2018 Sigma Zeta National Convention Presentation Abstracts

 Breann Adamek | Lucendia Adams* | Jessica Agama* and Hannah Sproull*Ali Al SaeghRachel Baines and Trey Shupp 
Samantha Banks |Lauren Barlass | Sydney Barron, Charissa Lord*, Melissa Gadd, and Noah Holmes | Randi Block 
 Kristen Bricker* | Kelly Chies | Karina Cuate and Heather Culbertson* | Talia DalzellBrodrick Deno* |  Emma Detloff 
Dianessa Dizon* and Beth Ringwelski* | Cory Edwards | Robin FettigMarcel Gonzalez* and Osvy Rodriguez* | Ruthann Gorrell
Amanda Hall AND TJ Register | Shelby Hall | Kevin Hammond, Adam Lesniak and Victoria Yagodinski | Caresse Hollendoner
 Andrea Lee | Kegan Main* and Aidan WasherBrooke Maruska* | Katelyn Parsons* | Himani PatelZack PetersonElijah Phillips
Jessica Ramirez | Rebecca RileyBrooklynn Scherer | Brooke SmithBianca Stockmeier* | Paige Swan* | Kalebb Vanfossen | Seth Walley

* Recipients of Sigma Zeta Research Awards

Presentation abstracts will be published here shortly (usually within 24 hours) after they are submitted. (sp,fp,np designate preference for presentation day, however the host chapter makes the final decision on presentation times]

Abstract Submission Form


 

  Breann Adamek 
Poster Session

Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College
Environmental Science
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 13, 2018 (sp)

Lichen Density on Trees of Different Species and Habitats 

Lichen, a symbiotic relationship between fungi and algae, can be an indicator of ecosystem health and change. Lichen is also an important photoautotroph that contributes to nutrient cycling within ecosystems. Our experiment was conducted at Concordia College’s Long Lake field station in Detroit Lakes, MN. Its purpose was to compare the lichen density on Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa) and Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) trees found in forested and open areas. We hypothesized that Bur Oak trees found in open areas will have a higher lichen density than Green Ash trees found in the open areas near Long Lake. Mean percent coverage of lichen on trees was measured for all four cardinal directions through the use of the Braun-Blanquet Method. This method consisted of using a 100 cm2quadrant on the tree trunk, placed a meter above ground surface. The results of the experiment were significant for tree species as well as the interaction of tree species and habitat, but were not significant for habitat type alone. Our hypothesis was supported, though percent coverage was variable between treatment types. Further research is needed in order to determine what tree species and habitat best support the growth of lichen.


 

 Lucendia Adams  Poster Session

Chapter: Beta
McKendree University
Life Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 6, 2018 (np)

Salivary Protein Profiles in Humans: An Investigation of Salivary Proteins in Response to Olfactory Stimuli

Saliva is commonly overlooked as playing a huge role in the digestive system of the human body. It is responsible for protecting the teeth, protecting against microorganisms, and interactions with food and stimulating their breakdown in the first step of the digestive cycle. Although there has been much research done on the effects of taste on salivation responses, the scope of olfactory, or smell, salivation responses and their effects on the content of the saliva has not been studied in the same lengths. This research adresses this hole in previous studies. I subjected 35 participants to four different olfactory stimuli: coffee grounds, honey, jalapenos, and pickles. Each one can be categorized under specific food categories of bitter, sweet, spicy or hot, and sour respectively. Participants were exposed to each stimuli one by one for ten minute intervals, and then were asked to give a saliva sample. These samples were anazlyed for total protein content using a Bradford Assay, and then further analysis  using a 1-D SDS gel and then a Western Blot to quantify the amount of a specific protein present in each sample: alpha amylase.


  Jessica Agama and Hannah Sproull 
Poster Session

Chapter: Beta Eta
Evangel University

Life Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 15, 2018 (fp)

Binding Affinity of CYP4X1 with Arachidonic Acid and Anandamide

Cytochrome P450 enzymes are known to aid in the metabolism of toxins in the body (Nelson 2005). Isoforms of this enzyme found in the liver metabolize toxins, but when found in the brain they typically involved in the biosynthesis of neurosteroids, neurotransmitters (such as dopamine and anamide), and cholesterol (Bylund et al. 2002). CYP4X1 is an P450 that is mainly found in the brain (Stark et al. 2008). It has been hypothesized that CYP4X1 may play a role in neurovascular function (Stark et al. 2008). CYP4X1 is also a potential drug target for cancer therapy (Kumar 2015). Most studies of this protein focus on understanding the physiological function and expression within cells (Bylund et al. 2002; Kumar 2015; Stark et al. 2008). Two substrates have been identified for CYP4X1, arachidonic acid and anandamide (Stark et al. 2008). No binding affinity studies have been performed on this protein yet with either of these substrates. No inhibitors have been identified either.

The purpose of this research is to express the CYP4X1 in E. coli cells and isolate the expressed proteins. The binding affinity of ligands and inhibitors will be determined using an UV/vis binding affinity assay (DeVore et al., 2009). Based on the results of reported catalytic activity, we expect that CYP4X1 will have a greater affinity to the Arachidonic acid ligand. We expect that some thiocyanate containing compounds will inhibit CYP4X1 based on inhibitors of other P450 enzymes. Currently, we are in the process of cloning the CYP4X1 gene into the pCW+ plasmid, a plasmid that has increased the expression levels of other cytochrome P450 enzymes in E. coli. Simultaneously, we are expressing the gene in E. coli JM109 cells using the pET28a plasmid. The expression of CPY4X1 protein in the cells (following the initial introduction of the plasmid) was initiated via the addition of Isopropyl-beta-D-thiogalactoside (IPTG), the cells were then grown for two days at room temperature. Both of these measures are being used for comparison purposed to determine which plasmid is optimal for expressing the most protein. Once enough protein has been expressed and isolated, affinity assays using the protein can be initiated.


 

  Ali Al Saegh Poster Session

Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College
Life Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 24, 2018

Analyzing a Morphologically Unique Allosaurus Specimen

Allosaurus is a genus of large predatory theropod dinosaurs that lived within the late Jurassic period (155 to 150 million years ago). Allosaurus is commonly found within the Morrison Formation throughout the United States. Currently there are four described Allosaurus species including “Big Al.” Big Al is an Allosaurus that was found near Shell, Wyoming and is on display at the University of Montana. We used Big Al’s bone molds to compare various measurements to our specimen’s bones. The Allosaurus specimen we found was uncovered near Shell, Wyoming. We measured the length, width, and circumference of the comparable characteristics of our specimen’s bones. The measurements we collected from the bones were compared to old specimens described within the literature as well as Big Al’s bone measurements. Our specimen collection is made of a brain case, a partial skull, a mandible, a scapula, a coracoid process, and a variety of vertebrae. Through comparisons of our measurements and other specimens, we can conclude that our specimen is either a new species or a variation of Allosaurus.


