A campus-wide colloquium of significant contributions to academia.

The goal of the symposium is to showcase the outstanding quality and diversity of research at AQ by providing students with the opportunity to put into practice and demonstrate the depth of their research skills with those outside of their disciplines. The symposium is also designed to demonstrate the importance of research and scholarship within our community via formal presentations, recitals, writings, poster sessions and art exhibits.

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Department of Biology

Avery Wagner
The Antimicrobial Effect of Garlic and Garlic Supplements and the Characterization of Contaminants in the Supplements 

Allicin is released by crushed garlic, and inhibits the growth of bacteria. Garlic was tested as an antimicrobial against a variety of bacteria in this laboratory, alongside cranberry juice, honey, and garlic and honey combined. Garlic was found to be the most effective antimicrobial with a 1:64 minimum inhibitory concentration.  Garlic nutrient supplements were also tested to test both their antimicrobial abilities and to see if they contained contaminants.  Our group had previously found one brand to be contaminated four years ago, so both a capsule from that pack and a capsule from a newly purchased pack of the same brand were tested. Two of four brands had contaminants, so these contaminants were tested with various selective and differential media tests before molecular biology methods were employed. PCR reactions were performed and sequencing information was obtained, and the Brand #1 old capsule’s contaminant was B. subtilis, Brand #1 new was B. thuringiensis, and Brand #2 was also B. subtilis

Bridgette Degenhardt & Josh Watkins
NOD1 as an an Experimental Gene of Interest in the Innate Immune System

NOD1 as an an Experimental Gene of Interest in the Innate Immune System Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are widely used to treat human diseases, such as treating blood cancers. The ability to generate and expand HSCs ACin vitro would benefit these types of treatments. NOD1 is an innate immune receptor involved in the inflammatory response to some types of infection in zebrafish (Oehlers S et al., 2011) and higher mammals (Travassos et al.,2005). Our preliminary results show that NOD1 is expressed early in zebrafish development and in the tissues of interest. This embryonic expression 
could be consistent with a hypothetical role of NOD1 in early HSC development. Our goal was to amplify, purify, and sequence the needed vectors and previously generated dominant negative mutant NOD1 genes and sub-clone the mutant NOD1 genes into a ENTR1A vector. 

Department of Chemistry

John McAfee
Relationship between Biaryl Ligand Structure and Reactivity in Under-Air Direct Arylation

Traditional cross-coupling reactions such as the Suzuki and Stille reactions have become a pivotal part of organic synthesis. Direct arylation is being researched as an alternative to traditional cross coupling reactions as it takes less steps to produce the product. Typically, direct arylations are run under an inert atmosphere such as nitrogen or argon.  Only recently have accounts surfaced of this transformation under air. The goal of this research was to better understand the relationship between the structure of biaryl phosphine (Buchwald) ligands and product yield in an under air direct arylation reaction.
Results show that phosphine ligands with either cyclohexyl groups or bis-3,5-bis(trifluoromethyl) phenyl attached to the phosphorus increase reactivity. Reactivity also increased when ligands with meta, NMe2, Oi-Pr, or OMe, groups on the lower benzene ring. 

John McAfee
Relationship between Carboxylic Acid Structure and Reactivity in Under-Air Direct Arylation

Traditional cross-coupling reactions such as the Suzuki and Stille reactions have become a pivotal part of organic synthesis. Direct arylation is being researched as an alternative to traditional cross coupling reactions as it takes less steps to produce the product. Typically, direct arylations are run under an inert atmosphere such as nitrogen or argon.  Only recently have accounts surfaced of this transformation under air. The goal of this research was to better understand the relationship between the structure of carboxylic acids and product yield in an under air direct arylation reaction.
Results have shown that for this substrate (pentafluorobenzene and 4-bromotoluene) that increasing the number of carbons in the R group chain has not drastically changed reactivity. The presence of a carboxylic acid does seem to influence yield. Further work remains to be done.

