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Master’s & Doctoral Defenses

upcoming defensesThe Public presentation portion of a defense is open to everyone and is an especially valuable opportunity for graduate students to experience the process firsthand.

Note: All information is provided by the academic units.

Andreas Savva

Title: The Effects of Atmospheric Heat Treatments on TiO2 Nanotube Anodes Used in Lithium-Ion Batteries
Program: Master of Science in Materials Science and Engineering
Advisor: Dr. Hui (Claire) Xiong, Materials Science and Engineering
Committee: Dr. Rick Ubic, Materials Science and Engineering and Dmitri Tenne, Physics
Date: April 17, 2018
Time: 2:00 p.m.
Location: Micron Engineering Center, Room 309

Read Andreas Savva's Abstract Here

The effects of various heat treatments on the physical and electrochemical properties of anatase TiO2 nanotubes were studied in this work. Well-ordered TiO2 nanotubes were grown via anodization and annealed at 450°C for 4 hours to induce a phase transformation to anatase. The heat treatments were conducted under atmospheres of O2, Ar, N2, and water vapor (WV) to create different point defects. The oxygen-deficient atmospheres were used to generate oxygen vacancies in the TiO2 nanotubes, while the water vapor treatment was used to create Ti vacancies. Computational models of anatase TiO2 with oxygen and titanium vacancies were simulated to predict the effect of the defects on the band structure and electrical properties. Two-point conductivity measurements and Mott-Schottky characterizations were done to confirm the predicted effects of the heat treatments on the annealed samples. Scanning electron microscopy and x-ray diffraction were used to study the nanostructure morphology and confirm the phase transition to anatase. Additional characterization techniques such as Raman spectroscopy were subsequently used to affirm the generation of the respective point defects. The annealed anatase nanotubes were then used as anodes in lithium-ion batteries. The N2– and WV-treated samples exhibited the largest increase in capacity, while the Ar-treated sample had only a slight capacity increase compared to the O2 control sample.

Mohamed Alromahe

Title: Saudi International University Students Perceptions of Their Relationships with American Teachers at Boise State University
Program: Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction
Advisor: Dr. David Gabbard, Curriculum, Instruction, and Foundational Studies and Dr. Gail Shuck, English
Committee: Dr. Roberto Bahruth, Literacy, Language, and Culture, and Dr. Uwe Kaiser, Mathematics
Date: April 19, 2018
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Location: Education Building, Wallace Conference Room E709

Read Mohamed Alromahe's Abstract Here

The number of Saudi Arabian international students studying at U.S. universities has increased dramatically over the last decade. Existing studies show that many Saudi international students are faced with challenges in their relationships with instructors. In this study, Saudi international students’ perceptions of their relationships with American college instructors will be examined. Qualitative research and interviews were used to explore how various factors influence Saudi international students’ engagement with instructors at a large Western research university in the United States. Specifically, the researcher seeks to understand what Saudi international students experience as helpful or not helpful in their relationships with American instructors. It is hoped that exploring the relationships between students and instructors from the perspectives of Saudi students will give these students a voice and lead to better understanding of student and instructor needs. This information is vital in creating supportive resources and services for both Saudi international students and their American instructors.

Nachelle Ronquillo

Title: Opposing Perspectives: Examining Terrorist Organization Demands After Leadership Decapitation
Program: Master of Arts in Political Sciences
Advisor: Dr. Michael Allen, School of Public Service
Committee: Dr. Ross Burkhart, School of Public Service and Dr. Isaac M. Castellano, School of Public Service
Date: April 19. 2018
Time: 3:00 p.m.
Location: Simplot Micron Advising and Success Hub, Room 116

Read Nachelle Ronquillo

Terrorist organization leadership decapitation has not been widely studied as to its effects upon the organizations demands and potential increase in attacks to achieve those demands. The scholarship that is present supports it as an effective policy for governments to pursue. Aided by more recent literature on behavior economics citing pro-social orientations, national identities and emotions this article argues the opposing perspective. The effect of terrorist organization leadership decapitation increases the amount of unlikely demands by the group. I argue specifically that, for externally induced leadership decapitation unlikely demands should increase, while for internally induced leadership decapitation unlikely demands should decrease. These hypotheses are examined using data on terrorist leadership decapitation for the 1970-2008 period; this model suggests support for the prevailing literature on terrorist organization leadership decapitation as a successful policy to pursue.

