Week 14: Poster Session

Meeting Location

BCRC

Overview

In our last class meeting, we will conduct a poster session. I will have poster boards set up around the periphery of the BCRC for you to hang your poster.

Your poster must be printed not later than 4pm on Tuesday (Dec 3) if you want me to print it for you for free. The BCRC will be open from 2pm to 6pm (or possibly later) on Dec 1 and I will be (probably) available during business hours of Dec 2 and 3 if you would like assistance.

After the poster session, I will distribute teaching evaluations. You may take your poster with you when you have finished.

The last requirement of the course is to complete a reflective essay.

All work that you wish considered for credit must be submitted not later than noon on December 11, 2013.

Effect of Parking Lots on Terrestrial Gastropod Distribution Abstract (perfect para.)

We plan to determine the gastropod populations in the areas around parking lots of varying ages. We hypothesize that the construction of parking lots caused disturbances and rearrangement of the landscape that prohibited gastropod activity. This inhibition would be strongest at the parking lots’ edge and fade as the landscape transitioned into woods. We expect that the area around the newest lot will have the least amount of gastropod activity while the oldest lot will have the most. Based on the research previously performed by other scientists, we plan to sample the population with a combination of on site searching and later lab analysis on a grid that extends from the lot’s edge. Two groups would be assigned to each site of the four sites to conduct both forms of surveying. Surveying techniques can be optimized for the conditions at the time but must be kept consistent over all sites.

Abstract for physics lab

In this lab we performed a series of experiments to verify the properties of simple harmonic motion. The first two we did involved a pendulum in which we proved that mass has no effect on period of oscillation, but length does. In the second part of the experiment, we estimated the spring constant k and then verified that the plot of T^2 vs. m will be a straight line with a slope of (2pi^2)/k.

Native american Trail Project

Tonight I attended the information session and discussion in the Chadbourne cultural center for the Native American Trail project. I had no prior knowledge about the project nor was I certain where in Chadbourne the cultural center was; all I had was the promise of pizza (which I did not eat, I had just come from dinner). I must say I was a bit skeptical about the effectiveness of the project once I discovered it was to manifest itself as a website. I thought that the overall purpose and structure of the website was sound, but I was not completely convinced as to how it would be advertised and made accessible to the general population. After all, what good is a website without viewers? But, after reading into it more and hearing Professor Forward, John, and Jenna speak more about it I rather changed my mind.
Much of the discussion was focused on tourism and capitalizing on it. One of the project’s goals is to create a hub that will compile information such as histories, present day goings-on, and tourist information of every participating native community in Massachusetts. The intended result is to increase awareness of these native communities as well as tourism. Tourism will bring in not only monetary gain, but will also teach people about the rich history, stalwartness, and diversity of Massachusetts’s native communities. One reservation that I did have which someone else voiced during the discussion was my concern that promoting tourism might open the door to further objectification and “othering” of these native communities. Although ultimately these occurrences are impossible to completely eradicate, I am sure the native communities involved have given much thought to the matter and will be prepared to respond to them in the appropriate manner. I was also skeptical at first as to how exactly the project would actively promote tourism, but as it turns out MOTT is planning to make the website readily available to international tourists in the Boston and greater Boston area. What I would like to know more about is how the project leaders intend to make the website available and useful to academia and the general public. I feel like scholars and the general public would also benefit from having access to this information and I am eager to learn how the project will promote use of this resource by these groups. Overall though I think this project has a lot of potential to be an important tool in tourism and academia and I look forward to hearing more as it develops.

Tropical Field Biology App

It is my absolute dream to travel and see what beautiful things this world has to offer. I want more than anything to learn, to teach, and to experience anything and everything I can. I realize this may sound ambitious, but I am a firm believer in the age-old principle of “if you want it you can get it” and I want an opportunity to take this course more than anything. I have been infatuated with the natural world ever since I can remember and in recent years plants have piqued my interest. Something about plants, particularly tropical trees, strikes a chord with me and gives me what I can only describe as “good vibes”. Last year I took an honors seminar on Amazonian ecology with Professor Christina Cox-Fernandes and it pained me to hear again and again the statistics on logging so I want to make it my goal to experience the tropics before it is too late. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the trip to the Amazon that was coupled with the seminar and so I hope to satiate my tropical desires this year with the Tropical Field Biology class. In some of my other Biology courses whenever we go out into the field my day automatically takes a turn for the better.
I pine for the opportunity to take what I have been learning inside and applying it in the field in practical ways; I like the sense of meaning and tangible progress. As it states in the description, this course includes an independent research project during the time spent in the tropics. I am not too daunted by this as I have had many run-ins with research in the past. Last year in Professor Cox-Fernandes’s class we talked a lot about the kind of research there is to do in the tropics and how one might construct a project around a specific research question. I was also involved in the muscle physiology lab in Totman last year and presented at the Undergraduate Research Conference. This year, althoguh I am no longer at the muscle physiology lab, I am working with David Hof in his song bird analysis lab in Morrill. Participating in this course would not only teach me essential concepts about plant life in general, but it will allow me to put my knowledge in context and explore in a manner that is conducive to my learning (I am a “learn by doing” type of student). I could not be more excited about this opportunity and I eagerly await a decision.

