SU Graduate Theses

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    Say Hello to My Little Friends! Investigating the Influence of Exaiptasia diaphana Symbiotic State on the Feeding Ecology of the Nudibranch, Berghia stephanieae
    (2023-05) Musselman, Kyle; Liebgold, Eric; Bradley, Christina; Bressman, Noah; Taylor, Ryan; Biological Sciences; Master of Science in Applied Biology
    Mutualistic cnidarians are crucial to the success of biodiverse and economically valuable marine ecosystems, with coral reef ecosystems in particular holding immense ecological and economic importance. However, natural stressors, such as predators and anthropogenic stressors like climate change, pose serious risks to these ecosystems. The interactions between these stressors must be understood to provide a holistic view of how cnidarian ecosystems are being impacted. This study uses a model mutualistic cnidarian, Exaiptasia diaphana (Aiptasia), and a model specialist invertebrate predator of cnidarians, Berghia stephanieae (Berghia), to investigate how bleaching events impact the quantity and functionality of nematocysts in cnidarians, the feeding behaviors of invertebrate predators of cnidarians, and the stable isotope composition of invertebrate predators of cnidarians. This study utilized unbleached and bleached E. diaphana to quantify unfired and fired nematocyst content in both E. diaphana variants, in feeding trials to examine B. stephanieae feeding behavior in the presence of both E. diaphana variants, and in stable isotope analysis to assess how different E. diaphana variants influence the tissue composition of B. stephanieae. Bleaching was found to decrease nematocyst quantity but did not impact nematocyst functionality. Offering bleached E. diaphana as a prey item did not influence invertebrate cnidarian feeding preferences nor did consuming bleached E. diaphana immediately alter B. stephanieae’s stable isotope composition. However, mixing models indicate that Symbiodinium is a diet item that is assimilated within B. stephanieae’s tissues, but the proportion of tissue that Symbiodinium accounts for is unknown. This indicates that Symbiodinium found within E. diaphana are not an attractant, but are an additional source of nutrients, for B. stephanieae, which could have further reaching effects unobserved in this study. While mutualistic cnidarians are adversely impacted by bleaching events, this study provides evidence that invertebrate predators of cnidarians may possess limited resilience to bleaching events. Continued investigation into the effects of bleaching at multiple trophic levels is necessary to determine the comprehensive impacts of such events and to coordinate future conservation actions effectively.
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    Nurse Educator Scholarship & Qualitative Research
    (2023-04) Sabater, Katie; Barnes, Annette; Reid, Tina; Webster, Debra; Nursing; Master of Science in Nursing
    Nurse educators have many roles and responsibilities in addition to teaching including service, clinical practice, and scholarship. One way a nurse educator can achieve scholarship is through qualitative research that can enrich the nursing curriculum and education, empower the nurse educator, and improve patients' lives. To perform qualitative research, the nurse educator must understand the ethical considerations to reduce harm to participants, the importance of informed consent, and the necessity of confidentiality and anonymity. This internship aimed to understand the importance of scholarship for the nurse educator and how qualitative research can address the role through first-hand experiences of scholarship. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) student learned the role of focus group facilitator and conducted focus groups for data collection and transcription. The setting of this internship took place on campus at a public university. The preceptor and advisor were both university faculty. Graded course activities included a project proposal reflection, literature review, final paper, and presentation. Other experiences used for evaluation were completing the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) courses and obtaining certification, conducting focus groups as a facilitator, collecting audio data, and transcribing data. Other activities that were experienced included attending a virtual nurse educator conference and the opportunity to explore the use of thematic analysis procedures for qualitative data. Nurse educators have an obligation to perform scholarship in their careers in the form of grant funding, dissemination, clinical practice, or research. Even though qualitative research can be a very time-consuming, intensive endeavor, it is still necessary to be performed to make advances and inform academia and the nursing community.
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    Reaching into the Present, Growing Out of the Past: The Neo-Slave Narrative’s Innovation on Historical Slave Narratives and Contemporary Black Consciousness
    (2023-05) Russell, Andrew; Quintana Wulf, Isabel; Wenke, John; English; Master of Arts in English
    My thesis, “Reaching into the Present, Growing into the Past: The Neo-Slave Narrative’s Innovation on Historical Slave Narratives and Contemporary Black Consciousness,” approaches the neo-slave narrative genre as an innovative genre that both reinterprets the historical record to create a long history of slavery and show how the socioeconomic issues that slavery perpetuate through time and affect individuals in the contemporary moment. To accomplish this task, I have deployed an aesthetic study of the neo-slave narrative and how those aesthetics are in conversation with the historical record. After establishing common aesthetic features in the neo-slave narrative, I then shift my study to show how a neo-slave narrative can use its literary features to dismantle and deconstruct power structures in the contemporary era by focusing on the comedic slave narrative. While the comedic slave narratives use humor across their texts, the use of comedy is more interrogative in nature and gives its protagonists observational powers that are a critical feature in comedies to criticize and question extant power structures. The comedic slave narrative is reliant on postcolonial and Marxist theories, and the thesis makes uses of Althusser’s theories on interpellation and Fanon’s establishment of internalized racism to understand the forces that continue to colonize the black political consciousness in post-slavery life. However, comedy as an interrogative tool dismantles these structures to show how individuals can resist and grow in a social structure that is hostile to black independence.
