Thursday, March 16th

Michigan League, Vandenberg Room

School of Education Sponsored Session

12:00 - 1:00 PM

Cassandra Arroyo

Doctoral Candidate, Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education | Twitter: @FutureDrArroyo

Title: A Framework for Organizational Resilience in Competitive Grant Participation at Puerto Rican Hispanic-Serving Institutions

Since 1995, the federal government has allocated funds to Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) to help build institutional capacity through the competitive grant program Title V, Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions (hereafter referred to as Title V; Valdez, 2015). However, funding levels have not kept pace with the growth in the number of HSIs such that more than half (60%) of all eligible HSIs did not receive Title V funds in 2020 (Santiago & Martinez, 2021). The increasingly limited reach of Title V funding has raised questions regarding which HSIs receive these funds, advancing already existing debates about whether HSIs are serving their Latinx students. While current efforts to classify and measure the concept of “Latinx-servingness” are important, these efforts largely ignore a unique subset of HSIs: Puerto Rican HSIs (PR HSIs). Despite Puerto Rico’s history of educating almost exclusively Puerto Rican (Latinx) students, there is a dearth of HSI literature that includes Puerto Rican institutions (Núñez et al., 2016; Núñez et al., 2012; Cole, 2011; Pineda, 2010; Ortega, 2021; D’Agostino, 2021). These studies either comparatively describe characteristic differences between PR and stateside HSIs (Núñez et al., 2016; Núñez et al., 2012; Cole, 2011; Pineda, 2010) or conflate PR HSIs as operating within the same context as stateside HSIs by analyzing them both in aggregate (Ortega, 2021; D’Agostino, 2021). Studies that center Puerto Rican institutions often do so without considering what it means for these institutions to be HSIs (e.g., Shelton & Thompson, 2020). In this way, the literature on Puerto Rican institutions continues to be siloed from current HSI literature. This separation negates the importance of Puerto Rican HSIs as a significant facilitator for Puerto Rican (Latinx) student success. Only one study to date has included PR HSIs distinctively in their analysis of Title V engagement and academic outcomes (Pineda, 2010). However, no study has considered the ways Puerto Rico’s colonial status and HSI designation shape their capacity to secure HSI federal funding and what this means for their ability to serve Puerto Rican students. As such, my qualifying paper will summarize and interrogate the extant literature on the contexts and conditions that shape PR institutions capacity to serve their students, the role of the Title V program as capacity building grant, and what it means for HSIs to intentionally serve Latinx students.

Jessica Bautista

Doctoral Student, School of Education

Title: Predictors of Hispanic High School Students’ Self-Efficacy, Utility, and Interest in Science

STEM careers are among the fastest-growing in the U.S., yet people of color continue to be underrepresented (NASEM, 2019). Supporting historically marginalized students to view themselves as competent and capable knowers and doers of science is a vital step in addressing persistent inequities. Theories of motivation, including those exploring self-efficacy, utility, and interest, offer insights into ways students might be supported to persist in STEM (Eccles & Wigfield, 2002; Eccles & Wigfield, 2020; Harackiewicz et al., 2016). Furthermore, these aspects of motivation are contextualized by students’ experiences and relationships within school environments (Gray et al., 2018; Usher & Pajares, 2008). This multiple regression analysis (n = 955) uses data from the 2009 High School Longitudinal Study (NCES) to explore teacher self-efficacy, instructional priorities, and student perceptions of teacher care and efficacy as potential predictors of Hispanic students’ science self-efficacy, utility, and interest, controlling for teacher race, teacher and student gender, and socioeconomic status. Results suggest that student perceptions of teacher efficacy and teachers’ emphasis on evidence-based argumentation are positive predictors of each motivational factor. Teacher self-efficacy, teacher gender, and student gender, however, were also statistically significant predictors of student self-efficacy. This highlights the need for further research on STEM persistence using an intersectional approach, particularly for Hispanic girls. 

Gabrielle Elizabeth Bernal

Doctoral Candidate, Educational Studies | LinkedIn: 

Title: Photovoice & Mathematics: Research Design with Young People in Puebla for Social Action

Centering Indigenous ways of knowing by exploring how Indigenous and Latinx Peoples teach, learn, and embody mathematics through an ethnographic approach brought multiple perspectives together, such as community artists, market vendors, young people, and teachers. This project centers in Puebla, Mexico; a group of ten young people (ages 15 - 17) and their mathematics teacher engaged in a semester-long research project with a graduate researcher focusing on how the Mexican students of Indigenous and Latinx communities embody mathematics. 

