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16 accepted papers have been listed. Formatted pdf files will be uploaded soon.
Congratulations to all the team and individual contributors who made it. We are excited to announce the list of accepted papers. Please see the below.

Analysis of Substance Abuse and Impacts Using Mathematical and Computational Modeling

May 24, 2019
John Luc, Duong Dai Dinh

Abstract: In 2003, Hon Lik, a Chinese pharmacist and inventor, created what would become the first commercially successful e-cigarette. Hon Lik’s invention quickly swept across the continent, gaining popularity and ultimately being introduced to the European market in April 2006. From Europe, it was a quick hop across the pond to the United States. This new, “safe” form of smoking quickly spread throughout the states. This wave quickly formed a new, highly profitable industry. With such a rapid rise to popularity, governing bodies such as the Food and Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission have not yet regulated this industry effectively. Although, steps are being taken to do so, the damage has been done. The vaping industry has successfully targeted the youth population, creating high rates of teen and adolescent addiction. Similar to the vaping epidemic plaguing the United States, in 2011, there were approximately 20.6 million people in the United States over the age of 12 with an addiction ranging from alcohol to inhalants and hallucinogens. This number has only grown in recent years. This is why it is paramount to be able to model and predict which communities are most at risk and assess the true cost of addiction. Through complex mathematical modelling and analysis, the ability to assess the prevalence and impact of alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, and nonprescription drugs is available today.

Keywords: Substance abuse, nonfinancial and financial impacts, alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco.


Introduction: While the United States is currently experiencing an opioid epidemic with over 72,000 people dying each year from overdoses, there have also been increases in the use of other drugs such as nicotine, marijuana, and alcohol throughout the country. This is especially concerning due to an increasing proportion of the demographic is middle schoolers and high schoolers. Moreover, this is the first time in the history of the United States that the leading cause of death is opioid overdose (it surpassed vehicle crashes). It is important to understand the factors that lead individuals to use these substances so that the spread can be effectively combatted.

This section addresses the problem of addiction in society. We focus on the United States specifically and limit our model to the following drugs:  nicotine, marijuana, prescription drugs, alcohol.

The problem is to create a model that can accurately predict the spread of nicotine. This is followed by the creation of a model that can be applied to different drugs with inputs depending on an individual's income, education level, and race. These factors were chosen because we determined them to be the most significant factors in terms of influencing people to do drugs. We would have also liked to include calculations involving environmental factors such as family use and ease of access but due to time and calculating restraints, we omitted these variables.

Because of the advancement in technology, people try to find an alternative for smoking cigarettes. They found this alternative in vaping. As a result, cigarette sales are reaching an all-time low (as shown in the graph below). Overall, this indicates that the growth of vaping will more than replace the decreasing usage of cigarettes.

Our models functioned on several assumptions. We assumed that nationwide trends are directly applicable to all individual populations, which may not be the case. A study can be conducted to provide evidence of drug usage in specific areas across the country in order to pinpoint our data.

The spread of nicotine abuse as well as the abuse of other drugs is on the rise throughout the country. This is especially alarming in the younger generation as model 2 suggests. The amount of high school seniors predicted to be using these substances indicates a societal issue that needs to be addressed in order to prevent damage to today's youth and lower these numbers for later generations.  The impact of these drugs, while varied between them, signifies how abuse can quickly lead to poverty and strain on the economy that must support them.


References

  1. Race/Ethnicity and Gender Differences in Drug Use and Abuse. Retrieved March 2, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2377408/
  2. FDA. (2018, June). Youth Tobacco Use in the U.S. Retrieved March 2, 2019
  3. Marijuana Street Prices: How Much Should You Pay For Weed? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://addictionresource.com/drugs/marijuana/marijuana-street-prices/
  4. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). (2017, June 21). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/ss/ss6511a1.htm
  5. Motor Vehicle Safety. (2017, June 16). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/impaired _driving/impaired-drv_factsheet.html
  6. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). What is the scope of tobacco use and its cost to society? Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/tobacco- nicotine-e-cigarettes/what-scope-tobacco-use-its-cost-to-society
  7. The Price Paid for Automobile Accidents and Injuries. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.tavss.com/library/va-nc-lawyer-economic-and-comprehensive-auto-accident-costs.cfm

Assessment of Lake Water Quality and Quantity Using Satellite Remote Sensing

May 21, 2019
Noel Cercizi

Abstract: Assessment of both water quality and quantity pose a great challenge to those studying the effects of anthropogenic activities on bodies of water. Eutrophication created by the increased concentration of nutrients including nitrates and phosphates has been known to contribute to the development of both toxic algal blooms, which serve as limiting factors in the ecosystems of the water, rendering it useless for consumption.1,2 Another common development is the buildup of suspended sediments (SS/TSS), contributing to the anoxic conditions characterizing environmental hypoxia.3 Because current methods for the assessment of the presence of such issues rely upon tedious and costly methods, a timely and cost-efficient method is desirable for application to the practice.4  This research relies upon analysis of the inherent optical properties of chlorophyll and sedimentation present within the bodies of water in question, achieved through analysis of the reflectance values of the red and blue bands from Landsat satellite images of five bodies of water. 5 The analysis, performed using Geographic Information System ArcMap, allows for determination of the values that attest to changes in surface area, turbidity, and eutrophication. The trends in the data hold consistency with the natural occurrences surrounding the bodies of water associated with the three parameters outlined above, supporting usage of remote sensing for qualitative and quantitative analysis of water.


