UMBC Theses and Dissertations

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    Beyond Formalization: Legal Empowerment Strategies for Strengthening Indigenous and Afro-descendant Land Tenure in Ecuador
    (2023-01-01) Pasion, Valerie Navarro; Holland, Margaret B; Geography and Environmental Systems; Geography and Environmental Systems
    This paper examines the intricate challenges surrounding land tenure faced by Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities in Ecuador, exploring the critical role of legal empowerment strategies in addressing historical injustices. Through a qualitative analysis of the socio-political landscape, the study evaluates existing legal frameworks and their effectiveness in safeguarding ancestral lands. Emphasizing the need for inclusive governance, the paper proposes community legal empowerment strategies that empower Indigenous and Afro-descendant populations to assert their rights. By drawing on case studies of ECOLEX organization in Ecuador and legal precedents, the research shows the potential impact of Community Paralegals as strategies on strengthening land tenure security and fostering sustainable development. Ultimately, the paper contributes to the ongoing discourse on social justice and Indigenous rights, advocating for a transformative approach to legal empowerment that not only recognizes the cultural significance of ancestral lands but also bolsters the autonomy and resilience of marginalized communities.
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    Economic and Racial Disparities in Air Quality Monitors in Baltimore City, Maryland, and Other Major Metropolitan Cities in the United States
    (2023-01-01) Gibson, Selenea Deianira; Mahmoudi, Dillon; Geography and Environmental Systems; Geography and Environmental Systems
    The EPA has air quality monitoring networks that report ambient air fine particulate matter (PM2.5) within cities in the United States (EPA 2023a). The citizen science project PurpleAir has community scientists place PurpleAir PM2.5 monitors in areas of their choosing (Dybwad 2022). Yet, areas that have air quality monitors are still suffering from PM2.5 pollution. These areas contain predominantly low-income and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) (Tessum et al. 2021; Tabuchi and Popovich 2021). To fully understand how air quality monitors work, I must understand the geography/distribution of monitors and the relationship between people and monitors. I use quantitative methods through exploratory and statistical analysis to collect location data on EPA and PurpleAir monitors, tract-level population data, race/ethnicity data, and median household income data. The findings reveal evidence of uneven geographies of EPA and PurpleAir air quality monitors. There is no relationship between EPA air quality monitors and low-income and BIPOC communities. Further, there is a relationship between PurpleAir air quality monitors and low-income and BIPOC communities.
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    The Trifecta of Environmental Challenges on College Campuses: Waste, Climate Change and Environmental Justice
    (2023-01-01) Bodman, Mackenzie; Holland, Margaret; Geography and Environmental Systems; Geography and Environmental Systems
    Through this thesis, I explore waste, climate change and environmental justice as a set of environmental challenges on university campuses. They are issues that exist independently of one another but can also work to exacerbate each other. The average member of a university campus community may or may not understand how these issues work in combination to influence people and the environment both on and off-campus. This study explores how different campus members perceive the interconnections between climate change, waste, and environmental justice. Do they understand the implications of a university campus’s impact on the environment and on people? Through structured surveys and focus group interviews, I find that campus members personalities tend to most closely relate to the following: (1) those who make the connections between climate change, environmental justice and waste and are acutely aware of their environmental impacts, (2) those who generally understand that there are impacts to the environment and to people from waste, but do not think about how campuses impact the environment and people, and (3) those who do not make connections between the three and do not perceive of impacts university campuses might have off campus. I find that even if campus members do make the connections between the three issues, they do not apply these same principles or associate the same impacts with a university campus.
