Welcome to our virtual Honors Student Symposium. This is a place where students in the USI Honors Program present their research and their Honors Capstone projects..

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  • Reducing Cancer Pain with Pharmacology and Alternative Therapies

    Bright, Alyssa
    For Nursing 353 I was assigned to write a literature synthesis paper. The short paper was supposed to model a Systematic Review. A Systematic Review is seen as one of the highest levels of evidence in research because it reaches conclusions based off the inclusion of many resources and references on the selected topic. To decide on a research topic, I selected a clinical area that I was interested in and formulated a PICOT question to answer after reviewing research articles. My research or PICOT question was, “In adult cancer patients, what is the effect of alternative medicines or therapies on pain scores and patient quality of life compared with pharmacological drugs during cancer treatment?” After reviewing three selected scholarly journals I concluded that alternative therapies could decrease pain scores when paired with pharmacologic drugs. A decrease in pain scores helped improve a patient’s quality of life. To further build onto my assignment in class, I will present the findings and process of this assignment. I also created two infographics to provide information. This presentation could be given to other student nurses, nursing faculty, healthcare providers, or another public audience wishing to seek this information. This presentation of information will further disseminate this knowledge which is a vital goal of research done in a researcher’s career.
  • Critical Care Nurse Retention in the Intensive Care Unit and the Impact of COVID-19

    Meek, Lauren
    The critical care setting has the higher rate of turnover more than any other specialty setting in the country. Nurse retention in the critical care environment is becoming a significant problem in the hospital setting and with COVID-19, the need for critical care nurses is greater now than ever before. Turnover is a significant problem in the critical care environment and can lead to a negative outcomes for patients. Empowerment of nurses can help to reduce the impact of role strain and can be beneficial for retaining nurses in all care settings. Leadership needs to come up with incentives to help improve job satisfaction in the critical care setting. Nurses lacking satisfaction in their career can lead to increase incidence of burnout and turnover. Loses due to turnover can prove very costly to the overall growth of an intensive care unit. COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the critical care setting. Nurses have been pushed to the breaking point every day due to the volume of high acuity patients and the lack of adequate staffing to help support nurses to provide their best care. In the Evansville area, nurses have been consistently understaffed and the availability of ICU beds are harder to come by. Some units have been sending pray cards and other words of encouragement to ICU nurses and some nurses have been flexed to the intensive care unit to help to improve staffing. It will be interesting to see how retention and job satisfaction are impacted as we progress through the COVID-19 pandemic and how leadership works to keep nurses feeling empowered during this challenging time.
  • Work Hard, Play Harder: Combating Coronavirus with an Online Game

    Bioinformatics is the creation and application of computational tools and analytical techniques utilized to obtain, examine, and visualize biological data. Specific bioinformatic tools are employed to determine the structural composition of proteins, which play a vital role in the functioning of living organisms. The structure of a protein is the key factor in its ability to perform its job effectively. The way a protein folds into this structure can allow us to see how it would interact with other proteins, therefore making its folding conformation significant in the development of disease-fighting drugs. Foldit, an online computer program, aims to predict the ways in which a protein can fold using human processing skills. Foldit is currently contributing to coronavirus research, specifically contributing possible conformations that the coronavirus inhibitor protein could fold into. The corona virus is surrounded by a circle of spike proteins, which allow the virus to recognize and infect cells. If an antiviral drug is developed to block the recognition of the spike proteins, the virus’ ability to infect human cells would be greatly reduced. Foldit players can play the game to design an antiviral inhibitor protein that can be used against the coronavirus spike protein. The most promising designs will be tested at the University of Washington Institute for Protein Design. The Foldit game provides an opportunity for people to help discover an antiviral protein that could undergo rigorous testing and possibly be employed in a drug that could stop people from getting sick from coronavirus.
  • The Effects of Masks on Breathing

    Anvaripour, Ayli | Turner, Brandon
    As COVID-19 continues to affect the lives of all members of the USI community, Ayli Anvaripour and Brandon Turner decided to present their Honors capstone on the controversial topic: The Effect of Masks on Breathing. People around the world continue to ask, "Are my blood oxygen levels decreasing as a result of wearing a mask?" To answer this question, this presentation dives into the physiological processes that occur while breathing and how wearing a mask affects these processes. To stress the importance of wearing a mask during the COVID-19 pandemic, this presentation also explains the lack of significance behind decreased oxygen levels and how masks are easily permeable to gaseous molecules like oxygen and carbon dioxide. Additionally, this presentation explains the overall importance of wearing a mask to prevent the spread of common airborne illnesses (e.g. influenza), as fabric and surgical masks are a sufficient barrier.
  • Economic Effects Resulting from SARS-CoV-2

