Three Minute Thesis Competition at Towson University 2019


Hello, everyone. I am here to present about my
thesis on the chemical analysis and the differentiation
of the natural henna dyes. So henna is kind
of a natural plant that is mostly found in the
Northern Africa and South Asia. And it is used for
cosmetic purposes for palm coloring,
body painting, as well as dying the hair. So as I’m in forensic
science, hair is a common type
of trace evidence that is found at
the crime scene. And what henna does is
people dye their hair. So henna will sit on
the surface of the hair. It wouldn’t absorb. It wouldn’t be
absorbed in the hair. So we can acquire
any information from the surface
of the hair using one of the analytical
instrument called ATR-FTIR. That is the
instrument that would help to provide the information
of the chemical compounds present on the
surface of the hair. Let’s say it is dyed, and
so the components of the dye will sit on the
strand of the hair. And we can get the information
on the basis of that. So what I did is I
got lots of samples from different suppliers. And I tried to differentiate the
[? same ?] henna products using ATR-FTIR, and tried to
differentiate the suppliers based on the color. And this might help me to
attribute my henna dyes. That is, I can go back and see
from which supplier the dye is from. So this is the graph
of the ATR-FTIR. But it is very hard
to differentiate which suppliers are which. And it is very hard to see. So I took the IR data. And I used on the
statistical data that is DFA. That is the Discriminant
Functional Analysis. So what this does is that it
is a statistical method which helps to group my suppliers
based on the color. I mean, it is a
little bit clustered, but still, you can see the
difference between the colors. You can see that black color
has been differentiated from the brown and green color,
and green and yellow color. So this way I am trying to build
up the library on the ATR-FTIR. So for the future research
what I can do is I can compile my data that I
have built up using ATR-FTIR. And if I get the hair
from the crime scene, I just have to put the
hair on the instrument. And it can say which
compounds are present. And it might also say from
which supplier the dye is from. So this might help to include
or exclude the suspect. Or you can also try to
see who the suspect is. So this is basically
what my research is about, all about henna dyes
and identifying the suspect. So thank you so much. [APPLAUSE] LA TONYA DYER: Hello, everyone. I’m going to discuss my research
on the use of conceptual change of professional development
to support conceptual conflict development activities in order
to support conceptual change. Imagine a faculty member
who is instructing a face to face course. And they use the physical or the
visual cues from their students in order to determine if their
students are comprehending the content being covered. Based on those cues,
she will dynamically shift her
instructional practices in order to bring the students
back in, and to engage them. Now, consider implementing
that process or practice within the online environment. For her, that creates
a conceptual conflict. In order to resolve
that conflict, she needs to
re-conceptualize her ideas, or her attitudes,
beliefs, and assumptions regarding what is
teaching and learning, as well as to truly define
what is her concern, and plausible solutions
to address those concerns. In essence, what
she is experiencing is conceptual change. And that occurs when a learner
has existing conceptions. But there is a conflict. There is some area
of dissatisfaction that they’re not
sure how to resolve. And any new conceptions
that they learn about, they must understand
them, believe that they are
plausible solutions, and that they will result
in fruitful results if implemented
across their courses. I created the What’s
on Your Mind module in order to support this
conceptual change process. What occurs is that
the participants complete self reflection and
peer interaction activities in order to document their
ideas or thoughts regarding teaching and learning. They do so through concept
maps, discussion forums, engaging with their
peers, as well as the review of literature. The intention in
these activities take place within an authentic
learning environment. And that’s a fully
online environment. In order to assess and
analyze their experiences, I use cross case analysis. And what cross case
analysis allowed me to do was to understand
our experiences, and to look for the
similarities and differences amongst the participants
within the study. And as a result of
analyzing their experiences I was able to determine that
self reflection and peer interaction within a structured,
authentic learning environment supported them with experiencing
the conceptual change. So that faculty member who used
the physical and visual cues of our students was
able to determine that her real concern was her
ability to assess her students’ comprehension of the content. And in order to assess quickly
within the online environment, she decided that she would
use quizzes or discussion forums in order to quickly
capture their experiences, and if necessary,
dynamically shift her instructional practices. So my research, and
the study showed that the simple acts of
self reflection and peer interaction within an
authentic learning environment will support the complex
process of conceptual change that faculty will experience