Michael McCormick

Title: Unraveling Mysteries and Making New Discoveries of Harpellales, Gut Fungi Associated with Mosquitoes (Culicidae) As Explored in Collections from Idaho
Program: Master of Science in Biology
Advisor: Dr. Merlin M. White, Biological Sciences
Committee: Dr. Peter Koetsier, Biological Sciences and Dr. Ian C. Robertson, Biological Sciences
Date: April 24, 2018
Time: 12:00 p.m.
Location: Simplot Micron Advising Hub, Room 116

Read Michael McCormick's Abstract Here

Presented is the first extended field survey and laboratory-based studies of obligate endosymbiont gut fungi found in mosquito larvae and other Dipteran hosts. The arid climate in SW Idaho leads to challenges in finding infected hosts in their lentic (puddle) habitats. Overall, 34 sites were sampled, yielding 5 different genera of mosquitoes and three micro gut fungi were identified. Sampled areas ranged from urban storm drains and irrigation pools, to more pristine streamside puddles. In Idaho, gut fungi were more easily observed when lentic larval habitats had been exposed to lotic (stream) systems. This suggested that fungal spores in some way depend on lotic systems for their successful dispersal to adjacent puddles. The generalist gut fungus, Zancudomyces culisetae, became the focus of a study at Renwyck Creek (Gem County, Idaho) to better understand the nature of spore dispersal and distribution. This has led to increased knowledge of the ecology and life history of Z. culisetae and its varied Dipteran hosts. Curiously, a new fungal stage discovered in the midgut may leave the immature mosquito host vulnerable to viral passage into the hemocoel and should be followed up with future research.

Christopher D. Smith

Title: Synchronous Online Peer Tutoring Via Video Conferencing Technology: An Exploratory Case Study
Program: Doctor of Education in Educational Technology
Advisor: Dr. Patrick R. Lowenthal, Educational Technology
Committee: Dr. Chareen Lee Snelson, Educational Technology and Dr. Dazhi Yang, Educational Technology
Date: April 25, 2018
Time: 9:00 a.m.
Location: Engineering Building, Room 523

Read Chistopher D. Smith's Abstract Here

The objective of this study was to analyze the lived experiences of peer tutors who provide synchronous online tutoring services, at a large, accredited, public, four-year university located in the Middle Atlantic Region of the United States. An exploratory qualitative case study approach was used to conduct this study. The case chosen for this study consisted of a single holistic case that was both descriptive and intrinsic. Participants of the study consisted of students who were hired by the chosen university to serve as peer tutors as well as students that utilize the online peer tutoring service. Data collection and analysis for this study included semi-structured individual interviews and observations. Findings from this study were used to help improve and further expand the use of synchronous online peer tutoring in higher education.

Catherine Howlett

Title: Online Laboratory Introductions to Promote Student Interactions with Two Science and Engineering Practices of the Next Generation Science StandardsOnline Laboratory Introductions to Promote Student Interactions with Two Science and Engineering Practices of the Next Generation Science Standards
Program: Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction
Advisor: Dr. Sara Hagenah, Curriculum, Instruction and Foundational Studies
Committee: Dr. Patrick R. Lowenthal, Educational Technology, Dr. Kerry Lynn Rice, Educational Technology, and Dr. Keith W. Thiede, Curriculum, Instruction, and Foundational Studies
Date: April 27, 2018
Time: 1:30 p.m.
Location: Education Building, Wallace Conference Room, E709

