Meet a Lucerna Author: Carolyn Kovar

My Lucerna project analyzes the flash mobs and violence at the Country Club Plaza in recent years. I look back at the legacy of the Troost Divide and racial inequality as potential causes for unrest in this central location in Kansas City. Then I analyze how the media has covered the events and how various communities have looked to amend the situation, ranging from police reforms to curfews. My research highlights flash mobs as a remarkable way of drawing attention to problems that exist in our city that would otherwise be overlooked.

Why are you interested in this topic?

My interest in this subject grew steadily as I worked on the Plaza for three and a half years. However, it was when one of my good friends, who also works on the Plaza, was in the midst of a night of a violent disturbance that I decided to research it. As I learned more, my interest grew. I began to think that the disturbances on the Plaza were caused by social problems such as racial segregation in Kansas City and were staged in an affluent area to draw media attention. I see the flash mobs as invaluable reminders of social problems, and I am passionate about changing the way they are presented.

What have been the benefits and challenges of this project?

A benefit to studying flash mobs on the Country Club Plaza has been my proximity to the events. During the months of my research, I continued to find racist comments and media portrayals, as well as continued violence, that further illustrate and prove my key arguments. Problems I have encountered in my research are primarily biased media portrayals and lack of in-depth articles and accounts on which to build my studies. Academic studies by Bill Wasik and Brian J. Houston were invaluable for my research, and I drew heavily upon them, but it would have been easier with more studies to draw upon.

What is your advice for students who are interested in publishing their work in Lucerna?

My main advice to students looking to publish in Lucerna would be to pick a good advisor. My work would not have been possible without the continued assistance of Dr. Henrietta Rix Wood of the Honors College. She walked with me through the entire process of editing and polishing my research, reading over five separate drafts. She went above and beyond the call of duty. This is an invaluable asset to anyone new, as I was, to the research and publishing process.

What are your professional plans or goals?

My research focuses on the urban problems of racial and socioeconomic inequality due to residential housing, education, and job segregation. In Spring 2019, I am working as an intern for Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II. My academic goals for the future are to complete my Master’s Degree in Public Administration or Public Policy after I graduate in December 2019. Then I would like to work either in a governmental agency focusing on urban affairs and eventually enter politics or work on the developmental board of a nonprofit trying to address the same issues I have studied.

Meet a Lucerna Author: Tyler Evans

My Lucerna project is about the Kansas City No Violence Alliance (KC NoVA). It is a multifaceted organization that brings City Hall, the Police Department, the Prosecutor’s Office, Social Services, and community betterment programs together to reduce gun violence in Kansas City. KC NoVA uses a unique policing method called focused deterrence that, in contrast to traditional policing, encourages individuals who are involved in gangs and group violence to stop committing crimes by offering resources to them. If they refuse this help and continue wreaking havoc in the community, then the police department will swiftly arrest them.

Why are you interested in this topic?

A majority of Kansas Citians are aware of the Troost Divide and the poverty and crime rates of East Kansas City. There are multiple economic and social factors that cause injustice. Yet simply bringing awareness to the plight of people in need is not enough. Everyone in the community must act in order to reduce crime and break down barriers. I wanted to learn what community leaders are doing to address injustice and make the KC community safer. Therefore, I researched how multiple Kansas City community betterment programs joined forces to deter crime and improve the communities of East Kansas City through the initiative known as the Kansas City No Violence Alliance (KC NoVA). The aspect of KC NoVA that I most appreciate is how it provides resources to people in need in our community, turning once violent individuals into responsible citizens, which in effect makes the community safer.

What have been the benefits and challenges of this project?

My favorite part of this project was gathering primary sources. I got to talk to people in the police department, criminal justice professors, the prosecutor’s department, and also hear how people in the community feel about this initiative and how to address gun violence in our community. The biggest challenge was organizing all of the sources and information I collected into a coherent, consistent argument.

What is your advice for students who are interested in publishing their work in Lucerna?

