2012 National Convention Presentations


Presentation Abstracts (Poster Abstracts below)

Maureen Brown
Chapter: Beta Upsilon
Marygrove College
Submitted March 16

A Study In Forensic Science: The Reliability and Match Rate of Bite Mark Analysis Produced In Dental Wax, Floral Foam, and Styrofoam

One of the duties of the Forensic Odontologist (Dentist) is to analyze bite mark evidence found on a victim or at a crime scene. Bite mark analysis is the most common form of evidence presented in the court of law by a forensic odontologist. Many studies have been conducted to validate the individuality and uniqueness of the human dentition. The purpose of this study was to determine the reliability of an examiner to match a bite mark made in dental wax, floral foam and styrofaom to a dental model of a suspect and are the results reproducible. Two groups of examiners were chosen to participate; fifteen forensic science students and seven dental professionals. The overall match rate determined for the dental wax was 59%,styrofoam was 41% and floral foam was 4%. The forensic science students had a match rate of 53% for dental wax, 40% for styrofoam and 6% for floarl foam, while the dental professionals had a match rate of 71% for dental wax, 43% for styrofoam and 0% for floral foam. The data suggests that the reliability of matching the correct suspect to a bite mark is reproducible amongst examiners, however, dental professionals have a higher success rate.


Stephanie Gates
Chapter: Pi
Millikin University 
Submitted March 9

Blocking tissue transglutaminase cross-linking in celiac disease with designed blocking peptides

Tissue transglutaminase is an enzyme that catalyzes covalent cross-linking of primary amines or proteins, which is an important role in the small intestine inflammation of celiac disease patients. This enzyme increases binding of gluten proteins, such as gliadin, with the HLA-DQ2 or HLA-DQ8 genes, which are responsible for introducing these proteins to T cells that cause inflammation of the intestine. A possible method for preventing this cascade of events could be by using blocking peptides that bind gliadin, preventing the cross-linking between gliadin and tTG. Four peptides were designed for this purpose and successfully synthesized by the method of solid phase peptide synthesis, with the following amino acid sequences: WHWRNPDFWYLKW, WHWRNPDFWYL, WGWRNPDFWYLK, WHGRNPDFWYLK. An enzyme assay was done to evaluate the reduction in tTG activity due to the blocking effects of the designed peptides, and reduction was noted with two of the peptides.

Krysta J. Haggins, Shobha Potlakayala, Imran Hussain, PC Josekutty and Sairam Rudrabhatla
Chapter: Beta Upsilon
Marygrove College
Submitted March 12

Improving Stress Tolerance in Camelina sativa

Camelina sativa is a spring planted annual oilseed crop that can be grown in cold and marginal lands.(4) Containing 30-40% oil yield, having a low input for production, and rapid growth season of 85-100 days (from germination to harvest), Camelina has become potential important source of biofuel. Though it can be grown in colder seasons and has little tolerance to drought in summer months making it susceptible to abiotic stress.(3) Providing that Camelina's stress tolerance can be improved, research has been done to successfully incorporate S-Adenosylmethionine decarboxylase (SAMdC), a drought and cold tolerant gene, to improveCamelina's stress tolerance. To do this, 6 agrobacterium-mediated transformations were performed with three liquid bacteria cultures containing three separate genes: beta-Glucuronidase (GUS), a scorable maker that stains blue if the gene is present; green florescent protein (GFP), fluoresces green under UV light; and SAMdC, gene of interest to enhance cold and drought tolerance. Explants (cotyledons/ young leaves) from the transformation were co-cultivated, washed, and subcultured for expected results of callus, shoot, and root regeneration of a enhanced stress tolerant transgenic plant.


