Financial Literacy is an important skill to successfully negotiate within the US socio-economic system. It is, however, not universally acquired and in some populations, severely lacking. Working with individuals recovering from drug and/or alcohol addiction in the City of Worcester, the WSU Enactus Team has addressed this need through workshops on general financial literacy. This project drills deeper and focuses on a specific need for legal fiscal responsibility. Many of the gentlemen in the Reyes House Recovery program have directed their resources towards their addictions. Most have not worked, paid bills, taxes, or other debts and legal obligations for many years. Part of the recovery is to become a productive member of society. The "Back on the Books" project at Reyes House is a two-part endeavor: First, a workshop educating participants on the importance of filing tax returns. Taking into consideration elements such as citizenship, immigration status, pending legal matters, court orders and levies. There will be roadblocks faced for each individual and the action of filing or not filing could have profound reverberating effects. Next, we actually file the returns through the VITA program, a federally recognized program providing IRS certifications to students. Once all of the appointments are set, the final step of the project will be to attend the Reyes House on the set dates, accompanied by a certified tax reviewer, and help the gentleman file their 2017 tax returns.
Mind Your Health: Addressing the Stigma Surrounding Mental Health and the Economic Burdens Surrounding Personality Disorders
Creative Accounting: An Analysis of the SEC Accounting and Auditing Enforcement Releases Involving Individual CPAs
This research will quantify and examine data pulled from cases found within the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) Accounting and Auditing Enforcement Releases (AAREs). Except for one published paper, prior research has been targeted toward accounting firms. My research will examine these cases regarding individual Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) by capturing information related to both the CPA and the issues surrounding the need for the SEC to have taken enforcement action against that CPA.
To make decisions that avoid negative financial impacts we must be able to place our trust in financial reporting that is both usable and comparable. Financial reporting rules that are based upon FASB's (Financial Accounting Standards Board) framework must reflect objectives, or the "why" behind their usability, as well as recognition, measurement, and disclosure concepts, or the "how" behind their creation; but most importantly they must reflect the qualitative characteristics of usability and comparability that should be achieved in financial reporting. It is the qualitative characteristics of financial statements that make both regulations and codes of ethics imperative for the CPAs who compile or ensure this information. Since there is an expectation of trust placed in these CPAs and their work, which will impact a user's decision-making behavior and create economic consequences, this further research regarding SEC enforcement actions is imperative to both the profession and the public.
My research is broken down into two main parts: deep litter systems and the sustainability of conventional piggeries versus deep litter systems. The first half of my research explores the Korean Natural Farming technique of inoculated deep litter system (IDLS) piggeries. IDLS piggeries were developed by Master Kyu Han Cho of the Janong Natural Farming Institute in South Korea. His work, based upon generations of practice, provides farmers with an ecologically and economically sound manure management system. IDLS piggeries are odorless, fly-free, and can sustain green waste for up to 10 years without removal. Currently, IDLS piggeries are not widespread, with the only well-known locations of implementation being Korea and Hawaii. However, many swine producers across the globe have switched from traditional concrete slab piggeries to deep litter system (DLS) piggeries. Fundamentally, IDLS and DLS piggeries share many similarities, including lower management costs and higher animal welfare. Due to the ease of scaling, DLS systems are much more common compared to IDLS systems.
The second half of my research briefly explores conventional concrete piggeries and then compares conventional piggeries to DLS piggeries (and IDLS piggeries, where applicable). I conclude my research findings with the synthesis of information gathered to determine which piggery system is more sustainable for the future of American pork enterprises. Important aspects to consider when comparing conventional and DLS piggeries includes animal welfare, meat quality, greenhouse gas emissions, water usage, and bacteria present.
Breast Cancer is the second leading cause of death in women and is often difficult to predict. A recent study identified changes in DNA methylation at 250 CpG sites in white blood cells that were predictive of breast cancer in a prospective study cohort. Interestingly, when the methylation levels of just five of the sites were used to predict breast cancer, they did so with a greater accuracy than the current leading method of prediction. We aimed to validate these results by examining five of the DNA methylation sites previously identified using a different cohort of samples and a newly developed method. The white blood cell genomic DNA samples we used in our research were provided by a prospective study conducted by the National Cancer Institute. They were collected from 300 women who eventually developed breast cancer (cases) and 300 women who did not (controls). We received two DNA samples isolated from each individual, one from 1-2 years prior to diagnosis and another 4-7 years prior to diagnosis, with comparable time points for the control cases, amounting to 1200 total samples. Our approach, massively parallel amplicon sequencing of bisulfite treated DNA, has been proven to be robust at detecting DNA methylation levels at single nucleotide resolution. We measured DNA methylation rates at each of the five sites in all 1200 samples using next-generation sequencing. Statistical analysis of the data will assess the accuracy of using these white blood cell DNA methylation sites to assess an individual’s breast cancer risk.
Additional faculty collaborators include Susan Sturgeon, School of Public Health and David Sela, Department of Food Science.
Generation and Evaluation of How a Double Knockout Mouse Line Lacking TRPV3 and T-Type (CaV3.2) Channels Affects Calcium Homeostasis
Changes in the intracellular concentrations of free Ca2+ are integral in the preparation for fertilization of mammalian oocytes and in the initiation of development. However, the mechanism behind these changes remains unknown. The Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) channels are a family of cationic ion channels distributed in a variety of mammalian tissues. In oocytes, these channels, namely TRPV3, are potential mediators for Ca2+ influx. In addition to TRPV3, T-type channels, namely CaV3.2, are also speculated to be important channels for Ca2+ entry. We have simultaneously knocked out these two Ca2+ influx channels in the mouse to explore the effects on Ca2+ homeostasis. By studying the Ca2+ oscillations in the TRPV3 and CaV3.2 double knockout mice, it can be further determined the importance for both channels and their potential role in the oscillations. In addition to Ca2+ monitoring, the fertility of these double null mice has been evaluated through fertility rates, development, and morphological defects that arose from their null pups. Initially, these mice have litters similar to controls and single null mice, however, after the third parturition the number of pups per litter decreases along with significantly higher neonatal mortality, which is different than what happens in controls. Additionally, the Ca2+ store content is significantly diminished in double knockout eggs versus controls, as was the frequency of the fertilization-induced Ca2+ oscillations. Therefore, TRPV3 and CaV3.2 channels contribute to Ca2+ homeostasis of mouse oocytes. Further studies are needed to gain insight into the cause(s) of subfertility of these double knockout mice.
The Role of Tannic Compounds in Reducing Methane Emissions by Cattle
The gases released from a cow’s digestive system have a significant effect on the progress of global climate change. Cows and other ruminant animals rely on billions of microorganisms to break down food in a process called fermentation, and these microorganisms produce substantial quantities of methane in the process. Because the atmosphere is becoming heavily laden with greenhouse gases, and the global demand for beef shows no sign of decreasing, it is necessary to find a way to minimize cattle contributions of methane into the atmosphere. Current research shows that specific additive components in ruminant animal feed, such as the polyphenolic tannin compounds found in the tropical fruit rambutan, lead to a decrease in methane release. The exact mechanisms by which microbes exploit these additive components are not yet well understood.
We will first analyze methane concentration by comparing gas sampler tube data in cows fed a grain based diet with tannins added and without tannins. This data will provide us with a preliminary, broad sense of methane release effects from methanogenic microorganisms in vivo. Then, we will collect rumen fluid samples, culture and purify the microorganisms, expose them to agar containing our selected additive feed components, and test for methane concentrations using established in vitro methods.
The American Pit Bull, also known as the American Staffordshire Terrier, has been largely preconceived by society as vicious, unpredictable creatures whose sole purpose is to attack. With many major news headlines refer to these animals as killers, people often are informed about horrific events involving Pit Bulls, and are usually not given the important facts as to what actually provoked the attack. There are many factors to consider when analyzing a dog attack such as training or lack of training, neglect, abuse, along with many other factors that could potentially cause a dog to lash out in a violent manner. There are non-profit organizations such as DogsBite.org, whose sole purpose is to inform the public about "dangerous dogs." This Website also contains advertisements for "Dog Bite Lawyers." Any dog can be aggressive and an entire breed should not be subjected to this blatant discrimination due to proportionally rare unfortunate cases. Although the victim may have suffered the consequences of the abuse/neglect of the dog owner, that background evidence tends to go unmentioned and generally blames the dog/dog breed. My research investigates if it is possible for an entire breed of dogs to be deemed as dangerous, along with the possible ramifications of classifying Pit Bulls in this way.
Role of Calmodulin-Dependent Kinase (CaMK) II and IV in Inducing Sperm Motility: Evidence for the Requirement of Ca2+ and Calmodulin in Motility Pathway
Subfertility is a critical health problem with social and economic consequences that affect about 9% of couples worldwide. Assistive Reproductive Techniques (ART) have been incorporated in the process of understanding and solving the issue of infertility. Current research is being done to further understand the causes of infertility and how best to overcome it. Recent preliminary data from the Visconti laboratory indicate that manipulation of the metabolic profile of sperm may affect their motility and other physiological features relevant to in vitro fertilization capability and possibly subsequent embryo development. Mammalian sperm acquire the ability to fertilize the egg in the female tract in a process known as capacitation. As has already been discovered, through the use of mouse sperm, calmodulin dependent kinases, CaMK II and CaMK IV, are required for sperm capacitation through an unknown pathway. In this thesis, using data from previous experiments, my research will revolve around testing out inhibitors of different parts of this pathway will allow us to see which proteins are vital for sperm capacitation and which can be bypassed without affecting the motility of the sperm. Additionally, using media that lacks calcium will allow for the observation of how the Ca2+ ion is involved in the function of the pathway, the inhibitors, sperm motility, and sperm capacitation.
A Comparative Study of Medieval Population Mortality Profiles as an Indicator of Life History for Rural and Urban Lifeways
Environment and life conditions are two of the most critical factors in determining how healthy a population is likely to be. For instance, it would be expected that a population living in a more rural area with better access to food, water, and clean air would have a lower risk of mortality than a population living in an urban area.
For this study, a mortality profile was reconstructed for the Medieval rural Italian town of Noli through the analysis of skeletal remains and this profile was then compared to data from a contemporary Medieval urban London population (kindly provided by S. DeWitte). For Noli, the adults were aged using transition analysis and the subadults were aged using a combination of epiphyseal fusion, dental eruption, and long bone length. A Kaplan-Meier survivorship analysis was used to compare the mortality profiles of these two populations and to test the hypothesis that the Noli population would have had a lower mortality rate than the London population due to their rural environment and lifestyle.
Surprisingly, the results showed that subadults (0-20) had a significantly higher mortality rate in Noli than in London and that there was no statistically significant difference in mortality for the adults. These results show that the differences in environment between Medieval London and Noli did not meaningfully impact the health of the adults of these populations. The elevated Noli subadult mortality, however, suggests that Noli children were undergoing some kind of critical stress that was not impacting the London children.
In what ways are access to power denied to some through violence, degradation, and exploitation on individual, institutional, and societal levels (systems of oppression)? How do systems of oppression operate in relation to one another? How do various systems of oppression affect both myself and others? How can we make social change and what would those different worlds look like?
To approach those questions, I use autoethnographic and arts-based research in a creative, hands-on exploration and synthesis of the world as it stands and to advance transformative visions of justice that my research, lived experience, and community lead me to. These methodologies consist of engaging deeply with my topic through artistic production and connecting primary literature to personal experience. Knowledge-creation and presentation alike will be through the process of collage-making, culminating in a series of collages responding to the above questions. Collage is here defined as the process of creating a new and unique assemblage out of found materials, mostly images and print.
My intent is to use the relational techniques of collage-making to apply a relational analysis to systems of oppression. Similarly, my positive visions of social, economic, political, and ecological entanglement will not only be represented in collages but emerge from the very process of crafting them. This work is important because of the power of art, and specifically the ability of collages, to spark critical thought in myriad directions in a diverse audience.
This study examines the antemortem cranial trauma found on skeletal samples from five Late Intermediate Period sites in the province of Andahuaylas, Peru. Each site was identified as being inhabited by Chanka populations based on burial patterns and the presence of Chanka-style ceramics. One hundred and twenty-four crania were assessed for age, sex, and presence of trauma. Crania were also measured to determine the degree of cranial modification present and its effect on the size and location of lobes of the brain. Crania showing trauma were further assessed for type of trauma, lethality, location, and evidence of healing. Location of trauma was correspondingly mapped onto images of the brain to determine possible impacts on neurological function present in the population. Results showed that half of the entire sample displayed evidence of cranial trauma and there was no significant statistical difference in trauma rates between males and females. Blunt-force trauma to the frontal and parietal bones were the most common forms of injury, corresponding to deficiencies in concentration, judgement making, voluntary muscle movement, eye movement, and language comprehension.
Resonance is an architectural design project with the intent to design and build an installation that generates a sensory experience for the user and viewer. The main intent is to showcase the transformation of digital data into parametric design, while also incorporating the main theories that make up our understanding of spatial atmosphere; such as the body of architecture, the sound of space, effect of surrounding objects, between composure and seduction, the light on things, and beautiful form.
The project aims to provide an installation within the Design Building that encourages student musicians to play their instrument and perform an impromptu concert. This installation will also provide seating for students when not used musically. Design data is informed by the non-sinusoidal waveforms produced while playing string instruments, which is then imported and visualized using Rhinoceros/Grasshopper Software and used to create cut plywood forms which will be assembled on site. The result generates a playful and acoustically-inspired installation that also filters light, and provides a unique programmatically-responsive space.
There are many ways to interact with the installation, from casually viewing from afar to direct participation with its form and space. Resonance's curved fins generate the installation's program; graciously sweeping inward to create an alcove for a musician to perform, as-well-as the opposite to create a seat to enjoy a coffee break. The undulating curves rhythmically occupy space, and creates its own performance during the day as the sun dances along the plywood fins.
The Orangutrump is a mixed media piece crafted by reusing materials bound by tape and glue, then primped in old clothes and paper clay. The snack food, Cheetos, is engineered to create a hair piece worn by the puerile tree dweller. The facial structure distinguishes this orangutan as the artist’s version of a satirical representation of Donald Trump. This piece was conceptualized shortly after the demoralizing results of the 2016 election. It is undoubtedly clear that the Trump presidency is problematic for many and advantageous for only a few. The filled trash can is not to represent the place where Donald comes from, rather a direction that we may be headed. Objects placed inside the trash can reflect actions of POTUS that have offended the artist, and many others. The Eiffel Tower represents backing out of the Paris Agreement; lumps of coal represent our clean energy solution; elephants and other big game animals that can now be poached and imported into the USA legally; an imported solar panel that is additionally taxed 30%; a copy of the Declaration of Independence that has been tarnished and discarded; bricks and barbed wire from the wall that Mexico will pay for; and, turkey feathers made to look like those of an eagle, as much a metaphor for this President as well as a nod to the Navajo Nation and “Pocahontas”. There is much more that could be included, but the artist could not manage to pilfer a dumpster.
Equipoise consists of original paintings that serve as visual interpretations of the way in which mathematics has fundamentally influenced art. This research has analyzed the role that mathematics, specifically symmetry and balance, has played in centuries of artwork. For instance, Islamic art from various time periods frequently included common mathematical themes. Ancient Islamic artists from as early as 300 A.D. were using geometric patterns as guidelines for their artwork. Over the centuries, the methods used by the artists became more refined, including systematically dividing a circle into equal parts while connecting various points to create repeated motifs. Modern artists, such as M.C. Escher and Simon Beck have also made extensive use of mathematics in printmaking and earthworks. While studying the works of M.C. Escher in an exhibit at the MFA in Boston, it is evident that he relies heavily on grids to meticulously layout his initial prints. Similarly, Simon Beck, a present-day artist and mathematician, also creates intricate geometric designs, but on a much larger scale that often cover between 2.5 and 10 acres of snow or sand. Between the processes used to create designs and the final pieces themselves, the common threads of mathematics, symmetry and balance run deep.
My honors thesis is a creative research project in which I have choreographed and produced a dance concert memorializing the Holocaust and calling attention to the recent resurgence of neo-Nazism in today’s society. This project is designed to examine the effectiveness of dance as a tool for memorialization and social activism. My findings proved that dance is successful at conveying emotions and messages related to remembrance and social justice. The choreographic process for my work was influenced a great deal by my extensive study of the Holocaust and was supplemented by further study of this event and of today’s neo-Nazi movement. I used my academic research to influence my creative research and how I instructed my dancers in movement and intention. For the final part of my research, I asked the audience members of each performance to reflect on their experience and reactions to the work, and by reading these responses I was able to determine that dance was in fact an effective tool for memorialization and social activism.
Art is a powerful tool for change. This type of creative research is critical in the dance field. Artists need to feel empowered to make a difference through their art making. By proving dance’s effectiveness at reaching people in the context of memorializing the Holocaust and addressing the resurgence of neo-Nazism in my own work I hope to pave the way for future choreographers and dancers to make art that incites change.
Autism is often misunderstood by neurotypical people. People often fear what they don’t know and may isolate themselves from something they see as different. I wanted to combine my double major in Communication Sciences and Disorders and Visual and Performing Arts to create a visual understanding between two communities; the autistic community and the neurotypical community. As a neurotypical individual, I cannot speak for the Autistic community, but I can advocate in the hopes for creating a better understanding and acceptance. I created my visual work to highlight similarities I found between the two communities: routine and repetition. Autistic individuals use routines to impose order and structure in their daily lives. Some examples of routines include bathing, bedtime, or meal routines. When structure is developed, the environment becomes more manageable. (“Routines and Rituals Performed by Children Diagnosed with Autism.”) Neurotypical individuals use routines as well. Routines help develop a sense of control and normalcy over one’s environment. (“The Power of Routines.”) My body of visual art work aims to represent the routines and repetition individuals in both communities can relate to. I hope my work can start a conversation for better understanding and advocacy between the two diverse communities.
For some time now, visual art has been divided into two distinct types – art for a purpose, used to transmit a message or sell a product, and fine art, art for art’s sake, meant only to be art. This project combines image and message in an effort to achieve an end. The political nature of the messages should be clear to the viewer, drawing from the groundswell of popular opposition to the current administration. But it does so with an eye to creating works with a sensibility closer to ‘fine’ art. Combining woodblock, monotype and collograph printing techniques, this show is comprised of several images, without text, each of which transmits a message to the viewer. The goal is to blur the line between art meant to advertise and art that’s purely for visual consumption. The finished pieces inform without telling, speak without words, while also being aesthetically compelling. That is, after all, the most important part of a work of visual art.
Little Rosie’s Wish combines children’s literature and visual arts. The main purpose of the book is to support the social and emotional well-being of children, while at the same time inspiring courage and self-acceptance. The story follows the journey of a fairy named Rosie. Rosie has big plans to paint the sky but is discouraged by those around her. The little fairy must find the courage to make her own wish come true. The illustrations are created through a variety of mixed media, including pastels, paint, colored pencil, pen, marker, and a variety of paper types. The pages are composed of collaged and layered materials. The overall aesthetic of the book consists of a soft, warm palette and pastel hues. Oftentimes, the world can seem like a dark and frightening place, especially when viewed through the eyes of its youngest inhabitants. The artist’s mission is to provide an escape into a world of magic and wonder which will encourage the imagination and creativity of young children.
The field of dance science is of growing popularity as it integrates art and science and offers benefits to the performer and the researcher; however, the potentials of art are often forgotten in the pursuit of knowledge. This choreographic project investigates the relationship of art and science in terms of how the human body is appreciated aesthetically and analyzed mechanically by utilizing dance techniques and kinesiology principles. Presented in two parts, a gallery exhibit and a live dance performance, this project follows the methods of human motion analysis through the past and present day to further the ongoing pursuit of understanding the human body. The research process includes creating movement in the studio, applying movement to dancers, and analyzing their movement through various forms of media. The findings of movement patterns, mechanics, and imagery techniques are demonstrated and presented for an audience. Results are measured by the success of the live performance and gallery exhibit as well as by the feedback from the collaborating dancers in regards to how they feel they can benefit from evidence-based dance pedagogy. The significance lies within the potentials of expanding the ideas and relationships of art and science into the fields of education, performance, and movement research for all populations.
Someone’s trash can be someone else’s treasure, when beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Idioms aside, the average American generates about 4.40 pounds of garbage per a day, accumulating a total of about 245 million tons per a year (EPA.gov). Society’s push to encourage a consumeristic lifestyle of buying “new things” is a major factor of our problematic growing trash. However sinister sounding consumerism may be, our throwaway society has been a petri dish for inspiring today's modern artists. Artists have been able to capitalize on waste's proliferation and in turn generate meaningful art. The now thriving artistic practice of turning trash to treasure is the preferred medium of many artists. Trash can be a useful and beautiful substance. Trash’s dichotomy (waste and art medium) allows the artist additional complexity when creating with ‘unintentioned’ art material. Artist insight, creativity, ingenuity, and consuming consciousness are in full throttle when working with trash. Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder explores using trash for artistic purposes in a four-piece visual installation. The four three-dimensional pieces depict abstract eyes made of the discarded discounted material of four different "Michaels Store ─$4 grab boxes". The items within each individual box have been used to create a single installation. However horrid wastefulness is, corporate trash accumulation has sparked creativity, ingenuity and a healthy consuming consciousness within the modern art world.
My Senior Thesis is driven by my passion for the preservation and conservation of the historical and cultural significance of art and discovering different ways art can be used universally.
In the spring of my Junior year, when I was awarded a research grant, for my year long project proposal I began observing Art, at the MFA in Boston. I focused on the Ancient World, to discover what, if any commonalities can be observed across cultures. Exploring our perception of art, and it’s impact on us as individuals, I tried to define what aspects of art are truly universal. My resulting theory is when there is less individual components that makes up an art piece, there is less that people individually identify with.
To demonstrate this, I compiled various simple sounds and translated them into abstract, minimalistic and primitive based visual pieces. The result was large scale painted pieces, around eight feet long, done on burlap material. They were read by musicians in a manner similar to that of sheet music, without the parameters of a bar. The response was a natural and automatic reaction to the images rather than a learned response such as reading music.
Turning sounds into images and then back into sound, resulted in organized simplicity that invoked an equal response. This consistency is a step closer to understanding how we can use art to bridge the gaps between cultures.
The Origin of Lyman Alpha Emission in Green Peas
Green Peas are young, rare, compact starburst galaxies characterized by highly ionized gas. They are some of the only known galaxies with escaping hydrogen-ionizing, or Lyman continuum (LyC), radiation. The Lyman-alpha (Lyα) transition is one indirect diagnostic of ionizing radiation escape, and is therefore the primary tool we use to investigate these galaxies. We calculate a variety of nebular and physical properties of the Green Peas to determine which parameters correlate best with particular Lyα spectral features, including equivalent width, escape fraction, and peak separation. Our findings show that ionizing photon production correlates strongly with Lyα equivalent width and that peak separation is particularly sensitive to the ionized vs. neutral gas content of the galaxy. We will discuss the implications of these properties for ionizing radiation escape in the context of LyC-leaking galaxies as a whole.
Stars are formed through the collapse of molecular gas clouds. The collapse is triggered when hydrostatic equilibrium is disrupted. Hydrostatic equilibrium is the requirement of a cloud to remain stable. It describes the state in which the kinetic energy of the gas pressure is equal to the gravitational potential energy. The critical mass limit of the cloud is defined as the Jeans mass. As soon as the mass of the cloud exceeds the Jeans mass, in theory, it is prone to collapse.
However, if the mass of a cloud does not exceed the Jeans mass, it still has the potential for collapse, and therefore star formation via induction. If a cloud is in near enough proximity to a massive star, as the star dies, it will produce a Type II supernova which propagates in all directions as a shock wave. This is a sudden change in pressure accompanied by other ejecta. When the blast front comes into contact with the cloud, star formation can be induced.
In this research, the phenomenon is explored in the setting of the early universe at z = 15-16, or approximately 300 million years after the Big Bang. Simulation data in conjunction with visualization software was used to analyze a molecular cloud near a Population III star to investigate the factors which are distinct in each dataset (for a hypernova, supernova, and no supernova) and point to whether or not collapse and subsequent star formation is induced.
Increasing frequency of antibiotic resistance in bacterial species is a cause for global health community concern. Traditional high throughput attempts are costly and yield relatively few promising compounds. Using a unique collection of plant cultures, we have developed a transwell plant–microbe co-culture system to provide environment that induces production of antimicrobial phytochemicals. Thus, callus cultures were tested against gram-positive Staphylococcus aureus and gram-negative Escherichia coli to identify plant cultures capable of the most effective antimicrobial activity. Morus (mulberry) derived cultures (M. nigra and M. alba) emerged as the effective sources of antistaphylococcal metabolites, which were produced upon co-culture elicitation. Mulberries are known to produce benzofuran compounds, moracins, some of which are effective in lysing methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. However, it is not known which of more than 30 moracins are produced as a response to a direct microbial stress from S. aureus. The hit cultures grew too slow for any scale-up work, and we, thus, attempted de novo callogenesis of several Morus species using sterilized intact seeds and high auxin/cytokinin concentrations. To report on selectivity trends in both elicitation and antimicrobial effects, the co-culture secretions were tested against both the bacterial species used in the co-culture elicitation (i.e., S. aureus) and a control organism (E. coli). The resulting broad-spectrum and gram-selective compounds were characterized structurally using mass spectroscopy and high-performance liquid chromatography. We anticipate that the compounds identified in these assays will be used to develop novel therapeutics to combat bacterial infections in the post-antibiotic era.
The Effects of Palm Fruit Extract on the Expression of SREBP-1c as it Relates to Adipogenesis and the Progression of Prediabetes to Type II Diabetes in the Obese State Using a C. elegans and GFP Reporter Fusion Protein Model
Type II Diabetes Mellitus is a metabolic disease characterized by insulin resistance and hyperglycemia. Hypertrophic obesity has been strongly associated with a reduced capacity to store lipids in adipose tissue compared to hyperplastic obesity. It is believed that reduced lipid storage capacity effectively results in ectopic lipid accumulation, a major contributor to insulin resistance through the mechanisms of lipotoxicity and lipid induced insulin resistance. Increased lipid storage capacity through increased adipogenesis is thus an area of interest in the prevention of type II diabetes. Adipogenesis is under regulation by a host of transcriptional regulators including PPAR-y and C/EBP-α and SREBP-1c. This study aims to determine if the phytochemical rich palm fruit extract affects the expression of SREBP-1c using a C. elegans and GFP reporter fusion protein model.
Quantifying the Effect of Phytochemicals on Sirtuin-1 Gene Expression in C. elegans Using a Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) Reporter Gene
Proteins have a wide array of essential functions within cells such as DNA replication, catalysis of metabolic reactions, and transportation of molecules. In order to complete its function, a protein must fold into a specific three-dimensional shape. The site of folding and maturation for approximately one-third of the proteome that is targeted to the secretory pathway is the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). An important chaperone pathway within the ER is the calnexin (CNX)/calreticulin (CRT) pathway. Most of the proteins targeted to the secretory pathway receive N-linked glycans, a structure composed of multiple carbohydrates, as they are translocated into the ER. CNX/CRT bind to proteins with monoglucosylated glycans and play an important role in ensuring protein folding efficiency, minimizing non-productive interactions, decreasing aggregation, retaining immature proteins in the ER, and possibly targeting terminally misfolded proteins for degradation. UDP-glucose:glycoprotein glucosyltransferase 1 (UGGT1) is known as the central gatekeeper in the CNX/CRT pathway since it determines which proteins are retained in the ER by monoglucosylating the protein’s glycans, leading to CNX/CRT binding. Prosaposin (PSAP), a glycoprotein consisting of four domains (A, B, C, D), is an obligate substrate of UGGT1 and contains five N-linked glycans. Each domain has one glycan except for A, which contains two. The domains closer to the C-terminus (saposin C and saposin D) contain hydrophobic patches proposed to be associated with UGGT1 recognition.
In our lab’s working model for prosaposin maturation it is predicted that the domains closer to the C-terminus undergo reglucosylation more than N-terminal domains. The N-terminal domains (A and B) are translocated into the ER first and therefore begin folding first, to allow for folding of N-terminal domains unencumbered by immature, unfolded C-terminal domains. Persistent reglucosylation of C-terminal domains would lead to CNX/CRT binding and therefore aid in sequestering these domains from the actively folding N-terminal domains. The objective of this study is to further understand the role of UGGT1 with respect to protein folding by testing the prediction that the C-terminal domains of PSAP are reglucosylated more than the N-terminal domains. Understanding which domain of PSAP is best reglucosylated may also improve understanding of how UGGT1 recognizes substrates. This will aid further studies which seek to examine UGGT1 activity with spatio-temporal resolution.
Thioredoxins (Trx) are small proteins found across all three domains of life that have highly conserved, active site cysteine residues. They are integral players in redox signaling pathways where they participate in protein thiol-dithiol exchange via oxidoreductase activity. By supplying electrons to protein thiolate moieties, they help to maintain other cellular proteins in a predominantly reduced state. Interestingly, most biological systems rely on a small set of Trx isoforms, while the number of Trx isoforms in plants is extensive; at least 20 isoforms have been identified. Thioredoxin h4 (Trx h4) in Arabidopsis thaliana (Arabidopsis) is a relatively uncharacterized Trx isoform. Trx h (heterologous) type isoforms are localized to the plant cytosol where they are believed to take part in oxidative stress attenuation by preventing irreversible protein oxidation caused by chemical species such as hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), superoxide (O2·-), and possibly nitric oxide (NO). Levels of Trx h4 mRNA are relatively high compared to levels of housekeeping transcripts in reproductive organs (i.e. pistil and stamen) and in seeds after imbibition. Trx h4 is thought to influence the initiation of reproduction, with one possibility being that Trx h4 modulates transcription factor signaling as it has been shown for other Trx h isoforms. Another putative role of Trx h4 is in the activation of starch degrading enzymes in germinating seeds, though these functions need to be tested. To better understand the role of Trx h4, an Arabidopsis trx h4 null mutant (T-DNA insertion line) has been identified and is being grown to be observed for phenotypic effects. Trx h4 protein will be synthesized in E. coli and isolated for subsequent activity assays to determine possible denitrosation and other redox activities.
The enzyme polyphenol oxidase (PPO) can be found in many organisms. It catalyzes the reaction that results in the browning of fruits and vegetables, leading to changes in the nutritional value of these organisms. In this research, Hordeum vulgar, or barley, was chosen as the organism of study. In barley cells, PPO exists as isoenzymes in multiple forms. When cut or bruised, the cell membranes and cell walls of fruits, vegetables, barley, and a range of other organisms are damaged. Thereafter, upon exposure to the oxygen in the air, PPO isoenzymes catalyze the oxidation of catechols (phenolic compounds) to quinones. Quinone products polymerize or interact with amino acids, resulting in the production of the dark oxidation products. The varying PPO isoenzymes were extracted from barley plants and separated through ammonium sulfate precipitation, re-suspension, dialysis, centrifugation, ion exchange chromatography, and gel electrophoresis. The activity of PPO was measured through the oxidation of dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA), specifically focusing on the conversion of L-Dopa to Dopachrome. The PPO isoenzymes were separated by electrophoresis and visualized by activity staining with DOPA. One of the PPO isoforms was found to be a cation at pH 8.0. Results will be discussed in further detail. Researching PPO in organisms and its function in the plant and in chloroplasts could make way for possible solutions preventing produce browning.
Allosteric Relationships between Human Hsp70 and Its Mutants
The Hsp70 family, a group of heat shock proteins present in almost all living organisms, are essential molecular chaperones responsible for a wide range of protein related cellular functions. For bacterial Hsp70, termed DnaK, the allosteric mechanism, whereby substrate binding is modulated by nucleotide binding, is well understood and consists of interconversion between a docked and an undocked state resulting from interactions of the two functional domains. However, the allostery of human inducible cytoplasmic Hsp70, termed HspA1, although extremely similar in sequence to DnaK, is not as well understood and has been shown to behave differently than that of bacterial Hsp70. HspA1 has been implicated as a possible drug target in several severe neurological disorders and cancers, although not enough is known about the protein’s dynamics to enable development of an appealing drug target. In this poster, the behavior of DnaK is studied by observing the effect of single point mutations in locations throughout the protein which are thought to be allosterically critical. Through biochemical studies and structural analysis by nuclear magnetic resonance, the effect that these mutations have is observed providing greater insights into critical amino acid residues in DnaK. In this poster, various mutants of DnaK are studied displaying how tunable the allosteric landscape of this protein is, along with uncovering residues which account for differences in function between DnaK and it’s homologue, HspA1. This research highlights the amino acids that contribute to structural and functional differences between these seemingly similar proteins and ultimately, a greater picture into the allosteric landscape of HspA1.
Biocompatible Polymer Scaffolds for Mammalian Cell Adhesion and Growth
The hierarchical assembly of mesoscale structures, such as filaments, fibrils, and fibers, plays a vital role in the development of high-performing biological tissues. Furthermore, the production of these mesoscale building blocks from synthetic, polymer-based materials provides tunable mechanical properties and tailored functionalities, however, their assembly is challenging.
Flowcoating, a ‘stop-&-go’ evaporative self-assembly method, has recently demonstrated an ability to synthesize mesoscale polymer ribbons that adopt predictable three-dimensional structures when released from the substrate. Thus, new opportunities exist to employ the uniquely tunable and scalable properties of flowcoating with biocompatible polymers in order to manufacture synthetic scaffolds for the development of biological tissues.
The goal of this study was to flowcoat mesoscale biocompatible polymer ribbons that could mediate cellular adhesion and growth, and adopt unique three-dimensional conformations upon being released from the underlying substrate.
Sterilized glass substrates were flowcoated with poly(maleic anhydride-alt-1-octadecene), an inexpensive polymer capable of covalently binding proteins. These flowcoated polymer ribbons were then microcontact printed with fibronectin, an extracellular protein, and subsequently cultured with rat embryonic fibroblast cells.
As anticipated, these polymer ribbons were capable of covalently binding fibronectin, and the resulting protein-polymer ribbons exhibited an ability to mediate rat embryonic fibroblast adhesion through the bound fibronectin’s RGD cell-binding domain.
Having observed the successful adhesion of rat embryonic fibroblasts to these protein-polymer ribbons, future research will test the adhesion of contractile cardiomyocytes to explore the viability of artificially engineering chemoresponsive tissues using flowcoated polymer scaffolds.
It is essential for the health of cells that the proteins within them fold properly, as proteins that fail to do so suffer a loss of function. If these proteins misfold, they may become toxic to cells or clump together and form harmful aggregates. Many diseases have been attributed to abnormal protein folding, including Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). ALS is is a progressive neurodegenerative disease characterized by degeneration of motor neuron cells. Despite decades of research, the disease has no cure. Mutations in the gene SOD1, which encodes the enzyme superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) have been implicated in ALS, with aggregates of this protein observed in the brains of ALS patients. Disease-linked mutations span the entire sequence of SOD1 and encode SOD1 variants with a wide range of biophysical properties. I am probing the aggregation propensities of several ALS-linked SOD1 mutants with the goal of gaining a molecular understanding of the folding defects of various SOD1 mutant proteins, which could reveal strategies for therapeutic intervention. Aggregation propensities were measured for each mutant protein when expressed in E. coli cells and in more defined cell-free in vitro translation system. Baseline aggregation propensities were established and molecular chaperones were supplemented to the cell free system to observe the effects that individual chaperones have on the folding fates of translated protein. These studies have enabled a better understanding of SOD1 and the mechanisms behind the misfolding of ALS-linked mutants.
The ability to engineer and control how living bacterial cells sense and respond to their surroundings would be useful for a variety of applications. This cellular programming can be accomplished through the use of genetic circuits. Genetic circuits, while analogous to electrical circuits, experience biological issues, such as genetic dependent effects or off target bindings, which affect the way a signal is transduced through the circuit. Signal matching is a new algorithm that employs the idea that upstream gates produce output signals that are strong enough to act as input signals on downstream gates, ensuring proper propagation of the signal. However, this algorithm has only proven successful in about 75% of circuits tested (of a set of 60). It is not fully understood how the layering or position dependence of gates affects the full functionality of a circuit. In order to investigate the cause of inaccurate predictions made by the signal-matching algorithm, a complete combinatorial library of repression cascade circuits was constructed using four TetR homolog repressors, and signal propagation was tracked using flow cytometry. A YFP-reporter plasmid was used to signal the passage of logic through each gate within the cascade circuits. Time points were taken every 2, 4, and 6 hours, so that propagation of the signal through the circuit can be observed. It is expected that the effectiveness of signal propagation through a genetic circuit depends significantly on the layering of gates, but also the positional context of the gates.
ER degradation-enhancing α1,2-mannosidase-like 1 protein (EDEM1) is implicated in quality control within the ER as an acceptor of misfolded glycoproteins and as a link to degradation machinery. EDEM1 possesses a signal peptide at the N-terminus, which targets the protein to the ER, a conserved mannosidase-like domain (MLD), and five N-linked glycosylation sites. The EDEM1 MLD contains four glycosylation sites, three putative acidic catalytic residues, and six cysteine residues. We have previously demonstrated through mutagenesis and through the use of mannosidase inhibitors that the MLD is implicated in protein quality control through ERAD. While the mechanism by which EDEM1 interacts with misfolded substrate is unknown, we have acquired preliminary data to suggest an oxidation-dependent interaction. Through site-directed mutagenesis, we mutated the cysteines (Cys) to serines (Ser) on wild-type EDEM1 and determined that EDEM1 possesses four reactive thiols and four cysteines involved in disulfide bonds. The objective of this study is to further characterize the involvement of the Cys residues present in the MLD in substrate binding. We created the MLD construct and confirmed its ER-targeting and ER localization using biochemical and cell-based approaches. Additionally, we created MLD constructs lacking: each Cys residue, putative unpaired Cys, putative disulfide pairs, and all cysteines (MLD Cys-less). The predicted disulfide map will be determined through Peg-Maleimide modification, while binding interactions with ERAD-clients will be tested using the secretory protein α1-antitrypsin (A1AT) and the A1AT misfolded variants NHK and Z.
Predictive Algorithm for Response of Fabry Disease Mutants to 1-Deoxygalactonojirimycin
Postpartum depression is a significant public health concern and affects up to 20% of new mothers and their babies through adverse impacts on a mother’s parenting capacities. Strong evidence implicates a role for altered monoamine neurotransmission in the pathophysiology of depression. This Honors Thesis aims to help determine the relationship between monoamine signaling in the medial preoptic area (mPOA), a region that plays a major role in orchestrating cognitive and motivational aspects of parenting, and the depressive phenotype using in vivo microdialysis, a neurochemical sampling technique. The Wistar-Kyoto (WK) rat model of postpartum depression is used as it closely models major clinical features of depressed human mothers, including cognitive, motivational, and parenting disturbances. Ongoing experiments are measuring extracellular levels of the monoamine neurotransmitters dopamine (DA) and serotonin (5-HT) in maternal mPOA during social interaction with the young. This study employs a novel approach combining detailed analysis of maternal responding toward pups with simultaneous, rapid in vivo microdialysis. It is hypothesized that WK mothers will show altered release of DA and 5-HT in the mPOA when compared to the control group during specific maternal behaviors. Thus, the results of this work will help characterize the role of extracellular monoamine levels in the depressive phenotype and associated parenting disturbances.
With growing threat of antibiotic resistance in bacterial pathogens of clinical importance, plants are re-emerging as an ancient non-microbial source of antibiotic substances. Plant-derived antimicrobials could be particularly useful for their synergistic effects, whereby the potency of a phytochemical mixture is greater than the sum of those from individual components. High-throughput assays have established mulberry plants - specifically Morus nigra and Morus alba - as potential candidates with antimicrobial activity against the gram-positive bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. These plants contain a plethora of benzofuran variants, including moracin compounds, which have already been established as agents for antimicrobial applications. In particular, certain moracin compounds have shown antimicrobial activity against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Extracts derived from the leaves of the Morus rubra and Morus nigra plants are first applied in secondary bioassays to compare the potencies of the isolated and combined extracts. Fractionation of extracts of interest, through techniques, such as liquid chromatography, then separates the constitutive elements within each extract. A combination of mass spectrometry and high performance liquid chromatography can then be used to isolate and identify each of these benzofuran compounds from the leaf extracts of both plants. Separated fractions are then tested in either isolation or in combination with one or more fractions through viability-based antimicrobial screens to detect any synergistic effects against S. aureus. The synergistic property of plant antimicrobials, specifically Mulberry moracins, is expected to render these antibacterial candidates with resilience to resistance against bacterial pathogens.
Bacteria, like the uropathogenic (UPEC) strain of Escherichia coli used here, are able to sense and adapt to a changing environment; conditions may include temperature, acidity, oxidative stress, and nutrient availability. They alter their gene expression and virulence accordingly, so they may survive, proliferate, or conserve resources when needed. There are a number of mechanisms by which this regulation occurs, including the signaling molecule cyclic di-GMP. This molecule enhances biofilm formation (groups of cells stuck together via secretion of polysaccharides) while inhibiting motility, ultimately affecting virulence. We focused on temperature as the environmental “cue,” emulating the transition from an outside environment (23°C) to one inside a human host (37°C), to see if c-di-GMP levels were thermoregulated. UPEC E. coli was grown at 23°C, then split so half stayed at 23°C and the other half shifted to 37°C. Cells were harvested at various time points after the shift, nucleic acids extracted, and then run on a High Performance Liquid Chromatograph (HPLC) in comparison with cyclic-di-GMP standards. Our results showed a significant increase in cyclic di-GMP concentration as early as one hour, and continuing at four hours, post-shift. These results imply that in UPEC, the shift to human body temperature may serve as a “cue” for the bacteria to form a biofilm, which may aid in protection and survival in the human host.
Myoglobin is a protein found in muscle tissue and is released into the blood stream when muscle damage is induced. Because of this, myoglobin serves as a biomarker to assess muscle damage. The method that was chosen to detect myoglobin involves using liquid chromatography to analyze urine. Urinary analysis is non-invasive and multiple analyses can be performed on a single sample. However, myoglobin can degrade once excreted and is present in lower concentrations than in blood. Here we assess whether this method is a viable approach for quantifying urinary myoglobin in college athletes.
Colorectal cancer (CRC) remains the third most commonly diagnosed malignancy for both women and men in the United States. One of the genetic pathways highly implicated in CRC is the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) and its downstream effectors. To build better therapies, it is necessary to study how this pathway interacts with other pathways involved in tumorogenesis. Here we demonstrate EGFR plays a surprising role in a CRC model driven by constitutive activation of the downstream Rapidly Accelerated Fibrosarcoma (Raf) kinase.
Our work takes advantages of the D. melanogaster model system to manipulate gene expression in intestinal stem cells. This method allows us to create tumors based on expression of Rafgof. Because EGFR lies upstream of the Raf kinase, we expected the tumor to be EGFR independent. However, we found these Rafgof tumors require EGFR for continued growth. We present data here suggesting that EGFR is required in the parallel Akt pathway.
Studying these signaling cascades in an in vivo model can provide insight to how they interact, perhaps in a more complex fashion than in proposed classical models. These results suggest that humans with constitutively active mutations in Raf may benefit from therapies targeting upstream EGFR
Carbon dioxide is one of the main components that any kind of plant needs in order to fully grow and function properly. In this research, we wanted to determine how elevated CO2 impacts leaf growth and function in a variety of Manihot esculenta (Cassava) cultivars relative to cultivars grown in ambient CO2. Difference in leaf thickness, cell number and size, vein spacing, as well as the number and size of laticifers (specialized latex producing organelle) will be compared. This study will help us determine how elevated CO2 will affect Cassava plants.
Currently there are many antibiotics available to treat bacterial infections; however, antibiotics are often overused ultimately resulting in the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Antibiotic resistance has become a global healthcare problem causing severe health complications and increased healthcare costs. In order to overcome this problem, alternative measures should be identified to fight certain infections. Flavonoids, like quercetin, have been shown to have antibacterial activity in vitro by inhibiting bacterial growth for strains like methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). This study examines the effect of quercetin, in combination with a panel of commonly used antibiotics on their activity against Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyogenes, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Escherichia coli. Antibiotic sensitivity was determined by measuring the zone of inhibition using a standard Kirby-Bauer disk diffusion method.
The Effects of Feeding Enrichment, Temperature, and Lunar Phase on a Captive Red Fox’s Nocturnal Activity
Concerns have escalated regarding the welfare of captive animals, especially carnivores. Time budget studies are extremely valuable to assess an animal’s welfare because abnormal repetitive behaviors(ARBs) can be identified. We performed a summer long study of a 13-year-old male red fox (Vulpes vulpes) that was once a house pet but has spent the past 11 years residing at Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary. The fox was retired at the end of the study. Every night, the fox was put in a two-room indoor enclosure and his night behavior was observed by means of a camera system for 31 days, 16 hours per night, over 3 months, with a total of 496 hours observed from April- August 2017. Behavior was compared with feeding enrichment, temperature, and moon phase. The fox exhibited scratching at the door as the only stereotypic behavior observed and it accounted for 2.70% of the time budget. Sleep decreased significantly when enrichment was present. However, the relative frequency of each behavioral category in the time budget, as a whole, did not change significantly with the presence of enrichment. Activity levels were not affected significantly by temperature or moon phase. The red fox was found to be lunar neutral.
Characterization of Macrophage Growth, Maturation, and Polarization: Best Practices for the THP-1 Cell Line
Canine Pyoderma: A Review of Preventative Measures via Vaccinations and Understanding the Immune Response to Pyoderma Infection
Canine pyoderma is a pyogenic skin infection caused by the colonization of Staphylococcus Pseudintermedius within open wounds or lesions in the skin. The symptoms of canine pyoderma differ among individuals but are characterized by both the depth of infection, deep or superficial, as well as the underlying cause, primary or secondary. Majority of canine pyoderma cases are recurrent in nature requiring long-term antibiotic use. However, prolonged use of antibiotics for treatment of canine pyoderma has led to increasing concentration of antibiotic-resistant strains and ineffectiveness of commonly prescribed antibiotics in both veterinarian medicine and human medicine. Therefore, it is imperative for scientists to focus on vaccine development as a means for prevention rather than treatment. In this literature review, possible vaccine candidates are investigated to formulate an effective vaccine. Many of these antigenic candidates pertain to both the physical or chemical components of various staphylococcus species. Also, in this literature view, efficacies of vaccines composed of various antigenic candidates are discussed to determine whether they induce a long-lasting immune response. Furthermore, because many cases of canine pyoderma cases are a result of various underlying immune issues, prompting the need to analyze the role of the immune system using extensive scientific research. By understanding the relevance of prevention via vaccination, antibiotic use can become infrequent.
Cilia are important eukaryotic organelles. Chlamydomonas is a unicellular green alga with two cilia to help it swim. Chlamydomonas is useful to study cilia motility and assembly since its cilia are easily manipulated and regrow quickly when lost. This research was conducted to better understand the mechanisms of how Chlamydomonas cells regulate cilia assembly. Cilia growth rates were analyzed for mutant strains with a delay in regrowth after being experimentally induced to excise their cilia. Growth rates of mutant and wild-type strains were monitored to make regeneration curves to see if there were differences among strains. Levels of gene activity during regeneration were also examined using a luciferase assay. For both methods, Chlamydomonas cells were deflagelated by a pH shock and then isolated at different times during their regeneration period. The luciferase assay used a Gaussia luciferase reporter and a luminometer to measure the activity of the FLA14 dynein light chain gene promoter, that is upregulated during cilia regeneration. Cells were fixed in glutaraldehyde at different times during regeneration and imaged with phase contrast microscopy. FIJI software was used to measure cilia lengths on the resulting images to create regeneration curves for each strain. The end goal was to characterize and compare the rate at which the wild-type strains and the mutant strains of Chlamydomonas cells regrow their cilia. This data, combined with the gene activity data, will allow us to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms of cilia regeneration in eukaryotes.
Effect of Hyperglycemia on Bacterial Uptake into CaCo-2 Cells
Hyperglycemia, or excess glucose in the blood, is often associated with Type 2 Diabetes. Hyperglycemic conditions can cause cardiovascular problems, kidney damage, and other long term negative effects. When exposed to high glucose conditions, cells are subjected to oxidative stress and their ability to survive or grow may dramatically decrease. After growth in hyperglycemic conditions, cells are altered by the process of glycation and glycoxidation which performs a pathogenic role in the complications of oxidative-based diseases like diabetes. Cells of the gut are exposed to a variety of both pathogenic and non-pathogenic microbes. It is not well understood how hyperglycemia can effect the interactions between host cells and these microbes. This study will quantify bacterial invasion of CaCo-2 colorectal epithelial cells after exposure to hyperglycemic conditions. CaCo-2 cells will be exposed to high glucose conditions for various time points and then infected with a panel of enteric bacteria. Bacterial uptake of CaCo-2 cells will be quantified by standard gentamicin protection assay. Though not well understood, studying the effects of long term hyperglycemic conditions in vitro and how it effects bacterial uptake into the CaCo-2 cells will give insight on the diseases that more than 30 million people face today.
Probiotic Therapy of Eastern Newts at Risk of Chytridiomycosis Outbreaks
The primary objective of the project is to create a shortlist of the most abundant planktonic species in the Bristol Community College Fall River Campus pond. Time and resources allowing, a more in-depth guide to these species will be produced. This guide will be available to future students in classes (e.g., biology, field biology, and ecology) who can utilize the list to inform their own attempts to identify organisms in a typical two-hour lab period. Additionally, the project will provide a foundation for other students who may wish to take this work further to examine quantitative data. Methods and resources used in research will include field and laboratory equipment such as a plankton net to collect samples from the pond and compound and dissecting microscopes for identifying the organisms at various magnifications. Additionally, print and online academic references, including peer reviewed journal articles, to aid in identification of organisms and information regarding biology and life history will be used. The end product will be a species (group) list for the pond, along with a laboratory/field notebook cataloging observations and scientific process. A customized taxonomic key for the BCC pond may also be included.
2017-2018 Influenza Outbreak Shows a Need for Better Public Health Education
The United States is currently experiencing one of the worst seasonal influenza epidemics the country has seen in the last decade. Hospitals in the United States are also experiencing a significant increase in visits to the emergency room, contributing to overcrowding and misuse. You would think the first statement would be causing the problem presented in the second statement. However, you would be wrong. Unless someone infected with influenza is consistently vomiting for more than a day or spikes and maintains an elevated fever, there is not much the emergency department could do. Contrary to what much of the public believes, influenza cannot be successfully treated with antibiotics. Influenza is a virus and viruses do not respond to antibiotics. The identity of influenza is just one of the many sides of the misinformation storm raining down on the United States right now. The internet is one of the biggest contributors to the storm, allowing anyone to post their views. In most other fields, that is okay, however, furthering the spread of medical misinformation can be lethal. There are websites that give you a list of possible diseases with symptoms and there are websites that provide good medical information. However, there is not a website that excels at both. This thesis seeks to identify and direct the public to a website with a symptom checker that presents reliable medical information in order to decrease the unnecessary spread of infectious disease and prevent unnecessary trips to the ER.
Greenfield Community College (GCC) is a member of the Salamander Population and Adaptation Research Collaboration Network (SPARCnet). SPARCnet’s mission is to advance our understanding of environmental change on salamander ecology. To study the Eastern red-backed salamander, a noninvasive method of mark and recapture is utilized. Captured salamanders are marked with inert elastomer that is injected subdermally and glows under ultraviolet light. Each salamander is given a unique color combination and specific data is collected at each capture. Sex, number of eggs, if female, the presence/absence of cirri, if male, length, unique ID and recapture status are recorded during both spring and fall sampling sessions. Environmental measures of soil temperature at every 10 cm from surface to 50 cm, soil moisture, and air temperature are also recorded. To optimize data collection outcomes, we are asking: what are the ideal conditions for salamander capture success at GCC? The campus hosts six 5m x 10m arrays each with 50 10cm x 10cm coverboards which serve as capture sites. Variables such as soil conditions, tree cover, time of day, and ambient temperature will be compared to number of individuals captured within and between the arrays. New data will be collected in spring of 2018 and four seasons of existing mark and recapture and environmental data will be analyzed. We expect to find correlations between number of individuals captured and environmental variables such as soil moisture and ambient temperature. Once optimal environmental conditions are identified, spring 2018 data collection will be used to verify trends.
Since the modern creation of green roofs in Germany in the 1960s, the vegetated roof movement has been gaining traction and begun establishing in North America. Expansion and application of green roofs have branched into new climates, buildings and products. As the industry grows quickly, little research is available about the performance of vegetated rooftops in the cold, variable New England climate. This research study assessed the performance of 14 plant varieties planted on a green roof in Amherst, Massachusetts, and investigated the effect on performance of adding different levels of mineral nutrients.
Cover of each species was measured in each of 10 pairs of 50 x 50 cm plots in each of four planting types in April 2017. A slow-release fertilizer containing 5, 10, 15, 20, or 25 g N/m2 was applied to one plot in each pair. Five months later, cover was remeasured and fertilizer reapplied.
Varieties of Sedum hybridium had the highest cover, followed by varieties of S. spurium. Species with low cover included S. reflexum, S. album, S. sieboldii, S. sexangulare, S. ochrolecrum, S. rupestre, S. stefco, the grass Festuca elijah blue, and the sedge Carex pennsylvanica. Nutrient addition did not affect the cover of planted species, but did increase the cover of species regarded as weeds.
Permaculture is the utilization of natural systems in agricultural techniques. The goal of permaculture is to create agriculture systems that are in tune with natural ecosystems, establishing more sustainable forms of agriculture, and understanding local ecosystems. The garden or farm becomes its own self-sustaining ecosystem, that benefits the local ecosystem. This term, permaculture, was first coined in 1978 and is a term influenced by the philosophy of natural farming. The intensive farming practices utilized in recent human history were born out of the industrial revolution. These new technologies enabled farmers to increase their yield many times per area of land. However, it’s come at a high price. Some of the problems of industrial agriculture include: habitat destruction for farmland, decreased soil quality from intensive farming practices, pollution caused from fertilizers and pesticides, and decreased genetic diversity due to planting only certain selectively breed varieties of crops. Those who criticize natural farming claim it cannot produce enough to match the production of established agriculture practices. However, a counterpoint contends that the low-yield production in organic agriculture is due to growing plants that aren’t well adapted to the local ecosystem, and the restrictions conventional agriculture places on available seeds. My research will detail my efforts and results in utilizing permaculture techniques in my garden and what I have learned about the local ecosystem, as well as address the philosophical and ethical debate surrounding the continued use of industrial farming practices over sustainable ones.
The Effect of Vitamin C on TNF Release and Cell Viability in THP-1 Differentiated Macrophages
Macrophages are immune cells that reside in our tissues and express receptors that detect pathogens and foreign particles as well as drive immune responses through secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Macrophages are one of the cell types necessary for an immune response to bacterial infection. Compounds that increase their effector function would result in a more robust response. Previous studies have shown that vitamin C enhances the effector function of macrophages by producing genome wide changes in the cell as early as 48 hours upon treatment. The aim of this study is to determine the effect of vitamin C treatment on macrophage function. As previous reports show that vit C functions as both an antioxidant and immune booster, vitamin C has been promoted to help prevent and treat numerous health conditions, not only the common cold but also certain cardiovascular diseases and cancers. The goal of this study is to determine if there is a difference in cytokine secretion in THP-1 macrophages exposed to vitamin C. Previous reports suggest that macrophages exposed to vitamin C in vitro have enhanced cytokine secretion, such as TNFα, in response to LPS. This study will also examine the cell viability in different treatment groups in order to determine if there is an optimal nontoxic level of vitamin C to heighten immune function.
