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19th Annual Undergraduate Research Conference

April 22, 2022

See you next year!

Thank you for joining us for the 18th Annual Undergraduate Research Conference and making it a success! We are pleased to have collaborated with talented students and faculty across the university in bringing this conference to the community. We are planning for next year's conference on April 22, 2022 and excited to connect with you then.

Please view the student presentations via the links in each of the sections below.

Value of Undergraduate Research at Bentley University

Undergraduate research serves as an outlet for students to express their creativity, curiosity, critical thinking, planning, and analytical skills.  It is an active learning environment for a student to challenge themselves in ways that are not possible in the traditional classroom.  In many ways, it personifies and is an expression of what colleges and universities prepare their students to do after their four years of higher education.The education offered by Bentley uniquely prepares students for this type of undergraduate research.  Extensive teamwork in the classroom allows students to thrive in the smaller and more intimate research groups that formulate and craft the next series of experiments.  The problem-solving skills developed through the analysis of case studies prepare students to tackle the complex system of variables often intertwined in a research project.  

Finally, the close working relationships between faculty and students in our classrooms allow students to seamlessly and comfortably transition into the advisor and mentee roles present in undergraduate research.  The collection of research presented at the Undergraduate Research Conference demonstrated the breadth of research conduct at Bentley University that includes novel scientific discoveries, economic analysis of pressing business and societal issues, and mechanisms for harnessing business for the benefit of people, the planet, and profit.  

Conference Schedule

April 16 (Research Day 1)
Opening Remarks

Opening Remarks
2:00 p.m.
Christian Rubio
Director, Honors Program
Chair, Modern Languages


Sessions B-1 & B-2
Time             Presenter Presentation Title Faculty Advisor
    Session B - 1  
2:15 p.m. Samantha Gendler Current Risk and Future Guidance Regarding Digital Assets and Blockchain in the Accounting Profession Tyler Williams
2:30 p.m. Sean Francis An in-depth Analysis of the Factors Underlying the Enviornmental Kuznets Curve in China and Brazil Michael Quinn
2:45 p.m. Angelo Bochanis Contrasting Industrial and Post-Industrial Urban Planning in the United States and Western Europe Donald McNemar
3:00 p.m. Jason Eichner The trials and tribulations of Israel's pursuit for peace Joao Resende Santos
3:15 p.m. Juan Cristo A Jazz Crossroads Kristin Sorensen

3:30 - 3:45 p.m.



    Session B - 2  
3:45 p.m. Andrew Hollander RegenX David Szymanski
4:00 p.m. Julia McLaughlin Shifting Racial Ideologies Jeff Gulati
4:15 p.m. Satyam Rattan Growing Inequality among US cities Johannes (Hans) Eijmberts
4:30 p.m. Derek Ines Value Impact of Cultural Distance on Cross-Border LBOs Kristin Sorensen


Closing Remarks

Closing Remarks 
4:45 p.m.
Jane De León Griffin
Associate Dean of Arts & Sciences
Associate Professor in Modern Languages

April 23 (Research Day 2)
Opening Remarks

Opening Remarks
2:00 p.m.
Rick Oches
Dean of Arts & Sciences

Sessions A-1 & A-2
Time              Presenter Presentation Title Faculty Advisor
                                                     Session A - 1  
2:15 pm. Amanda Shoemaker The March Toward Orthodoxy and the Erosion of Academic Freedom Franklyn Salimbene
2:30 p.m. Alec Lanza Fourth Amendment Protections in an Age of Surveillance Steve Weisman
2:45 p.m. Sandy Fong Housing Discrimination and Urban Poverty Curtis Smith
3:00 p.m. Asimina Morris Causes and Effects: Racial Diversity in United States Public School Systems Kiana Pierre-Louis
3:15 p.m. Eduardo Franco Saucedo Bolivian Politics: Conflict Under the Context of Regionalism  Joao Resende-Santos

3:30 - 3:40 p.m.



                                                  Session A - 2  
3:40 p.m. Dimitra Efremidis Manure waste management in the face of an expanding global population Nicole Hill
3:55 p.m. Matthew Mulcahy  Curbing Ocean Plastics on Land Betsy Stoner
4:10 p.m. Alexander Peary Evidence on Predation on Benthic Jellyfish in Tidal Creeks in the Bahamas Betsy Stoner
4:25 p.m. Shakeeb Habash Water Valuation Study: Measuring The Economic Value of Water in Jordan's Agricultural Sector Betsy Stoner
4:40 p.m Kayleigh May Mental Health/Emotional Wellbeing Resources after College Danielle Hartigan


Sessions B-1 & B-2
Time             Presenter Presentation Title Faculty Advisor
    Session B - 1  
2:15 p.m. Carissa Delvecchio Personality, Strengths, and Communication Styles in Organizational Teams Karen Scibinico
2:30 p.m. Kristen Novit TikTok’s Impact on Promotion and Talent Discovery in the Music Industry Ben Aslinger
2:45 p.m. Bethany Ward The Sociology of Death: An Artist's Exploration Tzarina Prater
3:00 p.m. Elizabeth Ingram SuperFear-o Elizabeth LeDoux
3:15 p.m. Hanhnguyen Nguyen Cultural Representation and Misrepresentation in Film and TV Elizabeth LeDoux
3:30 - 3:40 p.m   BREAK  
    Session B - 2  
3:40 p.m. Tiara Obey Short Stories on the human experience in Capitalism Christian Rubio
3:55 p.m. Christina Cramer Community-Based Capstone Joan Atlas
4:10 p.m.

Selin Karadeniz
Madison Levins-Ireland
Jordan Vespoli

Healthy Waltham Goes Mobile Joan Atlas
4:25 p.m Olivia Lane,
Katerina Logrono
Vikrant Maini
Isabella Puzzo
Community-Based Capstone Joan Atlas
4:40 p.m. Shulagra Shah, Katelyn Petronack, Julia Markowski Africano Financial Literacy Joan Atlas


Closing Remarks

Closing Remarks
4:55 p.m.
Christian Rubio
Chair of Modern Languages
Director of Honors Program



Abstracts: Research Day 1

RStudio Text Analysis with Reddit Comment Data

Alexander McWilliams is the 19th most popular website in the world as of March 2021. The website hosts over 2 million unique communities, each devoted to unique topics. The ‘subreddits’ have a wide ranging scope – popular favorites include /r/science and /r/pics, each boasting communities of ~25,000,000 unique users. Some subreddits have smaller, devoted followings, like /r/DarkSky and /r/linguistics. Reddit enables image and video sharing, but the character of the site shines through in the comment sections. Users are encouraged to engage with one another, and many users do exactly that – any given comment section might include anything from heated debate to fervent pun-offs, and everything in between. It is, naturally, a treasure trove of text data. This project focuses on text data that was mined from /r/movies. Programming can be intimidating to beginners, and the goal of this project is to help reduce some of that intimidation. It does so by walking through and breaking down, step-by-step, the methods used to construct text analyses with RStudio. It includes engaging data visualizations and annotated code output, again, to make the process of data analysis more accessible. If people realize that they can, with a bit of time and effort, use and benefit from using the powerful tools that are freely available through RStudio/CRAN, the world of data will be better off. Ever abundant is the world of data, but all too scarce are the data literate. 

The Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Employment and Related Labor Market Variables 

Yoshodhan Aher

This study aims to analyze the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on employment and other crucial labor market disparities across education, sex, and race. Using panel data from the CPS, which has demographic and labor related characteristics, and the CDC, which has Covid-19 cases and mortality, I establish pre-pandemic disparities across the variables of interest using data up to 2019. Using a fixed effects model, I estimate the impact of the pandemic on education, sex, and race by interacting the pandemic period with dummy variables across each characteristic. Additionally, there is existing literature in the field that has already identified frontline workers as on average to have lower wages, be less educated, and come from disadvantaged minority groups relative to the broader group of essential workers. Understanding the impact of Covid-19 on this labor market demographic is crucial to this study’s purpose, and in order to capture the impact, I also included a pandemic-frontline interaction to estimate the impact on frontline workers. 

Home Ownership as a Means of Accumulating Wealth

Elaina Stamas

My capstone project will examine the extent to which home ownership is an effective means of wealth accumulation. I will examine how this effect is impacted by several factors, including socioeconomic background, location, and household structure, among other variables. This I plan to use the dataset from the Health Retirement Study RAND HRS Longitudinal File 2016 (V2) Documentation to run multivariate regressions to determine a relationship between variables. The outcome can be used as a reference for how important it is to prioritize the financial goal of home ownership.

Determinants of a Newborn Baby’s Birth Weight: A Focus on Inequality

Travis Sroczenski

This paper examines the relationship of both internal and external variables on a newborn baby’s health, measured by its birth weight in grams. The objective of the study seeks to examine numerous determinants of a newborn baby’s weight whilst simultaneously unraveling the role of implicit discrimination interplayed within these factors. The race, citizenship, age, income, education level, and marital status of both the mother and father are considered, as well as the adequacy of care, number of hospital visits, location of birth, tobacco use, and alcohol use during pregnancy. The data is sourced from the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Vital Statistics Natality Birth Data, and utilizes information collected from birth certificates in the United States. Utilizing panel data, over 15 million newborn babies are included in the data set, using the years 1990, 2000, 2010, and 2018 to provide insight into the dynamic trends of these determinants. Both linear and logarithmic regressions were developed in each year to examine the determinants in the software STATA. These regressions demonstrated that some of the most critical variables in predicting the weight of a newborn baby was the marital status of the parents, the adequacy of care, and the race of the mother. Suggested by the model’s findings, there exists a palpable discrimination and inequity in the United States’ healthcare system. Non-white mothers consistently have a higher likelihood of giving birth to a low birth weight baby, which presents numerous physical and financial challenges for the baby and the family.

The Effects of Environmental Policy on CO2 Emissions and Economic Growth Factors

Zoe Saliba

As the effects of climate change continue to become prominent concerns for certain world leaders and countries, environmental policy regulating CO2 emissions is at the forefront of mitigating the negative effects of these emissions. There is strong evidence that CO2 emissions specifically is one of the leading causes of global warming that has occurred in recent decades due to the burning of fossil fuels for electricity, heat, and transportation. With this in mind, this research project dives into determining the effectiveness of various environmental and climate-related policies and interventions in reducing CO2 emissions cross-nationally. In addition, it will assess whether these climate-related policies have any adverse impact on economic growth in the short-term.

The COVID-19 Recession: The Federal Reserve’s Greatest Challenge Yet

Joseph-John Green

In February of 2020, the United States officially entered into a recession, ending what had been the longest period of economic expansion in the country’s history. This recession came as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which the World Health Organization first became aware of just two months prior, in December of 2019. Subsequently, the global economy fell into disarray as governments around the world began issuing stay-at-home orders and travel restrictions. Like many countries, the United States was then tasked with responding to this burgeoning crisis. People were losing jobs, businesses were closing, the equity markets were crashing, and global trade had all but drawn to a halt. As has historically been the case during economic crises, the United States’ first line of defense was the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve has employed various approaches to monetary policy in response to different recessions throughout the history of the United States, and in this presentation, I will be detailing the conventional and unconventional monetary policies that have been employed during the COVID-19 recession. More specifically, I will be examining the Federal Reserve’s use of the federal funds rate, quantative easing, and credit facilities, with an aim at determining if there is a correlation between these policy tools and the strength of economic recovery. In addition to this quantative analysis, I will provide a qualitative analysis of the Federal Reserve’s current monetary policy approach, with the ultimate intention of providing a well-informed recommendation for monetary policy moving forward. 

The Influence of Leisure and Recreational Activities on Overall Health and Well-Being

Patricia Magistrado

In today's society, people are driven to spend long hours at work, which leaves less time for enjoyable activities. While there have been several studies about the effects of leisure on different aspects of health and well-being, few have evaluated the length of time spent doing such activities. This paper examines the effects of time spent on recreational, entertainment, and leisure activities on an individual's overall health and well-being. OLS regressions are used on a cross-sectional dataset to evaluate individuals' health across a variety of everyday life activities. Regression analysis showed that relationships exists between time spent on leisure and recreation activities and health. Holding other factors constant, positive relationships were found between time spent on such activities on both physical and mental health. These findings highlight the importance of taking time for leisure, and it could help individuals face adverse life conditions, such as the current global pandemic.

The Practical, Political, Economic, and Ethical Implications of Government Funded Drug Research  

Jonathan Ramsay 

Government (read: taxpayer) funded scientific research does a great deal of good in developing the “basic research”, which for-profit pharmaceutical companies appropriate when looking to develop a drug and eventually bring it to market. These drugs, once developed, are sold at a premium to consumers, with profits going to line the pockets of shareholders and reinvest in the company. I intend to examine the practical, political, economic, and ethical implications of taxpayer money being indirectly used to bolster private drug development without compensation. Much research has already been done on this subject by Bentley University’s Center for Integration of Science and Business. I intend to take a generalized overarching look at the issue to allow the average layman to understand the problem at hand, with a particular focus on the moral aspects of “paying twice”, and the practical benefits and costs caused by increased government regulation. This paper will also include a focus on the policy ramifications of the Bayh-Dole act of 1980.

Current Risk and Future Guidance Regarding Digital Assets and Blockchain in the Accounting Profession

Samantha Gendler

As digital assets and cryptocurrencies become relevant in the operations of businesses, accounting professionals are faced with many questions as to how best to represent and disclose this information to stakeholders. Given that the technology is new and the reporting standards are vague and open to interpretation, circumstance may arise related to material errors as well as fraud. Standard-setting bodies have identified this as a major issue for publicly-traded companies and have begun to explore the best reporting methods. The international accounting firms are at the forefront of advising their clients while providing both assurance and consulting on this issue. This research endeavor will therefore consider how auditor independence will be ensured as digital assets become more common. To that end, this study will analyze the differing sources and opinions to offer some potential frameworks that will exist in the future, which highlights the effectiveness of these possible guidelines in preventing irregular accounting treatment. Further, another consideration is whether and to what extent the more specific requirements will affect business operations or slow the increased usage of these new assets. Applying the hypothetical standards to real-world situations will result in a synthesis of how these standards will affect financial reporting, what risks remain, how the accounting profession will change, and the overall effect on business environments.  Findings suggest that over time digital assets will become an ordinary matter and commonly used, especially by larger corporations, but will remain important given that auditor independence may be compromised due to the auditor’s role as an advisor in the measurement and disclosure of these items. 

