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Third Annual
McNair Scholars Virtual Research Showcase

For this year's research showcase, students in the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program presented their research projects virtually this year. Each student is featured in a five-minute video presentation below.

Thank you for supporting the accomplishments of these students.

Welcome

Dr. Walter Wendler, President of West Texas A&M University

Mariela Castanon

Student Profile

Title of Research: The Impact Sleep Has on Performance: A Systematic Review

Abstract:

This study investigated several variables and how they are affected by changes in sleep patterns. It is not clear why humans sleep so a systematic review was conducted in hopes to clarify the importance sleep has on specific variables. The methods used were a compilation of recent articles retrieved majorly from MedLine (EBSCO). Various hormones and how they are affected by sleep were looked into for this study, including growth hormone and testosterone. The athletic variables looked into were endurance performance, attention span, and strength. My findings conclude that adequate sleep is essential for optimal performance. It is significant to mention this study did not find a correlation between sleep and the hormones testosterone or cortisol. No correlation between sleep and the athletic variables endurance performance, or strength were found. A relationship was found between altered sleep and cytokines, and growth hormone. This study also concludes that sleep should be prioritized in athletic individuals as sleep influences various cycles, including protein synthesis. Keywords: Sleep AND; Athletes, Performance, Hormones

Isaias Colunga

Student Profile

Title of Research:The Perception of Safety for Activities During the COVID-19 Pandemic—a Survey

Abstract:

At the onset of the second quarter of the year, the United States put in place counter measures to reduce the spread of COVID 19; such measures have been stay at home orders and quarantines of affected people. Another one of the recommended ways to minimalize the spread was to keep distance between individuals and reduce risk of hyperventilation by suspending many physical activities. The closure of gyms and recreational facilities, along with suspensions of any athletic competitions significantly reduced the amount of physical activity of people. Over the past years, research has shown that physical activity has an undeniable effect on the mental health and provides numerous physical benefits. Studies have also concluded that the perception of safety has a profound effect on how much an individual participates in physical activity. In this study, an anonymous survey was created, and distributed via social media. The survey consists of 8 demographic questions to achieve an understanding of the subjects partaking in the study. After completing the demographic questions, the participants were asked to grade 50 activities on a scale of unknown, unsafe, moderately safe, and safe. The results showed 59.05% of the surveyed sample found 17 of the 50 activities to be considered safe. The average percentage of the population to grade 10 of the 50 activities as moderate was 36.68%. 21 of the 50 activities were deemed unsafe with an average percentage of 47.29%. There was only 1of the 50 activities graded as an unknown with an average of 35.40% of the population. There was one outlying activity with an even split of 30.30% for being graded as moderately safe, and unsafe. In conclusion the population of this study found that low intensity and low contact activities such as gardening and fishing were perceived to be safe. While high intensity high contact activities such as pick-up basketball were perceived as unsafe. Showing that the biggest aspects to deciding what is safe is the level of intensity and the amount of human contact.

Lyanna DeLeon

Student Profile

Title of Research: An Investigation on the Household and Allergenic Fungi of Texas Panhandle

Abstract:

Fungi have the ability to grow indoor and outdoor and can enter the house through open doorways, windows, vents, as well as heating and air conditioning systems. Concentration and composition of the airborne fungal spores are important in the diagnosis of allergy and asthma cases in an area. We have used two different techniques to capture and collect the fungal samples. We used a Burkard Volumetric Spore Trap to capture the aeroallergens. It was placed on the third-floor roof of the Natural Science Building of West Texas A&M University. We collected the spores on the Sellotape placed on the drum and stained them with 2% safranin and mounted the slide in Gelvatol. We observed the prepared slides using BX-40 Olympus Microscope equipped with a DP-74 digital camera and the cellSens software. We observed the frequent presence of fungal spores like, Alternaria alternata, Stachybotrys, Drechslera and ascospores. We also observed plenty of burnt residues, gums and resinous exudates from the plants and various forms of fibers. All these are considered as potential allergens and causal factors for allergic rhinitis and related symptoms.15 In the second part, we have collected the spoiled food materials and cheese. We stained the isolated fungal materials after a brief flaming on an alcohol lamp. After staining with Lacto-phenol Cotton Blue stain, we observed the spores and mycelia produced by the fungi using a Leica DM-750 digital microscope equipped with LAS V4.9 software for capturing images. Micrographs were captured, analyzed and labeled accordingly. We observed Rhizopus stolonifer, Colletotrichum truncatum, Aspergillus niger, Penicillium notatum and various types of spores from Deuteromycetious fungi. Our continued research will include collection of fungal samples from different households, capturing images after staining suitably and analyzing them based on their spore morphology using the standard identification keys. This research will provide important data on the fungi that are prevalent in the households causing illness to the dwellers and food spoilage. Keywords: Fungi, Aeroallergens, Burkard Spore Trap, Allergic rhinitis, Food materials

Sharon Quintero Diaz

Student Profile

Title of Research: Structural Dysfunctionality in the United Nations

Abstract:

There has been much debate surrounding the structural functionality of the United Nations since its inception in 1945. Current academic debate that has surrounded this issue has varied throughout the decades, within various fields of study, reflecting the different approaches from scholars attempting to explain the dissonance between this institution and its core values. One of the main criticisms set forth by scholars and diplomats alike surround the provisions delineated within the Charter of the United Nations and the extent of power granted toward the permanent members of the Security Council. In order to conduct a general assessment questioning why the United Nations is not living up to the standards of success and cooperation delineated in its own Code, my research surveyed the history and current arguments noting the theoretical and practical components to practicing diplomacy within the United Nations in an extended literature review concluding that the current structure enables a power imbalance in which the permanent members of the Security Council are less accountable due to these provisions.

Nicholas Dominguez

Student Profile

Title of Research: Superconducting Materials and BCS Theory

Abstract:

A superconductor is a material that has zero electrical resistance below a certain temperature, known as the critical temperature (Tc). It also expels the external magnetic fields, and this phenomenon is called Meissner effect. Mercury was the first superconductor discovered by Heike Kamerlingh Onnes in 1911, and its Tc value was 4.2 K. Since then there are many superconductors that have been discovered, however, their Tc is less than 125 K. Recently, a breakthrough took place in superconductivity research when hydrogen sulfide (H2S) was squeezed under very high pressure (267 GPa), it turned out to be a superconductor with a Tc ~ 287 K. This value is very close to the room temperature of ( ~ 300K).

Eliana Flores

Student Profile

Title of Research: 19th and 20th Century Mexican Identity: Expressing Gender and Culture Through the Arts

Abstract:

In 19th and 20th century Mexico, marianismo was the term used to refer to the ideal Mexican women who were inferior to the male dominating world. In the mid-20th century, women began to enter the art scene, the music industry, and the battlefield. Artist Frida Kahlo and musician Ángela Peralta individualized their identity as Mexicanas who stood out from the revolutionary ideal with their talent and skills. They influenced other women to express their gender and cultural identities, shifting away from what society and politics idealized. Another part of the research touches upon the Mexican Revolution whereas it caused society to further distance itself from marianismo, machismo, and buenas costumbres. It is important to argue that Mexican art and music is impactful on society because it addresses the issue of gender and cultural identity. This research continues the conversation of powerful women in the art and music industry and their influence over young women in popular culture. The research uses scholarly articles and books, websites about modern artists' influences, a movie about a famous artist in Mexico, and artwork that portrays women’s lives in a male's world.

