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Office of News and Information
Johns Hopkins University
3400 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21218-2692
Phone: (410) 516-7160 / Fax (410) 516-5251

March 20, 1998
Phil Sneiderman, prs@jhu.edu

From Brain Studies to Hysteria, from Syria to Tibet, Hopkins Undergraduates Pursue Challenging Research Projects

Matthew Johnson and Daniel Rogart journeyed to Syria to unearth artifacts from a commerce center that thrived about 4,000 years ago.

Mollie Galloway hunted for a link between the timing of puberty and the way in which bright students use their brainpower.

Kelly Abbett looked at how turn-of-the-century doctors treated an ill-defined ailment called hysteria.

Robert R. Smith trekked to Tibet, where he gathered an important historical account of local resistance efforts.

These four are just a few of the Johns Hopkins University undergraduates who conceived and completed their own research projects during the past year. Many of these projects are poised on the cutting edge of study in medicine, the sciences, arts and humanities.

Recognized as the nation's first graduate research university, Hopkins also encourages undergraduates to get hands-on experience in demanding, graduate-level projects. Often, the students work along-side top researchers in their fields. The Provost's Undergraduate Awards For Research and Excellence is one way students can pursue such challenges.

Every year, about 50 students receive up to $2,500 each to propose and carry out their own research projects. About twice that number apply for the awards, making it difficult to select the best proposals, said Theodore O. Poehler, vice provost for reseach.

On March 26, from 4:30 to 6 p.m., Hopkins provost and vice president for academic affairs Steven Knapp will host the program's annual awards ceremony. The doors open at 3 p.m. for a poster session, during which students will display and talk about the results of their research. All activities will take place in the Glass Pavilion of Levering Hall on the Homewood campus, 3400 N. Charles St. in Baltimore.

Following is a list of the undergraduates recognized with Provost Undergraduate Awards for Research and Excellence.)

1997 Provost's Undergraduate Research Awards
at The Johns Hopkins University

Excavating an ancient business center

Two seniors, Matthew Johnson, a Near Eastern Studies major from Northbrook, Ill., and Daniel Rogart, an anthropology major from Fairfield, Conn., used their awards to conduct a two-month archeological expedition in northwestern Syria. They explored a site that may once have been Tuba, a major center of commerce and culture in the Bronze Age, from about 2500 to 1200 B.C.

Rogart's excavations probed the site's most ancient occupation, during the Early Bronze Age, from about 2500-2000 B.C., a time about which very little had been known. In addition, he discovered a house and artifacts dating back to about 1900 B.C., collecting information that will shed light on the city's economy, possible reasons for its collapse and its eventual resurrection, said Glenn Schwartz, a Hopkins professor of Near Eastern Studies, who supervised the students.

Johnson systematically examined unexplored parts of the site. His excavations revealed Late Bronze Age domestic architecture and a two-story pottery kiln dating to about 2100 B.C.

"The daily excitement of excavation coupled with the wonderful instruction of Dr. Schwartz made the experience extremely fulfilling," said Johnson, who plans to work in archaeology and pursue a doctorate. He also is active on the Johns Hopkins swim team.

Is brain performance affected by the arrival of puberty?

Mollie Galloway of Columbus, Ohio, a senior majoring in psychology, has capitalized on one of Hopkins' chief resources: its population of smart people. She studied gifted adolescents to determine whether the timing of puberty might affect whether people become better at using the right or left hemisphere of their brain.

The left side of the brain is thought to be better at performing verbal tasks. The right side is believed to specialize in the spatial processing needed to solve complex mathematical problems.

Galloway wanted to investigate whether going through puberty earlier or later in life determines whether people will rely more on their left or right brain hemispheres.

"Past research on the question has been very inconsistent," said Galloway, who worked with psychology professor Marie Balaban and graduate student Amy Wisniewski. "I thought that examining an extreme population might help provide more clear-cut evidence."

Her test subjects were mathematically gifted teenagers participating in Hopkins' Institute for the Academic Advancement of Youth. Their academic strengths were first gauged by reviewing their SAT scores. Then they were given computer tasks previously known to be best processed by the brain's left or right hemispheres.

Their levels of maturity were assessed by measuring testosterone levels in boys and using height and weight charts for girls. "We also collected data from parents to verify the timing of puberty," Galloway said. "Mothers were asked to report if their child was an early, late or on-time maturer."

Her findings will be presented during an upcoming meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, Balaban said.

Tracing the "her-story" of hysteria

Kelly Abbett, a Rochester, N.Y., native who just completed her undergraduate work in psychology at Hopkins, remembers one of the first Women's Studies courses she took. "I went in and Antoinette (Burton, associate director of the department) said it was going to change our lives," Abbett recalled. "It did."