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    Chiroptera as Biomonitors of Heavy Metal Distribution in Baltimore City
    (2023-01-01) Blume, Christopher Phillip; Biehler, Dawn; Geography and Environmental Systems; Geography and Environmental Systems
    ABSTRACT Title of Document: CHIROPTERA AS BIOMONITORS OF HEAVY METAL DISTRIBUTION IN BALTIMORE CITY Christopher Blume M.S 2023 Directed by: Dr. Dawn Biehler, Dr. Ela-Sita Carpenter, Dr. Chris Hawn, Dr Tamra Mendelson Dr. Colin Studds Heavy metal contaminants such as arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury are often found in urban zones dominated by industry, construction and traffic. However, due to historic trends of racism and inequality, not all communities experience pollution in the same way. Low socioeconomic and communities of color have often borne the brunt of this ecological injustice due to the disenfranchisement and lack of investment in these communities. This burden impacts both the human communities near sources of contamination but also the wildlife species exposed. However, due to their exposure and adjacency to human communities, certain wildlife species can be used as biomonitors providing information about the health of communities and ecosystems. Bats are one such species due to their high trophic level, closeness to human populations, diet and bioaccumulation of contaminants. By sampling their guano from roosting sites, data on the distribution of contaminants and their concentrations can be determined.
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    Black Duck Habitat Occupancy Trends in the Chesapeake Bay
    (2023-01-01) Barnhart, Katheryn; Studds, Colin; Geography and Environmental Systems; Geography and Environmental Systems
    Changes in watershed land use, loss of coastal habitat to human development, and changing rainfall patterns have been attributed to waterfowl population declines in estuarine wintering grounds. We created a dynamic occupancy model for American black ducks (Anas rubripes) in the Chesapeake Bay to investigate relationships between occupancy, estuarine stressors, and wintering habitat from 1993-2019. Our model showed that wetlands and water clarity had a positive association with site colonization, whereas nitrate and nearby urban development had a negative association. Wetlands also had a strongly positive association with site persistence. Black ducks disproportionately occupied sites on the eastern shore and rarely colonized sites outside this zone. This propensity increased over time, with the population centroid/center of mass experiencing a small, but significant, shift eastward. These results highlight a “core area” of black duck habitat in the Chesapeake Bay that is vulnerable to large disturbances and should be prioritized for black duck population conservation.
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    Becoming A Hero: An Analysis of the Presentation Of Theme In Nintendo’s The Legend Of Zelda Franchise
    (2023-01-01) Perez, Ivan Carlos; Tran, Sharon; English; Texts, Technologies, and Literature
    My work proposes using theme as a scope for video game analysis to generate a more wholistic understanding of how the parts of a game interact to generate meaning. When applied to video games as a purely narrative property, themes become relatively static. If we use theme as a scope for analyzing and understanding other elements of the text, however, then we come away with a more complex and dynamic understanding. Using Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda franchise as a case study, I propose that the gameplay expands upon themes put forward in the franchise’s narratives, with my primary focus being on the hero. In Zelda games’ narratives, the hero is discussed in static, traditional terms. But, if we use this theme as a scope for understanding the gameplay, the player has opportunities to both reinforce and play against this understanding, producing a more nuanced and dynamic understanding of the hero.
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    Deployment and Post-Deployment Predictors of Dyadic Adjustment in Military Couples in Long-Term Relationships
    (2023-01-01) Woodward, Bonnie; Franz, Molly; Psychology; Psychology
    Military service members (MSMs) who undergo deployments face many stressors, and this is compounded for those in relationships, for whom deployments can cause strain as the couple navigates life apart. It is important to understand deployment-related factors that increase risk for romantic relationship problems post-deployment. There are indications that stress about life back home, PTSD, and within-unit social support all play a role in romantic relationship outcomes; however, research synthesizing these risk and protective factors has not yet been conducted with MSMs in long-term relationships using longitudinal data. The present study utilized self-report questionnaire data from 84 MSMs in long-term relationships to examine longitudinal predictors and mechanisms of long-term dyadic adjustment. The goal of the study was to investigate a moderated mediation model in which greater homefront stressors were expected to predict lower dyadic adjustment indirectly via higher PTSD avoidance and numbing symptoms, and these associations were expected to be buffered by higher unit support. No significant moderation was found. The trimmed mediation model showed a negative main effect of homefront stress on dyadic adjustment. Contrary to hypotheses, higher avoidance symptoms (but not numbing symptoms) mediated the relationship between greater homefront stress and higher dyadic adjustment. Findings point to the importance of homefront stress as an indicator of later dyadic challenges and suggest that avoidance symptoms may uniquely contribute to MSM-reported dyadic adjustment. Overall, stress experienced during deployment is associated with negative long-term outcomes for MSMs, suggesting the importance of interventions aimed at promoting healthy coping during deployment.