Theoretically and in practice, this work centers on the performance (DeFrantz & Gonzalez, 2014) and discourse of community in their mathematical learning and doing (Moschkovich, 2003) in Puebla, Mexico. Photovoice methods (Latz & Mulvihill, 2017) created the space for goal setting and platícas around culture and mathematics using photos, narratives, storytelling, and calls to action. 

This presentation centers on the research design co-created by the young people in Puebla and the direct outcomes in their school setting during this research project, which will include the structures provided by the researcher outlined along with the choices the youth collectively agreed upon doing this work. For instance, students took pictures at home, in their communities, and at school (virtually, due to COVID-19), brought them into the small group virtual space to share and discuss the mathematics with the group, and later picked a few photos to create written narratives about where and how they see and experience mathematics. They also called to action that their mathematics classes bring in and celebrate their ancestral mathematical knowledges and contributions. 

On the other hand, the higher the self-efficacy, the lower the anger and anxiety, which are associated with higher levels of well-being. The present study argues that emotions are an essential resource that enhances or decreases teachers' well-being associated with their self-efficacy. 

Danielle Maxwell

Doctoral Candidate, Department of Chemistry | Twitter: @Danielle_Maxwel

Title: Navigating the hidden curriculum of academia: A critical approach to understanding the racial and science identity formation of Latine/Chicane undergraduate students at Hispanic-Serving Institutions

The narrative that science is objective, value-free, acultural, and rooted within a system of meritocracy constrains the representation and advancement of minoritized groups in science. Although there are initiatives to improve the representation of non-majority groups in STEM, much of this effort focuses on achieving racial or ethnic diversity rather than recognizing students’ diverse worldviews and identities in the classroom. To understand how students learn science, we need to understand how students engage with science and how this influences their personal and science identities. This study aims to understand how Latine/Chicane undergraduate students at Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) develop science identities and how racialized experiences may influence this formation. In this study we use multiple theories of identity, a critical epistemological perspective, and qualitative research methods to build a conceptual framework and describe the salient experiences of our participants. We interviewed Latine/Chicane science majors at three HSIs in the southwestern United States. Our analysis indicates that Latine/Chicane students use a variety of racialized identity resources to negotiate the formation of their science identities. Positive or negative experiences with these resources can greatly influence their science identity formation. Specifically, Latine/Chicane students have complex access and interactions with relational and material resources that influence their sense of belonging and science identity formation. The results of this study provide insights into how Latine/Chicane students engage with the culture of science and advance our understanding of how to best support Latine/Chicane students throughout their undergraduate science education.

School of Environment and Sustainability Sponsored Session

3:00 - 4:15 PM

April Bermudez

Staff, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Title: Exploring the potential drivers of below and above-ground biomass and productivity across montane meadow ecotypes

Roots, and their traits, are important in regulating below-ground ecosystem processes through biomass production, nutrient cycling, and plant-soil interactions. However, when measuring a plant community's response to changes in the environment, roots are often ignored. Thus, the question remains: does root productivity and phenology respond to seasonal and interannual environmental drivers similarly to above-ground productivity and phenology? We measured root dynamics by installing in-situ minirhizotrons to digitally monitor root growth in three different meadow ecotypes varying plant communities at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, Colorado. Using the digitized root images, we calculated root production, standing stock at weekly intervals from snowmelt in the spring to snowfall in fall. We analyzed plant community composition, vegetation greenness (NDVI), and abiotic data (e.g. temperature and soil moisture) near long-term plant phenology monitoring to investigate how above-ground conditions relate to below-ground measurements. We hypothesized that there would be a difference in timing for root and shoot productivity as allocation of tissue growth might be dependent on resource availability and abiotic conditions in dry and wet meadows across the growing seasons. Over two growing seasons, aboveground productivity peaked at the height of the growing season (Mid-June), whereas root productivity had large peaks in July and in August. Below-ground root productivity decreased, when above-ground peaked its plant growth with similar growing patterns across the three meadow types (Veratrum Meadow, Willow Interface, and Wet Meadow) and among soil depths (0cm-10cm and 10-20cm). Standing stock gradually increased overtime for all meadow types; whereas it decreased in late August. Similarly, plant percent cover and alpha diversity peaked mid-late July for all ecotypes and gradually decreased before snowfall in October. With these differences in phenological timing of rooting and plant growth events, we plan to highlight other potential drivers of root-shoot production that might influence these patterns.