when going from a face to face teaching environment to
an online learning environment. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] AMANDA ISABELLA: Good morning. Thank you all for coming. How many of you can look at
that little water copa pod, also known as a water flea, up
there, and think to yourself, this organism could be its
own epic hero in a video game? Don’t worry. Me neither. But for many years
these organisms have enjoyed a certain notoriety
in water toxicity testing where they are used to inform
laws and regulations for our environment. But this is hardly realistic. So what we’re
trying to do is move from doing water
toxicity testing where the organism is placed in
a cup with a contaminant and a bit of food. And these are what
inform our policy. But how do we move
from a little organism in a cup with a contaminant
into whole ecosystems? The way we do this is
probably in your hand or close by you at this very moment. Computers now with
massive processing power have the ability,
given the correct data, to model in a video
game esque style these scenarios that play
out in our environment. So what we are attempting to
do, what our responsibility is, and the objective
of my thesis, is to supply the data that these
algorithms need in order to make the leap from
little organisms in cups to full ecosystems
through a computer model. So the objective of my thesis
is to add new components to this model. So I will be adding a fish
component, a mixture model component for
different contaminants, and a food component
to this model. And the way I do this is
through iterative leaps in gathering the data. So I start with an
organism in a little cup. And then I add
another contaminant. And then I add fish. But then I don’t
add contaminants. And then I add fish
and contaminants. But then I vary the food source. And I take these iterative
leaps in this data, and I add it to the model. And once this model
is completed it can be used by
scientists and regulators to write policy and add new data
to water quality monitoring. They can do this cheaply. And they can do it without
sacrificing animals in water toxicity testing. So are these little copa pods
our epic video game hero? Perhaps they’re the
hero of their own story. Their struggle for survival
played out in algorithms as they move around in
little squiggles and wiggles on our screen. They might just be
the hero that we need. [APPLAUSE] BRAKE FINSON:
Historiography is simply how we study and view history. What events are seen
as important in history and what forces are seen
as driving society forward. In Victorian Britain there were
three main competing schools, the Tory school,
which I’ve represented with Thomas Carlyle,
the socialist school, with Henry Hindman,
and the Whig school, with Thomas Babington Macaulay. Now, historiography at
this time was simply more overtly politically
charged than it is today, because history was
not really a singular profession at this time. It was a side project,
typically undertaken by politicians and aristocrats
to give their arguments more legitimacy, to back
up their claims. They would do this
by writing history, to demonstrate what
they were talking about happening in the past. Now, also at this
time historiography was typically concerned
with stability, because in living memory there
was a lot of unrest going on in continental Europe, as
well as the rest of the world. There was the French
Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, and other conflicts. People were worried
by that, and wanted to see how they could prevent
it from happening here. And historians stepped
up to provide answers. All three of them
owe their foundation to Edward Gibbon,
the author of Decline and Fall of the
Roman Empire, which was revolutionary in
that it told history as a compelling narrative,
often from the perspective of the Romans,
illustrating Christianity as being a heretical
new religion. Something very
unusual at that time. And Thomas Carlyle who
covered the French Revolution in his major work, he
took this lesson to heart. He often went a step further
and sometimes indulged in a form of prose poetry,
as well as using first person pronouns and the
present tense to make things seem more immediate. He was also known
for concentrating on heroes, just one
figure stepping up to set things right. For this reason, he wasn’t
too fond of democracy, because he thought that would
get in the way of a hero. So he didn’t think things
were going well at this time, but we could get more
stability by going back to the social hierarchy
of the Middle Ages, where everyone knew their place,
and there wasn’t much uprest. Now, the socialist
school, they also didn’t like the way things
were now, and thought we could solve it by going back
to the 15th century, which they considered to be a worker’s
paradise, because this was after peasant revolts. So they were free from serfdom. And according to his claims,
there were also shorter working days and higher
wages relative to necessities at the time. So like Carlyle, he didn’t care
too much for modern society. He didn’t care
much for democracy. But he thought you could
go back to this time and you would achieve
stability, much in the same way that Carlyle thought you could. Now, the Whig Thomas McCauley,
he thought things differently. Unlike the other two, he thought
everything is awesome now. He thought that it’s
only going to get better. It’s an [INAUDIBLE] march
to ever greater liberty and enlightenment. And he uses his