Craig Jensen
Structural Analysis of OXA-207: An Exploration of an Antibiotic Resistance Mechanism

Due to the continued evolution of bacteria to combat antibiotics, research into the mechanisms that bacteria employ is increasingly important. Among the many mechanisms that bacteria employ, β-lactamases are common. Theses enzymes hydrolyze β-lactam antibiotics before harm can be done to the cell. One such β-lactamase, OXA-207, is a derivative of the well-studied OXA-24/40. When compared to OXA-24/40, OXA-207 has shown increased activity against some antibiotics. An attempt to characterize OXA-207 is in progress through X-ray crystallography. The progress in crystallizing this protein comprises the current presentation.

Craig Jensen
Ceramic Provenience: Chemical Analysis of Ceramics and Clays in Eastern Hungary via LA-ICP-MS

This project explores the provenience of ceramics found at the Bronze Age cemetery of Békés 103. By answering the question of where these ceramics came from, it is possible to hypothesize which Bronze Age communities used the cemetery. To do this, clays were collected throughout Eastern Hungary for chemical analysis. Clay is often found along river banks, but many modern rivers may have been polluted. Instead, paleo-meanders of modern rivers were chosen as collection sites; these were identified using QGIS. This revealed the chemical variability found throughout the region. Then, by comparing the chemical composition of the clays to that of the Békés 103 ceramics, the farthest possible extent of cemetery usage was determined. Preliminary analysis of the clays were performed using XRF. The ceramics and the some of the clays were analyzed by LA-ICP-MS.

Department of Communication

Lindsey Bacigal
The Portrayal of Women in Advertisements and its Potential Effects on Viewers’ Attitudes Towards Women

The purpose of this research was to determine if there is a correlation between exposure to the sexual objectification of women in advertisements and rape myth acceptance. The hypothesis predicted that participants who viewed print advertisements featuring sexually objectified women would demonstrate a higher acceptance of rape myths than those who viewed print advertisements without the sexual objectification of women. This hypothesis was based on research suggesting that the sexual objectification of women in media can stimulate negative feelings about women in the viewer. A literature review provided information on the sexual objectification of women in media and its effects on viewers, but little research has been performed with advertisements specifically. In addition, research that has been done on the sexual objectification of women in advertisements has often focused on the amount of objectification occurring, but not its potential effects. This study attempted to help fill this research gap. 

Natalie Smith
Self-Disclosure within Religious Discussion-Based Retreats

Retreats seem to offer a distinct communication climate, different from most other social interactions. A retreat may exist in a vacuum, free from the influence of standard societal norms guiding issues of self-disclosure, relationship building, and trust. This self-disclosure project seeks to explain the progression of social penetration theory within discussion-based religious retreats as a result of perceived facilitator or leader communicative competence. 

Kara VanEgmond & Matthew Takach
Self-Disclosure and the Perception of Busyness 

A typical college student may perform many roles beyond being a student.  It seems that this notion is encouraged of college students by professors, faculty, and other students in order to achieve a well-rounded college experience.  This may include involvement in campus clubs, volunteering in the community, working a part time job, having an internship, and socializing with friends.  Students are likely expected to do all of this while attending class and maintaining decent grades.  By fulfilling these roles, a college student may be perceived as a well-rounded, ideal student, and thus classified as a successful student.  Many college students seem to portray this busyness to a peer during a communicative episode in an effort to personify the look of perceived college success.  As a result, self-disclosure of busyness may become glorified in communication between college peers, notably in the response of the receiver to the stimulus, “I’m so busy”.  

Department of Economics

Chloe Benzer
Diverse Reactions to the Great Recession and their Global Implications: A Comparative Study of French and American Economic Histories

One of the most influential and consequential events of the past century arguably was the financial crash and subsequent Great Recession of 2008 and 2009 – this catastrophe impacted the entire world on an economic, social, and political level. The following study sheds light on the overall economic and political differences between the United States and France. After comparing the economic and political histories of these two countries, outlining the economic atmosphere prior to the financial crisis, detailing the recovery efforts and presenting the differences, I draw conclusions about the near future in these countries and the ensuing impacts that may be seen in the rest of the world. The final section is a regression analysis of select macroeconomic variables that have varying effects on income inequality in France and the U.S., suggesting future policy may change in order to influence inequality through these variables.

Department of Geography

Courtney Cromley
The Regional Aspects of Commercial Beekeeping

My focus is on the differences between commercial and semi commercial (200 or less hives) pollination. I am specifically looking at Michigan’s commercial and semi commercial beekeepers, and where they send their bees to pollinate. Are there regional differences to commercial beehives? To answer this question, I formed a case study. The focus of my study was both the semi commercial and commercial beehives. With the aid of the data that I have collected I was able to get a better understanding of the regional aspects of commercial and semi commercial beekeeping.