 

  Rachel Baines 2018 Presenter Image

Chapter: Beta Eta
Evangel University

Life Sciences
Oral Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 15, 2018 (fp)
Presentation Video Link

The Crystal Structure of Dihydrolipoyllysine-Residue Succinyltransferase Component of 2-Oxoglutarate Dehydrogenase Complex

We have solved a 2.6 Angstrom structure of the dihydrolipolyllysine-residue succinyltransgerase component of 2-oxogltarate dehydrogenase complex (SucB) enzyme. SucB is known to participate in the degradation of the amino acid L-lysine. There are multiple copies of SucB that make up the core complex which also contains multiple copies of two other enzymes. Our original aim was to isolate the Human-Airway Trypsin-like protease (HAT) and determine its crystal structure. We inserted the gene for HAT in a pET21a vector and grew in BL21 E. coli cells. Nickle affinity chromatography was used to purify our protein, and we concentrated this purified protein to use in crystallization experiments. We obtained medium sized (100 mm) pyramidal crystals in several crystallization solutions. The protein crystals were collected on small loops and flash cooled in liquid nitrogen. The crystals were sent to the National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford University (SLAC) to collect diffraction data. After analyzing this data, we realized that protein we had isolated was not HAT. In order to determine what our crystals really were, we send samples of the crystals for mass spectrometry at MS Bioworks. Using the proteins from the sample identified by mass spectrometry, trial and error analysis of our data led to a solution with SucB as a model protein. We are currently refining the model of SucB with our experimental data.

*


 

  Samantha Banks Poster Session

Chapter: Rho
University of Indianapolis
Life Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 15, 2018 (fp)

Morphological characteristics of germinal epithelium spermatids in Phrynosoma cornutum, the Texas Horned Lizard

Presently, there is insufficient histological data for spermatid morphology in squamates. There are roughly a dozen species of lizards that have complete ultrastructural data for spermiogenesis, including several species within Sceloporus. These studies have shown that differences can be observed between spermatids within species of the same genus. We wanted to further test the hypothesis that differences exist in spermatid morphology between species within the same family. Therefore, we collected four Phrynosoma cornutum males from Arizona and Texas, 2011. Their testes were extracted and processed with standard TEM techniques. Many of the characteristics of spermiogenesis within P. cornutum are conserved and are very similar in morphology to other sceloporine lizards. These similarities include the development of the acrosome, perforatorium, subacrosomal cone, nuclear rostrum, and epinuclear lucent zone.  However, there were also several differences observed in P. cornutum spermatids that were distinct. They include a wider and more robust perforatorium and an epinuclear lucent zone that is thinner and elongated compared to other phyrnosomatid lizards. The shoulders of the flagellar fossa also have a unique shape compared to all sqamates studied to date. The present results corroborate previous studies and show that although there is morphological conservation within saurian spermatids, character differences between species can be documented.  Further studies on spermiogenesis are necessary in order to evaluate the relevance of these ontogenetic modifications in terms of their significance to amniotic spermatid or spermatozoal phylogenic analysis.


 

  Lauren Barlass Poster Session

Chapter: Alpha Psi
Hillsdale College
Environmental Science
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 15, 2018 (fp)

Determinations of Trace Phosphate Concentrations in Natural Waters Using Flow-Injection Analysis with Absorption Spectrophotometry

The focus of this research was the optimization of a flow-injection analysis (FIA) method for quantifying sub-ppm phosphate concentrations in natural water samples, using the St. Joseph River as a test case. This process involved the mixing of phosphate-containing water with ammonium molybdate to form phosphomolybdenum yellow, which was then reduced by tin (II) chloride to form phosphomolybdenum blue. Recording of the initial absorbance spectra was used in order to find the optimal wavelength and reaction timing at which to record absorbance. The absorbance of the product was recorded via FIA with absorbance detection, and the phosphate concentration in each water sample was determined by comparing the resulting peak height/area to a standard curve. The initial collection and testing of natural water samples showed phosphate levels between 47 μg/L and 145 μg/L, while the collection and testing a month later showed higher levels, ranging from 142 to 350 μg/L. Both sets of measurements indicate that water taken directly downstream from the wastewater treatment plant contains higher phosphate levels than that taken from directly upstream of the plant. Various parameters of the flow-injection method were evaluated for optimization, and an ion-exchange column and conductivity detector were added in order to minimize interferences and provide additional detection. However, the addition of this column was accompanied by a decrease in precision due to increased baseline noise.

 


  Sydney Barron, Charissa Lord, Melissa Gadd, and Noah Holmes Poster Session

Chapter: Beta Eta
Evangel University

Life Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 15, 2018 (fp)

Expression and Purification of Transmembrane Serine Protease 2 (TMPRSS2) to Determine Crystal Structure

Transmembrane serine protease 2 (TMPRSS2) is a protease involved in influenza viral entry into human cells and prostate cancer. Despite the multiple biological applications for inhibition of TMPRSS2, very little is known about the actual three-dimensional structure of this protein. The purpose of this study is to determine the crystal structure of TMPRSS2.  The previous team found that TMPRSS2 is best expressed with a DH5α cell line of E. coli.  After purification with cobalt-affinity chromatography, they used a commercial crystal screen to begin narrowing down the conditions most conducive to the crystallization of TMPRSS2. They had one positive hit with several microcrystals. This past year, the research was continued by expressing TMPRSS2 in DH5α cells. To crystallize this protein, a different screen (Hampton Research Crystal Screen 2) was utilized. This screen only generated several conditions that had microcrystals, which is most likely due to the low concentration of protein used. DH5α fails to consistently produce sufficient quantities of protein; therefore, the cell line JM109 will be used.  Future research includes optimizing crystallization with more concentrated purified protein, analysis through x-ray crystallography, and determination of protein crystal structure.


 

  Randi Block 2018 Presenter Image

Chapter: Alpha Psi
Hillsdale College

Life Sciences
Oral Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 15, 2018 (fp)

An Analysis of Adult Tick Populations and the Prevalence of Spotted Fever Group Rickettsia in Two Rural Michigan Counties

The Michigan department of health and human services identifies five tick species that are known to be present within Michigan.  The most common of these ticks is the dog tick, Dermacentor variabilis, which is a known vector of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Tularemia. The deer tick, Ixodes scapularis, is an emergent species within the state of Michigan with 31 out of 84 counties having a known population as of 2018.  Here, we sampled two counties, Hillsdale and Lake Counties, where the deer tick has a suspected but unconfirmed presence. In May 2017, using a tick drag method, five distinct vegetation types were measured with most ticks being found in tall grassy fields and along the ecotone between deciduous forests and open fields. No ticks were found on mowed grass . We collected 247 ticks between both counties and all were morphologically identified as Dermacentor variabilisIxodes scapularis was not collected from either county. DNA was extracted from each individual.  The Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) was used to investigate the presence/absence of  Spotted Fever Group Rickettsia. Preliminary results indicate that 10.8% (13/120) of individuals in Hillsdale County and approximately 7.2% (8/111) of individuals in Lake County tested positive for SFG rickettsia.


