2 Psychological Science Students to Present Independent Research

The following students (mentored by Dr. James Diller) have been accepted to present their research:


Michael K. Pelletier received funding to present his project, Increasing Composting on a College Campus (co-authored by Melanie Byrne), at the Berkshire Association for Behavior Analysis & Therapy annual meeting.

Rachel Pilver received funding to present her project, Improving the Public Image of Psychology: Who Should Interventions Target?, at the New England Psychological Association annual meeting.

Also present at the conference were the following alumni  who are all pursuing graduate training, from the Behavior Analysis program including Tom Farnsworth and Brett Gelino and Jenna Gray.


4 Political Science Majors Present their Research

The following 4 students (mentored by Dr. Nicole Krassas have been accepted to present their research at the Northeastern Political Science Association 2017 Meeting to be held November 9-11th in Philadelphia. The students and the title of their projects are posted below:

Emma Avery & Tess Candler “Environmental Policy in Congress: The Evolution of the Environmental Debate and the Role of Partisanship”

Mikhela Hull “Explaining Child Protection Policy Failure”

Adam Michael Murphy “Trust in Government: Examining Levels of Trust Among College Aged Individuals”


Project Grant Awarded to Performing Arts

Robyn Barnes and her Mentor Dr. Sokolovskaya have been awarded a project Grant titled “ Practical Investigation of the Role of Undergarments in Shaping the Silhouette of Women’s Period Costumes. ” The purpose of the project will allow for research on the history of undergarments leading to the creation of undergarments for a production of Little Women in November 2017.

CUR Lists Eastern as a Top Institution in Number of Presenters at NCUR

The Council of Undergraduate Research sent a list of institutions with the most student presenters to their membership. Eastern made the list as #28 among the top 31. The list included many schools with much larger student bodies. Eastern had the 3rd largest number of presentations of other COPLAC schools behind Midwestern State and Georgia College. Below is the complete list:

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2 Summer Research Fellowships Awarded

Congratulations to the following students who will be working on their research projects over the summer:

Julia C. Leitao will be working with her mentor Dr. Alycia Bright-Holland on her work titled “Thread City Devising Script/Creative Activity”. This project is part of the Thread City project intended to focus on the the history of Willimantic through immigration stories via a theatre-based production. Julia will be using her fellowship to choreograph parts of the show and complete storyboards.

Jolene Pottter has presented her research with Dr. Mary Kenny titled “Perceptions of Rape Culture on a College Campus” at conferences including NCUR 2017. Jolene will be working on preparing her research for submission for publication later this summer.

Eastern Congratulates 2017 Honors Scholars

Major Psychology Minor: Anthropology
Pursue Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of North Carolina

Thesis Title: Effects of Familiarity and Praise on Learning in the Presence of Others

My thesis aimed to investigate the role of reinforcement and familiarity on changing the impact of social facilitation effects on performance. Social facilitation is a process in which   the presence of others causes a physiological arousal state that results in better performance on easy tasks and worse performance on difficult tasks.   A sample of 108 undergraduates completed two word-list learning tasks (an easy and difficult list) and two surveys measuring motivation and state-anxiety following the completion of each list. Participants were randomly assigned to a familiar or unfamiliar condition and a praise or no praise condition. There was a main effect of familiarity on word list performance, and of difficulty level on word list performance. No interaction effects were found. This knowledge could be used to offer strategies to decrease anxiety in situations where it would normally affect performance.

Major: Psychology Minor: Digital Art & Design
Pursue Doctorate in Social Psychology at Syracuse University

Thesis Title: Gender, Gender Role Beliefs, and , Attitudes about Casual Sex in Relation to Condom, Advocacy

Two hierarchical linear regression models were evaluated to examine whether gender moderates relationships between gender role beliefs (GRBs), condom advocacy and attitudes towards casual sex. The first model was found to be significant, indicating that gender does moderate the relationship between female GRBs and condom advocacy. Those with more traditional gender roles advocated for condom use less than people with modern gender role beliefs. In the second model, gender significantly moderated the relationship between female GRBs and attitudes towards casual sex, indicating that men have more positive attitudes towards casual sex. Also, those with traditional GRBs had more accepting attitudes towards casual sex.