Dan Klemme
Chapter: Beta Iota
Bethel University
Submitted March 15

Lithium in a Magneto-Optical Trap

We recently cooled and trapped 107 neutral Lithium atoms in a magneto-optical trap. Our laser source is a home-built external cavity diode laser at 671 nm and a semiconductor tapered amplifier. Acousto-optic modulators are used to generate five different laser detunings that are necessary for repumping between hyperfine states in the trapping and slowing laser beams. The laser is locked by phase-sensitive detection of fluorescence produced by a frequency-modulated laser beam incident normal to the lithium atomic beam. The laser is tuned to the 2S(1/2} (F=2) -> 2P(3/2)(F') D2 transition. Two coils of wire with 100 amps of current flowing through them in a reverse-Helmholtz orientation generate the magnetic field gradient whose magnitude increases from zero with distance from the center of the trap. The lithium is initially heated in a separate "oven" chamber to a temperature of 460 degrees Celsius so that it vaporizes in the 10-8 torr vacuum environment. An aperture collimates the gaseous lithium into a beam as it goes into the trap. We describe a few preliminary measurements on the trapped atoms such as temperature, atom number, and loading/unloading times. We plan to use the trap to do high- resolution, cold atom spectroscopy in the near future.


Madeline Knott
Chapter: Pi
Millikin University 
Submitted February 25

Escherichia coli Killing Ability of Illinois Feeder Birds

In wild birds, little is known about the ability of various species to fight infection. A crucial part of any organisms' immune function is the content and quality of the diet. The immune function of three year-round resident Illinois species - Tufted Titmouse, Northern Cardinal, and White-breasted Nuthatch - were assessed both before the presence of bird feeders with bird seed and after the introduction of bird feeders filled with bird seed. Innate immune function was measured based on the E. coli bacteria killing ability (BKA) of blood samples taken from birds. There was a significant increase in BKA of birds captured of some species before feeders and after feeders were placed at sites. This showed that immune system benefits can be seen when food is provided to wild birds.


Christina Nowicki and Paula Soneral
Chapter: Beta Iota
Bethel University
Submitted February 21

The Effect of Aspartame on Integrin-Mediated Cell Adhesion to the Extracellular Matrix in Human Kidney Epithelial Cells

Integrin-mediated cell adhesion is vital for a variety of cellular processes including signaling, proliferation, and motility. These transmembraneproteins consist of alpha and beta subunits that recognize arginine-glycine-aspartic acid motifs in the extracellular matrix. The anti-diabetic drug, aspartame, possesses a similar dipeptiderecognition sequence and was previously shown to differentially regulate genes in cell adhesion signaling pathways. In this study, aspartame-treated kidney cells were quantitatively assayed for adhesion to substrata in a dose-response format. Results showed no significant difference in the percentage of viable cell attachment, suggesting that soluble aspartame does not inhibit cell adhesion to the extracellular matrix. However, the number of focal contacts for aspartame-treated cells demonstrated a significant dose-dependent increase compared to untreated cells. To test whether focal contact formation is mediated by integrinreceptors, we used an Elisa-based assay to screen for differential surface expression of alpha and beta integrins. Notably, the 2 and 51 subunits showed a reproducible upregulationof protein expression for treated cells compared to untreated cells. Taken together, these data suggest that soluble aspartame stimulates the formation of focal adhesions through some members of the integrinfamily of transmembrane receptors, but does not competitively inhibit stable adhesion to solid substrata.


Lisa Pederson
Chapter: Beta Iota
Bethel University
Submitted Februrary 27 (Resubmitted March 28)

Clinical Outcomes of Cataract Surgery on Intraocular Pressure in Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma Patients: A Retrospective Study

