2019 Innovation Showcase Winners
Towards the Integration of Venezuelan Migrants into the Colombian Economy and Society
Latin America is experiencing an unprecedented migration crisis, the Venezuelan exodus, which has adversely impacted Colombian border communities. The immense flow of Venezuelan migrants into Colombia has resulted in issues of overcrowding, xenophobia, as well as job and resource scarcities along the border. The government issued a temporary stay permit to give migrants permission to live and work in Colombia for up to two years. However, current policies lack sufficient focus on integrating migrants into the formal labor market, despite their status as economic migrants.
In order to mitigate this crisis, I explore four policy options: establishing government employment programs focused specifically on migrants, offering economic incentives for hiring migrants, implementing a voluntary redistribution program and streamlining the documentation process. I analyze each option's effectiveness based on (1) the amount of migrants it would employ, (2) at the least cost, and (3) without displacing locals from jobs.
Considering the limited resources available in comparison to the number of migrants in need, I recommend that the government enacts a voluntary relocation strategy to achieve the three criteria while also alleviating tensions in border cities. A relocation program requires the upfront costs of facilitating travel for migrants, but through UN and civil society partnerships, this strategy allows the government to take advantage of resources in larger, more opportune municipalities in the interior.
Nanocluster Deposition Techniques for Synthesizing Magnetic Nanoparticles
Magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) have been promisingly used in various areas, including data storage, cancer treatment, hypothermia, nuclear waste treatment, and radiation sensing and monitoring devices. There are numerous techniques to synthesize the MNPs, including chemical and physical methods. A Nanocluster deposition technique that combines high-pressure magnetron sputtering with the gas condensation technique is one of the popular techniques for the MNP production.
In this presentation, I will give a brief introduction of the MNPs and the detailed experimental processing that will explain the nanocluster deposition techniques to create MNPs, as well as the specific science behind certain principles utilized by the machine. Lastly, the MNP applications will also be covered briefly, with an emphasis on the properties of MNPs that allow these nanoparticles to be used for these applications.
Stopping the Brain Drain of Hungary's General Practitioners
My presentation explains the brain drain phenomenon regarding Hungarian general practitioners (GPs). Using primary sources, I researched why Hungarians leave Hungary and what the government has done to prevent their departure.
I have compiled four options that the Hungarian government can pursue to limit the emigration of Hungarian GPs: implementing the Healthy Budapest Plan (to renovate hospitals and raise wages); creating an expatriate networking system (to facilitate communication and knowledge sharing between expatriates and locals); creating a GP Return Program (temporarily paying expatriates to return); and creating a loan forgiveness program (revamping student loan system). Each proposal has unique drawbacks and benefits, which I will present in detail, including total costs and likely public reactions.
The option that I feel would best suit Hungary is the creation of a GP Return Program. I will explain why the GP Return Program should be created and how it addresses the needs of Hungarians in a way that the other programs do not, such as incentivizing the aid of rural populations. I will then detail how the government should implement the program, including funding, addressing push-back from the government and the public, and which expatriate populations to target for the campaign.
Graduate Creative and Artistic Activities
Smoke On The Palouse
A novel extract of the downfall of a Palouse farm family, and steeped in the milieu of the American Northwest. Written in the tradition of realism and structured as a linear narrative spanning three generations, characters strive to build their lives in and around the fictional town of Bailey, Washington, elucidating the conflicts that arise when characters are confronted with emotional instability, responsibility, and tragedy, all of which are heightened by the isolation of rural living, pushing characters to their emotional breaking-points.
"In The Bitter Lees" - A Novel
"In The Bitter Lees" is a novel-in-progress by Ben Avi Shane. The book presents the journal of a vagrant motorcycle mechanic in conversation with himself as he learns how to be with others, including his estranged father, a polyamorous & queer romantic partner, and a chorus of strangers met on the road. He tries desperately to empathize with his father on Yom Kippur, his lover after a sexual assault, and strangers with myriad lives, though he recognizes that he cannot feel that which he has not experienced.
At other times, he resorts to logical analysis in order to understand the experiences of others. He questions his own masculine expression, looks back into his traumatic past, and is plagued by the reality of impermanence. The narrator's strong and unique voice, his nuanced and transgressive perspective, and the diverse ensemble of voices he compiles from strangers met on the road, all come together to challenge common perceptions of what it means to be a man, what it means to love, and what it means to be alone.
