The UA Honors Theses collection provides open access to W.A. Franke Honors College theses produced at the University of Arizona, submitted electronically since 2008. Not all students opt to include their theses in the repository, so the collection is not comprehensive.

W.A. Franke Honors College theses from the late 1960s to 2005 are not online and are available only in Special Collections. These theses are not listed in the online catalog, but a separate card catalog for them is available in Special Collections.

Individuals trying to obtain a record or copy of their own W.A. Franke Honors College thesis, such as electronic submissions since 2008 that are not included online, or paper submissions from 2006-2007, should contact the W.A. Franke Honors College.

Important note for students submitting Honors Theses: your thesis must be submitted directly to the W.A. Franke Honors College (not to the repository). The W.A. Franke Honors College delivers approved theses to repository staff at regular intervals when all requirements have been met for Graduation with Honors. Check with your W.A. Franke Honors College advisors and see Honors Thesis/Capstone for more information.


Please refer to the Theses & Dissertations guide for more details about UA Theses and Dissertations, and to find materials that are not available online. Email repository@u.library.arizona.edu with your questions about UA Theses and Dissertations.

Recent Submissions


    Cohen, Zoe; Nangia, Ellen (The University of Arizona., 2023)
    The importance of health disparity and diversity education has increased exponentially in the recent years as attention escalates towards marginalized populations and social change. Health disparities encompass inequalities in care usually found in specific diverse communities. The education of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) with a focus on gaining cultural awareness is discussed within the university setting, specifically the Physiology and Medical Sciences Major at The University of Arizona. Many students lack the knowledge on marginalized communities such as Black, women, LGBTQ+, and lower socioeconomic individuals during their undergraduate career. These populations have seen a direct impact on their quality of healthcare deep-rooted in systematic discrimination and oppression. An understanding of health disparities as a future healthcare provider is crucial and should be implemented before graduate education. The University of Arizona requires one diversity emphasis course as part of their General Education requirements, however many courses chosen to satisfy this do not encourage cultural competency as it relates to social change. Proposed solutions include offering more classes related to health disparities within the Physiology Major curriculum, a requirement to take DEI courses, and an encouraged general education course list.

    Surdeanu, Mihai; Mohseni, Sayyed Faraz (The University of Arizona., 2023)
    This study offers a new solution to political bias classification in news agencies. Our method uses search engine score functions to develop a measure of the relevance of each word in text scrapped from news websites. With these scores, we train models using existing feature selection methods and a custom feature selec-tion algorithm that we developed. The result-ing models are contrasted with each other and BERT-based counterparts. Models trained using our proposed method and custom algorithm outperformed others by achieving macro F1 scores of 0.81 and 0.78 on right-wing and left-wing bias detection respectively, which outper-form transformer-based classifiers by over 0.30.

    Smit, Houston; Miller, Alexandre (The University of Arizona., 2023)
    Aristotle’s account of perception in book three of De Anima sets out by describing a relationship that holds between our power of perception and sensible objects. In order for us to discern the qualities of bodies that can undergo changes, the mind’s power to think about objects must involve a unity of acting and being acted upon. René Descartes continues with this notion of the knowing subject and the object of knowledge, but introduces simple ideas that the intellect can know through intuition. These are used to build out our certain knowledge of composites by uniting simple natures that clearly and distinctly belong together. John Locke proposes that all of our knowledge comes from sensation and reflection, and lacking any innate ideas, we are warranted to use objects of sensation as fundamental material for all of our ideas, because God has instilled these faculties in us. David Hume challenges all appeals to God as grounds of our sense’s reliability, and Kant responds to this skepticism by showing that it leads to pure a priori concepts of the understanding. We will proceed chronologically through these philosopher’s theories to see if we have entitlement to the concept of cause and effect.

    Gutenkunst, Ryan; Fan, Amy (The University of Arizona., 2023)
    Recombination is a key part of evolutionary theory, and understanding the ways selection can bias inferred rates in a population can help us investigate better models for inference. This experiment models the bias in recombination rate inferences on a simulated genome with selection. Using SLiM forward genetic simulation, this experiment creates two basic genomic structures, one with and one without a hotspot. Then, using Pyrho a fine-scaled linkage disequilibrium-based inference model, the experiments reveal how selection biases the linkage disequilibrium model. Notably, with increasing nonsynonymous distribution of fitness effects (DFE), the inferences worsen and show a decreasing trend. This is most notable in the hotspot region of the second genomic structure (with a hotspot). The results show that the assumption of neutral selection in popular population-based inference methods is extremely important and should be addressed. In particular, among organisms with less compact genomes, the issue of selection would become more extreme and disruptive. In future models, this could be taken into consideration to improve inference ability among a diverse set of organisms with different levels of selection in their genome. Understanding how recombination rates differ across the tree of life can also reveal interesting molecular structures which further motivates accuracy in these inference methods.