Zebrafish are an excellent model for a wide variety of neuroscience-based research. The inhibitory neurotransmitter called GABA, found in the central nervous system, is involved in regulating locomotion. The purpose of this study was to observe the behavior of embryonic zebrafish using kinematic analysis after knocking out 3 GABAA α subunits via CRISPR/CAS9 techniques. The subunits- α1, α4, and α5- were selected because they were suspected to alter locomotive response. It was found that this particular combination of 3 subunits did not have a significant effect on the locomotion response in the zebrafish. Further research on all the possible GABAA α subunit combinations will be conducted in the Downes laboratory.
This study brings attention to the prevalence of tetracycline resistant bacteria in soil from a local, urban environment. Soil hosts a vast diverse group of bacteria, including pathogens. Tetracycline is often used in both humans and animals to treat bacterial infections. Soil sample collections from local, urban sites were plated at low and high tetracycline concentrations. Tetracycline resistant bacteria showed viable colony growth on both concentrations of tetracycline. Total colony forming units per gram of soil were calculated for each sample and compared to soil bacteria grown without tetracycline. Tetracycline resistant bacteria were detected within a percentage range of less than 14.08%. Isolated resistant bacteria were identified as gram-negative with bacillus morphology. Physiologic examination with differential and selective media plates showed metabolic differences, which indicate different species. Biochemical analysis of resistant bacteria showed different oxygen metabolism, also indicating different species. Sequence analysis of 16S rRNA gene indicated different species. This study identifies the presence of a diverse population of tetracycline resistant bacteria that exist in our local communities.
Adult neural stem cells (nSCs) hold great promise for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. However, before stem cell treatments can be truly contemplated, we must first learn the molecular and cellular mechanisms that control nSC proliferation and proper differentiation. Stem cell proliferation and differentiation is tightly contolled throughout life, and is vitally important for brain formation, growth, tissue maintenance and renewal, as well as adult brain function. Sonic hedgehog (Shh) is a developmental morphogen that is known to play a central role in nSC proliferation in the adult mammalian brain, and recent work showed that Shh-regulated proliferation can lead to complete repair after spinal cord lesion in zebrafish. We have identified a role for Shh in regulating proliferation of a subset of radial glial cells in a region of the ventral forebrain, namely the hypothalamus. Using fluorescent transgenic zebrafish lines we show that Hedgehog-responsive radial glia comprise a distinct subset of radial glia in the hypothalamic ventricular zone, or neural progenitor niche, similar to the situation in the dorsal mammalian brain. We have used transgenic conditional gene regulation systems to demonstrate that Hh is necessary and sufficient to regulate cell proliferation. My project is to examine how transgene-mediated Shh signal manipulation correlates with changes in cell proliferation, and to begin to examine how Shh affects the nSC cell cycle. We hypothesize that Shh may be acting non-cell-autonomously to modulate proliferation levels in the larval zebrafish brain, unlike the situation seen in the adult zebrafish brain. Our data provides the first evidence of a role for Hh signaling in regulating proliferation in the vertebrate hypothalamus and promise to shed light on the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie the coordinated regulation of proliferation needed for normal hypothalamic growth, tissue maintenance, and function.
Investigation of Substrate Specificity of Cytochrome P450 Monooxygenases from the Plant Pathogenic Fungus Sclerotinia homoeocarpa on Phenolic Compounds
Phenolic compounds and other environmental pollutants are often complicated to deal with and require expensive cleanup. One emerging and highly successful way of breaking down complex molecules is by using proteins present in living organisms such as plants, animals and fungi to biologically metabolize the chemicals. Sclerotinia homoeocarpa is one of the most economically important fungal pathogens on turfgrass and causes the disease dollar spot. Decades of repeated chemical treatments have created strains of S. homoeocarpa resistance to multiple classes of fungicides. The Jung Lab discovered three CYP450 proteins in a strain of S. homoeocarpa, which play a vital role in detoxifying xenobitoics such as fungicides. This study was conducted to investigate the substrate specificity of three P450 monooxygenase proteins from S. homoeocarpa to biotranform various phenolic compounds. Three strains of S. homoeocarpa that overexpress three different monooxygenases CYP 561, CYP 65 and CYP 68 were developed. Each one of these strains were grown in nutrient rich broth that had the phenolic compounds dissolved at a concentration of 10 ug mL-1. Samples were taken from the broth of each strain after 36 hours and the phenolic compound was extracted. The concentration of each compound was then analyzed using High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) and a profile of substrate specificity was created for each monooxygenase and compared.
Kinesin-1 Motility is Unaffected by Crowding Agents
When performing experiments that replicate functions within a cellular environment many crucial aspects are often ignored. For instance, single molecule experiments in dilute solutions on motor proteins to understand their roles as the transport system for intracellular transport, but the cell is actually inhomogeneous and crowded. In order to understand how motor proteins behave in the cell we have performed a single molecule assay with varying concentrations of the crowding agent, methylcellulose, to test the dynamics of the kinesin-1 motor protein. By introducing the methylcellulose and measuring the velocity, run length, and association time of kinesin-1 we can test how the cellular environment affects the travel of motor proteins. We initially expected that an increase in the viscosity from crowding agents would slow down the kinesin-1, as we previously observed with glycerol. Interestingly, when using methylcellulose as a crowding agent, the increased viscosity does not slow motors. Other crowding agents, such as poly-ethylene glycol (PEG), increase the viscosity, but do not affect the velocity of the kinesin. The biological relevance is that kinesin-1 motion could be unaffected by crowding within the cell. This would be important to enable motor protein navigation despite the viscosity and crowding.
A central goal of modern neuroscience research is to obtain an understanding of how the molecular and anatomical architecture of the brain leads to brain function. I am currently working on a project to develop a 3-Dimensional gene expression atlas for the adult zebrafish brain, which is currently ongoing in the Karlstrom and Bergan labs. Our goal is to use lightsheet microscopy and tissue clearing techniques to image the intact brains of transgenic zebrafish. By aligning the resultant images to a reference brain image, we aim to create a publicly accessible “expression” atlas of the adult zebrafish brain that can be used by other researchers to quickly examine relative gene expression in relation to defined anatomical structures, as has been done for larval zebrafish. We will create brain atlases at four ages throughout the life of the fish to create the first life-stage brain atlas for any vertebrate, choosing ages from 6 months (young adult) to 3 years (old age), and beyond. This atlas would be very helpful to researchers who use the zebrafish as a model organism to study adult brain function, as well as neurological disease. By creating an online atlas modeled after the Virtual Fly Brain, we hope to create community resource and expand the use of zebrafish as a model to understand changes associated with the aging vertebrate brain and processes underlying neural degeneration.
Cilia are microscopic brush-like structures found on the surfaces of cells. Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is a model organism used in ciliary research. While the motility and assembly of cilia in this organism has widely been studied, currently there is a lack of information on the regulation of genes that encode ciliary proteins. Previous studies have shown that Chlamydomonas initiate cilia regeneration immediately after an experimentally induced amputation and return to normal length and function by 90 minutes after amputation. To better understand molecularly what occurs during this regeneration process, C. reinhardtii mutants were generated by random insertions of Aph VII selectable marker. About 3000 drug-resistant colonies were generated. Phenotypic screening of these strains identified 42 cilia mutants, 14 of which exhibited delays in cilia regeneration. To further define the genes responsible for the delay in ciliary regeneration, genomic DNA was extracted from each strain and amplified with the RESDA protocol using PCR primers specific to the hygromycin cassette and different degenerate primers. Bands of DNA from secondary PCR reactions were purified and sequenced. Seven of the affected genes have been identified that could be required for normal assembly and function of cilia by analyzing the sequences. This study should help provide a better understanding of how the C. reinhardtii cell is able to detect the presence of cilia, and how it regulates the ciliary assembly process after deflagellation.
The objective of this project was to conduct photogrammetry on living frogs and preserved eggs, create their digitized 3D models and record their morphometric measurements. These measurements were then compared to the measurements taken on the real specimen, which provided us with data to know the accuracy of photogrammetry. With the decrease in accessibility to specimens, and a reduction in the private and public funds, natural history museums face budget cuts. By uploading 3D animal and inanimate models on a website along with their morphometric measurements and metadata, people all around the world will gain access to valuable information. The frog specimens were photographed by Duncan J. Irschick in the Philippines and continued in UMass Amherst, along with egg models from the Natural History Collection. The photographs for the 3D models were obtained using the Beastcam ARRAY. It is a 15-arm system with connecting rods containing many attachment points for cameras to mount (around 40 cameras). Wireless triggers are used to make sure cameras click pictures in sync. A central rotatable platform was used as it provides additional shots of animals. The morphometric measurements of the produced 3D models when compared to their live specimens showed that photogrammetry is 98% accurate. The models are uploaded on the Digital Life website (www.digitallife3d.org) and can be viewed by the public. Photogrammetry can increase the focus on collection-based museum research and especially in the area of biodiversity.
One major feature of the vertebrate body plan is the skeletal apparatus and its development is regulated in part by the Hedgehog (Hh) family of signaling proteins. Skeletal defects are known to arise in Hh deficient vertebrates, however, Hh genes are required throughout ontogeny, therefore elucidating its bone regulatory function in this context remains a challenge. Using transgenic zebrafish whereby the Hh pathway may be up- or downregulated via heat shock, we were able to regulate global expression of the Hh pathway in a time specific manner. Transgenic fish were outcrossed with a wild-type strain to produce transgenic and non-transgenic offspring which could be distinguished by the presence or lack of green fluorescence protein expression. Zebrafish were heatshocked starting after the completion of the hatching stage for one week then cleared and stained using Alizarin Red and Alcian Blue followed by imaging with light and fluorescent microscopy. Differences in bone development were observed by measuring length, area, and number of several prominent bone structures including the cleithrum, opercle, branchiostegal rays and vertebral central. Downregulating the Hh pathway reduced the lengths and sizes of early forming bones, and delayed the formation of later forming ones. While measurement data for Hh upregulatory transgenic fish are less clear, the appearance of fusion events between branchiostegal rays in multiple fish suggest an undiscovered pathological role for this pathway.
Previous work showed suppressed immunoreactivity among northwest Kenyan pastoralist children and suggested low levels of all four immunoglobulin (IgGx) subtypes in adult male blood samples collected on Schleicher and Schuell #903 paper. The findings imply genetic or environmental immune suppression, possibly from early supplementation of lactation with non-sterile solid foods. Tests of IgG recovery from paper using a fluorescein-labeled mixture of human IgGs gave 99.6+/-7.0% for IgG1, 102.6+/-9.4% for IgG3, and 101.4+/-15.3% for IgG4. Recovery of IgG2 was concentration dependent in the physiological range, 63.4+/-8.7% at 0.1 mg/mL rising to 105.9+/-1.7% at 10 mg/mL. This project rechecked IgG2 recovery via an IgG2 specific immunoassay (mouse monoclonal capture antibody (Clone HP-6001), 1:16000; fluorescein-labeled goat anti-human IgG (ThermoFisher 62-8411) reporter antibody, 1:167). Serial dilutions of unlabeled pure IgG2 (0.01-10 mg/mL, Sigma I-5404) and human mixed IgG (0.017-70 mg/mL, Sigma I-4506, ~15% IgG2) were dried as 62.5 uL aliquots on 12.5 x 12.5 mm pieces of #903 paper. Dried papers were extracted with 5 mg/mL of cellulase, washed and the extracts brought to 625 uL with water. Identical aliquots of the starting IgG solutions were similarly diluted in extract from papers with no dried IgG as unextracted controls. Immunoassays of extracted and unextracted IgGs gave parallel results indicating IgG2 recovery of 97+/-0.94% in agreement with other IgG subtypes. The findings support loss of fluorescein from directly labeled IgG2 during cellulase extraction and affirm immunosuppression in the Kenyan pastoralists.
Evaluating the Activity Rates of Loggerhead Sea Turtles (Caretta caretta) When Encountering Turtle Exclusion Devices in Trawl Nets
Shrimp fisheries are the primary cause of sea turtle mortality. Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) are implemented into inshore and offshore shrimp trawls to decrease the mortality rate of sea turtles. TED testing is conducted to ensure the efficiency of TED designs and the accuracy of current regulations on shrimp trawls. Such regulations only include tow time limits for skimmer trawls, which are often exceeded in the absence of an observer. This negligence of tow time limits is detrimental to sea turtle populations and hastens the need for proper TED testing and implementation. This research compared the activity rates of captive-reared, one-year-old loggerhead (Caretta caretta) sea turtles over 4 years of TED testing off the coast of Panama City, Florida. Two separately-reared groups of turtles were also compared: open water conditioned and unconditioned. The results showed there was a difference in activity among the 4 years of TED testing due to differences in straight carapace length and body depth. There was no significant difference in activity between conditioned and unconditioned groups, although it is suspected that this is due to a relatively small sample size. Future TED testing with uniform sized turtles and larger sample sizes needs to be conducted to ensure the accuracy of TED Certifications and correct implementation of TEDs in shrimp trawls.
The Effects of Zinc on Cell Viability and Cytokine Release of Astrocytes
Astrocytes are the most abundant and diverse neuralgia cells in the central nervous system (CNS). Astrocytes create the brain environment, build up the micro-architecture of the brain parenchyma, maintain brain homeostasis and store and distribute energy substrates, control the development of neural cells, synaptogenesis, synaptic maintenance and as well as provide for brain defense. Zinc, an essential trace element, plays an important role in neurotransmission. Several studies have addressed the effect of extracellular zinc on astrocyte function. In previous in vitro studies, macrophages and astrocytes exposed to zinc at doses greater than 100 micromolar (µM) was found to be toxic and resulted in significant cell death. The authors also assessed intracellular signaling pathways and nitric oxide release, and showed that zinc enhanced the response to LPS, a molecule associated with infection. This study explored the effect of zinc on astrocyte viability and assessed proinflammatory cytokine release following LPS exposure.
A song system is a species-typical pattern of song use. Song bird species often have song repertoires that contain subsets of songs used in different situations and that may be specialized for different functions. By studying song systems within a species, the evolution of songs can be analyzed without the ecological differences present when comparing different species. Many species of warblers primarily use two categories of songs, first category and second category. Second category songs are usually sung at a faster rate than are first category songs and only second category songs are commonly mixed with chip-like call notes, called chek calls. Cheks are short, rapid series of notes that have yet to be adequately described in literature surrounding warbler song. I will be analyzing the function or purpose of such chek calls in wood-warbler song systems, to achieve a greater understanding of wood-warbler behavior and communication systems. To do this, I will be determining if and why there is an evolutionary relationship regarding the use of chek calls by wood-warblers as well as analyzing the bioacoustics characteristics of chek calls for both the Prairie Warbler (Setophaga discolor) and the Chestnut-sided Warbler (Setophaga pensylvanica), and describing any variation between the two species.
Radiotherapy or chemotherapy suppresses spermatogenesis temporarily or permanently. Sperm are normally observed during urinalysis of men during and after puberty. Urine and urine sediments are easily obtained noninvasively. Examining the recovery of sperm in patient sediments from before and after treatment could track patient fertility. Current methods for evaluating spermatogenesis are expensive, invasive and inappropriate for the longitudinal serial sampling needed to follow restoration of sperm production. This project explores sperm counting by hemacytometer, separation by fluorescence activated cell sorter (FACS), and quantitation by microplate fluorimetry using washed, aldehyde fixed, volunteer sperm samples before and after selective enrichment by “panning” on immobilized peanut agglutinin (PNA). Samples also include washed, fixed volunteer female epithelial cells evaluated in parallel with pure sperm or in admixtures. Microscopy and early FACS runs of urine sediment samples indicate optimal counting requires separation of sperm cells from epithelial cells and debris. PNA binds preferentially to carbohydrate sidechains containing galactosyl-β(1-3)-N-acetylgalactosamine on cell surface proteins of spermatozoa. Immobilized PNA can separate sperm cells from epithelial cells and debris; ~50%-80% of sperm samples with 7,250-116,000 sperm cells in 1 mL of PBS buffer can be recovered after panning in microtiter wells by incubating with 500 mM galactose. Released cells can be labeled with fluorescent PNA and the sperm cell density determined using fluorimetry. Using longitudinal samples the sperm counts can be compared to population or pretreatment norms to evaluate rate of loss or recovery of spermatogenesis in male patients.
In recent times, we find ourselves surrounded by a continuous evolutionary understanding of therapeutic procedure which seeks to protest and subvert the status quo. Breakthroughs like that of epigenetics begins to change the perspective on just how much we have yet to know about ourselves. By utilizing this new approach, strides can be made to understand the nature of diagnosing and treating pediatric illnesses. With epigenetics, more efficient and substantial improvements in methods of remedying situations such as neonatal and prenatal stress can be achieved, allowing us to better serve our future generations. With this research, we can form an understanding of how our current methods truly impact our children, from prenatal vitamins to the food or environment we are exposed to. It is crucial that we pursue the exploration of these new methods while there is still time. Not simply pushing something because of high success rating, rather curating practices to include everyone in the process. As Nikki Kiyimba states in "Developmental Trauma and the Role of Epigenetics," fifty years of animal studies have shown that maternal stress during pregnancy can have long-term effects on the offspring, including learning deficits, altered immune function, more anxious behavior, reduced attention, glucose intolerance and altered cardiovascular responses to stress. By focusing on environmental factors such as stress in pregnancy we can allow the future medicinal practices to better prevent or reverse such illnesses.
Ambystoma maculatum, the spotted salamander, is a species of moist forested habitats across eastern North America. In early spring, adults migrate to breed in vernal pools or other fish-free wetlands, which may be located hundreds of meters from adult habitat. In October 2017, two juvenile A. maculatum were found during routine monitoring of Greenfield Community College’s SPARCnet plots. These were the first recorded individuals of this species at GCC, and they indicated the presence of an actively breeding local population. The lack of known vernal pools in the vicinity led to the identification of an on-campus wetland as a possible breeding site for this population. To determine if the wetland is being utilized for breeding by A. maculatum, and to further document the biodiversity of the GCC campus, a preliminary taxonomic survey of the wetland will be conducted during early spring. Vertebrate and invertebrate taxa will be identified and inventoried, with the presence or absence of fish used as an indicator of breeding suitability for A. maculatum. Special attention will be given to any evidence of breeding amphibians. The results of this study will help inform future conservation planning and wetland preservation efforts at Greenfield Community College, since the on-campus presence of migratory amphibian species such as A. maculatum will necessitate identifying and protecting their critical migration corridors.
The Effect of Antibiotic Exposure on Streptococcus pyogenes and Surrounding Microbiota over Time
Antibiotics are essential to treating many types of bacterial infections, with the goal of targeting specific pathogenic bacteria in hopes of eliminating them from the body. However, antibiotics do not differentiate between the body’s own microbiota and the pathogenic bacteria that it is trying to eliminate. Microbiota cohabitates within the body, providing a mutualistic relationship. Healthy microbiota provides protection as well as assists in digestive functioning and immune health, among other roles. This study hopes to highlight the adverse effect of antibiotics on the body’s natural microbiota by determining how much antibiotics can affect microbiota. Streptococcus pyogenes, the causative agent of “strep” throat, and samples of natural oral microbiota will be cultured together and exposed to a panel of antibiotics over a period of time. Samples of culture fluid will be sampled and assessed for numbers of both viable Streptococcus and isolates of microbiota. This study will address whether the presence of microbiota is negatively impacted by antibiotics, as well as whether microbiota populations can affect the efficacy of antibiotics against S. pyogenes.
Susan Al Mahrwuth, Alexander Miner, Melanie Russo, Tawana Jewell, and Kimberly Pouliot
The Effects of Long-Term, Low-Dose Resveratrol on Activation of the AMP Kinase in K562 Chronic Myeloid Leukemia Cells
Many cancer cells have an altered glucose metabolism where they generate their energy through anaerobic conditions, which is dependent on the amount of available glucose. AMP kinase plays a role in glucose uptake in cells through the activation of the GLUT-4 glucose transporter. AMPK is activated when the cell senses high levels of AMP, which indicate low stores of ATP. AMPK has also been previously shown to mediate autophagy. Autophagy is the degradation of cellular components by the lysosome during various conditions, such as cellular starvation. Resveratrol, a phytoalexin found in fruits activate enzymes that respond to conditions of starvation such as Sirtuin 1 and AMPK. However, in most previously conducted studies, resveratrol has been used in high concentrations that cannot be attained in vivo. In this study, we instead use long-term exposure of low, physiologically relevant, concentrations of resveratrol. Activation of the AMPK pathway with physiologically relevant conditions of resveratrol has the potential induce autophagy of cancer cells when available glucose is limited.
In an increasingly urban world, birds are being faced with new reproductive challenges. This study focused on examining how anthropogenic nesting materials and ectoparasite levels are affecting the health levels of House Wren (Troglodytes aedon) nestlings on an urban to rural gradient. Anthropogenic nesting materials were observed to decrease with increasing levels of urbanization, likely due to differences at the microhabitat level between urban and rural sites. Urbanization had no significant effect on nest ectoparasite levels. Nestlings tended to have slightly higher growth levels in nests with higher amounts of anthropogenic nesting materials. Ectoparasite load was observed to be positively correlated with nestling growth levels, suggesting that nestling health could be determining ectoparasite load, as nests with larger nestlings provide increased food availability for ectoparasites. Further study is necessary to determine the net effects of anthropogenic materials and ectoparasite loads on the health levels of nestlings in highly urbanized areas. This information holds important conservation value for various avian species, as it would determine how increasing interactions between humans and wildlife are affecting the reproductive success of native bird species.
With pollinators declining worldwide due to the potential combined effects of pathogens, habitat destruction, parasites, and pesticides, understanding the reasons behind their decline is essential to conserving their populations. It is imperative that measures are taken to maintain their numbers, especially for those pollinators that crops rely on for their services. I examined the effects of pollen consumption relative to time of infection in the bumblebee B. impatiens infected with the gut parasite Crithidia bombi. Prior studies have shown that sunflower pollen dramatically decreased parasite loads in B. impatiens, though its lower protein content suggests that the beneficial effects would come with an added cost to bee health. I asked how the timing of administering sunflower pollen affected pathogen loads with four diet treatments. Bumblebees were either given seven days of sunflower pollen after infection, seven days of wildflower pollen mix, or a combination of the two for 3.5 days each, with either sunflower or wildflower pollen given first. There were no significant differences in infection by treatment, although the ‘sunflower first’ treatment had lower median and mean infection than the ‘wildflower first’ treatment. Although not statistically significant, bumblebees that were inoculated on one specific date had higher counts of C. bombi than other dates. Furthermore, bees in the treatments ‘wildflower’ and ‘wildflower first’ died significantly faster than the bees in the ‘sunflower’ treatment. More studies should be done to determine the best way to maximize the beneficial effects of sunflower pollen, while also maintaining a healthy diet for bees.
This study strives to answer the question “Is using detection of the mutant PMP22 gene a reliable way to identify the potential for Hereditary Neuropathy with Liability to Pressure Palsies (HNPP)?” This study is split into two parts. First, a meta study that reviews current literature on testing methodologies available for the HNPP will be performed. Second, we will attempt to amplify the PMP22 gene from human cheek cell DNA and examine it's association with characteristics attributed to HNPP. Gaining further insight into inexpensive predictive assays for HNPP and related genetic disorders is necessary because the current testing methods are usually expensive and/or are not covered by insurance. This study aims to identify the most cutting edge tools and technologies being used to identify HNPP patients and to potentially find a cheaper way to identify the potential for HNPP, with the hope that insurance companies would request additional, more comprehensive testing if positive.
The Influences of Chloroplast Sizes on Plant Growth and Development
Plants are able to survive on their own through photosynthesis, the process where plants utilize sunlight energy to convert carbon dioxide and water to produce sugar and oxygen. Photosynthesis takes place in the chloroplasts located on the leaves of plants. Light absorption and utilization by the chloroplast are part of a signalling cascade regulating plant developmental responses. Knowing how the chloroplast influence plants growth and development, we can propose further experiments and apply those to real life agriculture. In this experiment, we predict that differences in chloroplast sizes could influence plant growth and development due to changes in how much light is absorbed by the leaves. To support our hypothesis, Arabidopsis thaliana plants with artificially enlarged chloroplasts were grown in the greenhouse under the same environmental conditions. Growth rate and development between the mutant lines and the wild-type plants will be measured as well as chloroplast size, leaf thickness, cell number and vein spacing.
In this study we conducted a comprehensive literature review to investigate the importance of amphibians in every dimension from medical applications such as tissue regeneration, pharmaceutically-useful compounds, direct socio-economic benefits, to overall ecosystem values. Amphibians have astounding tissue regenerative abilities, including the ability to regrow entire limbs as adults, and heal cardiac, brain, spinal, and retina tissue. Study of these processes will allow the medical industry to restore sight and mobility, and to remedy neurological defects, along with countless other medical discoveries, including amphibian polypeptides that release insulin, raise and lower blood pressure, and regulate the digestive system showing the full scope of their pharmaceutical value is just beginning to be explored. Migration from aquatic to terrestrial environments cycles essential nutrients such as P, C, and N between environments improving the overall health and resilience of the ecosystem. In many northern forests and vernal pools, amphibians account for greater biomass than birds, mammals, and reptiles combined. Amphibians are a central part of many food webs being both predators and prey. Amphibians are poikilothermic turning a greater portion of calories into biomass compared to homeotherms, providing many predators with a stable food and nutrient source. Constant feeding patterns of amphibians make them excellent regulators of biomass in lower trophic levels, contributing to ecosystem stability, as well as making them good biological control agents against pests such as mosquitos, biting flies, and crop-damaging arthropods. Thin skin and superficial vasculature make amphibians sensitive to environmental pollutants making them excellent indicator species as well.
The behavior of microparticles in flow and their adhesion on walls is a topic of key interest within the medical field, specifically due to the applications for drug delivery. Recent research suggests a significant advantage to using non-spherical particles in drug delivery compared to spherical particles, but little is known about the behavior of non-spherical particles in flow. This work addresses the near-surface flow behavior and adhesion of rod-shaped microparticles. Silica rod microparticles with varying aspect ratios but similar diameters were synthesized and their behavior was compared to that of silica microspheres of comparable hydrodynamic diameters. The microparticles were run through a laterally mounted microfluidic device, and electrostatic attractions were manipulated to adhere particles to the surface of the flow cell. The surface capture rate and adhesion threshold of the different shaped microparticles was studied and compared. Preliminary data suggests that rod-shaped microparticles, even with small aspect ratios, exhibit no adhesion threshold in flow compared to spherical microparticles of similar size. This phenomena is further investigated, alongside the potential for rod shaped particles to deliver more material to the surface.
In the United States, approximately 600,000 people are
predicted to die from cancer this year. The
majority of cancer deaths are due to metastasis, where cells from the primary
tumor travel through the bloodstream to a new site in the body. Understanding how cancer cells travel through
the vasculature and invade through blood vessels can be characterized in vitro using biocompatible, synthetic
materials to mimic the native tissue environment of the body. For this project,
a cylindrical channel is created within a tissue mimic and lined with human
umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) to model a vessel. A 3D poly-ethylene glycol (PEG) hydrogel system
is used as the tissue mimic because of its tunability. The stiffness of the
hydrogel can be altered to mimic different tissue types, and different adhesive
peptide sequences corresponding to different extracellular matrix proteins can
be incorporated. The goal of this study is to optimize the adhesion molecule
cocktail of collagen 1, fibronectin, and laminin α added to the PEG system to
maximize the number of cells that adhere to the hydrogel. To determine the optimum mixture, (3-aminopropyl)triethoxysilane
(APTES) functionalized glass coverslips with different combinations of adhesion
peptide sequences were made and incubated with HUVECs. Fluorescent images of the coverslips were used
to quantify the number of adhered cells and cell counts from the different
conditions were compared to determine the best combinations to be translated
into the 3D hydrogel system. The adhesive peptide cocktail containing only the
fibronectin-corresponding sequence and the fibronectin and collagen 1
combination resulted in the greatest number of adhered cells. By optimizing
this mixture, a more confluent channel can be created, increasing the
similarity of the model to a native endothelial vessel and reducing the time it
takes to create the model.
Authors: Jessica Belliveau, Katharine Bittner, and Shelly Peyton
When Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, 3.4 million residents were left without power - disabling infrastructure vital to producing water for medical use. Thereafter, a shortage of intravenous (IV) bags in the US mainland resulted due to the shutdown of facilities in Puerto Rico. Even when there are no disasters, IV solutions often run out in field settings and are a chronic need in well-resourced areas.
Previously, a patent for a medical-grade water filtration device was submitted by Philip Scarpa of NASA to create a portable, low-cost method of producing medical-grade water from available water. The NASA water filter uses a mixed ion bed resin filter and a semi-permeable reverse osmosis membrane filter and is designed to use general potable water to make medical-grade water safe for injection. Building upon the NASA design, a novel water filtration system will be created to be more specialized by turning bottled water or public municipal tap water directly into IV solutions.
The system will be designed to facilitate on-site production of 500mL IV solution bags using minimal energy through car battery chargers or diesel generator systems. Furthermore, empty IV bags can be prepared as ‘pre-mix’ bags that contain the prescribed salts, sugars, and electrolytes that make up commonly-used IV solutions. Ideally, the system will fit into a backpack of a relief worker or a medic - allowing effective and reliable deployment into field hospital situations. This could save lives in situations like Hurricane Maria where IV solutions are hard to deliver or produce.
Visualizing the barrier function of mucous membranes to represent in vivo intestinal microenvironments is essential for understanding the mechanisms of nutrient absorption and pathogen protection. We previously demonstrated a novel extraction technique of Porcine Small Intestine Mucin (PSIM) and characterized it to be consistent with properties that mimic the intestinal mucous in its ability to aggregate and form a gel at high acidic and calcium solutions. In this study, we designed and fabricated a simple, two-channel microfluidic device to visualize the aggregation of PSIM with calcium solutions. The calcium concentration-dependent mucin layer forms within the microfluidic device with high barrier integrity and physiological relevance to the small and large intestines. FITC-dextran was added to demonstrate the diffusion of passive particles across the mucin layer in real time. Salmonella typhimurium was then added to mimic pathogenic infection with fast swimming bacteria and to quantify the integrity of the mucin barrier. Thus, this microfluidic model recapitulates dynamic physical and functional features of intestinal mucus and can be applied further to understand a multitude of the gastrointestinal phenomenon.
The reliability and ease of operation of membrane-based water purification systems has led to their increased use in water and wastewater treatment. However, water and energy are mutually-dependent critical resources; to produce clean water requires energy and the production of energy requires large volumes of water. In this study, nanofiber mats consist of randomly-aligned electrospun cellulose or polysulfone nanofibers that have an average diameter of 1.0 µm. Modifying the surface of ultrafiltration membranes with a cellulose or polysulfone nanofiber layer resulted in membranes with the same molecular weight cut-off (selectivity) and improved flux over control membranes. Nanofiber-enhanced membranes exhibit increased flux properties, maximizing pure water product while minimizing energy consumption. Hydrophobic nanofiber mats (polysulfone) have a greater flux increase over hydrophilic nanofiber mats (cellulose), potentially due to their higher mechanical robustness. Thinner nanofiber mats (508 µm) exhibited improved flux over thicker nanofiber mats (1250 µm), demonstrating that there is an optimal bulk thickness to the added top-layer. This work focuses on identifying the cause of the increased flux relationships. This investigation into the desirable properties of nanofiber-enhanced membranes is driven by the prominent need to improve water and energy availability.
Hydration is fundamental for reducing surface fouling by microorganisms. Immobilization of hydrophilic polymers on a surface aids in the retention of water, which prevents foulants from adhering. While most reported mechanisms of surface modification are substrate-specific, inspired by the adhesive proteins in mussels, dopamine can be used as an effective universal coating platform for surface modification. Using a one-step coating method, hydrophilic antifouling coatings can be synthesized by simultaneously depositing dopamine and polymer zwitterion poly(methacryloyloxyethyl phosphorylcholine) (polyMPC) onto virtually any surface. Coatings with polyMPC have an enhanced antifouling performance compared to polydopamine (PDA) alone. In my work, I am imaging both PDA and polyMPC/PDA coatings, which are only about 5 nm in thickness, using atomic force microscopy (AFM). AFM allows us to analyze the surface topography quantitatively by calculating the surface roughness to help quantify the adherence preferences of bacteria as it is hypothesized that polyMPC/PDA coatings are smoother than PDA coatings. The substrate-independent nature of PDA-based coatings gives it great potential as a surface modification platform to co-deposit polyMPC, or other functionalized polymers, and increase the antifouling properties of any underlying material.
Force Microscopy of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cell Response to Variations within Extracellular Matrix Environment in Poly(ethylene) Glycol Hydrogels
The mechanical properties of the cellular microenvironment direct cprocesses including spreading, migration, and differentiation. Cells transmit force and regulatory signals via linkages to the ECM called focal adhesions, which allow them to exert force on their external environment creating cell-induced material deformations. Many current analytical methods of matrix displacements and cellular tractions are restricted to 2D platforms even though cells in native tissue are in 3D environments. There are a variety of 3D hydrogels available for cell culture, and some have been adapted for traction measurements, however no group has explored in depth how cellular traction changes as a function of properties of the material. Here, we employ a poly(ethylene) glycol-based hydrogel, which can be independently tuned in stiffness, adhesivity, and degradability, unlike conventional collagen-based gels. To measure cellular traction, we embed 0.5μm fluorescent microspheres and cells into the hydrogel and use 4D confocal microscopy to render spatiotemporal models of cellular environments. These are processed with digital volume correlation to compute cell-generated displacements and further manipulated by a large deformation formulation to compute precise cellular traction data. To validate the measurement of cell generated traction, cells were drugged with CytoD to prevent actin polymerization, which decreased the ability for cells to exert force via focal adhesions. Properties were altered in a multivariate fashion, ranging from 0.5-2mM RGD, 5-20 weight percentage, and 0-50% degradability, using MMP14, to study cellular response. This project aims to understand which features of the extracellular environment contribute most to cell forces, so we can measure how cells interact with their environment in the context of disease.
Green Electrospinning of Aqueous Coacervates Comprised of Short-Chain Polyelectrolytes
Green electrospinning of aqueous complex coacervates into solid nanofiber mats potentially enables a new material platform that can serve as drug carriers or wound dressings. Complex coacervates are responsive materials made via the complexation of oppositely-charged polymers in the presence of salt. The key parameters to facilitate coacervate formation are chain lengths and salt concentration. Previously, Meng et al., has demonstrated that nanofiber mats can be electrospun using aqueous coacervates, which eliminates the need to use toxic organic solvents. In this study, we explore the effect of the length of the polymer chains and salt concentration on subsequent coacervation and fiber formation. We used two strong, synthetic polyelectrolytes (4-styrenesulfonic acid, sodium salt) (PSS) and poly (diallyl dimethylammonium chloride) (PDADMAC) of different chain lengths, in potassium bromide (KBr) solution to form coacervates. We analyzed the effect on forming PEC fibers by varying the polymer solution properties, such as the polymer chain length and salt concentration, as well as characteristics of the electrospinning apparatus, such as the electric field strength (8 kV, 12 kV, and 16 kV), and spinneret-to-collector distance (15cm, 20 cm, and 25 cm). While short chain polymers (PDADMAC degree of polymerization=53) were difficult to electrospin into nanofibers, our preliminary data suggests that coacervates consisting of short chain polymers can be spun into fibers successfully under mild solution (solvent free) and spinning conditions (6 kV) and potentially, the temporary electrostatic interactions facilitate fiber formation.
Planar cell polarity (PCP) is the collective coordinated alignment of cell polarity across a tissue plane. This phenomenon can be observed in natural settings such as the alignment of hairs across the surface of the skin of a mammal. The study of planar cell polarity can provide insight into certain developmental processes in organisms. The mechanism for regulation of PCP signaling in humans is not fully understood and has not been directly investigated due to difficulties in achieving an effective model for a human embryo in development. Understanding PCP in the context of human systems is important for the study and development of drugs that can target diseases relating to PCP, such as neural tube defects. This research aimed to investigate the regulatory mechanisms of PCP with regards to development of human neural cells and structures. The research focused on developing the engineered in vitro model system and studying the effect that tissue curvature and matrix stiffness have on how PCP is acquired and coordinated. Systems with various shape configurations were seeded with human pluripotent stem cells and the cell alignment was analyzed using a MATLAB program, displaying unique effects on cell alignment for each configuration. Developing an alternative to in vivo models for PCP research will allow for further advancements in the field of PCP study, which in turn will enhance understanding of PCP regulation in humans and the key role that PCP plays in early human development.
Paint and coatings add value wherever they are applied. They provide protection, durability, and customization for individual preferences. Paint research was popular from the 1950s to the 1980s, since then paint research projects have become scarce. Therefore, there is much room for additional research involving latex based paints. The objective of the proposed study is to develop a characterization technique to monitor the progression of the drying process in latex-based paint coatings on a flat substrate. While the structural evolution in a drying film is well known, there remains significant difficulty in the prediction of drying time scales and the evolution of viscoelastic properties in such a material. My experiments consist of utilizing a rotational rheometer to investigate the drying transition of water-borne latex paints as a function of applied stress and strain. We test 5 applied stresses (10, 15, 25, 35, and 45 Pa) in two drying environments (50 mm and 100 mm diam. Petri dish). We verify the response with drying experiments at 10% applied strain in both drying environments. During all stress controlled drying experiments, we observe an increase in the stiffness. We use raw experimental data to recalculate meaningful viscoelastic material properties according to the new geometry. Alternatively, the strain controlled and small dish experiments produced data that did not seem realistic. We use our approach to simulate the drying of a “real” paint coating and measure its drying transition in-situ.
With the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria, there is a dire need to develop new methods of removing bacteria that slow or prevent the development of resistance. Potentially, emulsions stabilized by polymers can physically pick up and transport bacteria by taking advantage of their charged outer membranes. The polymer investigated in this study consists of a hydrophobic backbone with pendant zwitterionic phosphorylcholine (PC) that prevent adsorption to the substrate and other functional groups that stabilize the emulsion and promote bacterial pickup. Commercial surfactants with a variety of charges and properties were used as controls to investigate the effects of different functional groups and charges. Highly uniform oil-in-water emulsions droplets were created using a T-junction in a polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) microfluidic device. Staphylococcus aureus SH1000 bacteria were seeded onto the device and quantified with fluorescence microscopy and ImageJ before and after flow of the emulsion. The sinusoidal microfluidic channel increases shear force on the walls and induces convection within the droplets, increasing bacteria-interface contact and encouraging removal. This method of physical bacterial removal can be easily tailored to be specific to different types of bacteria or environmental conditions. Through the use of other chemistries downstream, attached bacteria can also be “dropped off”, creating a customizable method of controlled bacterial transport that could be implemented in a variety of technologies for cleaning, medicine, or analysis.
During cell division, dynein anchors to a cortical attachment protein, Num1, before pulling the mitotic spindle into the mother-bud neck. Num1 localization, dependent on the cortical attachment of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to the cell membrane (PM), helps guarantee that the mitotic spindle is oriented correctly. This study aims to determine whether or not the tricalbin family of ER-PM attachment proteins, specifically Tcb1 and Tcb2, affect Num1 localization and subsequent mitotic spindle function. Tcb1/2∆ double mutants were generated through PCR product-mediated homologous recombination. With fluorescent proteins tagged to Num1 and the ER, wide-field fluorescence microscopy was used to observe any resulting changes in ER-PM attachment and Num1 localization. Deletions of Scs2 and Scs22 ER attachment proteins have been found to affect Num1 localization, while the loss of Ist2 has no effect. ER-PM attachment is expected to decrease in tcb1/2∆ mutants. As tricalbins are involved with regulating cortical PI4P levels, which are bound by BAR-domains as in Num1, it is hypothesized that they are involved with the recruitment of Num1. Conversely the deletion of tricalbins may not affect Num1 localization, as preserved Scs2, Scs22 and Ist2 ER-PM attachment proteins could recover the wild-type phenotype. This study aims to understand how ER-PM tethering impacts Num1 localization and subsequent dynein pathway function, along with providing insights into cellular homeostasis and cellular signaling as a whole.
The rise of the amount of drug clinical trials today has tripled over the past ten years, most of which have led to non-conclusive or misleading results due to ineffective testing methods. These methods usually involve studying diseases using tissue-culture polystyrene (TCPS), a hard and rigid substrate that does not accurately represent the native tissue environment of cells. However, other alternative synthetic model systems can produce better results if a mesh-network is involved. PEG-PC hydrogels form an extensive extracellular matrix-like mesh network to simulate native tissues in vitro to provide authentic interactions. In order to produce these hydrogels in a high-throughput fashion for industrial uses, the automation of the hydrogel process is an important feature for producing consistent gels. A biomek NXP automated liquid handler will be used to automate this hydrogel process for 384 and 1,536 wellplates. In addition to this process, the lifetime of these hydrogels will be quantified to estimate the thickness of silane deposition on glass coverslips upon treatment, as well as the stability of this layer in respect to degradation.
A procedure has been developed to precipitate manganese oxide salts inside the cells of white oak wood. The treated wood was added to an aqueous sodium percarbonate solution and a reaction was observed. Microscopic analysis of the reaction indicated gas evolution occurred inside the wood as well as on its surface. To determine if the reaction caused damage to the cell wall of the wood, samples of wood were sectioned, stained with phloroglucinol, and analyzed under the microscope. Our observation indicated a possible thinning of the cell wall as a result of the reaction. HPLC analysis was then used to determine if chemical composition of the white oak changed as a result of the observed reaction.
Use of biodiesel in combustion engines has proven to be more environmentally friendly than traditional diesel, benefiting both humans and plants. Previous research has shown that biodiesel has lower overall emissions of particulate matter and of reactive oxygen species (ROS) than regular diesel. To date, research show the side effects of these fuels on a plants health is limited. The aim of my research is to explore the effects of diesel and biodiesel exhaust on plant health. The coleus plant was chosen for this study because it is rich in both anthocyanin (red) and chlorophyll (green) pigments. One of the roles of anthocyanins in plant physiology is as an antioxidant against ROS caused by abiotic stresses.
My working hypothesis is that exposure to both types of diesel exhaust will oxidatively stress the plants and in response, anthocyanin production in the leaves will increase. Exposure to regular diesel exhaust is expected to cause the plants to produce more anthocyanins than biodiesel due to its higher ROS content.
The plants will be exposed to fumes generated by combustion, and thin layer chromatography will be used to semi-quantitatively monitor changes in pigmentation due to exposure to exhaust. Chlorophyll content will be used as a general stress marker, as well as other changes in the physical appearance of plants. The results of this experiment will contribute to the body of knowledge concerning plant stress induced by biodiesel and diesel, especially effects on anthocyanin production.
Evaluating the Phenolic Content, Profile, and Alpha-glucosidase Inhibitory Activity of Black Tea and Its Waste Byproducts
The way in which different types of teas are manufactured, especially their fermentation process, is responsible for the differences in their phenolic phytochemical makeup. These phenolic phytochemicals have been shown to inhibit carbohydrate hydrolyzing enzymes that break polysaccharides and disaccharides into glucose, raising blood sugar levels. In this study, the total phenolic content of black tea and the byproducts from brewing tea will be determined. High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) will be used to identify the phenolic profiles. This information will then be used to understand the mechanism of the tea and its byproducts and their phenolic constituents relevant to the inhibition of the carbohydrate hydrolyzing enzyme, alpha-glucosidase.
Using DNA Origami for Controlled Assembly of Functional Aspartate Receptor Complexes
Bacterial chemotaxis receptors enable bacteria to sense chemical gradients and direct their movement towards favorable environments. This is interesting because if bacterial chemotaxis is understood, future antibiotics could take advantage of this and control bacterial movement. The aspartate chemotaxis in E. Coli forms trimers of receptor dimers that bind a kinase CheA and a coupling protein CheW. Assembling this complex in vitro with native structure and function is challenging but essential to test theories about the signaling mechanism of the receptor complex. The goal of this project is to use DNA origami to assemble the complex by attaching the receptor to a DNA tetrahedron to better test a proposed trimer expansion signaling mechanism. This will be done using mutated receptors with an N-terminal cysteine that can link to DNA using a bifunctional reagent and amino-functionalized DNA. Once the receptor and DNA are linked, the tetrahedron can be formed to make functional trimer of dimer receptor complexes. Currently, this cysteine-mutated receptor has been made and purified, and a strategy for construction of the DNA tetrahedron has been designed. To determine whether complexes have formed we will measure kinase activity and test for high molecular weight complexes on native PAGE gels. Such validation of this assembly method will open the door to future experiments where receptor dimers can be selectively mutated. This control is crucial because position of altered receptors, not just stoichiometry, can be controlled in future experiments.
As post-translational modification (PTM) biomarkers become increasingly relevant in the field of biomedicine, the need for a quick and accurate method for characterizing protein modifications has become apparent. Of PTMs, glycosylation holds significant potential for use as a biomarker, due to its known modulation in many pathologies, including cancer, Alzheimer’s, immune disorders, and diabetes. The traditional analytical technique for measuring protein glycosylation is to enzymatically cleave the glycans from the protein, and detect the glycans using mass spectrometry. This “bottom-up” approach has associated drawbacks, including an increased risk of artifact introduction. A more favorable approach is to obtain information about a PTM by observing the mass distribution of the whole protein of interest. This “top-down” approach has limitations; large proteins with extensive heterogeneity cannot be resolved at the level required for PTM characterization. In the case of glycosylated proteins, extensive heterogeneity is common due to the enzymatic nature of the glycosylation process. Fortunately, many glycosylated proteins that are relevant as biomarkers consist of subunits connected by disulfide bonds. In this work, top-down characterization of the plasma protein haptoglobin is performed to measure its fucosylation levels. This novel method that is presented employs a cross-path reactive scheme, where the injection of protein into a size exclusion chromatography column is delayed relative to the injection of a reactive plug. This allows reactions (reduction of disulfides in this case) to be performed inside the column for a limited and controlled amount of time.
Dialysis Related Amyloidosis (DRA) is a disease with symptoms of osteoporosis and discomfort in dialysis patients. This disease is caused by the amyloid fibrils of the protein Beta-2-microglobulin (b2m), which deposit in the joints of patients, resulting in DRA. Previous experiments have found that the compound polyphenol (-)-epigallocatechine gallate (EGCG) can inhibit amyloid fibrils formation of b2m. However, the optimal concentrations of EGCG as well as the mechanism of aggregation have not been studied. In this study, experiments were conducted using size exclusion chromatography (SEC), liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS), and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) to better understand how EGCG inhibits b2m amyloid formation. SEC experiments were used to determine the effect of the concentration of EGCG on the rate of formation of the initial aggregates as well as the sizes of the off pathway aggregates. LC-MS was used in order to determine how EGCG influences the aggregation of b2m by separating the compounds by reverse phase chromatography. Lastly, TEM was used in order to observe the structure of an off-pathway aggregate of b2m with EGCG and compared with the normal amyloid fibrils formed by b2m. The information from this study will help further understand how EGCG interacts with b2m and whether it or derivatives of this molecule could act as therapeutics for DRA.
Much of the world’s rice contains concentrations of inorganic arsenic, a class I carcinogen, that may cause long-term health problems. As the demand for information grows, a simple and inexpensive measurement procedure is required. Our approach is to adapt field test kits developed for drinking water analysis. There are two critical stages: extraction and hydride generation (HG), namely the formation of arsine gas that reacts with the test strip giving the yellow/brown color. We find that results for HG with zinc are inaccurate in the presence of the co-extracted rice matrix material, and we are investigating sodium borohydride (BH) as an alternative. To control the reaction kinetics, the BH is encapsulated in an agar gel stabilized with sodium hydroxide and xanthan gum. We are also investigating adding iron, nickel or cobalt to catalyze the HG reaction at the zinc surface. To improve the detection capability, we are investigating increasing the sample volume (and thus the sample mass needed) by as much as 10-fold, which could allow the detection of inorganic arsenic at low double-digit µg per kg (ppb) values in the rice. Sample preparation invovles grinding and extraction with boiling acid solutions. Both mineral acids and relatively strong organic acids will extract the arsenic species, but prolonged heating may be needed in open vessels. The type and concentration of acid is currently being studied. For validation, we are preparing both grains and flour contaminated with known concentrations of arsenic.
Photodecomposition of Tetrachloroaurate in the Presence of Varied Cosolvents
The photoreactivity of the compound tetrachloroaurate (AuCl4-) is well documented and several studies have been performed to determine its rate of decomposition when exposed to UV light in a multitude of substances. Previous studies have generally focused on specific, single cosolvents in aqueous solution (e.g. methanol and ethylene glycol) and have indicated that increasing the concentration of the cosolvent increases the rate of AuCl4- photodecomposition. Our study uses UV-Vis spectroscopic analysis to determine how factors such as the concentration and identity of the alcohol cosolvent affect the rate of AuCl4- photodecomposition. Preliminary trends from our analysis indicates that photodecomposition rates are largely influenced solution viscosity and is not strongly dependent upon the specific alcohol cosolvent used.
While azetidines have always been known to be structurally strained and difficult to synthesize, a new reaction has been invented that shortens their preparation time significantly. Out of the top 200 marketed drugs, only two have azetidine-based functional groups. Thus, the untapped prevalence of azetidines in drug discovery was one of the driving forces to pursue this project. The proposed synthesis allows for the regioselective preparation of functionalized azetidines. Previous syntheses of azetidines are generally 3-5 steps, while this proposed synthesis can be performed in one-pot and is operationally simple. It is envisioned that this method will be adopted by medicinal chemists to expand chemical space and improve structure-activity relationships (SAR).
A Computational Analysis of the Phosphorylation of p53 and Cancer-Associated Mutations
Proteins are one of the main building blocks of cells. However, not all proteins are structurally ordered. So-called intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs), do not have stable tertiary structures under physiological conditions; yet they have been associated with many important body biological functions. Modeling and characterizing these IDPs through experimental methods have been extremely difficult, thus computational techniques are required for better understanding of the functionalities of these proteins.
The p53 protein, whose transactivation domain (TAD) is intrinsically disordered, has generated specific interest due to its function as a tumor suppressor. Mutations in its TAD, specifically the E17D and K24N mutations, result inactivation of the protein and have been strongly linked to female genital cancers. Studying p53 in its unbound state through phosphorylation is also important, as unphosphorylated p53 binds with its negative regulator MDM2 stronger, degrading p53 more rapidly. This regulates the concentration of p53 within the system, keeping it at a standard low level until action is needed.
The phosphorylation and both the K24N and the E17D mutations are explored computationally through simulations in order to fully gauge the mechanisms behind this disordered protein. These simulations were compared to a wild type p53 model, and our results demonstrate that mutations could cause structural changes, especially at the secondary structure level in the unbound ensemble. Further exploration could indicate how these mutations and phosphorylation modules the protein functions.
Reaction Development of Palladium Catalyzed N-alkylation of Aromatic Imidates from Allylic Carbonates
Reaction development for the one-pot Pd-catalyzed N-substitution of aromatic imidates was investigated using allylic carbonates. The goal of the project is to optimize the reaction to allow for a wide range of nucleophiles to be used to alkylate the nitrogen of aromatic imidates.
The Effects of Shear Stress on Aβ1-40 Aggregation Using a Simple Flow Injection System
In vitro studies of peptides and
anecdotal evidence have suggested that shear flow could be a factor in the aggregation
and amyloid formation of the Aβ peptides involved in Alzheimer’s disease. We
designed a capillary system to quantitatively investigate the effects of shear
on oligomerization and fibrillogenesis. Unlike Couette cells used in other
analyses, our system uses laminar shear to induce aggregation to mimic the
laminar shear found in the human brain arteries, which is suspected to
participate in the formation of toxic Aβ aggregates found in Alzheimer’s
disease patients. The effect of shear forces on the aggregation of various
peptides, including Aβ1-40, was studied by flowing small volumes of peptide-containing
solutions through our capillary system to mimic the passage through the human
brain parenchyma. The presence of aggregates was monitored using mass
spectrometry and UV-Vis spectroscopy.
Pharmaceutical pollution in wastewater is a growing concern in the fields of analytical and environmental chemistry. Caffeine is a common active ingredient in pharmaceuticals, a favorite beverage of our population, and an indicator of pharmaceutical pollution. Concentrations of caffeine can be analyzed by High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC). This technique was developed as a classroom laboratory procedure to enhance the skills of students interested in analytical and environmental chemistry. Surface water samples were collected and analyzed from the Patch Reservoir and downstream Upper Blackstone Wastewater Treatment Plant in Millbury, MA. The objectives of the classroom procedure are for students to create standard curves, implement spike and duplicate samples, concentrate water samples by solid phase extraction, and analyze samples by HPLC using this methodology.
Before society can benefit from the diverse applications of organic electronics, first researchers must improve tunability and reproducibility of organic semiconducting materials and devices. The implementation of organic nanoparticles has improved consistency via increased predictability of heterojunction between n-type and p-type nanoparticles, which pack predictably due to their controlled shape—round, oblong, or cubic, for example. This improvement falls in the realm of the mesoscale—100 nm to 100 µm. Little remains understood, however, about self-assembly on the nanoscale (<100 nm). That is: there is little understanding of the alignment of semiconducting molecules within these nanoparticles. This nanoscale organization affects the optoelectronic properties of the material. Understanding the phenomenon of aggregation is therefore important to achieve tunability, and ultimately highly tailored devices. This study focuses on the role of surfactant in self-assembly. Surfactants are used to achieve femtoliter droplets of dye solutions, which crystallize into nanoparticles upon heating and boiling of the solvent within the droplet. This yields a water suspension of surfactant-decorated solid dye nanoparticles. The goal of this work is to achieve selectivity in H- versus J-aggregation (determined by the alignment of dye molecules), as well as nanoparticle morphology such as spheres versus nanowires. Materials are characterized using UV-Vis and photoluminescence spectroscopies and conductivity measurements to determine optoelectronic properties. Powder X-Ray Diffraction is also used to probe orientation and aggregation type within the crystal.
Magic-sized quantum dots are a special class of semiconductor materials that are of interest for their small size and subsequent high energy band gap transitions. Despite this, the factors effecting the growth and synthesis of these understood about the growth of these materials have not been extensively studied. Here we present the results of the investigation of the effects of surface ligands on the growth, kinetics, and stability of magic-sized quantum dots. We find that the surface ligand chosen in part determines the energy of the band gap transition, implying that it also determines which magic size crystals are allowed.
Pot-economic and Diastereoselective Synthesis of Spirooxindoles via C-H Functionalization of Cyclic Amines
A pot, atom and step economic (PASE) synthesis of polycyclic spirooxindoles via diastereoselective [3+2] cycloaddition is introduced. Recyclable montmorillonite K10 is used as a solid acid catalyst to activate α-C–H of cyclic amines to form azomethine ylides for the [3+2] cycloadditions. This synthesis has significant green chemistry advantages by conducting pot-economic multicomponent reactions, using recyclable catalyst, and only generating water as a byproduct.