Major: Psychology Minor: Biology
Will attend NOVA Southeastern University’s MS Family Therapy Program

Thesis Tide: Technology Use, Attachment Styles and Relationship Satisfaction among Dating Couples

Relationship satisfaction is a key contributor toward the prosperity and enjoyment of dose romantic bonds. Technology use and attachment styles are also related to relationship satisfaction. Internet use has been associated with lower life satisfaction and those insecurely attached tend to perceive a larger amount of negative emotions in relationships. Fifty-six couples from Eastern Connecticut State University completed the Relationship Assessment Scale (RAS) for relationship satisfaction, the Close Relationships­ Revised (ECR-R) Questionnaire for and a technology use scale. Pearson r correlation coefficients found no significant associations between technology use (perceived and actual) and attachment styles with relationship satisfaction. However, a main effect was established where those with secure attachments experienced higher relationship satisfaction. This information can be applied in therapy clinics that introduce attachment style

Major: Biology Minor: Spanish
Pursue Master’s Degree in Biomedical Sciences

Thesis Title: Enhancement of Collagen Production in Dermal Cells via Transforming Growth Factor- (fGF) Signaling and Other Communication Pathways

A novel method to combat wrinkling due to aging would be to stimulate collagen production in a patient’s skin cells. It is known that collagen production is stimulated by the transforming growth factor-beta (fGF) pathway. However, which other proteins may enhance collagen production is unclear. I test the hypothesis, that collagen production will be enhanced by the activation of TGF- signaling when combined with an additional pathway. In mouse fibroblast cells I altered pathways to test the activation and blockade of TGF- signaling with , and without the activation of the p38 kinase cascade and assessed effects on collagen production. Results indicate that combined pathways mildly enhance collagen stimulation compared to controls; however, collagen levels were greatest with independent TGF- activation as a factor to assess relationship success.

Major: English Concentration: Secondary Education
Plans to teach High School English

Thesis Tide: The Mean Reds Ain’t the Blues: Conceptual Metaphor and Color in Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s

The author uses conceptual metaphor theory to analyze Truman Capote’s novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s, paying particular attention to the novel’s original usage of the term ‘the mean reds’ to describe a negative emotion. A full conceptual metaphor analysis of the phrase the mean reds and its connected conceptual metaphorical structures shows that the characters of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Holly in particular, separate themselves from their own emotions, a phenomenon which is indicative of the emotionally stultifying time period in which the novel was written–the 1950s.

Major: Environmental Earth Science
Obtain a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education and a Certification to teach Elementary and Secondary Earth Science

Thesis Title: Paleoecology of Mesozoic Strata in the Hartford and Deerfield Basins,
Connecticut and Massachusetts

Throughout   time, Connecticut’s   ecosystems have evolved. During the Mesozoic Era, the Hartford and Deerfield Basins formed in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Research into the sedimentology, paleontology, and geochemistry of four sedimentary formations is essential to understand the basins’ changing paleoecology. The sedimentology indicates many environments including a time of alternating playa and lake environments. The lakes in particular contain trace elements which identify a range of lake types. Fossils of fish, reptiles, dinosaurs, invertebrates, and plants have also been identified. The changing fossil specimens both spatially and temporally reveal the variations in Mesozoic ecology with
respect to environmental factors and climate.

Majors: Political Science & Economics Minor: Geography
Pursue a Master’s Degree in Public Policy

Thesis Title: Going Negative: The Effects of Direct Mail Programs on Political Campaigns

Every year, Americans make choices about who they want to represent them in the local, state, and national governments. As such, Political Scientists have long grappled with the question, • “How do voters   decide?” This study investi­gates one facet of the modem political campaign which may affect election outcomes : direct mail pro grams. This research is a case study of a 2016 Connecticut State Senate Race in which voters who received negative direct mail were sent a mail survey that explored how the content of the mail influenced their perceptions of both candidates in the race and their vote. Despite the fact that this advertising is intended to influence Unaffiliated voters the most, results indicate that negative advertising led Unaffiliated voters to op­ pose the candidate who was responsible for the ad, and favor his opponent.