I would tell students to be continuously curious and never stop searching for answers to your questions. Also, don’t be afraid to ask people for interviews/help—the worst thing that can happen is that they say, “No.”

What are your professional plans or goals?

I currently work for a marketing research firm and plan on working with this firm after graduation. I also plan on pursuing a graduate degree. I am considering whether to pursue an MBA or a graduate degree in psychology.

Meet a Lucerna Author: Hannah Doggett

My Lucerna project is about what factors predict the development of PTSD. Interestingly, we found guilt to have significant predictive power in that, as guilt increases, it predicts a decrease in PTSD symptoms.

Why are you interested in this topic?

My grandpa, also my hero, fought in Vietnam. When I was a kid, I cherished “story time with Pawpaw.” He would tell me about his life and fun times in the military, as a state trooper, about my grandma and parents, etc. It wasn’t until I got older he began to tell me some of the harder stories—stories of his battle with PTSD, being spit on and called names when he returned home in uniform, how none of his doctors believed PTSD was something to treat or diagnose, and how he suffered alone for too long before he found people who did believe him and helped him. As I learned more about his life, I researched the history of PTSD and what we know about this diagnosis. It was from this research and my grandpa’s stories and struggles that I become motivated to study PTSD and trauma in adults to help people who are suffering.

 

What have been the benefits and challenges of this project?

First, the benefits have far outweighed the challenges. The experience I gained during this project has put me ahead of several of my colleagues in graduate school. I met and worked with some of the most skilled and knowledgeable students and professors I know at UMKC. I was able to present at local, regional, and international conferences where I gained public speaking experience and learned from some of the leading experts in their fields. Most importantly, I built relationships with individuals I would not have if I not done this project. The most challenging part was to be both organized and flexible. Research never goes as planned. That’s the most important lesson I learned and it taught me to “go with the flow.”

 

What is your advice for students who are interested in publishing their work in Lucerna?

Never be afraid to ask other professors or students for help or advice. It never hurts to have additional eyes reading and critiquing your paper. One major recommendation is to present at the UMKC annual symposium. Because it’s a smaller setting where you’ll know a large number of students and professors, they will hold back less than people at an international conference who don’t know you. Take notes when they give advice and rework the problem if you need to. Never shy away from critiques, even if it means more work for you.

 

What are your professional plans or goals?

I’m currently in the MA psychology program at West Texas A & M University (WTAMU). The next step for me will be a PhD program in clinical psychology and then a post-doctoral internship with the Air Force for three years. Then I will either continue to work as a clinical psychologist for the military and pursue a master’s in psychopharmacology so I can gain prescribing powers, or I will leave the military and teach. I love teaching so I think I will end up doing it at some point in my life.

 

 

Meet a Lucerna Author: Whitney White

My Lucerna project is about the Divergence Theorem, a famous mathematical theorem with common applications in the branch of physics. I analyze the 1831 proof of The Divergence Theorem and connect it to our modern understanding of it as printed in our textbooks. This original proof had not previously been translated into English and is first published here in this paper. I also hope to rightfully credit the theorem’s initial author, Michael Ostrogradsky. Though his theorem is commonplace, his name is not, and I believe he should be recognized.

Why are you interested in this topic?

I graduated from UMKC in December 2018, and I have a B.S. in Mathematics and a B.S. in Physics. These two fields are my passions, and The Divergence Theorem is used in both. The most incredible part of this project was getting my hands on the original historical document, in French, from 1832, at Linda Hall Library. I was floored to hold that history in my hands, and I was over the moon to learn that no translation existed. The history is incredible and being the first person to translate it makes me feel like I have a small part in this history as well.

What have been the benefits and challenges of this project?

I don’t speak French. Translating a very important piece of history from an unfamiliar language is scary and was the greatest challenge of my project. Of course, I did not want to disrespect or misrepresent the original work, so I had to be meticulous and accurate. I was lucky when my professor found a paper that translated common French mathematical terms into English. After completing the translation and connecting the original and modern proofs of The Divergence Theorem, I now better understand it. This more in-depth understanding of the logic behind each line of the proof is the greatest personal benefit of completing this project.

