• Histone Variants In Gene Therapy And Cancer Epigenetics / By Earnest Landon Taylor

      Taylor, Earnest Landon
      Part I Enhancement of DNA transfection by NP, a highly basic and reversibly phosphorylated peptide derived from the N-terminal region of sea urchin sperm histone variant SpH1, was investigated in HEK293 cell cultures. NP and its corresponding C-terminal peptide CP were prepared by digestion of purified SpH1 with Staphylococcus aureus V8 protease followed by separation of the resulting N-terminal and C-terminal peptides using hydroxylapatite chromatography. Transfection vectors containing NP or CP, NP or CP mixed with polyethylenimine (NP-PEI and CP-PEI, respectively) and NP or CP crosslinked to PEI (NPxPEI and CPxPEI, respectively) were generated and mixed with a plasmid bearing a FLAG-tagged beta-2-adrenergic-receptor gene (FLAG-β_2AR) to create the corresponding transfection complexes. Free peptides (NP and CP) didn’t enhance transfection, rather they suppress transfection compared to PEI alone. Transfection efficiency of chemically crosslinked NPxPEI-DNA enhances transfection rate up to 1.4 fold increase compared to PEI-DNA. The data shows that the NPxPEI vehicle had an improved condensing capability than that of PEI alone at same mass ratio. Our results demonstrate that NP is a potential transfection vehicle when crosslinked with PEI. Part II Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States and accounts for 25% of deaths, which are roughly 1,600 deaths per day, and almost 587,000 deaths per year. Cells become cancerous due either to changes to their DNA or epigenetic alterations that cause misregulation of histone modifications. The acetylation alterations of H2A, H2B, H3, and H4 histone were also screened by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis. The retinoblastoma binding protein 2 (RBP2), a histone demethylase belongs to the JARID1 protein family and is known to demethylate the H3K4 methyl groups. First, Wbras and H2009 cells lines will be screened for expression of RBP2 by western blot analysis. The histone deacetylation drugs, Vorinostat, MS-275 and 4-Phenyl-3-Butenoic Acid (PBA) were used at varying concentrations ranging, to test its effect on the expression of RBP2 and H3K4 methylation marks in H2009 and WBras1 cells. Results indicate that PBA showed the ability to increase covalent histone modification of H3, H4 and H2B in WBras1 cells while only modifying H3 and H4 in H2009 cells, and very similar migration patterns can be seen with it structurally similar compound Vorinostat (SAHA). RBP2 expression was decreased when treated with MS-275, SAHA and PBA, which lead to an increase in H3K4me2 and H3K4me3 expression.
    • Housing As If People Matter: Analyzing The Impact Of Interpersonal Interaction And Increased Familiarity On Housing-related Decision-making In The Old West End Neighborhood Of Danville, Virginia

      Hearne, Joshua
      ABSTRACT JOSHUA DAVID HEARNE HOUSING AS IF PEOPLE MATTER: ANALYZING THE IMPACT OF INTERPERSONAL INTERACTION AND INCREASED FAMILIARITY ON HOUSING-RELATED DECISION-MAKING IN THE OLD WEST END NEIGHBORHOOD OF DANVILLE, VIRGINIA Under the direction of Rev. Melissa Browning, Ph.D., Supervisor This project explores the degree that a deeper level of familiarity between diverse persons has an impact on the way they think about housing-related priorities and factors. More specifically, this project analyzes how both insiders and outsiders to a particular neighborhood (the Old West End in Danville, Virginia) think about housing in the context of a particular neighborhood both before and after getting to know each other over the course of a series of meals. In establishing its context and ideological foundation, this project considers the history of housing policy in the United States in light of the work of E.F. Schumacher and John M. Perkins. By applying both Schumacher’s person-focused economic principles and Perkins’ philosophy of community development as a lens through which to consider housing-related decision-making, the project explores a philosophy of housing-related decision-making that is both person-focused and rooted in Jewish and Christian scripture and theology. This project uses two instruments to gather data both before and after a set of meals that included both free and guided conversation. The first instrument asks participants to rank a set of fourteen housing-related decision-making factors from most important to least important. The second instrument is an interview including questions designed to gather each participant’s latent and manifest values related to housing as well as what they perceive to be the assets and challenges of the neighborhood. Administering the same instruments both before and after the meals and conversations produced data about how priorities, values, perceived assets, and perceived challenges converged and diverged among participants from before to after the meals. The data demonstrates that interpersonal contact and increased familiarity have the effect of producing some convergence of opinion on matters discussed at some length during the meals as well as producing an overall increase in participant confidence as to the relative importance of some housing-related decision-making factors. Further study of the data as it relates to other demographic differences would likely be beneficial. Additionally, it would be valuable to consider how the data changes over a longer period of time and with greater degrees of interpersonal contact and increased familiarity.
    • How A Philosophical Assessment of the Text of Mark 4:34-41 Illuminates an Understanding of Divine Authority in the Person of Jesus

