The Whitman College Magazine Online

Among Abshire projects: A study of Vietnam War protest music

Thirty-five years ago the music echoed in the residence halls of Whitman College. Today, a Whitman student is conducting research on it.

Laura Krantz, a history major and music minor, is studying protest music of the Vietnam War era as part of a research project funded by the Sally Ann Abshire Award program. Other Abshire projects this spring focus on the molecular basis for protein crystallization, the paleoclimate of Central Asia, and age-related memory loss.

The Abshire awards have financed undergraduate research projects since the program was established in 1981 by Alfred D. Abshire, '45, in memory of his wife. The awards give students an opportunity to work in colla-boration with their professors on professional research.

Laura Krantz, a senior, is working with professor of history David Schmitz to investigate the emergence of opposition to American foreign policy due to the Vietnam War and how that opposition was expressed in music and popular culture. The research will be part of a book Schmitz is writing on the United States and right-wing dictatorships in the 20th century. Krantz is looking into music of the era to identify protest songs from different genres and the central themes and ideas expressed in them.

Abshire award winners Alex Wu, a senior, and assistant professor of physics Todd Edwards will construct and attach a fiber optic scrambler to their Brewster angle microscope (right) and continue their research on protein crystallization.
Senior economics-physics major Alex Wu and assistant professor of physics Todd Edwards are attempting to determine the role played by specific protein-protein interactions in crystallization. Edwards and Wu have already designed and tested a Brewster angle microscope (BAM), which will allow them to view two-dimensional protein crystals. They plan to construct a fiber optic scrambler, which will make the crystals easier to view.

Alison Gillespie, a junior geology major, is collaborating with professor of geology Bob Carson to prepare for his research trip to central Asia next summer. They are documenting information about alpine glaciations and glacial outburst floods in the Tanna Tuva region, near where Mongolia, Siberia, and China meet. They also are studying satellite images of various mountain areas.

First-year student Jessica Wall and assistant professor of psychology Matthew Prull are conducting a study to determine the extent to which implicit memory remains unaffected in aging. Many research studies show that young adults perform at higher levels than older adults on tests of explicit memory, which requires conscious retrieval of learned information. Performance on tests of implicit memory, however, are believed to reflect the operation of a separate, independent memory system that is virtually intact in old age.

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