What is your advice for students who are interested in publishing their work in Lucerna?

A student hoping to publish in Lucerna should pick a novel topic that they find compelling. If you care about your research, it will show. It is also important to start your work early, compose multiple drafts, and ask for help in tearing them apart.

What are your professional plans or goals?

I plan to pursue a doctorate in Biostatistics at KU Medical Center beginning Fall of 2019. I will use that experience to pursue further research opportunities in the field of medical statistics. In my future work, I hope to continue to tie together past and present knowledge to spread new information.

Meet a Lucerna Author: Sami Gul

My Lucerna project is about the relationship between far-right support and immigrant presence, education levels, and unemployment rates, which I studied by using the U.K. Electoral Commission data, French Interior Ministry Election data, the U.K. Census data and French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) data. I found that constituency areas with a higher percentage of immigrant population and people with high educational qualifications tend to have less support for far right-wing parties and candidates. However, a higher unemployment rate increases the support for far-right parties in a district.

Why are you interested in this topic?

The increased immigrant population across Europe in the last few years and the policies of European countries towards immigrants made me think about immigration in Europe. Moreover, during the last two decades, there has been a rise of support for extreme right-wing parties and candidates in Western European countries. Since these two incidents happened simultaneously, I became interested in this topic. Therefore, I examined the relationship between them.

What have been the benefits and challenges of this project?

This project helps us understand when people are focused on the benefits of immigration and when they are focused on the costs of immigration. It also finds the interaction effect between the size of immigration and support for far-right wing parties. The challenge of this project was to find data that tells the exact numbers of immigrants in certain years. I had to estimate these numbers by using a formula. Also, it was challenging to figure out how people were defined as immigrants.

What is your advice for students who are interested in publishing their work in Lucerna?

You should not hesitate to start a project. After you start the project, instead of trying to finish it  all at once, you should make progress as time goes on. The University of Missouri–Kansas City has great faculty members, and you should ask your faculty advisor for help when you hit a problem. It is also good to have their feedback and comments on your project as you go.

What are your professional plans or goals?

I want to pursue a PhD program in political science. My research interests are primarily in the fields of methodology and political behavior, with a specific interest in elections and voting. In graduate school, I plan to use quantitative methods in order to both develop new methods and analyze political behavior. Ultimately, I want to come up with methods that improve election predictions in regions based on their demographic characteristics by using big time-series cross-district data. Then, I want to be an outstanding professor in the field of political methodology and political behavior.

 

Meet a Lucerna Author: Emily Rackers

My Lucerna project is about the emergence of modern dance during racial tension in the classical ballet realm. I examine the reasons why people of color felt pushed out of ballet and how the creation of modern dance as a “counterculture” to ballet has led to a continuous division between the two art forms. Through research, interviews, and personal experience, I try to look at solutions to this problem.

Why are you interested in this topic?

I am a dance major and have always been intrigued by the history of various dance forms. Ballet is my first love, but I have begun to enjoy modern dance more as a college student. However, while learning about various companies and history in college, I have seen so much how the racial tension between these two art forms continues today.

What have been the benefits and challenges of this project?

The main benefit of working on this project was learning more about an art form I love so much. Additionally, I was able to gain more perspective on a field I plan to work in. The biggest challenge was working with some of my interviewees, as they were hesitant to answer the more controversial questions. It was also hard at times to keep my own personal opinions out of the research-heavy and interview sections.

What is your advice for students who are interested in publishing their work in Lucerna?

My advice for students is to just go for it! Find a professor/mentor who knows what it takes to submit, and then work with them. Write about something you are passionate about and bring a fresh opinion to the table.

What are your professional plans or goals?

My professional goal is to dance with a contemporary company such as Visceral Dance for a few years. Eventually, I would like to return to school to obtain a master’s in arts administration. From there I will be able to help manage and run professional dance companies.