Many published results are based on the analysis of as little as 500 mg, which corresponds to about 25 grains. Researchers clearly assume that the arsenic concentration in each rice grain is the same. They also assume that no arsenic is lost during the sample pretreatment, which always includes grinding and heating (sometimes in multiple steps), and that all arsenic species can be completely solubilized by heating with a few mL of concentrated nitric acid in a sealed vessel in a microwave oven. We have developed and validated (by the analysis of a certified reference material) a hydride generation atomic fluorescence spectrometry method for individual rice grains that shows that the first assumption is false: some grains contain much higher arsenic concentrations than others. Replicate analysis of well-mixed rice flour, by a procedure in which 500 mg is digested with 2 mL of nitric acid, can show precisions as poor as 25% relative standard deviation when the concentrations are measured by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, which means evidence for the loss of arsenic compounds when rice is dried is inconclusive. But we have shown that the arsenic concentration found depends on the range of particle sizes taken for analysis, which we interpret as heterogeneous distribution of arsenic among the various particles formed when grains are blenderized to flour. We are investigating the extent to which the errors (both random and systematic) in sampling and sample preparation contribute to the overall precision of the method.
In copper electro-refining processes, brasses are subjected to chrono-potentiometric studies in order to study the anodic dissolution and passivation of brass at varying current densities and electrolyte concentrations. The aim of this investigation is to determine the best conditions to recover pure copper and zinc from brass by refining electrolysis. The brass is made of copper and zinc. The main purpose of this project is to build a recycling machine. Doing so requires an understanding of the electrochemistry and physics of the power supply, wave driver, Aftermath graphing software, sulfuric acid, distilled water, brass, electrochemical cell, thermometer, auxiliary electrode, working electrode (sample), reference electrode, and pure copper and zinc to compare to the sample. Recycling machine should be functional and demonstrate the electrolysis of brass. The desired outcome would be pure copper.
Determining the Tolerance in Substrate Specificity of Factor Inhibiting Hypoxia Inducible Factor-1α (FIH)
Protein interactions are the basis for all processes in living organisms. They play many important roles within the body such as the maintenance of homeostasis, cell growth, and differentiation. Several factors such as protein location and activity can affect cellular health, and any disruption can cause disease. Factor Inhibiting Hypoxia Inducible Factor-1α (FIH) is an Fe 2+ α-ketoglutarate (αKG)-dependent oxygenase that is selective for certain peptides, such as C-Terminal Transactivation Domain (CTAD) of the Hypoxia Inducible Factor-1α (HIF-1α) and the Ankyrin Repeat Domain (ARD). It hydroxylates the β-carbon of its various target residues such as asparagine, histidine, serine, leucine, isoleucine, and aspartate (Yang, 2013). FIH is known to react with variations of these domains and because of this it is important to know how selective FIH is with its substrate.
This project measures the tolerance of substrate selectivity of FIH using enzyme kinetics. Different residues of the ARD and CTAD were varied to create multiple potential substrates for FIH. Then fluorometric analysis was used to determine the different kinetic characteristics of FIH and its substrate, including the dissociation constant, KD, of the substrate enzyme complex. Knowledge of this information provides assistance in determining FIH’s ability to bind to mutated substrate in vivo and the concentrations of reactants to obtain a maximum yield of hydroxylation for further applications such as substrate labeling in vitro.
Ridesharing apps have revolutionized the way individuals interact with traditional transportation modes. These app-based ride services such as Uber have allowed individuals the ability to request a taxi through an app on their cell phone with just a few taps. Since Uber launched in New York City (NYC) in May 2011, it has become a major competitor to the conventional forms of street hailing taxi. The use of taxis as a transportation method has been extremely important in city. The New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission released over 1.1 billion individual taxi trips from January 2009 through June 2015. Uber released 19 million Uber rides from 2014 and 2015. With the release of new data and information about taxis and Uber, the trends were further analyzed with the use of ArcGIS, a mapping software. Visual representations of the number of pickups for yellow taxis, green taxis, and Uber cars were used to interpret how the patterns of taxi usage have transformed. The objective is to analyze how Uber played a role in which mode of transportation passengers choose to take. Identifying the regions in which individuals are shifting from traditional methods to ride-sharing modes is important for understanding where and when people are using Uber. By analyzing the trends and influence of Uber in New York City will help further predict the trend in other large cities such as Chicago.
Network Analysis of Mexico City's Potable Water Distribution System: Relating Connectivity-Based Metrics to Resilience
Resilience, which can be defined as the ability to withstand or recover from a perturbation, has become a key consideration in modern water resources planning and management. Urban water distribution systems depend on reliable functionality of infrastructure coupled with favorable hydrologic and climatic conditions to ensure consumptive demands are met. Mexico City’s susceptibility to flooding and earthquakes, lack of sufficient water supply, and deteriorating water infrastructure necessitates a need for resilience-based solutions in system recovery from such failures. This research explores the relationship between several graph theory metrics and attributes of resilience utilizing a network model of Mexico City’s potable water distribution system, comprised of nodes (sources, demands, junctions, etc.) and links (buried pipelines and aqueducts). Three centrality metrics pertaining to individual nodes are used to develop post-perturbation recovery sequences that seek to restore deliveries to demand as quickly and efficiently as possible. Additionally, this study evaluates whether maximizing system-wide centrality metrics leads to optimized water delivery. Scholarly articles accessed via the UMass libraries online database in conjunction with government reports provided by the City of Mexico were used to gain an understanding of various resilience metrics and develop a simplified model of the distribution network. The results are intended to help guide municipalities in prioritizing repairs to water infrastructure when constrained by resource limitations, and promote consideration of resilience metrics when expanding network features.
Oxidative stress is thought to be an important mechanism through which PM2.5 causes adverse health effects. Therefore, a metric that captures variation in PM2.5 , oxidative burden, can provide important information regarding the toxicity of source emissions found in indoor and outdoor environments. Any identified differences can help identify important sources and direct the development of indoor air quality guidelines. I measured the oxidative burden of PM2.5 samples collected from inside and outside homes and through the results of the depletion of glutathione and ascorbate in the samples, a correlation between the level of ascorbate depletion and arsenic and rubidium, and the level of glutathione depletion and chromium and barium in the ambient air became evident.
Language impacts our ability to feel belonging-- from an emotional sense of ease to physical indicators of intimacy, such as kisses on the cheek. Belonging, specifically though language, allows us to participate in cultural dialogue and feel our place in a society. Learning a second or third language -- from its formal dictionary definitions, to its everyday, spoken vernacular, as well as its historical origins-- increases our ability to feel belonging in multiple spheres. In my own personal experience that belonging only reaches a certain extent.
This essay is a study of language and belonging through my own experiences and observations using both Haitian Creole (Kreyol)-- in Haiti as a service learning advocate for YourStory International, and French-- in Paris as a study abroad student. Between January 2016-December 2017 I spent approximately four months in both Haiti and Paris. What I observed within Kreyol led me to consider the colonial connection with French. Through intercultural engagements, I observed and experienced varying levels of belonging.
In this essay I use communication qualitative and autoethnographic methods to consider belonging in and through language. I show how cultural mobility allows us to enter a society as an outsider and adopt certain cultural customs, whereas other times, aspects of our identities that label us as foreigners are not easily hidden. This research study creates a dialogue about the social hierarchies that exist within and which are perpetuated by language, which in turn impact our ability to feel various levels of belonging within these societies.
In the modern world we live in today, sports have become as much a part of our lives as religion or politics. Hordes of faithful fans all over the world watch with immeasurable passion as their favorite players or teams compete in various athletic competition, all for the viewing pleasure of the spectator. Obsessive sports fandom is often regarded as irrational to those who don’t share the same fervor for the local team, but is rarely regarded as a problem or detriment to society. My research seeks to weigh the perceived benefits of spectator sports with the negative impacts that it has on fans and society as a whole, and determine whether fanaticism over professional sports is a problem. An article published in The Sports Journal in 2012 examined some of the effects that sports consumption had on individuals, and found that those who watched sports regularly led much unhealthier lifestyles than those who do not watch sports, and were more likely to experience cardiovascular complications such as heart attacks. Recent events in the NFL have given voice to representatives from a community protesting police brutality and racism in America, but that same leagues championship game resulted in rioting and destruction in Philadelphia. Understanding all of the different ways that professional sports and its fans impact our society, good and bad, help us determine whether this world wide phenomenon should be met with resistance or viewed with harmless indifference.
The issue that I am exploring through my research is how U.S. involvement in the Vietnam war impacted the American citizens’ view of their government. There was not an inch of America that was left unscathed by the war; rich, poor, black, white, male, or female - everyone knew someone who had been sent there, or someone who didn’t come back. With the release of the classified information contained in the Pentagon papers, the war in Vietnam became a pivotal starting point in the erosion of Americans’ blind faith in their governing system. Through my research, I will examine what role the Vietnam war played in stimulating political distrust in America during the 1960's and 70's. The war in Vietnam has been widely regarded by experts and American families alike as an unnecessary loss of resources, soldiers, and national dignity. Chronicled in the Encyclopedia of American Cultural and Intellectual History, at an anti-war protest, SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) leader Paul Potter spoke for the nation when he said, “the incredible war in Vietnam has provided the razor, the terrifying sharp cutting edge that has finally severed the last vestige of illusion that morality and democracy are the guiding principles of American foreign policy”. His quote reflects the profound loss that America suffered as a result of the war, and epitomizes the deteriorated trust that citizens had in their government.
This study investigates the cause-effect relationship between media exposure and a negative effect on body image through the "thin ideal" on Facebook and Instagram on women aged 18-25 years. The study aims to determine if the exposure to these images causes body dissatisfaction and lower self-esteem. Further, the study explores the roles of the comments section on the images by comparing effects for those who see the social media images alone to those who see the images alongside the comments.
In this context, the “thin ideal” is defined as a concept of the ideally slim female body, slender, feminine physique with a small waist and little body fat.
This study was conducted by first exposing the two groups to images of women on social media, and later investigating the effect on body satisfaction and self-esteem through previous scales. Self-Esteem was measured as a favorable or unfavorable attitude toward the self through the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (1965) and Body Dissatisfaction as a person’s negative thoughts about his or her own body through the Body Appreciation Scale (2006).
The sample was comprised of female college students aged 18-25 years from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst’s undergraduate population irrespective of race, religion and economic background.
The results of this research can promote healthy and realistic body type images of women on social media sites as well as encourage advert companies to stop photoshopping and editing images of women to create the unattainable “thin ideal”.
Especially in the past 20 years, superhero comic books have taken strides to create LGBTQ+ representative characters. Looking at these characters in other mediums, like movies or television, you would often be hard-pressed to see them as anything other than heterosexual. Characters like Catwoman, who is bisexual but typically only portrayed as a romantic subplot for Batman in other media. The erasure of this specific part of characters’ identities in media outside of comic books is significant to those who look to these characters for representation. This presentation features a documentary focused on analyzing this erasure using expository interviews with professional writers, journalists in the industry, and new and old superhero fans. This will be juxtaposed with material from the original comics contrasted against the media counterpart to show where this erasure is and how it impacts the community. The lack of representation, or misrepresentation, of these characters’ sexualities in other media is due to a fear that a LGBTQ+ character will not perform as well as a more relatable heterosexual character, a source of frustration and disappointment for the community. Most casual superhero fans, like the average moviegoer, won’t even know some of their beloved characters are LGBTQ+. Superheroes are looked to as idols, icons, role models; the erasure of this specific part of the characters’ identities in other media sends a message to those who idolize them that this part of them is unwanted. Media that shows these characters should represent them accurately, as the inspirations they are.
Social media use has increased tremendously over the past couple of years. The emergence of social media sites, such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Tumbler, and Pinterest, has become part of many individuals’ daily lives. Previous studies have looked at how specific sites, like Facebook, have contributed to the feelings of jealousy that individuals in romantic relationships may experience. The purpose of this study was to explore the effects of social media use on relationship satisfaction, trust, jealousy, and privacy, in romantic relationships. Participants (N = 149) completed an online survey that assessed the impact of social media use on a previous romantic relationship or current romantic relationship. Analyses revealed that individuals who do not trust their partner are less satisfied with their relationship, and thus are more likely to surveil them on social media (e.g., secretly check partner’s social media behavior). This study contributes to our understanding of the ways in which romantic relationships are significantly affected by social media use.
Technological advancement in the field of digital photography is growing exponentially, and entry level digital cameras now provide many advantages over the equivalent film cameras, yet the market for analog film is booming. Although many would consider this phenomenon a result of nostalgia for past decades’ analog technologies, it is actually a new, millennial, crowd, who are responsible for the increase in sales. The analog resurgence is a result of distrust in new media because when the market for photography online is oversaturated with subliminal advertisements and a clutter of clichés, photographers need to find a new way to create an audience. It is no longer sufficient to share photographs on social media because they will be scrolled past and forgotten forever. The process of digital photography is less gratifying, less authentic, and less rewarding than the process of analog photography. My goal is to analyze the consequences of this phenomenon through the lens of the disposable camera. In addition to the inefficiencies demonstrated by typical analog photography, disposable cameras are also lacking features and settings that give you control over the resulting image. What might be punitive is that this scarcity of features is biggest benefit of disposable cameras. Not having to focus on the technical aspects of photography gives you more freedom to live in the moment, resulting in images flourishing in authenticity and ingenuity. The beauty of disposable camera images is in their imperfections, as they bring about a much more personal, storied, photograph.
Public Visual Art in New York City: Maintaining Artistic, Societal, Economic, and Environmental Value in the Midst of Gentrification and the Rising Hipster Subculture
Unlike art in a gallery setting, public art reaches broad audiences and has the potential to add artistic, societal, economic, and environmental value to the cities and neighborhood communities in which it is displayed. However, the recent influx of young “hipster” artists moving to lower-income New York City neighborhoods has put many public artworks using abstraction and symbolism in jeopardy. Because the artwork’s message is not explicitly stated, these young artists may not understand the significance of the public art to the community it represents. This results in a lack of resistance to gentrification in lower-income neighborhoods, especially when it comes to the demolition of public visual art. When public art is removed from a community space, the cultural capital that the art brings and the sense of community that the art evokes both suffer, resulting in the devaluation and depreciation of communities in neighborhood communities in the outskirts of New York City. This thesis uses Sharon Zukin’s, “The Culture of Cities”, as well as several cases of current and former public art spaces, to evaluate the cause and effect relationship of gentrification on the value and significance of public visual art in New York.
In this research I seek to assess the kinds of emotional appeals advertisers use in the twenty-first century. Advertisers have long used psychological and emotional appeals to sell their products, and I aim to identify how their appeals to adults compare to their appeals to children. I evaluate 20 ads and identify the emotions they seek to provoke in their audience. Video ads for a variety of products are found online from the time period 2000-2018: 10 ads aimed at children and 10 ads aimed at adults. I record basic data, including the product advertised, demographic/audience targeted, year, length of videos and where the ad originally appeared. I assess emotional appeals by (1) describing the language of each ad and (2) describing the imagery used in each ad, and (3) analyzing the interaction between language and imagery. On this basis, each ad is given at least one emotional label (for example, “happiness,” “sympathy,” “excitement”), and my rationale for choosing labels, based on analysis of text and imagery, is recorded. On this basis, comparisons will be made between the two types of ads – for example, an ad a children's toy car and an ad for an adults car. Findings and conclusions will be presented in a poster, along with some commentary on what they say about contemporary commercial culture.
Research shows that dropping out of high school has measurable negative impacts on individuals. As such, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education tracks the dropout rates of the various public school districts. This data includes a breakdown by grade level, race and gender. This disaggregation of data allows for comparison between school districts with similar demographic makeup. New Bedford, a city that was once known for its riches and success in the whaling industry, has a recent history of high dropout rates. In contrast, Springfield, a city with similar demographics as New Bedford, has a lower rate of students dropping out of high school. The research question for this project is: what factors explain the difference in dropout rates between the two cities? It is the student-researcher’s hypothesis that the two cities have employed different strategies to increase retention of its high school students.
Circle K International at Westfield State University will feature a presentation that will inform the audience on what Circle K is, and how it relates to the university and community. The information provided is important for students who are interested in joining the Circle K International club at Westfield State University, and for those who are interested in the concept of this group, which is SERVICE. This presentation allows the students to peek into the lives of an everyday club member who participates in the various activities and events that are held. For students who do not have a Circle K club at their college, they are presented with the ideas and fundamentals of what the club is involved in and how it affects not only the school, but as well as the community - and as important, how to organize and start a Circle K club at their school.
Note: The Circle K International at Westfield State University poster will contain information regarding:
•Who are we?
•Service at Westfield Circle K
•Leadership at Westfield Circle K
•Service for our neighbors
•Fellowship at Westfield Circle K
•Service Beyond our Backyard
•2017-2018 E-Board Members
Circle K International will feature a presentation that will inform the audience on what Circle K International is, and how Circle K provides cultural, educational and holiday events/activities while working closely with various schools, business owners and Kiwanis groups in their community. The information that is provided is important for students and others who are interested in joining the Kiwanis Family, whose main goal is service. Circle K International works closely with each region to help provide services to people within a community. Each club E-board is made up of seven positions in which members work together to plan events for club members to participate in. For viewers who do not know about the Kiwanis Family, they are presented with ideas and fundamentals of what the club is involved in and how it affects the community. The Kiwanis family has six different levels; Kiwanis, Aktion Club, Circle K, Key Club, Key Leaders, and K-Builders. Kiwanis International was originally founded in 1915 by a group of business men in Detroit,Michigan. In the 1960s it became a worldwide club that today connects almost 80 different nations and geographic locations together through service.
Note: The Circle K International poster will contain information regarding:
This research project will provide the Urban Studies department and the Worcester State University community about realistic and usable adaptations that can be implemented in the Worcester State University Learning Garden. The report will include a comprehensive set of recommendations, including an immediate plan, future plan, and blueprint to transform the learning garden into a place that is accessible and usable for all people. We will apply our knowledge of the current garden layout along with our Occupational Therapy educational background to ensure that individuals with any motor, cognitive, or sensory deficits are capable of utilizing the garden for various educational and recreational purposes.
While the growing volume of Internet of Thing (IoT) devices connected to the Internet provide novel autonomy and convenience for users online, they pose a threat to Internet security as a whole. IoT devices contain exploits which have been used in attacks towards companies and servers, and until security is further developed, these devices will continue to be susceptible to hacks that will disrupt the Internet and its users. However, by understanding and profiling typical IoT device behavior, future research on abnormal behavior can be developed which will help in alerting of malicious behavior on a network, in an effort to quickly and efficiently detect attacks. The research here is aimed at developing behavior profiles on IoT devices available in the Market. First, a secured and controlled network hosting multiple IoT devices (Amazon Echo Dot, Ezviz Mini O Smart Camera, Mini Smart Socket) was designed to record data transmitted between devices and the Internet. Second, scripts were developed which produced metrics that include results of IP/DNS destinations, data rates, and data flows for each device under normal and abnormal test cases. Tests and interactions with the devices range from normal use cases to malicious attacks aimed toward the devices. Finally, the results of each kind of device were compared. Based on the data gathered and analyzed, we profile each device. This will aid in identification of mechanisms each device has for interacting with other devices on the Internet, thus enabling for a more secure Internet of Things.
Americans spend, on average, 87% of their time indoors, and HVAC systems are utilized to provide these indoor spaces with a reasonable level of comfort. However, HVAC systems are also responsible for 43% of residential energy consumption in the U.S. Therefore, a clear challenge lies in how we can improve their energy efficiency while maintaining or improving comfort. Although there is only a relatively limited amount of external temperature sensors in buildings, nowadays most people have smartphones that contain internal battery temperature sensors that can be used to gather temperature data. However, heat generated by other hardware components of smartphones, such as the CPU, affect the battery temperature measurements, rendering it difficult to gauge the ambient temperature based solely on battery temperature sensor readings. This research project develops predictive models that reduce the effect of this external heat, and isolate and predict ambient temperature as accurately as possible. Two smartphones, a Nokia 6 and a BLU R1 HD, were utilized to collect battery temperature and other sensor readings under varying ambient temperatures and stress conditions. A preliminary, regression-based model has been developed using this data to predict the ambient temperature through the Nokia 6 with errors of up to approximately 7°F compared to the actual ambient temperature. This model will continue to be improved, and a model for the BLU R1 HD will be developed. Models such as these, implemented in smartphones, could help building management better optimize HVAC systems and ensure comfort.
The Exchange Visitor Visa (J-1), is a non-immigrant visa issued by the U.S. Department of State that provides numerous opportunities for international candidates looking to travel and gain experience in the United States. For this program to be a success, four groups of people need to interact: students, sponsors, employers and facilitators. In the past, the processes by which international students apply for the J1-Summer work and Travel visa program had been all done by paper, telephone and/or text messages. This old way of running the system was labor intensive and time consuming. In this project work, we designed and developed a multi-user, database-driven, interactive dynamic Web application that replaced the paper-based system. Used by students, sponsors, employers and facilitators, this application provides a full spectrum of functionality. It functions as a central hub that connects students with all the resources they need and provides services such as application management, summer job placement and sponsor selection. Various dynamic web application development techniques were used throughout the development of the application. Security was implemented with high priority.
The Internet-of-Things (IoT) has dominated the technology industry in recent years with its idea of machine-to-machine learning that allows data to be collected on various fields throughout the physical world. The potential applications for this kind of information is boundless, with the ability to both interpret and advance upon the efficiency of highly important techniques and data analyses that impact various business industries and people’s everyday lives. There are significant risks, however, involved with this mass collection of information. The risks are abundant for both the businesses that have to collect, store and use this data in order to improve their products or services to the people who are generating this highly personal information that exposes their own personality to a relatively unknown entity. There is a perceived balance in society that has been trying to balance this exposure in order to achieve high convenience for IoT device users while, simultaneously, maintaining data security for the privacy of people and for the business users of that information (Weinberg, Milne, Andonova, & Hajjat, 2015). This research will identify which expert-posed perceived risks there are in the IoT field for businesses and individuals presently and in the future, with a more focused approach on identifying the relationship of privacy and convenience. In addition, the research will also include quantitative data analysis by using a survey sample in order to gauge people’s own idea of this struggle in the IoT field.
The Restoration of UNIX: Emulating UNIX Version 1.0 on a 16-bit DEC PDP 11/20
Next year, the world’s first Operating System (OS) UNIX will celebrate its 50th birthday. This relic of the past is objectively the most important creation that has ever influenced the field of Computer Science. However, mystery's of this artifact were only discovered in 1995. Two engineers, Paul Vixie and Keith Bostic dug deep enough to find several DEC tapes “under the floor of the computer room [at Bell Labs]” which held several early binary files for UNIX. Shortly after, with the help of several people, these two engineers were able to reverse engineer the binary tapes they found, and put up a repository for this ancient system on GitHub. There it has stayed, waiting for someone to use like it was meant to be used, on a DEC PDP 11/20, the computer UNIX v1 was initially written for. This is what this research project has been focused on. Currently the PDP 11/20 can send and receive data via a homemade serial emulator we have written in Java, and the PDP 11/20 has been loaded with a binary file for the BASIC programming language. Once the entry point for BASIC can be determined, we will start to write code to emulate paper tape readers to assist in loading UNIX v1 into the PDP 11/20's memory. In the end we hope to have a fully functional system running the worlds first Operating System.
Increasingly, machine learning is being used to solve problems from spam detection to autonomous driving. One of the most popular techniques is supervised learning. Data, such as text, are labeled by a human, for example as “spam” or “not-spam”, and, after sufficient data are labeled, the machine learns from this labeled data with the goal of being able to predict labels for future data. A downside to supervised learning is that obtaining labels is expensive. Active learning is a framework in which the machine learns in a supervised fashion, but is allowed to ask a human during learning to label unlabeled data instances of interest. Active learning is of interest due to its potential to train models of higher quality with less data.
This project develops a cross-modal active learning system for video and sensor data. The machine learns from labeled sensor data and can request that a human label other parts of the data by displaying the corresponding video, allowing for iterative improvement when retrained on the enlarged labeled dataset. Creating this system involved implementing active learning techniques, verifying them by reproducing published results, and designing a user interface. To evaluate the system, a dataset was collected of sensor and video data. Experimentation showed the system to be effective, and the models trained reinforced the theory of active learning being useful. The system is of particular interest in areas such as human activity recognition, and may be used in the future to train machines in this domain.
Adaptive Machine Learning: An Example in Jazz Ensemble Improvisation Using Quasi-periodic Oscillators
Alcohol Consumption and Academic Performance
This study is about binge drinking among high school students and how it affects their academic performance. Researchers conducted a secondary analysis of data collected through the Monitoring the Future study. The theoretical framework for the current study is self-control theory, which would argue that there is a lack of self-control among high school students due to the fragile and potentially limited self-confidence of high school students. Self-confidence is hypothesized to have effects on participation in binge drinking and on academic performance (measured by grades earned) and academic behavior (measured by attendance). In addition to self-confidence, demographic characteristics of respondents (including age, sex, religiosity, family structure and work) are expected to affect both binge drinking and academic performance. It is anticipated that binge drinking will ultimately be the greatest predictive factor in academic performance. Findings from this study can help identify specific variables that will influence binge drinking and academic performance as well as factors that affect binge drinking directly.
Juveniles serving life sentences are particularly challenging because they often lack the physical and mental coping mechanisms that adult prisoners use to maintain their mental health and self-respect. There are approximately 2,500 offenders serving sentences of life without the possibility of parole, for crimes committed as juveniles (Nellis, 2012). At the time of sentencing, most juveniles sentenced to life do not truly understand that they will be spending the rest of their lives in prison. The Supreme Court addressed juveniles’ immaturity in Roper v. Simmons (2005), while banning the death penalty for juvenile offenders. Research shows that the brain is not even fully developed until 25 or so. It is often argued that juvenile offenders do not have the capability to fully understand their actions and the consequences that come along with them.
Recently, the Supreme Court ruled that a life sentence without parole is unconstitutional in Montgomery v. Louisiana (2016). Even with this court ruling, there are thirty states allowing this sentence for juvenile offenders. It is believed that juvenile lifers would have different experiences in prison from adults’ offenders. This study will examine how life sentences affect juveniles’ development in prison, as well as discuss why this is a harsh penalty for them. Further, this study will also investigate unique experiences of juvenile lifers, in order to make suggestions of possible reforms for the future.
Solitary confinement is a form of punishment used against inmates who violate prison rules and regulations. According to Bureau of Justice Statistics, approximately 20% of prison inmates have been held in administrative segregation or solitary confinement every year(BJS, 2015). Corrections systems have increasingly relied on solitary confinement, in which Inmates are restricted to their cells twenty-four hours every day with extreme isolation, as a prison management tool. Studies demonstrate that solitary confinement negatively affects inmates' general well-being. In the report of Walpole Prison, a large number of detainees in isolation indicated reliable examples of psychopathological syndromes, including massive free-floating anxiety, hyper-response to external stimuli, perceptual distortions, and hallucinations. Furthermore, after being held in solitary confinement, inmates have experienced difficulty with concentration and memory. Also, detainees who are in isolation show higher rates of self-hurt contrasted with prisoners in general population. Physical effects of solitary confinement include sudden violent outbursts and an expanded danger of self-damage or harm to others (AJPH, 2014). Prisoners are regularly placed in isolation as a result of unruly conduct as punishment. With the understanding of the widespread use of solitary confinement in state prisons as a disciplinary measure, this study intends to examine the effectiveness of using this practice of discipline. This study will also answer the question whether or not solitary confinement can be justified even with negative effects on inmates, and discuss the issues pertaining to the Eighth Amendment.
According to the New York Times, there are about 1,000 drug confiscations each year in prisons in California. 47% of federal prisoners were serving sentences for drug-related offenses in 2016(BJS, 2018), and having drugs in prison will not help inmates cope with addiction. A prison is supposed to be a secure place where illegal substances are not allowable. However, it is recognized that drug use in prison has been epidemic and become one of the major concerns in corrections. Drugs in prison not only cause serious behavioral problems with inmates but also hamper correctional officers performance in managing security and safety in prison, let alone helping inmates' rehabilitation. The purpose of this research is to examine why drug use is such a critical problem in prison, and how drugs are so easily accessible to inmates in prisons. Further, this study will also discuss how drugs affect inmates' misconducts in prison. According to the evaluation study about prison drug programs funded by the National Institute on Drugs Abuse, the recidivism rates of prisoners who had participated in a drug treatment program while in prison, was lower than that of prisoners who did not participate in it, during the first six month follow-up period from their release. Thus, this study will briefly discuss how drug treatment programs implemented in prison affect drug use in prison.
Sex offenders have always been at the forefront of debate for policy-makers and criminologists due to the nature of their crimes and the concerns about their recidivism. This unique category of offenders is most publicly shunned and made public through the use of sex offender registries. An individual can easily search registered sex offenders’ information nationwide by using the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) run by the U. S. Department of Justice. The public at large is more concerned with offenders in this category due to their higher rates of recidivism. The debate mostly revolves around whether or not there is any effective treatment available to be able to reintegrate sex offenders back into society and reduce their rates of recidivism. Thus, understanding the effectiveness of sex offender treatment programs and their recidivism will be the important task to manage such offender groups in prison as well as in the community. So, this study intends to examine sex offender treatment programs implemented in prison by reviewing established studies, in order to discuss the effectiveness of programs and how they help to reduce rates of recidivism among them. Also, the studies about sex offenders’ recidivism will be thoroughly reviewed to explain inconsistent arguments about it. By identifying effective programs for sex offenders, this study will be able to suggest feasible rehabilitative approaches for sex offenders.
Plastic bottles, aluminum cans and cardboard are all examples of materials that can be recycled to reduce the environmental impact of their production and use. On college campuses, young adults use an abundance of these materials and make recycling decisions. Although the University of Massachusetts – Amherst ranks near the top nationally in recycling, the recycling rate is only 58%, meaning there is certainly still plenty of room for improvement. However, the most effective and efficient way of boosting the recycling rate remains unclear. College campuses are particularly of interest because the habits formed here may have a lifelong impact. This research is primarily focused on determining which factors are critical in a student’s decision to recycle and what is the most effective way of influencing this decision. A survey was distributed to students on the UMass campus in an attempt to measure these factors and gauge the opinions of students. The results have wide implications, not only for college administrators looking to increase the recycling rate on campus, but also for policymakers that may believe the tools of the past, such as monetary bottle deposits, are outdated and ineffective.
Exploring the Impacts of Green Space on Crime and Health
American urban areas often face issues with high crime and poor air quality. This study will explore the ability of green space to reduce crime and asthmas rates, using county-level data from the state of New Jersey. Utilizing land use data from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, crime data from the New Jersey State Police, and asthma data from the New Jersey State Health Assessment Data, regression analysis will be performed to determine the impact of green space on asthma rates and different types of crime. The regression will control for income, population density, unemployment rate, and educational attainment. The results of the regressions will show the significance and impact of green space for varying types of crime and asthma rates. Additionally, the results will examine the differing impact of green space on crime and health by urbanity and wealth. These results can be applied to a cost benefit analysis for municipalities and states considering increasing green space in their areas or debating different means of decreasing crime or asthma rates. Furthermore, the results can allow for optimal allocation of green space to maximize the benefits to crime and asthma reductions, i.e. placing green space in wealthier or poorer areas, or more or less urban areas.
A Comparison of the Solar Renewable Energy Credit Market in Massachusetts and New Jersey
A Renewable Energy Credit (REC) is produced when one megawatt hour (MWh) of renewable energy is generated and transferred to the electric grid. RECs are traded separately from the energy produced and are used to prove compliance with renewable energy mandates. This study will focus on Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) markets by comparing two well established SREC markets in Massachusetts and New Jersey. SREC market prices have been volatile which has the potential to impact investment in solar energy. This study attempts to quantify common externalities that lead to the volatility of the SREC market.
Norm Sensitivity and Preferences for Credence Attributes Elicited in Experimental Auctions: The Case of Animal Welfare Information and WTP for Ice Cream
Previous research finds that, in a laboratory setting, willingness to pay elicited in auctions consistently and predictably diminishes after a negative information treatment. However, there's reason to believe that preferences elicited in experiments are correlated with participant characteristics imported into the laboratory setting. The purpose of this research was to empirically test for correlation between proclivity towards following social norms and a decrease in bids associated with a negative information treatment. It was hypothesized that participants with a greater degree of sensitivity to social norms will exhibit larger bid decreases as a result of the negative information treatment than those less sensitive to norming. A series of experiments exposed participants to a negative information treatment about animal welfare standards in the dairy industry to influence consumer preferences for ice cream. Participants began by completing a survey about perceptions of dairy industry practices, then engaged in a rule-following activity, and submitted bids in two sequences, consisting of five-rounds each, of second-price auctions. Analyzing the data with linear regression software, there was a decrease in WTP. Using the results from the survey, the statistical significance of the different groups of dependent variables were investigated. Dependent variables include demographics, animal welfare preferences, dairy consumption habits and dairy industry standards.This supports the objective hypothesis that higher sensitivity to social norms is associated with greater bid decreases as a result of a negative information treatment.
A growing population impacts governmental policy, the global economy, and the environment; a myriad of issues arise that inevitably will affect the public sector and private sector. Population growth debate and future impact of population on real and financial economic growth rates, intertwined into a larger network represented by the global economy, are projected to have deep and reverberating consequences for Earth. By using scholarly literature, the central theme of this research is to discuss the relationship between economies and their occupants’ consumption. My research asks whether and how population growth, over time, affects the economic growth and performance of a country and its currency as a vehicle of value thereby, influencing the valuation of life. According to “Demographics and markets: The effects of Aging,” demographic factors contribute to a 1.25 percentage point decline in the real gross domestic product growth and natural rate of real interest since 1980. This slump implies that demographics rather than fiscal policy, technology and other changes in productivity are responsible for literally all contraction in economic growth over the last 35 years. A Federal Reserve research paper suggested that low yields may be unavoidable, and the current economic policy debate may be misguided. Economies exist for humans intricately involved with man-made societal existences. The quality and valuation of human life, resources being finite, eventually must be re-envisioned for the sake of survival.
The Impact Your Local Grocery Store Has on You and Your Shopping List
The Impact of Digital Identity on Industries and Consumers
This thesis explores the topic of digital identity (DI). DI is an online identity associated with a person or organization based on their browsing history. As more and more consumers around the world are gaining access to the internet, digital channels have steadily grown in importance. An analysis of DI is, therefore, essential in order to protect consumers. Without such protection, consumers will face a loss in privacy and potentially devastating financial losses through identity theft. This thesis also explores the impact of DI on two industries, finance and social media, and examines the failures of past DI systems. Research has shown that although the current DI system is vulnerable to hacking, strides are being made towards building a more secure system. Companies are beginning to acknowledge that since they hold consumers’ DIs, they are responsible for its protection; otherwise, they may lose consumer support. Accordingly, several companies are using cutting-edge technology, such as differential privacy, to help safeguard the personal information of consumers. Countries have a different take on DI and many are in the process of establishing new regulations. While the United States is using DI to protect the identity of consumers, interestingly, China is using DI to control their citizens from denouncing the government. Despite the differing motives, both countries are still striving towards the same goal of a successful DI system. China is also creating a virtual identification system which could be adopted by others as well.
Hydraulic fracturing has allowed America to become more energy independent than ever before. The technological breakthroughs of horizontal drilling has led to the development of depositories that were once thought to be inaccessible. By injecting millions of gallons of water, sand, and chemical additives under extreme pressure, the shale cracks and allows the resource to flow back to the surface. However, up to thirty percent of the water necessary for extraction returns to the surface as a waste product. If handled incorrectly or well integrity fails, the wastewater can seep into groundwater sources. Past research has suggested that this can impact human health, as many of the chemicals are known to have carcinogenic effects, and also lead to environmental degradation.
To prevent this indirect cost of production, companies must choose how to handle the large quantities of contaminated water. There are different treatment options available, but the most common techniques involve Class II well-injection and treatment for reuse, both on-site or at a wastewater facility. Using a comparative cost-benefit analysis, accounting for non-market costs, this project proposes a course of action regarding the most efficient treatment option. Through the collection of transportation costs, price per barrel, and other operating costs found in scholarly articles and public records, the analysis can determine the net present value for each option. Multiple evaluation rubrics are used to take into account different target objectives, such as minimizing costs, valuing a human life, and conserving the environment.
100% Renewable Energy in US Cities
Across the United States, five towns and cities run independently on 100% renewable energy, and approximately fifty others have followed by pledging to achieve this goal in the near future. Within Massachusetts, seven towns have committed to 100% renewable energy by 2030 or 2050. The transformation to renewable energy sources is becoming increasingly more accessible and inexpensive, with tremendously less environmental impacts than alternative sources. This study uses cost-benefit analysis to examine the feasibility of a town or city’s commitment to 100% renewable energy. This study focuses on the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts that has committed to 100% renewable energy by 2030.
The cost-benefit analysis examines a plan for the city of Cambridge to accomplish 100% renewable energy through a combination of on-site solar installations and off-site wind or solar projects. The costs of the plan will incorporate the costs of hiring contractors, building the renewable energy structures, and administrative costs. These costs are compared to the benefits of more stable energy prices in the long-term, carbon emissions avoided, improved air and water quality, and the recognition of the city of Cambridge as a local clean energy leader. The results of this cost-benefit analysis will give insight into the effectiveness of Cambridge’s plan, as well as the feasibility for other similar cities to achieve this goal.
The opposition to the expansion of nuclear energy has caused this energy source to fall out of favor when considering ways to combat climate change. With its high safety record, low emission rates, and the potential to generate the needed energy supply, this contradiction has prompted the question of why this opposition exists. A potential explanation lies in the risk preferences of individuals and their interpretation of the risk posed by nuclear energy. To examine the connection between opinions about nuclear energy and risk preferences, a survey of college students was conducted. The survey asked students to express their opinions of nuclear energy. In addition, various questions based on the DOSPERT Scale were asked to measure students’ risk preferences. Survey results were then analyzed for connections between the risk preference of an individual and their opinion of nuclear energy. Finally, they were compared with scientific facts about nuclear energy to determine if opinions are different. The results of the survey were then used to analyze possible actions that could be taken to change opinions about nuclear energy, and what that would mean for energy policies.
This thesis examines the relationship between changes in hospital ownership and hospital performance. As the United States enjoys a mixed public-private healthcare system with over a thousand private hospitals, some healthcare firms see an economic advantage in acquiring hospitals and expanding their revenue and profits. As with any other industry, healthcare experiences market consolidation activity, and this market activity has an effect on consumers. In the context of healthcare, consumers’ financial costs incurred are not the only worry of market consolidation, but also the quality of care they are provided. Though there have been studies that have examined the relationship between hospital mergers and acquisitions and resulting patient outcomes, the results vary widely, and there is no popular consensus on the relationship between ownership changes and health-based patient outcomes (there is substantial literature on changes in ownership as it relates to the financial costs accrued by patients).
This research aims to further establish the relationship between hospital consolidation and hospital performance, using patient outcome metrics based on health as a proxy for hospital performance, and also examining consolidation’s effect on patient satisfaction.
I use a means comparison and multiple linear regression as a method of analyzing the relationship between these factors, and include controls for income and environmental health risks (county-level risk factors for smoking, obesity, poor physical health, premature death, etc.) to mitigate the causal effects of various external influences on the patient outcome metrics.
A bachelor’s degree is necessary in the 21st century to secure reliable and quality employment. The accompanying stress of higher education and pressure to earn a degree often triggers mental health complications, primarily depression. Colleges across America face an increasing rate of student depression. With rising levels of depressed students, colleges are unable to provide adequate services to properly and fully address the issue. Unfortunately, this inability to treat the depression epidemic results in lower academic efficacy because depression hinders a student's classroom performance. My research explores the effect depression has on the academic performance of students in a post-secondary educational setting. In a 2012 National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) report on mental health in college, a survey respondent explains how depressive episodes prevented the student from attending classes, and as a result the student had to withdraw from the college. The report presents statistical findings that of all the respondents who dropped out of college, sixty-four percent of these students withdrew due to mental health related issues. NAMI’s report, based on respondent feedback, urges colleges to provide more campus-based services to accommodate the growing need. Since depression is intimately tied into the academic progress, and therefore determines the likelihood of graduation, it is vital to not only understand the extent of effects from depression, but also to formulate a comprehensive response to the issue of rising depression.
Adults administer standardized testing to children in elementary schools to gather information on how well a student can read, write and solve math problems. Students who attend elementary school do not always agree with their teachers about what is important to learn. This project will focus on representing that gap using two-dimensional art.
The school building is made up of gray, semi-abstract cardboard built structures, backed by a particle board frame. A closer look through the windows of the buildings will reveal classroom requirements and Massachusetts teaching framework objectives such as the fourth-grade math standard that states students will draw and identify lines and angles, and classify shapes by properties of their lines and angles. In the foreground, the ideas of the elementary school aged children will be depicted by using the primary colors red, yellow and blue in the combination of paint, marker and collage materials from books and internet sources.
Learning after the Bell: Engineering School and STEM Activities in an After-School Setting
“Engineering School” was created with the goal of introducing students from kindergarten through fourth-grade to STEM concepts, vocabulary, and ways of thinking in an informal setting outside of the classroom. Math anxiety and the dislike of STEM subjects are widespread across the country in people of all ages and especially in girls. Engineering School provides resources and support that engage children in exploring STEM subjects unrestrictedly, giving them the opportunity to use their curiosity, creativity, and instincts to guide their interactions with STEM topics through building and folding activities. Engineering School, a weekly workshop setting in an after-school program at Wildwood Elementary School in Amherst, MA, has engaged boys and girls 5-years to 10-years old in hands-on engineering projects. Learning is happening at the highest cognitive levels: students evaluating designs, students creating their own designs, and students teaching other students. By allowing weekly activities to be directed by students’ interests and curiosity, Engineering School creates an environment in which youngsters feel comfortable exploring new ideas, utilizing their creativity and taking risks. These behaviors are fundamental to success in all STEM endeavors which require creative and innovative thinking and the constant asking of questions. Through their active participation in Engineering School, students are gaining confidence in themselves developing the skills of successful engineers.
My research focuses on the debate over which theory of universal creation should be taught in schools: evolution or intelligent design. The ongoing discussion about teaching theories of creation has timelessly challenged educators, curriculum writers, and the government. Through anecdotal discussion in the context of court cases I attempt to dilute the reasons for conflict and propose why both evolution and intelligent design should be incorporated into the curriculum, though each theory may be taught in different settings; evolution is likely to be taught in a biology classroom, whereas intelligent design has a more appropriate place in a theology or philosophy class. The purpose of this research is to demonstrate the alignment between my educational philosophy and the teaching of both theories. I would encourage school districts to allow for the instruction of both theories. The goal of an educational system should be to prepare students to acquire independent thinking skills rather than indoctrinate them with a particular view, and I believe that teaching both evolution and intelligent design, even if they are taught in different settings, would aid in developing such skills.
This project will examine racial protests within sports and the outside world. Race is important because of the different events that are happening in the media that have to do with taking a stand and the different protests that are going on nationwide. Some examples of these that have to do with taking a stand against racism and police brutality is when Colin Kaepernick, an NFL player who kneeled in 2016 when the national anthem was playing because he believed there were racial injustices occurring against black americans. Some other examples of sports stars taking a stand against racial injustices would be when Miami Heat players wore hoodies in response to the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012. Some other examples of responses to racial injustices within professional sports would be when the Black Lives Matter movement was happening and NBA players would wear t-shirts with the word I Can’t Breathe in response to the death of Eric Garner. The WNBA team the Minnesota Lynx showed support of the Black Lives Matter movement and wore t-shirts with the slogan “Change starts with us. Justice and accountability” after Philando Castile was killed by police in Minnesota. All of these movements and support throughout the sports industry shows us how much certain citizens in the United States care about police shootings and other violent crimes that happen in urban black neighborhoods. People are showing support of the Black Lives Matter movement by protesting after cops shoot innocent black children.
The article titled “Race & Ethnicity” on criticalmediaproject.org focuses on how and why the media portrays certain individuals in specific ways, including why people of color are often cast in certain roles such as the maid, the gangster, the “model minority,” and the terrorist, while most of the main characters in movies and television shows are white. The media is one of the most influential ways of how people receive information and how they portray certain products, other sources of media, and especially other individuals. Media creates meaning about race and ethnicity, and plays an important role in shaping the way we understand race and ethnicity as part of our own identity, our history, and our everyday lives. In the United States, whites have historically been associated with superiority and privilege while people of color have historically been associated with inferiority and labeled as the "Other" in society. The negative effects that arise from this ideology is that people tend to use race and ethnicity as descriptors, which automatically place people in groups which, overtime, have developed into having certain traits and attributes. With these groups forming, dominant groups rose to power and created influence over others by occupying and controlling languages, cultures, and rituals of the U.S. This caused racism to exist on not only the interpersonal level, but the institutional level as well, which means it is prominent in institutions including the government, law enforcement, education, religion, as well as media industries.
For millions of high school students across the country, mental health struggles can be a serious obstacle to success. In colleges, counseling centers help students who struggle with mental health issues. In high schools, however, counselors are not equipped or trained to help students who struggle with depression or anxiety, and in lower income schools these problems are more apparent and almost rarely dealt with. Teenagers are filled with emotions that can impact their daily lives. Even if students aren’t suicidal or depressed, it can still be nice to have someone to talk to each day. Providing high school students with counseling with qualified professionals is a necessity that every high school should have. By researching effective mental health programs at high schools around the country (and the world), this project explores the social and academic benefits of hiring qualified counselors to work in high schools in Massachusetts. I am looking for a more permanent solution to reduce the amount of teen suicide, bullying, and mental health related cases in these schools.
In my honors thesis, I focused on how elements of Victorian literature are satirized in contemporary texts for children and young adults and why this satirization is significant. During the Victorian period, most children’s books were created to educate children. While some Victorian books taught children basic reading and writing skills through the use of alphabets, others emphasized the importance of behaving properly and following the codes of conduct generated by Victorian society. The child character who followed the rules and behaved in an appropriate manner was the one who experienced a “happy ending” in the text. In my thesis, I analyzed texts by Victorian authors such as Charles Kingsley, George MacDonald, Louisa May Alcott, and Lewis Carroll. In regards to contemporary literature for children and young adults, I closely examined texts by authors such as Edward Gorey, Lemony Snicket, and Roald Dahl. In these texts, the authors satirize elements of Victorian literature through their unique writing styles, their use of morbid subject matter, their somewhat unsettling illustrations, and even through their alteration of the textual medium itself. Ultimately, I addressed the following questions with my thesis project: How are these contemporary authors satirizing Victorian elements in their works? How is this satirization significant and does it affect how the text is interpreted? Despite the satire within their texts, are the contemporary authors still attempting to teach in some form?
From the nineteenth century transatlantic slave trade to the contemporary era of mass incarceration, capitalism’s entanglement with unfree labor has been the subject of scholarly research from Karl Marx’s Capital, Vol 1. (1867) to Eric Williams’ Capitalism and Slavery (1944) to Dennis Childs’ Slaves of the State (2015). However, with more people enslaved today than all of the people violently seized from Africa during the transatlantic slave trade (Bales, 2012, p. 9) and capitalism persisting as the predominant worldwide economic system, a critical analysis of the structural relationship between capitalism and unfree labor remains all too pertinent in the twenty-first century, especially if we as a society truly wish to abolish all modes of unfree labor.
Hence, the purpose of this investigation into capitalism and unfree labor in the twenty-first century is to examine prevalent forms of unfree labor which exist in the present day capitalist mode of production, namely unfree prison labor, unfree migrant labor, and unfree international labor. The conclusion to this research suggests that the production and exploitation of unfree laborers is the result of a structural tendency inextricable to the framework of capitalism itself. With a “werewolf hunger for surplus labour [and maximizing surplus-value]” (Marx, 1867, p. 291), capital in the twenty-first century continues to commandeer a panoply of state institutions and functions responsible for incarceration, immigration, and international trade in order to “force the cost of labour back towards [...] zero” (Marx, 1867, p. 657).
Early twentieth century philosopher, Frederich Nietzsche argued that because language is only metaphorical and cannot provide knowledge of things in themselves beyond phenomenological experiences, it (language) is inadequate to proclaim anything true about ontology, experience or meaning. Our very vocabulary alienates us from being, leaving us fragmented and split. However, the ability to express these ideas, requires the use of language. Author Nicholas Carr argues that technologies in written language,—specifically the phonetic alphabet and the Gutenberg press— brought about an expanding vocabulary that brought words and ideas into being that had previously not existed. Through which, people’s experience of reality was heightened, made more complex and nuanced. Stated more explicitly, Carr writes: “As language expanded, consciousness deepened.” The mode of language, especially the written word, give tools with which to understand our experiences in relation to a world whose fundamental reality is contingent. Far from alienating us from our internal and external worlds, language gives shape and form to our experience. Words may only be metaphors of phenomena, but they are metaphors that have meaning and being in things beyond themselves. However, we live in an age where language has been leeched of sense and definition. Words that used to burn with meaning have been replaced with pith, platitude and hackneyed cliche that sit in the mouth like tepid water or emerge stillborn.
Art and Artifice: The Fact and Fiction Debate as Represented in the Storytelling of Jeanette Winterson
The works of Jeanette Winterson are often viewed through the lens of queer theory and gender studies. While these approaches are certainly important, they do not focus on Winterson’s specific storytelling techniques which are often overlooked in the critical conversation surrounding her novels. Consequently, I ask, what kind of stories does Winterson tell, how does she tell those stories, and why is the way she tells those stories so influential? Oranges are Not the Only Fruit, Written on the Body, and Weight are three works that span Jeanette Winterson’s career, but tackle the same topic: the ability of stories to tell and evade the truth, re-tell and re-create the past, and to specify and universalize human experience. It is evident that Winterson’s methods—the use of fairytales, biblical texts, and mythology—all have the power to serve as truth-telling texts despite their surface differences, and it is the elements of intertextuality, inter-discourse, and autobiography that allow these truths to reveal themselves. Thus, these three novels show how different forms of storytelling can influence our understanding of fact, fiction, and truth, and it is clear that these terms must be defined by the context in which they are in. This attention to detail and dedication to expose the truth through storytelling fortifies Winterson's own statement: “if truth is that which lasts, then art has proved truer than any other human endeavor.”
When I first began crafting my Honors Project, a feature-length screenplay in the neo-noir genre, I sought to answer one question: How do you create an engaging script that is as compelling as it is emotionally authentic to its themes? Screenwriters and producers are often so heavily focused on the entertainment value of their projects that a serious subject, such as PTSD, can often feel overly romanticized, or in some cases, trivialized. I wanted to discover the origin of this phenomenon, and in the process challenge the status quo by creating an emotionally rich narrative that is respectful and realistic of its harrowing subject matter.
I would like to present an ePosterboard on the process of creating this screenplay. My project, titled Paper Faces, presents the story of an ordinary person suffering from extraordinary trauma, who is slowly losing touch with reality. In preparation, I have conducted research into addiction, child loss, the psychology of memories, and the diverse forms PTSD can take. A common misconception in film and literature is that PTSD is the same for everyone. I have studied the effects of trauma, spoken with people living with PTSD, and read case studies published by the American Psychological Association and Fire Fighter Nation – an online community for first responders to discuss their struggles and triggers. This research, when combined with my studies of genre, scriptwriting techniques and non-linear storytelling, has guided my work in creating an original script, and avoiding Hollywood clichés that can cloud stories of real human experience.
Brick Lane, a neighborhood in the East End of London, is famous for its curry houses, historic old Spitalfields market, boutiques, and liveliness. The neighborhood has a long and rich history of serving as an in-between space and refuge for migrants such as the Flemish, French Huguenots, and East European Jews for over four hundred years. More recently, it has come to be labeled “Little Bangladesh” or “Banglatown” due to the noticeable presence of a Bangladeshi diasporic community there. It is against this backdrop that contemporary British Bangladeshi Muslim writer Monica Ali sets her 2003 novel, Brick Lane. Ali's novel follows the life of Nazneen, who settles in Brick Lane after an arranged marriage to a man, Chanu Ahmed, 20 years her senior. Brick Lane has garnered a large and impressive body of scholarship on topics ranging from Hijab sweatshops as gendered spaces to the novel’s fraught erasure of Brick Lane’s race riots. None of this scholarship, however, examines exclusively the place and role of the scenes involving jinn (supernatural creatures) in the novel. Using research on jinn, postcolonial and diasporic theory, I highlight the moments of jinn possession and performance of possession as an extended metaphor for British Asian women's experiences in diasporic space. I contend that transformative female agency erupts in these moments through mimicry, as the burden of home is destabilized and a new space for agentic British Asian women is imagined.
The Evolution of Dystopian Literature: Placing the Fate of the Future into the Hands of Young Adults
This thesis traces the evolution of dystopian literature from its origin in Thomas More’s Utopia and More’s influences in George Orwell’s 1984 and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 to its contemporary shift in Lois Lowry’s The Giver and M.T. Anderson’s Feed. These novels convey the central purpose of dystopian literature: to change the present by warning people about a disturbing, yet conceivable, version of the future. 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 both bestow the responsibility to communicate this message on adults who consciously rebel against the governments and systems they have known and accepted for decades. Forty years later, The Giver and Feed rewrite the narrative from the perspective of young adults. External circumstances force the adolescent protagonists, Jonas and Titus, into roles and situations that expose the injustices of which they are not aware due to their innocence and inexperience. Initially, the two characters only wish to survive the conditions under which they are placed and do not intend to resist the governments and systems adults have taught them to trust. They nevertheless prove to be more effective agents of change than the adults in their societies. In this way, dystopian literature has transformed into a source of power for adolescents. By incorporating these young-adult texts into their curriculums, English teachers can prompt their students to think about how they can impact the future and, as a result, make the world a better place.
Bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea) provide pollination services critical to the stability and productivity of natural and agricultural ecosystems. Therefore, given emerging observations of bee population and species decline, it is necessary to monitor the health of these communities through long-term surveys. Here, we compiled data from studies conducted in 1990-1991 and 2007-2008 measuring the diversity and abundance of bees pollinating cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.) in Southeastern Massachusetts. In 2016 and 2017, we repeated the procedure of the previous studies by surveying bee communities at 11 cranberry bogs from mid-June to mid-July. Each bog was visited three times during cranberry bloom, where one person collected bees with an aerial net and small containers for 15 minutes and recorded bee visitation during six 5-minute quadrat observations. Collected bees were identified to species and used to determine the Shannon entropy, a diversity index, for each of the three study periods. Our findings reveal a significant decline over the 27-year survey period in the diversity of bumble bees (Bombus spp.), which are predominant and effective pollinators of cranberry. There was no significant change in the diversity of other native bee species, and the sample location did not affect diversity. The results of this study confirm a decline in richness and evenness of bee species in this cranberry-growing region, indicating a community less resilient and more vulnerable to change.
Every day, over 500 million straws are thrown away in the United States alone. Since plastic does not completely decompose, every straw thrown away is still in a landfill- or worse, in oceans or in an animal’s digestive system. Westfield State University is no exception.
