The future of employment is on every graduate's mind. This research focuses on the theory of employment, including what employment is, the effects of employment in our economy, and benefits of employment. It also delves into what employment was like in the past, as far back as 200 years ago, as well as the current state of employment and what kinds of jobs are now fading. Lastly, this research explores the paradigm of employment and what we should be expecting in the near future.
With the overuse of anthelmintics (dewormers) in
the horse community, parasite resistance is on the rise and horse owners are
relying more on fecal tests to monitor for resistance. This study examined the
horses at the University of Massachusetts Amherst over a three month period to
check for parasite levels and signs of resistance in S. cyathostomins (small
strongyles), and compared different fecal float methods for accuracy. The methods used include the Modified McMaster
Fecal Egg Count, Modified Wisconsin Fecal Egg Count (both pre and post
treatment), and Fecal Egg Count Reduction Test (FECRT). Data was collected and
analyzed from different groups of horses based on age, breed, and gender. The
data collected included Egg Reappearance Period (ERP), eggs per gram, and efficacy
of different classes of dewormers. This information is critical to creating a targeted
deworming program and preventing future parasite resistance.
The establishment and development of a healthy gut microbial community is essential for infant health. Human breast milk can influence the gut microbial community by providing human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), which are indigestible by the infant and act as prebiotics for favorable infant gut microbes. Breast milk can also directly transfer microbes from breast to belly. There is little information about the effects of maternal diet on the gut microbiome of the breastfed infant. We have a unique opportunity to examine the effects of maternal diet on the infant gut microbial community. Infant fecal samples were collected adjunct to a study modifying maternal diet to increase fruit and vegetable consumption. Fecal samples were collected from 10 infants (1 to 26 months old); 5 from the control group and 5 from the intervention group at baseline and at 12 weeks. Three of 10 infants were exclusively breastfed at the baseline collection point, and two of 10 infants at the final collection. Seven of the 10 infants were vaginally delivered. The infant gut microbial community will be determined for samples collected at baseline and at 12 weeks using next generation sequencing of 16s rRNA (V3 and V4 region) in this unique nutritional context.
Epidemiologic studies assessing methylation of white blood cell DNA using array technology have identified CpG sites associated with breast cancer risk. These intriguing results require validation with highly sensitive technology. Massively parallel amplicon sequencing of bisulfite-modified DNA, in which a cytosine to uracil nucleotide change indicates an unmethylated CpG site, is considered one of the most sensitive technologies for detecting sequence-specific cytosine methylation. However, development of primers for non-biased amplification of methylated and unmethylated DNA within CpG-dense regions remains difficult and a potential obstacle to validation studies. In the present study we developed primers for 28 target amplicons containing CpG sites with methylation patterns previously shown to be associated with breast cancer risk. Tagmentation-mediated DNA library preparation, and high-throughput Illumina NextSeq amplicon sequencing of DNA with known percent of methylation (0, 5, 10, 15, 25, 50, 75 and 100) allowed us to assess the extent to which our methods accurately detected methylation of specific CpG sites. Of the 28 target amplicons, only eight exhibited R2>0.9 between the expected and the observed methylation. To further verify these 8 target amplicons, we used quantitative PCR to ensure a single product in the dissociation curve. We now plan to capitalize on prospectively-drawn sera originating from the Prostate, Lung, Colon, and Ovarian Cancer National Cancer Institute cohort, by examining white blood cell DNA methylation for the 8 target amplicons from sera taken 1-2 years and 4-7 years prior to breast cancer diagnosis among 300 cases and 300 controls.
This paper examines how growing up in a bilingual-bicultural environment influences an individual’s identity and perception of self. A bilingual-bicultural environment includes the home, as well as the outside settings such as an English as a Second Language (ESL) classroom. Much research has been done on how identifying as bilingual develops and how education influences an individual’s identity. Less research has been done examining how bicultural identities and values play a role in self-identification. Based on existing literature and personal interviews, this project analyzes how individuals develop bicultural identity, focusing primarily on bilingualism and family culture.
There are a number of striking similarities between the Theory of Evolution and Native American Mythology. This piece seeks to highlight those similarities through a discussion of the mythology of the Navajo, Cherokee, and Sioux nations, and the ways in which they parallel the current Theory of Evolution. Methods of research for this project include observational fieldwork at Native American and Natural History museums, and the utilization of scientific sources coupled with the writings of Native authors and other experts. Some of the major similarities identified between Evolution and Native American mythology include the roles that these two theories played in their respective societies, and how they embody the idea of an evolving creation from the primitive to the advanced. This presentation challenges society’s current view of evolution with the hope to spark further discussion of this topic.
Trees have a variety of functions on this planet; they provide oxygen, shade, habitats for birds, etc. While trees are quite resilient, factors such as weather, human negligence, diseases, and predators challenge their ability to live out their lifespan. In this project, we educated ourselves on some of the threats trees face and we developed possible solutions to these problems. In times where a building site is undergoing excavation it is likely that existing trees are neglected and damaged by heavy machinery. One of our design schemes is to install an intervention around the base of a tree that acts as a buffer from approaching machinery. This buffer would have a reactive feature meaning when force is applied to it the buffer would compress so as to further protect the tree as well as thwarting the oncoming vehicle. In another case, people often grow shrubs underneath the eaves of their houses. In snowy climates, the snow will slide down the roof and onto the shrub. We explored how shrubbery could be protected from snow but rather than the tent-like system that is commonly used, we developed a new design that has some artistic flare while also being snow repellent. Finally, deer can be detrimental predators to a tree. We explored schematic designs for a wrap-around tree protection device that encases the tree trunk while featuring deterrent, defensive spikes.
My current artwork strives to represent how I visually interpret and interact the world. I want use my paintings to share with others how I take interest and find beauty in neglected objects while strolling outdoors, and in doing so I hope to make the viewer more aware of these objects, places and environments. I am interested in the things that other people would not normally notice. I find beauty in rusty fences, muddy sidewalks, and the strides of people walking around me. I hope to show my fascination with these otherwise mundane objects and share the beauty I find in the everyday to viewers. My goal is to make them look around outside with a more thoughtful and curious point of view. In my presentation I will explore the influence of several generations of painters who have been important to my artistic development. In addition I will show how my studio work has progressed over the course of my studies.
I am keenly interested in leveraging the aesthetics and strategies of visual art to help spread awareness of environmental issues, such as the decline of bee populations due to neonicotinoids in fertilizers, and to help encourage self-awareness when buying or using everyday products. Bringing awareness about environmental issues like neonicotinoids and their effect on bee populations is important since bee pollination is a vital part of growing food and maintaining life. Bees obtain the chemicals from the fertilizers by coming in contact with them while pollinating and foraging and by ingesting the chemicals while feeding off the nectar of contaminated plants. Some of the effects of the neonicotinoids on bees are reduced food consumption, reduced reproduction, and difficulty flying and navigating. I believe that the power of art, its ability to convey complex and meaningful content, and its ability to speak to a diverse audience is a vital aspect of this project. Art has the capacity to capture attention and to be a catalyst for change. I hope to use this agency to change minds and inspire action.
For my project I created five large-scale paintings interpreting the emotions conveyed in Vocalise Op 34, No. 14 by Sergie Rachmaninoff and performed by Joshua Bell, Michael Stern and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. After listening to Vocalise, I identified a number of repeating motifs, each with distinct feelings and emotions. Each painting in the series is a response to motif and their order in the installation parallels their appearance in Vocalise. My final painting, Vocalise Number 5 interprets the song’s dénouement, the only motif that does not repeat. The paintings were created using an experimental process, layering traditional acrylic paint with acrylic spray paint and high-flow acrylic on canvas.
This year marks my eighth semester as an Art major with a Graphic Design concentration at Salem State University. I am presenting a portfolio that showcases the work that I have researched, envisioned, sketched, and executed. Because of my general interest in art in many forms, my design style has evolved throughout the years. I have recently been implementing other mediums of work into my Graphic Design. I want to be able to showcase different aspects and mediums of art within one vessel. Because my portfolio is a reflection of me as both a person and a designer, my personality shows through in each piece that I have created.
As an art major with a concentration in Interactive Multimedia, I am presenting a portfolio that includes examples of graphic design, animation and web design. As I am completing my degree at Salem State University and moving into the professional world, I look forward to the opportunity to improve my communication skills as well has learn from other talented people.
Since a very young age, I have always enjoyed creative pursuits such as drawing, painting, sculpture, woodworking, and design. After a creative high school career, followed by a year in a college studying architecture, I took a few years off from the educational system to work in various trades and occupations. I ultimately decided to once again pursue a college degree, this time with a focus on graphic design which I felt was a logical and practical path based on all my previous experiences. Graphic design proved to be a great direction and I feel that my work over the past several years has helped my progress significantly as a designer, artist and a person. I would like to share my portfolio and some of that work that I have created over the past few years. My portfolio includes print work such as posters, flyers, booklets, brochures; electronic media such as web design, logos, and animation; and also conceptual projects like branding, style guides, visual identities, and research. There are many parallels between design and other disciplines and careers, and there is much to be gained from sharing and collaborating with others.
An art student is someone that is able to look at the world and transform it into an experience. A graphic designer’s job is more than just creating aesthetically pleasing work it’s about creating an interactive experience for a viewer. It’s important to engage the audience. The same could be said about researching art. Being an art major is about taking in the world around you and giving back your thoughts and ideas. Salem State University has helped me reflect on many things including self expression, professionalism, creativity and productivity. I will share a selection of my own work to demonstrate my development as an artist over the past three years.
My inspiration for this project has been my love of Nature and Art having witnessed many awesome wonders and disasters of Nature during my lifetime. This Capstone project is a three dimensional multi-media installation displaying eight facial masks depicting Humanity’s lack of understanding the role of Nature as a partner. This has led us to the current challenge for our generation, climate change. These masks display our past history up to the present day; human sacrifice, war, deforestation, pollution of the oceans, nuclear effects, greed, broken dreams & promises, as well as hope for the future. Each mask has been placed in a frame as a wall hanging with sculpture armaments, natural materials, oil paints, paper, sand and recycled materials. Two floor pedestals display man’s brain being exposed to new thinking and an open heart being held by loving hands, while a wooden carved raven observes throughout history as the future hangs in balance. Now that we are aware of our role creating climate change, we are recycling our used materials. Solar energy is replacing fossil fuels. Biomimicry is a new biological field helping us understand the secrets of Nature. I am truly hopeful that by becoming partners with nature, we will provide a new carbon free era for the next generation to thrive in. As John Muir says, “When one thing tugs at a single thing in nature he finds it attached to the rest of the world."
