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Graduate Student Showcase

Student Abstracts

Please find graduate student abstracts submitted for this year’s Graduate Student Showcase below. Abstracts are listed in alphabetical order. Use the “search this content” feature to dynamically find students or scholarship topics.

2020 Graduate Student Showcase Abstracts


Jody Acheson

A Quality Improvement Pilot to Reduce Caregiver Burden in Caregivers of Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant (HSCT) Patients
Program: Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
Major Advisor: Sara Ahten

Background/Context: Caregivers of hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) patients frequently experience caregiver burden (CB) which negatively impacts patients’ health and their own health and wellbeing.

Problem/Purpose: In a Northwest organization providing HSCT, a quality improvement project was implemented to pilot a caregiver intervention.

Outcomes/Results: An adapted intervention of psycoeducation, paced respiration and relaxation (PEPRR) was successfully implemented in this setting. Caregivers and social workers provided positive feedback. Caregiver participation rates were lower than anticipated. Participants recommended continuing the intervention.

Impact: This intervention should be continued with efforts to adapt sessions to a nonacademic community healthcare setting.

Al-Amin Ahmed Simon

Application of Additive Technology for Phase Change Memory Devices: Electrical Characterization of Printed Ge2Sb2Te5 Phase Change Material
Program: Electrical and Computer Engineering (PhD)
Major Advisor: Maria Mitkova

This work reports the electrical characterization of inkjet-printed Ge2Sb2Te5 (GST-225) thin films to explore the possibility of an all-printed phase-change memory (PCM) device. The electrical resistance of the films and respective SET/RESET conditions of a device prototype (e.g. voltage, current) have been analyzed to establish a relation between printing-pass (thickness) and electrical properties. Both thermally evaporated and printed films have been studied to clarify how the electrical parameters are affected by the fabrication process. Furthermore, a brief description of GST-225 nanoparticle ink formation, optimization of inkjet printing process and effect of sintering conditions on the electrical performance are reported. This is a step towards developing a novel method that uses additive technology to form the active phase change layer and enabling integration of printed PCM device in additive build up systems.

Dena Allred

The Four-Day School Week: Is It an Approach to Retain and Recruit Qualified Teachers?
Program: Executive Educational Leadership (EdS)
Major Advisor: Heather P. Williams

In 2006-2007 Idaho had 10 school districts and 2 charters operating with a four-day schedule. In 2018-2019, there were 45 districts and 13 charters operating with a four-day schedule. Idaho is experiencing a teacher shortage. Idaho rural districts are challenged to find and retain effective teachers to meet the district and students’ needs.

Research shows qualified teachers have the most influence on student success, and highly qualified teachers have a better chance to expand students’ desires to learn and succeed. Districts have adopted the four-day schedule for cost savings, which is marginal, and to attract and retain qualified educators. Regions 4, 5, and 6 have the most districts with a four-day schedule with Region 4 having 44% of its districts with a four-day schedule. The researcher conducted surveys for this research.

Brooke Ambrose

Breastfeeding attitudes, acceptance, and intentions among older adolescents and young adults

Program: Health Science (MHS)
Major Advisor: Mike Mann

Title: Breastfeeding attitudes, acceptance, and intentions among older adolescents and young adults

Introduction: Mothers are more likely to initiate and continuously breastfeed for longer durations if they are older. Most women know how they will feed their child prior to conception. Thus, adolescence/ young adulthood is a vital time for development of infant feeding attitudes/ perceptions and the use of public health messages to influence such intentions. The purpose of this study is to explore the role of breastfeeding attitudes and perceptions in predicting one’s intention to breastfeed (for self or partner) among adolescents/ young adults.

Methods: Adolescents/young adults (male and female, age 18-25) were recruited to participate in an online survey. Data was analyzed using multivariable logistic regression.
Results: Of the 143 participants who completed an online survey, most (55%) intended to “give breastfeeding a try” (or would want a partner to try). Attitudes and perceptions related to this intention included score on the Iowa Infant Feeding Attitude Scale (OR=1.12, 95% CI: 1.04-1.21), belief that breastfeeding is the best way to feed a baby (OR=2.81, 95% CI: 1.21-6.52), and the mean proportion of social network members who were perceived as approving breastfeeding (OR=3.69, 95% CI: 1.23-11.09).

Discussion: Interventions prioritizing breastfeeding intention among adolescents/young adults, at the individual level, should focus on increasing positive breastfeeding attitudes, perceptions, and knowledge. At the interpersonal level, interventions should work to increase perceptions of network members approval and support of breastfeeding by increasing exposure to breastfeeding and positive breastfeeding messages within the social networks of adolescents/young adults.

Becca Anderson

Program: Creative Writing (MFA)
Major Advisor: Mitch Wieland

After the sudden death of her father, sixteen-year-old Cal Townsend is sent to live with her estranged maternal grandmother on Madeline Island, one of the twenty-two Apostle Islands in Lake Superior off of Wisconsin’s northernmost shore. She soon learns that she is descended from a long line of practicing witches. Initiate is a story about family, grief, and, of course, magic.

Randall Apgood

Understanding Superintendent Turnover in Small Rural School Districts
Program: Executive Educational Leadership (EdS)
Major Advisor: Heather P. Williams

The rapid superintendent turnover some smaller rural school districts face has staggering impacts on the staff, students, and in some cases even the community.  With so much turnover in some small rural districts, it is imperative that we find out what is driving the turnover. The intent of the project is to identify key indicators of driving factors for superintendent turnover and key factors that may lead to longevity in the superintendency. Surveys were sent to superintendents that had served in smaller rural districts, but had not stayed in that position for more than five years.

Karen Armenta Rojas

Hot Spots: Seasonal Patterns in Criminal Victimization Trends on Campus
Program: Criminal Justice (MA)
Major Advisor: Jessica Wells

With the influx of students at Boise State University (Boise State) in 2015, and the current trend of sexual assault on college campuses, campus police departments are trying to minimize criminal opportunities. The Boise State Crime Prevention Program is based on the concepts of eliminating or minimizing criminal opportunities whenever possible and encouraging the campus community to be responsible for their own security and the security of others (Boise State University, 2018-a). This study examines types of crime fluctuation in victimization through seasonal patterns using a hotspots and routine activity theory framework. Data was mapped to identify hot spots on campus and student housing. Results illustrate that alcohol-related crimes and property crimes are the most committed type of crimes at Boise State University in 2015 and that Chaffee Hall and other first-year resident housing are areas at higher risk of victimization.

Somaye Asghari

Role of Indigenous Microbial Communities in Precipitating Calcite and Modifying Expansive Soil Behavior
Program: Geosciences (PhD)
Major Advisor: Bhaskar Chittoori

Microbial Induced Calcium Carbonate Precipitation (MICP) is evolving as a new method of improving the mechanical properties of soil. This environmentally friendly technique is a bio-geo-chemical process where microbes play a key role in increasing soil strength through precipitating calcium carbonate. Past studies at Boise State University have indicated that MICP via bio-stimulation could be a viable alternative for expansive soil treatments. However, these studies raised new questions related to the role of indigenous microbial communities in precipitating calcite and altering expansive soil behavior. It was hypothesized that urease activity of the soil could be an indicator for microbial community differences between different soil types. To test this hypothesis batch studies were conducted using autoclaved sand, mixed with different percentages of unautoclaved natural clay from Marsing, Idaho and tested for urease activity before and after subjecting to MICP treatments. We also autoclaved clayey soil and mixed it with different percentages of natural sand (unautoclaved) to study the variation of the bacterial source. The urease assay tests showed how urease activity and precipitated calcite differ in the soils with different clay, sand, and bacterial contents. Test results indicate that urease activity could be used as a screening method to predict MICP performance in different clayey soils.

Nardos Ashenafi

Nonholonomic Cooperative Manipulation via Guided Reinforcement Learning
Program: Electrical and Computer Engineering (PhD)
Major Advisor: Aykut Satici

This paper presents a novel methodology to cooperatively manipulate the pose of a polygonal object in a plane with multiple nonholonomic wheeled mobile robots. In this framework, the robots are assumed have frictionless point contacts; hence, the forces they exert are normal to the boundary of the object. This paper improves upon our previous work in a number of ways. As a first step, we obviate the need to perform a path planning step for successful manipulation of the object. This new controller still seeks to maintain a force-closure grasp throughout the manipulation. This step is followed by the implementation of imitation learning to represent the new controller as a neural network. This neural network is then used to warm start the actor and the critic of a reinforcement learning algorithm. We provide extensive simulation studies to support the validity of the approach.

Bahareh Badamchi

A Novel optical fiber architecture for real-time temperature monitoring in extreme environments

Program: Electrical and Computer Engineering (PhD)
Major Advisor: Harish Subbaraman

High temperature sensors capable of operating in harsh environments play a critical role in helping prevent disasters. Conventional electronic temperature sensors cannot withstand high temperatures within the range of 400°C to 650°C of Light Water Reactors and metallic or ceramic Sodium-cooled Fast Reactors. Our goal is to design and fabricate low power, small size, reversible temperature sensors for continuous monitoring of temperatures up to 500°C in harsh environments by combining the temperature-dependent phase change properties of chalcogenide glasses and compactness and low cost in optical fibers.

Hannah Bailey

Mei for solo flute, by Kazuo Fukushima
Program: Music Performance (MM)
Major Advisor: Jeanne Belfy

I will be performing the piece Mei for solo flute composed by Kazuo Fumushima in 1962.

Mei is one movement, lasting about five minutes in length. Fukushima uses extended techniques to create texture, alternating stimulating sounds with silence and sustained pitches. The focus on silence by alternating repeated pitches with rests is the Japanese concept of music “ma.” The effects he creates are intended to seem unstable, resembling the sound and character of the Japanese traditional flute.

Kate Benfield

Novel Method to Measure in Vitro Volumetric Wear fo Meniscus Using a 3D Optical Scanner

Program: Mechanical Engineering (MS)
Major Advisor: Trevor Lujan

The knee menisci are fibrocartilaginous tissues that provide joint stability and protect articular cartilage by distributing joint loads. Overtime, mechanical wear due to age and overuse contributes to meniscus degeneration, a retrogressive pathological breakdown of meniscal fibrous tissue that affects 56% of the population above 70 years of age [1,2]. Meniscus degeneration increases the risk of meniscus tears, cartilage loss, and osteoarthritis (OA) [3,4]. While it is known that meniscus degeneration has highly adverse effects, little is understood about the etiology of degenerative wear within human knees. The objective of this research is to therefore develop and validate an in vitro methodology for characterizing volumetric wear behavior within meniscus utilizing a 3D optical scanning system. To assess the accuracy and repeatability of the proposed methodology for whole human meniscal tissue, two surrogate models were developed: (1) Delrin blocks of known dimensions were machined with six different defect depths to mimic wear defects that may be induced within meniscus tissue, (2) 3D CAD menisci models were obtained from MR imaging [5] and 3D printed. Defects in the 3D printed menisci were made by removing 5% of total volume via SolidWorks to simulate artificially induced wear. Each surrogate model was scanned via a 3D optical scanner to generate a volumetric rendering of the model for pre- and post-wear conditions. Volume loss of the models was computationally evaluated through meshing software. The process was repeated 3 times for each varying wear depth to determine percentage error between real-life measured volumes and CloudCompare calculated volumes. The experimental methodology was validated by the surrogate models with errors of less than 15%. For the first time, this study provides a methodology to identify volumetric loss due to wear behavior in complex geometry thereby advancing wear research for future prevention and treatment of ailments related to meniscus degeneration.

[1] Englund, M et. al. Engl J Med. 359: 1108-1115, 2008, [2] Sihvonen, R et al., Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 24: 1367-1375, 2016, [3] Englund, M. et al. Nat. Rev. Rheumatol. 8: 412–419, 2012, [4] Howell R, Kumar NS, Patel N, Tom J. World J Orthop. 5 (2015) 597-602, [5] Shriram D, et. al, Jour. Ortho. Sur. 44, 2019.

Takoda Bingham

Experimental and Computational Analysis of In-pile Ultrasonic Thermometer for Advanced Nuclear Reactors
Program: Mechanical Engineering (MS)
Major Advisor: Zhangxian Deng

In-pile temperature measurement inside a nuclear reactor is crucial for meltdown detection. Due to the radioactive and extremely high temperature environment, current methods, for instance melt wires, do not allow in-situ and real-time temperature measurement. To facilitate proactive meltdown detection, this study develops an ultrasonic thermometer consisting of an ultrasonic transducer and a waveguide. The Young’s modulus or the speed of sound of the waveguide changes with respect to temperature. Therefore, it can detect temperature using the time of flight of the acoustic wave to reach the end of a waveguide and reflect back. Piezoelectric substrates and magnetostrictive wires were investigated as potential ultrasonic transducers and waveguides. A Polytec Laser Doppler Vibrometer was used to directly measure displacement on the surface of the waveguide and determine the wave speeds through the material. The devices will be tested at multiple temperatures to correlate the wave speed with the ambient temperature. This relationship can be used for in-pile temperature measurements of fuel cells.

Scott Birks

Disruption of LINC complex in bone progenitor stem cells results in decreased osteogenesis in vitro and reduced trabecular architecture in vivo
Program: Materials Science and Engineering (PhD)
Major Advisor: Gunes Uzer

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are multipotent stem cells within bone marrow that support bone modeling at load bearing sites by differentiating into osteoblasts. We recently reported LINC (Linker of Nucleoskeleton and Cytoskeleton) complexes connecting the nucleus to the cytoskeleton play an integral role in MSC response to mechanical challenge by regulating nuclear access of beta-catenin. Consequently, depleting LINC complexes results in increased adipogenic bias of MSCs. Therefore, we hypothesize that disabling LINC complex function in vitro and in vivo will negatively impact osteogenesis in MSCs. For in vitro testing, a dominant negative form of the nesprin KASH domain was overexpressed to inhibit endogenous nesprin-SUN binding within the nuclear envelope, delocalizing nesprin from the nucleus; thus, disconnecting the nucleus from cytoskeleton. This led to a 61% (p=0.09) decrease in mRNA ALP levels compared to empty plasmid controls suggesting a decrease in osteogenesis. For in vivo testing, a similar dominant negative mechanism was generated using tamoxifen inducible, cre-mediated disruption of LINC complexes in skeletal MSCs driven by the Prrx1 promoter, as the Prrx1 gene is shown to be active in bone progenitor cells. Compared to controls: the bone fraction (BV/TV) in experimental groups was decreased 26% (p=0.1), trabecular separation (Tb. Sp.) was increased by 73% (p=0.09), trabecular number (Tb.N.) was decreased by 35% (p<0.05), and trabecular thickness (Tb.Th.) did not change. Our findings suggest LINC deficiency negatively effects osteogenesis in vitro and results in inferior trabecular architecture in vivo. We are currently investigating a tamoxifen independent Prrx1-Cre mouse line along with a pre-osteoblastic Osx-Cre strain to study LINC depletion effects on bone growth without the estrogenic effects of tamoxifen. Completion of this data will lead to greater understanding of how disrupting LINC-mediated mechanosignaling of bone progenitor cells effects skeletal health in vivo.

Stacy Black

Towards Unifying Grounded and Distributional Semantics

Program: Computer Science (MS)
Major Advisor: Casey Kennington

In the field of natural language processing, it is necessary to encode text so that it can be put into mathematical algorithms, such as neural network models. This is often done with the use of embeddings, which are vector representations of words that capture (distributional) semantic meaning. However, embeddings are usually trained on text alone, and neglect the (grounded) meaning that comes from the physical world, such as for color words, like “red.” This research looks at how distributional and grounded semantics can be united in order to leverage the strengths of both; we find that combining traditional embeddings with embeddings taken from grounded models that follow the words-as-classifiers (WAC) approach improves performance on several NLP tasks.

Jade Bowers

Petrological Forensics of the Mount Sinabung, Sumatra, Indonesia Magma Reservoir prior to May 2016 Dome Collapse

Program: Geosciences (PhD)
Major Advisor: Dorsey Wanless

Mount Sinabung, Sumatra, Indonesia erupted briefly in 2010 and resumed activity in 2013. Initial eruptions involved steam explosions (phreatic) at the vent from August 2010 to September 2010. With the renewal of activity in July 2013, eruptions involved the interaction between water and magma (phreatomagmatic) at the vent. Phreatomagmatic eruptions continued until December 2013, where activity transitioned from water interaction to just extrusion of andesitic lava. Lava effusion has persisted through the eruptive phases (December 2013 – present) with periodic piling up of the lava to form lava domes and successive partial to complete collapse of the dome. These dome failure events produce large, fast-moving, superheated clouds of gas, ash, and rock, known as pyroclastic density currents (PDCs) that can travel anywhere from 10-200 m/s. Since a magmatic component began erupting in 2013, Mount Sinabung has been producing predominately andesite lavas that evolve in composition as the eruptive phases progress (57-65 wt. % SiO2). In May 2016, when the lava dome collapsed and successively generated PDCs, the resulting magmatic clasts contained intermingled enclaves. Usually, magmatic enclaves are interpreted as evidence for two different magmas interacting in the reservoir before an eruption.

To test this hypothesis, I used a microanalytical forensic investigation of the host lava, intermingled enclaves, and glomerocrysts. Petrographic analysis and phase chemistry collected on electron microprobe were used to decipher the relationship between these three constituents. The host andesite (59-61 wt% SiO2) generally has restricted phenocryst compositions and lower calculated temperatures and pressures. Petrographic analysis revealed three types of glomerocrysts varying in mineral assemblage and presence of glass or pore space and three major enclave types based on observed crystal content and groundmass variation. Chemically, there is a broad overlap between the host, enclaves, and glomerocrysts. The similarity in phase chemistry and calculated intensive parameters suggest the host and enclaves are crystal cumulates from different regions of one magma reservoir, and the glomerocrysts represent disaggregates of these cumulates.

Taylor Brown

Heat Transfer Modeling of a Carbonized Microvascular Solar Receiver
Mechanical Engineering (MS)
Major Advisor: Todd Otanicar

Microchannel receivers represent a novel way to collect solar thermal energy while maximizing heat transfer and minimizing material costs. Metallic microchannel receivers have been developed but challenges in the manufacturing process and subsequent mechanical properties at high temperatures represent limiting factors. A carbonized microvascular composite is being developed using integrated microchannels that can be achieved with advanced manufacturing techniques such as 3-D printing not available with conventional manufacturing. A carbonized microvascular receiver with supercritical carbon dioxide working fluid has been modelled that optimizes heat transfer to the sCO2 from the exposed composite surface and limits operational variables such as pressure drop including the radiative and convective heat transfer mechanisms. A 2-D thermal resistance model is completed simulating a single channel receiver.

Haydn Bryan

Economic Effects and Cross-Population Perceptions of Ecotourism in Costa Rica
Program: Economics (MEc)
Major Advisor: Michail Fragkias

Utilizing surveys, interviews, and Q method (multivariate factor) analysis, this research examines three populations’ perceptions towards and willingness to pay for aspects of ecotourism. Ecotourists, local community members, and ecotourism employees were surveyed in Costa Rica on the topics of ethical treatment of animals, impact on the local community’s economic well-being, preservation of local culture, environmental impacts, and personal enjoyment. Each population was presented with the same survey in order to create comparable data across populations. Gathered data were analyzed to find perceptional agreements or differences between populations and within groups with shared themes in the populations. Further analysis combines data from each of the methods to analyze the differences and similarities within groups with similar beliefs regarding the purposes of ecotourism.

Michael Burke

Improving Productivity, Portability, and Performance in ParFlow

Program: Computer Science (MS)
Major Advisor: Catherine Olschanowsky

Legacy scientific applications represent significant investments by universities, engineers, and researchers and contain valuable implementations of key scientific computations.
Over time hardware architectures have changed.  Adapting existing code to new architectures is time consuming, expensive, and increases code complexity. The increase in complexity negatively affects the scientific impact of the applications. There is an immediate need to reduce complexity. We propose using abstractions to manage and reduce code complexity, improving scientific impact of applications.

The proposed abstractions separate architecture specific implementation details from the primary computation. We use ParFlow to demonstrate the effectiveness of the abstractions.
ParFlow is a hydrologic and geoscience application that simulates surface and subsurface water flow.
The abstractions have enabled ParFlow developers to successfully add new boundary conditions for the first time in 15 years, and have enabled an experimental OpenMP version of ParFlow that is transparent to computational scientists. This is achieved without requiring expensive rewrites of key computations or major codebase changes; improving developer productivity, enabling hardware portability, and allowing transparent performance optimizations.

Anthony Butler

School Security in Remote Rural Districts
Program: Executive Educational Leadership (EdS)
Major Advisor: Heather P. Williams

Cambridge School District currently serves 135 students. There are no city police, and the sheriff’s department is located 30 miles away. In an attempt to enhance the security of the campus, it is important to look into what is common practice and what other rural school districts are doing to secure their campuses. A review of practices from literature were examined.

Jenn Butt

Impact of Plant Diversity and Nitrogen Addition on Soil Organic Carbon Storage and Belowground Biodiversity in Biofuel Cropping Systems
Program: Biology (MS)
Major Advisor: Marie-Anne de Graaff

Bioenergy production may reduce the emission of CO2 which contributes to climate change, particularly when management strategies are adopted that promote soil carbon (C) sequestration in bioenergy cropping systems. Planting perennial native grasses, such as switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) and big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii Vitman) may be used as a strategy to enhance soil C accumulation owing to their extensive root systems. Fertilizer use may further promote soil C sequestration, because of its positive impacts on plant production and soil C input. Though, the impact of fertilizer addition on soil C accumulation is variable across bioenergy cropping systems, and fertilizer can negatively impact the environment. Alternatively, increasing plant diversity may be used as a strategy to enhance soil C accumulation while augmenting other ecosystem properties such as soil biodiversity. This research evaluates how inter- and intra- specific plant diversity and N addition impact soil C storage and soil biodiversity. Soil was collected from a long-term (9 growing seasons) field experiment located at the Fermilab National Environmental Research Park in Illinois, USA. Treatments included a variety of big bluestem and switchgrass cultivars grown in monoculture, diversity manipulated at both the species- and cultivar level, and nitrogen (N) applied at two levels (0 and 67 kg ha-1). The soil was dominated by C3 grasses for 30 years before replacement with C4 bioenergy grasses, which enabled quantification of plant-derived C accumulation owing to the natural difference in isotopic signature between C3 and C4 grasses. Soil samples were analyzed for (1) soil C and its δ13C isotopic signature, (2) nematode and soil microbial diversity. Our results indicate that both plant diversity and N addition do not affect soil C storage or soil biodiversity. However, big bluestem addition to species mixes enhanced plant-derived C storage. Together, these findings suggest that plant species identity can control soil C accumulation in the early years following land conversion, and that increasing biodiversity in bioenergy cropping systems may have a greater positive impact on soil C accumulation than N fertilization.

Vannessa Campfield

The Correlation Between Bacteria, Organic Acids Produced, and Contribution to Defects in Swiss Cheese

Program: Chemistry (MS)
Major Advisor: Owen McDougal

In 2017, the United States produced over 215 billion lbs. of milk with 14.6 billion lbs. from Idaho, leading to the state being ranked third in the country for dairy production. Annually, Idaho manufactures over 172,000 lbs. of Swiss cheese. Bacteria used during the ripening process metabolize compounds in the cheese matrix modifying specific bacterial regulation and organic acid production; both of which contribute to the final quality of cheese produced. This quality is graded by the USDA based on flavor, aesthetics, and structural components. Downgrades to cheese are due to defects caused by bacterial interactions resulting in organic acid variation that causes a loss to industry of over $69 million each year. These bacteria have been investigated using PCR amplification, next-generation sequencing, and bioinformatics. The resulting data will contribute to a better understanding of the correlation between bacteria, organic acids produced, and contribution to defects in Swiss cheese. This project will aid in developing a fast, reliable screening procedure for industry partners for them to improve the reliable production of high-quality Swiss cheese.

Emily Chambers

Student Perceptions of Team-Based Learning in Undergraduate Kinesiology Curriculum
Program: Kinesiology (MK)
Major Advisor: Shawn Simonson

Team-based learning (TBL) is a learner-centered flipped classroom designed to improve learning beyond traditional lecture. Small group interactions enhance learning as individual and team-based assignments are completed. Students favorably respond to TBL in science, medical, and social science disciplines. The purpose of this study was to understand the perceptions of undergraduate kinesiology students in KINES 432 (Conditioning Procedures), where TBL is the predominant pedagogy used in both lecture and laboratory. Due to the interactive and experiential nature of TBL, it was hypothesized that KINES 432 students would favorably view TBL compared to traditional lecture. Data were collected from 91% (110/121) of students from three consecutive semesters (spring 2019 – spring 2020); all sections were taught by the same instructor and graduate assistant. Participants anonymously completed the TBL Student Assessment Instrument (TBL-SAI) survey mid-semester to assess student experiences of accountability, satisfaction, and preference. Multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was used to analyze group differences within the sample, and mean scores of TBL-SAI subscales were compared across cohorts. Results were no significant differences between cohorts across subscales (F (2, 107) = 1.86, p = 0.09), and for comparing academic major to each subscale (F (6, 103) = 0.45, p = 0.8). Mean scores of all students yielded 79% favorability towards TBL. Despite increased responsibility and workload, kinesiology students favorably respond to TBL. Health science disciplines, kinesiology, pre-athletic training, pre-physical therapy, etc. should implement TBL in preparation for working collaboratively for the others’ well-being.

Shahjalal Chowdhury

Quantifying the Effect of Climate Change on Pavement Performance Prediction
Program: Civil Engineering (MS)
Major Advisor: Deb Mishra

Climate change is one of the most concerning global issues and has the potential to influence every aspect of human life. Like different components of the society, it can impose significant adverse impacts on the pavement infrastructure. Although several research efforts have focused on studying the impacts of climate change on natural and built systems, its effect on pavement performance has not been studied as extensively. The primary objective of this thesis research is to quantify the impact of climate change on pavement response and performance prediction using the Mechanistic-Empirical Pavement Design approach.

Temperature is one of the primary climatic inputs affecting pavement performance predictions, which is being considered in this research; preliminary work on the effects of temperature change has been completed. Twenty (20) different Global Climate Models (GCM’s) were considered, and three models that better simulate the U.S. climatic condition were selected for use in this study. Historical climatic data available through the Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA) database was used as the control case for the comparative analyses. Future climate data projected by the GCM’s were downscaled to obtain required hourly distributions, which were then used as inputs for pavement analysis and performance prediction. Preliminary results from flexible pavement sections show an increase in Asphalt Concrete (AC) rutting as well as Total Pavement rutting with increasing air temperatures. Similarly, it was found that the effect of shifting air temperatures can be different for pavements constructed in different parts of the country. Future tasks will focus on studying the combined effects of temperature and precipitation projections on flexible pavement performance. Findings from this study will help identify challenges faced by pavement engineers due to changing climatic patterns.

