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  • Applestein-Sweren Book Collecting Prize: Second Place
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  • While sharing commonalities with documentary practices, digital storytelling has not developed simply as an extension of existing documentary genres. Recognizing digital storytelling’s unique qualities, it is still worth considering how genres commonly associated with ethnographic film inform its practice. Filmmakers Robert Flaherty, Dziga Vertov and Jean Rouch laid the foundations of reflexive and participatory methods that are also found in digital storytelling. New technologies, such as database documentaries, continue to present possibilities and questions concerning the reflexive roles of authors, facilitators and audience.
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  • The measured noise in Mo/Au transition-edge sensor (TES) microcalorimeters produced at NASA has recently been shown to be well described by a two-body electrothermal model with a finite thermal conductance between the X-ray absorber and the TES. In this article, we present observations of a high-frequency peak in the measured current noise in some of these devices. The peak is associated with an oscillatory component of the TES response that is not predicted in a single-body model but can be qualitatively described by the two-body model.
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  • International Digital Storytelling Conference 2018 Proceedings,While sharing commonalities with documentary practices, digital storytelling has not developed simply as an extension of existing documentary genres. Recognizing digital storytelling’s unique qualities, it is still worth considering how genres commonly associated with ethnographic film inform its practice. Filmmakers Robert Flaherty, Dziga Vertov and Jean Rouch laid the foundations of reflexive and participatory methods that are also found in digital storytelling. New technologies, such as database documentaries, continue to present possibilities and questions concerning the reflexive roles of authors, facilitators and audience.,
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  • Melanopsin is a visual pigment expressed in a small subset of ganglion cells in the mammalian retina known as intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs) and is implicated in regulating non-image forming functions such as circadian photoentrainment and pupil constriction and contrast sensitivity in image formation. Mouse melanopsin’s Carboxy-terminus (C-terminus) possesses 38 serine and threonine residues, which can potentially serve as phosphorylation sites for a G-protein Receptor Kinase (GRK) and be involved in the deactivation of signal transduction. Previous studies suggest that S388, T389, S391, S392, S394, S395 on the proximal region of the C-terminus of mouse melanopsin are necessary for melanopsin deactivation. We expressed a series of mouse melanopsin C-terminal mutants in HEK293 cells and using calcium imaging, and we found that the necessary cluster of six serine and threonine residues, while being critical, are insufficient for proper melanopsin deactivation. Interestingly, the additional six serine and threonine residues adjacent to the required six sites, in either proximal or distal direction, are capable of restoring wild-type deactivation of melanopsin. These findings suggest an element of plasticity in the molecular basis of melanopsin phosphorylation and deactivation. In addition, C-terminal chimeric mutants and molecular modeling studies support the idea that the initial steps of deactivation and β-arrestin binding are centered around these critical phosphorylation sites (S388-S395). This degree of functional versatility could help explain the diverse ipRGC light responses as well as non-image and image forming behaviors, even though all six sub types of ipRGCs express the same melanopsin gene OPN4.
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  • The Environment of Lyman Break Analogues (ELBA) survey is an imaging survey of 33 deg² of the southern sky. The survey was observed in {\it u}, {\it g}, {\it r}, and {\it i} bands with the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) on the Blanco telescope. The main goal of this project is to investigate the environment of Lyman break analogues (LBAs), low-redshift (z ∼0.2) galaxies that are remarkably similar to typical star-forming galaxies at z ∼ 3. We explore whether the environment has any influence on the observed properties of these galaxies, providing valuable insight on the formation and evolution of galaxies over cosmic time. Using the Nearest Neighbour method, we measure the local density of each object ranging from small to large scales (clusters of galaxies). Comparing the environment around LBAs with that of the general galaxy population in the field, we conclude that LBAs, on average, populate denser regions at small scales (∼ 1.5Mpc), but are located in similar environment to other star-forming galaxies at larger scales (∼ 3.0Mpc). This offers evidence that nearby encounters such as mergers may influence the star formation activity in LBAs, before infall onto larger galaxy clusters. We interpret this an indication of galaxy preprocessing, in agreement with theoretical expectations for galaxies at z ∼ 2 -3 where the gravitational interactions are more intense in early formation processes of this objects
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  • Reinforcement learning (RL) has shown success in solving complex sequential decision making tasks when a well defined reward function is available. For agents acting in the real world, these reward functions need to be designed very carefully to make sure the agents act in a safe manner . This is especially true when these agents need to interact with humans and perform tasks in such settings. However, hand-crafting such a reward function often requires specialized expertise and quickly becomes difficult to scale with task-complexity .This leads to the long-standing problem in reinforcement learning known as reward sparsity where sparse or poorly specified reward functions slow down the learning process and lead to sub-optimal policies and unsafe behaviors. To make matters worse, reward functions often need to be adjusted or re-specified for each task the RL agent must learn. On the other-hand, it’s relatively easy for people to specify using language what you should or shouldn’t do in order to do a task safely. Inspired by this, we propose a framework to train RL agents conditioned on constraints that are in the form of structured language, thus reducing effort to design and integrate specialized rewards into the environment. In our experiments,we show that this method can be used to ground the language to behaviors and enable the agent to solve tasks while following the constraints .We also show how the agent can transfer these skills to other tasks.