This project consists of multiple two-dimensional pieces of mixed media work focused on animal agriculture and the unnecessary pain that is inflicted on animals at the hands of humans. This subject matter is important for people to become aware of because exploiting animals has a greater impact than people often think. The focus is not only on different animals but also different means of exploitation such as the food industry, clothing industry, and animal testing in cosmetics. Rabbits are routinely doused in chemicals to make a new formula for mascara. Instead of using animals for clothing there are alternatives for people to find protection from the elements that don't involve animals. The meat and dairy industries are not only cruel to the animals but also heavily contribute to global climate change. My work uses painting, drawing and collage featured on various sized canvas’s which collectively come together as one cohesive piece. While the work is inspired by animal exploitation, they are not graphic. The viewer will find the work aesthetically compelling too. My work uses grayscale in order to draw attention to the content without the distractions of color.
There’s considerable social support towards African Americans, Women and even animals, but not much for the Hispanic and Latino community. In the midst of current events, much hatred and discrimination has arisen against minorities. The nation’s president plans to “build a wall to keep Mexicans out” was the inspiration of for this project. Facebook has a “wall” in which an individual can post thoughts, pictures, share videos, etc. A Contemporary Digital Mexican Mural, uses the idea of a conceptual wall to build a digital mural to respond to the issues of the Latin and Hispanic community. My art work is a digital and interactive projection of a Facebook page on the gallery. It is a conceptual word-based project. The page will invite the participation of the audience. It will be a digital mural displaying imagery pertaining Mexican muralism, information about the movement, and articles of current issues. The posts presented on the page suggest a correlation to issues presented in traditional Mexican murals. However, there are opportunities for the audience to react to a post or comment in the digital mural. This interaction will allow the audience to follow the page and “Like it” from the comfort of their smart devices, and encourage them to actively respond/participate on the page. In this manner, the audience will not only end up learning and understanding the challenges, hardships and issues of the Latinos and Hispanic community, but they will also have the choice to get involved with the subject.
My capstone research is based on the Palmyrene Queen Zenobia from the 3rd century AD, who fought relentlessly against the Romans to protect her empire and her people. As a woman, Rome saw her unfit to rule, yet she led armies of men, fought alongside them, thereby securing her people’s faith and admiration. She is a true heroine, but her story is fragmented and seems to have been forgotten in history. I feel a responsibility to share her story and restore her rightful place as an inspiration to women all over the world. With the recent destruction of her ancient city of Palmyra by ISIS in 2015, the timing feels right. Using a multitude of materials ranging from, but not limited to, clay, plaster, wood, stone, paint and ink, I am creating my own memorial to Queen Zenobia. The pieces of her story are scattered over a wood panel. Utilizing cuneiform and symbols pertaining to the culture of her time, mixed with my own interpretation of her esteemed place in history, I am shining light on her role as an “ancient feminist.” She fought persistently against patriarchy. The struggle for her place in history continues into the contemporary era as Palmyra has experienced devastating destruction of its artifacts when the bombs went off in Palmyra almost 2 years ago. This is a woman deserving a place in the forefront of strong, inspirational females in history, and I truly hope my work does her justice.
This installation is inspired by the lotus, a powerful cultural and religious symbol depicted throughout many cultures for over two thousand years. Representations of the lotus can be seen in paintings and sculptures throughout art history symbolizing awareness, potential and perfection, honesty, rebirth and creation itself. Lotus blossoms have been associated with the deities of many religions of the ancient Near East, the Mediterranean and Africa. A member of the water lily family, this beautiful, fragrant flower emerges in the morning from mud and water, then subsides in the evening back into the water. This aspect has attracted cultures over millennia to regard the flower as a metaphor for the path to spiritual enlightenment. The mud signifies worldly experience from which the blossom rises striving for purity and enlightenment. This aspect attracted me to envision a twenty-first century adaptation. My work reflects the interconnectedness of all life and a collective rising above the challenges of worldly experiences. The Lotus Installation consists of eighty suspended three-dimensional forms created from various Japanese papers, some dyed using plant sources. The forms are supported by plant materials, such as dried branches and stems, many of which I have cut and gathered. Hanging rice paper banners delineate the space and echo the theme. The installation invites viewers to participate by using lotus symbol stamps to create a communal banner and a small personal version which they may take away.
When Life Gives You Lemons is a children’s book with an original storyline and illustrations. The story is about Life, a butterfly, giving lemons to the other character, a human-like girl, and turning a sudden and unwanted situation into something worthwhile. As a double major in Visual Art and Education, I often work with young students. The firsthand experience with younger students has confirmed that books have a more meaningful impact on their lives than most people imagine. This inspired an interest to create a children’s picture book that will help guide their lives even after the book is closed. While searching through the library’s collection of children’s picture books, I came upon a book called, What Do You Do With An Idea?, written by Kobi Yamada and illustrated by Mae Besom. That book was the impetus to create a book about how to deal with life’s challenges. It was while reflecting back on my own personal life’s mottos that creating a storybook about searching for the positive side of everything in life became the message of this project.A few children’s book illustrators and authors like Kobi Yamada, Mae Besom, and Aaron Becker who create incredibly detailed artwork with simple storylines are the biggest inspiration for this book. Storytellers have an important impact on children’s lives, and this book, When Life Gives You Lemons, intends to encourage children to persevere through the challenges that happen in everyone’s life.
We investigate the sensitivity of 15 commonly applied turbulent statistics to complex molecular gas chemistry. We analyze hydrodynamic simulations of turbulent, star-forming molecular clouds that are post-processed with the photo-dissociation region astrochemistry code 3D-PDR. Our models represent synthetic 12CO(1-0) and CI(3P1-3P0) maps with various chemical complexities and background radiation fields. To characterize differences between the datasets, we perform statistical measurements, identify diagnostics indicative of our simulation parameters, and quantify the responses by using a variety of distance metrics. We find that multiple turbulent statistics are sensitive not only to the systematic incorporation of underlying chemical parameters, but also to the strength of the background radiation field. The statistics with meaningful responses include the PCA, delta-variance, and dendrograms. A few of the statistics, such as the VCS, are also only sensitive to the type of tracer being utilized, while others, like the skewness, are strictly responsive to the background radiation field. Collectively, these findings indicate that more realistic chemistry impacts the responses of turbulent statistics and is necessary for accurate statistical comparisons between models and observed molecular clouds.
Faraday Rotation Measure Synthesis (Rm-Synthesis) enables highly detailed studies of extragalactic magnetism. This technique analyzes the amount by which polarized emission from background sources located behind an imaged galaxy is rotated while passing through the magnetized plasma with the galaxy's disk and halo. This rotation of the polarized light is known as a Rotation Measure (RM), and the value and sign of the RM contains information regarding the magnitude and orientation of the magnetic field in the region of the galaxy the light passes through. Continuing the work of the CHANG-ES collaboration (Continuum HAlos in Nearby Galaxies -- an EVLA Survey), we have incorporated this technique in our study of NGC 3044, finding a map of RMs that extends approximately 5 kpc away from the plane of the galactic disk. We are able to map the magnetic field of the galaxy well into its halo as a result of this extensive RM map, and our map of the galaxy's magnetic field is in agreement with previous results published by the CHANG-ES collaboration. In addition, we detect three field reversals in our mapping of RMs through this technique -- one that occurs above the galactic plane, one that occurs below the galactic plane, and one that occurs as the magnetic field passes through the plane of the galactic disk.
Estrogen plays an essential role in the reproductive system and mammary development, which could be pivotal to the research in breast and other endocrine related cancers. To investigate the effects of estrogen in vivo, treatments of estrogen must be administered to mice. Estrogen is a lipid soluble molecule, and can therefore diffuse through the cell membrane to bind to estrogen receptors . Consequently, it is possible to treat mice with estrogen using silastic pellets, which allows the use of crystallized or lypophilized hormones mixed with cellulose . Strom et al has done similar work in delivering exogenous estrogen into mice and demonstrated that use of silastic pellets was one of the more consistent and efficient methods . However, new regulations by the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) now require sterilization of compounds administered to animals. Therefore, this study intends to determine if sterilization with γ-irradiation (IR) diminishes the activity of the estrogen in the silastic pellets. The findings of the study demonstrated that even after sterilization through IR, the pellets were still effective in secreting E2, and that the E2 was not compromised. Using an E2 ELISA, the blood serum of E2 treated mice were tested, and found to have very high concentrations of E2. Then, using a BrdU assay, the tissues of these mice had shown that the estrogen treatment was still effective because the percent proliferation of the E2 treated mice was greater than that of the control mice.
Small Heat Shock Proteins (sHSPs) are a class of ATP-independent chaperones that are thought to act as molecular life vests to protect misfolding proteins from irreversible aggregation. The typical architecture of a sHSP monomer consists of three domains: a disordered N-terminal arm, a highly conserved α-crystallin domain, and a flexible C-terminal extension. In their native state sHSP monomers form oligomers of 12 or more subunits. Upon stress, these oligomers disassemble into active dimers, exposing hydrophobic surfaces that can interact with nonpolar patches on misfolded substrates. Despite this known information, interactions between sHSPs and substrates, particularly in vivo, remain poorly understood. The goal of this work is to examine in vivo interactions of a sHSP with substrates in Synechocystis 6803, a cyanobacterium with a single sHSP, Hsp16.6, which is required for thermotolerance. The photoinducible cross-linker, benzoyl-L-phenylalanine (Bpa), will be introduced at the position of five residues within the different sHSP domains; positions were chosen based on successful in vitro cross-linking results with a homologous higher plant sHSP. Residues were also chosen based on chemical similarities to Bpa in order to minimize compromising the three dimensional structure of Hsp16.6. The modified proteins will be expressed and purified from E.coli, and their activity as chaperones will be tested. Proteins with wild type activity will be introduced into a Synechocystis strain engineered to incorporate Bpa, enabling crosslinking to sHSP substrates in vivo. Crosslinked proteins can then be identified by mass spectrometry, increasing our understanding of the role of sHSPs during stress.
