Dissertation Defense Announcements

Candidate Name: Dawn Ray
Title: The Average Genus of Oriented Rational Links
 June 30, 2022  1:00 PM
Location: Zoom meeting
Abstract:

The goal of this thesis is to enumerate the number of oriented rational knots and the number of oriented rational links with any given crossing number and minimum genus. This allows us to obtain a precise formula for the average minimal genus of oriented rational knots and links with any given crossing number.



Candidate Name: Julia Hujar
Title: COMBATTING CEILING EFFECTS: MODELING HIGH-ABILITY STUDENT GROWTH USING MULTILEVEL TOBIT REGRESSION
 May 24, 2022  2:30 PM
Location: Zoom
Abstract:

Pressures associated with accountability testing have resulted in a narrowing of both the curriculum and pedagogy that does not meet the needs of high ability learners. This study proposed that either a different measurement (an above-level computer adaptive assessment) or a different model (Tobit model) should be used to more accurately demonstrate high ability student achievement and growth in order to lessen the pressures on teachers and therefore create an environment better suited for high ability student learning. To answer the research questions under study, a two-part design was used. The first part of the study used an above-level assessment and imposed an artificial ceiling at grade-level with the goal of using Tobit modeling to reproduce uncensored growth estimates using censored data. The second part of the study used naturally censored data with the goal of increasing growth estimates through Tobit modeling. Ultimately, the Tobit models using artificially censored data were able to come close to replicating the uncensored growth estimates under certain conditions. The results indicated that Tobit regression was necessary when examining homogeneous groups of high ability students. Finally, the Tobit regression models were able to increase the growth estimates for high ability students using naturally censored data. The degree to which the models increased, and under which conditions the increases existed are described in detail.



Candidate Name: Cecily Gadaire
Title: CORRELATES, PREDICTORS, AND CONSEQUENCES OF FAMILY WEIGHT TALK AMONG SCHOOL-AGED CHILDREN
 June 02, 2022  1:00 PM
Location: Zoom
Abstract:

Given the key role of parents in the establishment of health habits among children, the current study aims to (1) explore the nature of weight talk among families, (2) understand the correlates and consequences of various forms of family weight talk, and (3) examine the caregiving context (i.e., parenting practices and family wellbeing) as a potential moderator of the associations among parent experiences/beliefs, family weight talk, and child physical and social-emotional health. Parents and their 10- to 12-year-old children responded separately to an online survey assessing family weight talk, child health, and the caregiving context. Parents completed a daily questionnaire about family weight talk for five consecutive days.

Consistent with past research (Berge et al., 2016; Pudney et al., 2019), we found that families engaged in various forms of weight talk over the study period and that this weight talk served a variety of functions. Additionally, this engagement in health and weight-related conversations varied by several parent and child socio-demographic factors, including parent gender, parent and child BMI, race/ethnicity, and parental educational attainment. As expected, more negative parental weight-related experiences/beliefs were associated with more conversations about the child’s, the parent’s, and others’ weight. Health related conversations among families were most strongly related to greater child fruit/vegetable consumption, while weight-related conversations were associated with more snacking, worse quality of life, and worse social-emotional well-being among children. Finally, we found that weight talk can help explain the relations between parent experiences/beliefs and child health outcomes, and that the caregiving context matters for these relations. This work may contribute meaningfully to continued investigation and intervention on how to best support families in working toward greater health and well-being.



Candidate Name: Van Pham
Title: Writhe-like Invariants of Alternating Links
 May 27, 2022  9:00 AM
Location: Zoom meeting: https://uncc.zoom.us/j/93152863269
Abstract:

The writhe is a quantity calculated from crossing signs of a link diagram. It is known that the writhe calculated from any reduced alternating link diagram of the same alternating link has the same value. That is, it is a link invariant if we restrict ourselves to reduced alternating link diagrams. This is due to the fact that reduced alternating link diagrams of the same link are obtainable from each other via flypes and flypes do not change writhe.
This dissertation introduces new invariants for the class of reduced alternating links. It also analyzes the strength of these invariants, called writhe-like invariants, in comparison to a few general link invariants. It examines how these quantities can be used in solving other knot theory problems. A part of the dissertation is dedicated to describing the computer program that computes a few writhe-like invariants and to reporting on the computed data of several alternating knots and links.



