Electronic Theses and Dissertations

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This collection of theses and dissertation in BEARdocs contains selected theses and dissertations from Baylor University departments that offer graduate degrees. Please note that this is NOT a complete collection of Baylor theses. To search all Baylor theses, use OneSearch, the Baylor Libraries' online catalog.

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Now showing 1 - 20 of 3178
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    Tolerance and “belief-sensitive pluralism.”
    (2023-08) Love, Chris W., 1988-; Beckwith, Francis.
    This dissertation explores timely subjects that pertain to the limits and nature of tolerance. Should governments enact hate speech laws? Ought we to prohibit speech and other actions on the basis of appeals to psychological and dignitary harm? Should we endorse recent efforts to revise or reject the traditional conception of tolerance, so as to justify the demand for “identity recognition”? The dissertation takes its launching point from a stand-alone chapter that explores yet another timely subject of debate: how to interpret the actions of those who oppose certain forms of LGBTQ policy. In the course of that chapter, I argue that we have a duty to try and understand the actions of others according to their own beliefs, and especially their own worldview beliefs, relevant to the subject at hand. Only then can we form a just view about the will behind those actions and, hence, avoid gross mischaracterizations of those agents. I call the duty in question “belief-sensitive pluralism.” It is a duty of interpretation or, more precisely, of contextualization. Not only does belief-sensitive pluralism promise to transform current debates over LGBTQ policy in wholesome ways, but it also bears importantly on the above questions about tolerance. In particular, the application of sensitive pluralism strengthens traditional worries about the ethics of hate speech laws, in ways that demand the attention of citizens and governments alike; it reveals serious complications with the categories of psychological and dignitary harm, which make those criteria unfit for a pluralistic society; and it shows that efforts to revise or reject the traditional conception of tolerance, in order to justify modern calls for identity recognition, make immoral demands of citizens. In these respects, belief-sensitive pluralism sheds much-needed light on areas of contemporary concern. Readers who worry that the widespread practice of belief-sensitive pluralism would transform political society in ways that cannot be squared with liberalism—or, at least, Rawlsian liberalism, with its careful avoidance of worldview considerations, given their propensity to divide citizens—will find a concluding chapter on that subject. It maintains that Rawlsian liberalism and belief-sensitive pluralism can be reconciled.
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    Reconstructing the early Paleocene light environments using fossil Platanites from the San Juan Basin, New Mexico, and its implications for stomatal pCO2 reconstructions.
    (2023-08) Geng, Jie, 1997-; Peppe, Daniel J.
    In the last two decades, stomatal proxies have been extensively used to reconstruct the concentrations of paleoatmospheric CO2 (pCO2) based on the well-established negative correlation between stomatal density (SD) and pCO2. However, various light environments within a fossil flora, known to influence many plant traits, including SD, were rarely discussed in most previous pCO2 reconstructions. We collected one well-preserved early Paleocene flora from the San Juan Basin, New Mexico, that is dominated by Platanites. We then analyzed the light environment of this flora based on leaf epidermal cell wall undulations, quantified by undulation index (UI), and the range of leaf carbon isotope. We found a negative correlation between UI and SD, which indicates that leaves under higher light intensities produce higher SD. Importantly, we observed a positive correlation between UI and reconstructed pCO2 using a leaf gas-exchange model, and we recommend future pCO2 reconstructions using stomatal proxies also assess variations caused by canopy light environments.
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    “My country ‘tis of thee” : How the anti-establishment narrative of church history led Baptists to embrace America.
    (2023-08) Huneycutt, Jacob T., 1999-; Elder, Robert, 1981-
    This thesis traces the development, use, and influence of the “Anti-establishment Narrative of Church History,” particularly among white, southern Baptists in the United States between the Revolutionary War period and the early twentieth century. This narrative, which originated in late-sixteenth century England, portrayed church-state establishment, power, and money as having tarnished the church from the time of Constantine onward. Southern, white Baptist leaders of various sorts often appealed to this narrative of church history as a warning. The narrative consistently influenced how they interpreted intra-denominational and political disputes. Ironically, even though this narrative decried the church and the state becoming intertwined, from the time of the Revolutionary War onward, Baptists influenced by it embraced America. Due to the United States’ republican and disestablished character, Baptists felt that after centuries of true Christianity being oppressed, America was God’s deliverance.