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    Random Forest of Tensors
    (2022-01-01) Eren, Maksim Ekin; Nicholas, Charles K; Computer Science and Electrical Engineering; Computer Science
    Tensor decomposition is a powerful unsupervised Machine Learning method that enables the modeling of multi-dimensional data, including malware data. This thesis introduces a novel ensemble semi-supervised classification algorithm, named Random Forest of Tensors (RFoT), that utilizes tensor decomposition to extract the complex and multi-faceted latent patterns from data. Our hybrid model leverages the strength of multi-dimensional analysis combined with clustering to capture the sample groupings in the latent components, whose combinations distinguish malware and benign-ware. The patterns extracted from a malware data with tensor decomposition depend upon the configuration of the tensor such as dimension, entry, and rank selection. To capture the unique perspectives of different tensor configurations, we employ the "wisdom of crowds" philosophy and make use of decisions made by the majority of a randomly generated ensemble of tensors with varying dimensions, entries, and ranks. We show the capabilities of RFoT when classifying Windows Portable Executable (PE) malware and benign-ware.
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    “Things that People on the Outside Looking in Don’t Understand”: Child Welfare System Workers' Perspectives of Child Fatality
    (2023-01-01) Peralta, Sarah; Hunter, Bronwyn; Psychology; Psychology
    Across most cultures, the death of a child has been referenced as one of the most traumatic losses imaginable. It challenges our core beliefs about the natural order of the human lifespan and leaves a tremendous impact on the grieving community (Geiss et. al, 1998). Critical examinations of experiences surrounding child death can reveal deeply held attitudes and common beliefs regarding grief responses. This qualitative study explored specific experiences of grief and bereavement from the perspectives of child welfare professionals who are involved in child fatality cases. Nine interviews explored the perspectives of Maryland’s child welfare workers. A rigorous thematic analysis identified and organized patterns in the data across interviews. Emergent themes included persistent sorrow, navigating judgment and blame, coping with emotions and preventing death. Implications are discussed for grief-informed practice in child fatality settings.
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    Trauma Symptoms, Social Support Processes, and Relationship Satisfaction in Newlywed Couples with Histories of Child Maltreatment
    (2023-01-01) Nguyen, Rebecca Le; Franz, Molly R.; Psychology; Psychology
    Many survivors of childhood maltreatment face lifelong problems with relationships, including difficulties with healthy communication and martial satisfaction. Given the increased prevalence and severity of trauma symptoms in survivors of childhood maltreatment, it is important to examine relationship factors that contribute to reduced relationship satisfaction in survivors. Further, there is a paucity of longitudinal, empirical research on couples where both partners have histories of trauma (dual-trauma couples). Therefore, the current study aimed to explore negative social support provision and self-disclosure as mechanisms through which trauma symptoms might impact relationship satisfaction among couples in which both partners have been exposed to childhood maltreatment. At baseline, couples completed self-report measures of trauma symptom severity and were observed in a social support task to measure the frequency of their negative social support provision. One year later, couples self-reported the frequency of their self-disclosure and two years later completed a self-reported measure of marital satisfaction. Higher trauma symptom severity predicted lower marital satisfaction, and negative social support provision predicted lower confiding frequency, among selves and partners. Further, effects emerged such that confiding frequency predicted each person’s (but not their partner’s) relationship satisfaction. The current study extends the literature by demonstrating these associations longitudinally and highlighting implications for clinical practice with dual trauma couples.