 

Meet a Lucerna Author: Chase Ford

My Lucerna project, “The Wonderful World of Memes,” is centered on exploring the definition, history, and satirical value of memes. Memes hold a unique place in our digital culture but are often misunderstood and viewed as absurd. The truth is quite the opposite, and memes provide valuable commentary on political, social, and historical events. My hope with this project is to put memes in an academic spotlight and highlight the growing significance they have in daily media interactions.

 

Why are you interested in this topic?

Being an active Internet user, I see and share memes on a daily basis. Memes have become a part of my daily lingo, and I wanted to explore why that is. Additionally, one of my high school debate friends, Kris Cho, performed an Original Oratory about memes and placed fourth in the Missouri state competition. Her work inspired me to pursue this topic and laid the foundation for my research.

What have been the benefits and challenges of this project?

The biggest challenge of this project was to explain memes in a serious and academic way since they are pieces of Internet comedy. Finding multiple research sources to support my arguments was difficult, but it challenged me to think outside the box. The biggest benefit, on a larger scale, is to help support the massive growth of social media and technology and help people understand what aspects of those bring us closer together.

What is your advice for students who are interested in publishing their work in Lucerna?

The best advice I can give to students is to first find a subject you are truly passionate about. Writing and researching a topic you have invested interest in not only makes the process smoother but more enjoyable. Also, Lucerna is focused on new and creative takes on issues. Make your argument stand out with personal anecdotes, a unique opposing view, or with lesser known topics. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends, teachers, or the Lucerna staff.

What are your professional plans or goals?

Currently, I am studying Political Science and Environmental Studies, with a plan to add a minor in Philosophy. After undergrad, I plan to go to law school to pursue Environmental Law. From there I want to see where the journey takes me. If I work domestically, I want to work for the Environmental Protection Agency and focus on renewable energy. If I work internationally, I want to do humanitarian work and litigation in areas affected by environmental hazards.

Meet a Lucerna Author: Carolyn Nordengren

My paper, “A Father’s Fantasy: Depicting Class in Jan Steen’s Fantasy Interior,” explores the depiction of social classes in seventeenth-century Dutch society. I analyze the representation of the Schouten family in Fantasy Interior with Jan Steen and the Family of Gerrit Schouten from the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. The two generations depicted, parents and children, represent two social classes (roughly the seventeenth-century Dutch equivalent of our middle and upper classes). I argue that this portrait documents the family’s recent increase in wealth and subsequent rise in social standing by portraying the children as inhabiting the level of luxury and leisure that they will soon enjoy while their father imagines their future from his middle-class position.

Why are you interested in this topic?

I first became interested in the art of the Netherlands because of an affinity for its aesthetics. However, as I progressed through my studies, I became fascinated with the development this small water-logged nation in the back corner of Europe from its fight for independence from Spain to the nation’s own rise as a global player in trade and exploration. The tumult and enrichment had a profound impact on the development of the national psyche and social structure and that is evident in the nation’s artwork.

What have been the benefits and challenges of this project?

The most enjoyable aspect of this project was to have the opportunity to explore the social structure of a time long past and imagine what it might have been like to negotiate that environment. The biggest challenge of this project, as with any art historical undertaking, is to approach the issue from a period-accurate viewpoint. As a modern viewer it is difficult to avoid bringing anachronistic biases and opinions to the work.

What is your advice for students who are interested in publishing their work in Lucerna?

Take every single assignment seriously. It doesn’t matter if it’s a one-page reading reflection or a term paper, everything you write has the opportunity to push you to new ideas and questions. From there just keep gathering connections and questions until you find something you want to write about. Your professors are also great resources to talk to about potential research or papers.

What are your professional plans or goals?

After I graduate from UMKC this year, I plan to earn an art history Ph.D. I’ll focus my graduate studies in the early modern period, particularly the Atlantic world from the European arrival in the Americas through the eighteenth century. My hope is to focus on cultural exchange and how the movement of people, objects, and ideas affected the development of culture and knowledge on both sides of the Atlantic. After I finish school, my goal is to work in a curatorial department in an art museum or become a professor of art history.

