Indiana University Research & Creative Activity

Undergraduate Issue

Volume 26 Number 2
Spring 2004

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polar bear

diagram of pituitary system

young man looking into mock rhinoceros head


Feeding time

Ever wonder what's up with animals at the zoo who swim the same circle or pace the same path over and over again? The functions of stereotypies--excessively repetitive behavior patterns--are mysterious, but in captive animals, they can also be detrimental. Polar bears, for example, exhibit a high number of stereotypies in captivity, which have been linked to lower breeding success and health risks. IUB seniors Kate Rogerson and Keelyn Walsh studied stereotypic behaviors of two zoo polar bears at fixed food delivery times. With a better understanding of how the bears' standard foraging mechanisms outside of captivity are altered based on their captive environment, the students say it may be possible to reduce stereotypic activity and increase more naturalistic, species-typical foraging patterns through simple behavioral interventions.

New look at the second shift

The "second shift" that working women put in at home has been widely studied. Recent statistical data have suggested, however, that married women are spending less time doing household work while men are spending slightly more time behind the broom (although women still do about three times as much housework as men). Are attitudes about the household division of labor changing? Is the second shift shortening? IUB senior Elliot Ransom used new attitudinal data to look at these questions. He found that 45- to 54-year-olds were the most egalitarian in dividing household labor while younger generations have been gradually moving back toward less egalitarian attitudes, similar to those of the oldest cohorts§that is, that mothers should be primary caregivers and shoulder the largest part of the domestic burden, with little assistance from fathers.

Merger mania

What makes one merger miraculous and another deal a debacle? IUE senior Grayce Angi Wilson, an accounting major, used news reports and financial data to examine the union of computer giants Hewlett-Packard Co. and Compaq Computer Corp. Noting that HP and Compaq successfully joined to create an $87 billion global leader in providing IT products and services, Wilson says the merger succeeded in part because "HP looked to the past and Compaq looked to the future," with the blending "resulting in the best of both." Wilson found that by August of 2003, the merged companies had introduced 158 new products, increased revenue by 22 percent even as the market declined by 20 percent, and made its global presence felt.

The scent of a beetle

The Emerald Ash Borer is a small insect, but it's causing big damage. A non-native, invasive, wood-boring beetle, the borer spirals through the tissue of ash trees, resulting in a 100 percent fatality of infested trees within about two years. The ash is a common tree in metropolitan plantings; the borer has already killed millions of trees near Detroit and may enter northern Indiana soon. IPFW biology student Dawn Bale explored using scent-discriminating dogs to detect borer infestations before a tree shows visible signs of decline. Use of the dogs may prove an efficient and economically feasible method to locate infested trees in urban and rural environments.

The skinny on reality TV

Does TV affect a person's tendency to exhibit eating disorder symptoms? Does it matter whether it's reality TV or not? To find out, IUK senior Brooke Clevenger is administering a survey to fellow psychology students. After each student¯s tendency toward eating disorders is measured, the students watch a tape depicting underweight, average weight, or overweight people in either a reality TV or traditional TV program. Then they take another survey. Clevenger predicted that viewers of the underweight individuals would show an increased tendency toward eating disorder symptoms and that the effect would be greater for those watching reality TV. Midway through her study, she says, "preliminary results have duplicated previous findings that individuals do internalize underweight media characters much more so than average or overweight characters, although at this point, the type of media does not seem to play a role." Clevenger plans to complete the study this spring.

Hormone regulation

The anterior pituitary gland, at the base of our brains, secretes hormones that regulate growth, sexual function, lactation, thyroid activity, and more. Development of the hormone-secreting cells in the gland is coordinated by numerous regulatory proteins, including the LHX3 transcription factor (a protein that switches target genes on and off). Mutations in genes encoding LHX3 cause severe hormone deficiency diseases in humans and animals. Students in Simon Rhodes¯ biology lab at IUPUI, including senior Surilda L. Clark, are investigating how transcription factors function during vertebrate development. Ongoing experiments are tracking the effects of overexpression of LHX3 proteins at early and late stages of pituitary gland development.

Shark blood

The sandbar shark, a migratory creature that uses shallow salt marshes and inlets as nursery grounds, has been subjected to heavy fishing pressure in recent years. As part of a research study conducted during summer 2003 with Peter Bushnell, associate professor of biology, IUSB senior Megan Galvin explored physiological changes in the capacity of the sharks' blood to carry oxygen that result from the stress of "catch-and-release" game fishing. "The idea is that you fight this big fish up to the side of the boat, then let it go," explains Bushnell. "We wanted to see what sort of condition the shark is in after that. Does he just swim away, or does he become lunch?" Not surprisingly, the captured sharks' blood became dangerously acidic from the release of lactic acid generated while the shark was being angled to the boat. But contrary to earlier results, the blood¯s ability to bind with oxygen actually improved. Bushnell and Galvin initiated new studies to look for some metabolic reason behind the unusual result and pursued additional projects with captured fish in the lab.

Voting in Indiana's First

During his long tenure in office, former U.S. House Rep. Ray J. Madden, who served Indiana's First Congressional District from 1943 to 1977, produced a voluminous amount of documents. IUS senior Chad Clunie delved into those records to trace Madden¯s voting behavior on civil liberties issues between 1971 and 1976. A preliminary comparison between Madden¯s record and the 1997¡2002 record of current Congressman Pete Visclosky suggests that the two men voted similarly on civil liberties issues despite changing demographic patterns in the district. Madden cast votes to preserve civil liberties 78 percent of the time in the six-year period studied, while Visclosky¯s votes preserved civil liberties 72 percent of the time. For his analysis, Clunie used the Madden papers housed at IUN's Calumet Regional Archives. Clunie helped organize and describe the papers in the archiving process.

Engineering art

Senior sculpture major Patrick Gillespie wondered whether artists and engineers have similar creative approaches. He collaborated with the IUPUI Mechanical Engineering Department to find out. Working together, Gillespie and engineering students built, tested, and evaluated an interactive exhibit for the Indianapolis Zoo. The imitative design featured a simulated rhinoceros head that allowed visitors to experience spatial orientation as a rhino would. Based on his involvement, Gillespie found that "a union between art and engineering disciplines can yield a method of thinking and action that is valuable to everyone involved in design process and product development. The experience of working with an engineering design team has been very influential to my artistic development."