Category Archives: 2014-UCUR-Abstracts

The Bitch vs. the Ditz: The Perception of Female Politicians in American Print Mass Media

Lacy Culpepper, Dixie State University


In the past century, women have made monumental progress in their presence and authority in American politics; unfortunately, print mass media outlets overall have not positively reflected those changes. In his work, On Rhetoric, Aristotle argues that a person’s character is the most effective method of persuasion, and as female politicians fall subject to the words of the media, their perceived character, and impact as a leader, depends heavily on the opinions of the writers and analysts of the various American print sources. Print media outlets tend to categorize notable female politicians into two categories: the bitch, who must abandon her well-rounded, understanding realm of femininity and adopt notions of an aggressive, haughty persona; or the ditz, who must heavily rely on the dated, stereotypical femininity that encourages beauty over brains and forsakes a hold of influence and legitimacy. This seemingly timeless application proves that, regardless of which category a female politician is assigned, such press pushes her politics aside and can have a serious negative impact on both her career and reputation. For this paper, I analyze the print treatment of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin during the 2008 presidential election to explain the rigid Bitch/Ditz classification of female politicians that sources including Time and People have assigned.

Hook-up culture: a qualitative analysis of sexual scripts within gender and religious identidies

Sarah Dursteler, Weber State University


The culture of sex outside intimate relationships including dating scripts and sexual scripts has shifted to one of more ambiguity. Multiple changes in sexual scripts have occurred in the last 50 years with the diversification of types of relationships in which sex occurs, including, a greater acceptance of sex outside of relationships (Gagnon & Simon, 1987). This study is in response to the call for more research on how social identities influence perceptions of sexual interaction (Backstrom, Armstrong, and Puentes, 2012). The purpose of this study is to examine hook-up culture outside of traditional intimate relationships. This study explores the extent of the shift from traditional dating scripts to a culture of hooking up as perceived by males and females that identify with the predominant Latter-Day Saint (LDS) religious culture. Using the tenants of social exchange and scripting theories this study examined the attitudes of males and females. Transcripts from four same gender and religion focus groups and 100 open-ended survey responses provided data for analysis. The constant comparative method (Glaser and Strauss, 1967) provided the means by which to analyze data within emergent categories. One open-ended response question was reviewed to assess content theme analysis. The constant comparative method indicated distinct contrast of perceptions of sexual intimacy between males and females. Findings suggest that there are distinct differences between male and female and LDS and non-LDS attitudes about and perceptions of hook-up culture. These results are consistent with previous research indicating that hooking-up can be a functional strategy used to shift focus from traditional intimate relationships to more academic and professional goals.

No! No! No! to GO! GO! GO!

Daniel Howell, Utah Valley University


Over the years research has proven again and again the important role that sexual satisfaction plays in marriage and relationships. Researchers have identified emotional safety, sexual frequency, sexual communication, sexual communion, sexual ability, and sexual arousal as elements that are important elements that influence sexual satisfaction. The aim of this study is to identify which of these elements are more effective in predicting sexual satisfaction and which ones are not. Using as a sample of 597 participants which primarily represented a white, LDS, middle class to upper class population. One of the questions that had to be asked was, are there differences between men and women in the variables and what are they? Another question that had to be asked was where do these factors rank in importance? Which factors are the most important? The study showed that when emotional safety, sexual frequency, sexual communication, sexual ability were increased, sexual satisfaction was increased. Sexual communion had a positive influence on sexual satisfaction as well. As long as the other partner focused on that individual. Another significant finding is that in sexual arousal played a more significant role in satisfaction for women than it did men. The goal of this study is to publish the results in scholarly journals and to implement the findings into the family life education program.

“No, No, NO! to Go, Go, GO”: The Transition to Sexual Activity for Heterosexual Couples Who Were Abstinent Prior to Marriage

Kelsea Hill, Utah Valley University

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Sexuality has long been identified as foundational in the lives of married couples. An area lacking in research, however, is the transition into sexuality made by couples who practiced abstinence prior to being married. The data for this study comes from a survey of 597 respondents that had practiced abstinence before being married. This focuses on the qualitative responses to questions asked abstinent couples about what helped make the transition into sexual intimacy, what purpose(s) sex has in their relationship, what they wished they had discussed prior to having sex, and what challenges they experienced in the transition into sexual intimacy.

