McNair Scholars

Poster Presenter Abstracts

Biomedical & Biological Sciences

Brain Plasticity in the Context of Stroke Rehabilitation

Presenter:

Mariam Benazouz, University of Washington

Mentor:

Dr. Azadeh Yazdan, University of Washington

Field:

Biomedical Sciences & Bioengineering

Abstract:

Stroke, when the blood supply to the brain is reduced or disrupted, is a leading cause of disability among adults. Brain plasticity, also known as neural plasticity, can aid in the way that the brain recovers from a traumatic injury such as a stroke by creating newer, stronger synapses (connections) between neurons and thus increasing cell functionality. This literature review explores how brain plasticity informs new bioengineering solutions to stroke rehabilitation and asks, What type of novel stroke treatments have been developed using the concept of brain plasticity? Preliminary findings indicate that a breakthrough in this field is using optogenetics to trigger and control the neural connections that the brain can make through promoting motor function after ischemic stroke. Other innovations in this field include repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, transcranial direct current stimulation, and epidural cortical stimulation, which have all been shown to make permanent changes in neural synaptic transmission. These methods partially restore brain function while being less invasive and more effective in comparison to older interventions. This literature review indicates that new bioengineering treatments informed by brain plasticity are promising and could promote better rehabilitation outcomes for those suffering from stroke and potentially other traumatic brain injuries.

Optimizing the Polymeric Nanoparticle Formulation Parameters and Characterizing Poly(ethylene glycol) Degradation for Neurological Drug Delivery

Presenter:

Michael Chungyoun, University of Washington

Mentor:

Dr. Elizabeth Nance, University of Washington

Field:

Biomedical Sciences & Bioengineering

Abstract:

Drug delivery-enhancing platforms are vital to overcoming the blood-brain barrier that prevents sufficient accumulation of drugs in the brain during treatment. Although nanoparticles can improve diffusion and treatment of neurological diseases, the formulation process must be optimized. The goal of my project is to 1) optimize nanoparticle formulation parameters to maximize therapeutic enzyme activity, and 2) characterize the extent of nanoparticle degradation due to sonication. Within part 1), formulation methods were composed of poly(lactic-co-glycolic) acid copolymerized with poly(ethylene glycol), cholic acid (CHA) or polyvinyl alcohol surfactant, and the enzyme catalase. I formulated each of the nanoparticles at varied sonication times during the emulsion step to measure differences in therapeutic activity using UV-Vis spectroscopy. I found that the 30s sonicated CHA double emulsion and nanoprecipitation methods yielded the greatest enzymatic activity, 2.10% and 3.72% activity, respectively. In the presence of degradative pronase, CHA double emulsion nanoparticles exhibited better retention of enzymatic activity than nanoprecipitation, 75.66% and 9.22% retention, respectively. Within part 2), I monitored heat flow to identify the melting temperature in a sample of PEG exposed to varying sonications and assessed PEG degradation using differential scanning calorimetry. 5kDa PEG exhibited a melting temperature of 60.792C, while 5kDa PEG exposed to 2x150s of sonication exhibited a melting temperature of 59.450C, correlating to 4.8kDa. The 30s sonication CHA double emulsion formulation yielded the highest enzymatic activity with protection from degradation from external proteases. Thus, my results point to a promising polymeric nanoparticle design that may help in the development of more powerful and effective treatment options for neurological diseases.

An Investigation on the Household and Allergenic Fungi of the Texas Panhandle

Presenter:

Lyanna De Leon, West Texas A&M University

Mentor:

Nabarun Ghosh, West Texas A&M University

Field:

Information Science

Abstract:

Fungi have the ability to grow indoor and outdoor and can enter the house through open doorways, windows, vents, as well as heating and air conditioning systems. We have used two different techniques to capture and collect the fungal samples. We used a Burkard Volumetric Spore Trap to capture the aeroallergens. It was placed on the third-floor roof of the Natural Science Building of West Texas AM University. We collected the spores on the Sellotape placed on the drum and stained them with 2% safranin and mounted the slide in Gelvatol. We observed the prepared slides using BX-40 Olympus Microscope equipped with a DP-74 digital camera and the cellSens software. We observed the frequent presence of fungal spores like Alternaria alternata, Stachybotrys, Drechslera and ascospores. We also observed plenty of burnt residues, gums and resinous exudates from the plants and various forms of fibers. All these are considered as potential allergens and causal factors for allergic rhinitis and related symptoms.15 In the second part, we have collected the spoiled food materials and cheese. We stained the isolated fungal materials after a brief flaming on an alcohol lamp. After staining with Lacto-phenol Cotton Blue stain, we observed the spores and mycelia produced by the fungi using a Leica DM-750 digital microscope equipped with LAS V4.9 software for capturing images. Micrographs were captured, analyzed and labeled accordingly. We observed Rhizopus stolonifer, Colletotrichum truncatum, Aspergillus niger, Penicillium notatumand various types of spores from Deuteromycetious fungi. Our continued research will include collection of fungal samples from different households, capturing images after staining suitably and analyzing them based on their spore morphology using the standard identification keys.

Investigating Variants in Individuals With Isolated Birth Defects

Presenter:

Kim T. Ha, University of Washington

Mentors:

Dr. Michael Bamshad, University of Washington

Kathryn Shively, University of Washington

Field:

Genetics / Genome Sciences

Abstract:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, birth defects affect 1 in every 33 babies born in the United States, and severity within each condition varies widely. However, the genetic basis of isolated birth defects (iBD), that is having a single major birth defect, remains largely unknown. The research question for this study is, What are the underlining genetic causes of different iBDs? To answer this question, I visually screened patient data obtained from the University of Washington Center for Mendelian Genomics. I looked at the DNA sequences in families to confirm the presence of a genetic variant in the affected child and identify patterns of inheritance for children affected by glaucoma or omphalocele. Glaucoma is a condition affecting vision and omphalocele is a defect of the abdominal wall that causes organs to lay outside of the stomach. I looked at these birth defects because they are common causes of infant mortality in the first year of life. Early findings show that in our cohort, 7 out of 19 individuals with congenital glaucoma have overlapping genotypes with other disorders affecting vision. In the omphalocele cohort, there were no overlaps in their genotype with other similar disorders. These results suggest that within glaucoma, there are other possible candidate genes of interest for targeted sequencing, and that these individuals may be affected by other medical conditions relating to vision. Given these findings, I will continue to analyze data for other defects to expand our understanding of the phenotypes of iBDs. The next major defect I will study is tricuspid atresia which is a defect in the heart. This research will contribute to knowledge of the genetic basis for iBDs by narrowing down the candidate genes which can be used to identify targeted sequences for DNA sequencing.

Plant Soil Feedbacks Vary With Aspect in Palouse Prairie Remnants

Presenter:

Rachael Pentico, Eastern Washington University

Mentor:

Dr. Rebecca Brown, Eastern Washington University

Field:

Environmental Sciences / Ecology

Abstract:

Plants alter the biotic and abiotic characteristics of the soil they grow in, which can alter future plant survival, through a process known as plant-soil feedbacks (PSFs). PSFs play a key role in plant succession and invasion by nonnative species. Scientists are only beginning to understand how microclimate might affect plant soil feedbacks. In the semiarid Palouse Prairie Ecoregion of the Inland Northwestern US, aspect can affect microclimate, with harsher conditions on south facing slopes. Aspect also is related to plant invasion in this ecosystem, with increased invasion on south facing slopes. My objective was to determine if the effects of aspect on invasive species are mediated by plant soil feedbacks. To test this, I conducted a greenhouse experiment using two native and two invasive prairie species, inoculated with soils collected from north and south facing slopes on Palouse Prairie remnants. Each pot consisted of autoclaved soil from an old agricultural field. The control group consisted of only the autoclaved soil, whereas the slope treatment pots consisted of 20% living soil. There were10 replicates per treatment. Germination and plant growth were measured after five weeks. I found that native species had higher growth rates when inoculated with soil from north slopes while invasive species growth rate was not affected. However, invasive species had much higher germination rates when inoculated with soil from south slopes. These findings suggest that slope aspect influences PSFs and these relationships can help with invasive species management in endangered ecosystems such as the Palouse Prairie Ecoregion.