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  • UMBC, a diverse public research university, has a reputation for producing highly capable undergraduate scholars. Unfortunately, many students place into mathematics courses at a lower level than those that offer degree credit or an “M” designation, which is a requirement of the General Education Program (GEP). This chapter provides an in-depth description of the institutional transformation process from a singular mathematics course pathway designed for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors to one that includes an alternate pathway based on career-relevant mathematical skills for non-STEM majors. This new pathway development involved the creation of a course entitled Quantitative Literacy, which is intended for students who place into a developmental math course (based on the university math placement test) and are pursuing a major that does not require calculus or an algebraintensive course. Quantitative Literacy focuses on algebraic and numeric skills in the context of applications and problem-solving to prepare students for either Introduction to Statistics for the Social Sciences or Contemporary Mathematics, both of which carry GEP credit and an “M” designation. Data analytics are used to explore the impact of the new Quantitative Literacy course on the progression of non-STEM majors. Challenges and opportunities will be addressed as career-relevant pathways proceed to full institutionalization.
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  • Reinforcement occurs when selection against hybrid offspring strengthens behavioral isolation between parental species and may be an important factor in speciation. Theoretical models and experimental evidence indicate that both female and male preferences can be strengthened upon secondary contact via reinforcement. However, the question remains whether this process is more likely to affect the preferences of one sex or the other. Males of polygynous species are often predicted to exhibit weaker preferences than females, potentially limiting the ability for reinforcement to shape male preferences. Yet, in darters (Percidae: Etheostoma), male preference for conspecific mates appears to arise before female preferences during the early stages of allopatric speciation, and research suggests that male, but not female, preferences become reinforced upon secondary contact. In the current study, we aimed to determine whether the geographically widespread darter species Etheostoma zonale exhibits a signature of reinforcement, by comparing the strength of preference for conspecific mates between populations that are sympatric and allopatric with respect to a close congener, E. barrenense. We examined the strength of preference for conspecifics for males and females separately to determine whether the preferences of one or both sexes have been strengthened by reinforcement. Our results show that both sexes of E. zonale from sympatric populations exhibit stronger conspecific preferences than E. zonale from allopatric populations, but that female preferences appear to be more strongly reinforced than male preferences. Results therefore suggest that reinforcement of female preferences may promote behavioral isolation upon secondary contact, even in a genus that is characterized by pervasive male mate choice.
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  • CHI '20, April 25–30, 2020, Honolulu, HI, USA,Privacy and surveillance are central features of public discourse around use of computing systems. As the systems we design and study are increasingly used and regulated as potential instruments of surveillance, HCI researchers— even those whose focus is not privacy—find themselves needing to understand privacy in their work. Concepts like contextual integrity and boundary regulation have become touchstones for thinking about privacy in HCI. In this paper, we draw on HCI and privacy literature to understand the limitations of commonly used theories and examine their assumptions, politics, strengths, and weaknesses. We use a case study from the HCI literature to illustrate conceptual gaps in existing frameworks where privacy requirements can fall through. Finally, we advocate vulnerability as a core concept for privacy theorizing and examine how feminist, queer-Marxist, and intersectional thinking may augment our existing repertoire of privacy theories to create a more inclusive scholarship and design practice.,
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