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    Toward improved in vitro models for human health risk assessment : mechanisms of short-chain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) toxicity.
    (2023-08) Solan, Megan E., 1995-; Lavado, Ramon.
    The global prevalence of manufactured chemicals lacking comprehensive toxicological profiles poses a significant challenge. This issue is exemplified by the widespread contamination of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) worldwide. Despite their extensive use in various consumer products, the persistent and toxic nature of PFAS was not fully understood until after their global dissemination. As scientific knowledge advanced and regulatory bodies took action, short-chain alternatives were introduced to replace problematic precursors. However, these alternatives still lack sufficient toxicity data, emphasizing the need for robust chemical safety assessments. Initiatives to develop rapid and cost-effective solutions that utilize exposure-based strategies, hypothesis-driven tiered systems, and animal-free toxicological testing techniques have evolved in response to these issues. While in vitro high-throughput screening (HTS) methods have shown promise, their integration into the existing chemical risk assessment framework faces obstacles concerning physiological relevance. The overarching objective of this dissertation was to enhance our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the toxicity of short-chain PFAS and to develop improved in vitro models for human health risk assessment. The specific aims of this research are as follows: (1) comprehensively review the current state of in vitro methods employed in assessing human health risks associated with PFAS; (2) compare the cytotoxicity profiles of seven PFAS in six human cell lines; (3) investigate the impact of short-chain PFAS on oxidative stress biomarkers in human liver, kidney, muscle, and microglia cell lines; (4) examine the effects of short-chain PFAS on human cytochrome P450 (CYP450) enzymes; and (5) evaluate the influence of short-chain PFAS on gene expression profiles relevant to toxicity using a liver-on-a-chip model. The findings of this research have the potential to impact decision-making processes related to PFAS, the management of PFAS risks, and the development of alternative PFAS compounds. By shedding light on the toxicity mechanisms and enhancing in vitro models, this dissertation contributes to the advancement of human health risk assessment and aids in the development of safer alternatives to PFAS.
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    Synthesis of boron, antimony, and bismuth diiminopyridine complexes and reactivity with tris(ortho-carboranyl)borane.
    (2023-08) Tidwell, John R., 1996-; Martin, Caleb D.
    Diiminopyridines (DIMPYs) are a unique ligand class capable of multi-site substitution to fine tune coordination. This ligand framework offers multiple binding modes and the potential for stabilization of abnormal oxidation states due to the ligand’s inherent redox activity. The utility of DIMPY metal complexes has garnered a multitude of attention as they are capable of facilitating polymerization reactions, selective hydrogenation, hydroboration, hydrosilylation, transfer hydrogenation, methanol reforming, carbene transfer, insertion chemistry (C-N, N-H, O-H), cyclopropanation, epoxidation, and various other named reactions. More than 50 elements across the periodic table are successfully synthesized bound to the pincer DIMPY ligand. The original work in this dissertation includes generating the first known examples of boron(bidentate), antimony(tridentate), and bismuth(tridentate) complexes. This completes group 13 of the periodic table in regard to complexation, reveals that row 2 elements can in fact bind to the DIMPY ligand, and provides further insight into potential complexes to explore the aforementioned catalytic processes and reactions. Boranes are desirable synthetic tools due to their ability to catalyze transformations, hydroboration reactions, and form frustrated Lewis pairs with increasing interest in regard to their design and stability. Tris(pentafluorophenyl)borane [B(C6F5)3] has been the benchmark Lewis acid and as history shifts toward a green approach, our lab generated a fluorine-free Lewis superacid, tris(ortho-carboranyl)borane. In exploration of its catalytic capabilities, we needed to understand the stability of our newly formed catalyst with E-H functional groups. We observed that with O-H and N-H bearing substrates protodeboronation is observed forming new bis(ortho-carboranyl)borane-based products whereas with S-H, P-H, and B-H substrates, no reaction was observed. This information is invaluable when considering catalyst screening and therefore is disclosed herein.
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    Developing an understanding of behavioral and transcriptional implications for the chiral cyanotoxin anatoxin-a and caffeine in common larval fish models.
    (2023-08) Lovin, Lea M., 1994-; Brooks, Bryan W.
