Doctoral Dissertations

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    Investigating Student Discourse and Representational Understanding in an Electrochemistry Lab
    (Middle Tennessee State University, 2023) Hunter, vichuda Kaveparsit ; Phelps, Amy J ; Sanger, Michael J ; Kaplan, Jennifer J ; Chong, Ngee ; Ding, Keying
    ABSTRACT Chemistry is considered a difficult subject by most students. Its difficulty lies in Chemistry’s complex and abstract nature. This highly abstract nature requires constant interplay and coordination between the macroscopic, particulate, and symbolic representations. Experts can successfully navigate the various representations without overloading their working memory because they can relate their macroscopic observations to the particulate compositions, structures, and properties and express these symbolically. This ability to seamlessly connect the three levels of representations is not intuitive to novices/students. Working with all three representations can lead to cognitive overload as the novice thinks about all three representations independently. The laboratory seems to be the place where students learn to navigate the three levels of representation, and the chemistry department has invested time and money in laboratory courses. This study investigated the types of visualizations, hands-on lab, macroscopic visualization (MV); computer simulation lab, particulate visualization (PV); and hands-on and computer simulation simultaneously, macroscopic and particulate (MPV), that occur during electrochemistry laboratory activity and how each type of visualization influenced students’ discourse, interaction, understanding, and connecting the three representations is the main interest. The understanding of what transpires in the laboratory, whom students talked to, what they talked about, and whether the connection between representations occurs during the laboratory activity will help us design a better laboratory activity improve the learning environment for students and justify the cost of running the laboratory.
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    (Middle Tennessee State University, 2023) Bryant, Daniel Laird ; Farone, Anthony L ; Handy, Scott D ; Kline, Paul C ; Miller, Justin M ; Nelson, David E
    Natural products derived from various plants have been used throughout history for many different purposes. One such naturally occurring compound, flavonoids, are responsible for the pigmentation in most flowering plants. Flavonoids have been demonstrated to have unique properties, both biological and photophysical. Various classes of flavonoids exist including flavones and flavonols, which have been studied for their biological activities. Two flavonoids, Quercetin and Apigenin, are commercially available and have been shown to possess anti-inflammatory properties. One derivative of flavone, the aurone, has been predominantly examined for their photophysical properties as fluorophores and their biological activities in cancer cells. Recently, studies have implicated aurones as anti-inflammatories, though their mechanism has yet to be thoroughly elucidated. Aurones are highly modifiable, and many substitutions can be added to either the benzofuranone or benzylidene groups, or both, thus modulating their biological activities and fluorescent properties. Compounds containing the 1,2,3-triazole moiety have been explored for their use as COX-2 inhibitors and as fluorophores. Therefore, it was thought that the incorporation of a 1,2,3-triazole as a modification of existing aurones may lead to similar, if not more potent fluorescent and biological activities. This dissertation explores the use of novel aurone-derived salicyl-substituted 1,2,3-triazoles (ATs) as fluorescence molecules and anti-inflammatory compounds. It was found that, with the appropriate modifications, certain ATs may exhibit such properties. A single representative AT was utilized for each purpose. AT5 was shown to have unique properties as a fluorophore, yielding an excitation and emission spectra with a large Stokes shift, which increased as polarity of the solvent increased and was maximal in phosphate buffered saline, while also increased in other aqueous or protic solutions. Another AT, AT111, was demonstrated to have anti-inflammatory properties, limiting the effect of LPS on the induction of an inflammatory response in macrophages. AT111 lowered the production of inflammatory mediators such as IL-6, MCP-1, and iNOS, while not interfering with expression of other inflammatory proteins such as TNF-α and COX-2. It was determined that AT111 did not mitigate the initial TLR4 driven NF-κB response but did increase phosphorylation of ERK2. AT111 was also shown to increase histone, TRAF4, and MKNK2 transcription in both PMA-differentiated U937 human and RAW 264.7 murine macrophage-like cells. Gene expression profiles, along with the modulation of LPS-induced expression of many inflammatory proteins, but not all attributed to LPS, possibly implicates various mechanisms that are different from those observed in many anti-inflammatory compounds. Though the aforementioned effects were only apparent in the higher micromolar range, this dissertation demonstrates the potential for these novel ATs to function as both a fluorescent and anti-inflammatory scaffold that may be modified to augment these effects.
