Xavier students showcase work at Madison Square Garden for undergraduate research competition

Mar 14, 2023

Featured image description: From left, students Julia Lankisch, Taylor Luck, Olivia Tore, Isaac Blaney and Audrey Peterman represented Xavier in the second annual BIG EAST Research Poster Symposium on Saturday, March 11 at Madison Square Garden.

Last weekend, Madison Square Garden played host to Xavier students giving it their all against their BIG EAST counterparts — but we’re not talking about basketball.

Five Musketeer undergraduates traveled to New York City for the second-annual BIG EAST Undergraduate Research Poster Symposium, an academic competition featuring research projects ranging across a variety of disciplines. The Xavier students each represented many disciplines, presenting on subjects ranging from artificial intelligence in sports betting to depictions of disabilities in dystopian literature.

Though no Xavier students placed in this year’s competition, they gained invaluable experience while also getting free tickets to watch the Musketeers play in the BIG EAST Men’s Basketball Tournament championship.

“It’s really exciting to see such a renowned venue prioritize undergraduate research and to showcase all the excellent academic work that the BIG EAST schools are doing,” said Kathryn Morris, PhD, Xavier’s director of undergraduate research. “It’s been really great for our students to have the opportunity to come be part of this experience.”

The students’ professionalism and polished presentations impressed Morris and Assistant Professor of Marketing Bryan Buechner, PhD, who both accompanied the students on the trip.

Read about these undergraduates, their work and what they had to say about their experience at the World’s Most Famous Arena.

Isaac Blaney

Isaac BlaneyProject title: “Consumer Perceptions of Artificial Intelligence in Sports Betting”

Quote from trip: “I’ve been working with Dr. B (Buechner) on this project since sophomore year, so it’s just been a really gratifying experience to see it all come through. I also think it shows how every student can take a simple amount of initiative and the professors here are really helpful and want to see the students succeed.”

Research description: In response to the tremendous growth of sports bettors in the U.S., many gambling and fantasy sports platforms have integrated artificial intelligence into their experience to provide recommendations that influence user engagement and performance. However, extant research demonstrates that despite the ability of artificial intelligence (AI) to assist individuals in decision-making, an aversion to AI emerges across a variety of domains. To date, however, we are not aware of any research that investigates the impact of AI in the context of sports betting. Further, we provide a nuanced perspective to this aversion to AI by investigating the mediating role of expertise. Our findings suggest users are hesitant to follow AI recommendations, leading to suboptimal decision-making …

Julia Lankisch

Julia LankischProject title: “Feeding preferences of spotted lanternfly on tree-of-heaven and maple in Switzerland Co., Indiana”

Quote about trip: “Getting to experience New York City has been a great opportunity. I’m going to the Natural History Museum, today (Saturday) I went to the Met (Metropolitan Museum of Art), obviously, Madison Square Garden … I grew up in the Midwest and I haven’t, honestly, gone outside of it a ton, so this was just a really neat opportunity to see a city that’s very different from Cincinnati.”

Research description: Spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula [White]; Hemiptera: Fulgoridae; hereafter SLF) is an herbivorous pest native to eastern Asia that was first detected in North America in 2014. SLF feeding and the resulting accumulation of honeydew waste damages plants, including specialty crops such as wine grapes and lumber. It has been generally accepted that SLF must feed on tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima [Mill.]) to reach sexual maturity. However, some recent studies have suggested that SLF is able to complete development on other hosts. Seasonal patterns of SLF host utilization in North America are poorly understood, hindering management efforts. We tested the hypothesis that feeding preferences of SLF change during their activity period, with later developmental stages preferring tree-of-heaven over maple (Acer sp.). Our results show that SLF did not prefer either tree genus at any stage, which was unexpected because literature suggests we should find significantly more individuals on tree-of-heaven. These data can be used to inform future management in the midwestern United States.

Taylor Luck

Taylor LuckProject title: “The Game of Cycles: A Combinatorial Approach to Game Theory”

Quote about trip: “As somebody who's still a junior and applying to grad schools, this is a really good way for me to get a better understanding of what the next five to six years of my life look like, and I feel like it’s really helped me prepare for a life based in academia and research.”

Research description: The Game of Cycles is a two-player game where players take turns marking an orientation on an edge of a graph until someone wins. This happens either by forming a cycle or playing the last legal move. Our research led us to find winning strategies on two types of graphs: paths and caterpillars. We will outline these strategies and discuss some of the nuances and subtleties of this mathematical game.

Audrey Peterman

Audrey PetermanProject title: “Depictions of Disability in Dystopian Literature”

Quote about trip: “I think the mentorship at Xavier has been incredible and made this whole experience. My research project was an independent study, for the most part, so I was just cold-calling and emailing professors I’d never seen before. I would just go into their office and talk, and having that exchange (was great). Even here at this conference, when you’re talking to people, you can tell that they’re interested in your research and they’re interested in learning for the sake of it.”

Research description: Dystopian literature is wrought with depictions of disability that offer an opportunity for societal critique. Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake and Octavia Butler’s “Speech Sounds” provide opportunities to enter into disability theory discourse. Dystopian portrayals of disability center around dangerous notions of perfecting the human body and utilizing scientific advancements to eradicate differences in embodiment. Analysis of these socially constructed and pathologized bodies emphasizes the need to reconstruct how disabled bodies are imagined and treated. Through an examination of historical and theoretical treatments of non-standard bodies, ranging from Foucault’s theories on sexuality to Haraway’s “A Cyborg Manifesto,” this thesis challenges the view that disabled bodies are less human ...

Olivia Tore

Olivia ToreProject title: “How Message Features Affect Perceptions of the Permissibility of Medical (and Recreational) Marijuana”

Quote about trip: “It’s been a very rewarding experience, seeing it all culminate. My project is from last year, and to see it come this far when I thought it was done, how you can pick it back up with the right mentors and everything … It’s just cool to see it come together again.”

Research description: With the recent shift away from prohibition of marijuana in the United States, the acceptability of marijuana seems to be increasing. One explanation for more accepting attitudes could be an increase in pro-marijuana messaging. Although previous research revealed that messages powerfully affect individuals’ perceptions of a substance, types of messages and extent to which messages affect permissibility of marijuana needs more investigation. This study examined if two message features – valence (i.e., pro/positive and anti/negative) and source (i.e., fact-based vs. testimonials from hypothetical marijuana users) – affect the perceived permissibility of medical marijuana use. This study also examined if the effects of the message features generalize to perceptions of the permissibility of recreational marijuana ...

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