Introduction: Lakes are popular hosts of environmental problems as a result of anthropogenic activities. For the majority of these lakes, causes of these problems often involve sediment loading or nutrient enrichment, also known as eutrophication.1 Eutrophication is also the cause of algal bloom in water. Both eutrophication and algal bloom are a natural phenomenon, but human activities may accelerate them, which can cause harm in terrestrial ecosystems. In fact, eutrophication and harmful algal blooms are the leading source of impairment of water quality in many lakes around the world.2 Specifically, human-derived sources due to industrialization, urbanization, or agricultural wastes due to the amount of excess nutrient that these sources then load onto their local freshwater bodies. Anthropogenic activities change the amount of Nitrogen and Phosphate - both of which are nutrients essential to algal growth - present in water. For instance, sewage, agricultural, and household discharges often contain large quantities of P minerals.3 Harmful algal blooms may cause anoxic conditions, which is the depletion of oxygen in water. Such conditions are especially dominated by cyanobacteria, which is a blue alga that produces cyanotoxins and makes lake water toxic, causing wildlife deaths and seafood poisoning in humans.4 

Traditional methods to measure water quality parameters like algal blooms involves field surveying techniques while measuring suspended solids involves the filtration technique.Unlike the other methods, studies show that satellite remote sensing is more cost-effective, economic, and ideal for acquiring spatial data from lakes with large surface areas7 like the ones that will be investigated. For the purpose of this study, there are two other water quality parameters measured, besides the quantity factor with surface area. One is the chlorophyll, which will indicate the severity of algal bloom, and the other is total suspended solids, as a measure of water turbidity. The Inherent Optical Property (IOP) - which refers to absorption and scattering properties of underwater contents - of chlorophyll and suspended solids were used to determine algal and sediment presence. And because of the optical properties of chlorophyll and suspended solids in water, one can use commercially available optical instruments to measure their respective concentrations.7 This can be applied to satellite data because of the way in which satellite sensors collects the intensity of light reflected. And since satellites measure reflectance values in different intervals of the electromagnetic spectrum, the focus will be placed on reflectance values on certain intervals - also known as band values - in this paper. In summary, a lower reflectance value of blue band correlates to a higher concentration of sediments. As a lower reflectance value of the red band would suggest a higher presence of chlorophyll.

In this study, two lakes across the world are analyzed, and each is chosen for the significance of their impact on local livelihood. The five lakes investigated are Lake Kasumigaura of Japan and Lake Maggiore of Europe.


References

[1] Smith, V., Tilman, G., & Nekola, J. (1999). Eutrophication: Impacts of excess nutrient inputs on freshwater, marine, and terrestrial ecosystems. ​Environmental Pollution,100(​ 1-3), 179-196. doi:10.1016/s0269-7491(99)00091-3 12 

[2] Chislock, M.F.; Doster, E.; Zitomer, R.A.; Wilson, A.E. (2013)."Eutrophication: Causes, Consequences, and Controls in Aquatic Ecosystems". Nature Education Knowledge. 4 (4): 10. Retrieved 10 March 2018.         

[3] Anderson, D. M., Glibert, P. M., & Burkholder, J. M. (2002). “Harmful algal blooms and eutrophication: Nutrient sources, composition, and consequences.” Estuaries,25(4), 704-726. doi:10.1007/bf02804901            

Biochemical Effects of Redox Agents on the Amount of Chemiluminescence Produced by Phaseolus vulgaris Sprouts

May 19, 2019
Remy Wu, Amanda Kyung

Abstract: In this paper, luminol solution was used to measure the light intensity of plants. The purpose of this experiment was to determine if there was a direct correlation between the amount of reactive oxygen species present in Phaseolus vulgaris seedlings and the amount of chemiluminescence they emit. The plants that were soaked in hydrogen peroxide, had a light reaction that lasted the longest. Whereas, the plants that were soaked in water had a light reaction whose duration was the shortest. It was determined that the higher the amount of reactive oxygen species in an organism, the more chemiluminescence it emits. This demonstrated that a chemiluminescence assay can be used to determine the levels of reactive oxygen species produced by an organism. High levels of reactive oxygen species may be threatening to an organism if the levels are not monitored.  .

Keywords: Oxidizing, Reduction, Luminol, Phaseolus vulgaris, ROS, Chemiluminescence


Introduction: The human body uses electrons during the electron transport chain which releases energy in the form of ATP.   These electrons are derived from molecules such as fats, proteins, and carbohydrates and are transferred around the cells by molecules such as the coenzymes NADH and NADPH. The body requires a place  to store the used electrons that drive energy requiring processes. When the electrons have given up their energy, they are combined with oxygen to form water. Since the electrons are given away to the oxygen molecules, it is said that the oxygen becomes “reduced”, which forms water (H2O), a completely harmless substance, in the process. In its normal state, oxygen has two unpaired electrons in separate orbitals of its outer shell. This indicates that two electrons are required for each water atom. When one of the electrons is lost or only one electron is given to each oxygen molecule, a free radical is created. These are known as reactive oxygen species.

Plants and other living organisms constantly produce reactive oxygen species in their mitochondria, chloroplasts, and other organelles because of their metabolic processes such as photosynthesis and respiration. These reactive oxygen species function as signaling molecules, which transmit information between cells. The most concerning radicals are those that are derived from oxygen. Overproduction of these oxygen radicals may cause a threat to the organism. When reactive oxygen species production exceeds the capacity for antioxidation, it can lead to cell damage and/ or cell death caused by toxicity. For instance, when cells are exposed to abnormal environments, they may generate dangerous amounts of damaging reactive oxygen species (Bowen, Free Radicals and Reactive Oxygen, colostate.edu). The body normally regulates the oxygen radicals, but if this system malfunctions having oxygen radicals in abundance may harm the cells around them. Many drugs that are used to cure infections and diseases today have oxidizing effects on cells which may lead to the production of oxygen radicals.

The materials that were used in this experiment were eighteen Phaseolus vulgaris seeds, distilled water, a vitamin E solution(which acted as the reducing agent) and a hydrogen peroxide solution (which acted as the oxidizing solution). Using reducing and oxidizing solutions caused the production of reactive oxygen species to either slow down, or speed up. Pieces of plastic were used to crush the plants. Luminol solution and a stopwatch were used to measure the light intensity resulting from the chemiluminescence reaction.