Read Catherine Howlett's Abstract Here

Online science courses are becoming increasingly available to K-12 students in the United States. With the utilization of these courses, it is important to facilitate student completion of laboratories as well as student interest in and use of the science and engineering practices (SEP’s) of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). This research provided online laboratory introductions to help students interact with the content and the instructor. The research studied if the laboratory introductions led students to ask questions about laboratories, complete laboratories, and think about and use two NGSS SEP’s, specifically analyzing and interpreting data and constructing explanations and designing solutions. Archived data provided information for the background of the study. The intervention class experienced introductions to the content, procedures, and focus NGSS SEP’s for online laboratories. The researcher studied qualitative and quantitative data and determined there was an increase in student completion of the laboratories in general as well as identifiable impacts on student questions and thoughts about and use of the NGSS SEP’s of focus. Data included pre- and post-course surveys, student laboratory questions, laboratory completion rates, laboratory scores, and laboratory answer analyses.

Amanda Drewicz

Title: Stable Isotope Geochemistry of Bioapatite
Program: Doctor of Philosophy in Geosciences
Advisor: Dr. Matthew J. Kohn, Geosciences
Committee: Dr. Jennifer Pierce, Geosciences and Dr. Marion Lytle, Geosciences, and Dr. Christopher L. Hill, Anthropology
Date: April 27, 2018
Time: 3:00 p.m.
Location: Engineering Building, Room 103

Read Amanda Drewicz's Abstract Here

Although past climates cannot be used as direct analogs for future climate change, understanding how previous environments responded to changing climates can help inform policy surrounding future climate change. Presented here are reconstructed climates within the interior western United States, from two different geologic time periods. Each had a different climate that differed greatly from modern day environments from the same locations. A new approach for understanding climate is also presented using hydrogen isotopes in tooth enamel. Expanding our isotopic toolbox for climate reconstructions allows for more certain interpretations, and the use of tooth enamel δD, δ18O, and δ13C values allow for more sound climate reconstructions.
The mid-Miocene Climatic Optimum (MMCO), between ~17 and ~14 Ma, represents the warmest period on Earth in the last 35 Ma, and is thought to reflect a high partial pressure of atmospheric CO2 (pCO2). Using tooth enamel δ13C values from the interior Pacific Northwest, we estimated mean annual precipitation (MAP) before, during, and following the MMCO, to test whether MAP tracks pCO2 levels. We speculate high pCO2 contributed to higher MAP at ~28 and 15.1 Ma, and lower pCO2 contributed to lower MAP for other time periods. Terrestrial climates during the MMCO were likely more dynamic than originally considered, with wet-warm and cool-dry cycles reflecting 20-, 40-, and 100-ka Milankovitch cycles. Modern climate models predict that the Pacific Northwest will become wetter and warmer with increased CO2 levels, and this climate projection is consistent with MMCO climates associated with high pCO2 levels.
Tooth enamel δ18O and δ13C values and tufa δ18O values from well-dated late Pleistocene deposits in the Las Vegas Wash (LVW), Nevada, were used to reconstruct past precipitation seasonality, where enhanced net precipitation aided in the expansion of desert wetlands. Low late Pleistocene water δ18O values, inferred from tufa and tooth enamel, indicate that paleowetland expansion likely resulted from increased winter precipitation derived from high latitudes of the Pacific Ocean. Low tooth enamel δ13C and inferred %C4 grass values are consistent with an increase in proportion of winter precipitation. Increased winter precipitation diverges from late Pleistocene climate reconstructions at lower latitudes in the American Southwest and modern-day climes that receive nearly equal proportions of winter and summer moisture.
Stable hydrogen and oxygen isotope compositions correlate between organic tissues and meteoric water. We tested this correlation by measuring oxygen and hydrogen isotope compositions of herbivore tooth enamel from localities where local water compositions were well known. Against expectations, δD and δ18O values of modern tooth enamel do not align with the Global Meteoric Water Line, but a strong correlation (R2 = 0.84) indicates a coupling between these two isotopes. Tooth enamel δD values were compared to local precipitation and surface water compositions, which generally correlate (R2 = 0.78), suggesting tooth enamel hydrogen reflects biogenic water compositions. No significant correlation (R2 = 0.10) was found between tooth enamel δD and δ13C values, suggesting a decoupling between these two isotopes.