An In-depth Analysis of the Factors Underlying the Environmental Kuznets Curve in China and Brazil

Sean Francis

The environmental Kuznets curve (EKC) visualizes the theoretical inverted-U relationship between economic development and environmental degradation. One implication of the theory is that developing countries in the process of industrialization will find themselves on the first half of the curve where there is a positive relationship between growth and degradation. The EKC turning point, or the point in  a country’s development where further growth actually lessens environmental harm, will be reached once the process of industrialization is completed and resources are freed up for R&D and investment into cleaner and more environmentally-friendly technologies. This paper will take an in-depth, qualitative analysis of China and Brazil along multiple factors. Some these include deforestation, desertification, urbanization, industries such as steel, coal, ranching, mining, and others. The paper’s goal is to make a judgement for each factor on where it places either China or Brazil on the EKC. A compare-and-contrast will then follow, allowing for useful policy implications to follow.

Contrasting Industrial and Post-Industrial Urban Planning in the United States and Western Europe

Angelo Bochanis

Urban planning and urban environments have always been of great pertinence, and the Covid-19 pandemic has only exemplified this importance. As the virus forces behavioral and structural changes onto the human environment, it is of great importance that we further our understanding of it. This paper will examine the evolution of cities and urban planning in the United States and Western Europe since the industrial revolution, and contrasts the ways in which different cities have responded to such challenges through case studies and national-level trends observed since then. Through analyzing these cities’ urban planning, this paper will examine topics such as density, public transportation, economics, social fabrics, and institutional development through a comparative lens. By doing this, this paper hopes to highlight current and historical decisions in urban planning which have helped or hindered various urban entities, and draw upon this to explain current and potential future policies in the field.

The Trials and Tribulations of Israel’s Pursuit for Peace 

Jason Eichner

This research study examines the domestic political aspect of two major accords related to the West Bank issue and its impact on Israeli politics. By looking at how political parties have influenced the major accords, I can assess their prospects moving forward in order to answer the question: How have Israeli political parties grown in terms of popularity and influence, and based on voting trends, what impact could these political parties have in the near future on Israeli-Palestinian relations specifically in the West Bank? The starting point of the research is on two accords in the West Bank: Oslo Accords and the Camp David Summit of 2000. This paper will analyze the influence that Israeli political parties had on the Accord negotiations and will work to uncover how they either realigned or repositioned after the fallout of both Accords. Based on how the Israeli political parties either realigned or repositioned, I will use data to track how they have grown in terms influence and size. By gaining an understanding of how Israeli political parties a) impacted a domestic political event b) repositioned or realigned after the fallout of the event c) have grown in terms of influence, I will be able to assess where the conflict in the West Bank between Israelis and Palestinians may be moving towards. Data analysis from Israeli elections will be utilized to uncover trends in voting data that reinforce this paper’s assessment of the future of the domestic political relations in the West Bank region.  

A Jazz Crossroads

Juan Cristo

This creative project combines aspects from musicology and music composition to explore cultural perception. How can three cultures be collected and brought to life by a jazz composition? By composing a jazz song that encapsulates styles from America (USA), Europe and Latin, I hope to bring a wrap to my Global Perspectives experience at Bentley. The piece is meant to clearly incorporate characteristics from these three cultures for the listener’s interpretation.


Andrew Hollander

Is the world of sustainable investment broken? If every dollar were funneled into ESG funds, would we avoid a climate catastrophe? The cold reality is… probably not. The RegenX team explores what is wrong with ESG, why it has failed the planet, and what is needed to have a truly regenerative portfolio.  

Shifting Racial Ideologies

Julia McLaughlin

What drives public opinion surrounding policies that would give aid to low-income Americans? In a time marked with income inequality, many Americans support candidates whose economic spending polices go against their own self-interest. Recent literature has presented Racial Resentment as an indicator.  Consistent with past research, this paper validates that Racial Resentment impacts white American’s support for policies that help fight income inequality. Additionally, contrary to some previous studies, my research suggests that the effect of racial resentment on policy support is no different for millennial and generation Z- aged whites as for older generations. Using the results of the 2018 Cooperative Congressional Election Study, I analyzed how Racial Resentment impacts support for policies that would provide government aid to low-income Americans across three different age groups: Baby Boomers and older, Generation X, and Millennials and Generation Z (combined). Higher Racial Resentment lowered support for economic inequality policies. Racial Resentment was more important than income and education in explaining support for policies that help low-income Americans. Additionally, the impact of Racial Resentment on these policies was similar across all groups. Importantly, my results suggest that the racial attitudes of White Americans impact policy preferences, and that this relationship is not changing with younger Americans, which has significant implications for the political landscape going forward.

Growing Inequality Among US cities

Satyam Rattan

Throughout my research project, I intend to detail the growing inequality among different US cities.  According to the UN, income inequality is increasing in most developed countries.  The UN states, “Inequality is growing for more than 70 per cent of the global population, exacerbating the risks of divisions and hampering economic and social development.” (Rising Inequality Affecting More than Two-Thirds of the Globe, but It's Not Inevitable: New UN Report 2020).  These inequalities are particularly evident throughout various cities in the US, where some have grown exponentially while others have declined over the past 30 years.Inequality has created numerous problems throughout the US.  Problems such as high crime, the drug trade, and unemployment, have all grown exponentially in US cities that have declined in the past 30 years.  This means that residents of wealthy US cities, like Miami and New York City, continue to become richer as the US economy expands.  At the same time, residents of poorer US cities, such as Binghampton, NY, are seemingly unaffected by growth in the US economy.  This system creates a disparity between the wealthy and the poor in society, where one class of people benefits while there are many others that cannot.  Growing income inequality between US cities is exacerbating this gap. My project hopes to analyze the factors that have caused the decline of certain US cities and the factors that have caused some US cities to become far wealthier.  I would like to analyze the effects of this economic rise and fall of US cities on their population sizes.  Furthermore, my project aims to analyze the current living conditions of the cities that have economically declined.  I want to report on any increases in social problems, unemployment, and general living standards.

Value Impact of Cultural Distance on Cross-Border LBOs

Derek Ines

Private equity markets are increasingly feeling the effects of globalization and an interconnected world. LBO transactions are utilized by private equity firms to compound investor profitability with high debt-to-equity financing structures. Cultural differences between portfolio company and private equity acquirer can result in an increased number of operational asymmetries and synergy realization hurdles, making value creation more difficult. This study aims to determine if cultural differences (quantified with data from the Hofstede Institute), has an impact on LBO profitability (measured with a cash on cash multiple). To test the alternative hypothesis, a sample of US-based, exited, cross-border LBO acquisitions was sourced. Cultural scores were standardized with a Euclidean distance, which were categorized into low and high distance groups using the median split. Regression analysis showed significant relationships among composite cultural distances, individualism distances, indulgence distances and masculinity distances. A significant negative relationship found between local office presence and profitability is erroneous after factoring in conventional knowledge, relevant data points, and industry insights. To contextualize the statistical findings above, industry participants were interviewed to gather expert insight. The relevant results from the model suggests higher individualism and composite cultural distances are likely to lead to increased profitability, while high masculinity and indulgence distances are likely to lead to decreased profitability.

“We Have it Totally Under Control”: The Lack of Governmental Response to COVID-19 and the Effect on the Health Care System in New York City

Kathryn Schore

In early March 2020, the greater New York City area spiraled into the epicenter of the COVID-19 virus in the United States. The world had seen a SARS outbreak before but this time was different. Because of this, my research sought to find a possible explanation for the disparity. Through research of varying characteristics of the virus, the asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 is as high as 40%, while previous SARS infections have an asymptomatic rate of 13%. Many people were shedding the virus and becoming contagious without awareness, leaving viral spread at unbelievable rates. As a result, the hospitals in the New York City area quickly became overrun, overwhelmed, breeding grounds for the virus. In order to synthesize how the outbreak amplified so quickly, compared to prior SARS cases, I documented crucial orders and statements made by state and national government. My study examines restrictions and policies put in place by these bodies and how timing of such statements was too late to contain the pandemic spread. I interviewed three health care employees to hear their personal experience in different roles within a hospital. Through the analysis of timelines and governmental statements, as well as testimonies of these individuals, I prove the governmental response was deficient and inadequate. Almost a year from the start of the outbreak, it is necessary that hospitals and medical facilities be applauded for their efforts and governing bodies be held responsible for the situation citizens were left in.

