Dissertation Defense Announcements

Candidate Name: Jonathan Koerber
Title: Characterization of Broadband Optical Functionality of Freeform Optics.
 April 08, 2022  2:00 PM
Location: Grigg 238

Candidate Name: Erin Godly-Reynolds
Title: The School Environment Project: Measuring Key Elements of School Climate and Culture in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
 April 05, 2022  12:00 PM
Location: Zoom

Previous research has investigated the school context using conceptualizations of two constructs, school culture and school climate, that appear to overlap and contain measurement flaws, limiting their utility in applied research settings. To improve learning conditions and promote more equitable academic opportunities and outcomes for students in grades 3-8, the Charlotte, NC, community would benefit from a standard system of measurement that captures the essential elements of school climate and culture that local stakeholders believe matter most for students to succeed in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS). CMS does not currently administer a comprehensive school culture or climate survey. The present study aimed to address that need. Through a multiphase, participatory community research project, a coherent, parsimonious, and clear conceptualization of school environment emerged, setting the stage for the development and initial validation of the School Environment Survey.

This collaborative effort involved the exchange of knowledge, expertise, and resources via a partnership involving the Community Psychology Research Lab at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and two community partners: CMS and a nonprofit organization, Communities In Schools of Charlotte-Mecklenburg. During the first phase of this project, essential elements of school climate and culture were reviewed, analyzed, and discussed during interviews and focus groups with 126 local stakeholders until the broader construct of school environment had been defined as a category of concepts that reflect the surroundings or conditions in which people operate in school. With this broad definition of school environment as the underlying, multidimensional construct, five applicable concepts (i.e., domains; see Kohl et al., 2013; Wang & Degol, 2016) were hypothesized to make up school environment: academics, safety, shared vision, community, and physical environment. Multiple participatory steps led to the development of 131 items hypothesized and designed to reflect 16 identified dimensions of school environment, organized into these five domains.

The resulting measure was piloted online with 186 teacher participants during the 2020-2021 school year. Exploratory factor analysis results suggest that within the boundary conditions of this effort (i.e., a focus on two CMS learning communities, the inclusion of teachers from grades 3-8, data collected during school year 2020-2021), a 25-item School Environment Survey that captures three domains (academics, safety, and shared vision) may be a useful indicator of teachers’ perceptions of school environment. That model explained 55% of the total variance and, notably, items that performed well on the resulting version of the measure cover nearly the entire hypothesized breadth of the concept as it was defined and operationalized by stakeholders; reliability estimates met or exceeded acceptable thresholds; and school environment results were found to positively relate to student learning outcomes (specifically, standardized tests in reading and math for students in grades 3-8).

However, this study had a relatively small sample size that prevented researchers from conducting a confirmatory factor analysis, and COVID-19 presented additional challenges and limitations. Therefore, in addition to an overview of specific advantages and the empirical and theoretical support for the current version of the School Environment Survey, recommendations for ongoing validation are provided as well as considerations of the implications for local practice.

Candidate Name: Craig Phillip Cardella
 April 06, 2022  3:00 PM
Location: Remote Zoom meeting

Project Management activities have become an integral part of almost every organization. Most
of the effort on a project tends to occur in the middle of a project with a substantial focus on the
planning and execution phases, but with limited emphasis on the closing or termination aspect.
Terminating a project has intrinsic and extrinsic organizational effects that need to be
acknowledged and addressed at the end of a project lifecycle. Even successfully completed
projects require post-project analysis to fully realize the benefit of the experience attained at the
end of a project. The learning that occurs augments or improves business processes,
technological capabilities, senior management trust, and can mitigate current and future
stakeholder issues. This dissertation intends to heighten the awareness of the importance
of project termination activities to insight commitment of resources from organizations for
closing efforts. The intention of this dissertation is to measure the effects of project termination
quality from the viewpoint of the project management community. Execution of a quality
project termination promotes organizational learning that strengthens the relationship between
organization’s capabilities and future project management success.

Candidate Name: Arnab J Baruah
Title: A Novel Bulk Acoustic Wave based Super-harmonic Quadrature Voltage Control Oscillator
 April 05, 2022  3:00 PM
Location: EPIC 2354

As the demand for wireless connectivity increases, new power and area efficient solutions will be required to meet the specifications of these systems. Most transceivers require a local oscillator with quadrature(I/Q) phases and the power and noise specifications of this oscillator plays a crucial role in the system performance. Although traditionally these oscillators were designed using on chip LC components, recent advances in manufacturing have opened the possibilities of incorporating Bulk Acoustic Wave(BAW) resonators in the design of such oscillators. In this work, we introduce a novel coupling technique for creating a Quadrature Voltage Controlled Oscillator(QVCO) which leads to a lower phase noise and power consumption compared to other published designs.