history to show how that’s happened in the past, how
things keep on getting better and better as time goes on,
with the Middle Ages just being a dip between two
great civilizations. But it was a temporary one. Things got better after that. So oh, you can see
with these three people that there are two main external
factors at this time that influenced historiography
across the political schools. There was a need for
stability, the need to provide answers for
the political questions at this time. And they were in a
good place to do it because they were politicians,
aristocrats, writers. They could promote their
ideas and gain more influence for themselves by doing this. So thank you. [APPLAUSE] AARON ROBINSON:
What if I told you humans weren’t the
first organisms to domesticate animals? My name is Aaron Robinson. I work in the taxonomy
and [INAUDIBLE] lab with a focus on ants. And I would like
to introduce you to a unique relationship that
actually has those humans beat. My genomes I focused
for my project is [INAUDIBLE] and
[INAUDIBLE] [? body ?] relationship with mealybugs. Now, a [INAUDIBLE]
relationship is when two insects are
[? subtly ?] dependent on one another for survival. Now, what makes this
relationship work is how there’s a sweet honey
due that these mealybugs produce that the ants will eat. Now, because of this
honey due, the ants will actually protect the
mealybugs from their predators. They will actually help
take care of their young. And they even go as far
as carrying the mealybugs to different feeding areas. Very similar to how
humans take cattle to different feeding grounds. Now, what else makes this
relationship interesting, if you take a look at
the picture to your left, is a process called [INAUDIBLE],,
where the [INAUDIBLE] queen will actually take a
[INAUDIBLE] pregnant female in her mandibles. And that will be
the sole individual to start a new colony. Now, what’s also depicted
at the bottom of the screen here is also [INAUDIBLE],,
but it’s actually been fossilized or preserved
in Dominican amber. And we’ve been able to see that
the Dominican amber date back almost 30 million years, which
is a very long time, actually very much longer than how
long humans have domesticated animals. Now, with this in mind,
the aim of my project is to see does [INAUDIBLE]
and mealybug morphology show evidence of co
evolutionary adaptations as it relates to looking
at [INAUDIBLE] ant head and mandible shape, and
also looking a mealybug shape. Now, in order to do
this I’ll be using a geometric
morphometric analysis. A geometric
morphometric analysis uses landmarks, which are
points, to look at shape, and avoid looking at sides
alone to look at variation. Now, as depicted in the
picture to your right, you can see that I’m using
geometric marks measured on an ant head. And this will help
me see if there’s actual variation
happening, and seeing if co evolution is happening
between [INAUDIBLE] ants and mealybugs. So in conclusion, I
hope for my research to be useful to not only
people that study ants, but also the science
community as a whole to use this type of analysis to
understand specific integrated relationships. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] NICHOLAS MYERS: So I
want to introduce you to the two girls on the screen. This is Brittany and
this is Stephanie. Brittany and Stephanie
are identical in every way except for one, how
they were treated by their parents growing up. Brittany grew up in a
household with healthy parents that were loving and supportive
towards her all of the time. Stephanie, on the other
hand, had a household that was anything but healthy. Her mother was verbally
abusive towards her, often telling her
things like I never wanted you in the first place. And her father was physically
and sexually abusive towards her. So flash forward
into the future. Brittany graduates
college with a 4.0 GPA, becomes a successful lawyer,
marries her high school sweetheart, and has two
healthy, happy young children. She never develops
a mental illness, and is generally in
good physical health. Stephanie, on the other hand,
drops out of high school and fails to find
steady employment. She lives in poverty,
becomes an alcoholic, and regularly uses drugs. She engages in risky
sexual behavior and has an unwanted pregnancy. She is arrested and
spends six months in jail for attempting to
rob a liquor store. She’s been diagnosed with
six psychiatric disorders, has attempted suicide
three times in her life. Ultimately, Stephanie
passes away at the age of 43 from an overdose. As you can see, the
impacts of trauma are detrimental
to an individual. Stephanie’s story serves
as an example of just a few of the many outcomes of
trauma later on in one’s life. My thesis looked at two such
outcomes, social anxiety and dissociation. Social anxiety is a fear
of social evaluation in social situations. And dissociation is feeling
disconnected from yourself or the world around you. And so we knew that social
anxiety and dissociation co occurred, but we didn’t
know why this was the case. So my hypothesis was that
childhood maltreatment played a role. To test this, we brought
200 undergraduates into our research
lab and assessed for a history of childhood
maltreatment, social anxiety, and dissociation. What we found was for the
Stephanies of the world that had been maltreated, the
social anxiety, dissociation relationship was
much more strong than for the Brittanys
