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Christine P. Tischer Scholars


Students, such as biology major William Lane '13 (pictured at right), who at the end of their junior year have earned an overall grade point average of 3.0 and a 3.5 in their major, are invited to participate in departmental honors work during their senior year. The prestigious and highly selective yearlong program is designed for students who wish to pursue intensive research or a special project. Papers and projects are presented at a special forum in the spring. Read more about Will's research here.

In consultation with a departmental faculty adviser, students choose a topic of interest, usually in their major, and select a committee of two additional faculty members to serve as advisers and readers.

Students who complete departmental honors papers, which are included in the permanent collections of the Beneficial-Hodson Library, are designated Christine P. Tischer Scholars, in honor of the 1965 alumna of the College who has generously supported the program.

To learn more about the 2013 and previous Tischer Scholars, click here.

Gina Bonomo Steven Davis Jessica Manuel Bethany Johnson
Marilyn Meadows Kasey Johnson Jeanette Moss Justin C. King
Lucas Netter Spencer C. Knoll Clifford Quinn Jessica Lambert
Francesca Roth William Lane Christina Startt Brittany Lethbridge
Krysta Wagner Dorothy Kirlew

Gina Bonomo '13

Major: French

Project: De la théologie à la postmodernité: Marie-Madeleine en France

Mentors: Didier Course, Ph.D., professor of French

Committee Members: Professor Lisa Marcus, Professor Corey Campion


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Abstract: This paper discusses Mary Magdalene's constant role in French society and how her image has changed from the Middle Ages to the 20th century.

Quote: "I can now say with certainty that I have a better understanding of Mary Magdalene than Dan Brown."


Steven Davis '13

Major: French

Project: La Table et le Sacré: Nourrir une Morale au XVII siècle

Mentors: Didier Course, Ph.D., professor of French

Committee Members: Rebecca Prime, Ph.D., NEH Libman professor; Donald Wright, Ph.D., assistant professor of French and Arabic 


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Abstract: An analysis of the relationship between theology and food in France under the rein of Louis XIV and, more importantly, the subsequent moral dimension of the 17th century French table due to the implications of such a connection.

Quote: "I feel this project was a remarkable way to end my formal studies at Hood College. Analyzing the period of Louis XIV's reign through a theological and culinary lens was rewarding and has particularly affected the way I perceive the time period."


Bethany Johnson '14

Major: Middle Eastern Studies

Project: A Girl, a Book and a Prophet: Child Brides and Marriage Legislation in Modern Yemen

Mentors: Professor Donald Wright Ph.D., assistant professor of French and Arabic

Committee Members: Purnima Bhatt, Ph.D., professor of anthropology, history, interdisciplinary studies; Janis Judson, Ph.D., associate professor of political science


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Abstract: This paper explores the socioeconomic and religious causes of child marriage in Yemen and whether an individual's entry into adulthood is dependent upon the culture in which he or she is raised

Quote: "My research has taught me to view other cultures as their own separate entities and not to judge them according to Western values. It has also given me the opportunity to work closely with exceptional Hood College faculty."



Kasey Johnson '13

Major: Art and Archaeology

Project: "Shipwrecks and Ancient Texts: Mapping Exchange in the Late Bronze Age"

Mentors: Jennifer Ross, Ph.D., associate professor of Art

Committee Members: Emilie Amt, Ph.D., Hildegarde Pilgram professor of history; Tammy Krygier, instructor in history


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Abstract: I analyze the system of maritime trade in the Mediterranean and Aegean during the Late Bronze Age as well as the relationships which governed this exchange. My research focuses upon the evidence provided by shipwrecks and ancient texts.

Quote: "This project has been a great experience that has improved my confidence in my own writing and research abilities. These skills and the knowledge I have gained will help me to transition into my career and graduate school."