This research project will examine the use of disposable plastic straws on campus- more specifically, in the Ely Cafe, the Bistro, and Dunkin’ Donuts- and compare usage in these three facilities to two on-campus facilities that no longer use disposable plastic straws. The project will also analyze the environmental and economic impacts on continued use of disposable plastic straws. In addition, this project will also look into ways that Westfield State University is making sustainable options more accessible to their students, faculty, and staff, and how much support there is on campus for sustainable options.
Methods used in this research project will include surveying students, faculty, and staff about disposable plastic straw usage, as well as if dining facilities on campus are using or intend to use biodegradable or reusable straws in the future. Calculations for the mass of straws thrown away by the campus community as well as the cost for the university to continue using single-use plastic straws will also be included.
This study focuses on the allometry of open-grown amenity trees. Amenity trees provide a variety of benefits such as soil retention, attenuation of temperature, pollution, and noise, and aesthetic improvement. Allometry is the study of size-correlated variability in organic structure and process. In other words, allometry studies the growth of one part in relation to the whole, or one part in relation to another part.
Greenfield Community College is fortunate to have a campus that includes approximately 40 acres of forest and several known wetlands. In Fall 2017, spotted salamanders were documented in the campus forest despite the lack of any known appropriate breeding habitat for this vernal pool obligate species. USGS topographic maps and Mass.gov GIS mapping illustrate existing wetlands and emerging wetlands on campus, with only one currently registered and protected. Our goal is to thoroughly survey the campus property for vernal pools and wetlands this spring and to document the presence of amphibian species breeding in these habitats on our campus. Through the process of identifying, surveying and seeking certification for additional vernal pools and wetlands, we explore the lessons of ecology and raise awareness through implementing conservation and education. Because these habitats are critical to a wide variety of biologically specialized aquatic and semi aquatic plant and animal species, it is essential that their presence and the needs of their inhabitants be taken into consideration as campus management decisions are made. This research could inform future projects conducted on campus including construction, landscaping and forest management plans. It will also allow us to document what possible threats are present on site such as invasive species, run off, high human foot traffic or contaminates and allow us to explore what measures we can take to lessen or manage the effects of human activities on our campus.
Climate change is an issue that greatly impacts the world we
live in today and is beginning to influence the way we approach agriculture and
food production. Because of this, carbon farming is gaining a lot of attention, however, what is the efficacy of carbon farming and global efforts? This is currently the unknown that we intend to investigate. Carbon farming is a form of agriculture that addresses climate
change and has the potential to change the atmosphere that surrounds global
warming. Carbon farming involves methods such as cover cropping, crop rotation,
composting, and conservation tillage to sequester carbon from the atmosphere in the soil. We intend
to investigate the effectiveness of carbon farming in different climates.
We will use the world hardiness zones to identify the normal climate conditions in different regions and identify the plants that thrive in those zones. With that information we can extrapolate which of those plants are best at sequestering carbon and rank the regions by their potential to sequester carbon. From that point, we will analyze the implications for incentivized global efforts to sequester carbon, halt climate change, and create more arable land. Theoretically, our efforts will result in a breakdown of the feasibility of carbon farming in all climate types based on the factors discussed above.
With water supply contamination cases seemingly on the rise throughout much
of the world, the purpose of this research is to study the social implications,
health, and economic impacts on those communities and individuals affected. To
do so, various case studies and scholarly articles on the subject were
analyzed. Looking at the data, it is evident that poor, minority, and other
powerless segments of the population are disproportionately affected socially,
health wise, and economically by contaminated water. Since the majority of
these individuals live either at or below the poverty line, they are unable to
afford more long term, permanent solutions such as filtration systems and have
thus turned to a temporary solution: bottled water. This however, presents many
challenges as water bottles not only contribute to the degradation of the environment
through pollution, but also inadvertently perpetuates the cycle of
contamination. To further complicate the issue, utilizing bottled water is not
sustainable financially for most. As a result, they are eventually forced to
drink contaminated water. In drinking the contaminated water, a host of short
term, long term, and permanent health complications and economic losses
ultimately occur for those individuals unable to afford alternatives. Through
this research, it is abundantly clear that contaminated water goes beyond the
environmental aspect to encompass a social justice issue as well.
Hydroelectric dams are an important part of the electricity system in New England. While these power plant provide zero-emission energy, the location along the Connecticut river has an impact on migratory fish populations, such as American Shad. This research focuses on determining the effect of hydroelectric dams on fish populations and migration patterns, and modeling this impact as a mathematical program. The mathematical program will provide stakeholders with a way of incorporating ecological impact of hydroelectric dams into their planning process.
Brazuca Identity: How Brazilian Parents Assimilate in America and Pass Their Cultural Values on to Their Children
Now is the time when colleges need to set an example for sustainable living and help instill environmental conservation values in their students. A Living Machine (LM) is a natural wastewater treatment system that mimics the processes occurring in wetlands in order to clean sewage for reuse. Building a LM would advance Holyoke Community College (HCC) in the global quest for sustainability. As a vanguard in sustainable studies, HCC has the opportunity to reduce campus water and energy usage while engaging and educating students and community members about the natural world.
The current system for cleaning water is inefficient and uses harmful chemicals in the process. A LM uses solar power as its main form of energy and emits no odor during the process. A LM on the HCC campus would set a sustainable example for other communities and could help prevent combined sewer overflows into the Connecticut River.
If HCC were to construct a LM, it would cost around $500,000 and would be perfectly suited to the needs of the campus. At HCC, the LM would be designed to treat about 4,000 gallons of water per day (the water from two buildings) and would require 600 square feet of space. HCC is and should continue to be one of the forward thinking leaders in sustainability. This project would help set a precedent for institutions of higher learning that they have a responsibility to educate students about sustainability and environmental protection.
Carribean coral reefs have declined by 80% over the last five decades. Development of coral reef ecotourism may promote sustainable economies that can motivate efforts towards reef recovery. However, there is a general consensus that snorkeling based tourism can damage coral reefs. The amount of damage caused by recreational snorkelers remains unclear. Therefore, we carried out observations at reef locations throughout the Bocas Del Toro Archipelago to establish the baseline level of coral damage, as well as quantifying snorkeling behavior that damages reefs. We compared damage between protected areas (Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park) to unprotected areas to assess if reef protection and snorkeling behavior improves within the reserve. Snorkelers exhibited, on average, 2.02 damaging behaviors per individual. Behaviors included standing, sitting, or kneeling on the reef (34%) and the next most frequent behavior was Fin/Foot Touch (29%). Only 34% of snorkelers never exhibited damaging behavior. There was no significant difference for coral damage nor snorkel behavior within or outside the MPA boundaries. Our results suggest that snorkeling damage may contribute to the loss of coral cover and that future management efforts and tourism techniques may consider intervention and education to mitigate this damage.
Although bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) are one of the best studied species of cetaceans, surprisingly little is known about their natural communication system. Bottlenose dolphins produce individually distinctive signature whistles that function in establishing contact and maintaining group cohesion; however, few studies have examined their use in groups of known composition. Similarly, how whistles other than signatures, known as non-signatures, are used is completely unknown. This lack of knowledge is largely due to difficulties in attributing whistles to individuals and in identifying group members. The resident population of bottlenose dolphins in Sarasota Bay, Florida provides a unique opportunity to examine whistle use by free-ranging dolphins; all animals are visually identifiable and have known signature whistles. Acoustic recordings collected during behavioral observations in 2001 of visually identified animals were analyzed to look for patterns of signature and non-signature usage with respect to the composition, size, and activity of the group. A total of 881 minutes of recordings of 11 dolphin groups were analyzed using the software Raven Pro, which enables visual categorization of whistle spectrograms. Preliminary results identified 1465 whistles that were classified into 24 distinct types. These whistles will be compared to known signature whistles of group members in order to determine how many are signatures vs. non-signatures. These results will then be correlated with data on group composition, size and activity. Overall, this analysis will provide insights into whistle use by free-ranging bottlenose dolphins.
It is important to understand the effects of leafcutter ants on tropical reforestation, because a single colony of ants can defoliate an entire tree in a matter of days. As a result, leafcutter ants might hinder the entire reforestation process. Through an independent research project in Costa Rica, I compared the damage of leafcutter ants on trees in a newly reforested site with the damage in an adjacent forest that was mature. After finding four ant colonies, I measured the percent of leaf damage on nearby trees from 0 (no damage) to 10 (100% damage). I also recorded leaf damage in four different directions from the center of each colony. Two of the colonies were in the reforested area and the two other colonies were in a mature forest. This was done in order to observe the differences in leaf damage between the two different areas. I found that trees closer to the colony in the younger forest had more leaf damage, while trees farther from the colonies in the older forest had greater leaf damage. One possible explanation for this pattern may be related to the fact that younger forests have less leaf coverage. Since ants are sensitive to drier, sunnier conditions, ants from colonies in younger forests may not be able to travel as far to get the leaves for their fungus.
The necessary expansion of agriculture presents a dilemma in providing food and livelihoods for a growing population, while also being environmentally sustainable and maintaining function and services provided by natural ecosystems. Agroforestry offers a favorable alternative to intensive agriculture or monocropping, as it incorporates a diversity of species and forest elements, thereby retaining some ecosystem services of a natural forest while still serving as a productive farm. Coffee is a shade-grown crop that is often grown in agroforestry systems. The objective of this study was to determine how tree species diversity and composition affect aboveground carbon sequestration on six coffee farms in the Rio Grande Watershed, Costa Rica. Data was collected twice over the course of eight years on six farms: once in 2008-9, and once in 2016-17. At each farm, trees were identified and information on heights and diameters of trees and coffee plants was collected to assess aboveground carbon levels. Carbon sequestration was found to increase with diversity of plots. Mixed plots that were dominated by Cedrela odorata proved to be better at sequestering carbon than plots that primarily contained Erythrina spp. These results, along with research of current policies, provide possible implications for agricultural management and climate change mitigation. Incorporation of biodiverse systems containing mixtures of trees that are good at carbon sequestration can bring about more resilient and sustainable agricultural systems that simultaneously serve as a climate change mitigation strategy.
Dissolved Oxygen Response to Dam Removal in Massachusetts Streams
Dam removal has become an increasingly popular strategy to address aging infrastructure and restore ecosystems. Ecosystem benefits include increased habitat connectivity, restored ecological processes (e.g. nutrient dynamics) and improved water quality. Most research studies focus on changes in physical and biological conditions before and after dam removal, and little is known about the impacts on water quality. As a result, water quality goals for dam removal projects are often broad and uncertain. To address this knowledge gap, we investigated the short-term effects of four recent dam removals in Massachusetts on dissolved oxygen. Continuous dissolved oxygen concentrations were measured upstream, downstream, and within impoundments for three, one-week periods in summer months (July, August, September) before and after dam removal. Prior to removal, all four sites experienced decreased dissolved oxygen in impoundments relative to upstream conditions. Preliminary results show that after removal dissolved oxygen in former impoundments begin to improve. By analyzing how dissolved oxygen concentrations adjust following dam removal, we provide insight on how water quality is impacted by dam removal and the restoration of ecological processes.
As climate change leads to more extreme weather, including heat waves, it will be important to understand how variable microclimates may help buffer these variations in temperature. The purpose of this study was to explore the range of ambient, water, and soil profile temperatures. It was expected that the temperatures of air would vary more than that of water or soil. Every week between 19 September 2017 and 15 November 2017, temperatures were collected from the same location within a 10m x 10m plot in the forest behind Greenfield Community College (GCC). Water temperature was collected from a stream within the plot. Soil temperatures were taken every 10 cm from the surface to 50 cm deep using ibutton dataloggers, and average daily ambient temperature was reported by the GCC weather station. The daily ambient temperatures ranged approximately 26℃, while the temperature of water ranged approximately 10℃. I predict ambient temperatures will also exceed those experienced within the soil profile and that the variation in soil temperatures will decrease with depth. We hope these data will continue to be collected each fall in order to compare on a more long term basis. These data will help us to understand temperature microclimates within GCC’s forest and how organisms may respond, either by seeking refugia in more stable temperature microclimates or by having to sustain despite extreme temperature variations in their habitat.
Carbon Dynamics in Two Central New England Forest Stands
This study investigates atmospheric carbon dioxide sequestration by the terrestrial biosphere at Harvard Forest in Petersham, MA. The purpose behind this research was to evaluate how carbon sequestration varies with respect to tree species and forest age as a function of time. The two study sites surveyed consisted of the following: a red pine plantation established in 1925 and a former conifer plantation harvested in 1990 and now undergoing natural regeneration. The study began in 2008, with individual trees tagged, species recorded, and growth monitored each year. Diameter at breast height (DBH) data were collected for more than 800 trees with DBH > 5 cm, and the study areas were also surveyed for tree mortality and recruitment (trees recently grown into the >5 cm DBH size class). Field measurements were entered into a series of Excel datasheets containing data since 2008. The statistical analysis program R will be used to convert DBH data into biomass carbon using species-specific allometric equations. It is speculated that certain species of trees will likely store carbon at different rates than others. By determining the patterns of sequestration by species and stand age, it may be possible to form strategies to maximize forest carbon sequestration in New England.
The sympatry between Microcebus murinus and M. ravelobensis, two species of mouse lemurs native to northwestern Madagascar, has been intensively studied. However, most research on these species has been restricted to dry deciduous forests, with few studies addressing the ecology of these species in other habitat types such as mangrove forests. We conducted a study to assess how lemurs living in mangrove forests may differ ecologically from conspecifics living in nearby dry forests. We utilized capture-mark-recapture techniques along transects spanning different habitat types and analyzed our data using ArcGIS and a generalized linear model in R. We found that the species occurrence significantly correlated with distance from the Mariarano River and elevation. M. murinus was found in higher proportions closer to the river and at lower elevation, while M. ravelobensis was found in higher proportions farther from the river and at higher elevations. Our findings suggest possible differences in species distribution due to different ecological strategies and represent some of the first data on lemur biology in mangrove forests. Understanding how lemurs utilize habitat types in different ways can help inform conservation decisions for these threatened primates and the wider ecosystem.
This study discusses the new financial regulations in the post-financial crisis period, focusing on Commercial and Investment banks, their solvency, liquidity, and profitability. The total number of requirements increased, making it difficult to determine how and when our Banks will be affected and which of regulation will bind the Banks and which will actually help. For example, the recent Senate Banking Committee passage of the Dodd-Frank Act regulatory reform bill provides a range of changes to the 2010 law that include providing relief to small and mid-size banks, and the Basel III regulatory with Common Equity Tier 1 and HQLA which is believed to cause more restraints on large banks. In addition, this paper will speculate how new regulation that had been passed or expected to be passed in the near future might affect the banking industry.
Where the Glaciers Flow Like Fountains: Perspectives on Climate Change in Chile
Since its colonization in the 16th century, the nation of Chile has had a history marked by human rights violations and environmental degradation (1). While great strides have been made in terms of improved social welfare and increased sustainability efforts, there are visible signs of the harm that continues to be suffered by the people and their land. One prominent challenge that threatens the survival of Chile’s population, ranging from inhabitants of rural, mountainous communities to individuals living in densely-populated urban areas, is the disappearance of the Andean glaciers. The Andes are home to approximately 95% of the world’s tropical glaciers, and by surface area, 80% of South America’s glacial mass is found in Chile (2). Since the Little Ice Age, these deposits of snow and ice have been decreasing in size, but the most notable shrinkage has been brought on by more recent climate change-related shifts in temperature and precipitation. As a major contributor to the global trade of agricultural exports, this has become not only a social and environmental issue for Chile, but an economic threat as well. The photographs prepared as part of this collection document the country’s present situation, highlighting the impacts that climate change is having on Chile’s cultural and geological landscape.
1. U.S. Library of Congress. “Politics and War in a Frontier Society.”
2. Vuille, Mathias, 2008. “Climate change and tropical Andean glaciers: Past, present and future.”
Using GIS Technologies to Map Field Sites for Monitoring Carbon Dynamics in Massachusetts Forests
Field work was conducted in Harvard Forest, Petersham, MA in August 2017. The purpose of the study is to measure carbon fluxes in and out of two forest stands over a ~10-year period. This study also investigates the feasibility of using the ArcGIS Collector app to map remote field sites.
The field work investigated two study areas, first established in 2008: one red pine plantation established in 1925 and one former red pine plantation that was harvested in 1990 and is now a young re-growing forest. Each study area consists of six randomly located 10-m radius plots where trees with a diameter of ≥ 5 cm were previously tagged (more than 800 trees total). We gathered the GPS locations of the plots with the ArcGIS collector app for iPhone. The DBH (diameter at breast height) of trees was recorded and plots were surveyed for tree mortality and recruitment. We manually walked the outline of the study area with ArcGIS Collector to create a polygon/shapefile of the study area.
Data from ArcGIS Collector will be used to create detailed maps of the study areas. The maps from this work and biomass carbon data from another student using DBH data will allow extrapolation of the data across larger scales. This will permit generation of regional-scale estimates of the role of these types of forests on the carbon cycle of Massachusetts. This work will help predict future carbon dynamics in Massachusetts forests as well as generate management strategies to maximize forest carbon sequestration.
Agriculture is synonymous with our civilization- it is one of the most fundamental ways society interacts with the environment. Soil, especially healthy soil, is essential to maintaining the ability to provide food for a growing global population as well as acting as an important sink in the global carbon cycle. This research explores how human interaction, primarily agricultural practices, and erosion are affecting soil organic carbon (SOC) in cultivated soybean-corn crop rotation fields compared to native prairies. Analysis shows that prairies have an average ẟ13C value of -18.6‰, while the signature of cultivated fields is -22.7‰. In the fields, 35-54% of the SOC was input by domestic crops and the carbon concentration had decreased by an average of 40%. Carbon sources were determined via soil carbon concentration measurements and carbon isotope mixing models. The influence of hillslope curvature was also examined using modeling. Hillslope curvature values suggest that the field’s morphology may not have a large influence on ẟ13C, but likely influences the decline of carbon concentration. By understanding the isotopic composition of SOC and the effect hillslope curvature has on it, we can move toward developing an effective tool to further the understanding of how soil organic carbon, a vital nutrient, cycles through agricultural landscapes.
Today, as climate begins to change increasing pressures are being put on our society to adapt or face the brink of collapse. This is not the first time there has been a connection between climate change and the collapse of complex societies. Specifically, the collapse of societies in northeast Africa and the Nike Valley during the Old Kingdom period. A period of global cooling which ensued over 200 years caused variations in flooding, leading to widespread famine. In addition, problems with succession also led to a decentralized government unequipped to handle the famine. Using both geologic data and eyewitness accounts this study seeks to analyze the evidence behind climate change during this period. As well as provide context into what exactly caused the collapse of Old Kingdom Egypt.
SOC Accumulation in Northeast Kansas Restored Prairies
Agricultural land use can degrade soil and reduce the global pool of soil carbon. The loss of soil organic carbon (SOC) reduces soil fertility and may contribute to the rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, thus, negatively impacts humans. Restoring degraded soils can increase fertility and offset greenhouse gas emissions. We investigated SOC accumulation in restored prairies in the Midwestern United States to gain insight on the behavior of carbon accumulation in this region. SOC measurements in farmland, restored prairies, and native prairies in northeast Kansas were used to address SOC reduction due to farming, and SOC accumulation in decade to half century old restored prairies. Soil samples were collected in 0-20 cm and 20-40 cm depth increments, and inorganic carbon was removed by acid fumigation prior to SOC measurement using an elemental analyzer. The SOC in the agricultural field was 58% and 50% lower at 0-20 cm and 20-40 cm depths respectively relative to native prairie. The SOC reductions demonstrate agriculture’s negative impact on fertility. Results from restored prairies indicate the annual SOC accumulation rate was 0.0164% over a fifty year time period. Soil carbon content is positively correlated with time since restoration (R^2=0.93, after accounting for an outlier). Factors including land use management, vegetation, rill erosion, and topographic gradient and curvature would be worth researching in order to gain more insight on carbon accumulation rates in Midwest soil.
The poster will focus on the themes of Jace Weaver’s The Red Atlantic, Andrew Lipman’s The Saltwater Frontier, Nancy Shoemaker’s Native American Whalemen and the New World, and David K. Richter’s, Facing East from Indian Country. Their themes focus on the role the Atlantic Ocean and Imperial Europe played in the discovery and colonization of the “New World”, as well as first contact with indigenous people and the interplay between native populations of New England. Extensive use of graphic images and bullet-point text will direct visitors through years 1620 to 1927, the year cross-Atlantic air travel began.
My honors thesis will highlight secret human experimentation performed by the United States government throughout the course of the twentieth century. I will specifically be focusing on the victims of these experiments, how they sought justice through the court system via compensation, how that compensation was received or not received, and how the families of these victims continue to fight for justice in the present. I will also be analyzing how the victims of each experiment were chosen (i.e. gender, race, socioeconomic status, etc.) and how their perception of government changed following their experience. The Tuskegee Syphilis Study, the Vanderbilt University Medical Center “Nutrition Study,” and the Massachusetts Walter E. Fernald State School “Science Club,” are some of the events I will be describing. I hope to paint an accurate portrait of the horrific scenarios victims were often placed in. It is in this way that I will demonstrate how their demand for fair compensation and national recognition is understandably justified. Lastly, by analyzing how the victim’s perception of government changed dramatically after their experience, I can draw relevant conclusions /seek to explain the attitudes of many United States citizens and how our perception of government slowly declined over the course of the twentieth century and catapulted us into a new age of political distrust.
War on the People: Analyzing the Social Impact of American Drug Policy, 1968-2018
Drugs use represents a ubiquitous and complex issue for policymakers in the United States. While the purpose of these substances can arguably range from medicinal to recreational, the necessity to legislate them has become increasingly salient. The opioid crisis has become a paramount issue—which is responsible for 63% of all drug overdose deaths—that lacks a proactive solution. Despite President Richard Nixon's announcement of the "War on Drugs" nearly 50 years ago, and despite President Donald Trump declaration of the opioid crisis a "public health emergency" months ago, the federal government has failed at addressing this epidemic.
America must reevaluate its federal drug policy. Since the establishment of the Drug Enforcement Administration in 1973, incarceration rates in the U.S. have risen at unprecedented rates. The current approach to drug policy has failed to yield measurable results. Instead, current policy perpetuates systemic racism and targets the poor and vulnerable; it has contributed to the U.S. having the highest rate of incarceratation in the world despite the continuous increase in prescription opioid and heroin-related deaths.
This paper will examine the social impact the War on Drugs has had by assessing a cornucopia of statistical evidence, and juxtaposing the analysis with federal drug policy.
The incidence of Bubonic Plague that ravaged Europe following its arrival in 1348 wrought many changes on the socio-economic landscape of the region. Using primary and scholarly sources this paper will demonstrate that the plague greatly affected the European labor market, peasants' perceptions of their place therein, and their ability to barter for wages, shifting where the power lay in the labor market. The nobility had no choice but to enact new, sometimes drastic sanctions and policies in reaction to the rapidly changing economy. These events generally improved the lives and standings of the lower classes, aided in the advent of the middle class, and further estranged the nobility from their subjects. Eventually, in the following decades these factors coalesced, serving to widen class divisions and nurture animosity towards the nobility and landed gentry and culminated in mass rebellions, such as the Peasants' Revolt in England and the Jacquerie in France.
During my time spent in both HIST 0290 Islamic Civilization and HIST 0399 Studies of Islam, I have gained an understanding on the origins of the religion of Islam, the practice of Islam throughout history, and the impact that regional culture has on Islam throughout several different parts of the world. Not only are the cultures of these areas and nations different, but so too are their perspectives on Islamic Feminism, with Islamic Feminist movements growing in support and awareness in some countries, while others are suppressed by the state. I intend to compare Leila Ahmed, an Egyptian Islamic Historian, and her findings in Women and Gender in Islam as well as A Border Passage, to Fatima Mernissi, a Moroccan Islamic Sociologist, observing her works Beyond the Veil, Dreams of Trespass, and The Veil and the Male Elite, as well as evaluate on what they observed, and why they acquired different results.
All Roads Lead to Worcester: Transportation's Key Role in the Development of Worcester, Massachusetts
This research describes and highlights the importance of transportation developments in Worcester, Massachusetts during the 19th century towards its growth from a stagnating rural township to a major industrial city. The research focuses on the history surrounding the Blackstone Canal, the major railroads that ran to and from Worcester, and the various firms and industries that developed around them. The sources drawn upon include the work of various historians, both contemporary and from the period researched, as well as primary sources such as company charters, stock reports, newspapers, photographs and lithographs. Through the use of these sources it is shown that by being quick to adopt the latest transportation technology and infrastructure, early 19th century rural Worcester set itself up to become an industrial boom town despite its limitations as an inland town that lacked access to navigable natural waterways. Starting with the construction of the Blackstone Canal in the 1820s and followed by the construction of railroads like the Boston & Worcester, and the Western during the 1830s and 40s, Worcester opened itself up to the raw materials, labor, capital, and markets required to build a vibrant and diverse industrial sector that would prosper well into the 20th century.
This paper will focus on the
evolution of the use of biological weapons. Preliminary research suggests that
the real danger posed by biological weapons is not in large-scale nation-versus-nation
warfare, but instead lies in the ability of nations or non-nations to use them
as a means of terrorism. With the development of biological weapons becoming
more transparent, it is now easier than ever to construct such devices and use
them to push personal or political goals. The development of biological weapons
has opened a Pandora’s box. Although still a threat in large-scale warfare,
bioweapons have become far more likely to be used for terrorism. Internet sources
supported by scholarly sources including different journals and historical
documents will be used to analyze casualties and incidents in which these
weapons endangered lives.
Additionally, though civilian deaths in the War in Afghanistan (2001-) and the Iraq War (2003-2011) are less than that of the Vietnam War, the numbers are still staggering. Where one could hope that brutality committed by the American military since the Vietnam War, would be something that is incessantly avoided, civilians living in war zones in the Middle East have been frequently killed by bombs, drone strikes, IED’s, bullets, etc. These casualties should not however, be seen as collateral damage in war, but rather civilian deaths that could have been avoided.
Disease, man’s most formidable foe besides mankind itself, is an expert killer. From smallpox, to the Black Death, to influenza, plague washes over civilizations and sometimes the whole world leaving devastation in its wake. No one is safe from pestilence, as it can strike anyone from any class resulting in death. But, there is a part of society that even now remains the most vulnerable, and the most vulnerable would be those of the lower classes. From living conditions to access to medical care the lower class is very susceptible to disease. Without the lower class in society, things fall apart, and this core workforce, this core of society is the most valuable and most vulnerable. Without people to work jobs like harvesting for instance there would be food shortage. The “lower” classes of people make up most of society so when they are all wiped out the economy or perhaps even an empire can come crashing down. In the succeeding pages, exploration of the impact of multiple diseases on the lower class population will be discussed. Instances ranging from the beginning of civilization to present day will be examined to reveal the devastation that contagious disease can inflict on the lower class.
Outlaw motorcycle clubs have become romanticized within American culture despite countless examples of lurid violence. Americans have developed an affinity for these clubs due to the fact that they embody many of the characteristics that are revered by society as a whole. This would include the allure of living life on the fringes of society, a shared an emphasis on the importance of brotherhood, as well as the willingness to violently protect our way of life.
Many times, rebellions and uprisings are inspired by certain music. In the German Democratic Republic (GRD), behind the Berlin Wall, a counter culture of Punk rockers was brewing, inspired by the forbidden western music of David Bowie. The existing culture was mobilized to revolt after the Concert for Berlin in 1987, when Bowie played at the Brandenburg Gate, and pointed his speakers East to give those in GDR a show. This led to one of the most brutal revolts in East German history, with scores of young East Germans being beaten and arrested by the police. After this, the punk movement continued to gain momentum, terrorizing the regime, and ultimately played a significant role in tearing down the wall and reunifying Germany in 1989. Research to support this thesis focuses on first hand accounts of those who attended and rallied, as well as those who organized uprisings, as well as interviews with David Bowie himself. There are also large numbers of state official documents recording the East German paranoia about the Punk culture, western rock music, and youth uprisings.
Rico is an island nation whose local bilingual population has become
subservient to the U.S. Most Puerto Ricans descended from the Taino,
who were once a prominent Native Americans who lived in the Caribbean
islands and Puerto Rico for four hundred years until colonization and
expansion led to the disappearance of a distinct people. Yet, the truth
is that their cultural extinction was brought upon assimilation of a
conquering group, the Spanish conquistadores. After Spanish rule Puerto
Rico was ceded to the U.S. What happened then is a history of an
oppressed group of people that until today not much has changed.
Capitalist policies prey on the weak and the uneducated, conformity has
led to a class consciousness that has made it "okay" to be oppressed, in
other words, a silent oppression. The relationship between the U.S. and
Puerto Rico is a controversial legacy, which directly affects Latin
America. It remains to be said that the existing social problems are because of this dichotomy. By tracing ideological patterns and events
we'll understand these questions from a modernist perspective: how has
U.S. imperialism after the Treaty of Paris of 1898 impacted the current Puerto Rican debate over statehood?
Should P.R. become a state of the U.S. or an independent nation, and
what are the disadvantages and advantages? What is the relationship between Puerto Rico and the U.S.?
American Racial Profiling and the Assumption of Black Criminality
Travelers searching for lodging traditionally seek out hotels, but hotels are expensive and do not often offer an authentic impression of the community they are located in. AirBnb offers a solution to this dilemma. This relatively new company has been able to maintain an excellent reputation as affordable and locally flavored lodging. Unfortunately with the creation of AirBnb some ethical problems have come to light. My research explores the sociological and economic issues that arise in the new tourism industry of AirBnB. Various travelers have given a big thumbs up to their experiences with this service, but many do not see the behind the scenes issues with the business. For example, disabled travelers are facing discrimination and exclusion from a great number of properties offered on the site. The article “Disabled Travelers Are More Likely to Be Rejected by AirBnb Hosts, a Study Finds” (ChokshiI, Niraj and Benner, Katie) explains how unregulated the requirements of these rentals are in comparison to more conventional methods. Sadly, it leaves disabled people unable to stay at many of the sites locations giving them a much smaller pool of availability than the average traveler. AirBnb would need to gain more requirements in order to be accessible to all. They have already make steps toward this with the creation of there anti discrimination policy. AirBnb’s mission is to find the right space for any and everyone to stay.
This paper examines the impact of globalization on social movements. The advancement of information technology and social media has allowed different kinds of social movements to move to a global scale. Using resource mobilization theory, this paper will explore how various aspects of the internet, such as the multitude social media platforms, provides activists additional political space to effectively organize events and disseminate information. With new technological developments, movements can expand their agendas beyond national borders and become global. To demonstrate the utility of the resource mobilization theory, this paper will discuss how several global events such as, the election of Donald Trump, the Brexit vote, and the electoral victories of far right parties in parts of Europe have benefited enormously by such technology. In many ways, these groups or movements are propelled by populism and hyper-nationalism, and share a common agenda: resistance towards globalization, especially in terms of free trade, immigration, and cultural exchanges. Although social platforms such as Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook have provided new spaces and opportunities to gain more followers and influence on politics, the implications of such technology on the state of democracy and the broader liberal world order are manifold.
According to “The Big Idea: How to Solve the Cost Crisis in Health Care” in the Harvard Business Review, the United States has the same increasing trend in healthcare costs as other countries, however, it is the only nation that spends 17% of its GDP on it. The current form of reimbursement for healthcare professionals is based on procedures performed instead of outcomes achieved. This research discusses how healthcare costs can be reduced with a mutually positive effect on the quality of care and the profitability of the important players in the healthcare industry. It will introduce the role relative technology, informative insurance health plans, and deductible investment portfolios will play in facilitating the proposed system discussed in this paper. According to “How the U.S. Can Reduce Waste in Health Care Spending by $1 Trillion”, focusing on the quality of care may significantly reduce healthcare costs by decreasing the amount of visits a patient makes and prohibiting the use of unnecessary tests to increase profitability. Instead of revenue made from the tests given, revenue will come from the various stages of care a patient undergoes. The concept is to create teams of various disciplines in the health industry working together to improve the quality of life of each patient. Due to the multiple players in the healthcare industry, the quality of care must be attained by its guarantee on partial or complete patient satisfaction to boost sales of services and products.
This research project aims to address racially diverse media reporting in news publications in the 21st century. Legacy newspapers like The New York Times, Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal have not included sufficient racially diverse content on their print and digital news platforms. In the past, conversations about newsroom diversity have focused on the number of journalists of color in newsrooms, and rightly so. However, these conversations have failed to address the lack of diverse race reporting, especially in legacy newspapers. This research project proposes that legacy newspapers allow their reporters of color more journalistic freedom in reporting on underrepresented communities as a way to diversify race reporting. The primary basis of research includes setting five key parameters to define legacy newspapers: 1) multi-award winning, 2) having a circulation of at least 500,000, 3) having a strong reputation in the history of American journalism, 4) being over a century old, and 5) maintaining national coverage. Additionally, research includes analyzing several articles on race from digital media sites including Buzzfeed, Huffington Post and Vox and comparing them to race coverage in legacy newspapers. The goal is to discover not only how they differ but also what legacy newspapers can learn from digital news outlets in terms of diversifying race coverage. With an emphasis on The New York Times due to weaknesses outlined in its 2020 report, this research seeks to offer solutions to how legacy newspapers can create greater diversity in race reporting while maintaining their respective identities.
Introduction: Tibial stress fractures (TSFs) are injuries frequently incurred by female athletes and military recruits. Injured recruits and athletes are unable to train for an extended period of time which hinders their careers and, in the case of the recruits, also costs the army capable personnel. Researching kinematic factors which are associated with TSFs may provide insight into interventions that reduce the risk of incurring a TSF. The purpose of this study was to ascertain if kinematic variables like rearfoot eversion and, in particular, stride length are significantly larger in females that have previously experienced a TSF. Methods: Ten participants (five with a history of TSF and five without) will be recorded with 3D motion cameras while running. Ground reaction forces will be collected via force platform. The 3D kinematic data will be processed with Visual3D. The variables to be observed are stride length, free moment, rearfoot eversion, vertical loading rates, and tibial acceleration. Results: It is expected that values in these variables will be significantly larger in those with a prior TSF injury than in those without a prior TSF injury. Conclusions: A final conclusion will be formed after data has been collected and analyzed from the subjects.
Adipose or fat tissue deposition in muscle is known to cause adverse health outcomes, which may include loss of muscle function. To determine whether greater levels of intramuscular fat disrupts force production in the quadriceps muscles of otherwise healthy adults, magnetic resonance images (3 tesla Skyra, Siemens Medical Systems, Germany) were obtained of the thigh in 5 normal body mass (NBM; BMI 18.5-24.9) and 3 high body mass (HBM; BMI >30.0) adults aged 24-45 years. Fat and muscle tissue in the middle 10 slices of the quadriceps were determined using a 6-point Dixon method and analyzed in MATLAB (Mathworks, Natick, MA). Maximal voluntary isometric and isokinetic torque were determined via isokinetic dynamometer (Biodex 4, Biodex Systems, Shirley, NY), and used to determine specific torque (torque produced per unit muscle mass). Specific isometric torque was not different between groups (2.54±0.03 Nm/cm2, 2.40±0.20 Nm/cm2, respectively; p=0.17), nor was specific power during dynamic contractions at any velocity tested (90, 180, 240 and 360 deg∙s-1 ; p≤0.44). Specific power at 180 deg∙s-1 was not associated with %fat in the muscle by linear regression (r=0.17, p=0.68). Though intramuscular fat deposition may negatively affect torque production of the quadriceps muscles in healthy young adults, our sample may not be large enough to observe a statistically significant difference. Impairments in muscle function may have further deleterious effects on mobility and thus contribute to inactivity-related disease over the lifespan.
It is generally accepted that humans adapt locomotor patterns that optimize metabolic cost. However, it is unclear whether the locomotion patterns of people with lower limb amputations are optimized for reducing metabolic cost. Research has found that people with lower limb amputations generally have greater metabolic cost compared with people without amputation. The purpose of the study is to understand the effect of inter-limb asymmetry on metabolic cost and lower extremity joint kinematics. I hypothesized that each person with a trans-tibial amputation will have a gait pattern that is most optimal for them. Five people with a unilateral transtibial amputation and five people without amputation walked on a treadmill while receiving real time visual feedback about stance time asymmetry. Subjects walked on a treadmill with preferred, symmetrical and varying levels of asymmetrical characteristics. Joint kinematics were determined from motion capture data, and energy expenditure was determined via pulmonary gas exchange. Energy expenditure and joint kinematics were compared between groups for each condition using multiple T-test. Data collection and analysis are still ongoing and will provide important new information on how walking pattern, metabolic cost, and asymmetry interact in able bodied people and people with limb loss. This new information will inform enhanced rehabilitation techniques and improve prosthetic design to optimize mobility and independence in people with trans-tibial amputation.
Potential Bioenergetic Mechanism of Age-Related Differences in Muscle Fatigue
Muscle fatigue, defined as the contraction-induced decline in maximal force- or power-producing capacity of muscle, is similar between young and older adults in response to moderate-velocity contractions. In response to high-velocity contractions, muscle fatigue is greater in older compared with young muscle. Currently, the mechanisms for this greater muscle fatigue in older adults are not known. Twenty young (25-40yrs; n=10 men) and twenty older (65-80yrs; n=10 men) healthy, sedentary adults will be recruited. Participants will be positioned supine in a 3-Tesla magnetic resonance scanner with a dual-tuned 31-phosphorus coil positioned over the vastus lateralis muscle of their thigh, which will be strapped to an isokinetic dynamometer at the knee and ankle using inelastic straps. Participants will then complete 1 maximal voluntary dynamic contraction every 2s for 4min at either a moderate (120°.s-1) or high velocity (240°.s-1) while 31-phosphorus spectra are acquired every 2s. Our hypothesis is that the older muscles will have a lower oxidative capacity that in turn causes greater reliance on non-oxidative ATP production compared with young muscle during high-velocity, but not moderate-velocity contractions. We further hypothesize that this scenario will result in greater intracellular accumulation of metabolites known to cause fatigue (i.e., [H+], [Pi] and [H2PO4-]) following the high-velocity, but not moderate-velocity, contraction protocol. If our hypotheses are true, this study will provide the first experimental data in support of a bioenergetic mechanism for the age-related differences in muscle fatigue during high-velocity contractions.
Sex Differences in Single-Leg Landing Knee Biomechanics: Implications for Non-contact Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury
Introduction: Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears are a prevalent knee injury in sports. Studies have shown that female athletes are 2-9 times more likely to injure their ACLs than male athletes. Most ACL injuries occur in non-contact situations due to forces generated by a sharp deceleration as in a single-leg landing. Previous analyses suggest that non-contact ACL ruptures occur when knee is close to full extension and in a valgus position. The purpose of this study was to compare knee extension angles and knee valgus angles in healthy male and female populations during an single leg landing. Methods: Data were collected from 6 male and 6 female participants aged 19-22 using 3D motion cameras and force platforms. Participants performed 10 simple hops onto their preferred leg off a 41cm box, followed by 10 dynamic hops where the participant immediately rebounded after landing. Data from the first 100ms after initial contact were processed and analyzed using visual 3D and a custom computer program. The primary variables for this study were peak knee extension angle (PEA), peak knee valgus angle (PVA), and peak knee valgus moment (PVM). Results: It is expected that females will have greater PEA, PVA, and PVM values than males, and that dynamic hops will result in greater PEA, PVA, and PVM values than simple hops.
INTRODUCTION: The purpose of the research was to determine how the stance of a barbell deadlift affects NCAA Division III football players power output during their 3 weeks of preseason training. The 2 different deadlift stances are a wider stance or sumo, and a narrower stance which is known as conventional.
METHODS: The study consisted of two testing sessions, no shorter than 48 hours apart to ensure proper recovery of the participant. The two sessions took place on the same time of day. One testing session determined the power output of the sumo style deadlift stance. The second testing session determined the power output of the conventional style deadlift stance. Both sessions included a short demonstration on how the deadlift is performed prior to testing. During testing, the athletes were asked to perform 3 sets of 3 repetitions with 70% of their 1RM max deadlift (taken from prior football testing). The data was collected on the GymAware unit, which calculates power based on a load and how fast it moves. All testing and training sessions were supervised for safe technique by a Certified Strength and Conditioning coach.
RESULTS: *Still in progress*
CONCLUSION: *Still in progress*
Purpose: To quantify the change in physical activity amount and intensity following an intra-articular knee joint injection for individuals with knee Osteoarthritis (OA). In addition, the research will quantify the differences in physical activity change between obese and non-obese subgroups. Knee injections have proven to be an effective treatment method for improving pain and functioning. However, prior research on knee injections has not focused on objectively measured physical activity rather relying solely on self-report. Self-reported physical activity reports may not have the sensitivity to detect important changes.
Methods: 20 participants will be recruited including 10 obese subjects (BMI> 30 kg). Participants will be provided with an Actigraph 3GTX device one week prior to the injection to record baseline data and then continue for two weeks following the procedure, while also filling out daily physical activity logs to assess self-reported data. Data analysis will look at steps per day as the primary outcomes which will then be compared pre-post injection within a participant and then between two subgroups.
Results and Discussion: The first subject to complete the study is a 69 year old (BMI=31.88kg). The Actigraph recorded an average of 5552.143 steps/day prior to injection and an average of 5758.786 steps/day following the two weeks post injection supporting our hypothesis. An increase in physical activity in both obese and non-obese would support the efficacy of the knee injection to improve quality of life in knee OA patients and suggest knee injection may support behavioral change intervention for weight-loss.
Physical activity (PA) is any body movement produced by skeletal muscle that results in energy expenditure (EE). Measuring PA accurately during various activities is important for many researchers to better understand the dose-response relationship between PA and health. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to use video-based direct observation (DO) to characterize the PA level and tempo of University Ultimate Frisbee (UF) players during game play using research grade accelerometers as the comparison measure. Methods: Study participants were males aged 18-21 on the University of Massachusetts UF team. The participants wore two ActiGraph accelerometers: one on the hip (AG-H) and one on the non-dominant wrist (AG-W). The session was video recorded with a GoPro camera. Data Processing and Analyses: Each video will be observed in the Noldus Observer XT software and coded for whole body movement, activity type and estimated Metabolic Equivalent values (1 MET=resting metabolic rate). AG-H and AG-W data will be processed and analyzed in the ActiLife software. Cutpoints will be applied to calculate the amount of time spent in light, moderate, and vigorous PA. Descriptive statistics of time spent in PA levels and estimated EE will be calculated and compared between DO and both AG locations. Movement accumulation will be characterized by identifying work-to-rest ratios. The results of this study will more accurately inform the Compendium of Physical Activity for the MET intensity value associated with Ultimate Frisbee.
Does a Relationship between Steps per Day and Nighttime Sleep Duration in Full-Time College Students Exist?
Sleep and physical activity are important for well-being. The study is designed to determine if there is a relationship between number of steps per day and night sleep duration in full-time college students who are 19-24 years of age. This is important information as members of this population frequently walk around the campus and also have a high risk of sleep deprivation. Six college students were recruited: 3 men and 3 women who were free of any injury or illness that impaired their ability to walk or sleep. A telephone screening was completed prior to the study. Participants' anthropometric data were recorded using standardized procedures in the Physical Activity and Health Laboratory. The participants were provided with a Garmin Vivofit 3 for step tracking and sleep duration recording. They also received a log to manually record of the time they fell asleep and woke up each day. Excluding the date when the devices were provided, the participant wore the device for four consecutive days (Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) and returned the devices on Monday along with their self-monitored data. A positive/ negative/absent relationship between the number of steps per day and sleep duration was evaluated. Differences in these behaviors between days will also be described. Lessons learned from the research process will be shared.
Monitoring Dance Physical Activity in College Students
In most research studying dance physical activity (PA), results typically showed that dance produced below average levels of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA). However, existing literature evaluating dance PA using accelometry relies on narrow demographics in their participant populations, typically comprising only female dancers who are either children or adolescents. This study seeks to evaluate dance PA using mobile health devices, but will focus on college-aged students (18 – 23 years old). A total of 6 students, 2 men and 4 women, enrolled in a beginner-level modern-dance class at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, were recruited to participate in the study. Data collection took place over the course of two days. Participants wore Actigraph GT9X accelerometers on their right hip during their 50 minute dance class period. The class periods were observed by a researcher to record what proportion of class time was spent sedentary, warming-up, and performing choreography. Data from the Actigraph GT9X accelerometers were exported to the ActiLife software for statistical analysis. The data gathered from the accelerometers will be analyzed alongside the different segments of class activity to evaluate if the accelerometer data corresponds with respective activity intensity. Participants are hypothesized to be more active during the choreography portion of class rather than during the warming-up portion of class. The results of this study will help to determine the reliability of using mobile health devices to detect motion during dance.
The primary purpose of this study is to use direct observation (DO) to characterize children’s movement during sporting activities by examining the time spent in different physical activity (PA) types and intensity categories (sedentary, light, moderate, vigorous). As part of a larger study, children (n=10) were recruited to participate in a sporting activity of their choosing for about one hour. Children were filmed throughout the session (GoPro digital camera) and wore one ActiGraph GT3X+BT accelerometer (AG) on their right hip and one on their non-dominant wrist. The AG data was processed using previously developed cutpoints to categorize the data into intensity categories. Each second of the sporting activity videos was coded (Noldus Observer XT) for whole body movements (e.g. sitting, walking, running) and intensity. Intensity category was assigned through DO by using multiples of the resting metabolic rate (METS, 1 MET = resting) found in the Youth Compendium of Physical Activities (Butte et al., 2018). The MET values were then categorized using standard cutoffs for sedentary (1.0-1.4 METs), light (1.5-2.9 METs), moderate (3.0-5.9 METs) and vigorous intensity (6.0 METs). We hypothesize that the majority of time will be spent in moderate intensity, with less time spent in sedentary, light and vigorous intensity over the duration of a sporting activity. However, we also hypothesize that the pattern of accumulation of time spent in vigorous PA will resemble that of high intensity interval training, an effective training modality for improving fitness and health.
This study was conducted to take the first step in testing the effectiveness of wearable accelerometer-based devices uses during a non-ambulatory activity, horse riding. The study recruited six professional horse riders from a local riding stable. All were between 18-30 years of age and supplied their own horses. Riders’ height, seated height, and weight were measured using standardized protocols. Riders were monitored using Actigraph and Activpal accelerometer-based devices. Individual rider’s observed movements were limited to sit-stand transitions during a standard rising trot and this was video recorded along and counted using a hand tally device. Data were collected from both accelerometers in steps using a manufacturers’ software and were compared with the actual rider’s count of sit-stand transitions. A correlation between both sit-stand transitions and steps data was reported, indicating a positive correlation. The formula used to calculate the sit-stand transition taken was (number of steps - 42) for Activpal and (number of steps) for Actigraph. These results indicate that accuracy can be affected by the rider’s or the horse’s performance. The study was limited to rising trot and does not test other horse speed phases. In conclusion, wearable accelerometer-based devices that count steps can be used to monitor horse riders’ sit-stand movements. Hopefully, this study will open the door for future studies, leading to the creation of a wearable device that monitors horse rider’s movement at all horses' speeds.
Anudeep Jala, Becky M. Miller, Derrick Groom, Alexander R. Gerson, Mark S. Miller
Birds undergo numerous changes in response to migration, which include catabolization of a significant amount of skeletal muscle mass. This reduction in tissue mass is used for energy, but this loss may cause reductions in important contractile proteins. Measuring tissue loss during normal bird migration is challenging, therefore, we expose white-throated sparrows (Zonatrichia albicollis) to 48 hours of starvation, a procedure used to mimic 8 hours of migration, and compared this experimental cohort to control birds that were fed and housed normally. Changes in pectoralis myofibrillar protein composition for each group were assessed using SDS-PAGE. Each 4-20% acrylamide gel contained 9 bird samples (5 starvation and 4 control) and each sample was examined at low (10 µg) and high (20 µg) protein loads. Changing the load provided the opportunity to study both high and low abundance proteins. Despite trying to load the same total protein in each well, there were differences in intensity between lanes, which required the development and implementation of a new gel analysis technique. Overall, our results demonstrated no difference in myofibrillar protein composition between control birds and those undergoing 48 hour starvation. Now that there are established techniques, the myofibrillar protein composition of birds flown for 8 hours in a wind tunnel will be examined in the coming months to determine if similar results are obtained.
Retention of Locomotor Learning following Exposure to Visual and Proprioceptive Variability
Consolidation, the process of maintaining and strengthening memories, has been associated with motor skill learning. In particular, a motor skill can be strengthened over multiple bouts of practice through re-consolidation. A recent study showed that a previously consolidated motor skill could be modified and enhanced through exposure to increased sensorimotor variability during re-consolidation. We tested whether changing the task variability — by adding visual or proprioceptive jitter — could strengthen the retention of a newly learned locomotor skill. Individuals were presented visual targets to instruct changes in step length from one trial to the next during treadmill walking. Subjects receive a point each time they hit the target accurately. Study design consisted of three testing sessions (acquisition, re-consolidation, retention) and three groups (visual variability, proprioceptive variability, control). During Session 1, participants acquired a new step length sequence by practicing the pattern over 10 blocks of 100 trials. During Session 2 (6-hr later), they retrieved the previously learned step length sequence over 1 block of 100 trials, and then they were exposed to either 1) visual variability condition, 2) proprioceptive variable condition, or 3) no variability while practicing the same sequence over 10 more blocks of 100 trials. Participants were randomly assigned to the three groups. During Session 3 (24-hours later), all participants were re-tested on the original sequence to measure retention. Retention was measured by success rate of hitting targets in each block. We predict that both variable groups will have a better retention, as compared to the control group, resulting in a higher score during the final session.
Impact of an Eight-Week Tai Chi or Mindfulness Meditation Intervention on Static Balance Measures in People with Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a progressive neurological disease resulting from inflammation of the central nervous system. Due to increasing neuronal damage, balance issues are common in MS and may lead to a high risk of falling. Tai Chi has been shown to improve balance in people with MS but it is not clear what aspects of Tai Chi, actual balance training and meditation, contribute to improvements in balance control. The goal of this study was to determine if there are improvements in static balance measures after an 8-week Tai Chi or Mindfulness Meditation intervention, and whether benefits will persist through an 8-week wash out period. The balance conditions tested include quiet upright standing with feet apart, narrow standing with feet together, and maximal forward and backwards leans. Balance was assessed using inertial sensors (APDM, Opal System) at baseline, after the intervention, and 8 weeks after the intervention ceased. The key dependent variable was postural sway derived from the 95% ellipse area of trunk movement. The Tai Chi group (n=3) showed an average decrease in postural sway of 25.57% during narrow standing, 26.60% during backwards reach, and 38.42% during forwards reach after the intervention. The Mindfulness Meditation group had an average decrease in postural sway of 52.73% during narrow standing, 17.83% during backwards reach, 47.56% during forwards reach and 45.31% during quiet standing after the intervention. No balance benefits persisted during the washout period for the tai chi group, however they did for the meditation group. These results suggest that both Tai Chi and Mindfulness Meditation may improve balance in people with MS, with the Mindfulness Meditation group possibly leading to longer term effects.
Previous research has indicated that higher levels of physical activity (PA) are associated with a plethora of benefits, one of which is lowered risk for anxiety/depression and improved mental health. However, much of the past research has focused on overall mental health in the long-term, and has tended to ignore healthy populations especially on a short-term basis. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the association between PA levels and mood on a day-to-day basis. Six mentally and physically healthy university students were recruited to participate for three consecutive days. PA was measured objectively via ActivPAL to gather measurements for steps/day, moderate-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), and sedentary time. This was done alongside measurements of daily mood, gathered via a daily online survey using the Positive and Negative Affect Scale Shortform (PANAS-S). This generates a score for both positive and negative affect, which will then be compared to the three measurements of PA using correlational statistics. It is expected that as steps/day and MVPA levels increase, positive affect will increase and negative affect will decrease. It is also hypothesized that as sedentary time increases, mood scores will be negatively affected. Although healthy university students may not be suffering from a clinically diagnosed mental disorder, increasing PA has the potential to be an effective coping mechanism in times of stress. These findings could promote and solidify PA as a therepteutic method for improving mental health and mood states.
Purpose: This research is to determine if resistance training in conjunction with mindfulness training is more effective in mitigating the symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder than mindfulness training alone. The proposed method of research is using a 6-week resistance training protocol in conjunction with mindfulness training versus a 6-week mindfulness training protocol alone. The hypothesis is that resistance training in conjunction with mindfulness training will reduce the symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder to a greater extent than mindfulness training alone.
Participants: Subject recruitment from Salem State University, Salem MA and the surrounding area via in person interviews and via flyers, will be healthy males and females, aged 18-60. Inclusion will be based on the CAMS-R results. Exclusion criteria include participants currently taking prescribed medication to deal with anxiety, hypertension, or any health issue that would contraindicate exercising at a vigorous intensity.
Methods: Participants will undergo a familiarization day including a PAR-Q, Health History Questionnaire, and Informed Consent. Subjects will be asked to complete the Cognitive and Affective Mindfulness Scale- Revised (CAMS-R) in order to assess baseline anxiety levels. Participants will be familiarized with the exercises in the protocol and baseline strength assessments will be conducted. Next the participants will be randomized into the mindfulness training protocol with or with resistance training. Upon completing 6-weeks of training subjects will spend a washout week performing no mindfulness or resistance training. Then subjects will cross over to the training group they were not initially assigned to.
INTRODUCTION: The purpose of this study was to determine whether a periodized resistance training program would have an effect on the Beck Depression Inventory and/or Beck Anxiety Inventory scores in females.
METHODS: Eight subjects participated in a six-week periodized resistance training program. During the initial visit, subjects completed a Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and a Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) to determine baseline values. The subjects completed a 3-5 repetition maximum (3-5 RM) for the sumo deadlift (SDL), bench press (BS), barbell back squat (BBS), and standing shoulder press (SSP). This data was used to estimate the 1 repetition max, which in turn was used to develop the periodization program. Following baseline testing, subjects participated in two full-body workouts per week for six weeks. The subjects were retested after they completed the six week program, performing 3-5 RM for the SDL, BP, BBS, and SSP. The subjects were asked to once again complete the BDI and BAI. A repeated measures 2 x 2 Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was used to determine the effect of each resistance training activity had on the outcome measures.
RESULTS: There was a significant (P ≤ .05) decrease in BDI scores after the six-weeks of resistance training. There was no statistical significant difference in the BAI scores (P = .106). There was no correlation between any individual exercise and the outcome scores.
CONCLUSION: The results of the current study indicate that a periodized resistance training program is effective at reducing self-reported measures of depression.
Introduction: Fatigue may alter muscle activation in jumping and landing maneuvers which could be a potential mechanism of anterior cruciate ligament injury. The effect of lower extremity fatigue on ground reaction forces and muscle activation during the landing phase of a single leg jump was investigated. The purpose of this study was to analyze how fatigue affects muscle activation during a single leg landing exercise. We hypothesized that peak muscle activation times of the thigh and shank muscles will change after a fatiguing protocol. Methods: Participants were 5 female ultimate Frisbee players (ages 18-22 years). Dominant leg ground reaction forces and muscle activation data were sampled at 2000 Hz before and after completing a fatiguing protocol. Results: We expect the results to show earlier muscle activation times after the participants have completed the fatigue protocol. Run and land vertical jump progressions depend on spring-like properties of a relatively stiff muscle, but fatigue has been shown to result in an earlier onset of muscle activation of the lower extremity muscles during this kind of maneuver. Conclusion: We expect that fatigued athletes will demonstrate changes in muscle activation times which could suggest alterations in lower limb neuromuscular factors. Fatigued athletes may have an increased risk of noncontact anterior cruciate ligament injury.