Chi-squared distribution tests will be performed on six particular emergent themes from the coded qualitative data, that of 1) communication as an aid in the transition to sexual activity, 2) bonding, 3) physical pleasure, and 4) duty as roles that sex plays in a relationship, 5) frequency as a topic couples wished they had talked about prior to making the transition into sexual activity, and 6) incompatible desire between partners as a challenge in the transition into sexual activity. The disparity between expected and actual counts for each theme, according to the gender of the respondent, will be analyzed.
Anticipated conclusions to this analysis include a hypothesis that women will respond more than the expected count for communication and duty, whereas men will generate a significant amount of responses in the frequency and incompatible desire themes. As for bonding and physical pleasure as roles sex plays in the relationship, it is anticipated that the responses for men and women would be more similar than current gender stereotypes insinuate. The overall intent of the study is to publish the results as well as create a family life education program based on the analysis of both the quantitative and qualitative data.

Men, Minds, and Mentors

Jared Glenn, Utah State University

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Previous research shows that girls and women tend to prefer and perform better in classes taught by women. However, much less research analyzes the impact of instructor gender on learning outcomes among boys and men. This research fills that gap by analyzing the effect of professor gender on male college students’ achievement. Relying on survey and in-depth interviews among undergraduate men at a large research university, this study finds no significant empirical data that professor gender significantly impacts men’s academic achievement, in contrast to previous findings among girls and women. Interview findings, however, suggest that men prefer the tough grading, which they indicate is integral in male-taught classes. The study contributes to our understanding of gender differences in an academic setting and how that factor shapes learning outcomes and achievement.

Vapor-phase Deposition and Silane Functionality to Address Issues in Silane Capping of ZnO Nanoparticles for Use in Neurological Disorder Treatment

Sean Bedingfield, Utah State University


The delivery of zinc ions using ZnO nanoparticles within the body has been shown to cause the destruction of tumor cells and may also treat neurodegenerative disorders. The silane capping of ZnO nanoparticles is employed as a post-synthesis method to protect them from dissolution in polar solvents. Preliminary research demonstrates standard methods of silane capping result in aggregation of nanoparticles. Aggregation produces particles significantly larger than the original diameter of the nanoparticles, making them too large for some medical applications.

Silanes with distinct functionalities were selected for vapor-phase deposition to address nanoparticle aggregation and create smaller nanoparticles. Three vapor-phase deposition methods were tested with five commercially available silanes and three solvents. The use of silanes with a varied number of functional groups in liquid-phase deposition was also compared with standard methods. Performance of methods was evaluated using dynamic light scattering, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, and fluorometric analysis.

Vapor-phase deposition was shown to be a feasible means by successful silane capping using three silane molecules with distinct benefits. These capped nanoparticles were shown to retain the stability of ZnO in water better than untreated nanoparticles. Efficiency and generated particle size of methods tested are discussed. Key influences in vapor-phase silanization were identified for future implementation of process in scale-up production. Additionally, the use of vapor phase deposition for ZnO nanoparticle capping with alternative molecules such as dopamine is also discussed.

Urban Noise as a Stressor in Side-Blotched Lizards

Marilize Van der Walt, Utah State University

Life Sciences

Urbanization is accompanied by a lot of changes to the landscape that have the potential to affect the native species inhabiting the area. If animals are chronically exposed to these anthropogenic disturbances and are unable to acclimatize, changes in circulating glucocorticoid hormones may cause adverse effects to the animal’s health, such as an impairment in innate immune activity. One such disturbance is human-induced noise. Using the side-blotched lizard, Uta stansburiana, because of their localized habitat and inability to escape such disturbances within the urban environment, we looked at the field and lab components of noise as a stressor. We first measured decibel levels in urban and rural field sites in their natural habitats in St. George, Utah, and conducted a lab study exposing U. stansburiana to either a synthesized urban sound recording or no sound recording (control) for nine days. We collected blood samples and measured circulating corticosterone and testosterone concentrations and bactericidal ability to determine if there are endocrine and immune alterations in response to increased noise decibels. Our results show that lizards exposed to urban noise experienced increased corticosterone levels indicative of stress. Furthermore, bactericidal ability was indirectly affected by noise through significant correlations between body condition and corticosterone and testosterone concentrations. These results indicate that an increase in ambient decibel levels acts as a stressor to animals in urban areas. By dissecting out an individual component of a complex stressor we can better understand the effects of urbanization as a whole.

