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Open Access Publications from the University of California


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Evaluating Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Soil Application of Anaerobic Organic Digestive Compared With Conventional Manure

The state of California is investing in anaerobic digesters to reduce methane emissions from agriculture. However, little is known about the impact of anaerobic digesters on nitrous oxide (N2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from soils after land application of digestate. The purpose of this study was to compare soil CO2 and N2O emission fluxes from anaerobic digestate treatment in conjunction with manure, manure treatment, and a control group without treatment on agricultural soils from two dairy farms. In addition to comparing treatments and sites, we tested the effects of temperature at either 23°C or 28°C to compare predicted future average temperatures. Soil samples were placed in mason jars with 18 jars per location: three manure treatments x 2, temperatures x 3 replications per treatment, and incubated for six weeks according to the temperature treatment. Soils were watered once a week to maintain 65% water holding capacity. Cavity ring-down spectrometers were used to collect gas emissions in a closed-loop system, and elemental analyzers were used to evaluate soil and treatment nutrient composition. We hypothesized that three main variables — manure, lower temperatures, and soils with low-nutrient content in conjunction with anaerobic diges- tate would all lead to lower emissions. Anaerobic digestate has been found to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also being a nutrient-rich energy source. Microbial soil communities are also more active in warmer temperatures, which may increase the production of gas emissions. Overall, the results were inconclusive for either argument.

Fear Of Cancer Recurrence Among Black And White Mothers

Fear of cancer recurrence (FCR), often defined as fear, worry, or concern related to the possibility that cancer may return or progress, is frequently expressed by breast cancer survivors. Previous research on breast cancer survivors suggests that mothers tend to report greater FCR than non-mothers and that FCR differs by ethnicity. This existing body of research often treats motherhood and race as separate entities by which to examine levels of FCR. The purpose of the present study is to investigate the differences in FCR between Black and White mothers. Breast cancer survivors were recruited using Amazon’s MTurk service (n =138) and were asked to respond to self-report questionnaires regarding FCR and demographic information. An independent t-test revealed that black mothers (n = 37, M = 3.94, SD = 0.58) tended to report greater FCR levels than White mothers (n = 54, M = 3.54, SD = 0.92; t(88.46) = -2.55, p = 0.01). Our findings provide initial support for differences in FCR among mothers of different races. Potential explanations for the observed differences are discussed. Further research is needed to identify the causes of differences in FCR levels among Black and White mothers in order to craft informed interventions for these populations.

Ethnic Differences In Perceptions of Mental Illness: Examining Intergroup Relations

People with mental illness are often stereotyped as dangerous, unstable, or unreliable, and these stereotypes perpetuate prejudice against those who are already vulnerable. However, many of these stereotypes are Eurocentric due to a lack of diversity within psychology. The present, pre-registered research investigates whether depictions of mental illness are idiosyncratic to various racial/ethnic groups, or if these perceptions generalize across groups. Participants reported their endorsement of a series of mental illness descriptions (e.g., “This person spontaneously explodes in outbursts of anger”) as they apply to African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic/Latinxs, Caucasians, as well as to individuals with unspecified race/ethnicity. Exploratory factor analyses of these descriptions revealed three factors that describe mentally ill people — ashamed, self-destructive, irresponsible — and participants’ perceptions of mental illness on these three factors varied by racial/ethnic groups. Participants rated Asian Americans as more ashamed, but less self-destructive and irresponsible than other racial/ethnic groups. Conversely, participants rated Caucasians as less ashamed but more self-destructive and irresponsible than other racial/ethnic groups. Perceptions of mental illness did not differ between Hispanic/Latinxs and African Americans. Additional analyses indicate that, compared to Caucasian par- ticipants, non-Caucasian participants rated mentally ill members of their ingroup as more ashamed but less self-destructive and irresponsible. This research indicates that participants from different racial/ethnic groups vary in the extent to which they ascribe different facets of mental illness to their ingroup versus outgroups. Implications for Eurocentric versus more diverse perceptions of mental illness are discussed.

The Power Of Words: How Are Depression Symptoms And Labile Self-Esteem Related To Word Use?

The way people talk about their emotional experiences can reveal information about how well they are functioning. Depression symptoms can include feelings of hopelessness and a saddened mood. Labile self-esteem is the fluctuations a person may experience in their self-esteem. Previous studies have found a relationship between self-esteem, depression symptoms, and word use; however, no research has yet examined the interaction between depression symptoms and labile self-esteem in predicting word use. The present study examines the main and interactive effects of depression symptoms and labile self-esteem in predicting the number of clout (language associated with confidence), achievement (goal-oriented language), and power (words related to superiority) words utilized to describe sad and happy emotional experiences. We predicted that the interaction between more depression symptoms and more labile self-esteem would relate to less use of clout, achievement, and power words when describing sad and happy emotional experiences. Participants answered surveys measuring depression symptoms and labile self-esteem. The Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) software was used to determine how much clout, achievement, and power words participants utilized when describing past sad and happy emotional experiences. The present study found that labile self-esteem was only significantly positively correlated with clout words used to describe a happy emotional experience. In contrast to our hypothesis, participants’ self-reported depression symptoms were not linked to clout, power, and achievement words used to describe happy and sad emotional experiences. Finally, there were no significant interactions between labile self-esteem and depression symptoms in predicting words used to express a past emotional experience. The findings in this study provide a greater understanding of how factors that may affect a person’s overall wellbeing, such as depression symptoms and labile self-esteem, are linked to how people recall and express past emotional experiences.