Majors: Elementary _Education & English
Plans to teach in Spain for one year before returning to the U.S. to pursue a Master’s Degree in Education

Thesis Title: Transgressing the Gap Between Text and Bodies: A Critical Review and Creative Expression Concerning Digital Textual Spaces in Regards to the Ownership of a Woman’s Body

Recently, there has been a growing legacy of female writers utilizing digital textual spaces to critique normative gender roles and claim ownership over their bodies. The textual performance renderable within this digital realm allows for an increased ability to interactively employ metaphorical devices, particularly in dealing with themes of objectification and patriarchal authority. In my thesis, I examine three contemporary female authors-Jennifer Egan, Juliet Davis, and Shelley Jackson and their use of digital texts to perform feminist critiques of society, which I then implement into my own creative expression regarding the evolution of femininity from adolescence to adulthood.

Major: Biology Minor: Bioinformatics
Pursue Master’s Degree in Bioinformatics/Computational Biology

Thesis Title: Integrating Methylation Data into the Gene Expression Database BC-BET to Evaluate Methylation Biomarkers

Cancer is a disease characterized by changes in gene expression. Since gene expression can be altered   through   various genetic and epigenetic
mechanisms, the discovery of differentially methylated genes can lead to in­ sight about a gene’s role in regulating tumor formation. In this work, we de­ scribe the incorporation of methylation data into the Bladder Cancer Biomarker Evaluation Tool (BC-BET). Methylation data from 4 publicly available datasets were downloaded, and the methylation data was processed and evaluated using R A user can now evaluate differential gene expression and methylation between tumor and normal samples for a selected gene.

Major: Biology Minor: Studio Arts
Will attend the University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine

Thesis Title: Effects of Glucosinolate Extracts from Various Brassicaceae Species on Salmonella enterica

Glucosinolates are an anti-feeding compound against herbivores, and arc found in a variety of cruciferous vegetables of the Brassicaceae. While some vegetables are bred towards low glucosinolate levels to reduce bitter flavor, others are prized for their spicy taste. A variety of Brarsicaceae species were utilized to analyze any bacteriostatic effects their glucosinolate extracts may have on Salmonella enteria. The Kirby-Bauer disk method was utilized for measuring zones of inhibition, and was compared to spectrophotometer absorption measurements of broth cultures to directly measure bacterial growth. The study showed crude glucosinolate extracts from the four vegetables chosen did not have a bacteriostatic effect on S. enterica.

Major: English Minor. Writing
Accepted into the University of Texas at Dallas Graduate School

Thesis Title: Unchartered Territories: Mapping the Spaces of Grune Narrative in the Modem Action Adventure Genre

My thesis analyzes the usage of space as it connects to narrative tone and storytelling in three games from the action adventure genre: Uncharted 2, The Last of Us, and Rise of the Tomb Roider. Drawing upon spatial theorists like Henry Jenkins and Michael Nitsche, I examine how all three games use spatial archetypes to directly impact both play and narrative, from empowering the player amid a lighthearted romp to leaving them barely at the edge of survival in a post-apocalypse world. Through this examination, the importance of considering spatial design when discussing video game storytelling and genre becomes evident.