    Grandner, Michael; Arevalo, Sabrina (The University of Arizona., 2023)
    Many adults in the United States have dysregulated sleep schedules, often staying awake late into the night and not getting quality sleep. Sleep deprivation and nocturnal wakefulness have been shown to cause negative effects on the mind and body, leading to an increased risk of dysregulated behaviors and impulsivity. This, in turn, can have an impact on a person’s eating habits, specifically what and when they eat. Late-night snacking can be a result of nocturnal wakefulness, which can ultimately lead to excess weight gain due to a positive energy balance. With the obesity epidemic that also plagues the United States, it is important to determine the link between sleep deprivation and obesity to lead people toward living a healthy lifestyle. Both obesity and sleep deprivation have been linked to a plethora of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, hypertension, mental health issues, and diabetes. This review aims to determine how the effects of nocturnal wakefulness and sleep deprivation can affect one’s eating habits and risk of weight gain.

    Wilson, Jean; Blum, Isabella Rosario (The University of Arizona., 2019)
    Differential membrane trafficking and modulation of lipid domains establishes and maintains cellular polarity in epithelial cells – these events are controlled largely by small GTPases. We have shown previously that Rab14 acts upstream of Arf6 in the establishment of the apical membrane, but how it interacts with other trafficking machinery is unknown. Rab22 has a polarized distribution in activated T-cells, but its role in epithelial polarity is not known. Here we report the colocalization of Rab14 with Rab22a in endosomes of Madin Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells. Interestingly, Rab22 localizes to the cell:cell interface of polarizing cell pairs, and Rab14 and Rab22 colocalize in adjacent endosomes. Knockdown of Rab22 results in a multi-lumen phenotype in 3D culture, and overexpression of Rab22 in Rab14 knock down cells, results in the production of Rab22-positive extensions. Because of the relationship between Rab14, Rab22, and Arf6, we investigated the interaction of Rab22 with Arf6 GEFs and found that Rab22 co-immunoprecipitates with the Arf6 GEF EFA6. Furthermore, EFA6 is retained in intracellular puncta in Rab22 KD cells. These results suggest that Rab22 acts downstream of Rab14 to regulate Arf6 activity in the establishment of polarity.
  • How Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy May Serve as an Alternate Treatment to Improve Mental Health in Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)

    Moreno, Francisco; NGUYEN, ALICIA LILY (The University of Arizona., 2023)
    Major depressive disorder (MDD), is a prevalent mental illness and mood disorder affecting millions of people worldwide. Despite various treatment options available such as antidepressant medication and psychotherapy, there are a significant proportion of patients diagnosed with MDD who do not respond adequately to these forms of treatment, highlighting the need for an alternative form of treatment for patients with MDD. In recent years, there has been a renewal in scientific inquiry and research in the therapeutic potential of psychedelic substances, including psilocybin, which is a naturally occurring compound found in specific species of mushrooms. Furthermore, numerous clinical studies have revealed that psilocybin-assisted therapy can produce rapid and sustained antidepressant effects among patients with MDD. Psilocybin sessions often involve strict protocol administering an adequate dosage in a tightly controlled setting with a professional psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, or therapist, to carefully monitor and guide the patient throughout the experience. The therapy session aims to enhance the patient's emotional awareness, promote introspection, disrupt depressive rumination, and facilitate a shift in perspective that will lead to lasting changes in mood and behavior.

    Gonzalez, Frank; Zuniga, Samantha (The University of Arizona., 2023)
    The COVID-19 pandemic had a detrimental impact on society, the economy, education, and mental and physical well-being of Americans across the United States. To date, over (insert appropriate number here) cases of COVID-19 and blank deaths have been repeatedly reported in the United States. The U.S government ordered/enacted specific legal policies and mandates to slow the transmission and spreading of the pandemic. The important roles of economic, physical, mental, and racial disparities and disadvantages altered compliance within areas of the United States. Society quickly divided into multiple groups either in support or opposition of these policies. The question is whether this divide was influenced by individual political leanings and beliefs? The “Psychology of COVID Prevention Behaviors in the United States” is focused on analyzing the role of people’s belief systems and the manner in which various psychological traits influence their individual attitudes toward COVID-19 mitigation policies. This study expands on the diverse belief system regarding COVID-19 and its influence on COVID-related policy and behavior. Additionally, incorporating the social theories and ideologies of partisanship, collectivism, individualism, and prejudice to supplement our findings. Our study interacted with populations within the University of Arizona and established with aid from society concentrated areas and prior data publications. According to our hypothesis, participants with a stronger means of individualistic beliefs demonstrate little to no compliance implemented by the government and abiding schools.