Yanai Otero

Student Profile

Title of Research: The Effects of COVID-19 on Perceived Organizational Support and Employee Morale

Abstract:

While there has not been a large body of research conducted on how COVID-19 has affected the workplace given its infancy, this study attempts to find a relationship between COVID-19, perceived organizational support, employee morale, and turnover intention. These employee attitudes were measured via scales and results did, in fact, show a decrease in employee morale and perceived organizational support after the rise of the COVID-19 virus, although turnover intention scores remained the same when compared to the pre and post virus workplace. Results suggest that COVID-19 had a negative impact on employee attitudes that may affect the behaviors of employees as well as the satisfaction of consumers during this time. Directions for future research are discussed. Keywords: COVID-19, perceived organizational support, employee morale, turnover intention.

Adriana Martinez

Student Profile

Title of Research: Evolution of Magnetic Properties in Eux Ca1xFe2 As2 Superconductor

Abstract:

High-quality of Eu_x Ca_(1−x) Fe_2 As_2 (0 ≤ x ≤ 1) crystals are grown using the FeAs self-flux method. We have investigated the magnetic properties these samples at low-temperature down to 2 K. Magnetic susceptibility increases with temperature while lowering the temperature, showing a paramagnetic feature. At low-temperature, there exists a sharp anomaly near 19 K, which arises due to the Eu2+ antiferromagnetic ordering. Temperature dependence of susceptibility data are analyzed using the Curie-Weiss model, and calculated the Curie constant and the Neel-temperature at different doping levels. The obtained results will be compared with the published data.

Gabriel Martinez

Student Profile

Title of Research: “Mexican Migrants in the 1980s: How Shepherding Offered Sanctuary to Undocumented Mexicans in the United States”

Abstract:

This paper addresses how shepherding during the 1980s offered a sanctuary to undocumented Mexican migrants. I use oral history interviews of my father, Gilberto Martinez, and my uncle, Abel Martinez, to write this paper. The interviews detail Gilberto and Abel’s time as undocumented migrants and their transnational migratory journey between Mexico and the United States. During the several years they worked as undocumented migrants in the U.S., shepherding in the states of Wyoming and Utah provided them with conditions seldom few undocumented migrants could have experienced, like quality living conditions, adequate wages, and respect from their employers. This employment also enabled them to acquire legal statuses in the United States with the amnesty of 1986.

Jennifer Martinez

Student Profile

Title of Research: The Impact of Chronic Stress on Cardiovascular Disease

Abstract:

This research paper aims to discuss the relationship found between the effects of chronic stress and the increased risk of developing CVD. Various articles from different standpoints are included to show the perspective from different researchers. Many studies have found and drawn out the biological pathways through which stress affects the body. Whether it is work, personal or emotional stress, chronically experienced, these stressors will eventually lead to the damage of various body systems. As will described in this article, the body is not made to handle repeated exposure to severe levels of stress. Ultimately, this specific research aims to help define the biology and relationship between the psychological wellbeing of an individual and the heart. Identifying stress as a potential risk for CVD could change the preventive measures physicians recommend to their patients that could ultimately decrease the number of diagnosed and deceased individuals due to this disease every year.

Valeria Porras

Student Profile

Title of Research: Barriers Faced by Students with Physical Disabilities on a College Campus

Abstract:

Students on a college campus face a variety of barriers. Students with physical disabilities tend to face additional barriers to complete the same tasks as students without disabilities. Students with physical disabilities face environmental barriers as these disabilities are often associated with severe impairments that restrict their mobility. The objective behind this study was to investigate the distance and time of a typical freshman schedule for a student with and without disabilities on two mid-size college campuses. For each location point, an optimized path was created for a walking-abled student and another path was mapped depending on the accessibility available throughout both campuses for a student using a wheelchair. The research conducted, looked at the quantitative variables of time and distance between paths accessible for a student wheelchair user and paths for walking-abled students. The data collected showed that there are significant differences between the paths a student with physical disabilities has to take because of the limited accessibility available. This proved that these environmental barriers affect a student with disabilities more than a non-disabled student. Keywords: students with physical disabilities, college campus, disability barriers