Jessica Challa
Work and School: The Impact of Work-School Conflict on Aquinas Students' Workplace Location

Studies have shown that working students try to avoid work-school conflict. This means that students weigh their options when balancing their work-life and school-life. Credit hours, hours working, seasonal or full-time positions, living situation, relevance to coursework, and distance from school: these are all factors that may impact the weight of stress on a student. By balancing stress factors, a working-student avoids work-school conflict. This project aimed to explore Aquinas students’ work locations in relation to Aquinas campus. Though students that live on campus tend to work closest to campus, the strongest association was between ‘hours worked a week’ and 'distance from Aquinas.’

Brianna Czyzio
How Far are you from Farm Fresh Food?

This study compares the location of farmers markets to the socioeconomic characteristics of surrounding census tracts to determine whether farmers markets throughout Grand Rapids and its contiguous suburbs are accessible to different populations. In addition to geographical location, accessibility takes into account the changes in daily availability. The creation of a daily accessibility index allows for easy visual comparison and analysis; one can see central city residents have greater access to fresh food at farmers markets, even through these areas have lower socioeconomic standing. 

Brianna Czyzio & Christin Seward
Connemara: Landscape to Legend 

This project arises out of the desire to connect to major areas of study with the landscapes encountered every day during a semester abroad in Ireland. It provides a look into the convergence of culture and geography in Ireland; more specifically, a look into Connemara's landscape, how it formed, and how it influenced local mythologies. By exploring how local mythology is influenced by surrounding physical geography, this study focuses on Connemara. It studies the different geologic factors that contributed to the formation of the physical landscape of Connemara. The main component of this research will explore local landforms and the stories they inspired using popular legends in Connemara. Using these stories, this study highlights how the landscape is reflected in local legends that still exist to this day. 

Aaron Hodges
A Study of Michigan Winter Average Temperatures 1955-2015 

The purpose of this study was to examine the average winter temperatures for Michigan dating back to 1955. I was interested to see if Michigan winters were in fact getting warmer over time, and also the effect that warmer winters might have on ski season length for Michigan Ski Resorts. I gathered monthly average temperature for winter months from historical NOAA climate reports, (“winter months” defined as November-March). Then I calculated winter temp averages for 61 years of Michigan winters. I was able to illustrate the relationship of winter temperature and ski season length for one Michigan Ski resort thanks to historical season length data from Crystal Mountain Resort located in Northern Michigan.  

Jacob Towne
The Changing Agricultural Landscape of Kent County

Casual observation of data collected by the U.S. Agricultural Census suggests that Kent County has been facing a loss in agricultural land as more and more people live within the county lines. This study looks at the use of satellite imagery in order to classify the land cover of Kent County during the years of 1977, 1991, and 2007. Change detection is then used to determine where this loss of agricultural land is occurring throughout the county and at what rate it is being lost. This study also takes a look at the preservation programs currently in place throughout the county, and at how much of the agricultural land is currently being preserved.

Jacob Towne
I-75 and the Road Out of Detroit

From 1940 to 1980, Detroit went through a period of great change as three separate highways were built through the city and surrounding areas: I-75, I-94, and I-96. This research focuses specifically on the years of 1950-1970 which is the time period over which I-75 was constructed. This time period is also the heart of Interstate Highway construction in Detroit with progress being made on all three. The goal of this project was to map the change in population in the census tracts of the city of Detroit over this period and to look at the difference in population change in tracts considered to be serviced by I-75 and those which were not.

Juan Torres
Examining Aquinas Students’ Perceptions on the Non-prescription Use of  ADHD Stimulant Medication

Adderall, Ritalin, Vyvanse, and Concerta are stimulants that are frequently prescribed to those diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and also sometimes narcolepsy (sleeping disorder).  These medications are used to help individuals who have problems with concentrating, memory, hyperactivity, and ability to finish tasks. According to the Center on Young Adult Health and Development, almost one-third of college students have used ADHD stimulants non-medically at least once while attending college. Unlike most other illegal substances that college students experiment with, they don’t typically use these drugs for social or entertainment purposes.  ADHD stimulants were used predominantly for the more serious pursuit of getting good grades. 