Thomas (TJ) Wing

Title: The Effects of Formative Assessment on Student’s Connectedness, Satisfaction, Learning and Academic Performance within an Online Healthcare Course
Program: Doctor of Education in Educational Technology
Advisor: Dr. Jui-Long Hung, Educational Technology
Committee: Dr. Kerry Lynn Rice, Educational Technology, and Dr. Young Kyun Baek, Educational Technology
Date:  May 1, 2018
Time: 9:30 a.m.
Location: Education Building, Wallace Conference Room, E709

Read Thomas (TJ) Wing's Abstract Here

The quantitative study presented here evaluates the effects of formative assessment on student’s connectedness, satisfaction, learning and academic performance within a university 3-credit 400 level online healthcare course. Literature exploring the role that formative assessment plays within an online environment is currently lacking. Additionally, understanding how assessment practices can help support the goals of online healthcare education is vitally important given the rise in popularity of this delivery format.
This study investigated student outcomes in the form of connectedness, satisfaction, learning and academic performance. Four cohorts of students were included in this study. Two cohorts were provided with formative assessment procedures while the other two cohorts were provided with primarily summative assessment. A survey based tool was created and delivered to students post-course completion which gathered information on a students’ sense of connectedness, satisfaction, and learning, whereas academic performance equated to final course grade earned.
Logistic regression was performed via ANOVA utilizing SPSS to identify statistical differences between formative and summative assessment cohorts. Analysis results indicated that the formative cohorts were higher in all areas explored and statistically significantly higher in the areas of learning and academic performance. Additional discussion regarding the results as well as future research recommendations are provided at the conclusion of this quantitative study within chapter five.

Christian Sprague

Title: Resilience and the U.S. Labor Market: Cross-Scale Analysis on the Role of Industrial Diversity and Specialization
Program: Master of Science in Economics
Advisor: Dr. Michail Fragkias, Economics
Committee: Dr. Ke (Kelly) Chen, Economics and Dr. Jaechoul Lee, Mathematics
Date: May 2, 2018
Time: 3:00 p.m.
Location: Micron Business Engineering Building, Room 3100

Read Christian Sprague's Abstract Here

This paper examines how the effects of industrial diversity and specialization vary across geographical scales and classification levels. The notion of a robust institutional design, in conjunction with a regional resilience framework, is used to model how diversity and modularity affect unemployment through-out economic cycles. We use fixed effects models on employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census Bureau in all available U.S. counties from 1998-2015. Key results suggest the optimal structure of industrial composition varies across scale, namely, that fine levels of industrial diversity are beneficial at higher levels of geographical scale (regions), whereas a broad type of industrial specialization is ideal for localities (counties/cities). This work is unique as it brings together notions of resilience and robustness and conducts analysis across multiple scales in attempts to identify the role of modular structure on the resiliency of a locality.

Miguel Aguayo

Title: Cross-scale Interactions between Atmospheric and Hydrologic Processes in a Topographically Complex, Snow-Dominated Watershed as Revealed through an Integrated Hydrologic Model
Program: Doctor of Philosophy in Geosciences
Advisor: Dr. Alejandro N. Flores, Geosciences
Committee: Dr. James McNamara, Geosciences, Dr. Hans-Peter Marshall, Geosciences, and Dr. Jodi Mead, Mathematics
Date: May 2, 2018
Time: 3:00 p.m.
Location:  TBD