 

  Kristen Bricker  Poster Session

Chapter: Beta Chi
Walsh University
Life Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 11, 2018 (fp) 

Generation of native and mutated pef1/sox18 myc-his expression constructs to determine the impact of amino acid exchange on nuclear localization

 SOX proteins are transcription factors containing a conserved High Mobility Group-box (HMG-box) DNA-binding domain that regulate embryogenesis and tissue maintenance. Mutations often result in cancer, developmental abnormalities, sex reversal, and circulatory dysfunction. Genomic analysis of 20 human SOX genes identified a mutation in the HMG-box of SOX18 that exchanges glutamic acid (E) for lysine (K). Mutation E137K is predicted to modify ability of SOX18 to localize to the nucleus. No literature exists regarding E137K, although it is present in 0.82% of Latino population (as predicted in our analysis). The purpose of this project is to produce native and mutated SOX18 expression constructs to determine if nuclear localization is altered. The hypothesis is: SOX18 proteins encoding the E137K mutation will exhibit reduced nuclear accumulation compared to non-mutated SOX18 expressed in transiently transfected CHO cells. Human SOX18 was cloned into pEF1/Myc-HIS expression vector, followed by site-directed mutagenesis to synthesize pEF1/SOX18-E137K. Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cells were transfected with either native or mutated construct, or control (pEF1/Myc-HIS), in glass chamber slides. After 24hr cells were fixed in methanol, blocked, and SOX18 fusion proteins detected using c-Myc Antibody (9E10) Alexa Fluor® 488 (Santa Cruz Biotechnology, Inc.), diluted 1:800 in blocking solution. CHO were mounted in DAPI-containing medium, and micrographs captured on an Olympus iX51 with DP71 digital camera. Controls showing antibody specificity include CHO transfected with SOX18 incubated with PBS in place of primary antibody. From these trials, it was determined that E137K reduces nuclear localization of SOX18. Future experiments focusing on altered DNA binding and SOX18 homodimerization are underway.


 

  Kelly Chies Poster Session

Chapter: Beta Iota
Bethel University
Physical Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 15, 2018 (fp) 

Exploration of directing and steric effects on electrophilic aromatic substitution reactions of m-xylene: development of a sophomore-level organic chemistry laboratory experiment  

Electrophilic aromatic substitution (EAS) reactions result in the substitution of a hydrogen atom on an aromatic ring with an electrophilic substituent. The regiochemical outcome of EAS reactions is influenced by both the directing effects of the substituent(s) located on the aromatic ring and steric effects. The goal of this research was to develop an exercise that allows sophomore-level organic chemistry students to explore two EAS reactions on a common substrate, meta-xylene, with varying regiochemical outcomes. Students conduct two reactions, 1) the chlorination of meta-xylene and 2) the tert-butylation of meta-xylene. Students use spectroscopic techniques to identify the regiochemical outcome of each reaction. Additionally, molecular modeling techniques are used to analyze the possible reaction intermediates and products. The computational chemistry results support spectroscopic observation that the chlorination of meta-xylene is governed by directing effects, while substitution of a hydrogen for a tert-butyl group is dictated by steric effects.


 

   Karina Cuate and Heather Culbertson 
Poster Session

Chapter: Beta Eta
Evangel University

Life Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 15, 2018 (fp)

Cloning of the Catalytic Domain of Human Airway Trypsin-Like Protease

Influenza infects three to five million people and results in 250,000 to 500,000 deaths each year. The virus is able to evolve from year to year, making it a continuous health concern. The influenza virus propagates by entering cells via cleavage of the influenza protein hemagglutinin. Human airway trypsin-like protease (HAT) and transmembrane protease, serine 2 (TMPRSS2), both serine protease transmembrane II family proteins, are thought to be responsible for the cleavage in this step. Very little information is known about these proteins’ structures and functions, resulting in an additional method of treating influenza undiscovered.

The long-term goal of this project is to determine the role of serine proteases in human disease due to their structures and functions. The protein that this division of this project is investigating is HAT, which consists of a transmembrane helix, non-catalytic domain, and a catalytic domain. The aim of this specific portion of the project is to truncate the catalytic domain of the HAT DNA sequence, express the sequence in Escherichia coli, and verify the sequence. In 2018, the catalytic domain was truncated and cloned, and we are currently in the process of verifying the DNA sequence of the catalytic domain.

 


 

  Talia Dalzell 
Poster Session

Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College
Life Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 14, 2018 (np) 

Injury- and age-dependent increases in Thy-1 in the rat supraoptic nucleus

It is well understood that the mature brain has a reduced capacity for functional or structural reorganization following injury, unlike a younger brain in which axonal sprouting is more prevalent. To this point, following injury, uninjured axons from the supraoptic nucleus (SON) undergo collateral axonal sprouting in the 35-day-old rat, but not in 125-day-old rats. Therefore, it appears that within the SON there are age-related changes that preclude the older rat from recovering following injury. Cell adhesion molecules have been previously demonstrated to play a role in axonal sprouting, both in a stimulatory and inhibitory manner. Thus, we compared protein levels of the integrin family of cell adhesion molecules and the Thy-1 integrin receptor in 35 and 125-day-old SON using Western blot analysis. Our results demonstrated that in the 125-day-old SON, there was a significant increase in Thy-1 protein levels, which is thought to be an anti-sprouting factor. However, in the 35-day-old rat Thy-1 protein levels increased in the injured SON following axotomy. Dual fluorescent studies demonstrated that alpha-v and beta-3 integrin are localized to astrocytes in the SON, suggesting that they may be the receptor for the neuronally-located Thy-1 in the SON. Altogether, our results suggest that the observed increase in Thy-1 protein levels in the SON with age may contribute to an environment that prevents the collateral axonal sprouting in the SON of an older rat.


 

  Brodrick Deno 
Poster Session

Chapter: Rho
University of Indianapolis
Life Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 11, 2018 (fp)

Identifying an unknown Agyneta sp. via DNA sequencing

The identification of spiders to species, especially lesser known groups, is notoriously difficult. The genus Agyneta (Araneae: Linyphiidae) is a widely distributed, largely North American, group of small (1-3 mm) spiders. We collected unknown specimens of Agyneta from multiple habitats in Indiana in 2016 and 2017. In order to properly identify these specimens, we attempted to sequence the COI gene (barcode) from these specimens and compared the sequence to an online barcode database. We determined that the species was Agyneta angulata, a species native to the Eastern United States and one that was recently discovered in Indiana. This study shows the effectiveness of using DNA barcodes to accurately identify spiders that may be difficult to identify with more classical morphological techniques.


   Emma Detloff Poster Session

Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College
Environmental Science
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 15, 2018 (fp)

Comparison of small mammal communities on restored and remnant prairies in Northwestern Minnesota.  

Prairies are one of the most endangered habitats in North America.  There have been numerous restoration efforts of prairie habitat by different private and state organizations in an effort to support and protect native prairie species.  The effects of these restored prairies on small mammal communities are not well studied.  We trapped small mammals on various restored and remnant prairies in northwestern Minnesota during the summer of 2017 (May-July), adding to the ongoing dataset from previous years. We live trapped sites in Becker, Clay, Mahnomen, and Norman counties.  The dominant species caught included Microtus pennsylvanicusPeromyscus spp., and Ictidomys tridecemlineatus; rare species included Myodes gapperi, Zapus hudsonius,Sorex sp., and very rarely Blarina brevicauda.  It appears through data collected that restored and remnant prairies in this area have similar patterns, though proximity of restored sites to remnant sites influences diversity.