References

  1. Agarwal, Ashok, Shyam Sr Allamaneni, and Tamer M. Said. "Chemiluminescence Technique for Measuring Reactive Oxygen Species." Reproductive BioMedicine Online 9.4 (2004): 466-68. Web. 7 June 2015.
  2. Brash, A. R. "Lipoxygenases: Occurrence, Functions, Catalysis, and Acquisition of Substrate." Journal of Biological Chemistry 274.34 (1999): 23679-3682. Web. 7 June 2015.
  3. Colli and Fachinni, “Light Emmisions by Germinating Plants”; Colli, Fachinni, Guidotti, Lonati, Orseneigo, and Sommaria, “Further Measurements on the Bioluminescence of the Seedlings.”. II Nuovo Simento (1954);12: 150- 153.
  4. Lida T, Kawane M, Ashikaga K, Yumiko Y, Okubo K, Chemiluminescence of adzuki bean and soybean seedlings.  Luminescence 2000; 15: 9-13.
  5. Marchlewicz, Mariola, Teresa Michalska, and Barbara Wiszniewska. "Detection of Lead-induced Oxidative Stress in the Rat Epididymis by Chemiluminescence." Chemosphere 57.10 (2004): 1553-562. Gale Virtual Reference Library [Gale]. Web. 17 May 2015.
  6. Marnett, Oxy Radicals, lipid peroxidation, and DNA damage.  Toxicology.  2002; 181: 219-222.

     

How Racism Kills: Poussey Washington’s Death in Orange is the New Black

May 02, 2019
Giselle Hengst

Abstract: Racism is one of the important social problems in the United States that must be addressed. Racism and its consequences are well highlighted in popular culture, including movies and shows, to further emphasize the effect of racism. This paper will discuss institutional racism and how it is demonstrated in the context of the judicial and prison system through an analysis of a show called Orange is the New Black. From analyzing one of the characters, Poussey, and her death, this research will discuss different ways racism could be manifested and the different forms of racism in an institution. This paper will also discuss the extreme outcome of racism in our society – death.  


Introduction: Racism, quite literally, kills. In the United States, racism is ubiquitous and stems from the legacy of race-based slavery. One area where racism is particularly salient is in the criminal justice system. Despite the constitutional promise of equal protection under the law, racist policies such as the War on Drugs have led to laws that disproportionately affect Black people such as severe penalties for drug use and possession, mandatory minimums, life sentences, and three strikes laws [1]. These policies are examples of institutional racism. Institutional racism is racism embedded in political and social structures, resulting in disadvantages for minorities based on socially assigned race [2]. On the other hand, personally mediated racism describes the prejudice and discrimination that occurs between people of different races [2]. Importantly, personally mediated racism upholds the social norms that prevent institutional racism from being eradicated. In the Netflix series Orange is the New Black, the death of a Poussey Washington, a young Black female inmate, demonstrates how personally mediated and institutional racism work together to allow her death to happen while simultaneously protecting the white correctional officers from being held responsible.


 

References

  1. Jerram, Leif. “Space: A Useless Historical Category for Historical Analysis.” History and Theory 52 (2013) p. 400-419.
  2.  Sewell in R. Percy, ‘Picket Lines and Parades: Labour and Urban Space in Early Twentieth-Century London and Chicago’, Urban History, 41/4 (2013), p. 457.
  3. Percy, Ruth. “Picket Lines and Parades: Labour and Urban Space in Early Twentieth-Century London and Chicago.” Urban History 41 (2014): 456-477.
  4.  Lefebvre, Henri. “Space: Social Product and Use Value.” In State, Space, World: Selected Essays, edited by N. Brenner and S. Elden, translated by J. W. Freiberg, 185-195. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009.
  5. Herod, Andrew. “From a Geography of Labor to a Labor Geography: Labor’s Spatial Fix and the Geography of Capitalism.” Antipode 29 (1997): 1-31.
  6. Remus, Emily A. Remus, Tippling Ladies and the Making of Consumer Culture: Gender and Public Space in Fin-de-Siècle Chicago (2014).
  7. R. Kelley, “‘We are not what we seem’: Rethinking black working-class opposition in the Jim Crow South” (1993) p. 99.
  8. Kruse, Kevin M. “The Politics of Race and Public Space: Desegregation, Privatization, and the Tax Revolt in America.” Journal of Urban History 31 (2005): 610-633.
  9. Butler, J. 'Bodies in Alliance and the Politics of the Street' http://eipcp.net/transversal/1011/butler/en.

     

Study on the Physiological Effects by the Biochemical Compounds in the Hinoki Cypress Essence

April 26, 2019
Debolina Chanda

Abstract : This study measured physiological signals, such as brain waves and blood pressures, of a group of students before and after they inhaled the essence of Hinoki Cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa), containing terpenoid, the main ingredient of forest bath, which recently has been drawing attention due to its reported effectiveness. In addition to that, psychological tests, such as olfactory sensibility evaluation, as well as short-term memory, concentration, stress, and arousal tests, were likewise conducted in this study.

In summary, when the subjects inhaled the essence of cypress oil, their stresses were reduced and their memory and concentration improved under even working condition as well as under a stable condition. The fragrance, however, more effectively reduced the stress of the female subjects than that of the male subjects.

key words: Chamaecyparis obtusa, concentration, EEG, hinoki cypress, inhalation, , memory, phytoncide, stress


Introduction: The mental pressures and stresses of students brought about by academic demands made them weaken their memory and concentration, thereby depressing their learning faculties. As such, urgent measures must be taken to reduce the mental pressures and stresses of students. Fragrances transmitted to the hippocampus body and the hypophysis in the limbic system in the cerebrum influence the person's emotions, memory, and learning ability.

Thus, this study measured physiological signals, such as brain waves and blood pressures, of a group of students before and after they inhaled the essence of Hinoki Cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa), containing terpenoid, the main ingredient of forest bath, which recently has been drawing attention due to its reported effectiveness. In addition to that, psychological tests, such as olfactory sensibility evaluation, as well as short-term memory, concentration, stress, and arousal tests, were likewise conducted in this study.

For the male subjects, the delta wave was reduced in the T5 and T3 zone, the beta wave was reduced, and the theta wave was increased in the TT2 zone after the inhalation of the fragrance. When the Corsi block tapping task (CBT) was carried out during the inhalation of the fragrance, the alpha wave was significantly increased in the TCP1, CP1, and PO1 zones, and the beta wave was significantly reduced in almost all zones. The psychophysiology was then stabilized.