Caroline Pellegrini, Gillian Weir, Joseph Hamill, Biomechanics Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology
Walking is a simple and effective form of physical activity (PA) and should be accessible for everyone. For dog owners, walking is even more important as it is necessary for the well-being of the dog. Dog owners who regularly walk their dog typically meet the recommended PA guidelines, which can improve their health and psychological well-being. Currently, there is limited research that has used activity monitors on both dogs and owners to objectively measure dog walking behavior. The purpose of this study is to measure the PA of both dogs and their owners, examine the effects of PA on psychosocial outcomes of the owners, and identify the environmental and dog-specific facilitators and barriers to PA. Data will be obtained from the Pets and Lifestyle Study (PALS), which will examine self-reported and device-measured PA levels among US dog owners (as compared to non-dog owners). PALS is a two-part study; the first part will collect survey data on pet owner’s lifestyle, PA levels, socioeconomic status, sleep, etc. The second part of PALS will use activity monitors on both the dog (Fitbark) and their owner (ActiGraph GTX3) to collect the PA levels of the owner and the dog. Our study will contribute to our current understanding of dog ownership in relation to PA and health.
The Impact of Knee Bracing on Both Quadriceps Muscle Activation and Knee Kinematics and Kinetics in Patients with PFPS
Over the years, running has become one of the most popular exercises around the world for women and men alike. Despite the plethora of benefits, running comes with a high incidence of injury. Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS) is the leading cause of injury amongst runners; 25-40% of all running injuries correlate with Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome. Knee bracing is a popular treatment option runners use to combat PFPS. While in theory, knee bracing offers a logical solution to eliminate patellar maltracking and delayed onset of vastus medialis activity, two of the primary mechanisms behind the development of PFPS, most research have been unable to provide conclusive evidence that it is effective. The purpose of this study is to assess the impact bracing has on both the onset of vastus medialis and vastus lateralis quadriceps muscle activation patterns as well as knee kinematics and kinetics in patients with PFPS. Methods: Data were collected from female participants with and without anterior knee pain, ages 18-30, using 3D motion cameras, force platforms, and electromyography. The primary outcome variables of this study were knee joint kinematics, kinetics, and quadriceps muscle activation patterns. Results: We expect to observe a statistically significant difference in knee kinematics and kinetics and quadriceps muscle activation patterns while wearing a knee brace compared to without wearing one. Conclusions: Final conclusions will be made following an in-depth analysis of data from all subjects.
Pilot Validation Study of Photoplethysmography Heart-Rate Monitors in Cold Ambient Temperatures
Heart rate is an indicator of aerobic physical activity that can be both easily tracked and comprehended, and over the past decade consumer grade heart rate monitors have gone from relatively unrecognized to commonplace. Photoplethysmography (PPG) has emerged as the preferred technology for these devices due to both comfort and convenience. This method utilizes light, which is reflected by body tissue, to determine the heart rate of the individual. This works as most tissue stays in place, whereas the local volume of blood changes based on if the heart is in systole or diastole. However, despite acceptance from consumers, the technology lacks validation under many relevant conditions. One of these conditions is in cold ambient temperatures, where vasoconstriction reduces the blood flow to the extremities where these devices are placed. This study aims to begin to address this possible issue. Six participants were asked to perform activities of varying intensity levels, from a seated rest to a fast-paced stair stepping, in both room temperature conditions (~70°F) and cold conditions (20°F -40°F). During these activities the participants wore four wristwatch heart rate monitors. Three of these were PPG based, and one displayed readings from a chest strap monitor, which have been shown to be accurate enough to be used as a standard. Both absolute difference and percent difference were used to compare the PPG devices to the standard, which also elucidated the relevant biases of the PPG devices.
The Effect of Scheduling on the Physical Activity of University Students
Much research has analyzed the physical activity (PA) behaviors of university students on college campuses, however, there is still a knowledge gap in regards to the extent that environmental factors impact the PA of university students. The rationale for this research was to explore this gap by examining how scheduling of academic/social/extracurricular activities by University of Massachusetts Amherst students impacts their PA variables during two consecutive and differently formatted school schedule days. Six participants (three men, three women) were recruited. All were full time students unlimited in their ability to walk. Each participant provided informed consent. Anthropometric data were collected using standardized protocols. Each learned how to wear the ActiGraph GT9X and was asked to wear the device either from Tuesday (when they woke up) to 12:00 a.m. on Thursday or Wednesday (when they woke up) to 12:00 a.m. on Friday. A post-data collection questionnaire was given to each participant to assess attendance at various activities. With the data collected so far, the participants ages are 20.3yrs. ± .6 yrs. Anticipated results are hypothesized to show that the greater the number of scheduled activities, the greater the various indicators of PA (i.e. total step count/day, average steps per both days, etc.) will be. Overall, the results of the study should help fill the gap of how external factors, such as time budgeting for college students, affects if and when PA is being performed during school/work days.
Mirra Stillman, Gillian Weir, Joseph Hamill, Richard van Emmerik
Purpose: Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries are traumatic, debilitating knee injuries that can remove an athlete from competition upwards of 12 months. The majority of these injuries typically occur during non-contact side-cutting and single-leg landing tasks. Females have been reported to be 3-8 times more likely to sustain ACL injury in sport than their male counterparts. The primary objective of this study was to investigate the discrepancy in injury rates between male and female team sport athletes by measuring muscle activation strategies during an unanticipated side-cutting maneuver. We hypothesized that female athletes will exhibit lower total muscle activation and undesirable directed co-contraction ratios when compared with males. Methods: 10 female and 10 male athletes completed a random series of anticipated and unanticipated sporting tasks. Surface electromyography of eight lower limb muscles (gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, biceps femoris, semitendinosis, rectus femoris, vastus medialis, medial gastrocnemius, lateral gastrocnemius) was recorded with a Delsys Trigno wireless electromyography system and ground reaction forces were measured from a 1.2x0.7m AMTL force platform, both sampling at 2000Hz. Results: As per our hypotheses, we expect to observe less total muscle activation for each muscle group in the lower limb, greater quadriceps dominant muscle activation strategies and directed co-contraction ratios associated with injury risk in females compared with males. Conclusions: Final conclusions will be drawn following the analysis of the complete collected data.
Current research concerning pedometer versus accelerometer validity is expansive, however gaps in knowledge surrounding the effects of high exercise intensity and variable ground surface conditions on the efficacy of physical activity trackers remain. The limitations these factors may place on activity trackers are especially important to competitive runners who rely on such devices for training purposes. In the present study, step counts and distance measurements tracked by the Garmin Forerunner 230 and New Lifestyle NL-1000 pedometer are compared to manual measurements when worn by collegiate runners over three ground surface types: flat pavement, flat grass, and hilly terrain. During the data collection period, the Garmin Forerunner 230 was worn on the non-dominant wrist and the NL-1000 pedometer was worn over the right hip. The six participants then completed three quarter-mile running trials over the aforementioned ground surface conditions. At the end of each trial, distance and step count readings of each device were recorded and compared to manual measurements. In both step count and distance, the NL-1000 pedometer displayed the largest inaccuracies across all three surface types, and consistently over-estimated measurements of distance. Additionally, the validity of both devices decreased as the running surface became less flat, as indicated by an increasing absolute percent error between manual and device measurements. These results provide evidence that uneven ground conditions negatively affect the ability of physical activity trackers to accurately measure step count and distance.
Effects of Reward and Punishment on Locomotor Learning
Reward and punishment have been demonstrated to enhance procedural (motor) learning. However, previous studies with reward and punishment feedback focuses on upper extremity motor learning, and so it is unclear how this effect operates in different motor contexts, such as locomotion. Here we will examine the effects of reward and punishment on the acquisition and consolidation of learning a locomotor sequence task. We hypothesize that reward and punishment feedback will enhance consolidation of the task. 24 healthy adults (age 16-30) will be randomly sorted into three groups: a control group, reward group, and punishment group. Each group will undergo a training session in which they will learn a step length sequence during treadmill walking. During training, the reward group will gain a point for each successful hit, the punishment group will lose a point for each unsuccessful hit, and the control group will not receive points feedback. Six hours after the first session, each subject will be tested again without feedback. The effect of reward and punishment on the acquisition and consolidation phase will be evaluated by analyzing the success rate of hitting the targets. We predict that those in the reward group will show a greater improvement in offline learning (i.e. consolidation) than the control and punishment groups. Results will indicate that the effects of reward and punishment on learning identified in previous research is common across diverse motor skills beyond those investigated previously. This could suggest further research on how motivation can be implemented in therapy for those impaired by motor dysfunction.
iCons: Insulin Level Changes after a Twelve-Week, Culturally-Tailored Dance Intervention in African American Girls
While pediatric obesity and diabetes rates have recently stagnated, their prevalence among African American girls continues to rise. Physical activity (PA) participation is one available strategy to lower these rates. However, African American girls engage in less PA compared to Caucasians. Low PA is associated with elevated fasting insulin levels, which indicates insulin resistance and diabetes development. The purpose of this study was to analyze the effect of a culturally-tailored dance intervention on insulin levels in preadolescent African American girls. Participants (n=10, age=8.2±1.3 years) were randomized to the intervention (INT, n=6): a 60-minute dance program 3 times per week for 12-weeks, or control (CON, n=4): concurrent homework tutoring and weekly health education newsletters. Blood samples, drawn by a trained phlebotomist, underwent Homeostatic Model Assessment (HOMA-IR) from which a change score was calculated between pre- and post-assessment. A two-tailed t-test measured change score differences between INT and CON. The change score for INT was -12.4±14.1 mlU/L compared to 2.6±13.5 mlU/L in CON. There was no significant difference between INT and CON scores (t=1.68, p=0.13). The non-significant decrease in insulin levels among INT participants fell below the 15 mIU/L insulin resistance cutoff that indicates diabetes development, which is promising. However, the small sample limits the conclusions. Improving blood draw incentives may increase participation in future studies. Further research with a larger sample is needed to determine if culturally-based dance interventions can reduce insulin resistance and diabetes risk.
The Effects of Single-Leg Balance Training on Knee Joint Proprioception
Jacqueline Turner, Gillian Weir, Joseph Hamill
Biomechanics Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Introduction: Running has gained increasing popularity as a method to gain fitness and improve health. However, many runners will experience injury. Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS) accounts for 25-40% of running-related injuries and is difficult to treat. Most patients deal with symptoms for 4-18 years after onset. The etiology of PFPS is unclear, thus rehabilitation is not effective. Deficits in proprioception may cause PFPS. A balance-training protocol that improves proprioception could be a more effective rehabilitation strategy for PFPS. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of the role of balance training on knee proprioception. We hypothesized that proprioception will improve after the training protocol. This study will allow researchers to develop further research on potential treatments of PFPS. Methods: Data will be collected from participants ages 18-25 using a Cybex 11 isokinetic dynamometer. Participants will conduct trials attempting to replicate a target angle. Data will be collected pre- and post- four-week balance training protocol. The primary outcome variables for the study will be the absolute angle, the absolute difference between the target angle and the perceived angle. Results: We expect to observe changes in absolute angle after training. We suggest that the absolute angle will be reduced after participating in the training protocol. Conclusion: Final conclusions will be made following data analysis of all participants.
The Effect of Moderate and Light Intensity Physical Activity on Sleep Quality and Psychosocial Outcomes
Purpose: Research suggests that moderate intensity physical activity (MPA) may be used as a method for improving both mental and physical health. The purpose of this research is to investigate the relationship between physical activity, psychosocial outcomes, and sleep quality in sedentary but otherwise healthy adults. Although most research focuses on moderate physical activity, we will also examine the role of light intensity physical activity (LPA). Methods: This was done by analyzing data from a randomized control trial called the SPOT study, a stealth intervention that examined the influence of dog obedience training on dog-owner physical activity levels. LPA and MPA were objectively measured via Actigraph accelerometers, and mental health outcomes were assessed via questionnaires focused on sleep, stress, depressive symptoms, and health related quality of life (HRQOL). The questionnaires used in SPOT include the Perceived Stress Scale, Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale, Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, and questions from the Center for Disease Control health related quality of life questionnaire. Results: Data analysis is underway. It is hypothesized that there will be a reduction of stress and depressive symptoms and increased HRQOL in individuals who have increased their LPA levels. Individuals with higher levels of MVPA are expected to report improved sleep quality. Conclusion: If the hypotheses are supported, future research with larger sample sizes should be conducted to further understand the effects of physical activity on psychosocial outcomes and sleep quality.
Countless controversies have arisen as a
result of affirmative action policies in past years. Some people argue that policies
have caused so-called reverse discrimination in the process of college
admissions. My research asks whether the implementation of race-based Affirmative
Action policies in higher education institutions effectively guarantees the
Equal Protection of the Law to all applicants. African American author and professor Shelby Steele sustains that Affirmative Action leads to self-doubt among blacks because of the “blind”
preferential treatment that is used. Steele asserts that this self-doubt develops
from the lack of a merit-based system. Within a merit-based system,
equal comparisons can be made between students to see exactly where they
stand. Without it, minorities may feel and be
looked upon as inferior due to the question of whether or not they could have made it on their own. In 1978, the Supreme Court upheld a controversial ruling in the famous Bakke case. Bakke,
a white male, was denied admission at University of California’s medical school
at Davis, but less qualified minority applicants were admitted. The
United States Supreme Court upheld the state’s supreme court ruling that
Bakke’s rights guaranteed by the 14th Amendment had been
violated. However, the Court also ruled that it was constitutional
for schools to use race as a “plus” factor in admissions. Affirmative
action policies seek to increase diversity, fostering
innovation and competitiveness necessary for the well
being of society.
Linguists and immigration
lawyers are valuable assets throughout today’s complex immigration reform.
Throughout this paper, I define and explain internationalization in large corporations: a spontaneous development of strong social influence and
integrity that ensures the understanding of people. Empathetic communication
is the first step in understanding a world full of immigrants, specifically those coming to the U.S. in search of employment opportunities. Therefore, in order to work with these
immigrants, qualified immigration lawyers must start the process with an understanding of a client's personal information, socioeconomic status, and future career goals. According to Amazon, the process of written translation with
confidential information must be seen as the growth of a tree, where the roots
represent an individual’s integrity from the very beginning of the process and the results lay the groundwork for
In this study, we focus on second language prosodic acquisition, in this case, the ability of American English speakers learning Spanish to acquire the speech melody of their second language, a characteristically tricky aspect of second language learning. Specifically, we aim to discover: (1) if advanced learners studying in Oviedo, Spain sound more native to native Spanish speakers than intermediate learners studying in the US, and (2) how that nativeness rating relates to the learner's mastery of Spanish prosody. Preliminary results indicate that both learner groups are understood to about the same degree by Spaniards. Based on the hypothesis that advanced speakers will be more native-sounding to natives, we constructed an online survey in which native, advanced, and intermediate level speakers listened to question-answer pairs whose speech melody matched or mis-matched in the type of stress (normal declarative -- Maria took a drink-- or corrective emphasis -- No, Maria took a drink) employed by the speaker. As such, a match could be a declarative-declarative, and a mis-match a contrastive-declarative pair. Using participant responses (native or non-native), the true acceptability of the pair (match or mis-match), and the language level of the audio’s speaker, we categorized the success of that listener's prosodic assimilation. Our work is one of the first in the field to employ American English speakers learning a second language, and highlights the crucial relationship between prosody and learner-native intelligibility.
Language is a tool that allows individuals to communicate with others at any given time. Translation and interpreting serve as a bridge to continue facilitating this communication between two people who do not understand the same language. Every language has special nuances that make it unique—certain grammatical points that highlight different functions. Thus, being a translator serves the community in many ways.
When working with the law, every nuance of the language is crucial to the attorneys, who are fighting for their client’s rights and civil liberties. Each piece of evidence that is translated is critical to the trials, as life sentences are no light punishments. Every word of every sentence is impactful and can be challenged in the court room like a witness. However, there is ambiguity amongst different legal terminology that can further complicate this process. This presentation will focus on the various techniques used to translate the law, including the different terminology used in this environment. Having a clear understanding of the words used is imperative for the translator, in order for them to understand the meaning behind the law.
Language as a Defining Institution of the Francophone Caribbean World
Afro-European relations have never been as strong as they are nowadays, and because of this, ex-colonized people in various parts of the Caribbean, have been and are still being indoctrinated by the ideals instilled in them by the colonizers during the colonial era. These ideals, which can be seen through these nations’ religions, politics, culture, and with which they have become accustomed, now form part of their own ideology of the world. As a black immigrant from Haiti where French is mostly regarded as being the main official language, even though Haitian Créole is my mother tongue, I take an interest in inquiring about the history of this process of cultural exchange. Advocates and writers such as Aimé Césaire, Edouard Glissant and Frantz Fanon have shown that to speak a language is to assume a world, a culture. More precisely, the black man who can speak the French language becomes whiter, because of the colonial heritage of that language.
This thesis focuses on how language-use connects with political questions surrounding skin color and ideas of identity and belonging that are prevalent in Haiti and the Caribbean as a whole; particularly ways in which attitudes and mentalities may be influenced by linguistic and cultural hierarchies developed under the hegemony of European domination. It also seeks to interrogate the connection between language and social attitudes to homosexuality in an effort toward understanding the socio-cultural determinants of anti-queer resentment in the Caribbean.
Demographic Factors and Risk-Taking Propensity’s Influence on Security Behavior Intentions
Recent college graduates are faced with extraordinary competition as they enter the workforce. An individual will devote abundant time and money into career coaches, interview preparation, and tips to make sure he or she secures that job. Personality plays a huge role in where one fits in to an organization and how much growth one will see. My research identifies whether or not there is a relationship between career advancement and personality type. I review qualitative data to examine if there is a correlation between introverted/extroverted personality type and career advancement through a survey sampling. The survey will measure individual’s self-perception of their personality, and their perceived career success/advancement. My results will determine whether extroversion or introversion is more likely to advance an individual’s career and professional success.
The purpose of my research is to test if Celebrity Endorsements have a direct correlation to increasing sales. For this research, I am concentrating on Puma which is an athletic clothing company based out of Germany. Celebrity Endorsement is when companies hire celebrities or public figures to promote their product from any given platform. Understanding the upcoming generation of media consumers is crucial for companies to stay relevant in the market. With social media and celebrity promotion on the rise, companies must find influencers that target their intended audience. My main focus will be researching from years 2014-2016. Since Puma has multiple influencers, I have decided to concentrate on the following three celebrities: R&B singer Abel Makkonen Tesfaye (known as The Weekend), Kylie Jenner, and Pop singer & CEO of FENTY Beauty Rihanna. Each of these celebrities have done a few different releases, so to keep track of these product launches I will have a timeline. In this timeline, there are announcements made by Puma about their partnerships, product releases, and notable social media posts made by the influencer. Then I will compare the timeline with sales data I have gathered from Interim and Annual Reports from Puma's website. My research will conclude the effectiveness of Celebrity Endorsements within Puma Company.
You Are Included: The Effectiveness of Diversity and Representation of Ethnic Minorities in TV Advertising
Multi-ethnic markets in the United States present advertisers with the strategic challenge of reaching diverse audiences. Often times, advertisers will approach this challenge through representing their target demographic in ads in hopes that they will identify more strongly with the source and perceive them as more similar (Whittler, 1989). Recent research in the United Kingdom by Lloyds Banking Group finds that consumers feel “more favorable towards a brand that reflects diversity in advertisements” and even “expect advertisers to represent diverse aspects of society” (Rogers, 2016). However, many brands fall short of featuring minorities in ads with consistency and accuracy.
This research aims to more definitively find advertising inclusion preferences by evaluating attitudes and purchase intentions for ethnic minorities when comparing ads which represent a participant’s own ethnicity, other ethnicity, or multiple ethnicities. These results contribute conceptually to the diversity in advertising literature as well as the motivation literature by demonstrating a link between consumer perceptions of advertising motivation and overall attitude towards the advertisement.
Rogers, C. (2016). Just 19% of people in ads are from minority groups, new research finds. Marketing Week.
Whittler, T. (1989). The effects of actor’s race in commercial advertising: review and extension. Journal of Advertising. Vol. 20, No. 1 pp 54 - 60.
The use and prescription of off-label drugs is a legal practice and is a major contributor to the rise of pharmaceuticals in the United States. Although it is common for physicians to prescribe drugs for uses other than those that are FDA-approved, the promotion of such uses by pharmaceutical companies themselves is illegal and can result in major consequences for the companies involved, such as lawsuits. The purpose of this research is to explore the relationship between FDA guidelines and off-label advertising techniques to determine what, if any, changes need to be made to the guidelines. Another determination will also be made based on guideline change recommendations to see if doctors themselves should be held responsible for prescribing certain drugs off-label. It is hypothesized that although the FDA already has strict guidelines and laws regarding the promotion of off-label drug use, further measures must be taken to ensure that pharmaceutical companies do not publicly advertise their products to treat conditions they are not approved for and to ensure that the decision on whether or not to use a drug off-label remains in the unbiased discretion of the healthcare provider. This research employs a case-study method focusing on two specific incidents to research the ethical implications of off-label marketing: Allergan and Astra-Zeneca, both of which have faced lawsuits for off-label marketing of their pharmaceuticals Botox and Seroquel, respectively.
The century-old movement of scouting has been making some newsworthy changes this past decade. These changes cause many Americans to be apprehensive to support the program because of their misunderstanding of the changes. The debate revolves around whether scouting is too progressive, not progressive enough, or some muddle of confused ideals and headlines. Recently, scouting has permitted gay leaders and scouts to join, created a co-ed programs such as the Venture Scouts, and permitted females to join troops as scouts and leaders. These events have influenced some Americans’ bias against the program causing them to not consider the overwhelmingly positive benefits scouts get from participating – regardless of how progressive the specific troop may be. Through interviews with members of the Western Massachusetts Council, with local troop leaders, with scouts of all ranks, parents of scouts, and drawing from personal experiences as an Eagle Scout, as well as recent news articles and the established history of scouting, we find scouting is a program made to benefit our youth and teach them how to participate in our rapidly changing society. Scouting should be supported by our families, by our communities, and by our nation because of its commitment to youth development and to the guidance it provides for scouts to grow into ethical and moral citizens.
Employing Fido: The Effect Dogs Have in Today’s Businesses
While an owner’s dog holds a special place in the heart, his or her dog has an impact beyond companionship. Dogs are a significant force in the owner’s bank statements, making them incredibly valuable not only to their owners, but to marketers and businesses as well. My research asks how have changed attitudes about dogs and dog-ownership impacted business in the last 15 years. While some view dogs strictly as a form of protection, they do not see the economic impact dogs have on society. Their interactions with their dogs are nothing special and they focus on giving them their meals on a schedule. Just by buying and giving dogs their food, first-year owners are spending over a thousand dollars, this may even be more if the dog is considered large. This is giving dog food companies like Mars Petcare Inc. over $17 billion a year. Furthermore, designer clothing lines such as Ralph Lauren have expanded their lines to include products for dogs. Dogs are able to make their own income as well. One in three commercials uses a dog to help promote their business helping businesses to emotionally connect with the consumer, and allowing the business to sell more products. While the protection skills that ordinary and service dogs are able to provide for families is important, it is just as important to evaluate how the perception owners have about dogs today is affecting the bottom line for businesses.
As the technology advance, scientists are developing many different ways to produce renewable energy using the weather as its primary source. The production of traditional energy brings adverse effects on the people’s health and the environment. Some cities are implementing renewable energy that will reduce the cost of energy production and help the city to move to a clean energy source. This new invention will force cities to change the way they produce and spend energy. Austin in Texas and Cheyenne in Wyoming are two cities with significant reserves of fossil energy. It is expected that these two cities will not change to renewable energy. However, the reality shows otherwise, and Austin is already intending to use the weather to produce energy moving away from the oil energy. Whereas in Cheyenne, the city intends to keep using fossil energy. Using scholarly literature, statistical analysis, and external sources, I will demonstrate how the weather condition in Austin and Cheyenne plays a role in the way each city produces its energy.
Quantification of Longitudinal Care Patterns and Complexity for Patients with Multiple Hospitalizations
Weather-related crashes play a major role in
fatal car accidents each year, especially during the winter. In this study, we identify the specific
conditions of the weather between Boston and New York in which the most
accidents occur. Using scholarly literature and statistical analysis, we will
investigate the impact that the weather has in both cities. While one might not
be able to limit driving in winter, one can still follow the statistics
Mathematics is the methodology of representing a perception of reality based on predefined terms which are, in turn, used to define further conditions. Postulates or axioms are used in multitudes of interdependent conjunctions to formulate mathematical systems. A fundamental theorem used in further theorems of geometry, specifically Euclidian geometry, is the Parallel Postulate which was considered irrefutable until an attempt to disprove the contradiction led to the development of Non-Euclidian geometry with valid geometries that contradict the once exclusively undeniable Parallel Postulate. The phenomenon of disassociating consistent mathematical systems from fundamental undefined and defined terms, axioms, and theorems is the foundation of Gödel’s Undecidability Theorem. This project is directed towards understanding and showing how Gödel challenges the idea that all mathematical conjectures can, with enough calculation and analysis, eventually be proven or disproven. This theorem states that “any mathematical system containing all the theorems of arithmetic is an incomplete system”. In other words, the system can never be proven true or false.
The purpose of this project is two- fold. First, the project will seek to understand Godel’s Undecidabilty Theorem. Second, the project will explore the implications of undecidability to the fields of mathematics and computer science.
The research project addresses the need for affordable, energy efficient housing without sacrificing comfort of daily living. Automated control of temperature and illumination through the use of innovative energy harvesting and architectural design approaches are investigated. A prototype model is used to quantify the energy needed to maintain “comfortable temperature”, where feedback control of temperature is incorporated, through the use of microcontrollers. The logic and set parameters of the microcontroller are varied so as to measure the quantitative impact of selecting temperature and feedback control parameters on energy requirements.
Airborne Wind Energy Systems (AWESs) consist of airborne airfoils that can reach altitudes over one kilometer at a fraction of the cost and using less material than conventional wind turbines. Previous development in AWESs have employed the use of computers, artificial intelligence, airborne actuators, and other monitoring equipment to be used in megawatt-scale farms. This paper discusses the feasibility of developing passively-controlled AWESs for small-scale distributed generation scenarios. A MATLAB model was developed to study the properties of a Gomberg Pilot 50 ram-air kite. The model will be used to aid in the development of a cyclic two-phase power generation process, exploiting changes in aerodynamic forces and the tensions of attached tethers to generate energy.
Cold Spray is a metal deposition process in which high pressure gas is used to deposit a metal powder on a substrate. In this process, high pressure gas expands isentropically through a converging-diverging nozzle, and accelerates a metal powder to supersonic velocities. These high speed particles will bond to a surface upon impact, if the impact velocity reaches a certain critical velocity. This process differs from other thermal spray processes because it is performed at relatively lower temperatures, and uses the kinetic energy of the particles to facilitate bonding rather than their thermal energy. Cold spray can produce coatings with very low porosity and tensile properties that can match the properties of the bulk material. One major challenge with cold spray is nozzle clogging. Nozzle clogging occurs when particles bond to the inner surface of the nozzle, altering the local cross sectional area, and cause a drop in the flowrate through the nozzle, which results in a lower quality deposit. In particular, experiments performed at the United Technologies Research Center (UTRC) showed that some cold spray nozzles clog after about 15 minutes in operation. A computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model of the cold spray nozzle is developed to study the flow of metal particles in the cold spray process. CFD simulations suggest that pressure fluctuations in the particle feed system cause the particles to disperse in the nozzle, and ultimately lead to some particles colliding (and bonding) with the nozzle wall. Redesign of the nozzle is considered in order to mitigate the effects of particle-wall collisions as well as clogging in the cold spray process.
Wind energy is a renewable energy source that has been growing rapidly over the past two decades, thanks to technological advances and supportive policies. Nevertheless, there are still opportunities for improvements in wind energy technology to reduce costs and increase efficiency. Specifically, when wind turbines are grouped together into wind farms, the overall efficiency decreases due to wake losses. A variety of approaches have been taken to reduce wake effects including optimization of the layout before installation and control of the turbines in a farm when they are operating. An alternative approach is to consider static aerodynamic structures that are installed near the wind turbine rotor and deflect the wakes. These wing structures will increase the efficiency by redirecting free-stream airflow to the downstream turbine, so there is less energy lost due to wake loss. The upstream turbine is modeled using an actuator disc, which is an open disc that replicates the wake loss of an actual turbine of equal size. The wing structures will be attached to the actuator disc, and the different wing structure patterns can be changed easily. The experimental data is collected using hot-wire anemometers, pitot tubes, and power output from the functional, downstream model wind turbine. The final step of this project will be a feasibility assessment, meaning the practicality of these wings being implemented on a real wind turbine farm will be assessed, including the material used, attachment process, and maintenance required.
Recent estimates suggest that over 600,000 bats are struck by wind turbines every year in the US. Existing deterrence methods, ultrasonic emitters, are limited by their placement on the turbine nacelle and are not powerful enough to affect the full swept area of the turbine blades. Thus, the objective of this project is to design an air-driven ultrasound emitter to be placed directly on the turbine blades. By harnessing the flow-induced oscillations of a polyethylene film in flow, an ultrasonic response in the 20-75 kHz hearing range of bats can be produced. The influence of film tension and width under transient flow velocities is studied, to create an acoustic signal closer to what field studies indicate as an effective deterrent: frequency band jumps and pulse modulation, at a sound power level appropriate for full-scale wind turbine implementation.
Determining the Effectiveness of Detergents on Stained Cotton Fabric
BACKGROUND: Cotton is the main staple fiber in the fashion industry that paves the basis for the use of other natural and synthetic fibers. Because cotton is one of the most popular fibers for clothing production, its ability to resist wear and tear and staining is crucial to its success. OBJECTIVES: (1) Identify which detergent reacts best with staining on cotton. (2) Analyze the formula of each detergent and predict why that formula reacts best with stain removal. (3) Which type of soil gets removed more easily after laundering. METHOD: The colorfastness of laundering ( AATCC Test Method 61) and soil release test ( AATCC Test Method 130) will be employed in this study. White, light color and dark color cotton fabric will be washed using at least three different detergents. EXPECTED FINDINGS: The detergent whose formula has the least amount of water will be the least successful with stain removal. CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: This study will determine the effectiveness that each particular laundry detergent brand has on cotton fabric so that consumers can make an informed decision on which brand is best for stain removal. Also, by reviewing the results, each detergent brand can make modifications or adjustments to improve their results compared to other brands. Finally, this study will help businesses that use detergents in their everyday work such as dry cleaners and secondhand clothing stores to find the detergent that meets their needs.
Investigating Fabric Strength When Exposed to Commonly Used Dyes for Select Periods of Time
BACKGROUND: Dying garments, such as tie-dying or adding dye for an ombre effect, is very popular today. This trend can be seen in stores as well as worn by celebrities. To avoid high costs of buying these garments in stores, many have taken to dying their own garments at home, using dyes that can be bought at local crafts, convenience or even grocery stores. These dyes may seem harmless, but could potentially weaken the strength of the garment. OBJECTIVES: (1) Identifying the most commonly used dyes for garments found in stores, (2) Developing a model to assess the reaction between the dye and the fabrics, (3) Identifying three different fabrics and their reaction to the dye. METHOD: A mixed method of research is employed in this study: observation (e.g., store visits to find commonly used dyes and secondary data source) and implementing strength test among fabrics after being dyed for a certain period of time. EXPECTED FINDINGS: Some fabrics will react poorly compared to others. Manipulating time for each fabrics exposure in the dye will worsen the outcome. CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: This study will determine the outcome of which fabric withstands a better reaction to dye and how long it was exposed to the dye. The model for the experiment could show little to no impact on fabrics. Finally, this study will help consumers to better understand which dyes, fabrics and what time exposure to dye will benefit them when dying their own garments.
BACKGROUND: Within numerous categories of fibers, fire resistant fibers hold a small percentage. Most fibers are flammable due to its organic reaction against heat or flame. The fashion industry does not promote the element of fire resistant as an essential part of the production of garments. When thinking of fire resistant fibers, the thought of fire fighter suits and police officer uniform comes to mind as those are two fields that require this element in their garment to perform their job duties. There is a need to study flame retardant textile apparel/ State official uniforms and manage a way to incorporate this need into daily usage. OBJECTIVES: (1) Determine all known fire resistant fibers (2) Select temperatures to test the resistance of each fiber while timing these events (3) Collect results from the fiber with most resistance in the longest amount of time recorded. METHODS: A qualitative method (content analysis) will be used for objectives one and two and a flammability test (ASTM D 1230) will be conducted to determine which fiber is most resistant to heat/flame. EXPECTED FINDINGS: This study should result in some fibers resisting from burning at a quicker time than others. Other expectations are for some fibers to burn completely into ashes and some fibers will change its natural form but will maintain structure/body. CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: This study will bring awareness to the demand for more flame retardant apparel and the textile industry.
To date, Bifidobacterium has been established as a probiotic bacterium which has been shown to promote both lifespan and health span in the C. Elegans model. However, many of the mechanisms, pathways, and genes through which these benefits are achieved have yet to be identified. C. Elegans serves as an impactful model for studying interactions within its gastrointestinal track as this is the main site of immune expression. Similarities in form and function of the gut epithelium of C. Elegans and humans allows for this research to also offer potential insights on the benefits that Bifidobacterium may elicit upon human consumption.
This study aims to explore if, and how, the consumption of different strains of bifidobacteria may enable C. elegans to live longer at a potentially higher quality. The ultimate goal of this research is in parallel with emerging evidence that the variety and fitness of the gut microbiota may govern the functionality of physiological systems beyond the digestive tract. In order to best understand how bifidobacterial consumption may affect the life and health span of C. elegans, there is a focus on dietary preference behaviors expressed when there is a choice between more than one bifidobacterial strain. With the knowledge that C. elegans innately selects its ideal food source, further investigation into why such dietary preference behaviors occur is essential in understanding how the genus Bifidobacterium modulates host physiological processes.
The Effect of Zinc on Bacterial Invasion of Caco-2 Cells
Zinc, an essential trace element, helps maintain an intestinal barrier and promotes gut immune functions. Zinc plays a critical role in cell membrane barrier maintenance as deprivation of zinc has been shown to cause a decrease in transepithelial electrical resistance, affecting the membrane permeability of intestinal epithelial cells in vitro. Zinc has been shown to block protein transporters in bacteria (Streptococcus pneumonia), so that the bacteria cannot uptake an essential metal (manganese). It had been shown that zinc has protective components in the human body as acterial respiratory diseases can be linked to zinc deficiency in the body. This study will examine the effect of zinc on bacterial uptake in CaCo-2 colorectal epithelial cells. We will test whether zinc aids in a protective barrier and inhibits bacterial internalization in CaCo-2 cells or if zinc directly promotes bacterial internalization.
Microbial nanowires is an emerging field with potential applications in a low-cost and sustainable forms of nanotechnology. Therefore, further knowledge of G. sulfurreducens pili, which possess metallic-like conductive, is pivotal. In previous research, amino acid mutations in the PilA region of Geobacter sulfurreducens have shown to alter the current production and the conductivity level of the pili. Aromatic amino acids have been attributed to producing higher levels of conductivity within G. sulfurreducens pili. To further investigate the effect of single amino acid mutations, a strain of G. sulfurreducens, designated DL1 Y61A, was created in which the aromatic amino acid was replaced with the non-polar alanine. Another strain of G. sulfurreducens, designated PCA W51 W57, had non-polar amino acids replaced with tryptophan. The current production, using a graphite anode as the electron acceptor, for Y61A was lower than the control strain while the current production for W51 W57 was similar to that of the control strain. The pili was viewed under a TEM after protein purification. The conductivity levels, obtained through a four-probe system, is still being conducted.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis produces a cell envelope that is unique among bacteria and critical for its pathogenesis. Phosphatidylinositol (PI)-anchored glycolipids, such as PI mannosides (PIMs), lipomannan, and lipoarabinomannan, are essential, conserved among mycobacteria, and integral parts of the cell envelope. However, their physiological roles are not fully understood. Previously, we identified PimE, a mannosyltransferase that transfers the fifth mannose in hexamannosyl PIM biosynthesis, in the non-pathogenic model organism Mycobacterium smegmatis. The pimE gene deletion mutant (ΔpimE) forms a small colony on Middlebrook 7H10 agar, and this morphological defect was due to the increased permeability of ΔpimE to copper present in the Middlebrook 7H10 agar. Indeed, removal of copper from the medium restores normal colony formation of ΔpimE on the solid agar surface. However, copper removal from the medium does not restore the formation of a liquid-surface biofilm, known as a pellicle. Here, we found that the ΔpimE mutant requires additional nutritional components to form a robust pellicle. Because ΔpimE could form a normal pellicle on M63 broth, we initially examined the effects of each component present in the M63 broth on this pellicle formation. This study revealed higher concentrations of potassium phosphate and calcium chloride as primary factors contributing to the robust pellicle formation of the ΔpimE mutant. When we supplemented the copper-free Middlebrook 7H9 broth with potassium phosphate and calcium chloride at the concentrations found in the M63 broth, the pellicle formation was not restored. This suggests that additional factors that are present in the Middlebrook 7H9 broth are inhibitory to the biofilm formation of ΔpimE. We are currently determining the precise medium conditions that support the pellicle formation in this glycolipid biosynthetic mutant.
iCons: Detecting kDNA Replication Protein Interactions Using a Yeast Two-Hybrid System
Trypanosoma brucei is a single celled, eukaryotic organism that causes Trypanosomiasis, a vector borne disease in humans and other vertebrates, throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Current drug treatments for Trypanosomiasis are inadequate, with varying toxicity, and no vaccines are available. However, there is hope for new more selective treatments with minimal side effects because of the unorthodox biology of T. brucei. One property that is absent from all other eukaryotic lineages is T. brucei’s mitochondrial kinetoplast DNA (kDNA) that is composed of thousands of circular DNA molecules catenated together to form a network and is required for parasite survival. The topological complexity of replicating catenated kDNA dictates some unusual features including a release and reattachment minicircle replication mechanism that separates replication events spatially and temporally. Additionally, this complexity is reflected in multiple replication factors including DNA polymerases, helicases, ligases, and topoisomerases most of which appear to have nonredundant functions. Interestingly these proteins have spatiotemporal localizations with respect to the kDNA that are cell cycle dependent. However, which proteins directly interact for minicircle and maxicircle replication is unknown. Using a yeast two-hybrid system will determine whether direct interactions are occurring between specific kDNA replication proteins in T. brucei. The groups of kDNA proteins (minicircle replication, maxicircle replication, okazaki fragment processing) analyzed through the yeast two-hybrid system are hypothesized to interact because of similar protein function and localization. Patterns of direct interactions will paint a clearer picture of the mechanisms occurring within kDNA replication and will aid in the search for new anti-trypanosomatid treatments.
Gut Bacteria and Obesity: Manipulating Gut Bacteria in the Microbiome Has a Significant Influence on Body Weight Fluctuation
Obesity is a common problem in developed countries, but the United States has one of the highest percentages of obese population worldwide. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 40% of American adults and 20% of adolescents are obese. Obesity causes numerous health issues such as diabetes, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke that all contribute to its mortality. The causes of obesity are well known: an unhealthy diet, a sedentary lifestyle and genetic predisposition. Recent animal and human studies revealed, however, another potential cause of obesity and this cause is hidden in our gut. It seems that the microbiome imbalance causes the rapid growth of the bacteria which is famous for harvesting more energy from the diet. My research asks whether manipulating gut bacteria in the microbiome has a significant influence on body weight fluctuation. The connection between the human microbiome and weight gain gives a new view of the existing problem of obesity as a disease and may also be the key of determining whether you are able to lose or gain weight. Balancing the gut microbiome through diet and probiotics may impact the obesity epidemic.
Trachoma is the leading infectious cause of blindness worldwide. It is caused by the obligate intracellular bacterium, Chlamydia trachomatis. 190.2 million people lived in trachoma endemic areas encompassing 41 countries. Infections often spread via contact with dirty clothes, contaminated hands. It has been noted that in endemic areas, a seasonal increase in the prevalence of these infections coincides with an increase in the Musca sorbens fly population.
The objective of the current research was to determine whether flies are purely mechanical vectors in trachoma transmission or if they have biological roles. We utilized PCR, advanced labeling techniques and tissue culture to determine the presence, viability and anatomical location of the C. trachomatis inside M. sorbens in a laboratory setting.
Following pupation, 2 day old adult flies were starved for 12h and then allowed to feed on or were capillary fed C. trachomatis serovar B in sucrose phosphate glutamate (SPG). Flies were then harvested at various time intervals after feeding, dissected and samples evaluated via PCR and culture. We amplified C. trachomatis DNA from the crop, a thin-walled expanded portion of the alimentary tract used for the storage of food prior to digestion of these flies up to 24h post feeding. We also isolated C. trachomatis DNA from the upper portions of the alimentary tract. We confirmed the viability of isolated C. trachomatis through tissue culture in HeLa cells.
Our data confirms that eye-seeking flies such as Musca sorbens can ingest C. trachomatis during regular feeding. These data also confirm for the first time, that ingested Chlamydia remains viable inside the flies for 24-48h post feeding. There is reason to believe that they could regurgitate and transmit the bacteria at their next feeding. We believe that these findings suggest potentially effective intervention strategies through vector control.
Contrary to popular opinion, the significant problem currently facing honeybees is not colony collapse disorder but rather the parasitic mite, Varroa destructor. This mite is found in almost every beehive and not only survives by extracting the blood from honeybees, but also transmits viruses causing bee diseases. The comprehensive goal of this project is to develop a bionanoparticle that can effectively control Varroa mites. This particle will be capable of delivering bioactive molecules, such as RNAi, that can be engineered to kill mites as they feed on bees. One specific research project will be to construct a packaging system capable of delivering the anti-Varroa active biomolecules. This system will consist of the BQCV capsid protein expressed by a recombinant baculovirus in insect cells. Ultimately, this bionanoparticle will replicate in bees, and then be ingested by the mites where the anti-Varroa biomolecules will kill the parasite. The outcome of this approach represents a sustainable method for controlling the infestation of Varro mite.
Adenovirus 36 Infection Increases the Risk for Premenopausal Breast Cancer
There is a higher risk of breast cancer recurrence and mortality in obese women, despite optimal treatment. Certain viruses have been shown to increase adiposity in animals and subsequent obesity. While the exact mechanisms involved in infectobesity are not clear, viruses are thought to increase the replication, differentiation, lipid accumulation, and insulin sensitivity in fat cells while reducing leptin secretion. Adv36 is the only human adenovirus to date that has been directly linked with human obesity. The current study examines the prevalence of obesogenic adenovirus in mammary epithelial cells and blood from patients undergoing breast biopsy or mammoreduction surgery.
Methods: Serotype-specific PCR amplification to determine the presence of adenovirus species in patient samples obtained from human mammary epithelial cells (HMEC).
Results:The average BMI of the patient cohort was 31.1, median age 47.7 years old and there was no significant association between the presence of obesogenic adenovirus and parity. Adv36 DNA was isolated from the breast tissue and blood of 34.4% (32/93) of samples. Obese breast cancer patients had an Adv36 DNA prevalence of 69.2%, while patients with a normal BMI had a prevalence of 19.2% and overweight patients had a prevalence of 11.5%.
Conclusion: Our data strongly suggest that Adv36 DNA was present more frequently in breast tissue of women with higher BMI. These findings support a role for infectobesity in the risk for breast cancer development and suggests that the presence of Adv36 in tissue could be a biomarker of a clinical-metabolic profile, possibly preceding obesity.
The rise of antibiotic resistance in Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis, is a global concern. The cell envelope is critical for the survival and virulence of the pathogen during infection, and its biosynthesis has been a proven drug target. Therefore, finding new targets in the biosynthetic pathway of cell-envelope components is of great interest. Mycobacterium smegmatis is the model for the study of this devastating pathogen. We recently identified LmeA as a cell-envelope protein that is critical for the control of mannan chain length of lipmannan (LM) and lipoarabinomannan (LAM), essential glycolipid components of the cell envelope. The deletion mutant, ∆lmeA, accumulates abnormal LM/LAM with fewer mannose residues. To understand the importance of this protein, the antibiotic sensitivity of ∆lmeA was tested using a resazurin-based viability assay. We found that the lmeA deletion leads to increased sensitivities to antibiotics such as vancomycin and erythromycin. To directly test if the increased antibiotic sensitivity is due to the defective permeability barrier, we used an ethidium bromide uptake assay and found that ∆lmeA is more efficient in taking up ethidium bromide in the cell. Interestingly, the overexpression of this protein leads to an increase in antibiotic resistance. We are currently testing if the overexpression of LmeA decreases the ethidium bromide uptake and thus makes the cell envelope less permeable.
Optimization of the Phosphoketolase Assay to Reduce Reagents and Enhance Identification of Bifidobacteria
Bifidobacteria are typical microbial colonizers of the infant gut. Over the course of isolating them from infants and other sources they are commonly identified using the phosphoketolase assay, a biochemical test that creates a color change in the presence of a bifidobacterial-specific enzyme. To this point, the assay is solely qualitative with maroon representing a positive result and yellow a negative result. Currently, efforts to improve the assay include adapting it to quantifying fructose-6-phosphate phosphoketolase activity, the target enzyme of the assay. Moreover, its activity will be compared amongst various species and subspecies of bifidobacteria. Accordingly, the assay has been modified to reduce the volume of reagents to fit in a single well of a 96-well plate. The potential effect that fresh ferric chloride has on the color change has been tested as well. Bacterial cultures were grown, or diluted to, OD600 values of 0.25 and bacterial cells were lysed using hexadecyltrimethylammonium bromide. The color change, or the formation of a hydroxamic acid ferric chloride chelate complex, was monitored using a plate reader at 505 nm and 515 nm before and after the addition of ferric chloride. To this point, the results indicate that there is no difference between enzyme activity and the particular species tested, with additional bifidobacteria to evaluate. The next step to improve quantification is purifying the chelate complex. By purifying the chelate complex, bifidobacteria species could be compared based on their ability to produce acetyl-phosphate, the precursor to hydroxamic acid in the complex. Adapting the assay to the plate reader increases efficiency and confidence in preliminary identification of bifidobacteria.
Due to its tropical climate, the Amazon rainforests have become a hub for agricultural industry. With a growing world population and expanding market, Amazon deforestation increased rapidly to make room for livestock pastures and plantations.
In an effort to maximize yield and combat extreme climate conditions, farmers have turned to planting new forage species as replacement, particularly the African grass species Brachiaria. Able to withstand a variety of environments, Brachiaria has become a pioneer species in providing nutritious forage to depleted areas. Its pivotal role in the agricultural industry makes it an essential plant to study on the microbial level.
As a microbial lab studying land-use change in the Amazon, we are particularly interested in the phyllosphere of Brachiaria. The phyllosphere, the portion of the plant above the soil and all of its associated microorganisms, is a critical component of ecosystem nutrient exchange and plant health. Our research aims to identify the natural composition and function of this microbial community, in addition to how the community may change when exposed to environmental stressors such as drought or elevated temperatures.
Our ultimate goal is to create a better understanding of the phyllosphere as a dynamic microbial community. By analyzing microbial abundance of Brachiaria, we intend to explore methods to maximize the beneficial plant-microbe interactions. On a global scale, we hope to find a way to apply our research to address broader issues like sustainable agricultural practices in order to protect the world’s tropical forests.
Despite advancements and new technologies in identifying novel microbial organisms, the composition of environmental microbiomes is still largely a mystery. We are utilizing a new approach, Cell Sorted Environmental Genomics, to provide a more meaningful representation of the microbial structure of environmental ecosystems.
Through a process of cell extraction from soil samples and flow cytometry for the binning of groups of microbes, our lab has improved on a method of directly sequencing genetic information from environmental microbial populations. This method permits a better understanding of microbial diversity through identification of novel organisms. An unexpected consequence of this sequencing technique has been the visualization of life that has been poorly represented in prior environmental genome sequencing, namely endosymbionts.
These endosymbionts include giant viruses never found before in the soil. These poorly understood viruses are intriguing because they possess genomes larger than those of many bacteria, which contain genes coding for translational machinery and other genes usually associated with cellular metabolism. Likewise, nearly 100 genomes of the obligate intracellular bacteria and human pathogens of the phylum Chlamydiae have been identified abundantly through this technique. Presence of these groups is a testament to the potential this method has towards revealing the microbial world, and the significance Cell Sorted Environmental Genomics will have in the future of bacterial genome sequencing.
The phenomenon of the Middle East as seen through the Eurocentric perspective is often misunderstood and misrepresented throughout a timeline of timeless events. Middle Eastern culture is often romanticized for the purpose of entertainment and amusement, leaving the western world with the idea that the Middle East was and will always be the land of magic carpets, belly dancers, and camels. However, as Edward Said explains in his book Orientalism, this fantastic description of the Middle East is a representation created by the west, for the west, without a true understanding of the East. Orientalism fails to distinguish the desire to learn about the Arabian culture from assuming what it is actually like and using those assumptions as facts. Said doesn’t reprimand those who seek to learn about the East. He does, however, call out the Western scholar who writes about the East without truly understanding why the traditions have become what they are, and the background of every detail within the culture; to come into a foreign land, assume absolute knowledge of the people and their culture, write about it from his/her frame of reference, and publish their work to others in the west. Not only does this stereotype the East, it also creates a sense of inferiority; an ideology that “they” think, act, and speak differently – thus, viewing them as the other.
Even when we are not aware, music infiltrates our minds and resonates with our feelings. Despite conscious awareness certain tones or sections of music can amplify an emotion or guide us away from it. How does it happen? What occurs from the onset of sensation that leads to perception, and how does music intersect with such emotions?
The presentation illustrates music and its choreographed interpretations. One piece of music will be played throughout the presentation in five variations. The first is played between each variation and poses a neutral sensation. The others exemplify, joy, anger, sadness, and fear.
In music, the A theme, which usually begins each piece, will precipitate chemical reactions that occur in the brain. To achieve that reaction in the music, changes in key, major or minor, meter, tempo, tone color, will occur to achieve that result. In my musical presentation, choreographed dancers will perform in accordance with the music. Their movements convey and amplify what the music will be stating. Both auditory and visual perceptions characterize this project.
The presentation exemplifies the complex emotions that accompany sensations of music, and how vital it is. Music is often taken as a simply enjoyable craft, however this presentation illustrates its much more complex impact. Music is a multi-sensory experience that extends past the initial performance.
Getting a song stuck in one’s head is a very common involuntary cognition that most likely everyone has experienced at least once in their lifetime. This phenomenon is known as “earworms” or formally known as involuntary musical imagery and has been grouped with other involuntary cognitions such as daydreaming. Approximately 60 undergraduate students will track their personal experience with earworms over a seven day period. These students will record in a structured log book each involuntary musical imagery episodes along with qualities of the song, name of the song, and the number of times the earworms reoccurred. The expected results are that students will have more involuntary musical imagery episodes from fast tempo song than from slow tempo songs. Expected results may also show that students experience earworms for songs they like more than songs they dislike. These expected findings could possibly help music producers figure out what is considered catchy so that their music is being sold often and played a lot.
My honors project creates a listening guide for my audience related to my senior percussion recital. I will focus on the theme of counterpoint which occurs in each of the pieces on my program. Counterpoint is traditionally defined as the coexistence of multiple melodic lines simultaneously. However, in the 20th century, the term took on new dimensions, and was applied to other aspects beyond pitch, including timbre and texture. I will connect the traditional views the music of J.S Bach with modern counterpoint.
The Suite for Lute by J.S. Bach contains polyphony. By contrasting registers, Bach creates many voices out of one instrument. Similarly, Dimorphie creates two distinct, yet equal voices through the nuance of timbre, a repetitive ordering of events and antiphony. Another contrapuntal technique found in the Lute Suite is the imitation of one melodic line with another. Through the direct repetition of melodic gesture at various dynamics, Torse III creates the effect of echoes through imitation, and a large-scale sense of counterpoint through the juxtaposition of short character pieces that combine into a synthesis. Juxtaposition of textures in Links is what ties in the last piece of music for discussion.
The message that I would like to convey to the audience is that counterpoint as a musical tool is still alive today. By broadening their understanding the audience will be able connect the familiar with the unfamiliar, and gain an appreciation for modern percussion music.
This project is a
musical performance that is based on vocal “powerhouse” women. When saying the
term “powerhouse” this means strong vocals that can portray emotions and can
use the voice to stand up for human rights or controversial issues and debates.
The recital will have two musical theater pieces, and three Pop pieces. The
point of this performance is to show how strong a woman’s voice can be when she
wants to stand up for what is right. The strong emotional component in a piece adds to the song itself on whether or not it connects with its listener. In the
song, Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken, by
the artist Pink, the lyrics begin with Pink singing the words “I will have to
die for this I fear, there’s rage and terror and there’s sickness here, I fight
because I have to, I fight for us to know the truth.” With these words, the overriding
feeling and emotion expresses a powerful sentiment of fighting for the truth. My
project also includes Woman from The Pirate Queen, by Claude-Michel Schönberg,
that speaks of how being a woman does not prevent them from doing what men can
do. A core part of the project includes a selection from the discography of Kelly
Clarkson, who uses her ability to portray a sense of emotion in a song to her advantage.
Analysis of Maternal Behavior and Pup Development in the Wistar-Kyoto Rat Model of Postpartum Depression
Previous studies in labs using the Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) animal model of depression demonstrated that WKY mothers exhibited disturbances in parenting in a 30-min test compared to control Sprague-Dawley (SD) mothers. In order to evaluate whether the differences in parenting between WKY and SD mothers were driven by the testing conditions and/or differences in pups’ characteristics, this study evaluated maternal behavior and offspring physical and neurobehavioral developmental milestones during the entire postpartum period. Maternal behavior was scored every 4 min for three 60-min daily observation periods during postpartum day (PPD) 1 to PPD25. Behavioral observations occurred at regular times each day, with two periods during the light, and one period during dark phases of the 12h light/dark cycle. In addition, pups were weighed and examined daily for emergence of physical maturation landmarks/ reflexes. Physical landmarks included pinnae detachment, incisor eruption, eye opening, ear opening, and fur development. In addition, pups were tested for surface righting, palmar grasp and negative geotaxis reflexes. Results demonstrated that WKY mothers consistently exhibited reduced active components of maternal behavior and spent less time in contact with their pups than SD mothers. No changes in physical milestones of pups were noted during the first three postnatal weeks. These findings confirm that WKY mothers display disturbances in parenting, reaffirming the feasibility of the WKY stain as a model of postpartum depression, increasing its utility in identifying the mechanisms by which it disrupts parenting.