Just a few years later, she is interning at a Washington, D.C., public policy consulting firm that focuses on women's health and non-profit issues.

Her preparation included a year of researching turn-of-the-century medical practices for treating what was called hysteria by the male-dominated medical profession. Abbett's proposed course of study during her senior year earned her one of the Provost's Undergraduate Research Awards.

Abbett's project, "A Her-story of Hysteria, 1865-1915," focused on the American patients labeled hysterics during this period and their physicians. Some doctors believed these patients--mostly female--were just acting, or that their nerves were weak. Still other doctors thought this ailment was a sign of the times, a very modern, very American phenomenon. They concluded that as the nation grew and confronted technological advances, people "couldn't help but be hysterical," she said.

Hysteria, Abbett explained, has been compared to hypochondria, which may or may not be accurate. "Hysteria was not well defined, but it was mental and physical," she said.

As part of her research, Abbett traveled to historic libraries. "My project was unique because I was not asking a question," she said. "It was more that I wanted to research that part of feminist history. I think it's important."

A rewarding journey to Tibet

Robert R. Smith of South Glastonbury, Conn., a senior with a double major in history and strategic studies, used his Provost Research Award to literally knock on opportunity's door while traveling through Tibet.

"I was fortunate enough to meet a man who was a leader of the Tibetan resistance," Smith said. The student was directed to the man's compound and "hit it off with his nephew."

The leader had written a journal that chronicled the Tibetan resistance efforts against the Chinese government. After their meetings, the Tibetan leader agreed to allow Smith to translate the work. "Part of the attraction was that I didn't even realize what had happened, how big a deal it was to be offered the story," Smith said.

Smith hopes to have his research project published, and has applied for a fellowship at the East West Center in Hawaii, where he would expand his studies to include Central Asia.

Other projects:

Rehana Leila Ahmed, Minneapolis, Senior; Behavioral Biology major
"Identification of Nuclear Proteins which Interact with Protein Kinase CKII"

Heather Bruce, Baltimore, Senior; Neuroscience major
"Cloning and Analysis of CAGH44"

Robert Chin, Hinsdale, Ill., Senior; Philosophy major
"Genome-wide Analysis of Genetic Changes in Adenocarcinoma of the Pancreas"

Eric Edmonds, Vista, Calif., Senior; Biology major
"Age and Behavior-related Variation in Volumes of Song Control Nuclei in Wild Cassin's Finches"

Thomas J. Fralich, Jonestown, Pa., Junior; Chemical Engineering major
"The Role of Nerve Cell Glycoconjugates in the Control of Axon Outgrowth"

Adriana Izquierdo, Amherst, N.Y., Senior; History major
"La Fundacion Cristo Vive: Health Care and Public Policy Chile"

Stephen Kelly, Lynchburg, Va., Senior; Civil Engineering major
"Wind Tunnel Testing for Stability Assessment of Long-Span Suspended Bridges"

Jimmy Kyung Lee, Temple City, Calif., Senior; Public Health major
"Mechanism of TGF-beta Desensitization in Glomerular Endothelial Cells"

Tony T. Lee, Troy, Mich., Senior; Biophysics major
"Cloning of Syntaxin 8: A Novel Vesicle Trafficking Protein"

Rachel Y. Lei, Falls Church, Va., Sophomore; Biology major
"The Role of the E6 Human Papillomavirus Oncoprotein in Cervical Tumorigenesis"

Saeyoung Park, West Bloomfield, Mich., Junior; International Studies major
"Investigating the Role of the Actin Cytoskeleton in Transcytosis in Polarized Hepatocytes"

Miruna Patrascanu, Ridgewood, N.J., Senior; International Studies major
"The Availability of Capital in the Agricultural Sector of Romania"

Melissa Pavetto, Silver Spring, Md., Senior; Psychology major
"Visual Spatial and Anxiety Correlates of Mathematics Disability"

Marzban Rad, Fremont, Calif., Sophomore; Biomedical Engineering major
"The Search for Catalytic Nanophase Materials"

Michael Roh, Beltsville, Md., Senior; Biology major
"Calcium Transport Across Chloroplast Inner Envelopes"

John Saxe, Fair Haven, N.J., Senior; Political Science major
"The 1943 Rescue of the Danish Jews"

Louis H. Stein Jr., White Plains, N.Y., Senior; Biomedical Engineering major
"Evaluation of the Effects of Various Long-term Pacing Waveforms on the Improvements of Heart Performance"

