth MacDougall, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology; Ingrid Farreras, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology and chair of the department; and Didier Course, Ph.D., professor of French
Watch Ingrid's Video Summary
Mary Horabik ’16
Major: Art and Archaeology
Project: Icons of War or Images of Shaman: A Study of Paracas Textiles
Mentor: Jennifer Ross, Ph.D., professor of art and archaeology
Committee Members: Jay Harrison, Ph.D., assistant professor of history; and Martha Bari, Ph.D., assistant professor of art history
Watch Mary's Video Summary
Abstract: I decided to look at Peruvian textiles, specifically those of the Late Paracas period, 370-200 BCE. They were found in the Southern Coast of Peru in burial mounds. A large debate in Paracas studies today is what the images on the textiles mean. I have decided that the human figures on these textiles are shamans instead of icons of war or trophy heads as many scholars suggest.
Quote: “I have gained valuable research and writing experience as I hope to continue my studies into graduate school. I also was able to look at one of the areas of the world that interests me, the pre-Columbian societies of Peru. Some of the struggles were just figuring out dates, as the timeline has been changed over the years!”
Ashlee Metzger ’16
Project: Analyzing Egg Laying Behaviors in “C. elegans” Based on Bacterial Food Sources
Mentor: Georgette Jones, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology
Committee Members: Oney Smith, Ph.D., professor of biology; and James Devilbiss
Watch Ashlee's Video Summary
Taylor Murphy ’16
Project: Queen Gertrude in Theory: The Construction of Hamlet's Mother in Criticism and Film
Mentor: Mark Sandona, Ph.D., professor of English and chair of the department
Committee Members: Heather Mitchell-Buck, Ph.D., assistant professor of English; and
Katy Fulfer, Ph.D., Sophia M. Libman NEH Professor of the Humanities
Watch Taylor's Video Summary
Abstract: The project focuses on Queen Gertrude’s presence in literary criticism and film, with an emphasis on how her character is approached. Initially, the paper looks at early criticism on Gertrude to create a baseline for how her character is described, and then it develops into a more in-depth look at how recent critics take up her character. After this understanding of Gertrude’s presence in literary criticism, the project looks at Gertrude’s role in six film adaptations of “Hamlet.” This shift from literary criticism to film highlights the recurring characterizations of who Gertrude is and suggests that the ambiguity of the play comes with some limitations. “Hamlet” is a play full of unanswered questions, but the repeated visions of Gertrude in both criticism and film imply that the answers to these questions are not completely limitless.
Quote: “Overall, this project taught me that even the most seemingly insignificant characters in a text have a lot to say. Gertrude taught me that words are always important, but that how those words are used is even more important.”
Allen Paxton ’16
Project: Uncensored - A Defense of Free Speech at Institutions of Higher Education
Mentor: Janis Judson, Ph.D., associate professor of political science
Committee Members: Caroline Reichard, senior lecturer in philosophy and religious studies; and Teresa Bean, J.D., assistant professor of law and criminal justice
Watch Allen's Video Summary
Abstract: Has higher education abandoned the First Amendment? In many
ways, it seems to have done so. The larger question, however, is has the
First Amendment abandoned higher education? This paper makes the case
that the answer to this question is no. In an age where free speech is
regularly challenged on college campuses across the nation, it is
important to consider the state of the law in order to determine what
rights students can and should enjoy.
This paper explores the landmark cases of school-related free speech.
Starting with Tinker, this paper then explores the (often restrictive)
subsequent decisions handed down by the court. By noting pedagogical
differences between K-12 and college education, this paper advances the
argument that many of the restrictive court decisions do not apply to
institutions of higher education. Further, the landscape of case law seems
to be trending in favor of liberal free speech at institutions of higher
education. Ultimately, this paper concludes that individuals at
institutions of higher education should enjoy robust, broad free speech
rights, to the same extent enjoyed by the adult public at large, rather
than to the mitigated status awarded to K-12 students.
Quote: “This experience gave me the incredible opportunity to refine my
ability to complete a large research project successfully! In a very
practical manner, I was able to improve my time management skills.”