of the world that hadn’t been maltreated. And this is important,
because this has treatment
implications, and may help to serve to understand
why some of these disorders develop later in life. But my research only
focused on one small subset of the impacts of trauma. And my hope from today’s talk is
that you take away more broadly how important it is that we as
parents understand the effects that we have on our children. Going back to Brittany
and Stephanie, these stories started
out so similarly, and yet ended so differently. Stephanie never had a chance
to reach her full potential. The effect of her
parents’ abuse on her took a toll on every
aspect of her life, and ultimately, her life itself. The World Health
Organization estimates that roughly 150,000
children each year die as a result of
childhood maltreatment. Many more than that go
on to live lives similar to Stephanie’s. These are the invisible
consequences of parenting. How we treat our children
can make all the difference in the world. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] JAMIE KITTLE: Hi. So my name is Jamie Kittle. And I’ll be talking about
conservation genetics for the Home’s Hinge-back
tortoise in central Ghana. So I’m from the Department
of Biological sciences. All right. So when you think of endangered
species, what comes to mind? Tigers? Polar bears? Maybe bald eagles? So all of these species
are charismatic species, which means that they
have public appeal. They’re cool to think about. And so that means that that can
actually aid their conservation efforts for these species. So would you find it
surprising if I told you that turtles are actually one
of the most threatened groups of vertebrates on Earth,
while 14% of birds and about a quarter of mammals
are listed as threatened by the IUCN Red List? About 55% to 60% of
turtles are actually considered threatened
with extinction. So this is unfortunate, in
part because we don’t fully understand their ecological
roles in their environments. For tortoises, they can
do things like dig burrows or help with nutrient cycling. But about half of the
120 turtle species that used to be
on Earth have gone extinct in part because
of human overexploitation for food, the pet
trade, and for– I know this– food,
the pet trade, and for traditional
medicine practices. So this, coupled
with habitat loss, are actually why we’re seeing
declines in turtle populations worldwide. So what are some ways
in which we can actually manage or monitor
populations in order to devise effective conservation
management strategies? So we could do the
traditional route, where we can count the
number of individuals over a period of time. But what if you
don’t have that time? What if that population
might be going extinct and we don’t actually know? Or what if they’re
really hard to count? Like tortoises in
the rainforest can be hard to count because
they’re hard to find. So another route
that you can take is using population genetics. Population genetics
allows us to take a subset of the population,
analyze the DNA, measuring both
genetic diversity, and the amount of
inbreeding that’s present are two aspects that
we can consider, and use that to extrapolate
to the entire population. And then we can devise
conservation management strategies off of that. So we did that for the
critically endangered Home’s Hinge-backed tortoise
located in the rainforests of central Ghana, because these
tortoises are being harvested by people for food. And what we found is
that these turtles do have low genetic
diversity, which could suggest that they are a
small population size because of these harvesting pressures. We’re also seeing high
inbreeding, which could reduce their quality of life. And so what we want to
do with this information is provide it to the
Ghana Forestry Commission so that they can work
with the communities to devise a management
strategy before it is too late for this
population, before it’s lost from this
rainforest habitat and we lose the functions that
it has in its natural habitat. I also hope that this
talk gives you inspiration to think not just about
the charismatic species that you would look at. So thank you so much. [APPLAUSE] KARTHRYN LOWE: I
realize the title here is not very appealing,
not very engaging. But work with me. Because I’m looking for ghosts. Not the specter on
the stairs, things that go bump in the
night, cold spot kind, but the ghosts of people
that we’ve left behind, the people who look
back at us from faded archival
photographs, who speak to us in records and
letters that were written by long dead hands. The people whose stories
we aren’t telling yet. Part of the work of history
is creating narratives. It’s telling stories. Some of the stories are hard
to find, because the evidence that we have is limited. And sometimes it’s flawed. But we have to go looking,
to quote a historian who is way better at this than
I am, where the spiders are, in order to
find these stories, in order to let these
voices speak for themselves. Part of the work in my
African-American history class last semester involved
looking for those people. I was looking for everyday
women doing everyday work in the fight for freedom. I wasn’t looking for public
abolitionists or speakers. I wanted normal people
just living their lives, because I would argue, and I
do argue, that living your life is its own kind of
resistance, its own kind of fight, especially when
you’re not expected to do that, when you’re expected to