Moreover, with the reduction of stress and systolic pressure, the increase of short-term memory, and the significant reduction of the error rate, the male subjects' sympathetic nervous systems were stabilized and their memory and concentration were improved by the fragrance's induction of emotions. For the female subjects, the alpha wave was increased in the P3 zone after the inhalation of the  fragrance.

However, the alpha wave was significantly increased in the T3 and PO1 zones when the CBT was conducted during the inhalation of the fragrance whereas the beta wave was significantly reduced in the FP2, F4, T3, CZ, C4, TCP2, T5, and O1 zones. Furthermore, along with the reduction of stress and of the systolic pressure, and the improvement of short-term memory, the psychophysiology and the sympathetic nervous system were stabilized.

In summary, when the subjects inhaled the essence of cypress oil, their stresses were reduced and their memory and concentration improved under even working condition as well as under a stable condition. The fragrance, however, more effectively reduced the stress of the female subjects than that of the male subjects.


References

  1. Aggleton, J.P. 1993. The contribution of the amygdala to normal and abnormal emotional staes. Tresds Neurosci 16:328-335.
  2. Yasutaka, K and S. Wataru, et al. 2001. Frontal midline theta rhythm is correlated with cardiac autonomic activities during the performance of an attention demanding meditation procedure. Cognitive Brain Research 1(11):281-287
  3. Andreassi, J.H. 1995. Psychophysiology: Human behavior and physiolodical response. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  4. Aoshima, H., S.J. Hossain, H. Koda. and Y. Kiso. 2002. Relaxational effects by whiskey aroma. Aroma Research 12(3):327-333.
  5. Harmon-Jones, E. and J.B. Allen. 1997. Behavioral cativation sensitivity and resting frontal EEG asymmetry. J. Abnormal Psychology 106:159-163.
  6. McCarley, R.W., M.E. Shenton, B.F. O'donnell, S.R. Faux, and P.G. Nestor. 1993. Auditory P300 abnormalities and left posterior superior temporal gyrus volume reduction in schixophrenia. Arch. Gen. psychiatry 50:19-197.

 

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A New Ring Theory Based Algorithm and Stopping Criterion for Image Segmentation

April 20, 2019
Alisa Rahim

Abstract: Ring theory is most widely known as a branch of pure mathematics under the field of abstract algebra. Some of the uses of Ring Theory in the modern world involve cryptography, computer vision, and image segmentation. As of now, finite cyclic rings have been incorporated into performing image segmentations for the Mean Shift Iterative Algorithm. This paper analyzes the Mean Shift Iterative Algorithm and devises an improved algorithm and stopping criterion using finite cyclic rings and matrices in Ring Theory that perform high-quality image segmentations for images that can be used in computer vision and possibly the segmentation(s) of grayscale (d = 1), colored (d = 3), and multispectral (d ≥ 3) images.

Keywords: ring theory, Mean Shift, and Iterative Algorithm


Introduction: Based on the concepts of Group Theory and the field of abstract algebra, Ring Theory is a concept where a “ring” is a set of elements with two binary factors: addition and multiplication. To subtract within a ring would essentially mean to add an element to its additive inverse. Likewise, to divide would mean to multiply an element by its multiplicative inverse. A ring also satisfies the following axioms:                                    

  • The ring, under addition, is an abelian group.
  • The multiplication operation is associative, and therefore closed.
  • All operations satisfy the distributive law of multiplication over addition.                                       

An example of a ring includes the set of real polynomials. Within this ring, you can freely add, subtract, and multiply one polynomial, essentially an element within the ring, to get another polynomial - another element. The additive identity is presented as zero. Since zero is a constant polynomial, it is also considered to be an element in the ring of real polynomials. The multiplicative identity is presented as one. Since multiplication is always commutative among all polynomials, the ring of real polynomials is deduced as a commutative ring with an identity element.

Some rings are finite, meaning that the amount and type of elements may be limited. Some rings may not have the additive identity zero or the multiplicative identity one. Upon adding, subtracting, or multiplying two even numbers, the result is always another even number. The value of 1 does not fall within the set of even numbers. Therefore, the set of even integers does not have the multiplicative identity of one - and is only a commutative ring. Image segmentation is the practice of breaking a picture up into pixels and assigning each pixel a value based on a given class. The purpose of image segmentation is to partition images into more meaningful, easy to examine, sections. The segmentation of images is primarily applied to image editing/compression, as well as the recognition of certain objects or another relevant aspects of a taken image. The Mean Shift Iterative Algorithm uses finite cyclic rings to detect specific features of an image (i.e. eyes of a face, abnormalities in an MRI scan of a heart, tumors in a brain) and the probability of there being a specific part of an image. A finite cyclic ring is any ring where the elements derive from a single element (hence, they are limited in regards to what elements may be present within the ring and, when brought back within range of said ring, the elements repeat in a cycle).

A primary factor in determining the stopping criteria for a segmentation algorithm is the entropy, or number of consistent microscopic configurations, of an image. The number of consistent microscopic configurations is significant to constructing a stopping criterion for an algorithm for image segmentation because while images may interchangeably be weakly and strongly equivalents, images that are strongly equivalent are not weakly equivalent. Images are defined in a finite cyclic ring when the Mean Shift Iterative Algorithm is used for image segmentation. However, an established stopping criterion for the Mean Shift Iterative Algorithm has not been formulated thus far; instead, the entropy formula has been in place as the stopping criterion for Mean Shift for stability purposes.


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Study of Correlations Between Quality of Education and the Economic Growth of a Developing Country

April 07, 2019
Zheng Jia

Abstract: The belief that increasing years of education guarantees economic success has yet to be proven true even if more schooling is associated with a higher income. Attaining an education is not the only factor that contributes to individual success because there are other critical factors, such as one’s cognitive skills, influence of families and peers, and proper health and nutrition. The quality of educational programs and the discrepancy in workers' skills and income levels become significantly noticeable when people fully integrate into the labor force.