Development of a Resin-Free Protein Purification Technique Utilizing Unique Biochemical Properties of the E. coli SSB Protein

Mark Soffe, Utah State University

Life Sciences

SSBs are DNA binding proteins that are essential components of cells and play key roles in DNA replication, repair, and recombination. Here we utilize two biochemical properties associated with the E. coli SSB protein to develop a novel procedure to purify proteins using a resin-free strategy. 1. E. coli SSB binds to single stranded DNA (ssDNA) with extremely high affinity (K = 1013 M-1), indicating very tight binding. 2. It is also a unique protein with respect to its purification – it is possible to obtain greater than 95% pure SSB from the total cell lysate without using any sort of column or resin, utilizing polyethyleneimine (PEI) and ammonium sulfate precipitation. Our design uses SSB as an affinity/solubility tag to enhance the solubility and expression of difficult-to-purify proteins, and allows for the simple, resin-free purification using PEI and ammonium sulfate precipitation. There also may be a possibility to co-express protein dimers and possibly tetramers using this method. Constructs have been made that include the SSB gene, along with the ability to fuse any gene of interest, as well as a TEV Protease cleavage sequence allowing for proteolytic cleavage after gene expression. Two genes of interest have been cloned in thus far—TEV protease and Rad51. In this proposal I outline experiments to develop this strategy further and test our proof of principle concept and its application to a broader set of target proteins.

Characterizing water-related land use differences across urban river reaches

Dusty Pilkington, Weber State University

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Boundaries dividing political authority rarely match natural water flow. Multiple agencies, often with competing policies and agendas, manage water within single watersheds. This discrepancy can render management efforts ineffective. Local water agencies include soil conservation districts, local health departments, and engineering agencies. Agencies have varying funding sources, managerial structures, and jurisdictional boundaries. Fragmentation can frustrate management efforts at watershed scales. Comparisons between natural watersheds and human political geography can therefore be helpful in avoiding conflicts. This research examines discrepancies between political and physical geographies for sections of three Utah rivers : the Logan and Provo Rivers, and Red Butte Creek. These rivers are being targeted for intensive research as part of a statewide, multidisciplinary water sustainability project, titled iUTAH. Water-related land use (WRLU) data acquired from Utah’s Automated Geographic Resource Center were analyzed using ArcGIS geoproceessing tools. WRLU contributing to water quality in urban river reaches is described. WRLU was examined using three boundary sets, comparing the political geography of the river reaches, as depicted in municipal boundaries and management areas of community water providers, to their physical geography, as depicted in United States Geologic Survey Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC) watersheds. WRLU mixes using political infrastructure were contrasted with land use mixes from HUC boundaries. WRLU was classified in seven categories: residential, commercial/industrial, riparian/water features, irrigated agriculture, non-irrigated agriculture, farmsteads, and parks/open spaces. A gradient from rural Heber, to urbanizing Logan, to fully urbanized Red Butte Creek is shown. While Red Butte Creek HUC boundaries showed 53.8 % residential land use, Red Butte Creek municipal boundaries and community providers totaled 26 % and 39 % residential use, respectively. Differences emerged when irrigated agriculture was assessed using HUC boundaries. Irrigated agriculture totaled 0.2 % in Red Butte Creek, with Logan showing 29. 7% and Heber irrigated agriculture sitting at 41.1 %.

Plant-Soil Feedback of Native and Exotic Species in the Inter-Mountain West

Molly Van Engelenhoven, Utah State University

Life Sciences

For thousands of years farmers have known that soil organisms can destroy crops but only in the past ten years have researchers begun to understand that complex interactions among soil organisms and plants can determine plant diversity and productivity. Much of the research in this young field of study has come from qualitative greenhouse experiments and separately from simple mathematical models. Here, we report findings from a six-year plant-soil feedback (PSF) field experiment that assessed the effects of soil organisms on the growth of twelve plant species common to the intermountain west. Initially, twelve native and exotic species were randomly assigned to 1550 experimental plots in a field. After four years of growth, the plants were killed. Next, the same plant species were randomly assigned to the 1550 plots again to test how each plant species responded to the soil microbial communities ‘cultivated’ by each other plant species. Two years later plant growth responses to different soil types were measured. Most plants showed large growth differences on different soil types. For example, Bromus tectorum grew twice as much on Pseudoroegneria spicata-cultivated soils than on self-cultivated soils. When the plant growth responses observed in this experiment were used in a mathematical model, PSFs were found to play a critical role in determining which plants were likely to be dominant in a community and how productive these different plant communities would be. In summary, this large-scale experiment provides strong evidence for the role of PSFs in plant productivity and diversity. Results have implications for natural methods of effective native plant restoration, biofuel production and weed control.