Justin C. King '13

Major: Law and Society

Project: Police and the Public Eye: Job Satisfaction and law Enforcement Perceptions of Public Opinion

Mentors: Janis Judson, Ph.D., associate professor of political science

Committee Members: Jolene Sanders, Ph.D., assistant professor of sociology; Carin Robinson, Ph.D., assistant professor of political science

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Abstract: A field study of law enforcement personnel indicates a significant but moderate positive correlation between officer-perceived public image and individual job satisfaction in the criminal justice system.

Quote: "This has been a fantastic experience of challenging yet incredibly rewarding research that offered me the opportunity to explore the practical applications of my curriculum and apply knowledge I gained from my studies at Hood to real-world problems."


Dorothy Kirlew '13

Major: Mathematics and Computer Science

Project: Using a Genetic Algorithm to Optimize the Shortest Path for Double Degree Students in Four-Year Colleges

Mentors: Ahmed Salem, Ph.D., associate professor of computer science; Jill Dunham, Ph.D., assistant professor of mathematics

Committee Members: Gwyneth Whieldon, Ph.D., assistant professor of mathematics

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Abstract: Undergraduate college students completing a double degree are faced with an obstacle each time they choose their classes for the next semester. They must decide how to balance the classes necessary to complete their ?first major, second major, and core requirements. They must also decide how many credits to take each semester as they cannot take so many as to cause unnecessary stress, nor too few credits as to delay their graduation. The purpose of this project is to create the ideal four-year schedule for a student with a double degree. Each semester should have the ideal number of credits based on the previous semester's GPA. If the student did poorly in the previous semester, a large number of credits is undesirable. Additionally, each semester should have the perfect balance between core and major classes. Classes that fulfill both major requirements take precedence over those that only fulfill one because the student can make progress towards both majors with less effort. This algorithm takes each of these requirements into account to create the best schedule to allow the student to complete both majors in four years.

Quote: "This research project afforded me the opportunity to combine my knowledge of both mathematics and computer science. It has provided a great foundation for future research on the subject."


Spencer C. Knoll '13

Major: Political Science

Project: The Life, Legacy and Leaving Behind of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

Mentors: Janis Judson, Ph.D., associate professor of political science

Committee Members: Carin Robinson, Ph.D., assistant professor of political science; Karen Hoffman, Ph.D., associate professor of philosophy


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Abstract: This paper analyzes the philosophy of originalism in constitutional interpretation through the lens of the life and career of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, contending that the theory is self-defeating and unsuited to the reality of the American legal system.

Quote: "Analyzing a theory as comprehensive as this through rigorous analysis of Supreme Court cases and the writings of originalist scholars and jurists presented a daunting challenge, but one which has been extremely rewarding. The opportunity to work closely with my mentor to develop a deeper understanding of this supremely influential idea and its place in the American legal consciousness has allowed me to enjoy a singular academic experience."


Jessica Lambert

Major: Biology

Project: The Influence of Variation in the Bovine Growth Hormone and Prolactin Genes on Milk Production in Holstein Cattle

Mentors: Sue Carney, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology

Committee Members: Dana Lawrence, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry; Eric Kindahl, Ph.D., associate professor of biology

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Abstract: The prolactin and growth hormone genes are two promising genetic markers for milk traits in cattle as a result of their biologically significant roles in milk synthesis and production. Multiple single nucleotide polymorphisms have been identified in these two genes, which have been shown to influence milk production and composition in various types of cattle. Through the use of PCR and sequencing, the exon 4 region of the prolactin gene was amplified successfully from thegenomic DNA of 72 Holstein cows and analyzed for variations. Although no true variations were found in this region of the prolactin gene, cows of the same age in this population exhibited considerable variations in milk yield, andprotein/ fat composition in their milk. The intron 3 region of the growth hormone gene could not be amplified successfully using these techniques.

Quote: "This research project has taught me a lot about the importance of time management, critical thinking and collaboration. It has also given me the wonderful opportunity to gain hands-on research experience while completingresearch on a topic of importance to the dairy industry, which is very important to me as a dairy farmer's daughter."