Descartes and Methodological Skepticism

In the first Meditation in Descartes’s Meditations on First Philosophy, Descartes’s prime motivation is his quest for certainty. He feels unstable, and he consents that the only way to achieve stability is to find truth and certainty in his beliefs. He soon realizes that the only way he can do this is to tear down every single one of his beliefs and then build them up again out of truth. He recognizes this as a cumbersome and daunting task so, to expedite his endeavor, he employs the use of Methodological Skepticism. The way in which Descartes uses Methodological Skepticism is as follows: if he can find the slightest shred of doubt in one something he believes in, he will discontinue believing in that thing. In order to disband all of his beliefs in one fell swoop, Descartes targets the principles on which all of his beliefs rest. He reasons that almost, if not all, of what we believe comes to us from our senses. Thus, Descartes begins to doubt the reliability of our senses by proposing what is called the Dream Argument. In the dream argument, Descartes argues that we cannot be sure of anything because we cannot be sure we are not dreaming. He argues that when we are dreaming, we are unaware that we are in a dream. He elaborates that while we are dreaming, our senses deceive us into thinking we are awake and physically performing the things we do in our dreams. So, in theory, it is possible in a dream for our senses to deceive us into thinking we have hands when in actuality we do not. Descartes also offers another possibility to why our senses may deceive us, and he does this in the form of the Evil Demon argument. In this argument, Descartes presents the possibility that we are being deceived by some sort of evil demon. He argues that if this is true, then we cannot rightly believe in anything because there is this evil demon that is deceiving us into thinking we know something that is false. In this argument, Descartes means to prove that we cannot know whether there is an evil demon or not, because if there were and he was deceiving us, we would have no way of knowing.

Mor on Globalization and Mooncakes (blog)

This kind of globalization, unfortunately, is not limited to the moon cake. Foods from all over, even foods we thought were endemic to a certain culture, are really imitations and ripoffs of other cultures’ foods and traditions. They are taken out of their cultural context, modified, and thrust into a market which does not understand them. For example, the “hunger foods” of Lao PDR (as discussed in Van Esterik) are seasonal foods for the people of Lao when food is short due to the change of seasons and natural disaster. These foods, such as cassava crisps and river algae sheets, are seen as rare delicacies by Westerners and are then “stolen”, modified to become more palatable for Western civilization, and capitalized on. It seems wrong to consume food like this in such a manner without any cultural context just as it is wrong to deface and capitalize on the Chinese moon cake here in America. These foods have a special meaning to the people who originally created them, and by patenting and capitalizing left and right as many modern civilizations have grown accustomed to we are lessening the diversity of the world’s cultures and expediting globalization.

Mooncakes and Globalization (blog)

Moon cakes, the topic of my food fair research, have also been submitted to the effects of globalization alongside countless of other food products of the world. In recent years moon cakes have transformed from tasty traditional festival food to mass produced global money-maker. The original intentions of the moon cake were humble. They were meant to be baked and given to family and friends in celebration of the moon, the coming of Autumn, and kinship. Nowadays everything from small-town bakeries to huge companies that pump out millions of the pastries have cashed in on the moon cake craze. What is even more appalling is that even American businesses with no connection to the Chinese holiday whatsoever have begun to capitalize on it. Starbucks recently released their signature brand of moon cakes with flavors ranging from chewy nutty cranberry to apricot hazelnut latte. What was once a cherished heritage food of the Chinese has been cheapened and made into a palatable desert for Westerners who have no connection to the culture and festival whatsoever.

Globalization (perfect para.)

Throughout history colonization has led to the exploitation, cheapening, and in some cases destruction of diverse and interesting cultures. One of the implications of colonization is globalization, a process by which interaction and integration among people, companies and governments creates a more homogenized “global” culture. Globalization has been a slow process thus far, but with the increase in international trade and new advancements in technology of recent years globalization has grown exponentially in scale, pace, and depth.

Research on Mooncakes (blog)

When it comes to assessing real world problems, the research done on Chinese moon cakes is fairly limiting. However, the research that is applicable is important in understanding the machinations of business, social class, and food as power. In “The Implications of Costs, Capacity, and Competition on Product Line Selection”, Tang and Yin use moon cakes to create a model for businesses to follow for a successful fiscal season of moon cake sales. In their paper, they mention that there are two types of moon cakes and one is preferred over the other. This slight unbalance in preference effects many business choices bakeries and production companies have to make in deciding how much of each moon cake they should make. Other business implications come into play here, for example: knowing that the Chinese have reservations about which moon cake they prefer, how should businesses adjust to the “optimal” pricing that is still fair but maximizes profit? These are some very real questions that businesses ask themselves year round and the research on the moon cake market can be important in creating an important, albeit specific, business model.