just sort of collapse under the weight of
outside pressures. And people like the
women in this photograph, they refused to do that. This was taken in 1862
in Virginia, which was contested territory, let’s say. And to call them
contrabands means that they decided to run
away from the plantations that they were on, and hope
that they would be welcomed in union lines for
protection for themselves and their children. And those are the kind of
people that I was looking for. I didn’t find much. Because it’s a
hard story to tell. You have to tease these
people and their stories out of the negative spaces in
the evidence that we have. So they exist in advertisements
and journals written by other people, and the
existence of institutions like schools that only exist
if somebody fought for them and supported them,
because you don’t have a school for free
black kids in Philadelphia if nobody’s mom is
making them get up to go. So the other thing
that I did find was that we think
a lot about how the world acted on these
people, but less about how they actively shaped it. And that’s the other
story that I want to tell. So I haven’t found my ghost
yet, but I’m still looking, because I think it’s important. [APPLAUSE] CHELSEA MCCLURE:
And my research is on teacher attitudes towards
environmental education. So first, who here
likes to eat seafood? We’re in Maryland. Right? OK. Yeah. Who wants to get their seafood
from some of these ecosystem pictures I have here? Yeah. A lot less hands there. Right? So these pictures are actually
from our local Chesapeake Bay. So these pictures from
the Chesapeake Bay is where thousands and thousands
of fish, oysters, crabs are all harvested every
year for your dinner table. Doesn’t sound as great. Right? So in the Chesapeake Bay there
are about 18 million people that affect the bay. Now, the bay doesn’t just
give us food sources. It also gives us other benefits,
such as economic, recreational, and habitats for both
plants and animals. Because of this,
it’s so important to understand what
is affecting the bay, and how we can improve
the health of the bay. That is the basis of
environmental education, creating environmentally
literate community members so that they are
able to make a change and a knowledgeable effect
on the local environment. Now, when we think
of making changes in the future in
our environment, we tend to think of children,
that they’re our future, and they’re going to pass it on. But we can’t just
think of children. We also have to think
about our teachers. And research has shown
that student attitudes are affected by teacher attitudes. Therefore, if teachers
have positive attitudes towards the environment,
they pass those on to their students. Because of this, it’s important
to research and promote positive attitudes
towards the environment, as well as
self-efficacy, which is the belief in teaching a subject
such as environmental education in teachers. So my research, I focused
on pre-service teachers at Towson University. So pre-service means that they
have not graduated and become in-service teachers with
their own classroom. They’re still training. By reaching Towson
University students, that was important, because
Towson University is actually one of the largest
contributors of teachers to the state of Maryland. So reaching that population
could potentially affect a large amount of
the state of Maryland. So from my research,
the pre-service teachers were engaged in an outdoor
education experience. And from my results I found that
from this experience teachers promoted their self efficacy. So they felt more
confident in teaching environmental education. And their attitude shifted
from negative and fearful of environmental education,
to positive and rewarding for environmental education. Now, the idea of reaching the
teachers is a waterfall effect. So if we reach the
teachers, those will trickle down
into the students. The students will then have it
trickle down their attitudes into the community. So reaching those
18 million people that affect the Chesapeake
Bay is the big picture here. The mindset we want to
change, the knowledge, and we want the motivation
to help save our bay. Because only when the
last tree has died, the last river
has been poisoned, and the last fish has been
caught will we realize that we cannot eat money. That’s it. Thanks. [APPLAUSE] JENNIFER MULLENAX: OK. So let’s take a moment
to look at his chart. Tell me, in what organization
would these results be acceptable? Let’s imagine that this
is a general manager, and he is overseeing
these nine stores here. And there are different
points in time. And along the y-axis
is the standards for that organization. Where would that be acceptable? The general manager would
probably be frowned upon, possibly lose his job. This business would
probably go under. It would not be acceptable. And the ramifications could
be the unemployment rate, or people losing their jobs,
the business going under. That general manager would
likely lose his job as well. So then why would
I ask, would this be acceptable for education? These data points actually
show the proficiency rates of our students in grades 3
through 11 for ELA and math. The ramifications of
this are far worse than a business going under. The ramifications of
this is essentially the livelihood of our society. When we have schools that fail
we have higher unemployment rates, lower real estate prices. We have an economy that
essentially is failing us. And as [? Fullen ?]