Understanding Health, Behavioral, and Social Factors Influencing Vaccine Hesitancy and its Impacts on a Potential COVID-19 Vaccine

Maria Tsaketas

Vaccinations have led to a drastic decline in infectious diseases preventing an estimated 2-3 million deaths globally each year. Despite proven benefits, a staggering amount of people remain skeptical about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. While opposition to vaccines has been around for centuries, recently there has been a resurgence in the resistance of vaccines in Western countries posing a critical threat to public health. This is especially of concern amidst the COVID-19 pandemic as the highly contagious respiratory illness continues to spread rampantly worldwide. COVID-19 has caused over five hundred thousand deaths in the United States alone since March 2020 yet survey data indicates that a considerable amount of U.S. adults are unlikely to get vaccinated against COVID-19. This research focuses on factors correlated with lack of intent to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as well as preventable infectious diseases in general. Questions were pulled from surveys conducted by the National Cancer Institute and Pew Research Center relating to vaccine hesitancy and possible determinants such as mistrust in healthcare or government, social media usage, and general risk taking behaviors. Demographics, including age, sex, race, and education will be used to determine if there are demographic similarities between respondents of the selected survey questions and those who lack trust in vaccines. Analysis will be performed in SPSS to find associations. Understanding significant factors that drive a person’s mistrust in vaccines provides valuable information that could be used to improve public health and reduce the threat of preventable infectious diseases moving forward.

Juvenile Lemon Shark Presence Affects Fish Behavior in Mangrove Tidal Creeks in The Bahamas 

Hayden Yakola

As a keystone species, sharks play a crucial role in the ecosystems they inhabit. This is evident in the nearshore marine ecosystems of The Bahamas, where Lemon sharks (Negaprion brevirostris) use mangrove tidal creeks as nursery habitats. During this study, we used baited remote underwater video (BRUVs) to document the feeding interactions for upside down jellyfish (Cassiopea spp.). While analyzing the data, it was clear that lemon sharks played a major role in the feeding habits of both the fish and jellyfish in the ecosystem. Although the feeding periods of the lemon sharks were brief, it was evident that their presence had a direct effect on fish feeding behavior. This has interesting implications because the lemon sharks in the nearshore marine ecosystems of the Bahamas can structure food webs through direct predation on the fishes and indirectly through their presence (the ecology of fear). Through this research, we are able to better understand the food webs of this ecosystem and the critical role that lemon sharks play in them.

The Effect of Colony Collapse Disorder and Other Environmental Factors on Wholesale Price of Sweet Cherries in the Pacific Northwest Region

Ethan Banger

While pollination is an essential part of seed plant reproduction that has been and is always viable without commercial intervention, some modern crops are able to produce better with the help of non-native pollination services. As commercial beekeeping gained popularity throughout the US, farmers of orchards and fields for all varieties of fruits and tree nuts started to require pollination services for the duration of their crop’s blooming season. The pollination fees that farmers are being charged vary season by season, as there are several variables that change each year, including honey bee supply. In recent years, the overall population of honey bees has declined significantly due to environmental factors, such as climate change and habitat loss, as well as colony collapse disorder. Starting in 2006, colony collapse disorder is an abnormal occurrence where the majority of the worker bees in a honey bee colony disappear, leaving the queen and whatever nursing bees remain to care for the immature bees. With both CCD and the evolving environmental factors having a compelling negative effect on the population of honey bees, commercial beekeepers are forced to increase their pollination fees to pay for the large losses that they are experiencing during the working and resting seasons of the year. With consumer demand staying constant or increasing for sweet cherries in the Pacific northwest region of the U.S., farmers have been able to change their price to wholesalers accordingly. Even though the price of sweet cherries is influenced by factors throughout the growing and harvesting seasons, the impact of pollination services is being evaluated here to see how large of an effect CCD is having on different markets.

Oysters: The Oceans Unsung Hero

Michael Kraft

Oyster Reefs provide food, habitat, and storm protection for thousands of species, including humans, but what is most intriguing about oysters is their capability to filter water at up to 50 gallons a day. I look to develop deeper knowledge into how this process works, and what it could mean for some of the worlds most polluted waterways. Along with this analysis I will be speaking on the industrial threats that have led to the 85% decrease in the global oyster population. The goal of this culminating project is to establish the feasibility of restoring global waters through oyster reefs while also acknowledging the logistical obstacles that will be faced and how to deal with such issues.

Succeeding in the Restaurant Industry with a Focus on Franchising

Sandrine Heller

One aim of this paper is to identify management strategies that can help the restaurant industry reduce its failure rate that has a myth of being very high. I will do this by looking into what it takes to succeed in the restaurant industry and why there is an inclination to go into franchising. Focusing on franchising, the paper will cover how to determine if a franchise will be successful as well as the planning that goes into it. There are geographical factors, asset and ratio analysis and much more.  Apart from this, it is also important to see how the industry is doing. I will analyses how the restaurant industry has been growing and what trends are being seen. SWOT analysis and Porters 5 forces will be used to help determine an attractive industry. From industry trends I will try and determine what it takes to start a new restaurant in today’s world and what the perfect spot and idea for a new restaurant is. Of course there are risks associated with setting up franchises and restaurant and this paper will research theories that will minimize the risks and maximize the benefits. Real life restaurants will be analyzed to see how they started up and became successful. Lastly, the paper will also look at how the Coronavirus has impacted the industry or changed the industry for the future.

Space Tourism: Is it a Viable Industry?

Jessica Manley

While studying at Bentley, I chose to major in Corporate Finance and Accounting with a Liberal Studies Major in Quantitative Perspectives. Through my LSM, I took Astronomy during the fall semester of my freshman year and since then I have been interested in space exploration and the commercial opportunities therein. Because of this, I dove deep into the rise of space tourism and sought to find specific indicators that would signal a viable industry. My process was two-fold. First, I created a historical overview of significant events in the most comparable industry: aviation. I used this timeline of aviation history to gain an understanding of how the space tourism industry might develop over time, and identified specific events from both industries for comparison. Second, I created a matrix of eight commercial space companies, both successful and not, in order to determine which factors contributed to each company’s relative failure/success. My overall conclusions combined both the comparison to aviation history as well as the company analysis. I explain that in order for the space tourism industry to take off as fast as aviation, consumers will need more incentive to go to space, especially at the current costs. Furthermore, there will need to be extensive safety measures put in place by the FAA in order to hold commercial companies accountable and to protect civilians. I believe the industry will flourish in the future, but how far away this future is depends on commercial companies’ abilities to develop a strong demand for regular civilian spaceflight.