      Robleto, Moises; McAfee School of Theology
      ABSTRACT (Under the direction of JEFFREY WILLETS, Ph.D.) Explicitly or implicitly and whether we like it or not, there are problems which arise when modern Christians read the Bible as a Christian text, as part of their religious practice. The focus of this study will be on the philosophical problems caused by the historical distance between the Biblical world and ours. Those problems arise when a modern lens is applied to an ancient religious text. In this thesis, I will give particular focus to the ways that conceptual confusions arise in understanding the text by providing a philosophical analysis of the concept of miracles in Mark 4:35-41 and how this Biblical account in the life of Jesus and his disciples illuminates the concept of divine authority. I will show how modern assumptions can distort readings and meanings of the text. I will also show how the reading of the text may be freed from these confused assumptions by making a philosophical assessment of the concept of miracles to support the claim of Jesus’ divinity. There are many philosophical questions to be asked about what we find in the text of Mark 4:35-41 regarding a miracle performed by Jesus and how we can ascribe sense to it as twenty-first century readers of the Bible. The stated purpose for undertaking this inquiry was to study the concept of “Divine Authority” this was accomplished by means of a thorough study of leading postmodern scholars own published writings, and lectures, giving special consideration to the work in Philosophy of Christianity by Gareth Moore. How are we to understand the story of Jesus calming a storm? Such writings tended and clarified what we find in the story of a Storm Stilled. The story is not told in causal terms, it is not a matter of cause and effect, in fact, the story is told as one simple command and nature obeys. And so in this essay I respond to the disciples question, not “How did he do it” but, the real question, “What sort of a man is this, that even the winds and sea obey him?”
    • How Can Music Assist in the Subversive Intent of the Eucharist?

      LeGrand, Caroline Dean; McAfee School of Theology
      This thesis explores the Christian ritual of the Eucharist in conjunction with another crucial Christian ritual element—music. It first looks to scripture—1 Cor 11:17-34—and considers what the Apostle Paul believed was the original intent of the Eucharist as established by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper. The conclusion is that it is intended to be a subversive ritual for liberative communal change. The thesis then takes a shift to explore music and its capacity to both solidify and, contrastingly, subvert the existing structure of communities. Operating through the lens of postcolonial theory, it asserts that music can allow subaltern peoples to subvert hegemonic culture through musical hybridity. The thesis finally brings these two elements together—Eucharist and music—to explore how music can assist this subversive intent of the Eucharist in contemporary worship practice. The conclusion is that hybrid music can be applied in the worship of congregations where a hegemonic culture is in the majority population in order to disrupt the homogeneity of that congregation’s music practices and allow outside voices—the voices of the subaltern—into the boundaries of the community, thereby beginning to shift a community’s hierarchical social structure. This hybrid music worship practice, crucially at the moment of the Eucharist, assists the Eucharist in fulfilling its intent to liberate oppressed peoples. The hope is that the method established in this thesis can be applied wherever hegemonic and subaltern forces are at play in the world.
    • How Does Using a Trauma-Informed Preaching Framework Influence Hearers' Experience of Shalomic-Healing During The Preaching Event?

      Gill, Tara Ann; McAfee School of Theology
      (Under the direction of Angela Parker, Ph.D.) Ten minority ministers from four Churches of God engaged a three-part sermon series addressing trauma. The sermons exhibited features of the ICONS Trauma-Informed Preaching Framework. This study was designed to determine if people could experience those features of the framework and thereby experience aspects of Shalomic-Healing. The purpose of the study is to determine the efficacy of the framework as a vehicle for mediating Shalomic-Healing and to refine the framework if research findings dictate such. The study shows the promising effectiveness of the ICONS Trauma-Informed Preaching Framework as evidenced by participants experiencing the features of the framework, which is indicative of the in-breaking of Shalomic-Healing.
    • "I Just Can't Give Up Now": An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis Of The Role Of Spirituality In The Persistence To Graduation Of African American Male Students At Four-Year Institutions