William Lane '13

Major: Environmental Science & Policy with Concentration in Environmental Biology

Project: Characterization of Bipolaris sp. From Microstegium vimineum in Frederick, Maryland

Mentors: Eric Kindahl, Ph.D., associate professor of biology

Committee Members: Eric Annis, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology; Susan Ensel, Ph.D., Whitaker Professor of Chemistry; William Bruckart and Farivar Eskandari, USDA-ARS Ft. Detrick, Frederick

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Abstract: The potential of Bipolaris sp. as a biocontrol agent for the invasive Microstegium vimineum in the eastern United States.

Quote: "Science is an art: At times brute force is acceptable while other moments call for a delicate, meticulous touch."


Brittany Lethbridge '13

Major: Management

Project: First Generation College Students: Challenges and Solutions

Mentors: Jerrold Van Winter, Ph.D., assistant professor of management

Committee Members: Committee members: Kathleen Bands, Ph.D., professor of education; David Gurzick, Ph.D., assistant professor of management; Lawrence Devan, Ph.D., visiting assistant professor of management

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Abstract: A college education is valuable, most people would agree with that, because it produces benefits for both the individual and society. However, the process of earning a degree is not a simple task for any student. One group of students who face an especially difficult challenge is that of first-generation college students. Twenty-four percent of first-year students at Hood College during the 2012-2013 academic year are considered first-generation students. The challenges these students face range from the straddling of two cultures, to increased academic rigor, to the difficulties adjusting to college, to financial burdens. In a study conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, among students who initially attended a four-year institution with bachelor's degree goals in mind, 78 percent of students who had at least one parent with a bachelor's degree obtained this degree in comparison to the 47 percent of first-generation students who earned one. This paper attempts to examine the differences between first-generation and nonfirst-generation students, and more importantly solutions in order for these students to overcome these challenges. The ultimate outcome of this paper is the creation of the First-Generation Student Center here at Hood, which was established in the spring of 2013. The development of this center has hopes to reach, encourage and retain first-generation students at Hood through mentoring, financial help and support services.

Quote: "I am thrilled at the outcome of this project! What started off as time spent in the library conducting research has amounted to the establishment of the First-Generation Student Center here at Hood this spring. It is my hope that this center can positively reach and affect the lives of many first-generation students who enroll at Hood in the years to come through mentoring, support services and financial assistance."


Jessica Manuel '13

Major: Communication Arts and Sociology

Project: Hollywood Wants You: The Evolution and Psychology Behind Advertising for Movies

Mentors: Katherine Orloff, Ph.D., assistant professor of communication arts

Committee Members: Elizabeth Atwood, Ph.D., assistant professor of journalism; Shannon Kundey, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology; Joann Lee, art director, marketing and communications

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Abstract: I'm studying how advertising for films has changed since the movie industry began and how psychology has entered the world of advertising in the industry. I've found examples of how these psychological advances have been used in recent advertisements.

Quote: "I had never taken any management or advertising classes before, so I've become a self-taught expert on it now when it comes to movies. How many of those majors have actually read their textbooks? I have."


Marilyn Meadows '13

Major: English

Project: "What we may be": Portrayals of Madness in Shakespearean tragedy

Mentors: Mark Sandona, Ph.D., professor of English

Committee Members: Heather Mitchell-Buck, Ph.D., assistant professor of English; Jennifer Ross, Ph.D., associate professor of art and archaeology


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Abstract: My paper examines the relationship between madness and identity in Hamlet, King Lear and Macbeth. I look at the various ways in which Shakespeare portrays madness as a familiar and human condition, which contrasts from the common Elizabethan practice of depicting madness as bestial and nonhuman.

Quote: "Delving into the minds of Shakespeare's mad characters has troubled me at some points, and fascinated me at others. This project was a perfect conclusion to a series of valuable research opportunities that the English department has afforded me."