Tilda Swinton, Rooney Mara, & Me: Two Creative Pieces on Twins and Shadows in an Age of Media
The images we see on screen are multitudinous in their effects: they can double, distort, show us what we most hope for and most fear. Identifying with actors and actresses in roles can be a powerful catalyst for change and identity-making. Two separate pieces dealing with these threads: the first, TILDA SWINTON, published online at DIAGRAM Literary Journal; and the second, ROONEY MARA, a work-in-progress to be submitted for Territory Magazine’s “Twins” issue, paint vignettes of larger-than-life characters that intersect with the all-too-real murkiness of life.
Comparisons/contrasts/ouroboros are made film by film, scene by scene, for a total of sixteen “stills” that lyrically impose moments of the author’s life over those of the on-screen actress. Vignettes can be displayed individually for viewers to browse and interact with at will, just as we each build our own identity - piecemeal.
Graduate Disciplinary Research
Exploring Genetic Resistance to Gastrointestinal Nematodes in Katahdin Sheep
Haemonchus contortus is the most abundant gastrointestinal nematode (GIN) observed in small ruminants. Additionally, Haemonchus contortus has the highest prevalence of anthelmintic resistance among GIN, making it a crucial economic concern for sheep producers (Fleming et al., 2006). Previous research has shown that in at least some breeds of sheep, including Dorper, St. Croix, and Katahdin, GIN resistance is heritable (Burke and Miller, 2004; Kemper et al., 2011).
A genome-wide association study was conducted to identify genetic loci associated with resistance to Haemonchus contortus in Katahdin sheep. Forty sheep were selected for high and low fecal eggs count estimated breeding values and genotyped using the Affymetrix Ovine 50K array. Following quality control, 46,268 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) were included in subsequent analyses using a linear regression model in PLINK v1.90 and a single locus mixed-model in SNP and Variation Suite. Significance was determined using a Bonferroni correction for multiple testing (p < 0.05). A total of nine significant SNPs across chromosomes 2, 3, 16, 23, and 24 were identified, with one SNP on chromosome 2 reaching significance in both models. The linear regression model identified three nearby significant SNPs on chromosome 2, suggesting that this region is in linkage disequilibrium and may be related to GIN resistance in Katahdin sheep.
This study identified genetic regions associated with GIN resistance that may eventually be used to help sheep producers select for GIN resistance in their flocks.
Examining Meiotic Recombination Differences in Livestock Species
Meiotic recombination is an important process during gametogenesis that ensures proper chromosome segregation and contributes to genetic variation. It is clear from previous studies in mammalian species that recombination is not random, and at least one recombination event or crossover (CO) per chromosome arm is necessary for proper chromosome segregation. The total number of CO per spermatocyte has been shown to differ both between as well as within mammalian species. However, this has not been extensively evaluated in livestock species. Therefore, the objective of this study was to quantify the number of CO per spermatocyte and characterize CO location in sheep and cattle, two economically important livestock species.
In total, we examined over 335,000 and 62,000 CO events from approximately 5,500 and 1,400 spermatocytes in sheep and cattle, respectively. Sheep have significantly (P < 2.2 x 1016) higher number of CO when compared to cattle, despite having the same number of chromosome arms. Further, we identified significant differences in CO number between Suffolk, Icelandic, and Targhee breeds of sheep (P < 0.01). We found a positive correlation between numbers of CO and the length of the chromosome in both species. Additionally, we the location of CO on chromosomes were similar between species on chromosomes with 2 and 3 CO.
These data contribute important information towards the understanding of species and breed recombination differences in livestock. Understanding this important process in non-model species will help in uncovering the biological and genetic mechanisms that control recombination in mammals.
Effects of Beef Carcass Size on Chilling Rate, Display Color, pH on the Top Round Subprimals
Beef carcass weights have continued to increase linearly over the years. Despite this increase, little has been evaluated regarding effects of carcass weight on beef subprimal quality. Increased
prevalence of discoloration and color variability in top round (NAMI #169A) subprimals have been observed.
Four industry average carcasses (AW, 341-409 kgs.) and three heavy weight carcasses (HW, exceeding 455 kgs.) were evaluated. Temperature and pH were collected on all carcasses for the initial 48 hours postharvest at a consistent superficial (S) and deep (D) anatomical location of the respective inside rounds of the carcasses. Carcasses were fabricated into subprimals at 48 hours and inside rounds were vacuum packaged and aged at 2℃ for an additional 12 days. Upon completion of aging, steaks were cut for retail color and quality analyses. The S location of both AW and HW carcasses cooled at a faster rate than the D locations. The D location of HW carcasses had a lower pH and a more rapid initial pH decline but ultimately reached a similar pH to the D location of AW carcasses. Regarding quantitative color, steaks from HW carcasses had higher mean L* and b* and lower a* values. Preliminary research indicates an increase in weight further amplifies color quality issues, and possibly tenderness issues, of the D portion of top round steaks.