Sara Pietrzak ’16
Project: The Reservation of My Mind”: Changes in Sherman Alexie’s Post 9/11 Literature
Mentor: Amy Gottfried, Ph.D., associate professor of English
Committee Members: Elizabeth Knapp, Ph.D., assistant professor of English; and Hoda Zaki, Ph.D., Virginia E. Lewis Professor of Political Science
Watch Sara's Video Summary
Kirsten Roy ’16
Project: Get a Little, Give a Little: A Look at Philanthropy in Higher Education
Mentor: Glen Weaver, D.M., assistant professor of accounting and management
Committee Members: Erin George, Ph.D., assistant professor of economics; and Michael Coon, Ph.D., assistant professor of economics
Watch Kirsten's Video Summary
Abstract: The purpose of this study is to determine what factors may motivate current undergraduate students to give to their alma mater after graduation. This study examines the likelihood to give financially and the likelihood to give time or service after graduation. Current alumni were not included in this study as there has been much research into what factors motivate current alums to give. The factors that are examined in this study include: grade point average, interactions with faculty, whether or not the student received a scholarship, if the prestige or image of the college or university was a reason for attendance, participation in clubs and organizations, participation in athletics, participation in volunteer activities, whether or not the student is religious, whether or not the student has taken a service-learning course, gender, overall college experience, level of identification with the college or university and how active of an alum the students expects to be. Mixed methodology was used in the form of interviews and a survey. The results indicate that overall experience, volunteer participation, level of identification with the college or university, and agreement to be an active alum all have a positive relationship with the likelihood to give. GPA was found to have a negative relationship with likelihood to give.
Quote: “This project has helped me understand the many facets of conducting research and the challenges with collecting data and managing time. I now know the feeling of working on a project for a year and seeing it completed.”
Ammarah Spall ’16
Project: Cloning and Characterization of the Pectin Methylesterase Gene in Pectobacterium wasabiae
Mentor: Craig Laufer, Ph.D., professor of biology
Committee Members: Susan Carney, Ph.D., associate professor of biology; and Susan Ensel, Ph.D., professor of chemistry
Abstract: Biofuels offer the potential to supplement or replace gasoline and other transportation fuels derived from crude oil. This is important because the latter are finite resources and further the burning of such fossil fuels contributes to global climate change by increasing the net carbon dioxide in the biosphere. Biofuels on the other hand are renewable and since the carbon dioxide released upon burning biofuels is recaptured during the growth of the next season’s crops, they do not contribute excess carbon dioxide. First-generation biofuels use starch (corn) or sugar (sugarcane) to produce fuel. The use of these food commodities unfortunately contributes to a rise in food prices and would require planting much more acreage than is currently farmed, causing environmental problems in its own right. However, second-generation biofuels are derived from agricultural waste, such as corn stover, sugar beet pulp and citrus peel, that is already being produced but not used. Second-generation biofuels seek to extract sugars from the structural components of plants that can eventually be fermented into ethanol and be used as fuel. The plant cell wall that makes up the structural component of the plant includes cellulose, hemicellulose and pectin polymers. These cellulosic structural plant components have evolved to be resistant to breakdown, therefore making it difficult to get monomeric sugars from these plant components. However, various bacteria, often phytopathogens, have enzymes that are capable of breaking down these components. This study explores bacterial pectin methylesterases (PMEs) and attempts to clone this gene from Pectobacterium wasabiae through traditional cloning methods and via TA cloning procedures. These enzymes catalyze the hydrolysis of methylesters from pectin making subsequent digestion of this key polymer by pectate lyases and hydrolases much more efficient. Subsequent temperature and pH characterization of the PME from P. wasabiae was conducted to determine its feasibility in biofuel production. Further characterization of this PME, such as substrate specificity and specific activity, could be conducted in the future.
Quote: “This experience has taught me not only about the scientific research process but many other skills. I have learned to manage my time and to be persistent when faced with failure. I definitely am glad that I participated in this opportunity.”
