Abstract: The History, Function, and Significance of Semaphore Telegraph Towers

I will conduct research on semaphore telegraph tower systems, the technology which was the fastest method of communication in existence from the 1790s until the invention of the electric telegraph and Morse code in the 1830s. The system consisted of lines of towers which crossed the countryside, set at distances so that each could be seen by the next, with arrangements of mechanical shutters or hinged arms on top. An operator manipulated the shutters or arms to spell a message in code, and the operator of the next tower would observe the message, and repeat it for the following tower’s operator to repeat, and so on.

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Abstract: Julia Morgan and the construction of Heart Castle

I am exploring how California architect Julia Morgan’s personal style and experience influenced the construction of Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California. By reexamining a thoroughly understood site through a different lens, one that focuses on Morgan and her personal influence rather than on Hearst himself, I will bring new insight to the site and a more holistic understanding of our past. I want to understand how this massive, impressive display of Hearst’s wealth and power is also a physical testament to the legacy of an impressive woman. Morgan’s history of creating spaces for women (like the Berkeley City Women’s Club) may reveal itself in the castle, and may bring to light how her gender influenced Hearst’s commission. I also want to understand how she navigated being the sole woman in many work situations, especially a very powerful one in the specific context of Hearst Castle.

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Missions of All-Girls Schools Across the Socioeconomic Spectrum

The recent opening of Ron Brown College Preparatory High School, the first all-boys public school in Washington DC, sparked significant debate regarding the need to charter an all-girls public high school in DC. Though the DC School Board’s official stance is that an all-girls public high school is not a priority at the time, many groups have challenged the board, citing the success of all-girls preparatory schools in the area. Through my research, I would like to explore the validity and relevance of the evidence that is being cited by both proponents and opponents of the DC School Board’s decision.

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An Analysis of Ottoman Trade and its Effects on the Longevity of the Empire

For my freshman Monroe project, I want to research the trade policies set in place by the Ottoman Empire and how they effected its longevity.  Despite its near six century lifespan, the consensus amongst many historians is that the Ottoman Empire fell into a period of decline after the 16th century C.E.  This coincides with the rise of European powers and the discovery of the New World. Many attribute mercantilism with the rise of the West, as the Ottoman Empire stuck with their traditional policy of provisionism. Trade policies on both fronts evolved over the centuries as mercantilism evolved into capitalism and Ottoman policies became more and more domestically focused. Even with these changes, the power struggle between the West and the Ottoman Empire never again swung in Ottoman favor.  This means the Ottoman Empire was in a constant state of decline for roughly 450 years. The distinction that must be made, though, is that it was in a period of decline relative to the West. The decline was not absolute. Due to this misconception, the commonly asked questions regarding the decline of the Ottoman Empire are why it declined or why the West rose to power.  I want to approach this from a different angle. I want to approach the decline of the Ottoman Empire looking specifically at trade policies, but also with a slightly more optimistic mindset. Why did the Ottoman Empire survive for so long? What effect did its trade policies have on its survival?

Abstract: Socioeconomic Status and its Impact on Child Health

This research aims to investigate the correlation between socioeconomic status and child health through a literature review. The literature review explores the determinants of health, and how inequalities in these determinants create disparities in child health among populations. Using the information found in the literature review, health data from Rochester, New York is applied to achieve a more local and small-scale context. Photos from different areas around Rochester are also used to visibly display the disparities and assets in the community. This topic is relevant on a large scale because this problem does not just affect residents of Rochester. Health disparities created by socioeconomic status can be found in everywhere in the United States. 

The Magic of Realism: An Exploration of the Technique Behind Magical Realism

ABSTRACT: For my research I hope to explore and further understand the artistic genre of magic realism. This is a genre of art that expresses a primarily realistic view of the world while also incorporating magical and dreamlike elements. Specifically, I want to discover a technique that produces the most successful magic realism oil painting in terms of composition, craftsmanship and creativity. I will test the effects of painting from life while incorporating fictional elements from my imagination versus painting a scene completely from my memory and imagination. I would like to find the perfect world that exists between dreams and reality.