The principal aim of this project was to evaluate the effect of cataract surgery on intraocular pressure (IOP) in trabeculectomized eyes with primary open-angle glaucoma. A retrospective analysis was performed at a private ophthalmology clinic in Edina, Minnesota, and consisted of 98 eyes that underwent uneventful cataract phacoemulsification by a single surgeon following trabeculectomy with mean IOP assessed before surgery, and 1 day, 1-3 weeks, 1-2 months, 6 months, and 1 year after surgery. Preoperative and postoperative IOP measurements were compared using repeated-measures analysis of variance (ANOVA). Stratification into 4 groups (20.9-16.0 mm Hg, 15.9-11.0 mm Hg, 10.9-6.0 mm Hg, and 5.9-1.0 mm Hg) based on preoperative IOP was also performed using identical intervals and statistics as above. Mean preoperative IOP was 9.9 mm Hg +/- 4.5 (SD), and increased 4.2, 2.0, 1.9, 1.4, and 1.4 mm Hg on the first postoperative day, after 1 day, 1-3 weeks, 1-2 months, 6 months, and 1 year, respectively. At each interval, mean postoperative IOP was significantly higher than mean preoperative IOP (p < .0001, p < .0001, p < .0001, p = .001, and p = .003, respectively). Among stratified groups, only the lowest (5.9-1.0 mm Hg) showed significant postoperative IOP increase over preoperative level (p = 0.023), with mean IOP 3.7 mm Hg +/- 1.1 and 6.1 mm Hg +/- 2.9, respectively. Median time from trabeculectomy to cataract surgery was 22.8 months (range, 3.0-132.96 months). Total number of eyes requiring anti-glaucoma medication postoperatively increased from 7 to 14, but was not significant. On average, cataract surgery after trabeculectomy resulted in a small but statistically significant increase in IOP in primary open-angle glaucoma patients. Eyes with lower preoperative IOP showed greatest increase in pressure, while those with higher preoperative IOP remained unchanged. Based on these findings, cataract surgery continues to be therapeutically beneficial, but not as a means of reducing IOP, as some studies suggest.


Krista Podell, Jie Xie, Keith March
Chapter: Rho
Univeristy of Indianapolis
Submitted March 16

Novel antimicrobial activity of human adipose-derived stem cells

Human adipose stem cells (hASCs) exhibit a wide variety of therapeutic properties. This study was aimed towards determining if hASCs have an antimicrobial effect on an array of microorganisms. Other cell lines, including keratinocytes, mesenchymal stem cells, and lung epithelium, have been shown to have an antimicrobial effect upon stimulation with various microorganisms, such as E. coli, that is mediated by antimicrobial peptides. Other studies showed induction of antimicrobial peptides in various cell lines upon treatment with 1,α25-dihydroxyvitamin D3. We hypothesized that hASCs and their conditioned media mediate a bactericidal effect on Gram-positive and Gram-negative organisms through the secretion of antimicrobial peptides. To investigate the potential of this antimicrobial effect, hASCs were conditioned with 1,α25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 for 48 hours and then the media was collected and concentrated 2-fold. Reverse transcriptase PCR and real-time qPCR were used to analyze the mRNA levels of various antimicrobial peptides. Concentrated conditioned media was incubated with E. coli and S. aureus for 1 hour, and then aliquots of the bacteria and conditioned media were plated to determine percent survival in the presence of the conditioned media. Analyses of the mRNA levels of various antimicrobial peptides show baseline levels of the cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide LL-37, human beta defensin 2, and human beta defensin 3. Concentrated hASC conditioned media has a 100% bactericidal effect on E. coli and S. aureus. These results confirm that hASC conditioned media does have a broad-spectrum antimicrobial effect that is potentially mediated by cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide LL-37, human beta defensin 2, and human beta defensin 3.


Sarah Wahlstrom and Chris Carmichael, PhD
Chapter: Alpha Gamma
Malone University
Submitted March 20

Function of the Dome Pressure Receptors in Juvenile American Alligators (Alligator mississippiensis)

The dome pressure receptors (DPRs) are distributed over the maxilla and mandible of American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis). The DPRs have sensory function and have been shown in adults to be chemosensory as well as mechanosensory. Juvenile American alligators were placed in a test arena with a fish extract in one half and a control of pure water in the other half. The position of the alligator was recorded every 5 seconds to determine side preference. Polymer was placed over the alligator's DPRs for half of the trials. The research is still ongoing but early results indicate that the DPRs may play a role in chemosensory prey foraging in juveniles.