    Neuroactive compounds are widely and routinely detected aquatic contaminants. With multitudes of chemicals having known and unknown neuroactivity and the sensitivity of early neurodevelopment to contaminant insults, early life stage assays are crucial for understanding hazards of these chemicals to public health and the environment. However, one of the most widely used developmental in vivo assays, the OECD fish embryo toxicity test with zebrafish (Danio rerio), an increasingly common alternative vertebrate model, has been shown to be insensitive to many neuroactive chemicals. Therefore, complimentary approaches such as behavioral and gene expression assays have been used to increase sensitivity, but robust and standardized methods for these endpoints are uncommon. This dissertation primarily focuses on the chiral cyanobacterial neurotoxin anatoxin-a, and considers the neurostimulant caffeine, aiming to elucidate behavioral and transcriptional effects while heeding efficiency of compound and animal use. It further considers environmental relevance, stereospecific effects, species sensitivity, and variability of behavioral assays based on arena size. Specifically, a meta-analysis of the current state of anatoxins research in aquatic systems was performed using environmental exposure distributions (EEDs), and collating bioaccumulation and toxicity data, for which quality was inconsistent. Applying EED information, two alternative vertebrate models, zebrafish and fathead minnows, were exposed to environmentally relevant and higher levels of the commonly studied, synthetic (±) anatoxin-a to compare photolocomotor and gene expression responses, with caffeine as a positive methodological control. Whereas zebrafish were highly insensitive to the racemate, the toxin caused significant hypoactivity and transcriptional changes in fathead minnows. This design was repeated with the naturally produced (+) enantiomer. Mortality was caused by multiple treatment levels in fathead minnows and zebrafish, along with behavioral and gene expression changes, with fathead minnows again being more sensitive to several response variables. To further examine comparative behavioral methods used here and previously, the influence of arena size on behavioral responses of naïve and caffeine exposed zebrafish was investigated to understand inherent variability of the experimental observation arena. This dissertation identified novel anatoxin-a consequences, how effects may be underestimated by studies employing racemic mixtures, and the importance of behavioral methodologies in comparative studies with common fish models.
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    Impacts of long-range transport of biomass burning on air quality in Texas.
    (2023-08) Shrestha, Sujan, 1992-; Sheesley, Rebecca Jacobs.
    The objective of this dissertation is to (1) provide a detailed analysis of the concentration, trends, and emission ratios of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and trace gases in major cities in Texas: San Antonio, and Houston, and (2) investigate the physical and chemical properties of transported biomass burning (BB) smoke and their impact on background air quality in Port Aransas, an industrialized coastal site in Texas. To achieve these objectives, mobile and stationary field experiments were conducted to measure the impact of local emissions and transported pollution on air quality in Texas cities. The inter-site comparison of VOCs and trace gases across the San Antonio metropolitan area revealed significant geospatial and temporal variabilities in emissions and processing within this metropolitan area. Further, VOCs concentrations and emission sources were compared for two growing Texas locations in San Antonio and Houston. The results indicate that Texas cities have complex emission scenarios and that future efforts to mitigate ozone (O3) and particulate matter may require various emission reduction strategies. Two long-range transport BB events (BB1 and BB2) were identified at Port Aransas. Several aerosol- and gas-phase BB tracers were evaluated to identify and characterize these long-range transported BB events in an industrialized location. The aerosol composition and optical properties exhibited good agreement with the BB designation, while acetonitrile and carbon monoxide (CO) trends were less specific for identifying dilute BB plumes. The air pollutant measurements in Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Continuous Ambient Monitoring (CAMS) and Black and Brown Carbon (BC2)- aerosol optical monitoring networks in Texas revealed potential regional impacts of these transported BB events on urban O3 levels. Overall, this chapter supports implementing an extended network of aerosol optical measurements to identify the influence of BB plumes, especially in cities designated as nonattainment or marginal nonattainment of criteria air pollutants.
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    Exploring the clinical utility of myotonometry to identify neuromuscular impairments in individuals with low back pain.
    (2023-08) McGowen, Jared M., 1979-; Koppenhaver, Shane.
