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Honors Research Seminars

2017-2018 Honors Seminars

Biology Building, Room 101
Thursdays at 6 PM


September 7: Mary M. Somerville and Robin Imhof
University Libraries
Informed Systems at Pacific University Libraries: Information Exchange for Knowledge Creation

University of the Pacific Libraries initiated a workplace systems design initiative in 2016. The participatory action research project engaged co-workers in data collection, analysis, interpretation, and reflection. Results furthered understanding about using information to learn in job-related information use stories. These insights guided co-design of systems for information exchange and conditions for workplace learning. Now, information centered, technology enabled, and human mediated communication systems and professional practices support co-worker engagement in re-invention of library facilities, services, and resources.

Local results are presented within the theoretical framework of Informed Systems, in development for over a decade by a distributed international research team who aim to foster information exchange for knowledge creation through working together in contemporary organizations. Concluding reflections explore value added synergies created through information-centered, action-oriented, technology-enabled, and learning-focused systems design, which builds organizational capacity as colleagues use information to learn in ever expanding professional contexts.  


October 5: Jeffrey Hole
Department of English
Slave Rebellion, Fugitive Literature, and the Force of Law

From the Stono Rebellion in 1739 to the revolt aboard the ship Amistad in 1839, from Nat Turner’s uprising in 1831 to the raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859—on land and on sea, in U.S. territory and international spaces—slaves and abolitionist allies resisted the legal doctrines and martial enforcement of the slave system. In this presentation, we will explore how nineteenth-century literature imagined and depicted slave rebellion, particularly in the decade before the Civil War and in the aftermath of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act. A component of the Great Compromise of 1850, the Fugitive Slave Act strengthened a set of legal structures and practices that had developed historically with the institution of slavery in the United States. The 1850 legislation was particularly important because it intensified and extended the reach of previous fugitive slave laws, notably the Act of 1793. The law not only required federal marshals and other officials to arrest suspected fugitive slaves, it simultaneously mandated that U.S. citizens comply with and help enforce the law at the risk of being severely fined and jailed.

Reviewing literary works by former slaves such as Ellen and William Craft, William Grimes, and Frederick Douglass, among others, we will investigate how their lives and works played central and strategic roles in resisting the legal, political, and military powers of slavery.


November 2: Kurtis C. Burmeister
Department of Geological & Environmental Sciences
Welcome to Jurassic Arc: Reconstructing the Ancient History of the Sierra Nevada

The Sierra Nevada are best known for breath-taking exposures of granitic rocks in places like Yosemite Valley, Kings Canyon, and the Tahoe Basin. The rocks at these locations are part of a massive granitic backbone that spans the the entire length of eastern California. These rock exposures offer us an interesting glimpse into how a period of intensive volcanic activity built this backbone during the Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods (~180-80 million years ago). However, the earliest chapters in this story are very difficult to unravel because the processes that create these huge volumes of granite generally destroy the preexisting rocks. Fortunately, there are a few places where the preexisting rocks are preserved. The rarity of these exposures is significant, because the relationships they preserve provide our only basis for understanding the timing and mechanisms behind the earliest states in the geologic evolution of the Sierra Nevada. The Mt Tallac roof pendant is one of the largest and best exposed of these accumulations of preexisting rock. Over the past several years, undergraduate students working with Dr Burmeister and in collaboration with a network of researchers at other institutions have applied a variety of techniques, including geologic mapping, strain analysis, and paleomagnetic analysis to begin to resolve the details associated with what appears to be a surprisingly rapid series of developments in the early history of the central Sierra Nevada. 


