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Pforzheimer Honors College

2010 Honors Independent Research Abstracts

Amanda Amos

Mentor: Dr. Pradeep Gopalakrishna
Title: Standardization and Localization of Coca-Cola Products
Abstract: The marketing study focused on the standardization and localization of Coca-Cola products in eight countries visited on a Semester at Sea: Spain, Italy, Croatia, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Egypt, and Morocco. The product, place, promotion, price, and cultural adaptations of Coca-Cola were compared and contrasted. It was found that, although there was basic standardization for each Coca-Cola product, there was definite localization in each individual country. Coca-Cola’s dependence on its regional offices and customer feedback supply the company with the decisions necessary to market their products.

Jessica Anderson

Mentor: Prof. Andrea Sonenberg
Title: Female Genital Mutilation from a Culturally Sensitive Perspective
Abstract: Female genital mutilation has affected over 150 million women all over the world. This tradition has existed for many generations and despite devastating complications including difficult childbirths, hemorrhage, infection, and infertility, the practice still continues. Organizations such as the Waris Dirie Foundation, have dedicated their efforts to education about, and eradication of, the practice. The organization urges healthcare professionals in destination countries like America to receive further education about the practice in order to deliver culturally competent care. According to the year 2000 census of the Brigham and Women's Hospital, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, an increase of 35% of immigrant women are at risk of genital mutilation in the United States. Consequently, culturally sensitive care is essential in the development of stronger patient-professional relationships in hopes to spread education and eradicate the practice.

Joan Bitanga

Mentor: Prof. Philip Finn
Title: Test of Correlation of Hofstede’s Cultural Values and Gray’s Accounting Conservatism Construct
Abstract: This paper intends to determine how culture affects a country’s accounting system, specifically the constraint of accounting conservatism. Gray’s theory is a well-known reference for how culture affects accounting practice, thus requiring substantial empirical evidence to test its accuracy. This research tested Gray’s theory in regard to accounting conservatism, which states that the more a country avoids uncertainty, and the less of a collective and assertive culture it has, the more conservative the accounting practices are; it also states that power distance is weakly correlated with conservatism. The research here shows that, contrary to Gray’s hypothesis, uncertainty avoidance has a low correlation with accounting conservatism and power distance has a high correlation with accounting conservatism.

Nicole Capozzoli

Mentor: Prof. Philip Finn
Title: FIN 48: Accounting for Uncertainty in Income Taxes
Abstract: FIN 48, also known as FASB Interpretation 48, Accounting for Uncertainty in Income Taxes, was established amending SFAS 109, Accounting for Income Taxes, which was originally issued in 1992. FIN 48 was implemented for public firms for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2006, and then postponed one year for private and not-for-profit companies beginning on December 15, 2007 because of the difficulties encountered while applying this standard. FASB states the reason FIN 48 was introduced was because “the diversity in practice has resulted in non-comparability in reporting income tax assets and liabilities,” and that it was necessary “to provide greater transparency for uncertain tax positions in order to reform financial reporting of tax issues” (Alltizer). Some of the consequences of FIN 48 include a greater tax liability, a smaller deferred tax asset, or a smaller income tax refund for public firms. As a result, FIN 48 has had a significant impact on public companies’ financial statements. The objective of this research was to determine the effects of FIN 48 on a random sample of 20 different Fortune 500 companies from different industries in 2009. As a result, it was concluded that FIN 48 has had a significant impact on public companies’ financial statements since in was first adopted in 2007 because it changed the way uncertainties in income taxes were reported, thereby providing greater disclosure requirements for many firms as well. In addition, although there has been much controversy over this standard, it has been more beneficial to public companies overall because it increased the comparability and consistency of financial reporting.

Steven Daoud

Mentor: Dr. Andrew Wier
Title: Microbial Diversity of the Accessory Nidamental Gland in Hawaiian Bobtail Squid
Abstract: The accessory nidamental gland, found in female Hawaiian Bobtail Squid, Euprymna scolopes, contains a largely unknown microbial community. Composed of hundreds of tubules, the accessory nidamental gland is densely packed with symbiotic bacteria. Sexually mature female squid develop a population that colonizes these tubules. We used the 16s rDNA approach to characterize the diverse bacterial consortium found in the accessory nidamental gland of the Hawaiian Bobtail Squid. First bacterial DNA was isolated and bacterial 16S rRNA genes were amplified and cloned. Cloned sequences were screened using restriction endonucleases and unique 16S rRNA genes were sequenced. Sequence analysis shows a diverse microbial community in the accessory nidamental gland in the Hawaiian Bobtail Squid.