Investigating Where and How Kappa-Mediated Reactive Oxygen Species Are Produced Using a Novel HyperRed Imaging Technique

Presenter:

Keionna A. Newton, University of Washington

Mentor:

Dr. Charles Chavkin, University of Washington

Field:

Pharmacology

Abstract:

In the Chavkin Lab, nalfurafine is a biased kappa agonist of interest and binds to and activates kappa opioid receptors (KOR). Nalfurafine is of interest because through the activation of KOR, it can alleviate pain and has been shown to be non-addictive. KOR signals through G-proteins and can exhibit biased signaling; this biased signaling can activate production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). We hypothesize that ROS may be a necessary signaling mechanism for biased kappa agonists such as nalfurafine, but the dynamic processes of ROS and their impact on cellular physiology remains unknown. To investigate where and how ROS are produced, I utilized a novel HyPerRed imaging technique. HyPerRed is a red fluorophore attached to a specific hydrogen peroxide sensor that is genetically encoded in an adeno-associated virus (AAV). The HyPerRed virus was injected into the ventral tegmental area (VTA) of male mice and I took horizontal brain slices for recording. I imaged the HyPerRed responses to nalfurafine and hydrogen peroxide using a fluorescent microscope and recorded the change in fluorescence in cells over time. I observed significant HyPerRed responses to ROS production in VTA cell bodies but not in nerve terminals, suggesting that different subcellular components may contribute to the robust ROS production observed in the VTA. This study provides a framework for a new technique that can be used to visualize and study reactive oxygen species production in real-time. Understanding the dynamics ROS production could inspire and improve future research and development of kappa therapeutics to treat chronic pain. The pain-alleviating and non-addictive properties of kappa agonists provide safer alternatives to the current prescription opioids that have contributed to the current opioid epidemic.

Identification of Synergistic and Antagonistic Antibiotic Combinations for Treatment of Mycobacterium abscessus

Presenter:

Kristine Tandoc, University of Washington

Mentor:

Dr. Rafael Hernandez, University of Washington

Field:

Biomedical Sciences & Bioengineering

Abstract:

Mycobacterium abscessus (Mabsc) infections occur in more than 5% of patients with cystic fibrosis (CF), increasing over the last decade. Antibiotic treatment for those with the infection can take many months and often are not successful at eradicating the organism, requiring long-term maintenance therapy. Currently, there is not an effective and evidence-based drug regimen for treating Mabsc infections in patients with CF. The conventional recommended treatment consists of 3-4 drugs, which together have an eradication rate as low as 20% in Mabsc subspecies abscessus. The goals of this project were: to collect experimental data to train the INDIGO-MABSC, an in silico model for predicting synergistic and antagonistic antibiotic interactions to treat M. abscessus infections; and to identify possible synergistic interactions between antibiotic combinations. I treated liquid cultures with 40 different antibiotics for 6 hours and then isolated genomic ribonucleic acid (RNA). The RNA was then sequenced to determine gene expression changes which can be used for model construction. Using broth microdilution, I set up checkerboard assays to observe the interactions between two different drugs and assess the combinations efficiency in inhibiting the growth of Mabsc type strain ATCC19977 qualitatively by eye. I calculated the fractional inhibitory combination for each combination. Preliminary results show putative synergistic interactions between drug pairs Cefoxitin-Rifampin, Imipenem-Cefoxitin, Imipenem-Clarithromycin, and Imipenem-Linezolid. From sequencing results, we saw that Rifampin, Imipenem, Clofazimine, Rifabutin, and Cefoxitin did not induce sufficient gene changes. Future directions include additional checkerboard testing for combinations that were inconclusive due to no minimum inhibitory concentration recorded. Additionally, I will work optimize drug treatment for antibiotics that did not induce enough gene expression changes, and also work to collect RNA from cultures treated with novel drugs and antibiotic combinations that are commercially available.