  Dianessa Dizon and Beth Ringwelski 
Poster Session

Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College
Environmental Science
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 15, 2018 (fp)

Comparison of Red and Gray Squirrel’s Behavior on an Urban College Campus 

The behavioral patterns of two interacting species of squirrels, red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus), and gray squirrels (Sciurus carolinesis), were observed on Concordia College’s campus in Moorhead, MN. The Competitive Exclusion Principle states that two species are not able to coexist in the same habitat, providing they are competing for the same limiting resource (or resources) in similar ways. This principle may apply to red and gray squirrels since they are potentially competing for a similar food source in the same location. The purpose of this research was to compare and contrast the activity budget of each of the squirrels in order to see if squirrels were differentially using the campus. An ethogram was used to keep track of the contrasting behaviors. The behaviors of the squirrels were observed and recorded every thirty seconds for five minutes. The behaviors observed between the squirrels did differ. The red and gray squirrel behavioral patterns do differ with red squirrels tending to be more behavioral and aggressive. These behavioral differences appear to be related to different foraging patterns and social systems. Thus they appear to be able co-exist by behaviorally partitioning limited resources.  

 


 

  Cory Edwards 2018 Presenter Image

Chapter: Alpha Gamma
Malone University
Computer Science
Oral Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 9, 2018 (fp)

History Modifications to Genetic Algorithm:Remembering Previous Generations’ Structures

Adding history to evolution in computing may be the next step to genetic algorithms. This research explores the idea of adding history to genetic algorithms by having three artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms play against a human in tic tac toe, and observing if the algorithm that is modified with history improves over the normal genetic algorithm. Three AI algorithms were used for testing including random, normal genetic algorithm, and Modified Genetic Algorithm (MGA). These AI will play against 25 opponents five times each. The mode of those five games will be taken as results. The final goal will then be to compare all 25 modes for the three different AI, and see if MGA AI show any substantial improvement to the normal genetic algorithm AI, and the random AI. From this, the paper will discuss the impact of the findings, and then discuss the user experience that those findings would lead to in the game of tic tac toe as well as another area of machine learning.

 


  

  Robin Fettig 
Poster Session

Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College
Life Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 11, 2018 (fp)

 

Validating mEERL EphrinB1 Mutant Clones to Define EphrinB1-Mediated Aggressive Tumor Phenotype

 

Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma (HNSCC) arises in the oral cavity and pharynx regions. Seventy five per cent of cases are caused by excessive, long-term smoking and drinking whereas the other twenty five per cent are instead caused by infection with high risk Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Treatments for Head and Neck cancer include cisplatin and radiation, both of which are invasive and can result in permanent, life-changing affects. Our focus is to define novel therapies that will decrease this morbidity for HNSCC patients. HPV16 E6, one of HPV16’s oncoproteins, interacts with the cellular phosphatase and tumor suppressor PTPN13. This interaction results in the degradation of PTPN13 which also interacts with the ligand EphrinB1 and regulates its phosphorylation. HPV-mediated degradation of PTPN13 results in persistent EphrinB1 phosphorylation. Tumors with high EphrinB1 expression are more aggressive. To mechanistically define how EphrinB1 leads to this aggressive phenotype, we generated and validated tumor cell lines expressing mutants of EphrinB1. 


 

  Marcel Gonzalez and Osvy Rodriguez 2018 Presenter Image

Chapter: Gamma Rho
Miami Dade College
Mathematics
Oral Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 15, 2018 (fp)

Image Segmentation Ensemble Via Clustering

Image segmentation is a primary step in any high-level analysis attempt to automatically understand and interpret the information inside an image. Segmentation can be implemented according to several attributes such as color, texture, and contour. Applications of this task include character recognition, analysis of medical images to detect tumors or damaged tissue, and tracking of objects in a sequence of images. A popular approach to image segmentation is based on clustering, mainly in centroid-based algorithms such as K-means. The main criticism of this approach lies in both: the difficulty to determine the number of regions in which the image should be segmented and the selection of the initial region centers. Cluster ensemble methods have been recently used to face these drawbacks. The first step of this method is the ensemble generation, where the image is segmented by different algorithms, which can be thought of as experts who are solving the problem from their own assumptions and perspectives. And the second step involves a consensus decision-making process to yield the final segmentation. This strategy handles the problems of the number of regions and selection of centers by creating a diverse ensemble. However, minimizing the consensus solution is an expensive computational task. For this reason, we will conduct an experimental study to compare the most common consensus functions. The functions’ suitability will be evaluated by analyzing their compatibility with basic segmentation patterns, which will be exempted from the final solutions. This analysis provides information about the quality of the segmentation and simplifies the optimization of the consensus function. The results of this research will serve to select the method that we will use to further our work with image segmentation in medical applications.


 

  Ruthann Gorrell 2018 Presenter Image

Chapter: Gamma Eta
Marian University
Life Sciences
Oral Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 15, 2018 (fp)

Identification of commercially available antibodies that block ligand-binding by bone morphogenetic protein type 2 receptor

The Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP) signaling pathway comprises the largest subdivision of the Transforming Growth Factor (TGFβ) superfamily. BMP signaling plays essential roles in both embryonic development and postnatal tissue homeostasis. Dysregulated BMP signaling underlies numerous human pathologies ranging from pulmonary arterial hypertension to heterotopic ossification. Thus, understanding the basic mechanisms by which BMP signaling occurs and is regulated is a highly important goal and may yield translational opportunities. Unfortunately, limited tools are available to perform functional evaluation of this pathway, and genetic approaches are frequently confounded by developmental requirements or ability of pathway components to compensate for one another. Specific inhibitors for type 2 receptor are poorly represented. Thus, we sought to identify and validate commercially available antibodies that neutralize the ligand-binding function of BMP Receptor Type 2 (BMPR2) extracellular domain (ECD). Using a modified, cell-free immunoprecipitation assay, we examined the neutralizing ability of the mouse monoclonal antibody 3F6 and found a dose-dependent inhibition of BMPR2-ECD ligand-binding. We examined the ability of 3F6 to block endogenous BMPR2 function in a BMP-responsive cell line and found that, consistent with the results of our cell-free system, pre-treatment of HEK293T cells with 3F6 reduces sensitivity to BMP pathway activation by BMP2. We then evaluated 1F12, which is another mouse monoclonal antibody raised against the ligand-binding region of BMPR2, and found that this antibody is also capable of neutralizing the ligand-binding function of BMPR2-ECD. These results provide important proof-of-concept data for future studies interrogating BMPR2 function in numerous physiological and pathophysiological contexts.


 

   Amanda Hall and TJ Register 2018 Presenter Image

Chapter: Beta Tau
Gardner-Webb University
Environmental Science
Oral Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 19, 2018 (sp)

Teach a Man to Fish: The Sigma Zeta Haiti Fish Farm and Solar-Powered Electrical System

During the 2014-15 and 2016-17 school years, Sigma Zeta students at GWU undertook a significant service-learning project installing a solar-powered electrical system and building a fish farm in Haiti, the most impoverished country in the west. The fish farm was completed during the summer of 2015 and began operation to provide a valuable protein-rich source of food at a 60-bed orphanage north of Port-Au-Prince in the village of Minoterie, a sea-side mill town lacking public schools, running water, or a reliable
source of electricity. Beyond providing food for the orphanage, the fish farm will provide training for orphans in skills related to aquaculture and management. It also will provide a modest source of income for the orphanage selling excess fish. The solar powered electrical system was installed during the summer of 2017 and provides electricity for the orphanage to provide light and to power food storage refrigeration.