Effect of Social Media on Risk Society

Seungil Lee

The growing prevalence of social media in daily life raises the question of social media platforms’ effect on individual’s perception of risk. Increased social media use may normalize edgework experience, a recent sociological concept that attributes risk itself as the main motivator for those who partake in risky behaviors. Previous research has examined the concept of edgework in various activities, including playing video games and posting nude selfies to an online platform. This research attempted to explore whether edgework principals are ingrained within daily use of social media by examining the reaction of young adult participants to viewing 4 images posted on social media that showed young adults engaging in risky behaviors. The survey also measured sensation-seeking and resistance to change using previously validated scales. The data was gathered through an anonymous Qualtrics survey and consists of 49 undergraduate students at Bentley University. As hypothesized, sensation seeking was most strongly correlated with acceptance of risky selfies. Different from the original hypothesis, while sensation-seeking, resistance to change, and likeliness to post on social media accounts all were correlated with greater positive attitudes toward risky selfies, social media use was negatively correlated with an individual’s awareness of risky selfies on social media platforms. The paper ends with further discussion of role of participant characteristics and by extension, social identity theory in determining the relationship between social media and risk perception.

How has COVID Affected Energy Usage on Campus?

Griffin Ferrara

How has COVID-19 effected energy usage on campus? What can we learn? Using data on campus energy use, comparisons will be made between pre-pandemic and post-pandemic energy consumption. The energy data investigates dorms, academic buildings, administrative buildings, lighting, heating and cooling, and general electricity usage. Analyzing this data will reveal trends, and outliers from semesters prior that will help paint a picture of the Bentley community’s energy usage. The goal is to determine what has changed, was it positive or negative and how can Bentley’s Office of Sustainability best use this information to act more sustainably in the future. I theorize that energy use has decreased significantly on campus and will return to high levels again. Understanding areas in which COVID has decreased energy usage will provide insight that will allow energy consumption to return to lower-than-average pre-covid levels when students return to campus in the Fall of 2021. Learning how usage has shifted during the pandemic will reveal new ways to save energy on campus.


Abstracts: Research Day 2

The March Toward Orthodoxy and the Erosion of Academic Freedom

Amanda Shoemaker
Session A-1
Presenter Time: 2:15 p.m.

Academic freedom is a cherished part of the First Amendment, yet professors, institutions, and courts still lack a clear definition of what that right entails. The U.S. Supreme Court has used emphatic rhetoric to defend academic freedom, but it has never outlined an explicit rule to apply in academic freedom cases, leading to understandable confusion in many of the lower courts. Lacking a better standard, lower courts have begun to apply either the Pickering balancing test or the Garcetti official duties test, both of which were intended to deal with the average public employee, not a professor at a state-run institution. The application of these two tests combined with increasing political tensions have resulted in an erosion of academic freedom that must be swiftly addressed before a “pall of orthodoxy” falls upon the nation. Based on the conclusion that individual and institutional academic freedom both exist, but the institutional right is stronger, this paper will demonstrate that the best standard for courts to use is deciding whether “in good faith” an institution made a “purely academic decision.” Any stronger test would result in too much extraneous interference with decisions properly left up to an institution, but this test still offers a high degree of protection to professors.

Fourth Amendment Protections in an Age of Surveillance 

Alec Lanza

For most of the United States’ history, the 4th Amendment has been held as one of the most important and revered additions to the country’s Constitution by providing the people of the United States with the right to privacy and protection against warrantless and unreasonable searches and seizures of our persons and property by the government and law enforcement. However, we are currently in a period of vast technological expansion and innovation, which may come at a cost to the people of the country. Some of these innovations include improvements and invention of technologies that can be used by law enforcement to survey and surveil the population in order to gather personal data in the name of public safety, and thus a continuation of the massive decrease in the level of privacy that the people of the United States enjoy. While I am always an advocate of public safety, these technological advancements will undoubtedly raise legal concerns related to the 4th Amendment as individuals feel their privacy violated. By applying prior Supreme Court cases to modern technologies and issues, I hope to come to solid conclusions as how to best handle privacy situations with these technologies, and provide a standard to apply to these situations. 

Housing Discrimination and Urban Poverty

Sandy Fong

This paper analyzes prior literature to examine housing discrimination. I start by reviewing the Fair Housing Act to consider its history and context, including redlining, enforceability, and the barriers that minorities face during housing attainment. I use William Julius Wilson’s “When Work Disappears” as a theoretical framework, which further contextualizes the impact of housing discrimination by considering joblessness, public school funding, and underlying cultural problems. When taken together, these circumstances perpetuate intergenerational poverty. I elaborate on this phenomenon to consider the experience of immigrant enclaves. In addition to the barriers to housing attainment and joblessness, problems faced by minority groups are further exacerbated by the issues of eminent domain regarding housing discrimination.

Causes and Effects: Racial Diversity in United States Public School Systems

Asimina Morris

In this project, I research the causes and effects of racial diversity in public K-12 schools in the United States. The history of racial integration in public schools and major events that affected the method of funding for public schools, are discussed to establish the foundation upon which the United States’ current education institution is built. The analysis is derived using data from the National Center for Education Statistics regarding the sources from which public schools receive funding. Additionally, the paper will analyze the connections between the relationship between the funding sources and racial diversity, and the racial diversity of a school and the outcomes of its students. By delving into these relationships, we can emphasize the importance of racial diversity and understand persisting challenges of integration stemming from national institutions. 

Bolivian Politics: Conflict Under the Context of Regionalism

Eduardo Franco Saucedo

This project analyzes the tumultuous political landscape of Bolivia under the context of regional identities: the cambas, people from the Eastern lowlands who place a stronger focus on European customs, and the collas, people from the Western mountainous regions who place a stronger focus on indigenous customs. With the existence of two distinct and clashing identities in this South American nation, this project explains how regional and ethnic identities have been appropriated by political parties for the purpose of furthering an agenda. As such, this project also states the political leanings associated with each region. This political maneuvering has evolved into ethnic-based populism on both sides of the conflict, drawing a parallel to the emergence of populism along ethnic lines in Western countries. As such, this project also seeks to provide a general recommendation for diminishing opportunities from which ethnic-based populism can arise.

Manure Waste Management in the Face of an Expanding Global Population

Dimitra Efremidis

This research project assesses the various management methods that can be applied to United States’ farming practices to mitigate manure waste and its impacts on receiving bodies of water. Nitrogen runoff from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in the Gulf of Mexico, the Long Island Sound, Chesapeake Bay, and San Francisco Bay was investigated along with ways to treat, store, and reduce manure waste in the face of a rapidly expanding global population; the cost efficiency of these measures and how realistic each measure would be to implement for the different CAFOs was explored. Time series analyses of water quality metrics, including dissolved oxygen, reactive nitrogen, pH, and water temperature were evaluated for each location along with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination (NPDES) permits to help inform the Best Management Practices (BMPs) for farms across the United States. To determine the most effective BMPs, research and data were collected from countries currently succeeding in mitigating nutrient leaching into bodies of water and gaseous nitrogen emissions that contribute to air pollution and global warming. Specific emphasis was placed on Nordic Countries for this analysis, including Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, that have implemented successful BMPs. The potential success of similar applications to farms in the United States is discussed and BMPs are recommended.

Curbing Ocean Plastics on Land

Matthew Mulcahy

Through the course work that I have been exposed to by my EEGS major over the last four years, I have become aware of the massive ocean plastic problem that we have on this planet. I have done research on the quantity of debris present in our oceans, the implications of ingesting plastic in marine life and humans, as well as how we can try to solve the problem. In this presentation, I will go over the research that I have done, in an effort to outline the problem, and then I will introduce a product that I am looking to develop to prevent certain debris from entering our oceans.