Chase Christen

Increasing Particle Conductivity Using a Binary Particle Distribution for Concentrated Solar Power Applications
Program: Mechanical Engineering (MS)
Major Advisor: Todd Otanicar

This work demonstrates that packed-bed thermal conductivity is improved by introducing a binary particle distribution. Increasing particle-to-sCO2 heat transfer is one essential step in meeting the Solar Energy Technologies Office’s SUNSHOT 2030 cost targets for falling-particle concentrated solar power (CSP). Previous models for moving packed-bed, shell-and-plate heat exchangers have been developed to find the optimal heat transfer using a monodisperse particle size; however, there are no studies that address the effects of particle size distribution on heat exchanger performance. This study explores how thermal conductivity, a predominant driver in heat exchanger performance, is affected when a binary particle distribution is used. The goal of the study it to determine whether a binary particle distribution would be a viable option to increase heat exchanger performance. Conductivity measurements for five binary size distributions for three different small-to-large particle ratios were compared to the ZBS correlation between 0-150℃.Experimental results agree well with the ZBS model and show that there is a 5-30% improvement in thermal conductivity across the temperatures tested with a maximum benefit when mixtures had between a 50-75% volume fraction of large particles. When the model is extended to CSP operating temperatures (500-800℃), the benefits of a binary particle distribution is reduced to ~10% improvement when compared to a monodisperse particle size. Additional testing at high temperatures for flowability, size separation, particle conductivity, and overall heat exchanger effectiveness still need to be conducted to see if this would improve CSP heat exchanger performance in practice.

Kyle Christopher Lyons

How Accurately Can Religious Educators Predict Student Achievement?
Education, Curriculum and Instruction (MA)
Major Advisor: Keith Thiede

Teachers make a variety of judgments as they teach. The accuracy of these judgments may influence instruction and student achievement. The present investigation examined (a) how accurately religious educators judge student learning, (b) what cues religious educators report using to judge student learning, and (c) how cue utilization affects the accuracy of judgments of student learning. The research in this study shows the accuracy of judgments for participating teachers is significantly lower than the average judgment accuracy reported in a recent review of teacher judgment literature (Südkamp et al., 2012). The cues participating teachers self-reported using for judging student learning fell into four categories: class performance, personal attributes, external factors, and class behavior. Judgment accuracy is greater for teachers who reported using cues related to class performance than for those who did not. Judgment accuracy is greater for those who did not report using personal attributes as a cue than for those who did. These results are explained in the context of the cue-utilization framework (Koriat, 1997).

Matt Clark

Bringing forecasting into the future: Using Google to predict visitation in U.S. national parks
Program: Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior (PhD)
Major Advisor: Vicken Hillis

In recent years, visitation to U.S. National Parks has been increasing, with the majority of this increase occurring in a subset of parks. As a result, managers in these parks must respond quickly to increasing visitor-related challenges. Improved visitation forecasting would allow managers to more proactively plan for such increases. In this study, we leverage internet search data that is freely available through Google Trends to create a forecasting model. We compare this Google Trends model to a traditional autoregressive forecasting model. Overall, our Google Trends model accurately predicted 97% of the total visitation variation to all parks one year in advance from 2013 to 2017 and outperformed the autoregressive model by all metrics. While our Google Trends model performs better overall, this was not the case for each park unit individually; the accuracy of this model varied significantly from park to park. We hypothesized that park attributes related to trip planning would correlate with the accuracy of our Google Trends model, but none of the variables tested produced overly compelling results. Future research can continue exploring the utility of Google Trends to forecast visitor use in protected areas, or use methods demonstrated in this paper to explore alternative data sources to improve visitation forecasting in U.S. National Parks.

Kelsey Cooper

An Economic Analysis of Cannabis Legalization in Idaho
Program: Economics (MEc)
Major Advisor: Michael Fragkias

In a study conducted by the ACLU in 2010, it was estimated that the United States spent $6.032 billion on enforcing cannabis possession laws. In the midst of a societal shift in perception toward the plant, more consumers are assuming the risk of use in Idaho as sale and possession of marijuana arrests in our state indicate- increasing from 3,818 in 2014 to 4,129 in 2016. For these reasons and many more, 33 states in the US have legalized medical marijuana while 11 have gone through the process of recreational legalization. Recent political events in Idaho suggest ongoing development in the legal status of marijuana, most notably the introduction of Senate Bill 1345 which would allow for lawful Idahoans to farm, transport, process, and sell full spectrum hemp. This is the first comprehensive economic report on cannabis in Idaho, following states such as Colorado and Florida which have regulated the market and have seen benefits outweigh costs. Utilizing data from the Idaho State Police, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, and Idaho Legislatures Budget Monitor, this study estimates and further analyzes the cost and benefits of cannabis legalization in Idaho.

Danielle Corson

Memory Fabrication
Program: Visual Arts (MFA)
Major Advisor: Lily Lee

These ceramic artworks are an investigation of techniques with organic materials that burn-out in the firing process. The porcelain slip allows for an impression; the objects are immortalized with evidence of their existence and a reminder of their absence. The porcelain artifacts become a memory of the original object and the traces of materiality are the proof of a person or an object’s existence once they are no longer physically present. The porcelain material is both fragile and durable equivalently to how memory is both fleeting and comforting. When a memory is recalled or shared with others, slight variances occur, and over time these embellishments morph into an exaggerated or distorted, second truth of the original experience.

Kennedy Courtney

The Directed Forest Complex of a Cayley Graph
Program: Mathematics (MS)
Major Advisor: Jens Harlander

Let Gamma be a directed graph. The directed forest complex DF(Gamma) is a simplicial complex whose vertices are the edges of Gamma and whose simplices are sets of edges that form a directed forest in Gamma. We study the directed forest complex of Cayley graphs Gamma of finite groups. The homology of DF(Gamma) contains information about the graph, Gamma and about the group, G. The ultimate goal is to classify DF(Gamma) up to homotopy, compute its homology, and interpret the findings in terms of properties of Gamma. In this poster presentation, we present progress made toward this goal.

Adam Croteau

Design and Characterization of Low Temperature Co-Fired Ceramic Dielectric Barrier Discharge Plasma Arrays for Removing Bacterial Biofilms
Program: Electrical and Computer Engineering (MS)
Major Advisor: Jim Browning

Present research at Boise State University (BSU) has demonstrated the ability of low temperature co-fired ceramic (LTCC) Dielectric Barrier Discharge (DBD) plasma devices to remove bacterial biofilms on steel substrates. Although bacteria may easily be inactivated by plasma treatment, the remains of the organism are still present on the substrate. Thus, it is preferred to completely remove or etch away the biofilm. We have found that 13 LPM Argon gas flow at 1600Vrms is sufficient for removing Pseudomonas Fluorescens biofilm with an array of plasma line discharges. After 5 minutes of treatment, the majority of the biofilm has been removed leaving only a thin layer (>8µm) at the oxygen boundary. It is shown that feed gas flow rates, power delivered to the plasma, proximity to substrate and flow gas hydration are important factors in the removal of bacterial biofilms. We see a combination of chemical reactive etching and ionic sputtering at specific treatment combinations.

This research facilitates the design, construction and characterization of LTCC devices capable of etching away bacterial biofilms from steel substrates. We demonstrate the ability of single and multi-discharge plasma devices to remove bacterial biofilms. The design challenges and respective mechanisms for etching/removing bacterial biofilms is discussed in depth. The ultimate goal of this research has been to provide operating parameters for BSU’s single and multi-discharge devices that reliably remove bacterial biofilms. This research establishes a baseline for future statistical experimentation and optimization via the design of experiments method.

Jenn Dalling

Why Try?
Program: Counseling (MA)
Major Advisor: Raissa Miller

What impact does the Why Try intervention have on attendance, grades, behaviors, and motivation levels have on at-risk 8th grade students?

Maria Loera and Jennifer De Prima, BSU counseling student interns, held a group once a week for 10 weeks with seven boys. During our 45 minutes, we as facilitators implement the Why Try Curriculum using motivational interviewing and solution focused techniques. Participants set SMART goals and we measured and tracked their progress.This strength-based intervention focuses on building relationships with our students. We also use a variety of learning modalities to engage the students such as art, music, PowerPoints, and discussions. We want our participants to find meaning in what they are learning and find relevance in it. We are also teaching resiliency. Some kids are born with more resiliency than others but grit, determination, and motivation can be taught. The Why Try lessons teach valuable social and emotional skills to give the students what they need to tackle life challenges academically or personally.

Rylee DeVito

Mastering Rural Science: Transitioning to Mastery-based Science Education in a Rural School
Program: Educational Leadership (MEd)
Major Advisor: Kelly Cross

As the state of Idaho seeks to transition towards Mastery-based education, many schools are left scrambling to adjust their pedagogy. While the state has provided several strategies to train and prepare teachers, not all districts have been positively impacted. In particular, rural schools in Idaho are falling behind in the implementation of Mastery-based philosophies and practices. For science teachers across the state there is an additional hurdle to overcome; new science standards were mandated in 2019, and a new science ISAT was developed for operation starting in 2020. These drastic changes were accompanied with relatively little training and resources. Due to these shifts in education, it is evident that teachers need a concrete model of effective mastery-based science implementation. The high diversity of Idaho schools demands a modular concept that can be easily adjusted for a district, school, or classroom. This critical inquiry first addresses challenges that rural communities face when seeking to re-frame their educational system to reflect mastery-based. Then, the inquiry explores an implementation strategy that can be used in a rural science classroom, including communication with stakeholders, building self-efficacy in students, and modifying curriculum to reflect the Idaho State Science Standards. Finally, results of a study comparing an 8th and 9th grade sample group (mastery-based education model) with a control group (traditional educational model) in a rural Idaho science setting are examined. Growth indicators, such as semester grades, ISAT interim scores, achievement of mastery, and student surveys indicate the effectiveness of the model. Results indicate that the proposed model is an effective strategy of implementing mastery-based education in a science setting.

Anupama Dhamala

Model plasma behavior in plasma-jet printing technology
Program: Electrical and Computer Engineering (PhD)
Major Advisor: Nirmala Kandadai

This project aims to understand plasma behavior in a plasma jet printer through modelling and experiments. The plasma jet printer, is a novel printer developed by NASA AMES, where a plasma is used to assist the flow of ink and self-sinter, achieving a uniform film. Currently, the effect of exact nature of plasma, its driving voltage, distance and gas flow rate on the efficiency of the printed device is unknown. A computational and experimental model will be developed to test and improve this technology. USIM modeling tool from Tech-X is used to model the plasma discharge at atmospheric pressure. A prototype bench top system will study the effects experimentally.

Anna Doud

Translation of an In-Person Brief, Bystander Bullying Intervention (STAC) into a Technology-Based Program for Rural Schools and Low-Income Schools
Program: Counseling (MA)
Major Advisor: Aida Midgett

While studies support the efficacy of comprehensive, school-wide interventions in reducing bullying, these types of programs can require significant time and financial resources for implementation, resulting in barriers to providing school-based bullying prevention, especially in low-income and rural communities. Additionally, although training bystanders to act as “defenders” on behalf of targets of bullying is an important intervention component, few programs include this as part of their comprehensive strategy. Although brief programs that focus on bystander training and require fewer resources for implementation are a good first step, they still pose barriers such as training school personnel, providing external support, and not allowing for large groups of students to be trained at the same time. The overall goal of this project is to translate an in-person brief bullying bystander program (STAC) into a technology-based intervention. This presentation will disseminate information regarding the project’s first aim, which was to conduct a needs analysis with 15 school personnel (i.e., administrators, teachers, and school counselors) from three rural, low-income middle schools to determine product need and obtain their feedback to help build a system prototype. The technology-based platform will increase the overall impact and sustainability of the STAC intervention. It will substantially reduce cost to increase reach, and, based on the team’s previous work, its content will be adapted for students attending low-income and rural schools. Thus, this low-cost, easy to disseminate technology-based bullying bystander intervention has the potential to have a significant impact on the problem of bullying and the negative associated consequences for both students who are targets and bystanders in middle school when the problem of bullying peaks.

Kevallyn Drake

The Quality of Participant Reporting in Meta-Analyses Focused on Students with or At-Risk of Disabilities
Program: Special Education (MIT)
Major Advisor: Gena Nelson

The purpose of this study was to determine the quality of participant demographic information reported in special education research. This study was a systematic review of meta-analyses that investigated the effect of academic interventions for participants with or at risk for a disability. A secondary purpose of this study was to provide future researchers with the tools and guidelines to improve the accuracy of demographic information in meta-analyses within special education. A total of 47 meta-analyses published between 2004 and 2019 were coded for quality data including participant demographics, attrition, intervention agents, disaggregated data based on disability or risk status, and the total number of participants. Previous research has shown that reporting of participant demographic information has been minimal; this is problematic for researchers and practitioners because meta-analyses are often looked to as methods to determine effective practices for different populations of students. The results of this study showed that less than half of the meta-analyses provided specific data regarding how participants were screened or identified within each disability category. The results of this study also identified the overall quality of reported participant demographic data and what variables were associated with lower levels of reported quality.

Micah Drew

The effect of prolonged load carriage on knee adduction biomechanics
Program: Kinesiology (MS)
Major Advisor: Tyler Brown

Walking with body borne loads may increase knee musculoskeletal injury risk. Sixteen participants had knee biomechanics quantified while walking 1.3 m/s for 60 minutes with three body borne loads (0, 15 and 30 kg). Body borne load increased peak knee adduction moment (p<0.001), while walking time increased peak and range of knee adduction angle (both: p<0.024). However, neither load nor time increased variability of knee adduction moment or angle (p>0.05). Prolonged walking with heavy body borne loads increased knee adduction biomechanics related to musculoskeletal injury and disease, and may contribute to high injury rates for military personnel.

Scott Ducar

Landscapes in transition: Assessing the impact of land-use on Lower Dry Creek, Idaho
Program: Hydrologic Sciences (MS)
Major Advisor: Jen Pierce

Water and sediment availability profoundly influence the form and behavior of streams and rivers; in the western United States, urban development, mining, logging, beaver trapping, grazing, and farming alter the hydrology and sediment of fluvial systems. Dry Creek Experimental Watershed (DCEW), which drains the mountain peaks above Boise Idaho, has been a site of extensive hydrologic investigation since 1999. However, the hydrology, geomorphology, and land-use change in Lower Dry Creek (LDC), which marks the transition from the rugged and largely un-developed uplands to the lower gradient, agricultural, and residential section of the watershed, is less understood.

LDC, a tributary to the Boise River in Idaho, has a complex history of placer mining, beaver trapping, grazing, and farming since the 1850’s. Recent (post-1997) growth in the region converted LDC’s expansive floodplain from agricultural land to housing developments. The goals of this project are to 1) provide the baseline geomorphic, hydrologic and history of land-use for LDC, 2) examine the timing, magnitude, and spatial extent of stream channel incision in LDC, and 3) understand how changes in land-use may drive stream channel response in LDC.
We used remote sensing and field observations to quantify how the distinct reaches of LDC are changing over human time scales; we use Quaternary dating methods and geomorphic mapping to examine how LDC has changed over centennial to millennial timescales. Our results indicate upstream disturbance by placer mining resulted in planform channel change and local aggradation and subsequent incision. In lower reaches, a modern radiocarbon date provides evidence that ~3 meters of incision occurred post-1950, potentially from channelization of McFarland Creek (a tributary of LDC) as farm land is converted to housing developments. Results of this study have implications for stakeholders to understand the characteristics and response of LDC for potential mitigation or restoration.

Kimberlee Einfeld

Implementation of Peer Support and Shared Decision-Making Aids for the Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement Population
Program: Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
Major Advisor: Teresa Serratt

Patients eligible for transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) may experience low self-efficacy and anxiety while considering valve replacement, which may lead to poor quality of life.
A pilot project was implemented and evaluated using TAVR peer support and use of shared decision-making aids as interventions to address the problem. After the interventions, a third of patients had a decrease in anxiety, and half had an increase in one or more areas of self-efficacy. All patients responded positively during interviews, stating they felt greater confidence after interventions. Patients were empowered to discuss their health and procedural concerns with their medical team.

GerDonna Ellis

Critical Race Theory and the Impact of Oppression Narratives on the Identity, Resilience, and Wellness of Students of Color
Program: Communication (MA)
Major Advisor: Kelly Rossetto

In this thesis I explore the different stories students of color draw from and internalize to understand their identities in relation to oppression and resilience. Through reviewing critical race theory (CRT) and critical whiteness literature, I identify what I call the “oppression narrative”, in which students of color are often discussed as being oppressed and disadvantaged. Stories are powerful, and in many ways the stories we hear and believe about ourselves make us who we are. Eight narrative, semi-structured interviews were conducted with students who attended a predominately white institution (PWI) and identified as black or Latinx. Seven themes emerged as influential and vital into how these students’ chose to identify themselves, and how their stories reflected oppression and/or processes of resiliency in making sense of and navigating their world: external/internal identity tension, not leading with challenges, claiming privilege or support, denying a deficit, identity as an anchor, using community, and reframing circumstance and highlighting victories. These eight students’ stories overwhelmingly rejected the notion of being racially oppressed, and their narratives reveal the many ways in which they engage in processes of resiliency through difficult circumstance.

Alejandro Espejo Sanchez

Direct Solar Absorption Nanoparticle-Doped Membranes for a Hybrid Membrane Distillation/ Photovoltaic Cell
Program: Mechanical Engineering (MS)
Major Advisor: Todd Otanicar

Developing a method for treating water with high salinities is possible with membrane distillation. A hybrid system consisting of a membrane for water desalination and photovoltaic to generate electricity will be capable to absorb thermal energy for the temperature requirements and generate electricity. At the top of the system is a photovoltaic cell that will filter the visible light wavelengths and transmit the remaining ultraviolet and infrared to a membrane doped with absorbing nanoparticles located at the core of the system. This provides the means to integrate this system but also provides an avenue for increasing the temperature polarization coefficient and improving the membrane performance. The proposed membranes are fabricated using a multi-step phase inversion approach that will allow for controlled distribution of nanoparticles across the membrane. This design is characterized at a component and system level through multiples techniques. The overall project would lead to increased use of renewable energy for desalination while improving the ability to use membrane distillation for desalination purposes.

Benjamin Etcheverry

Actualizing Novel Time Dependent Resistance Elements to Achieve Time Dynamic Learning Behavior on a Hardware Spiking Neural Network Test Platform

Program: Electrical and Computer Engineering (PhD)
Major Advisor: Kurtis Cantley

There is currently a large body of research investigating the learning behavior of Spiking Neural Networks (SNN’s) who display learning behavior facilitated by Spike-Timing Dependent Plasticity (STDP). The prospect of developing novel computing architectures who take inspiration from the brain as a solution to the scaling limitations that herald the end of Moore’s Law has driven many researchers to produce computing schemes that realize neural learning rules on Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASIC’s). Theoretical models for these learning rules are well documented and simple rules have been shown to encode patterns of individual spikes and perform Spatio-Temporal Pattern Recognition (STPR). In order to facilitate more time-complex learning behavior a device design has been proposed which uses a time dependent resistive device to create a learning window which modifies the STDP curve and enriches the learning of a generic SNN circuits. Preliminary simulations have verified the theory behind these devices. This work produces a design in hardware that actualizes the theoretical results.

Amrina Ferdous

A Comparison of Inverse Methods and Neural Networks in Geophysics
Program: Computing (PhD)
Major Advisor: Jodi Mead

Inverse methods and neural networks are two different methods of data interpretation. Both methods are used to estimate causal factors from a set of observations. The object of geophysical inversion is to recover parameters in a mathematical model of the earth from measured data. Neural Networks use training data that consists of sets of parameters and observations to approximate a functional inverse of the mathematical model. We will explain how these two different methods can arrive at the same model from different paradigms. In addition, we will show results from both an inversion and Neural Networks on the gravity anomaly problem in order to recover the shape of a frontier between two media of different densities in the subsurface.

Danny Fisher

Opportunity of Natural Resource Trust to Support Rural Idaho Counties
Program: Economics (MEc)
Major Advisor: Michail Fragkias

Large tracts of federal lands in Shoshone, Clearwater and Idaho counties of Idaho limit these counties’ ability to generate tax revenue. Acts of Congress that have been used to compensate for nationally owned lands in these counties are impermanent, declining and volatile in annual receipts. My intent is to examine other opportunities these rural communities may have to expand and stabilize their budgets through a natural resource trust. Budgetary stability and expansion would allow for predictable municipal planning; this would support social amenities such as schools, roads, and emergency services. Different avenues of financing to fund such a trust will be reviewed to describe impact and yield from various scenarios and regulatory schemes. Policy implications, past and future, are to be discussed regarding current outcomes and potential trade-offs. A natural resource trust would resolve the issues that have developed from county dependence on federal receipts, and eventually withdrawal amounts from the fund would surpass the amounts currently allocated to rural counties by federal appropriation. Natural resource trusts have been utilized many times by local and national governments globally and could be used in Idaho to establish equity for rural communities by unifying their endowed public lands with an endowed perpetual fund.

Mei-lin Fong

Experimental Testing of High Temperature Particle Attrition and Containment Material Abrasion
Program: Mechanical Engineering (MS)
Major Advisor: Todd Otanicar

An alternate and sustainable form of energy is concentrating solar power systems which capture and store the sun’s energy in the form of heat. One way to improve the performance and lower the cost of concentrating solar power systems is to operate at temperatures exceeding 700°C, which introduces a number of challenges particularly with the heat transfer fluid. One approach is to use particles, which creates unique issues around material erosion and long-term durability. Two experimental setups were developed to test particle attrition and containment material abrasion, for high temperature at 800°C and low temperature at 25°C regimes. Multiple particles (bauxite, sand) as well as multiple containment materials (stainless steel, Inconel, refractory) are tested to understand durability. Particle attrition focuses on the breakdown of particles over time by measuring particle size distribution with sieving and optical analysis. High temperature abrasion, over limited testing hours, show significate oxidation formation and breakdown, something unobserved at low temperature testing. In low temperature abrasion, after 700 hours, stainless steel material had an average mass loss of 0.0024 g and Inconel had a mass loss of 0.0028 g while at high temperature after 300 hours, the same materials had a mass loss of 0.078 g and 0.0077 g respectively.

Jenny Fothergill

GIXStapose: An interactive structure-viewer alongside its simulated diffraction pattern
Program: Materials Science and Engineering (PhD)
Major Advisor: Eric Jankowski

We develop a tool that solves common problems in the structural analysis of materials simulated on nanometer length scales. Molecular simulations typically employ periodic boundary conditions to mimic conditions in the bulk material, but this places limitations on the repeated structural features that can be observed in simulations. Analyzing the structure of materials in the frequency domain quantifies the degree to which repeating structural features exist, but can be difficult to implement, interpret, and reproduce. Furthermore, the generation of simulated diffraction patterns from molecular simulation plays a crucial role in validating simulation results against experiments that rely on diffraction patterns to quantify structure.
In this work we develop GIXStapose, a new interactive analysis software for studying crystalline and amorphous materials structures. It enables grazing incidence X-ray scattering (GIXS) patterns to be visualized while interactively rotating chemical structures, especially periodic simulation volumes generated from molecular simulations. This functionality is useful for interactively identifying real-space chemical features that correspond to bright diffraction peaks and the rotation matrices that generate them. As such, this tool has potential to aid in the reproducible generation of publication quality figures which connect both GIXS and structural data, and it has pedagogical potential for students learning about crystal structures and diffraction.
GIXStapose is made possible by open-source packages, including the high-quality rendering of the Fresnel ray-tracer, the chemical file formats parsing of MBuild, and numpy’s fast Fourier implementations used in interactive diffraction analysis, and by funding from the National Science Foundation (#1835593)

Scott Frank

Are Community Schools within the Boise School District having an impact on student performance and academic achievement?
Program: Executive Educational Leadership (EdS)
Major Advisor: Heather P. Williams

The purpose of this study was to determine if the Boise School District Community Schools are having an impact on student performance and academic achievement. The report focuses on three parts.

The first part is focused on fourth-grade student reading scores, from the STAR Assessment, in the five Community Schools since becoming a Community School. This data covers four years (2015 to 2019).
The second part is comparing the five Community School’s STAR Reading scores to a similar Title-One Non-Community School in the district. The third part is based on the results of the fourth-grade teachers at each Community School.

Kelly Franklin

The Gothic Other: A Critique of Race, Gender, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression found in Nathaniel Hawthorne, Toni Morrison, and Hannah Crafts

Program: English Literature (MA)
Major Advisor: Dora Ramirez

My paper examines three American Gothic novels all communicating ideas about race, gender, and slavery. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables (1851) uses Gothic conventions to show how patriarchy oppressed and haunted women. Beloved (1987), by Toni Morrison, fictionalizes the account of a female slave who murdered her child to assert her power and reject slavery. However, Morrison rewrites and defies aspects of the Gothic mode by bringing the ghost of the murdered child back to life. The third novel, The Bondwoman’s Narrative, is assumed to have been written by Hannah Crafts around the mid-late 1850s, but not published until the 21st century. Similar to Morrison, Crafts vocalizes the terrors felt as a result of systematic oppression through her Gothic storytelling techniques. Studying these three novels together shows how these two African American female authors subverted traditional approaches to the Gothic in a way Hawthorne did not. These specific female novelists recognize how the Gothic mode can be used to provide accurate accounts of history alongside race gender, and slavery; however, they were conscious and deliberate in their choices to re-appropriate and rearrange certain aspects of the Gothic mode in a more subversive way.
Examination of Hannah Crafts’s use of Gothic conventions in the context of Hawthorne’s and Morrison’s novels shows how the Gothic became a tool for African American female authors to speak on behalf of a bigger community and serve a larger purpose in advocating for freedom and independence. Even though Crafts was writing at the same time as Hawthorne, his text lived and flourished while Crafts’s narrative was buried. Therefore, Morison’s ability to fictionalize the real life account of a slave woman necessitated Crafts’s manuscript to later be unearthed.

Emily Fritchman

Grassroots Activism: A History of Neighborhood Organizing in Boise, Idaho
Program: History (MAHR)
Major Advisor: Bob Reinhardt

Members of neighborhood associations in Boise, Idaho have long acted as advocates for historic preservation, environmental conservation, and effective urban growth management. However, little historical research exploring the impact of neighborhood activists both regionally and nationally has been conducted. This project consists of four elements: a website that highlights both the history of neighborhood organizing in Boise and key figures of the activist movement, a community lecture presenting these findings to the public, a brochure detailing the goals of the project to neighbors, and an analytical paper contributing to the historiography of neighborhood activism in Boise. Additionally, the patterns that emerge in this study will provide future scholars of community organizing and neighborhood history with insight into common issues faced by local neighborhood groups. The goal of this project is to present neighbors with thoughtful historical research, shedding light on how the actions of one person can profoundly impact the development of a community. In addition, I hope to provide both lifelong and new Boiseans with the resources and motivation necessary for them to pursue a more active role in the neighborhood organizing process.