Matthew Hartog

Mentor: Dr. Joshua Schwartz
Title: A Survey of Aquatic Invasive Species in the Greater Upstate New York Region: Possible Low Cost Methods of Removal and Control.
Abstract: Invasive species are a constant threat to biodiversity and ecological stability. Nowhere is the threat more apparent than in the state parks and waterways of upstate New York. Invasive aquatic plants clog and disrupt lakes, rivers, and ponds, rendering them useless for recreational purposes and impossible to navigate. It is through studying their unique adaptations and growth trends that it may be possible to disrupt their life cycle, thereby ousting these non-native species. This study focuses specifically on the zebra mussel, the eurasian watermilfoil, and the water chestnut. These invasive species are more than a recreational nuisance; they may also damage key points of infrastructure such as dams, lock systems, and other underwater concrete and metal structures. The ecosystems affected by these creatures were explored firsthand and analyzed to determine how their collection of unique adaptations allows them to defeat each method of control aimed at their removal. The most basic adaptation possessed by these creatures is an alarming growth rate. In one area water chestnuts were able to infest over 13,000 square feet a day. Furthermore, the implications of their adaptations, in concert with the theory of evolution, are examined. The contradictory view of maintaining, or increasing, biodiversity while supporting the concept of evolution is discussed.

Shayne Holt

Mentor: Prof. Philip Finn
Title: Investors perception of the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s Relaxation of Asset Valuation Rules Affecting the Banking Industry
Abstract: March 2009 saw the beginnings of a large rally for the banking industry. New federal programs and accounting staff positions helped to create and maintain additional capital for each of the “big four” banks which are JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and Bank of America. This presentation investigates investor perception of the big four banks throughout the first and second quarter of 2009 when the Securities and Exchange Commission urged the Financial Accounting Standards Board to alter their accounting standards regarding assets in distressed markets and accounting standards for impairments. The Null Hypothesis is that investors reacted positively to the changes in the new accounting staff positions. Analysis is performed through an abnormal earnings model, charts of changes in stock prices, and various other financial ratios.

Hisham Hosein

Mentor: Dr. Seregry Kazakov
Title: Role of Spore Cortex in Germination
Abstract: The long-term goal of this work is to understand the mechanism of germination through the ion-sensitive bacterial spore cortex. Since the initiation of germination is a biophysical process, which does not require ATP production, all structural transformations at the early steps of germination are considered to be ion-sensitive. In the proposed electrochemical model, ion-sensitive contraction/swelling of cortex plays the main role in regulation of the inner membrane permeability, core water uptake, Ca-DPA release, and activation of cortex degradation. To estimate the cortex capability of expanding and collapsing in response to the change in ionic conditions, chemical structure of the cortex peptidoglycan matrix was analyzed, and the types and amount of ionizable groups in the spore cortex were revealed. This approach allows us to explain the cascade of structural changes during both physiological (involving germinant receptor) and non-nutrient (without a requirement for a germinant receptor function) germination.

Brandon Lentine

Mentor: Dr. Jack Horne
Title: Svadhyaya
Abstract: The art of yoga is focused on cultivating body awareness through self-study, known in Sanskrit as Svadhyaya. The practice of yoga is comprised of eight limbs: Yama (universal morality); Niyama (personal observances); Asanas (body postures); Pranayama (breathing exercises, and control of prana); Pratyahara (control of the senses); Dharana (concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness); Dhyana (devotion, meditation on the divine; and Samadhi (union with the divine). Current teachings of yoga are largely lacking in scientific background. Specifically, an advanced understanding of the structure and function of the human body can help clients maximize the benefits of their practice. Anatomical concepts involving the nervous system, joint mechanisms, and sports medicine greatly demystify the spiritual aspects and support the physical benefits of yoga, ultimately leading to greater body awareness and understanding.

Jacqueline Pelliccia

Mentor: Prof. Padmaja Kadiyala
Title: Federal Government Student Loan
Abstract: Federal government student loans are one of the most important sources of financing for college students today. Federal student loan disbursements in the 2008-09 academic year grew 25% from the previous year, to $75.1 billion. Although debt is becoming more and more common when paying for a college education, recent graduates are stating that they wish they had known more about the consequences of debt before taking it. This paper presents the rules and restrictions of each type of federal government loan, examines how the repayment schedules are structured, and analyzes the interest rates on these loans and the factors that affect these rates.

Brittany Perry

Mentor: Dr. Nancy Krucher
Title: Phosphatase Nuclear Targeting Subunit (PNUTS) is phosphorylated by AKT kinase
Abstract: Phosphorylation of the tumor suppressor protein Retinoblastoma (Rb) is associated with a highly proliferate state of the cell and cancer. Rb phosphorylation state is partly controlled by the activity of Protein Phosphatase 1 (PP1) which is regulated by Phosphatase Nuclear Targeting Subunit (PNUTS). It is PNUTS that causes apoptosis in breast and colon cancer cells. This occurs through activation of PP1 phosphatase activity toward Rb which leads to Rb dephosphorylation, that can trigger apoptosis. Here we show that PNUTS may be regulated by the PI3K-AKT pathway which has been shown to be involved in many cellular functions including proliferation, growth and survival. In addition, signaling in this pathway has been shown to be disrupted in several cancers. In response to a sub-lethal dose of UV radiation of HCT116 colon cancer cells, activation of the AKT kinase occurs, with phosphorylation of known AKT substrates GSK-3 and mdm2 observed. Phosphorylation of Ser473 of AKT further verifies AKT activation. Under these conditions PNUTS is phosphorylated by the AKT kinase. Inhibition of PNUTS phosphorylation occurs when cells are treated with the LY294002 PI3K-AKT pathway inhibitor. Thus PNUTS is a putative substrate of AKT, and may play an important role in the survival of cells in response to stress.