The aim of this project is to develop a new method for intracellular protein labeling. This will be accomplished by utilizing an alternative substrate of the hydroxylating enzyme Factor Inhibiting Hypoxia Inducible Factor-1α (FIH), which is an Fe(II) α-ketoglutarate-dependent enzyme that hydroxylates the β-carbon of amino acid side chains of its peptide substrates. FIH has been shown to modify a handful of peptide sequences, such as Ankyrin Repeat Domain (ARD) peptides, with varying target residues. This project focuses on the ARD peptide with the target residue serine. This substrate has been identified as a good target for bioorthogonal labeling due to the formation of an aldehyde, an uncommon biological function group, on the substrate after FIH hydroxylates the serine residue. The formation of the aldehyde on the peptide substrate has been confirmed using various carbonyl-specific chemical reactions, and the modification site has been confirmed using tandem mass spectrometry. A fusion protein of this substrate with Maltose Binding Protein (MBP) has been prepared and is currently being probed for its activity with FIH. If successful, this project will develop a new method for protein labeling and visualization, which will allow for a more complete understanding of the timing of protein expression and the lifetime and localization of proteins.
Older women experience a larger decline in skeletal muscle function as compared to older men. This decline in muscle function increases their risk for physical disabilities and reduces their overall quality of life. Recent work from our laboratory demonstrated that this age-related skeletal muscle dysfunction could be partially explained by sex-specific alterations in the interaction of myosin and actin, the two primary proteins responsible for muscle contraction. Reduced phosphorylation levels of a protein that binds to myosin, the regulatory light chain (RLC), can possibly explain the slower myosin-actin interactions in older women. To better understand this relationship, RLC phosphorylation studies must be completed in single fibers from humans. As of today, RLC phosphorylation has never been measured at the single fiber level. Initial results in mice have shown that the total RLC protein can be measured via gel electrophoresis at the single fiber level using standard staining reagents such as Coomassie Blue and Silver Stain. Continued research is underway to increase our sensitivity for detecting phosphorylated and non-phosphorylated RLC. We are optimizing a three-step Western blot (primary, secondary and streptavidin) to amplify the chemiluminescent signal. The nontraditional streptavidin step relies on an interaction with a biotinylated secondary antibody. Additionally, the addition of Phos-tag to the acrylamide gels allows separation of phosphorylated and non-phosphorylated RLC without using urea solubilization. The successful optimization of this technique will allow us to test our hypothesis that RLC phosphorylation contributes to decreased skeletal muscle function in older adults, especially women.
Several negative trends in male reproductive health have emerged over time including lower male fertility and a higher rate of germ line cancers, which are linked to a variety of endocrine disruptors. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are well-established endocrine disruptors and research supports their role in the improper development of the male reproductive system. The blood-testis barrier (BTB) is responsible for protecting sperm during proliferation, while the mTOR1 and mTOR2 complexes regulate the actin and tight junction proteins that compose it. Inhibition of mTORC1 and knockdown of both complexes was shown to disrupt spermatogenesis and lead to atrophy of mice testis. Our hypothesis is that PBDE reproductive toxicity is modulated through mTOR by disrupting the BTB and therefore spermatogenesis. To explore this 14 pregnant female Wistar rats were exposed to 0.2mg of PBDE-47/kg/day from pregnancy day 8 to postpartum day 21, before the separation of male pups from mothers that were euthanized on postnatal day 120. Sperm smears were sampled, differentially stained, and examined via microscopy. Cross-sections of testis were mounted on slides, stained with immunohistochemistry for proteins related to BTB integrity, and observed using microscopy. Analysis of sperm head dimensions and morphology showed a longer head length (p=0.05) as well as an increased rate of morphological abnormalities (p=0.026) in exposed animals. Observations of immunostained testis tissue reveals potential differences, but requires further analysis. The differences in sperm morphology are thought to be from changes in the BTB structural proteins and dysfunction of chromatin packaging.
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. Cells have a complex maintenance system in place to ensure that most proteins avoid or are rescued from these fates. Molecular chaperones and degradation enzymes are key components of this system that work in concert with each other to sustain protein homeostasis. Ordinarily, the cell has a tremendous capacity to ensure optimal levels of functional protein, however, the mechanism by which certain few proteins overwhelm this quality control system remains poorly understood. The focus of this work has been to explore the effects that the molecular chaperones DnaK/DnaJ/GrpE and GroEL/GroES have on aggregation-prone cytosolic proteins. Specifically, a reconstituted cell-free translation system has been used to recapitulate protein synthesis in an in vitro environment and allow the supplementation of chaperones at a range of concentrations. By studying precisely how molecular chaperones help their substrates fold, as well as the factors that influence such processes, therapies can be optimized to target the specific steps along misfolding pathways where aberrant folding occurs.
Bonefish (Albula spp.) are ecologically and economically important fishes of tropical, shallow-water systems worldwide. In the Florida Keys alone bonefish are part of a recreational flats fishery that has an annual economic impact exceeding $465 million. South Florida was the birthplace of contemporary bonefishing, however, the past few decades have seen a marked decline in bonefish numbers. Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain the decrease in abundance of bonefish in the Florida Keys including deleterious effects of urban and industrial development on bonefish health. Changes in DNA methylation are frequently observed in response to environmental exposures and have been associated with decreases in reproductive health. In the present study we optimized non-lethal sampling of white blood cell DNA from bonefish in both impacted and pristine environments. Bonefish blood was collected on spot cards from several populations in waters off the Florida Keys and the Bahamas. DNA was isolated from blood spots using a modification of the phenol/chloroform extraction and quantified using a Qubit Fluorometer. A Luminometric Methylation Assay (LUMA) was used to analyze the methylation status of the bonefish genome to determine the extent to which DNA methylation is associated with environments heavily impacted by human activity.
Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) is an oligomeric enzyme involved in learning and long-term potentiation (LTP). The underlying mechanism of this enzyme’s function has important value to the understanding of LTP and other aspects of learning. CaMKII is comprised of four main components: the kinase (catalytic) domain, regulatory segment, variable linker and the hub domain. The variable linker is especially important for activation. Alternative splicing in the linker region accounts for several isoforms for each gene of CaMKII (α, β, δ, and λ). The isoforms differ in linker length and composition. Variable linker length controls the degree of association between the kinase domain and hub domain. Therefore it is suspected that the shorter a linker is, the more Ca2+/CaM is required for CaMKII activation, as the active site is less accessible. Here, we have cloned each isoform of CaMKII α and β. Using a NAD+-coupled activity assay, we show the EC50 values for each of these isoforms and substrate thresholds for activation. We demonstrate that linker length is negatively correlated to the amount of substrate required for CaMKII activation.
Programed cell death (PCD) is a fundamental component of development and homeostasis in virtually all organisms. Defects in PCD contribute to a wide range of human diseases, including neurodegenerative disorders, autoimmunity and cancer. In most cases PCD occurs via apoptosis, a process that typically occurs when a family of proteases, the caspases, become activated and degrade the cellular substrates that result in rapid cellular destruction. During a molecular screen for genes that regulate PCD in an insect model system, the Schwartz lab at UMass Amherst discovered the Acheron gene. Acheron is a member of the Lupus Antigen family of RNA binding proteins and functions as a survival factor in certain cells by binding to pro-apoptotic proteins. This represents a novel mechanism for regulating cell death and may provide insights into the control of differentiation and pathogenesis. I am using mouse NIH3T3 fibroblast cells to test the hypothesis that regions in the C- and N-terminus of Acheron are required for its ability to function as a survival protein. As part of the project, I am transfecting mouse NIH3T3 fibroblasts with Acheron expression vectors with different C-terminal or the N-terminal tags to determine if they interfere with protein-protein interactions and block its ability to function as a survival protein. The ultimate goal of this work is to develop novel therapeutic interventions designed to block Acheron action and sensitize cancer cells.
Many plants undergo the process of vernalization, which is the process by which prolonged cold exposure to the winter cold triggers an epigenetic switch that gives them the competence to flower, in order to optimize their flowering times. In the model organism, Arabidopsis thaliana, the gene FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC), which is a floral inhibitor, is the gene that gets epigenetically repressed after the vernalization response is triggered. Different accessions of Arabidopsis exist in which they have various single nucleotide polymorphism (aka SNPs) differences between them. Interestingly, there is varying FLC strength between accessions, which causes earlier or later flowering times in each accession; however it is not well understood what causes FLC to have varying strengths between accessions. There is a long noncoding RNA known as COLDAIR that is encoded in the same gene as FLC that is thought to be involved in FLC repression, and may influence the FLC strength of each accession. Therefore, it is hypothesized that differences among SNPs in the coding sequence of COLDAIR among different accessions of Arabidopsis influence FLC strength, and therefore whether the accession flowers earlier or later. By better understanding the role COLDAIR has in influencing FLC strength, then this could be used in future research to help optimize the flowering times of many agricultural crops that use vernalization, and in turn, potentially have a larger crop yield from the same amount of crops.
The exhaled breath matrix provides a rich source of endogenous volatile compounds and metabolites that represent strong diagnostic potential in the areas of human disease. The isolation of the alveolar portion of the breath provides the most accurate representation of the compounds and biomarkers present in the body systemically. The alveoli represent the barrier between the blood and the lungs, and the transport of specific molecules through this barrier may be of critical importance in the diagnosis of disease. (Almstrand, 2010). Hormones and neurotransmitters that are substrates of organic anionic or cationic transporters in the apical or basolateral membranes of the lung hold the potential to be visible in exhaled breath. Collection of the alveolar portion of human breath through a developed sampling technique will result in a sample rich in endogenous substrates and will contain hormones and neurotransmitters. The sampling technique involves a glass tube containing a solution of water and ethanol, responsible for trapping the substrates in the breath sample. This sample will then be analyzed through Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS), specifically using a triple quadrupole mass spectrometer. This bioanalysis has the potential for the extensive application to human health and disease diagnosis, and represents a non-invasive mechanism for the collection of a bodily sample and holds the possibility to become an accurate method of evaluation for hormone and neurotransmitter levels, a mechanism that could have significant implications on disease diagnosis.