The Effect Of Shame And Guilt On Students Writing Habits

Individuals strive to assuage negative emotions through a myriad of mechanisms, some of which are adaptive while others are not. In the current study, we focus on shame and guilt. Previous research suggests that shame is more associated with defensiveness and the tendency to project negative feelings outward. However, guilt can be an adaptive emotion and is associated with the tendency to take responsibility. The current study explores how such negative emotionality can affect students’ perceived and actual work habits by utilizing Google Docs, which keeps a time-stamped record of workers’ activity that is accurate to the millisecond. Participants (n = 178) were asked to write an essay into Google Docs. Participants also completed self-reported procrastination scales and the Test of Self-Conscious Affect (TOSCA). Therefore, we can compare participants’ self-reported levels of shame and guilt with both their self-reported procrastination and their actual work activity (measured by utilizing the time-stamped data). While both shame-proneness and guilt-proneness are significant predictors of self-reported procrastination, neither predict observed procrastination. Despite this, self-reported procrastination is associated with observed procrastination. Ultimately, this data can be used to better understand students’ perceived and actual work habits and motivations from a psychological perspective and can assist in informing others regarding how to best engage with students concerning their writing activity and habits.

Analysis of Pulmonary Complement Protein Expression Following Organic Dust Exposure

Organic dust, as found in agricultural farm work, is ranked among the highest occupational exposure hazards by the CDC. Agricultural dust containing endotoxins, pesticides, mold, and other chemicals, contributes to increased rates of respiratory diseases among these workers. Human bronchial epithelial cells (HBEC), which line upper airways, are frequently exposed to pathogens. Understanding the role of HBEC in inflammation following dust exposure (DE) is necessary to understand the mechanisms underlying inflammatory diseases. The complement system, a nonspecific and non-adaptable defense mechanism, is composed of circulating proteins that promote inflammation by attacking the cell membranes of pathogens and recruiting immune cells that secrete mediators of inflammation. We characterized complement protein expression in DE-treated HBEC using previously generated SWATH proteomics data and Western blotting. Western blotting identified that DE treatment in HBEC mediates the release and activation of C3, while data identified via SWATH-MS proteomics indicated significant upregulation of CD59—a regulator of complement activation. These data suggest that DE-HBEC may regulate complement activation and aim to elucidate the mechanisms by which HBEC promotes the complement system, and thus induce pulmonary inflammation in the presence of organic dust.

The Benefits Of Trait Mindfulness And Flow During A Period of Stressful Preparation

Preparing for an important performance such as a test or job interview can be quite stressful. Considerable evidence reveals that mindfulness meditation (a focus on the present moment) and flow (engaging in activities that fully capture one’s attention) are effective strategies for bolstering well-being in stressful situations, including the wait for uncertain news about a performance outcome. However, less research has examined whether mindfulness and flow buffer well-being while preparing for the performance. Ninety-four law graduates preparing to take the 2019 California bar exam completed a survey assessing trait mindfulness, trait flow, well-being, and coping strategies two weeks prior to the exam. Results revealed that trait mindfulness (controlling for flow) consistently predicted well-being as participants studied for the exam, whereas trait flow (controlling for mindfulness) consistently predicted reduced use of several coping strategies (e.g., bracing, proactive coping). These results suggest that cultivating mindfulness may be an effective way to reduce unpleasant emotions while preparing for a performance, whereas flow may facilitate the use of coping strategies that could indirectly affect well-being.

Role Of Perceived Support From Parents and On- And Off-Campus Friends In First- And Non-First-Generation College Students' Life Satisfaction

First-year college students, especially first-generation attendees (FGC; neither parent finished college), often have difficulties adjusting to school. The present study examines the social and instrumental support these students receive during their first year of college and its role in their life satisfaction, a dimension of psychological well-being (Jenkins et al., 2013). In this study, 244 first-year college students (107 FGC) completed an online survey that asked about their perceived support and instrumental help from parents and on- and off-campus friends, as well as the students’ overall life satisfaction. Results showed that, regardless of college-generation status, students reported feeling more social support than instrumental help from family and off-campus friends. For both FGC students and non-FGC students, there was a positive relationship between perceived social support and help from family and friends and student’s satisfaction with life. The findings suggest that university professionals should try to involve families and other supportive persons, including on- and off-campus friends, in students’ first- year college experience to help students adjust to this new setting.