Nicholas Medina

Doctoral Candidate, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Title: Soil aggregation promotes microbial biodiversity by weakening random ecological drift processes

Soils hold one quarter of Earth’s biodiversity, but the relative influences of underlying processes, such as natural selection or, in contrast, random ecological drift, often remain inconsistent. Soil structure, including particle aggregate formation, is increasingly acknowledged as a key factor shaping species interaction networks, and likely also how species consortia assemble. This study sampled coffee agroforest soil DNA and analyzed microbial communities by sieved soil aggregates size fraction. Results show that as soil aggregate size increased, soil bacterial biodiversity accumulated faster than fungal biodiversity, and both community types increasingly diverged in taxonomic composition, compared to a random simulation of similar community data. These results suggest that soil aggregation weakens the relative influence of random ecological drift on aggregate-associated microbial communities, which also aligns with traditional ecological theory of island biogeography, but contrasts other similar studies applied to soils. Overall, this study highlights the bodiversity benefits of improving agricultural soil structure, such as by organic amendments instead of synthetic sprays, and points to future studies that might refine the structure of ecological interactions among common subsets of species co-occurring together in soils.

Zulay Caridad Rodriguez

Master's Student, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Twitter: @zulayumich

Title: A Multitude of Mimics: An Evolutionary Paradox in Coral Snake Mimicry

Defensive mimicry is when unrelated species converge on the same coloration or color patterns to, honestly or deceitfully, communicate toxicity to predators. In snakes, traditionally defensive mimicry has been well studied as a Batesian system, in which a harmless species (mimics) evolve the same warning coloration as venomous species (models). However, theoretical work has shown that certain criteria must be met for Batsesian mimicry to persist over long time scales. Specifically, there must be a higher abundance of toxic models (or at least a 1:1 ratio of models to mimics) to ensure predators effectively associate a given color signal signal with fitness costs. However, coral snakes and their mimics are notorious for violating this theoretical prediction, creating an evolutionary paradox. Previous research has shown there is extreme excess of harmless mimics. My research seeks to test what is maintaining mimetic excess in the coral snake model-mimic system through analyzing fang and jaw morphology across species. I intend to use this relatively novel method to quantify the capacity of a species to deliver venom. Lastly, I will compare the relative contribution of different factors to the distribution of models and mimics across space. This research will provide valuable information on how to study mimicry within coral snake mimicry systems and how the criteria for mimicry in vertebrates may vary.

Diana Velazquez

Doctoral Candidate, Earth and Environmental Science

Title: Investigating Controls on Carbon and Nitrogen Cycling in a Modern Anoxic Lake Environment

Lakes are critical local and global sources of drinking water, transportation, and biodiversity. Widespread oxygen depletion resulting from rising atmospheric temperatures is expected to impact these freshwater bodies. With nitrogen being a limiting nutrient influencing lake productivity and organic matter (OM) production, it is imperative to understand how low oxygen conditions will impact regional and global aquatic nutrient cycling. This study investigates nutrient source to sink dynamics in a modern low oxygen system within Lake Huron, Middle Island Sinkhole (MIS), using carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) isotope signatures of sediments. The average δ15N composition of MIS sediments (-0.5  ± 0.8 ‰) is isotopically lighter than organic matter from the overlying water column (1.6  ± 0.2 ‰), likely indicating microbial transformations of OM sources upon their deposition into the sediments. Microbial discrimination against heavier 15N sources in the presence of high percent nitrogen results in more variable and lighter δ15N signatures in surface sediments (0-1 cm, average -0.7 ± 0.9 ‰) compared to deeper layers (6–15 cm, average -0.3 ± 0.6 ‰). Microbial influences on organic carbon preservation are also observed with carbon isotopes of chlorophyll (δ13Cchl) showing an enrichment downcore from surface (average -26.6 ± 1.8 ‰) to deep sediments (average -24.3 ± 0.5 ‰). Though sediment isotopic signatures in MIS reveal microbial controls on organic matter burial and preservation, these may not be reflective of other freshwater regions. MIS exhibits distinct clustering in δ13C (-28.8 to -20.9 ‰) and δ15N (-3.2 to 1.6 ‰) data space compared to lakes of varying oxygenated regimes (n = 137, δ13C -33.4 to -18.32‰, δ15N  -4.25 to 12.62‰). Anoxic conditions within MIS may foster unique biogeochemical dynamics that highlight the variability and unpredictability of nutrient cycling transformations amidst increasing freshwater deoxygenation resulting from global climate change. 

Closing Ceremony

5:00 - 8:00 PM

Please join us to wrap up Latinx Research Week during our Closing Ceremony featuring full buffet dinner, LRW overview and announcement of awardees. More details to be added shortly. 

5:00 PM: Dinner Served

6:00 - 6:45 PM: Closing Ceremony Programming including overview and awardees

6:45 - 8:00 PM: Time for mingling


Tostada Bar w/ Chicken Tinga & Tofu Tinga

Toppings: Salsa, Sour Cream, Pico de Gallo, Cheese, Lettuce, Avocado

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail

Mexican Rice

Refried Beans

Tres Leches Cake

Lemonade, Coffee, Tea