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    Leveraging Representation Learning and Expert Execution Traces for Improved Reinforcement Learning Performance
    (2023-01-01) Bhatt, Anjali; Oates, James; Computer Science and Electrical Engineering; Computer Science
    Reinforcement Learning (RL) has shown great promise in solving complex decision-making problems. However, the high sample complexity of RL algorithms has motivated researchers to explore alternative approaches that can reduce the amount of data needed for learning. One such approach is to incorporate expert knowledge through supervised learning from human experts. The hypothesis is based on implementing triplet embeddings for supervised learning with human-traced data in Cart Pole, a Reinforcement Learning environment. This thesis explores using representation learning with Siamese networks to extract information from limited expert traces effectively. Experiments in the Cart Pole environment show the effectiveness of this approach. Both the accuracy of the classifiers at choosing the optimal action (label) is measured, as well as their ability to accumulate reward in the domain. The study conclusively established intriguing insights about using triplet embeddings in the Classifier and RL domain.
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    Behind the Screens of Young Adult Romantic Relationships: A Qualitative Exploration of When Technology Hurts and Why
    (2023-01-01) Farrell, Danielle Margaret; Murphy, Christopher; Psychology; Psychology
    The existing literature on cyber dating abuse (CDA) has largely relied on quantitative research methods focused heavily on defining and measuring the prevalence of CDA, but less is understood regarding the impact of CDA experiences. To address this gap, the current study utilized qualitative, semi-structured interviews with 18 college students who had previously reported having some CDA experiences. Employing Braun and Clarke's framework (2006) for thematic analysis, ten overarching themes were created from the data. Participant responses shed light on the multifaceted nature of CDA, and expressed experiencing far-reaching and oftentimes long-standing impacts to their emotional well-being and social relationships. A notable gap in social awareness of CDA was revealed, indicating the potential utility of a social norms approach to prevention. Research and practice recommendations are provided as well as suggestions for future research.
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    Coping Self-Efficacy and PTSD in Individuals with Substance Use Disorder: The Role of Emotion Regulation
    (2023-01-01) Mette, Meghan ; Schacht, Rebecca L; Psychology; Psychology
    Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can result from experiencing a single or multiple traumatic event(s), and often co-occurs with substance use disorders (SUD). Coping self-efficacy (CSE) and emotion regulation difficulties have been independently associated with both PTSD and SUD. However, no studies have examined these constructs in tandem as predictors of PTSD, nor has this been studied among a sample of individuals with SUD. The purpose of the current study was to assess the main effects and interaction between CSE and emotion regulation difficulty as predictors of PTSD symptom severity in a sample of 126 individuals in residential substance use treatment. Regression analyses indicated that CSE and emotion regulation difficulty independently predicted PTSD. However, when placed in the model together, CSE did not predict PTSD and there was no interaction between CSE and emotion regulation. These findings suggest that emotion regulation ability may be more significant than CSE in predicting PTSD.