    Low back pain (LBP) is one of the most reported musculoskeletal disorders amongst adults. Identifying LBP-related impairments with reliable and valid clinical measures is recommended to improve clinical decisions and rehabilitation outcomes. Myotonometry is an objective method to reliably quantify the property of muscle stiffness through portable, handheld devices. Individuals with LBP have demonstrated increased stiffness in lumbar musculature, but this has only been determined under limited conditions (prone and/or relaxed). The aim of these studies was to determine the test-retest reliability of myotonometry in lumbar (lumbar multifidus [LM], longissimus thoracis [LT]) and thigh (vastus lateralis [VL], biceps femoris [BF]) musculature with participants in standing and deadlifting postures. Secondly, a cross-sectional design was used to compare stiffness of the LM, LT, VL, and BF muscles of individuals with and without LBP across standing and deadlifting postures. Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC3,2) of the stiffness measures were good to excellent in all muscles across the standing position ( ICCs: VL = 0.94 [0.87-0.97], BF = 0.97 [0.93-0.98], LM = 0.96 [0.91-0.98], LT = 0.81 [0.59-0.91], and were excellent in all muscles across the deadlifting position (ICCs: VL = 0.95 [0.89-0.98], BF = 0.94 [0.87-0.97], LM = 0.96 [0.92-0.98], LT = 0.93 [0.86-0.97]). Within the deadlift condition there was a significantly greater increase in the percent-muscle stiffness change that occurred in the VL (p = .029, 21.9%) and BF (p = .024, 11.2%) muscles for the control group. There were no differences in percent-muscle stiffness changes for the standing condition nor were there any absolute muscle stiffness differences between the two groups for the standing or deadlifting conditions. These results may expand the research and clinical applications of myotonometry to identify muscular deficits and track intervention effectiveness. Future studies should seek to expand on these findings by using myotonometry to further investigate the relationships between muscle stiffness and deadlift performance in LBP populations of varying degrees of pain and disability.
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    Synthesis and biological evaluation of structurally diverse indole-based analogues as inhibitors of tubulin polymerization and synthesis of drug-linker constructs cleavable by enzymes present in the tumor microenvironment.
    (2023-08) Ren, Wen, 1995-; Pinney, Kevin G.
    A sub-set of inhibitors of tubulin polymerization that bind to the colchicine site demonstrate dual functionality as both potent cytotoxins (antiproliferative agents) and effective vascular disrupting agents (VDAs). Our previous studies led to the discovery of a potent inhibitor of tubulin polymerization and cancer cell growth, OXi8006, and its water-soluble phosphate prodrug salt, OXi8007, which functioned as a promising VDA in mouse models of cancer. To expand our understanding of the relationship between structure and activity, we generated analogues that incorporated indole modifications and separately incorporated a piperazine motif. A number of compounds from these focused libraries showed robust inhibition of tubulin polymerization and potent cytotoxic effects against human cancer cells. The most promising of these molecules were further assessed for their efficacy to function as tumor-selective vascular disrupting agents (VDAs). Antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) have emerged as a promising therapeutic approach to the treatment of various cancer types. Several small-molecule inhibitors of tubulin polymerization that demonstrate dual-functionality as highly potent antiproliferative agents and VDAs offer promise as next generation payloads. Further selective targeting is provided by betabodies, which are engineered proteins that selectively target accessible phosphatidylserine (PS). Two small-molecule dual-mechanism payloads, KGP18 and KGP156, were synthetically tethered to drug-linker constructs featuring protease-cleavable short peptides. The most promising drug-linker constructs will be conjugated to PS-targeting betabodies in future studies. The potent payloads, KGP18 and KGP156, are capable of inducing tumor damage through two complementary and distinct mechanisms: inducing irreversible damage to tumor-associated vasculature to promote tumor necrosis and inhibiting proliferation in tumor cells. Although PS-targeting betabodies are highly specific for tumors and tumor-associated vasculature, they are not efficiently internalized within cells. As a result, the dual-mechanism payloads are designed to be released from BDCs through cleavage of linkers by extracellular proteases, such as urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) or plasmin, that are upregulated or activated in the tumor microenvironment. We have incorporated plasmin-targeted (D-Ile-L-Phe-L-Lys) and uPA-targeted (Gly-Gly-L-Arg) short peptide sequences within the constructs bearing KGP18 and separately KGP156 payloads.
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    Computational tools for data visualization, Bayesian Deming regression, and software documentation.