Molecular chaperones are proteins that assist in the unfolding or refolding of other macromolecular structures. Small heat shock proteins (sHsps) are key chaperones that are found across many species and play a large role in stress tolerance by preventing the irreversible aggregation of proteins that have become misfolded. When the protein quality control network is either overwhelmed with damaged proteins or is somehow defective, it often leads to various disease states. Understanding the mechanism of sHsps and the interactions with other chaperones has wide ranging implications, including fully recognizing the roles these proteins actually play in cellular stress, as well as in disease processes. The goal of this project is to analyze the phenotypes of Arabidopsis thaliana plants carrying mutations in genes that code for specific sHsps. The first mutant will have both class II sHsps, Hsp17.6 and Hsp17.7, knocked out. Both genes will be knocked out via the CRISPR/Cas9 mechanism, or by starting with a T-DNA knockout of Hsp17.6 combined with a CRISPR/Cas9 mutation of Hsp17.7. The other mutant will eliminate the organelle-targeted sHsps for both the mitochondria and chloroplasts, identified as 26.5_MT, 25.3_CP, 23.5_C/MT and 23.6_C/MT. These mutants will be created by crossing plants carrying single or double gene knockouts already available in the lab in order to create plants that are triple knockouts for all chloroplast and all mitochondrion-targeted sHsps. Understanding how these mutants behave and handle different stresses will provide a key understanding into how important sHsps are in these plants and in life.
The CRISPR/Cas9 system is a gene editing technology with the potential to cure over 1,800 genetic disorders caused by a single gene mutation. Specifically, the protein (Cas9) complexed with a guide RNA molecule (gRNA) can be directed to any faulty gene and either inactivate or correct it. However, therapeutic application of the CRISPR/Cas9 system requires efficient delivery of its components into a cell’s nucleus. The Rotello lab has engineered Cas9 proteins to enable efficient cytoplasmic and nuclear delivery. In our strategy, a negatively charged peptide tag (E-tag) was appended to the Cas9 protein facilitating nanoassembly formation with functionalized gold nanoparticles. By appropriately tuning the E-tag length, we fabricated nanoassemblies that delivered Cas9 protein into cell cytoplasm with an efficiency as high as 90%. Furthermore, we show that our system does not interfere with Cas9’s ability to edit genes when co-delivered with gRNA. Thus, our co-engineering strategy of Cas9 protein and gold nanoparticles provide an approach for highly efficient gene editing, expanding the opportunities for therapeutic application.
The circulating FA and their intracellular
accumulation that are observed in obesity lead to a state of cellular stress
and hypoxia that results in the infiltration of macrophages into the adipose
tissue (AT) and subsequent release of nuclear factor-kB (NF-κB)-induced
pro-inflammatory cytokines. Through various mechanisms, these cytokines,
especially Tumor Necrosis Factor-α (TNF-α) interfere with the insulin signaling
pathways to promote insulin resistance. A protein that counteracts this state
of inflammation by several mechanisms is AMP-dependent kinase (AMPK). AMPK and
Sirtuin-1 (SIRT-1) are induced by similar factors and AMPK further increases
SIRT-1 expression. Together, they indirectly inhibit NF-kB and its downstream
inflammatory cytokines, thus attenuating insulin resistance. Among the factors
that induce AMPK/SIRT-1 are dietary polyphenolic compounds. In this experiment,
C.elegans were used to determine the level of expression of the AMPK and SIRT-1
analogous genes upon exposure to various phytochemical extracts with the goal
of potentially preventing the development of a pre-diabetic state to a diabetic
Type II Diabetes Mellitus is a metabolic disease characterized by insulin resistance and hyperglycemia. Hypertrophic obesity has been strongly associated with increased hypoxia and increased infiltration of adipose tissue by macrophages as well as a lower expandability or capacity of adipose tissue to store lipids 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 storage of lipids through increased adipogenesis and through increased lipid storage are thus areas of interest in the treatment of type II diabetes. Adipogenesis is under regulation by host of transcriptional regulators most notably PPAR-y and C/EBP-α, central transcription factors in the differentiation of adipocytes, as well as other transcription factors such as SREBP-1. This study aims to elucidate novel phytochemicals involved the expression of C/EBP-a and SREBP-1 using a C. elegans and GFP reporter fusion protein model.
My research focuses on the biochemical processes and mechanisms associated with SSRIs and SNRIs in treating depression, the inherent side effects from artificially raising levels of neurotransmitters, and the psychopharmacological challenges in pioneering an effective, fast-acting antidepressant. Current antidepressants harbor numerous side effects ranging in severity. The two classes of antidepressants upon which my research focuses are Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs). Serotonin and norepinephrine are neurotransmitters, chemicals responsible for relaying signals across nerve cells. Serotonin is associated with mood and social behavior while norepinephrine serves a role in regulating stress. Instead of affecting the levels of an entire system like other antidepressants, SSRIs and SNRIs target specific neurotransmitters in the brain. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 15.7 million American residents aged eighteen and older experienced major depression in 2014. Over the course of 2015, the National Institute of Mental Health states the number of majorly depressed Americans increased to 16.1 million individuals. Depression is an increasingly more common diagnosis in America, and a result, psychiatrists prescribe more and more SSRIs and SNRIs; however, SSRIs and SNRIs may induce side effects ranging from more common and less severe, loss of appetite and insomnia, to uncommon and dangerous, increased depression and an increase in suicidal thoughts. Side effects vary person to person, but with a market increase in depressed individuals, it is imperative for psychopharmacologists to develop safer, more consistent medications.
The objective of this is experiment is to optimize a multiplex PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, for DNA fingerprinting using single tandem repeat loci (STRs). The Human Genome has multiple STR loci that can be analyzed and it is possible to analyze more than one during a single test and this is called multiplex DNA fingerprinting. The FBI uses 13 loci when analyzing STRs in a series of multiplex PCR reactions. This experiment will initially focus on testing 4 separate loci for DNA fingerprinting analysis in one multiplex PCR reaction. These are the CSF1PO, TH01, TPOX, vWA loci. These 4 are used as the expected product sizes do not overlap. The results will be visualized using gel electrophoresis. After the multiplex PCR reaction has been optimized it will be used for DNA analysis in a faux crime scene.
Chlorophyll Protein 668 (CP668), is a photoconvertible water soluble Chlorophyll-protein (WSCP), isolated from Chenopodium Album (C.Album), and a few other plants. In the presence of light, and oxygen, it converts to a nonconvertible form, CP743. Initial absorption measurements showed peaks at 668 nm and 430 nm for the unconverted form (CP668). Upon illumination, new peaks appeared at 743 nm and 574 nm. To study the characteristics of the protein, CP668 was prepared from a 0.01 M Sodium Phosphate pH 7 buffer extract of macerated C.Album leaves. To prevent photoconversion, all extraction and purification steps were carried out in dark-green light conditions. The extract was filtered through a cheesecloth and centrifuged at 5000 rpm. The WSCP was precipitated and partially purified using a 30%/70% Ammonium Sulphate fractionation, dialysed against buffer and separated using chromatography column. Fluorescence emission and excitation spectrum of the converted forms were measured, and we found that the oxidized molecule is separated from the unconverted "chlorophyll a" molecules still on the protein. Excitation at 570 nm primarily results in emission at 746 nm, and excitation at 430 nm results primarily in emission at 668 nm. We are currently comparing the excitation spectra of both forms with their absorption spectra to investigate any possible differences in this conversation reaction. These results and the use of other possible electron acceptors in the photoconversion reaction will be discussed.
Polyphenol oxidase (PPO) is an enzyme found in plants which serves to protect them after they have been damaged. When the PPO isozymes are exposed to the air, they catalyze the oxidation of cathecols to quinones and initiate the production of melanin, the pigment which causes the brownish color on fruits or vegetables which have been cut. This is only one of the functions PPO might have. This safety mechanism doesn’t explain why the PPO enzyme is also found at a much higher pH (pH 8) in the chloroplasts. To explore potential additional characteristics or mechanisms, we purified PPO from Herdeum vulgar, more commonly known as barley. This purification through ammonium sulfate precipitation and re-suspension followed by dialysis and centrifugation. The purified enzyme will be analyzed for kinetic data, activity staining gels to determine electrophoretic mobility, and separating active isozymes. The activity of polyphenol oxidase enzyme(s) will be monitored using the oxidation of DOPA. Discovering the role PPO plays in the chloroplast could open the door to a better understanding of photosynthesis.
Delivery of protein-based therapeutics to specific tissues is a major hindrance to the treatment of many diseases, including solid tumors. Cell-based therapeutic delivery vehicles, which are naturally capable of sensing and responding to their environment, are a promising approach to improving the targeting of therapeutics to pathological sites. To improve the specificity of cell-based delivery vehicles, we are developing a cell-based delivery system that expresses a therapeutic protein upon sensing multiple signals indicative of the disease state. As a proof of concept for the system, we are working to target solid tumors using macrophages; macrophages are naturally recruited to solid tumors, making them an ideal delivery vehicle. However, they also localize to non-pathological sites including the lungs, liver, and spleen, requiring additional engineering to restrict therapeutic delivery to pathological sites. This system could be used to deliver anti-cancer therapeutics, such as interleukin-2, specifically to tumors, thereby reducing deleterious off-target effects associated with systemic administration. To accomplish this goal, we are coupling endogenous signals characteristic of the tumor environment to transgene expression. Therapeutic protein expression will be triggered by simultaneous activation of two native transcription factors (TFs), HIF-2 and PPARγ:RXRα (PPARγ), which are activated by hypoxia and immunosuppressive signals indicative of solid tumors, respectively. When both TFs are activated, they will facilitate the recruitment of a novel engineered scaffold protein and transcriptional activator (miniCBP) to a DNA response element (DRE), triggering expression of the therapeutic protein. To identify an appropriate DRE, we will use protein-binding microarrays (PBMs) to screen tens of thousands of DNA sequences. We will then test the system in vitro in HEK293 cells and primary human monocytes. We anticipate that this work will advance the specificity of cell-based delivery vehicles and represents a potentially transformative approach for delivering potent protein-therapeutics directly to tumors, increasing efficacy and reducing toxicity.
Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, as well as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis are diseases relative to the progressive loss of neurons over a host’s life span. As time progresses, proteins within the host have a propensity to fold incorrectly, specifically beta amyloids, synuclein, and Tau proteins. Mitochondrial dysfunction within the host is a symptom of the progressive loss of neurons due to oxidative stress. The mitochondria is unable to digest damaged organelles and macromolecules creating oxidative stress thus, causing neuronal dysfunction. One hypothesis of leading to neuronal dysfunction is through fibrillization of Tau proteins. In scenarios when Tau proteins are exposed to genetic mutation, posttranslational modification, or intracellular environmental changes, the Tau proteins are vulnerable and succumb to form into neurofibrillary tangles (NFT’s) or paired helical filaments (PHF). The initiation of NFT’s/PHF’s is through the oxidative process of hyper-phosphorylation. After hyper-phosphorylation occurs, Tau proteins are no longer soluble causing the proteins to precipitate within the compartments of neurons. Tau proteins in their aggregated form cannot transport materials and nutrients to support these neurons. This causes deprivation of the neighboring neurons and leading the neuronal cells to perish. It is under consideration that compounds which behave as strong antioxidants may be effective in preventing mild cognitive impairment. Trolox, a commonly used antioxidant standard, was used to validate the method, and demonstrated an EC50 value of 9.24 µg/mL. Extracts of polar desugared blueberry and cranberry samples exhibited EC50 values of 3 µg/mL for both the desurgared blueberry and cranberry samples.
Artificial blood can be utilized as a replacement for our red blood cells. While the functions of our authentic blood are many, artificial blood solely transports oxygen and carbon dioxide throughout the body. Because of the high demand for artificial blood, scientists all over of the world through their research have discovered different methods of producing this alternative blood. Two examples of substances used are perfluorodecalin and perfluoro-t-butylcyclohexane. The methods of synthesis include synthetic production, chemical isolation, or recombinant biochemical technology. The interest in a source of synthetic blood dates to the early 1600s. Yet the search for the perfectly safe and effective blood substitute continues. This study will show the ultimate importance of fabricated blood for hospitals and health centers with the car crash victims, shotgun victims and cancer patients coming through daily. It will also evaluate some of the difficulties in the use of these sources of blood, such as toxicity and cost.
A major focus in neuroscience research is to understand how brain structures relate to actions or behaviors. Brain atlases have been historically important tools for this research, serving to define and map brain anatomy in a wide variety of organisms, from worms to flies to mice to humans. Modern molecular biology approaches have allowed the creation of expression atlases such as the Allen Brain Atlas in mouse, which has mapped the expression of every mouse gene onto the brain using in situ hybridization. Zebrafish have become an important model for investigating vertebrate brain function, neurological diseases, neurodegeneration and brain regeneration. Thousands of transgenic lines are now available that express fluorescent proteins in distinct cells or brain regions. Brain atlases were recently developed for larval zebrafish stages, but no adult atlas currently exists. My project is to help create the first 3-Dimensional gene expression atlas of the zebrafish adult brain. We are creating atlases at multiple life stages, providing the first life-course (4-Dimensional) expression atlas for any vertebrate. This atlas, the Virtual Zebrafish Brain (VZB), will be made available as an online community resource, allowing researchers from around the world to examine gene expression and brain anatomy. We are building the VZB by using new tissue clearing and lightsheet confocal microscopy techniques to create 3-Demensional images of fluorescent gene expression in intact zebrafish brains. Each 3-Dimensional whole-brain image is then aligned to a reference brain image, allowing comparison of gene expression between different lines. The goal of my honors research is to standardize and optimize tissue clearing and imaging techniques for high-throughput brain imaging, generate reference brain images for five life stages, and align expression domains for up to 30 transgenic lines at multiple ages. To date we have aligned 20 gene expression patterns to reference brains at four life stages. Ultimately, we hope the VZB will help guide new hypothesis-driven research into vertebrate brain structure, function, and dysfunction.
The Gulf of Maine is one of the fastest warming bodies of water in the world, and previous studies have found relationships between environmental variables and pinnipeds such as harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) and gray seals (Halichoerus grypus). This study seeks to determine how certain environmental variables influence the seasonal movements and haul-out behavior of gray and harbor seals on Duck Island in the Gulf of Maine. This is a unique, mixed-species haul-out site that serves as a potential stop-over between large populations of gray seals in Canada and on Cape Cod. The increase of gray seal numbers on Duck Island from 2011-2016, found during mark-recapture photographic surveys, allows for a more in-depth analysis of their behavior and how they respond to environmental variables. Preliminary data analysis indicates that gray seals are using Duck Island as a stepping-stone habitat (migrant behavior) as well as a seasonal habitat (resident behavior) as they move between Cape Cod and Canada. Further analysis will determine whether haul-out behavior of both gray and harbor seals is related to meteorological factors or ecological factors such as inter or intra-species interactions and molting.
Many pollinator species are at risk due to a variety of environmental factors, including an increase in parasite prevalence. In some cases, pollinator diet affects parasite load, including that of a common gut trypanosome, Crithidia bombi. Bumblebees that are infected with this parasite can have a reduced parasite load from feeding on floral tissues high in certain secondary compounds. Consuming sunflower pollen also dramatically reduced C. bombi load, although the mechanism is not yet known. Sunflower pollen is high in flavonoids, including a particular quercetin glycoside. Rutin, used as a substitute for this quercetin glycoside, was added to buckwheat pollen, which does not reduce infection, to determine if this compound reduces parasite load. Bees were inoculated with the parasite and exclusively fed sunflower pollen, buckwheat pollen, or buckwheat pollen with rutin at one of four concentrations. After a week, bees were dissected and their parasite load was assessed. We also measured the amount of pollen consumed in a 24-hour period and whether the bee survived to dissection. Rutin did not affect pathogen load, although sunflower pollen significantly reduced C. bombi loads as expected. There was no effect of pollen diet on survival or consumption. This study indicates the value of studying the effects of multiple chemical components of sunflower pollen simultaneously before individual compounds may be tested. It also highlights the importance of further researching the impact of nutritional composition on parasite load.
Avian migration is characterized by a number of long duration flights each followed by a refueling phase. Metabolic rate in flight is ~10 times a bird’s Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) but measuring flight performance in free flying birds is difficult. Thus, there are several existing techniques used to evaluate the aerobic metabolism, fuel mixture, and tradeoffs associated with long duration endurance metabolism in birds. The existing methods that are used to evaluate avian metabolic performance each have shortcomings that limit their utility in evaluating true endurance flight performance, and its tradeoffs. Peak metabolic rate (PMR) approximates maximal metabolic rate, but is an acute test and therefore may not be suitable to estimate endurance performance, and shivering metabolic rate (ShivMR) provides an endurance test, but only results in a 3-fold increase in MR over basal levels. Additionally, ShivMR may result in low rates of water loss, whereas birds in flight have very high rates of water loss. Therefore, here we evaluate these established metabolic performance techniques, while also evaluating a novel technique using a helium-oxygen mixture (helox) to induce shivering at high temperatures resulting in elevated water loss as well as metabolism. By also measuring BMR as a metabolic baseline, we can determine which method produces physiological conditions most similar to flight. I evaluated metabolic performance of zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) using each of these techniques in a repeated measures design to compare and contrast their utility in evaluating endurance metabolism in birds.
Physically connected plants within clones can often exchange resources and signals. To test whether such physiological integration can increase the competitive ability of clonal plants, we conducted a greenhouse experiment on a wild ancestor of the cultivated strawberry, Fragaria chiloensis; and a grass, Bromus carinatus, that is a dominant species in many Californian coastal grasslands where F. chiloensis occurs. Sets of two or four connected plants of F. chiloensis were grown for three months in pots in a greenhouse with or without plants of B. carinatus in some or all of the pots. The stolons connecting plants of F. chiloensis were left intact to permit integration or severed to prevent it. A plant of F. chiloensis grown with B. carinatus accumulated about twice as much total dry mass and allocated less mass to roots when left connected to a plant of F. chiloensis grown without B. carinatus than when the connection was severed. The combined final mass of pairs of plants of F. chiloensis in which only one plant was grown with B. carinatus was also higher when plants were left connected. Connection had little effect on the growth of individual plants or of sets of plants of F. chiloensis when none or all of the plants in a set were grown with the grass. Results suggest that clonal integration can decrease the negative effect of competition on clonal plants, but only when connected plants experience different levels of competition.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, and 1 in 8 women in the United States develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Mechanistic research provides convincing support for the hypothesis that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of developing breast cancer. In contrast, results from observational studies are inconsistent, possibly due to measurement error, analysis of blood biomarkers as a surrogate for breast, and the developmental time period assessed: most epidemiologic studies examine the effects of diet in later adulthood on subsequent breast cancer risk, yet earlier time points in breast development represent critical windows during which environmental exposures influence breast cancer risk. In an attempt to circumvent these limitations, we conducted a randomized dietary intervention study in lactating women in which breastmilk was collected at baseline and at 12 weeks. Human milk provides an ideal opportunity to assess the effects of a diet on breast health, as milk contains both secreted proteins and exfoliated breast epithelial cells for analyses of biomarkers related to breast cancer risk. In this pilot study, five women in the intervention group were provided with weekly boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables, tailored nutritional counseling, and asked to maintain food journals. Analysis of weekly journals and breastmilk collected at baseline and 12 weeks from women in the intervention and control groups demonstrate that is it feasible to significantly increase fruit and vegetable intake in lactating women and alter the inflammatory profile in the breast environment.
California's sixth year of drought, which is considered to be the third worst in the state’s history, recently ended. Coinciding with this drought have been the warmest years by California records, and warmer winters reduce snowpack, one of the main recharging sources of groundwater. With less winter snowmelt to replenish groundwater in the spring, its levels deplete further, and thus groundwater availability in California has been dramatically decreasing. For a variety of reasons (predominantly political), to date, California has had little formal management of groundwater resources. Yet in 2014, California passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. This Act requires the local-level to develop groundwater management plans (GWMP) that will achieve sustainability by 2040. This means over 200 local agencies are scrambling to develop groundwater management plans, with little prior experience. Fortunately, there are several dozen GWMPs that were voluntarily created before the Act was passed. My research examines a subset of the voluntary plans developed by the local-level. I analyze the mechanisms included in the plan for implementation, identify local agencies that have developed plans that are likely to be highly effective, and make recommendations as to what elements would best be included in new GWMPs. The more carefully implementation is considered in a plan, the more likely it is to be carried out effectively. Governance is integral to management, and one cannot exist without the other.