47 Psychology Students Present Research at CSU Psychology Day

On May 5th, 2017 students from other CSU psychology departments participated in the annual psychology day. Forty seven students from Eastern’s Department of Psychological Science presented posters and 1 oral presentation. A complete list of students, their project titles and their mentors are listed below:

Malvina Pietrzykowski Exploring The Relationship Between Religion/Spirituality and Stress In College Students       Dr. James Diller

Emma Green  The Relationships Among Eating Habits, Physical Activity, and Stress Dr. Madeline Fugere

Kassandra Agosto     Olfaction’s Influence on Pleasantness and Physiological Arousal     Dr. James Diller

Abigail Bell     The Effect of Ego-Resiliency on Conformity Dr. Joe Dracobly

Patricia Piotrowska & Nicole Lenares         Effects of BST and Individualized Daily Email Prompts as an Intervention to Increase Sustainable Eating Behaviors        Dr. James Diller

Tania Kittoe   Relations between, Religion, and Spirituality and Social Engagement in Emerging Adults  Dr. James Diller

Madison LaRusso      Extraversion and Preference for Competition: Differences Comparing Sibling Structure Dr. Joe Dracobly

Amanda Gionfriddo  Relationships Between Internet Use, Jealousy, and Relationship Satisfaction          Dr. Peter Bachiochi

Danielle Nobitz          Sleep Quality, Anxiety, and Emotional Eating among College Students        Dr. Peter Bachiochi

Samantha Hengel      The Influence of Social Media Use on Romantic Relationships         Dr. Peter Bachiochi

Autumn Dupuis         The Effects of Work on School Involvement Dr. Peter Bachiochi

Katelyn Murray         The Relationship Between Emotional Intelligence, Empathy and Psychological Well-Being           Dr. Peter Bachiochi

Sydney Batchelder    Effects of Familiarity and Praise on Learning in the Presence of Others     Dr. Jenna Scisco

Jennifer Gumbulevich, Sarah Casolo, Alyssa Daneault, Yohan Krumov, Lauren Leavey, Rachel Scrivano, Sydney Batchelder, & Olivia Bacha     The Impact of Front-of-Package Food Labels on Parent Food Choice     Dr. Jenna Scisco

Daphne Botteron      The Effects of Emotional Intelligence and Perceived Social Support on Overall Life Satisfaction   Dr. Joe Dracobly

Melanie Byrne & Michael Pelletier  Increasing Composting Behaviors on a College Campus       Dr. James Diller

Jill Monck       The Relationship between Stress Levels, Exercise and Mindfulness  Dr. Joe Dracobly

William Watson         Impacts of Stereotype Awareness and Stigmatization on Self-Esteem        Dr. Joe Dracobly

Zachary Taylor          The Relationship Between Stress, Anxiety, and Family Dysfunction Dr. Joe Dracobly

Tyler Smith    The Effect of Music on Aggression and Negative Affect       Dr. James Diller

Tyler Smith & Sabrina McFarlane   The Reduction of Meat Consumption to Better the Environment     Dr. James Diller

Chloe Lamarre & Danielle Wieland Behavior Change Plan: Recycling with College Students       Dr. James Diller

Madi van’t Slot          Correlation between Sexual Satisfaction, Relationship Satisfaction and Self-Esteem          Dr. James Diller

Meena Niazi   Getting away with murder: A comparison of approaches to understanding criminal behavior     Dr. Joe Dracobly

Rebecca MacFarlane & Madeline vant’Slot A Study of littering behavior on campus       Dr. James Diller

Emily Cates    Relationship Between Time Management, Academic Stress, and Procrastination   Dr. Joe Dracobly

Lateesha Ware, Brianna Agosta-Lawes, & Uyen Huynh    Decreasing Shower Behavior Across Three Residential Environments        Dr. Diller

Olivia Morrison          The Relationship of Social Anxiety and Stress in the LGBTQ+ Community   Dr. Joe Dracobly

Shannon Connors     Body Image and Disordered Eating Compared between Athletes and Non-Athletes            Dr. Joe Dracobly

Anna Gallant  Relationship Satisfaction, Social Media Use, and Facebook Jealousy            Dr. Peter Bachiochi

Ashley Williams         The Effects of Sexual Behavior and Sexual Knowledge on Condom Use       Dr. Joe Dracobly

Ashley Williams & Sydney Batchelder        Promoting Shuttle Use on a University Campus       Dr. James Diller

Taylor Culver The Association Between the Big Five Personality Traits, Parenting Quality and Criminal Behavior        Dr. Joe Dracobly