    (2023-08) Otto, James M., 1997-; Kahle, David J.
    This dissertation consists of three chapters that, while unified under the broad context of the development of “computational tools”, are generally distinct. In the first chapter, we propose the ggdensity package for visualizing “highest density regions” in R by extending the ggplot2 package for data visualization. In the second chapter, we develop Bayesian models for hierarchical Deming regression data, providing an implementation with the BayesDeming R package. We also apply the proposed models to example data, with an application to a chemistry, manufacturing, and controls project at a major US pharmaceutical company. Finally, we propose the tldr package, providing a system of “example-forward” documentation in the R console. Included in the discussion is the accompanying tldrDocs package, providing documentation for popular base R functions.
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    Creating the world of Amélie : an exploration of process and product.
    (2023-08) Nordgren, Cassie, 1986-; Denman, Stan.
    This thesis provides a comprehensive account of my role as the director and choreographer of the musical Amélie at Baylor University Theatre in the fall of 2022. It analyzes the script, characters, and themes of the production, examining them through the lens of Linda Hutcheon’s theory of adaptation, and documents the tangible theatrical concepts that emerged as a result. Furthermore, this thesis delves into the collaborative process with the Baylor University faculty, students, and guest artists involved in creating the magical world of Amélie and discusses noteworthy accomplishments and navigated challenges. The primary objective of this analysis considers whether the Baylor University Theatre production of Amélie successfully met the unique needs, expectations, and goals set forth for the creative process and onstage performances as a means of assessing my strengths and weaknesses as a director.
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    Chaos on non-compact metric spaces.
    (2023-08) Mohn, Jasmin, 1995-; Raines, Brian Edward, 1975-
    Distributional chaos, ω-chaos, and the specification property have been the subject of much inquiry in dynamical systems in the last 50 years. Several results link the specification property to both distributional chaos and ω-chaos in compact dynamical systems. We focus our study of distributional chaos on a shift space over a countable alphabet with the product topology and the usual shift map, which is known as the Baire Space. We prove that on the Baire Space subshifts of finite type exhibit dense distributional chaos and subshifts of bounded type that are perfect and have a dense set of periodic points also have distributional chaos. We also show that in this context a subshift with a generalized form of the specification property must have distributional chaos. For ω-chaos, we focus on Lindelöf dynamical systems. In particular, if a system exhibits a generalized version of the specification property and has at least three points with mutually separated orbit closures, then the system exhibits dense ω-chaos.
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    Common mode elimination in GaN three-phase four-leg inverters and the performance comparisons with traditional Si inverters using multiple modulation strategies.
    (2023-08) Li, Chenguang Caleb, 1996-; Jouanne, Annette von.
    This dissertation presents a novel wide bandgap four-leg inverter with common mode (CM) voltage elimination implemented using a Typhoon HIL 402 as the system-level controller. The four-leg inverter is built using GaN devices to minimize the switching losses and is controlled through pulse density modulation (PDM), and the comparison between PDM and pulse width modulation (PWM) are discussed. The comprehensive overview for current state-of-the-art CM elimination techniques and novel EMI filter designs for GaN four-leg inverters are included. The CM elimination method implemented in the GaN four-leg inverter satisfies the MIL-STD-1399 requirements including maintaining balanced voltages during unbalanced load conditions. The MIL-STD-461G conducted emission (CE) limits for current and voltage (CE101 and CE102 respectively) are also met without the use of a CM choke. Both simulation and experimental results are presented to demonstrate the efficacy of the novel control method. Different modulation strategies are detailed and compared to understand switching losses and dc-bus utilization between GaN inverters and Si inverters in motor drive applications. In addition, the comprehensive experimental results are provided for motor drive applications at 230V under varying load conditions including the effects of deadtime on the proposed CM elimination approach and in meeting the standard requirements, as well as the approaches to increase dc-bus utilization without interfering with the CM elimination method.
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    A practical theology of online and hybrid worship.
    (2023-08) Huerter, Michael E., 1991-; Ingalls, Monique Marie.
