Dissertation Defense Announcements

Candidate Name: Lori Eberly
Title: Long-Term Care in the United States: Examining the Role of Socioeconomic Status
 April 10, 2024  9:00 AM
Location: CHHS 426

My research examined the association between socioeconomic status (SES) and informal versus formal care use, unmet care needs (UCN), and concordance between preferred and actual care used; exploring whether the middle class faces barriers accessing care. Each study involved a cross-sectional analysis using NHATS data. Guided by Andersen and Newman’s behavioral model of health, I explored the relationship between SES and each outcome of interest, controlling for predisposing, enabling, and need factors. Descriptive analysis characterized the sample; bivariate analysis examined the relationship between SES and each outcome of interest and associations between SES and the control variables. Logistic regression with backward elimination retained control variables with a p-value less than 0.10. Results were interpreted using adjusted odds ratios (AOR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI). The middle-SES group had decreased odds of using informal care compared to the low-SES group, but increased odds compared to the upper-SES group. The middle-SES group had increased odds of UCN compared to the low-SES group, but no significant association when compared to the upper-SES group. The middle-SES group had decreased odds of concordance between preferred care and actual care used when compared to the low-SES group, but increased odds of concordance when compared to the upper-SES group.

Candidate Name: Camelia R. Taheri Protzel
Title: Evolving to a New Genomics Segmentation Base
 March 26, 2024  10:00 AM
Location: Zoom link: https://charlotte-edu.zoom.us/j/98862945784

Advances in behavioral genetics provide a game-changing paradigm shift in the development of an accurate framework for a more precise marketing segmentation strategy. Genetics can explain most of the systematic variation between individuals, continuity of behavioral and personality traits, as well as 50% of the variance in human traits. Leveraging that all human behaviors are influenced in some way by the individual’s genetic constitution, a theoretical framework is presented for the definition of a new segmentation base called “Genomics Segmentation”. Moreover, we empirically showed the applicability of the new Genomics Segmentation through a K-mean clustering analysis of the alcohol consumption market using 7 different polygenic scores related to personality and cognitive traits. This study increases the predictive power of consumer behavior and marketing segmentation leveraging molecular genetics and 150 years of behavioral genetics replicable findings. It presents for the first time fundamental principles from behavioral genetics to lay the ground for genomics marketing and the transformation of segmentation strategies. It proposes the segmentation of markets through the genetic propensity of consumers. It not only highlights embryonic research in genomics marketing but also shows the practical application of genomics segmentation through the usage of molecular genetics to create clusters and understand consumption patterns of each subset.

Candidate Name: Miranda Lanning
Title: Utilization of an Early Warning Score to Initiate Proactive Rounding by the Rapid Response Team
 March 21, 2024  9:00 AM
Location: CHHS 131

Millions of adverse events, including failure to rescue (FTR), occur around the world each year leading to increasing hospital length of stay, increasing mortality, and decreasing quality of life. FTR events happen when mortality occurs following a major medical complication. With the assistance of electronic early identification of clinical deterioration, interventions may be implemented to decrease FTR events.
This project was guided by the PICO question: In adult medical-surgical inpatients, does proactive rounding by the rapid response team with utilization of an automated early warning system, compared with no proactive rounding, improve recognition of clinical deterioration, and decrease transfers to critical care? A REDCap database was built and utilized to track proactive rounding along with Modified Early Warning Scores (MEWS) by the Critical Care Code Team at a tertiary medical center and compared to rapid response and code blue activations. The percentage of transfers to critical care from quarter four of 2022 to quarter four of 2023 was then compared using a paired T-Test to determine statistical significance.
A proactive rounding process was developed, and 664 rounds were entered. Of these, 114 were proactive rounds with the utilization of MEWS and 550 were non-proactive rounds. Rounding triggers were compared and analyzed which revealed that the primary reason for rounding was staff concerns, and that collaboration was important to improve patient outcomes. There was a decrease in transfers to critical care post rapid responses, however it was not statistically significant. Implementation of proactive rounding could be useful to decrease length of stay, decrease hospital mortality, and improve patient satisfaction.  

Candidate Name: Tarya Bardwell
Title: Identifying a Construct Definition for Financial Stress
 March 25, 2024  1:00 PM
Location: Hybrid. Cone 109 and Zoom (https://charlotte-edu.zoom.us/j/97512763114)

Financial stress has received meager attention in organizational science research. So far, financial stress research uses inconsistent or nonexistent definitions, and an array of terms, to describe what appears to be the same overarching construct, which limits practical and theoretical applications of financial stress. I address this definitional ambiguity by reviewing existing work and using qualitative interview data to inductively study workers’ financial stress experiences. The findings allow me to develop a comprehensive definition of financial stress, shed light on how individuals come to experience and address financial stress, and describe to whom individuals compare themselves when evaluating their financial status. Findings include several applied and theoretical contributions, which are indicative of an array of future research opportunities.

Candidate Name: Olivia Tusa Fichtner
 March 25, 2024  10:00 AM
Location: COED 110

The National Healthcare Quality and Disparities report in 2022 revealed that almost a quarter of children ages 3-17 in the United States have a mental health related disorder. Because of this, well-equipped child therapists are needed to carry out the responsibility of providing services to support this population. However, several systematic reviews have noted the prevalence of burnout among child therapists, possibly hindering quality care (Acker, 2010; Simionato & Simpson, 2018). Because of this, investigators have sought to understand burnout and its effect on child therapists. Many have noted the risks of professional burnout (Adams et al. 2006; Chen et al. 2019; Paris et al. 2010; Sanchez-Moreno et al., 2015), however there is limited research specific to burnout among child therapists. This study examined how self-efficacy, workload, and parent engagement interrelate with burnout among child therapists. A multiple regression analysis was employed to investigate the influence of self-efficacy, workload, and parent engagement as predictors of child therapist burnout (N=537). The findings indicated that the predictor variables significantly explained 63% of the overall variance. In addition, this study revealed that self-efficacy served as a moderator for parent engagement and workload; and parent engagement and burnout. Additionally, average or high self-efficacy moderated the connection between workload and burnout; and parent engagement, workload, and burnout. Lastly, considerations, implications, and recommendations for future research are reviewed.