Poster Abstracts

Zachery Beres, Curtis Clevinger, Jennifer Clevinger
Chapter: Beta Chi
Walsh University
Submitted March 14

Limnology of Crystal Lake and Boating Lake at the Muskingum Valley Scout Reservation Located on Reclaimed Mining Land in Coshocton County, Ohio

Improved understanding of aquatic ecosystem dynamics can lead to improved management techniques. Boating Lake and Crystal Lake, on the Muskingum Valley Scout Reservation in Coshocton County, Ohio, are both manmade lakes built upon reclaimed strip mining land. Boating Lake was formed through the damming of a natural stream while Crystal Lake formed in a pit from the land's previous mining use. The lack of Scout Reservation baseline data on these lakes provides the opportunity to be the first to analyze what is occurring in the water columns. Aquatic tests and measurements over a seven week period from June to July 2011 including dissolved oxygen levels, Secchi depth, temperature, pH, and chlorophyll concentration were performed three times a week while biological oxygen demand, limiting nutrients, and nutrient levels, such as nitrate, SRP, ammonia, DOC, and DN, were performed once every week. Initial observations from data collected indicate Boating Lake is a eutrophic lake while Crystal Lake is an oligotrophic lake. Boating Lake was slightly basic (8.5 on average) and exhibited stratification resulting in a thermocline and supports a wide variety of aquatic life based on daily fishing observations. Crystal Lake exhibited low pH (3.0 on average), low nutrient content, and supports very little aquatic life based on limited observations of wildlife interactions with the water. Once data analysis is completed, this information will be used by the Scout Reservation to develop a better plan to maintain its aquatic ecosystems and will serve as the foundation for future research on these lakes.


Stephanie Blair, Samantha Stewardson, and Joseph C. Whittaker
Chapter: Beta Xi
University of Pikeville
Submitted March 1

Ectoparasite load on Peromyscus from Kentucky forest sites

In our study we were initially going to compare the parasites seen on Peromyscus on mining reclaimed sites and undisturbed sites. But because of the lack of captures on the reclaimed site, we narrowed our study to the ectoparasite loads of males and females on two undisturbed forest sites. The mice were dusted with teaspoon of Zodiac flea and tick powder and brushed over a white sheet of paper to collect ectoparasites. We conducted a total of 937 trap nights. Out of 29 individual mice (Peromyscus leucopus) captured, only five of them had ectoparasites. All of the parasitized mice were males. Based on our captures there were more males in the population than females in both of the sampled sites and no females had parasites. The populations of the two sites did not have a high rate of ectoparasitism considering only five out of 29 mice had ectoparasites. We suggest that perhaps a difference in habitat use by males might expose them to more ectoparasites.


David Collins and Adam Johnson
Chapter: Beta Iota
Bethel University
Submitted March 16

Modeling of social behavior in cooperative games using reinforcement learning models

Behavioral game theory offers deep insights into optimal strategic behavior. Computational psychiatry suggests that behavioral, psychiatric and neurological disorders are characterized by specific deviations from optimal strategic behavior. For instance, ADHD and addiction are characterized by sub-optimal strategies with respect to future rewards. Recent efforts in computational psychiatry have sought to identify diagnostically salient sub-optimal strategic interactions in disorders marked by deficits in social interaction such as borderline personality disorder and autism. We model social behavior in cooperative games using reinforcement learning. More specifically, we identify the specific algorithmic requirements for cooperative behavior in simple cooperative games and show how specific algorithmic failures can produce deficits in cooperative behaviors that mirror social behavioral disorders. We believe that such algorithmic characterizations will contribute to understanding social behavioral disorders, their neural substrates, and development of new diagnostic criteria.


Andreas Copan
Chapter: Beta Iota
Bethel University
Submitted March 16

IRC Path Following in Mass-Weighted, Internal Coordinates

We implemented an intrinsic reaction coordinate (IRC) mapping algorithm as part of the upcoming release of the Psi4 electronic structure program. The IRC defines a curve -- specifically, a minimum energy path (MEP) -- which connects two minima on a potential energy surface through a saddle point. Applied to a chemical system, this curve can be seen as the reaction path connecting reactants and products through a transition state. Gonzalez and Schlegel's second-order method in mass-weighted, internal coordinates provided the general structure of the algorithm. The Gonzalez-Schlegel algorithm steps to new points on the MEP by constrained optimization on a hypersphere, demanding that the gradient at each new point be parallel to its radial vector. The stability of the constrained optimization was improved relative to that given by Gonzalez and Schlegel, avoiding the need for a binary search. Furthermore, we developed a unique method by which the algorithm uses gradients and energy changes to detect when a minimum has been reached. Model systems studied include dihedral twisting of peroxide and the HCN CNH reaction path.