Sumedha Gandharava Dahl

Behavioral Modeling of Memristor Radiation Interaction Events
Program: Electrical and Computer Engineering (PhD)
Major Advisor: Kurtis Cantley

We are moving towards the world, where computers and machines will learn to think and adapt similar to human beings. Memristive devices will forever revolutionize artificial intelligence and artificial brains that will work like real biological brains. In this research, the effect of a nuclear event is simulated using an available memristor model. A nuclear radiation event can generate a large number of electron-hole pairs, change the present resistive state, can degrade the structure of the device or all these effects can occur in the same incident. The presented model simulates all these situations and depicts the electrical behavior of the device in such cases.

Kalin Gibbons

Development of a turnkey solution for automatic generation of subject-specific finite element models of the arthritic knee
Program: Computing (PhD)
Major Advisor: Clare Fitzpatrick

Osteoarthritis (OA), commonly described as a “wear-and-tear” condition affecting a person’s critical joints, is an increasingly widespread and costly degenerative condition with no cure. Early diagnosis is critical to successful treatment, and there is an urgent need for clinical tools to (1) better identify individuals at high OA risk, and (2) develop customized subject-specific treatment plans. As a multifactorial disease which may be described as a complex system with many interactions, computational models are an excellent fit for studying OA. While modeling work has previously been done using simplified or generic geometries, the substantial manual effort and technical expertise required to reconstruct magnetic resonance (MR) images, convert those reconstructions to simulation-ready finite element (FE) meshes, and integrate those meshes into a modeling framework has been an insurmountable barrier to the development of models which take subject-specific features into account while performing large scale studies involving hundreds or thousands of patients. The objective of the present research is the development of an automated algorithm which implements a clinically relevant turnkey solution for generating patient-specific, simulation-ready FE models from MR images of the knee. A framework for automatic segmentation and 3D surface generation of MR images using convolution neural networks is already in place, and work is ongoing to implement automatic conversion of these 3D surfaces to uniform “brick” element FE meshes suitable for integration into existing FE models of patients performing daily living activities.

Julianna Goelzer

Ligand Dependence of Hormone Action in Glucocorticoid Receptor studied by 3D Orbital Tracking Fluorescence Cross Correlation Spectroscopy (3DOT-FCCS)
Program: Biomolecular Sciences (PhD)
Major Advisor: Matthew L Ferguson

Ligand Dependence of Hormone Action in Glucocorticoid Receptor studied by 3D Orbital Tracking Fluorescence Cross Correlation Spectroscopy (3DOT-FCCS)
Julianna A. Goelzer1, Abigail Figueroa2, Diana A. Stavreva3, Gordon L. Hager3 and Matthew L. Ferguson1,2
1 Biomolecular Sciences Program, Boise State University, Idaho 83725
2 Department of Physics, Boise State University, Idaho 83725
3 Laboratory of Receptor Biology and Gene Expression, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD 20892

Understanding the genome and the interactions taking place on a molecular level in living cells is difficult but critical for understanding gene regulation, transcription and cellular metabolism. Through 3D orbital tracking, we can visualize transcription by observing the relationship between pre-mRNA synthesis and the protein-DNA binding of the transcription factor, GR. This study establishes that we can track active genes via fluorescently labeled pre-mRNA and GR during transcriptional activation. This experiment enhances our knowledge of eukaryotic transcriptional regulation and highlights previously unknown details about transcriptional activation, temporal coordination and transcriptional bursting (Stavreva et al. 2019).

Matthew Goelzer

Mechanotransduction in MSCs is not dependent upon Lamin A/C
Program: Materials Science and Engineering (PhD)
Major Advisor: Gunes Uzer

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) provide regenerative capacity to bone. Regulation of MSC fate towards osteogenic or adipogenic lineages depend on their ability to sense and respond to mechanical challenges. Exogenous physical forces activates Focal Adhesion Kinase (FAK) and RhoA signaling, mediating cytoskeletal mechano-adaptations. The cytoskeleton relays mechanical information via LINC (Linker of Nucleoskeleton and Cytoskeleton) complex to its intra-nuclear anchor, LaminA/C. LaminA/C is a mechanoresponsive intra-nuclear scaffold that in-part provides functional organization to chromatin.

Elevated LaminA/C levels are seen in stiffer tissues like bone or low LaminA/C levels in more compliant tissue like fat are thought to contribute to epigenetic maintenance of MSC phenotype. It is not clear whether LaminA/C contributes to regulation of MSC phenotype in response to dynamic mechanical challenges. Here, we investigated the necessity of LaminA/C for regulating MSC differentiation through mechanically-induced signaling by reducing LaminA/C expression via siRNA. Blebbing was visible in LaminA/C deficient (siLamin) nuclei and characterization of structural parameters indicated reduced sphericity (8%, p<0.001), as well as increased nuclear area (32%, p<0.001), volume (31%, p<0.001) and height (12%, p<0.001). Nuclear stiffness of siLamin MSC was also reduced by 65% (p<0.001). To understand acute mechanoresponse in Lamin deficient MSCs, siCtrl and siLamin MSCs were subjected to either low intensity vibration (LIV, 20min, 0.7g, 90Hz) or high magnitude strain (HMS, 20min, 2%, 0.17Hz.). FAK phosphorylation (p-FAK) levels in siLamin cells were elevated in response to either LIV (189%, p<0.05) and or HMS( 185%, p<0.05). Long-term mechanoresponse to daily LIV application was assessed after seven days of adipogenic induction. In corroboration with un-altered acute mechanoresponse of LaminA/C depleted MSCs, LIV decreased the APN levels 32%(p<0.05) compared to non-LIV siLamina groups. This suggests that disrupting the intra-nuclear LaminA/C network does not disrupt MSC mechano-responsiveness.  The results indicate that deletion of LaminA/C compromises MSC multipotentiality by favoring adipogenic phenotype, but LaminA/C defective MSCs remain mechanically-responsive to both LIV and HMS. This suggests that transcriptional or mechanical adaptations of other adaptor proteins such as LINC complexes may modulate chromatin organization and transcriptional activity in MSCs in response to mechanical challenges.

Dylan Gomes

How whitewater river noise alters predator-prey communities
Program: Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior (PhD)
Major Advisor: Jesse Barber

The effects of human-made noise (e.g. traffic noise) on wildlife are thought to be widespread and negative. However, most work on the subject has been correlative rather than experimental, making it difficult to understand the mechanisms behind noise disturbance. Furthermore, we know next to nothing about the evolutionary context of this disturbance. While human-made noise is a relatively new disturbance, animals have evolved in naturally noisy areas since the origins of hearing organs, making it likely to be an important niche axis that structures animal communities. Many birds, bats, and insects use sound to find mates, avoid predators, and find prey – thus are likely to be affected by river noise in various ways. I outline a multi-year, large-scale, noise playback experiment in the Rocky Mountains of Idaho aimed at understanding how natural sources of whitewater river noise affect these animal communities, and the interactions between predator and prey.

Scott Green

The Idaho Reading Indicator (IRI) and its Correlation to Parent Engagement
Program: Executive Educational Leadership (EdS)
Major Advisor: Heather P. Williams

This study examined if the key to increasing early literacy scores is developing engaged parents. Parent engagement was proven to improve early literacy. Idaho increased funding for early literacy from $13 million to $26 million. Idaho school districts had varied responses to increased funding such as: all-day Kindergarten, hired more teachers, and intervention curriculum. The methods included: correlated district IRI scores to Parent Engagement survey scores and correlated IRI scores to capstone rubric scores of parent engagement based districts Early Literacy Plans.

Rachael Haggen

Investigating inter- and intra-vineyard soil variability, Sunnyslope District, SW Idaho
Program: Geology (MS)
Major Advisor: David Wilkins

Of the factors influencing wine-grape, and by extension wine quality, soil is the most site specific and fixed in place. However, soils can be quite heterogeneous within a vineyard – not recognizing this variability can result in vineyard management practices that can negatively impact vineyard production and quality. This study examines and catalogs soil characteristics of nine Snake River Valley vineyards. Using normalized difference vegetation indices (NDVI) to map spatial variability of vine canopy vigour as proxy for soil variability, a maximum of nine soil pits were excavated in each vineyard. Texture was initially determined by hand and grain size distribution using laser diffraction confirmed and quantified the textural changes with depth; portable x-ray fluorescence (pXRF) will be used to determine geochemical compositions of soils to accurately characterize soil differences within and between vineyards. Preliminary results indicate that, depending on the location of the vineyard, both past geomorphic and modern-day processes and deposition influence current vineyard soil conditions. Investigating and modeling the underlying causes of variability and cataloging the soil texture and geochemical signatures provides vineyard owners with information that can help manage vineyards for the production of high-quality grapes and desirable wines that best reflect the conditions under which they were grown.

Chakoma Haidari

Developing a tobacco cessation intervention model for medically underserved populations in Elmore County
Program: Health Science (MHS)
Major Advisor: Mike Mann

Background: Nicotine cravings can cause anger, panic attacks, and irritability, which alter people’s ability to self-regulate, triggering episodic violence. Medically underserved populations (MUPs) have higher rates of tobacco use, lower tobacco quit rates, and bear a disproportionate amount of consequences of nicotine addiction. Additionally, rural MUPs often lack access to traditional cessation services, further exacerbating disparities. In order to address these issues, an innovative brief tobacco cessation intervention can be offered through local clinics. This intervention consists of universal screening, Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), and brief counseling to help patients manage withdrawal symptoms and better cope with the stress of quitting nicotine. This model also offers an innovative reimbursement structure for previously unbillable time spent with patients.

Methods: A local public health department and a local clinic can partner to deliver and evaluate this intervention. Clinic and support staff must be trained to follow a standard protocol based on the Ask, Advise, Assess, Assist, and Arrange framework. All patients must be screened for nicotine use, regardless of presenting problem. Medical providers should offer a free, two-week supply of NRT and provide appropriate referrals to cessation programs, such as Idaho’s Tobacco Quitline.

Results: Preliminary results in other areas indicate similar interventions have been effective in reducing nicotine use with at least half of the participants. The proposed intervention will be evaluated over the course of a year by examining changes in participant quit status at various points in the intervention (i.e., no change, reduced use, quit).

Conclusion: This intervention may help participants quit or reduce nicotine use in a cost-effective and efficient manner with minimal training and resource commitment. Implementation is needed to further test the effectiveness of this promising model.

Lara Hamilton

Voi Che Sapete from Mozart’s “Le nozze di Figaro” (The Marriage of Figaro) Performed by Lara Hamilton
Program: Music Performance (MM)
Major Advisor: Laura Rushing-Raynes

Lara Chelsea Hamilton – Masters of Music Performance in Voice.
Performance of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
“Voi Che Sapete che cosa è amor”, (“You ladies who know what love is, is it what I’m suffering from?”) from the Opera, Le Nozze di Figaro [The Marriage of Figaro]
Text/Libretto by: Lorenzo da Ponte (1749-1836)

This piece explores the love of young Cherubino, Count Almaviva’s page (a page is an attendant or servant in a sense, to someone of high rank). In Act 2, Cherubino expresses his love for his godmother (the Countess) through song. The maid to the Countess, Susanna, knows of Cherubino’s youthful desire for a woman and convinces him to sing this love song. Susanna accompanies him on a guitar. Traditionally Cherubino is played by a woman, as the Opera is based on a play that does the same. The song is sung with pride and great expression, conveying the true character of Cherubino.

1. Italian
Voi che sapete che cosa è amor,
donne vedete s’io l’ho nel cor.
Quello ch’io provo, vi ridirò,
è per me Nuovo, capir nol so.
Sento un affetto pien di desir,
ch’ora è diletto, ch’ora è martir;
Gelo, e poi sento l’alma avvampar,
e in un momento torno a gelar.
Ricero un bene fuori di me:
non so ch’il tiene, non so cos’è;
sospiro e gemo senza voler,
palpito e tremo senza saper;
Non trovo pace note nè dì,
ma pur mi piace languir così.

(Voi che sapete che cosa è amor,
donne vedete s’io l’ho nel cor.)

2. English
You know what love is,
Tell me if it’s in my heart.
What I feel, I’ll explain to you,
It’s new to me, I can’t comprehend.
I feel an emotion charged with desire,
Which is first delight, then torture.
I freeze, then I feel my soul burst into flame,
In a moment I am frozen again.
I search for a treasure that is not within me.
I don’t know who holds it, or where it is;
I sight and moan though I don’t want to,
My heart races and trembles, and I know not why;
I find peace neither night nor day,
Yet I like to languish like this.

Claire Harrigan

Assessing Geoscience Career Awareness Among Undergraduates
Program: Geosciences (PhD)
Major Advisor: Mark Schmitz

One measure of the success of an undergraduate geoscience program is how well its students are prepared for careers in the geosciences. As departments work to prepare undergraduates for the workforce, a method for evaluating students’ understanding of, and preparedness for, geoscience careers could help guide department activities and interventions.

We developed an instrument (online survey) that evaluates students’ career plans and utilization of resources related to learning about, preparing for, and finding a job. Questions ask students to identify careers of interest, reflect on the skills they need to be successful in their future career, and describe what they need to do to acquire those skills. With only minor modifications, this instrument can be used in any department to evaluate students’ perceptions about potential career options. When deployed over multiple semesters and at different stages of program completion, the instrument can be used to evaluate the efficacy of career preparation interventions.

We surveyed 30 undergraduate geoscience majors at a public 4-year university. The results represent the state of students’ career awareness prior to any career planning interventions. We found that, in general, students lack clarity about potential jobs and skills required for those jobs. We compare the results for students at different stages in the program and demonstrate that students who have taken more geoscience courses have more specific career goals than students at in the beginning stages of completing the requirements for the major.

Caitlin Harris

lack luster paradox
Program: Visual Arts (MFA)
Major Advisor: Lily Lee

lack/luster paradox confronts paradoxical behavioral norms women are expected to inhabit. The project engages with the intimate and temporal interaction that occurs between a reader and a text. A kinetic slide-crank compresses sculptural paper forms, mimicking the binding confines of feminine identity. Intricately folded prints expand and contract as if breathing. When pressed tightly together, the paper’s edges gather to reveal tropes of purity and obedience. Upon expanding, feelings related to shame and stigma are exposed between sharply folded pleats. The sculpture fluctuates from one extreme to the other, suspended by the tension of the paradox.

Michelle Harvey

Reducing Pressure Injuries in the Intensive Care Setting: Nursing Knowledge and Best Practices Approach
Program: Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
Major Advisor: Pamela Gehrke

For many health care organizations, pressure injury prevention (PIP) strategies have become a priority focus to improve patient outcomes. A pilot quality improvement project was conducted in an adult intensive care unit (ICU) by incorporating a multifaceted PIP program. Prevention strategies included an education module, learning activities for nursing staff, and a standardized plan of care “bundle” for prevention interventions. Results showed improved nursing documentation of prevention interventions and zero hospital acquired pressure injury events occurring in the ICU during the project period. On-going monitoring is needed to evaluate sustainability of the program.

Annemarie Hasnain

Traits of Partners in Arranged Marriage

Program: Anthropology (MA)
Major Advisor: Kristin Snopkowski and John Ziker

Parental control over their offsprings’ choice of mates is unique to humans. One form of parental control over mates is that of arranged marriage which has been widespread throughout history and is still prevalent in many societies today. Arranged marriage would not be considered a constraint on mate choice as long as parents and children prefer the same traits in a mate. A number of studies, however, have found that parents prefer traits that signal parental investment and in-group cooperation in future in-laws whereas children prefer traits that signal heritable fitness, for instance, traits that indicate genetic health and quality. This study uses quantitative data from the longitudinal Indonesia Family Life Survey (data collected in 2014; n=4,333) to test whether husbands in arranged marriages have more traits indicating in-group cooperation (e.g., kind to everyone, does a thorough job, wealth) and whether husbands in self-choice marriages have more traits indicating genetic quality (e.g., original/comes up with new ideas, outgoing/sociable, education). Except for husband’s education level, no significant difference was found in traits between husbands in arranged marriage versus those in self-choice marriages. Husbands in arranged marriage had significantly less education than those in self-choice marriages. Earlier studies used surveys to examine parent and offspring mate preferences for children’s partners, but this is the first study to examine actual traits of husbands in arranged marriages compared to self-choice marriages. It is possible that despite earlier findings, parents and children prefer similar traits in children’s mates.

Bradley Henderson

Modeling Fatigue Failure in Fibrous Soft Tissue Using Continuum Damage Mechanics
Program: Mechanical Engineering (MS)
Major Advisor: Trevor Lujan

The meniscus is a wedge-shaped fibrocartilaginous tissue located between the femur and tibia that plays a crucial role in joint health. By distributing large and repeated loads, the meniscus reduces localized regions of stress that can damage the underlying articular cartilage, increasing the risk of osteoarthritis. Unfortunately, the meniscus is frequently injured, and one probable failure mode is repeated exposure to low-magnitude tensile loads, known as fatigue. While the study of fatigue in conventional materials has been transformative to the engineering and maintenance of durable polymers and composites, there is a fundamental lack of knowledge on the structural mechanisms of fatigue failure in fibrous soft tissue. One approach to gain physical insight into fatigue mechanisms is through mathematical constitutive models that predict and describe material damage. These models can avoid the expense and time required for experimental fatigue studies, but they also must be calibrated and validated using experimental data. The objective of this study is to determine the feasibility of using continuum damage mechanics to predict experimental fatigue behavior during force-control loading of human meniscus. This study used an experimental and computational approach with finite element analysis to address the study objective. The feasibility of the damage model to simulate the experimental fatigue behavior was tested using the finite element solver FEBio. The quality of the model fits to the experimental stress-time behavior was quantified using root mean square error. The continuum damage model provided excellent fits to all experimental data, with low average RMSE value of 0.07. This study demonstrates for the first time the feasibility of using a continuum damage mechanics formulation to model the creep response of soft fibrous tissue during force-control cyclic fatigue loading.

Thiago Henrique da Silva

Crystal Structure Prediction through Density Functional Theory Combined with Unsupervised Machine Learning: A Vitamin B2 Case Study
Program: Materials Science and Engineering (PhD)
Major Advisor: Matt King

First-principles density functional theory (DFT) calculations were performed to predict the unknown crystal structure of riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2. Assessment of the optimal structure of vitamin B2 was done in three steps: initial structure generation, crystal geometry optimizations using DFT and implementation of an unsupervised learning algorithm to aid on the selection of the fittest lowest-energy structures. Structural candidates were created by implementing changes in the rotational and translational elements of the molecule inside of the initial unit cell. The DFT self-consistent field method (SCF) was applied using the CRYSTAL14 software for all structures utilizing an atom-centered basis at the PBE/6-31G(d,p) level. Lowest-energy structures were selected through an unsupervised learning algorithm and the corresponding structures were then submitted to a full geometry optimization. Through this method a structural candidate was obtained that led to an accurate prediction of the crystal structure, verified experimentally by PXRD and low-frequency vibrational THz spectra.

Christopher Herrera

The Importance of Latino Inclusion and Representation in Pesticide Exposure Research
Program: Health Science (MHS)
Major Advisor: Cynthia Curl

Latinos make up 76% of the farm working population in the U.S., but are often under-represented in research on farm worker health. For example, the single largest study of the effects of pesticide exposure among U.S. farm working populations, the Agricultural Health Study, included fewer than 5% non-white participants. This prospective cohort study included 46,929 farmers, pesticide applicators, and their spouses, of whom just 1,306 were non–white. Latinos face discrimination, socioeconomic hardships and educational challenges, which make it more important that this population has appropriate representation in research. A study in 2014 by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services found that there were significant and consistent disparities between Hispanics compared to non-Hispanic Whites regarding Alzheimer’s, mortality rates, the participation in clinical trials, cultural differences and lack of culturally competent providers. I am conducting a literature review of pesticide exposure studies to determine the frequency with which Latinos are excluded from study participation due to cultural and/or language barriers. Research has shown that Latinos are less likely to answer questions or agree to participate in a survey for fear of the government and deportation. Part of this issue is due to discomfort, but it is up to the researchers to understand this and accommodate the population they are researching. Without the cooperation from Latinos, researchers would not be able to study the appropriate population. In addition to this literature review, I am involved with a study that is looking at pesticide exposures among pregnant women living in agricultural and non-agricultural regions of Idaho. Specifically, we are investigating exposure to the herbicide, glyphosate. Glyphosate is the most heavily used pesticide in the world, and in 2016, it was listed as a “probable human carcinogen” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. In recent years, there has been an increase in evidence suggesting a link between glyphosate exposure and negative health outcomes. Glyphosate is commonly used in agriculture, and as a result, farm workers are at a high risk for exposure. We are recruiting participants that speak English and/or Spanish, and my roles in this project is to translate documents, conduct meetings of informed consent, collect samples, and serve as the main point of contact for Spanish speaking participants. With this collective work, I have the opportunity to conduct a literature search about the extent to which Latinos are excluded from this type of research and to be actively involved in a project that aims to improve the well being of the Latino population.

Brian Hoettels

Contribution of Inflammation-associated Extracellular Matrix Proteins in Blood-Brain Barrier Endothelial Dysfunction

Program: Biomolecular Sciences (PhD)
Major Advisor: Julie Oxford

The blood-brain barrier (BBB) serves as a physical interface between the peripheral circulation and the CNS parenchyma. This function is fulfilled by the BBB endothelial cells (BBB-ECs) that line the interior surface of the microvessels and form restrictive tight junctions to seal the interendothelial cleft against paracellular leakage. Under homeostasis, secretion of ‘pro-barrier’ extracellular matrix (ECM) and ECM-associated proteins promotes tight junction maintenance through ‘outside-in’ regulatory signaling. During inflammation, however, deposition of ‘anti-barrier’ ECM and ECM-associated proteins can disrupt or replace these ‘pro-barrier’ cues, contributing to tight junction uncoupling and subsequent loss of barrier integrity.

Here, we characterize the contribution of the ECM substrate composition on barrier function and expression of the tight junction protein claudin-5 (CLDN5), a tetraspan protein crucial for the sealing properties of the BBB. We show that BBB-EC monolayers cultured on collagen type IV (COL4), a ‘pro-barrier’ substrate constitutively present in the BBB-ECM, exhibit greater barrier function and Cldn5 mRNA expression compared to those cultured on collagen type I (COL1), an ‘anti-barrier’ substrate lowly present in the BBB-ECM except during inflammation-associated processes. Additionally, we provide evidence for an ‘anti-barrier’ role by the small leucine-rich proteoglycan decorin (DCN). First, mice with neuroinflammation exhibit high deposition of DCN surrounding microvessels within inflammatory lesions, an observation consistent with previous histopathological analyses of inflammatory lesions from multiple sclerosis patients. Second, BBB-EC monolayers cultured on DCN-containing substrates exhibit lower barrier function and Cldn5 mRNA expression compared to their control counterparts. Third, BBB-EC monolayers challenged with a proinflammatory stimulus show DCN upregulation. Finally, and most importantly, knockdown of DCN expression in BBB-EC monolayers attenuates barrier dysfunction. Taken together, the data suggest that BBB-ECs can serve as a source of DCN and that inflammatory-induced DCN upregulation may perpetuate BBB dysfunction.

Ahmad Hojatimalekshah

Forest canopies impact on snow depth and distribution, Grand Mesa, Colorado
Program: Computing (PhD)
Major Advisor: Nancy Glenn

Canopies change the radiation regime in forest gaps, interact with precipitation and act as a shelter to the wind as well as changing the energy balance of snow-covered regions. Understanding the impact of trees on snow processes is important for scientists and water managers to develop parameters for water storage prediction models. In this work, we investigate how snow depth is controlled by forest distribution and structure as well as wind and topographical metrics. We use Terrestrial Laser Scanner (TLS) dataset collected at 6 different sites over Grand Mesa Colorado. The point clouds are classified into ground, snow, and vegetation using the CAractérisation deNUages de POints(CANUPO) method in Cloud Compare software. We use the Marker-controlled watershed (mcwatershed) algorithm in R for singletree segmentation. In addition, snow depth is estimated using the Multi-scale Model to Model CloudComparison (M3C2) algorithm for 1m projection and 10cm normal scale. The results show at sites with distributed tree patterns we expect deeper snow on gaps sizes smaller than the average height of the surrounding tree’s (H) and greater than H/2. This provides evidence that shadowing and snow-canopy interception is the driving process that defines snow depth on forests with many fragmented small gaps. The directional analysis also highlights the importance of the single trees’ shadowing effect on the transition zone (the distance between the sub-canopy edge and open area) snow depth in watershed-scale stream flow studies.

Amy Holcomb

Musculoskeletal adaptation of young and older adults in response to environmental, physical, and cognitive conditions
Program: Mechanical Engineering (MS)
Major Advisor: Clare Fitzpatrick

Accidental falls contribute a substantial financial burden in adults aged 65 years and older. One in three adults over the age of 65 will experience an accidental fall. This increases to one in two adults over the age of 80. Hip fractures are the most serious fall-related injury in older adults and are associated with significant morbidity and mortality within this population. Women who have sustained a hip fracture have a five-time increase in likelihood of death while men experience an eight-fold increase after sustaining a hip fracture, as compared to age- and gender-matched controls.

Risk factors for accidental falls are multifaceted: physical (Parkinson’s, neuromuscular weakness, joint pain), psychological (fear of falling), and environmental (slick and uneven surfaces resulting in slips and trips). In response to a “challenging” surface, one’s stride shortens, and muscle activation increases to improve stability. These compensation strategies are more pronounced in the older adult population: “cautious” gait at slower speeds, decreased knee flexion, and greater muscle activation around the knee. There also exists a strong relationship between knee joint instability and the risk of falls. Adults over the age of 55 experience an increased risk of recurrent falls after the first accidental fall.

The effects of aging on the musculoskeletal system’s ability to adapt to challenging conditions is poorly understood. There exists a gap in knowledge regarding the relationship between risk factors for accidental falls, knee joint stability, mechanisms of musculoskeletal adaptation to challenging conditions, and whole-body function (muscle forces and motion).

The purpose of this research study is to compare neuromechanics (whole-body function) of young and older adults performing activities of daily living across various external conditions. For 14 young (18-25 years) and 14 older (over 65 and a history of accidental falls) adults, the whole-body movement and muscle forces will be collected for baseline as well as environmental (low-friction surface), physical (load bearing), and cognitive (dual task) challenging situations.

Motion and muscle force data will be combined with 3D MR imaging to create subject-specific computational finite element models of the knee joint in order to evaluate joint stability and determine key relationships between stability, whole-body movement, muscle strength, and muscle forces for each external condition and each cohort.

Douglas Hutchinson

Alleviating Ceiling Effects in Survey Data
Program: Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning (MS)
Major Advisor: Yonnie Chyung

Ceiling effects negatively impact survey instruments’ ability to capture survey participants’ true perspectives. This research explains the ceiling effect in surveys and explores different tactics that can be applied to the design of survey instruments to reduce the presence of a ceiling effect in survey data. Ceiling effects can be reduced by using more than three options in response scales, increasing the number of positive options, and using fully- or even partially-labeled response scale points.