Psychology & Mental Health

Investigating the Effect of Brief Mindfulness Training on Intergroup Prosociality

Presenter:

Jessah Goldner, California State University San Marcos

Mentor:

Dr. Daniel Berry, California State University San Marcos

Field:

Social & Behavioral Sciences

Abstract:

One in-person (N=142) and one online experiment (N=51) were aggregated to examine whether a brief mindfulness intervention could promote empathic emotions and helping behaviors toward racial outgroup members. Self-identifying White participants were randomized to listen to audio-recorded instructions (mindfulness, relaxation, or inactive control) before observing a person being excluded. They were also randomized to witness an ostensibly Black or White player being excluded. Participants were given two opportunities to help the exclusion victims and their empathic emotions were measured. Mindfulness trainees, relative to the two controls, showed higher empathic anger in the same- (d=.31) and other-race (d=.42) conditions and higher empathic sadness in the same- (d=.49) and other-race (d=.30) conditions. However, the effect of mindfulness on compassion was only meaningful in the same race condition (d=.31), but not the other-race condition (d=.16). Mindfulness trainees wrote more prosocial emails (condition blind coding) to other-race victims (d=.35), relative to controls; this effect was not present for same-race victims, however (d=.17). Interestingly, mindfulness training was not associated with public helping behavior in either condition (same-race d=-.03; other-race d=.04). That is mindfulness trainees did not include the victim in an online more than the average of the two controls. These results could indicate that mindfulness training is associated with empathic emotions less reliably related to helping behavior (i.e., empathic anger and sadness), and is only related to private helping in intergroup contexts. Discussion will focus on the appropriateness of mindfulness training for promoting positive intergroup relations.

Measure Intervene Adolescent Stress With A Social Robot EMAR

Presenter:

Raida Karim, University of Washington

Mentors:

Dr. Maya Cakmak, University of Washington

Dr. Patrícia Alves-Oliveira, University of Washington

Field:

Computer Science

Abstract:

Adolescents are vulnerable to high levels of stress in their lives that usually result from school, relationships, and family life. Approximately 27% of US teens report very high levels of daily stress, and 31% report to feel overwhelmed from negative stress. Reportedly, school stress is the biggest source of stress for teens worldwide. Capturing data of fluctuating stress levels throughout the school day can facilitate formulating effective stress measurement and reduction techniques for teens, which is imperative to support this vulnerable population. Todays teens are the first generation to spend a lifetime living and increasingly experiencing human-computer interaction. According to far-seeing scholars, it is critically necessary to innovate, design, and prototype technologies enhancing the connection between humans and robots targeting next generations. A wide array of research in human-robot interaction (HRI) focuses on specific age groups, where assistive technologies are mostly used to help the populations of elderly people and young children. However, very little research has been conducted to address teen-stress, or teen-robot interaction. My research in Project EMAR (Ecological Momentary Assessment Robot) aims to collect in-the-moment data from teens to map the stress and mood levels, and conduct therapeutic activities for teens with a social robot EMAR focusing specifically on interventions for Dialectic Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), two evidence-based therapies with efficacy treating teenagers mental health. These therapeutic techniques can be critically convenient in the COVID-19 pandemic circumstances to intervene higher stress, low mood, and critical mental health in home-stuck adolescents worldwide.

COVID-19 Impacts

Latinx First-Generation Students’ Academic Experience: The Role of Institutional Supports During a Pandemic

Presenter:

Lizeth Banuelos, Eastern Washington University

Mentor:

Dr. Aryn Ziehnert, Eastern Washington University

Field:

Psychology

Abstract:

The Latinx population has become the largest minority group in the United States, now more than 18% of the U.S. population. However, Latinx first-generation students still fall behind non-Latinx students in educational achievement. This study seeks to examine the Latinx first-generation academic experience amidst a pandemic, with an emphasis on looking at their perceived stress related to academics, their academic self-efficacy, and their knowledge/feelings toward the institutional supports. To accomplish this, I examine the roles of institutional and familial supports, as well as, the factors contributing to the educational achievement gap including language, cultural barriers, socioeconomic status, lack of funding, lack of diverse faculty, lack of access to educational resources, and a lack of educational knowledge. I also examine the psychological effects that the educational gap has on Latinx first-generation students in terms of social emotions, stress and coping, and academic self-efficacy. For this study, I am utilizing a convergent mixed methods approach, incorporating both quantitative and qualitative data in order to provide a more comprehensive understanding of Latinx students’ perceived academic experience amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Primary analyses are quantitative, using established questionnaires to examine experiences related to perceived stress, academic self-efficacy, and institutional supports. Secondary analyses are qualitative, using open-ended questions to expound upon these experiences. Data results will be analyzed this Spring 2021. Results of this study will help in understanding the academic experience for Latinx first-generation college students, find ways to narrow the educational achievement gap, and provide equitable education to all Latinx citizens. Psychological challenges have a high impact on academic failure, so addressing these first can dramatically advance educational attainment for the Latinx population.

Los Caminos de La Vida: The Impact of COVID on Education in Rural Communities

Presenter:

Karina Flores, University of Washington

Mentors:

Dr. Michael Spencer, University of Washington

Santino Camacho, University of Washington

Field:

Education

Abstract:

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic caused students living in rural areas to experience exacerbated educational disparities. This included familial financial stresses, which also pushed many migrant students living in rural communities to prioritize work over school. The pandemic shed light on educational disparities featured in rural public-school education systems. The purpose of the study is to examine how the education trajectory of students in rural communities has been affected by the social and economic impacts of COVID-19. To accomplish this purpose, we will examine the extent to which familial needs impacted students post-high school educational plans, how financial strain has influenced their post-graduation choices, and how students practiced resourcefulness and resilience despite experiences of economic hardship. In this community-based qualitative research project, we will conduct semi-structured interviews with Eastern Washington high school seniors who are 18 years of age or older and use a phenomenological thematic analysis to gather themes related to our research questions. As part of the research, we will collaborate with a community advisory committee composed of teachers and recent high school graduates from Eastern Washington communities to develop the projects research methods and to ensure the analyses and interpretation of interviews are reflective of the students experiences. We predict that students will plan to alter their post-high school paths to accommodate their families needs. Anti-racist – strength-based – frameworks will be used to make academic support recommendations for students in rural communities. Ultimately, our study can help inform collaboration with community members to find solutions so we can best support students and encourage them as they navigate pathways after high school graduations.

Caring for Washington’s Older Adults During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Secondary Analysis on the Unique Barriers Experienced by Organizations Serving Historically Marginalized Populations

Presenter:

Aiyanna Guadiz, University of Washington

Mentor:

Dr. Maggie Ramirez, University of Washington

Field:

Humanities

Abstract:

COVID-19 is found to have higher contraction rates and worse outcomes for those in racial and ethnic minority groups. Additionally, the pandemic presents significant and costly disruptions to social service and health care systems. These disruptions present not only a mortality risk but grave health and economic risks for older adults. The purpose of this study is to document the barriers and best practices in mitigating the health disparities that racial and ethnic minority groups experience. I conducted a secondary analysis to ask, What are the unique barriers to social and health service delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic that have affected organizations in Washington State serving predominantly racial and ethnic minorities, clients with low socioeconomic status, and those living in rural areas? I used survey and qualitative semi-structured interview data collected from 40 senior leaders of health and social services organizations in Western, Central, and Eastern Washington, whose primary client and patient population is low-income, marginalized older adults, and those with dementia. I identified themes within each organization and how they differ depending on their predominant client population (e.g. mostly White clients vs. mostly non-White clients). This study’s anticipated results are that older adults from historically marginalized racial and ethnic communities are at higher risk of lower health care services and outcomes and that race and ethnicity play a pivotal role in determining when care is accessible. By adopting a Participatory Action Research model, I can inform and educate society on the barriers these organizations face to providing equitable care to elders and use my findings to create a community-based action plan that responds to these challenges and keeps our older adults safe and healthy.