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    A qualitative analysis of trauma narratives among people in treatment for PTSD and substance use disorders
    (2023-01-01) Berg, Samantha Karen; Schacht, Rebecca L; Psychology; Psychology
    Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Substance Use Disorder (SUD) are highly comorbid yet PTSD treatment is seldom offered in residential SUD treatment facilities. Written Exposure Therapy (WET) was introduced as a brief PTSD intervention to a clinical sample of participants with comorbid PTSD-SUD. As part of this treatment, patients wrote accounts about the traumatic events that they experienced and the impact of the trauma on their lives. This master's thesis presents a qualitative analysis of trauma narratives among individuals (N = 38) undergoing treatment for PTSD and SUD. There is limited qualitative data on traumatic experiences and reactions of people with comorbid PTSD-SUD. Through thematic analysis, the researcher investigated the intricate connections between trauma, emotional expression, physiological expression, and substance use, aiming to gain insights into the unique challenges and coping mechanisms of this sample. Participants' accounts explore the significant impact of trauma on emotional well-being, relationships, and perspective shift, providing potential implications for trauma-informed interventions in dual-diagnosis treatment settings. The findings shed light on the complex interplay between traumatic experiences, PTSD symptomatology, and patterns of substance use. Four themes emerged from Session 1 accounts: (1) My Heart Dropped, (2) The Pain was Unbearable, (3) All My Fault, and (4) I Started Using. Two themes emerged from Session 5 accounts: (1) My Life has Been Changed and (2) The Future Holds Promise. This study further contributes to the existing literature on trauma and substance use, providing a deeper understanding of the subjective experiences of individuals in residential SUD care with co-occurring PTSD.
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    New Methods to Characterize the Substructure in the Abell 2146 Cluster of Galaxies
    (2023-01-01) Panda, Prajwal; Henriksen, Mark; Physics; Physics
    Unraveling the complexities of galaxy clusters is a pivotal endeavor in astro-physics. In this thesis, we employ state-of-the-art unsupervised learning techniques, specifically Gaussian Mixture Model (GMM) and K-means clustering, to explore the intricate structures of the Abell 2146 galaxy cluster. Using the spatial coordinates of Right Ascension (RA) and Declination (Dec), and velocity as the third dimension, we endeavor to determine the optimal number of sub-structures within this celestial cluster. Strikingly, our analysis reveals that K-means, among the two clustering techniques, offers superior performance in unraveling the cluster’s inherent structures.We use two powerful methods, the silhouette and elbow methods, to effectively optimize the number of sub structures. With the optimal number of clusters now ascertained, we extend our investigation to apply the spherical infall model. This phase focuses on the kinematics of the sub-structures found within the cluster, and their relationship to the density of the cluster. We test out findings with two of the most common density models, Ωₘ = 0.3 and Ωₘ = 0.04 , where Ωₘ = p/pc , accommodating both dark and luminous matter contributions. Through our investigation, we constrain the mass density dynamics of the Abell 2146 galaxy cluster. This interdisciplinary approach harmonizes cutting-edge machine learning with as- trophysical modeling, shedding new light on the nature of galaxy clusters. By com- bining these methodologies, our research not only advances our understanding of cosmic structures but also elucidates the complex interactions that define the struc- ture formation in the Universe
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    (2023-01-01) Persia, Jude Thaddeus Solijon; Lee, Soobum; Mechanical Engineering; Engineering, Mechanical
    This thesis proposes a method of creating an accurate neural network-based surrogate model for post-processing a topologically optimized structure. Topology optimization using a cell-based method creates disagreements on mechanical measures (e.g., deformation, stress) when converted to computer aided design (CAD) files, which are defined by smooth boundaries. The conversion process is necessary to make a manufacturable geometry, but the process introduces some performance losses and disagreement of mechanical measures. Post-processing, a method of fine tuning the CAD geometry, is needed to recover the original measures from topology optimization. In this thesis, deep artificial neural network (DANN) is presented to create regression models that relate the CAD geometry inputs to multiple stress outcomes. The regression models by DANN are used as a surrogate model to fine tune the CAD model stress using a limited number of FE computations and regenerate the smooth-boundary CAD model that satisfies all the stress design requirements. The performance of DANN based regression model is compared with a second order polynomial fitting with response surface methodology (RSM). The usefulness of this method is verified both in 2D and 3D test studies.
