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Empowered Scholarship: Engaging with the World, Connecting with Each Other

Academic Exchange Sessions I & II

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 4 (1:30 - 2:45 PM)

 - Flamingo A

Aixa Alfonso


Alexandra Corella, Identification of therapeutic vulnerabilities in small-cell neuroendocrine prostate cancer
Small-cell neuroendocrine prostate carcinoma (SCNPC) has poor response to therapy. SCNPC has similarities with aggressive neuroendocrine tumors (SCNTs). By transcriptome analysis, we identified genes with shared expression patterns in SCNTs, including BCL2 and WEE1. Dual treatment with BCL2 and WEE1 inhibitors reduces growth in SCNPC PDX models that are resistant to BCL2 inhibition alone. Our data suggests, the combination BCL2 and WEE1 inhibition may present a novel targeted approach for SCNPC.

Lam-Kiu Fong, The Functional Consequences of Alzheimer’s Disease-Related Mutations on Microglial Receptor TREM2
Alzheimer’s disease-associated mutations of microglial protein receptor TREM2 help inform the mechanism of disease pathogenesis. With molecular dynamics simulations, we test the hypothesis that structural differences in mutants of TREM2 lower binding affinity to apoptosis-associated lipids, a common disease marker. We find that wild type TREM2 binds lipids through two separate modes, while structural changes in the R47H mutant obscure one mode and weaken the protein’s lipid-binding capacity.

Carlos Guzman, Characterizing the molecular mechanisms of enhancer-promoter function
Throughout development, a single genome gives rise to hundreds of different cell types. The unique morphology and function of these cells are thought to be largely driven by the expression, or repression, of different gene sets precisely controlled by promoters and enhancers. The goal of this project is to comprehensively characterize the molecular mechanisms of enhancer-promoter function using a 'genome fuzzing' approach.


Moderator: Rhacel Parreñas


Laura Patricia Minero, Psychological Impact of Detention Proceedings and Solitary Confinement on Latinx, Transgender, Undocumented and Asylum Seeking Immigrants
Various reports have indicated that transgender immigrants are disproportionately subject to sexual and physical abuses while in detention in addition to being denied hormone therapy, medical care, and housed in solitary confinement. However, there is presently no literature that has examined the psychological impact of these proceedings on trans immigrants. This study aims to provide an understanding of the perceived psychological impact that these detention proceedings have on the multidimensional lives of Latinx, transgender immigrants.

Jonnelle Sophia Walker, Return of the Muskrat: Anishinaabeg Futurities Beyond the Anthropocene
Centering Anishinaabeg story, this paper situates Anishinaabeg futurities and temporalities as reciprocal, agent relationships with lands and more than human relatives such as the muskrat of Wisconsin Point. By taking a closer look at Wisconsin Point, the ancestral lands of the Fond Du Lac Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, this paper hopes to challenge the ways in which many settler scholars are theorizing the Anthropocene and its relationship to/through Indigenous death.

Pamela Walker, Signed, Sealed, Deliverance: Rural Black Women Writing from the Most Southern Place on Earth, 1962-1970
Using a unique record of black women's letters found in the collection of a little-known, but impactful grassroots antipoverty project, this paper recovers the voices and lives of ordinary black women as a means to better understand how they experienced, participated in and defined freedom during the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement. The paper also considers how black women utilized semi-clandestine benevolence programs to access survival goods for their families and communities.


Moderator: Carla Willard


Chika Oscar Okafor, Black & Blue Matters: An Empirical Analysis of Everyday Policing After Ferguson
Incidents of police violence have become a heated topic of national conversation in recent years, with names of the deceased—like Eric Garner, Philando Castille, and Alton Sterling—contributing to an upsurge in outrage and activism. This paper serves as one of the first empirical studies on the impact of the Black Lives Matter movement on policing in the United States. The most common ways Americans interact with police is through traffic stops; hence, I analyze over 28 million stops around 2014.