GWU Sigma Zeta students took leadership roles in all aspects of the project, from learning biology, growth and reproductive traits of fish, aquaculture techniques involving site selection, water source and quality, aeration, economics, and the fund raising aspects for financing such an undertaking. The experience of international travel in a third world country, learning the society, and figuring out how to make things happen in such a culture will be discussed.

This presentation will give a project overview and discuss the aspects for successfully implementing a service-learning project of this scale, including raising money, which involved engagement across campus in promoting and heightening awareness of the poverty produced by centuries of slavery, political corruption, manipulation, and the ongoing exploitation of a people by international corporations. We will discuss aspects of the partnership model that led to our success along with the program design that served to motivate student participation. Students involved in the project will give their perspectives on motivating aspects that led them to engage in the process of learning, leading, raising money, and traveling to a difficult place. Partnerships with other Sigma Zeta chapters interested in working on this project with us will be discussed.


 

  Shelby Hall 
Poster Session

Chapter: Beta
McKendree University
Physical Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 7, 2018 (np)

Effects of Dopants (N & P) and Synthesis Conditions on the Size and Quantum Yield of Carbon Quantum Dots

Quantum dots (QD) have numerous applications across various fields including biomedical, optics, electronics, replacements for dyes, and energy sources. When QDs are exposed to light, their electrons in the valence band become excited and move to the conduction band leaving a hole behind; as the electrons return to the valence band, fluorescence occurs. Recently, a new type of QDs, coined as carbon quantum dots (CQDs), has been the focus of research in this field. Conventional QDs are made with heavy metal combinations—such as CdSe, PbSe, PbS, and InAs—whereas CQDs are made by carbonization of organic compounds. CQDs are more efficient and have a considerably lower toxicity and cost less than their heavy metal counterparts. Additionally, they have a high quantum yield and their fluorescence can easily be manipulated. The emission color of CQDs is tunable due to the variation in band gaps based on the size of the quantum dot. Smaller particles have a larger energy band gap, which leads to shorter fluorescence wavelengths. In the first part of this study, synthesis conditions of CQDs have been varied to see the effect on fluorescence wavelength and to optimize the fluorescence intensity. IN the second part, the CQDs are prepared by doping with nitrogen and phosphorous to observe the variation in fluorescence wavelength Due to instrumentational limitations, a constant excitation wavelength of 405 is used for all trials.  


 

  Kevin Hammond, Adam Lesniak and Victoria YagodinskiPoster Session

Chapter: Gamma Eta
Marian University
Life Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 15, 2018 (fp)

Manipulation of drug lipophilicity as a strategy to combat vancomycin-resistant Enterococci

Increasing bacterial resistance in clinical settings has recently prompted urgent investigation into finding antibiotic compounds that inhibit novel pathways in bacteria. Among these resistant bacteria, vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE) is one of the most prominent, having developed resistance to the commonly-used vancomycin. The discovery of novel antibiotics has recently slowed while antibiotic resistance has accelerated, creating a healthcare crisis for treating bacterial infections. Rifampicin has the potential to be one such novel compound. Rifampicin can effectively in treat resistant enterococcal infections, particularly in combination with other antibiotics. Rifampicin acts by inhibiting bacterial RNA polymerase, meaning it must cross the cell membrane to be effective. This suggests that strategies that help effectively target this drug may improve its efficacy. While not feasible for many compounds, increasing the lipophilicity of some drugs may improve their membrane permeability. This research aims to increase the sensitivity of antibiotic-resistant bacteria to rifampicin through drug lipophilicity modulation. We have shown the feasibility of this approach by demonstrating a sensitivity increase in E. coli to tunicamycin. However, tunicamycin does not show significant resistance patterns in bacteria, and E. coli is sensitive to most antibiotics. Thus, a study validating these preliminary results in a relevant model such as VRE is necessary to determine if lipophilicity modification is a viable method of increasing antibiotic efficacy. To test this hypothesis, we first optimized a standard turbidity assay to quantitatively measure its correlation with overall culture viability. We tested the effect of varying concentrations of vancomycin-inoculated cultures, rifampicin-inoculated cell cultures, and liposome-encapsulated rifampicin-inoculated cultures on VRE viability. We hypothesized that the average turbidity value of VRE cultures inoculated with liposome-encapsulated rifampicin would be significantly lower than that of VRE cultures inoculated with vancomycin, indicating a more effective antibiotic treatment. 


 

 Caresse Hollendoner 
Poster Session

Chapter: Beta
McKendree University
Life Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: January 15, 2018 (sp)

The Effect of Rarity on Plant-Pollinator Communities

Pollinators are key factors in the maintenance of ecosystem stability, in addition to our food supply. Specifically, bees are responsible for approximately 35% of the global food production (Sapir et al., 2015). Within Illinois, native bee populations have declined by 50% due to multiple anthropogenic factors, especially habitat loss (Sapir et al., 2015). Prairies are an important habitat for bees, but less than 1% of these ecosystems remain (Holland et al., 2013). While prairie restorations provide bees with crucial habitat, they often have limited plant diversity via homogenous seed mixes (Harmon-Threatt and Hendrix, 2015), which may not provide sufficient sustenance for bees and consequently plant reproduction success. Diverse seed mixes with more representation of plants from different rarity levels might increase success of prairie restorations by providing more diverse pollen sources capable of supporting a greater range of bee species. To determine if rare, non-dominant, and dominant plant species have different levels of pollen limitation or differ in their ability to support a diverse range of bees, I sampled bee communities visiting plants of differing rarity and conducted a pollen limitation experiment on three species of plants in a prairie restoration in southern Illinois May-July 2017. The experiment indicated that dominant plant species supported a more diverse range of bee species, and pollen limitation decreased with increasing plant dominance. These findings reveal that seed mixes should include plant species that have greater bee species associations. Rare plant species also had bee visitations from species that did not visit dominant or non-dominant plant species. Thus, rare plant species are also vital for the stability and success of prairie restorations. Rare plant species may have coevolved with specific bee species; therefore, maintaining these coevolved relationships are critical for plant reproduction success and pollinator survival. Land management techniques should evaluate prairie restorations as individual entities to create customized seed mixes, thereby potentially increasing the probability of successful restorations. Based on my findings, future research should consist of an evaluation of rare plant species traits and interactions with pollinators, as well as how pollinator behavior might vary with disturbance (fire).