Based on the current research on "quality education" and its effect on the economic growth of a country, this paper shows how the education reform is necessary. Instead of solely focusing on education attainment, more policies to improve education quality in developing countries is imperative. The quality of education should be measured by cognitive skills which have robust correlations with the GDP per capita growth as well as individual earning rates.  Stronger accountability systems, local autonomy of schools, and incorporating choice and competition in schools are all effective policies that can improve the overall incentives in schools to improve the quality of education in developing countries.


Introduction: The belief that increasing years of education guarantees economic success has yet to be proven true even if more schooling is associated with a higher income [1]. Attaining an education is not the only factor that contributes to individual success because there are other critical factors, such as one’s cognitive skills, influence of families and peers, and proper health and nutrition. The quality of educational programs and the discrepancy in workers' skills and income levels become significantly noticeable when people fully integrate into the labor force [2].

UNESCO's “Education for All” initiative and the “Millennium Development Goals” have focused on raising the population’s schooling levels to increase education attainment[1]. However, this  approach is flawed for mainly four reasons. First, many countries in the past that have expanded schooling opportunities have not seen improvements in their economy. Second, there are many differences between developed and developing countries, aside from schooling levels within their respective population.  In addition, some developing countries may not have established, effective educational policies and programs. Lastly, even if effective programs and policies are in place, the approach in implementing these programs may be ineffective, and therefore may not result in the anticipated outcomes. [1]  Research on the economic impact of schools tends to ignore these differences that exist between developing and developed countries, which can distort education and economic outcomes.

Therefore, rather than focusing on educational attainment and increased years of schooling, assessment of success should measure knowledge or cognitive skills especially in an international context [2].These quality differences are crucial and important in recognizing the reasons for discrepancies in education, skills, and individual earnings.

Educational quality is a driving factor in the individual earnings and overall economic growth of a country. [1] Currently, there is a lack of effective policies that can substantially increase cognitive skills, but evidence suggests that changing school policies and incentives can have a positive impact on the economic outcome. Overall, educational quality, which has significant effects on economic growth, is much worse in developing countries and cannot be solved with increase years of schooling alone. To effectively solve this problem, major institutional changes would be required.

Based on the current research on "quality education" and its effect on the economic growth of a country, education reform is necessary. Instead of solely focusing on education attainment, more policies to improve education quality in developing countries is imperative. The quality of education should be measured by cognitive skills which have robust correlations with the GDP per capita growth as well as individual earning rates.  Stronger accountability systems, local autonomy of schools, and incorporating choice and competition in schools are all effective policies that can improve the overall incentives in schools to improve the quality of education in developing countries.


References

[1] https://www.brookings.edu/articles/unequal-opportunity-race-and-education/

[2] https://inequality.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/Pathways_SOTU_2017_education.pdf

[3] https://www.nap.edu/read/10256/chapter/6#71

[4] https://news.stanford.edu/2017/06/16/report-finds-significant-racial-ethnic-disparities/

[5] https://www.brookings.edu/research/race-gaps-in-sat-scores-highlight-inequality-and-hinder-upward-mobility/

[6] https://www.brookings.edu/research/the-importance-of-high-quality-general-education-for-students-in-special-education/


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Bhante Katukurunde Nanananda’s Interpretation of Nibbana: Experience Without Boundary

March 25, 2019
Arjuna Jayawardena

Abstract: This research is an attempt to interpret how the early Buddhist teachings portray Nibbana and how this portrayal might be understood as a fitting conclusion to the Buddha’s quest to overcome suffering. In particular, we have tried to shed light on what is meant by bhava-nirodha (cessation of existence), a common description of Nibbana, and how such a dictum might avoid annihilationist interpretations without, at the same time, leaning towards an eternalist interpretation, the two extremes the Buddha seeks to avoid. In the second section, we attempt to see how the Buddha instructed his disciples to abandon the arising of the self-perspective. We have relied heavily on Bhante Katukurunde Nanananda’s analysis of the sutta-pitika as seen in a number of his books and most notably, in his Nibbana: The Mind Stilled series.

Introduction: Nanananda, formely a Pali lecturer, came under the guidance of Bhante Matara Sri Nanarama and was invited by the latter to deliver the sermons on Nibbana which would comprise the Nibbana:

The Mind Stilled series [1]. Nanananda’s interpretation is notable, first, in its disagreement with the commentarial tradition’s understanding, and second, in its insistence of Nibbana being the cessation of existence while nevertheless avoiding an annihilationist point of view. The sermons also rely heavily on the early texts. For the most part, these sermons were met with much resistance for the very same reasons that they are notable (the commentarial tradition is held in very high esteem in Sri Lanka, where these sermons were delivered).

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On the Political Voice of Uyghur Poetry through the Gungga movement and Perhat Tursun’s Elegy

March 06, 2019
Eric Jiefei Deng

AbstractThe political sensitivity of the region in turn propagates the popularity of political interpretations for literature from Xinjiang. When reading Uyghur poetry from the likes of Tahir Hamut, Perhat Tursun, or Ghojimuhemmed Muhemmed, it is difficult to divorce ones thinking from the political reality that defines everything in Xinjiang. Literature gives a lens to culture and reality, and concerning Uyghur Misty/ Gungga/ Menglong poets there are interesting viewpoints on the political value and implications of their works. This paper will seek to outline how the political intentions of these gungga poets are interpreted. An ethno-religious reading of these authors will be called into question while an argument for a political community consciousness of issues will be put forth. This will be mostly done through an analysis of various gungga works in this paper.

Introduction: The political instability of the Uyghur situation within the People’s Republic of China is something that is front page news across the globe. The resource rich and vast territory of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is one that is crucial not only for the territorial integrity of the Chinese nation but a keystone for Chinese aspirations in the international field–especially with the New Silk Road initiative put forth by Xi Jinping in recent years. The wealth of this region is unevenly shared with dissatisfaction high among the Uyghurs of the region. The nationwide issues that spring forth from economic growth, modernization, and the control of the Communist Party are intensified in Xinjiang because of the volatile situation present. This results in the unwavering iron grip that the Chinese Communist Party exerts on the native populations of the province [1]. In the crusade to rid the region of “dangerous” elements, the Chinese Communist Party has recently sought to rid the province of “dangerous” people–the destruction of a people seems to be simply a means to an end for the pacification of Xinjiang under the Chinese Communist Party.

