2023 Senior Honors Thesis writers showcase their work

From linguistic attitudes in educational settings to botulinum neurotoxin production in meat systems, the research conducted by Senior Honors Thesis writers is vast. The 2023 Senior Honors Thesis Symposium, held in Memorial Union on Friday, April 14, brought together more than 40 writers to showcase the undergraduate research they’d conducted, many of whom had received research grants from the L&S Honors Program to support doing so.

Students focused their research in more than twenty different disciplines, marking one of the most diverse Symposium experiences in recent years. An accounting of the event, including the Symposium outline, the sessions, and student presentations, can be found below.


1:15 p.m. – 1:20 p.m. 

Jenny Saffran, L&S Honors Program Faculty Director 

Session 1: 

1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. 

Identities and Policies (Capitol View) 

Isabelle Johnson (Spanish & Portuguese): “Ethnolinguistic Identity, Language Maintenance, and the Reality of Intercultural Bilingual Education: Linguistic Attitudes in Guatemala’s Educational Settings”  

Linnea Kronzer (Scandinavian Studies): “An Exploration of the Cultural Differences in Zoo Animal Reproductive Management: A Comparison between the US and Scandinavia”  

Danielle Lennon (History): “History of Diagnosis and Treatment of Trauma in Cambodian American Refugee Communities from 1975 to the Present” 

Evan McKenzie (History): “Scouting’s Human Crop: The Boy Scouts’ Ideological and Physical Influence on the Landscape of Public Recreation in the 1930s”  

Costs and Values at School and Work (Council Room) 

Andrea Corro (History): “Colonial Jim Crow: The Perpetuation of the Gold and Silver Payroll System in the Panama Canal Zone”  

Clarence Harley (Economics): “Where You Go Matters: An Investigation of the Connections Between Demographics, College Selectivity and Earnings.”  

Jenna Heinze (Psychology): “Perceived Costs of COVID-19 and Undergraduate Disengagement in STEM”  

Isabella Ricker (Gender & Women’s Studies and Legal Studies): “Paid Leave and Parenting: Examining Family Leave Policies Through the Experiences of UW-Madison Faculty”  

Taiming Xue (Psychology): “The Role of Prosocial Values in Undergraduate Student’s Career Plans in STEM fields”  

Bodies and Brains (Langdon Room) 

Alex Gowing (Neurology): “Characterization of the role of RCC1L in hippocampal function”  

Samantha Greco (Psychology): “False Memories and Pattern Separation in Alzheimer’s Disease: A Grocery Fluency Task”   

Clara Haeffner (Center for Healthy Minds and Institute on Aging): “Associations among lifetime stressor exposure, cortisol responses to acute stress, and amygdala and hippocampal volume”  

Nick Schulz (Department of Medicine): “Relationship between APOE Risk Score and Myelin in Alzheimer’s Disease”   

Matthew Silverman (Biology): “Determining Optimal Straw Dimensions for Semi-Occluded Vocal Tract Therapy Using an Excised Canine Model and Human Subjects”  

Session 2: 

 2:40 p.m. – 3:40 p.m. 

Changing Environments (Capitol View) 

Katherine Koehler (Geography): “Learning through Map-Making: A Cartographic Exploration of Environmental Education”  

Madeline McGlone (History): ““It’s still good to look at, why worry?”: An interdisciplinary analysis of the founding and management of the University of Wisconsin Arboretum, 1911 to the present”  

Joyce Riphagen (Botany): “Regeneration and Replacement of Fraxinus nigra in Wisconsin Hardwood Swamps” 

Connor Steinke (Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences): “Volume Transport Changes Through West Greenland Arctic Straits in CMIP6 Models”  

Maxwell Unger (Chemistry): “Laboratory Evolution of Enzymes for Eco-Friendly Plastic Recycling”  

Topics In Chemistry, Physics, and Food Research (Council Room) 

Haotian Cao (Physics): “Topological Data Analysis for Jet Physics”  

Haoyi Jia (Physics): “Prospects for the Measurement of the Standard Model Higgs Boson Pair Production at the Muon Colliders”  

Lauren Rault (Chemistry): “Synthesis of Mannose-6-Phosphate Derivates for Lysosomal Targeting Chimera Design”  

Stevie Ward (Food Research Institute): “Correlating Clostridium botulinum growth with botulinum neurotoxin production using the DIG-ELISA in model meat systems”  

Shuyi Zhang (Chemistry): “Expanded Functionality of Metal-Free Ring-Opening Metathesis Polymerization”  

Language in Action (Langdon Room) 

Alanna Goldstein (Gender & Women’s Studies): “Poetics as Disobedience: Reimagining Academic Debate”  

Sydney Mueller (German, Nordic, Slavic): “From Great Grandma’s Kitchen to Today: Kongsvinger Church Cookbooks and Norwegian American Identity”  

Eleanor Sand (Language Sciences): “An Empirical Examination of the Russian Dative of Possession”  

Kelley Schlise (English): “Aesthetic Wanderings: Stephen Dedalus’s Flânerie”  

Session 3: 

 3:50 p.m. – 4:40 p.m. 

Geopolitical and Sociopolitical Influences (Capitol View) 

 Annie King (Political Science): “Presidential Attitudes Towards China 2015-Present: Examining the Impact of China’s Military-Civil Fusion Policy on US-China Relations”  

 Rachel Lynch (History): “From Cold War to Hot War: The Geopolitical Influence of Zbigniew Brzezinski on American Posture towards Afghanistan, 1978-1998”  

 Jasper Nelson (History): “From Badman to Revolutionary: The Transformation of the Stagolee Archetype of Resistance in African-American Politics and Culture, 1960-1980”  

Andrew Santamarina (Philosophy): “The Philosophical Foundations of Working-Class Solidarity”  

Wenxin (Zephyr) Xiao (History): “The Ladder of Social Mobility and Frontier Indoctrination: Formation of State Schools and their Distribution in Early Ming Dynasty, 1368 – 1450”  

Methods in STEM (Council Room) 

Yuxin Cao (Statistics): “Instrument Strength Test and Effects on Inference 

Erin Kim (UW Madison Blood Research Department): “GATA2 Restricts Innate Immune Signaling in Hematopoietic Progenitor Cells”  

Shin Tsz Lucy Kuo (Engineering, L&S): “Learning User Preferences from Paired Comparisons” 

Yuliang Peng (Statistics): “Evaluation of multimodal Transformer approaches for glacier segmentation in the presence of missing modalities”  

Evelin Yin (Computer Science): “3D Photo Stylization”  

Hearing, Sleeping, Learning (Langdon Room) 

Ethan Cui (Genetics): “Alternative environmental lighting conditions generate multiple distinctive sleep phases”  

Lily Fischer (Communication Sciences and Disorders): “Cochlear Filter Width Influence on Envelope Following Responses”  

Anna Jansson (Neuroscience): “Short-Term Synaptic Plasticity of Parvalbumin Interneurons in Mouse Cortex”  

Katelyn Young (Neurobiology/Integrative Biology): “mecp2-Dependent Learning Differences Within Larval Zebrafish”  

June Zhu (Economics): “The Seller’s Dilemma: To Withhold or Reveal Information When Collusion is Possible”