Evidence of Predation on Benthic Jellyfish in Tidal Creeks in the Bahamas

Alexander Peary

Gelatinous zooplankton (hereafter referred to as jellyfish) are ubiquitous in marine ecosystems. Anthropogenic activities, such as global climate change, eutrophication, and over-fishing, have led to an increase in their population in many regions, which may have cascading effects on marine food webs. Although traditionally considered trophic dead ends, several studies have indicated that various species do consume pelagic jellyfish. However, there is a paucity of literature indicating the role that benthic jellyfish play in the marine food web. The aim of this research is to elucidate whether Upside-down Jellyfish (Cassiopea spp.) are preyed on, by what organisms, and how frequently. We have examined this question through the use of baited remote underwater videos deployed in two tidal creek systems in The Bahamas. The camera system was baited with either a single jellyfish, a jellyfish and a ballyhoo, a single ballyhoo, or a single control tile. Bite rate data on jellyfish or fish prey by various consumers was evaluated across all treatments. Preliminary results from over 50 videos demonstrate that Foureye Butterflyfish (Chaetodon capistratus) commonly and frequently bite upside-down jellyfish, while other fish species, e.g. Schoolmaster Snapper and Nassau Grouper, prey on the ballyhoo. Bite rates were significantly lower for fish prey than jellyfish prey, because the duration of predation event on fish was shorter than for jellyfish. Additionally, jellyfish predation was delayed or reduced in the presence of fish prey, possibly due to the potential predators of Foureye Butterflyfish that may scare them away from consuming jellyfish. In sum, this research provides some of the first documentation on the role that benthic jellyfish play in nearshore marine food webs.

Water Valuation Study: Measuring The Economic Value of Water in Jordan’s Agricultural Sector

Shakeeb Habash

The Water Valuation Study assessed the value of water use in the agriculture sector in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to determine water’s value for producing different crops in for different markets. Insight into the different values of water is essential to support rational decision-making about policies, management, and investments in the water sector. The main objective of this report is to estimate an economic value of irrigation water in Jordan from value chain perspectives by using appropriate methodology and available data. In a country facing such a significant imbalance between limited supplies and ever-growing demand, the government must grapple with very difficult policy decisions and trade-offs in order to determine the best ways in which to allocate water across sectors. This is especially true for the agricultural which consumes the most significant portion of the national water supply and is central to the Jordanian culture and economy.  The Water Valuation Study was undertaken to improve policy-making in the water sector by providing decision-makers with a much deeper understanding of the productivity of water across the agricultural sector.

Mental Health/Emotional Wellbeing Resources after College

Kayleigh May

This research project looks at the availability, accessibility, and desire for mental health/emotional wellbeing access resources in the workplace with a specific emphasis on the transitioning workforce. The research further addressed mental health stigma and perceptions in the workplace as well the impact COVID-19 has had on these. Two surveys were conducted – one for the student population and another Human Resource Professionals or people involved in benefits/resource access within the workforce. We were able to determine trends in the belief that people transitioning into the workforce do need more resources as well as the belief that these resources should be communicated more often. We were also able to identify gaps in what is desired in resources and what was available as well as what time the desired resources are made available to workers. The research also clearly identified that there is perceived stigma surrounding mental health within the workforce and general discomfort surrounding disclosing mental health/emotional wellbeing resources in the workforce. 

Personality, Strengths, and Communication Styles in Organizational Teams

Carissa Delvecchio

The use of personality assessments as legitimate tools for hiring and decision making is not often considered in the academic or professional world. Many see them as invalid forms of data, not painting a wholistic picture of an individual. Despite this opinion, several studies have shown that different assessment results yield different performances results both individually and collectively in teams. At the present, these studies do not typically test real-world performance or use of personality and behavioral assessments on academic or work teams. I use a series of interviews with business professionals, all of whom incorporate assessments into their company or organization, to determine to what extent these assessments are used in the real world. From these interviews, we see that many companies utilize personality and behavioral assessments in their hiring, development, and as tools for conflict resolution. While none use the assessment results to create and or predict high-performing teams, I argue that it is the next logical progression after their current use. Using these assessments would add a deeper level of diversity of thought to a team, enhance differences of styles and approaches, as well as provide an indication of how well a team will perform. 

TikTok’s Impact on Promotion and Talent Discovery in the Music Industry

Kristen Novit

With an algorithm that categorizes and recommends content largely by audio, TikTok has profoundly changed the way talent is discovered and content is promoted in the music industry. The sound behind every TikTok video is clearly displayed at the bottom of every in-app video with features that make attribution realistic and encourage the audience to create spinoff content. This spreadability makes it easier for musicians to have their work seen by potential fans and talent scouts alike. TikTok has become a top platform for promotion, as music companies have been able to use the app to create international hits. Independent artists are also able to use the platform’s features to promote their work with enticing incentives to continue. The paper concludes with case studies of Doja Cat’s career success through the platform from capitalizing on TikTok’s participatory culture, and a look into Justin Bieber’s TikTok promotion failure which highlights the importance of authenticity and community on the platform. 

The Sociology of Death: An Artist's Exploration

Bethany Ward

Humanity’s historical and cultural landscape is littered with anthropomorphic representations of death: from ancient gods like Anubis or Thanatos, to pseudo-historical ancestor figures like Donn, the Irish lord of the dead, to modern interpretations such as Neil Gaiman’s character Death of the Endless (as seen in the epic graphic novel series The Sandman). This cross-cultural survey of the figure of Death examines various cultural approaches to personifying or deifying the concept, and places a particular focus on figures that lean less toward being considered psychopomps, and more toward acting as fully developed, independent characters.  Of several cultural incarnations of Death, a handful have been selected to be painted or drawn and presented at the 2021 Undergraduate Research Conference. Each has been designed to visually represent the characteristics assigned to Death by a particular storytelling tradition. These manifestations of Death invite their audience to reflect upon how humanity has processed mourning, grief, and loss across the centuries and across the globe.


Elizabeth Ingram

As a Media and Culture student, the goal of this project is to create a portfolio piece that displays concept development and 2D animation. My project follows Bridget through her journey of overcoming her fear of public speaking during “presentation day” in her history class. Everyone in the class is expected to present a speech relating to overcoming fears. One by one, her peers and classmates give their own speeches as she mulls over the fact that facing her fear is inevitable. She tries to distract herself by doodling and as each speech begins, she is transported to the memory of a times her friends faced similar situations where they face their own fears. Through remembering these experiences and a little bit of help from some “SuperFear-os,” she is able to overcome her fear and confidently present her speech to the class.

Cultural Representation and Misrepresentation in Film and TV

Hanhnguyen Nguyen

Cultural representation in film and television subtly yet powerfully takes a formative role in the way society values and treats people of color. Misrepresentation and poor representation by essentializing, fetishizing, or othering fail to educate the American audience, especially youth, on the nuanced and deep-rooted stories that resonate with a modern, culturally diverse country. This short film improves upon the current methodology of producing cultural representation in two ways. As agents of their culture, the actors acknowledge their limitations of location and position. The director then works with the agents to film their character and culture in a way that is authentic to their specific experiences and truths as Dominican-American, Haitian-American, and Vietnamese-American people. These stories are not blanket representations, but stand alone to illustrate the existence of a myriad of others, predominantly hidden and silenced.