The Impact of Food Insecurity During COVID-19

Presenter:

Tiara K. Kutscherenko, Delta State University

Mentor:

Dr. Taylor Skelton, Delta State University

Field:

Public Health

Abstract:

Children have basic survival needs that must be met. These needs include shelter, clothing, safety, and, most importantly, food. Proper nutrition contributes to a child’s physical and cognitive development. Unforeseen causes such as a global pandemic, effect children’s nourishment. Now that many children are learning virtually from home, due to the pandemic. Due to the pandemic, an increasing number of households are now living in poverty and 18 million children (1 in 4) are faced with food insecurity. This creates the query on if children are getting their needs met now that programs have been brought to a standstill. I used a pre- and post-intervention method in primary schools to collect data on nutrition education. To improve the interest and knowledge of foods to parents and children. The recruitment of both urban and rural locations was incorporated in the study, along with a target region of social-economic disadvantage education programs. Eleven schools tested for positive feedback with participating in the intervention. I hypothesize that results from post-intervention data will show an increase in families and education programs awareness and knowledge of childhood dietary needs, leading to improved dietary intake in their households. Childhood nutrition is a critical life component to promote healthy behaviors. It is observed that home environment, early childcare, and education centers are settings to implement healthy eating behaviors. My study will show the importance of education around proper nutrition during childhood and its impact on cognitive and physical development, reduced risk factors for chronic diseases, improved mood energy levels. This is to show that nutrition at home is beneficial.

COVID-19 and Undocumented Latinx Immigrants: Economic Impacts and Resource Communication

Presenter:

Claudia F. Mendoza, California State University Stanislaus

Mentor:

Dr. Ryan Logan, California State University Stanislaus

Field:

Anthropology

Abstract:

Undocumented immigrants are excluded from access to federal aid, including in the most recent COVID-19 relief packages. However, the state of California set aside stimulus payments for undocumented immigrants to support themselves and their families. The primary goal of this research is to examine the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on immigrant Latinx families in the Central Valley of California. I will focus two areas in particular: 1) access to the California stimulus payment and 2) English-Spanish resource communication dynamics during the pandemic. In assessing these two areas, I will evaluate the effectiveness of the current systems in place. To provide further context, I analyze pre-pandemic service utilization studies as a basis for this study. I will employ several data collection strategies to collect quantitative and qualitative data via surveys and semi-structured interviews. Additionally, I will draw on participant observation through Zoom sessions to assess the impact of local organizations that cater to this demographic. Expected results may consist of economic hardship and a communication disconnect between the government and Spanish-speaking immigrant households. Results could inform policy, particularly enhancing communication and outreach between government agencies and this population. Moving forward, it is crucial to address the economic impacts of global catastrophes and ensure that effective communication of resources is accessible to all populations.

How Has COVID-19 Affected K-12 Education in Mississippi?

Presenter:

Kyé Richardson, Delta State University

Mentor:

Dr. Henri Byrd, Delta State University

Field:

Education

Abstract:

The recent increase in the COVID-19 virus has caused an uproar in the community. Parents, students, and the schools administrators are all concerned with how students will receive their education and how to keep the students safe. They are worried that things will not return to normal, and how they will adjust to this sudden change. The uncertainty of navigating something that we have never experienced in our lifetime, the COVID-19 pandemic, will surely impact the way that the educational system functions and how students and teachers are able to adapt. Our research will give insight into the effects of COVID on the quality of education for students in grades K-12 in the Mississippi Delta. To achieve this, we provided 3 school reopening options to continue learning: traditional, virtual, and hybrid. Moreover, we provided activities for students to complete at home such as: virtual field trips, take home packets, televised programs, and take-home boxes. Secondary articles and data tracking the impact of COVID were also used to support our research methods. The results of our research showed that the options provided were effective when reopening schools in the Fall of 2020. All in all, COVID-19 had a major impact on public school education nationally, however, with strategic planning and equity students could be given a phenomenal educational experience regardless of the format. Ultimately, our research can help serve as a guide to procedures that schools could implement to ensure that schools can operate successfully in the midst of uncertainty.