Candidate Name: Tianjia Yang
 April 01, 2024  1:00 PM
Location: EPIC 3224

Transit Signal Priority (TSP) is a traffic signal control strategy that can provide priority to transit vehicles and thus improve transit service. However, this control strategy generally causes adverse effects on other traffic, which limits its widespread adoption. The development of Connected Vehicle (CV) technology enables the real-time acquisition of fine-grained traffic information, providing more comprehensive data for the optimization of traffic signals. Simultaneously, optimization algorithms in the field of TSP have been advancing at a rapid pace. Artificial intelligent (AI)-powered techniques, such as Deep Reinforcement Learning (DRL), have become promising approaches for addressing TSP problems recently. In this study, we developed adaptive TSP control frameworks for both isolated intersection scenarios and multiple intersection scenarios, assuming the implementation of CV technology. Leveraging the comprehensive traffic data obtained from CVs, our frameworks employ both single-agent DRL and multi-agent DRL techniques to address optimization problems. The controllers, based on our proposed frameworks, were tested in simulation environments and compared with various widely used traffic signal controllers across different scenarios, demonstrating superior performance.

Candidate Name: Robert Bland
Title: Subsystems of Shifts of Finite Type over Countable Amenable Groups
 March 26, 2024  2:15 PM
Location: Fretwell 315

This dissertation is primarily concerned with the subsystem problem for subshifts of finite type (SFTs) on countable amenable groups. Firstly, we demonstrate that an SFT with positive entropy exhibits a ubiquity of subsystems. We prove that for any countable amenable group G, if X is a G-SFT with positive topological entropy h(X) > 0 and Y ⊂ X is a subshift such that h(Y) < h(X), then the entropies of the SFTs Z which satisfy Y ⊂ Z ⊂ X are dense in the interval [h(Y), h(X)]. Secondly, we present an embedding theorem which provides conditions under which a given subshift may be realized as a subsystem of a given SFT. Let G be a countable amenable group with the comparison property. Let X be a strongly aperiodic subshift over G. Let Y be a strongly irreducible shift of finite type over G which has no global period, meaning that the shift action is faithful on Y. If h(X) < h(Y) and Y contains at least one factor of X, then X embeds into Y. Our proofs rely on recent developments in the theory of tilings and quasi-tilings of amenable groups.

Candidate Name: Curtis Pollard
 March 19, 2024  10:00 AM
Location: https://charlotte-edu.zoom.us/j/94464898844

Psychological contracts (PCs) are a set of promises, obligations, and expectations between employees and employers within the employee-employer relationship. This dissertation investigates how advanced technologies may disrupt the reciprocal expectations within PCs by specifically threatening future employability and promoting job insecurity. As society breaks new ground in the field of automation and artificial intelligence (AI), concerns regarding future career mobility can emerge. The empirical study herein assesses the degree to which advanced technologies affect psychological contracts and whether job complexity, resilience, and self-efficacy play a role in weakening these effects.

Candidate Name: Amanda R. Vestal
Title: A Narrative Inquiry into the Storied Lives of Birth through Kindergarten Licensed Early Childhood Educators
 March 19, 2024  10:00 AM
Location: COED 110

The quality of inclusion for young children with disabilities in early childhood learning environments has long been attributed to the effectiveness of the teachers within such settings. As the service delivery system shifted toward more inclusive models, endeavors to improve preparation for inclusion have been marked by efforts to combine the fields of early childhood education and early childhood special education. While the initial development of such programs, commonly referred to as blended, came from the belief that the approach would promote inclusion, it remains unclear how well they actually prepare educators for inclusive practice. Additionally, high variability persists in both inclusive practice and blended preparation, impacting how teachers construct knowledge, a critical component of teacher identity development. This narrative inquiry explored the storied lives of six educators through the contextual theories of teacher identity development and blended preparation identity development. Findings illuminated participants’ professional identity has been constructed across time as they: a) gained new theoretical knowledge that informed their belief systems, b) were engaged in eye opening experiences that impacted personal and professional paradigm shifts, and c) as their perception of agency was enhanced by bidirectional social influences. Implications for research and professional practice are discussed.

Candidate Name: Jessica G. Rousey
Title: Using Constant Time Delay to Teach Use of Google Maps to Young Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
 March 29, 2024  11:00 AM
Location: College of Education Room 110

Planning for secondary transition includes identification of postsecondary goals in the areas of continued education, employment, and independent living or community engagement (IDEA, 2004). Young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) lag behind their same-aged peers in outcomes related to community engagement (Lipscomb et al., 2017a); specifically, challenges related to travel and transportation are a well-documented barrier to community engagement that young adults with IDD experience (Deka et al., 2016; Kersten et al., 2020). The purpose of this dissertation was to examine the effects of constant time delay instruction on the ability of young adults with IDD to program and follow walking routes to unfamiliar community locations of their choice using the Google Maps application. Results indicated a functional relation between constant time delay instruction and the percent of steps three young adults with IDD completed for programming and following a Google Maps walking route. Additional measures included generalization to use of the Apple Maps application; social validity of the intervention, as reported by the participants and their special education teachers; and participants’ ability to problem-solve common issues that may occur when following a pedestrian route. Finally, study limitations, suggestions for future research, and implications for practice are described.