Gregorio Ortiz, Fracking, Uneven Development, and the Cultural Politics of Difference on the Eagle Ford Shale
The Eagle Ford Shale is one of the largest deposits of petroleum in the world and presents south Texas with unprecedented economic development. This development engages with a socio-political history of prejudice and poverty among Chicano communities. In Cotulla, Texas, the legacy of the Chicano Movement informs the community's perspective of its future; particularly, how the legacy of La Raza Unida grapples with uneven development between once segregated neighborhoods.

Daisy Vazquez Vera, Representation Brokers: Advocacy Organizations and the Genesis of Sub-Federal Immigration Policy
This paper seeks to empirically test what impact immigrant-serving organizations have on the enactment of immigration-related policies. This analysis draws on novel dataset of registered immigrant-serving non-profit organizations and a database of all immigration-related pieces of legislation enacted across state legislatures from 2005-2016. Preliminary findings suggest that there is a significant relationship between immigrant-serving organizations and immigration-related legislation.


Moderator: Juan Giusti Cordero


Christina Ashurina Aushana, Staging Power, Screening Others: Performance Paradigms for Policing and Ethnography
Based on my experience as a volunteer role play actress at San Diego’s regional police academy and through more than 30 hours of ride-along experience with police officers in the mobile proscenium of the on-duty patrol car, this presentation considers how we might discuss the shape of “police power” as it unfolds in the “back stage” of patrol work and police training sites. I examine training scripts and everyday patrol encounters as performances to imagine what a more reflexive policing can be.

Jaime Sanchez, "It Takes a Woman": Gender Politics and the Transformation of the Democratic Party
This paper explores the history of women in the Democratic National Committee during the twentieth century. Overlooked by political historians, the DNC's "Women's Bureau" carried out events and activities for millions of new voters after women's suffrage in 1920. Drawing from Democratic Party archives, this project reveals a gendered division of labor and the essential role of women in the creation of modern U.S. party institutions through their organizational, financial, and policy innovations.

Dinorah Yahaida Sánchez Loza, Educating the Right: ‘Neutral’ Pedagogy and the (Re)Production of Settler Politics in US Government Classrooms in Ohio
Existing research positions majority-white and well-resourced schools as ideal given high-performance on civic measures, without interrogating political ideologies undergirding civic learning. Through ethnographic fieldwork in two majority-white high schools in Ohio (affluent suburb vs working-class small-town), findings illustrate a discursive goal of political neutral pedagogy that in actuality promotes right-wing white nativist-settler politics thus illuminating problems with liberal democratic education and the “teaching of both sides.”



Moderator: Rita Colon Urban


Erika María López-Alfonzo, Deciphering the mechanisms of substrate processing by the 26S proteasome
The 26S proteasome is the major eukaryotic protease responsible for regulating protein turnover. Commitment to degradation occurs when pore loops in the proteasomal AAA+ heterohexameric motor engage a polyubiquitinated substrate, which causes a major conformational change in the proteasome. These studies use fluorescence-based assays and reconstituted proteasomes with pore loop and ATP-hydrolysis defects to delineate the individual contributions of the AAA+ subunits to substrate processing.

Michael Dan Mandler, Discovery that novobiocin engages an essential Gram-negative bacterial machine
Gram-negative bacteria possess an asymmetric outer membrane containing lipopolysaccharide that blocks the passage of many antibiotics. Using a combination of genetic, biochemical, and crystallographic approaches, we identified the inner membrane lipopolysaccharide transport system (LptB2FGC) as a novel target for the small molecule novobiocin. This machine is highly conserved among the Gram-negative ESKAPE pathogens. This talk will outline how we are thinking about new ways to kill Gram-negatives by targeting their lipid biogenesis systems.

