2017 Researchers

Matthew Bonham

Proposed Project Title: “From “you” to “u” and the New Emoji in Between: Computational Understanding of Today’s Human Communication Styles”

Abstract: The study of Natural Language Processing (NLP) has made leaps and bounds in relation to computers understanding the English language. This study will explore the non-traditional side of English that we may also use in our day-to-day lives: from a tweet or text message humans have a distinct way of creating and understanding shortened and novel “versions” of words such as “u” (you), “r” (are), and “lol” (laughing out loud), etc. In addition to these shortened, improper grammar sequences, the development of emoji has added an entirely new dimension to text-based communication. Where direct or verbal communication was once needed to express how we are feeling when discussing an ambiguous topic, we can now attach an emoji to succinctly express emotional connection in text. This research will study ambiguity and formal regulation on the English language (including tweets and emojis) when processed by a machine in the tasks of data extraction, sentiment analysis of text, and the recognition of named entities. Humans are notorious for adapting rapidly, but in order for a computer to be able to keep up and continue to assist in the analysis of large data sets, especially of non-numerical sets, the computer must “understand” what we mean when it comes across “wassup pops! 😆.” and how that can be included in the data, as to not lose out on potentially, extremely valuable data points, or even aspects of the data not previously considered.

Joshua Carlson

Proposed Project Title: A Nano‐Sphere Lithography and Catalyzed Growth Approach to Semiconducting Nanowires

Abstract: Semiconducting nanowires are good candidates for biological sensors because of their large surface to volume ratios, which makes them sensitive to surface interactions. In this project we aim to develop a novel fabrication technique to produce large ordered arrays of nanowires. The fabrication technique will integrate three steps. These steps are, creation of a nanoscale pattern via the self‐assembly of polystyrene microspheres into a 2D hexagonal lattice, the deposition of metal into the voids between the spheres using thermal evaporation or laser ablation, and catalyzed thermal growth of nanowires on the resulting array of metal seeds. Targeted materials include oxides and sulfides of copper, iron, cobalt, and zinc. This process has the advantage of obtaining nano‐patterned devices without the need for costly lithography methods that require specialized microfabrication equipment. Because the nanowires are grown on optically distinguishable seeds, measurements can be made of the properties of individual nanowires as well as the properties of the entire array.

Kelsey Czachor

Proposed Project Title: “Speaking Skook”: Analyzing Dialect Features in the Schuylkill County Region of Pennsylvania

Abstract: In this project, I will examine the linguistic features of speakers from the area in and around the city of Pottsville, located in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. I have chosen this location because I grew up near Pottsville, and throughout my life I have observed linguistic differences between how people speak in Pottsville compared to how people speak elsewhere in other parts of Pennsylvania and throughout the United States. I have also chosen this geographic focus because it is an area that has been very understudied in linguistic research on American English dialects. My proposed project aims to fill this gap in this literature by examining the grammatical and lexical features used by locals in the Pottsville area, meaning that I will investigate how speakers use grammar in ways that may vary from Standard English and use different words and different categories of words, such as adjectives and adverbs, in their speech that may vary from Standard English. My data for this study will be collected for Dr. Joshua Raclaw’s ongoing study of dialect features in eastern Pennsylvania (“Language and Dialects in Eastern Pennsylvania,” WCU IRB Protocol # 20161115-1). I will assist Dr. Raclaw in his study by conducting interviews with native speakers in the area, and under Dr. Raclaw’s guidance, I will produce an analysis of linguistic features used by speakers in the Pottsville area.

Kayla McGuire

Proposed Project Title: The Evolution of Testimonio as a Genre in the Southern Cone

Abstract: Latin American Testimonio as a genre emerged first in Cuba and Central America as an effort to give voice to subjects whose life experiences were previously excluded from history. Early attempts to define the genre focused on ethnographic accounts created from interviews between Western ethnographers and their subaltern subj ects. In Southern Cone Latin America (Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay), the genre shifted to more closely mirror court testimony in an effort to recover the stories of those who were victimized by the dictatorships in the 1970s and 80s. This project examines how Testimonio is shifting as a genre as survivors work through the limits posed on representing the mistreatment they suffered. It will begin with an analysis of the film Archeo logy of Memory: Villa Grimaldi and examine how Quique Cruz, a former political prisoner who was tortured during the Pinochet regime in Chile, creates music that allows expression of his most deep and painful memories and emotions. The project will also look for others who use an artistic outlet, such as music, art, or film, to demonstrate their accounts. In this study, I will show that these new types of projects show how survivors are expanding Testimonio as a genre and argue that the definition of Testimonio needs to be more inclusive of all types of expression.

Tyler Walton

Proposed Project Title: Comparative Analysis of Popular U.S. News Media

Abstract: People with different political affiliations are attracted to different news sources in the U.S.1 With wide differences in the attitudes and beliefs of different audiences, it could be inferred that the different sources cover the same news stories differently. Although researchers have studied these differences in the past, the findings may not apply to the current politics and media in the U.S. Drawing on systems theory, symbolic interactionism, and arguments from media effects studies, this study will compare news coverage practices of three different sources (one with a left-leaning audience, one with a right-leaning audience, and one with a broader general audience, according to a Pew Research Center report2). First, I will gather articles about the same events from the websites of CNN, Fox News, and a local television station and then qualitatively analyze them. I will look for similarities and differences in how the sources present information and focus on persuasive language, falsehoods, and design techniques. From this, I will develop a framework for a quantitative analysis of the television programs of the same sources. The results are expected to show a difference in how the news sources portray the stories, with CNN and Fox News doing more to persuade the audience than the neutral source. It is also expected to find a difference in how news is portrayed on television compared to websites.

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