Samples of Successful Project Abstracts from the Humanities, Sciences, and Social Sciences:
Humanities (History, Archival Research)
In 1946, a new era dawned in American history, as relations with the Soviet Union deteriorated and both John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon began their political careers, each winning elections to the House of Representatives. This project will examine the rhetoric and policy positions taken by Kennedy and Nixon regarding the Taft-Hartley Act’s labor restrictions and legislation regarding foreign aid. Studying these two issues together allows for a clearer understanding of how domestic and foreign policymaking reinforced each other. Further, a focus on Kennedy and Nixon points to key distinctions within the anticommunist coalition, which would become increasingly critical in the coming decades. This project will examine if the symbiotic relationship between the personal experiences of Kennedy and Nixon and local conditions in their respective districts gave rise to two distinct anticommunist philosophies. On the one hand, the confluence of an elite New Deal tradition, the Truman administration’s foreign policy aims, and concerns of immigrant and labor constituencies gave rise to Kennedy’s understanding of communism as an unsavory byproduct of gross disparities in wealth. He thus suggested that the United States could defeat communism by addressing poverty at home and abroad, to offer all people a stake in the capitalist system. On the other hand, concerns about a radical labor movement combined with Nixon’s experiences in Europe and revelations of Soviet spying in the United States to fuel a populist conservatism focused on suppressing covert Soviet action, which Nixon considered the main factor responsible for communism’s spread.
Sciences (Biological Sciences, Lab and Field Studies):
I am applying for an Undergraduate Research grant to fund an ongoing project examining sexual reproduction in Japanese knotweed, an aggressive invasive species that causes many ecological problems in New York and other areas in the U.S. This plant rapidly spreads through asexual, or clonal, reproduction, which it accomplishes through the production of rhizomes. It is also capable of sexual reproduction, but sexual reproduction in Japanese knotweed is not well studied. More specifically, it is unclear how much sexual reproduction occurs, and of the sexual reproduction how much involves hybridizing with a similar species. I will determine whether hybridization is occurring by using flow cytometry in seedlings (sexually reproduced) and rhizome-grown offspring. This method provides estimates of chromosome number, which indicates whether the individual is Japanese knotweed, the related species, or a hybrid. I conducted the first round of this investigation in Fall 2016. Repeating the methods with a larger sample size would provide a more comprehensive analysis of Japanese knotweed reproduction. I will be conducting this research at Fordham University in Larkin Hall and the Louis Calder Center under the guidance of graduate student Acer VanWallendael and Dr. Steven Franks. The results will solidify the genetic foundation of Acer’s dissertation work with Japanese knotweed. My research will also provide a more complete understanding of the invasive species’ reproductive patterns, which would lead to the development of better tools to combat the species.
Social Sciences (Psychology, Lab Based, Human Subjects):
This study will examine the effects of sleep quality on autobiographical memory. Poor sleep quality has been linked to many poor outcomes, including anxiety and depression, decreased athletic performance, and problems with attention. A large literature has also documented the enhancing effect a good night of sleep can have on memory. However, a gap in the literature remains regarding sleep and autobiographical memory; minimal research has been conducted on this topic. The effects of emotion on memory are also inconclusive. Some evidence exists for a positivity effect – a tendency for individuals to remember more positive stimuli than negative stimuli. Evidence also exists for a negative cognitive bias, with a few studies linking this effect to poor sleep quality. Closing these gaps in the literature is important because memory affects people’s everyday lives. Autobiographical memory is of particular relevance for individuals suffering from dementia, PTSD, and mood disorders. It is especially important to study sleep in college students because of the extreme variability in their own day to day sleep patterns as well as among each other. In this study, I will use actigraphy to objectively measure participants’ sleep. They will wear an accelerometer device on their wrist for 14 days and then complete the Memory Experiences Questionnaire – Short Form for two memories prompted with two neutral cue words. I plan to sample approximately 25 undergraduate students at Fordham University. My hypothesis is that individuals with poorer objective sleep will report more negative memories than individuals with better sleep quality.