Preface to The Eagle Feather 2008

We can scarcely believe that five years have passed since the founding of The Eagle Feather in 2004! It has been a momentous year for undergraduate research at the University of North Texas. Our new Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Wendy K. Wilkins, has embraced the vision of undergraduate research as a vital part of the university’s mission and strongly supports increased opportunities for undergraduates to participate in research. In spring 2008, she took University Scholars Day under her financial wing, enabling more undergraduate students than ever before to present their research in paper and poster sessions. She also worked with Dr. Vishwanath “Vish” Prasad, UNT’s Vice President for Research and Economic Development, on a new program to fund undergraduate research projects conducted under the supervision of faculty members at the university. With such strong support at the highest levels of the administration, undergraduate research is certain to flourish in the coming years.

While the administration supports undergraduate research financially, it is the faculty of the university who work one-on-one with students, inviting them into their labs and studios to learn their research craft and mentor them through the research process. This year, one of our most dedicated undergraduate mentors, Dr. Daniel Taylor, served as the keynote speaker at University Scholars Day. Since joining the faculty as an assistant professor in 2004, he has served as the mentor for six undergraduate students in the Honors College who wanted to write an undergraduate Honors thesis. He invited these students to assist with ongoing research projects in his Sleep Lab in the Department of Psychology. As their skills increased, he helped them identify projects that they could research on their own for their theses. He has been very generous with the students, taking them to national sleep research conferences to present their research and including them as authors on subsequent research publications. In his keynote address included in this TEF issue, he reports on research on sleep disorders among college students that he conducted with Christie Gardner, now a graduate student at Texas Tech University, and Jacob Williams, now a graduate student at the University of Florida. The research is continuing with senior students, Kristi Alloway Mannon and Kendra Clay, and junior students, Laurie McCright and Karlyn Vatthauer. We are grateful to Dr. Taylor for the opportunities he has made available to undergraduate researchers and the doors he has opened for them.

Undergraduate Scholar Articles

International Policies and Politics

International policies and politics emerged as a major focus of six of the undergraduate research articles that appear in TEF 2008. In The Evolution of Japan’s Foreign Policy, Kristyn Admire (International Studies and Honors College) examined the changes in Japan’s demilitarization policy that have occurred the past 50 years in response to economic and political pressures to re-arm. Admire’s article was recognized by the UNT Faculty Senate Writing Committee as the Outstanding Undergraduate Essay in 2007-2008. Karis Durant (Political Science and Honors College) also focuses on militarization in her article, The First World War: American Ideals and Wilsonian Idealism in Foreign Policy. She examines the factors that lead President Woodrow Wilson to persuade reluctant Americans to enter “the Great War to end all wars” and the continuing legacy of that idealistic policy on the United States in the 20th century. In his article, Brian Weinberg (Foreign Languages and Literatures, Finance, and Honors College) focuses on microfinance projects in Central and South America grew out of his personal experience traveling and living in the region and working with the program, Recycle to Eradicate Poverty. In his article, For-profit Versus Nonprofit Microfinance: How Are the Poor Affected? Weinberg examines the pros and cons of both for-profit and nonprofit programs to eradicate poverty among people living in less developed countries of the world. Melissa MacNeil (International Studies and Honors College) conducted interviews in Mexico with Mexican immigrants who had come to the United States to work and then returned to their native country. In her article, Discussion of the Validity of a Guest Worker Program in the United States, she reviews guest worker programs in Europe for examples of programs that could be used to regulate immigration of workers who come to the United States to earn money to support their families and communities in Mexico and other Latin American countries. In Mosquito Hall: Ethnic Labels and Social Injustices within the Public School System, Daniel Moss (Anthropology) reports on the findings from his case study of a Latina graduate student whose parents immigrated to the United States and stayed. He learned that this student found it difficult to maintain an identity as both Latina and American in the educational institutions she attended. Finally, Bethany Evins-Ketron (English, Political Science, and Honors College) examines the effects of language fluency in Spanish and English on preferences for language and ethnicity of models in advertisements among young Mexican American women in her article, Market Evolution: Marketing to the Mexican American Female.