Robert Ivans

Spatiotemporal Computing
Program: Electrical and Computer Engineering (PhD)
Major Advisor: Kurtis Cantley

Moore’s law and the benefits of Dennard scaling are coming to an end. If next generation computers are to continue to improve, then alternative computing paradigms must be explored. One solution to this problem might be found in spiking neural networks where brain-inspired neuromorphic designs use very little power and perform complex tasks such as unsupervised spatiotemporal pattern recognition. Therefore, research is being conducted to explore a spatiotemporal computing paradigm. Early results for generating, interpreting, and recalling arbitrary spatiotemporal patterns, and performing logical operations using spatiotemporal patterns are shared.

Madi Jansen

Necropolitical Resistance In Early Modern Drama: Violence and Death as Agentive Acts in Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy
Program: English Literature (MA)
Major Advisor: Dora Ramirez

Thomas Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy has been widely-read by the academic community, but not always for its own sake. Its influence on the Revenge Tragedy genre, and Shakespeare’s Hamlet, have been common topics, sometimes at the expense of readings that engage with the play itself. This thesis continues a tradition of applying the ideas of Michel Foucault to the Early Modern era in order to interrogate the role of power, knowledge, and sovereignty. This thesis explores the way that Michel Foucault’s theory of biopolitics, and the related concepts of necropolitics and necroresistance, create significant new ways of understanding the characters and themes of Thomas Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy. I first examine Bel-Imperia’s presence in the text, as both a woman and a political pawn, and argue that her physical body exists in a contested space, serving as both a location for control and a means of resistance. By reinterpreting her role in the revenge narrative and her suicide through a political lens, we can more fully appreciate her violent actions as expressions of agency in pursuit of a calculated goal. Additionally, when we look at the stories of Hieronimo and Horatio through a necropolitical lens, it foregrounds the centrality of class in the conflict of the play. Through a close reading of Horatio’s murder, I argue that Horatio and Hieronimo represent the threat of social mobility to the insular aristocratic class embodied by Lorenzo and Balthazar, and Horatio’s murder serves as a reassertion of absolute sovereign control. Hieronimo’s violent actions carry different implications when we are able to read them as not only acts of vengeance, but also, to some extent, of revolution. Ultimately, I argue that applying biopolitical theories to The Spanish Tragedy, and other plays from the Early Modern era, presents scholars with an opportunity to differently appreciate the relationship between agency and violence, and make sense of the seemingly senseless violence that often characterizes these works.

Royce Johnson

Using a Species Distribution Approach to Model Historic Camas (Camassia quamash) Distribution in Southern Idaho and Implications for Foraging in the Late Archaic
Program: Anthropology (MA)
Major Advisor: Pei-Lin Yu

Camas (Camassia quamash) is well documented as a traditional native food source throughout the Northwestern United States and Canada. A better understanding of the historic distribution of camas in Idaho would help to distinguish root foraging in this region from the Pacific Northwest. Modern grazing, development, climate change, and other factors have decimated native camas in this region. This study uses a species distribution model (MaxEnt) to provide a well-informed geospatial projection of the historic distribution and habitat characteristics of camas in Southern Idaho. Understanding the most significant landscape and climate characteristics for camas allows us to estimate suitable habitats, and therefore the potential influence of camas on human diet breadth and mobility in the Late Archaic.

Lyle Jones

Low-Cost Test and Characterization Platform for Memristors
Program: Electrical and Computer Engineering (MS)
Major Advisor: Nader Rafla

Characterization of Memristor devices is an expensive and difficult task due to the large variety of their types. The problem is compounded by the incompatibility of electrical characterization tools with different types of memristors, which in turn increases the cost associated with the overall integration process. This paper reports a novel, low-cost, portable test and characterization platform for memristors with a voltage range from -10V to +10V. To demonstrate its performance, columnar cationic memristors were characterized in this setup to study resistance behavior. The platform has the potential to be a low-cost alternative to the traditional bulky characterization equipment and could be used to characterize a variety of devices (e.g. Anion, phase-change,…etc).

Simin Joshaghani

Universal Healthcare, taking a closer look at each ACA expansion effect on health.
Program: Economics (MS)
Major Advisor: Kelly Chen

Healthcare is one of the most important and controversial topics these days. It was on the topics with the most allocated time in the debates by October 2019 [1][2], and it was the topic most tweeted by the members of congress [3]. Furthermore, the United States is the only country among the OECD countries with a multi-payer healthcare system. In addition to all of the above, the per capita costs of healthcare is about double of its counterpart in other OECD countries; for example, in 2018, the per capita healthcare expenditure for Canada was equal to 6448.0 USD while the same number for the US was estimated to be 10586.1 USD [4] [5]. This is why it is crucial to look closer at the effectiveness of the healthcare system of the United States.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) which had its passage in 2010 and has been facing extensions ever since has had a substantial effect on the population’s insurance coverage [6]. However, after 2016, the mandatory fine that was a part of the 2014 extension of ACA was revoked. Although this area has matured, further research can contribute to the existing body of literature; taking into account multiple factors which will be explained in the following. Considering the fact that different states have different attitudes towards the expansion of ACA and that the ACA has had multiple extensions since 2010 till present, it is important to look at each ACA expansion within state. Another factor that needs to be considered is the 2016 revocation which subtracted the mandatory health coverage fine from the ACA program. This research could contribute to the effectiveness of the ACA program on citizens’ health.

The ACA expansions have affected many aspects of the healthcare system in the US. From bankruptcy due to medical bills to child mortality. Hence, due to the vast impact of this program, choosing which of these aspects to study is important. In this research, we will look at the effect of ACA expansions on the following factors while taking into consideration the within state effects. Access to healthcare, general and mental health, life expectancy, and leading causes of death from 2008 to 2018.

Conducting this research will require causal inference. There are various methods for such analysis; however, it seems that Regression Discontinuity is the best method for this feat. The distinct cutoff points of each ACA expansion, the fact that these points are according to Federal Poverty Level, which is a continuous variable, and that these points are out of the control of individuals, it seems that an RD model could be implemented. In addition to taking state fixed effects and time fixed effects into account such a model would have an immensely acceptable internal validity; which could result in a concrete conclusion and put an end on the controversy over the ACA program.

References: [1]
[2] ogin-google
[3] ​
[5] ​ [6] Frean, Molly et al. 2017 “Premium subsidies, the mandate, and Medicaid expansion: Coverage effects of the Affordable Care Act”

Rezvan Joshaghani

Photo-Realistic Immersive Real-time Rendering
Program: Computing (PhD)
Major Advisor: Steven Cutchin

Geometry based rendering (GBR) is widely utilized in various technologies, ranging from VR to CGI. One limitation of geometric modeling is that the cost of rendering increases with the size of the geometric model thus the cost of realism increases with the number of objects in the scene. An alternative to GBR is image-based rendering (IBR) that allows for creation of highly realistic scenes at a fixed cost. However, IBR lacks the ability to dynamically add and remove objects within image-based scenes. By adding such a feature to IBR, we can create dynamic highly realistic renderings at fixed cost.

The outcome of my research will be a new photorealistic immersive real-time rendering technique that when compared to GBR provides higher realism at a lower cost. This can be employed in virtual reality, high-quality avatars, deep fakes, and in the creation of CGI indistinguishable from the real world. To achieve this goal, we propose a real-time light field editor which allows for addition and removal of objects to a scene by combining light fields in real-time. To add an object to the scene, we need to combine multiple light fields from a common viewpoint and with correct lighting. The major challenge is achieving correct light blending by removing object lighting and replacing it with the scene lighting. Therefore, we need to infer the specific scene and object light sources and characteristics. Additional research will be done on optimal compression and sampling approaches for capturing light fields. We introduce an approach to optimize camera positions and numbers, to capture an arbitrary scene. To reconstruct a real-world scene effectively, we need to break the area into multiple segments where each segment is mapped to a set of quality images. The number of segments and their positions depends on the composition of the scene. For a scene with a low number of objects or details like a desert landscape, a lower number of segments are required compared to a room full of objects. As for the position of the segments, the relative arrangement of the objects with each other can affect the position and number of viewpoints.

Md Faisal Kabir

Co-sputtering effects of group IVA elements in Ge2Se3 based optically gated transistor (OGT)
Program: Electrical and Computer Engineering (PhD)
Major Advisor: Kris Campbell

Previously we reported an amorphous chalcogenide phototransistor composed of Ge2Se3+Cu/Sn that has application as an access transistor and continuous programming of a memristor. Here we show how its characteristics change with the incorporation of group IVA elements. By varying these elements in M+Ge2Se3 (M = C, Si, Ge, Sn, Pb) as co-sputtered material, a family of current-voltage (I-V) curves is measured between two electrodes (source and drain) at a fixed light intensity on top of the gate, which is similar to a MOSFET Id-Vds family of curves where channel current is dependent on gate voltage. The manipulation of the chalcogenide glass structure through the addition of group IVA elements (C, Si, Ge, Sn, Pb) in the periodic table shows a significant trend in device performance. The device follows three distinct conduction mechanisms: ohmic, trap-filled limited and space-charge-limited which are determined from Iph (photocurrent)-V curves. The Raman spectra and optical gaps are extracted by using Raman spectroscopy and UV-Vis analyzer respectively which show clear evidence of the glass structure change due to the doping with M. The responsivity increases with the decrease in optical gap except for Pb doped OGT due to carrier type reversal which is confirmed by I-V curves and responsivity. Photoswitching becomes faster when OGT is doped with C, Si, and Sn. The thermal effect and dark current increase as a function of temperature show the potential of using OGT as a reusable temperature sensor.

Rahul Reddy Kancharla

Co-sputtering effects of group IVA elements in Ge2Se3 based optically gated transistor (OGT)
Program: Electrical and Computer Engineering (PhD)
Major Advisor: Kris Campbell

Previously we reported an amorphous chalcogenide phototransistor composed of Ge2Se3+Cu/Sn that has application as an access transistor and continuous programming of a memristor. Here we show how its characteristics change with the incorporation of group IVA elements. By varying these elements in M+Ge2Se3 (M = C, Si, Ge, Sn, Pb) as co-sputtered material, a family of current-voltage (I-V) curves is measured between two electrodes (source and drain) at a fixed light intensity on top of the gate, which is similar to a MOSFET Id-Vds family of curves where channel current is dependent on gate voltage. The manipulation of the chalcogenide glass structure through the addition of group IVA elements (C, Si, Ge, Sn, Pb) in the periodic table shows a significant trend in device performance. The device follows three distinct conduction mechanisms: ohmic, trap-filled limited and space-charge-limited which are determined from Iph (photocurrent)-V curves. The Raman spectra and optical gaps are extracted by using Raman spectroscopy and UV-Vis analyzer respectively which show clear evidence of the glass structure change due to the doping with M. The responsivity increases with the decrease in optical gap except for Pb doped OGT due to carrier type reversal which is confirmed by I-V curves and responsivity. Photoswitching becomes faster when OGT is doped with C, Si, and Sn. The thermal effect and dark current increase as a function of temperature show the potential of using OGT as a reusable temperature sensor.

Katherine Kappelman

Altruism as a Mechanism of Sexual Selection
Program: Anthropology (MA)
Major Advisor: Kristin Snopkowski

Altruistic behavior in real-life circumstances is broadly defined as costly acts that confer benefits on other individuals without expectation of reward or repayment, and humans are considered unique in their display of large-scale altruistic behavior among genetically unrelated individuals. Kin-selection theory has been applied to explain altruistic behavior toward kin and altruistic gestures toward individuals not genetically related can theoretically be recouped through direct reciprocity. Research suggests altruistic behavior can evolve as a mechanism of sexual selection or as a costly signaling mechanism to indicate mate value. This project examines how different factors of the individual and the type of mate they are seeking might influence preferences for altruistic partners. I have developed inventory scales to investigate individual preferences for altruistic behaviors displayed by potential mates toward different recipients. Comparisons will be made across subjects of reproductive age compared to post-reproductive age, those with preferences for same-sex partners versus those with opposite-sex partner preference, and differences between long versus short term relationships. I expect individuals seeking a long-term relationship who already have dependent children or grandchildren will prefer mates who show a greater degree of altruism toward family members, while individuals who are seeking a casual or short-term relationship who are without dependent children or grandchildren will have a preference for partners who display a greater degree of altruism toward friends and acquaintances. These research inquiries will contribute to broader discussions on the proposed evolutionary relationship between altruism and sexual selection.

Bk Karki

Topological Model of Type II Twin Interface in 10M Ni-Mn-Ga Martensite
Program: Materials Science and Engineering (PhD)
Major Advisor: Peter Müllner

Twinning contributes to the plastic deformation of materials and evolves by the movement of twinning disconnections (TDs) along twin boundaries (TBs). In shape memory alloys, twinning is responsible for the shape memory effect. Twins are generally of three different types: compound (inversion), type I (reflection), and type II (rotation). Type I and type II twins are of particular interest because they are abundant in lower symmetry crystals, and they have distinctly different properties even though the overall deformation is the same in both cases. For example, type II twin boundaries are much more mobile than type I twin boundaries. Here, we apply the recent topological model presented by Pond and Hirth to elucidate the structure of type I and type II twins in 10M Ni-Mn-Ga. Since the type II twin interface is irrational, we also explore possible lower energy configuration for a relaxed twin interface. In light of the structural model, we discuss the effect of temperature and stress on the mobility of type I and type II TBs.

Amir Abbas Kazemzadeh Farizhandi

A Combined Physics-Based and Machine Learning Modeling to Develop High-temperature Permanent Magnets
Computing (PhD)
Major Advisor: Mahmood Mamivand

Many efforts have been done to achieve a significant reduction in fuel burn, emissions, and noise for car engines by developing electric or hybrid electric- and gasoline-powered engines. An energy storage device such as a battery would provide electrical power to the engine. To achieve superior performance as compared with state-of-the-art gasoline-based engines, researchers would need to increase the power density for the electric motors by a factor of 3–4. There are primarily two competing technologies for traction drive electric motors, namely asynchronous induction motors, and synchronous permanent magnet motors. Permanent magnet motors offer higher energy density, more efficiency, more reliability, and lighter weight than induction motors. Therefore, permanent magnet motors are more attractive options for hybrid car applications. Permanent magnet motors generate their magnetic field by utilizing permanent magnets. In this design, a multi-phase alternating current creates a coupling magnetic field at poles, which creates the torque and rotation to drive the car. The power of permanent magnet motors is directly related to the power of the magnets they use. One factor that limits power density in electric motors that use permanent magnets is the temperature range magnets can accommodate. As motor temperature increases during operation, the state-of-the-art magnets used lose magnetism. The purpose of this study is to displace rare earth magnets as the strongest and most widely used permanent magnets available for long-duration, high temperature hybrid cars applications by revisiting Alnico permanent magnet design. Improvements would offer a compelling strategic alternative to rare earth magnets for the U.S. given high market demand and uneven global distribution of its ore, with most in China. Engineers currently develop magnets using trial, error and empirical methods and application specific design criteria as for automotive or audio service. However, given the demands of extreme environments and potentially dire consequences of unsafe performance, requirements for permanent magnets are more stringent. Using combined state-of-the-art physicsbased and machine learning modeling to understand and engineer the microstructure of these commonly used industrial magnets may significantly enhance magnetic properties. We will begin by developing a mesoscale model, using the phase field method that has emerged in many fields of materials science as a powerful tool to simulate and predict complex microstructure development. Next, we will develop a model via machine learning to establish the ProcessStructure-Property (PSP) linkage for Alnico. Data-based methods are useful and attractive techniques and have recently drawn much attention in the materials science research. Finally, we will use the data-driven model to identify the optimized processing routes to design an Alnico with a maximum energy product of at least 20 MGOe.

Kayla Kelly

Recruiting and Retaining Teachers in Small Rural Districts
Program: Executive Educational Leadership (EdS)
Major Advisor: Heather P. Williams

School districts in the State of Idaho are facing severe teacher shortages, with small rural districts being the hardest hit. Teacher turnover significantly affects student achievement. Idaho Teacher Retention Rate in 2018 was 84%, while the retention rate for Hansen School District was 50%. Small, rural districts need to identify effective policies and procedures to recruit and retain high-quality teachers when competing with larger districts with greater resources. Surveys and policies were reviewed for this study.

Megan Kelly-Slatten

Plant Genotype Impacts on Soil Biochemical Profiles and Implications for Soil Carbon Stabilization
Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior (PhD)
Major Advisor: Marie-Anne de Graaff

The largest terrestrial carbon (C) pool on Earth is the soil, and the majority of C stabilized in soil is root-derived. Root-derived C is the preferred food source for the soil microbial community. Recent studies have indicated that the C4 perennial bioenergy crops Panicum virgatum (switchgrass) and Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem) accumulate significant amounts of soil C owing to their extensive root systems, and that the soil C accumulation rates of these grasses are driven by inter- and intra-specific variability in plant traits. While soil C accumulation in the short term (two years) was linked to root morphology and associated root-derived C input rates, this relationship did not hold up in the long term (four years). Given the possible importance of soil biogeochemical profiles for microbial assimilation of C and subsequent C stabilization of microbial residues, this study aimed to evaluate how six cultivars of candidate bioenergy grasses (three switchgrass, three big bluestem) grown at Fermilab in Batavia, IL affect the soil biochemical profile and soil C storage across a 30 cm depth profile in the soil. To assess the soil’s biochemical profile, a water-methanol-chloroform sequential extraction was performed to characterize the molecular composition of the water dissolved and sorbed C pools. To evaluate the effects of plant genotype on soil C storage, we assessed the accumulation of plant-derived soil C using natural difference in isotopic signature between C3 and C4 grasses. Our soil was dominated by C3 grasses for 30 years, before replacement with C4 bioenergy grasses. Our study yielded two main results: 1) soil biochemical profiles differed between cultivars, but not species, and 2) plant-derived soil C varied between species and among cultivars. Our data suggest that cultivar variations in molecular abundance across soil biochemical profiles may explain variance in cultivar plant-derived soil C, while inter-specific variance of root biomass may drive differences in species plant-derived soil C. Current predictions of soil C influx and stabilization are too simplistic. Our data highlights the complexity of the system and shows the importance of including other variables like the chemical composition of root-derived C influx, driven by plant genotype, to increase prediction accuracy.

Zeke Kennedy

Mechanical Analysis of a Mesenchymal Stem Cell Nucleus Using Confocal Microscopy

Program: Mechanical Engineering (MEngr, MS)
Major Advisor: Gunes Uzer

The mechanical stiffness of the nucleus directly affects how the cell transcribes DNA. To date however, methods to understand the mechanical stiffness of the nucleus rely on specialized mechanical equipment that often expensive and difficult to acquire. Currently, there are no methods that allow the nucleus to be tested without use of mechanical equipment. Therefore the aim of this study is to combine confocal imaging techniques with finite element methods to produce a method of simulating an individual nucleus in order to aid future scientific research on how the mechanical structure of the nucleus effects its development.

Buchanan Kerswell

Metamorphism and mechanics of subduction zones: comparing rocks and numerical models
Program: Geosciences (PhD)
Major Advisor: Matt Kohn

At many convergent plate margins, cold, dense oceanic lithosphere subducts beneath more buoyant continental lithosphere. These “subduction zones” are the loci of the world’s largest earthquakes and explosive volcanism. Seismic (earthquakes) and magmatic (volcanism) processes operating in subduction zones are governed primarily by 1) metamorphic reactions occurring within the subducting oceanic plate and overlying mantle, and 2) the mechanical properties of rocks at the interface between the converging plates. However, these processes remain enigmatic because observations are often indirect (rock record), resolution of direct observations decreases with depth (seismic imaging) or is limited to the surface (heat flow), and geologic rates are slow. Here I present results from 2D numerical models, which demonstrate how positive and negative feedbacks between metamorphic processes and rock mechanics fundamentally control the thermal structure of subduction zones, and thus the location of magma generation. These results are compared to the rock record to evaluate the reliability of the 2D geodynamic numerical models.

Mahfuza Khatun

Millimeter-wave Channel Characteristics for 5G Applications

Program: Electrical and Computer Engineering (PhD)
Major Advisor: Hani Mehrpouyan

We studied channel characteristics at millimeter-Wave/5G frequencies both in airport and campus environment. To characterize 5G mmWave channel, we measured and extracted channel parameters such as, path loss, path gain, penetration loss, reflection, and so on. Our measurement results can aid designers in link budget calculations for future 5G mmWave communication systems.

Anna Kotzian

“I’m Not Old, Just Aging:” Perceptions of Subjective Age and Aging amongst Community-Dwelling Older Adults
Social Work (MSW)
Major Advisor: Jill Chonody

Aging is a dreaded process in Western society however, recent research has the potential to alter this collective perception. This cross-sectional survey study sought to understand how older people define their subjective age, or their perception of the age that they feel, by analyzing the content of open-ended questions. Data were collected from older adults (N = 477) recruited through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk). MTurk is a survey participant strategy that provides a monetary reward for the completion of surveys. Content analysis was used to analyze the qualitative data. Participants were on average 63 years old (range = 55 – 81), and the average age that one feels was around 10 years younger. The common themes for why individuals did not feel old include (in order from greatest to least): Maintaining an active and engaged lifestyle; “I feel young”; healthy and independent; “I’m not old, just aging”; “I have more time”; I don’t act or look old”; and chronological age. The responses for why individuals felt old include: stopped or changed activities; chronological age; health problems; reflection in the mirror; nearing death; considered or treated “old”; and accomplishments, acceptance, and adaptation. Learning about the age perceptions using qualitative research adds to our understanding of what experiences shape subjective age, and our findings speak to the recent attention that has been given to positive aspects associated with aging, which has the potential to alter perceptions about the process of aging.

Samantha Krammer

Effects of prolonged load carriage on angular jerk of frontal and sagittal knee motion
Program: Kinesiology (MS)
Major Advisor: Tyler Brown

Smoothness of knee motion, quantified as angular jerk, may be an important measure of knee musculoskeletal injury risk during load carriage. Sixteen participants had knee biomechanics quantified while walking at 1.3 m/s for 60 minutes with three body borne loads (0, 15, or 30 kg). Body borne load increased peak and cost of angular jerk of sagittal (p=0.009, p=0.001) and frontal (p=0.048, p=0.018) plane knee motion. Additionally, duration had a significant effect on peak (p=0.008) and cost (p<0.0005) of angular jerk for frontal plane knee motion. Prolonged load carriage may lead to musculoskeletal injury risk by increasing “jerky” knee motions.

Shelanda Kujala

The Effects of Mental Training on Acute Psychophysiological Stress Responses in Endurance Athletes
Program: Kinesiology (MS)
Major Advisor: Eric Martin

Introduction: In sports, pre-competition stress responses can influence performance. Mental skills training is a strategy used to successfully mitigate stress responses and positively impact performance. Psychological (e.g., anxiety) and physiological (e.g., cortisol) stress responses are not often measured in a single study, providing an incomplete picture of athlete experiences. When researchers have measured these constructs together, studies have excluded endurance athletes and ways to effectively buffer stress responses. Purpose: To measure the effects of mental skills training on psychophysiological stress responses of cortisol and anxiety levels in endurance athletes. Hypothesis: Athletes participating in mental skills training sessions, compared to a control group, will have lower levels of anxiety and salivary cortisol pre-race and will experience improved race performances. Methods: Endurance athletes will be recruited and randomly assigned into a control or an intervention group. Cortisol and anxiety testing will occur on three occasions (Baseline, Time 1 and Time 2). Participants will complete three mental training sessions between Time 1 and Time 2. Mental skills training will include imagery, goal setting and self-talk. Anxiety will be quantified using the Competitive State Anxiety Inventory (CSAI-2R). Salivary cortisol levels will be analyzed using the AgileReader Elisa Plate reader. Statistical Analysis: A mixed model repeated measures ANOVA (Time X Group X Gender) will assess anxiety, cortisol levels, and race results. Expected Outcomes: Mental skill training will lead to lower levels of anxiety and cortisol, as well as improved race performances.

Pradeep Kumar Kumaravadivel

X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy study of optically gated transistors fabricated on different substrates
Program: Electrical and Computer Engineering (PhD)
Major Advisor: Kristy A. Campbell

Optically gated transistors (OGTs), comprised of the amorphous material Ge2Se3, exhibit transistor current-voltage behavior when the Ge2Se3 is illuminated. We have found that the substrate material on which the OGT is fabricated significantly influences the transistor response, thus indicating that the substrate is critical to OGT function. To explore the source of the substrate influence, we fabricated OGT devices on different substrates, including p- and n- type Si, both with and without a native SiO2 layer, as well as Si3N4. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy was then applied to the samples in order to investigate the bonding between the Ge2Se3 and the substrate. The work presented in this poster describes our findings.

Jukes Liu

Investigating patterns in Greenland’s marine-terminating glacier changes using automated glacier calving front detection
Program: Geophysics (MS)
Major Advisor: Ellyn Enderlin

The glaciers peripheral to the Greenland Ice Sheet are estimated to have lost ~38 Gt/yr from 2003-2009, making them the second largest contributor to glacier mass loss outside of the ice sheets (Gardner et al. 2013). The difference between total mass loss estimates and modeled surface mass balance anomalies over this time period suggests that mass loss due to increased ice discharge is on the order of ~10-20 Gt/yr but there have not been any ice discharge estimates to confirm this value. To address this gap in knowledge, we investigate changes at these peripheral glaciers’ termini. In order to efficiently map terminus position changes for hundreds of glaciers, we developed an automated image analysis method adapted from a program used previously in biomedical and other applied science image analyses. The adapted 2D Wavelet Transform Modulus Maxima (WTMM) segmentation method places edge detection lines along regions with the greatest gradient in intensity in the image, such as the contrast between glacier ice and water or glacier ice and sea ice. We demonstrate that the method is capable of mapping glacier terminus position changes over a wide range of image conditions with a ~1-pixel uncertainty. Here we use the automated terminus delineations from this method to generate time series of glacier terminus position for 10 sample glaciers over the Landsat-8 record (2013-present). With these time series, we are able to resolve sub-seasonal to annual temporal patterns as well as regional patterns in terminus position change for these glaciers. Future work will focus on applying the method to the full Landsat record and full set of peripheral glaciers in order to investigate longer-term trends in glacier retreat.

