Abstract: How presidential candidates’ language use demonstrates, reinforces, and subverts power

Language use in presidential politics is, inherently, a negotiation of power and power structures. While all language use can be seen in this way, the implications of the presidential nominees’ language use are deep-rooted and far-reaching. Language plays a critical role in how politicians project their platform and attempt to convey their competence for the job. Researching the language of politics at the highest and most performative level can reveal systems of dominance and power that are reflected not only in the ideologies of the politicians themselves, but also in the ideologies of the people who support them. The way a politician uses language, how they buy into or reject underlying structures of dominance, can affect the way people feel toward them, either consciously or not. Analyzing how the presidential nominees in the 2016 election cycle use language to convey power and maintain, create, or subvert power structures is particularly of interest during this politically charged and nebulous time of potentially drastic change. The use of Critical Discourse Analysis can help uncover these implicit and explicit ideas of power expressed by presidential politicians, allowing for a greater understanding of the politicians’ stances.

Investigating genetic noise in bacteriophage promoter regions within Mycobacteria Smegmatis

Noise, or the inherent randomness in a cell’s activity due to changing environments and differences in molecular bonding times and reactions, is an extremely significant consideration within the field of synthetic biology. This randomness makes scientific predictions of precise cellular activity at a molecular level extremely complicated. Noise may interfere with attempted measurements of cellular output; however, recent investigations have also revealed the biological significance of noise, as it allows many cellular systems to rapidly shift in response to environmental changes. A better understanding of patterns of noise associated with different genetic promoters, the segments of DNA which allow for easier and more rapid transcription of the genetic regions surrounding them, would allow synthetic biologists to obtain a general idea of the amount of noise to expect when conducting trials using different genetic circuits. More importantly, the investigation of noise may allow for the application of noise patterns to attempt to control cell systemic changes and responses.

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Abstract: Biochemical and environmental factors of migraine

Migraine is a chronic condition of hypersensitization of the nervous system, commonly accompanied by severe headache, impacting about one in ten adults in the United States. A migraine disorder can have debilitating effects that substantially decrease a person’s standard of living. Despite the high prevalence of migraine, knowledge about its causes and treatments is lacking. Migraine is a particularly difficult disorder to treat, because it arises from an interaction between two types of causal mechanisms. Internal mechanisms comprise the underlying biochemical factors that predispose a person to suffer migraine, and external mechanisms comprise the environmental ‘trigger’ factors that instigate a migraine attack. There is an extensive range of proposed mechanisms within each category, further complicating understanding of the cause of migraine. Recent research has focused on abnormal concentrations of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, including serotonin and dopamine, or on disruptions in hormonal cycling. Environmental triggers identified by patient survey include dietary components, weather changes, exercise habits, and stress. Treatment often focuses on utilizing management strategies for these triggers, but may also include use of prescription medication, dietary supplements, and transcranial magnetic stimulation. A better understanding of the causal mechanisms involved will allow more effective treatment for migraine sufferers. Research on the causes and treatments of migraine will be compiled from scientific journals accessed through Swem library databases. This literature review will survey research on the physiological and environmental factors of migraine, and how their interplay can inform more effective treatment strategies, as well as highlight needs for further research.

Abstract: Buffy Speak–A Linguistic Analysis of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Unique Dialogue

When the famous television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer began in 1997, the show’s writers, led by Joss Whedon, wanted to create dialogue for its high-school-age characters that felt young, innovative, and authentic. Instead of studying the way actual high school teens of the time spoke in southern California, where the show is set, they used a variety of word-formation processes to create new words and phrases for their characters to toss around. For example, at one point the titular character refers to the action of kissing a character named Willow “Willow kissage,” which is an example of a process called derivation. Here, the writers created a new word by adding the –age suffix to “kiss.” In another example, an exasperated character turns to someone who is annoying her and asks, “Don’t you have an elsewhere to be?” This is an example of a process called conversion, in which a word that is one part of speech is converted to another part of speech without changing the morphology of the word itself. “Elsewhere,” an adverb, is converted to a noun. These processes mimic the slower processes by which new English words come into being. This summer, I plan to investigate the dialogue from a linguistic perspective by collecting and categorizing examples from each episode. I will then analyze the dialogue’s impact on the show as a whole, and research further how Buffy’s dialogue impacted the speech of its watchers and eventually the general public during the show’s time on air.