University of Missouri–St. Louis

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    Recovering Ancient DNA Using the Polymerase Chain Reaction

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    Investigations into aDNA offer a window into the past that modern DNA and paleontological studies alone cannot provide and help address the evolution and connections between hominids, domestication timelines, the analysis of populations over time, and general diversity. Progress in aDNA research has been inherently technology-driven, with modern molecular biology methods, such as the inventions of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and Next Generation Sequencing (NGS), substantially increasing the analysis possibilities of aDNA. My research this semester has taken me along two parallel paths of investigation: literary research into aDNA and practical exposure to the laboratory techniques used in its analysis. My work in the lab exposed me to the utilization of PCR as a technique to amplify DNA regions that permits a doubling of the number of target molecules with each cycle. The PCR process is essential for studying aDNA samples since the DNA found on site is limited in quantity and quality. Under favorable conditions, DNA has survived for several millennia, though the length of time varies considerably between preservation environments. Its degradation and post-mortem chemical alterations make its quantification and amplification difficult. The major bottleneck in its research lies in DNA extraction from low-quality and quantity samples and contamination by exogenous current DNA. My practical lab experience was in the extraction process, PCR amplification of the pieces, and analysis with agarose gel electrophoresis using a plant-based system. I experienced firsthand the problems researchers encounter with PCR, such as insufficient amplification with a low amount of template, incomplete or incorrect amplification due to contaminants, and excessive smearing. Using parallel lines of evidence, such as aDNA studies and the fossil record, will aid us in new understandings concerning evolutionary history

    Socio-Demographic Risks Affect Executive Functioning

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    The goal of study 1 was to see if there was an association between average fixation durations in infants and socio-demographic risk. There were 102 infants (3.5 month old) that participated in the study. While infants were looking at stimuli, the researchers tracked their average fixation durations; their mothers took the socio-demographic risk scale (Rutter, 1979; Sameroff, 2000). This scale shows the mothers cumulative risk score by giving points to mothers based on their socio-demographic circumstances. Mothers received a point if they were, below median maternal education, below median estimated family income, or a racial minority. Results showed that the higher the socio-demographic risk score for the mothers, the higher the average fixation durations in infants. The goal of study 2 was to see if there was an association between academic performance and average fixation durations. There were 67 undergraduates who participated in the study. Participants self reported their GPA and took the same eye tracking procedure as study 1. Results showed that the lower the GPA the higher the average fixation durations

    UMSL Bulletin 2023-2024

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    The 2023-2024 Bulletin and Course Catalog for the University of Missouri St. Louis.

    The Life and Music of Hazel Felman

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    At the turn of the 20th century, a new generation of American women began to make their mark on the male-dominated industry of classical music. The sexist policies which historically barred women from entering music conservatories had loosened, offering greater access to formal music education and producing America’s first great wave of professional female composers, performers, and conductors. Today, very few of these women would find their work exalted in the canon of western classical music, much of it having gone critically unappraised, underperformed, and haphazardly preserved. This thesis examines the life and music of Hazel Felman (1892 - 1974), a composer and arts patron from Chicago who between 1916 and 1945 maintained a vibrant career in the classical music industry, collaborated with many notable 20th century literary and musical personalities, produced hundreds of compositions, and yet remains virtually unknown today. Included in this thesis are the first-ever biography of the composer and an annotated catalogue of her surviving music. In the absence of an existing biography of Felman, biographical information was synthesized from primary source materials – letters of correspondence, newspaper articles, and performance reviews. In addition to the biography and catalogue, the project includes a live performance of several of Felman\u27s surviving compositions, to be featured at the Undergraduate Student Research Symposium. Some of these pieces were never published, and most have not been performed since the 1930\u27s. This research fills a gap left by the historic suppression of female creativity and highlights the need for music historians to shift their attention to the neglected corners of the classical genre, which are cluttered with minority-created music unduly forgotten as ephemera

    I Hate Illinois Nazis: Remembering Hate Speech and the First Amendment in Skokie, Illinois