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    The Social History of Photography in Baltimore, Maryland, 1839-1930
    (2023-05) Stancil Blakeman, Allison; Goyens, Tom; Gonzalez, Aston; French, Kara; History; Master of Arts in History
    Before the fall of 1840, American locksmith-turned-telescope maker Henry Fitz Jr. opened Maryland’s first-ever daguerreotype studio in Baltimore. Fitz introduced the city to portrait photography from his third-floor studio at 112 Baltimore Street. From here, photography’s popularity in Baltimore grew exponentially. Daguerreotype businesses emerged downtown, creating a bustling photography hub. Eventually, the evolution and streamlining of the photographic process, alongside increased accessibility to the medium, lowered prices. This allowed Baltimoreans from every walk of life to document special events and their daily lives within the walls of these studios. Where photography in the city began as very white and male-dominated, women and African American men started making names for themselves by the turn of the century. However, lacking recognition and representation has left these photographers out of Baltimore’s historical record. African American and women photographers’ histories remain muted and largely forgotten aside from few mentions in census records and city directories. Photographs created by these photographers are even harder to find. Baltimore is often overlooked in studies of early American photography regardless of its position as the second most populated city in the United States from 1830-1850, its connection to early photographic experiments, and its early adoption of the medium. To correct this disparity, I argue for Baltimore’s diverse cast of photographers’ inclusion alongside cities like New York and Philadelphia. This thesis studies the social history of photography in Baltimore, including key players, photography processes and materials used, and how the city and the medium evolved. Newspaper articles and advertisements, census records, business directories, auction and exhibition catalogs, photography magazines, and various forms of photographs, including daguerreotypes, cabinet cards, cartes-de-visite, tintypes, gelatin silver prints, and photo albums, are used to not only tell a surface-level history of photography in Baltimore but also uncover previously overlooked stories of women and African photographers and the vibrant communities they photographed. I conclude with a call to action to develop and implement more preservation initiatives and projects to reveal stories of early photographers from minoritized and disadvantaged groups.
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    Faux frogs, foam nests, and females: Mate choice as an evolutionary driver of conspicuous mating signals
    (2022-12) Hamilton, Olivia; Taylor, Ryan; Hunter, Kimberly; Corfield, Jeremy; Biological Sciences; Master of Science in Applied Biology
    Chapter 1 - Across many taxa, males gather in leks to perform multisensory courtship displays for females. Changes in the sensory scene over the course of mate evaluation are inevitable during a lek. This dynamic nature makes a female’s ability to recall the location of individual signalers an important component of female mate choice. It is hypothesized that complex (especially multimodal) signals may improve a female’s ability to remember, and thus discriminate among potential mates. To test this hypothesis, we employed robotic frogs and a blinding system in playbacks with female túngara frogs (Physalaemus (=Engystomops) pustulosus). Specifically, we asked if the visual component of a multimodal signal improves a female’s ability to remember the location of a signaler. Females’ memory for a multimodal signal was examined after an initial presentation period followed by a holding period and/or silent period. Females were only able to remember a signaler’s location after the introduction of a silent period. They were still able to remember even after a combined 25 s after the obstruction of the visual stimulus (robotic frog). Silence is common in choruses and our data suggest that memory instantiation for multisensory stimuli occurs as a result of this silence. Chapter 2 - Vision can play a vital role in a receiver’s response to a signal. Often used in tandem with other sensory stimuli, vision is commonly used as a modality for signaling to potential mates. In nocturnal species, however, the neural processing of an image with a limited light source may degrade the resolution and/or details of that scene and the signalers within it. Túngara frogs (Physalaemus (=Engystomops) pustulosus) are a Neotropical species that perform nocturnal multimodal courtship displays (visual, acoustic, and seismic) to attract females. Females have been shown to have a consistent preference for a multimodal display in laboratory settings at a fixed distance. Here, we tested how the distance between a female and a displaying “male” (robotic frog and speaker) influenced the decisions of female túngara frogs. We compared the response of females to a robotic frog at three distances (80 cm, 90 cm, and 110 cm) from the release point of females. At the established 80 cm distance, females significantly chose the multimodal speaker over the unimodal, but this preference vanished at 90 and 110 cm. These data suggest that female túngara frogs are unable to recognize the visual stimulus of a male’s multimodal display as it becomes more distant. This is consistent with observations of natural pairings wherein females sample and choose males at close distances. We suggest that female túngara frogs efficiently integrate visual stimuli in nocturnal conditions, but their distance to a stimulus limits this ability. Chapter 3 - Anurans exhibit extreme diversity in their reproductive strategies. During fertilization, species from several lineages produce foam nests that buffer developing embryos to their external environment. There have been many proposed functions for the production of these nests, but one function that has received little attention is how foam nests may act as an environmental cue to influence female mating decisions. In the túngara frog (Physalaemus (=Engystomops) pustulosus), males commonly call near foam nests when they are displaying for females. Previously, it was demonstrated that females of this species prefer a male call when it is associated with a real, field-collected nest (Martin et al. 2011). Amplexed pairs also often form communal nests, and it has been hypothesized that foam nests may act as a cue for an ideal oviposition site to amplectant females. Here, we tested the preferences of females using both real and faux, 3D printed foam nests in various treatment conditions. We were unable to find any evidence that females respond to the visual stimulus of foam nests during mate evaluation or that foam nests act as a possible cue for an oviposition site. We did, however, show that females had identical responses to the faux and real foam nests. Our results demonstrate that even in a well-studied organism like túngara frogs, we still have much to learn about their fundamental ecology. Chapter 4 - In this natural history note, we describe the first observation of a terrestrial vertebrate predator for the foam nests of túngara frogs (Physalaemus (=Engystomops) pustulosus) in the rainforest of Soberanía National Park, Panamá. The snake species we observed feeding on the eggs within the nest was documented as a juvenile Erythrolamprus (=Liophis) epinephelus and this is also the first account of oophagy for this species.