Health and Healthcare

Six of the student papers focused on health or healthcare in the United States. Peace Nwegbo (Psychology and Honors College) compares the risk of osteoporosis and metabolic syndrome among African American women, Mexican American women, and non-Hispanic white women in her article, Association of Osteoporosis and Metabolic Syndrome in Older African American, Mexican American, and Non-Hispanic Caucasian Women: A Comparison. She used data from a nationally representative sample of women 50 years of age and older in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003–2004. African American women were found to have significant risks for both osteoporosis and metabolic syndrome. In his article, Caring for Indigent Infants in Denton County in Relation to Dallas and Tarrant Counties in Texas, Scott Grant (Mathematics and Honors College) documents wide gaps in the infant mortality rates among Whites, Mexican Americans, and African Americans in the north Texas region. He reviews the indigent healthcare plan for Denton County and makes suggestions for policy changes that could affect infant mortality rates. Brandi Settegast (Biological Sciences and Honors College) examines the efficacy of a smoking cessation program for female college students in her article, Smoking, Secondhand Smoke, and Quitting: A Cessation Program. The other three articles on health were submitted by students in Dr. Joseph Oppong’s medical geography class. In the articles, the students use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to map the occurrence of disease in conjunction with environmental toxins. Chris Feltus (Geography) examines the distribution of cerebrovascular disease in Texas counties in conjunction with the hardness of water in his paper, The Geography of Cerebrovascular Disease in Texas. Steve Mlinarich (Geography) examines the relationship between the distribution of gastric ulcers and nitrates in the water supply in Texas counties in Gastric Ulcers in Texas: Are Nitrates the Problem? Finally, Harvey Guthrey examines the correlation between the distribution of lignite deposits and kidney and pelvic cancers in Texas in his article, Lignite Deposits and Kidney and Pelvic Cancers in Texas 1980-1998.

Science and Art

Cameron McCord (Engineering Technology and Honors College) has worked with his mentor in physics, Sam Matteson, to develop a theoretical model showing how sound waves can be unintentionally filtered out in rooms designed for presentations through the use of regularly repeating architectural structures. His model is presented in his article, The Look of Sound: Accoustic Cancellation in Architecture. Sara Draznin (Mathematics and Honors College) reports on her findings about math anxiety from a survey of 283 students enrolled in MATH 1010, a not-for-credit course for students who do not meet the university proficiency standards in mathematics. In her article, Math Anxiety in Fundamentals of Algebra Students, she reports that math anxiety is a significant factor affecting the performance of these students. Varya Ignatchenko (Art History and Honors College) critically evaluates the work of Thomas Kinkade in her article, Thomas Kinkade’s Landscape of Commodity: A Critical Analysis on the Status of the Artist. She concludes that Kinkade’s work, while popular, is not critically acclaimed for several reasons, including his use of outdated artistic subjects and techniques, as well as his conscious “commodification” of his work for commercial purposes.

Special Section: Proceedings of the Summer Research Program in the Social Sciences

We are once again pleased to publish the proceedings of the Department of Anthropology’s Summer Research Program in the Social Sciences, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Dr. Doug Henry and Dr. Beverly Davenport were the recipients of the NSF grant and were the faculty sponsors and co-directors of the project. The students whose research papers are published in TEF 2008 include three from Texas, as well as representatives from New York, Georgia, Florida, and Hawaii. The topics of their research projects are strongly focused on race and ethnic themes including the culture of Cuban immigrants, Puerto Rican women, Indian immigrants in the United States, and undocumented immigrants from Mexico and other Latin American countries in the United States. Other topics included the use of herbal medicine in traditional cultures, the impact of the No Child Left Behind program on education in public schools in Texas, and a photographic essay on the views native New Orleanians hold of their city after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. More details on the authors and papers in this section can be found in the preface to this special section prepared by Shimaa Dessouky and Danyel Rios, graduate students in anthropology who were the Program Coordinators of the summer program and guest editors of this special section. We thank the Department of Anthropology for its strong contributions to The Eagle Feather 2008.