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2013 Distinguished Dissertation, Thesis &
Creative Exhibition Awards
Distinguished Dissertation Award
Genetic Relationships for Wild Pigs (Sus scrofa) in the United States: Geographic Origins and Genotypic Distribution of the Species with Implications for Management
Blake Eugene McCann, PhD
Wild pigs are a damaging invasive species with a long history in the United States. However, during the last 30 years wild pigs have drastically expanded their invasive range are now present in 44 US states. Though historic records provide insights regarding original introduction histories in areas where pigs are long established, little is known regarding sources for new populations. To develop a better understanding of recent invasions, I utilized an array of molecular markers (mitochondrial DNA sequence, nuclear microsatellites, and nuclear single nucleotide polymorphisms) to evaluate both the evolutionary history of introduced pigs and gene flow between populations indicative of dispersal pathways.
Mitochondrial sequence provided a basal understanding of pig invasions (ie: geographic origins and breed associations) through evaluation of US pigs in context of published sequence from around the world. However, mitochondrial relationships must be considered cautiously, as introduction sources can be obscured due to shared ancestry between Eurasian wild boar and domestic pigs and the ubiquity of some haplotypes in national and global datasets.
With microsatellites and single nucleotide polymorphisms, I identified multiple genetic groupings that corresponded to the geographic distributions and known introduction histories. Through individual and populations genetic distance analyses, I found that dispersal patterns and sources for invasions of wild pigs can be identified using molecular techniques. I also identified an isolation by distance relationship at the national level and in California, which suggests that range expansion can be tracked in terms of gene flow across the landscape. However, my results did not resolve whether the association of genetic distance with geographic distance has resulted from diminishing rates of gene flow under a natural dispersal scenario or from genetic drift associated with anthropogenic dispersal; evidence of both pathways for pig invasion was apparent in my dataset. Further, landscape genetic analyses suggested some role for natural dispersal in range expansion in California.
My findings here suggest that ongoing research in the area of wild pig genetics would be productive. Additional samples from throughout the United States will be necessary to further resolve population genetic relationships and the role of anthropogenic and natural dispersal in range expansion.
Distinguished Creative Exhibition Award
Adinkra the Messenger
Patrick Awotwe, MFA
I am an artist from Ghana and my art works in Metals and Fibers reflect various aspects of my cultural heritage.
The Jewelry designs function as a body adornment that communicates to the viewer, reflects the personality of the wearer, and explores societal issues. I explore these subjects through necklaces and pendants. Each rests above the chest, near the human heart and visible to the viewer as a means to propagate these ideas.
The pendants take a critical view of social, political, religious, historical, and cultural issues. They reference the architecture of the castles, forts, and monuments in my historic town of Elmina-Ghana. The various geometric shapes of the castles and forts such as their curved walls, cylindrical columns, the cubic cells and dungeons, and the round canon turrets serve as the inspiration for the compositional basis of these artworks. These forts and castles were built during the slave trade, which is a regrettable past. Ironically these monuments inspire and affirm my religious belief that "...there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in God." This has motivated me to incorporate Adinkra symbols into my Jewelry. These are traditional Ghanaian symbols that speak about social, political, religious, historical and cultural issues – some of which have a striking resemblance to Christian thought. I draw additional imagery for this series from objects from Western/European culture and historical references to the various social and political events that have shaped my homeland. In essence, these pendants become "wearable history" a synthesis of Ghana and Western cultures, telling the stories about each distinct culture and of their shared history.
My connection to shapes, textures, and colors inform my designs. The uses of colors in the fiber artworks are based on the symbolism of color from an African perspective where colors are often used to express certain events like funerals, naming ceremonies, festivals, and marriage ceremonies. The use of bright and contrasting yarns of white, yellow, red, black, etc. respectively signify peace, love/purity, richness/gold, blood/calamity, sadness/death in my woven pieces.
Though my native Ghana is noted for Kente weaving, it was not until when I started my MFA program that I started learning how to weave. The tactile differences between these two media, the softness of fibers and the hardness of metals, allows me to oscillate between two seemingly opposing worlds of African and Western Cultures.
Distinguished Thesis Award
Lewis Acid Co-Catalyzed Dilute Sulfuric Acid Pretreatment and Enzymatic Hydrolysis of Lignocellulosic Biomass
John C. Degenstein, MS
The dilute sulfuric acid pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass is a well-understood process that significantly enhances the yield of glucose after enzymatic saccharification. The goal of this research project was to enhance the yield of glucose in a dilute sulfuric acid pretreatment that is co-catalyzed with transition metal Lewis acid salts. Performing the dilute sulfuric acid pretreatment effectively and consistently required a dedicated pretreatment reactor specifically designed with these goals in mind.
In this thesis there is a description of the rector system designed and built for the pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass. The reactor system was analyzed for the heat transfer performance, and validated against existing pretreatment data to verify the performance of the system.
The effect of the addition of the following four Lewis acid salts was studied, FeCl2, FeCl3, AlCl3, and La(OTf)3. The Lewis acids were shown to provide higher enzymatic digestibilities, reduce the formation of oligo-saccharides, but increase the formation of fermentation inhibitors. FeCl3, AlCl3, and La(OTf)3 all provided significant increases in the yields of glucose during the enzymatic saccharification.
Distinguished Thesis Award
Social Networking Platforms and Online Fundraising: Fan Culture, Political Expression, and User-Generated Incentives.
Eric Netterlund, MA
Fundraising is a necessary element in the operation of non-profit organizations as well as political campaigns. Computer Mediated Communication offers an efficient way for organizations to raise funds and keep stakeholders informed. With advances in participatory media and the continued growth of online subcultures, counter-publics are beginning to re-appropriate CMC processes such as online fundraising for the use of marginalized voices. This study examines how one such sub-cultural group on the social media site Reddit created a charitable campaign as an act of both political expression and fan work. It also studies how the users of Reddit created incentives within comment threads through the use of competitive and creative motivational tactics.
Keywords: convergence culture, fundraising, hacktivism, incentives, nonprofit, online community, participation, politics, social media, incentivizing donations, micro-campaigning, social networking campaigns