Candidate Name: Braxton Noll
Title: Dissecting the Salivary Gland: Epithelial-Centered Dysfunction in Primary Sjögren’s Syndrome
 April 06, 2022  11:00 AM
Location: Zoom

Candidate Name: Lindamarie Werntz Coatman
Title: Antecedents in Building Resilience: Extending Conservation of Resources Theory
 April 07, 2022  9:00 AM
Location: Zoom

This study empirically tests and theoretically examines the influence of two types of stressors on resilience. In doing so, it also considers the buffering effects of self-identification (work centrality) and two prevalent personal resources in the stress literature, one based on the contextual environment outside the organization (external social support) and one based on the contextual environment within the organizational (psychological safety) to this relationship. This study hypothesizes that the extent to which an employee self-identifies with work will influence the relationship between stressor (demands) and resilience. The relationship between stressor type and resilience is further examined by testing the effects of two personal resources linked theoretically to supporting the replenishment of resources to determine if they have different or similar levels of influence in developing the personal psychological resource of resilience.

Candidate Name: Fareeha Kanwal Malik
Title: Hydrogen bond energy-based comparative analysis of protein-ligand interactions and similarity assessment of protein-DNA complex models
 April 11, 2022  1:00 PM
Location: Virtual, please email me at fkanwal1@uncc.edu for link

Hydrogen bonds play a vital role in protein-DNA interactions. In particular, side chain-base hydrogen bonds are crucial to the binding specificity between protein and DNA. Mutations effecting interface hydrogen bonds in protein-DNA complexes have been linked to changes in binding specificity and are implicated in various diseases. However, knowledge about the distribution of hydrogen bond energy (HBE) in protein-DNA complexes as compared to other important biomolecular complexes is unknown. Here, we performed a systematic comparative analysis of hydrogen bond energy (HBE) in three protein-ligand complexes; protein-DNA, protein-protein and protein-peptide. Our results show that while the hydrogen bonds in protein-protein and protein-peptide complexes are predominantly strong, a unique, almost equal distribution of strong and weak hydrogen bonds is observed in protein-DNA complexes. More importantly, more strong hydrogen bonds are observed in the minor grooves of highly specific protein-DNA complexes than multispecific complexes indicating the role of minor groove hydrogen bonds in protein-DNA binding specificity. The knowledge gained from these analyses was applied to develop a novel hydrogen bond energy-based method to assess the similarity between protein-DNA complex models and reference structures, an important step towards computational prediction of complex structures. We show that HBE based method provides more accurate assessment of similarity for models generated by both homology modeling and computational docking methods.

Candidate Name: Xiaowen He
Title: Entrepreneurial Passion and Entrepreneurial Persistence within Small-size Companies
 April 05, 2022  9:00 AM
Location: Online

This dissertation explores the relationship between entrepreneurial passion and entrepreneurial persistence within small-size companies. Although prior literature has acknowledged that entrepreneurial passion enhances entrepreneurial persistence, a better understanding of the role of opportunity evaluation in this context is needed. Using data from 176 entrepreneurs, I suggest that gain estimation, loss estimation, and feasibility moderate the relationship between entrepreneurial passion and entrepreneurial persistence and that this relationship leads to the invention and development of new business opportunities. Implications for theory and practice as well as avenues for future research are discussed.

INDEX WORDS: Entrepreneurial passion, Entrepreneurial persistence, Opportunity evaluation

Candidate Name: Rosalyn Sandoval
 April 08, 2022  10:00 AM
Location: https://uncc.zoom.us/j/99941686238

Although women and racial minority entrepreneurs make considerable contributions to society by creating their ventures, they often face additional barriers and limitations that explain the differential rate of new venture creation between men and women, White and racial minorities. Therefore, it is crucial to uncover mechanisms to help support women and racial minorities in the venture creation process. One such mechanism is supportive entrepreneurial figures such as entrepreneurial role models, mentors, and founders, all of which can play an essential role in the decision to become an entrepreneur. Despite understanding the positive influence that these supportive entrepreneurial figures can have on entrepreneurial behavior and outcomes, research has yet to examine how these relationships are shaped by the gender and race of the supportive entrepreneurial figure in the process of new venture creation. I test hypotheses with a sample of 417 entrepreneurs across two-time points. Results are intricate and complex, illustrating how in some cases, the positive influence of the entrepreneurial role model, mentor, or founder is dependent on the gender or race of that individual. My findings contribute to how supportive entrepreneurial figures shape new venture creation for women and racial minority entrepreneurs.