Scott Glasgow
Chapter Alpha Gamma
Malone University
Submitted March 17 (12:15am)

From Biology to Technical Analysis: Fibonacci Sequencing and the Golden Ratio

There is a strong correlation between the use of Fibonacci numbers and the golden ratio when discussing observations. These observations illustrate that Fibonacci numbers and the golden ratio are found in various areas of nature and biology ranging from flowers to fruits and vegetables. This sparks a significant question, if Fibonacci numbers are found in nature and biology, could they be found in other fields, such as in the technical analysis of the stock market? The answer is yes! In technical analysis, it's called Fibonacci retracement, where traders supposedly use this theory to help predict individual and sector stock performance; however, the success of this theory is mixed. So, I tested the theory through mathematically computing data from the use of Fibonacci retracement and the golden ratio. My computed data consists of the examinations of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which exemplifies the entire market, compared to individual stocks. The computed data ranges from the 2008 financial crisis to the present. The results of the data suggest that Fibonacci numbers and the golden ratio is a significant factor in some cases; however, not in all cases. Therefore, my computed data in the technical analysis approach of Fibonacci numbers strongly compares to the observations found in biology; where it appears in some cases, but not all.


Stewart Gruey
Chapter: Beta Chi
Walsh University

Tina Mathai Joseph, Devon Scott Drechsel, Monica Hinds
Chapter: Beta Beta
George Fox University
Submitted March 16

The effects of hyperglycemia on embryonic endocardial cells

Maternal diabetes results in a 3-5 fold increased risk for fetal cardiac malformations due to elevated glucose concentrations in the developing embryo and fetus. Maternal hyperglycemia could inhibit the reciprocal signaling between embryonic endocardial and myocardial cell layers, which alters the transformation of endocardial (embryonic endothelial) cells to mesenchymal cells (EMT), a process that is vital to heart valve development. Since the effects of hyperglycemia on endocardial cells of the early embryonic heart during EMT has not been greatly researched, our objective in this study was to determine the degree to which hyperglycemia can affect the cell-cell adhesion gene, E-Cadherin and EMT regulated gene BMP10, as well as endocardial cell proliferation. Embryonic endocardial cells from chick heart outflow tracts (OFTs) (HH24) were isolated and subjected to 90 (control), 150, 200, and 400 mg/dL of D-glucose. Gene expression levels for E-Cadherin and BMP10 were tested with qPCR. A cell proliferation assay (EdU) was used to analyze the effects of D-Glucose on endocardial cell proliferation. E-Cadherin expression was down regulated with increasing D-Glucose levels, and BMP10 expression was highly upregulated at a concentration of 150mg/dL D-glucose, while staying relatively unchanged at the other concentrations of 200 mg/dL and 400 mg/dL. A decrease in cell proliferation was found in D-Glucose treated cells. Our study suggests that EMT may be upregulated under hyperglycemic conditions. This research is a first step in determining the precise mechanisms involved in EMT and the consequences of an alteration of EMT under hyperglycemia.


David Lopez, Courtney Glos*, Martin J. O'Donnell*, J. Geno Samaritoni*, William Scott*, and Kathy Stickney 
Chapter Rho
University of Indianapolis and Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis*
Submitted March  16

Distributed Drug Discovery: N-acylated Unnatural Amino Acids

Validation that two undergraduates can successfully synthesize twelve N-acylated amino acids using an established route will be pursued. The D3 procedure that will be used was incorporated into the undergraduate organic chemistry laboratory in the Fall of 2010 at the University of Indianapolis, which yielded the biologically active compound 85147009*. The twelve compounds targeted in this work are analogs of 85147009*. Emphasis will be placed on purification and characterization of these compounds, which will then be tested in biological assays for activity. The compounds synthesized in this work will add to the growing library of molecules previously synthesized through such methods, thus expanding the potential of Distributed Drug Discovery to access unique scaffolds of biological interest.