Eric Stone ’16
Project: When Worlds Collide: Combining Stigma Management Strategies and Intersectionality Theory Amongst Homeless and Lower-Income Adults
Mentor: Laura Moore, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology and chair of the department
Committee Members: Roger Reitman, Ph.D., professor of sociology; and Katy Fulfer, Ph.D., Sophia M. Libman NEH Professor of the Humanities
Watch Eric's Video Summary
Abstract: Employing multiple theoretical frameworks and both qualitative and quantitative methods, this research examines the identity management strategies and perceived obstacles that homeless or lower-income adults use or experience as a consequence of stigma and their intersecting identities. Data from structured interviews with 22 homeless or lower-income adults accessing services at a Frederick, Md., agency was analyzed for emerging themes, translated into keyword searches and quantified to conduct Fisher’s exact tests for statistical significance. Results confirm that certain stigma management strategies and perceived obstacles vary significantly by gender, race, ethnicity or age, thereby supporting arguments for future research more attuned to the consequences of intersecting identities for homeless or lower-income populations.
Quote: “Through this experience, I have gained a deeper understanding of and appreciation for the difficult process of conducting sociological research, and I am grateful to everyone who had any involvement in the development and progression of my research/thesis. Beyond what I have learned about the research process though, this experience has taught me how to accept, appreciate and apply criticism to enhance and refine my writing—allowing me to grow as an individual.”
Hannah Thompson ’16
Major: Art and Archaeology and English
Project: The Function of Emesal as a Cultic Sociolect
Mentor: Jennifer Ross, Ph.D., professor of art and archaeology
Committee Members: Tammy Krygier, Ph.D., visiting professor of archaeology and art history; and Heather Mitchell-Buck, Ph.D., assistant professor of English
Watch Hannah's Video Summary
Abstract: In this paper, I aim to clarify the role of Emesal, a Sumerian dialect, as a cultic sociolect rather than a gender dialect as has been previously suggested by some scholars. A sociolect is a dialect or variation of a language that is used by a specific social group or class. A linguistic, anthropological and archaeological approach is taken in examining the interpretation of Emesal and its relation to Emegir (the standard Sumerian dialect), the archaeological record of Emesal and its link to the gala priests, and the function of Emesal in cultic laments. I evaluate past interpretations and recent insights by scholars of the definition and function of Emesal. I examine and discuss translations of Emesal texts as well as other Mesopotamian lamentations and literary texts. The goal of this research is to clarify the function of Emesal within Mesopotamian religious literature.
Quote: “What I struggled with most in completing this project were my own expectations, which hindered my progress and kept me from receiving timely criticism from my committee. This may have been an independent research project, but there are several individuals, including my committee, to whom I owe my gratitude for helping me to overcome my expectations and maintain my passion for this subject.”
Catherine Traini ’16
Project: The Gendered Effect of Migration and Remittances on Educational Attainment: The Case of Nicaragua
Mentor: Michael Coon, Ph.D., assistant professor of economics
Committee Members: Erin George, Ph.D., assistant professor of economics; and Katy Fulfer, Ph.D., Sophia M. Libman NEH Professor of the Humanities
Abstract: This study analyzes the gendered impact of migration and remittances—the money sent by foreign migrants to their home countries—on the children in the receiving households. Previous studies have found that the influx of remittances in the receiving households increases children’s educational attainment because there is more income to be allocated to it, but does that increasing trend shift based on the gender of the person who migrates? This question is tested using regression analysis on data from the World Bank 2005 Nicaraguan Living Standards Measurement Study (Encuesta Nacional de Hogares sobre Medicion de Niveles de Vida 2005) to examine relationships between the gender of the remitter and the education level attained by their children that remain in Nicaragua. I found that the presence of remitters in the household increases the education of children by a year, and the presence of a female remitter increases the education of young girls by almost four years. Lastly, the presence of a male remitter increases 8-12-year-old boys likelihood of school enrollment, and the same holds for female remitters and 8-12-year-old girls.
Quote: “This research project has converted me from a mathematician to an
economist. It has ignited a passion for economics, and I plan on pursuing
a Ph.D. in the field to continue this research.”