Crop domestication is the process by which humans shape the evolution of plants to suit their needs. Through artificial selection, humans have had the distinct ability to mold the characteristics of plants to create numerous crop varieties that provide humans with food. Traits selected for include greater yields, larger fruits and seeds, and in cereal crops, a loss of the seed dispersing mechanism. However, in the process of inventing agriculture, humans also created a new environment that became available for opportunistic plants and animals, and thus domestication of plants was accompanied by the evolution of agricultural weeds. A particularly problematic agricultural weed is weedy rice, which invades rice crop fields around the world and decreases yields. Weedy rice is able to persist and grow in abundance because unlike cultivated rice, weedy rice shatters, or drops its seeds to the ground. Seeds lost to shattering remain in the soil and sprout in the next growing season, further infesting crop fields. There is little known about how the shattering trait is genetically controlled, however previous research has shown the locus to be within a region of chromosome 2 that is 400 kb in length. It is possible to narrow down the region and potentially identify the locus through the use of a method known as Quantitative Trait Locus (QTL) mapping. In addition to supplementing knowledge of agricultural evolutionary mechanisms, determination of the shattering locus could ultimately allow for eradication of weedy rice and increased crop production.
Auditory hair cells employ ribbons to facilitate high volume vesicle fusion. FITC-labeled ribbon binding peptide (fRBP) is shown to destroy ribbon function following fluorescence assisted light inactivation (FALI) in retinal bipolar cells, with no morphological effect to the ribbon. To determine if fRBP affects hair cell secretion changes in stimulated membrane capacitance (ΔCm) were compared in patch clamp recordings before and after FALI. Hair cells were stimulated with step depolarizations from -90 mV to -30 mV. Since vesicle fusion is calcium dependent, the effect of fRBP on evoked calcium channel currents by FALI were tested. During whole cell voltage clamp recordings, fRBP was dialyzed into hair cells via the patch clamp pipette, at increasing concentrations [1-10 μM]. By itself, fRBP showed no effect on either ΔCm or calcium current density regardless of concentration. 10 s flash of light (480 nm) evoked a concentration dependent reduction in ΔCm, with no significant effect on calcium current. Effects were not immediate, but observed to occur within 2-3 stimulation pulses after FALI. 1 μM fRBP showed negligible effects while 10 μM showed substantial ablation in ΔCm. A similar effect was found in paired patch clamp recordings of the hair cell and its post synaptic afferent nerve fiber. Hair cell stimulated post-synaptic function was compared with step depolarization to -30 mV. Once again, the fRBP peptide showed no effect, but there was a concentration dependent effect on post synaptic current response. These results suggest that FALI mediated through fRBP impairs ribbon facilitated synaptic transmission.
Flowering plant species may play an integral role in the transmission of infections among foraging insects. Floral tissues provide a substrate for disease transmission, acting as a hub for frequently visiting foragers. Variation in floral morphological traits may play a significant role in the degree of infection transmission of the trypanosome pathogen, Crithidia bombi, of foraging common eastern bumblebee workers. A previous observational study across 13 plant species found a positive relationship between the number of floral structures and Crithidia transmission. To assess whether having more flowers causes higher transmission, I manipulated flower number within three flowering plant species to determine whether flower number is the causal trait impacting severity of infection at the transmission level. Uninfected workers foraged on inoculated inflorescences with a manipulated high or low number of flowers. In one plant species, Monarda didyma, there were significantly more severe infections in workers foraging on higher number of flowers. However, in the other two plant species, flower number did not affect infection transmission. Although these results suggest that flower number plays a role in transmission severity for some species, this result indicates that flower number alone does not determine transmission severity. A further assessment of floral traits correlated with flower number is necessary to determine definitively which characters contribute to widespread transmission of infection in wild foragers. A comprehensive mechanistic understanding would allow for practical management plans to be implemented in areas with higher incidences of infection to prevent further pollinator declines.
A major goal in the field of evolutionary genomics is to establish a better understanding of the complex link between genotype and phenotype. In primate evolution, gene sequence and protein function are highly conserved between humans and chimpanzees, yet there is a stark phenotypic disparity between the species in traits such as behavior, cognition and diet. It has been proposed that the principal source of phenotypic disparity between humans and nonhuman primates lies in gene expression and regulation, rather than protein coding differences. In our project we will be investigating how variation in the promoter region of the GPI (Glucose-6-Phosphate Isomerase) gene between humans and nonhuman primates contributes to interspecies differences in gene expression during the serum response pathway. GPI performs several mechanistically distinct roles in the cell without the need for alternative splicing. These include roles as a glycolytic enzyme, a neurotrophic factor, and a lymphokine. The impact of GPI promoter variation on gene expression levels between primate species will be evaluated using luciferase assays of human, gorilla, and macaque cis-regulatory regions located approximately 2 kilobases upstream of the GPI coding region. GPI's functional versatility, independent of variation in transcript or amino acid sequence, makes it an ideal candidate for studying the functional consequences of gene regulation. By comparing the effects of cis-variation between humans and nonhuman primates we hope to gain perspective on the contributions of cis-regulatory elements to phenotypic traits and evolutionary change.
In this experiment, we examined how harvester ants communicate to find food. We hypothesized that ants which found the food first (scout ants), would lay pheromone trails enabling other ants to find the food. We tested this hypothesis by building an apparatus that contained two areas (a starting area and food area) connected by clear tubes. The first ant that crossed a tube, found food, and returned to the colony is referred to as the scout ant. Once a scout ant traveled to the food, and back to the colony, we recorded the number of ants that took each tube to the food. We found that significantly more ants took the pheromone tube compared to the three non-pheromone tubes indicating that harvester ants follow pheromone trails laid down by other ants.
Decision making goes awry in many psychiatric disorders. Cortical function during decision processing is heavily influenced by ascending monoamines, including norepinephrine (NE). The locus coeruleus (LC) is a major source of NE in the mammalian brain providing the sole supply of NE to the cerebral cortex and hippocampus; two major regions controlling cognitive function, learning and memory. Optimal cognitive performance has been hypothesized to require moderate tonic LC-NE signaling. Low LC activity is associated with drowsiness and inattentiveness whereas high levels of LC activity occur during stressful events and are associated with poor performance. The associations that inform models of the relationship between LC-NE activity and cognitive performance are based on correlative information, however causal verification is missing. To address this we controlled tonic LC-NE activity directly by expressing Gi coupled hM4Di designer receptors in the female Long-Evans rat (n=7) to inhibit tonic LC. Levels of LC-NE inhibition were tested by varying concentrations of clozapine-N-oxide (0.1-1.0 mg/kg), the specific hM4Di receptor agonist, injected systemically. Rats were trained on a 2AFC task in which cue lights (red/green) illuminated on every trial indicating which of two laterally-located levers would be rewarded. Behavioral results were analyzed for marker criteria of cognitive performance including premature trials and accuracy as well as total trials and omissions, indicating distractibility. These results have important implications in understanding the causal relationship between LC-NE activity and cognitive performance and how disruptions to LC-NE signaling may influence the circuit dysfunction characteristic of certain cognitive and psychiatric disorders.
The pituitary gland sits at the base of the vertebrate brain and secretes over a dozen hormones into the bloodstream to regulate physiological processes in the body, including growth, metabolism, and reproduction. The pituitary contains an anterior lobe called the adenohypophysis, and a posterior lobe called the neurohypophysis, which connects to the hypothalamus. The neurohypophysis serves as a junction between the brain and endocrine systems. Although mammals and fish have distinct hypothalamic-pituitary axis morphologies, the hormonal regulation of these organs is very similar. Despite extensive work on the neuroendocrine functions of the hypothalamic-pituitary axis in both mammal and fish models, the molecular mechanisms that guide neurohypophysis development are not well understood. Our objective is to characterize the roles of two cell-cell signaling systems, Fibroblast Growth Factor (FGF) and Sonic Hedgehog (Shh), in zebrafish neurohypophysis development. Using blockers of FGF and Shh signaling, we show that FGF plays a positive role in directing NH cell fates, while Shh plays an inhibitory role. We have now used a heatshock-inducible FGF loss-of-function transgenic line to verify these results. We are now testing the hypothesis that FGF and Shh are required for the next step in neurohypophysis formation: the outgrowth of cells from the ventral brain that establishes mature pituitary connectivity and morphology. This study provides new insight into the molecular mechanisms of neurohypophysis development, a key step in embryogenesis necessary for establishing proper regulation of pituitary function by the brain. Greater understanding of the development of these systems may lead to treatments for various endocrine and metabolic diseases related to the hypothalamic-pituitary axis.
It is believed that all whitetail deer (Odocoileus virginianus) on Nantucket island are descended from one male and two females that were brought to the island in the 1920’s. In order to ascertain whether or not the current O. virginianus population on Nantucket is descended from these three individuals, fecal and muscle tissue samples were collected from Nantucket as well as mainland Massachusetts and Connecticut. If the population was founded by these two known females, as an isolated population, there should be no more than two haplotypes in the maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), whereas the mainland population could see variation in excess of two haplotypes due to the lack of isolation. Mitochondrial DNA was amplified via polymerase-chain-reaction (PCR) and of the eighteen samples tested, fourteen (4/4 muscle, 10/14 fecal) samples yielded mtDNA in sufficient quantity for sequencing. Seven of these fourteen sequenced samples produced viable sequences of approximately 417 base pairs. These results indicate a minimum of three haplotypes exist within the population on Nantucket Island, which would suggest that the entire population is not descended from the initial three deer reported in 1926. This negates the hypothesis that the population was only founded by two females and suggests the possibility that individuals are moving between Nantucket and the mainland as well as possibly neighboring islands.
The Ipswich River Watershed (IRW) is located in northeastern Massachusetts; it encompasses the main channel of the Ipswich River, as well as 45 tributary streams that combine to drain 155 square miles ranging across 21 towns/municipalities. The IRW is a main source for drinking water for 350,000 local residents as well as primary habitat for a myriad number of vertebrate and invertebrate species. Climatic extremes, such as drought, are predicted to increase in frequency for the Northeastern United States in the coming decades. We predict these extremes could impact the health and community structure of the watershed and that biotic metrics of macroinvertebrates will reflect this environmental change. Macroinvertebrates are easy to sample and can be utilized to determine overall river health and water quality. The Ipswich River Watershed Association conducts yearly monitoring and sampling at 6 sites along the Ipswich River. We examined the effects of drought on macroinvertebrates by comparing biotic metrics such as EPT family richness (Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, and Trichoptera) and total family richness between non-drought and drought years. We determined periods of drought by looking at USGS flow rates in the Ipswich River and data from the US Drought Monitor program.