Most organisms possess an endogenous biological clock that governs daily behavioral rhythms in a nearly 24-hour cycle. The molecular mechanisms of circadian clocks have been studied in many species, including Drosophila melanogaster and Mus. However, the neural mechanisms underlying how circadian clocks affect behaviors is not fully understood. To address this problem, we are examining the nudibranch Berghia stephanieae (Mollusca, Gastropoda), which has a simpler nervous system with large and identifiable neurons. In addition, their small size poses an advantage for high-throughput behavioral analysis over previously-studied nudibranchs. We are conducting this experiment to address two goals: to identify whether locomotor activity follows a daily rhythm and to determine whether this activity is governed by a circadian clock. To identify the activity pattern of locomotion, we are using a video camera to record the activity of Berghia in a confined tank with artificial light over several days in a 12:12 light:dark cycle. We are then graphing the data on an actogram to look for patterns in activity levels. We will later determine the presence of a circadian clock by exposing the Berghia to constant darkness. If a circadian clock exists, we expect to see the patterns free-run in constant darkness with an endogenous period of around 24 hours. Lastly, we will test whether the clock can be entrained to a different light:dark cycle. This study will serve as a foundation for further investigations of how circadian clocks modulate neural circuits to produce circadian behaviors.
Epigenetic Regulation of NLRP3 Inflammasome Assembly in the Rat Hippocampus
Stress and immune signaling converge in the hippocampus to alter function. Pro-inflammatory cytokine and glucocorticoid receptor signaling affect synaptic transmission in this region. Glucocorticoids are capable of regulating expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines but the precise mechanisms remain unknown. The NLRP3 inflammasome protein complex facilitates the production of mature pro-inflammatory cytokines. Glucocorticoids (e.g. corticosterone in the rat) are released from the adrenal glands, and circulate throughout the body and brain binding to glucocorticoid receptors. Acute restraint stress is sufficient to induce increases in the repressive histone modification histone H3 lysine 9 trimethyl (H3K9me3), accumulating at retrotransposons (RTs) thereby decreasing RT expression. RT accumulation has been shown to activate the NLRP3 inflammasome. Preliminary data from acute corticosterone (CORT) treated-adrenalectomized animals supports the idea that CORT is sufficient for increased hippocampal H3K9me3. Increased hippocampal H3K9me3 is effectively blocked through pretreatment of chaetocin, a H3K9me3-specific methyltransferase inhibitor. In vitro, CORT dynamically regulates RT expression -increasing expression acutely and repressing expression via H3K9me3 upon depletion. In the acute CORT treated rat, we aim to see if blocking CORT-induced H3K9me3 is permissive for NLRP3-inflammasome assembly in hippocampus. These results may suggest a novel molecular epigenetic link between stress and immune axes with significant implications for hippocampal function.
Repeated exposure to the same or similar objects leads to faster and more accurate identification of those objects. The neural changes that are connected to these behavioral changes remain unclear. Previous studies have shown that cells in high-level areas of the primate visual system have a higher selectivity for familiar objects than novel objects (i.e., they respond to a smaller number of familiar objects). These studies have largely focused on single-cell responses in individual brain areas, but regions of the visual system are highly interconnected. To determine whether familiarity alters feedforward or feedback processing, we reanalyzed a previous dataset of local field potential recordings from the inferior temporal cortex. Local field potentials reflect the summed activity of many neurons in a small region of the cortex. Specifically, we compared high frequency and low frequency oscillations, which have been linked to feedforward and feedback processing in the primate visual system, respectively. In four monkeys, familiar objects led to stronger power in low frequencies (~5-17 Hz alpha/beta range). In two of these monkeys, novel objects also led to stronger power in high frequencies (~65-100 Hz gamma range). These results support the hypothesis that long-term familiarity leads to stronger feedback connections within the visual system.
Cognitive functions such as the ability to adapt behaviors to situational changes are important in learning how to change patterns of addictive behavior. Long-term addiction changes neurotransmitter levels, which in part disrupts cognitive circuits in brain areas like the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). Norepinephrine (NE) is a neurotransmitter that is critical for mPFC function. We investigated what role NE plays in the short-term memory of male and female C57BL/6J mice after repeated heavy alcohol and stress. For ~1 month, mice received one of four treatments: repeated forced swim stress, chronic ethanol vapor, both, or neither. Mice were then tested on their ability to recall object-context pairings five minutes after learning the pairings. Half the mice received the NE α-1 inverse agonist prazosin before being tested, thereby reducing NE action in mPFC and other regions. Prazosin-treated stress-only males performed better than their untreated counterparts, but this trend did not appear in other groups. These findings indicate that reducing α-1 NE signaling is not sufficient to reverse the impact of long-term ethanol or stress/ethanol on short-term memory. Additionally, since prazosin-treated stress-only females did not perform better than untreated stress-only females, there may be sex differences in the way stress moderates NE and cognition.
Why do people make the choices they do? Past research indicates there may be a link between individual differences in motivation that underlie decision making. The BIS/BAS scale is an established measure that has been utilized to evaluate an individual's trait approach and avoidance tendencies. Differences in approach motivation will also be observed via electroencephalography (EEG). Past research indicated that greater frontal asymmetry was associated with higher approach motivation. One of the aims of this research is evaluate what possible role trait approach motivation may influence an individual’s response to normative violations. This research is also interested in the role individual differences in approach motivation may play in decision making. Participants performed a variation of the third party punishment game and responded to two examples of Joshua Knobe’s classic experiment. Participants also responded to a brief measure to test variation in individual differences in prescriptive and proscriptive morality. I will analyze individual differences in approach motivation, as measured by BIS/BAS and variation in frontal asymmetry, explains individual differences in moral and social decision making by correlation analysis. I believe that higher levels of trait approach motivation may help explain increased action taken during third party punishment, greater usage of prescriptive morality, and an increased likelihood to view an act as intentional.
The Role of Norandrenergic Systems in Anxiogenesis following Chronic Stress and Ethanol Exposure
About 15 million American adults suffer from alcohol use disorder (AUD) each year. AUD impairs day-to-day functioning and can be fatal. Stress is a major factor in the development of AUD and a risk for relapse. We explored how chronic ethanol consumption and stress influences anxiety-like behavior, and the role of stress-responsive noradrenergic signaling in these changes. Adult male (n = 54) and female (n = 58) C57BL/6J mice were allowed 1-hour of voluntary drinking (15% ethanol) daily. Once drinking stabilized, a subset of mice were exposed to weekly cycles of chronic intermittent ethanol (CIE) to induce ethanol dependence, or air-control vapor exposure, followed by weekly cycles of 1-hour voluntary test drinking. During weeks of test drinking, mice received either no stress (NS) or 10 minutes of forced swim stress (FSS) 4 hours before ethanol access. Animals with a history of CIE and FSS escalated voluntary drinking across exposure cycles. After 4-6 weeks of CIE and FSS, anxiety-like behaviors were evaluated, using the marble burying task. Thirty minutes prior to marble-burying mice received either an α-1 inverse agonist prazosin (0.75 mg/kg i.p.) or vehicle. CIE and FSS both increased anxiety-like behavior, as measured by an increase in the number of marbles buried across both sexes. Prazosin significantly reduced anxiety-like behavior in females but not males. These data suggest that ethanol and stress history increase anxiety-like behavior, and that this may be mediated by noradrenergic hyperactivity in females.
Decision processing in cortical areas is heavily influenced by ascending monoamines, including norepinephrine (NE). The locus coeruleus (LC) is a small nucleus in the dorsal pons that supplies the vast majority of NE to cortical targets involved in decision procession. Previous research from our lab demonstrates that noradrenergic antagonists alter behavior, including decision outcome during a two-alternative forced-choice task (2AFC).
This study sought to characterize LC firing patterns in rats during a 2AFC task. Male and female Long-Evan rats were surgically implanted with chronic 28-channel tetrode arrays, unilaterally targeting the LC. Following a recovery period, rats were trained on a 2AFC task where cue lights (red/green) illuminated each trial to indicate which of the two laterally positioned levers would be rewarded. Rats self-initiated trials by breaking an IR beam for a variable hold until a lever cue was received. Rats were first trained and tested on a task where the probability of either lever being rewarded was set to 50%. Rats were then subjected to a test period where the probability of one lever being rewarded was biased to 70% to see how neuromodulatory output of LC was altered when task demands changed. Rats could perform up to 250 trials in a 40 minute test session. LC firing analysis is ongoing. Results from this study will add to a growing understanding of the LC’s importance in regulating task related behavior during decision making.
Recognition memory is thought to depend on medial temporal lobe structures. However, recognition memory tasks found in the literature tend to use complex high-level stimuli, such as word-pair associations. Thus the neural underpinnings of recognition memory for simple low-level features remain unclear. Recognition memory for low-level features may rely upon lower-level brain regions. In addition, one recent theory of memory predicts that recognition of a particular stimulus relies upon the brain region that represents conjunctions of the kinds of features contained in the stimulus. To test this, we conduct an fMRI study using a recognition memory task in which participants must recognize novel conjunctions of simple visual features that are individually familiar. First, participants study visual stimuli that are composed of conjunctions of simple, binary features (color, shape and spatial frequency). Next, participants are asked to discriminate between familiar stimuli seen during study, stimuli made up of features seen previously in study but combined in a novel way, and completely novel stimuli. Behavioral piloting of this task has revealed individuals can discriminate between previously-studied stimuli and stimuli that are novel combinations of familiar features. fMRI data collected during this task will be used to determine whether the recognition memory signals that underlie this behavioral performance are found in regions of visual cortex that (1) represent conjunctions of simple features, and (2) are lower-level than traditional “memory” regions such as the medial temporal lobe.
Microglia, the resident immune cells of the brain, play an active role in neuroinflammation and repair in the central nervous system. Exposure to toxic substances such as alcohol can lead to microglial activation and subsequent release of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Estradiol has been shown to decrease expression of pro-inflammatory factors and this effect is mediated by estrogen receptor alpha (ERα). However, it is not known whether estradiol acts directly on microglia or indirectly through other pathways or cell types. We have found that higher alcohol intake corresponds with higher microglia activation in adolescent males, but the relationship is less robust in females. Estrous cycle-dependent hormonal fluctuations could be influencing microglial sensitivity, thus altering the relationship in females. To explore these questions further we first examined whether microglia express ERα and whether co-expression changes across the estrous cycle in adult female Wistar rats. We used immunofluorescence to co-label ERα and microglial cells in prefrontal cortical tissue and quantified the proportion of microglia cells that co-express ERα. Preliminary results suggest estrogen receptor alpha expression in microglia fluctuates across the estrous cycle. These results provide a more comprehensive understanding how estradiol may differentially modulate the response of microglial cells to alcohol, and suggest this depends on the stage of the estrous cycle.
Estradiol has been shown to have protective effects in neurodegenerative disorders. Neurodegenerative disorders are often caused by neuronal cell death, which can result from the inflammatory response that is mediated by the activated form of microglia, the primary immune cells of the central nervous system. Although it has been shown that estradiol can prevent the conversion of rat microglia to their activated phenotype (Vegeto, et al., 2001), the mechanism(s) in which estradiol protects against inflammation in the brain are still not fully understood. Our preliminary study in rats indicates that microglial cells express estrogen receptor alpha (ERa), and this expression fluctuates across the estrous cycle. The goal of the current study is to directly examine the relationship between estradiol levels in the plasma and ERa expression in microglial cells in the cortex. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) are being used to quantify estradiol levels across different days of the estrous cycle. By measuring estradiol levels in samples we will be able to verify our current qualitative estrous cycle data, which was gathered from daily cytological analysis of vaginal smears. This study allows us test the hypothesis that microglial ERa expression relates to fluctuations in circulating estradiol, which could further our understanding of the anti-inflammatory effect of gonadal hormones.
Tract tracing is a powerful technique that is used to visualize fibers in the brain from their point of origin and to their target region. Among common tract tracing methods is the injection of viral vectors containing transgenes encoding for fluorescent proteins. The infected fibers of the circuit can be visualized in thin sections of brain tissue using confocal microscopy. However, the generation of three-dimensional mapping of the full circuit requires processing and analyzing many sections and extensive time and effort for microscopic analysis and circuit reconstruction. To circumvent these challenges, we are combining tract tracing with brain tissue clearing techniques to capture the entire axonal pathway in thick brain tissue samples. We use an anterograde adeno-associated virus expressing green fluorescent protein (GFP) to label entire amygdala-cortical neural fiber tracts projecting from the basolateral amygdala (BLA) to the anterior cingulate (aCg) portion of the medial prefrontal cortex. The brains are then processed post-mortem using CLARITY, a technique that clears lipids from the brain and makes this tissue transparent while maintaining its structure. This allows for large volume 3D-imaging of tissue via light sheet fluorescence microscopy. We expect this approach will provide a better understanding and 3D characterization of the neural pathway extending between the BLA and the aCg.
Over 40 Million Americans live with untreated hearing loss. And untreated hearing loss is linked to the increased risk of several physical and mental disorders, including Dementia. Many people are deterred from ‘traditional hearing aids’ as they provide minimal benefit for understanding speech, especially in difficult listening situations, i.e. in background noise. Recent advances in hearing aid technology have been designed to specifically enhance semantic features of speech, and sample and reduce background noise. In providing a more clear signal with reduced distraction from background noise, understanding of speech is anticipated to increase by improving auditory processing. This study explored patient satisfaction with the new technology by giving the Abbreviated Profile of Hearing Aid Benefit (APHAB) to both new users, those who have not had hearing aids before or have not worn them consistently in the past year, and current users, those who have worn hearing aids consistently for six months or more. Study participants were given the APHAB at the start of the study and at a follow up appointment after approximately 30 days of use. Four categories of patient experience with the new technology were judged pre- and post-treatment, including Background Noise, Reverberation, Averseness to Sound and Ease of Communication. Initial results indicate significant improvements in patient experience and auditory capabilities in a vast majority of users.
Evaluation of Alpha-Synuclein and Optineurin Expression in Extranigral Regions of End-Stage Parkinson’s Disease
Future Directions in Treating Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the leading causes of injury related death in the United States. Survivors often have headaches, cognitive problems, and mood swings. In severe cases, patients may lose the ability to speak or comprehend speech, severe emotional problems, limited function of limbs or be in a comatose state. TBI is frequently caused by car accidents, falls, firearm related injuries or blows to the head in athletics. Additionally, service members exposed to explosive blasts are at risk for blast induced neurotrauma, a type of injury that may have significant overlap with TBI. There is still need for an accurate TBI test for diagnostic purposes. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) has been found to be more accurate at diagnosing both mild and severe TBI than computed tomography, but is expensive and cumbersome to use, especially on the field of battle. The microRNA Let-7i may be a promising biomarker for TBI, as it is present in blood serum. Several studies in the past decade have observed epigenetic changes in the period after TBI. These mechanisms include DNA methylation, modification of chromatin and changes in miRNA regulation. All of these changes are potential targets for drugs, with the goal of reducing the extent of the damage and speeding recovery time. In this review, we will discuss studies that have implications for the future diagnosis and treatment of TBI and conduct a meta-analysis to gain insight into future treatments.
A Neuronal Signature for Correspondences between Abstract Shapes and Sounds
What sounds get associated with what shapes? Participants tend to associate spikey shape with a /kiki/ sound, and round shapes with a /bouba/ sound, the bouba/kiki effect. In this study, we used electroencephalography (EEG) to examine if brain responses to visual shapes are influenced by concurrent sounds. We hypothesized that congruent shape-sound pairs (round shape & /bouba/; spikey shape & /kiki/) would show stronger brain activation compared to incongruent shape- sound pairs (round shape & /kiki/; spikey shape & /bouba/).
Participants viewed half of a round shape and half of a spikey shape simultaneously, one in each hemifield. One half shape flickered at 5.45Hz and one at 7.5Hz with a fixation cross at center. Participants heard no sound (baseline) or a concurrent frequency modulated sound at 3 Hz which was congruent with one half shape but not the other. Participants monitored fixation and pressed a button when fixation turned red. Shape location was counterbalanced across trials, sound (no sound, /bouba/, or /kiki/) was counterbalanced across blocks, and flicker frequency for a given shape [HMC1] was counterbalanced across participants as well.
Participants were divided into two groups based on baseline signal-to-noise ratio SNR: (1) good visual activators (>= 5 SNR), and (2) poor visual activators (< 5 SNR). Preliminary data suggest that good activators tended to show smaller activation to shapes in the presence of a congruent sound, suggesting a suppressive effect induced by the sound. Poor activators tended to show enhanced neural response to shapes in the presence of a sound. Both effects were stronger at 5.45Hz than 7.5Hz. Our findings highlight the need to understand individual neuronal differences in the bouba/kiki effect.
Over 1% of the global population have intellectual disability (ID), with children of lower socioeconomic status being at a greater risk. In humans, loss-of-function mutations in β-catenin causes ID; however the underlying mechanisms are unknown. β-catenin has a critical role in cadherin-based synaptic complexes, which are known to regulate synaptic function and plasticity. Previous work from the lab has shown that mice with conditional deletion of β-catenin in excitatory neurons of the forebrain (β-cat cKO) have learning impairments and reduced long-term potentiation. There are two non-mutually exclusive possibilities that could explain these data. First, without β-catenin, stabilization of the synapse via cadherin-based adhesion could be impaired, leading to reductions in plasticity. Second, reductions in glutamate receptor upregulation during synaptic plasticity may be aberrant, as seen in β-catenin gain-of-function models from our lab. To test these hypotheses, I measured membrane protein levels via Western blot of β-catenin binding partners and glutamate receptors in the hippocampus of adult β-cat cKOs and littermate controls. With loss of β-catenin, N-Cadherin levels were decreased, but glutamate receptor subunit levels were unchanged. These data suggest that loss-of-function in β-catenin leads to learning and synaptic plasticity impairments through decreased N-cadherin levels and not due to alterations in glutamate receptor levels. The implications of these data suggests that pharmacological rescue of cadherin-based adhesion may be a promising candidate in restoring proper synaptic function in individuals with β-catenin loss-of-function.
Motor Initiation and Inhibition in Parkinson’s Disease: The Effect of Incentive Reward and Medication Status
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that affects 7 – 10 million people in the world, with more than one million affected in the United States. Parkinson’s patients suffer severely debilitating motor symptoms (motor initiation and inhibition, akinesia, bradykinesia) due to neuronal dysfunction and degeneration of dopamine in the midbrain. Fortunately, advancing Parkinson’s research continues to recover motor deficits, primarily through Antiparkinsonian medication, but alternative, external cueing techniques have also shown great promise in improving mobility. My multidisciplinary thesis aims to further investigate the effect of visual, external cueing and incentive reward on motor control in population of ~15 elderly Parkinson’s and healthy control patients. Participants were all cognitively and clinically assessed using the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, Grooved Pegboard Test, and Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale. Performance of Parkinson’s patients on and off medication were compared to healthy, age-matched controls on a speed-rewarded Go-NoGo computer task with 25%, 50% 75% GO cues, intended to assist in movement preparation. We hypothesized that Parkinson’s patients will have greatest difficulty initiating movement off medication but will perform comparably to control participants when on medication and when presented an external cue. Finally, Parkinson’s patients will initiate movement best when the 75% visual cue is followed by a GO signal and have highest false alarm rates when the 75% visual cue is followed by a NoGo signal. Continued behavioral research studying decision making in Parkinson's holds immense clinical potential.
Effects of an Educational Program on Knowledge of Child Abuse in Nursing Students
The purpose of this study is to test the effects of knowledge scores of junior nursing students after a 20-minute educational session on child abuse. Will a 20-minute educational program about child abuse increase nursing students’ knowledge about the signs of abuse and how to report abuse?
Participants included nursing students at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in their junior year of nursing school who have not had their psychiatric clinical rotation. Forty-one nursing students with a mean age of 21.1 years (SD=.84) completed the educational session and the questionnaire. The students were given a 15-item pre-test, then were provided with a 20-minute educational session on child abuse and its’ associated effects, and then were given a post-test to see if they learned anything from the educational session. Descriptive statistics were computed on study variables to determine the presence of skewness and outliers. A paired t-test was used to compare pre- and post-test scores among the participants.
Analysis was performed on the sample of 41 nursing students based on the answers and the scores of the pre- and post-test on child abuse. There is a significant (p<.000) increase in scores from the pre-test to the post-test. The mean score for the pre-test was 77.7% with a standard deviation of 9.5, while the mean score for the post-test was 85% with a standard deviation of 8.1.Results suggest that a short educational session on child abuse significantly increased knowledge on recognizing child abuse and knowing how to prevent and report it. It is clear from the research that education on child abuse is limited among health care professionals and there is a need for more education on child abuse, especially among nursing students before they enter the health care field.
Hope and Goal Setting in Freshman University Students
Introduction: The purpose of this honors thesis study is to identify common themes in goals and what inspires hope for students in working toward a goal. In the literature, hope has been associated with better academic performance (Snyder, Shorey, & Cheavens, 2002), goal attainment (Feldman, Rand, & Kahle-Wrobleski, 2009), better problem solving (Chang, 1998), and improved mental health (Griggs & Crawford, 2017).
Background: There are several factors that have an influence on a student’s life. Mental health, physical health, safety, stress, sleep, and traumatic events all have major impacts on a student’s ability to perform, to name a few. Minimal research has focused on what specific goals college students are setting as well as what inspires hope in students to achieve their goals. This goal of this research is to better understand how hope operates in the lives of college students and to provide insight into how to motivate them to achieve goals such as obtaining a higher GPA or graduating.
Methods: The research conducted was a secondary data analysis using a combination of qualitative descriptive, and coding for thematic analysis. The data were previously collected from 433 freshman university students attending a large public university in the Northeast in February 2017. Four levels of coding were applied to the students’ answers to two of the survey’s questions (positive or negative goal outcome, specificity, broad, and subthemes).
Findings: Freshman (N = 433) attending a large public university completed open response items about personal goals and were asked to describe what gives hope in accomplishing the goals identified. Most of the goals had a positive outcome (Type 1) with fewer having a negative goal outcome (Type 2). Common themes found among students’ goals were academic, mental health, physical health, career, and relationship.
Conclusions: This study added to the current knowledge base among literature surrounding what increases hope in students and thus improves the likelihood of achieving their goals. Future research could focus on how creating positive versus negative goals affects students’ hope score.
PURPOSE: A review of literature revealed that there is a strong correlation between adverse childhood experiences (ACE) and the subsequent development of substance use disorders (SUD), and that effective treatments include Active coping, Building strengths, Cognitive training, and Social support (ABCS). The purpose of my project is to create a comprehensive toolkit that informs readers about the correlation between ACE and SUD and provides them with treatment exercises that build on the ABCS.
METHODS: To assess the utility of the toolkit, I will create a survey that will be completed by a DNP student, a team of counselors in a recovery home, residents with substance use disorder in the recovery home, and a group of UMass Amherst nursing students. I will analyze responses by content analysis of qualitative responses and create a graph to analyze quantitative responses.
RESULTS: We expect that the participants will report that the toolkit is accessible and feasible. We also expect that they will report that it is helpful, and that they will be likely to implement these exercises in their daily lives.
CONCLUSIONS: This toolkit will inform clients and providers about how prior ACEs may be an underlying cause of current SUDs and therefore emphasize the importance of screening for ACEs. In addition, the toolkit will provide health care workers and patients about exercises they can suggest or use in their daily lives to assist in their recoveries.
Tourism is one of the world's biggest industries that contributes to the world's economy. During the past few years weather has been a rising concern. Extreme weather and unpredictable changes of climate have been happening more frequently than ever before. The most recent news includes the snow fall in the Sunshine State of Florida and a record heat wave in Alaska which has had an economic effect on businesses and communities. Melting glaciers and ice caps are causing sea levels to rise more than normal, ultimately affecting popular beaches such as in Jamaica or Thailand. These drastic and unexpected changes impacts the tourism industry tremendously as many touristic destinations rely and thrive from their tourism revenues. This study is designed to promote awareness of the effects of these natural disasters caused by our unbalanced weather and what we can do to slow down extreme climate and weather change.
Changes in Nursing Students’ Knowledge and Perceptions about Homeopathic Medicine through an Educational Intervention
Background: Homeopathic medicine is an aspect of alternative and complementary medicine. This form of CAM, although widely used, has a disconnect in the knowledge that up and coming nursing students are provided. In the United States, homeopathy is used by about 6 million people for self-care; worldwide 200 million people use it (Homeopathy Research Institute [HRI], 2015). While there is research in the area, there is a lack of it concerning nursing students and how they perceive it.
Purpose: The study’s purpose is to determine the knowledge and perception sophomore- year nursing students have towards homeopathy. The study will also assess the effectiveness of a homeopathic education session on homeopathy and alternative medicine knowledge and perception in these students.
Methods: Participants completed a pre-test, which was designed by the researcher and adapted a Complementary/ Alternative Health Care Questionnaire (Baugniet et al., 2000). Students then participated in a brief homeopathic education session, followed by a post-test that was identical to the pre-test.
Results: There were significant findings between the pre- and the post-test for knowledge. The students knowledge increased from 51% to 76%. The student’s perception about homeopathy also improved.
Conclusions: The significance increase in the participants’ homeopathic knowledge indicated that the educational session was effective. The improved perception about homeopathy in the participants indicated that the session was useful in introducing the topic and providing an overview of the use of homeopathy.
Purpose: To identify risk factors and clinical manifestations of transfusion associated circulatory overload (TACO) in order to improve the prevention and recognition of TACO thus positively influencing patient safety and health outcomes for those receiving blood transfusions.
Methods: Data will be collected from electronic health records at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, MA. Data to be collected includes patient health history, pre-, during, and post-transfusion vital signs, transfusion-related information from nursing and physician documentation, medication administration records, provider orders, and post-transfusion diagnostic testing.
Results: Frequencies of risk factor occurrence and clinical manifestations will be reported.
Conclusion: Based on the review of the literature, it is expected that the risk factors with the greatest frequency will include cardiovascular, pulmonary and renal disease, as well as certain idiosyncratic factors such as positive fluid balance. It is also expected that the clinical manifestations with the greatest frequency will be those related to inadequate oxygenation and increased circulatory volume such as decreased oxygen saturation, tachypnea, tachycardia, widened pulse pressure, hypertension, and crackles in the lungs secondary to pulmonary edema. These findings will help to increase knowledge and awareness of TACO among healthcare professionals in order to improve the prevention and recognition of TACO.
Nursing Simulation with a Standardized Patient
There is limited research or information available regarding the experience of graduate psychiatric nursing students who are using videoconference technology telemental health or face to face with a standardized patient actor. Simulation-based learning (SBL) is a helpful and effective teaching-learning-evaluation strategy available in nursing education. In a graduate online nursing program, simulation can be challenging to implement due to geographic location of students, time zone, and student schedule. Moreover, it is essential to find an effective simulation method for psychiatric nursing students to practice their learned skills in preparation for practice. Six graduate graduate psychiatric nursing students took part in a 45- minute psychiatric case study simulation interview followed by a 15- minute debrief with faculty and the standardized patient actor. Three students participated on campus for a face to face interview and three students participated via telehealth. Findings: All six students took part an annonomys online survey regarding their experience with the simulation based learning experience. Student participants revealed high satisfaction with the simulation experience both face to face and via telehealth, highest satisfaction with the debrief experience, and most students reported wanting more case simulation in the graduate program. Conclusion: Case simulation with a standardized patient actor is an effective SBL and can be successfully implemented in person and via telehealth.
Sleep Self-Monitoring and Depressive Symptoms in Pregnancy
PUPROSE: Pregnancy associated sleep disorders (PASD) affect up to 82% of women and are associated with increased depressive symptoms. Sleep education and use of a personal health monitoring device (PHM) to monitor sleep could improve these symptoms. To date, no studies have examined PHMs for this purpose. This pilot study will examine the feasibility and acceptability of using a PHM as an intervention for sleep self-management and subsequent change in depressive symptoms.
METHODS: This thesis is part of a pilot study with a mixed methods, experimental design. Pregnant women (n=24) will be randomized into two groups at 24 weeks gestation. Both groups receive sleep hygiene education. The intervention group also receives a PHM device (Misfit Shine 2) Depressive symptoms are measured via the PROMIS Depression Short Form 6a and Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) at 24 and 36 weeks gestation. Comparisons in mean score on the EPDS across groups at 36 weeks gestation will be made using a Mann Whitney U test. Baseline and post-intervention mean score on the EPDS for the intervention group will be compared using a Wilcoxon Signed Rank Test.
RESULTS: Data collection is on-going. It is anticipated that women in the intervention group will experience fewer depressive symptoms at 36 weeks gestation compared to the control group.
CONCLUSION: Sleep education and the use of a PHM device for sleep self-monitoring could reduce PASD and associated symptoms. This has potential to improve mental health for women during the transition to parenthood.
Background and Significance: Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) is a rare, genetic connective tissue disorder that effects the production of collagen in the body, resulting in chronic pain, hypermobility and the need for many medical interventions. Connective tissue holds the whole body together and when the collagen in that tissue doesn’t work the way it is supposed to, it can make changes in the way people live their lives. There is often a delay in diagnosis into adolescence or young adult life due to variability in multi-organ symptoms and their severity leading to misdiagnosis and uncertainty.
Methods: A qualitative, phenomenological study was conducted to explore what changes this condition can make to a person’s life. Participants included five women aged 18-22 who were interviewed in person or via video chat. These interviews were later transcribed followed by thematic content analysis.
Results: Themes that emerged are pain limiting daily tasks, the invisibility of the disease, and uncertainty about the future of the condition.
Conclusion: More research needs to be done on Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and how the condition effects health related quality of life. There also needs to be greater public awareness about this disease and health care strategies for earlier diagnosis.
Reproductive Health Education in Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence
The purpose of this project is to provide education to a domestic violence (DV) shelter in the Northeast through health education. Abuse can manifest in several ways, including reproductive coercion. This phenomenon is behavior used to maintain power and control in a relationship related to reproductive health by someone who is, was, or wishes to be involved in an intimate relationship. Giving survivors the control back that they once lost is empowering, but contraceptive methods can be a difficult topic to navigate, especially for IPV survivors. Research for educational information was gathered through a literature review. In order to learn more about the population and their needs, this project included spending four volunteer hours a week at the shelter. A teaching session was provided at the shelter in February. Following the teaching session, weekly office hours were offered for a month. A toolkit was created with materials about different contraceptive methods, how they work, the levels of effectiveness, the degree of maintenance required, and what options are good for different types of people. The physical manifestation of this information was in a binder along with a lesson plan on how to continue teaching this information was left behind as a resource for the shelter.
PURPOSE: Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. Stress has been noted to be at it’s highest during the college years. This research study induced physiological (Cold Pressor Test) and psychological stress (Trier Social Stress Test) on undergraduate students to see how this related to blood pressure readings, heart rates and saliva cortisol levels over time. The purpose of this research is to analyze that data to see if college students with a high perceived stress level will have higher blood pressure and heart rate post Trier Social Stress Test than those with a low perceived stress levels.
METHODS: Undergraduate students ages 18-22 participated in the research in a laboratory in Skinner Hall. Surveys were completed, as well as blood pressure, pulse and cortisol levels after stressors.
RESULTS: Data will be analyzed to find correlation between perceived stress and heart rate and blood pressure levels. It is expected that those with higher perceived stress will have a higher heart rate and blood pressure post stressors.
CONCLUSION: This research is important to the field of nursing due to the health effects prolonged stress puts on the body.
A holistic centered approach to nursing emphasizes the importance of involving the individual’s psychological health, physical well-being and spirituality. Specifically, spiritual care is commonly overlooked by nurses during the care of their patients. Excluding a patient’s spirituality can impact their recovery and inhibit their return to full health. The purpose of this study is to identify nurses’ perceptions of spiritual care and its connection to healing. Based upon the HOPE and FICA spiritual assessment tools, a survey was sent to nursing faculty at a state university which asked them to reflect on their perceptions of spirituality and healing. The response rate was 32%. Qualitative analysis was applied to identify themes. The most common theme was the perception that spiritual care is acknowledging and respecting a patient’s beliefs and religious practices when providing care. The next predominant themes were the need to work with the patient and/or their families to provide care in line with their beliefs and the importance of addressing the individual holistically. Results also revealed that while a majority of nurses practiced spiritual care and related it to healing, they did not inquire how they could meet their patients’ spiritual needs while providing care. A unifying definition of spiritual care among nurses was not identified. These findings show that nurses do not include patients and families in providing for their spiritual needs. As a result of this, patients are not receiving the personalized holistic care necessary for healing.
In the United States, one in 15 children are exposed to domestic abuse in the U.S. and 90% of those children are eyewitnesses to the violence. Children who have experienced violence are more likely to suffer effects of abuse throughout their lifetime, which may make them more susceptible to destructive behaviors and risk taking. By providing mental health education, survivors can understand how to make healthy choices and how to perform self-care. The purpose of this honors project was to provide teaching sessions and an educational resource for children at a domestic violence shelter affiliated with Safe Passage, a support center for victims of domestic abuse. Educational materials were created based on information gathered through the literature review and through time spent volunteering at the shelter. Printed copies of the educational materials were placed in a bound book, to be used by the shelter for future teaching sessions.
Attitudes Surrounding Long-Acting Contraceptives among Female Undergraduate Nursing Students Over 18 Years of Age at a Large New England University
Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptive methods are highly effective methods of
birth control including IUD’s and the implant. There is often a lower rate of
usage with these methods due to factors such as high upfront cost, invasive
insertion methods, and possible side effects. This research is aimed to
understand some of the perceived and actual barriers for usage, as well as to
identify any gaps in education regarding this method.
DESIGN AND METHODS: The study
methodology is mixed. This project consists of a qualitative
literature review as well as an attached survey. The literature approaches LARC from a variety of perspectives
in order to ascertain gaps and direct further areas of research. The consent for the study
will be implied through survey completion. The survey was distributed via
the SON from Survey Monkey
RESULTS: Respondents had a generalized understanding of long-acting reversible methods, while also having low rates of usage.
IMPLICATIONS: This research enables healthcare providers/educators to assess the education needs and barriers that exist with long-acting reversible contraception usage. In having an understanding of such issues, providers will be better able to expand access and understanding of this method. When options are effective and accessible women have better health and personal outcomes. Women should be presented with highly effective and low maintenance options, so that they are free to make choices about family planning on their terms.
The purpose of this project was to provide an easier transition into college for first generation students, specifically at UMass, by implementing a program aimed at helping this cohort succeed and become more resilient. A large proportion of each year’s incoming class identify as first-generation and are forced to adapt to a new, unfamiliar environment and the demands of being a college student without sufficient guidance. Research was done through the University of Massachusetts Amherst library databases, where scholarly literature on topics of nursing, education, and psychology were accessed. Using this information, a lesson plan for an approximately forty-five minute session was created for an applicable individual or organization to use as a guiding tool. Various departments on campus were contacted to investigate the plausibility and effectiveness of the session in relation to their line of work. In the lesson plan, the content was strength-based, centered around available resources, supporting self-reflection, and encouraging the use of support systems whenever needed. Teaching with concepts of involved and engaged learning in mind assists in facilitating a thought-provoking and meaningful session for students. The proposed plan intended to help students build upon their strengths, recognize their coping skills, challenge the way they think about the world, and identify supports. This strategy to student success for first generation college students, takes into consideration the challenges this population faces and the experiences they are bringing to the university, to ensure an education that is more equitable and integrative.
Impact of Birth Plans on Maternal Birthing Experiences
Many women facing childbirth, especially first-time mothers, do not know what to expect during the childbirth process, and may feel joy as well as fear. A formalized Birth Plan is one method utilized by women to ease anxiety, gain a sense of control, become knowledgeable, and communicates their desires for the childbirth process to their health care providers. A Birth Plan is formulated by the expectant woman and includes the includes plans from women for interventions such medication and anesthesia administration, position assumed during birth, and postpartum care.
The impact of birth plans on postpartum woman’s birth experience, and the effect unexpected changes to the plan were studied.
A review of literature found that control during the labor process has a key role in a woman’s satisfaction with her birth experience. Furthermore, if a woman felt she had control over unexpected changes, she was likely to report a positive birth experience. It is important for healthcare providers to consider the laboring mothers’ desires and expectations when providing care during the intimate process of childbirth.
Recommendations for Nursing:
Care during labor should be individualized and may evolve, as childbirth is unpredictable. It is important to communicate any changes to the birth plan to ease anxiety and to promote a favorable birth experience for the woman and infant. Nurses are directly involved in the provision of care for laboring women, acting as an advocate and maintaining the woman’s sense of control throughout the experience.
A formal Birth Plan may contribute to a positive childbirth experience, and in turn result in better outcomes for both woman and infant.
Problem- It is important that parents are informed about the potential health and developmental consequences of increased screen time on their children’s health including use of tablets computers and smart phones.
Background-Parents need to be educated on how excessive use of screens to entertain and educate can affect their children. Screens can affect vision, cognitive development, and weight gain.
Interventions- Educational intervention focused on a group of teenage mothers in an alternative education program and included distribution of pamphlets, an oral presentation and discussion. Survey questions focused on family history, current screen time, and American Association Pediatrics (AAP) screen time recommendations.
Findings – Thematic analysis of written responses from a group of eight teenage mothers revealed that only half of the mothers reported reading to their children and none of them were read to as children. Two of the eight women reported hearing about the AAP’s recommendations of two hours or less of screen time per day and three set parental controls on devices. Participants tended to underestimate their screen time exposure.
Conclusions – Younger parents are in need of education about recommendations for screen time exposure for young children. Nurses working with mothers of young children need to emphasize AAP guidelines and ensure they understand the educational materials. This particular group of mothers had some language barriers, with two being primarily Spanish speaking as well as starting life with lower literacy skills as reflected in their reporting not being read to as children.
Assessing the Various Practices of Screening Postpartum Women for Depression in Healthcare Facilities
Background: Postpartum depression occurs in 20% of postpartum women in the United States each year.
Despite the high number of women that are affected by this disorder,
postpartum depression is underdiagnosed and undertreated. Maternal
depression is linked to a variety of issues that affect maternal and infant health.
Purpose: The purpose of this qualitative descriptive study is to explore the feelings of healthcare providers towards assessing patients for postpartum depression.
Methods: After IRB approval
and informed consent, participants completed a demographics sheet and
then answered questions regarding assessing women for postpartum
Results: The results of this qualitative descriptive study indicate that there are many facilitators and barriers to screening and treatment of postpartum depression in healthcare practices. The facilitators of the study are related to the increased level of education available to aid with the diagnosis and treatment of postpartum depression, the strengths of individual protocol in screening, and the prioritizing of safety for the mother and the baby. Barriers to diagnosis and treatment were lack of knowledge in healthcare providers and the public, lack of responsibility for screening, and the lack of regulations to ensure that screening is provided.
Conclusion: The findings in this study
indicate that despite postpartum depression being a serious illness,
there is a lack in the screening and treatment. To improve the outcomes for women suffering from this
disease, there needs to be a standardization of care throughout healthcare.
Wellness Toolkit and Health Education for Homeless Adolescent Mothers
The purpose of this Honors Capstone Project is to provide health education to a group of homeless adolescent mothers at a shelter in Holyoke, MA and to create a wellness toolkit as a resource for staff aimed at facilitating health promotion and awareness. This specific population has unique health and wellness needs that must be appropriately addressed to promote positive outcomes for them and their children. The shelter staff has also verbalized their need for an educational resource. Nursing students have the education and background to provide the basis for a resource for this necessary health and wellness education. Guided by shelter staff needs and relevant literature reviews, two University of Massachusetts Amherst nursing students developed four educational sessions that were conducted at the shelter on the following health and wellness topics: motivation and goal setting, sexual health, health behaviors and promotion, and stress management and problem solving. The nursing students conducted each hour-long session with group discussions, educational handouts, interactive worksheets, etc. to facilitate teaching and participation. The nursing students revised the toolkit based on the feedback of the participants involved in the teaching sessions. The end result was a comprehensive binder that shelter staff can reference and use for health and wellness teaching among residents in the future.
Purpose: To investigate the means of interprofessional collaboration and the perceptions of senior nursing students at Salem State University while reflecting upon their clinical experiences.
Methods: The study was conducted as a qualitative study and amongst 178 senior nursing students in the Salem State Nursing Program. The ten-question survey is a modified version of the SPICE-R instrument, also known as the Students Perception of Physician-Pharmacist Interprofessional Clinical Education. An optional text box was added at the end to provide additional comments.
Results: Collected data was analyzed using SPSS. Of the possible 178 senior nursing students, 44 (25%) completed the survey. 75% of students reported understanding what interprofessional collaboration is. 52.3% of students strongly agree that working with another healthcare profession enhances their education. 34.1% of students strongly agree as a nursing student, they felt needed to more of a direct participant in interprofessional collaboration while learning to care for patients in clinical rotations.
Conclusion: Based on the feedback of the qualitative study, students reported feeling satisfied with their clinical experiences in the past and an interest in preceptorship opportunities. With entry into professional nursing practice within the next year, students also reported those with previous healthcare experience feel more involved with the interprofessional team than in clinical experiences. The results provide implications for nursing educators on understanding students perceptions on interprofessional collaboration based on clinical experiences.
Dietary Intervention to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk: Assessing
Promoter Methylation of Adiponectin, Leptin, and Interleukin-8 in DNA from
Studies suggest that increased consumption of fruits and vegetables decreases breast cancer risk, however the association is weak possibly due to difficulties in measuring intake at times relevant to breast development and correlating this with cancer decades later. One way of overcoming this difficulty is measuring the effects of diet on intermediate biomarkers in young women. Levels of circulating cytokines are associated with breast cancer risk and modified by diet, and may be ideal intermediate biomarkers. We previously conducted a pilot intervention study in which lactating women increased their consumption of fruits and vegetables to 8 – 10 daily servings per week for 12 weeks. Analysis of breastmilk collected at baseline and at 12 weeks showed that compared to the control group, women in the intervention group had increased levels of the hormone adiponectin, consistent with decreased breast cancer risk. In the present study we are investigating whether changes in adiponectin levels were driven by changes in DNA methylation of the adiponectin gene (ADIPOQ). We predict that milk samples with higher levels of adiponectin will have decreased promoter methylation of ADIPOQ. In addition to adiponectin, we will examine DNA methylation of the leptin (LEP) and interleukin-8 (CXCL8) promoters as those cytokines also changed among women in the intervention group. To analyze promoter methylation of ADIPOQ, LEP, and CXCL8 we will perform pyrosequencing of amplicons from bisulfite-modified DNA from the 40 milk samples obtained during the pilot study, one from each breast from each of ten women at baseline and week 12.
Fish Consumption during Pregnancy
This systematic review aimed to examine the literature on fish consumption during pregnancy and its associations with childhood asthma and cognitive changes. Literature was organized and analyzed according to PRISMA guidelines. Articles involving fish consumption during pregnancy were reviewed. Out of 40 articles, three longitudinal studies investigated the relationship between fish consumption during pregnancy and cognitive changes among those children at 3 and 5 years of age. One study investigated the association between fish consumption during pregnancy and asthma after birth. Ten articles investigated the behaviors towards fish consumption during pregnancy among different immigrant populations. The other 26 studies focus on factors, such as mercury contamination, that influence fish consumption among pregnant women. We found that the prevalence of fish consumption among pregnant women ranged from 50 to 75 percent. Studies in the U.S. reported 50 percent of pregnant women consumed 2 ounces or less of fish a week. Evidence demonstrated a positive association between fish consumption during pregnancy and higher cognitive development scores. However, there was insufficient evidence to support the association between the incidence of asthma or allergies and fish consumption during pregnancy. Research is needed in to further examine the frequency of fish consumption among pregnant women in the U.S., the barriers to meeting dietary guidelines for fish consumption, and the mechanisms by which fish consumption during pregnancy impacts cognitive development and immune function in children.
The purpose of this literature review is to discuss the knowledge and current understanding of anthocyanins and their effect on cardiovascular diseases. For this review, original research and review articles were obtained using PubMed, Science Direct, and Google Scholar using the keywords: flavonoid, polyphenols, anthocyanin, vegetables, fruits, berries, heart disease, inflammation, and atherosclerosis. Articles were limited to publications from 2007-2017.
Fruits and vegetables that contain anthocyanins such as eggplant, blueberries, and cranberries have been proposed to decrease the risk for cardiovascular disease. Proposed mechanisms include prevention of high blood pressure by increasing vasodilation. Anthocyanins have also been shown to decrease measures of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein and monocyte chemotactic protein 1. Anthocyanins can modulate enzymatic activity leading to a decreased release of these inflammatory proteins. Anthocyanins also have antioxidant properties that can reduce cellular oxidative stress. The effects of anthocyanins on blood pressure, inflammation, and oxidative stress may be protective against the development of atherosclerosis. Therefore, a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables is recommended to ensure adequate consumption of anthocyanins to optimize cardiovascular health.
To create a vegan oatmeal butterscotch cookie using chia gel or soy flour as an egg replacer.
A control and two variations were prepared. Chia gel or soy flour replaced eggs. Semi-trained panelists (n=7) rated external and internal appearance, aroma, flavor, and texture (1-5, 5 being “optimal”). An overall product score was calculated for each variation. Height and diameter were measured. ANOVA with LSD post-hoc adjustments assessed differences between variations. Total kilocalories were determined using ESHA Food Processor software.
The chia variation rated lowest in sensory analysis. Significant differences: overall product score was higher for control (4.3+0.4) than for chia (2.8+0.2) and the control had a higher tenderness score (4.4+0.5), mouthfeel score (4.4+0.5), and flavor score (4.1+0.7) than chia (2.9+0.7, 2.3+0.5, and 3.0+0.6, respectively). Soy cookies were the tallest (18.9+2.7mm); control (11.8+2.0) and chia (11.0+1.3) were shorter. Control width (88.4+4.2) was greater than chia (80.3+3.3) and soy (68.3+3.8). There was no difference in calories; all variations were 160kcal/cookie.
Previously, soy flour cookies have been found to provide taller products due to increased protein content. Chia seed and soy flour products typically rate higher in sensory analysis than control cookies due to flavor and texture, but this was not consistent with this experiment's results. The chia cookie was least acceptable. The soy cookies resulted in a product with high sensory characteristic scores, demonstrating a suitable alternative to eggs in cookies.
Effects of 3,3′-Diindolylmethane on the Development of Steatosis in HepG2 Cells
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common chronic liver disease worldwide that starts with simple steatosis, and progresses to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), cirrhosis, and cancer. Due to limited treatment options, it is now an imperative task to seek potential therapeutics for preventive care and disease management. Recent epidemiological evidence reported that consumption of a plant-based diet is inversely associated with NAFLD/NASH. Among them, 3,3'-diindolylmethane (DIM), a condensation product of indole-3-carbinol found in cruciferous vegetables, was reported to have anti-inflammatory, anti-obesogenic, and anti-carcinogenic properties. Thus, the goal of the study was to determine the effect of DIM on the development of steatosis. The current study used HepG2 human hepatocytes with treatment of 600 µM of fatty acid (FA) mixture (oleic acid:palmitic acid = 2:1) to induce steatosis as an in vitro model for NAFLD. DIM was not cytotoxic up to 25 µM for 24h with or without FA treatments. Treatment of DIM at 25 µM along with FA treatment did not affect total fat accumulation, however, when DIM was treated after FA treatment significantly reduced fat accumulation by 14% (p<0.0001) compared to the control. Under steatosis conditions, DIM upregulated genes associated with FA beta-oxidation, including carnitine palmitoyltransferase I α. Further experiments need to be completed to further evaluate the molecular pathway of which DIM exerts its beneficial effect in steatosis model, and to validate its therapeutic potential and efficacy.
Total Phenolic Content, Antioxidant Activity, and Alpha-Glucosidase Inhibition of Green Tomatillos (Physalis philadelphica), Purple Tomatillos, (Physalis ixocarpa), and Strawberry Ground Cherries (Physalis pruinosa)
Anna R Gonzalez, Apostolidis E.
Department of Chemistry and Food Science, Framingham State University, Framingham, MA 01701
Natural antioxidants that are widely used in the food industry provide health benefits that may prevent diseases. This experiment evaluated the total phenolic content (TP), antioxidant activity and alpha-glucosidase inhibitory activity of three varieties of flowering plants from the solanaceae family, Physalis philadelphica (Green Tomatillos – GT), Physalis ixocarpa (Purple Tomatillos – PT), and Physalis pruinosa (Strawberry Ground Cherries – SGC). These unique fruits are not typically used in food production and may possess health benefits that will promote their industrial use.
All samples were purchased from a small organic farm in Orange, MA, homogenized and oven-dried (50°C). The dried samples were ground to a fine powder and extracted (5g) in 90°C water (100mL) for 1 hour. TP content was determined using the Folin-Ciocalteau’s method, antioxidant activity was then determined using a DPPH free-radical scavenging method, and alpha-glucosidase inhibitory activity was determined using yeast-derived alpha-glucosidase. PT exhibited the highest TP content (8.39 mg/g GAE) and SGC the lowest (3.51 mg/g GAE). The antioxidant activity seemed to correlate with our phenolic content observations. The glucosidase inhibitory activity is currently under investigation. Completion of this work will provide preliminary results for the potential further evaluation of the three fruits belonging in the solanaceae family.
Evaluation of the Total Phenolic Content, Antioxidant Activity, and Carbohydrate Hydrolyzing Enzyme Inhibitory Activities of the Skins of Six Potato Varieties
Food-industry manufacturing practices result to significant amount of waste accumulation. One example is potato-processing for the production of potato chips, and other potato-based products where potato skins are commonly unused. In this experiment, six varieties of potato skins (Baby Gold/BG. Baby Red/BR, Red/RE, Russet/RS, Sweet Potato/SW, Batata/BA) were evaluated for total phenolic content (TPC), antioxidant activity and inhibitory activity against carbohydrate-hydrolyzing enzymes.
Potatoes used in experiments were purchased from a local supermarket, peeled and oven-dried (55oC). Five grams of dried samples were extracted in 100mL of water at 90oC for one hour and then concentrated to 50mL. The concentrated samples were subjected to C18 column extraction removing any interfering sugars and evaluated for TPC (using Folin Ciocalteau’s method), antioxidant activity (using DPPH free-radical scavenging method) and carbohydrate-hydrolyzing enzyme inhibitory activity. SW had the highest TPC (2.54mg/g GAE), while RE had the lowest TPC amongst the samples (1.12mg/g GAE). All samples had DPPH free-radical scavenging activity at the tested doses, both RU and SW showed the highest activity (76% and 41%, respectively at the same tested dose). Plus, the inhibitory activity of the samples on yeast alpha-glucosidase will be analyzed for each sample.
Utilizing commonly unused byproducts like potato skins is a priority within the food-industry to prevent food waste generation. Health related research within these byproducts can help shed light on their effective utilization for possible development of health-beneficial food-ingredients.
urbanization and changing climates are reducing the amount of potentially
arable land in an age of rapidly increasing populations. Additionally, harsher
extremes in weather patterns are expected to decimate or decrease yields in
areas normally used for agriculture. The loss of these vital crops will likely
lead to famine unless offset by other factors. To combat the effects of harsher
climates and decreasing land availability, this paper considers the
ramifications of using genetic modification technology to insert favorable
genes into crop plants to produce a phenotype capable of increased crop yields
and an improved ability to withstand weather extremes. Additionally, this
technology can be used to increase the nutritional output of these plants and
impart immunity to common plant diseases. To understand how genetically
modified (GM) crops can help to change this paradigm I study past examples of
genetically modified crops, their successes and their established drawbacks.
Special attention is paid to the dangers of producing an experimental crop for
human consumption. In addition to their ability to produce life sustaining food
crops, GMOs are frequently used to sustain farming practices which have
detrimental effects on the environment. These
harmful effects include the toxification of land and water as well as loss of
biodiversity and disruptions in the food chain. By studying both the potential benefits and
observed failings, I build an argument to support the future development of new
This project will be a thorough investigation of the two types of meat farming: sustainable and industrial; and will determine which outweighs the other in terms of ethics; not only environmentally, but also in the ethics of business. Should the quality of life of the animal before being slaughter be considered even if the end result is for us to eat it? Is the treatment provided to animals in industrial farming causing harm to humans who eat the meat? Are these factors more important than how much land it requires to let animals be free range? Does the financial factors of how many jobs are provided by industrial farming equate enough good to outweigh the right of the animal? With all these factors considered, this project will take stance on ethical and environmental benefits for each sustainable and industrial farming while analyzing the concerns each pose.
Much of today's technology cannot function properly without a reliable source of energy. Cars specifically are a large contributor to the consumption of fuel. Conventionally, fossil fuels have primarily powered our vehicles, but they can be damaging to the environment. Through the emission of carbon dioxide, more heat is trapped in the atmosphere, causing global warming. Air and water pollution are also affected by the burning and acquisition of fossil fuels. Because they are non-renewable and geographically concentrated, certain areas of the world have less access to fossil fuels, and these resources are being depleted faster than they were created. This poses a major ethical issue. Future generations are at risk if people continue to use this form of fuel to power cars; however, fossil fuels have become a principle aspect of economies, populations, and politics. Can the world function primarily on the use of alternative methods of powering cars, and if not, is it ethical to continue to use what the earth has given us if it benefits humans?
In recent years, scientists and philosophers have expressed alarm about the growing problem of environmental degradation. The major concerns of that are global warming, climate change, increasing population and food production, GMO - its negative effect on the environment, and lastly, biodiversity loss. All of which are equally important and cannot be avoided if our environmental crises are to be solved. However, it is imperative to dig deeper into the root causes of environmental degradation in order to fix the surfacing problems. We cannot succeed in finding a solution without shedding light on humans in ways they value nature. Which is why this research project is mainly focused on how modern technologies and development causes the disconnection between humans and nature, which in turn causes human negligence of nature and therefore, leads to environmental destruction. Furthermore, this project consists of in depth comparison between pre-industrial society to modern day society in America and the distinct roles each play in today’s global issues.
Interfaces between two liquids such as oil and water occur everywhere in daily life including in food and biology. Microscopic particles have a strong attraction for liquid interfaces and tend to form layers at them. In this research, we focus on the interface between oil and water and explore ways to stabilize oil droplets in water (i.e., emulsions) using particles. Salt ions dissolved in liquid can be made to favor either the oil or water, which can lead spontaneously to a separation of charges and an electric field at the interface. This electric field can attract particles, which form a layer and protect the droplets from coalescing. We measure the effect of a salt, tetrabutylammonium perchlorate (TBAP) on particle binding and emulsion stability. We use silica spheres suspended in water. We find that emulsions are only stable with TBAP concentrations of 3x10-4 M and greater. An increase in nanoparticle concentration was found to increase the threshold value of [TBAP]. The [TBAP] threshold value decreased when we used a different oil that was less polar. We also find that droplets can be destabilized by adding salt (e.g., NaCl) to the water, which offers a very intriguing possibility to disrupt emulsions on demand. These results help improve the effectiveness of inexpensive clay and silica particles compared to other particles that require chemical modification, thus expanding the range of applications that are possible. Results from this study can be useful towards understanding emulsions better for uses in cosmetics, paints, or 3D printing.