Jaimie Marie Stewart, Design, synthesis, and characterization of DNA origami for the detection of biomolecules
Detection of nucleic acids and proteins is a powerful tool in medicine, allowing for the identification of disease. We propose using bistable DNA origami, capable of reconfiguring in the presence of an analyte of interest. In solution, this conformational change can be determined by an electrophoretic gel shift. On a surface, this reconfiguration can be electrochemically detected via the integration of methylene blue. This work will foster novel innovations for point of care testing for disease.



Moderator: Paul Bonin-Rodriguez


Alexandrina Renee Agloro, Games in Unexpected Places
Why are games so compelling, and how can we harness the power of interactive media for social good? Based on my larger book project, this talk uses two community-designed video games, Never Alone from Alaska Native peoples and Vukuzenzele from South Africa, to outline frameworks of how participatory design and community-based methodologies can contribute to the ways we think about organizing and implementing activism using digital games as decolonial tools.

Eunsong Kim, The Politics of Collecting: Property, Race & Aesthetic Formation
“The Politics of Collecting: Race, Property & Aesthetics" grapples with the relationship between property and art, by interrogating the historical and political context that give rise to the modern personal museum and literary archives. I investigate how canonical artists and institutions relied on racialized legal conceptualizations of property in their art and collecting practices, while also inquiring into writers and methods that worked to reveal the foundational violence of US property.

Ashlie Andrea Sandoval, Design's Hold: Black Labor and the Problem of Architecture
Black life has been subject to various architectural designs meant to compel and confine Black labor —the hold, the plantation, the slum, the ghetto, the project, and the prison. How do these architectural framings of Black labor influence our understandings of design's capacity to address the ongoing crises of racial capitalism? Examining the Robert Taylor Homes (1962-2007), public housing high-rises in Chicago, this paper charts how design manages racial capitalism's labor supply.



Moderator: Jim Curry


Octavio Cesar Mesner, Graphical Structure Learning for Mixed Data
Graphical structure learning aims to give a big-picture view of a dataset as a network of causal relationships between variables. Methods exist for exclusively continuous or exclusively discrete data, but not for mixed data. This makes using structure learning difficult for fields such as epidemiology and public policy. Our research builds an estimator for non-parametric dependency for mixed data and then uses it to estimate the underlying causal network.

Melissa Melendez-Oyola, Effects of nearshore processes on carbonate chemistry dynamics and ocean acidification
Fossil fuel use and other anthropogenic activities are affecting the surface ocean carbon chemistry and causing ocean acidification (OA). The speed at which these processes are changing in nearshore areas, where most of the affected organisms reside, is unknown. Nearshore processes can hasten or delay the OA effects. My work aims to accurately analyze current carbon observations to assess the natural and OA temporal variability in reefs and highly productive temperate ecosystems.


Moderator: Alex Chaparro


Devon S. Isaacs, Rumination as a factor for mood disorders and substance abuse among a Northern Plains Indian sample
Rumination, a transdiagnostic factor for mental health, has shown great predictive validity and utility. However, little is known about rumination among Native Americans (NA) despite high contextual risk factors for poor mental health among NA communities. To address the paucity of research, rumination and its relationship to mood and substance abuse disorders will be explored among a sample of Northern Plains Indians (NPI), including how rumination and poor mental health may contribute to perceptions of low quality of life among NA peoples.

Keanan Joel Joyner, Racial Differences in Neurobehavioral Traits
The emerging neurobehavioral trait model for psychopathology (Patrick et al., Psyc Assess, 2019) focuses on quantifying clinically-relevant traits across multiple levels of analysis. The current work will present results that suggest there are significant racial differences in the latent structure of the questionnaires used to assess these dispositional traits in a diverse sample of twins (N ~ 1000). Importance for understanding racial differences in risk for psychopathology will be discussed.

Andrew Estrada Phuong, Evaluating an Adaptive Equity-Oriented Pedagogy Using Hierarchical and Longitudinal Modeling: Increasing Equity in Student Outcomes in Higher Education Across STEM, Humanities, and the Social Sciences
This study uses randomized controlled trials to evaluate an adaptive equity-oriented pedagogy (AEP) that addresses challenges with Universal Design and Culturally Responsive Teaching. Using hierarchical models, regression analyses show that AEP courses outperform active-learning control courses by over a letter grade and across time, controlling for intersectional identities and pre-test scores. AEP increased motivation, growth mindset, self-efficacy, persistence, & belonging especially for URM.