would say, if we don’t do something about this,
the results are catastrophic. So while waves of
education reform have been through our
society, and have been ever in the field of education,
especially since the 1966 Coleman Report, how to
increase student achievement has plagued educators,
especially principals. Research has shown that
collaborative school cultures have an impact on
student achievement. And principals
actually have an impact on how those
cultures are created. So it would behoove educators,
in the field of education obviously, to truly
understand this information, and to understand if
a relationship exists between specific leadership
practices of principals, the school cultures
in which they serve, and student achievement. The purpose of my
study was to learn if there is a
specific leadership practice that
principals engage in, and how that specific leadership
practice impacts student achievement and school culture. Additionally, we
wanted to see if there is a difference
between school cultures at the elementary level
and secondary level, along with is there a difference
between those leadership practices of principals
at the secondary level and elementary level. Through correlational
research design, the findings suggests
that while there is no direct impact between
leadership practices, school culture, and
student achievement, there is a correlation between
the cultures of schools and student achievement. And we were left with
many other questions. How we evaluate
principals, how we evaluate the success of
students, and what we need to do to ensure that our
schools are no longer failing. So unless we want to change
this in a positive way, and have acceptable
results, it really behooves the education field
to learn more about schools, the cultures in which they
have, and the principals that lead the schools. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] MAX FARNGA: How are you? Hello, everyone. I’m Max Farnga. I have a master’s in applied
information technology with a major in information
security and assurance. It’s called cyber
security for short. And my presentation today is
about a practical approach to cloud security. How many of us in
this room today have Facebook, Gmail, Yahoo,
Google Drive, or iCloud? These are just five of the
millions of applications out there that are either
providing cloud services, or using some sort of cloud
computing in the background. Now, in 2016 and
2017 Yahoo realized that over 3 billion user
accounts were compromised from their network that included
email, password, date of birth, and many other
critical information. So think for a
second if somebody has the password to
your email account how much damage they can cause. In 2019, just this
year, Facebook realized that they
publicly exposed over 540 million user’s data
from an Amazon cloud storage. And it was caused by one of
the third party affiliates. So let’s look at
these numbers closely to understand the urgency. In 2018 alone there were over
5 billion compromised data around the world. And over 89% of the
data breaches in 2018 was caused by either a
poor security configuration or poor security practices. This overall number is expected
to rise from over 14.7 billion to about 33 billion
compromised data by 2023. That’s four years from now. During those four years
cloud computing data breaches is also expected to
rise by over 300%. So these are not just
statistics I’m giving you. Because of many of
these data breaches, about 60 million
Americans have been affected by identity theft. Even in 2018, almost 1.1
billion Indian citizens were affected when the national
database got compromised. Now, not only do I read
about these incidents almost every day. I’ve been in the field
for over six years. I have helped to design,
implement, and support many IT systems around
the United States and other parts of the world. I have also seen some of
the best security practices. I have seen some that can
use significant improvements. So I decided to focus
my master’s program in cybersecurity. Now, during my
graduate studies I designed a secure
cloud architecture that meets the following
industry best practices. Security, reliability,
performance, cost, and operational excellence. In 2018 I published
my research paper. And I also programmed
my architecture into thousands of lines
of infrastructure code. Today, that architecture has
been successfully deployed in at least four networks around
the United States and Germany. It’s currently managing over
200 to 300 million health care records for large organizations. Now, my hope is that my
recommended architecture will become a role model
for secure cloud adoption so that we can reduce the number
of data breaches happening every year. Now we see why we should
care about cloud security. Thank you, everyone. [APPLAUSE] SIDNEY PINK: My
name is Sidney Pink. And I am from the Department
of Art and Design, art history and art education. And I just received my
studio art MFA in December. How do we engage with
people in our community beyond transactional
relationships? Where are spaces for non
transactional experiences? In other words, where do
we interact with people where we aren’t expected
to buy something, to get something,
like course credit, or to earn something, 50
likes on my Facebook post? Where do we interact with
people without expectations of some kind of transaction? In December of 2018 I mounted
