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Session 10A-10C 16:30-18:00 // day one

10A - Responses in Attitudes and Behaviours University of Warwick and University of North Carolina, Greensboro

The Rhodococcus species are bacteria commonly used thus far in bioconversion processes. These processes are important in the desulfurization of fossil fuels meaning they reduce the amount of sulphur dioxide being released during the combustion of fossil fuels that power our daily lives. Solely allowing Rhodococcus to have this role may be a mistake as it’s large genome and ability to uptake many plasmids means it potentially holds antibiotic properties. So far research has been primarily targeted to exploiting the Streptomyces species which has rewarded us with antibiotics such as Tetracyclin, Neomycin and many more. With the antibiotic potential of Streptomyces being exhausted and resistance to these antibiotics increasing, we must turn to other bacteria.

Exploring the RHA1 genome of Rhodococcus jostii may lead us to novel antibiotics. One way to study its potential is to mutate its genome. New technology allows us to specifically target this mutation in a desired gene. The aim is to be able to make an important repressor gene non-functional and thereby its protein product useless. This opens up new genes for manufacturing new proteins. And it is these proteins that are assumed to contain antibiotic potential. This concept of repression and activation could be thought of as a train that has 2 tracks where the tracks represent genes. The signal that diverts the train from one track to another can be thought of as a repressor molecule. If this signal is inactivated or changed the track can be accessed and the train is available to journey on it.

In the 2015 article The Disproportionate Risks of Driving While Black, the New York Times claimed that the Greensboro Police Department (GPD) is biased against black drivers when making traffic stops. To assess this claim using a rigorous statistical approach, we follow the propensity score weighting with local false discovery rates analysis completed by the RAND Corporation on the NYPD in 2009. The method is replicable and helps to mitigate potentially confounding factors, such as the time and location at which the traffic stops in question occur. While previous studies demonstrated that GPD is not biased as a whole, we discover that for 13 out of 558 officers analyzed in the GPD there is a significant disparity between the percentage of black drivers they stop and the percentage of black drivers stopped by the department as a whole. For each of these 13 officers, we believe there is a greater than 50% chance that this disparity is due to racial bias and, therefore, further investigation is warranted.
Delay of gratification is a method of measuring self-control and impulsivity that requires an individual to either select an immediate, but less preferred reward (impulsivity), or wait over a period of delay in order to receive a more preferred reward (self-control). Delay of gratification has been measured across various primate species (humans, chimpanzees, orangutans and rhesus macaques). Rhesus macaques have been the primary species of choice for examining the long-term behavioral consequences of differential infant rearing experiences. For rhesus macaques, impulsive-aggressive behaviors are more prominent in animals who had disrupted social relationships during infancy (i.e., nursery-rearing). No previous study has examined the impact of differential infant rearing experiences on impulsivity in terms of cognitive control in rhesus monkeys. The present study will test 12 male rhesus macaques (6 nursery-reared; 6 mother-reared) in a delay of gratification task in order to test the hypothesis that nursery-reared monkeys will show less ability to delay gratification compared to their mother-reared counterparts. The delay of gratification task consists of initially presenting the monkey with an immediate, less preferred food. After a period of delay, the monkey is presented either with a more preferred food item, or a larger quantity of the less preferred food.
The ARTmail project is an artistic collaboration involving older adults with dementia. Older adults are provided a box and art supplies with which to create abstract art on the inside walls of the box. Art is created in hour-long sessions facilitated by a trained artist and volunteers, that take place over eight weeks., Participants are guided to work with fabrics, paints, and textures. Each elder is paired with a counterpart in another site, and they mail the boxes back and forth in a creative collaboration. After three exchanges, the project is complete and an exhibition of works is held. We evaluate participants to see if neuropsychiatric symptoms associated with dementia improve when engaged in ARTmail. The evaluations are accomplished by conducting interviews with caregivers of the participants and control groups, who participate in their usual activities. Interviews are completed at baseline before the eight-week session begins, and at endline after the eight-week session ends. Qualitative interviews are conducted with key informants to learn about other details of the ARTmail program, and impact on participants. Emerging findings suggest that some participants showed signs of improved happiness each time they participated in the ARTmail class. Other findings regarding the implementation of the ARTmail project indicate that the third exchange during the session is too distracting and causes participants to feel confused. Through optimization of the process, the ARTmail project can provide a beneficial creative outlet for older adults with varying levels of mental functioning.