- Salon del Mar B 

Moderator: Tyson King-Meadows


Marva Vernelle Goodson, Crime-Involved Women’s Egocentric Networks and Access to Needed Resources
Criminological frameworks and research emphasize the importance of social capital for desistance from crime. However, it is unclear why deficits exist in networks and how differences among offenders' interaction partners are related to resource access. The present research utilizes social network analysis to assess 160 justice-involved women’s networks. Findings suggest that participant (i.e., financial needs), network member (i.e., age, employment), and structural (i.e., network density) characteristics are important predictors of access.

Erika Hernandez, Beyond a Psychology of European Americans: Consejos and Emotion in Latinx Families
Emotion socialization (ES) shapes children’s social competence. To date, most ES research has been conducted with White families, and as a result, has not been inclusive of the ways that Latinx families may teach children about emotion. We aimed to address this gap in the literature by examining consejos as an ES method for Latina mothers. 40 Latina mothers completed questionnaires and participated in an open-ended interview about consejos in their family. Consejos themes significantly predicted mothers’ beliefs about emotion and ES behaviors.

Jasmine Nicole Olivier, The Community Policing Commandments: the interplay between roles and behavior
In today's community policing, officers are expected to forego traditional, tough policing in favor of community-oriented, softer approaches. This study examines the interplay between officers’ self-adopted roles and their engagement with rules governing their behavior. Conducting 35 qualitative interviews at a Northeastern police department, I argue that the ways officers self-identify (e.g. mentor, educator, parent, therapist) reveal their willingness to engage in community policing methods.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 5 (3:45 - 5:00 PM)


Moderator: Aixa Alfonso


Isola Brown, Zika Virus Localizes to Vascular Endothelial Cells and Regulates Blood Pressure in an Animal Model of Viral Infection
Zika virus (ZIKV) is a bloodborne pathogen and a growing public health concern. Yet, its mechanism of infection is not fully understood. We investigated the cardiovascular effects of ZIKV infection using an adult mouse model infected with the PRV strain. Infected mice had decreased blood pressure compared to control mice, and also expressed the ZIKV coat protein 4G2 in vascular cells in cremaster, mesenteric, and renal arteries. This suggests a role for the vasculature in ZIKV pathology.

Stephanie Holden, C1q complement pathway mediates long-term circuit plasticity after brain trauma
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) causes many chronic health issues, including a higher chance of developing epilepsy, but how this happens isn't known. Using a rodent cortical impact model, I found that TBI causes chronic secondary damage and alters neuronal connections in the thalamus, a deep brain structure connected to the cortex. I also found that blocking the C1q complement pathway reduces post-TBI thalamic damage. I am now testing whether blocking this pathway can prevent epilepsy development.

Kennda Lynch, The Pilot Valley Basin, Utah: A Model System for Studying Subsurface Life on Early Earth, Mars, and Beyond
One of the key recommendations from the recent National Academies study on the state of astrobiology science is that “NASA’s programs and missions should reflect a dedicated focus on research and exploration of subsurface habitability…” and in particular the focused study of saline/hypersaline subsurface habitats. On Earth, one such environment that could serve as an excellent model for the study of subsurface life on early Earth, Mars, and beyond is the Pilot Valley Basin in Northwest Utah.



Moderator: Kathryn Shanley


Kassidi Shuron Jones, To Bury Our Griefs in Some Silvery Stream: Tracing Nineteenth-Century Black Hydropoetics
Curious about the twenty-first century black poetic return to heavy water imagery, I explore in this paper nineteenth-century examples of what I call black hydropoetics, which expresses the use of water imagery to communicate hope for a future utopia. In order to identify the historical roots of the modern impetus for water in poetry, I close-read poems from across the nineteenth century to combine past and present, literature and environmentalism, as well as grief and optimism.

