Category Archives: 2013-UCUR-Abstracts

Nano-optical Imaging using Scattering Scanning Near-field Optical Microscopy

Fehmi Yasin, Westminster College


It has long been a goal to achieve higher spatial resolution in optical imaging and spectroscopy. Recently, a concept emerged that merges optical microscopy with scanning probe microscopy, increasing the spatial resolution of optical imaging beyond the diffraction limit. The scanning probe tip’s optical antenna properties and the local near-field coupling between its apex and the sample allows for few nanometer optical spatial resolution (Atkin, Berweger, Jones, and Raschke 2012). We investigate a nano-imaging technique, known as scattering scanning near-field optical microscopy (s-SNOM) and image several different materials using said technique. We report our data and provide potential paths for future work.

Belief in a Just World, Transphobia, and the Blaming of Innocent Victims

Dexter Thomas, Westminster College


When someone is the victim of a beating, rape, or murder, one might expect that most individuals would recognize the innocence of the victim. Surprisingly, research suggests many people assign blame to innocent victims (Dalbert, 2009; Lerner & Simmons, 1966). The “Just World” hypothesis proposes a possible explanation for this puzzling phenomenon. Belief in a Just World implies that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. Previous research has found a relationship between belief in a just world, victim blaming, and other beliefs such as homophobia (Glennon & Joseph, 1993; Anderson, 1992). The present experiment extends upon this area of research. We examine transphobia, belief in a just world, and victim blaming. Three hundred and forty-two participants ages 18-72 were recruited from within the United States. Participants read a scenario in which an individual was the innocent victim of a beating. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two conditions; in one condition, the victim was transgender, in the other condition, the victim was not. Participants then completed questionnaires measuring victim blame, transphobia, and belief in a just world. Results showed that transphobia positively correlated with belief in a just world. Additionally, a positive correlation was found between victim blaming and transphobia for all victims, transgender and non-transgender. However, when controlling for levels of transphobia, belief in a just world was no longer correlated with victim blaming. These results suggest that transphobia is related to belief in a just world and that transphobia, separate from belief in a just world, is related to increased victim blaming even for victims who are not transgender.

Listen to the Kids: Tailoring a Bullying Prevention Program with Youth Input

Carolina Silva, Jasmin Alves, Katrina England, Courtney Hammond, and Ethel Tackle-Yarbol; Westminster College


Bullying among adolescents is a common problem that deserves attention. Youth City, a multi-site after school youth program in the Salt Lake City area catering to youths ages 8-13, expressed an interest in learning more about bullying experiences in their attendees with the aim of developing a program for intervention and prevention. We partnered with Youth City to develop the current project, the goals of which were twofold: (1) to measure the prevalence and types of bullying experienced by 53 youths attending one Youth City site (our participants) and, (2) to work with the youth and the site coordinator to develop a bullying intervention and prevention program. Participants completed a modified version of the Olweus Bully Victim Questionnaire, in which 31 behaviors of bullying were assessed. Behaviors included examples of physical bullying, relational bullying, cyber bullying, and bullying due to one’s ethnicity or sexuality. Participants were asked to report whether each behavior had ever been done to them (victim role), done by them to another (bully role), or witnessed by them in the role of bystander. Results showed that the participants had experienced many of the behaviors as either victims, bullies, or bystanders. The second step was to conduct focus groups in which participants were asked more about their bullying experiences and what they felt could be done to more effectively intervene and prevent bullying. Transcripts from the focus groups were analyzed for emergent themes. These themes, combined with input from staff and information gleaned from research into other programs, were used to draft a bullying intervention and prevention plan to be implemented at one Youth City site in the coming school year.

A Preliminary Assessment of Mercury Concentrations in a Terrestrial Songbird on Antelope Island

Heather Reynolds, Westminster College


The presence of mercury in a food chain can have harmful effects, including altering behavior, on organisms. Mercury is typically found in aquatic ecosystems, however recently is also recognized as a potential problem in terrestrial ecosystems. High levels of mercury have been found in the Great Salt Lake in a form able to bioaccumulate up the food chain. If the aquatic ecosystem is linked to the terrestrial ecosystem, then some of the highest predators included in this food chain may be songbirds that eat spiders. We quantified mercury in the blood of the Loggerhead Shrike, Lanius ludoviciaus, on Antelope Island. Upon being caught, the birds were measured, color banded, and a blood and feather sample taken from each of the 15 shrikes to be tested for mercury. Mercury concentrations ranged from 0.96 to 4.00 ppm, with a mean 1.14+/0.31 ppm. Sub-lethal effects in songbirds from another study were seen with concentrations ranging from 2.0-3.5 ppm. Two shrikes we tested exceeded that range. There was high variability in concentrations of mercury, which might be related to distance from shore. These preliminary data demonstrate that some mercury from the aquatic ecosystem is bioaccumulating in the terrestrial ecosystem on Antelope Island, and there may be harmful levels in the birds which could lead to change in behavior, and eventually decline in population. Future studies will investigate the costs of mercury contamination.

