Each year, seniors give a presentation on their thesis the week before graduation. As always, this year’s senior projects were varied. Topics included everything from “Mental Training Program for Youth Ski Jumpers in Anchorage, AK” and “Chess in Academia: A Social Blunder and Educational Brilliancy” to “Benefits of a Culturally Relevant Wellness Program” and “Shakira Was Right, Hips Don’t Lie: Evolutionary Psychology Examines Attraction.”
Here are just a handful of the things we learned from the spring 2018 Senior Presentations:
Female halibut are larger than male halibut, but they’re not as big as they once were.
Kaili Martin, Marine and Enviornmental Studies major, focused on studying “Exploring growth of Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis) in Regulatory Area 3A.” In her presentation, she explored the factors that may have caused a decrease in size of halibut aged 13-15 years in recent decades, looking at competition with the Arrowtooth Flounder, diet, and other factors. While her findings were inconclusive, she gave suggestions for future work including stable isotope analysis, environmental covariates, and spatiotemporal analysis.
There is no absolute definition of “adventure.”
Outdoor Studies major Ian McDermod intertwined his senior project with that of three other senior students during a kayaking trip down a portion of the Yukon River. Unlike the other three, who focused on elements of psychology and sustainability, McDermod chose to create an outdoor documentary film titled “The Elucidation of Adventure,” to better understand why adventure is often considered to be a valuable meaning making experience and to inspire others to partake in their own adventures. In it, he explored themes like self-reliance, unpredictability, and self-discovery. He also asked each of the other kayakers what “adventure” meant to them and if their trip classified as an adventure. Each character, he said, described it differently.
Locally grown food helps with Alaskan food security.
Liberal Studies major Cayley Eller spoke about “Food System Mapping as a Tool for Addressing Food Security in Alaska,” during her presentation. In it, she argued a comprehensive visual analysis of regional food systems components allows Alaska to take steps to improve access to healthy, affordable food for the state’s citizens. Her key recommendations, given the data, were to: foster subsistence harvesting and related skills; build personal capacities in agriculture; expand agriculture and gardening; build infrastructure and adopt state policy that supports local food production; focus consumer attention to staying loyal to Alaska-grown food; expand food processing and manufacturing for in-state markets; strengthen internal food distribution networks; and strengthen statewide transparency and coordination.
If you enter the United States from Canada on a kayak on the Yukon River, you need to report reentry via a customs phone in the first town.
Becca Erdmann, Outdoor Studies major, was one of three students who spent 54 days kayaking 1,800 miles from Whitehorse, Canada to St. Mary’s, Alaska while conducting research for her senior project. Erdmann’s project explored what happens psychologically to those who spend extended time in the wilderness. For it, she had her two subject’s complete daily logs documenting there stress levels and what coping mechanisms they used.
Bears are naturally inquisitive.
Sarah Giossi’s Marine and Environmental Studies project involved bear proofing a camera used for data, as the animals like to check out the new elements in their environment. The camera was put in place to study if brown bears were eating the sea otters and harbor seals on Shakun Island in Katmai National Park that the USGS was studying. For the month of May, Giossi watched the 568 hours of usable footage for evidence of predation. Of those 568 hours, bears only came into view for 8.5 hours and of that, were seen feeding for just under an hour. Even though it was a small percentage of the time, it proved their theory that the brown bears were eating the sea mammals.
Alaska has the highest cost of energy in the United States
Marine and Environmental Studies major Royanne Westlund’s project focused on creating an educational kit to go to Alaskan schools to deploy renewable energy lessons. Composed of a wind turbine kit, a hydropower kid, solar panels with motors, kilowatt kits, and an energy meter, the intention of said kits is that the demonstrations will give students a better retention of the information, as opposed to just lectures. Westlund also determined which school districts to send the kits to (Ketchikan, Bethel, Homer, Kodiak and Sitka) by looking at geothermal, hydropower and solar power data to see which areas in Alaska had the most potential to start or expand upon a renewable energy program.
Domestic violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime in the United States
Psychology major Martina Diamond spoke about domestic violence during her presentation. In it, she gave statistics on physical and psychological abuse, covered various coping strategies, and highlighted her project, which included developing and delivering informational handouts on domestic violence.
The phrase “postpartum depressression” is an umbrella term for six types of postpartum depression.
Those types being maternity blues, postpartum panic, postpartum obsessive-compulsive, postpartum bipolar II, postpartum posttraumatic, and postpartum psychosis, according to Psychology major Kayleigh Gilbert’s presentation. Her presentation also covered the merits of support groups and education.
Universally, the “preferred” waist-to-hip ratio for men is .7.
Psychology major Nicole Zegiestowsky delivered a presentation titled “Shakira was right, Hips Don’t Lie: Evolutionary Psychology Examines Attraction.” She explained that over time humans have evolved certain traits to help them better attract mates (like men being larger than women, because they had to physically compete for mates and women depositing fat on their hips to signal to mates that they’d have more ease in child birthing). For her presentation, Zegiestowsky surveyed people outside the Consortium Library about their preferred ratios for both waist-to-hip and lumbar curvature to see how her results would compare to that of other psychologists.
Chess has been around for 1,500 years.
Jonathon Singler’s presented on one of his passions: chess. In his presentation, titled “Chess in Academic: A Social Blunder and Educational Brilliancy,” Singler argued that chess isn’t merely a game, but also a learning tool. His vision is to create a degree in chess – he argued that the skills and competences learned while playing chess would create a truly innovative educational experience.