Allison Marino           Effects of Sleep, Stress, and Anxiety in College Students       Dr. Joe Dracobly

Jessica Hynds & Brianna Lopez       Visual Prompting Effects on Recycling          Dr. James Diller

Yohan Krumov          Interactions of Process Praise, Noise, and Extraversion on Puzzle Performance    Dr. Joe Dracobly

Courtney Binkowski  The Impact of a Working University Student on Anxiety and Stress Levels            Dr. Joe Dracobly

Brieanne McAvoy      Exercise, Happiness and Productivity Among College Students        Dr. Joe Dracobly

Nicole Fuhrmann      Self-Stigma and Gender Roles on the Attitudes Towards Mental Illness: A Correlational Study     Dr. Joe Dracobly

Rebecca MacFarlane & Madeline van’tSlot         A Study of Littering Behavior on Campus     Dr. James Diller

Ellie Frankinburger  Masculine and Feminine Face Types on Participant Rated Facial Attractive and Perceived Trustworthiness        Dr. Joe Dracobly

Hannah Byrne           Implicit and Explicit attitudes towards Homosexuality        Dr. Joe Dracobly

Arlette Pinel   Television Media’s Impact on Female’s Body Perception     Dr. Joe Dracobly

Jessica Seymour        The Relationship Between Motivation, Self-Identity and Stress-Management on Exercise  Dr. Joe Dracobly

Meagan Miller           The Influence of the Presence of a Confederate and Gender on Conforming to an Eyewitness Testimony Dr. Peter Bachiochi

English Department Recognizes Student Creative Activity

On Tuesday May 2nd, 2017 the English Department had their “English Night.” The event featured award for student writing, a poster session and Senior Seminar Presentations.

The first year writing awards are given to students in College Writing and College Writing Plus whose writing is innovative, creative, splendidly researched, or uniquely articulated. The following students received the First Year Writing Award for Fall 2016:

Creativity and Innovation:

Patrice Eugene, “A Shepherd Beyond Scripture,” written for Professor Meredith James’ ENG 100 Excellent Research paper:

Kelli Salimeno, “Alcohol Abuse on College Campuses,” written for Professor Diane Smith’s ENG 100

The following students participated in the Poster Session:

Kathryn Jankura “No Female Mind’: Charlotte Perkins Gilman on Marriage, Motherhood, and Employment” Faculty Mentor: Allison Speicher

Taylor Maier “Once Upon a Time: Darwin’s Legacy in Children’s Literature” Faculty Mentor: Allison Speicher

Kelsey Marconis “Cornerstone Hill: A Novel” Faculty Mentor: Christopher Torockio

Samuel Bolton “Stillwater: A Novel” Faculty Mentor: Christopher Torockio

The following students participated in the Senior Seminar Presentations:

Brianna Hernandez, “Incoming Call: Long-Distance Interfaith Friendships”

Scott Kompare, “The Antithesis of Duality: The Singularity of Nathan Price’s Untenable and Insular Worldview in The Poisonwood Bible

Both of these presentations were from Dr. Barbara Liu’s “Belief and Doubt in Contemporary Fictions”

Kiliana Lugo, Afro-Latino Rhythms and Culture in Puerto Rico”

Jennine Hohler, “Aspergians Come In Peace”

Both of these presentations were from Dr. Reginald Flood’s “Writing Poems/Reading Culture: Beyond the Workshop”

Students Create Original Play

Mentored by Dr. Kristen Morgan and Dr. Alycia Bright Holland, students collectively devised an original play, based on oral histories of Willimantic community members, and research conducted at the Connecticut Studies Center, Windham Textile Musem, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and Whitney Museum. Thread City, the resulting work, will be produced as part of the 2017-18 Theatre Main Stage Season. Below is a list of students participating in the project:

Lita Braswell-Lane
Tielar Brown
Connor Coffey
Nathan Cusson
Emily John
Jack Kayan
Julia Leitao
Hanna Madler
Robert McDonald
Sam Nicefaro
Nicole Rivera