 

  Andrea Lee Poster Session

Chapter: Alpha Psi
Hillsdale College
Life Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 15, 2018 (fp)

Treatment Practices and Survival in Older Adults with Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Controversy exists regarding whether high-intensity (such as 7+3) versus low-intensity (such as hypomethylating agent or low-dose cytarabine) therapy represents an optimal therapy for older patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Some retrospective studies have demonstrated an overall survival advantage with high-intensity therapy, while others including a prospective study failed to confirm these results.1–3 Although somewhat arbitrary, several factors influence patients’ and physicians’ choices of therapy selection. In this context, a single-center retrospective study was performed at the University of Nebraska Medical Center to determine treatment practices in older patients with AML. Treatment practices varied mainly based on age: specifically those of age less than 70 years were more likely to receive high-intensity therapy. Type of therapy influenced survival as high-intensity therapy correlated to longer overall survival. Type of therapy was found to be independently associated with overall survival after adjusting for age, time period and Karnofsky score; however, other selection bias including patients’ preference and physicians’ judgment were not adjusted for. 


 

  Brooke Maruska 2018 Presenter Image

Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College
Environmental Science
Oral Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 13, 2018 (fp)

Characterization of squirrel leaf nests and documentation of flying squirrel presence on an urban college campus

Concordia College’s campus in Moorhead, Minnesota is home to two diurnal tree squirrels, gray (Sciurus carolinensis) and red (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) squirrels.  Additionally, there are northern flying squirrels (Glaucomys sabrinus) on campus. One factor that might serve as a limiting resource for campus squirrels could be nesting sites, particularly over the winter months. A total of 13 flying squirrel trapping sessions were conducted over a 2-month period that involved the use of two different trapping methods and six trapping stations. Over half of the trapping sessions were successful in trapping uncollared gray and red squirrels, as well as the first northern flying squirrel on Concordia College campus. Squirrel nest characterization of 27 leaf nests was then conducted around Concordia College campus. On average, there were 1.2 leaf nests found in each tree that possessed a nest. Average nest height was 3.4 meters and average branch coverage was 72.5%, which is also indicative of total leaf coverage during the spring and summer months. We performed spatial mapping and analysis of squirrel leaf nests on Concordia College campus.


 

  Kegan Main and Aidan Washer Poster Session

Chapter: Gamma Eta
Marian University
Life Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 14, 2018 (fp) 

The Effect of Nitric Oxide via L-Arginine Supplementation on Keratinocyte Proliferation 

When there is an epithelial wound, multiple factors signal epithelial keratinocyte migration at the wound edges, triggering a proliferative burst as keratinocytes fill the wound bed and replace lost cells. With almost 50 million inpatient surgeries performed in the US per year and countless non-surgical epithelial abrasions occurring in everyday life, there is a large population that would benefit from therapeutic improvements to re-epithelialization.  Previous research has shown nitric oxide (NO) to be involved in the signaling pathways regulating keratinocyte proliferation. However, there is currently a lack research on utilizing NO as a natural, non-immunogenic, factor to induce re-epithelialization.  If such a connection was found, this pathway could be used to increase the rate of re-epithelialization, decrease patient healing time, and decrease overall patient cost. To test this, we exposed keratinocytes to differing levels of L-Arginine, stimulating intracellular production of NO through the iNOS pathway. We hypothesized that keratinocyte proliferation would increase with an increase in exogenous levels of L-Arginine and subsequently NO. We assessed keratinocyte proliferation via an MTT Tetrazolium assay, and examined the viability of the keratinocytes after treatment. Our preliminary results show a dose-dependent response from the keratinocytes to L-arginine , with an initial decrease in proliferation that is compensated at high levels of L-arginine, where we observe an increase in proliferation occurring when compared to the negative control. This novel approach to drive re-epithelialization through enhanced keratinocyte proliferation has the potential to positively impact treatment of wounds in a variety of clinical contexts.


 

   Katelyn Parsons 2018 Presenter Image

Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College
Environmental Science
Oral Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 12, 2018 (fp)

Differentiation between Elodea canadensis and Elodea nuttallii using known ITS DNA sequences and morphological characteristics

Elodea canadensis (Hydrocharitaceae) and E. nuttallii are two species of aquatic plants that are native to North America and invasive in Europe. Although, E. nuttallii is known to have longer thinner leaves compared to the broad short leaves of E. canadensis, both phenotypic plasticity and in some cases hybridization can make the two species nearly indistinguishable. Due to the closely related phenotypes of these two species, identification in the field has proved to be a problem. Therefore, the goal of our project is to determine an effective way to differentiate between the two species which could quickly identify them in the field making control of the species in their invasive environment simpler. This is important because as an invasive species, E. canadensis and E. nuttallii are outcompeting native plants, impeding water flow and causing the eutrophication of lakes. To assess their phenotypes, samples were collected in their native range, Minnesota, and their invasive range, France and Germany to compare morphological characteristics associated with the two species. So far, leaf length to width ratio, leaf full angle and leaf width 0.5 mm from the apex have stood out as the most effective way to differentiate between the two species based on statistical analysis of the data already collected. DNA analysis of the ITS regions 1 and 2 is used to confirm species identifications and identify whether the morphological characters are adequate for species identification. DNA of plants has been extracted and will be analyzed to help us determine the most accurate characteristics to use for differentiation. This method has proved effective in European populations of E. canadensis and E. nuttallii. However, our research is the first to identify Elodea species in North America based on morphological and molecular characteristics.


 

   Himani Patel Poster Session

Chapter: Beta
McKendree University
Physical Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 13, 2018 (fp)

Comparative study of Alkaloids and Antioxidants in Tinospora cordifolia and Withania somnifera

Tinospora cordifolia and Withania somnifera are herbs known for their therapeutic effects. The stem and root powders of these plants are commonly used as traditional medicine in India. Even though these two plants have very similar classes of active compounds, they serve distinctive medicinal purposes. Withania somnifera, well known of the two powders, has been commercially used to extract adaptogens while Tinospora c. is traditionally used as a fever reliever. Both plants contain alkaloids which are known to be responsible for anti-inflammatory effects. Therefore, this project is aimed to quantify the alkaloids in each powder and investigate if any correlation exists between their alkaloid quantities and antioxidant activities. The plant extracts are obtained by refluxing, the dried stem and root powders in acidic medium, 3 times for 30 minutes each time. Isolation of polar alkaloids from the crude filtrate is done using Solid Phase Extraction. FT-IR is used to confirm the presence of alkaloids in the aqueous fractions obtained from SPE. Quantification of total and polar alkaloids is achieved by UV-vis spectrophotometry. This work is the first in extraction and quantification of alkaloids with the same method for a direct comparison of these two herbs to aid an understanding of their relative therapeutic effects. 