Candidate Name: Chen Shen
Title: Three Essays on Corporate Finance, Household Finance, and Climate Change
 May 12, 2022  11:00 AM
Location: Zoom
Abstract:

Police departments located in states allowing payday lending report 14.34% more property crimes than the police departments located in states not allowing payday lending. I also find that the police departments located in counties bordering with states allowing payday lending report more property crimes. Those results are driven by the financial pressure induced by payday loans. Furthermore, the impact of payday lending concentrates in areas with a higher proportion of the minority population.

Using a large sample over the period 1986 to 2017, we show that companies with higher exposure to climate change risk induced by sea-level rise (SLR) tend to acquire firms that are unlikely to be directly affected by SLR. We find that acquirers with higher SLR exposure experience significantly higher announcement-period abnormal stock returns. Post-merger, analyst forecasts become more accurate and environmental-related as well as overall ESG scores improve.

In this paper, we examine the impact of shareholder-creditor conflict on firm hedging behavior. We use mergers between corporate shareholders and creditors as exogenous shocks and find a positive causal relationship between reduced shareholder-creditor conflicts and corporate hedging behavior. Specifically, we find that treated firms that experience shareholder and creditor consolidation are not only more likely to hedge using financial instruments, but also hedge more in terms of the notional value of the hedge contract. In a cross-sectional test, we find that the results are stronger for firms in financial distress.



Candidate Name: Chen Shen
Title: Three Papers on Household Finance, Climate Change, and Corporate Finance
 May 12, 2022  11:45 AM
Location: Zoom


Candidate Name: Sydney Park
Title: THE INFLUENCE OF EXECUTIVE FUNCTION AND EMOTIONAL SELF-REGULATION ON ENGAGEMENT IN HEALTH BEHAVIORS
 June 01, 2022  12:00 PM
Location: Zoom


Candidate Name: Sydney Park
Title: The Influence of Executive Function and Emotional Self-Regulation on Engagement in Health Behaviors
 June 01, 2022  12:00 PM
Location: Zoom


Candidate Name: Robert H. Frye
Title: Granular emotion detection for multi-class sentiment analysis in social media
 May 12, 2022  9:00 AM
Location: Online
Abstract:

To address the challenges of granular emotion detection in social media text (EMDISM), I have investigated ensemble approaches that combine a variety of individual classifiers to address tradeoffs in performance. This involved first investigating EMDISM performance for individual traditional machine learning (ML), deep learning (DL), and transformer learning (TL) classifiers. Based on this analysis, the second stage investigated the creation of ensembles of the most accurate classifiers across these general classes which offer comparatively improved performance. I provide results and analysis for each classifier I considered as well as the most accurate ensembles I created from the most accurate singleton classifiers. Results show that the proposed ensemble approaches improve upon the state of the art for average accuracy, weighted precision, weighted recall, and weighted f-measure as compared to the most accurate single classifier for EMDISM.



Candidate Name: Demetrius Cofield
Title: “YOU GOOD, BRUH?” AN EXPLORATION OF THE INFLUENCE OF RACE AND MASCULINTY ON MILLENIAL BLACK MEN’S DECISIONS TO SEEK MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT
 May 10, 2022  11:00 AM
Location: Zoom
Abstract:

In recent years there has been a significant increase in the prevalence of mental illness among millennials (White-Cummings, 2017). However, there is still a significantly lower rate of Black millennials, specifically Black men, utilizing mental health services compared to other marginalized groups (Cadaret & Speight, 2018). Black men have reportedly have a higher prevalence of mental illness with little to no treatment engagement, which has been linked to the increasingly high rates of suicide. Black men and their lack of mental health treatment seeking has become an increasingly popular topic in scholarly literature, yet the research is still scarce thus far. The purpose of this study was to explore the influence of social constructs on millennial Black men’s decisions about seeking mental health treatment through the lens of Critical Race Theory (CRT), Black Critical Theory (BlackCrit) and Black Masculinity. Based on past reported themes, Black Masculinity, CRT, and BlackCrit were utilized as a multidimensional framework for this critical phenomenology qualitative study. The researcher used semi-structured interviews to investigate the experiences of 16 participants who identified as millennial Black men that had considered seeking mental health treatment regardless of their decision to seek help or not. Following a modified version of Moustakas (1994) phenomenological analysis, results indicated three themes Racialized Gendered Socialization, Cultural Distrust, and Invisibility. All themes were related to racial and masculine factors. Implications and recommendations are provided for future research and improving advocacy efforts to engage more Black men in mental health treatment.