Nolan Krueger, Examining Suicidal Ideation in Multiracial College Students: A Strengths-Based, Resilience-Oriented Approach
The current study examined whether Multiracial people have heightened rates of suicide risk factors and ideation than other racial groups and whether Multiracial people are more vulnerable to suicide risk factors than other groups. Framed by the interpersonal theory of suicide, I specifically examine perceived burdensomeness and social connectedness as suicide risk factors that might explain Multiracial people’s heightened susceptibility to suicide.

Brendane Arrica Tynes, 'I Can't Die. I Won't': The Radical Reimagination of the Afterlives of Black Women and Girls
In the Movement for Black Lives, the affective responses to the deaths of Black women and girls remain entrenched in structures of power that work to invisibilize violence against them while also constraining their imagined futures. This presentation examines community-based responses to the violent deaths of Korryn Gaines and Taylor Hayes. I ask: under what conditions are Black women and girls grievable victims of violence? What could a radical reimagination of their (after)lives look like?



Moderator: Lee Anne Martinez


Sara Tasse Gonzalez, Understanding drivers of morphology in giant kelp
Giant kelp, a globally distributed alga, exhibits four “ecomorphs,” yet it remains unclear whether morphology is driven by environment, genetics, or both. I developed a method to quantitatively distinguish ecomorphs and conducted underwater surveys at Stillwater Cove, CA. The ecomorphs’ distributions were separated by depth with virtually no overlap. A laboratory experiment revealed differences in early development between ecomorphs, warranting investigation into potential genetic differences.

Mariamar Gutierrez Ramirez, Drivers and direct impacts of lean mass dynamics on the stopover ecology and migratory pace of Nearctic-Neotropical migrant songbirds in spring
Migratory birds breed in North America and migrate to and from Mexico, Central and South America, making stopovers along the way to rest and replenish energy reserves. During migration, birds burn fat and lean tissue, causing reductions in muscle and organ masses which can impose physiological limitations. We examine if birds with lower lean body mass have prolonged stopovers and arrive later to their breeding grounds. We used plasma metabolites and Quantitative Magnetic Resonance to measure body condition and tracked spring migrants with a radio telemetry network.

Amber Eliza Trujillo, A comparison of environmental DNA extraction protocols in detecting primates at varying DNA concentrations
By utilizing environmental DNA, my research aims to evaluate the relative success of various published extraction protocols in the detection and abundance of primate DNA in water and soil at various concentrations. The conclusions drawn will both shed light on the most robust technique to use when extracting eDNA from water and soil and help illuminate the minimal concentrations at which eDNA can be detected.

EDUCATION - Tropical A

Moderator: Savannah Shange


Travis Jackson Bristol, Supporting Male Teachers of Color
This study examines the context, workings, and influence of NYC Men Teach, a program designed by the New York City Department of Education to mentor and coach novice male teachers of color as they transition into the teacher workforce. One aim of this study is to explore Anchors’ (novice male teachers of color) experience of this mentoring and its influence on their professional growth and learning, as well as how the Anchors’ students perceive the impact of the Anchors on their learning.

Tanya J Gaxiola Serrano, Transfronteristas: Navigating and Surviving Geopolitical Borders in Pursuit of an Education
"I cross the border every day. After a while I get sick of it. Then I rest and put on my gringa (white) face again” shares a community college student when describing her experience of crossing the US-Mexico border to get to class. This study discusses how Latinx students navigate and survive the multiple borders present in Tijuana-San Diego and in their community college. The findings provide insight into the lives of students in border regions during the first year of Trump’s administration.