 

  Zack Peterson 2018 Presenter Image

Chapter: Beta Iota
Bethel University
Life Sciences
Oral Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 15, 2018 (fp) 

NBCe1Mutations, Function, and Trafficking

The electrogenic Na+/HCO3‑ cotransporter (NBCe1/SLC4A4) is a transmembrane protein which forms obligate dimers in the basolateral membrane of renal proximal tubule. NBCe1 absorbs filtered and renally synthesized HCO3‑ and therefore is vital for systemic pH balance. Recessive human NBCe1 mutations cause proximal renal tubular acidosis. We identified a novel human NBCe1 mutation [G (Gly)→E (Glu), (G::E)], but cellular manifestations of G::E is unknown. This project is to determine the biology of G::E-NBCe1 (a) does G::E show some NBCe1-function, (b) does G::E traffic to the plasma membrane, or (c) is there a combined or different malfunction. We expressed wild-type NBCe1 (WT) and mutations in Xenopus oocytes measured NBCe1 function (HCO3‑ elicited current, INBC) using 2-electrode voltage-clamp. Our results revealed that G::E in mammalian epithelial cells decreases native function implying a dominant-negative effect. Since E and R mutations have opposite charges, but similar INBC effects, we used site-directed mutagenesis to test if steric hindrance at this site (G::L and G::W) might control NBCe1-function. Using an extracellular-HA-tag and Chemiluminescence, we followed NBCe1 plasma membrane expression. These data indicate that protein trafficking partially accounts for altered NBCe1-function, but not complete INBC -loss nor the dominant-negative effect in mammalian cells. Future studies will coexpress WT with G::E or G::R to determine if the dominant negative phenotype is also observed in Xenopus oocytes. These mechanistic results will allow more directed control of NBCe1 in the kidney and other tissues for which NBCe1 function is critical.


 

  Elijah Phillips

Poster Session

Chapter: Beta
McKendree University
Environmental Science
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 15, 2018 (fp)

Determination of Chlorine Levels Within Tap Water Samples of Southern Illinois 

The addition of chlorine to tap water is a necessary precaution that can also have detrimental effects if the levels of chlorine exceed certain amounts or if the amount of chlorine added is too small. The addition of chlorine to water helps to ensure the health of the public by neutralizing dangerous bacteria and viruses that can be present within water. If too low amounts of chlorine were added, then health hazards associated with the water would be present for the public because not all of the bacteria and viruses would be neutralized. If too much chlorine is added to the water then the chlorine can be damaging to the health of the public. This project aims to quantify total, free, and combined chlorine amounts within tap water from different areas of Southern Illinois. Total chlorine is the chlorine that is initially added to the water. This chlorine will either merge with nitrogen present within the water to form chloramines or be left over as free chlorine. The chlorine that merges with nitrogen will form into one of the three types of chloramines that are present within water which are monochloramine, dichloramine, or trichloramine. These chloramines are typically referred to as combined chlorine within tap water. Free chlorine and combined chlorine can be summed to give your total chlorine amount. Free chlorine is present within water to prevent contaminants from infecting the water after the inital addition of chlorine has been made. Total chlorine is determined by using an iodometric titration with a starch indicator. Free and combined chlorine will both be determined using a ferrous ammonium sulfate titration with a N,N-diethyl-p-phenylenediamine indicator. Another goal of this project will be to use the determined amount of combined chlorine to indicate which environmental factors, such as farming or industry cause a greater increase in nitrogen in the water. 

 


 

  Jessica Ramirez 2018 Presenter Image

Chapter: Sigma
Our Lady of the Lake University
Life Sciences
Oral Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 9, 2018 (fp)

Testing Red-Eared Slider Turtles for Ranavirus in Elmendorf Lake

 

Around the world there has been a significant decrease in amphibian populations. Amphibians are indicator species in aquatic environments, meaning that they indicate the quality of the water by using their skin in gas exchange.  Previous research has found the reason for this decline in amphibians has been the ranavirus, which accounts for 43% of die-offs. Ranavirus is a double stranded DNA virus that affects ectothermic vertebrates. The virus is known to have major die-offs in amphibian larvae. However, there has been research that discusses the transmission of the virus to amphibians through red-eared slider turtles in their habitat. Red-eared slider turtles can indirectly transmit the virus to frog species by contact in their environments. The research that will be conducted test red-eared slider turtles (Trachemys scripta elegans) for the ranavirus. Findings will be analyzed to determine that red-eared slider turtles that test positive for ranavirus are correlated to a decrease of frogs in Elmendorf lake. Turtles will be collected in turtle traps placed along the bank of Elmendorf Lake. Once turtles are caught they will be weighed and any physical abnormalities will be recorded. The carapace of the turtle will be swabbed with a sterile, cotton tip applicator and stored in 70% ethanol. Once the samples have been collected, a polymerase chain reaction will be used to amplify the DNA and an electrophoresis of the DNA will display the base pairs. The samples will be tested against a negative or blank control. This research will determine if the ranavirus is present in the San Antonio area, specifically Elmendorf Lake, and would give us some insight as to why there is a decrease of frogs in the lake. It will also allow us to predict the impact that a decrease in frogs would have on our community.


  Rebecca Riley 
Poster Session

Chapter: Rho
University of Indianapolis
Life Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 15, 2018 (fp)

Analysis of cellular morphological changes in Saponaria officinalis

Saponaria officinalis is an angiosperm that produces flowers that undergo morphological changes in petal size, shape, and color, while transitioning from a male to female reproductive phase. The focus of this research study was to investigate the cellular mechanisms by which these changes occur. Petals were collected from flowers in male and female phases on plants growing in a disturbed site in Indianapolis. Epidermal peels were obtained from each petal and mounted on microscope slides. The cells in view were measured to determine the cell size and number as well as pigment distribution among the samples. The variables selected to test these differences include medium, gender, side of petal (top or bottom), and area (proximal or distal) on the petal. Preliminary data has shown male flowers to exhibit smaller cell size compared to female flowers as well as adaxial cells exhibiting larger cell size compared to abaxial cells. An increase in pigment accumulation was evident within the cells of petals from female phase flowers compared to male phase, resulting in the pink color seen in female phase flowers. Plasmolyzing the cells by mounting the tissue in saline helped demonstrate the pigments are mostly concentrated in water vacuoles of epidermal cells. Investigating the cellular mechanisms behind these morphological changes gives insight on how these changes impact the plant metabolically. If these changes are metabolically costly, it can be inferred these morphological changes offer an appropriate rise in plant fitness to outweigh these costs in order for natural selection to maintain them. 


 

  Brooklynn Scherer  Poster Session

Chapter: Beta Chi
Walsh University
Science Education
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 11, 2018 (fp)

Investigation of the Impact of Learning Community Immersion on Chemical Hazard Communication Awareness, Knowledge and Commitment to Best Practices

Learning communities are considered high impact practices (HIPs) which are reported to induce deeper learning and greater commitment to training principles. This study will compare the effectiveness of chemical hazard training and student commitment to best practices as a consequence of exposure to standard “in-lab” content lectures and quizzes versus immersion in a chemical hazards communication learning community setting. This comparison will be done with freshmen college students enrolled in first year chemistry labs. Surveys measuring chemical hazard awareness, knowledge and commitment to best practices will be constructed and delivered prior to and following structured chemical hazards training within lab and/or within a learning community. This project will focus on developing and testing first stages of such assessment with a rubric-based approach and embedded, extended, lecture based training in first year college both including and excluding a formal chemical hazards learning community. Correlation analyses and other parametric statistics will be done to study the data. It is becoming increasingly more important to upgrade chemical hazard education in undergraduate chemistry programs as the use of chemicals advances and chemical hazards become more prevalent. The results indicate [the research has not concluded, but is underway]. It is predicted that this study may provide evidence for universities to encourage the use of learning communities to train chemical hazard practices during first year science studies and beyond in order to properly educate the professionals of the future.