Addie Lupercio

Surrogate Nuclear Fuels: Microstructural Effects of TiO2 and MnO2 Additives in Cerium Oxide
Program: Materials Science and Engineering (PhD)
Major Advisor: Brian Jaques

Increasing energy consumption and climate change concerns make nuclear energy an appealing carbon free energy source. Enhancing safety and competitiveness of nuclear power plants requires mitigating challenges. One challenge in current light water reactors is fuel/cladding interactions in the uranium dioxide (UO2)-zircaloy cladding system. Fission gas products (FGP) released from fuel to the fuel-cladding gap act as neutron poisons, reduce thermal conductivity and increase fuel centerline temperatures, decreasing overall performance. Oxide additives increase fuel grain size and reduce effects of FGP. Oxide additive grain growth in cerium oxide (CeO2) was investigated as a surrogate to UO2 due to their similar crystal structure and thermophysical properties, without the challenges of radioactive materials handling. Pure, 0.1-0.5wt% titanium oxide (TiO2)-doped, and 0.1 – 5wt% manganese oxide (MnO2)-doped CeO2 samples were fabricated. Scanning electron microscopy, x-ray diffraction, and inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy were used to analyze microstructure, phase, and stoichiometry. Results demonstrate increased grain size from 22-27µm to 45-53µm and 13-15μm to 22-26μm for TiO2- and MnO2-doped samples, respectively.

Joni Lutz

Sex Differences in Reported Symptoms and Concussion Protocol

Program: Athletic Training (MAT)
Major Advisor: Gen Ludwig

Introduction: An increase in participation of sports has lead to an increase in the number of sport-related concussion. Females are participating in greater numbers than ever before, yet concussion protocols were developed using data collected in studies using male dominated sports. Due to the individualistic nature of concussive injuries, previous research has been inconclusive in determining sex differences in symptoms. Concussion symptoms fall within categories that can be described as somatic, neurobehavioral, or cognitive.

Purpose: The purpose of the study is to determine if symptoms are different for female athletes compared to male athletes following a concussion or TBI.

Hypothesis: Following a diagnosed concussion, female athletes will exhibit more somatic and neurobehavioral symptoms following a concussion than male athletes. Additionally, females will report a greater number of overall symptoms than males.Methods: A retrospective data analysis using de-identified concussion data from university-aged student athletes will be collected and analyzed over a four-year time period spanning 2015 through 2019. Multivariate analysis of concussion symptoms will be analyzed using a repeated measures analysis comparing symptom differences found in male and female athletes.

Expected Outcomes: Statistically significant sex differences will be found in specific concussion symptoms as well as more broad concussion symptom categories. Determining sex differences in concussion symptoms may help clinicians to better understand, diagnose, and treat concussions in athletes.


Katie M Taylor

Assessing Population Variation Using Heritable Nonmetric Traits: A Bronze Age Assemblage from Tell Abraq, United Arab Emirates
Program: Anthropology (MA)
Major Advisor: Cheryl Anderson

This research addresses the use of nonmetric traits as a means for assessing population variation and biological relatedness within an archaeological sample using the human skeletal assemblage from the Bronze Age site of Tell Abraq. The site of Tell Abraq, United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a coastal location that includes a stratified mound of multiple occupations from the late Bronze Age to the Iron Age (approximately 2200BC-400BC) containing a fortification tower and a nearby tomb. Within the tomb was an undisturbed, commingled assemblage of human skeletal remains dating from approximately 2100-2000BC and suggests a continuous use of the tomb for 100 years or more by the local settlement population.

A total of 410 individuals representing all ages and both sexes were interred in the tomb. An analysis of heritable nonmetric traits was conducted on the adult remains for both cranial and postcranial elements to assess biological variation within the tomb assemblage. Results from this study propose that the individuals interred in this tomb exhibited limited biological variation, suggesting that the tomb assemblage consisted of mostly homogeneous individuals. This study’s findings when combined with previous lines of evidence all support hypotheses that consanguineous unions were likely a cultural practice during the late Bronze Age at Tell Abraq.

Carson MacPherson-Krutsky

Planning for the Day After Tomorrow– Investigating Factors That Motivate People to Prepare for Disasters

Program: Geosciences (PhD)
Major Advisor: Brittany Brand

Natural disasters are inevitable. Mitigation and preparation can lessen the severity of damages and impacts to people. However, many people in the United States are unaware of their risks and underprepared. Theoretical frameworks like the Protective Action Decision Model (PADM) help identify factors that influence household preparedness. Risk and stakeholder perceptions are well-studied aspects of the PADM. Other aspects, such as the influence of information preferences on preparedness, are less understood. This research aims to test relationships between factors in the PADM using a mail-out survey. Questions assess demographic characteristics, information preferences, risk perceptions, and current preparedness levels. Study participants include residents living in the Portland, Oregon Metropolitan area. This region is in a high seismic hazard zone and highly susceptible to both landslides and flooding. Aging infrastructure and vulnerable populations compound the impacts of these hazards making preparedness critical for residents in this region. I analyze 400 responses and compare the relationships between factors in the PADM. I also compare my results with a previous study completed in 2000 in Washington and California to see if relationships have changed geographically and over time. The results of this study will help show which factors are most important for motivating people to prepare for disasters. This can help local emergency managers better understand their population and identify where they should focus future efforts.

Yume Mai

Exploring quantum capacitance of molecular assemblies
Program: Chemistry (MS)
Major Advisor: Adam Colson

The mesoscopic domain bridges the nanoscopic and macroscopic realms. In this mesoscopic or intermediate region, quantum phenomena interfere with the principles of classical mechanics. Upon miniaturization of electronics, the predictions of fundamental physical properties (e.g. resistance, capacitance, etc.) become limited and elusive. Incidentally, the electron transfer processes across electroactive molecular structures are essentially mesoscopic. Therefore, the study of molecular electrochemistry becomes appealing as it allows us to elucidate and consolidate our knowledge of quantized phenomena, such as quantum capacitance. We propose a strategy to evaluate the electrochemical properties of molecular materials exhibiting multistate quantum capacitance. Ultimately, we intend to modify electrode surfaces with derivatives of Fe2(μ − PPh2)2(CO)6 redox mediators in order to study the relationships between electrochemical density of states and macroscopic capacitance. The redox mediators accommodate electrons within the quantized unoccupied frontier orbitals and act as individual quantum capacitors. By modeling the redox mediators as circuit elements, the total charge transfer resistance (Rct), quantum capacitance (Cq) and double layer capacitance (Cdl) can be experimentally determined via electrochemical impedance spectroscopy. Potential applications of our work include the development of supercapacitor components for pulsed power applications, flexible or damage-tolerant capacitor materials for use in wearable electronic devices, and multistate switching and charge-based information storage for advanced computing and electronic devices.

Nishatul Majid

An offline handwriting recognition framework using Deep Neural Networks tested on Bangla and Korean Scripts
Electrical and Computer Engineering (PhD)
Major Advisor: Elisa H. Barney Smith

A segmentation-free offline handwriting recognition framework is designed which can be applied to any script. The base of this approach is a character spotting network using a Faster R-CNN. This is prepared using transfer learning from the VGG-16 network. The character spotting network trains on segmented ground truth character metadata, but operates on word images without the necessity for segmentation. This approach has been tested on Bangla and Korean and it is scalable to fit almost any script. For Bangla we obtained a WRA (Word Recognition Accuracy) of 88% and CRA (Character Recognition Accuracy) of 93% which was trained and tested on Boise State Bangla Handwriting dataset. For Korean we are using the PE_92 dataset. The preliminary results for Korean of 91.7% Jamo CRA and 84.2% Syllable WRA are very promising and are expected to improve with further training.

Md Kamrul Hassan Majumdar

Exploring quantum capacitance of molecular assemblies
Program: Chemistry (MS)
Major Advisor: Adam Colson

The mesoscopic domain bridges the nanoscopic and macroscopic realms. In this mesoscopic or intermediate region, quantum phenomena interfere with the principles of classical mechanics. Upon miniaturization of electronics, the predictions of fundamental physical properties (e.g. resistance, capacitance, etc.) become limited and elusive. Incidentally, the electron transfer processes across electroactive molecular structures are essentially mesoscopic. Therefore, the study of molecular electrochemistry becomes appealing as it allows us to elucidate and consolidate our knowledge of quantized phenomena, such as quantum capacitance. We propose a strategy to evaluate the electrochemical properties of molecular materials exhibiting multistate quantum capacitance. Ultimately, we intend to modify electrode surfaces with derivatives of Fe2(μ − PPh2)2(CO)6 redox mediators in order to study the relationships between electrochemical density of states and macroscopic capacitance. The redox mediators accommodate electrons within the quantized unoccupied frontier orbitals and act as individual quantum capacitors. By modeling the redox mediators as circuit elements, the total charge transfer resistance (Rct), quantum capacitance (Cq) and double layer capacitance (Cdl) can be experimentally determined via electrochemical impedance spectroscopy. Potential applications of our work include the development of supercapacitor components for pulsed power applications, flexible or damage-tolerant capacitor materials for use in wearable electronic devices, and multistate switching and charge-based information storage for advanced computing and electronic devices.

Vahid Malbouby

A Systematic Approach for Finite Element Modeling of Cartilage Degeneration During Osteoarthritis

Program: Biomedical Engineering (PhD)
Major Advisor: Clare Fitzpatrick

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a joint disease that causes the cartilage to degenerate, leading to stiffness, painful movement, and disability. The disease progression is controlled by several factors including biological factors (age, genetics, etc.), structural factors (joint alignment, ligament properties, etc.) and mechanical factors (gait pattern, weight, etc.), yet there is no clinical tool to predict the onset and progression of this disease while considering the interplay of all of the major factors. The goal of our project is to develop a computational framework that implements the integrated factors driving onset and progression of OA in a fibril-reinforced poroviscoelastic material model. This material model will be applied to the knee cartilage in a subject-specific finite element model that simulates walking activity. This model is then solved iteratively to predict the longitudinal cartilage degeneration over time. The expected benefit of this project is to enable personalized OA risk predictions and custom treatment plans to prevent or slow disease progression on an individual basis.

Aaron Marshall

Understanding the risks associated with mafic explosive volcanism
Program: Geosciences (PhD)
Major Advisor: Brittany Brand

Approximately 80% of all volcanoes on Earth erupt low-silica, mafic magmas. Although mafic magmas commonly erupt as effusive lava flows, incidences are being investigated of more dangerous, explosive mafic eruptions. We are investigating one such eruption at Llaima volcano in Chile. Our findings suggest that rapid ascent of a mafic magma induced extensive microlite crystallization across short timescales, trapping magmatic gasses necessary to drive an explosive eruption. New volume estimates of these deposits reveal the hazard potential of a similar eruption occurring today. Understanding when mafic volcanoes can erupt as large explosive events has implications for hazard forecasting and mitigation.

Sarah Marzolf

Cultivating Appropriate Prescribing in a Primary Care House Calls Practice: A Quality Improvement Project

Program: Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
Major Advisor: Sara Ahten

Polypharmacy leads to increased risk of harm in the frail elderly. Deprescribing has been shown to reduce these risks. Primary Care Providers (PCPs) lack knowledge of deprescribing best-practices and a systematic process for assessing mediation appropriateness. A quality improvement project was implemented at a home-based primary care practice to increase knowledge and to implement a process for effective deprescribing. PCP knowledge improved by 57% and deprescribing confidence improved by 13% post intervention. A strong commitment to practice change was demonstrated. Deprescribing should be a priority for all primary care practices to provide optimal care to older patients.

Megan Mason

Investigating Consistency In Snow Distribution Using A Six-year Airborne Lidar Time Series Of Snow Depth In Tuolumne Basin, California, USA
Program: Geophysics (MS)
Major Advisor: Hans-Peter (HP) Marshall

Snow dominated watersheds drive western USA water supply and are increasingly important as climate change affects snowmelt timing. This study investigates the inter- and intra-annual consistency in snow depth distribution from Light Detection and Ranging (lidar) time series that spans a six-year period (2013-2018) in the Tuolumne Basin in the Sierra Nevada, California. Fifty airborne lidar-derived snow depth distributions are analyzed to determine spatial consistency in snow depths. This effort moves towards improvements in current modeling applications. Determining consistent patterns in snow depth distribution allows for a more accurate distribution model for real-time snow events across the terrain when lidar is limited or non-existent for a particular time period.

Teresa Maynes

The Active Ingredient in Religion: Mediators of Religiosity and Substance Use
Counseling (MA)
Major Advisor: Regina Moro

There is significant research confirming the negative relationship between religiosity and substance use. However, the causal mechanism behind this relationship is relatively unknown. This poster will synthesize the literature on the effects of religion on substance use, review the findings on mediating variables, and propose their use in substance abuse treatment.

Emma McCully

Geochemical Diversity Along a Segment of The Mid Atlantic Ridge: Insights into Magma Transport at Slow-Spreading Mid-Ocean Ridges
Program: Geology (MS)
Major Advisor: Dorsey Wanless

Observations of seafloor bathymetry and gravity surveys indicate that magma focuses in the center of slow spreading Mid-Ocean Ridge (MOR) segments, however; it is not well constrained how magma is generated, stored, and transported to the segment ends. There are two end-member models for magma transport: 1) a focused magma model wherein the magma upwells and pools in the center of the segment and migrates towards the segment ends via lateral diking in the shallow crust and 2) a distributed magma model wherein magma vertically upwells along the entire segment but is focused in the segment center. Both models are supported by the bathymetric and geophysical observations, but have different implications for the chemistry of the region.

To evaluate how lava chemistry varies along a slow-spreading MOR, we systematically sampled a segment of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR) at ~14°N over the course of two research expeditions aboard the R/V Atlantis (AT 33-03 & AT 40- 02). The Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Sentry and Deep Submergence Vehicle (DSV) Alvin were used to collect high-resolution bathymetry and basaltic lavas. Lavas were collected from 5 regions from the magmatically robust segment center to a sparsely magmatic non-transform offset adjacent to an extinct oceanic core complex. Major elements have been analyzed for 382 basaltic glasses and 162 have been analyzed for trace element contents. Preliminary results show that there is more geochemical variability near the non-transform offset than in the magmatically robust region of the segment. For example, K/Ti varies from 0.24 to 0.46 and La/Sm varies from 2.58 to 3.59 at the segment center, while the sparsely magmatic region’s K/Ti values range from 0.06 to 0.42, and La/Sm varies from 1.06 to 3.42. This suggests that magmas erupted at the segment center are more homogeneous compared to lavas erupting in the sparsely magmatic region. To better constrain the processes responsible for this variability, we will use petrologic modeling to determine the depths of fractional crystallization and extents of melting at each region along the ridge segment.

Abby McMurtry

At The Root of The Problem: Carbon Decomposition in an Ancient, Buried Soil
Program: Biology (MS)
Major Advisor: Marie-Anne de Graaff

Buried layers of soil organic carbon can store significant amounts of ancient carbon (C). Persistence of this paleosol C is favored by burial, disconnecting the soil from atmospheric conditions and limiting plant-derived C inputs, thus reducing microbial activity. However, erosion exposes buried paleosols to modern surface conditions that result in an influx of root-derived C via root exudation and root litter. These C inputs stimulate microbial activity and leave paleosol C vulnerable to decomposition.
In order to predict the response of the global soil C reservoir to environmental change and feedbacks to climate it is crucial to understand the turnover of paleosol C. Yet, the effects of root-derived C on paleosol C decomposition is not well established. With this study we aim to quantify how root-derived C inputs affect decomposition of paleosol C along varying degrees of isolation from modern surface conditions. Our field site is located in Wauneta, NE where erosion brings a Pleistocene era soil, the Brady soil, closer to the surface. We collected Brady soil from 0.2m, 0.4m, and 1.2m below the modern surface and conducted two controlled laboratory incubations. Soils were amended with (1) a lab synthesized 13C labeled (12 atom% 13C) solution to mimic root exudates (0.3 mg C g-1 soil) and (2) root litter enriched with 92% atom% 13C (0.3mg C g-1 soil) in 30-day and 180-day incubations, respectively. We measured 13CO2 respiration from airtight mesocosms throughout the incubations. Isotopic labeling allowed us to partition between root-derived C and Brady soil C respiration. Our data show that Brady soil C is highly vulnerable to decomposition with the addition of root-derived C regardless of burial depth, though exudates and root litter mediated this process differently. Exposure of paleosols to modern surface conditions may overall result in a positive C cycle feedback to climate.

David McNeill

Do You Feel Me?: Learning Language from Humans with Robot Emotional Displays
Program: Computer Science (MS)
Major Advisor: Casey Kennington

In working towards accomplishing a human-level acquisition and understanding of language, a robot must meet two requirements: the ability to learn words from interactions with its physical environment, and the ability to learn language from people in settings for language use, such as spoken dialogue. In a live interactive study, we test the hypothesis that emotional displays are a viable solution to the cold-start problem of how to communicate without relying on language the robot doesn’t–indeed, cannot–yet know. We explain our modular system that can autonomously learn word groundings through interaction and show through a user study with 21 participants that emotional displays improve the quantity and quality of the inputs provided to the robot.

A K M Nuhil Mehdy

Modeling Users’ Privacy Behavior towards Building a Personalized and User-centric Privacy Assistive Framework
Program: Computing (PhD)
Major Advisor: Hoda Mehrpouyan

Privacy and its importance to society have been studied for centuries. While its definitions, formalization, and theories have improved over time, the struggle to find a one-size solution that satisfies the requirements of each individual remains unsolved. Depending on culture, gender, age, etc. the concept of privacy varies from individual to individual and each user may have different expectations of how their privacy should be protected in different contexts. Moreover, increasingly complex and dynamic environment and the ubiquity of modern communication platforms such as social media makes the user-centric privacy management extra challenging. Therefore, it is more important than ever before to design and develop tools and algorithms to support personal privacy management for end-users. However, this must be done by not restricting or preventing the sharing activities but ensuring the appropriate flow of information based on rules, policies, and principles. Therefore, we inquire after a potential framework that could bring this challenge within reach by providing additional algorithms to educate users as well as protect their privacy by assisting them. This goal is achieved by building such an infrastructure that is based on the development of a context-aware and intelligent user-centric privacy management framework by utilizing machine learning, natural language processing (NLP), and formal specification and verification techniques. This research work is founded on the basis of the theory of Contextual Integrity (CI) for assisting users to ensure the appropriateness of information flow depending on his/her individual preference. Applying this framework to practice will result in social platforms enable users to manage their own privacy policies considering the dynamic nature of the factors that affect users’ information-sharing behavior and stability of their privacy preferences.

Rory Mehlman

Fire Finder
Program: Creative Writing (MFA)
Major Advisor: Braden Udall

During WWII, many jobs considered “men’s work” fell to women. At the center of my thesis project, which will ultimately take the form of a novel, is a protagonist, Helen, who as a young woman during WWII surveilled for forest fires from a fire tower in the northern New England wilderness. The narrative begins when Helen, now elderly and withdrawn from society, accepts an invitation to revisit the refurbished fire tower as part of a Sapphire Jubilee celebration for the Umbagog Forest Society. In revisiting this site in person, she will confront the tragic death of a first love, as well as the volatile forces of prejudice, oppression, and environmental despoliation that have smoldered within the northeastern United States for centuries. These are the very forces that have reached a point of combustion at our current moment. Helen’s journey in past and present weaves such contemporary tensions with the brutal secrets that haunt the region’s lakes, rivers, forests, bodies, and minds. I will be reading selections from this work-in-progress.

Tucker Melles

Synthesis of Peptide Nucleic Acid with Relevance to Prebiotic Chemistry
Major Advisor:

Rebecca Miller

Poly(ethyl glyoxylate) as a De-bondable Adhesive
Program: Materials Science and Engineering (PhD)
Major Advisor: Scott Phillips

Adhesives are used ubiquitously in construction, automotive manufacturing, and for medical procedures, to name just a few applications. The ability to de-bond a strong adhesive without causing damage to the adhered surface, however, remains an unmet challenge. Recent advances in depolymerizable polymers may offer a pathway for creating debondable adhesives. In this context, a new type of debondable adhesive is presented based on poly(ethyl glyoxylate), a polymer that depolymerizes completely from head to tail when triggered by application of a specific signal. Lap shear measurements, which report on the strength of an adhesive, reveal that poly(ethyl glyoxylate) is 27% stronger as an adhesive than commercially available Gorilla Glue®. When exposed to caustic water, however, the poly(ethyl glyoxylate) adhesive reverts to small molecules, including monomer, which turns off the adhesive and allows for clean separation of the substrate components.

Arash Modaresi Rad

A novel framework for automated detection of water bodies using multispectral Landsat imagery
Program: Computing (PhD)
Major Advisor: Mojtaba Sadegh

Monitoring open water bodies and delineating their spatial and temporal distribution is an indispensable part of understanding hydrological processes. We develop a robust framework to detect water bodies using satellite imagery, and resolve common issues in the literature, such as separation of shadows from water and mixed water and vegetation areas, by employing a multitude of different methods that detect water based on its spectral properties. Assembling more than 8,000 Landsat cloud-free images between 1984 and 2019 using Google Earth Engine, our results show enhanced water mapping accuracy by maximizing spectral contrast and capturing the uncertainty associate with mixed pixels.

Diana Molino

AVID Elective Course Participation and Improvement in PSAT Essential Reading and Writing Skills
Program: Executive Educational Leadership (EdS)
Major Advisor: Heather P. Williams

The goal is to improve Boise School District’s literacy outcomes for all students, using PSAT and SAT assessments to measure these skills. In this study, the impact of student participation in AVID electives is hypothesized to have a positive effect on increasing essential reading and writing gain scores between students’ 10th and 11th-grade PSAT scores. AVID elective courses are designed to increase the number of disadvantaged youth who continue to post-secondary education and to better prepare them for success once they enter. Proponents of AVID suggest these strategies, predominantly writing, and critical reading could positively impact PSAT ERW scores.

Shah Mohammad Rahmot Ullah

Fabrication and performance studies of radiation-sensitive devices using additive manufacturing technology
Program: Electrical and Computer Engineering (MS)
Major Advisor: Maria Mitkova

Radiation induced Ag diffusion in chalcogenide glass thin films has been effectively utilized to measure radiation dose. Previously such devices were prepared using thermally evaporated films, but to achieve more flexibility in device fabrication we are developing process steps for application of additive technology. In this paper, we investigate effects occurring by irradiation with UV light within two terminal devices built by printed chalcogenide films and printed Ag electrodes. Ink based on GexSe100-x (x= 20 and 30) glasses obtained by milling the glasses or their dissolution, was prepared and applied for printing of thin films. Their composition was verified by Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy and structural data were collected using Raman spectroscopy. X-ray diffraction data and electron microscopic images provided evidence of Ag diffusion. The performance of the devices was tested under irradiation with UV light using a semiconductor parameter analyzer. The dependence of devices’ performance upon the material’s composition and structure is discussed and conclusions are made regarding their effect on the diffusion process and electrical characteristic of the studied devices.

Ryan Montrose

Modeling Peer-to-Peer Control Strategies for a Population of Thermostatically Controlled Loads
Program: Mechanical Engineering (MS)
Major Advisor: John Gardner

The advent of internet-enabled smart appliances is likely to enable a variety of new approaches to manage electric loads in a manner that makes the electric grid more stable and flexible. For example, it has been shown that allowing groups of thermostatically controlled loads (TCLs) to share limited information can greatly reduce unwanted synchronization that occurs following demand response events. In this paper, a decentralized framework is developed to maintain the individual temperatures of a population of homes within a prescribed range while simultaneously minimizing aggregate power consumption. Such a control system is predicated on Agent-based modeling, and Graph Theory. To validate the model, several control architectures were developed to test the performance of the decentralized approach including Proportional Derivative (PD) controllers, Hysteresis Controllers, and trajectory optimization particularly of the form Direct Collocation and Mixed Integer Optimization. The characteristics of these control strategies were then emulated, serving as a baseline for the decentralized model. Finally, resiliency and sensitivity studies were completed for the decentralized controller. Concluding remarks were made on the feasibility of this decentralized controller.

Ehsan Moshkelgosha

Phase-field modeling of crack propagation in shape memory ceramics
Program: Materials Science and Engineering (PhD)
Major Advisor:
Mahmood Mamivand

Mackenzie Moss

Master of Public Administration Employer Needs Assessment
Program: Public Administration (MPA)
Major Advisor: Vanessa Fry

The Idaho Policy Institute, in partnership with Boise State University (Boise State) School of Public Service, is conducting an assessment of what potential employers look for when employing Master of Public Administration (MPA) graduates. The study focuses specifically on what knowledge, skills, and attributes that employers look for when recruiting and hiring MPA graduates. The study seeks to answer this question through the following four phases of research.

Phase 1: examining job descriptions from largely populated Western cities;
Phase 2: auditing peer MPA programs for recruitment tactics;
Phase 3: surveying potential MPA employers in Idaho; and
Phase 4: conducting interviews with 10-15 potential employers.

Throughout these four phases, the study includes a focus on the use of emphasis areas as a mechanism MPA programs use to meet the needs of employers and, thereby, increase the employability of MPA graduates. Results from these four phases of research will not only provide commentary on ways that institutions of higher education can seek to be responsive to employers, but can be used to inform the decisions of those institutions.

Further applications of the research include a tailored research paper submission to Ball State University’s Small Cities Conference. A platform that will connect study results to larger conversations of regionalism, community development, and growth. Although the catalyst for this study is the evolving MPA program at Boise State, the results will have the propensity to comment on larger structural issues regarding the relationship of academia to the workforce. More specifically, the study’s results will provide insight into the relationship between schools and their surrounding communities. They will also speak heavily to the ways that higher education relates to regional development.

Mostofa Najmus Sakib

Assessing the Prevalence of Fraud in Asphalt Pavement Construction Using Artificial Intelligence
Program: Civil Engineering (MS)
Major Advisor: Mojtaba Sadegh

The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that $340 billion is lost globally each year due to corruption in the construction industry. Corruption in construction occurs in several forms including bribery, embezzlement, kickbacks and fraud. Asphalt pavement construction involves several sectors, which are prone to potential fraud, and can fall into both ‘construction’ and ‘transportation’ categories, both of which are prone to fraudulent activities. Cumulatively, fraud in asphalt pavement construction is omnipresent. There is approximately 18 billion tons of asphalt pavement in the American roads, which makes the costs of potential frauds unacceptably large.

The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) relies on contractor-produced Quality Control (QC) and Quality Assurance (QA) test results for payment calculations during Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA) paving projects. In 2017, a case study by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) found some unnatural trends where 74% of ITD’s test results didn’t match with the corresponding contractor-produced results. To track the sources of mismatch between contractor-generated and ITD-produced material testing results, ITD implemented a macro in the report excel sheets which recorded all input entries. The report sheets revealed that many parameter values have been changed, often multiple times, in a manner that raised concern about whether the reported values are representative of the actual materials used to pave the Idaho roads. ITD’s approach to track down the source of inaccuracy in mix design and volumetric test data laid the foundation for this research effort to mark out instances of fraud in asphalt pavement construction.