    Goldsmith, Melissa; Zimmermann, Reagan (The University of Arizona., 2023)
    The purpose of this thesis is to derive appropriate alcohol intake recommendations for individuals at risk of alcohol abuse, based on evidence-based studies. This will provide individuals with evidence-based education on the safe consumption of alcohol. Alcohol consumption is a prevalent practice, particularly in social settings once individuals reach the legal drinking age. However, there are some contraindications to alcohol use when it becomes excessive. The stigma of adverse effects from alcohol is not as well-known as other drugs. This highlights the need for clear guidelines on safe alcohol consumption. The current evidence suggests that there is no safe level of alcohol use. This evidence-based best practice thesis is centered around a literature review of eight articles from PubMed and a review of alcohol guidelines established by the CDC. Using scholarly sources from the last ten years and keywords alcohol and cancer, the review provides a factual basis for the best practice recommendations, drawing on nursing practices. The outcome of these best practice recommendations was to develop a proposed educational intervention for the public about abstaining from alcohol use to avoid the detrimental effects of cancer in the future. These nursing interventions would be most suitable for individuals at risk or who are alcohol abusers. The evidence linking alcohol consumption to cancer is a proven side effect of its carcinogenic characteristics. However, the definition of excessive alcohol use is unclear to many. By providing clear guidelines and education in the nursing clinical setting, the potential for detrimental outcomes can be significantly reduced.

    Bethard, Steven; Zeng, Winston (The University of Arizona., 2023)
    The Transformer architecture is a deep learning model that adopts the mechanism of self-attention, the ability of a Transformer model to attend to different parts of the input sequence when making predictions. The Transformer differentially weighs the significance of each part of the input data, learning context and meaning by tracking relationships in sequential data, such as the words in a sentence. For Natural Language Generation (NLG), the application of the Transformer was nothing short of a breakthrough. Self and multi-head attention models have proven their efficacy in a variety of textual tasks, including classification, translation, summarization, and generation. However, incorporating numerical information into textual tasks is a relatively novel frontier, especially when said information is vital for assessing the efficacy of automating the summary generation process. In this research, I focus on evaluating pre-trained Transformer-based NLG models, such as the widely popularized and open-source BERT and T5, on USDA grain reports to produce high-quality, information-rich summaries. I conduct a comparative analysis of these models’ performances on a small collection of numerically-oriented commodities reports, and compute two simple yet informative metrics to judge which models perform the best at relaying numerical information in their respective summaries.

    Gerken, LouAnn; Ziegler, Maya (The University of Arizona., 2023)
    Human infants become attuned to their culture’s environment and stimuli through perceptual narrowing. Infants are initially sensitive to all stimuli, regardless of what culture the stimuli belonged to. As infants get older however, they lose this sensitivity and narrow down onto only those stimuli that belong to their culture as that is what they have been continuously exposed to. This literature review focuses on studies done on perceptual narrowing in different domains. The domains of focus include language, face perception, and music. The past research is reviewed in terms of what ways we have found in which infants perceptually narrow in the three domains. We go on to conclude what these past findings have to say about perceptual narrowing being a domain general or domain specific concept.

    Killgore, William D. Scott; Zahorecz, Brianna (The University of Arizona., 2023)
    Life satisfaction decreases as depression severity increases, but we wanted to explore how sleep quality factors into this relationship. Can higher sleep quality restore an individual’s level of life satisfaction, especially in those who are severely depressed? To answer this question, we ran a regression of life satisfaction on sleep quality among individuals of minimal (n=2178), mild (n=624), moderate (n=667), and severe (n=609) depression, using data we collected during a 13-month online cross-sectional study on mental health (April 2020-April 2021). This yielded a separate regression analysis for each depression severity group, with the total score on the Satisfaction With Life Scale as the dependent variable, and responses to Item 6 on the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI)—“During the past month, how would you rate your sleep quality overall?” ranging from “very bad” (coded as 1) to “very good” (coded as 4)—as the independent variable. Our findings showed a significant positive correlation between total SWLS score and PSQI sleep quality score in minimally, mildly, moderately, and severely depressed groups (Rminimal=.187, p<.001; Rmild=.129, p=.001; Rmoderate=.180, p<.001; Rsevere=.438, p<.001). However, the R square value was far larger in the severely depressed group than it was in all other groups (R2adj/severe=.191; versus R2adj/minimal=.034, R2adj/mild=.015, and R2adj/moderate=.031). These findings indicate that better sleep quality more strongly predicts higher life satisfaction in severely depressed individuals, compared to those who are not severely depressed. Thus, interventions that focus directly on improving sleep quality would likely be a meaningful approach to increase life satisfaction in severely depressed individuals.

