3 years ago

American Magazine: August 2014


A N ABECEDARY OF HONORS CAPSTONES BY ADRIENNE FRANK FOR THE MORE THAN 200 GRADUATING SENIORS WHO COMPLETED HONORS CAPSTONES THIS YEAR, THE PROJECT MARKS AN END AND A BEGINNING: THE CULMINATION OF FOUR YEARS OF UNDERGRADUATE STUDIES AND A LAUNCHING PAD FOR THE FUTURE. WHETHER IT’S A 50-PAGE MISSIVE (SOMETIMES WRITTEN IN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE), A FILM, PHOTOGRAPHS, OR A PLAY, THE CAPSTONE ENCAPSULATES STUDENTS’ INTELLECTUAL CURIOSITY—AND CREATIVITY. AL-QAEDA The Boston Marathon bombings were the impetus for Kevin Iannone’s research on the rise of homegrown terrorists. The international studies scholar, who minored in Arabic, explored how al-Qaeda uses the Internet to attract, radicalize, and train lone wolfs like the Tsarnaev brothers and Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Hasan. International studies major Nicole Atallah examined the official narratives of Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines to determine if their historical memory colors presentday relations with Japan. Atallah’s research question blossomed during her study abroad experience at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan. GRAPHIC DESIGN Public health meets graphic design in Ada Thomas’s capstone, which explored how visual communication can promote nutrition and food access in low-income neighborhoods across D.C. The graphic design major used maps and graphs to convey the scope of the problem and created a cohesive brand identity for the nonprofit Fruit and Veggie Alliance. BIRTH RATES As the daughter of Mexican immigrants, Nallely Mejia is intrigued by the intersection of immigration and health. A sociology and international studies double major, she analyzed the fertility patterns of Hispanic women in the United States and their implications for the country’s racial composition. Is Chinglish—English influenced by the Chinese language, often ungrammatical or nonsensical—a perversion of the English language or legitimate dialect? International studies and Chinese double major Alexandra Vanier argued the latter in her capstone, written entirely in Mandarin. DEGENERATE ART Sparked by a stint at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, art history major Madeline Ullrich delved into the life of female German painter Käthe Kollwitz, deemed a degenerate artist by Adolf Hitler only to have her work eventually used as Nazi propaganda. INTERSTELLAR EXTINCTION Under the guidance of astrophysicist U. J. Sofia, Dhanesh Krishnarao explored the prominence of sulfur—one of the most copious elements in the universe— in interstellar dust and its impact on extinction. The math and physics major’s research utilized spectroscopic data from the Hubble Space Telescope. E. COLI A bio wonk fascinated by molecular genetics, Sneh Hanspal worked with biology professor David Carlini and his research team to explore the evolutionary effect of codon bias on Escherichia coli, harmful strains of which can cause food poisoning. SPA’s Zoé Orfanos— who volunteers as a poetry teacher at the Montgomery County Correction Facility—penned An Elegy for Old Terrors, verse about the penal system. The collection was published by advisor Robert Johnson’s press, BleakHouse Publishing. FEMALE OFFENDERS Public health major Emily Brincka—who interned at a women’s halfway house in northeast D.C.—used her research on the disproportionate effect of the War on Drugs on female offenders to create educational materials about HIV, women’s health, and nutrition. KILLER APPS Ironically, killer apps can save lives. Originally defined as a valuable computer program, “killer app” now refers to six key tools that have led to Western economic prosperity over the last several centuries. Business administration major Nick Linsmayer explored how two killer apps—utilitarian giving and leapfrog technologies— help nonprofits combat global poverty. LIVE SOUND Jamie Darken looked beyond academic journals for his capstone, experimenting with different live sound settings at a punk show, open mic night, and open DJ night. The music major worked with an advisor from AU’s top-rated audio tech program. 28 AMERICAN MAGAZINE AUGUST 2014

MUSLIM GRANADA Written entirely in Spanish, Emma Maher Horvath’s capstone drew on architecture and narrative accounts to chronicle 14 centuries of Muslim Granada’s history. Horvath graduated with dual degrees in anthropology and Spanish and Latin American studies. REALITY TV Sociology student Nicole Piquant trained her eye on Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta to determine how the “Black Barbies” featured on the reality show shaped black, college-educated women’s perceptions of friendship and beauty. Her conclusion: a great body trumps talent or a pretty face. Women also felt pressured to put more effort into their looks. Computer science major Michael Egan used WebGL, or Web Graphics Library— rather than traditional, proprietary software—to create a graphical simulation of the Northern Lights that’s compatible with any JavaScript API web browser. NUDES Playing with dramatic studio lighting and using a large-format camera, Rebecca Zisser explored the similarities and differences between the male and female form. The journalism and graphic design major’s capstone features eight nudes. SCHOOLS UNDER SIEGE History views the crack epidemic in D.C. as a problem that lingered on street corners— but what of the playgrounds? History major Kathryn Gillon combed through newspaper clippings, school board minutes, and oral histories to understand how youngsters were both involved in and affected by the crack epidemic of the late ’80s and early ’90s. XXXI SUMMER OLYMPICS The World Health Organization deemed Dengue Fever the most important vectorborne, viral disease in the world—and named Brazil a hotbed for the disease. Public health major Alexandra France detailed risks related to the XXXI Summer Olympics, to be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Her research spawned AU’s first Global Health Case Competition. OYSTERS In Harbor Heroes, SOC documentarians Jaclyn Yeary and Taryn Stansbury detailed how, in the wake of 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, New Yorkers are looking to oysters to create a natural wave barrier against future storms and restore the health of the harbor waters. The storm pummelled the Big Apple with 25-foot waves and caused $50 billion in damage. PR FLOPS Public communications grad Emily Hawk analyzed three poor presidential communication plans, including Herbert Hoover’s unsuccessful reelection bid in 1932, and offered lessons learned for future commanders in chief. Also under Hawk’s microscope: FDR and Jimmy Carter. THEATRE Anna Kark’s capstone, PIG, is a modern comedy based on Moliere’s classic farce, The Misanthrope. The international relations major and former member of the Rude Mechanicals, AU’s Shakespeare theatre group, staged a reading of her play and even designed costumes. YOGA Aspiring magazine editor Emma Gray, who recalled waiting by the mailbox in anticipation of the latest issue of American Girl as a child, created her own 44-page publication, Gates Ajar Magazine, which focuses on issues of spirituality. The journalism and religious studies major’s inaugural cover story: the ancient tradition of yoga. QUESTIONS PONDERED What’s in a hyphen? Julian Chehirian’s capstone, “Intersubjectivity, not Inter- Subjectivity,” explored origins of human intersubjective experience through the lens of Western psycho-developmental discourse. A 2014–2015 Fulbright Scholar, Chehirian is studying the social history of Bulgarian psychiatry. UNLIKELY UNIONS Mollie Wagoner’s internship with the BlueGreen Alliance inspired her capstone about the ways in which environmental groups and labor unions can team up on sustainability issues. She offered two case studies: the Timber Wars, which represent a failure to work together, and the 1999 Battle in Seattle, which demonstrates cooperation. VOTER MOBILIZATION Poli sci major Emma Lydon took the fall 2012 semester off to support California Democrat Ami Bera’s congressional run. The experience inspired her capstone about how campaigns use academic research on voter mobilization to get out the vote. ZETA FUNCTION Andreas Wiede offered a computational analysis of the Riemann Zeta Function, first introduced by Leonhard Euler in the eighteenth century to solve his equation in the real plane when evaluated at even natural numbers. The applied mathematics major’s capstone only gets more complicated from there. FOLLOW US @AU_AMERICANMAG 29