Short Stories on the Human Experience in Capitalism

Tiara Obey

While studying abroad at the London School of Economics (LSE), I became aware of how one-sided my education of our economic system had previously been presented to me. I realized I had become a passive learner, where information was passed down to me and, as is the case for many of us, I accepted it without question. I now wish I had been exposed to more diverse information or been pushed to challenge the status quo much earlier. For this reason, I decided to use the Honors Capstone as an opportunity to explore these topics. My independent research work consists of two short stories centered on the themes of economic exploitation & inequality and the mental effects of capitalism. The medium of the short story was strategically chosen over the traditional academic paper to depict the human experience that accompanies my chosen topics, rather than its factual aspects, to make the narrative much more compelling and impactful. The context of these stories have been informed by a transdisciplinary approach that includes principles of political philosophy, economic philosophy, critical political economy philosophy, psychology, and sociology. To study how observations and critiques on capitalism have been delivered through the medium of story-telling in the past, my research is also heavily influenced by historical literature and cinema works centered on my key themes. 

Community-Based Capstone

Christina Cramer

In the Community-Based Capstone, students were assigned to produce a grant proposal to fund a need identified by a nonprofit in Waltham. Students conducted both primary and secondary research on the assigned nonprofits, their programs, and their specific needs. Additionally, students conducted grant research to provide funding opportunities for their community partner and presented them in an annotated bibliography. I was partnered with African Cultural Services, aka Africano. Currently, many people in the Africano community do not have access to technology, other than their mobile phones, and do not understand technology due to their lack of access or formal training. Considering these concerns, I wrote a grant proposal for a basic digital literacy curriculum and access to new technology. The program will highlight using Zoom and Google Docs as well as other important digital skills. Successful completion of the program will open more opportunities to members of the Africano community, since the ability to use technology is typically required in the workplace and is quickly becoming essential in daily life.  In conjunction with the proposal, I delivered a technology workshop to the Africano Community. This served as an introduction to what would later become the program, should the grant be funded. The community-based capstone project provided an opportunity to hone my research and grant writing skills while also giving back to the Waltham community.  

Healthy Waltham Goes Mobile

Selin Karadeniz, Madison Levins-Ireland, Jordan Vespoli

In the Community-Based Capstone, students were assigned to groups in which they produced a grant proposal to fund a need identified by a Waltham nonprofit. In addition to the grant proposal, each group researched potential funders and presented them to their community partner in an annotated bibliography. Our group worked with Healthy Waltham; a community organization that promotes healthy eating, active living opportunities, and mental wellness. Their mission is to make healthy living more accessible to the most vulnerable residents in Waltham. Due to the pandemic, food pantries became the priority as food insecurity increased dramatically. Our task was to write a grant to purchase a truck that will be used as a “pantry-on-wheels” to bring fresh food to people who can’t get to the monthly pantries. As the pandemic resolves, the truck will also travel to places like schools or senior living facilities to teach healthy cooking and nutrition. In addition, our group conducted a series of client interviews that provided valuable information to us as we drafted our grant proposal, and to Healthy Waltham.  From this experience, we gained an understanding of the needs of vulnerable people in the community, and how Healthy Waltham strives to improve their lives. It was rewarding to work on a project that we know will have a long-lasting impact in the community. 

Community-Based Capstone

Olivia Lane, Katerina Logrono, Vikrant Maini, Isabella Puzzo

In the Community-Based Capstone, students were assigned to groups in which they produced a grant proposal to fund a need identified by a nonprofit in Waltham. In addition to the grant proposal, each group researched potential funders and presented them to their community partner in an annotated bibliography.  Our community partner was Deaconess of Abundant Life Services Leland, a senior care provider. This nonprofit organization offers in-home aides to help seniors in the Waltham area with activities of daily living, such as getting dressed, cooking and cleaning, and running errands. These services also help seniors address safety concerns and combat loneliness, which have greatly increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. As DALS Leland’s services are limited to seniors who can afford to pay, its goal is to begin offering free home support to low-income seniors in Waltham. Our task was to write a grant proposal for a pilot program that will provide eight seniors with free home support for eight hours a week for twelve weeks. In addition to researching funders for this project and writing the grant proposal, we established a connection with our community partner by sending mail to DALS Leland clients throughout the semester. We created homemade cards for Valentine’s Day, Saint Patrick’s Day, Spring, and Easter, and sent them to seniors at three DALS senior residences in the area. This small act of kindness helped the seniors feel cared for during a time of loneliness, and helped us create a meaningful connection with them, even though we were not able to interact in person. As we have lived, studied and matured in Waltham for the past four years, it has been gratifying to give back to the community that we are proud to call our home away from home.

Africanano Financial Literacy

Shulagra Shah, Katelyn Petronack, Julia Markowski

In the Community-Based Capstone, students were assigned to groups in which they produced a grant proposal to fund a need identified by a Waltham nonprofit. In addition to the grant proposal, each group researched potential funders and presented them to their community partner in an annotated bibliography. The nonprofit community partners were Healthy Waltham, African Cultural Services aka Africano, and Deaconess Abundant Life Services Leland (DALS Leland). Our group was assigned to Africano, which serves the local Ugandan immigrant community of about 82 households by providing after-school tutoring, community outreach, and cultural enrichment. We worked to find a grantor to fund a financial literacy program, aiming to teach financial concepts, such as investing, budgeting, taxes, and saving strategies, to the Africano community. If awarded, the grant will fund a finance curriculum and an instructor who understands the cultural complexities that Africano members face with respect to financial decision-making. As part of our project, our group delivered a Zoom presentation for Africano discussing our personal experiences with financial issues and answering follow-up questions. This presentation showed us the immediate need for a financial literacy program for the Africano community. Through this Community Based Capstone, our group has aimed to leave a lasting impact on the Waltham community by serving Africano, as they have shown us the importance of using our knowledge to give back to the underserved.

The Impact of Labor Markets on Earned Income Tax Credit Demand

John Millspaugh

This paper examines the relationship between participation rates for the Earned Income Tax Credit and business cycle changes, particularly by using labor markets throughout the fifty states and the District of Columbia. The model that is built exploits state-level data in order to simulate several different business cycle fluctuations because economic downturns and recoveries are experienced at different levels and at different times in different states. It demonstrates that as labor markets worsen, less people by percent fill out the tax forms necessary to receive the EITC that they are entitled to. This is an unexpected finding because it shows that while more people are in need, they are less likely to request assistance. This could be for several reasons, such as lower rates of knowledge of the entitlements that people who are not typically eligible for them, negative stigmas associated with receiving income assistance, or filing costs (time and effort) which prevent people from filing additional tax forms in order to receive the entitlement.

COVID-19 Policy Implications for Economic Recovery

Calvin Cheung

This project will look further into the implications on the economic recovery of different US states’ based on their closing and reopening timelines. Through an unemployment perspective of total, continued, and initial claims as well as other factors such as number infected, deaths, and restriction levels, this thesis paper will see what has longer lasting effects on the economic recovery via unemployment of these states.

An Investigation into the Impact of GDP Growth on Homicide Levels in Trinidad and Tobago

Kerisse Seepersad

The homicide rate in Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) increased by 24.8% between 2014 and 2019. This notable increase has contributed to massive public outrage and calls for judicial reform. Previous literature from researchers like Blumstein et al. and Morris and Graycar have primarily focused on the social conditions that allow for an increase in the number of murders within a community. The dominant explanation for this trend of worsening homicide rates is often demographical shifts and partisan politics. Moreover, most research is centered on the United States, and studies on smaller countries like T&T are not widely available. This paper therefore seeks to explore the relationship between GDP growth and homicide rates in T&T. For this project, quantitative data from the World Bank and national crime reports will be used to investigate the correlation between T&T’s homicide rate and its reported unemployment rate and level of GDP growth. Using Jamaica as a comparison in the Caribbean context, this study will highlight the link between macroeconomic variables and increased homicide levels. Jamaica is chosen because of the countries’ similar historical backgrounds, judicial systems and rates of urbanization. The impact of T&T’s resource endowment, relative financial stability and educated population will then be explored to determine how T&T’s current socio-economic conditions can allow for economic diversification and a decrease in the homicide rate. 