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The Divine Theory of Morality: Socrates’ Arguments from His Conversation with Euthyphro and Their Flaws

March 05, 2019
Eva Kim, Jinyeop Park

Abstract: Socrates finds a way to denounce every single explanation that Euthyphro gives in attempting to define what piety is. Euthyphro starts out by providing an example of an action that is pious, and Socrates responds saying that he asked for a definition, not an example. To Euthyphro’s definition that something is holy because the gods agree that it is, Socrates argues that gods do not agree on everything, especially moral actions, because it is not physically measurable. Socrates’ asks the infamous question of “do the gods love piety because it is pious, or is it pious because the gods love it?” which Euthyphro is unable to answer. However, there could have been some points and arguments that Euthyphro could have made in order to corroborate his arguments and even debunk some of Socrates’ points.         

Keywords: ethics, morality, piety, Socrates and Euthyphro


Introduction: Philosophers and theorists have been debating for centuries on the definition of what makes an action good and righteous. Plato’s Euthyphro underscores the debate between Euthyphro and Socrates on the definition of piety in 399 BCE. Euthyphro believes that he knows everything about piety and the good. Despite his confidence, Socrates ends up proving to Euthyphro that his definition is inaccurate [1]. This dialogue between Euthyphro and Socrates gives a glimpse of the divine command theory, which states that the right thing is what God commands and that what is wrong is that God forbids. This theory ties together morality and religion and further provides a solution to ideas such as objectivity of ethics and moral relativism, because it suggests that morality is determined by the divine and therefore out of our own control. Socrates’ points in this dialogue, however, suggest that the relationship between morality and religion may not be that straightforward as it was believed [2]. Euthyphro is confident that he knows what is holy and unholy. In the beginning of the dialogue, Socrates ponders on the definition of piety as he reveals he has been indicted for corrupting the young by “inventing strange gods, while failing to recognize the gods of old” [3]. Further background information is provided when Euthyphro states that he is prosecuting his own father for murder. His relatives are upset because it is “unholy for a son to prosecute his father for murder” and scoffs at their opinions, saying, “Little do they know… of religious law about what is holy and unholy” [3]. Euthyphro suggests that he understands the holiness under the religious context better than everyone else.


References

[1] https://www.thoughtco.com/platos-euthyphro-2670341

[2] https://ma.tt/2003/02/divine-command-theory-and-the-euthyphro-argument/

[3] Plato, Euthyphro


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The Mob Effect: How a Politically Motivated Trope Became the New “American Genre”

February 19, 2019
Liana DiCarlo

Abstract: The convergence of history and popular media is apparent in many forms. Music can protest ideologies and television can reflect social feelings of a generation. In the same way, movies have the power to propagate stereotypes and continue them on for generations to come. When the topic of Italian-Americans comes up, what often comes to mind is food, family and the darker, but just a prominent side of organized crime affiliation. Every notable Italian-American themed film seems to include this key formula. The formula itself can be examined in how it has evolved on screen, and to what extent that this representation matters in the public perception of a group of people. By exploring the history of Italian-Americans and the history of Italian-American representation together, insights can be drawn from the various levels of dynamic representation and the political ramifications of media. Part I of the paper will discuss some of the history of the film industry and the Italian-American representation.

Introduction: Film has the opportunity to reach various audiences and affect their perception of groups of people. In “Italian-Americans in Film: From Immigrants to Icons,” Carlos Cortés discusses the unintentional educational aspect that popular film has on the public’s opinion on ethnic groups. The text draws mostly on examples in film from the period that he is discussing at the time. He touches on the revisiting of The Godfather saga, with the new version including a note about how these films are “not representative of any ethnic group.” [1] This is discussed with a certain irony, as Cortés argues that it is clearly supposed to represent Italian-Americans. The comparison and connection of media and ethnic history is an interesting comparison because it shows the reciprocal relationship between media and historical events. Cortez explores media representation more closely raising questions on understudied or mis-studied parts of history because of their representation.

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A Study on Improvisation based on the Texture Analysis in Jazz Piano Technique

February 12, 2019
Mary Zullo

Abstract: This research focuses on the conceptual characteristics of monophony, homophony, and polyphony in western music to identify the role of improvisation as well as its impact and change in Jazz piano. The main purpose is to set up the texture such as monophony, homophony, and polyphony in Jazz piano technique in order to identify the areas of change in improvisation.

This study limited its subject to jazz piano technique. In order to set up the texture, the instrumental characteristics and an example of jazz piano improvisation are presented. We further identified and analyzed the evolving nature of jazz piano technique improvisation within the textures into monophony, homophony and polyphony. From these procedures, we obtained the following results.

First, the conceptual characteristics of monophony, homophony, and polyphony, when combined with piano improvisation, results in an close relationship and has various inherent functions in the domain. Second, the general overview on the domain of improvisation as a piano technique reveals that there was a texture change. Third, this texture change was understood to be the result of the disintegration of the ensemble, resulting in the tendency of performers to consider the relationship between the harmony and melody. Lastly, the study on piano technique is important for establishing various playing techniques and ideas in the field of improvisation.

Jazz music has the symbolic authority that comes with improvisation and not from the traditional and conventional compositions. Therefore, the value of improvisation research is high. Although research on improvisation is progressing and developing, a multidimensional study and new approaches are needed. This study takes a new perspective of texture in order to identify the area of change in improvisation, and this information can be utilized as evidence and educational direction for new interpretation and approach.  

