A private comprehensive liberal arts college in Salt Lake City, UT, offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in liberal arts and professional programs. Website
second biannual research journal

Westminster McNair Journal 2006 and 2007


2006 Research Scholars 

  • Asia Ferrin, Westminster College
    Mentor: Bridget Newell, Ph.D., Philosophy, Westminster College

    Moral Responsibilities and Extreme Poverty: Rethinking Our Affluent Lifestyles

    Approximately 1.5 billion people – one-quarter of all human beings alive today – live below the international poverty line. 827 million people experience malnourishment. 114 million children do not attend elementary school. Each year, 10.8 million children die under the age of five due to malnourishment and preventable diseases. 1.2 billion people do not have access to improved water sources. 2.4 billion lack access to adequate sanitation. Extreme poverty is by far the number-one cause of human misery. In 1998, approximately 1.3 million deaths resulted from war, homicides, and violence, while starvation and preventable diseases claimed 18 times that; deaths due to poverty-related causes, such as malnutrition and diseases that can be prevented or cured cheaply, account for one-third of all human deaths. And the problem is only worsening; according to philosopher Thomas Pogge, “The number of persons who are poor… ‘rose from 1.2 billion in 1987 to 1.5 billion [in 1999] and, if recent trends persist, will reach 1.9 billion by 2015.’” Much philosophical, economic, and political debate has ensued over whether the disparity between affluent nations and impoverished nations engenders moral obligations for individuals to act.
  • Valerie Gonzales, Westminster College
    Mentor: Steven Kern, Ph.D., Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of Utah

    Investigation of Concomitant Administration of Morphine and Methadone

    Pain management strategies employed for chronically ill children admitted into the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) most often include sedation and analgesia.[1] Provision of such treatments is most effectively carried out by the delivery of opioid agonists, morphine and fentanyl.[2,3] Although these medications serve as an immediate remedy for chronic pain, prolonged infusions have been recognized to have adverse effects. It is known that tolerance results due to opioid-induced analgesia.[3-6] Thus, intravenous opioid concentrations required for adequate pain reduction increase throughout the duration of the treatment. Opioid abstinence syndrome (OAS) results from physical dependency and is especially evident when distressful symptoms occur upon the discontinuation of the administered drug.[3-6] Undesired neurological side effects due to OAS consist of: irritability, myoclonus, ataxia, vomiting, sweating, fever, diarrhea, visual and auditory hallucination, seizures and rejection to food/drink.[5] In the occurrence of OAS in the pediatric population, methadone, also an opioid, is used to treat opioid abstinence syndrome.[7] The lack of data from pharmacokinetic tests on the pediatric population however attributes to the uncertain half-life and detailed pharmacokinetics of methadone in children. 
  • Brenda Robles, University of Utah
    Mentor: Mary Ann Villarreal, Ph.D., History, University of Utah

    A Reflection of America: Reconceptualizating Westside Discourse
    Oral Histories of Westside Latino Residents

    The documentation of Latino resident experiences who grew up or live in Salt Lake City’s “Westside” has received a smattering of attention through oral histories and photo exhibits. The dominant rhetoric text devaluates the Westside through the process of “Other-ing” (Villenas & Deyhle, 1999; Martinez, J. M., 2000; Garcia, J., 1998), creating a repeating public rhetoric that casts the Westside in terms of racial urbanization and deficit based notions. As an ever-expanding community, there is a necessity to create space for voices historically devalued as a legitimate community. Labeled as “missing,” the Westside population has rarely remained quiet or passive. My research both collects and examines oral histories, as they give insight into the lives of Latino Westside residents over two generations. This paper specifically explores questions of empowerment, self-determination, and community collectivism based on these accounts. Their stories reveal the ways in which resistance manifests itself individually and within the larger community, and at times produces contradictory struggles between each of the two. Prevailing notions of the survival, education/educación values, and border and space dynamics portrayed about the Westside are called into question as the life stories of five residents unfold. Though the process of oral story telling does not fit an academic strategy of resistance, through further examination these oral histories provide alternative histories to the dominant narrative of Utah and the Intermountain West. My interviewees detail complex histories contrastingly different from their homogeneous construction. These stories reveal a booming and inclusive community; where a multiplicity of identities, cultures, and classes collide to generate a diverse living space. They further expand our understanding of how persistence towards change in the prevailing structures and discourse is performed across generations, time, and movement.
  • Shontol Torres Burkhalter, Raquel Antoinette Gabbitas, and Kareen Limansky
    University of Utah and Westminster College
    Mentors: Brian Avery, Ph.D., and Lesa Ellis, Ph.D., Westminster College