November 30: Bill Herrin
Department of Economics and School of International Studies
Staple Foods and Undernourished Children in Uganda

In 2011, the Government of Uganda implemented a 5-year Nutrition Action Plan focused primarily on reducing malnutrition among infants, young children, and women in their child-bearing years. The larger goal is to enhance the country’s future development by focusing on healthier children and new mothers today. An important yet untested tenet of the Plan is that a lack of dietary diversity, rather than a lack of food, is responsible for child malnutrition. Our work tests this tenet by analyzing a sample of 3,427 children aged 5 or younger drawn from a 3-year panel of the Uganda Living Standards Measurement Survey. Consistent with the Plan, we find that greater consumption of nutritionally deficient staple foods is strongly related to the likelihood of childhood stunting and wasting. Other findings are consistent with past research on child malnutrition. Still others show anomalies that should inform future research to better understand malnutrition in young children.


January 25: Jinzhu Gao
School of Engineering and Computer Science
Intelligent Data Visual Analytics

The advance in computing technology allows applications and simulations to produce a tremendous amount of data that should be shared, managed and analyzed in an effective and timely manner. However, the enormous growth in the size and complexity of data places a big challenge for the data analytics work done by geographically distributed groups of people. Developing an integrated, scalable, easily accessible, and intelligent solution in a distributed or online environment has become a critical research focus in many fields. In this talk, Dr. Gao will highlight some of her work in intelligent data visual analytics. This will include her previous work on scalable data management, analysis, and visualization in distributed environments as well as her ongoing efforts in virtual reality enhanced data analysis, video information analysis for mobile health, finance data analysis, and visual predictive analysis for industries


February 22: William K. Chan
Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
The Never-Ending Story of the Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor

The aryl hydrocarbon receptor is a ligand-activated signaling molecule with diverse biological functions ranging from regulation of enzymes for drug metabolism to modulation of immune response. It also plays a role in cell growth which may affect many types of cancer. My laboratory has been studying the human aryl hydrocarbon receptor for two decades now at Pacific and our study primarily focuses on how this protein interacts with other proteins and DNA. Essentially we are trying to understand how this receptor works at the molecular level with the hope of designing drugs rationally to modulate the function of this protein for disease treatment. This seminar will provide some highlights and our findings of this receptor.


March 22: Shelly Gulati
School of Engineering and Computer Science
Microfluidic Platforms for Biological and Pharmaceutical Applications 

Recently, there has been a large emphasis on miniaturization of devices for a multitude of applications, including biomedical technologies, due to the many advantages of operating on this scale. In addition to the inherent benefit of a fully functioning device that can be held in one hand, these microfluidic devices only require small biological samples, which can be often difficult to obtain, and can be built inexpensively. Perhaps most importantly, flow and mass transport behavior diverge from what typically occurs at larger scales and produce a highly controllable and reproducible fluidic environment in both local flow and chemical concentration. The small lengths and volumes also promote faster mass transfer, enabling micro-designs capable of performing highly sensitive and rapid analyses. Studies of the fundamental fluid flow are essential to the development of optimized microdevices. In my work, I explore the interrelationship of mass transport and fluid flow in order to understand how the behavior can be harnessed in microfluidic platforms for biological and pharmaceutical applications.


November 30: Vusal Eminli
Eberhardt School of Buisness
The Impact of Mergers and Acquisitions on Innovation

While firms may choose to grow through internally innovating cost-cutting or quality improving processes, they may also find growth opportunities in merging with or acquiring other firms. This hypothesis predicts that merger and acquisition activity has a detrimental effect on technological growth. On the other hand, mergers may push the innovation process forward by combining the innovative capabilities of previously independent and competing entities, and foster novel technological advances. Since innovation is essential for national economic well-being and M&A activity is prevalent, there is a need to understand the impact of acquisition activity on innovation. Using fixed effects negative binomial modeling approach, this study examines the effects of M&As on innovation within one of the most important industries in the U.S. in terms of shipments and share of R&D – the medical devices industry. Consistent with the efficiency gains argument, merging firms generate more useful knowledge at a lower cost after the merger. Further, mergers involving a large and a small firm, compared to any other combination, produce the highest number, as well as the most widely cited set, of patents. Finally, among merging firms, complementarity of ex-ante innovative agendas fosters a higher level of innovation after the merger. Results are economically large and robust to numerous sensitivity checks.