my MFA studio art exhibition in the Center for the
Arts at Towson University. It consisted of two parts. A series of drawings, very
gestural, full of texture, rhythms, moods, and shapes. You can see them
in the back there. I then invited dancers,
musicians, sound artists, and the public to engage with
these drawings as scores, maps, diagrams, and suggestions
for ways of being. I set up workshops
and performances. Some were more directed. Others were wide open. I gave artists and
non artists space to make sound, to move,
to draw, to sit, to think, to talk, to
meditate, to breathe. Overall, I had about 30
events during my exhibition. And over 1,000 people
interacted with this space that you’re seeing here. Sometimes the space
was chaotic and loud. There were 30 or 40 more
people in the space, talking, engaging
in different ways. Sometimes there were
people performing. Sometimes people
would wander in. If you’ve been in the
Center for the Arts, you know it’s
right off the cafe. And people would
pop their head in. What’s happening in here? What is this? And two hours later
they were engaged in some kind of experience for
an extended period of time. People are hungry for
these kinds of experiences. Sometimes it was
quiet and subdued. There would just be one or
two people in the space. Sometimes people talked
about art or philosophy. They debated politics, or
they discussed social justice. Sometimes people
made music or danced. At other times, people sat
in corners with their eyes closed to pray or sleep. This work is built on the
idealism of performance art, happenings, flux us, and many
other art historical movements that strove to create a
more empathetic experience for our humanity. I share that idealism, without
irony and without shame. Where do we engage with
people in our community beyond transactional
relationships? Where is the potential
for complex and nuanced conversations that don’t
involve commodification, that don’t involve money? If not now, when can we
face fellow human beings and not expect
something from them, but rather choose
to be with them, to really be present with
that person, to see them, to hear them, to acknowledge
them, to say, I see you, and I am with you? Thank you. [APPLAUSE] CAITLIN WEIBLE:
What if I told you that a tiny brown lizard
could help make the world a safer place for you and me. It sounds like a pretty
outlandish statement to make, but just bear with me. So I’m going to
start by telling you about the field
of ecotoxicology. Ecotoxicology is the
branch of science that looks at the
effects, nature, and interactions of harmful
substances on the environment. If you look at the
screen here, you’ll see four organisms that
are essential to the field of ecotoxicology. The zebrafish, quail,
earthworm, and mouse are all what are
known as model species in the field of ecotoxicology. They’re important
because they all have different life histories. We need to look at
different life histories in order to understand the
true impacts of chemicals. What I mean by that
is aerial species, terrestrial species, aquatic
species, and so on all need to be examined
in order for us to know where the most exposure
is occurring in the wild, and also which types of
organisms are at the most risk. So if you look at the
screen again you’ll see that there is a
missing link currently. So that missing
link is reptiles. My thesis was to bridge the
gap between ecotoxicology and reptiles. So reptiles are essential to
basically many ecosystems, because they play an
important role in food chains. They are both prey
species and predator species in many food chains. And they also are
important for pest control. They are also
important in the field of ecotoxicology, due to their
sensitivity to chemicals. And what I mean by that
is, for a long time we’ve just assumed that birds
are more sensitive to chemicals than reptiles. So birds have been used as
surrogates for reptiles. And we’ve kind of neglected
studying them individually. However, recent studies show
that reptiles might actually be more sensitive to
certain substances than reptiles, or than birds. Therefore, that leads
us to believe that they need to be studied separately. So which organism could possibly
fit such an important role? Who could be our model species? Well, during my thesis we
explored the brown anole, which is a small, brown lizard,
as the potential candidate for being the model species
for reptile ecotoxicology. And we determined this through
robust ecotoxicology studies where we examined the
effects of a chemical known as PFOS on brown anoles. We decided that the brown
anole is a good candidate for these types of tests
because of the limited mortality in our studies, due
to the amenability that they had in our
laboratory conditions. And because they’re an
invasive species, which means they’re not native here. So we would not need to take
any native organisms out of their natural habitats. So in conclusion
basically, we need to expand the field
of ecotoxicology by moving into the field
of reptile ecotoxicology. But what we’re missing is a good
candidate for a model species. The good model species
that we came up with is the brown anole. And therefore, a little,
tiny, brown lizard really could make the world a
safer place for you and me. [APPLAUSE]

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