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    (Middle Tennessee State University, 2023) McDougal, Steph ; West, Carroll ; Taylor-Poleskey, Molly ; Kyriakoudes, Louis ; Graham, Stacey ; McKnight, Kim
    For much of our nation’s history, local governments in the United States strove to keep White and Black people separate from one another and, in many ways, to oppress African Americans in order to preserve the economically and politically dominant White culture. Officials in many cities historically treated Black cemeteries poorly or maliciously, or erased burial grounds by relocating individual graves into a mass grave elsewhere or simply removing grave markers and paving or developing over the site. Today, city officials may still give lower priority to African American cemeteries as local governments struggle to pay for the upkeep of all historic burial grounds that have long since stopped generating income. Such lack of attention extends to scholarly literature in history, archaeology, material culture, and folklore studies, which have largely included only brief mentions of African American culture and burial customs within larger examinations in which White cemetery history and symbology are treated as the default. Studies of Black funereal traditions have been generally limited to the nineteenth century and, especially, the antebellum period, with an emphasis on the potential West African genesis of burial practices documented within the Southern United States. This investigation—through both primary historical/archival research, a close reading of secondary sources, and contemporary data collection methods—seeks to address this gap. It first considers the various ways in which cities came to be in charge of African American cemeteries, and how typical conditions in city-owned African American cemeteries may affect whether those sites are perceived as historic. It next argues that listing in the National Register of Historic Places plays an important role in either facilitating or hindering the recognition of historic cemeteries, which is directly related to funding for physical improvements. Moreover, I assert that the National Register is designed to limit the listing of Black cemeteries. Finally, the dissertation considers approaches to equitable treatment for city-owned African American cemeteries and provides a case study for one city that is attempting to repair past harms. This investigation is particularly timely due to the enactment by the U.S. Congress in December 2022 of the African American Burial Ground Preservation Act and the subsequent implications for cemeteries that might receive grant funds through the National Park Service. Questions of integrity and eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places are immediately pertinent to the preservation and possible restoration of city-owned African American cemeteries, because current assessment guidelines may present institutional barriers that impede efforts to manage, maintain, and improve these cemeteries in an equitable way.
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    Examining the Effect, a First Year Experience Course has on Community College Student Persistence
    (Middle Tennessee State University, 2023) Nieman, Stacey ; Rost, James ; Godwin, Kim ; Krahenbuhl, Kevin
    Persistence, along with retention and completion initiatives, are the focus of institutions of higher education, especially community colleges. There are initiatives that focus on student success that start at orientation and revolve around connecting the student to the college. Students often arrive on campus with a minimal understanding of the what the next two-years at the community college will involve and student success initiatives help students learn how to navigate this journey. The concept of the First-Year Experience Course allows for students to dive deeper into the college experience by learning about time management, organization, campus resources, career exploration, and self-reflection. This study investigated the effect the First-Year Experience course had on student persistence at Volunteer State Community College, a two-year institution located in Gallatin, Tennessee. The research examined archived data provided by the Research, Assessment, and Special Initiatives department. Multiple Chi-square analysis were performed using the variables: completion of the First-Year Experience Course, age, race, and gender to determine their association on student persistence. The completion of the First-Year Experience Course, as well as age, did not have an association with persistence. However, there was a significant association between race and gender on student persistence. Based on the results of this study, further examinations of the First-Year Experience course and persistence should be completed in the context of a qualitative research design to allow for a narrative description of student experiences as it pertains to persistence. Additionally, the recommendations for future research and practical applications include increasing the sample to include all community colleges within the state to provide a larger representation of students.
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    The Impact of Intermittent Pain in Women with Osteoarthritis of the Knee on Biomechanics and Muscle Activation Patterns during Level Walking and Stair Descent
    (Middle Tennessee State University, 2023) Theiss, Conor Laine ; Coons, John ; Bowman, Angie ; Paquette, Maxime
    Osteoarthritis of the knee (KOA) is a degenerative, incurable, and highly debilitating disease. Among those experiencing KOA symptoms, most diagnoses are female. Of the symptoms associated with KOA, none are more detrimental than pain. Existing evidence has established that chronic pain results in irregular muscle activity above and below the knee during activity. This phenomenon, in turn, leads to abnormal joint loading and substantial alterations in gait patterns. However, the understanding of the effects of intermittent pain remains limited. Therefore, the primary objective of study one was to evaluate the impact of intermittent pain on muscle activity above and below the knee during walking and stepdown tasks in women with KOA (n = 7), compared to controls (n = 10). Study two aimed to investigate the influence of intermittent pain on gait parameters, and foot pressure distribution during walking and stepdown tasks among women with KOA (n = 7) compared to controls (n = 10). The findings from study one revealed that intermittent pain significantly altered mean and mean peak muscle activity, in the semitendinosus of the pain group, during the load acceptance phase of a stepdown task. There was no discernible influence of intermittent pain on muscle activity during walking. Study two revealed that there was no significant impact of intermittent pain on gait parameters and foot pressure distribution. Essentially, intermittent pain altered muscle activity, without significantly altering participants' walking patterns or the way force was distributed across the foot. In conclusion, intermittent pain primarily affects muscle activity rather than walking patterns or force distribution. Consideration of additional controls such as disease severity, foot arch height, fitness level, and motion analysis assessment might provide more insights. Given the significance impact of pain, future researchers should incorporate these controls, and others, to precisely investigate the effects of intermittent pain.