 

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The Effects of Acidic and Basic Rain on Bridge Stability

January 16, 2019
Jillian Panagakos

Abstract: The acids and bases in the water cycle can settle on a bridge through condensation or evaporation.  Acidic rain and basic rain are corrosive and have detrimental effects on building materials. Since the water cycle is continuous, acidic or basic rain would have a lasting effect on the strength of a bridge. Four bridges were created and three were suspended over hydrochloric acid, sodium hydroxide, and distilled water. For a week, each bridge was isolated under an aquarium tank. The fourth bridge was not tested with any liquid. The efficiency of each bridge was calculated by dividing the supported mass by the mass of the bridge.  It was hypothesized that the bridges suspended above the hydrochloric acid and the sodium hydroxide would result in being less efficient than the bridge suspended over distilled water. The hypothesis was negated; The bridges suspended above the acid and base proved to be more efficient.  The experiment is significant because the effects of acidic and basic rain should be considered when designing an effective bridge.

Introduction: A bridge’s structure must meet a set of requirements by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials [1]. There are several variables that affect the design of a bridge, such as the dimensions of the cross section and the positioning of cables. Precautions that are taken when bridges are engineered are the management of stress, properly locating cables, knowledge of capacity and limits of deflection and force eccentricity, and widths of cracks and fatigue [1]. The truss bridge is one of the oldest and most efficient types of bridge, with a geometric structure and can be made from metal, wood, or other materials [2]. The material used to make a truss is positioned further from the center- line of the bridge, strengthening the structure. A truss does not require much structural material, making it lighter than the other components of a bridge [2]. Bridges with trusses have limited bending potential due to the location of the truss and the central axis of the bridge [2]. There is more compression strain, rather than tension strain, found in wires, allowing to support more weight than a simple bridge [3].

Although bridges are built to tolerate rigorous conditions, there are still factors that reduce their strength. High levels of SO2 and NOx can be found in the urban environments with bridges. The acidity of these substances can damage a bridge’s structure [4], such as the corrosion and tarnishing of metals and electrical components, the discoloration of paints and organic coatings, the cracking or weakening of rubber or plastics, and the flaking of bricks [5]. The materials used to build a bridge can be negatively affected by acidic rain, which has a pH less than 5. Steel proves to be the strongest material because it can withstand acidic rain longer than the other two metals [6]. All of these factors weaken the strength of the bridge and deteriorate its structure.

Acids have a pH value less than 7, and bases have a pH value greater than 7. There are some strong bases such as sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, and barium hydroxide [7]. Strong bases behave like strong acids because they can be corrosive, while weaker bases are less reactive. A strong base, like sodium hydroxide, has a pH value of 13 [8]. Rain that is basic can have the same impact on bridges as acidic rain.

However, acidic rain is more likely to be found. The effects of acidic and basic rain are implemented through the water cycle. An experiment was conducted to test the effects of acidic and basic rain on bridge strength. It was hypothesized that the bridges suspended over the hydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide would result in being less efficient than the bridge suspended over distilled water, because acids and bases have the ability to corrode bridge materials, therefore reducing its strength.  The experiment is significant because the effects of acidic and basic rain may now be considered when attempting to design an effective bridge.

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A Study on the Relationships between Chosen Factors and Drug Abuse

January 09, 2019
Jairun Chen, John Luc

Abstract: In this paper, a model created to determine the likelihood of an individual to use a given substance takes into account the race, education level, and income of an individual. Initially environment was intended to be included in the model, but it was not able to effectively integrated into the model. For the three chosen factors, data was collected from various sources for how each one correlates with the use of nicotine, alcohol, marijuana, and un-prescribed opioids. The followings were assumed: First, race, income, and education levels are the only variables that affect substance abuse tendencies, and there is no correlation between the variables. Education is the most important factor, followed by income, and lastly race. The justification for this comes from our research. Second, it is assumed the high school used in the example model of Question 2 follows the demographic averages of the city of Los Angeles. Los Angeles was used because of its high socioeconomic diversity, ethnic diversity, and regional diversity within the city. Lastly, it is assumed that gender plays a negligible role in the probability of substance abuse, which has been confirmed by the National Institute of Health in many circumstances.


Introduction: Using the model to predict the amount of substance abuse in a senior class of 300 located in a high school in Los Angeles, California. The race distribution in Los Angeles is 47.7% latino, 27.8% white, 13.5% Asian, and 8.3% African American. We are assuming that this distribution holds true for the senior class. All of the students in the sample would fall under the “Some High School” education level. Roughly, the income distribution in Los Angeles for the brackets we chose is 40%, 8%, 12%, 10%, and 30%. To apply these statistics to the class of 300, each student is randomly assigned a race and income, and they all have the same education level. Race and income are not completely independent of each other, but for this model we assume there are no correlations.

To determine what drugs each kid would use, each individual would be subjected to a probability test from each of his demographic percentages. For example, all Asian students in the high school with an income range of $48,000-$60,000 would have a 22.35% chance of using nicotine (the weighted mean of the students’ race, education level, and income percentages). This number is calculated from the code we created that can be found in the appendix. This process would be completed for each unique combination of demographics, and then the number of students for each unique demographic would be multiplied by each unique percentage (more information about how we calculate can be found below). If there were 10 Asian kids with an income range of $48,000-$60,000 then the model predicts (.2235 x 10) that approximately 2 kids from that specific demographic would use nicotine. The sum of all of these different values from all of the unique demographics would give the total number of kids in the school using nicotine. The same process would then be redone using the data from the three other drugs.


References

[1]    Truth Initiative. (2016, August 10). The economics of tobacco: What education and income tell us about smoking. Retrieved from https://truthinitiative.org/news/economics-tobacco- what-education-and-income-tell-us-about-smoking
[2]    Lopez. “The Risks of Alcohol, Marijuana, and Other Drugs, Explained.” Vox.com, Vox Media, 25 Feb. 2015, www.vox.com/2015/2/25/8104917/drug-dangers-marijuana-alcohol.
[3]    Department of Health & Human Services. “Smoking - the Financial Cost.” Better Health Channel, Department of Health & Human Services, 30 Nov. 2014, www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/smoking-the-financial-cost.
[4]    Stewart, Ian. “Report: Americans Are Now More Likely To Die Of An Opioid Overdose Than On The Road.” NPR, NPR, 14 Jan. 2019,   www.npr.org/2019/01/14/684695273/report-americans-are-now-more-likely-to-die-of-an-opioid-overdose-than-on-the-ro.
[5]    “The E-Cig Quandary.” The Nutrition Source, 18 Aug. 2016, www.hsph.harvard.edu/magazine/magazine_article/the-e-cig-quandary/.