    Payne, Kristin
    As the first global pandemic in over 100 years, SARS-CoV-2, better known as the coronavirus, wreaked havoc on the world in 2020. Looking at the virus’s lifespan and its consequences for major world economies shows significant variations in the effects on the United States and the People’s Republic of China. A close investigation of the changes in macroeconomic factors, specifically the unemployment rate, gross domestic product, and the national and external debts of each country throughout the year show just how differently the virus affected each nation. The reasons behind these differences are found to be in variations of economic theories, government systems, and political affiliations. The People’s Republic of China is a socialist republic with a communist economic theory. Chinese citizens hold a mindset of concern for all other people and the good of the whole. Accordingly, Chinese citizens were quick to comply with safety recommendations and follow social distancing guidelines. Conversely, the United States of America is a democratic republic with a capitalist economic theory where citizens hold a mindset of individual freedom and personal gain. Under the American government, citizens tend to exercise their individual freedom and resist COVID-19 safety mandates. Political affiliation, whether Republican or Democrat, also played a key role in American citizens’ willingness to comply with safety regulations. The differences between the Chinese and American adherence to safety restrictions resulted in a drastic distinction in the pandemic’s duration, lifespan, and resulting effect on the countries’ economies. In order to eradicate the virus as quickly as possible and begin healing the American economy, United States citizens should adopt the Chinese mindset of cooperation and model their quick actions in mitigating the spread of the virus.
  • A Furry Friend: An Autoethnography on the Relationship Between Gender Identity and Fursonas

    Pfingston, Ben
    Transgender people identify as a gender other than the one assigned to them at birth, whether this is male, female, or something else entirely. Furries are people who have an interest in anthropomorphic animals, and many have a “fursona”, or an animal representation of the self. Furries often use fursonas to reflect a sexual or gender identity. LGBT+ people are a majority in the furry fandom, and there are more transgender people than in the general population. Given that transgender people are more common in the furry community, research looking into the relationship between gender development and furry identity could yield interesting insights. The following project is an autoethnography done by a trans man who is a furry. His previous and current fursonas were dated and redrawn. Then, these fursonas were analyzed based on appearance and the author’s life events at the time, with a focus on his relationship to his gender. The analysis indicates that, not only did his fursonas change with his gender, but that the fursonas themselves were used as a tool for gender exploration. The use of a fursona to explore gender was useful in many ways, including it being risk-free in terms of internal discomfort as well as externally. These findings may be significant for people who are looking for a safe way to explore their relationship with their gender.
  • Audit and Artificial Intelligence: A Literature Review

    Bradley, David | Stradtner, Allison | Seitz, Jamie
    Recently, artificial intelligence (AI) has moved to the forefront of bringing efficiency and convenience to various activities. AI has been engineered toward learning from user inputs and data to “think” like humans and make predictions and recommendations to carry out tasks and improve processes (“Short Primer,” n.d.). Meanwhile, the fields of accounting and finance have encountered efficiency issues due to the high-volume and variety of data involved in monitoring and analyzing financial information. The professionals within the business are aiming to use technology to automate repetitive, tedious tasks and allow more time for building organizational strategies and advising clients. This literature review was conducted to gain a better understanding of how artificial intelligence can assist in the accounting discipline of auditing. Virtual interviews were also conducted to obtain first-hand experience with current AI systems.
  • Big Data, A Big Problem

    Dodson, Sean
    This presentation covers several topics regarding Big Data such as what the definition of data is and how it is stored electronically. Starting with what data is and how data in large scale and complexity has been managed and analyzed historically using punch cards moving on to electronic tape to current digital storage methods. Big Data can be broken down into three defining categories: volume, velocity, and variety. Data gets generated in large quantities very quickly with large disparity of type. Text, audio, video, sensor data and other types all need information regarding their meaning to be made useful to those that seek to use it. Without the contextual information explaining that the numerical pattern 8125551234 is a phone number, the numerical data is useless. Once this data is made meaningful with the correct contextual information the next task is to take this data and sort and analyze it to find trends, patterns, irregularities or whatever may be useful to the interested parties and stake holders. Companies today are receiving larger quantities of more complex data than any other time in history. This trending increase in data production, the rate of production and variety of data type is only going to get more complex as time moves forward. This data is crucial to modern organizations if they want to remain competitive and profitable.
  • Understanding Gibson's Paradox

    Gruber, Marshall
    Gibson’s paradox has confounded economists for decades. Observing data regarding interest rates and inflation over hundreds of years, the prediction that interest rates and inflation would be positively correlated has proven false. Stranger yet, the predicted correlation actually does hold true and the paradox fades away when countries have abandoned the gold standard, only for it to return without explanation. Alfred Herbert Gibson, who first noted the paradox and for whom it is named, attempted to resolve the paradox by theorizing that the correlation. Would be delayed as interest rates would slowly react to the inflation rate. John Maynard Keynes and Milton Friedman, perhaps the two biggest names in economics in the twentieth century, also attempted to resolve the paradox with different theories. Alas, the data has not supported any of the theories proposed. This project proposes a new revision to Irving Fisher’s original theory in an attempt to explain some of the fluctuations of interest rates over the past two centuries.