10B - Popular Opinion and Changing Cultures University of Warwick and Baruch College, CUNY

A locus of social interaction, clubbing as a postmodern construct is not an area widely approached academically when considering material evidence for postmodernist theory in subcultural circles today. However, this study of clubbing scenes reveals the extent to which neoliberal economic structures consistently operate subconsciously in areas of culture that claim to reject capitalist homogenizations of desire. Film as a medium constructed around the creation of atmospheres through the interaction between visual, aural and textual elements serves as a valuable angle through which to observe how clubbing similarly fabricates overwhelming and attractive environments of interaction where neoliberal politics are at play.

Within my dissertation, I argue that the increased socioeconomic pressures and consequent sentiments of individual political impotence wrought by the 2008 financial crisis work to establish the club as a space of escape therefrom, alternatively offering the illusion of absolute freedom and agency. My research therefore focusses on recent films released after the financial crisis, including Berlin Calling (Stöhr, 2008), documentary Bar 25 (Mischer and Yuriko, 2012), and Victoria (Schipper, 2015). These films narratively and stylistically disclose the desire for clubbing’s imitation of human agency to be a product of our current politico-economic situation.

Drawing on works such as Fredric Jameson’s Postmodernism, Or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism and Edward Soja’s Postmodern Geographies, my research demonstrates how the relationship between postmodernism, neoliberalism and late capitalism is concretely spatialized through the Berlin clubbing scenes refracted in recent film depictions. I hereby determine the packaging of the ‘club’ as a postmodern construct to offer a contradictory cultural experience of difference and agency whilst simultaneously reinforcing the dominance of late capitalism through the social homogenization of these very desires and forces of attraction.

The focus of this thesis is to analyze the popular culture in Poland during the 1970s and 1980s. The 1970s and 1980s were a crucial time for Poland which contained many political and cultural changes. For the citizens of Poland, the 1970s represented a time of economic prosperity and a time of adherence to the government. This contrasts the political unrest that occurred during the 1980s. The popular culture of the 1970s and 1980s reflects this shift. The popular culture of Poland during the 1970s will be analyzed by using music, magazines and comedy skits. It will portray the propaganda that was in presented to the people and how performers overcame it. The popular culture of Poland during the 1980s will be analyzed using music and comedy skits and how it reflected the tensions between Poles and the government. This shift in actions by entertainers will be shown to have aided the criticism of the Party.
In my study, I tackle the question of whether students believe that having greater material wealth can bring them greater happiness. This is an important question to address and answer (that can potentially provide insight into the greater issue of whether money can lead to happiness) because if the students think that attaining monetary wealth can lead to greater happiness (even if it actually might not), then this will affect their judgments regarding the success of their own lives. Subsequently, if they deem themselves unsuccessful because of a lack of monetary wealth, they could judge or cause themselves to become unhappy. Based on survey responses of 100 students at Baruch College, I found that despite having an understanding of happiness (as provided by me before survey administration), millennial college students at an urban, non-residential university do believe that there is a link between material wealth and happiness. The factors of gender, ethnicity and personal income do not influence students’ views regarding whether money can make them happier; country of birth/cultural background seems to be the only factor that has a significant effect on the students’ perceptions.
Economic development has traditionally been seen, and is still considered the most significant form of development for countries. In more recent pursuits of international development the consideration of cultural sensitivity has played an important role. A sense of belonging, community and traditions are also essential in what makes life enjoyable, and they are doubly the bedrock of cultural identity. This research challenges Modernisation Theory; proponents of modernization theory claim that modern states are wealthier and more powerful and that their citizens are freer to enjoy a higher standard of living. Traditional religious beliefs and cultural traits, according to the theory, usually become less important as modernization takes hold. The theory looks at the internal factors of a country while assuming that with assistance, "traditional" countries can be brought to development in the same manner more developed countries have been. I am interested in a culturally sustainable mode of development that can reconcile maintaining cultural identity with the pursuit of economic development. I will be interviewing locals who are part of a carnival band and some of the St. Lucian diaspora as they return for the annual St. Lucia carnival. I will find out whether the changes made to St. Lucia carnival in pursuit of economic growth, has impacted their sense of home, belonging, and cultural identity, or whether despite the changes made to carnival, their sense of Lucian identity remains just as strong. Carnival has traditionally been a pre-lenten festival where revellers are encouraged to release all their desires before the holy month of lent where desires are abstained from. However, the decision to move carnival to the summer months was influenced by economic goals. To avoid competition from other islands and increase tourism numbers for this event whilst ensuring that St. Lucians studying abroad could still participate in one of the biggest cultural celebrations on the island, carnival now occurs during the country’s hurricane season. Research gathered from the interviews will indicate whether or not St. Lucian’s believe that carnival is losing its heritage and traditions or if it remains the bedrock Lucian identity despite the changes.