Microtubule Patterns through Growth and Crosslinking
Microtubules are the underlying structures of essential cellular structures such as the mitotic spindle, primary cilium, and neuronal axon. Self-organized patterns caused by motors have been explored, but very few of these are resulted in biologically-relevant organizations. We explore more biological self-organized patterns of microtubules using macromolecular crowding and crosslinking microtubule-associated proteins to drive novel states during microtubule polymerization. We find that the phases and patterns depend very sensitively on the filament length and the percentage of MAP65 crosslinkers present. Specifically, there is a range of concentrations that result in spindle-like “tactoids” that could act as model mitotic spindles. We will investigate whether similar microtubule organization, and filament lengths, are observed in another crosslinker, PRC1 with several different controlled lengths of microtubules. This work will allow new research on the self-organization of the mitotic spindle using a systematically controlled in vitro reconstitution system.
Facing unpredictable climate changes, maintaining a sustainable agriculture depends on the availability of genetically diverse cultivars. The traditional European grapes (e.g. Pinot Noir) are cultivars of a single species. In contrast, emerging grape cultivars (European-American hybrids) take advantage of the tremendous genetic diversity of the native American grape species (about 30 species). In the traditional European grape varieties, shoot and fruit thinning is known to influence fruit juice quality (ripening time, sugar, acidity) and help reduce pesticide usage. Little is known regarding these effects on emerging European-American grapehybrids. Our multiyear project, started in 2015, quantifies the effect of thinning practices and their cost on these emerging hybrids. In this research we ask the following questions: (1) What is the effect of shoot and/or cluster thinning on grape quality? (2) How does it vary across grape varieties and years? (3) How does it compare between table and wine grapes? (4) How much is gained in terms of disease control and quality and does it outweigh the labor cost of thinning?
STOCKSCH 485 Abstract
Chris Bloom – Sust Food & Farming Capstone – February 28, 2018
Title: Discover Nature’s Benefits
Instinctively being outdoors is enjoyable while experiencing the beauty of nature and the freedom associated with it. The purpose of this project is to emphasize the benefits of nature at many levels, including physical, psychological and spiritual. Participating in outdoor activities not only provides more opportunity to learn about nature, it also opens minds. Outdoor classrooms are more common and offered at varied levels of education ranging from pre-school to university students. Also, there are documented spiritually benefits in being active outdoors, while simply walking in the woods or by the ocean. Being in the wilderness encourages practices of yoga and meditation that is known to limit anxiety and stress. This project will develop an immersive experience in nature that will allow for a learning and entertaining event. A scavenger hunt would be a method to encourage participates to be active outdoors, while learning about nature. This can be simulated on smart phones allowing the participates to search for land marks, while walking a path using their phones as a GPS device. The results of engaging in outdoor activities leads to increase in physical fitness, psychological benefits of dopamine released and the strength of mental health with improved learning capacity. The conclusion of this study aims to demonstrate the benefits of outdoor activity that allows participants to learn about nature, while enjoying the physical, psychological and spiritual rewards.
Abstract A ray of light from the sun starts the ultimate signaling cascade in a plant. The organelle in the plant that receives this signal is the chloroplast. The pathway started from this interaction has an impact not only on photosynthesis, but also on plant growth and development. The signal cascade that begins when light rays hit the chloroplasts is the reason why certain plants are able to thrive in constant sun versus plants that thrive in shaded environments. Sertaria viridis is a model C4 grass, able to thrive in high amounts of sunlight. The introduction of a mutation, resulting in a down-regulation of the gene responsible for chloroplast division, will result in S. viridis with larger chloroplasts than the wild-type. The increase in size of the chloroplasts could potentially increase the surface area available for light absorption, making the S. viridis with the larger chloroplasts better fit to survive in low light environments. By linking size of chloroplast to the well-being of a plant as a whole, crop canopies may be able to house more diverse plant species.
The recently described black oak gall wasp, Zapatella davisae Buffington, a stem galling wasp, has caused extensive damage and mortality to black oak trees, Quercus veluntia, of coastal Massachusetts, USA. Natural enemies in the form of parasitoid wasps exist to regulate outbreaking populations of gall wasp in native habitats; however, parasitoids have not yet established enough in novel habitats to cause sufficient mortality to Z. davisae and thus do not prevent gall wasps from attaining outbreak densities. The goals of this study were to determine present year parasitism rates of Z. davisae, and to collate historical gall wasp densities to determine if a top-down relationship between gall wasps and parasitoids exists. Our hypothesis was that parasitoids serve as top-down pressures and function to control populations of Z. davisae. Present year parasitism rates were obtained through an emergence census of gall wasp communities from sites on Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA. Historical gall wasp densities were obtained through dissection of branches from the same sites. Percent parasitism rates were determined to be 28.6%, 90%, and 68.8% on Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and Cape Cod respectively. The trend of historical densities is consistently shown as an increase in population size followed by a crash, likely facilitated by parasitoids. Z. davisae populations in Nantucket have not yet experienced a population crash however, based on data from Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod, outbreaking populations of Z. davisae are likely to crash in coming years.
The 2016 election is over and some would say the dust is settled and it is high time for all to move on. Others aren’t so sure. For them, the election was reality-shattering and without an anchor to rely on they were lost with a new perception that was strange and unsettling. Elections are increasingly dependent on digital tools including social media, and 2016 was no different. It offered a candidate, Trump, who regularly set the news cycle through these platforms. Fake news was a distinct weapon used by politically motivated groups and agencies, both domestic and foreign, to manipulate voter opinions. It played into human faults: the bias and stereotypes we use to construct our umwelt, a term used by neuroscientist David M. Eagleman to describe how animals that co-exist in the same environment experience completely different realities. Co-host of WYNC’s On the Media stresses that we use our umwelt to define the Umgebung, the larger reality. My research delves into how differently motivated groups were able to take advantage of the online world to manipulate millions of people. Also, I will study how this phenomenon has affected society since then. Fake news entrenches individuals into complicit behavior that may allow for the social deaths of ‘others’ who exist ‘out there’. In fact, hate crimes against many minorities and vulnerable groups have spiked since 2016. More propaganda attacks are expected as the midterms approach.
Using Tweets to Analyze Legislative Factions
There is a long and well-researched understanding that the way in which a political actor uses language depends greatly on their partisan affiliation. There is no doubt that those language differences spill over into the vast amounts of communication political actors conduct through their social media accounts. This means that social media posts of political actors provide a rich window into the language differences of political factions. This paper will specifically look at the twitter posts of the senators in the 115th Congress. Using tools like word and n-gram frequency, sentiment analysis, and text clustering, the paper will construct a network which describes the political factions each senator falls into.
Our nation is facing a serious deficit of female leadership in elected office. Even though they comprise about 50 percent of the population and electorate, less than one in four officials at every level of government are female. If women are given equal opportunities to run for office then the number of women in office should reflect that. Instead, the numbers indicate that there is a problem with the candidate emergence and selection process in U.S. politics. The system of fair and equal representation appears to be broken. This paper is an attempt to discover why women are less likely to be elected to office than their male counterparts. In it I will first go through the steps in the candidate emergence process, identify barriers women face, and which points in the process they occur at. Then I will put forth a proposed government program designed to close the gender gap in elected office. I will use both scholarly research and original data, gathered through surveys and interviews, to demonstrate that it is the most effective and efficient solution to close the gender gap.
Unvarnished Inhumanity: America’s Farm Animal Industry
Despite statutory protections, it is rare for longstanding
sanctions to be imposed against perpetrators of farm animal cruelty. Such incidents represent a brutal trend in America’s
food industry, as investigations continue to reveal the malevolence that lives
on within factory farms; these recurring instances of negligent oversight subsequently
prompt a rather pertinent discussion surrounding the implementation of
regulatory measures, as federal entities such as the United States Department
of Agriculture should be held accountable for the enforcement---or lack
thereof---of enforcing policy.
With this foundation, I am conducting a policy analysis regarding regulatory protections for farm animals. This includes an assessment of policy language, content, implementation, and results, so as to provide a comprehensive overview of this area and identify shortcomings in each stage of the policy-making process. My research has thus far allowed me to analyze the lapses in safekeeping within the context of contemporary governance, and from this I have been better able to determine the grounds on which this perpetual maltreatment is deemed permissible.
Because troops and veterans typically do not have to worry about treatment costs and whether their medical needs will be met, the microsphere that is the United States military and its associated Veteran’s Affair healthcare system is a prime community to analyze universal healthcare. Military rank, an identifier of socioeconomic status, is one such axis by which health outcomes can be measured. However, when compared to the United States as a whole, the United States military healthcare system reduces the stratification of health problems based on socioeconomic status but is not perfect. It mitigates, but does not eliminate these inequalities. This thesis uses the U.S. military to offer insight into how socioeconomic status affects health outcomes in a standardized universal system and compares these outcomes to other non-universal systems.
Nuclear Restart: Understanding Japanese Energy Policy through Energy Security
On March 11, 2011, the Great East Japan Earthquake caused a tsunami that resulted in the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Although the government of Prime Minister Naoto Kan immediately shut down all active nuclear power plants in the wake of the disaster, each subsequent administration has sought to increase Japan’s reliance on nuclear energy. My research seeks to understand why the Fukushima nuclear disaster caused Japan to counterintuitively strive towards historic levels of nuclear energy production that are almost twice the values seen before the Fukushima nuclear disaster. I argue that Japan’s emphasis on self-sufficiency in its definition of energy security prevented the abolition and reduction of nuclear energy not only because other alternatives would increase its reliance on imported energy, but also nuclear energy can help curb climate change challenges. This thesis strives to contribute to the literature on energy security by conducting a case study on Japan that examines how state interpretations of energy security react in light of the nuclear disaster and public response.
The sources of racial-ethnic minority group health disparities derive from a range of historical and current economic and political policies that promote socioeconomic disadvantage, the key determinant of health outcomes. Bidil is an FDA approved drug, to treat heart disease that is specifically targeted to one racial-ethnic group, despite the fact that clinical trials showed its general effectiveness. The FDA’s action can only be seen as giving tacit support to the idea of fundamental, genetic, differences between racial groups. These reductionist assumptions also likely explain the under-prescription of opioids to African-Americans. This thesis examines both developments and concludes with policy recommendations that include prohibitions on racially-targeted drugs and requirements medical educational that provide sounder understanding of human variation, and cultural competence.
My project focuses on how study abroad, family, and culture all contribute to the process of identity formation. Studying abroad is a novel, life changing experience that exerts a profound impact on one’s identity. White American college students who study abroad find themselves identified as foreign, as American, and as a minority probably for the first time in their lives. The culture shock and reverse culture shock that result from this experience can cause a disruption to one’s identity that needs to be resolved. Digital storytelling is a tool that allows authors to express themselves through narration, images, video, and music. It is a creative and therapeutic process that assists authors in piecing together their sense of self after a disrupting experience like studying abroad. My own series of digital stories focuses on my Italian family background, my upbringing, and my recent journey abroad to Italy, in which I traced family roots in an attempt to understand more about my own identity as an Italian-American. Through digital storytelling I pieced together my childhood ethnic identity as an Italian person and the American identity that I was aware of for the first time while I was abroad. By returning to a hyphenated sense of self, I was forced to resolve my identity disruption, which I explored through digital storytelling.
Associations between Peer Attachment and Positive Adoption Effect throughout Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood
Given the unique challenges adoptees encounter, it is important to consider how and whether these challenges could impact their ability to form strong social connections. This study examines relations between positive adoption affect and peer attachment within adolescence and emerging adulthood (EA), the stability of positive adoption affect and peer attachment over time, and whether the scores on one construct during adolescence predict the scores on the other during EA.
Participants included 139 adoptees (46.8% males) who were domestically adopted as infants. Adoptees were administered questionnaires during adolescence (Mage: 15.77) and emerging adulthood (Mage: 24.97). Positive adoption affect was measured with the Adoption Dynamics Questionnaire (Benson, Sharma & Roehlkepartain, 1994) and Peer Attachment was measured with the Inventory of Parent and Peer Attachment (Armsden & Greenberg, 1987).
Data were analyzed using correlations to look at within-wave relationships and regressions to look at longitudinal relationships. Positive affect and peer attachment were positively correlated in EA (r = .33, p <.01) but not in adolescence. Positive affect in adolescence predicted both positive affect in EA (b = .52, p <.001) and peer attachment in EA (b = .21, p = .024). Adolescent peer attachment did not predict peer attachment or positive affect in EA. Variations in this pattern of findings by age and gender will also be discussed. These findings will offer further information into the correlates of attachment in adoptees and could be applicable in clinical settings.
Examining Bicycle Usage and Attitudes toward Cycling among Westfield, Massachusetts Residents
The purpose of this study is to identify which variables encourage and prevent participants from cycling on the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail and in Westfield, Massachusetts. One thousand Westfield, MA residents were randomly selected to participate. Residents who chose to participate completed an online survey that asked about their attitudes, demographics, and use of the rail trail. We expect to find that participants who cycle, do so for exercise and recreation purposes. Distance to the trail and fear are expected to be related to reduced bicycle use frequency. We also expect to find that participants will have positive perceptions about cycling and the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail. These findings are relevant to anyone seeking to encourage others to engage in cycling more frequently, and for implementing practical changes to the Westfield community that will allow more residents to engage in cycling and other health related behaviors.
Socioemotional, cognitive, and physical well-being can be maintained through participation in activities and social engagement. It is important for both older and younger adults to be involved in stimulating activities to promote positive well-being across the lifespan. Large social networks, relationships, and support are key factors in psychological health (Barnes, Mendes de Leon, Wilson, Bienias, & Evans, 2004; Myers & Diener, 1995). The current study explored the impact participation in activities had on overall well-being among both older and younger adults. A total of 59 participants took part in the study, 34 younger and 25 older adults. Younger adults were students at Worcester State University while older adults were residents at a local assisted living facility. Participants completed questionnaires regarding their physical and social activities, a measure of processing speed, and two measures of socioemotional well-being. As expected, younger adults spend more hours participating in activities daily than older adults. Older adults, however, spent more days out of the week engaged in activities than younger adults. While non-significant, participation in activities led to higher well-being scores among both older and younger adults. Findings from this research will support the importance of engagement and participation throughout the lifespan due to the benefits on overall well-being across the lifespan.
Social media platforms are considered to be one of the most popular, addicting, and easily accessible sources of communication. The purpose of this experiment is to further examine research on the association between social media usage, narcissism, and self-perception on popular photo sharing social networking platforms (i.e. Instagram, VSCO, Snapchat). To examine this correlation, approximately 100 participants will be asked to fill out a self-report questionnaire of their social media usage, personality traits, and demographics. It is hypothesized that participants who use social media regularly will have higher levels of narcissism and self-perception than participants who do not use social media regularly. It is also hypothesized that participants who sometimes post on social media will have lower levels of narcissism and self-perception than participants who regularly post. Lastly, it is hypothesized that participants who post selfies on social media will have higher levels of narcissism and self-perception than participants who do not post selfies.
Perceptions of Medically-Based Treatment versus Multidisciplinary Treatment for Patients with Mental Disorders
The purpose of the study is to evaluate perceptions of a medically-based treatment (the treatment
and care of a patient using only conventional medication) verses a multidisciplinary therapeutic treatment (the treatment and care of a patient using conventional medicine in combination with alternative approaches) for patients with schizophrenia and depression. A sample of 120 participants will be recruited from a small state university in the Northeast. It is anticipated that participants will range from 18-25 years of age, will be approximately 60% female, and 30% ethnic/racial minorities. Participants will be randomly assigned to read one of four scenarios describing a character with either schizophrenia or depression, and undergoing either a medically or multidisciplinary based treatment. Participants will then complete Novelli’s (2006) HealthStyles Survey, measuring attitudes towards mental illness, and a researcher-devised Treatment Scale measuring treatment success. The hypotheses are: (H1) that participants will perceive a multidisciplinary therapeutic approach as more effective than a medically-based approach; (H2) participants will perceive scenario characters with depression as having more effective treatment outcomes; (H3) participants will perceive scenario characters with depression as benefitting the most from a multidisciplinary therapeutic treatment. The data will be analyzed using the attitudes toward mental illness measure as a covariate, while also examining the perceptions of treatment (IV1; medical or multidisciplinary) and disorder type (IV2; depression or schizophrenia) on treatment success (DV). Results of this research could help identify influences to patient buy-in for various treatment approaches as devised by clinical, medical, and alternative practitioners.
In general, individuals with low math skills and math anxiety have trouble reasoning on the basis of probabilistic information, a useful skill in STEM-related careers and everyday decision-making. Bayesian reasoning is the critical technique needed to optimally adjust beliefs based on new information. Our research has found that this technique can be implemented using a visualization consisting of interactive bars to represent the probabilistic information. Our participants were asked to determine hypothetical voters’ stances on an issue based on whom they voted for and general voter information. They were given the percentage of people overall who support the issue, the percentage that voted for the candidate out of all the people who DO support the issue, and the percentage that voted for the candidate out of all the people who do NOT support the issue. Half of our participants received training and testing of this “bars” visualization in their weekly discussion for Dr. Jeffrey Starns Statistics in Psychology course. The other half used a method that relies strictly on mathematical equations. One week later, we retested the participants and introduced a group activity to evaluate their ability to connect the bars visualization with the mathematical operations. The results of this study demonstrate that Bayesian reasoning can be taught in a short amount of time in a classroom setting. Additionally, we found that people can retain their understanding of the material after a week, reflecting the effectiveness of the training.
Despite a growing literature base on the utility of evidence-based treatments (EBTs) for psychological difficulties, there are several barriers to accessing these treatments in diverse populations. The aim of this project was to summarize existing research on cultural views of mental health problems and their psychological treatments within cultural minority communities, with a focus on cultural adaptions of EBTs. A selective review of empirical literature, found on PsycINFO, on cultural stigma of mental illness and treatment within minority communities as well as the necessity for the adaption of treatments to fit non-western cultural beliefs and practices. Based on the literature, there is a prevalence of negative views towards mental illness within ethnic minority communities which may contribute to the delay in treatment seeking in these populations. Other factors that may contribute to the inadequate access to care include negative experiences with the quality of services provided as well as the lack of cultural representation within the treatments themselves. Recommendations for future research are made, including increasing cultural competency in the research and provision of EBTs to enhance existing treatments’ universal applicability.
Participants will consist of Framingham State University students. The purpose of this study will look at how people perceive plus size women compared to average weight women. We hypothesize that the plus size character will be perceived as inferior to the average weight character in the scenarios. Participants will be exposed to one of two scenarios and respond to a four-point inferiority scale. To measure inferiority, participants will respond to a seventeen-item questionnaire. Collected data will be entered SPSS to measure levels of significance.
Impact of Birth-Father Contact Changes on Adoptee Satisfaction
In the field of adoption research, birth fathers (Bf) are a significantly understudied population, and information is limited and dated. The longitudinal Minnesota-Texas Adoption Research Project (MTARP) has been following adoptive families and adopted children’s birth mothers for 30 years. The current project addresses the understudied relationship between emerging adult (EA) adoptees and their Bfs. Using both quantitative and qualitative data from MTARP’s Wave 3 (2005-2008, n=167), this project explores how changes in contact with Bfs relate to adoptees’ satisfaction with open-relationship arrangements with the Bf. Some evidence suggests that adoptees’ contact with Bfs is typically positive, but there is less information on how contact change influences relationship satisfaction. The impact of changing contact on satisfaction with openness arrangements will be assessed using regression. Qualitative themes in feelings and perceptions regarding the Bf will be used to support analysis of quantitative findings. Using the Consensual Qualitative Research paradigm, qualitative information is being coded from semi-structured interviews with EA adoptees exploring topics related to adoption history, their stories, birth family contact, and family relationships. Satisfaction with the openness arrangement has been coded from interviews. Preliminary analyses show that of 167 EA adoptees, 69 have identifying information, and 34 have contact with their Bfs. Thirty-two EA adoptees have experienced contact changes with Bfs between age 15 and W3. Findings from this project will contribute to our understanding of the importance of Bfs within the adoptive kinship network, and their impact on adoptees.
The Effect of Color on Food Consumption
In the United States, it seems that when a customer walks down the aisles of a grocery store, there are abundant amounts of color coming from every direction. Colors can influence and affect a consumer’s food choice. A color, such as blue, seems to increase the likelihood that a consumer will choose a particular food. Initially, a pilot food survey will be collected to identify food items with similar taste profiles but are healthy or unhealthy. Approximately, 90-100 undergraduate students will view a short image presentation then fill out questionnaires including personal information. There will be 2 plates placed in front of the participants during the image presentation; one red plate and one blue plate with equal portions of the healthy and unhealthy food. The amount of food will be measured prior to and after the participants leave to measure if it was consumed. The expected results from this study are that the participants will be more likely to choose food from the blue plates over the red plates. Participants are expected to choose unhealthy food over healthy food. The benefits of these finds may help to explain how colors can impact on consumer’s attention while choosing and consuming food as well as how marketing executives can use color to their advantage.
It is a norm in our society to be goal oriented. From the moment we are born we have been set up to reach certain milestones like the first time we crawl, to our first steps and to our first words. There is always a certain end goal to reach. That excitement from when you first get your license, to when you get your high school degree, to even finding that person and getting married. A lot of these goals we take for granted and don’t look at them as goals because we see it as a part of life. People graduate, people drive and people get married it’s a norm, but what if this wasn’t a norm for everyone. People who struggle with mental illnesses might have different goals than those norm goals our society sees. Things such as being able to walk down the street, finding a ride to work or even cooking your own meal are all things we might not see as a goal, but people battling illnesses like anxiety or schizophrenia will. The purpose of this research project was to look at different ways residential treatment places handle resident goal attainment and if they are successful for people handling mental illnesses like schizophrenia. Throughout the research I found that goal attainment plans are successful for people handling mental illnesses like schizophrenia. Setting goals and working towards them has shown in increase in change of behavior positively, because of the increase in motivation from others (Wade, 2009).
The purpose of the present study is to examine the effects of verbal working memory on visual search tasks. Previous research has shown that assigning an articulation task such as repeating “the” will interfere with verbal working memory. There are two groups of participants: one group is assigned a verbal suppression task and the other is not. It is believed performing the verbal suppression task and a visual search task simultaneously will block the ability to verbally encode the visual search targets. The stimuli used in the visual search display are colored Ts. Two Ts of different colors are flashed at the participant for one second at the beginning of each trial, indicating the possible targets for that trial. Next, the search display of 10 colored Ts appears. Participants are expected to respond to the presence or absence of the target colored T among distractor colored Ts. As participants search for the target Ts, they are holding the colors in working memory to guide their search. The verbal suppression subjects should be forced to use a purely visual memory representation of the targets. The ultimate goal is to better understand how items are represented in working memory and how they are used to guide visual search. Eye movements and response times are tracked as measures of performance and search efficiency on the visual search task.
Enhancing Parents’ Health and Well-Being: Testing the Feasibility of a Prenatal Intervention for Low-Income Parents
The present study examines the feasibility of implementing a community-based parenting preparation program aimed at (1) reducing maternal and paternal stress and depression, (2) increasing parents’ knowledge and preparation for childbirth, and (3) strengthening the co-parenting relationship. Research indicates that prenatal stress can have long term effects on parental mental health as well as infants’ cognitive and social development. Dysregulation of the physiological stress system during pregnancy has been linked to increases in postnatal stress and depression, which can lead to negative outcomes for the expectant parents, their relationship, and their infant’s development. The current project examines how a six-week, group-based, psychoeducational prenatal intervention, in the second trimester of pregnancy, reduces stress and depression among expectant parents and reduces infant stress at birth compared to a control group. Participants complete pre- and post-interviews where mental health, relationship quality, and knowledge about birth and development are assessed. Participants also provide hair and saliva samples to assess cortisol, a stress hormone. To date: one of the three six-week intervention programs has been conducted with 8 couples expecting with their first child. Two more intervention programs are scheduled for March and June. The feasibility of the intervention is evaluated through attendance data, parents’ evaluations of the programming as well as the curriculum fidelity. In addition, pilot data will be examined to test for differences in pre- and post- measures of mental health, co-parenting and parenting knowledge.
The Views of Sexual Harassment across Countries
Around the world people are beginning to stand up and share their stories of sexual harassment and abuse. This literature review examines the shift in attitude towards speaking out about the abuse. Recently, in the United States, the attitude has moved from one of shame and embarrassment to that of empowerment and support for those who have been a victim of sexual harassment. Differing views of sexual harassment across three different countries, the United States, France, and Britain are presented. Cultural differences in the definition of sexual harassment and how it should be perceived, particularly by females are discussed. Included in the review is a discussion of the “Me Too” movement as it relates to the three countries above. The history of the movement, the attitude of the public, and the impact the movement has had on victims of sexual harassment is examined. This review offers a comprehensive view across three countries on the issue of sexual harassment.
There are disastrous demographic effects on a population when massive, catastrophic death is brought about by contagious disease; moreover, individuals in the population can be severely affected psychologically by these outbreaks. Fear is one of the basic emotions that is thought to be hardwired, from birth, into all people. Its purpose and complexity have been, for many years, the focus of countless studies, and it has been researched thoroughly by psychologists. Through a variety of academic works, memoirs, and research, this paper will analyze the psychology of fear and its effect on society during massive outbreaks of contagious diseases. It will examine the interplay between psychology, society, and disease outbreak, paying particular attention to responses and attempts to manage the fear on a personal and societal level, as well as how the outbreaks changed society.
The Effects of Gender and Facial Piercings on Perceived Attractiveness
Among today’s youth and young adults, piercings are one of the most popular body modifications. Body modification has become an important factor in self-expression, and prior research has shown that body modifications affect perceived attractiveness (Swami et al., 2012). The purpose of the present study is to test if piercings on different genders have an effect on perceived attractiveness. The research design is a 2 (gender: male or female) X 2 (piercing: yes or no) between-subjects design. Participants will be randomly assigned to view a scenario with an accompanying photo. The four possible photos are of either a pierced female, a non-pierced female, a pierced male, and a non-pierced male. The two photos of males are identical with the only difference being the presence of a nose piercing or not, and the same goes for the photos of females. The participant will then be asked to rate the physical attractiveness of the person through a questionnaire containing 17-items, each on a 6-point Likert scale. It is hypothesized that overall, those with piercings across both genders will be rated as less attractive. It is also hypothesized that females with piercings will be rated lower on measures of attractiveness than males with piercings.
The Perceived Effects of Facebook Profiles on Relationship Satisfaction
Social media is an integral part of young adults’ daily lives. Specifically, interpersonal relationships, including dating, are portrayed in the media in both positive and negative ways. While previous studies have investigated social media’s effect on relationships in general, more research is necessary to closely examine dating and romantic relationships. This study sought to explain the delicate relationship between social media, dating, and relationship satisfaction among young adults. Participants included 120 female undergraduate students from a northeastern university who were randomly assigned to a view a Facebook page with a picture of a young adult male pictured with or without a female and with or without an “in a relationship” status. Participants perceived the male with a relationship status as, “in a relationship” as having higher relationship satisfaction than the male whose Facebook Profile did not include a relationship status, regardless of whether his profile included a female in his profile picture. Implications of history effect, the role of profile pictures, and the importance of being transparent about being in a romantic relationship are discussed.
Drinking games (DGs) promote fast-paced drinking and increase the risk of developing extreme heavy drinking behaviors. While frequency of consumption is often examined, few studies have examined how different drinking profiles (regular, heavy episodic, extreme heavy episodic) and DG play in one's home (weekdays and weekends, weekends only, occasionally/never) are associated with DG motives for starting and ending game play. Men, ages 18-30, and who play drinking games (N=172) completed an online survey. Heavy episodic drinkers (HED; 5-9 drinks) and extremely heavy episodic drinkers (EHED; 10+ drinks) were more likely than casual drinkers to play DGs for Competition, Novelty, Social, Fun, and Manipulation reasons; the Boredom reason had an ABC pattern of mean differences. Weekend/day and weekend only drinkers play DGs for Competition, Coping, Boredom, and Novelty reasons more often than men who occasionally or never play DGs at home. The Fun reason had an ABC pattern of mean differences. Weekend/day drinkers end DGs more often due to Extreme Circumstances (e.g., passing out) than the other groups, and weekend only drinkers end DGs more often out of Conformity or Boredom reasons. Findings indicate that men with HED and EHED drinking profiles and men who live in homes where DGs are played weekend/days endorse a wide range of reasons for playing and ending DG play, suggesting multiple motives would need to be targeted to effectively reduce DG behaviors.
When engaging in a conversation about exercise, some may feel offended or be afraid to talk about the topic. It is common knowledge that engaging in exercise has physical benefits. While training is an essential part of any athlete’s life, not all athletes include aerobic and strength training in addition to their sport-specific training. there are many benefits that come with exercising. These benefits include helping you feel happier, losing weight, improving muscle and bone health, decreasing the chances of chronic disease, reducing pain and much more. This study aims to investigate and compare the physical health of athletes who do not exercise outside of their sport-specific training to novices who exercise regularly. It will also look at different types of exercise (cardio, strength, flexibility) and the amount of exercise performed to find the exercise technique that best improves physical health. The study will consist of approximately 100 Framingham State athletes and non-athletes. Both groups will complete assessments about their exercise habits and personal physical health. Afterwards, participants will be asked to answer questions about their demographics. The expected results are that non-athletes who exercise regularly will have better physical health than athletes who do not exercise regularly outside of their sport-specific training. This study will clarify the importance of exercising for the purpose of improving physical health, especially for athletes who do not find exercise to be a part of their everyday lifestyle.
Humor Style in Relation to Depression and Well-Being
Research has indicated that humor style does relate to depression levels. Despite the common belief that comedians are always content, studies have shown otherwise. Research has shown that using humor and being exposed to it may be an effective coping mechanism. Evidence also suggests that an individual’s humor style does play a factor on well-being and levels of depression. This study presents a brief history of comedy and depression, provides a closer look at 2 comedians, 1 male and 1 female, and examines styles of humor as they relate to depression in light of research findings. Well-being and levels of depression are discussed in relation to comedy and humor styles.
The purpose of this research was to investigate how the presence of music, either during a study period or during a recall period, can affect memory for words. The experimental design was a 2 (music type: rock or classical) X 2 (music present during encoding: yes or no) X 2 (music present during retrieval: yes or no) between-subjects design. One hundred sixty undergraduates from a New England university were randomly assigned to one of the eight experimental conditions. Participants were shown a list of thirty words on a computer screen, presented as a list. The list was presented for one minute. During the word presentation, participants were either exposed to classical music, exposed to rock music, or not exposed to music. After a distractor task that consisted of 12 multiplication problems, participants were asked to recall as many of the words as they could in any order. During the recall, participants again could be exposed to either classical music, rock music, or no music. The dependent variable was the number of words correctly recalled. It was hypothesized that classical music will have higher rates of word recall than rock music. It was also hypothesized that music during encoding and music during retrieval phase will have a higher rate of words recalled. Lastly, it was hypothesized that music during encoding phase but not during retrieval phase will have a lower rate of words recalled.
Research indicates that the mental health status of a parent heavily influences future outcomes for his/her offspring, specifically in regards to the child’s mental health. Data shows that children of parents with mental illness are themselves more likely to show symptoms of mental illness, especially when considering depression or anxiety-based illnesses. These children are also more likely to be less satisfied in their future careers, relationships, and suffer from health problems. However, research has failed to address how these consequences may differ when comparing a mother to a father. This study will examine the perceived effects of parental sex and the presence or absence of diagnosis of a mental illness pertaining to the parent on child outcomes and parental success. A sample of 100 undergraduates will be randomly exposed to one of four scenarios where the parent’s sex and a diagnosis or the lack of a diagnosis for a mental illness will be manipulated. Following the scenario, a series of questions regarding child outcomes and parental success will be answered. Additionally, participants will complete items regarding their own experiences regarding mental illness, followed lastly by a demographic questionnaire. It is predicted that a diagnosed parent will elicit more favorable perceptions of the child’s outcomes than an undiagnosed parent. It is predicted that mothers, whether diagnosed or not, will be perceived to have a larger impact on the child’s outcomes than the father. It is also predicted that mothers, whether diagnosed or not, will be perceived to have a larger impact on the child’s outcomes than the father. Lastly, it is predicted that parents whom are diagnosed will be perceived more critically than those whom are undiagnosed. Implications of parents with mental illness on child outcomes will be discussed.
This thesis investigates differing family dynamics of members of the Mbenjele foragers in the Republic of the Congo in relation to levels of cortisol and testosterone in fingernail clippings. Currently, hair cortisol is routinely used as a noninvasive biomarker of chronic exposure to steroid hormones. Fingernail clippings represent a more universal noninvasive matrix for assessing chronic hormone exposure as they offer collection ability for those with short to no hair as well as for populations with cultural restrictions around cutting of the hair. There has been some limited precedent in the literature establishing fingernails as a biomarker. In the present study, fingernail clippings from 133 participants were collected in Republic of the Congo in collaboration with Dr. Lee Gettler’s lab at Notre Dame. Samples were collected from children and parents of differing degrees of family dynamics. It is expected that children in families with greater marital conflict will show higher cortisol levels; children in families in which fathers are rated as being less involved with parental care and poorer provisioners will show higher cortisol levels; mothers and fathers with greater marital conflict will show higher cortisol levels, and among adults, those who experience greater day to day ethnic conflict/threat with the nearby, neighboring Bantu-speaking farmers will show higher cortisol levels.
Women in society are expected to follow certain time frames throughout their life, especially when it comes to starting a family. The age of when a woman gets pregnant is often how society defines the person they are and their capability to have a child. The present study investigated pregnancy status and age where it was hypothesized that younger aged pregnant woman would receive more social biased attitudes from society compared to an older aged pregnant woman. Additionally, several variables predictive of prejudice such as social dominance orientation, right-wing authoritarianism, and modern racism were hypothesized to be correlated. Participants consisted of undergraduate students at a northeastern public university. Implications related to prejudice are considered which can shape the views that people have on women and the perceived time that is appropriate to have a child.
Religious people and non-religious people may be expected to live very different lives, but this is not always the case. This study explores non-religious peoples’ view on religious peoples’ levels of acceptance of others’ lifestyles. Previous findings show that religious people are often viewed as having low acceptance of other peoples’ lifestyle choices. Approximately one hundred participants from Framingham State University’s undergraduate program will be questioned for this study. Each participant will read a scenario than complete a question packet including how the scenario character will react or behave. Half the participants will read about a religious person, while the other half read about a non-religious person. Participants will also share personal info, including what religion or belief they identify with. The expected results are that non-religious people will see religious people as being less accepting than non-religious people. This study will show if there is a difference between how people are viewed on acceptance of others’ lifestyles based on being religious or not.
Depression is characterized by feelings of sadness, severe despondency, anxiety, low self-worth, and isolation that can occur at any age and is contributed to problems with emotional regulation (ER). Due to potential impacts on parenting and children’s development, how depression and related contributing factors are operating in women with children is of particular interest. There’s empirical evidence, and theoretical emphasis, on the role chronic socioeconomic (SES) stressors (e.g., single parent, low income) has on maternal depression and parenting. In the current study, we examine whether there’s socioeconomic stress differences in the association between the mothers’ depressive symptoms and their various levels of emotion regulation. The sample includes a wide SES range of 153 21-52 year old mothers of 3-7yr old children living in southern urban/suburban areas. Mothers self-reported indicators of sadness, fear/anxiety, and discomfort, as well as their ER strategies of cognitive reappraisal and emotion suppression. During a lab visit, experimenters also collected heart rate variability/vagal tone information during challenging cognitive tasks; vagal tone can be used as a measure of physiological stress resistance and ER. We hypothesized that the anticipated association between poorer ER and higher depressive symptoms would be amplified in the most stressed group of mothers--meaning, those with the most SES stressors would show the strongest link between ER deficits and depressive symptoms. This may indicate the critical role that having adequate emotion regulation plays in protection from depressive symptoms, especially for women who are facing chronic parenting and SES stressors in their lives.
and Well-Being after the 2016 Presidential Election
The 2016 United States Presidential Election elicited a variety of emotions in citizens across the United States. During the campaign trail, Donald Trump’s controversial rhetoric both excited and terrified citizens (e.g., his endorsement of harsher immigration laws, building a wall along the southern U.S. border). This division within the country continued upon his election into office and his subsequent inauguration. While many of these divisions fell along the lines of social groups (e.g., race, gender), personality differences may have also played a role. Specifically, perhaps people who were more authoritarian, such that they believe in the need for a stronger government, were more satisfied with Trump’s proposed policies and with the results of the election. Additionally, since they did not feel negatively affected by the outcome of the election, they may also have been experiencing greater well-being (e.g., less depressive symptoms, higher life satisfaction) overall.
In conclusion, we found that participants’ satisfaction with the election and overall well-being after the presidential election varied as a function of individual differences, specifically, authoritarianism. People who were more supportive of a stronger, rigid, and authoritative government reported greater satisfaction with the election and better well-being in comparison to those who did not support those same beliefs.
Brianna Forte, Deborah Wu, and Jiyoung Park
Kaitlin Parent, Valerie Goutama, Sarah C. Izen, and Vivian M. Ciaramitaro
Emotions can be portrayed through several modalities, including faces and voices. We examined how the perception of emotional faces is influenced by exposure to emotional voices. Previous studies suggest exposure to a visual emotion (e.g. happy) results in an aftereffect in the opposite direction, biasing perception of a neutral face towards the opposite emotion (e.g. anger) (Rutherford et al., 2008). We used adaptation to quantify emotional processing for matched (congruent) compared to unmatched (incongruent) visual-auditory emotional stimuli. We expected stronger aftereffects for congruent versus incongruent stimuli. However, our previous work found no difference in adaptation strength between congruent and incongruent conditions. Here we modified adapting faces to be less visible by embedding them in white noise. We hypothesized this might increase multisensory integration, following the principle of inverse effectiveness which states integration should be most efficient when individual stimuli are less effective (Stein & Meredith, 1993).
During baseline, participants viewed emotionally charged faces morphed on a continuum (80% angry - 80% happy). During adaptation, participants viewed either congruent (100% happy faces in white noise and happy crowd sounds) or incongruent visuo-auditory stimuli (100 % happy faces in white noise with angry crowd sounds). For each participant, we determined the unique point where the face was judged equally happy or angry, the point of subjective equality (PSE), at baseline, then quantified changes in this PSE post-adaptation relative to baseline.
Our preliminary results suggest adapting to happy faces tends to induce stronger aftereffects when emotional voices are congruent versus incongruent. This suggests that integration of emotional information may be more effective when faces are less salient.
Formal science and math education involves learning about a host of complex topics. Student learning is often supported through the use of textbooks. These textbooks are highly visual, containing numerous images of different kinds (Mayer, 1993). Students must often compare the elements within a figure—parts of a structure, steps in a process, etc.—to glean an important abstract relationship. The present study evaluated existing textbook images with respect to their support for visual comparisons. The research team analyzed figures from the top U.S. math and science textbook publishers to identify how corresponding elements are depicted within each image. Our coding identified several factors that could help vs. hinder visual comparison, including the spatial alignment of corresponding elements, the number and type of intervening elements between corresponding elements, and color matches vs. non-matches between elements. Spatial alignment (cf. Matlen, Gentner, & Franconeri, 2014) was evaluated by identifying the primary axis, organizational layout, and placement of corresponding elements. Our coding discovered that textbook images frequently involved multiple comparisons, indicating that the figures are informationally dense and meant to convey numerous relationships to the reader. The coding also revealed substantial variability in the presence and types of cognitive supports for comparison. Some textbook images contained numerous supports for noticing and mapping relevant correspondences. Other images had qualities that could actually make visual comparison more difficult. This research raises important considerations for the design of effective visualizations in middle school math and science textbooks.
Full-time students today face a dilemma: a student carrying a 15-credit load is expected to devote 40 hours towards class time and outside work, but they may be expected by their parents to hold part-time jobs to potentially help offset the ever-increasing cost of tuition or provide their own source of income. This expectation to devote 40 hours per week does not reflect the culture of students today, and is an expectation of an old belief system. School hours and work hours add up, and stress can result from this seemingly impossible balance of being a full-time student and part-time worker. This poster presentation will report findings of a survey based research project devoted to exploring the relationship between full-time school, part-time work, and the resulting stress. Through non-probability quota sampling of 20 college students, my survey reports on student definitions of stress, their overall length of sleep, and GPA. The research and results serve as a testament that this set of expectations should be challenged and updated so that they reflect student culture today, where students can healthily serve both as full-time students and part-time workers. With this research in mind, professors may begin to realize what students face every day: the question of how to complete all assignments successfully and on-time, have time to go to work, and truly gain a meaningful education.
Self-Injurious and anxious behaviors are problematic behavioral patterns which affect humans and non-human primates alike. These behaviors are associated with a malfunctioning of one of the body’s primary stress response systems, the Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal (HPA) axis. Research has been conducted linking the HPA axis with the gut, through what is known as the gut-brain-microbiota axis. Research conducted on mice has shown that probiotics have been effective at restoring gut health and HPA axis functioning. Though it is well-understood in mice, probiotic intervention has not yet been thoroughly investigated in humans or non-human primates. In this blind crossover experiment, rhesus macaques were treated with a multi-strain probiotic known as VSL#3. It was hypothesized that as these subjects were treated with probiotics, their anxious behavior would decrease. Anxious behavior was measured with the Novel Object test: reduced latency to inspect and manipulate novel objects indicated a reduction in anxious behavior. If VSL#3 is associated with a reduction in anxious and self-injurious behavior, this will provide evidence to support future probiotic treatment. Though future probiotic research in humans will be warranted, this experiment is an essential next step. These findings could cause immense benefits for humans and non-human primates affected by SIB, bringing us closer to effective treatment.
The Role of Emotion-Regulation Difficulties in Self-Damaging Behaviors and Suicidality among a College Student Sample
Although self-damaging behaviors such as substance abuse, disordered eating, and non-suicidal self injury (NSSI) are associated with suicidality, it is unclear to what extent these factors may interact in the prediction of suicide risk. Based on the interpersonal psychological theory of suicide (Van Orden, Witte, Gordon, Bender, & Joiner, 2008), suicide risk increases in the presence of both desire for suicide and acquired capability to inflict self-injury to oneself. The aforementioned behaviors- substance abuse, disordered eating, and NSSI are likely to reflect both of these factors, and the increased engagement in such behaviors may confer greater acquired capability. As a result, we hypothesize that greater engagement in a greater number of self-damaging behaviors are associated with greater suicidality. Participants in this study are 115 university students who completed self-report measures for course credit. Regression analyses will examine this association.
Reducing the Mental Health Stigma: An Evaluation of Biogenetic Education and the Contact Hypothesis
Eyewitness testimony is often a critical component of deciding whether a suspect is innocent or guilty. There is ongoing scrutiny over the accuracy of eyewitness reports, given the frequency and consequences of false accusations of innocent people. As non-pristine conditions during eyewitness lineup identification adversely affect the predictive relationship between confidence and accuracy (Wixted and Wells, 2017) it is important to investigate a range of factors which may affect the condition of the identification process, such as emotion. Despite that the most commonly experienced emotion after a crime is anger (Ingram, 2002; Orth & Maercker, 2009), there is a lack of research on its role in memory in a forensic context and its effect on the quality of the identification procedure. The current study is an online experiment which utilized Amazon's Mechanical Turk for participant recruitment in order to examine the effects of anger on the relationship between eyewitness confidence and accuracy. Participants assigned to induced anger or emotionally neutral conditions were asked to watch a filmed mock robbery and then make a subsequent lineup identification. We discuss how anger interacts with participant memory for the perpetrator’s face and to what degree this emotion ought to be taken into consideration in a forensic context. This work begins to fill the current gap in literature on the effects of anger on eyewitness identification confidence and accuracy as well as aiding in increasing the validity of the current identification process.
This literature review examined multiple resources to reveal the contributing factors of the success of the situational comedy Friends. The resources provided in this review further explore the progression of sitcoms, theories behind humor, and the success of Friends. The Incongruity and Superiority Theory was used to examine the humor in four episodes. The success of Friends was discussed by analyzing multiple contributing factors. The relatability of being independent for the first time and laugh tracks were examined as potential components of success. Friends was the first sitcom to revolve around a friends-dynamic, straying from the family-type dynamic that was previously present. All of these elements were considered when analyzing and discussing the success and humor within the situational comedy Friends.
Video Gamers Outperform Non-video Gamers in Cross-modal Attention
Attention allows the mind to selectively focus on or ignore stimuli in the environment. Some studies show attention is a shared resource across the senses: allocating more attention to one modality, ie., vision, yields less attention to another modality, i.e., audition. Ciaramitaro and colleagues (2017) found that as visual load, or visual task difficulty, decreased, performance on a concurrent auditory task improved. Studies also find improved visual performance in video-gamers compared to non-gamers (Castel, et.al., 2005; Strobach, et.al., 2012). Here we examined how changing visual attention demands affect auditory attention, crossmodal attention, by measuring auditory performance in video gamers compared to non-video-gamers.
Participants performed two concurrent tasks. In the visual task, participants were presented with a rapid visual stream of 5 letters in each of two intervals. In the low visual load condition, they reported which interval contained white letters. In the high load, they reported which interval contained more of the letter ‘A’. In the concurrent auditory task, they reported which interval contained a modulated sound. We examined changes in auditory performance as the visual task demanded more or less attention. Auditory performance was quantified by estimating the auditory stimulus supporting 75% correct performance, auditory threshold, for each of the two visual load conditions. We hypothesized that video-gaming experience improves crossmodal attention, diminishing differences in auditory performance with changing visual task demands for video gamers compared to non-gamers.
Our preliminary results support our hypothesis: video-gamers show smaller differences in auditory thresholds as visual task demands increase compared to non-gamers. Our results support and extend previous studies, suggesting that video-game playing enhances not only visual attention but also attention across our visual and auditory senses, crossmodal attention.
In a society dictated by achievements, if is often difficult to determine if a person’s qualifications for a job are the result of their actual achievements, or are tainted by biases imposed by a job candidate's cultural background. The professional field is currently flooded with gifted individuals of tremendous diversity, but prior research has demonstrated that some individuals are perceived to be more or less qualified than they truly are simply because of their race. This study explores the possible biases in hiring decisions when immigrant job candidates have different accents, revealing different cultural backgrounds. To investigate this, we conducted an experiment in which Caucasian participants were randomly assigned to listen to an audio-recorded interview (with identical content) with one of four job candidates with mixed (i.e., ambiguous) qualifications: (1) an Asian male immigrant with an Indian accent, (2) an African male immigrant with an African accent, (3) a European (Caucasian) male immigrant with a British accent, or (4) a Caucasian American male (control condition). We hypothesized that the immigrant of Asian decent will be perceived more favorably than the immigrant of African decent, who will be perceived least favorably. These perceptions are expected to impact hiring decisions. Competing predictions were made for the Caucasian job applicants and will be evaluated. Data collection is currently in progress. The results of this study promise to shed light on the effects of an often-neglected variable (candidate accents) on perceptions of job candidates, and will hopefully inform hiring practices.
Dopamine is a central nervous system neurotransmitter that acts within the striatum and prefrontal cortex; thus, it is responsible for our ability to learn from outcomes and make reward-based decisions. Eyeblink rate (EBR) has been found to be a noninvasive measure of dopamine function at rest in the brain; thus, EBR could be used to study a person’s reward motivated decision-making behavior. Prior literature has demonstrated that higher EBR has been found to be associated with higher dopamine function at rest, more impulsive behavior and less inhibitory control. In this study, we studied differences in EBR among younger and older adults in order to determine whether individual differences in dopamine levels account for performance in reward-based decision-making tasks. The current study aims to study around 50 undergraduate students and 20 adults, ranging from 50-85 years old. The tasks used included a computerized speed-rewarded Go/NoGo task, a task that measured risk and ambiguity preference and behavioral questionnaires. We also tracked resting EBR using novel eye-tracking glasses designed by the computer science department which are able to detect pupil dilation and blinking. Thus, the tasks captured EBR, impulsiveness, inhibitory control, and economic decision-making measures. We look to correlate these measures to differences in eye blink rate to understand if there are any differences in dopamine levels and/or how decision-making changes between young and old adults. This can shed light on how and why people tend to approach decision making differently as they age.
Undergraduates’ Perceptions of Marijuana Use: Do Gender and Usage Matter?
There are an estimated one million plus overall transgender adults living within the United States, many of whom are often subject to multiple forms of violence, including harassment and assault. Those rates of harassment and discrimination increase for transgender individuals if they are also a racial minority. In this study, the researcher examined the perceptions people have about violence toward transgender individuals based on their gender (transgender male-to-female, transgender female-to-male) and racial identity (White, Black, Latinx). There were 182 undergraduate participants, 33% of whom were men, 64.3% were women, and 1.6% identified as non-binary or a third gender. The majority of participants identified as Caucasian (55.8%), while 17.6% identified as African-American/Black, 11.6% as Hispanic/Latinx, 9.4% as Multiracial, and 5.6% as another race. Participants completed a scenario-based questionnaire measuring likelihood to intervene in a situation of transgender-based harassment on a public subway. Results showed no statistically significant difference in likelihood to intervene based on the gender identity of the harassed individual, nor was there a significant interaction between gender identity and race. However, there was a statistically significant main effect for race, such that participants were reported being least likely to intervene in a situation where the harassed individual was Latinx. Findings from this study could help identify challenges with transgender-based violence intervention, as well as aiding in a deeper understanding of struggles at the intersections of various minority identities.
The Effect of Gender and Feminist Affiliations on Hiring Likelihood
Both popular and scientific literature has indicated that negative stigma
towards feminists exists. Additionally, previous research has addressed that
both identified gender and identified feminism, individually encourage
discrimination at the workplace. The purpose of this study was to examine the
impact of both gender and feminist affiliations on likelihood to hire.
Participants included 120 undergraduates who were randomly assigned to read one
of the four resume conditions depicting a male or female whose leadership
experience was in a group that was feminist affiliated or not. Participants
completed measures on likelihood to hire, perceived weakness, and
perceived stereotypical gender traits. It was hypothesized that applicant’s with feminist affiliations would
be less likely to be hired than applicant’s whose resumes did not include
feminist affiliations. After examining how stereotypical feminine and masculine
traits are perceived at the workplace, researchers predicted that there would
be differences in perceived femininity and masculinity among males and
females who do and do not identify as a feminist. As expected, gender and feminist affiliation on a resume influenced the applicant’s perceived femininity. Male non-feminist were
viewed as having the lowest stereotypical feminine traits compared to female
non-feminist and male feminist, but not the female with the feminist
affiliation. Unexpectedly, females with feminist affiliations were not perceived to have more stereotypical masculine traits than females
without feminist affiliations or males. Finally, results show that despite the condition, all applicants were likely to be hired for the entry level job. Implications are discussed.
Interactions between Stimulus Salience and Timing Determine the Extent to Which a Sound Alters Visual Detectability
Multisensory information arising from a single event is integrated across our different senses. Previous literature has revealed that the magnitude of integration depends on stimulus salience and varies with stimulus synchronicity. Here we explore how synchronicity and salience interact to optimize and disrupt the integration of visual and auditory information.
Participants viewed images on a monitor, while auditory stimuli were presented right and left of monitor center via speakers. A visual stimulus, a Gabor patch, was presented left or right of monitor center, pulsating at 1Hz from monitor background to different levels of maximum contrast, which varied from trial to trial. The auditory stimulus, a white noise, also pulsated at 1Hz from no sound to some maximum loudness, 5 saliences which varied from trial to trial. Stimuli were presented either in-phase (IP), out-of-phase (OP), or with no sound to determine visual baseline (B). Participants indicated they detected the visual stimulus via an eye movement, recorded using a Tobii eye tracker. All conditions were randomly interleaved.
We expected improved visual detectability, quantified as a lower threshold, in IP compared to OP, with largest improvements at mid-level salience, and weakest improvements at the smallest and largest salience. Given variability, data was split based on whether IP enhanced detectability relative to B at mid-level salience, where we expected the strongest effects.
Preliminary results revealed maximal IP compared to OP benefit at the mid-level salience in participants where IP was beneficial relative to B. However, we found the opposite, maximal OP compared to IP benefit at this same salience, in participants where IP was detrimental relative to B. Further research is needed to understand factors underlying individual differences.
Bayesian Reasoning is a form of thinking where someone updates the probability that a hypothesis is true based on new information. The extent to which new information changes existing beliefs is based on the ratio of two probabilities: the probability of observing the new information if the hypothesis is true versus false. For example, learning that someone owns a piano increases the probability that they know how to read music, because people who can read music are more likely to own a piano than people who cannot. The most effective way of learning and implementing Bayesian Reasoning has yet to be determined. Bayesian Reasoning is usually explained in terms of a mathematical equation, but Bayesian problems can also be solved in terms of spatial relationships in a visual display. In this experiment, participants were instructed in the visual technique and then they attempted to discover the structure of the underlying mathematical equation without further instruction. Results will show whether learning the visual technique makes the underlying math more intuitive to students, even to the point that they can figure it out on their own without direct instruction.
The Effect of Gender and Sexual-Assault Severity on Perception of Self-Esteem
In the recent years there has been an increased focus on sexual assaults on college campuses. The purpose of this experiment is to examine whether men or women perceive the severity of a sexual assault differently, and to measure perceptions of the victim’s self-esteem. This study is a 2 (participant gender: male or female) X 2 (sexual assault severity: low or high) between-subjects design. First, equal numbers of male and female undergraduate participants will read a scenario of either a high or low severity sexual assault case. Then participants will then be asked several questions on the self-esteem of the victim. It is hypothesized that the female participants will perceive the self-esteem of the victim higher than the male participants. Also it is hypothesized that participants exposed to the high severity sexual assault scenario will have lower scores on the perceived self-esteem of the victim.
Throughout its history, the United States has become a home to millions of immigrants but immigrants are nonetheless often met with discrimination and prejudice. One form of prejudice is dehumanization (i.e., ascribing “less than human” traits to people). Prior research has found that dehumanization often leads to discriminatory behavior towards immigrants but has not examined how the type of immigrant influences dehumanization. This is an important gap because the reason for migration influences people’s attitudes towards immigrants (Verkuyten, 2005). My research addresses a gap in the current research and investigates the extent people dehumanize immigrants based on whether they came to the United States voluntarily (i.e. economic interests) or as a refugee escaping from persecution. Study 1 of the project was a comparative survey in which participants were asked to rate to what extent refugees and voluntary immigrants and refugees experience a variety of emotions. In addition participants were asked to what extent they believed a series of characteristics applied to refugees and voluntary immigrants, their personal feelings towards them and their support for immigrant policies as well. The study found that people tend to assign more human-like traits to voluntary immigrants rather than refugees. The study also found that political attitudes predict people's’ attitudes towards immigration policy. The results from this study help identify what groups are more dehumanized and help understand people’s attitudes towards migrants coming into the United States.
When presented with the choice of two check-out lines at the grocery store, one will contemplate which line will be faster by making an approximation, not by explicitly counting the number of people or groceries in each line. This capacity to estimate numerical quantity is thought to play a fundamental role in acquiring skills dealing with symbolic quantitative concepts and different subdivisions of math skills, especially in young children. In this study, a novel approach was utilized using electroencephalography (EEG) in children between the ages of 5 and 12 to measure and individually analyze objective measurements of the representation of number, size, or spacing of a dot array. The same children later performed a series of mathematical competence tests that measured abilities from different disciplines of math, including arithmetic and geometry. The neural signatures and behavioral data were compared for each of these tests in order to determine whether or not the neural sensitivity to number and other non-numerical magnitudes can serve as predictors for performance on behavioral math tests. It is predicted that neural signatures to spacing will contribute to performance in geometry ability, whereas neural signatures to number will contribute to arithmetic ability. This would suggest a contribution of neural sensitivity to numerical and non-numerical magnitudes to mathematic performance, specifically the relationship of children's implicit encoding of numerosity and spacing in the visual cortex of dot arrays with how well children perform arithmetic and geometry.