Traben Pleasant, Island Barriers: Black and Indigenous Perspectives on Education and Technology in Bocas del Toro, Panama
This anthropological study is an ethnographic account of barriers to education on two separate islands in Bocas del Toro, Panama (one island is predominantly Black or Afro-Caribbean and the other island is Indigenous, Ngobe). Regionally, Black and Indigenous people struggle to complete a secondary education and rarely attain post-secondary educations. This is a multi-generational exploration of how the communities differ in light of education, life aspirations, culture, economics and technology.

ENGINEERING - Salon del Mar B

Moderator: Calvin Mackie


Chanel Marie Beebe, Researching Socially Engaged Design: Community Partner Narratives of Social Change and Agency Building
Given the social distance between engineers and their typical community partners, there is a strong potential for research and practice within these spaces to further disenfranchise or marginalize non-engineers who often come from previously underrepresented and targeted backgrounds. Thus, the goal of this research endeavor is to answer the following questions: How do non-engineers/community partners and stakeholders make meaning of their time spent in socially engaged design spaces and what evidence of systems thinking can be found there?

Lynnora O Grant, Preserving shape while sintering binder jet 3D printed ceramics
Binder jet 3D printing constructs components layer-by-layer in four stages: powder deposition, spreading, binding, and sintering. Sintering is a high temperature densification step which enhances the mechanical properties of the printed component, often at the cost of shape distortion due to material creep. In this work we show a way to mitigate distortion in printed components by enhancing the interparticle contacts with a liquid precursor during early stages of sintering.

Joshua Nathaniel Williams, Dynamic Modeling and Equilibria in Fair Decision-Making
Studies on fairness in automated decision-making systems have found that fairness constraints do not guarantee a benefit to disadvantaged groups. We propose a continuous representation of population state and a model of dynamics under decisions, using loan granting as a running example. We show that when conditional payback probabilities are estimated correctly optimal behavior by lenders can lead to bifurcations, but that any fairness constraint on allowable policies causes groups to converge.



Moderator: Ula Taylor


Jonathan Cortez, Racial Segregation in Labor Camps in Belle Glade, Florida
This paper focuses on the history of two segregated Farm Security Administration (FSA) migratory labor camps in Belle Glade, Florida where regional racial norms impacted the ways national, state, and local policies played out on the campgrounds. Regardless of the camps’ inception in a New Deal liberal agenda, it continued to reify racialized notions of otherness drawn along the lines of the pathology of the diseased, dirty, and less-than dictated by local racial norms.

Michael Albert Schulze-Oechtering, Relational Racial Formations from Below: Black and Filipinx Labor Solidarity in the Pacific Northwest
In Relational Formations of Race, the volume's editors argue anti-racist social movements "have long advanced relational understandings of race." My presentation will take this position as a point of departure to analyze a history of Black and Filipinx labor solidarity in the Pacific Northwest during the early 1970s. By analyzing the particular race and class consciousness that held this alliance together, I will consider the movement's implications for social movement history and the field of Ethnic Studies.

Kevin Christopher Quin, “We Must Form an Autonomous Black Gay Movement”: The Blackheart Collective, Diaspora, and Pan-Africanism in the Black Gay Cultural Renaissance
This paper examines the artistic production and organizing of the Blackheart Collective, a New York City based black gay organization, to argue for a transnational approach to black queer history. This paper highlights the Blackheart Collective's Pan-Africanist vision for black gay liberation through their journal entitled, Yemoja, to further understand how their creative and political expression engendered a unique, diasporic approach to understanding gay identity.


Moderator: Alfonso Morales


Judy Nguyen, Zone of Proximal Self: Implications for First-Generation, Low-income, and Underrepresented Students in STEM
This study introduces a zone of proximal self framework, the distance from an individual’s current to potential self with assistance from capable mentors or peers. Using institutional data and surveys in college success programs, findings show how interpersonal validation practices from mentors supported underrepresented students’ academic performance, possible selves development, and belonging. Students achieved greater performance and persistence than students not in success programs.