Social Justice & Equity

Mothering During Jim Crow: Using the Reproductive Justice Framework to Understand Black Motherhood During Legalized Racism

Presenters:

Ayan Hussein Mohamed, University of Washington

Mia Schuman, University of Washington

Rachel Vulk, University of Washington

Rina Yan, University of Washington

Alana Lim, University of Washington

Mentor:

Dr. LaShawnDa Pittman, University of Washington

Field:

Public Health

Abstract:

Jim Crow era legalized racism denied Black women the freedom to exercise control over their childbearing and childrearing; specifically, by restricting their access to necessary medical care and sufficient resources to care for their families, and by constraining their autonomy and agency. As a consequence, Black women experienced uniquely poor reproductive health and family outcomes compared to all other racial and ethnic groups (Eichelberger et al. 2016); these racial disparities persists today. This study applies a reproductive justice framework to understanding Black women’s lived experiences of systematic raced and gendered oppression, as well as their forms of resistance when caring for themselves and their children. Reproductive justice is the personal right to control ones body, have children under the conditions that we choose, and parent those children in stable communities (Sister Song 1997). Thus, we ask how did gendered racism impact Black women’s experiences of reproductive justice and what strategies of resistance did they devise in response? We used Dedoose, a cloud-based mixed methods software, to conduct a content analysis of oral histories from two oral history repositories. These primary sources were excerpted and coded for common themes including racisms influence on childbearing and childrearing, socioeconomic experiences, access to medical care, and protective factors. We have three preliminary findings that contribute to existing literature: 1) when women required more medical care than midwives could provide, they experienced numerous barriers to accessing such care, 2) Black women experienced multiple levels of social control that undermined their childrearing, and 3) women devised strategies of resistance to care for their bodies and their children, including collective childrearing, resource sharing, and instilling a sense of self-worth in their children.

Shifting Gender Roles in Khmer Stories and Their Adaptations

Presenter:

Rane Prak, University of Texas at Austin

Mentor:

Dr. Chiu-Mi Lai, University of Texas at Austin

Field:

Humanities

Abstract:

Storytelling can be a conversation among people of different generations, a conversation that helps them negotiate a shared identity based on both the past and the present. As Khmer stories are adapted into different genres and media, including feature films, television dramas, and performance arts, the social messages that different writers are trying to communicate shift and evolve. My research, which centers on modern and contemporary adaptations of traditional Khmer storytelling, moves beyond the conventional imperialist paradigm that posits a dichotomy between modernity as enlightened and progressive, and tradition as conservative and backwards, arguing for a more nuanced conception of the dynamic relationship between the two. My hypothesis is that these kinds of cultural artifacts are not produced purely for entertainment, nor solely as vehicles for nostalgia. Instead, I argue, these adaptations play a productive role in the ongoing negotiation and construction of identity in Cambodia and among Cambodian diasporic communities overseas. Drawing on scholarship in literary and textual criticism, digital media criticism, and the performance arts, I will trace the shifting emphases of the moral and social messages transmitted through Khmer literature, film, and drama. By translating these stories into English, I will make them more accessible to international communities of scholars, showing how traditional Khmer storytelling is used today to negotiate issues related to modernity and identity, particularly gender roles. By examining the tensions in these sources between the competing models of the Perfectly Virtuous Woman on the one hand, and the Modern Woman on the other, I show how women in these stories have been able to exert their own agency within and beyond their prescribed roles, used by writers, directors, and performers to promote different visions of nationhood and Cambodian identity. With these interventions, I hope to contribute to a more holistic narrative of Cambodian cultural history, one that moves beyond the fields current focus on intergenerational trauma and the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge Genocide.

What Dynamic Relationships Exists in the Developmental Policy Implemented From the Mid-20th and 21st Centuries in Underdeveloped Countries and Its Continuous Effect?