How Various Motives are Associated with Attempts to Determine One’s Relationship Status and Jealousy-Induction Intentions in Early Developing Relationships
Jealousy induction occurs frequently (84%) in romantic relationships (Mattingly et al., 2012). Partners use various tactics to induce jealousy, including: talking about past or current relationships, flirting, dating or sexual contact with others, and lying about potential others (Fleischmann et al., 2005). Jealousy induction is motivated more by situational goals than characteristics of the relationship or individual (Sheets et el., 1997). A situational goal for early developing relationships is determining one’s relationship status. We examine the relationships between jealousy induction, motives and “secret tests” usage to reduce uncertainty about one’s relationship status (Baxter & Wilmot, 1984). College students (n=263, 54% women) completed an online survey with Mattingly et al.’s (2014) Jealousy Induction and Motives for Inducing Jealousy Scales and the Secret Test Scale (Wegner et al., under review). Motives were positively correlated with jealousy induction and secret test usage, with the exception of directness tests (i.e., directly ask partner about status). The motive to strengthen the relationship was the strongest and most consistent predictor across the 7 secret test regression analyses. The power/control motive predicted triangle tests (flirt with someone else to see if they get upset). The revenge motive predicted separation tactics (e.g., waiting for other person to call first). Results support previous research indicating jealousy induction is most often used to strengthen one’s relationship. This is among the first studies to examine jealousy induction in early relationship stages. Future research should also consider the number of dates and relationship length in relation to secret tests and jealousy induction.
When it comes to the discussion of goal achievement, there are many people who have successfully accomplished goals, while many other people have quickly given up on their goals when faced with an obstacle, a difficulty, or an inconvenience. Often people set goals for themselves, and sometimes these goals are easily achievable, while other times, goals require more hard work and dedication. Approximately 5 successful entrepreneurs will be identified and interviewed. With a series of structured interview questions, the present study aims to unveil some of the underlying reasons tied to goal failure and goal achievement among successful entrepreneurs such as emotional wellbeing, self-sabotaging techniques, and fears that are tied to goal chasing. The expected results of the study may show common internal factors and motivators that contribute to the success or failure of goals. These results will allow people who have set goals, to understand where they currently are in life and what needs to be changed in order to properly nourish goals. It will also help people with goals understand how to properly set goals that will bring success more frequently.
Maintained Negative Biases in Social Anxiety via Biased Adaptation to Happy and Angry Faces Depends on Face Gender
Interpreting the emotions conveyed in faces is a crucial component of social interactions. Yet, our perception of faces is influenced by factors such as face gender. For example, Becker and colleagues (2007) found angry-male faces were detected faster and more accurately than female faces. In the current study, we used a face adaptation paradigm to investigate the processing of happy and angry male and female faces. Repeated exposure to a positive or negative emotion, can alter perception of subsequent faces: after exposure to negative faces, emotionally neutral faces are perceived as more positive. We tested emotional adaptation in high (HSA) and low (LSA) individuals. We predicted HSA individuals might remain vigilant and sensitized towards negative emotions, because of weaker adaption to negative emotions, and/or stronger adaptation to positive faces. Furthermore, we expected them to adapt less to anger for male vs female faces, since male faces are perceived as more threatening, and to adapt more to happy female vs male faces. We quantified adaptation strength, each participant’s point of subjective equality (PSE), where a face is equally likely to be judged angry or happy, and the shift in PSE post-adaptation relative to baseline for male and female faces. Our preliminary results support our hypotheses. Compared to LSA, HSA individuals tend to show weaker adaption to angry male faces while also showing stronger adaptation to happy female faces.
In the present time, large families are rare and come with unique challenges and benefits. Religion, especially Catholicism, can often be a predictor of larger family size. Religion observance and higher levels of religiosity correlates with higher life satisfaction (Steger & Frasier, 2005). In the current study, approximately 50 participants from highly religious large families, defined as 4 to more children, will complete a self-report questionnaire regarding their experience as a member of a large family. In addition, assessments religiosity, overall satisfaction with life, and other personal information will be collected. The expected results are that highly religious participants from large families will have higher levels of life satisfaction, and identify more benefits than challenges with being in a large families. This study aims to clarify whether there are positive experiences of people from large families who are also highly religious, and to assess their overall life satisfaction.
Perceived Support Systems and Academic Motivation of Employed Undergraduates
purpose of this study was to investigate whether being a commuter or a resident
student and number of weekly work hours were associated with undergraduate students’ academic
achievement, academic motivation and support systems. Past research has shown
personality types and being the first generation of attending college play a
role in academic motivation. Furthermore, stress level has been found to be
associated with students’ academic motivation, especially for commuters because
they tend to work more hours than on-campus residents. Even though there were
many studies on academic achievement and motivation and support systems, there is still a lack of research investigating students’ perceptions of academic achievement and
motivation in relation to employment and commuter or
on-campus resident status. For this study, participants included 120
undergraduate students from a small state school. Participants were assigned one of four different scenario
depicting a college who was either an on-campus resident or a commuter, and
worked on average, 25 or 15 hours per week. Participants then completed measures of the scenario character's support systems and academic
motivation. The researcher hypothesized that the commuter scenario character working 25 hours per week, would
be perceived to have less support systems and more academic motivation than the commuter character working 15 hours per week and the resident working 15 or 25 hours per week. Results indicated no perceived differences in academic motivation or social support across conditions. Study limitations as well as implications for student motivation and expectations are discussed.
Perception is a key component of society. As people age, they become better critical thinkers. We start to think about judgements bestowed upon us and we engage in judging others. A large factor in society is the notion of race. This is used to unfairly judge the people around us. One important aspect is to understand how a person perceives another to judge them. Once this is understood one can start to think about how this can potentially be detrimental to our growth as individuals and as a society. A two-assessment scenario-based questionnaire was given to approximately 80 Framingham State University students consisting of 50% African-Americans and 50% Caucasian students. The expected results are that those who think that individuals of a different race judge them poorly will begin to, in return, attribute negative qualities to that entire race. These negative attributes will then urge people to only form relationships with people they can identify with racially. This study will help to understand the underlying factors that encourage people to negatively link behaviors of one individual from a certain race to all individuals belonging to that race.
Mindfulness entails self-regulating attention to bring awareness towards one’s lived experiences whilst adopting an orientation denoted by openness, acceptance and curiosity. It is usually examined in relation to its effects on intrapersonal qualities (e.g. anxiety, stress) and as a tool for psychotherapy, but little work has focused on its interpersonal effects. The current study examines how trait mindfulness predicts the quality of interpersonal interactions. After assessing trait mindfulness, 70 same-sex, zero-acquaintance dyads interacted in a high vs. low self-disclosure setting and afterwards completed a measure of closeness, self-disclosure, responsiveness, enjoyment of interaction and affect. The actor-partner interdependence model (APIM) was used for dyadic analysis. Results of the study showed mindfulness predicted responsiveness whereas partner mindfulness predicted enjoyment of interaction. Both actor and partner mindfulness predicted more positive emotionality following the interaction. Findings of the study highlight the contribution of mindfulness on relationship quality in addition to personal wellbeing.
Rejection can elicit a wide range of revenge or retaliatory responses from the offended (Downey, Feldman, & Ayduk, 2000). While this can take many forms, we examine the link to sexual assault. Men who adhere to hypermasculine gender roles are more prone to aggress against women. The purpose of this study is to examine the relationships between restricted emotionality (a masculine gender role norm) and revenge with sexual assault history in a survey sample, and in a lab rejection-aggression paradigm (Hot Sauce Allocation Paradigm; HSAP). It is hypothesized that revenge motives and restricted emotionality will be positively correlated with both measures of aggression. Undergraduate college men (n = 293, ages 21-28) completed an online survey; 55 completed a subsequent lab experiment, which included an experimentally manipulated rejection from a ‘dating partner’ (female confederate with whom they had a 10 min conversation; 50% rejected, 50% accepted future date request) and the HSAP. The amount of hot sauce given to the woman, despite knowing she doesn’t like hot sauce, was an indication of ost-rejection aggression. There was a positive correlation between both restricted emotionality and revenge with total number of sexual assaults perpetrated, in our survey data; however only revenge was a significant predictor in the regression model. When both restricted emotionality and revenge were entered into a GZLM (with gamma distribution to address skewness), again, only revenge was a significant positive predictor. Future research should consider how other masculine gender roles norms relate to men’s aggression toward women.
Past research has explored human memory for visual and aural experiences, but much less is currently known about other senses and our memory for them. The current study compares working memory (i.e., the ability to temporarily store information over a short period of time) for sights, sounds, and tastes. Using an N-back task, participants were tested for their memory of visual, auditory, and taste cues at varying delays. Accuracy was highest for auditory and lowest for taste. As the delay length increased, working memory performance also decreased. These findings show that while sights, sounds, and tastes may have different rates of accuracy, they all conform to qualitatively similar patterns of recognition and interference.
The Effects of Power Posing on Cognitive and Behavioral Performance
College is a time of
transition and change and for many, ignites a sense of freedom from
authority figures such as parents. Once on their own, college students may take advantage of their new freedom by utilizing the coping behaviors that have been modeled by parents and authority figures such as drinking alcohol or
reject them. The present study will
examine college students' drinking behaviors in relation to their experiences with parenting styles (authoritarian, authoritative,
permissive, and neglectful) and parental modeling of alcohol consumption. The study will also examine the
perceived effects of parental modeling of alcohol use and parenting style on drinking behavior. It is predicted that participants
will perceive the character with parents who use alcohol to cope to consume alcohol more frequently than those who are not exposed to alcohol use. Furthermore, participants will perceive neglectful
parents to have a weaker relationship with their parents than the other three parenting styles.
For participants, parental modeling of alcohol consumption will be
positively correlated with participant alcohol consumption. Expectations for coping with the transition to college and parenting styles will be discussed.
The Role of Social Support in Academic Outcomes for First-Generation and Continuing-Generation College Students at Bridgewater State University
The achievement gap for first-generation college students in higher education exists in part due to differences in class culture that account for the ways students interact with the university’s resources. Significant research highlights the importance of social support in relation to academic outcomes for college students. The purpose of this study was to better understand students’ support network in relation to engagement with university resources and academics at Bridgewater State University (BSU). Additionally, comparisons were done for students who were identified as first-generation (FG) and continuing-generation (CG) students. The project consisted of two parts: an online survey study and an interview study. The survey examined the perceived level of support from family, friends, and peers in relation to use of institutional resources and academic outcomes. The results of the correlation analyses indicate social and academic support from friends to be significant and positively correlated with learning outcomes. Findings revealed higher levels of campus social and academic support to be positively correlated with learning and overall GPA. Additional analysis showed no significant difference in the relationships when comparing for FG and CG status. Pairwise comparisons between support source and support type revealed students feel significantly more academic and social support from family and friends compared to campus. The interview study was conducted with a smaller sample of FG students to gain insight into their experiences as the first in their families to attend college. The goal was to understand areas the university may better support its students, and to create more equal opportunities for academic success. Future research could further explore support from campus and the relationship between engagement with faculty and learning outcomes.
Student Service Members/Veterans at Worcester State University: Sense of Support, Strategies for Learning, and Adjustment to College
Attention is an important part of how people function on tasks in their everyday lives. One study examined if noise and time of day affects attention and if noise and anxiety affects attention (Smith, 1991). To add onto that research, the present study aims to investigate if a noise disturbance will cause attention to be undivided or divided; as well as if the attention will affect performance, through accuracy and speed, and induce anxiety. The study will consist of approximately 100 students from Framingham State University. Participants will be randomly assigned to one of four groups: a non-proctored setting with noise disturbance, a proctored setting with noise disturbance, a non-proctored setting with no noise disturbance, and a proctored setting with no noise disturbance. In each setting, participants were assigned the same three minute math exam with multiplication problems. After three minutes, participants stop the exam and will answer questions on their demographics and a collection of questionnaires such as the Achievement Anxiety Test (Alpert & Haber, 1960). The expected results are that participants in the non-proctored setting with no noise disturbance will do better than those in the non-proctored setting with noise disturbance. To add on, participants in the proctored setting with noise disturbance will have more anxiety than participants in the proctored setting without noise disturbance. This research aims to addresses the impact of attention of university students on functional task performance, in regards to accuracy and speed, and anxiety.
research with musicians has increased exponentially due to music positive
effects on brain development. Behavioral advantages in divided
attention, cognitive development, and cognitive maintenance in both
healthy and injured brains are observed as
consequences of musical training, which allows
for adeptness across the senses, crossmodal adeptness. The
growing body of research in this area corroborate with the assumption that,
when certain conditions are met, highly trained musicians can outperform
non-musicians in tasks of divided attention.
We quantified the efficiency of crossmodal attention using a dual task to examine the extent to which changes in visual task demands effect auditory processing. In our dual task participants performed a concurrent visual and auditory task. The visual task consisted of a less attention demanding task (discriminate colors between two set of letters), and a more attention demanding task (which set of letters contain more of a target letter). The concurrent auditory task required discriminating which of two sequentially presented sounds was frequency modulated. We examined changes in auditory performance as the visual task demanded more or less attention. Auditory performance was quantified by estimating the auditory stimulus supporting 75% correct performance, auditory threshold, for each of the two visual load conditions. We hypothesized that musical training would improve crossmodal attention, diminishing differences in auditory threshold with changing visual task demands such that musicians would outperform non-musicians.
Our primary results suggest that in female musicians auditory performance was more influenced by increases in visual load than non-musicians, whereas in male musicians auditory performance was less influenced by increases in visual load than non-musicians. Thus, participant gender, not just musical training seems to influence the efficiency of crossmodal attention.
The process of memory is comprised of three stages: encoding, consolidation, and retrieval. Memories become unstable during the retrieval phase or via a reminder cue and become vulnerable to modification. In order for the memory to re-stabilize, it must be consolidated again via the process of reconsolidation. The goal of this study was to determine whether sleep plays a role in this process. Previous studies strongly suggest that sleep facilitates the process of memory consolidation, but few studies have observed the effect sleep has on memory reconsolidation. Forty young adults aged 18-30 encoded a set of 30 image-location pairs (Set-1) in the evening (Session 1) and then performed a recall task the next morning following a night of sleep (Session 2). Approximately one week later (Session 3), either in the morning (wake condition) or the evening (sleep condition) participants received a reminder task of the set they encoded during Session 1 and also encoded a new set of image-location pairs (Set-2). Twelve hours following Session 3, participants received recall tasks of both sets of image-location pairs (Session 4). It was hypothesized that if sleep facilitates memory reconsolidation, then participants in the sleep condition would perform with higher accuracy on the final recall task of Set-1. Preliminary results show that participants in the sleep condition have significantly higher memory accuracy on Session 4 recall of Set-1 compared with participants in the wake condition. This suggests that sleep facilitates memory reconsolidation.
Gender and Socioeconomic Status on Perceived Academic Motivation and Achievement
Perceptions are strong predictors of actual academic achievement and motivation (Song, Bong, Lee, & Kim, 2015; Young, Johnson, Hawthorne, & Pugh, 2011). While past research has examined actual academic motivation and achievement (Berger & Archer, 2016; Goodman, Miller, & Olatunji, 2012; Tourangeau, Nord, Le, Sorongon, & Narjarian 2006), fewer studies have examined perceptions of achievement and motivation, and there is scant research examining the perceived impact of SES and gender on achievement This study examined the perceived effects of gender and SES on intrinsic academic motivation and academic achievement. It was hypothesized that female scenario characters with high SES would be perceived as having the highest perceived academic motivation and achievement. Participants included 120 undergraduates who were assigned to one of four conditions depicting a high or low SES and male or female, and then completed measures of perceived intrinsic academic motivation and academic achievement. Results indicated a statistically significant interaction for perceived academic intrinsic motivation; female high SES characters were found to have higher perceived academic achievement than females with low SES. Findings are consistent with previous studies on gender, SES, motivation and achievement. Understanding perceptions may inform faculty, administrators, faculty and parents with ways to reduce bias and create a more just learning environment.
Variety and Frequency of Cognitive Distortions in Clients Participating in Treatment for Social Anxiety
Cognitive distortions (CDs) represent common ways individuals’ biases influence how they perceive situations. CDs are often found in automatic thoughts (ATs), cognitions representing negative perceptions. Although originally observed in depression (Beck, 1991), individuals experiencing Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) express CDs. SAD is characterized by significant anxiety regarding at least one social situation (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Individuals with SAD tend to experience increased negative thoughts (Heimberg & Becker, 2002). Theory implicates possible CDs in individuals with SAD; however limited empirical research suggests which CDs are present in the ATs reported by clients or the relationship between CDs and SAD symptoms or treatment outcomes. The current study explores the variety of and relations between CDs represented by ATs and symptoms of and response to treatment for social anxiety. Participants (n=53) include clients diagnosed with SAD participating in a cognitive-behavioral group therapy (CBGT; Heimberg & Becker, 2002). During treatment, clients reported their ATs to a potentially anxiety-provoking situation. A team of four trained coders labeled each AT with the best matching CD based on a list developed by Heimberg and Becker (2002). The variety and frequency of specific CDs were calculated to explore whether specific patterns of CDs are associated with SAD symptoms and response to treatment. Preliminary analysis suggests that the CDs of mind reading and fortune-telling were the most commonly coded ATs reported by clients. Implications for development of effective treatments for SAD will be discussed.
In recent years, yoga has gained popularity in the west, and has even made inroads as a component of treatments for mental health difficulties. Despite the burgeoning research on the effectiveness of yoga-based interventions, it is unclear to what extent the physical practice confers benefits relative to the philosophical underpinnings. The absence of a clear measure of the philosophical underpinnings of yoga practice is a barrier to such research. To address this gap in the research, we have developed a novel measure of yoga philosophy. The aim of this study was to validate this measure and examine its association with mental health outcomes. We hypothesized that yoga philosophy will be positively associated with mindfulness, and negatively associated with ADHD symptoms, emotion regulation difficulties, perceived stress, and anxiety/depression symptoms. Participants included yoga practitioners and teachers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus, and from workers on Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk). We will present data on the internal consistency and structure of this novel measure, as well as its associations with psychological wellbeing. These findings have implications for the study of yoga in mental health.
The current experiment investigates the effects of race-related words on the categorical perception of race. Specifically, I will investigate the role that these words have on a person’s ability to perceive different races. Participants (n = 100) will complete a standard, two-part categorical perception task in which they will view morphed (blended) faces of two individuals of separate races. In the current experiment, participants will match these faces to several different race-related words presented as pairs, as well as perceptually to pictured endpoints. I predict that certain race-related words (known as “separate race-related words” e.g. “Black” vs. “White”) will affect the categorical boundary differently from other race-related words (e.g. “Black/White” vs. “not Black/White”) as well as from pictured endpoints. Such differences would suggest that a person’s race is perceived differently in the presence or absence of specific race-denoting category anchors. Moreover, I predict that categorical perception (i.e. the increased ability to determine whether a target face was the first or second of two faces when the two faces were previously identified as from different categories compared to belonging to the same category) will be best modeled by “separate race-related words” compared to other race-related words and pictured endpoints. The predicted results will provide for a better understanding of how racial terms alter people’s perceptions of race. This experiment is one of many recent categorical perception studies, which examine the role of language and more specifically race-related terms.
While there is a considerable amount of research regarding college retention, student success, and benefits to living on campus as opposed to off campus, there is a lack of research that explores living in a single dorm without roommates. The purpose of this study is to investigate the perceived social and academic differences between college students who live in either on-campus or off-campus housing, and either with or without roommates. Participants will include 120 undergraduate residents at a small state university. Participants will be randomly assigned to one of four housing-type scenarios (on-campus without roommates; on-campus with roommates; off-campus without roommates; or off-campus with roommates) and will be asked to rate a scenario character’s satisfaction with life, loneliness, and academic achievement, as well as self-report their number of roommates, own happiness, loneliness, academic involvement, social involvement, and sense of belonging. This study will add to the growing body of research regarding student housing choice and its relationship to student success and college retention and may inform interventions designed to enhance student satisfaction and retention.
Keywords: satisfaction with life, loneliness, academic achievement, on-campus housing
The current study is part of a large multifaceted investigation to identify affective factors contributing to diagnostic errors in medicine. In a pilot study, Isbell et al. (2017) interviewed emergency medicine (EM) physicians and nurses to explore (1) negative emotions that providers experience in the emergency department (ED), (2) providers’ perceptions of how these emotions influence diagnostic reasoning and cognitive processing, and (3) strategies to reduce adverse influences of emotion (Isbell et al., 2017). Results revealed that providers experience considerable frustration and anger in the ED, have some awareness of the possible adverse impact of these emotions, and employ strategies to compensate for this. The current qualitative study builds on these findings to identify and explore triggers that lead EM providers to experience specific negative emotions. Triggers include particular "types" of patients (e.g., psychiatric patients, demanding patients, substance users, “frequent flyers”), communication challenges, and hospital conditions (e.g., patient volume, patient boarding). Participants are EM physician and nurses from several Massachusetts hospitals . Ongoing qualitative interviews and analyses continue to inform our understanding of emotional experiences in the ED, effects on decision-making, and possible interventions to improve diagnostic reasoning. Results will also inform subsequent research aimed at creating methods to experimentally manipulate provider emotions to allow us to investigate their causal impact on clinical reasoning in controlled experiments. Taken together, this work contributes to the long-term goal of improving diagnostic accuracy through increased understanding of how emotions affect medical providers' cognitive processing.
This study examined the differences in perception of traditional and non-traditional masculinity. There were 40 undergraduate participants with a mean age of 21.36 years, 71.3% of whom were women. Participants completed a scenario-based questionnaire that asked them to report their attitudes toward Jeff, the scenario character, who was presented as either traditionally masculine or more traditionally feminine. Modern racism, right-wing authoritarianism, and social dominance orientation were also assessed. Results showed varying significant difference in perceptions of masculinity. Participants in the masculine condition were more likely to say that Jeff had many heterosexual friends, would make them feel uncomfortable, was confused about what it means to be a man, and was aggressive toward other people. Participants in the feminine condition were more likely to say that Jeff was comfortable with who he is, was sensitive to other people’s feeling, was often bullied growing up, and was sexually attracted to other men. These significant results may be the result of interpreting traditional masculine behavior as heterosexual and feminine male behavior as otherwise, which could perpetuate conformity to gender stereotypes and reinforce current societal connections between heterosexuality and gender conformity. Further researchers may benefit from studying a more diverse sample, with different age groups and gender nonconforming individuals.
Effect of Text Color on College Students' Memory
Humans are constantly looking and reading text, but is the color of that text important for our memory? Despite research examining color and memory, there has yet to be a general consensus of the effect of text color on memory. The current study is a one-factor between-subjects design. The independent variable in this study is text color, either being blue, black, green, or red. Approximately 160 participants will be given a list of 30 words to study. After a distractor task, consisting of demographic questions, participants will be asked to recall the words in any order. The dependent variable in this study is the number of words correctly recalled. The hypotheses for this study are that words presented in black will be remembered the best compared to the other colors and that words presented in green colored text will be remembered the least.
Emotional memories tend to be highly salient across the human lifespan. They are also consolidated, or stabilized, by sleep in young adults. Robust documentation of this process does not exist for populations of young children, such as preschool-aged children (i.e., around three through five years). At this age, children nap routinely, enter an expanding socio-emotional world at school, and experience vast neurological development. This study aimed to determine whether naps influence emotional memory consolidation in young children using a novel emotional storybook task. Children from preschools across western Massachusetts were read emotional storybooks and their recall of negative and neutral events in the storybooks was probed at three time-points: (i) in the morning, immediately after reading a storybook; (ii) in the afternoon, after a nap or equivalent time spent awake (within-subject, order counterbalanced); and (iii) the following morning, 24-hours after reading the storybook. Given the evidence of emotional memory consolidation in young adult sleep, we predict that children will show improved recall for storybook events following a daytime nap period compared to an equivalent interval spent awake. Moreover, we predict that this effect will remain 24-hrs later, reflecting a lasting benefit of sleep following learning. Preliminary data from 23 children trend in support of these hypotheses. Significant results will clarify emotional memory processing in young children and help to inform the structure of naps in preschool classroom curricula for healthy socio-emotional development.
Nobody likes to be underprivileged, but when portrayed as an ‘underdog’ they may be seen as the favorite. People often have favorable opinions of underdogs, as shown by the common phrase phrase “everyone loves an underdog". Also, perceptions of people can differ depending on whether they are privileged or underprivileged. Approximately 100 undergraduate students will read one of four scenarios depicting 4 competitors on the TV show “Project Runway". Using the definition that an underdog is an individual who has talent, and a disadvantage, each of the four depicted competitors will be described as advantaged/disadvantaged and talented/not talented. The participants will then complete a questionnaire assessing their perception of the competitors’ future success. The expected results are that the participants will favor the talented/disadvantaged competitor over the not talented/advantaged competitor, and that the underdog competitor will be seen as having a successful future. In today’s tense social climate, these findings may help reveal what factors influence people’s opinions on underprivileged people.
Cortisol, the human stress hormone, is the primary glucocorticoid and key component in the human physiological stress response system. When detecting a stressor, the human body reacts via the Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal (HPA) Axis. As mother and child cortisol are linked, researchers at UCLA have set out to establish if high mother HPA Axis activity before and during pregnancy affects the executive functioning levels of her child. Researchers will examine whether changes in child hair cortisol from ages 3.5 to age 4.5 are associated with worse executive functioning performance at age 4.5 compared to NIH Toolbox test results collected at age 3.5. In order to do so, ~150 lower-income mother child dyads from various counties in the USA will be tested in a longitudinal study. At children age 3.5, mothers and children will be interviewed, hair samples will be collected, the Differential Ability Scales (DAS) will be administered to children. All hair cortisol (HCC) samples will be processed by myself in Dr. Jerrold Meyer’s laboratory at Umass Amherst. If the results align with our hypotheses, we expect to see higher mother preconception and prenatal HCC levels corresponding with higher child HCC levels throughout the collection points in the child’s life. In addition higher child HCC levels will, in theory, lead to less executive functioning of the child by age of 4.5, shown in lower NIH Toolbox scores, and less established relationships between the mother-child dyads.
Aberrant patterns in reward processing have been highlighted as an underlying risk factor in the development of psychopathology. Typically, reward processing has been examined using object-based rewards (e.g., money). However, limited research has explored differences in processing non-social and social stimuli in children, let alone how differences in social contexts can affect the neural markers of motivation and reward processing in this age group.
The current study investigated differences in neural processing stimuli portraying distinct social reward and nonsocial reward contexts. Forty-three children (22 females; Mage=8.49 years) were asked to view and rate 150 pictures. Pictures were divided into an interpersonal reward category, which included social interaction, an intrapersonal reward category, which included happy faces, a non-social reward category, which included object-based reward images, and a neutral category. Two event-related potentials (ERPs), the N400 and the late-positive potential (LPP), were used to examine motivational salience toward reward images. Parent report of the child’s behavior was also collected.
Results revealed that interpersonal stimuli elicited a significantly lower N400 than object and intrapersonal reward stimuli, respectively (F(2, 80)=3.15, p=.027, ηp2=.070). For the LPP, there was an interaction between gender and picture category (F(2, 80)=3.26, p=.043, ηp2=.075). Females had significantly larger LPPs in response to intrapersonal (p=.039) and interpersonal (p=.081) images compared to object reward images, whereas males exhibited the opposite pattern (i.e., object LPPs > interpersonal and intrapersonal LPPs). Partial correlations showed that attenuated N400s and enhanced LPPs to intrapersonal images were related to externalizing and internalizing symptomology (p’s<0.03), as well as emotional lability (p<0.01). Parent report of adaptability skills were related to enhanced N400s and attenuated LPPs to intrapersonal images.
The current study supports our hypothesis that differences in neural markers of motivation in children are influenced by distinct social and non-social reward contexts; further, findings indicate that these patterns are affected by gender. Additionally, problem behavior was associated with specific patterns of attention to specific reward contexts. Overall, results highlight reward contexts, gender, and attention timing as important factors to consider when examining the relations between reward processing and psychopathology.
In the United States, teen pregnancy among girls (ages 15-19) is an important public health problem that requires immediate attention. According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC), in 2015, the national for teen pregnancy was 22.3 births per 1,000 females. Although the overall national average is declining, many states lag behind these national rates. The states with the highest teen pregnancy rates are Mississippi (32.6 births per 1,000 females), Texas (31.0 births per 1,000 females) and Louisiana (30.6 births per 1,000 females). We searched for trends and risk factors for teen pregnancy using Pubmed and the CDC website. Risk factors for teen pregnancy include ethnicity, access to contraception, socioeconomic status, and sexual education policies in school. For example, non-Hispanic Black girls continue to have the highest rates of teen pregnancy, and young women are twice as likely to become pregnant after the first time of sexual intercourse if they do not have access to contraception. We will describe previous interventions designed to address this problem and recommend tailored interventions for these high-risk regions in the South Central U.S.
An Evaluation of the Sustainability and Applicability of the Danish Healthcare Model
Medical practice and healthcare delivery seem to vary across different cultures. Interestingly enough, America is the only industrialized nation without universal healthcare and recent political upheaval has caused issues in terms of the American method of healthcare delivery, dividing the nation into two groups of people: those who support universalized healthcare and those who do not support it. As a result, Americans have looked to other healthcare models for inspiration in solving this healthcare dilemma. The Danish model reflects the principles of the social welfare system, which strives to provide governmental support to all individuals and to create a system of equality and solidarity among all. Unlike the American healthcare system, the Danish model is financed through public taxation and tailors its healthcare delivery in a way that maximizes cost-effectiveness. The ultimate question, however, is whether this system is sustainable for the long-term when taking into account changes in the national demographics. Through an extensive literature review using journal articles from the UMass library databases and google scholar, I will be looking at different aspects of the system to assess the quality and sustainability of the Danish healthcare model as well as how the Danes themselves perceive their healthcare. Additionally, I will be comparing and contrasting the Danish model against the American model to determine if any aspects of the Danish model could potentially be applied to the American system to improve American healthcare.
PTSD is becoming a more and more prevalent thing in movies and tv shows, but why was it not paid as much attention to years ago? Famous movies like American Sniper, Thank You for Your Service and many others have challenged the idea of that PTSD is not a real disease and people do not get effected by it. PTSD, also known as post traumatic stress disorder is a TBI, or traumatic brain injury. Some of the symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, trouble sleeping, frightened by a loud noise and, when in public, constantly being at alert . The 2017 film called Thank You for Your Service follows the story of a group of soldiers in Iraq. They were involved in many violent battles along the way, such as bombings and sniper attacks. While I like the fact that the movie shows the toll on the soldiers when they get back home, there is much that is left out. Many recent movies show PTSD is only a combat thing and that it can only happen to infantrymen or people on the front lines. PTSD can occur from anything, whether it be combat or hearing that your best friend died. Countless strides have been made in the right direction by the movie industry, but now comes the real test: challenging the idea of PTSD only being a combat related mental illness.
Indoor air pollution is a growing problem as quality of indoor air has been shown to have a high concentration of pollutants, and in low income housing, it is even worse. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standard for indoor air pollutants is 35 μg/m3, but a study showed that particle levels in low income housing can exceed several hundred. Indoor air pollution is attributed to short-term health problems such as irritated eyes, nose and throat, and long-term diseases, such as respiratory diseases, heart disease, cancer, and more. The aim of this paper is to examine indoor air pollution in low income housing to find an intervention strategy to improve indoor air quality.
A literature review will be conducted among peer-reviewed sources in order to identify how low income housing in the U.S. increases risk for air pollution related health outcomes. We will research intervention strategies that have reduced these risks, and compare them in order to figure out the most practical intervention strategy.
After conducting a preliminary search of literature, we can conclude that people who live in low-income housing are disproportionately impacted by indoor air pollution compared to the rest of the population. The quality and location of low-income housing are risk factors for indoor air pollution related health incomes.
We will recommend an appropriate strategy for addressing the disproportionate exposure to indoor air pollution among people who live in low-income housing.
Measurements of air quality provide critical insights in environmental epidemiology. Meta analyses of many population-level epidemiological studies show significant evidence for a positive association between exposure to air pollution and overall morbidity and mortality rates. However, forming exposure-response relationships between pollutants and health outcomes can be challenging as the concentration of the compounds of interest are usually very low and vary greatly in both time and space. Additionally, individuals have unique exposure patterns that cannot be easily discerned using many current methods that extrapolate air pollution concentrations between spatially and temporally sparse data points. The introduction of personal wearable and in-home air sampling devices has allowed a closer study of individual exposure patterns by significantly increasing spatial and temporal resolution of air monitoring systems. Currently personal sampling devices fall into two broad categories: passive sampling devices (PSDs) and active sampling devices (ASDs). While PSDs do not have the power constraints, bulkiness, nor implementation complexities of ASDs, they are limited by how many samples they can take and depend on the wearers movement and other unreliable conditions to provide air flow over a sampling matrix. This project seeks to increase the practicality of an existing ASD design so that its potential functional benefits over PSDs can be leveraged. This will be done through minimizing the power usage, exploring alternative mechanical and electrical designs, and reducing the enclosure volume of the current design.
Infant mortality is a serious public health concern in the United States. In 2015, over 23,000 infants died before the age of one. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that non-Hispanic black mothers experience infant mortality rates that are 2.3 times higher than non-Hispanic white mothers. The purpose of this study is to explore why infants born to black non-Hispanic women have a higher infant mortality rate compared to infants born to white, non-Hispanic women and recommend evidence-based interventions to reduce infant mortality among black women. Research will be conducted by utilizing databases, such as PubMed and PsycINFO to find peer-reviewed articles regarding infant mortality. Keywords include infant mortality rate; black, non-Hispanic women; risk factors; and interventions. Current literature and statistics show that risk factors that result from institutionalized racism, such as low socioeconomic status, lack of access to healthcare, and affordable housing, has contributed to the disparity in IMR experienced by black mothers. The racism and sexism that black women face throughout their lifetime triggers a stress response that can cause their health to deteriorate more quickly than other ethnic groups and has the power to negatively impact their infants. By examining current literature of successful interventions to decrease IMR, this study will propose recommended reforms that need to take place at the various levels of the socio-ecological model of health in order to improve health outcomes of infants born to black mothers.
The topic of hormesis research funding has been a point of deliberation within the scientific community for many years. A common belief is that the majority of hormesis research is funded by the private sector. With this assumption may emerge questions revolving around potential bias of such research. To provide some clarification to this issue, all hormesis research articles were obtained through online databases for five year increments starting with 1995 and ending with 2015 and were subsequently categorized by their funding source. A total of 710 articles were found for those years and 383 of those reported their funding. Reporting funding is not required by law and until more recently was not encouraged or required by funders and scientific publishers. The analysis revealed that the assumption that the majority of hormesis research is privately funded was false, with the public sector (i.e. federal and state governmental agencies) exclusively contributing to 77% of the reported research funding. Going forward, funding transparency for scientific research as a whole is needed. The lack of requirement for reporting funding sources within the scientific community can cause suspicion and hinder the research from being legitimized by the public.With funding transparency could come the more accepted use of the hormetic model in risk assessment along with the currently employed dose response models (e.g. threshold and LNT).
Rates of suicide are high among the community of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA+) youth. For example, LGBTQIA+ youth are 2.5 times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual counterparts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that nearly one-third (29%) of LGBTQIA+ youth had attempted suicide at least once in the prior year compared to 6% of heterosexual youth. A literature review was conducted using PubMed and data from national agencies, including the CDC and the National Health Institute (NHI). Risk factors for suicide in this population include race, depression, geographic location, low socioeconomic status, low social support, threats of violence, and traumatizing social interactions. For example, according to the 2015 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), 10% of LGBTQIA+ youth have been threatened on school grounds with a weapon. Due to traumatizing social interactions, LGBTQIA+ youth are at an increased risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression which, in turn, are major risk factors for suicide. Protective factors include a strong, supportive social system and high socioeconomic status. We will examine previous interventions used to address this issue, and make recommendations for future interventions targeting LGBTQIA+ youth in America.
According to the Rural Health Information Hub, 18.7% of residents
in non-metropolitan areas struggle with a mental health condition (1). Rural
residents experience many barriers, such as socioeconomic status and access to
transportation, that limit their ability to obtain the health care they need.
Mental healthcare facilities themselves are sparsely located and scarcely
available for at-risk populations. This leads to individuals having to travel
for hours or across state lines to access services (2). People of low
socioeconomic status are at increased risk of poor mental health outcomes
because of factors such as unemployment, food insecurity, and homelessness.
When mental healthcare is not accessible, individuals experience poor health
outcomes such as stress, loss of social support and premature death. Rural
areas also experience higher rates of suicide (1). Loss of social support can
include loss of familial support and isolation within the community. Protective
factors against mental illness in rural communities are high socioeconomic
status, positive peer role models and supportive community relationships. Using
databases such as the Rural Health Information Hub, PubMed and PsycInfo, this poster
will review peer-edited journal articles to address this issue. Potential
search terms will include rural, United States, mental health, healthcare
access, socioeconomic status, depression and stress impact. With this
information, causes of these disparities can be identified and used in the
future for potential public health interventions.
These findings will allow the field of public health to better direct essential, efficient and targeted mental health services to rural populations.
In the United States, it is estimated that 1.2 million people are living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Despite advances in healthcare, an estimated 50,000 people in the United States are infected with HIV each year. The United States Government has created the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) with the goal of reducing the number of annual HIV infections by 25% for 2020. To understand how resources can be efficiently allocated, a model must be developed to understand the progression of HIV in the United States. An important component of this model is to simulate the transmission of HIV through America’s injection drug use (IDU) population. I will discuss our work in developing a new evolving contacts network algorithm (ECNA) to simulate individual-level interactions in a sample population representative of America’s IDU population. We are using an agent-based network model (ABNM) to simulate distributive and receptive needle sharing between people infected with HIV and their susceptible IDU contacts. When a susceptible agent becomes infected, its susceptible contacts are added to the model, thus evolving the network over time. Contacts are added such that the average degree and clustering coefficient of the ECNA converges to that of America’s IDU network. The purpose of this type of model is to minimize the information lost when scaling down the IDU population and minimize the computational cost of using an ABNM, while maintaining modeling accuracy.
Clostridium difficile is a gram positive, spore-forming, multi-drug resistant bacterium that is currently the number one cause of nosocomial antibiotic associated diarrhea. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2015 C. difficile caused almost half a million infections among patients in the United States. From these patients, about 29,000 died within 30 days of the initial diagnosis, and about 15,000 of those deaths can be attributed directly to C. difficile. Over the years, the number and severity of C. difficile infections (CDIs) have increased, and the CDC has listed C. difficile as an urgent public health threat. Using the UMass Amherst database and Pubmed, this study will assess and critique current prevention protocols and treatment methods for C. difficile. Then, gaps in current antibiotic stewardship programs (ASPs) will be identified to show that ASPs that include better surveillance of antibiotic use and restrictions on antibiotics should be implemented in all clinical settings to reduce the amount of antibiotic overuse and misuse occurring today. This study finds that alternative treatment options, such as fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT), immunotherapy, and probiotics, offer promising ways to prevent CDIs and recurrent infections, thus showing that they deserve additional attention and greater focus in current stewardship efforts.
Children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) experience marked difficulty acquiring their ambient language in the absence of any other overt symptoms (Bishop et al., 2016, 2017). A wealth of research is available to guide identification and treatment of preschool-aged children with DLD in the area of grammar (e.g., Gladfelter & Leonard, 2013; Rice & Wexler, 1996). Specifically, within grammar, finite verb morphology or finiteness (morphemes that convey verb tense and agreement) appears to be the most noticeable deficit in these children during the preschool years. The current study addresses a gap in the literature regarding the identification of best methods of documenting progress following grammatical treatment for DLD. Pre- and post-treatment language samples from six children who received treatment for finiteness (Hoover & Storkel, 2013) will be analyzed and the following five measures will be derived: mean length of utterance in morphemes (MLU; e.g., Brown, 1973); number of different words; number of different verbs; a finite verb morphology composite (Bedore & Leonard, 1998); and tense and agreement productivity score (Hadley & Short, 2005). Given the children’s most marked deficit is within finiteness and that this was also the focus of their treatment, we predict measures more narrowly focused on finiteness to be a more accurate reflection of treatment progress than more global measures of grammar. Results will 1) inform best practice for speech-language pathologists’ measurement of goals pertaining to grammar and 2) motivate future studies examining best practice for assessing progress following treatment for DLD.
Manufactured doubt is a description of the strategies used by industries, organizations, and individuals to legally, politically, or scientifically obscure the harmful effects of their products or work. Through a literature-based review of relevant texts, my analysis aims to compare and contrast varying strategies from five different cases: coal, tobacco, climate change, Atrazine, and the sugar industry. Important literature of note includes: Naomi Oreskes’ Merchants of Doubt, David Michaels’ Doubt is Their Product, papers by Tyrone Hayes regarding Atrazine use, the New York Times’ Anahad O’Connor article (How the Sugar Industry Shifted Blame to Fat), Sugar Industry and Coronary Heart Disease Research by Cristin Kearns et al., and the Center for Public Integrity publications regarding black lung. Case-studies of representative examples were conducted to gather data on the varying methods used by involved parties to manufacture doubt. I find that both the strategies and the conditions for manufacturing doubt depend on the type of group trying to obscure facts, the groups over which they have power, and other invested parties. By discovering this information, more effective methods for identifying and countering instances of manufactured doubt can be generated. This research will also answer the question of who can manufacture doubt, which relates to emerging platforms for doing so, including the role of citizen scientists and social media. By distinguishing the breadth of tactics and motives, whether they are financial, authoritative, or otherwise, an improved definition of manufactured doubt is produced.
The Interactions between Genetics and Disparities May Predict Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Outcomes among American Women
The aggressive breast cancer subtype TNBC (Triple Negative Breast Cancer) represents a diverse group of cancers characterized by a lack of expression of estrogen receptors (ER), progesterone receptors (PR), and the amplification of varying tumor genes. In the United States, high rates of TNBC incidence occur in women with BRCA1 mutations and African American women, and such cases are often associated with metastasis, co-morbid diseases, and high mortality rates. Current research disagrees on the differences and causes behind varying survival rates of African American vs. white American women. Some experts argue that an individual’s biology alone determines TNBC incidence or outcome whereas others assert that the persistence of differences suggests that social disparities in healthcare, nutrition, and safe neighborhood access may drive aggressive biology. In order to understand the potential intersections of genetics and inequalities, the relationships between the social determinants of health and TNBC propensity and vulnerability, must be mapped. Connections may exist between disparities in income and nutritional access, resulting in co-morbid disease such as diabetes, and ultimately activating signaling networks such as WNT-miR34-p53 which can in turn trigger aggressive tumor formation. Thus the following work analyzes the connection between disparity and biology in TNBC incidence and outcome for American women through visuals of pathways linking genetics, epigenetics, and disparities.
This study will examine young children with a condition called Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) (formerly referred to as specific language impairment – SLI; Bishop, 2017). DLD is a heritable language disorder affecting 7% of monolingual kindergarten children in the United States (Tomblin et al., 1997). It is the most common form of pediatric language disorder. Children with DLD experience a number of linguistic and cognitive challenges, but this study will focus on beginning to build a comprehensive profile of vocabulary skills in children ages 5 – 7 years with DLD in comparison with two control groups: 1) same-aged peers who have unimpaired language skills and 2) typically developing children who are younger than the DLD group but who have a receptive vocabulary size equivalent to the DLD group. Weak vocabulary skills place children at risk for academic failure given their critical role in reading and writing. To address our goal of comprehensively examining vocabulary skills, we will administer three tasks –each measuring a unique aspect of vocabulary. Recruitment and data collection is ongoing for this study, but the eventual findings will be used to motivate intervention studies aimed at improving vocabulary for children with SLI with the ultimate goal of lessening the impact of having poor language on the lives of affected children.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder prevalent in approximately one in 68 children and is generally characterized by a qualitative impairment in communication, social communication and social interaction. Some individuals with ASD exhibit atypical speech characterized by high pitch vocal quality, monopitch, monoloudness, or atypical prosody. The presence of speech atypicalities may have adverse effects on the social communication for some individuals with ASD, thus possibly hindering their acceptance into peer groups and society. There is a paucity of research regarding the underlying mechanisms to explain the presence of atypical speech characteristics in individuals with ASD. One theory suggests that the speech atypicalities associated with ASD are due to abnormal auditory processing abilities. This study compared the auditory processing abilities of 11 teenagers with ASD between the ages of 14-19 years matched for receptive language, age and gender to a control group of 11 typically developing (TD) peers. Participants’ auditory processing abilities were screened using the SCAN-3 Test for Auditory Processing Disorders. The SCAN-3 results were analyzed with respect to similarities and differences to motor speech execution, motor programming and planning abilities, expressive-receptive prosodic abilities, and expressive-receptive language. This study sheds insight into the atypical prosodic and behavioral characteristics exhibited by individuals with ASD compared to their TD peers with respect to receptive and expressive prosodic, auditory processing, speech, and receptive-expressive language abilities.
The United States Opioid Epidemic: A Comparative Analysis of Systemic Risk Factors
The United States is currently suffering from a severe public health crisis in the form of opiate abuse. According to the CDC, an average of 115 Americans dying every day due to an opioid overdose. This research seeks to better understand the factors that have contributed to this crisis in the United States and the best approaches for addressing the epidemic. It is conducted through a comparative analysis of the United States, Canada, and Portugal, focusing on systemic risk factors for opioid addiction instead of individual ones. It finds that socioeconomic inequalities exacerbate individual risk factors for opioid abuse. Portugal's approach, that emphasizes decriminalization and focuses on harm reduction and prevention, has proven more effective in addressing the problem.
Scientists are discovering exciting new genetic engineering techniques and progressing at an unprecedented rate, leading to a lack of oversight on the possible consequences of innovative practices and the misuse of information. The dual-use dimensions of genetic engineering increase the possibility of dire consequences, leaving individuals vulnerable and raising fears about non-state groups exploiting new techniques to enhance the virulence or spread of lethal pathogens. Existing legislation does not adequately address these developments, especially in the field of synthetic biology and the growing viability of CRISPR-Cas technology.
This thesis argues that the public is woefully underprepared for an attack and a shift in focus is needed to prevent crises. In order to support this argument, this thesis examines bioweapons regulation, responsible conduct of research, dual-use of genetic engineering, and an overview of scientific responsibility frameworks. These frameworks will be analyzed and dissected to create an improved, implementable plan for scientific responsibility in the face of increasing biological threats to humans and the ecosystem.
Recommendations on the best feasible framework are given for promoting safe discoveries and holding scientists accountable for genetic engineering practices. This includes improvements to current regulations, adopting a universal code of conduct for scientists, and promoting international cooperation to uphold these standards. The model needs to be enforced worldwide to prevent a genetically engineered, virulent pathogen from killing civilians and to ultimately minimize the threat that synthetic biology presents to the public.
The prevalence rate of Type 2 Diabetes (TD2M) in Massachusetts is 8.5 cases per 100 people, with over 450 thousand self-reported cases of the disease in patients 18 or older. TD2M development is highly influenced by lifestyle such as sedentary activity, diet, and other learned behaviors. Most studies regarding perception of TD2M are focused on older adults who are at a higher risk for developing the disease. However, research suggests that significant lifestyle habits are formed during young adulthood, and these behaviors can put young adults at risk for major chronic diseases later in life. The purpose of this study is to better understand the perceptions and perceived risk of TD2M among college students and how those perceptions correlate with nutritional habits. This study will provide relevant information on the current thoughts and behaviors of Worcester State University students regarding nutritional habits and TD2M. This information can help health educators plan targeted interventions for this population in order to prevent the onset of TD2M and other chronic diseases later in life.
A Brief Analysis of the Medical Management of the 2014-2016 Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak in West Africa
Starting in 2014, Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) ravaged through the population of West Africa, primarily affecting Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. With over 28,000 infections and 11,000 deaths, the deadly outbreak was the largest recorded, demanding extensive efforts from both local and international healthcare workers and public health officials. Tragically, the disease took months to properly diagnose and EVD spread rapidly to communities and the clinicians treating them. While the epidemic officially ended in 2016, a comprehensive analysis of the strengths and shortcomings of the medical management of the disease could be used to better prepare for future infectious disease outbreaks. Using scholarly literature accessed through EBSCO host and PubMed, news articles, first-hand accounts, and governmental reports and press releases, this thesis assesses how the epidemic was managed from a treatment perspective. By analyzing the amount of experienced healthcare workers present, education provided to local healthcare staff, and funds allocated by international aid agencies, recommendations for the management of future outbreaks are highlighted. Findings concluded that better diagnostic and patient triaging strategies need to be implemented. Additionally, educating healthcare workers more effectively including local citizens in decision-making needs to be executed. Given the slow response of international aid in this outbreak, future efforts will need to focus on decreasing the time spent supplying medical facilities with supportive care. Additional studies in health policy, governmental and non-governmental organization response, and medical diagnostics are needed.
There are approximately 1.5 million Americans over the age of 65 who are living in one of 17,000 nursing homes. The dual pressures of increasing demand for beds and rising costs contribute to a growing crisis in assuring the quality of care and oversight of nursing home facilities. This thesis examines how nursing home facilities are rated in Massachusetts and identifies violations that continue to occur in facilities according to federal reports. This study finds that the daily abuses that occur in nursing homes do not receive nearly enough attention; nursing home residents are often unable to advocate for themselves. By allowing this abuse and neglect to continue, we are truly failing the frail.
While the importance of medical attention and sanitation are the most measurable types of neglect and unquestionably important, this study argues that these aspects of care receive an unbalanced amount of attention that comes at the expense of the rampant problem of the emotional and social neglect of residents in nursing homes. Emotional neglect is commonly the most ignored category of abuse due to the difficulty in quantifying an individual’s quality of life. This thesis proposes that there is inadequate attention and oversight of emotional and social neglect. Following a review of current conditions and standards of care in Massachusetts nursing homes using existing surveys and federal violation reports, this thesis concludes with a proposal to add survey questions under the environment category of the current rating system to better address overall quality of life and offers an important first step to initiate institution-wide change.
College athletes represent a potentially high risk population for developing melanoma due to their elevated exposure to ultraviolet radiation. This project seeks to determine what the current attitudes, beliefs, and practices are among college level athletes regarding melanoma prevention. It presents information on sunscreen use, tanning bed use and tanning practices, sunburn incidence, and overall ultraviolet radiation exposure. Six relevant articles pertaining to athletes in the United States were found using PubMed and EBSCO Host. Each study administered a self-reporting survey to college athletes, asking about beliefs and practices related to sun safety and skin cancer prevention. Main findings indicate high sun exposure (15 hours/ week) and low levels of preventative measures among athletes. There is a low rate of sunscreen use (up to 85% of athletes do not use sunscreen) and a high rate of sunburns (up to 84%). Athletes demonstrate misunderstanding about the risk of tanning, and up to 52.8% used a tanning bed in the past year. Given the results of the study, I have developed an interventional resource for athletes, coaches, and athletic administration that aimed towards improving current melanoma prevention in college athletes.
Objective: To examine how food-insecurity can have adverse effects on childhood development in rural areas of Texas in the United States.
Background: Food insecurity can be defined as the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. A lack of proper nutrition during childhood has been shown to negatively impact education and social skills. Food insecure children have more cognitive and behavioral problems when compared to their food-secure peers. Texas has the highest number of children than any other state in America with 27.1% of the children being food insecure. South Texas has the highest rate of child food insecurity in the nation with 48% being considered at risk for hunger.
Participants: The studies used in this review were conducted in rural areas of Texas, USA. The focus of the research will be done on food-insecure school-aged children.
Methods: Studies will be accessed using the databases PubMed and Google Scholar. Keywords will include: “food-insecure”, “rural”, “development”, “nutrition”, “children”, “effects”, "household", "Texas". To find interventions, other keywords will include "SNAP", "transportation", "school lunch program".
Results: Preliminary research indicates that food-insecurity is directly related to negative outcomes of physical and mental development in children. Other research showed access to federal nutrition programs, food banks and participation in school nutrition programs as a way to reduce the number of food insecure children.
Conclusion: Preliminary research indicates that SNAP, school lunch programs and better public transportation are possible interventions to address food insecurity in children.
The Fresh Air Wristband: Profiling Environmental Exposures Using a Wearable Air Pollutant Monitor
Air pollution is a major public health concern due to the strong evidence from epidemiological and experimental studies demonstrating adverse health effects. Specific groups of pollutants have been associated with enhanced adverse health, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Current laboratories methods for assessing exposure to these panels of compounds are tedious, limiting the feasibility of evaluating personal exposure on a larger scale. With the aim of enhancing sample analysis throughput, we designed a novel low-cost wearable passive sampler for measuring personal VOC and PAH exposures. Our sampler uses a glass-encased magnetic bar coated with a polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) film to sequester and concentrate a wide range of organic compounds. This small PDMS coated bar (1 cm length, 0.5 cm diameter) has been housed in silicone wristbands to promote wearability, providing an improved representation of an individual’s exposure. To further streamline the analysis process, VOC and PAH compounds collected on the PDMS film are thermally desorbed directly into a gas chromatography time-of-flight mass spectrometer for separation and quantification. Results profiling personal exposures to 34 to 37 targeted compounds collected over exposure periods from a range of rural, suburban and urban microenvironments will be presented. Personal exposure was characterized to a range of sources including transportation and industry as well as environmental pollutants from household cleaning and personal care products.
Mass violence like the
school shooting that recently occurred in Parkland, Florida forefronts how the
nation's struggles to explain gun violence to issues
of mental health. Legislation has been enacted to limit individuals diagnosed
with mental illness from acquiring firearms in
an effort to prevent violent outbreaks. This controversy has major
implications not just in the mental health community, but to the American
public in the sense that they see loners, people with social difficulties, as potential
violent perpetrators. My research focuses on how United States gun control
policies create an
inaccurate stereotype that belittles an entire group of people. It also aims to demonstrate how certain state and federal gun control policies endanger doctor
patient confidentiality and ostracize the mentally ill: these
policies are known as, “reactionary gun control legislation”. Dr. Jonathan
Metzl, Professor of Psychiatry at Vanderbilt University, breaks down the mental
health/gun violence discussion into commonly misinterpreted stigmas or beliefs.
He disproves these stigmas with evidence as well as his psychiatric insight.
Moreover, individuals with mental illness are far more likely to be victims of
violent crime than perpetrators. We often see the perpetrator’s mental health
come into question after a major tragedy, the American public seeks to find
quick accountability for the crime, and the media creates the outlet for the
public to make their assumptions.
Using Preferred Visual Stimuli to Deliver Telepractice Services to Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Research supports that individuals with ASD show an affinity for technologies, suggesting that Telepractice models may be more captivating for delivering Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) intervention services compared to traditional On-Site therapy. This study investigated using a Telepractice (synchronous videoconferencing) platform to investigate: 1) the type of visual stimuli preferred by children with ASD