Margaret Tate and Jennifer Schultz-Norton
Chapter: Pi
Millikin University
Submitted March 6

Analysis of pesticide effects on human cancer cells using BCA protein assays and wound assays

The ability of pesticides to cause cancer, particularly cancer of the reproductive systems, is uncertain. Several studies have indicated that herbicides (such as triazine herbicides) and insecticides may increase cancer incidence rates, yet other studies have been contradictory and have shown no correlation between pesticide usage and cancer development and progression. To clarify this dilemma, experiments were done to analyze pesticide effects on human cancer cell growth using BCA protein assays and wound assays. Two triazine herbicides, cyanazine and simazine, showed significantly increased cell proliferation in the BCA protein assays compared to a control, but none of the triazines showed significance in wound recovery. At exposure levels that would be found in the environment, such as 50 nM, there was no evidence of cell growth beyond what would be seen in the absence of the chemicals, thus the triazines do not appear to increase the migration of cancer cells.


Tammie L. Taylor, Mamta Singh, and Nancy Munson
Chapter: Beta Psi
Martin University 
Submitted March 2

Myotis sodalist (Indiana Bat): WHY DO THEY MATTER?

The objective of this study is to provide an overview of Myotis sodalist (Indiana bats): their size and color, their reproduction process, their seasonal habitats, their diets and how eating these types of food, helps our society and the environment. The entire information in this research paper is based on published work. Research has shown a decrease in the Indiana bat population due to human interference, deforestation, land development, wind turbines and a disease called the white-nose syndrome (Clawson, 2002; USFWS, 1997). Other natural factors that play a role in the loss of population are natural flooding, cave-ins and freezing temperatures (DNR, 1985). However, these natural occurrences are rare. It is estimated that 95% of the Indiana bats' population has decreased since 1979 (Elliott, 2007). Indiana bat live in several different hibernacula in the United States (Gardner, Garner, & Hofmann, 1991). Hibernacula are critical for roosting and foraging. The maintenance of their hibernacula is critical to the Indiana bats' survival and population restoration. The Indiana bats can be found in much of the eastern parts of the United States from Oklahoma, Iowa, and Wisconsin, east to Vermont and south to northwestern Florida, Kentucky, Missouri and Indiana (USFWS, 1976). It is important for society and business developers to understand that destruction of natural habitat not only destroys the wild population but the entire ecosystem. Therefore, the rational of this study is to explain why the Indiana bat is endangered and what the protection strategies are.


Sarah Varnell, Kathryn Huisinga
Chapter: Alpha Gamma
Malone University
Submitted March 16

Telomere Position Effect of Su(var) 3-9 Mutations in Drosophila melanogaster

DNA holds the genetic code of the organism and is packaged with proteins (called histones) into chromatin making up the chromosomes. Chromatin comes in one of two types, heterochromatin or euchromatin, with heterochromatin found primarily at the centromeres and telomeres of the chromosomes. Telomeric heterochromatin is important for maintaining chromosome length and preventing fusions. My research is focused on the Su(var)3-9 protein which transfers a methyl group to the histone proteins, a modification that is critical to forming heterochromatin. I'm using Drosophila melanogaster to address why some mutations in Su(var)3-9 affect heterochromatin formation at the telomere and others do not. To examine heterochromatin, we use the white gene, which is responsible for red-eye pigmentation, to "report" the status of the chromatin. When white is inserted into heterochromatin, a variegating eye phenotype results. I am using four Su(var)3-9 alleles to test their effects on five variegating reporters inserted at different genomic locations. Additionally, I've done alignments between other histone methyltransferase proteins with homology to Su(var)3-9 to determine conserved amino acids and their potential role in heterochromatin packaging. Data from these experiments will allow us to identify which regions of Su(var)3-9 are key for heterochromatin formation at telomeres.