 

  Brooke Smith Poster Session

Chapter: Pi
Millikan University
Life Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 13, 2018 (fp)

Locating and characterizing agglutinin-like sequence (ALS) genes in Candida metapsilosis

Many of the pathogenic yeast species that infect humans belong to the Candida genus.  While Candida albicans is the most common and best understood species in this genus, other species are becoming more prevalent with the widespread use of antifungal agents.  One such species, Candida metapsilosis, has only recently been recognized as its own species, having previously been grouped with Candida orthopsilosis and Candida parapsilosis.  Since then, efforts have been made to sequence the genome of C. metapsilosis and better understand its virulent properties.  One important virulent characteristic is the ability to adhere to host cells, which has been attributed to the presence of agglutinin-like sequence (ALS) genes that are known to encode adhesins in C. albicans.  In this study, the C. metapsilosis genome was analyzed and potential ALS genes were located.  Three ALS genes were found and amplified in the type strain, and the products were sequenced to confirm size and find allelic variation.  The genes were also amplified in four additional C. metapsilosis strains to determine variability between strains, however, no variation was observed between the strains tested.  The results of this study could be used in the development of an antifungal drug that targets the ALS gene family to treat yeast infections. 


 

  Paige Swan 
Poster Session

Chapter: Gamma Eta
Marian University
Life Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 13, 2018 (np) 

Effects of available L-Arginine on β-Amyloid plaque formation in C. elegans model of Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology is associated with the accumulation of β-amyloid (Aβ) plaques within the brain and aggregated tau within neurons. Formation of these plaques and subsequent neuronal death has been shown to be related to arginine levels in neural tissue [5]. Research on AD pathology also demonstrates a key role of the enzyme ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) and its subsequent pathway in Aβ development [8], further supporting an integral role of free arginine. This suggests a potential opportunity to regulate the formation of Aβ plaques via control of available arginine in neural tissue. We used transgenic C. elegans which expresses human-like Aβ plaques. In this model, after a upshift in temperature, a muscle-specific accumulation of Aβ plaques occurs and the muscle specific expression leads to paralysis of worms, providing a clear phenotypic interpretation of increasing AD pathology. To test the role of arginine within this model, we altered the available arginine through altering the growth media concentrations and administered DFMO, a known a known irreversible inhibitor of ODC [8]. Through this, we regulated arginine concentrations via direct inhibition of its depletion. Both of these methods will be tested by scoring individual nematode paralysis as a readout of Aβ plaque formation. We hypothesized that supplemental arginine and DFMO in thegrowth media will cause a delay in paralysis after temperature upshift when compared to worms on growth media without additional arginine or DFMO.  Data from our initial experimentation indicates that DFMO treatment and supplemental arginine delays paralysis due to plaque buildup in the C. elegans model. Statistical analysis and discussion of this data further supports the role of arginine in Aβ formation in our transgenic model. These results demonstrate an integral role of arginine in Aβ formation, leading to further potential for regulation of this pathology.


 

  Bianca Stockmeier  Poster Session

Chapter: Gamma Eta
Marian University
Life Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 15, 2018 (fp) 

Low Doses of Actinomycin D Selectively Inhibit Cancer Cells with Nucleolar Amplification

Actinomycin D (ActD) is an antibiotic which inhibits cell proliferation and was historically used for the treatment of cancer. However, at high therapeutic doses ActD was also toxic with many side effects, contributing to its eventual disuse in the clinic. In low doses, ActD selectively inhibits nucleolar functions. Many aggressive cancer cells have amplification of their nucleoli, suggesting that they may also be more sensitive to low doses of ActD.  

We hypothesized that low doses of ActD would more potently inhibit viability and nucleolar function in cells with many nucleoli compared to cells with lower nucleolar density. To test this hypothesis, we compared two commonly used laboratory cells lines, HeLa and 293T. We chose these cell lines as they are well-characterized models for cell culture and have similar growth and proliferation rates. We first assessed their nucleolar occupancy by calculating the nucleolar-to-nuclear ratio (No/Nu) for each. A GFP-tagged construct of the resident nucleolar protein fibrillarin (FBL) was transfected into each cell line and visualized with nuclear co-staining. HeLa cells contained an average of 3.2 No/Nu, while 293T cells had an average of 2.1 No/Nu. This indicated these cells were a viable representative model for our studies. ActD has previously been shown to deplete nucleolar proteins and induce their translocation to the nucleoplasm. Upon treatment with a low dose of ActD, we saw pronounced relocation of FBL to the nucleoplasm in HeLa cells, while 293T cells showed only little to no response. Perhaps most striking, the same low dose of ActD more than doubled the rate of cell death in HeLa cells compared to vehicle control while 293T cells showed little to no difference in viability.  

Together, these data suggest that there is a direct correlation between nucleolar density and ActD sensitivity. While this needs to be further verified in additional cell lines, it suggests that through individualized screening and targeting we may be able to repurpose effective but toxic drugs to provide novel therapeutic options in oncology.

 


 

  Kalebb Vanfossen 2018 Presenter Image

Chapter: Rho
University of Indianapolis
Physical Sciences
Oral Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 15, 2018 (fp)

Forensic Analysis of Gunshot Residue by Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry

 

In my project, I am investigating a possible link between trace organics formed during gunfire and if there is specificity to the barrel length of the weapon. This investigation is done using an Agilent headspace sampled, gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy device. In this research the independent variables will be two different barrel length pistols, and two different ammunition brands. The dependent variable being tested for is the qualitative formation of organics. If one was trying to make an exothermic chemical reaction proceed, a way to do that is to put the reactants under heat and pressure. If the barrel of the weapon is treated as a reaction vessel, with ammunition held constant, the major change in the reaction from one weapon to another is the amount of time the substrate is under the reaction conditions. Practically, this is while the bullet is still moving in the barrel and the expanding gas is contained. The hypothesis is that the formation of distinct organics is specific to the reaction vessel, or in this case barrel length, they originated. To test this, spent casing were placed into a headspace sampler to elute the trace organics into the gas phase. Most residue molecules are non-volatile at ambient conditions and for this technique must be influenced into the gas phase. It was discovered that target molecules tended to expansively react in the gas phase, and careful method development was needed. The significance of this research is, if an investigator was unable to recover the weapon used but could obtain some of the gunshot residues from the scene, it could at least suggest the size of the gun used in the crime. The ability to quantify a pattern of recovered residue would even further enhance the forensic applicability of this technique.  Future investigation will focus on the quantification of the recovered residues and refinement of collection methodology.    


 

  Seth Walley 2018 Presenter Image

Chapter: Gamma Kappa
Southwest Baptist University
Life Sciences
Oral Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 18, 2018 (sp)

Bioinformatics in Practice: Annotating Drosophila elegans

The goal of this project was to annotate contig 63 of D. elegans, a fosmid containing a 40kb region of the 4th chromosome.  This included identifying genes and mapping promoter regions, transcriptional start sites and intron/exon boundaries.  Three genes, Mitf, Dyrk3 and Arf102F were identified and annotated. This study was carried out as part of the Genomic Education Partnership (GEP). In this session we will examine several bioinformatics tools and see how they were used to annotate the contig. All the databases and programs used in this research were accessed online for free and are available for general use.