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    Enhanced local addressability of a spin array with local exchange pulses and global microwave driving
    (2023-01-01) Fayyaz, Anoosha; Kestner, Jason; Physics; Physics
    Spin qubits have been an excellent candidate for scaled up quantum processors since a few decades not only due to the vastnanoelectronic device fabrication industry at their disposal but also the ability to address single spins by frequency-selective control using electron spin resonance (ESR). All the qubits having a distinguishable frequency is a prerequisite to this strategy which imposes an upper bound on the number of qubits that can be differentiated without crosstalk coming into play. There have been techniques in the literature to address individual spins for small scale devices. Here we theoretically propose a strategy to address an individual spin in a large array of spin qubits with a random distribution of g-factors by employing a combination of single-qubit and SWAP gates facilitated by a global microwave field and local exchange pulses. Consequently, only the target qubit undergoes the desired operation and all other qubits return to their original states, even qubits that share the same Larmor frequency as the target. Gate fidelities above 99% can thus be maintained for arrays containing tens of qubits.
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    Chemical Reaction Networks with Stochastic Switching Behavior and Machine Learning Applications
    (2023-01-01) Deng, Dongli; Kang, Hye Won; Mathematics and Statistics; Mathematics, Applied
    Switching behavior is an interesting feature observed in some chemical reaction networks, where the molecular copy numbers fluctuate between two or more states. In this thesis, we introduce two models with switching behavior: the Togashi-Kaneko model and the Schlogl model. Both models show switching behavior between two states, but the underlying mechanisms are different. We generate sample trajectories and stationary distributions of two models. We set the parameters so that the sample trajectories of the two models look similar. Then, we apply classification techniques using either some features of the sample trajectories or the entire sample trajectories to see if the two models are distinguishable.
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    (2023-01-01) Lewis, George Allen; Scott, Michelle R; History; Historical Studies
    From the late 19th century to the mid-20th century, the city underwent a transformative journey, marked by the birth of jazz, its diaspora post-WWI, and the subsequent National Revival. This study explores the intricate evolution of New Orleans as a cultural and musical epicenter, specifically focusing on the interplay of tourism, jazz, and the identity of New Orleans. The New Orleans Jazz Club (NOJC), along with other local organizations emerged as crucial players in preserving the authenticity of Traditional New Orleans Jazz, fostering a vibrant community, and contributing to the city's global recognition as the "Birthplace of Jazz." As the narrative unfolds, it traces the multifaceted impacts of tourism on New Orleans, examining its role in urban revitalization, employment, and the decline in the city's residential population. The final chapters illuminate the ongoing struggle for place identity, particularly concerning the black population, and the profound consequences of Hurricane Katrina. This study offers a comprehensive exploration of the complex dynamics between cultural heritage, economic development, and resilience, making New Orleans a compelling case study in the enduring interplay between tradition and transformation.
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    “A Monument to Negro Womanhood:” The Women of the National Training School for Women and Girls, 1879-1961
    (2023-01-01) Baker, Brianna Gabrielle; Scott, Michelle R; History; Historical Studies
    This thesis is an institutional history of the National Training School for Women and Girls (NTS), a non-denominational Christian school operated by race woman, Nannie Helen Burroughs, in Washington, D.C from 1909-1961. The school was unique for its self-help philosophy, primary funding by African Americans, and devotion to black women’s education. The school trained black women and girls in domestic science, clerical work, and missionary service at a time when few schools accepted black girls, let alone designed curriculum for their academic and professional needs. This thesis uses the writings and speeches of Nannie Helen Burroughs, teachers’ notes, curriculum, school catalogs, and other NTS memorabilia to prove that NTS students and staff deserve greater attention in NTS histories because they inspired the school’s mission to offer vocational training to dignify black women’s work, labored and fundraised to support the school and themselves during their attendance, and were trained to be the living, breathing answers to the social problems facing black women. Burroughs, students and staff were all essential to economize donations, operate campus businesses, and provide labor to maintain campus facilities, food supplies, and basic necessities. While Nannie Helen Burroughs was the master fundraiser behind the NTS, the women and girls of the NTS were the engine powering Burroughs’s plan to sustain the school, build a positive image for black women and the school, and solve the social problems facing black people, women, and the church.