    This dissertation presents a historical, theological, and ethnographic study of media technologies and their use in musical Christian worship and other mediated community rituals. In this dissertation, I argue that responsible engagement with online worship and digital religious rituals necessitates being aware of historical patterns of how churches have responded to technological innovation, reframing four important concepts, and reimagining community by attending to the specific affordances of online media. Historical patterns can be seen in the arrival and impact of the printing press, the radio, and the television; each new technology raised pressing questions, challenged existing structures, and changed how church music was made and shared. These patterns can lead to greater understanding of the Internet and its effect on church music. In a time when online information and connections are overabundant, and human attention to meaningful relationship and formation are scarce, practices of Christian discipleship must take these cultural and technological forces into account. The four concepts mentioned above include participation, embodiment, mediation, and virtuality. These categories are sticking points in popular conversations around online worship practices, and the discipline of church music must deepen and clarify its understanding of and use of these terms in order for scholarship to meet the needs of practitioners and local communities. Examining these topics through an interdisciplinary lens allows the discipline of church music to move toward a hybrid understanding of music ministry that includes both online and offline experiences, as the rest of human life in the twenty-first century does. To further this conversation, I offer digital ethnography of several online communities. These communities are not all associated with religious practices per se, but they offer instructive patterns of the community-forming possibilities available in the digital age. This dissertation offers new perspectives on crucial issues facing church music in the twenty-first century. Particularly since the sudden shift to online worship in early 2020 necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, these questions are essential and of existential concern for the future of the church.
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    A polynomial approximation to the inverse of a matrix.
    (2023-08) Henningsen, Joel A., 1992-; Morgan, Ronald Benjamin,1958-
    We develop a surprisingly accurate polynomial approximation to the inverse of a large matrix, i.e. p(A) ⇡ A1. This polynomial is implemented using the roots of the GMRES polynomial, or harmonic Ritz values, and can be used to solve multiple right-hand sides as well as trace estimates to the inverse of a matrix. Issues with stability that arise with applying a high-degree polynomial are discussed. In addition, we give bounds on the error of our approximate inverse and illustrate how accurate the approximation can be in practice.
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    Exploring student integration into academic and social systems using Tinto’s theory of student departure : a qualitative case study of student connectedness at a metropolitan university in the midwest.
    (2023-08) Faust, Kelsi M., 1995-; Sloan, Amy M.
    Declining retention is one of the greatest challenges higher education battles today. Large universities with broad admissions standards and high commuter populations face challenges to retaining students. Historical and systemic issues impact first-generation, low-income, and non-White students. Access institutions attract students considered most likely to drop-out. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated ongoing problems while also creating new challenges relating to virtual learning and student mental health in these institutions. Academic advisors work with students every day with the goal to retain them. However, many advisors face high caseloads causing time constraints and limited ability to foster relationships with students. Tinto’s Theory of student departure was the guide to this qualitative, case study. I reviewed an intake questionnaire from five students then proceeded to interview the students to understand their experiences with an advising office. Further, I analyzed documents relating to advising to provide triangulation in the study. The university I selected had low retention rates, yet the students’ program had extremely high retention rates. The study focused on advising students at access institutions who were more likely to face higher chances of dropping out. The purpose of this case study was to understand the impact of an academic advising office on student persistence by analyzing formal and informal social and academic connections fostered by academic advisors. With proper time and ability, I found that advising can fulfill formal and informal social and academic influences. Administrators must advocate for realistic caseloads for academic advisors. Advisors must foster intentional and relational communication and advising practices outside of course selection. Students, specifically those more likely to drop-out, need to utilize advising regularly. Further researchers must continue to study advising caseloads at access institutions. The study showed the need for investment into advising that can include both social and academic influences for students at access institutions.
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    The marriage of heaven and earth in Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s A Drama of Exile, Sonnets from the Portuguese, and “The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim’s Point.”
    (2023-08) Chorn, Savannah, 1999-; King, Joshua S., 1979-
    In this project, I analyze Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s (EBB’s) mid-career poetry alongside her desire for the union of heavenly and earthly, sacred and secular subjects. Other scholars have identified this union in her later work, Aurora Leigh, but EBB’s seemingly downward trajectory, from heaven-focused in her early career to increasingly earth-concerned in her mid-career work, has often prompted critics to align EBB’s poetic career with supposed secularization of Victorian culture. However, the three mid-career texts I examine in this thesis – A Drama of Exile, Sonnets from the Portuguese, and “The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim’s Point” – exhibit growth and maturation of her theological thought from one work to the next and show her testing and working out the necessary elements for a heaven and earth union. Immanence and incarnation, rather than transcendence alone, play a vital role in these texts. I also read these works as hospitable to a postsecular lens, as postsecularism is interested in breaking down the binary between the sacred and secular. In all three works, love – between humans and reflective of Christ’s divine love – is what enacts the marriage of heaven and earth.