The objective of this research is to develop an Artificial Intelligence system to recognize the patterns of discrepancies between agency- and contractor-produced HMA QC/QA test results. The solution was bifurcated into development of an algorithm to automatically detect and categorize fraudulence instances. Modern data mining approaches are being used to explore the latent insights and screen out the fraud incidences to identify the chances of hoax payment in HMA pavement projects. We have successfully prompted supervised machine learning techniques to detect the suspicious fraud instances from the non-fraud categories. This is then extended to calculate the payment factors based on the originally inputted material testing values – which we termed as the payment that should have been made – and based on the final material testing values, based upon which final payments were made. We show that for some lots, there is up to a 100% difference between the original (based on first parameter entry) and the final payment values. Considering that more than $535M is spent on Idaho road construction projects, the scale of the potential fraud impacts can be in the order of multi-million dollars. Throughout the research we strive to automate the fraud detection system and develop tools to help practitioners prevent and detect potentially fraudulent activities.

On February 22, 2020, Idaho Statesman featured an article on our research entitled “Idaho highway contractors changed records hundreds of times. Then, they got bonuses”.

Rachael Neckels

Cold Atmospheric-Pressure Plasma Inactivation of Pathogenic Biofilms on a Porcine Wound Model
Program: Biomolecular Sciences (MS)
Major Advisor: Ken Cornell

Chronic wounds plague more than 5 million people per year in the United States alone. Their treatment is unusually difficult, expensive, and time-consuming largely due to their prevalence in immunosuppressed, elderly, and diabetic patients. Under any of these conditions, opportunistic bacteria that are native to the skin’s surface are able to sequester themselves within a protective biofilm composed of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS). The result is chronic infection and significant disruption of the normal wound healing process. Due to the gel-like scaffolding of a biofilm and its resulting impenetrability to antibiotics, the most common mode of treatment and disinfection is wound debridement. This method has many drawbacks, such as inadvertent loss of healthy tissue, pain for the patient, and economic unsustainability. To combat this, we have developed a novel cold atmospheric-pressure plasma (CAP) device to study its antimicrobial effects in a porcine chronic wound model. Preliminary results with our CAP device show significant inactivation and removal of pathogenic biofilms from various surfaces. In this study, we sought to reproduce these antimicrobial effects in an ex-vivo wound model. A significant decolonization effect was achieved after 4 minutes of CAP treatment. Our next direction will be to analyze the effect of CAP treatment on mammalian tissue viability. Our findings demonstrate a potential alternative in the treatment of chronic wounds that would significantly reduce patient suffering and economic burden in years to come.

Stephen Nelson

Development of a Probabilistic Patient-Specific Model Library for Simulation of Activities of Daily Living in High-BMI Subjects

Program: Mechanical Engineering (MS)
Major Advisor: Clare Fitzpatrick

The rate of obesity among US adults has been increasing since the 1980s. There are a number of health implications resulting from living with a high body mass index (BMI). This study is interested in the effects of obesity on knee joint mechanics. Current knee replacements are designed for normal BMI patients. The high-BMI (BMI > 30) population, who are most at risk of adverse effects, are currently not considered when designing new implants. Quantifying the differences in kinematics and muscle and ligament forces between normal and high-BMI individuals will provide physiological loading conditions to assess implant success within this population. Ultimately, this work will assist clinicians in determining which patients are candidates for total knee replacement surgery, and provide guidance on any patient-specific implant alignment requirements for this high-risk population.

Derek Nesbitt

How Age Affects the Failure Properties of Human Meniscus: High-Speed Strain Mapping of Tears
Program: Biomedical Engineering (PhD)
Major Advisor: Trevor Lujan


Tears to the human knee meniscus are one of the most frequent orthopedic injuries in young and older populations, with over a half-million meniscus surgeries performed in the U.S. each year.1 The meniscus is composed of an anisotropic fiber network that is primarily aligned circumferentially to resist the tensile or hoop stresses that develop during joint compression.2 Meniscal tears can either disrupt this fiber network (e.g. radial and flap tears) or propagate in the ground substance alongside the fibers (e.g. horizontal and vertical tears). The incidence of these tear patterns is influenced by age,3-5 but it is unknown whether the effect of age on meniscal injury epidemiology is due to changes in the mechanical properties of the meniscus, or due to other physiological factors. Prior studies in similar tissues have shown that collagen cross-links accumulate with age, resulting in increased fibril stiffness6-8 potentially reducing tissue ductility and altering failure behavior. In order to more accurately measure tissue deformation and failure behavior, digital image correlation (DIC) paired with high-speed video to determine the strains at which tears initiate, as well as to quantify how a tear propagates across a material surface until total failure. The angle at which tears propagate relative to the loading axis relates to the physical mechanism of failure, and can be used to describe and predict the physical limits of a material.9This technology can therefore provide insight into the effect of age on failure mechanisms, and help advance our understanding of this prevalent and costly injury.

Objective. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of age on the anisotropic tensile failure properties of the human lateral meniscus. We hypothesize that 1) meniscus ductility decreases with age, and 2) meniscus tears occur on the plane of maximum shear strain.


Materials. Lateral menisci were obtained from 10 unpaired human fresh frozen cadaveric knee joints, with five from donors under the age of 40 (33 ± 5 years) and five from donors over the age of 65 (72 ± 7 years).  Menisci were prepared, layered, and punched into dog-bone shapes following previously established methods.10 Two punch orientations were tested for each donor, a longitudinal punch aligned parallel to the preferred fiber axis (n=10) and a transverse punch aligned perpendicular to the preferred fiber axis (n=10) for a total of 20 tests.

Mechanical Testing. Mechanical tests were conducted using an electrodynamic test system (Instron ElectroPuls E10000). Specimens were preloaded, mechanically preconditioned for 20-cycles (triangle wave, 8% strain, 1 Hz), and then preloaded again to remove laxity (preload= 0.1 N for longitudinal, 0.03 N for transverse) before being pulled to failure at a rate of 1% strain/second. Tissue was hydrated with a 0.9% saline spray throughout testing. Specimens that failed at the grips were excluded from further analysis.

Imaging. Coupon dimensions were determined optically by front and side images taken after the first preload. Tensile tests were filmed with a high speed camera (Photron FASTCAM Mini UX50) at 500 Hz equipped with a polarized lens. Specimens were illuminated using an LED floodlight positioned at 45 degrees to the specimen surface and filtered through a polarized screen.

Digital Image Correlation. A black India ink speckle pattern was applied to the surface with an airbrush prior to testing to enable DIC. Analysis was performed in MATLAB using NCORR11 with a subset size of 0.2 mm and a strain radius of 0.1 mm. DIC and mechanical test data were synchronized up to the ultimate tensile stress (UTS).

Analysis. DIC color maps were used in conjunction with high speed film to identify the initiation and propagation of tears. A custom MATLAB script was used to measure the angle of tear propagation relative to the loading axis, as well as to measure the average 2D engineering strain tensor in a region of interest 0.1 mm above and below the tear line, determined to be the tear region. These strain components were analyzed along the loading direction Eyy (axial strain), normal to the loading direction Exx, and in shear Exy. Local toughness (energy absorption) at ultimate tensile strength (UTS) was estimated using trapezoidal integration of Eyy strain within the tear region with respect to tensile stress. The effect of age and fiber alignment on stress, grip-to-grip strain, local strains in the tear region, local toughness, and angle of tear propagation was determined using MANOVA tests followed by Tukey’s honest significant difference test when significance was detected. Significance was set at p < 0.05 for all analyses.


Young specimens absorbed six times more strain energy in the tear region at UTS compared to older specimens when loaded along the preferred fiber axis (p=0.02). Young specimens also consistently had greater strength, modulus, and strains at UTS, though these age-related differences were not significant (p>0.32). Longitudinal specimens had tears propagate along the plane of maximum shear strain, whereas transverse specimens were more closely aligned to the plane of maximum tensile strain. The failure planes of older specimens showed a significantly steeper angle in the transverse group, indicating a greater alignment to the plane of maximum tensile strain when compared to the younger specimens of the same group.


The primary objective of this study was to determine the effect of age on the anisotropic tensile failure behavior of human lateral meniscus. These results show older specimens have reduced mechanical properties relative to younger specimens, which could indicate the accumulation of structural damage over time. We found that older specimens were less ductile than the younger specimens for both fiber orientations, with lower ultimate grip-to-grip strain and lower strain components in the tear region, though these differences were not significant. As a consequence, young specimens withstood six-times more strain energy in the tear region when compared to the old specimens for the longitudinal group. These results indicate the menisci of older populations are more susceptible to tears from a single high-energy loading event. Interestingly, older specimens showed a lower modulus compared to the younger specimens (non-significant), contesting previous research in similar tissues that age-related increases in collagen cross-linking would stiffen fibers.12,13 Overall, these findings support our first hypothesis that ductility would decrease with age, but due to high variances, statistical significance was limited.

We also found tear patterns to be dependent on fiber orientation relative to the loading axis. Longitudinal specimens failed along the plane of maximum shear strain, at nearly 45 degrees relative to loading. Conversely, transverse specimen tears aligned more closely to the plane of maximum tensile strain, and this alignment was significantly stronger in the older specimen group. These results partially supported our second hypothesis and indicate that maximum shear or distortion energy may be appropriate failure criteria to model tears in the fiber direction, while maximum tensile strain criteria may be appropriate for modeling tears transverse to the fiber direction.  These results also suggest a failure mechanism when tensile loading parallel to the fibers, whereby 1) failure initiates when a sufficient number of fibers are ruptured, 2) the matrix surrounding the ruptured fibers are damaged, 3) matrix damage propagates along the shear plane, which 4) disrupts and weakens the matrix-fiber network until 5) an accumulation of ruptured fibers compromises the mechanical integrity of the tissue. This proposed theory is consistent with failure mechanisms used to describe ductile matrix reinforced composites.14

In conclusion, this is the first study to measure the instantaneous strain behavior within the tear region of meniscus, and these results are helpful in forming a mechanistic understanding of meniscus tears, and why older populations have a higher incidence of meniscus injury. These results can also assist the development and validation of numerical models that describe and predict soft tissue damage.


Project support by the NSF grant no. 1554353 and the NIGMS award no. P20GM109095. Many thanks to Belle Vita Funeral Home for help laying donors to rest.


[1] Kim et al., JBJS-Am. 93: 994-1000, 2011. [2] Fox et al., SportHealthAMultiAppr 4: 340-351, 2012. [3] Buckwalter et al., OrthBasSci 2nd ed., 2000. [4] Jones et al., J.AthlTrain. 47: 67-73, 2012. [5] Nielsen and Yde, J.Trauma, 1991. [6] Takahashi et al., Arthro 14: 366-72, 1998. [7] Chen et al., ArthRheum. 46: 3212-3217, 2002. [8] Verzijl et al., ArthrRheum. 46:114-123, 2002. [9] Qu et al., Sci. Rep. 6: 1-8, 2016. [10] Creechly et al., JMBBM.  69: 185-192, 2017. [11] Blaber et al., ExpMech, 55: 1105-1122, 2015. [12] Hedman et al., JMBE. 37: 94-101, 2017. [13] Li et al., MatBio. 32: 169-177, 2013. [14] Rosen W.B., Am-InstAeroAstro, 2: 1985-1991, 1964.

Ramesh Neupane

Utilizing Formal Methods to Protect the Safety and Security of Industrial Control Systems
Program: Computer Science (MS)
Major Advisor: Hoda Mehrpouyan

Industrial control systems (ICS) are distributed cyber-physical systems used to control and monitor critical infrastructures such as the manufacturing industry, power plants, water plants, and many other facilities. ICS is mostly automated by a small computer called Programmable Logic Controller (PLC). Most of the PLCs are equipped with real-time operating systems (RTOS). RTOS periodically scans for the program to execute that are written in programming languages such as Ladder Logic (LAD), Structural Text (ST), Instruction List (IL). Since PLC is often used to control safety-critical systems (SCS), it’s software should be rigorously tested, to avoid serious accidents.

At present, most of the PLC software testing techniques are mainly concerned with functional requirements and performance. Current testing methods like simulation testing require a manual generation of test cases that may not cover all possible scenarios. Thus, there is a chance of missing probable bugs. Also, the manual generation of test cases is a time-consuming and challenging task. To overcome these limitations, structural testing mechanisms like symbolic execution can be employed.

The symbolic execution (SE) technique abstractly represents the input as a variable and explores many possible program execution spaces to generate mathematical constraints. The resulting constraints are fed to the satisfiability modulo theories (SMT) solver to construct the instances that would cause violations to the program. Hence, SE can provide more coverage to the PLC program testing. There are open-source tools like Matiec for converting the code written in PLC programming languages to intermediate tree structures or the high-level languages like C. Symbolic execution tools like Cloud9, then, could be used to automatically generate test cases for the corresponding PLC programs.

The future works of this research is to utilize SE and other formal verification techniques to verify safety-critical codes that are vulnerable to attacks. Automatic verification and detection of control commands before they affect the physical processes will protect the system to behave in an unsafe manner. Providing control technicians and engineers with tools and algorithms to enable the integration of security measures into the control logic, while making sure that the PLC logic will not violate the safety requirements.

Nhi Nguyen

The effects of a rise in the minimum wage on suicide rates in the United States
Program: Economics (MEc)
Major Advisor: Kelly Chen

The suicide rate in the U.S has been increasing in most years. Some analysts suppose that financial stress could be one of the reasons cause suicide. In this project, I am going to figure out how the minimum wages that are set by states impact the suicide rates. The minimum wage data is provided by the official website of the U.S Department of Labor between 2000 and 2018. And the suicide rates are collected from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for all states during the period. By using the panel data, entities-fixed-effects and time-fixed-effects will be added to the model in order to demonstrate that a rise in the minimum wage leads to a lower suicide rate within a state and over time. Additionally, the model will include the dummy variable to present what is the estimated magnitude of the effect of having a higher minimum wage than the law on suicide rates in that state.

Andrew Nutting

Finding common ground: impact of change in property values on owner-occupied residential property in urban and rural counties in Idaho
Program: Health Science (MHS)
Major Advisor: Sarah Toevs

The purpose of this analysis is to explore the effect of tax and value changes in urban and rural counties in Idaho during 2018 and 2019. The goal of this project is to find common ground for policy makers from urban and rural settings to use as they discuss changes in property tax strategies. A purposive sample of counties representing urban and rural characteristics was selected for this study. Property tax data from 2018-2019 was used in this report from the Idaho State Tax Commission. The average percent change in taxes on existing properties over the years, by property type, aggregated by counties with “High Proportion” Owner Occupied (OOC) and “Low Proportion” OOC, in order to depict the shift of the burden of property taxes across the state of Idaho. Our data suggest that both urban and rural Owner Occupied property owners see greater changes in the average property tax rate between 2017-2018 and 2018-2019, suggesting that a greater amount of revenue burden is being shifted onto residential property owners.

Luci O'Hara Riggin Wilson

Evaluating the importance of soil properties for ecosystem restoration

Program: Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior (PhD)
Major Advisor: Marie-Anne de Graaff

Great Basin ecological dynamics have been dramatically changed by an invasive species Bromus tectorum L. or cheatgrass. This change has created a faster fire interval and altered microbial community structure along with a reduction in plant diversity, increased N mineralization favoring cheatgrass, and reduced soil structure by removal of soil organic matter. Given that plant-soil feedbacks are important to consider in ecosystem restoration, the shift in these soil properties and processes may contribute to the relatively low restoration success of the sagebrush steppe. This proposal aims to evaluate if increasing native plant species diversity and biochar amendments help restore biological, chemical and physical soil properties to enhance restoration success of the sagebrush steppe community to a pre-fire or a native plant community state. Specifically, we ask: (1) Does increasing native plant species diversity promote a soil microbial community structure that enhances sagebrush performance? Additionally, (2) do biochar amendments improve soil structure and nutrient retention. We implemented a full-factorial experiment in a recent burn outside Mountain Home, ID, Fall 2019. Plant species diversity was manipulated by seeding native plants into plots 12m x 12m in groups of 2, 4 and 8 species (n=12). In addition, we established non-seeded control plots (n=6), and plots containing (Agropyron cristatum L. Gaertn.) crested wheatgrass (n=6). Sagebrush plugs will be planted across all plots. We hypothesize that high native plant diversity will promote a soil microbial community structure that promotes sagebrush establishment and survival.  Biochar was applied (3 t/ha) in 2m*2m subplots in high diversity treatments, control and crested wheatgrass plots. Biochar will aid in the immobilization of nitrogen, thus slowing nitrogen mineralization that favors cheatgrass invasion. We hypothesize that biochar addition will increase AMF abundance and decrease plant available nitrogen resulting in increased sagebrush establishment and survival. To assess the effectiveness of this technique we will quantify impacts on soil microbial- and plant communities, N-mineralization, and soil aggregate composition. In addition, we will evaluate if sagebrush structures left behind after fire (sagebrush skeletons) harbor a beneficial arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal community, potentially increasing soil stability, and nutrient and water, that may promote sagebrush restoration. Together our data will provide information on the importance of considering plant-soil feedbacks when implementing restoration strategies.

Temitope Okpebho

A Faith-Based Quality Improvement Project To Increase Awareness, Prevention, and Management of Coronary Heart Disease in African Immigrants
Program: Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
Major Advisor: Pamela Gehrke

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the universal leading cause of death. Due to health disparities, African Immigrants (AIs) are unaware of their CHD risk factors. A quality improvement project in a faith-based organization (FBO), utilized culturally appropriate care to increase awareness, prevention, and management of CHD in AIs. Pre/post-test findings suggest cultural consideration of faith belief in AI’s healthcare increased CHD awareness and decreased CHD risk factors-blood pressure, blood glucose, and weight. Culturally appropriate care provided by assessing, and respecting beliefs and traditions in a trusted setting could improve quality of life and minimize AIs CHD risks.

Riley Olsen

Rational Design of a Small Molecule to Inhibit Oncostatin M
Program: Chemistry (MS)
Major Advisor: Don Warner

The inflammatory cytokine Oncostatin M (OSM) plays an important role in breast cancer metastasis, as well as other inflammatory diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, and several fibrotic diseases. OSM mediates its malignant activity by inducing cell signaling upon binding to its main receptor. We propose to inhibit this OSM-receptor interaction by developing rationally designed small molecule inhibitors (SMIs). In order to identify a lead SMI, computational docking experiments of over 33,000 compounds were docked into the known crystal structure of OSM. These experiments allowed for the development of a pharmacophore probability map that aimed to predict important OSM/SMI interactions. Guided by the generated maps, SMI 27 was generated as a lead compound for inhibiting OSM. Structurally, SMI 27 features a quinazoline core appended to an aryl group at position 2 and an amide group at position 4. A focused library of SMI 27 analogs were synthesized with varying chain lengths and aromatic substituents in the 2 position, as well as various hydrophobic aryl groups in the 4 position. The synthesized molecules were then tested for biological activity using western blot and enzyme linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA), and binding affinity was determined using fluorescence quenching assay. Fluorimetry assays suggest that all SMI-27 analogs directly bind to OSM with low micromolar affinity. Analysis by ELISA has shown that all SMI 27 analogs inhibit STAT3 phosphorylation, and western blot experiments suggest certain analogs deactivate OSM signaling specifically. These and other results are presented herein.

Elise Overgaard

Binding and activity of ArtAB toxin from bovine Salmonella Typhimurium
Program: Biomolecular Sciences (PhD)
Major Advisor: Juliette Tinker

Salmonellosis, caused by the bacterium Salmonella, is the most common foodborne bacterial illness in the U.S. Salmonellosis occurs in many animal populations raised for human consumption such as cows, pigs, and poultry. Human disease is usually a result of ingestion of contaminated animal food products. Prophylactic administration of antibiotics has contributed to the global rise in antibiotic resistance, and salmonellosis itself has become harder to treat with standard antibiotics as Salmonella has become increasingly drug-resistant. Despite licensed veterinary Salmonella vaccines, the incidence of disease has not declined. An improved vaccine for Salmonella in livestock could reduce the requirement for both prophylactic and therapeutic antibiotics and, importantly, reduce the transmission of this highly drug-resistant organism to humans.

The non-typhoidal Salmonella enterica Typhimurium phage type DT104, which is highly antibiotic resistant and commonly associated with systemic disease in bovines, produces an AB5-type enterotoxin called ArtAB. The goals of these studies were to characterize the activity of this toxin. Comparisons were made to cholera toxin (CTX) and/or pertussis toxin (PTX), two similar and well-characterized AB5-type toxins.

Purified polyhistidine-tagged ArtAB was used to compare the binding affinities of the toxin to various ligands using ELISAs. ELISAs showed that ArtAB has a lower affinity for GM1 and fetuin than CTX. Confocal microscopy was used to determine internalization of ArtAB-HIS into Vero cells. Cytotoxicity was assessed using AlamarBlue and crystal violet proliferation assays with ArtAB on epithelial cells. Results suggested an initial increase in proliferation after treatment followed by a dose-dependent cytotoxic response. Responses to ArtAB and CTX were comparable. Treatment of epithelial cells with ArtAB showed morphological changes comparable to morphological changes induced by CTX and PTX. Lastly a mouse ligated loop assay indicated that purified ArtAB induces lumenal fluid accumulation in vivo.

These findings will help to determine the contributions of ArtAB to toxicity and virulence and will inform development of a potential mucosal Salmonella bovine vaccine. Such a vaccine could have a significant, global impact on reducing the amount of antibiotics administered both prophylactically and therapeutically in dairies and ranches, reducing their contributions to global antibiotic resistance issues. In addition, vaccinating bovines raised for human consumption would result in lower contamination rates thereby reducing the occurrences of salmonellosis in humans.

Madilyn Paul

True Polymorphic Phase Transition or Dynamic Crystal Disorder? An Investigation into the Unusual Phase Behavior of Barbituric Acid Dihydrate

Program: Materials Science and Engineering (PhD)
Major Advisor: Matthew King

Crystal structure has a large impact on the physicochemical and mechanical properties of materials. A comprehensive study of the polymorphic phase transition of crystalline barbituric acid dihydrate (BTADH) was conducted to analyze the effect this transition has on the properties of BTADH. This phase transformation was thought to occur around 217 K from the orthorhombic Pnma space group to a monoclinic P21/n. Questions remain on the true nature of the unusual transformation and the structure of the high-temperature crystal phase due to difficulties in resolving the Pnma structure from X-ray diffraction data and because of the subtlety of the structural transition. In this study, terahertz (THz) spectroscopy and solid-state density functional theory (DFT) were utilized to explore this suspected phase transition and uncover the principle physical mechanisms contributing to this anomalous transition. Our findings suggest that at temperatures above the previously reported phase transition temperature of 217 K, the crystal does not exist in the Pnma space group configuration. However, two equivalent favorable energetic states with P21/n symmetry related by the twinning plane lie on either side of the proposed Pnma structure. It is these same local potential energy minima that guide the crystal system to a non-merohedrally twinned configuration identified in the low-temperature crystal structures. At temperatures above 217 K, the system possesses the thermal energy necessary to readily transition between these degenerate states separated by the low-lying Pnma structural barrier. The evidence acquired by THz spectroscopy and DFT indicate the absence of a true temperature-dependent phase change, and rather a system that exists in a tenuous thermally disordered state above the previously alleged transition temperature.

Zac Peake

Volatility and Economic Growth: An analysis of extreme economic growth and retraction as well as possible causes of such volatility
Program: Economics (MEc)
Major Advisor: Michail Fragkias

The literature on economic growth is rich, with many studies, models, and investigations into the causes of economic growth over extended periods of time. Most studies focus on fitting datasets, both inter- and intra-national, to established economic growth models. Econometrics is used to quantify the effects of each models’ causal factors of growth. This methodology is useful for quantifying effects. However, most of statistics and modeling rely on averaged measures e.g. expectations. While this is advantageous when testing economic models and observing average effects of specific, model-determined factors, the narrow scope around the mean or median of a distribution removes information. The fastest and slowest growing, or even quickest retracting, economies are unexplored. In a distribution, most information is contained around the mean or median, but the tails can hold valuable lessons that apply to the whole distribution. This project seeks to identify and analyze extreme cases of economic growth to create foundations for the exploration of growth in the most extreme cases. Creating a basic understanding of the factors and interdependency in economies fostering conditions for extreme changes will allow for eventual quantification of conditional effects relating to extreme growth.

Jill Pearson

Engaging a Belief in Learning Styles to Encourage a Growth Mindset
Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning (MS)
Major Advisor: Jo Ann Fenner

Many adults believe they learn best in their preferred style, even though learning-style theory has been strongly discounted. Rather than ignore or dismiss an expression of a learning preference, trainers and instructional designers can view these beliefs as a potential form of engagement. This poster shares ways that we can capitalize on this engagement to teach learners about the power and benefits of adopting a growth mindset towards workplace learning.

Samuel Pedersen

Mechanochemical Conversion Kinetics of Red Phosphorus to Black Phosphorus for Optoelectronic Applications
Program: Materials Science and Engineering (PhD)
Major Advisor: Brian Jaques

In order to use black phosphorus (BP) for on-chip integration into novel optoelectronic devices, a large-scale synthesis method is required. Herein, high energy planetary ball milling is demonstrated as a scalable synthesis route and the conversion kinetics of the phase transformation is investigated. During the milling process, the collisions of hardened steel media rapidly compressed amorphous red phosphorus (RP) into crystalline, orthorhombic BP flakes, with a conversion yield near 90 percent for up to 5 g of bulk BP powder. Milling conversion kinetics, as monitored via ex situ XRD, showed a sigmoidal behavior best described by the Avrami rate model. Using estimates for the impact energy and cumulative milling dose, the optimum milling conditions were revealed. Exfoliated BP flakes showed photoluminescence in the near infrared, indicative of few-layer BP.

Rob Peterson

Reasoning services for automated CPS attack detection
Computer Science (MS)
Major Advisor: Hoda Mehrpouyan

The security of critical infrastructure is of vital importance to our modern society. Attacks against industrial machinery take a fair amount of expertise to perform, as well as a fair amount of expertise to defend against. The technology stacks of industrial control systems differ from traditional Information technology in that the endpoints are not servers or even traditional personal computers, but simpler devices (Programmable Logic Controllers) designed for reliability rather than security. Two main methods for securing the machinery used in industrial applications involve signature detection of known attacks, and anomaly detection of behavior that deviates from an accepted ’normal’. Anomaly detection is more effective in the Industrial Control Systems space because it can potentially defend against unknown attack vectors. This is our proposed approach. Engineering information about Industrial Control Systems will be modeled using logical relationships, and automated reasoning is to be applied to this model, using incoming process measurement data to attempt to flag anomalies and identify potential attacks.

Trung Pham

Does the Business Cycle Affect Substance Abuse?
Program: Economics (MS)
Major Advisor: Kelly Chen

This study has two purposes. First is to measure the impact, if any, that fluctuations in the business cycle may have on substance abuse in the United States. Second is to compare the empirical results pertaining to substance abuse in the United States through two different datasets. To fulfill its purposes, this study employs empirical regression analyses of reported instances of substance abuse from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Data Archive (SAMHDA) Treatment Episode Data Set: Admissions (TEDS-A) and National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) on state level unemployment rate and control variables. The second purpose is simply to compare the results of TEDS-A to NSDUH. The TEDS-A is collected at hospitals and not subject to much scrutiny, whereas NSDUH is survey of noninstitutionalized households and may be subject to bias. Confirmation of similarity of empirical results between the different datasets provide opportunity to further make use of NSDUH dataset in further economic analyses. Learning if substance abuse behavior is affected by fluctuations in the business cycle aids policy makers better decide on appropriate and necessary program considerations.

