Dissertations and Theses

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  • Publication
    “Where shall we go?”: Race, Displacement, and Preservation at Slabtown and Yorktown Battlefield
    (2019-01-01) Torkelson, Jacob; Mason, Randall
    Slabtown, a community descended from refugee slaves and freedpersons, existed at Yorktown Battlefield from the 1860s until the 1970s when it was intentionally demolished by the National Park Service. Colonial National Historical Park edited out Slabtown’s legacy, wholly disregarding the contributions of African Americans to the heritage of Yorktown Battlefield. Why was this decision made? What happened to Slabtown? And what does this mean for the future of Yorktown Battlefield? This thesis advocates for the preservation of landscape traces in Slabtown, and seeks to prove that the voids and absence of buildings are a powerful preservation and interpretive resource that can augment more traditional methods of historical research and storytelling that are not place-based. Purposeful preservation of the landscape traces gives voice to and empowers an otherwise silenced community. The editing out of Slabtown reveals the problem of traditional National Park Service preservation concepts, tools, and policies; especially as they are applied to cultural landscapes. By establishing Slabtown as a layered site with multiple interwoven narratives, partially present and partially erased, this thesis reveals how other cultural landscapes, when treated as dynamic places with multiple periods of significance, can tell a better and more complete story of a place.
  • Publication
    Synthesis of Nanoparticles to Modulate Astrocyte Lysosomal Activity
    (2023-08-04) Tianchen Wang; Mitchell, Claire
    The accumulation of partially degraded waste material in astrocytes is increasingly recognized as contributing to age-dependent neurodegenerations, and increased pH of the lysosomal lumen is a likely cause. Acidic nanoparticles are predicted to lower the lysosomal pH and reduce this accumulation; their ability to be internalized to lysosomes and non-toxic to astrocytes makes this a potentially long-term solution. In order to track nanoparticle delivery to lysosomes and optimize their incubation conditions, fluorescent-labeled nanoparticles are necessary. Here, we describe an improved method for fluorescent labeling of acid nanoparticles to determine their delivery to lysosomes. We synthesized nanoparticles from polymers in which 502 H PLGA was covalently bonded to the fluorescent dye Cyanine3. These stable fluorescent nanoparticles enabled detection of colocalization between lysosomes and nanoparticles in astrocytes, with retention up to two weeks. The time course and concentration of nanoparticles had a significant effect on their delivery efficiency. We also examine the ability of acid nanoparticles to recover lysosomal pH or functions. In summary we developed an improved method to label acid nanoparticles which gave enhance detection of delivery to lysosomes.
  • Publication
    Highly conserved residues of coronavirus nsp1 skew translational equilibrium toward viral protein production
    (2023-08-04) Nicholas A. Parenti; Weiss, Susan
    Coronaviruses cause diseases in many species of animal including humans and have been a major cause of lethal human disease outbreaks for the past twenty years. There have been three major outbreaks of human coronaviruses in 2002, 2012, and 2019 by SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, and SARS-CoV-2 respectively that cause severe disease and have a high rate of mortality. Beyond the severe pathogenesis of these diseases, their rapid spread and unpredictable spillover into the human population is equally worrisome. This underscores the need for therapeutics to treat and prevent current and future coronavirus outbreaks. To this end, it is paramount to understand the basic biochemistry of coronavirus replication and innate immune evasion. The coronavirus non- structural protein 1 (nsp1) is of particular interest to this work due to its ability to inhibit host protein synthesis. There are two important functional domains of nsp1: the ribosome-binding domain (KH/KY motif) and the genome-recognition domain (LLRK motif). The KH/KY motif confers binding to the 40S subunit of the ribosome and inhibits host translation. It has been hypothesized that a conserved, structured region of the 5’UTR interacts with the LLRK motif, releasing nsp1 from the 40S subunit, and thereby allows preferential translation of viral genome and mRNAs. Conversely, various cellular stressors active the integrated stress response (ISR), which phosphorylates the alpha subunit of eukaryotic initiation factor 2 (eIF2a) to reduce translation during times of stress. We hypothesized that the viruses evade the ISR by competitively inhibiting host protein synthesis, impeding expression of key stress and innate immune genes. A reverse genetic approach was employed to generate viruses with point mutations in either of these motifs to investigate their influence on the ISR.