Abstract: An Evolutionary Objection to Ethical Objectivism

The idea that there is right and wrong is incredibly intuitive. Charity is right. Slavery is wrong. But if right and wrong exist what does this entail and how do we know what if something is right? If morality exists it must be an objective morality. The right action in a specific scenario cannot be right for one person and not right for another. Another requisite of morality is categorical action guiding power. To do what is right you may have to act against your desires, thus morality must be able to motivate  independently of desire. We cling to the idea of morality because if morality didn’t exist then. Surely, without morality there would be no reason for people not to just kill each other on sight or lie without a care.

However, we cannot accept morality exists simply because we fear a world without it. Like everything else we believe exists we must have reasoning beyond intuition. There is no positive reason why morality exists. In fact, many moral actions can be explained by evolution. Research in affective and cognitive neuroscience has show that “moral” instincts have evolved overtime. This summer, I plan to read and analyze studies and articles on the evolution of moral behavior. 

Beyond scientific research, there is significant philosophical evidence against morality. J.L. Mackie argues that the idea of motivation independent of desires is too weird to fathom. In addition to my scientific research, I will research philosophical objections to ethical objectivism and find the intersection of this research and the scientific research I have accumulated.

A Literature Review on Identity, Humor, and Offense: Exploring and Understanding Cards Against Humanity

ABSTRACT: I plan to explore how various aspects of one’s identity–e.g. age, gender, sexuality, race, etc–inform and influence one’s sense of humor as well as one’s sensibility. More specifically, I will conduct a literature review wherein I compile the most relevant scholarly work across several fields on the subject–including humor studies, psychology, and sociology. Finally, I will use the popular party game Cards Against Humanity (CAH) as a connecting focal point for my research. Cards Against Humanity, i.e. “a party game for horrible people”, asks players to choose the funniest punchline from a set of cards to complete a given setup or prompt–the result is oftentimes a dirty, dark, or satirical joke. As players confront controversial cards, they are forced to decide what is funny and what is simply offensive. Subsequently, each player must define their sense of humor, their sensibility, and their identity amidst a social group. At the same time, players must be mindful of the particular humors, sensibilities, and identities of others in the group. For that reason, CAH is an excellent medium through which to research the interplay of these three factors. This piece of research is an essential first step in moving towards an understanding of the fascinating social phenomenon that is Cards Against Humanity.

Defining Modern Terrorism and Resisting Stereotypes

Due to recent incidents, the word “terrorism” has been plastered on countless headlines and news articles, regardless if the subsequent story fits the actual definition of the abhorrent crime.  In order for a crime to truly be terroristic in intent, it must be politically motivated.  Many of the terrible, heart-breaking mass shootings that have been so prevalent in recent events cannot be considered terrorism, despite being falsely identified as such in everything from news sources to Twitter posts.  Throughout this research, a case by case examination will be given, analyzing these crimes and discussing whether or not they can be categorized as terrorism.  It is essential for the general public to become more educated on this topic, as terrorist organizations tend to claim these acts in the name of fear-mongering – they are able to maintain a greater presence in the United States by taking ownership of mass shootings, bombings, etc.  Furthermore, it is important for people to understand that, although much of terrorism is deemed “Islamic terrorism,” it is not in any way a representation of true Islamic values.

Assessing Antibiotic Sentiments with Online Social Media

Understanding how social network dynamics affect public health outcomes is essential in today’s big data age. This can applied in especially controversial and hot topics such as antibiotic use, where the threat of super bugs loom.  In my project I will analyze sentiment of antibiotic use in social media outlets using machine learning.  Data will be scraped from Twitter and Facebook, ranging from about 30,000-50,000 data points, and analyzed using machine learning algorithms. Positive or negative sentiments on antibiotics will be confirmed with antibiotic usage trends in America. If time permits, the social network analysis (SNA) will show how information flows between each user concerning antibiotic posts.  If the sentiment appears negative, it should correlate with an overall decline in antibiotic use in America. If positive, then it should correlate with the great quantities of antibiotics ingested in today’s age.