Meet a Lucerna Author: Sarah Towakoli

My Lucerna project is “Ending the Recidivist Cycle: The Reciprocal Effect of Punitive Correctional Procedures on Incarceration.” In short, it’s about the paradox of U.S. Corrections and its failure to “correct” offenders. My study focuses on the philosophy and practices of the U.S. correctional system and applies it to research on incarceration and recidivism in the United States. Most importantly, it explains how these procedures actually aggravate incarceration and recidivism rates, ultimately victimizing those who become entangled with the criminal justice system as well as imposing and perpetuating harms onto society. Finally, the piece offers a suggestion for reformation in the form of a replacement of current correctional procedures with evidence-based programs that answer to the cognitive-behavioral risks and needs of offenders to support a healthy, successful, and just reintegration.

Why are you interested in this topic?

Recidivism is something criminology students are made aware in the first few criminal justice courses, but it was never taught to me as a section on its own. I immediately noticed the irony of living in a country that holds both the highest incarceration and highest recidivism rates worldwide. After taking a course on the principles of U.S. Corrections, I noticed that criminological scholarship tends to address recidivism as being a side-effect, or symptom, to an ineffective system. After considering just how prevalent the issue of recidivism is, I realized recidivism is not symptomatic per se, but a leading cause of the entire disease that plagues the justice system. Certainly a justice system would be hard-pressed to achieve true justice if it simply re-incarcerated the same offenders without making any changes; it turns offenders into victims of an unjust system. This project was an opportunity to learn more about it myself, and to try to locate where we can start transforming the way we think about or prioritize recidivism to try to overcome this issue.

What have been the benefits and challenges of this project?

The only challenge to the project was ensuring that the end product was truly a contribution, or a new idea, to the preexisting scholarship. As challenging as this was, it was also really rewarding and fun to push myself to think about my project from several different facets. I had started learning about this topic during the start of my sophomore year, and I remember completely scrapping everything I had worked on for an entire semester and starting fresh after realizing I was initially looking at the issue incorrectly. Therefore, this project was really a culmination of all of the knowledge I had gained in this field thus far, as well as the critical thinking and analytical research strategies I had developed along the way. I would now consider that to be a benefit, along with the many other benefits to pursuing this project. While there really are several benefits to submitting a project to Lucerna, admittedly my favorite is getting to hold an actual published copy after spending so many hours staring at rough drafts on my computer.

What is your advice for students who are interested in publishing their work in Lucerna?

Do it. Even if you are not sure what project you want to pursue, pick a category you are interested in and just start the research for it. When you finally find the specific topic you are passionate about, the project starts to write itself. It is very rare that undergraduate students will have the opportunity to publish our own independent research, so I would encourage any and all students to take advantage of it.

What are your professional plans or goals?

I plan to start writing my Senior Honors Thesis in May of 2019. I will continue that project until May of 2020, when I will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Political Science, and a minor in Spanish. I hope to attend law school that following fall semester. I have goals to continue independent research, further my overall understanding of the Criminal Justice System, and use what I have yet to learn in areas such as criminal law, criminal justice reform, public policy, and beyond. I have several goals I hope to accomplish, but they do not all fall in the same category. I have spent the last three years working on the Steering Committee for the UMKC-FBI Student Academy, which has brought several opportunities I never considered before, so my biggest goal of all is to keep an open mind and use my education to make a positive, lasting difference in any endeavors or path I end up taking.

Meet a Lucerna Author: Mastin Tapp

Mastin Tapp is a senior majoring in Mathematics and Statistics. He chose to attend UMKC because the mathematics department seemed to be a good fit for him. During his free time, he likes to sing and play the guitar. He also loves to hike in the Rocky Mountains. After graduation, Mastin hopes to begin a career at Boeing as a Systems Engineer. He would like to thank Dr. Richard Delaware for guiding him through his research. He put countless hours into editing Mastin’s work and helping him become a better mathematician.