  • Publication
    REIMAGINING ADOLESCENT BLACK GIRLS’ COMPUTING FUTURES USING BLACK FEMINIST-WOMANIST RESTORYING THROUGH DESIGN METHODOLOGIES
    (2023) Shaw, Mia; Kafai, Yasmin, B
    This thesis proposes the integration of Black Feminist-Womanist methodologies in computing education to enliven justice and future-oriented scholarship related to adolescent Black girls, whose capacities to imagine futures related to computing are silenced by narratives of white supremacy, patriarchal masculinity and anti-Blackness that are normalized across computing science. Building on critical computing and literacy studies, I examined restorying through design as a pedagogical approach for weaving the learning of computational concepts and skills with criticality as nondominant youth designed possible futures with computing technologies. During Spring and Summer of 2021, I designed and implemented a two-part, informal STEM workshop for 14 consenting/assenting adolescent youth, who designed interactive electronic textiles (hereafter, e-textiles) quilt patches that “restoried” dominant narratives about computing technology. Analyzing how dominant narratives at the societal level engender oppression at the interactional or identity level within computing education, I asked: (1) What were the principles and practices that comprised restorying through design?; (2a) What did youth create and experience while engaging in restorying through design?; (2b) How did youth’s restorying through design practices reflect Black women’s histories and methods of resistance? and (3) What social, cultural, and material factors might have shaped an interracial, mixed-gender pair of youth’s experiences restorying through design together? Data collected included youths' design artifacts (i.e., photos/videos of quilt patches and online design journal entries), youth’s exit ticket and final survey responses, video observations and field notes, and researcher memos. Through conducting different levels of analyses—of youth’s artifacts, learning outcomes, and interactions with others—this study sought to reveal the hidden yet pervasive narratives throughout computing education that uniquely marginalize adolescent Black girls and other nondominant youth. By engaging nondominant youth in Black Feminist-Womanist restorying through design methodologies, this study not only highlighted how valuing the everyday lived experiences and knowledge of Black girls can inform the design of more justice-oriented, computing learning environments but it also provided an avenue for Black girls to engage with critical issues while imagining possible futures in computing.
  • Publication
    DYNAMIC WORSHIP: MATERIAL TECHNOLOGIES AND LITURGICAL EXPERIENCE IN LATE ROMAN ITALY (4th & 5th c. CE)
    (2023) Shackelford, James; Kuttner, Ann
    The fourth and fifth centuries CE were a crucial period in the development of Christianartistic, architectural, and liturgical traditions. Powerful patrons made available significant material resources and tremendous creative energy, facilitating the rapid development and proliferation of Christian churches and related spaces across the Late Roman Empire. Welleducated, connected clergy and elites brought considerable intellectual training and rhetorical skill to bear on Christian liturgical rites and homiletic traditions and contributed to a range of already thriving para-liturgical and private pious devotions. Comprised of 13 case studies spread across Rome, Milan, and Ravenna, this dissertation considers churches, baptisteries, and chapels, as well as the range of liturgical, para-liturgical, and private pious practices those buildings hosted. The project it embarks upon is two-fold: an interpretative reconstruction of pious practice, and an examination, through case studies, of the religious art, architecture, and artifacts that served, described, animated, suggested, and focused those practices. Recasting the familiar categories of Christian art and architecture as ‘technologies,’ it analyzes how these confluences of performative, somatic, visual, and spatial technologies impacted worshipping subjects toward a range of social, political, ecclesiastical, and even spiritual ends. Drawing upon recent insights from lived, material, and affective approaches to religion, it raises questions like how the frequent liturgical viewing of complex church mosaics differed experientially from the one-time encounter with a densely decorated baptistery during the highly charged Christian baptismal ritual. This dissertation engages many of the great churches and visual displays of the period, posing new questions to yield fresh insights from a familiar corpus of material.