Christin Seward
A Geographical Study of Coastal Beach Closings  and Possible Causes in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula

Having grown up in the Saginaw Bay area where beach closings were common, and then moving to West Michigan where they seemed rare, my curiosity was sparked as to where beach closings occur and why. This study examines the geographic phenomenon of beach closings on the coast of Michigan’s lower peninsula, along with possible causes of closings including lake depth, sanitary sewage overflow, agriculture, and cattle. The closings were categorized into the three major drainage basins of the Lower Peninsula: Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, and Lake Erie. I hypothesized that areas with shallower lake depth and areas with higher sewage overflow would have more closings. Visually, I found shallow lake depth correlated well with areas of high closings, but sewage overflows did not correlate as well across the state as I predicted.

Amanda Roth
Measure of Riparian Buffer Effectiveness

Along the edge of all water bodies there is a required zone of vegetation, this is called a riparian buffer. These buffers provide protection to the water bodies by collecting and absorbing pollutants and sediment before they reach the water. In this project the goal was to measure how effective a buffer is based on vegetation type and slope. The hypotheses tested were: the larger the slope of the land toward the water, the less effective the riparian buffer will be, and; the denser the vegetation the more effective the buffer will be.

Department of History

Allison Yager
History of Cook Carriage House

Compiled History of the Cook Carriage House from the beginning to its current usage.

Department of Mathematics

Tristen Spencer
Revenge of the Circle Squarers

We use Gregory numbers ( t_a = arctan 1/a ) to construct hyperbolic polygons and circles with the same hyperbolic area. We prove that the hyperbolic area of any hyperbolic circle divided by its hyperbolic circumference is the Euclidean radius measured from the center of the hyperbolic unit disk.

Maria Maguire
Exploring Efficient Movement Using the Mancala Mechanism

Mancala type games are played across the world. While the rules can vary greatly, all games use the same “sowing” mechanism of movement to move stones along the board. The sowing mechanism was explored in this report. The most efficient way to move special stones called “kings” long distances was investigated for different combinations of kings and regular stones. Results were found for lower numbers and special cases of kings. In addition, several ways to measure movement were discussed, compared, and found to be equivalent.

Department of Music

Taylor DeRousse
Taylor DeRousse In Recital - A Graduation Piano Recital 

The discipline of music contains a wide range of subject matter. Music at the collegiate level includes many aspects such as analyzing, composing, performing, and historical studies. The final requirement of the degree in Music Performance is a recital. A successful recital entails researching composers and history, developing a cohesive program, planning the event, and most importantly, years of practice. As a third year student, I am completing the recital requirement one year early. I have drawn from experiences throughout my education in order to deliver a meaningful and strong performance. Through my work, I have grown as a student and individual, strengthened my skills as a pianist, and deepened my knowledge of the discipline. The most rewarding aspect is the opportunity to share my hard work with others through a performance. 

Department of Nursing

Marissa Corder
The Walking Program 2016
In autumn of 2016, Detroit Mercy/Aquinas nursing students assisted in conducting research that took place during the Walking Program at Degage Ministries in downtown Grand Rapids. The research was focused on changes in blood pressure, weight, as well as feelings of well-being and stress. Research participants were primarily low-income or homeless individuals living in the Heartside district. 

Department of Philosophy

Jillian Langford
The True Purpose of a Liberal Arts Education

This essay contains an examination of the current state of Catholic liberal arts education, submitting that the current state of Catholic liberal arts education is in crisis. This paper argues that the crisis of liberal arts education arises from the modern liberal arts university attempting to integrate vocational education into the traditional liberal arts curriculum. Through this attempted integration, the integrity of the liberal arts is lost as education is no longer viewed for its intrinsic good, but is viewed as a means to an end and, moreover, an end that is utilitarian in nature (i.e. financial gain, power, production). This paper argues for an anamnesis of liberal arts education according to Aristotelian-Thomist first principles, namely that education must be an end that culminates in contemplation and the Aristotelian ideal of happiness. Following primarily the thought of Alasdair MacIntyre, James. V. Schall, Russell Kirk, and John Henry Newman, liberal arts education must be understood as holistic education of the person that draws forth virtue and orders the person in first principles of right reason. 