    Muraco, Joel; Yeager, Caledonia (The University of Arizona., 2023)
    School psychologists work directly with children in educational settings to support their academic success. Adverse childhood experiences interfere with a child’s ability to be successful academically. The present study examines the extent to which practicing school psychologists are familiar with the literature about adverse childhood experiences and the extent to which they utilize measures to capture adverse childhood experiences. Through semi-structured interviews, study participants (N = 3) acknowledge varying degrees of familiarity, while also recognizing that their students often are negatively impacted by adverse childhood experiences. Relatedly, all participants reported additional training would be helpful to them concerning the utilization of adverse childhood experience measures but acknowledge the feasibility of such efforts would be restricted given the limitations of their current position. Collectively, results suggest school psychologists are interested in the literature concerning adverse childhood experiences as it can help inform their practices supporting children in academic settings.

    Westerland, Chad; Yanez, Luisa Fernanda (The University of Arizona., 2023)
    When looking at landmark Supreme Court cases, it becomes clear that there are two main styles of advocacy – one shotters and repeat players. These styles are defined by the tactics that they utilize when arguing in front of the Justices. Although it is not clear if one style is more successful than another, it is interesting to see how they compare to each other and what facts of the case they choose to emphasize. Each was formed in response in response to the court’s reduction of oral argument time and their increased aggression during their argument.

    Sweasy, Joann; Yatsenko, Victoria (The University of Arizona., 2023)
    Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disorder with no cure. In order to develop potential treatments, it is important to understand the molecular pathogenesis of the disease. Using a mouse model developed in our lab with a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the Msh6 gene, we were curious if environmental factors that are associated with SLE would exacerbate its SLE-like phenotype. Patientswith SLE have increased sun sensitivity leading us to explore the effects of ultraviolet B (UVB) light on the MSH6 mouse model. It was found that MSH6 variant mice had a prolonged immunosuppression as compared to their wildtype counterparts after UVB exposure. This points us in future directions exploring the effects of environmental factors, like sunlight, on SLE phenotypes

    Gaither, Joshua; Wise, Jenna (The University of Arizona., 2023)
    In order to improve survival rates for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA), bystander defibrillation is imperative. Nationally, however, only 9 percent of patients who arrested in a public space in 2020 had an automated external defibrillator (AED) applied before medical personnel arrived on scene. The aim of this study was to understand why young adults might not apply an AED in response to a witnessed OHCA. A mixed methodology study was conducted to first quantify the baseline knowledge of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and AED use among young adults. Subsequently, qualitative data was obtained from focus groups to identify common barriers to early defibrillation and to discover interventions that might improve a bystander’s confidence to use an AED. Quantitative data was obtained using a Qualtrics survey distributed to students enrolled in select General Education courses at the University of Arizona, Tucson. Based on those responses, some students were invited to participate in the focus groups. The Qualtrics survey generated 431 responses, and 266 of those students (61.7 percent) had participated in a CPR training course at some point. While 57.9 percent of CPR-trained individuals felt confident about how to use an AED, only 32.7 percent were certain they would apply an AED before EMS arrived on scene. Of the CPR-trained individuals who were invited to participate in focus groups, only 28 students completed a session. Among those 28 students, 57.1 percent felt confident about how to use an AED, but only 42.9 percent believed they would follow through with device application. Potential barriers to early intervention included lack of confidence, inability to pinpoint the location of an AED, fear of litigation, or simply not realizing that defibrillation was time sensitive. Potential solutions included creating media campaigns that reinforce the simplicity of AED operation, building public AED registries, rehearsing CPR skills at more regular intervals with modalities that are free, fast, and convenient, and clarifying/enacting legislation that guarantees bystander protection. Realizing the significance of early defibrillation, young adults agreed that bystander involvement is necessary. They gauged that many of the barriers which preclude eyewitness involvement in OHCA would be eliminated by employing smartphone technology and/or garnering legislative support.