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    Writing and directing the short film "Before it's gone."
    (2023-08) Amick, Luke, 1996-; Hansen, Christopher J.
    This thesis details the conception, production, and analysis of my thesis film “Before It’s Gone.” Following an amnesiac as he investigates a lead to his lost past, the film is seated in questions of time, memory, and grief, and dramatizes the ways in which the past forms the foundation of our present. Such questions are also examined through the various philosophical (Henri Bergson, Gilles Deleuze), literary (Marcel Proust, Patrick Modiano), and filmic (Orson Welles, Alain Resnais) influences that informed the film. As an academic turned filmmaker, this thesis also chronicles my first forays into filmmaking, as well as the lessons learned throughout the production of “Before It’s Gone.”
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    Seeking familiar faces in restricted academic spaces : a single case study exploring how students of color access advanced placement and international baccalaureate programs and experience a sense of community and belonging.
    (2023-08) Castle, Erin R., 1984-; Foster, Marquita D.
    Since 2018, no more than 39% of Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) students at Flatland High School (FHS) have been Black or Latinx, while these combined populations represented an average of 66% of the school’s annual population. In contrast, White or Asian students constituted up to 55% of AP or IB, but an average of only 32% of the school’s population. Researchers have extensively studied racial inequity in advanced coursework, but no current research explores the historical context of FHS and the ongoing inequity within its unique system. This embedded single case design explored what facilitators of or barriers to AP or IB membership academically motivated students of color perceived and how students assessed belonging in the racially disproportionate AP or IB community. The study utilized a semi-structured interview and questionnaire with six high school graduates who took AP or IB classes at FHS. The study answered the following questions: What school influences do academically motivated students of color perceive as facilitating or obstructing their membership in AP or IB programs? How do students of color assess belonging in racially disproportionate AP or IB communities? The participants reflected the demographic categories most often underrepresented in AP and IB classrooms: Black and Latinx students. The study found that students perceived four facilitators of or barriers to AP or IB membership: familial support or influence throughout schooling, academic experience in elementary through 10th grade, knowledge of AP or IB and their autonomy to choose it, and perceptions of the program rigor or community. The study also found that participants perceived community leaders (teachers) and community members (peers) as facilitators of or barriers to developing a deeper sense of community through influence, reinforcement, and shared emotional connection. The findings have implications for the subsequent development of district policies that enable broader access to foundational coursework for AP and IB. The findings also have implications for campus and classroom policies and practices that strengthen students’ sense of belonging in AP and IB communities.
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    Beyond separation and accommodation : Sandra Day O'Connor on religion and the political order.
    (2023-08) Norman-Krause, Hannah, 1994-; Kleinerman, Benjamin A.
    This dissertation examines the American Supreme Court’s political thought concerning religion as it is revealed through its Establishment Clause jurisprudence. Scholarship on the Court’s Establishment jurisprudence tends to focus on the legal theories employed by the various justices and therefore also the legal consequences of the Court’s decisions. This project approaches these opinions from a theoretical perspective, analyzing the justices’ particular theoretical understandings of religion and how it philosophically fits within the American community’s political order. After arguing that the Court has assumed that the religion protected by the First Amendment is believed as opposed to enacted, individualist as opposed to communal, and voluntarist as opposed to received, the dissertation examines the two main approaches the Supreme Court has taken to adjudicate Establishment claims—Separation and Accommodation—showing that both approaches presume this theory of religion, therefore also assuming that religion must be privatized. Turning to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s jurisprudence, the project suggests an alternative approach to religion within the American political community, arguing that O’Connor’s theoretical approach creates space for religion within the American political community. Reading her Free Exercise and Establishment jurisprudence in conjunction with each other shows that she presumes that religious freedom is political in character, and therefore becomes intelligible through religious persons’ participation in the American political community as religious persons.
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