Department of Psychology

Sarah Springer, Catherine Hazekamp & Antoniya Wedge
Sexual Experiences and Relationship Satisfaction

Our project/study was conducted to further understand and examine the correlation between relationship satisfaction and sexual experiences within a past or current committed relationship. We hypothesized that couples who have sexual encounters more often, and are satisfied with those encounters, are more likely to be satisfied with their relationship overall.

Ashley Heitzman, Melissa Nelson & Nikki Veltman
Correlation between Neuroticism and Facebook usage 

The current study determined if there is a correlation between neuroticism and Facebook usage . By having participants complete 3 surveys, one for Facebook, a min big five, and an activity log. 

Cayleigh Bucyk, Emily Stark & Morgan Amick
Personality's Influence on Stress

Personality traits have been found to have an influence not only on a given individual but also in how an individual perceives the world around them. It is this perception to which an individual responds. This study looked at college students and the environment they navigate during their daily lives to see if there is a link between each individual's personality and the amount of stress they perceive in their life. Results have found that there is a positive relationship between neuroticism and perceived stress and no correlation between conscientiousness and perceived stress. 

Troy Kauffman, Marie Cirenza & Emma Wonsil
Role of Optic Flow in Balancing Tasks

People rely greatly on their vision when it comes to ‘balance’, especially when motion is involved. Optic flow is referred to as: “pattern of apparent motion of objects in a visual scene produced by the relative motion between the observer and the scene,” (Wolfe, 2005). This study will examine the correlation between optic flow and an individual’s ability to balance a PVC. 

Rebecca Galarneau, Jashua Knauf & Amanda Gatcher
Internet Usage and Loneliness

The purpose of this research is to discover the impact the presence of Internet usage, namely in terms of social media, has on individuals and their personalities and attitudes. Furthermore, this study analyses the impact "positive" versus "negative" social media posts have on individuals, especially in regards to one's level of loneliness.

Morgan Bengel, Jacklyn Eding & Brooke Vos
Stress Levels of Undergraduate Students

Brooke,  Jacklyn, and I will be presenting our research on the stress levels of Aquinas College Undergraduate students. This is an analysis of seniors compared to all other grade levels as well as females compared to males and their corresponding stress levels. We used a survey to collect data from participants and analyzed data using SPSS. 

Emma Wonsil
A Cross-Cultural Analysis of Romantic Jealousy

Evolutionary theory claims that jealousy in a romantic relationship is a cultural universal. Therefore, the causes, experiences, expressions, and coping mechanisms of romantic jealousy should be consistent across culture. This study analyzed romantic jealousy using a literature review to determine if these factors were consistent. Literature from psychology, sociology, and communication were all considered. From this study, we can conclude that the causes and experiences are culturally universal because they are consistent regardless of the culture. However, the expressions and coping mechanisms vary according to the degree of Hofstede’s  measure of individualism and collectivism in a specific culture. Expressions and coping mechanisms, as delayed jealousy reactions, engage appraisal of threat and consequences, and therefore take into account cultural context. 

Erin Ball, Mary Pyper & Jayme Brizzolara
Measuring Task Switching Capabilities Between Student Athletes and Student Workers

This study focused on cognitive flexibility and its relationship with activities in which students participate. Researchers gathered data on Student Athletes, Student Workers (students who work 8+ hours), and students who fit Both or Neither of the categories. To measure cognitive flexibility and academic achievement, we measured overall Grade Point Averages of General Education courses, and had students complete a task-switching computer activity and a demographic survey. 

Alison Anderson, Iris Torres & Trevor Kay
Different Stress Levels Between College Students 

College students have to deal with a tremendous amount of stress while attending school. For this study, stress levels in college students were examined through an online questionnaire that was distributed among participants. We investigated four different groups of college students and how they handle stress in certain situations; full time students, student athletes, students who work, and student athletes who have a job.  We were able to gather 129 participants ranging from ages of 18-25 from a number of different schools. Findings from this study showed that student athletes were less stressed than college students who have a job. 