Timothy Phero

Additively Manufactured Strain Sensors for High-Temperature Environments
Program: Materials Science and Engineering (PhD)
Major Advisor: Brian Jaques

Strain sensors resilient to high-temperature environments enable real-time detection of deformation to components in nuclear reactors, which is used to monitor material performance. Due to harsh operating conditions and restricted spacing between fuel and cladding materials in nuclear reactors, currently available strain sensors are limited due to their large size and degradation of their electrical stability. In this work, aerosol jet printing was used to fabricate reliable, miniaturized, nanoparticle-based strain sensors directly onto metal test specimens, simulating the cladding component of a reactor. The strain sensors were tested and compared to commercially available strain sensors in both static and dynamic loading conditions at temperatures up to 200 °C. The results demonstrate a printed strain sensor that has a high gauge factor and improved stability over commercial strain sensors at elevated temperatures. This work leads to new possibilities in fabricating sensors with reduced invasiveness and enhanced reliability in high-temperature environments.

Rachel Phinney

Compliance with the EPA’s Worker Protection Standard: An Idaho Analysis
Program: Health Science (MHS)
Major Advisor: Cynthia Curl

BACKGROUND: Farmworkers are at high risk for occupational pesticide exposure and pesticide-related illness. The Worker Protection Standard (WPS) is the primary federal regulation aimed at reducing pesticide exposure among farmworkers. Farm employers are responsible for complying with the nearly 100 WPS requirements, including the provision of pesticide safety training, personal-protective equipment, and decontamination supplies to employees.
PURPOSE: Despite the potential health implications of WPS violations, information is limited regarding compliance levels in Idaho. We aim to fill this gap by describing compliance trends according to WPS inspection results archived by the Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA).
METHODS: We analyzed 557 WPS inspections conducted on Idaho farms between 2001-2019 using SAS and STATA statistical software. Descriptive and regression analyses were used to describe the frequency and characteristics of violations observed collectively and during each inspection.
RESULTS: Approximately 46% of inspections (n=266) resulted in at least one WPS violation. Farm owners most frequently violated the sections of the WPS pertaining to pesticide safety training and the central location (an accessible area where pesticide information is to be displayed). On average, 14% and 22% of training and central location requirements were violated, respectively.
CONCLUSIONS: Only half of inspections resulted in full WPS compliance. Training and central location requirements may have been most frequently violated due to the relative ease in which they could be monitored, or because of their logistical demand. Additional research is needed to explain why violations occur and the challenges of compliance, both of which are critical in improving WPS compliance and farmworker health and safety.

Andrea Pikes

Evaluation of a Brief, Bystander Bullying Intervention Modified Specifically for Ethnically-Blended Middle Schools
Counseling (MA)
Major Advisor: Aida Midgett

The presenter will discuss a study evaluating the effectiveness of a brief, bystander intervention (STAC) developed specifically for ethnically-blended, low-income schools on reducing bullying and biased-based bullying victimization. Implications for counselors are discussed.

Tobi Popoola

Sparse Format Conversion and Code Synthesis
Program: Computing (PhD)
Major Advisor: Catherine Olschanowsky

Data used in irregular computations such as molecular dynamics simulation, climate modelling and big
graph analysis are usually sparse. Sparse formats provides space reduction and computation reduction
opportunities to store non zero values in sparse data and reduce unnecessary computations involving
zeros respectively. There exists various sparse formats, each sparse format been more suitable for specific irregular application, however, sparse data is generally stored in few common formats. The most commonly used sparse input format is COO. In this research we propose using the polyhedral framework to enable conversion from one sparse format to another using share information common to these formats. We define various sparse formats in terms of their dense abstraction and use the common information between each format to facilitate a transformation from one format to another. Our contribution in this research is to generate highly optimized code for converting from one format to another and we are going to show our results with hand optimized sparse format conversion libraries such as SPARSKIT and INTEL MKL.

Sherise Porchia

Parents Matter: Preventing Teen Drinking Through School-Based Parent Programming
Program: Counseling (MA)
Major Advisor: Aida Midgett

The objective was to evaluate the outcome of Parents are the Solution, a 6-part online parent-based alcohol intervention for high school students. The intervention is intended to inform and enhance parent-teen communication about alcohol. Overall, relative to parents who did not read the series, parents who read part of the series or the whole series reported higher levels of disapproval of teen drinking, monitoring, and communication with their teen about alcohol use. Results also indicated the majority of parents found the intervention to be user-friendly and useful.

Tara Pozzi

Drivers of Technology Adoption in Flood Risk Management
Program: Biology (MS)
Major Advisor: Vicken Hillis

Flood frequency and intensity are expected to increase in the Western US due to changes in the hydroclimatic cycle; however, many flood risk managers lack the updated topographic data needed to accurately predict their community’s flood risk. Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) has proven to be an effective technology for increasing accuracy of floodplain maps due to the fine scale of collection resolution, typically 1-meter. As of 2018, only 17% of the state of Idaho had been flown with LiDAR that could be publicly accessed. Several factors could be driving the slow adoption of this technology such as risk perception, peer influence, and structural barriers (e.g. lack of funding). Both semi-structured interviews and a survey instrument will be used to collect data to assess potential trends amongst these factors on the adoption of LiDAR. This data will then be used to understand if flood risk managers with higher risk perception, influence from peers who use LiDAR, and lack of structural barriers are more likely to adopt this new technology. These findings will contribute to the existing gap in the literature surrounding the relationship between risk perception and human behavior in flood risk management, as well as provide insight on barriers preventing the adoption of this technology in Idaho. Furthermore, these findings will inform educational efforts such as workshops and webinars to diminish the existing knowledge gap in LiDAR use for flood risk management, as well contribute to the overall awareness of flood risk throughout the state of Idaho.

Md Asif Rahman

Coupled Chemo-Physio-Mechanical Modeling of Concrete ASR Damage under Service Condition Uncertainties Due to Dynamic Global Warming Impact
Civil Engineering (MS)
Major Advisor: Yang Lu

Alkali-silica reaction (ASR) is the most common source of concrete deterioration worldwide, which has been recognized as a critical factor reducing service life of infrastructure made by concrete. Chemical reaction between reactive aggregate particles and cement paste lead to concrete ASR degradation over time. The chemo-physical mechanisms governing ASR are quite complex, which takes many years to manifest. Reactive silica in aggregate tends to breakdown due to the high alkalinity of pore solution in concrete and subsequently react with alkali-hydroxides to form ASR gel. While the chemical reaction rate is relied on ambient temperature, adequate moisture is also required for potential ASR reaction. Moisture facilitates the flow of ions in the porous media and allows hygroscopic gel to swell when it absorbs water. The moisture absorption-induced volume expansion is directly related to the saturation status in concrete. Increased temperature accelerates the alkali-silica reaction and therefore product generation to some extent. Moreover, the ongoing global warming trend, seasonal changing environmental conditions and various structural loads significantly influence ASR expansion. Existing saturated porous media and highest alkali-silica reaction assumption might lead to over conservative design, which is not cost effective. Thus, complex chemo-physics of ASR, especially under dynamic global warming impact, requires a precise quantitative assessment to guide the durable infrastructure materials design practices. Within this context, the developed stochastic model integrates global warming impact-induced weather data as input and provides a new perspective from mesoscale chemo-physical-mechanical scheme for a better understanding of ASR kinetics and the ultimate consequences. The uncertainties are considered by using random variables to represent the model’s parameters and the materials’ properties, and stochastic processes are adopted to include environmental actions. The simulation results elucidate that critical mechanisms of ASR expansion and induced damage progress in concrete infrastructure are significantly depended on the composition of reactive aggregate and alkali hydroxide concentrations under changing climate and loading conditions.

Sohel Rana

A Simple and Cost-Effective Metal Coating Method for Reflective Long Period Grating Sensors
Program: Electrical and Computer Engineering (PhD)
Major Advisor: Harish Subbaraman

A novel and cost-effective technique to coat a fiber optic long period grating (LPG) sensor with silver paste to realize a reflection mode operation is presented here. LPG’s have higher sensitivity and are typically used as a transmission sensor. Recently, reflective LPG structures have been realized by coating the end of the LPG fiber with metal, but they have limitations as they are expensive and require time-consuming fabrication limiting the length of fiber that could be coated. In this work, we show a novel inexpensive technique to coat a 60 cm length of LPG with silver. The fabricated reflective LPG mimics the transmitted spectrum with improved selectivity. This simple coating method can be applied for other optical fiber sensors; such as metal embedded sensors for monitoring parameters like temperature, strain, refractive index etc. at such critical locations not accessible to ordinary sensors.

Dhanush Kumar Ratakonda

Evaluating Children’s Online Authentication Practices
Program: Computing (PhD)
Major Advisor: Jerry Fails

The increase in usage of technology requires users to create more online accounts, each of which usually require a form of authentication (username and password). At the same time, there are many security breaches across the world, targeting users’ personally identifiable information (PII). One of the major security holes that enables online data breaches are weak authenticating practices by users. Good practices include creating credentials with different combinations of symbols, numbers, using longer passwords, not including PII as part of their passwords to secure their online accounts, among others. Children also increasingly use technology for school and leisure activities and, as such, often create online accounts that require them to utilize authentication mechanisms. Authentication poses many challenges for adults and poses several additional challenges for children. To understand the challenges faced by children using authentication mechanisms, we conducted a series of pilot studies to understand children’s authentication practices and preferences with regards to two different authentication mechanisms: a traditional text-based password and a graphical image-based password. We present the results of our pilot studies with eight child participants (ages 6-11) and identify child participant’s practices and preferences. Results from our pilot studies will help guide future investigations further and could help inform the design of a new authentication mechanism that is both usable and secure for children.

Alexander Regner

Modeling the Bone Marrow Mechanical Environment
Program: Materials Science and Engineering (MS)
Major Advisor: Gunes Uzer

Mesenchymal Stem Cells, colloquially called MSCs, are the progenitor cells for critical cells in your bone marrow, and are of interest for the study of long term health and function of the human body. It is an established fact that external motion and force applied to the cells determines the ultimate fate and function of MSCs and yet there is little to no evidence of what motion and forces the MSCs experience in vivo. We aim to illuminate this gap in knowledge by creating 3D computer models of 3D-printable bone like structures to predict and correlate cellular behavior to the expected mechanical environment.

Neilson Richard Rexrode

Application of a Novel Waveguide for THz Spectroscopy of Materials Under Extreme External Pressures

Program: Materials Science and Engineering (PhD)
Major Advisor: Matthew King

One of the major concerns as pertaining to the development of new materials is crystal structure. Even materials that have the same composition can have significantly varying properties if their bulk crystals have different structures. An effective and commonly used technique for the study of crystal structure is Terahertz (THz) Spectroscopy. However, the application of THz spectroscopy is hindered by practical limitations, which prevent this technique from being used to study many interesting fields of research, examples of which include the response of crystals to the application of high pressures or high electric fields. In order to help address this, we have proposed the design and optimization of a low-dispersion optical waveguide which can be used to hold materials under high applied pressure or electric field while THz measurements are performed on the substance. It is hoped that this research will lead to the development of new methods and machinery that will allow the further study of processes such as crystalline phase transitions and the pressure response of energetic materials.

Scott Riley

Characterization of the Mechanical and Chemical Stability of Niobium and Molybdenum Alloys for High Temperature Sensing Applications

Program: Materials Science and Engineering (PhD)
Major Advisor: Brian Jaques

Niobium, molybdenum, and their alloys are often considered for applications in extreme environments where corrosion resistance and high temperatures are required. The Idaho National Laboratory has developed high temperature irradiation resistant thermocouples comprised of phosphorous-doped niobium and lanthana-doped molybdenum thermoelements, an alumina insulation, and a niobium sheath. Prior to operation, the thermocouples undergo a preliminary heat treatment (above the maximum service temperature) in order to stabilize the generated voltage output signal. Herein, a design of experiments was conducted to evaluate the effects of the stabilization heat treatment’s process parameters on the mechanical properties, and chemical stability of the system. The doping of the niobium sheath with 1 weight % zirconium resulted in the retention of the systems non-heat treated ductility through the preferential precipitation of zirconia. The cross-sectional composition of the phosphorous-doped niobium thermoelement was found to vary through the precipitation of alumina during heat treatment.

Lisa Roggenbuck

Aesthetic Labor
Program: Visual Arts (MFA)
Major Advisor: Chad Erpelding

My work is about the disconnection women can experience to their bodies by complying with standards of beauty and acceptability that are imposed upon them in western culture. These standards are determined by the dominant culture and problematize bodies that don’t satisfy these standards. This failure to satisfy these standards is then remedied by modifications to the body. These modifications come in the form of consumer products that require time as well as money to execute. My work inquires about the social structures that make a constructed appearance the crux to authenticating the female sex, and the disconnect of the self from the body that can occur.

Bryan Rosenblatt

A monotonic shift: Why does Volcan Villarrica’s peak frequency fluctuate?
Program: Geophysics (MS)
Major Advisor: Jeffrey Johnson

Volcanic infrasound is the low-frequency acoustic waves which propagate into the atmosphere due to volcanic activity. The frequency of this infrasonic wave can constrain eruptive properties, such as source mechanics, crater geometry, and volumetric gas flux. Villarrica, an open-vent volcano in Chile with an active lava lake, performs uniquely by producing continuous monotonic infrasound at about 1 Hz. A field expedition to Villarrica in January of 2020 confirmed this trait with a slight caveat; we observed peak frequencies ranging between 0.89 Hz and 1.1 Hz. Past studies have correlated a rise in Villarrica’s infrasonic frequency to a rise in its lava lake level prior to an eruption (Johnson et al., 2018), so accounting for this slight fluctuation in received frequency signal is imperative. Based on my research, this fluctuation in frequency is most likely due to atmospheric conditions and not source mechanics. The main atmospheric condition believed to cause this recorded frequency ambiguity is the changing temperature gradient of the atmosphere within the crater. To test this, I ran simulations over Villarrica’s topography using Keehoon Kim’s InfraFDTD model (see Kim et al. 2015). Multiple sound speeds were calculated as a function of the possible crater temperatures and implemented into Keehoon’s code to develop synthetic signals. The synthetic frequency outputs were then compared to signals we observed, showing how the temperature within the crater can affect the signals we observed.

John Rehder

Does the Consistent Building Implementation of PBIS have an Effect on Student GPA and Behavior at the Secondary Level?
Program: Executive Educational Leadership (EdS)
Major Advisor: Heather P. Williams

The Cottonwood School District began the implementation process of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program in August, 2019. The goals were: to see if discipline (referrals/ classroom removals) decreased and see if student GPA’s increased. The process is expected to change the district-wide mindset, build relationships in the building between staff and students, find positive characteristics from “all” students, building family relationships, increase effective communication, minimize or eliminate sarcasm, and eliminating the “this is how it has always been done” attitude. Surveys were given to obtain input from all stakeholders.

Anna Roser

Fine-Scale Vegetation Monitoring in Drylands with Unpiloted Aerial Systems
Program: Biology (MS)
Major Advisor: Nancy Glenn

Dryland ecosystems represent 41% of the global land surface and provide critical ecosystem services to 38% of the human population. It has become increasingly clear that dryland ecosystems play a critical role in the interannual variability of the global carbon cycle partially due to the heterogeneity of vegetation over fine spatial scales. Accurately representing vegetation cover at fine spatial scales will improve dynamic vegetation models that help inform carbon cycling. Robust vegetation datasets will also document the status of and changes to dryland ecosystems from the impact of anthropogenic influences. Quantification of vegetation in dryland ecosystems faces challenges due to the small structural characteristics of these plants. Sensors mounted on unpiloted aerial systems (UAS) can provide measurements of vegetation at scales that land managers operate and wildlife habitat is assessed. We investigate whether ultra-fine spatial, multispectral imagery accurately maps and measures photosynthetic vegetation at peak biomass. During the summer of 2019, we collected multispectral imagery with the MicaSense Rededge, and used structure-from-motion with the DJI Phantom 4 at three distinct sagebrush communities in southwest Idaho.

We expect the results from this study to provide detailed information on patterns of vegetation density and cover for the purposes of ecological monitoring and sustainable land management or ownership, as well as potential incorporation into dynamic vegetation models. In addition, this research integrates multiple remote sensing products with field data from the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s long term agroecosystem research (LTAR) study sites. This study will help inform future data collection methods with UAS in drylands, and the merging of ecological datasets from multiple UAS mounted sensors, field leaf-area-measurements and relative plant abundance. Given the need to for fine-scale measurements of vegetation in drylands, this empirical dataset provides insights to relate intensive field measurements like leaf-area-index to UAS imagery products.

Madeline Rousseau

Addiction rates in highly sensitive individuals
Counseling (MA)
Major Advisor: Raissa Miller

As counselors we have an obligation to see our clients as people. Individuals who have addiction use disorders have a disease of the brain. However, how many of these people have the highly sensitive people trait? There is very limited research regarding this trait in individuals that struggle with addiction. Kristoffer Jonsson and katarina Kjellgren wrote a paper in 2014 expressing the importance of studying these individuals. Considering the fact that contemporary society can be characterized as performance- and high-tempo-oriented, it is reasonable that these individuals are more vulnerable than others are, and exhibit a higher degree of anxiety, because of our stressful world. In my presentation I will be exploring the effect of highly sensitive individuals and how the effects of being highly sensitive result in addiction.

William Rudisill

A Process Informed Comparison of Commonly Used Meteorological Datasets in Mountainous Terrain
Program: Geophysics (PhD)
Major Advisor: Alejandro Flores

The quality of precipitation and temperature data limit our understanding of hydrologic and biogeochemical processes mountain watershed. The steep slopes in mountainous regions can create high precipitation gradients and deviations from anticipated temperature altitude relationships. This spatial variability is difficult to capture since precipitation gauges are sparse and can possess uncertainties of their own (undercatch, for example). Increasingly, high resolution Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) models have proven capable of reasonably simulating precipitation in mid-latitude mountain watersheds. In this study, we characterize the differences in precipitation and temperature between a 1km configuration of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model and commonly used geostatistical datasets (PRISM, DayMET, NLDAS) in addition to station observations in Colorado’s Upper Gunnison Watershed. Additionally, we apply a supervised clustering technique to identify the primary weather patterns that cause precipitation, and interpret the discrepancies between the datasets in the context of these mechanisms. We find that the WRF model has the highest orographic precipitation gradient (OPG), expressed as fraction of precipitation at elevation relative to the mountain valley-bottom, and that NLDAS has a particularly low precipitation bias relative to the other datasets. Differences between the various products are on the order of 20 cm per year or precipitation per year, or approximately 20-25% of the total. These results quantify the uncertainty bounds on precipitation and further underscore the need for improved observations and modelling of mountain meteorological processes.

Gaervyn Salverda

Static Knee Malalignment Predicts Knee Adduction During Body Borne Load

Program: Kinesiology (MS)
Major Advisor: Tyler Brown

Static lower limb malalignment (varus) may predispose military personnel to hazardous knee biomechanics, increasing their likelihood of musculoskeletal injury. To examine the relationship between static alignment and knee biomechanics related to injury, participants will walk (1.3 m/s), jog (3.0 m/s), and run (4.5 m/s) with three body borne loads (0, 15, and 30 kg). It is expected that body borne load and locomotion speed will increase knee adduction biomechanics related to injury, and participants with static varus alignment will exhibit greater increases in knee adduction with load and speed than participants with static valgus or neutral knee alignment.

Rose Saxton

Whey Protein Powder Pnalysis by MID-IR
Program: Biomolecular Sciences (MS)
Major Advisor: Owen McDougal

We propose to use Fourier transform-infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy to efficiently and accurately measure whey protein content in dietary supplements as a complementary method to the more laborious Kjeldahl method. The Kjeldahl method consists of a three-step process that utilizes harsh chemical conditions and takes several hours to complete. The protein content results are susceptible to error, because the Kjeldahl process calculates the percent protein of a food product based on percent nitrogen approximation using predetermined conversion factors. The assumption employed in the Kjeldahl result calculation is based on the nitrogen content of a sample and a conversion factor for milk and dairy of 6.38. The use of IR spectroscopy offers advantages over the Kjeldahl method in that sample preparation, data acquisition, and data analysis are easier to conduct and require significantly less time than the Kjeldahl procedure. IR spectroscopy has been identified as a method for development into dairy protein analysis based on potential to be adopted by industry with significant cost and time-saving advantage compared to traditional methods of protein analysis.

Sarah Schott

Equivalence vs Gauss Equivalence
Program: Mathematics (MS)
Major Advisor: Jens Harlander

Two matrices A and B are equivalent if there exist matrices X and Y such that B = XAY −1. A and B are Gauss equivalent if A can be transformed into B by using row and column operations. Over the rationals, equivalence implies Gauss equivalence and vice versa. We investigate matrices over different rings that have this quality.

Sabrina Schuler

Increased fire frequency and invasion: has sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata sp. wyomingensis) restoration been “soiled?”
Program: Biology (MS)
Major Advisor: Marie-Anne de Graaff

Sagebrush steppe, one of the most expansive and ecologically important ecosystems of the intermountain west, has been experiencing increased disturbances of cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) that have induced landscape-level changes to the native vegetation complex. With this persistence of cheatgrass, natural fire regimes have also been altered, occurring more frequently and with higher severity, negatively impacting sagebrush restoration. Improving restoration efforts requires a fundamental understanding of feedbacks between soil properties and sagebrush performance. With this study, we ask 1) how do fire and plant community changes impact soil properties, and 2) how can we change these soil properties to promote sagebrush performance? We will evaluate how fire and associated changes in plant communities alter soil physical, chemical, and biological properties, manipulate these soil properties, and quantify impacts on sagebrush performance across sites that vary in fire history and plant community composition. This study will improve our understanding of the importance of plant-soil feedbacks for restoration of sagebrush steppe ecosystems.

Sara Sedighi

Reducing Racial Bias in Facial Recognition

Program: Electrical and Computer Engineering (PhD)
Major Advisor: Elisa Barney Smith

Facial recognition systems using visible light images do not perform equally across different skin colors. Current facial recognition systems perform worse when they encounter faces with darker skin. We plan to make an unbiased facial recognition system to resolve the weakness current facial recognition systems face when using visible light images. Since facial recognition systems using visible light images seem to not work well for darker skin types, we have to look for alternative image sources. Using visible light images together with IR images or depth sensors could increase the facial recognition performance across all skin types.

Saeideh Shad

Design Principals of Millimeter-Wave 5G Antennas
Program: Electrical and Computer Engineering (PhD)
Major Advisor: Hani Mehrpouyan

The demand for higher data rate communication has severely increased in the last years. To address this demand, the wireless industry is moving to its fifth generation (5G) of cellular technology that will use millimeter wave (mm-Wave) frequencies to offer unprecedented spectrum and multi-Gigabit-per-second (Gbps) data rates to wireless systems. There are fundamental differences between mm-Wave communications and existing other communication systems. Due to the high attenuation that propagating signals experience, the communication distance is limited at millimeter wave frequencies. To address these challenges, antennas with the merits of high gain and high efficiency are needed to compensate free space path loss and increase the communication distance for the emerging high data rate wireless systems. In this communication, we introduce different types of high gain antennas for 60 GHz and Ka-band applications. The proposed antennas have flexible design offering the advantages of easy fabrication and integration.

Kathleen Shoup

Factors Influencing Rural Superintendent Selection as Interpreted by Rural School Board Chairs in Idaho
Program: Executive Educational Leadership (EdS)
Major Advisor: Heather P. Williams

Idaho has a total of 116 public school districts and 102 of those school districts are designated as rural per the Idaho State Department of Education definition of a rural school district. The average superintendent tenure in a rural position is 2.7 years (Grissom & Anderson, 2012; Kamrath & Brunner, 2014) and the average tenure for superintendents in a nonrural district is between six and seven years (Byrd et al., 2006; Glass & Franceschini, 2007). Lunenburg and Ornestein (2008) found that the national average tenure of a school board member is 6.7 years. It is inferred that a school board trustee will likely be involved in selecting a superintendent within their tenure. With a need to fill superintendent positions across the state of Idaho, it is crucial to identify the factors that are interpreted as important to school board chairs when selecting a superintendent to inform superintendent candidates.

Shivani Singh

Program: Computer Science (MS)
Major Advisor: Catherine Olschanowsky

Compilers routinely make decisions about which optimizations will be most beneficial in applications using general rules. Scientific applications have common patterns that benefit from optimizations outside of those general rules. Previously, our group built an optimization interface that allows for application specific optimization decisions. However, the development loop was incomplete as the decisions could not be automatically fed back into the compiler. This project is developing a custom compiler that will incorporate custom optimization decisions to be fed back into polyhedral data-flow graphs which can plug into general purpose compilers.

Wankun Sirichotiyakul

Data-driven Design of Energy-Shaping Controllers for Swing-Up Control of Underactuated Robots
Program: Electrical and Computer Engineering (PhD)
Major Advisor: Aykut Satici

We propose a novel data-driven procedure to train a neural network for the swing-up control of underactuated robotic systems. Our approach is inspired by several recent developments ranging from nonlinear control theory to machine learning. We embed a neural network indirectly into the equations of motion of the robotic manipulator as its control input. Using familiar results from passivity-based and energy-shaping control literature, this control function is determined by the appropriate gradients of a neural network, acting as an energy-like (Lyapunov) function. We encode the task of swinging-up robotic systems through the use of transverse coordinates and goal sets; which drastically accelerates the rate of learning by providing a concise target for the neural network. We demonstrate the efficacy of the algorithm with both numerical simulations and experiments.

Shriram Sivaramakrishnan

A poem wriggles out of the page
Program: Creative Writing (MFA)
Major Advisor: Martin Corless-Smith

View abstract here: A poem wriggles out of the page

Michele Solakian

Pilot Project: Developing a Standardized Evidence-Based Education Process for Nurses to Enhance New Medication Education of Hospitalized Patients with Heart Failure
Program: Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
Major Advisor: Pamela Gehrke

Background: Health information is complicated for elders to understand. Clear communication by Registered Nurses (RNs) helps improve Health Literacy (HL).

Problem: A quality improvement project aimed to improve medication education to elders. A Telemetry Unit uses Teach Back Method (TBM) inconsistently and does not assess HL.

Results: RNs assessed HL within 48-hours of admission for patients ( N=15) 67% and performed TBM. Discharged elders reported medication adherence (88%) and satisfaction with hospitalization (100%).

Implications: RNs benefited from education about HL and improved TBM use. HL Assessment helped support RN use of TBM and all patients were satisfied with care.