Jeanette Moss '13

Major: Biology

Project: Population genetics of the Cownose Ray (Rhinoptera bonasus) in the Chesapeake Bay and Gulf of Mexico

Mentors: Sue Carney, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology

Committee Members: Susan Ensel, Ph.D., Whitaker Professor of Chemistry; Drew Ferrier, Ph.D., professor of biology

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Abstract: This study investigates the genetic diversity of cownose rays in the Chesapeake Bay and Gulf of Mexico using mitochondrial DNA. The results may have important ecological implications for this species, which is widely regarded as a pest in the Bay.

Quote: "This project has helped me discover a field of research about which I am truly passionate and has gone a long way toward directing my future career goals."


Lucas Netter '13

Major: Economics

Project: Can the Spread of Credit Default Swaps Explain at What Point a Sovereign Will Default on Its Debt

Mentors: Sang Kim, Ph.D., associate professor of economics and management

Committee Members: Michael Coon, Ph.D., assistant professor of economics Tianning Li, Ph.D., assistantprofessor of finance

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Abstract: Using Credit Default Swap premium, is it possible to find the point at which a country will default on its debts. Analyzing Iceland, Ireland, Greece and Spain as countries that have been in financial trouble, we are able to develop an economic model to determine the relationship between Credit Default Swap spreads and macro-economic forces.

Quote: "This research project has built upon my four years of education at Hood College. In addition to my major in economics, this project has improved my understanding of the financial markets around the world."


Clifford Quinn '13

Major: Economics

Project: A Looming threat from the East: Economic Effects of Chinese Exchange Rate Undervaluation

Mentors: Michael Coon, Ph.D., assistant professor of economics

Committee Members: Sang Kim, Ph.D., associate professor of economics and management; Jerrold Van Winter, Ph.D., assistant professor of management

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Abstract: Many Americans fear that the rapid growth of the largest Communist country in the world has come at the expense of the United States' economy. Although, China has grown into an economic power, their export-led growth has had ambiguous effects on the global economy. This paper analyzes the economic effects of Chinese currency undervaluation on various economic indicators. First, I examine the effects on Chinese Trade Volume, Export Volume, and GDP per capita. Then I investigated the potential effects that Chinese Yuan (C¥) undervaluation has on U.S. Trade, GDP per capita, and Public Debt. There has been a lack of empirical work that investigates the theories surrounding the relationship between Chinese currency policy and the United States' economy. I examine these indicators using panel data on an annual basis from 1989-2011. There is a large amount of theoretical work that describes positive and negative correlations between these economic indicators but with very little empirical support. Many economists claim that the undervalued C¥ causes jobs to move from the U.S. to China because it makes Chinese exports so much more attractive due to the increased purchasing power of foreign currencies. This potentially causes U.S. manufacturers to no longer be able to compete in the international market and they are forced to shut down production. There is also a large amount of literature that believes if the Chinese appreciated their currency to equilibrium levels then U.S. public debt would not be increasing at such a rapid rate because the Chinese government must make large-scale purchases of United States Dollar (US$) denominated assets in order to maintain their pegged rate. For the most part the Chinese government purchases U.S. government debt to accomplish this. China has used a pegged exchange rate and export-led GDP growth to maintain one of the longest stretches of high economic growth in history. The Chinese have achieved this through increased trade and public spending. My work found that undervaluation did have a direct effect on Chinese Trade, Chinese Exports, and U.S. Public debt but was insignificant in its effect on U.S. Trade and both countries' GDPs. I conclude my paper with an analysis of potential policy implications and hopefully quell the economic fears that some Americans have of the Chinese.

Quote: "Working on this paper was the most challenging economic endeavor that I have ever undertaken. The yearlong research and writing proved to be difficult but, the creation of a work of such magnitude was extremely rewarding. This project taught me to remain disciplined and to persevere through different levels of adversity, from not being able to find a dataset to late nights writing. I am very honored to have been selected as a Christine P. Tischer Scholar and hope that my readers enjoy my paper as much I have."