Crohn’s disease is one of the fastest growing intestinal diseases in the United States. Until roughly two years ago, the cause(s) of Crohn’s Disease was still largely undetermined. Recently, however, several large-scale clinical studies have shown that the number of some beneficial bacteria in the gut decrease in Crohn's patients, while the number of potentially harmful bacteria increases. These findings are extremely important because they could lead to new, less invasive diagnostic tests. They also indicate that antibiotics—which aren't recommended for Crohn's but are often given when patients first present with symptoms—may actually make the disease worse. We will be examining the growth rate, metabolic requirements, and morphology of three predominant gut bacterial species, E. coli, E. aerogenes, and E. faecalis, in response to both control (normal bacterial) culture conditions and in response to elevated concentrations of each of the four organic molecules (fats, carbohydrates, nucleic acids, and proteins). Anyone can get Crohn’s disease, but it seems to be more prevalent in women, those of Jewish descent, and whites. It has affected over 500,000 people in the United States. It is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD. Crohn's disease can affect any part of the GI tract, though it usually occurs at the end of the small intestine, also known as the ileum, and the beginning of the large intestine, also known as the colon.
The bacterial pigment prodigiosin has been reported to have antimicrobial activity, as well as antioxidant and cytotoxic effects on multiple cancer cell lines. In this study, Serratia marcescens was grown at 27oC to maximize pigment production, harvested by centrifugation, and treated with 19:1 (100% ethanol:1M HCl) to extract crude prodigiosin. The cells were centrifuged again and the supernatant was kept for rotary evaporation. The rotary evaporated crude extract was then diluted to a stock concentration of 5.2 X 10-3 g/mL using DMEM/10% calf serum. NIH/3T3 fibroblasts were subcultured into DMEM/10% calf serum with varying amounts of crude prodigiosin (5.2 X 10-3 g/mL, 5.2 X 10-4 g/mL, and 5.2 X 10-6 g/mL) along with a negative vehicle control. After treatment, the 3T3 cells showed no apparent cell division or proliferation as is typical of the line. Cell morphology also remained in what appeared to be the ‘rounded-up’ shape typically seen when these particular cells were trypsinized and passaged for counting and subculture. Monolayers of NIH/3T3 fibroblasts were also treated with identical variables and controls. Cell morphology was observed after growing for three days at 37oC in 5% CO2 and the atypical cell morphology was associated with treatment constituents. Future work will utilize LC purified prodigiosin as refined treatment conditions, as well as looking for more specific changes in gene expression tied to the morphologic changes associated with exposure to prodigiosin.
The goal of our project is to establish C. elegans as an organism that can be used for research by the Laboratory Science and Biology programs at Northern Essex Community College. C. elegans is an excellent organism to study because they have a simple genetic code of 17,800 genes, the adult worm is only 1 mm, the life cycle is short (3-7 days), and it is transparent. The combination of these factors as well as their biological similarities to humans make them great model organisms for medical research, and as subjects of research at Northern Essex Community College. Research projects involving C. elegans will allow students to gain experience in many techniques including molecular biology, polymerase chain reaction, maintenance/culture of organisms, observational skills/phenotype analysis, and good laboratory practice. We plan to develop two projects using C. elegans. The first project includes using RNAi to silence genes in the worms and optimize conditions for the expression of different phenotypes. Using RNAi we can silence any gene we choose. We will initially focus on silencing genes that will result in easily observed phenotypes such as the unc-22, dyp-11 genes. There is also a lot of interest in using C. elegans for toxicity studies in place of mice. In the second project we will develop a project that will look at how different chemicals affect C. elegans. We will compile our procedures into protocols that are optimized for performance in a classroom environment at NECC.
To facilitate the removal of bacteria from the skin, some companies have introduced products that include small plastic 'beads', scientifically named microspheres. The manufacturers claim that the microspheres attract bacteria to their surfaces and that they’re environmentally biodegradable. The microspheres are made of plastic polymer shells and coated with particular chemicals that attract the bacteria. In facial soaps, these microspheres are washed down the drains after their use along with the bacteria they harbor. Once in the water ecosystem, the microspheres can persist for an unknown amount of time, and in the interim, may attract evolving communities of microorganisms that might form small biofilms on their surfaces and in various grooves and nicks. Hence, there may be potential risks to humans, animals, and the environment from drinking or coming in contact with these microspheres and their residues once in water ecosystems. This research focuses on studying the ability of microspheres to attract and attach bacteria. Several skin bacteria will be isolated and identified then used to study their ability to attach to microspheres. In addition, microspheres from the Lynn Reservoir, if found, will be examined for harboring bacteria.
this study, we investigated the impact of administering the drug ATG
(anti-T-lymphocyte globulin) for the prophylaxis of graft-versus-host disease
(GVHD) in patients undergoing allogeneic stem cell transplantation. ATG
has been shown to reduce the intensity of acute and chronic GVHD, but can also
increase the risk of infectious complications and relapses. We
prospectively analyzed blood samples from 44 patients receiving ATG and 47
patients in a control group. Samples were collected at 2 weeks, 1 month, 3
months, 6 months and one year post transplant. We investigated the
repopulation of immune cells in these transplant patients using flow
cytometry. Immunophenotyping data was analyzed by FACS Diva software for
T cells, B cells, Natural Killer (NK) cells and Dendritic cells. Our
results indicate that all T cells and T cell subsets were suppressed after the
ATG treatment along with a subset of NK cells. Once the clinical
data is incorporated with the research data, we will better assess the efficacy
of ATG on GVHD. Current data suggests that ATG severely increases the
time it takes to repopulate regulatory immune cells. This decrease in the
quantity of T cells and subsequent T cell subsets may account for the increased
rate of infections and complications seen in patients treated with ATG.
The human body typically eliminates antigens from itself by using immune cells/antibodies. When it comes to the case of trying to eliminate cancer cells in advanced tumor settings, the cancer cells develop an immune suppression mechanism so that the immune system does not recognize them as antigens within the body. Earlier research and development has identified bridging immune cells to cancer cells may help bypass the immune suppression mechanisms of cancer. My aim is to develop a therapeutic molecule that can bind to breast cancer cells, and guide the immune cells to target and eliminate the breast cancer growth. This project’s focus included being able to successfully insert several genes into an Escherichia coli (E.coli) expression vector. The genes were verified by a gel electrophoresis and then through molecular cloning, recombinant DNA was created in the form of a plasmid. The recombinant DNA was then transformed into the E.coli cells. After the E.coli cells had grown, they were induced. Then the expressed proteins were isolated from the cells after they were broken down via sonication. Expression and purification analysis were done using sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) analysis and the subsequent coomassie staining. The proteins were then purified using column chromatography. The next steps in this project include putting the protein molecule(s) that form the antibody into cell-based assays with breast cancer cells as well as immune cells. If all are able to bind together correctly, then that will mean the lysis of the cancer cells.
We are investigating low cost methods to measure mercury concentration in fish tissue. Mercury is a very toxic chemical, and is introduced into the water ecosystem from atmospheric deposition. When mercury gets in to aquatic systems it becomes converted into monomethyl mercury by bacteria. The level of methyl mercury fixed in bacteria is very low; however it becomes more concentrated at each level in the food web with the highest levels found in fish. The purpose of this experimental protocol was to develop a method to measure the amount of methyl mercury found in fish tissue. Mohammad et al. measured methyl mercury levels in fish tissue by using the inhibition of the enzyme Invertase as an indicator. They extracted the methyl mercury from fish tissue in acidified toluene, equilibrated it with Invertase, and then measured the decreased rates of Invertase enzyme activity with sucrose. They measure the released reducing sugars using chemical reactions of dinitrosalicyclic acid (DNS). We modified their procedure to include the use of enzymes to measure the amount of glucose released by hydrolysis of sucrose. The enzymes used were hexokinase and glucose 6- phosphate dehydrogenase. The released glucose detection enzymes provided similar results at low concentrations of methyl mercury chloride, but were inhibited themselves at higher levels of methyl mercury chloride. These results will be discussed as well as improved methodology for extraction of recovered methyl mercury chloride from fish tissue.
Clean water is a basic human right, yet many underdeveloped countries, including Cambodia, lack access to a clean drinking water supply. More specifically, fecally-contaminated water allows for microbial-borne gastrointestinal diseases eventually resulting in death. Clean water is provided through installation of a type of point of use water filter, called a biosand filter. Biosand filters are gravitational water filtration systems comprised of layers of gravel and sand. Traditional concrete biosand filters are effective but these filters are too heavy to install in floating villages, on the Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia. Alternatively, lighter PVC based biosand filter were introduced, but have not performed as well. These issues in performance could be due to the proportions of matrices used or from the sand matrix packing in these filters, slowing the water output or flow rate. To further investigate this, PVC based light biosand filters with a variety of sand and gravel matrices were designed, built and tested using water contaminated with chicken feces to assess both efficiency of removing contaminants while maintaining proper flow rate. The initial filters built according to CAWST specifications demonstrated a rapid decline in flow rate so new filters were built with a coarser sand matrix, and varying amounts of gravel. These filters performed better initially, but eventually slowed to a flow rate below the acceptable level. To ensure proper flow rate, the top layer of sand was mixed prior to feeding with contaminated water as part of daily maintenance, allowing these filters to effectively remove bacterial pathogens.
Zebrafish are an important biomedical research organism, however the mechanisms by which sex is determined are not known. Most zebrafish strains do not have sex chromosomes, instead several loci in the genome direct sex determination. Interestingly, the germ line has a major role in sex determination: more germ cells typically correlates with female sex and fewer germ cells correlate with male sex. However, whether germ cell amounts have a direct role in sex determination is not known. By monitoring the development of germ cells in the gonads in live fish, the effect of germ cells numbers on sex determination can be tracked. The purpose of this project is to create a transgenic line of zebrafish that expresses nuclear localized fluorescent protein in germ cells. This localization allows for individual cells to be quantified, which allows for the exact number of germ cells to be noted. Ziwi, or piwi-like RNA gene silencing 1, is a germ cell specific gene in Zebrafish. The ziwi promoter has been characterized and confers germ cell expression in transgenic zebrafish. Deadend (dnd) is a germ plasma component found in vertebrates that is involved in the maintenance and survival of primordial germ cells. Depletion of dnd will result in loss of germ cells and sterility in males. By using the ziwi promoter and the dnd 3’UTR, along with a nuclear localized fluorescent protein, a construct was made and will be injected into zebrafish embryos. We predict that this transgenic line of zebrafish will allow germ cells to be precisely quantified as early as a few hours post fertilization. We aim to utilize this transgenic line to quantify germ cells in live fish to uncover the earliest time point at which germ cell numbers correlate with sexual fate.