Anshul Thakral, Arcadia, Calif., Senior; Biomedical Engineering major
"Evaluation of the Effects of Various Long-term Pacing Waveforms on the Improvements of Heart Performance"

Sai-Kit Tseng, Minneapolis, Senior; Chemical Engineering major
"Light Scattering Study of the Early Stage of the Phase Separation of a Non-ionic Surfactant Solution"

Christopher J. Valeri, Hibbing, Minn., Junior; Neuroscience major
"Capturing Data from Surfaces: Measurement Error of Fuzzy Landmarks"

Craig Zapetis, Miami, Junior; Political Science major
"Creating a Municipality of Metropolitan Baltimore"

Matthew Augustine, Dix Hills, N.Y., Senior; Biology major
"Identification of Downstream Targets of a Serine-Threonine Kinase, Akt, Through Use of the Yeast Two Hybrid System"

Cathleen Barenski, Wappingers Falls, N.Y., Senior; Nursing major
"Violent Behavior Among Our Youth Today: An Inquiry into the Origin, Patterns and Escalation of Violent Tendencies in our Youth"

Kevin Callahan, Washington, D.C., Junior; Mechanical Engineering major
"Experimental Investigation of Electrohydrodynamic Effects on Pool Boiling Under Microgravity" Anand Das, Basking Ridge, N.J., Senior; International Studies major
"Moving from Welfare to Work in Baltimore"

Laleh Golkar, Gaithersburg, Md., Junior; Chemistry major
"The Role of Cyclooxygenase and Nitric Oxide Synthase in Neuronal [M2] Muscarinic Receptor Function in Guinea Pig Airways"

Daniel Gilison, Scottsdale, Ariz., Senior; Biology major
"Monstrin Function in the Yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae"

Jeffrey Adam Gusenoff, Newton, Mass., Senior; Biology major
"Inter-relationships Among Cortisol, Growth Hormone, Body Composition and Musculoskeletal Function in Elderly People"

Jenny Hong, Carrollton, Tex., Junior; Neuroscience major
"Neurotrophic Actions of Immunophilins"

Paul Kopchinski, Baltimore, Senior; Music Composition major
"Of Metal and Flesh"

Percy P. Lee, Arcadia, Calif., Senior; Biomedical Engineering major
"Effects of Apolipoprotein E on the Kinetics of Aggregation of Alzheimer's Disease Associated [beta-] Amyloids"

Kuei-Cheng Lim, Atlantic City, N.J., Senior; Biology major
"Enterotoxigenic Bacteroides Fragilis Pathogenesis on the Apical Membrane of T84 Cells"

Sai Lui, Silver Spring, Md., Senior; Electrical Engineering major
"Cloning a Human Very Long-Chain Acyl-CoA Synthetase Homolog"

Robert Mittendorff II, McLean, Va., Senior; Biomedical Engineering major
"Evaluation of Acoustic Feature Detection and Representation in the Marmoset Auditory Cortex Using Neural Network Technology"

Angela R. Mullins, Baltimore, Senior; Flute major
"Knocking Over an Ivory Tower with a Mad King and a Whale"

Tom Narayan, Miami, Junior; International Studies
"United Nations Reform"

Daniel Thomas Rogers, Woodruff, S.C., Senior; Psychology major
"Maternal Depression Causation Affecting Toddler Response Behavior"

Daniel J. Shapero, West Chester, Pa., Sophomore; Arts and Sciences
"A Method of Approximating Fitness Landscape Partial Derivatives in Local Neighborhoods Using a Mutation Pressure Driven Model"

Amy Shuster, Guilford, Conn., Senior; International Studies major
"Role of Women in Relief Assistance"

Elizabeth Soutter, Baltimore, Senior; Writing Seminars major
"NASA's Public Affairs Office as a Model for Government Public Relations"

Shona Velamakanni, Englewood, N.J., Junior; Biology major
"The Role of HMG-I/Y in Neoplastic Transformation and Apoptosis Induced by c-Myc"

Lance Daniel Wahlert, Newport News, Va., Senior; Writing Seminars major
"Seamus Heaney: Person and Politics in the Pastoral Genre"

Christopher Michael Ward, Burke, Va., Senior; Neuroscience major
"Characterization of Huntingtin-Associated Protein (HAP1)"

Christopher Winters, Mt. Airy, Md., Senior; Saxophone and Music Education major
"A Comparative Analysis of Two Mozart Wind Serenades"

Leo Wise, Chantham, N.J., Junior; International Studies major
"Beds, Bibles and Bars: The Impact of Federal Court Ordered Prison Reform on Inmates' Quality of Life"

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