      Wright, Brandon Joseph; Tift College of Education
      African American males have had the lowest baccalaureate graduation rates compared to all other races/ethnicities and genders in higher education (NCES, 2019). Researchers have identified salient factors that contribute to or impede this population’s persistence to graduation to mitigate this problem. One factor contributing significantly to African American males’ college persistence is spirituality (Herndon, 2003; Riggins et al., 2008; Salinas et al., 2018; Walker & Dixon, 2002; Watson, 2006; Wood & Hilton, 2012b). Thus, the purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the role of spirituality in the persistence to graduation of African American male students at four-year institutions. Smith et al.’s (2009) interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was chosen as the research methodology for the study. Using criterion, homogenous, and snowball sampling techniques, the researcher recruited 14 participants. All participants were African American males who had graduated from a four-year institution in the 2018-2021 year span. The researcher employed one-on-one, semi-structured interviews (12 participants) or an electronic, open-ended questionnaire (2 participants) as data collection methods. The researcher used an audit trail, a reflexivity journal, triangulation, member checking, and rich, thick descriptions to ensure trustworthiness. The researcher used Smith et al.’s (2009) six-steps of data analysis and NVivo to analyze the data presented. The seven superordinate themes that emerged were (1) Spiritual Beginnings, (2) Embracing Identity, (3) Interconnectedness, (4) Oppositional Stimuli, (5) Spiritual Coping Practices, (6) The Spiritual Resolutions, and (7) Spiritual Enrichment. The results of this study suggest that spirituality functioned as a transcendent source of support that provided connection, operated as a coping mechanism, and enriched the lives of African American male college students. In sum, these three auxiliary functions of spirituality supported the participants’ persistence to graduation. Based upon the findings, the researcher recommends a future mixed-methods longitudinal study utilizing the College Students Beliefs and Values (CSBV) survey to track Black males from admission to degree completion. The spiritual and religious measures of the CSBV are comparable to the findings of this study. The researcher also recommends studies to focus on the intersectionality of spirituality, sexuality, and Black identity development of Black queer college males; African American spirituality in Black male college persistence; and spirituality and academic disidentification of Black college males.
    • I Saw That In A Movie: A Hermeneutic Study On Students' Historical Thinking Abilities

      Herbert, Courtney Marie
      With the reliance on digital technology as the newest form of 21st century pop culture, students have virtual access to multiple resources that influence their cognition. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to understand how high school students construct historical knowledge and meaning using film and media as a medium, how historical thinking and literacy skills impact student perceptions of history, and the possible disconnections that exist between the skills used in document resources and film/media sources. Data was collected using an online questionnaire, semi-structured interviews, and document analysis of information processing skills used on historical documents used in high school social studies classes. Using Gadamer’ s hermeneutic lens, the researcher incorporated thematic and content analysis. Three themes emerged: Let’s Watch a Movie, Excogitation, and Utilization facilitating Gadamer’ s spiral of fusions. Overall, the results of this case study revealed that teacher usage and student viewing of film and media provide a conduit for understanding historical content. Students have difficulty identifying film and media as trustworthiness and accurate. Employment of historical thinking skills are viable yet inconsistently used by students. There appears to be a strong disconnect in student skill sets based on varying mediums. Further recommendations for research on student’s construction of historical knowledge include but are not limited to evaluation of teacher instructional practices using HTS, how professional development in social studies is utilizing inquiry based techniques to facilitate HTS, and possibly how teacher education preparatory programs are addressing media literacy and use of HTS in the 21st century classroom.
    • Identifying, Constructing And Maintaining Positive Teacher-student Relationships In A Secondary Setting / By Adam Crownover.

      Crownover, Adam
      This study articulates a vision for a relational pedagogy in education. In a policy era characterized by an overwhelming emphasis on accountability for teachers and students connected to content area assessment scores, a humanist recalibration of the priorities of education policy is needed. Rather than a fixation on performance data, I advocate for a consideration of the quality of the relational environment constructed by teachers based in part on the research which suggests that positive teacher-student relationships are connected to other positive outcomes for students, academic and otherwise. Accordingly, this research was guided by three questions: “what is the nature of a positive teacher-student relationship?�?, “What is the relational climate between participating teachers and students,�? and “what practices or behaviors have led to the establishment of these relationships?�? To address these questions, a sequential, mixed-methods phenomenographical study was conducted in three phases. Phase One featured open-ended surveys distributed to 55 students and 84 teachers with questions regarding the nature of positive relationships. These data were used to create the Crownover Student Relationship Survey, a 31-item instrument with relational indicators to which respondents provide feedback via a 5-point Likert-type scale. In Phase Two, the Crownover Student Relationship Survey was administered to 90 sophomores and five teachers to explore student conceptions of the relationships with those teachers. These data were analyzed and qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with participating teachers to uncover practices connected with the student scores. A factor analysis of the Phase Two survey data produced three factors which were then used as deductive themes for organizing the teacher interview data. This study illuminates components of the teacher-student relationship and has led to the creation of the Crownover Student Relationship Survey, a measure which can be used by teachers as way of assessing student perceptions of the relational climate created by the teacher. These data can serve to highlight strengths and areas for teacher growth in the various relational capacities. Subsequent discussion provides insight into practices corresponding to specific parameters. Furthermore, the Crownover Student Relationship Survey data serves as a starting point for exploring the relationships among the various relational variables included as parameters.
    • Images Of God: Visualizing God Through Biblical Metaphor At The Byromville-Drayton Charge