10C - Models, Tools and Technology University of Warwick and University of Leeds

This project is within the graph theory branch of mathematics. A graph consisting of nodes and edges can be used to represent teams taking part in a football tournament. For each two teams the probability of one winning over the other can be calculated empirically, e.g. based on previous matches between the two. Using Bradley-Terry model, given such probabilities for each two teams, we can assign an influence parameter to each one thereby ranking them by their strength in the tournament.This project seeks to take this idea further. In graph theory, 'a tournament' refers to the type of graph that can be used as described above. Assigning two or more influence parameters to each node can open a range of 2 and higher dimensional applications of the method. For example, ranking countries by level of development based on two or more development indicators. The study of tournaments and their possible representations will be conducted via studying properties of matrices used to represent such graphs. In the project we aim to prove that it is possible to extend the method to 2 dimensions and characterise the matrices associated with such representations.The study of stochastic tournaments finds its wider applications in voting theory and the theory of social choice. Bradley-Terry model and its extensions in particular, for example, could make surveying more informative by asking the surveyed to only make pairwise comparisons of items to be ranked thereby simplifying the task of ranking a list based on multiple criteria.

Topological solitons appear in many aspects of theoretical physics, and are a powerful technique for obtaining results from very difficult equations. They are stable solutions to non-linear field theories which are topologically distinct from the vacuum; for example, a vortex such as that found in a sink is a soliton, since it is stable and distinct from the surrounding fluid. The Skyrme model of nuclear physics describes the interactions between solitons which can interpreted as atomic nuclei, because they conserve a baryon number B. However, predictions of binding energy values are 10 times too large.

The lightly-bound Skyrme model introduced by Gillard, Harland and Speight [1] rectifies this by modifying the original theory to give binding energy values matching experimental data. The model is also different in that the Skyrmions are composed of distinct particles. Currently for this model solutions have only been found numerically for B ≤ 8 due to simulation performance issues, however they appear to exhibit a distinctive lattice structure. We propose to find solitons for higher values of B and study their structure, by optimising the code to drastically reduce its run-time. We will study results’ spatial and energy distributions, to examine the importance of the apparent lattice structure and the model’s validity. Finally, we will develop a new mathematical model to calculate interaction energies between Skyrmions. These results will greatly extend the scope of the lightly-bound Skyrme model, allowing for a deeper comparison with experimental nuclear physics and potential insights into nuclear structure.

Kinetic models are a very useful tool to enable prediction of time-dependent properties in systems with disparate time-scales; examples include catalysis (the addition of a catalyst to increase the rate of reaction), and propagation of cracks and kinks on surfaces. This project will investigate the errors that occur in the constituent reaction rates of kinetic networks, and how the predictive capability of such models can be improved upon by accounting for these errors. Using both homogeneous catalysis and the diffusion of cracks and kinks on surfaces as model kinetic problems, this computational project will explore how errors propagate through to the predictions of the kinetic network. In this project, we will use the Monte Carlo method, a method for randomly sampling from a complex probability distribution, to investigate how the distribution of errors in reaction rates influence the predictions of kinetic modelling. Furthermore, sensitivity analysis, a method for identifying the important reaction rates in kinetic models, will be used to help identify where more accurate simulations of reaction rates might be required. The expected outcome of this project is an assessment of how tools such as Monte Carlo sampling and sensitivity analysis can help label the predictive capability of kinetic models; this in turn might enable new chemical reactions to be successfully predicted almost completely autonomously by a computer.
There is growing evidence that the experience of pain is a multisensory phenomenon, resulting from a complex interplay between visual and somatosensory information about one’s own body. The use of visual illusions to modulate this multisensory experience has been shown to result in pain relief (analgesic effects) in persons with a variety of chronic pain conditions. Recent advances in Virtual Reality (VR) technologies offer the exciting potential to create realistic immersive environments in which visual information about the movement of one’s own body can be altered by the experimenter. This project aims to investigate whether providing illusionary visual feedback regarding the extent of movement of one’s own body within a VR environment can result in analgesic effects. We gave pressure pain stimulation to a sample of 12 participants (aged 19-28) whilst manipulating whether visual cues (provided in a VR headset) were congruent with the pressure experienced, or over/ underplayed the amount of pressure being experienced. We found that visual cues which underplayed how much pressure the participant was actually experiencing resulted in lower subjective pain rating scores. The results of this study have wider implications for the use of VR in the management of chronic pain conditions.