Graduate Interdisciplinary Research
Artificial Evolution for Real Conservation: Developing a Genetic Program to Investigate the Impact of Climate Change on Grizzly Bears
Species distributions are predicted to change as global temperatures warm, but the relative importance of the various mechanisms driving those changes (e.g., direct versus indirect effects of climatic variation on energy balance) remains poorly understood. We used a combination of biophysical and algorithmic modeling to examine the impact of temperature variation on the distribution of lactating and non-lactating female grizzly bears, Ursus arctos, in the Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone, USA. Our goal was to evaluate the relative importance of spatiotemporal variation in costs of thermoregulation as a determinant of grizzly bear distribution.
We used the mechanistic modeling software Niche Mapper to map thermoregulatory costs across the landscape, and then incorporated those cost predictions, along with a suite of other environmental variables, into a newly developed Genetic Program that determined the relative importance of each variable for predicting the distribution of GPS-collared bears. Although environmental variables such as elevation and human disturbance were important for predicting the presence of both lactating and non-lactating female bears, our model did not identify variation in the thermal environment as a strong driver of female bear distribution. However, variation in the thermal environment was relatively more important for predicting the distribution of lactating than non-lactating female bears, likely due to the increase in endogenous heat production associated with lactation.
Our results are consistent with other studies that have highlighted the role of human disturbance in determining the distribution of bears, and with predictions of heat dissipation limit theory in that variation in the thermal environment appears to impose greater constraints on the ecology of lactating than non-lactating female grizzly bears. Relative importance of the thermal environment to female bears in general, but especially to lactating females, is likely to increase as the climate continues to warm, which may have important implications for performance of grizzly bears in the Recovery Zone.
Jump up and Swing your Tail: What we can Learn from Escaping Kangaroo Rats (D. deserti)
Desert kangaroo rats (D. deserti) use erratic leaps to evade predation by snakes. During these vertical jumps, that propels them up to 10 times their hip height, these animals rotate their relatively long tail, as well as their body, through the air. Previous behavioral research on tail use in these rodents suggested that the tail is mainly used for balance. Video recordings show large tail swings in combination with a change in body orientation.
Given these observations, we hypothesized that these kangaroo rats use their tail to change body orientation in the aerial phase of the escape response in addition to use it for balance. To test this hypothesis, we collected video data from kangaroo rats in the field, while they performed the leaps. For analysis we combined physics, biological and engineering approaches to quantify work required for these jumps and the rotations of both the body and the tail from take-off to landing. Data suggests that kangaroo rats use their tail actively to change orientation while airborne and that they likely need to reach certain jump height to have sufficient time to perform enough tail rotations to actively change orientation before touching the ground. These data provide a framework for future bio-inspired designs that use appendices for aerial control.
Adversarial Modeling and Risk Assessment for Critical Infrastructure: HESTIA
Critical infrastructure organizations, like the national power grid and nuclear facilities, have been replacing their older legacy devices with newer cyber-enabled devices. As such, we are witnessing a transition in critical infrastructure organizations, where industrial control systems are being replaced by cyber physical control systems. Due to the characteristics and inter-connectivity capabilities of the cyber physical systems, cyber-attacks on these systems are increasing at an exponential rate. Lack of automatic risk assessment systems make it difficult to prevent cyber-attacks against critical infrastructure in an efficient and sustainable manner.
The process of automating risk assessment of cyber systems needs accurate identification and evaluation of: system vulnerabilities, likely threats, and applicable defense measures. Furthermore, also needed is the ability to prioritize defense measures, based on accurate assessments of threat risk and defenses. Due to such complexities, it is a challenge to create automatic or semi-automatic risk assessment tool-sets for critical infrastructure organizations. We present a semi-automatic tool-set to conduct risk assessment of critical infrastructure organizations. The tool-set is named HESTIA. Every critical infrastructure organization has a set of system specifications, outlining the settings and configurations of the organization's devices. HESTIA iteratively takes an organization's system specifications as input, subjects the specifications to simulations of a set of possible attack-defend scenarios, and produces a risk assessment document based on the results of the simulations. The risk assessment document can be used by the organization's security officers, to design an optimal strategy of cyber-defense for their organization.