Moss Strong

ISAT Accountability and Student Reports
Program: Executive Educational Leadership (EdS)
Major Advisor: Heather P. Williams

8th grade students in Idaho are required to take the math Idaho Standardized Assessment Test  (ISAT). The results are reported yearly in June by the state of Idaho. School scores are tabulated based on the percent proficient number of students. The percent proficient measure focuses on how the “A” students are performing. In Idaho, we get back our percent proficient scores for 8th-grade math with little data on how we did at improving various levels of students. The pressure to evaluate changes in student performance often leads educators and policymakers to depend on quick and simple measurement tools. Distortions at these scales may then lead educators and policymakers to misinterpret gaps, trends, and trends in gaps in populations at all levels of the education system (Learning Point Associates, 2009).

Ammon Stutz

Boise Mountain Bike Festival
Program: Business, Career Track- Full Time (MBA)
Major Advisor:
Trisha Lamb

The Boise Mountain Bike Festival is an annual event that helps bring the stoke to mountain biking in the Treasure Valley. This project aims to promote the sport, create a replicable process for upcoming years, and to raise funds for local biking organizations. In 2019, the Boise Mountain Bike Festival had over 300 attendees and raised around $13,000 for local trail organizations. The Boise Mountain Bike Festival is projected to double in growth this year as the sport gains popularity and as coordination with local biking organizations continue to grow.


Jacqui Teruya

Every Bird A Rival
Program: Creative Writing (MFA)
Major Advisor: Mitchell Wieland

“Every Bird a Rival” is a collection of short stories that deals with human and animal behavior as well as ideas of what it means to belong. The stories examine biracial tensions in the identity of its characters and how these characters feel they fit into their past, present, and future spaces.

Jadelyn Thompson

Teacher Candidates’ Preparedness to Teach Writing: Looking at a Semester of  Structured Tutoring in a University-Based Literacy Clinic

Program: Curriculum and Instruction (EdD)
Major Advisor: Katherine Wright

Recently writing has been gaining popularity due to the new Common Core State Standards and its emphasis on writing across the curriculum. The refocused attention on writing has raised the expectations for students, and thus, teachers in K-12 classrooms. Despite this, significant improvements to student writing performance have been absent for decades and student performance has been described as “stagnant”. Therefore, as current teacher educators, we wanted to evaluate and identify how the literacy lab can better support teacher candidates to plan effective writing instruction, and therefore, increase student writing outcomes. Thus, our research question was, What does a semester of structured literacy tutoring reveal about teacher candidates’ readiness for providing writing instruction? We explored this question through the lens of Shulman’s (1987) theory of Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) and employed a qualitative multi-case study including 4 participants. Through thematic analysis, we identified that when planning, implementing, and reflecting on instruction, the teacher candidates grappled with (1) considering student affect (2) making data-driven decisions and (3) contextualizing the writing lesson. Implications for this study include the importance of supporting teacher candidates in making in-the-moment decisions around literacy and using PCK as a tool in practicums.

Matthew Thompson

Low Intensity Vibrations Restore Nuclear YAP Levels and Repairs YAP Mechanosignaling in Mesenchymal Stem Cells Subjected to Simulated Microgravity
Program: Mechanical Engineering (MS)
Major Advisor: Gunes Uzer

The bone and muscle deterioration that astronauts currently experience in microgravity environments is known to occur as a result of inhibited tissue regeneration in response to the lack of gravity-based tissue stress. Crucial to active healthy regeneration of bone and muscle tissue is the proliferation and differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) that replenish musculoskeletal tissues. Regenerative function of MSCs is in part controlled by the mechanical forces of their immediate environment which they sense via mechanosensitive signaling pathways including the YAP signaling pathway. The transducer protein YAP has been shown by past research to be activated by mechanical forces and shuttled into the nucleus to induce gene expression necessary for cell proliferation. The mechanical forces which trigger this process in healthy tissues can be simulated by mechanical treatments such as low intensity vibrations (LIV). Similarly, simulated microgravity (SMG) treatment has been used to replicated the effect of space travel on human body tissues, and recent research from our group has shown that the reduction of gravity-based stress significant decrease in proliferation and total YAP concentrations, suggesting inhibited YAP signaling performance. Our group has also recently published research showing that applied low intensity vibrations (LIV) have the ability to reverse this effect on proliferation. The objectives of this research were to test in vitro the performance of the YAP signaling pathway in MSCs subjected to sMG and LIV in order to develop a more detailed understanding of how sMG inhibits tissue regeneration and to determine if LIV treatment can be used to counteract any of these effects. We found that application of acute LIV to cells which had been subjected to SMG was capable of restoring the YAP signaling levels necessary for healthy tissue growth.

Catherine Toyoshima

Aiding Small Businesses in Rural Idaho
Business, Career Track- Full Time (MBA)
Major Advisor: Trisha Stevens Lamb

Since its conception in 1986, the Idaho Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has provided no-cost consulting, coaching, and training to Idaho’s small businesses and entrepreneurs (Idaho SBDC, 2019). Idaho SBDC serves clients throughout the entire state using a network of six regional offices that are hosted by Idaho’s colleges and universities (Idaho SBDC, 2019). This paper aims to highlight the Idaho SBDC’s efforts and strategies to serve all small businesses in an overwhelmingly rural state.

Nathan Tracy

Alternative Schools in Rural Idaho: A Comparison with the Traditional School
Program: Executive Educational Leadership (EdS)
Major Advisor: Heather P. Williams

The increase in student behaviors, anxiety attacks, chronic absenteeism, and stagnant graduation rates gave cause for the Jerome School District to look at alternative methods of education for our students. After visiting several alternative schools across the state and researching alternative education methods, we constructed our own alternative school “Falls City Academy.” The New Academy will use restorative based practices, allow students to work on four classes at a time, and start later in the day than the local traditional High School. The researcher will examine student attendance, student behavior, and grades.

William Unger

Security of Generalized Substitution Permutation Network Ciphers

Program: Computing (PhD)
Major Advisor: Liljana Babinkostova

The largest security-related threat of IoT systems from the traditional IT systems is that even using devices for data collection can become a target of cyberattacks. While conventional cryptographic schemes, such as AES, SHA-256 and RSA/Elliptic Curve, work well on systems which have reasonable processing power and memory capabilities, these do not scale well into a world with embedded systems. Thus, lightweight cryptographic methods are proposed to overcome the disadvantages of conventional cryptography and to provide security solutions for resource-constrained devices. Lightweight cryptography (LWC) is an encryption method that features a small footprint and/or low computational complexity and its international standardization and guidelines compilation are currently underway. We propose different approaches to investigate new lightweight cryptographic designs for block ciphers by investigating their algebraic structure. Further, we construct generalizations of differential branch number and non-linearity number, critical metrics used in defining the security of symmetric key schemes and their resistance against attacks such as differential and linear cryptanalysis. We implement these results and develop a new design of the GIFT authenticated encryption scheme, a second-round candidate of the NIST LWC standardization process.

Matues Valadao

Personal Financial Literacy in Education
Program: Executive Educational Leadership (EdS)
Major Advisor: Heather P. Williams

Most parents had little or no personal financial education. The average American is $38,000 in debt, not including mortgages. 38% of households have credit card debt, averaging $16,048 with an APR of 16.47%. 42% of millennials took out an alternative financial service. 41% of children said that finances were self-taught and 37% said parents taught them. 11.5% of students who graduated from college in 2014 have loans in default. The average person is exposed to 5,000 ads a day. The variety and complexity of financial decisions are increasing. 7.5 hours of Idaho standards are attributed to personal finance education with no state evaluation measure for achievement.

Kevin Vallejo

InAs(111) Homoepitaxy with Molecular Beam Epitaxy
Materials Science and Engineering (PhD)
Major Advisor: Paul Simmonds

In this study we have mapped the growth parameters for optimal homoepitaxy of InAs on InAs(111)A substrates using molecular beam epitaxy. Increasing the substrate temperature reveals a transition from 2D flat island growth to step-flow. The optimized parameters we established (substrate temperature = 500° C, growth rate = 0.12ML/s and V/III ratio = 48) produce an atomically flat surface, free of 3D imperfections. We study material quality using photoluminescence and have established a relationship between InAs(111)A surface smoothness and light emission intensity. This work paves the way for integrating the 6.1 A family of materials with the desirable properties of semiconductors with a (111) orientation. In addition, we will present preliminary results demonstrating the self-assembly of InGaAs quantum dots on these smooth InAs(111) surfaces, strongly indicating new paths towards ultra-low bandgap tunable light emitters for infrared optoelectronics.

Ellie Van Hattem

An Analysis of Improvisation: Its Historical Origins, Revival, and Current Implementation in Present Day Secondary Education Systems
Music Performance (MM)
Major Advisor: Jeanne Belfy

The purpose of this paper is to highlight the crucial skill of improvisation and its continuing value for professional musicians and their future generations. Musicians should once again realize their own musical voices through their instruments. This paper will walk the reader through classical improvisation’s decline, rediscovery, and current systems being tried to effectively revive it in classical musicians’ lives. The main focus of this paper is to present two models of current improvisation classes and to highlight the similarities and differences between them. These are courses conducted by two professors under the observation of C. Michael Palmer and the 7-week course introducing improvisation by Alden H. Snell II and Christopher D. Azzara. Both of these classes use Jazz improvisation as their foundation. These classes show that while beneficial, we still need a more focused course for classical improvisation. Presented within this paper is my suggested model for a classical improvisation course. I argue that improvisational skills expand the overall musicianship of classical performers and allow the musicians to discover their individual voices through this aspect of classical performance that should return to our musical skill set.

Sarah Veigel

What Are Ways the Boise Independent School District Could Assist Smaller, Rural Districts to Achieve Their Assessment Goals?
Program: Executive Educational Leadership (EdS)
Major Advisor: Heather P. Williams

Basin School district, one of Idaho’s 102 rural districts, has the same set of problems as do most rural schools; staff retention, student attendance, facilities upkeep, and improving academics. The Superintendent has support in this new position from  Dr. Heather Williams and his mentor Superintendent, Andrew Grover, however, he has admitted to feeling overwhelmed with all that he wants to do. Basin School District belongs to NW RISE, a Rural Education Support Network, but the Superintendent did not view it as being particularly helpful. This study was to assist Basin School District academically in a way that was sustainable and practical. The researcher used interviews and examined her impact as a resource for the Basin School District.

Monica Vermillion

Getting the Point: How point clouds from hand-held cameras can help inform land managers of fuel loads from invasive grasses in the Great Basin and Range
Program: Geophysics (MS)
Major Advisor: Nancy Glenn

The spread of invasive grasses in the Great Basin Range have dramatically impacted the fire cycle by increasing fire severity and frequency. Invasive grasses grow in dense homogenous patches across the landscape, increasing the fuel load compared to the native sagebrush steppe. To quantify fuel loads Above Ground Biomass (AGB), or the weight of dried vegetation clipped above the ground, is collected through destructive harvesting of small scale (~40 cm) plots. However, these plots are so small they fail to capture landscape-scale resolution of biomass, and destructively harvesting vegetation can alter future measurements.

The advent of Structure from Motion (SfM), the process of deriving heights of objects in overlapping images, has proven a cost-effective method to determine ABG. SfM works by taking images and then finding points in common in at least two images. These resulting points form a three-dimensional point clouds that can be used to reconstruct vegetation. Shrubs are well suited to be reconstructed using SfM because of their high contrast with the surrounding landscape and sparse spacing. Whereas reconstruction of grasses through SfM proves difficult because of their homogenous color, complex texture, and movement during images. While clear relationships have been established for AGB and shrub volume in the Great Basin and Range, there is still a need for relationships between AGB and SfM-derived volume for both invasive and native grasses. Using images collected for extremely close-range (<1m above ground hand-held images) SfM in summer 2019 this study aims to develop a relationship between grass volume derived from SfM and destructively harvested biomass from ~50 plots with 30 photos of each plot. This study also created an open-source SfM to volume code making the workflow easily reproducible for all plots, compared to current processing methods that are time-intensive. We investigate whether a relationship can be established at extremely close-range and determine viability for up-scaling to drones and reducing the need for destructive harvesting to collect biomass information.

Allison Vincent

A New Method for Tracking Seasonal Snowpack with Satellite Remote Sensing Data Fusion Modeling
Program: Hydrologic Sciences (MS)
Major Advisor: Alejandro Flores

Seasonal snowfall is the largest input of water to many mountain ecosystems around the world, including many in the Western U.S. It is suspected that climate change is already altering the rate and timing of seasonal snowfall in many of these areas and will continue to do so in the future. An important variable for understanding this behavior is the spatial extent of snow, also known as snow-covered area (SCA). Monitoring how SCA varies throughout a season and from year to year can provide important information not only about changing climate, but also about how ecosystem processes that depend on water delivered through snow may be impacted. Because mountain landscapes are very heterogeneous, SCA can change very quickly over small scales of time and space with large impacts on the rest of the system. It has been difficult, however, to measure historical snowpack extent for large areas on very fine spatial and temporal scales due to a lack of satellite remote sensing datasets with both of these fine scale characteristics. The Spatial and Temporal Adaptive Reflectance Fusion Model (STARFM) has the potential to fill this historic knowledge gap. By fusing low spatial and high temporal resolution data from NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites (500m, daily) with high spatial and low temporal resolution data from NASA’s Landsat satellite (30m, 16 days), a fine resolution, daily dataset can be obtained. This project is one of the first to use this model with the primary intent of monitoring SCA in a mountain watershed. Preliminary results for model runs spanning an entire snow season will be presented for the East River watershed in Colorado. This work has implications for future work in modeling possible changes in the carbon, water, and energy cycles in mountain watersheds.

Victoria Volk

Integration of Neural Network Architecture within a Finite Element Framework for Improved Neuromusculoskeletal Modeling
Program: Materials Science and Engineering (PhD)
Major Advisor: Clare Fitzpatrick

Human movement requires complex interactions between the nervous system and musculoskeletal system. Improved understanding of the interactions between these systems, such as through multiscale neuromusculoskeletal (NMS) models, will facilitate biomechanics studies investigating mechanisms and treatment of pathological musculoskeletal conditions. Fully predictive NMS models utilize a pool of motor neurons to simulate a neural command that is converted into muscle force input into a musculoskeletal model. The objective of this study is to develop a physiologically accurate, fully predictive NMS model that uses an embedded neural network within a finite element framework to simulate muscle activation and resulting movement. This is accomplished by integrating finite element (Abaqus) and NEURON simulation environments and is demonstrated here using a single motor neuron innervating a soleus muscle. The generated muscle force from the neuromusculoskeletal model is compared to previously reported literature by Kim (2017, J Appl Physiol) for a variety of input stimulation profiles to demonstration the efficacy of the model to accurately simulate various neural commands. The root mean square error between the NEURON force predictions of the neural model by itself and the integrated finite element NMS model is 0.0513 N, which shows the effective integration of the various software platforms.

Eli Walker

Knee Biomechanics Increase with Load and Locomotion Speed, but Vary Across Terrain
Program: Biomedical Engineering (PhD)
Major Advisor: Tyler Brown

Military personnel routinely traverse complex terrain at varying speeds with heavy body borne load. Yet, lower limb biomechanical adaptations, particularly at the knee, during these tasks may increase musculoskeletal injury risk. To examine knee biomechanics during these military tasks, participants will walk (1.3 m/s), jog (3.0 m/s) and run (4.5 m/s) over normal, slick, and uneven surfaces with loads (0, 15 and 30 kg). It is expected the addition of body borne load and speed will significantly increase knee biomechanics related to musculoskeletal injury. While changes in knee biomechanics, and subsequent injury risk, will vary with terrain.

JoHan Wang

​Female’s Postural Stability Following a Six Week Off-Season Training Cycle in Division I Collegiate Soccer ​
Program: Biomedical Engineering (PhD)
Major Advisor: Tyler Brown

Decreased postural control from acute neuromuscular fatigue is purportedly a predictor for ACL injury. However, it is unknown if cumulative fatigue similarly increases injury risk. After a six-week off-season training program, 27 female collegiate soccer players had single-leg postural stability quantified for the dominant and non-dominant limbs. Upon landing, time to stabilization (TTS) and dynamic postural stability index (DPSI) were calculated for each limb. Neither training, nor limb had a significant effect on TTS (p=0.199, p=0.528) or DPSI (p=0.098, p=0.193). Moreover, limb asymmetry was not significantly different for TTS (p=0.830) or DPSI (p=0.291) following training.

Michael Wasef

HLS Implementation of Linear Discriminant Analysis Classifier
Program: Electrical and Computer Engineering (PhD)
Major Advisor: Nader Rafla

Data classification has improved significantly over time and nowadays is used in a variety of purposes and applications. This paper demonstrates the design and implementation of multivariate classifier linear discriminant algorithm on a Field Programable Gate Array (FPGA) as System on Chip (SoC). The classifier is optimized using High Level Synthesis (HLS) techniques. The optimized design is placed on the programmable logic part of the chip while its controller is built on the embedded processor of the same chip. The paper details the process of the classifier design and optimization and reports on the power consumption, resource utilization, latency, and algorithm accuracy before and after optimization.

Trystan Weisinger

College Student-Athletes Engagement in Activism: Target for Change and Method for Increasing Awareness
Program: Kinesiology (MS)
Major Advisor: Eric Martin

Recently, professional athletes have used their social influence to promote change in society (e.g., Megan Rapinoe, Colin Kaepernick). However, college and high school student-athletes have been less likely to have media cover them utilizing their platform through activism. The present study examined the type (e.g., protest), theme (e.g., race), and target (e.g., domestic) associated with acts of activism college student-athletes during their high school and college years. A total of 1117 collegiate student-athletes participated in the study. In high school, student-athletes were involved in a total of 1231 acts of activism. The most common type of activism was physical protests (33.4%), most frequently were geared toward political issues (9.2%), and occurred at the domestic level (18.4%). In college, student-athletes were involved in a total of 1253 acts of activism. The most common type of activism was physical protests (27%), most frequently were geared toward race/ethnicity (11.1%), and occurred at the domestic level (15.6%). Student-athletes were using physical protests as well as other forms of activism to promote change throughout a variety of topics, most notably political and race/ethnicity issues. This information allows us to understand the issues important to student-athletes throughout sports and society and see how these issues change with age. With more support, student-athletes could be taught how to use their social influence more strategically, enabling them to more powerfully influence social good both in their sport and society.

Travis Wertz

Contribution of Neutrophil-derived Oncostatin M Following Th17-specific Recruitment in Blood-brain Barrier Dysfunction During the Early Effector Phase of Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis
Program: Biomolecular Sciences (PhD)
Major Advisor: Rich Beard

The blood-brain barrier is comprised of endothelial cells lining the cerebral vasculature. Barrier integrity is dynamically regulated through the maintenance of a large number of cell-cell adhesive proteins, which includes members of the claudin family, the tight junction-associated MARVEL protein (TAMP) family, the angulin family, and the junctional adhesion molecule family. Under homeostatic conditions, the central nervous system (CNS) maintains privilege from surveilling leukocytes. During neuroinflammation, however, immune cells are recruited to the CNS, releasing a host of factors to overcome the endothelial barrier, leading to infiltration and potential neurologic damage. The pleiotropic cytokine oncostatin M (OSM) is one such factor shown to be elevated in several inflammatory conditions, including multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. However, the larger physiological role of OSM, including temporal and spatial resolution during neuroinflammation, has remained unclear. Using experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), a murine model of neuroinflammation that exhibits loss of tight junctions, infiltrating neutrophils, and demyelination, we explore the source and effect of OSM during neuroinflammation. This study suggests that during the effector phase of EAE, TH17 cells recruit neutrophils, which activate and release OSM upon the endothelium, causing specific downregulation of TAMPs without modifying claudin-5 expression, leading to decreased barrier integrity. Attenuation of OSM signaling in the endothelium restores TAMP expression, rescues barrier integrity, and diminishes symptoms of EAE.

Jeff Wilkins

Alterations in Collegiate Female Soccer Athlete Explosiveness Following Offseason Training

Program: Kinesiology (MS)
Major Advisor: Tyler Brown

Reactive Strength Index (RSI) reportedly measures athletic “explosiveness” and may be useful to monitor training. First-year athletes have difficulty adapting to the new, increased training demands of collegiate sports, and thus we examined the training response of twenty-seven (8 first-year) collegiate female soccer athletes immediately prior to- and following offseason training. Training resulted in significant increases in RSI for all participants (p=0.021, 0.962±0.054 vs. 1.036±0.053) while first-year athletes exhibited significantly lower RSI, i.e., explosiveness, (p=0.043, 0.841±0.088 vs. 1.066±0.057) compared to non-first-year athletes. First-year athletes were less explosive following training, but all athletes improved performance in response to training.

Terry Wilson II

Ecoglobal Criminology: GIS (Geographic Information Systems) & the Environmental Justice Movement
Program: Criminal Justice (MA)
Major Advisor: Laura King

There is decades of research suggesting industrial pollutants have harmful effects on the environment, humans, and animal-life (Bolden et al., 2018; Bondy et al., 2017; Colborn, 2004; McKenzie et al., 2012, McKenzie et al., 2019; Meeker, 2012; Weichenthal et al., 2018; White, 2008). Biologist Sandra Steingraber, explored the link between cancer and environmental pollutants (King & Auriffeille, 2005). This project is an exploratory work aimed at better understanding the overall health implications of industrial violence using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The goal of this project is to recognize the lack of accountability in industrial violence. Ecoglobal criminology or green criminology argues for a system of punitive accountability or some form of legal-regulatory invocation, as environmental regulations are designed to protect society.

Clementine Wright

Skin and Bones
Visual Arts (MFA)
Major Advisor: Chad Erpelding

In my second year in the MFA program at BSU in studio art, I will be continuing my exploration in glass forming and Patte de Verre, a technique employed using glass powder to form sculpture and installation. I will be showing work that utilizes my increasing knowledge of temperature, forming rates, translucency and form. In my work, I create themes involving memory, identity, and disconnection utilizing discarded totems, porcelain, and glass and seek to transform them into contemplative sculpture and installation describing the duality of disintegration and reconstruction of nature and its tenuous connection to humanity. The demise and disconnection of the human collective is tied to the demise of nature woven together in a fragile ecology that is slowly being eradicated. My materials consist of porcelain, cast glass, and found objects that I then imbibe with a transformative nature. There is an inherent fascination with emotive memory, feminine identity and fragility in my work.

Zongbo Xu

Challenges and solutions in utilizing ambient seismic noise
Program: Geophysics (PhD)
Major Advisor: Dylan Mikesell

Ambient seismic noise (ASN) is a type of ground vibration due to ambient seismic sources such as anthropogenic activities (e.g. traffic) and natural sources (e.g. ocean). One can use ASN to investigate subsurface structures, track ambient seismic sources (e.g. hurricane) and monitor temporal changes in the subsurface (e.g. saturation). However, some assumptions in these applications are rarely met in practice. I will present the consequence due to these invalid assumptions, and give my solutions. This research is important for geological hazards and studying interaction between ocean and solid Earth.

Andong Yue

HPC Simulation of the CWM-75kW Magnetron and Big Data Analytics
Program: Electrical and Computer Engineering (PhD)
Major Advisor: Jim Browning

Results of a simulation study of the L3Harris CWM75kW industrial strapped magnetron using the 3-D PIC code VSim is presented. The magnetron is a vacuum electron device that serves as a highly efficient high-power radio frequency source. The CWM75kW magnetron is capable of 75 kW of continuous power at 896-915 MHz. The proper operation of the device requires deep understanding and delicate manipulation of physics. The following presentation focus on the techniques that were used to study this complex device with the aid of modern high-performance computing (HPC) as well as the methods that were used to analyze the large data sets generated by the simulation (on the order of half of a trillion entries) so that useful information can be extracted out of otherwise chaotic-looking data. Analysis of these data is being used to study the onset of oscillation of the magnetron to determine the underlying physics which causes startup.

Julie Zeigler

Evaluation of a Newborn Fall Safety Bundle: A Case Study
Program: Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning (MS)
Major Advisor: Seung Youn (Yonnie) Chyung


It is estimated that up to 1600 newborns fall or are dropped in the hospital setting each year, with associated injuries ranging on a continuum from temporary minor discomfort for the newborn to death. In 2017, Canyon View Health System (pseudonym) in the Northwestern Region of the United States implemented the Newborn Fall Safety Bundle (NFSB) after identifying a concerning increase in newborn falls within the hospital setting (4 events compared to two the prior year). This program included focused maternal education, new hospital processes, and the use of safety tools for nurses and new mothers with a goal of increasing knowledge related to fall risks, and decreasing fall events in the labor & delivery and mother-baby units.

Case Study Purpose and Methodology

Two years after the implementation of the NFSB, a summative evaluation study was conducted to investigate the bundle’s effectiveness. In addition, the findings of this case study intended to help inform clinical leaders when considering appropriateness of expanding this bundle to other hospitals. The case study incorporated data from surveys, an auditing tool, and a review of extant data to assess four identified dimensions that would define the effectiveness of the NFSB including:

  1. Staff adherence to guidelines
  2. Parent knowledge increase
  3. Newborn fall frequency reduction
  4. Parent behavior changes

In addition, the goal-based approach of this case study identified:

  • Areas of the bundle that may benefit from revision
  • Contributing factors requiring additional consideration for optimal efficacy


The case study results revealed the first three dimensions exceeded expectation noting the following outcomes during the maternal/newborn dyad hospitalization:

  • ≥ 95% Staff adherence to NFSB guidelines.
  • Increased staff awareness of newborn fall risks and mitigating safety measures.
  • Improved parental understanding of behaviors that reduce fall risk and enhance newborn safety.
  • Decrease in newborn falls/drops by 75% since implementation of the NFSB.

The fourth dimension, related to parental behavior change, was noted to have a serious opportunity for improvement due to inconsistent use of safety tools.


Due to the strong parental educational focus of the NFSB, this program not only enhances newborn safety while in the hospital, but also influences parental behaviors at home. This enhanced parental knowledge provides an opportunity for increased community awareness through word of mouth of the risks of newborn falls, and safety measures to prevent them. This evaluation case study helped Canyon View Health System determine that it is worth implementing the bundle in other hospitals.

Paul Zimmerebner

Effectiveness of Teacher Training for Blended Model Classrooms in the Boise District
Program: Executive Educational Leadership (EdS)
Major Advisor: Heather P. Williams

The Idaho legislature, in 2011, passed into law Senate Bill 1184 (which would require students to take two semester-long online classes). The Boise School District chose to create a blended model, semester-long class, called Critical Literacy, that would present material using an online learning management system in a traditional classroom with a teacher physically present to help students navigate the use of digital tools and educational software. The reasoning of the district centered around the thought that many students would struggle with online learning. In addition, the district saw the value of helping students familiarize themselves with online learning management systems since many students will take at least one course online post-high school. However, Senate Bill 1184 was overturned in 2012 by Propositions 1&2. The district decided to keep Critical Literacy based on the aforementioned reasoning.

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