Francesca Roth '13

Major: French

Project: Corps mutilés, Récits fragmentés: l'ombre de la guillotine dans la littérature fantastique en france au XIXème siècle

Mentors: Lisa Algazi Marcus, professor of French

Committee Members: Rebecca Prime, Ph.D., NEH Libman professor; Donald Wright, Ph.D., assistant professor of French and Arabic

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Abstract: A new genre of literature appeared in England at the end of the 18th century: "le conte fantastique", or "The Fantastic". The Fantastic distinguishes itself essentially by its incorporation of supernatural elements and in the way that it reflects the mental transition between medieval beliefs and modern perceptions. Soon after its initial appearance in England, this genre appeared throughout Europe; one of the most celebrated authors was German writer E.T.A. Hoffman. The Fantastic appeared in France as well, but in a unique style. In the French Fantastic tale, there is a predominance of mutilated body parts as well as unique interpretations of fear.

I submit that this representation of The Fantastic in France is a direct product of the Reign of Terror: The French Fantastic is not only a manifestation of the immense trauma that the Reign of Terror inflicted on the French, but also a form of catharsis for its victims. In fact, as I will demonstrate, the Reign of Terror was so traumatic and touched so many of the French that the echo of its victims is still heard in the French Fantastic at least 100 years later. I will support this affirmation with the historical context, the statistics of the Reign of Terror, the definition of the Fantastic, and some specific supporting texts.

Quote: "This project was a lesson in organization, self-discipline, and perseverance! It is challenges such as this, however, that in my opinion reap the biggest personal rewards. Owing to this process, I was able to experience the joy of deep research in a subject about which I am passionate and finish with a work for which I can be proud."


Blair E. Starnes '13

Major: Psychology

Project: Personality Differences of High-Risk Athletes: An Emphasis on SCUBA Divers

Mentors: Shannon Kundey, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology

Committee Members: Sue Carney, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology; Elizabeth MacDougall, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology

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Abstract: My research aims to examine the personality characteristics of high-risk athletes, most particularly SCUBA divers. I am interested in the personality characteristics and traits of divers as compared to non-divers.

Quote: "This experience has made me much more curious. The answers you get continually lead you to new questions, which is the beautiful thing about research."


Christina Startt '13

Major: Archaeology

Project: When Married to a God: The 'God's Wife of Amun' in Ancient Egypt

Mentors: Tammy Krygier, instructor in history

Committee Members: Jennifer Ross, Ph.D., associate professor of art; Hoda Zaki, Ph.D., Virginia Lewis Professor of Political Science


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Abstract: The goal of this project is to illustrate how the divine office of 'God's Wife of Amun', instituted at the beginning of the New Kingdom, shaped and was shaped by the socio-political and religious developments of Ancient Egypt through to the office's dissolution in the Late Period.

Quote: "Not only have I learned more about my topic's intricacies, but also more about my ability to handle a level of work previously unknown to me. I have learned that I can accomplish good work on tight deadlines and have developed a new and improved ability to focus."


Krysta Wagner '13

Major: English

Project: "It is required you do awake your faith": The Divine Plan in The Winter's Tale

Mentors: Mark Sandona, Ph.D., professor of English

Committee Members: Trevor Dodman, Ph.D., assistant professor of English; Roser Caminals-Heath, Ph.D., professor of Spanish


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Abstract: In The Winter's Tale, Shakespeare explores a reality full of seeming contradiction by employing paradox in language and by juxtaposing two competing worldviews—that of tragedy and that of comedy. The ultimate inability of language and of art to fully express the human experience, however, suggests a transcendent reality of which Art can provide only a glimpse.

Quote:"This research project has taught me more about my academic strengths and limitations. I have learned to trust my instincts and to allow myself to be vulnerable when writing. Working on this project with the support of Hood's wonderful faculty was the perfect way to end my time at Hood."