Blazing Beetles: The Effect Of Temperature On The Locomotion of A Namib Dune Beetle

Deserts represent some of the harshest ecosystems for life to survive in. In order to thrive, species must find novel adaptations either through behavioral or physiological modulation. The Namib desert of Southern Africa is no exception. In the Namib, temperatures can swing from 10 to 30°C throughout the day. Previous studies have indicated that there is temperature dependence in muscle power output in ectotherms. With the Namib being an understudied ecosystem, the present study aimed to investigate if invertebrate muscle output is affected by wild temperature fluctuations. Onmyacris plana, a Tenebrionid beetle endemic to the dunes of the Namib, was chosen due to being dorsally flattened, which results in low heat storage capacity. Although the thermoregulatory strategies, running ability, size and metabolic needs of O. plana have been studied, there have been no studies on the effect of temperature on the running performance of O. plana. We collected 8 beetles from the dunes and kept them in a vivarium in the lab. Beetles were subjected to three temperatures, to represent temperatures commonly experienced throughout the day. They were then placed on a 1-meter trackway in the lab and we made them run while recording them with a high-speed camera. Using the Matlab DLTdv5 digitizing tool we quantified their speed throughout the trials and analyzed differences in speed for the three treatments. We found no significant differences between running ability for beetles running at daytime temperatures and had significant difficulty in getting the beetles to run at temperatures experienced early in the morning. Our findings suggest that the beetles have a threshold muscle temperature which, if met, is sufficient for running at maximal speeds.

Shakespeare's Violent Women: A Feminist Analysis Of Lady Macbeth

There are numerous examples in which the female characters in William Shakespeare’s plays go against the era’s gender norms and enact violence. I argue that Lady Macbeth is one of these violent women whose violence defies gender roles, but this violence also simultaneously upholds traditional patriarchal modes of power. Lady Macbeth uses violence that stems from her feminine excess to advance patrilineage and her position within Scotland. In trying to understand her violence, I make use of a feminist analysis of Lady Macbeth by Cristina León Alfar and historical interpretations of the gender norms of the era. Lady Macbeth’s violence elucidates the dilemma of the prominence of Shakespeare’s female characters. While she has a significant role in the actions of the play, she still maintains hierarchical systems of power that are predicated on women’s subjection.

Development Of Quantitative Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (QFRET) Based High Throughput (HTS) Screening For PD-1/PD-L1 Immune-Checkpoint Assay

Programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) and programmed cell death 1 - ligand 1 (PD-L1) are immune-checkpoint proteins that play an important part in cancer immunity. PD-1 is a protein on the surface of cells that down-regulates the immune system1 while PD-L1 is a protein on some normal and cancer cells. The interaction of these proteins play a major role in tumor immune escape, inhibiting T lymphocyte proliferation and survival functions. To combat this issue, targeting these immune checkpoint proteins with monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) has become the turning point in cancer treatment. However, limitations were found using mAbs such as the cost of administration, its high molecular weight, and its lack of clinical efficacy. Recently, researchers are investigating small molecule inhibitors to target the PD-1/PD-L1 mechanism instead. With CA-170 as the only small-molecule modulator in clinical trials targeting PD-1, it is essential to research options that can contribute to cancer treatments. This study provides a novel, rapid assessment for PD-1/PD-L1 interaction with the use of FRET- based kinetic analysis. PD-1/PD-L1 binding will be quantified by fluorescence using donor and acceptor pairs, CyPet and Ypet, which were bound to PD-L1 and PD-1, respectively. From this study, we calculated a Kd value of 0.31±0.13 and developed an HTS assay with a Z’ value > 0.7, values that validate the robustness and efficacy of this assay. With the development of this type of screening, it will be easy to contribute to small molecule inhibitor discovery and the growing field of cancer immunotherapy.

Voicing Lyrical Dance: (Re)Considering Lyrical Dance And Dance Hierarchy

Lyrical dance intertwines fluid movement aesthetics, emotional narratives, and musicality within competition and commercial dance contexts. However, dance scholars tend to criticize lyrical dance, both directly and indirectly, perceiving it as over-the-top yet underdeveloped. When making such statements, they implicitly contrast lyrical dance with “high art” values that privilege a particular mode of “meaning-making” as rooted in the canon of concert dance forms, such as modern and ballet. However, lyrical dance does not prioritize elements of “high art,” meaning that these scholars critique lyr- ical dance more for what it is not. My research, in response, challenges such hierarchical biases by understanding lyrical dance from the perspectives of those who practice it. With IRB-approval, I conducted interviews with ten lyrically trained dancers from both private-sector, competition dance studios and collegiate dance departments in Southern California. My findings assess lyrical dance’s values regarding expression, “freedom,” connectivity, and affirmation of skill—focusing on the latter for the sake of this article—recognizing that lyrical dancers actively shape each value through their dedication to lyrical dance practices. By voicing the lyrical dancers’ perspectives and their reasons for embracing the practice, I aim to show the need to reconsider lyrical dance on its own terms, challenging persisting critiques within scholarship.