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    In 1976, the leader of the Illinois chapter of the National Socialist Party of America (neo-Nazis) sent over 30 requests to hold demonstrations in various areas of Chicago. The village of Skokie was the only one to respond, denying their request. The Nazis sued the city, claiming their freedom of speech was being impeded. The resulting court case has had lasting legal and social consequences that continue to define the meaning of both free speech and hate speech in the United States

    How the West Was Stolen: A Closer Look at the St.Louis Treaty of 1804

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    Land back is a social movement of indigenous groups in North America. Land justice is a high-priority topic in current society. Exploring the indignities of indigenous removal from their tribal land in the United States implores us to open our minds and look closer at the methodology of westward expansion. Aggressive tactics for acquiring ownership of land from non-cooperative tribes and land trade clauses in treaty language allowed the United states government to lay the foundation for The Indian Removal Act of 1830. The St. Louis Treaty of 1804 ceded 50 million acres of Sauk and Fox tribal land to the United States government on November 3, 1804. An alleged murder of three white settlers just two months prior to the signing of The Treaty of St. Louis, provided the means for which the United States brought an uncooperative tribe to treaty negotiations in St. Louis. In my research, I primarily focused on establishing the credibility of the murder claims as an entity to be either proved or disproved. Then, I focused on the creditability of the persons involved in reporting the alleged murder based their financial benefits from Pierre Chouteau and how each person benefitted from the St. Louis Treaty of 1804. It is clear that without this alleged murder, there would not of been any treaty negotiations on November 3,1804 and this alleged murder was a means for coercion by the United States government to acquire the land of the Sauk and Fox tribes

    NBA Conspiracies: A League That Values Money Over Honesty

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    This poster contains information on three conspiracies in the National Basketball League that try to prove that the league and its leaders value money over honesty. This poster includes the conspiracy of Draymond Green being suspended in the 2016 finals, and the referees in game six of the 2002 western conference finals, which looks at how the NBA staff extends series to get more money on tickets and more television views. The last conspiracy is known as the frozen envelope theory from the very first NBA draft lottery. This was thought to be a rigged situation, making sure Patrick Ewing went to one of the biggest sports markets in the United States. These three conspiracy theories show the main idea that the National Basketball League values money over honesty

    A Vaccine Against Holocaust Denial: Knowledge

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    Holocaust denial is founded on antisemitism and hatred. Understanding the psychology behind Holocaust denial and the associated risks is vital to protecting the public

    Animal Conservation in St. Louis

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    St. Louis has a multitude of organizations involved in the natural sciences. But how many of them actually contribute towards animal conservation? The St. Louis Zoo is an organization that focuses a lot of its effort on presentation, so how does that impact the funds that go towards actually saving the animals? I plan to dive into the different animal-based organizations in St. Louis and its surrounding areas, as well as discuss the positives and negatives of each organization. Furthermore, I will provide examples from several sources that I have been reviewing all year to support my claims. I plan to educate my audience on what exactly animal conservation is, as well as describe how animal conservation advocates can best support these species. My goal is that guests will be more aware of what exactly these animal-based organizations do, and which is the best to support in terms of animal conservation

    Gangsterism, the Urban Ruling Elite, and the Guomindang: Power Sharing During the Early Years of the Chinese Republic, 1927-1937

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    China’s Republican era, prior to the Japanese occupation and while under the authority of Chiang Kai-shek and the Guomindang (c. 1927-1937), has in many respects been underexplored by historians. The Shanghai Massacre, Chiang’s subsequent military campaigns against the Communists, the factious divisions within the Guomindang, and the ongoing Japanese campaign to annex parts of the Chinese mainland are often highlighted. In my presentation, rather than focusing on the various foes of the Guomindang, I plan to focus on the political alliances Chiang forged. In particular I will explore his ties to, and alliances with Organized Crime (specifically Du Yuesheng and other members of the so-called Green Gang) and the Urban Elite of Shanghai. The complex web of interested parties and political players that emerged in Shanghai during this decade serves as an interesting reflection (or alternatively, vestige) of the capitalist and colonial forces that had been shaping the city since the Opium wars. Chiang’s association with Shanghai and it’s contingent of organized crime bosses and bourgeois ruling elites (which became increasingly indistinguishable during this period) is illustrative of the Guomindang‘s fundamental modus operandi for governance and power sharing from 1927-37


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