Mayra Puente, The System is Stratified: Mapping the College Opportunities Available to Rural Latinx Students
This research uses ArcMap, a geospatial processing program, to map the college opportunities available to rural Latinx students from California’s Central Valley. I specifically map rural Latinx students’ proximity to public-four year universities to show that students’ physical distance from these universities negatively impacts bachelor’s degree attainment. Additionally, I draw on the voices of 5 rural Latinas who participated in semi-structured interviews to support these spatial findings.

Vanessa Segundo, Chicanx/Latinx Cultural Centers: Interrogating the Role of Race, Space, and Power in Chicanx/Latinx Student Success
While Chicanx/Latinx Cultural Centers have been part of student support services in higher education for the past forty years, research that documents their contribution to Chicanx/Latinx student success is limited. This paper, based on a critical ethnographic case study, positions Chicanx/Latinx Cultural Centers as sites that illuminate the history of racism, nativism, and other forms of oppression that target and are experienced by Chicanx/Latinx students, that is than reproduced by the higher education enterprise, yet manifest the possibility to cultivate justice.



Moderator: Jim Curry


Jaime De Anda Barbosa, Effects of motor gear shift on bacteria swarming behavior
Single cell motility influences the formation of crowded biofilm communities and its subsequent collective displacement, known as swarming. The latter is primarily mediated by the flagellum, which is powered by stator proteins that rotate the motor. Here, we track swimming cells using a high-speed camera and analyze the trajectories of stator knockouts for Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Changes in swimming behaviors highlight consequences that lead to a shift of gear, or stator, mediating a swarming.

Charles Daryl Brown, Properties of a Magnetically Levitated Superfluid Liquid Helium Drop in Vacuum
The field of optomechanics studies the interaction of light with the vibrational motion of an object, providing an avenue to study the quantum physics of macroscopic systems. Because the observation of quantum behavior suffers from heat exchange with the environment, we have developed a system to minimize heat exchange: a levitated superfluid Helium (SHe) drop in vacuum. In this talk, we will describe the vibrational, optical and thermal properties of magnetically levitated SHe drops in vacuum.

Theo Roy McKenzie, Solving the Robust Independent Set Problem
Average case analysis is a popular method to analyze problems that are superpolynomial in the worst case, but may be solvable in most cases. However, can we do even better than purely random selection and still achieve a solution? We present a highly general "semi-random model" for the graph independent set problem, and show a way to tightly approximate the independent set given a loose constraint on the model's randomness. We also show exact recovery under slightly stricter requirements.

SOCIOLOGY - Tropical C

Moderator: Iris Lopez


Nia Flowers, Mamma Schooled Me: Exploring Black Motherwork and Education in Los Angeles
This study uses in-depth interviews to analyze the ways Black mothers perform motherwork while navigating their children’s educational institutions. Building from Black feminist frameworks on racially gendered labor, I identify three forms of motherwork: transformative, adaptive, and integrative. I also conceptualize motherwork as an educational resource in which Black mothers teach their children about the pervasive presence of anti-blackness while encouraging hope and courage for resilience.

Chantal A Hailey, Racialized Prisms and Perceptions: New Experimental Evidence on Families’ School Preferences
Social scientists debate whether families’ avoidance of schools with higher fractions of racial outgroups results from racial animus or their use of racial demographics as a proxy for school characteristics. I argue that segregation persists, in part, because families perceive school characteristics through a racial prism, whereby racial biases, cultural stereotypes, and racial contexts contribute to racialized perceptions of identical schools. To explore this theory, I conduct a school choice experiment with 900 students and parents.

Yoselinda Mendoza, The economic benefits of the proximity to whiteness
Skin color is a marker of status that rewards those closer to whiteness. We know that dark skinned Black and Latinx people, relative to their light skinned counterparts, experience lower levels of income, but a dearth of work has explored differences in economic assets by skin color. Using Add-Health data, I examined the probability of homeownership by skin color. Findings revealed that having darker skin is negatively associated with homeownership but it is mediated by regional and banking (e.g., owning a bank account) characteristics.