    Melillo, John; Wood, Burke (The University of Arizona., 2023)
    This thesis will be a close reading of Wendell Berry’s 1995 poem, The Farm. This work is a long-form poem in which Berry outlines the tasks and everyday to-dos of life on his farm. He also includes long descriptions of the land on which his farm occupies. In this essay, I will argue how Berry is commenting on the dialectic exchange between the act of saying and the act of doing. This thesis will demonstrate to readers how Berry makes this assessment through the lens of genre, his personal beliefs reflected in the work, and how those beliefs relate to greater philosophy on labor. In my pursuit of these topics, I have found that Berry’s The Farm is classified as a georgic pastoral as it grapples with the way that pastoral lends itself to the language of describing the land, while the georgic lends itself to describing how to tend to that land. I also found the way in which Berry’s personal beliefs are put into action by the way he writes his poetry and the work he does on his farm. And finally, I concluded how Berry’s actualized labor and management of the farm is somewhat in line with Marxist beliefs on community and the alienation of labor.

    Klotz, Marcia; Williamson, Jessica (The University of Arizona., 2023)
    Piper Kerman’s memoir details her experiences within the federal prison system; however, much of her writing disputes the situations often associated with prison that are shown within the media. Media portrayals are often the only source of representation for those not involved in the prison system, and, as such, general audiences have come to expect perpetuated stereotypes. However, Kerman makes a point of sharing how she and her fellow inmates bonded and created a sort of pseudo-family to connect with others and have a support system. While Kerman expected to experience violence and forced sexual encounters, due to the influence of the media she found before entering prison, she was proven wrong. When Netflix adapted Kerman’s memoir to become an original television series, the platform decided to ignore these revelations about the reality of incarceration and instead focused on maintaining the stereotypes audiences have come to expect: violence, homosexuality, and a hypersexualized experience. Consequently, Orange Is the New Black was transformed from being one woman’s personal experience within the American prison system to being hypersexualized stories and images of women created to appease the male gaze.

    Jung, Sung Eun; Wilenius, Maia (The University of Arizona., 2023)
    With the present-day increase in screen-based media, it is important to consider how such media should or should not be integrated into environmental education. Therefore, the goal of this study was to explore how watching recorded nature footage affects children’s perception of nature and to examine whether such effects support environmental educators’ recommendations for raising children into adults who are motivated to protect the Earth. Study participants consisted of 23 first-grade students divided into a control group and experimental group. The experimental group was shown a short clip of recorded nature footage for 15 consecutive school days, and written observations were taken during four of the clips. All students in the control and experimental groups completed surveys about their perceptions of nature, and this was completed both before and after the experimental group engaged in the intervention of watching the recorded nature footage. A select group of students from each group completed interviews before and after the intervention as well. The results indicated that watching recorded nature footage may cause children to associate nature with an academic subject more than with a leisure activity, believe that nature is frightening and distant more often than it is ordinary and nearby, and have increased positive emotions toward animals accompanied by a decreased recognition of rocks and landscapes as being part of nature. These results suggest that showing children recorded nature footage does not support their development of a positive emotional perception of nature.

    Fellous, Jean-Marc; Wieland, Julia (The University of Arizona., 2023)
    The CA1 region of the hippocampus is essential for spatial navigation as it encodes locations and rewards using place cells and reward cells. Many of the navigation tasks using rodents involve the use of cue-rich reward areas to encourage behavior and adverse stimuli such as electrical foot shocks to elicit avoidance. Both reward locations and avoidance areas have been shown to have influences on the properties of CA1 place fields. We focused on the roles of distal and visual cues on rats’ ability to interact with unmarked (no cue, no boundary) positive and weakly cued (no boundary, small mark on the floor) negative zones on an open field arena. When the rat enters the positive zone, it was rewarded at a random feeder on the circumference of the arena, away from the zone. For negative zones, rather than actively punishing the rat with foot shocks, we use reward withdrawal to avoid fear and stress which are known to significantly depend on non-hippocampal structures such as the amygdala. When the rat entered the negative zone, the feeder that was cued was de-activated and a 10-second delay was initiated before another reward location became active. Each experimental session was divided into two halves, baseline and manipulation. During baseline, a local cue on the arena wall and a distal cue on the curtain surrounding the arena were associated with the zone. During the manipulation, 3 conditions were tested: the cues and the zone moved together to a new location; the cues moved, but the zone remained unchanged; or the zone moved, and the cues remained unchanged. Behaviorally, we found that the rats quickly learned to enter the positive zone and receive a subsequent reward elsewhere on the maze. They also learned to avoid the negative zone by gradually adjusting their trajectories. Rats were able to navigate more accurately into the positive zone and avoid the negative zone when the cues and zone moved together, but less so when the cues and zone were moved separately. These results show that pairing the zone and distal cues had a significant effect on the rats' behavior in this task.

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