    The Effectiveness of Positive Body Affirmations
    on Global Self-Esteem

    This study examines how self affirmations may improve body image and overall self-esteem in young adult females. Self-esteem refers most generally to an individual’s overall positive evaluation of the self (Gecas 1982; Rosenberg 1990; Rosenberg et al. 1995). A more specific definition of self-esteem is global self-esteem; global self esteem is a combination of an individual’s positive and negative views of oneself, and is a more holistic way of approaching self esteem (Rosenberg, Scholler, Schoenbach, 1995, 141). The way a young woman feels about her body is more important than other domains contained within global self-esteem which include: academics, athletics, and popularity (Harter, 1986). To examine factors that may influence body image, two groups, one experiemental and one control, of ten young-adult women, ages 18-25, participated in a 21 day study that measured the effectiveness of body image affirmations on global self-esteem. All participants were required to log onto a WebCT computer program and type four sentences that appeared on the screen daily for 21 days. The control group typed sentences about male athletes’ accomplishments in sports, and the experimental group typed positive body affirmations. This study hypothesized that the positive body image affirmations would affect a woman’s body image positively, and in turn improve her global self-esteem. Such a study represents an attempt to empirically measure the effectiveness of self-affirmations in improving body image and self esteem. To measure the effectiveness of this method, both pre- and post-study self-esteem evaluations were obtained from the participants. However, the results showed no statistical difference between the experimental and control group demonstrating that other factors outside of affirmations need to be taken into consideration in order to improve body image.

2007 Research Scholars

  • Raquel Antoinette Gabbitas, Westminster College
    Mentor: Lesa Ellis, Ph.D., Psychology, Westminster College

    Examining the Role of Executive Functioning
    in the Implicit Association Test

    Although explicit measures such as surveys and questionnaires have provided some knowledge regarding prejudice, they are limited in the information they can provide due to confounding variables such as social desirability and self deception. With issues like prejudice, individuals may be reluctant to share information that is unfavorable, and may even deceive themselves into thinking that some destructive behaviors are not harmful (http://implicit.harvard.edu). The Implicit Association Task (IAT) is a tool that measures underlying feelings and cognitive processes through a series of timed pairings, and it allows researchers to look at an individual’s reactions on a micro level in a way that previous measurement tools have not. It is a useful way to measure possible underlying feelings of discrimination towards the Latina/o group, because it can quantify snap-judgments individuals make regarding the Latina/o population and show potential inherent group preferences through a latency or timing method (Greenwald et al. 1998). This study will examine any potential links between explicit and implicit views of prejudice regarding the Latina/o community in Salt Lake City, Utah and will explore any correlations to feelings regarding the current immigration debate. It is hypothesized that the White community will show a preference for their own group resulting in shorter reaction times when pairing positive words with White symbols and longer reaction times when pairing positive words with Latina/o symbols. It is also hypothesized that individuals who take a longer time pairing positive words with Latina/o symbols will also demonstrate greater prejudice on the immigration and prejudice survey than individuals who do not.
  • Dusty Moore, Westminster College
    Mentor: Brian Avery, Ph.D., Biology, Westminster College

    A Preliminary Genetic Analysis of Hybrid Oaks in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah

    Oak trees play a vital role in the ecosystem of the Wasatch Mountains of Utah, providing both food and shelter for numerous organisms. Most of the Wasatch Oaks are Quercus gambelii (deciduous scrub oaks), shedding their leaves during the harsh high elevation winters. There are several unexpected evergreen oaks which appear to be hybrids of the Wasatch scrub oaks and the evergreen oak, Quercus turbinella (live oaks), primarily located in Southern Utah. The suspected hybrids were presumably present prior to a rapid decrease in winter temperatures of the area several thousands of years ago, resulting in several hybrids live oaks able to withstand the cold climate that other evergreen oaks physically could not. We selected common microsatellites of the oak genome were selected from previous studies done on European oaks and six RAPD primers were selected from a study evaluating Q. gambelii. Several primers have shown conservation of PCR fragments throughout the gambelii as well as some which appear in the suspected hybrids also. Although there are not enough data to determine absolute genetic relatedness, there are several primers, including MSQ13 and RAPD 290, which show a relationship that is not coincidence.