The Economic Impact of COVID-19 on the US Meat Industry

Kailey Sullivan

The meat industry has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, as in the early months outbreaks occurred in many factories forcing them to shut down for some time. The industry is highly concentrated regionally, employing over 525,000 workers, making these outbreaks more pronounced and with the potential to impact large numbers of people over a short time-span. This has led to plant closures and disruptions, which has important implications for the upstream supply chain, most importantly meat farmers. Hence, COVID-19 can impact employment and wages in this industry directly – due to these outbreaks and closures – as well as indirectly, as individuals change their dietary behaviors which may impact the demand for meat, due to the general economic contraction, and individuals changing their mobility and shopping behaviors. This study assesses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on employment and labor market outcomes in the meat industry, with an emphasis on identifying effects as they unfolded over the pandemic and estimating disparities across various sub-populations (based on race, gender, skills). Main analyses are based on individual records from the CPS, over January 2015-January 2021. Supplementary analyses, based on pre-pandemic data from the CDC, also assess shifts in dietary behaviors in the U.S. a period of high unemployment. The effects from this study prove important lessons for highly concentrated industries like meat farming and packaging, facing longer-term secular trends in shifts in food consumption patterns, and suggest reevaluating their supply chain and operations to minimize future disruptions from economic and public health shocks.

The Macroeconomic Impact of Prefectural-Level Designations Within Southwest China  

Angelo Bochanis

Far from being a homogenous entity, China is home to a number of different religious, ethnic, and linguistic affiliations, some of whom are awarded de jure autonomy in the form of autonomous prefectures. Debate exists over their de facto level of autonomy, as well as the economic impact that such a designation has. This paper highlights the particularly diverse region of Southwest China, and examines whether jurisdictional autonomy on the prefecture-level has an impact on macroeconomic outcomes. This paper employs regression analyses to determine the designation’s quantitative impact on indicators such as gross domestic product, retail sales, international trade, and public budget revenue at the local level. In doing so, this paper seeks to advance our current understanding of the Chinese economy, particularly in regards to the impact of Chinese public policy on economic development.

A Need to Escape: An Analysis of the Most Successful Video Games During the Pandemic 

Anthony Benites
Session C-2
Presenter Time: 3:40 p.m.

Upon the initial shutdowns as a result of the pandemic, people found themselves stuck at home and in desperate need of something to do to ease the stresses of the drastic change in lifestyle. Many people turned to video games as a means to communicate with each other, pass time, and to remove themselves from reality. While the video game industry has been growing at a brisk pace for the past three decades, the pandemic caused the industry to boom, with many video games and video game companies breaking sales records. People perform actions to satisfy their needs. When an action is found to satisfy a psychological need, people are more inclined to continue performing that action. Since video games are an easy way to satisfy certain needs, people keep coming back to play more. The pandemic, naturally, inhibited many common needs. Existing gamers and first-time gamers alike bought games to temporarily satisfy needs until the pandemic ends, leading to the record sales figures. This project aims to see which video game benefitted the most from the pandemic and if there is a correlation between the kind of game, the needs it satisfies, and the sales figures during the pandemic period. 

The Economic Impact of Eviction Moratorium

Kevin Marcato

The COVID-19 pandemic triggered the most abrupt and dramatic recession the economy has ever seen. As a result of this, the United States government took an unprecedented policy response in order to support the economy through these times. One such policy was the eviction moratorium, a policy putting a temporary halt on evictions for those who have been unable to pay rent. As with any untested policy, the complete economic impact the policy will have is unknown. Although the full impact on the economy will remain unknown until its conclusion, the purpose of this paper is to determine the economic pressures that the policy is currently contributing to. In order to determine some of the different economic impacts of this policy, this project aims to address the following questions: the effectiveness of the policy, identify some of the ways that the policy has been affecting landlords, how the policy has benefitted owners over renters, how the policy has affected the housing market, and projections of the impact that the policy will have at its conclusion. Regression of economic data, data analysis, and qualitative research were used to answer these questions. The results of the research that went into answering these questions indicate that the eviction moratorium policy is creating serious and unintended economic consequences. Some key findings of the study are that household debt has rapidly increased, eviction filings have increased, confidence in ability to make rental payments has decreased over the duration of the policy.

COVID-19 Impact on Tourism in the Balkan Countries

Miruna Ioana

The COVID-19 pandemic hit the Western Balkans amidst a reacceleration of economic activity and promising economic outlook for 2020. With the rapid spreading of the coronavirus in Europe, governments introduced measures to protect their health systems. This research addresses widely debated questions in regards with the measures and policies imposed and what impact they had on the recovery of the Western Balkans from the perspective of an eastern European citizen. By conducting this research, there are evaluated possibilities of improvement for futures crises. Used resources include United Nations World Tourism Organization Website (UNWTO), The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development Website (OECD) as well as other data sources available for each country and personal surveys.

Latin American Fight Against COVID - 19

Michelle Jaen

An essay assessing the current and prior political responses and its impact in Central American economies since March of 2020. It will be an analytical essay evaluating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic while addressing topics such as healthcare and educational systems to other social, political and security dimensions. In this research, the main countries to be analyzed are Panama, Costa Rica, Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua and Mexico. In order to provide a wider perspective in terms of political systems and economies, government responses from First-World countries such as the United States among other European nations will be explored as well.

Paying a Price: An Examination of Chronic Stereotype, Social identity-based Impression Management Strategies, and Turnover Intentions Among Women in Finance 

Mengyao Lu

This study examines the relationship between chronic stereotype threat, the persistent fear of negative evaluation, and turnover intentions among women who work in the financial services industry. Studies confirm women who work in math-intensive, male-dominated careers contend with chronic stereotype threat because of gender-based stereotypes. Chronic stereotype threat is known to trigger a process of disidentification (the psychological separation of self from work identity) potentially resulting in the eventual exit from the organization or occupation. Women employ various strategies to buffer themselves from threat effects. The purpose of this study is to examine the role of two social identity-based impression management (SIM) strategies, social recategorization (e.g., downplay femininity) and positive distinctiveness (e.g., advocate for women), on turnover intentions. Drawing from a survey sample of 97 women in finance, I found evidence for the relationship between chronic stereotype threat and turnover intentions (H1), mediated by disidentification (H2-4). I did not find evidence that SIM strategies mediate the relationship between chronic stereotype threat and turnover intentions (H5a, H6a, H7), however, the direction of the results did show differences between social recategorization and positive distinctiveness on turnover intentions, as hypothesized (H5b, H6b). In an exploratory analysis, I also found that perceived organizational support disrupts the relationship between chronic stereotype threat and turnover intentions. This study expands our understanding of chronic stereotype threat, coping strategies, and negative outcomes. It also demonstrates that organizational support is a major factor in reducing turnover intentions for women in financial services. Limitations and implications are discussed.


Faculty Organizing Committee

Ryan Bouldin

Assoc. Director, Honors Program
Chair, Natural and Applied Sciences

Faculty Profile

Hans Eijmberts

Director, Valente Center for Arts & Sciences
Senior Lecturer, Global Studies

Valente Center

Jane De León Griffin

Assoc. Dean, Arts & Sciences
Director of Liberal Studies Major

Faculty Profile

Christian Rubio

Director, Honors Program
Chair of Modern Languages

Honors Program
Past Research Conference Abstracts (2004 - 2020)