Department of Sociology

Ali Barr
Who, What, When, and Where is Home? A Sociological Analysis of Homelessness

This paper explores the topic of homelessness, drawing upon interviews with individuals who have experienced unstable housing in a Midwest urban area in 2016. Through the use of snowball sampling, thirteen individuals, ranging in age from 21 to 55, agreed to participate in this on-going study on their experiences with homelessness (along with a case manager who has served the needs of many of these individuals). Using grounded theory methods, three initial categories emerged: resources, relationships, and the culture of homelessness. This paper discusses those categories, their properties, and their relationship to one another, serving as a preliminary foundation for a model of how homelessness is managed for these individuals.

Department of Theatre

Zoe Gipson
Conceptualization and Implementation of Theatre for Change: A Post-Mortem on Community Engagement and Social Change in Grand Rapids, Michigan

I worked with Professor Randy Wyatt in studying Theatre for Change through praxis in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Theatre for Change works to close empathy gaps in individuals and communities by addressing social change and engaging communities. Theatre for Change has many different forms, each specific to the time, place, and people involved. In studying Theatre for Change I devised a children’s play , helped to devise for and then perform with Ebony Road Players, worked with GR Civic Theatre’s Theatre Arts Day Camp, performed in The Talk with Actors’ Theatre and Mixed Roots Collective, interviewed the founder of Mixed Roots Collective , and read Robert Landy’s Theatre for Change . Through my praxis, I learned the processes of listening to an affected group, how to building the theatre around them to generate material, how to pulling the material and performers together, and then asking the audience to respond.

Department of Theology

Emily Southerton
Breathing With Both Lungs

Often seen in the West  as "stepchildren" of the "Roman" Catholics Church and by the Orthodox who share their tradition and rites as simply "Uniates" who submitted to the power of the Church of Rome, my project deals with the 22 Eastern Catholic Churches.  After failed attempts to reconcile Eastern and Western Christianity at councils in Lyons (1274) and then in Florence in its final phase (1439-1445), segments of the Assyrian Church, Oriental and Eastern Orthodox Churches for political and religious leaders came back into full communion with the See of Peter.   Treated very poorly in the West by Roman Catholic hierarchy;  there has been a revival of an appreciation of the Eastern Catholic Churches in the twentieth century so that  as John Paul II puts it, the Church can again "breathe with two lungs."  My project involves reading the works of Arab Melkite, Slavic Byzantine and Roman Catholic theologians.

Department of World Languages


Sarah Cross, Francesca Prina, Alyssa Chartier & Azra Fazil
La Academia del Pueblo Latin American Studies Conference at Wayne State University

The 8th Annual La Academia del Pueblo Latino/a and Latin American Studies Research Conference is on April 29, 2017. The theme of the conference is year is “Charting New Futures: Rethinking Race and Gender in LatinX U.S.A and Beyond.” This conference invites participants to present their research about innovative and nuanced ways of examining LatinX identities, both now and for future generations. Using the researched we obtained from books and movies studied in Shelli Rottschafer's Latino Film class, we have written essays in spanish about a number of different and important topics which we will present at this conference and at the Symposium. The conference and the Symposium poster session at Aquinas will act as the "culmination" to the research we have done.

Writing Center

Katherine Kozal
Conversation: The Breaking of Barriers 

Communication through conversation is key to success in every field of study, in each career that exists in the world, and in any situation you might encounter. Good communication is crucial to obtaining information, and using that information to achieve and improve is important in order to grow and learn. Conversation with a purpose helps you and other people explore the options and subcategories within topics you might only know a little bit about. This project demonstrates the need for intentional conversations in our everyday lives to help break barriers and learn more about ourselves and others.

Sarah Wentela
Increasing Confidence and Success of Science Writers 

Writing is often a cause of anxiety for college students.  From my experience working in the writing center, science students are particularly lacking in confidence in their writing abilities.  A solution to ease the anxiety of students in a writing intensive class is often to establish an embedded consultancy.  Establishing an embedded consultancy in Dr. Hess' genetics class, the biology writing intensive, has provided tremendous support to Dr. Hess and her students.  The hope of the genetics embedded consultancy is to assist students through the writing process as they write a laboratory report and research paper.  This can include assisting with the research process, including idea generation and using research databases, along with paper organization/formatting, and citation help.  My embedded consultancy has revealed the importance of giving science students a voice in writing, as writing in their discipline is vital for their success as professionals.