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How the Space Theory Transformed the History Discipline

January 04, 2019
Rebecca Vitenzen

Abstract: Gender, labor and race historians have made a strong case for space as a social construct. A Foucauldian framework of analysis of space has allowed historians to reveal histories of the subaltern, which are otherwise often ignored. Interactions in space are social relations, as individuals relate to the space around them in response to other individuals and societal norms. Even so, the materiality of space cannot be understated, as the built space impacts how those interactions are produced and unfold. The consideration of the materiality of space as an additional layer to social space, make spatial history a more effective and illuminating methodological approach.   


Introduction: lthough historian Leif Jerram has criticized historians for overusing imagined space, stating that space is the material physicality of location, gender, labour, and race, historians have used space as a social construct to successfully unearth otherwise hidden transcripts of power relations and resistance [1]. Rather than looking at ‘imagined space’ as in competition with ‘built space,’ a layered definition of space must be adopted. As Sewell has argued, space is imagined, experienced, and built [2]. Discursive imagined space can be defined as the ways in which individuals understand their environment, while experienced space is the ‘material interactions between people and their environment.’[2] Finally, the built environment can be defined as the physical structures that occupy spaces [2]. These overlapping layers must be examined through a social constructivist Foucauldian lens, as space is fundamentally interlinked with the production and reproduction of ‘economic, political, and cultural power,’ and the reaction of those in power and of the subaltern to that power [3].  This relationship of space with power means that ‘spatial relations are social relations’ [4]. The extent to which spatial theory has effectively been applied by labour, gender, and race relations historians must be examined to establish its use in the discipline of history.


References
[1]    Jerram, Leif. “Space: A Useless Historical Category for Historical Analysis.” History and Theory 52 (2013) p. 400-419.
[2]     Sewell in R. Percy, ‘Picket Lines and Parades: Labour and Urban Space in Early Twentieth-Century London and Chicago’, Urban History, 41/4 (2013), p. 457.
[3]    Percy, Ruth. “Picket Lines and Parades: Labour and Urban Space in Early Twentieth-Century London and Chicago.” Urban History 41 (2014): 456-477.
[4]     Lefebvre, Henri. “Space: Social Product and Use Value.” In State, Space, World: Selected Essays, edited by N. Brenner and S. Elden, translated by J. W. Freiberg, 185-195. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009.
[5]    Herod, Andrew. “From a Geography of Labor to a Labor Geography: Labor’s Spatial Fix and the Geography of Capitalism.” Antipode 29 (1997): 1-31.
[6]    Remus, Emily A. Remus, Tippling Ladies and the Making of Consumer Culture: Gender and Public Space in Fin-de-Siècle Chicago (2014).
[7]    R. Kelley, “‘We are not what we seem’: Rethinking black working-class opposition in the Jim Crow South” (1993) p. 99.
[8]    Kruse, Kevin M. “The Politics of Race and Public Space: Desegregation, Privatization, and the Tax Revolt in America.” Journal of Urban History 31 (2005): 610-633.
[9]    Butler, J. 'Bodies in Alliance and the Politics of the Street' http://eipcp.net/transversal/1011/butler/en.


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No-Self and Mindfulness as Tools for Liberatory Activism

January 02, 2019
Sarah Kasha

Abstract: This paper analyzes the conceptual value of the Buddhist teachings of no-self and mindfulness for contemporary activism. First it explores how the doctrine of no-self promotes extended empathy, self-awareness, self-love, and self-care. Second, it explores how the doctrine of mindfulness both resolves some of the organization-related tensions between no-self and activism and provides additional tools for effective activism, as mindfulness promotes embodied care and right action.

The main purpose of this paper was to propose a new philosophical approach to contemporary activism that would address its central problems on personal, interpersonal, and organizational levels.

Keywords: Buddhism, Zen, No-Self, Mindfulness, Activism


Introduction: It may seem counterintuitive to suggest that the Zen Buddhist doctrines of no-self and mindfulness might be effective tools for activism, considering that no-self completely undermines the Western conception of moral agency, and mindfulness promotes an awareness and acceptance of the present and detachment from desire for change. If activism is an organized effort to help others and ourselves in the face of injustice, can that really be achieved without a robust notion of the self and a powerful desire for change?

This paper argues that together, mindfulness and no-self can create a basis for better activism by addressing its central problems on personal, interpersonal, and organizational levels. First, it will be argued that the doctrine of no-self, far from limiting agency, promotes extended empathy, self-awareness, self-love, and self-care. Second, it will be argued that the doctrine of mindfulness both resolves some of the organization-related tensions between no-self and activism and provides additional tools for effective activism, as mindfulness promotes embodied care and right action. In this way, the incorporation of no-self and mindfulness into activism creates a comprehensive new approach to activism that is equipped to combat its main issues.


References

[1]    Butnor, Ashby. 2014. “Dogen, Feminism, and the Embodied Practice of Care”. In Asian and Feminist Philosophies in Dialogue, ed. Jennifer McWeeny and Ashby Butnor.
[2]    Kalmanson, Leah. “Buddhism and bell hooks: Liberatory Aesthetics and the Radical Subjectivity of No-Self.” Hypatia Vol. 27, No. 4 (2012): 810–827.
[3]    Tanahashi Kazuaki, trans. 1985. Moon in a dewdrop: Writings of Zen master Dōgen. New York: North Point.
[4]    Uebel, Michael, and Shorkey, Clayton. 2014. "Mindfulness and Engaged Buddhism: Implications for a Generalist Macro Social Work Practice". In Mindfulness and Acceptance in Social Work: Evidence-Based Interventions and Emerging Applications, ed. Matthew S. Boone: 215-234. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.
[5]    Warren, Henry Clarke. 2005. “There is no ego”. Buddhism in Translations: 129-146. New York: Cosimo Classics.


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