Synthesizing Gold Nanorods for Enhanced Detection

Stevie Norcross, Westminster College


Gold nanostructures exhibit tunable optical properties that depend on a nanomaterial’s composition, shape, and size. These optical properties arise from a phenomenon known as the localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR), which contributes to surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) spectra. SERS enhances detection by up to 9 orders of magnitude vs. normal Raman scattering thereby routinely improving detection limits of target molecules to nM μM concentrations. In this study, gold nanorods, which exhibit tunable LSPR properties from the visible to near-IR regions, were synthesized using a solution phase seed-mediated growth method. LSPR tunability was achieved by varying gold nanorod growth temperature, silver ion concentration, or reducing agent (ascorbic acid) concentration. Systematically varying these parameters yielded gold nanorods with LSPR wavelength maximums ranging from 692 to 763 nm. By increasing the concentration of ascorbic acid from 0.54 mM to 0.63 mM, gold nanorods with an average LSPR wavelength maximum of 755 ± 8 nm were synthesized. Following the synthesis, the gold nanorods were used for the direct and enhanced detection of the anti-cancer drug, 6-mercaptopurine and one of its metabolites, 6-thiouric acid. It was observed that as molecular concentrations were increased signal intensities systematically increased; therefore, the identification and quantification of each molecule individually as well as in a mixture of the molecules in buffer was achieved.

Beauty and the Advertising Beast: The Sales Implications of Representing Real Women in Advertising

Hallmat Ipaye, Westminster College


Marketers and advertisers allocate a compelling amount of resources to deciphering their target market, however, currently many women express that advertisements targeted towards and portraying women do not represent real women. An increasing disconnect exists between what an average woman actually looks like, thinks, acts and does and how a woman is marketed to in advertisements, specifically in women’s fashion and beauty magazines. Advertisers and marketers make important decisions regarding advertising and marketing without first consulting consumers about finished advertisements. Studies have shown that women do not relate, and often have lowered self esteem after looking at modern fashion and beauty magazines. This research and presentation focuses on categorizing what is important to women over the age of 18 to gain insight on how advertisers and marketers can better represent women in the advertisements of popular fashion and beauty magazines. July 2012 issues of fashion and beauty magazines Vogue, Glamour and Cosmopolitan will be discussed in terms of presence of factors that are important for women to relate to the advertisements in these magazines. The conclusion of these findings will further demonstrate the sales implications of representing real women in advertising from a survey of over 200 women.

Frequency Characteristics of Urban House Finch Songs

Dakota Hawkins, Westminster College

Arts and Sciences

Abstract. Previous studies have documented effects of urbanization on the behavior, reproduction and survival of wildlife. Specifically, noise pollution in urban areas has been known to mask communication among several avian species. In a previous study in Mexico City, House Finches increased the frequency (pitch) of their songs to help mitigate the effects of low frequency urban noise. To document the average minimum frequency of House Finch song in Utah, we recorded House Finches singing from May 2012 to August 2012. Three sample sites with 1 km radii were established in Salt Lake City, Utah while a fourth site was sampled in Logan, Utah. Ambient sound was recorded at locations where songs were recorded to measure urban noise. Average minimum song frequencies and ambient noise were calculated for three sites. Frequency measurements were not significantly different among the three urban populations. Future studies will compare the minimum frequency of these urban populations to nonurban populations and investigate syllable structure and use.

Strategy Analysis of the Colonel Blotto Game and Variations

Sean Groathouse, Westminster College


Strategies for the Colonel Blotto game common in human play are generalized and compared through computer simulation. Furthermore, a variation on the game where the opponent’s resources are unknown is introduced, and differences between the variation and the classic game are explored with simulations on the common human strategies. Another variation on the scoring of the game is introduced and analyzed through simulations and a partial solution to the Nash equilibria in the two-front case.

The Importance of Arachnids in the Trophic Transfer and Biomagnification of Mercury in the Terrestrial Ecosystem of the Great Salt Lake

Jim Goodman, Westminster College


Mercury is a toxic element that adversely impacts the health of wildlife and ecosystems worldwide. While all forms of mercury are toxic, methylmercury is the only form of mercury that is biomagnified, and thus organisms with the highest mercury concentrations and most at risk to mercury toxicity are typically the top predators in an ecosystem. To evaluate if arachnids, a top predator in the insect realm, are bioaccumulating mercury a spatial and temporal study of mercury bioaccumulation in arachnids and terrestrial invertebrates was conducted at the Great Salt Lake. Total mercury (HgT) and methylmercury (MMHg) concentrations were measured in arachnids collected once each month from two different sites on Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake, and at a control site at Utah Lake, a fresh water lake to the south where mercury concentrations in the water column are substantially lower. Average concentrations of HgT and MMHg in arachnids from Antelope Island were 2600 ± 497 ppb and 1690 ± 169 ppb, respectively. These were significantly higher than the HgT and MMHg concentrations in arachnids at Utah Lake, where they are only 72 ± 54 ppb and 42 ± 30 ppb, respectively. Substantial spatial variation in HgT and MMHg concentrations in arachnids at the two sites on Antelope Island was also documented, and may be due to differences in the abundance of brine fly prey at the different locations.

The Effects of Managerial Psychological Well-Being on Employee Productivity: A Longitudinal Correlation Study

Nicholas Gailey, Westminster College


For over seven decades organizational scientists have extensively studied the happy-productive worker thesis, which assumes that a happy worker is a productive worker. Previous research in the field has focused on the relationship of a worker’s own happiness with their productivity. However, uncertainty remains today as to the link between managerial psychological well-being and their employees’ productivity. The purpose of the current study is to find a correlation between managerial psychological well-being and employee productivity. Thirty managers from two manufacturing facilities participated in the study and responded to two different measures of psychological well-being. Productivity data from one hundred employees underneath the managers were also collected daily over a period of three weeks. Results, strengths, and limitations of the study will be discussed along with its implication for future research and practice in the field of industrial/organizational psychology.