Presenter:

Malachi Chukwu, Eastern Washington University

Mentor:

Dr. Majid Sharifi, Eastern Washington University

Field:

Political Science

Abstract:

This paper employs an empirical analysis of extant literature on development in the Global South from the Western states and the East, particularly China, to critique both failed policies implemented in the global south. Past polices of economic development such as structural adjustment in the 20th century, Millennium Development Goals, and Sustainable development goals in 21st century designed to improve the Global South has been nothing but failure. In fact, these policies have not improved life for the people in the Global South; instead, their hardship has been increased because of policy failures or they were met with limited success, which meant the Global South continued to lag in progress, trapped in abject poverty. The West’s failed policies of development increased the Global South’s poverty, pollution, political instability, and social fragmentation that led China’s momentum to offer its  alternative development through infrastructural projects and loans without restraint. Some scholars regard China’s loan behaviors as the  21st-century recolonization of the Global South by China. Currently, Chinas’ “One Road, Many Dreams” anticipates developing the underdeveloped countries. Despite China’s focus on infrastructure development and non-political interference, a careful evaluation suggests more dilemmas may arise in the future due to highly increased debt by Global South. This paper reviews the pervasive stages and its consequences in Niger Delta, Laos, Burman/ Myanmar, and Sri Lanka. After previewing this background and providing context, this paper argues that these policies helped facilitate human insecurity in the global South and demands for a holistic developmental approach in Global South.

The School Desegregation Struggle in Seattle: Effects of Colorblind Legal Discourse

Presenter:

Abigail Heath, University of Washington

Mentors:

Dr. LaTaSha Levy, University of Washington

Brukab Sisay, University of Washington

Field:

Ethnic Studies

Abstract:

Seattle has a notable history of racial segregation concerning residential discrimination that persists in its neighborhoods and schools. Segregation is often narrated as a result of private discrimination and demographic development. However, this story implies that modern segregation is not a product of government actions and unconstitutional policies, which removes the responsibility of the law to provide legal remedy for the continued existence of segregation. The consequences are evident in how legal actors, such as judges, frequently perpetuate colorblind language in their court cases. My study centers on the question, How does the colorblind approach in legal discourse exacerbate the issue of segregation of public schools? To answer this question, I conduct a legal analysis by reviewing court decisions and review literature on the aftermath of selected court decisions and their outcomes on racial equity and segregation. In particular, I concentrate my textual analysis on pivotal court decisions on segregated public school education in Seattle and the use of colorblind rhetoric practiced by the United States Supreme Court, such as in the case of Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 (2007); Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 (2007) defeated a voluntary desegregation program established by the Seattle School District. Predicted findings are that in an effort to assume a non-discriminatory, universal perspective, legal discourse often overlooks the extensive history of racism that has developed the American legal system and results in a legal system that undermines and defeats efforts to establish race-conscious policies. This study sheds light on why Seattle’s public schools remain racially divided, and how the law contributes to this legacy of segregation.

ተስፋ መቁረጥ (Loss of Hope): The Precarity of Hope and Healing in Ethiopia’s Medically Plural Health System

Presenter:

Meron Girma, University of Washington

Mentor:

Dr. Rachel Chapman, University of Washington

Field:

Anthropology

Abstract:

Despite recent efforts in Ethiopia to increase health coverage, underutilization of both public and private sectors, the two main sources of formal healthcare, continues. This study gathered ethnographic interviews from 50 patients and 25 healthcare providers and observations of 7 public and private sector hospitals in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to identify causes of public and private healthcare underutilization. Analysis of patient and provider narratives revealed patterned itineraries of underutilization, and clear differences in service delivery and quality between the private and public sectors. Both sectors face accessibility issues that negatively affect patient and provider experiences. Public hospitals are congested, and underfunded, private hospitals are understaffed and expensive, and both sectors experience constant shortages of medical equipment and drug stocks. The complexity and gaps in the current healthcare system leave healthcare providers overburdened and patients feeling neglected, uncertain, and frustrated. Health-seeker trajectories in Ethiopia’s medically plural system are characterized by prolonged searches and costly treatment dead ends without any healing or end to suffering; ultimately, this results in complete hopelessness. A conceptual framework is proposed to explain why the quest for healing generates hopelessness for both health seekers and providers. While providers combat hopelessness with referrals to other sites of care, health seekers navigate the precarity of the health system through an economy of affection – a wide range of community relationships of mutuality, and collectivity. This labor has fostered development of third spaces for community organizing and spiritual enlightenment, where suffering is addressed, healing occurs, and lost hope is regenerated.