      Bizzell, Josh
      Parishioners in most local churches experience prayer as a process of asking and receiving from God, followed by an expression of thanksgiving for answered prayer. Other dimensions of prayer, such as prayer for the sake of communion with God, are not emphasized as much in many local churches. Imaginative prayer is one manifestation of prayer for the sake of communion with God. Imaginative prayer involves mentally visualizing interactions with God. In order to do this, people of faith must be able to visualize God. Biblical metaphor provides the framework in which persons of faith can imagine God. Building on the work of such religious thinkers as Sallie McFague, this study seeks to identify the primary images of God of parishioners of a rural, two-point charge in the South Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church. This study further seeks to expose parishioners to a diverse array of biblical images for God through the use of Scripture, metaphor, and photographic imagery. Participants are also invited into guided imaginative exercises based upon biblical metaphor. These exercises serve as an introduction to the practice of imaginative prayer. This study reveals that, while many participants continue to visualize God in ways that reflect nature and male anthropomorphic images of God, participants also connect with images of God that reflect nurture and female anthropomorphic images of God. A new dual image for God – God as Mother and Father – is offered as a viable option for the religious imagination. This image also reflects the relationship between the image of God and the male-female human identity attested to in the biblical creation accounts. This study can be used in conjunction with spiritual growth curriculum within the local church, as image reproductions and guided imaginative exercise scripts are included.
    • Impact of Spirituality on Occupational Success of Individuals with Spinal Cord Injury

      Pegues, Sir Allen Dupree; College of Professional Advancement
      ABSTRACT SIR ALLEN D. PEGUES IMPACT OF SPIRITUALITY ON OCCUPATIONAL SUCCESS OF INDIVIDUALS WITH SPINAL CORD INJURY Under the direction of SUNEETHA MANYAM, PhD The literature findings indicate that individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) are less likely to obtain employment than people without disabilities. Challenges such as resiliency, spirituality, level of education, and the severity of the injury contribute to their lack of employment. Individuals with SCI should have the same opportunity to achieve occupational success as persons without disabilities. This study was designed to explore the following question: What impact does spirituality have on the occupational success of individuals with SCI? The researcher used the Spiritual Well-Being Scale and Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale to measure each participant’s level of resiliency and spirituality. Convenience sampling was used to collect data from 117 SCI individuals who responded to a Qualtrics survey. The data were analyzed using the ANOVA procedure to gain an understanding of how the independent variables impacted the occupational success of individuals with SCI. The results revealed that resiliency and level of education had a statistically significant impact on occupational success of individuals with SCI. Individuals with SCI with higher spirituality scores did not have as much occupational success as those with lower spirituality scores. Individuals with more education had more occupational success than individuals with SCI with less education. The severity of the injury did not have a statistically significant impact on occupational success of individuals with SCI.
    • Imperial Conversion: When Empire Co-opts Religion

      Sharp, Jordan Robert
      Many religions have been significantly changed by the conversion of an empire to that religion, yet imperial conversion has received little attention within religious studies. Consequently, the goal of this study is to better understand imperial conversion by investigating (1) why empires convert, (2) what makes conversion possible, and (3) how the empire enacts conversion. To do so, this study compares three imperial conversions representing different religions, eras, and cultures: Ashoka’s Buddhist conversion of the Maurya Empire, the Christian conversion of the Roman Empire under Constantine, and Gao Zu’s role in the rise of Daoism in China’s Tang Dynasty. Methodologically, the study is interdisciplinary. First, a historical overview of each conversion explores what factors precipitated conversion as well as how the conversion benefited the empire. Next, sociology is applied to understand what made the conversions possible. Using Emile Durkheim’s concept of the sacred totem and Max Weber’s concept of theodicy, the study examines how the empire promoted pro-imperial values by co-opting symbols that appealed to society’s values concerning sacredness and morality. Finally, cultural anthropologist Talal Asad’s work on power within religion offers a way to understand how the empires enacted the conversion; imperial conversion required a negotiation of power between political and religious authorities. One of the central findings is that imperial conversion is primarily politically motivated, serving a specific goal of the empire. Additionally, the conversion itself, though historically significant, is not as radical as it may seem. Rather than a drastic change in religious devotion, imperial conversion represents a shift: the empire alters policy to better reflect the current values of society and/or to steer societal values in a slightly different direction. Further, imperial conversion is a two-way exchange, meaning that imperial conversion changes the religion as much as, if not more so, as the empire. In addition to the insights about imperial conversion, the study presents new questions about how religion is studied and defined. The concluding section offers recommendations for future study on the boundaries of what constitutes religion, how to describe and better understand religious change, and the interaction between religion and politics.