Emily Warren ’16
Project: What’s Rome Got to Do With It? Orientalism’s Effects on Western
Perspectives of the Value of Middle Eastern Antiquities
Mentor: Donald Wright, Ph.D., associate professor of French and Arabic
Committee Members: Jennifer Ross, Ph.D., professor of art and archaeology; and Janis Judson, Ph.D., associate professor of political science
Watch Emily's Video Summary
Daniel Cramer ’17
Major: Political Science
Project: Interactive Dissent: The Politics of Video Games
Mentor: Carin Robinson, Ph.D., assistant professor of political science
Committee Members: Hoda Zaki, Ph.D., Virginia E. Lewis Professor of
Political Science; and Ingrid Farreras, Ph.D., associate professor of
psychology and chair of the department of psychology and counseling
Abstract: In the past 30 years, video games have grown from being a niche
form of entertainment to generating more revenue than movies, television
and music. Due to video games¹ dramatic rise in popularity, in addition to
increased accessibility, researchers have begun looking into the effects
video games can have on behaviors. These studies have shown that video
games can have a wide variety of effects on those who consume them. In
recent years, critically and commercially successful games have developed
narratives that seek to make statements about society and political
structures. Even in the face of this change, the discipline of political
science has not concerned itself with judging how video games portray
political institutions or measuring the effects games can have on
political socialization. This paper aims to show political scholars that
video games contain strong political narratives that portray governmental
institutions in unfavorable lights through strong themes of political
dissent and governmental contention. I then argue that experimental
research as to the effects video games may have on political socialization
patterns of consumers must be conducted.
Quote: “Being a Tischer Scholar not only means having to push your
academic prowess to new limits, but it also offers a chance for critical
reflection on your entire time at Hood College. It is the culmination of
years of learning, studying and determination. While it is an immense
undertaking, when you finally get to present your paper and your findings
to a room of deeply interested scholars, the entire endeavor becomes
worthwhile. I encourage any student that is invited to write a
Departmental Honors paper at Hood to do so. You not only have a fantastic
writing sample for future post-secondary institutions, but a momentous of
all you have learned and achieved through your time at Hood College.”
Noel Jones ’16
Project: The Development and Validation of the Jones Work-Life Conflict Continuum (JWLCC)
Mentor: Elizabeth MacDougall, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology
Committee Members: Ingrid Farreras, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology and chair of the department of psychology and counseling; and David Gurzick, Ph.D., assistant professor of management
Abstract: The extent to which employees believe they have achieved a reasonable balance between their work lives and other aspects of their lives is important for employee satisfaction, and research demonstrates that satisfaction is related to increased productivity and organizational citizenship behavior, which benefits the organization. Most measures of work-life conflict used in the research literature focus narrowly on conflict that occurs between work and family life, and these measures do not appear to have been created for use in applied organizational settings. As such, the purpose of this study is to develop and investigate the psychometric quality of a broader measure of work-life conflict for use in applied organizational settings.
The pilot study narrowed down the potential test items from the original 52. This ensured that only the most effective test items were used for the test to support higher psychometric quality. The exploratory factor analysis provided evidence of construct validity. The three factors were consistent with work-to-life conflict (WLC), life-to-work conflict (LWC), and life-to-work enrichment (LWE). The reliability data for the JWLCC and its subscales suggest that the scales have appropriate reliability for applied use. Additionally, strong evidence for validity is supported in this study. Correlations with the Matthews et al. 2010 work-family conflict (WFC) scale and the Brough et al. 2014 work-life balance (WLB) scale provide evidence of convergent validity. Correlation with the turnover intent scale provides evidence of criterion-related validity. Correlation with the satisfaction with life scale (SWLS) provides evidence of construct validity. The current study provides promising preliminary reliability and validity data for the JWLCC and warrants further study of more diverse samples.
Quote: “This project allowed me to study a specific area of interest that I hope to continue to pursue in graduate school. It taught me to always be thorough with my work and patient with the process. I feel that the project prepared me for a potential dissertation in the future.”