Bivalves are broadly dispersed aquatic mollusks that account for a large proportion of global shellfish consumption each year. Beyond the fishing industry, they are utilized by national and international biomonitoring programs to warn of critical toxicant levels that enter aquatic habitats through anthropogenic activities. Despite their ecological, economic, and toxicological significance, genomic and transcriptomic resources for bivalves are sparse, yet may provide insight into the evolution of key toxicological pathways that enable these organisms to cope with highly toxic environments. In this study, we sought to characterize baseline bivalve gene expression by RNA sequencing eight bivalve species and to explore the evolutionary selection of toxic pathways throughout this phylogenetic class. RNA sequencing libraries were prepared using stranded oligo-dt beads to impart strand specificity. These libraries were sequenced on the Illumina HiSeq2500 platform to obtain 60-90 million reads per species, providing high fidelity for each gene and enabling discovery of novel transcripts. Transcriptome assembly was performed using the Trinity package to generate novel transcriptomes without a reference genome. Following transcriptome assembly, we will use sequences from the Pacific oyster, Crassostrea gigas, genome to identify genes involved in stress responses and toxicant metabolism within the transcriptomes of the eight bivalve species. Comparing these genes across the broad class of bivalves will enable us to determine their level of conservation and whether gene expansions have occurred within particular groups that may enable these organisms to survive in highly variable urbanized environments.
Doublesex & mab-3 related transcription factor 1 (Dmrt1)
is a transcription factor that is highly conserved across most metazoans. Dmrt1 is a master sex-determining gene
in some species, like chickens and medaka fish. In Danio rerio, or zebrafish, dmrt1
plays a key role in male sex determination and differentiation by
controlling testis development. In humans, dmrt1
also plays an essential role in male development. Male patients with
disrupted dmrt1 exhibit problems with
testicular development and are partially feminized. Because Dmrt1 is a transcription factor it likely
impacts the expression of other genes. However, it is not known what genes dmrt1 regulates in the zebrafish gonad.
The identification of such genes will uncover genes that are important for
testis fate determination and development. Dmrt1 is expressed in two cell-types
in the testis, germ cells and somatic cells. The goal of this project is to
identify genes that are regulated by Dmrt1 specifically in germ cells. To this
end, transgenic zebrafish that express an epitope-tagged Dmrt1 protein
specifically in the germ line cells of the gonad will be generated. A construct
was made whereby dmrt1 cDNA contains
a V5 epitope tag and is expressed via a germ cell-specific promoter. This
construct was built using the Gibson Assembly Method, and was injected into
wild-type zebrafish embryos to generate transgenic animals. Once adult, these transgenic fish will
be used for chromatin co-Immunoprecipitation followed by sequencing (ChIP-seq) to
find what promoter elements Dmrt1 is interacting with in the genome of the
zebrafish germ line.
Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms (LUTS) is a spectrum disorder in aging men characterized by tissue proliferation, smooth muscle dysfunction, and fibrosis. Fibrosis is characterized by excess collagen deposition and the persistence of myofibroblasts and can be promoted by the activation of the TGF-β/TGFβR axis and the EGF/EGFR signaling pathways. Because estrogen levels increase in men consequent to aging, we hypothesized that estrogens may contribute to the pro-fibrotic micro-environment of the aging prostate. For this reason, we seek to determine the effects of the endogenous estrogen 17β-estradiol and the environmental estrogen Bisphenol-A (BPA) on myofibroblast phenoconversion and prostate fibrosis. For these studies, immortalized N1 normal human fibroblasts were cultured with 17β-estradiol or BPA. Western blotting confirmed the presence of estrogen receptors (ERa and ERβ). Cells treated with sub-nanomolar concentrations of both 17β-estradiol and BPA demonstrated a dose-dependent increase in proliferation. Changes in cellular morphology consistent with myofibroblast phenoconversion were observed in cells treated with estrogen concentrations ranging from 0.1nM-10mM. An increase in total soluble collagen was observed via Sircol Assay in response to BPA treatment. Cell lysates subjected to Western blotting revealed that BPA treatment activated Erk1/2 but not Smad3 signaling, while 17β-estradiol did not have any substantial effect on the signaling of either of these pathways. These findings suggest that BPA, a known endocrine disruptor, may promote prostatic fibrosis and LUTS, and that prostate myofibroblast phenoconversion may proceed through pathways that depend on EGF/EGFR signaling.
Kurtz (Krz), a homolog of mammalian β-arrestins, is the only non-visual β-arrestin in Drosophila and has been implicated in the regulation of cellular signaling pathways such as G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) and mitogen associated protein kinase (MAPK). Dysregulation of these pathways results in severe developmental abnormalities, many of which have been implicated in various diseases. It is important to understand which specific residues on arrestins are functionally important for GPCR desensitization, and while numerous mammalian in-vitro studies have focused on the direct association between GPCRs and arrestins, few, if any, have tested their in vitro functionality. Mutations in arginine to alanine (R66A), lysine to alanine (K51A and K52A) and valine and leucine to alanine (V111A and L112A), have been found to alter arrestin-GPCR binding. In order to study the mechanisms behind the arrestin-mediated termination of GPCR signaling, we are performing GFP-Krz recruitment assays along with Bioluminescent Resonance Energy Transfer (BRET) assays to test the extent to which Krz binding to GPCRs is altered by these mutations. Our genetic studies have also shown that mutations of the Krz residues in which individual binding sites were lost do not alter Krz’s ability to rescue lethality associated with complete loss of krz function, while a combination of mutations such as KK/A and VL/A completely impairs Krz’s ability to rescue homozygous krz mutants. Understanding the mechanisms by which β-arrestins regulate cell-signaling networks presents great hopes for understanding multiple signaling networks and developing therapies for developmental and behavioral disorders.
Renewable plant-based biofuels, such as cellulosic ethanol, are an appealing option to help prevent the impending energy crisis. Cellulose is found in the plant secondary cell wall, and its biosynthesis is regulated by a host of transcription factors. Thus, identifying and exploiting the genetic intricacies of cellulose biosynthesis are critical to maximizing the output of energy crops. CELLULOSE SYNTHASE 4 (CESA4) is one of three non-redundant subunits of the cellulose synthase complex in the plant cell wall. Investigations of natural variation of the CESA4 gene in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana will be presented. Genetic mapping and analysis of transcript levels between two near isogenic lines (NILS) of A. thaliana, CESA4Bay-0 and CESA4Sha, confirmed a cis-expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) located within the TERE transcription factor binding motif of the CESA4 promoter, causing a two-fold reduction in CESA4Sha transcript levels. The cellular phenotypes resulting from this cis-eQTL were investigated. Phloroglucinol-stained stem cross sections were indistinguishable between NILs, and no difference in secondary cell wall thickness was found. Likewise, there was no detectable difference in abundance of crystalline cellulose, as measured by the Updegraff assay. Results suggest A. thaliana is able to tolerate some naturally occurring reduction in CESA4 expression without compromising the structural elements of the plant, providing insight on the elasticity of the genetic network.
Budding yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) cells reproduce asexually through budding, where a new cell grows off of the original cell at a bud site and eventually separates by cellular division. Bud3 has been shown in previous studies to be involved in the process of axial budding, which occurs in haploid yeast cells and causes a new bud site to form adjacent to the site of a previous budding event. Bud3 has also been implicated in events at the end of the cell division cycle. Here, we investigated the role of phosphorylation in the function of Bud3. Bud3 contains three amino acids that are phosphorylated by the mitotic cyclin-dependent kinase Cdk1. To investigate the role of Bud3 phosphorylation on the cell cycle and budding, high-copy plasmids were generated to express three versions of the Bud3: the wildtype protein, a triple alanine mutant that couldn’t be phosphorylated, and an aspartic acid/glutamic acid phosphomimic mutant. The effects of Bud3 overexpression and phosphorylation site mutation will be observed by transforming the high-copy plasmid into yeast and observing effects on cellular morphology, cell cycle progression, and bud site selection. Yeast bud site selection is a generalized model of cell polarity. The results of this investigation will provide insight to the role of phosphorylation in specifying cell polarization and links between the mitotic cell cycle and cell polarity.
Ketone bodies are created during the process of fat metabolism. High ketone levels are present when someone goes on a high fat, low carbohydrate diet, such as intermittent fasting or the Atkin’s diet. While these diets have shown great potential for weight loss and therapeutic relief in diseased cases, it is still unknown how ketone bodies affect a non-diseased brain. Beta-Hydroxybutyrate is a ketone body that is able to pass through the blood-brain barrier. BV2 microglia cells were studied under ketogenic conditions in 1mM and 5mM concentrations of Beta-Hydroxybutyrate, along with a 5mM glucose control and a no glucose, no ketone negative control. The BV2 cells were incubated for 72 hours in their respective mediums before fixing and staining. Statistical quantification shows that cell count under ketogenic conditions is significantly less than the glucose control. Cell shape and phagocytosis will be assessed in future studies. This study is crucial for brain health for those who actively partake in high fat, low carb diets.
Some scientists believe that the Earth is in the midst of a mass extinction event, as a result of habitat destruction, climate change and the introduction of non-native species. However, it is likely that when factors such as these combine, the threat of extinction is even greater. This study focuses on invasive plant species and how they outcompete native plant species in Western Massachusetts forests in the face of changing climate. Invasive species are already known to be threats to biodiversity due to their ability to become abundant in habitats quickly, partly because they emerge earlier in the growing season. Phenological characteristics (e.g., budburst, leaf growth) were observed on the campus of Westfield State University multiple times each week for both native and invasive shrubs including bush honeysuckle, spicebush, burning bush, multiflora rose, dogwood, and speckled alder. A qualitative scale was used to characterize the status of 30 buds on each subjects. Weather data from the WSU weather station is used to calculate weather characteristics including growing degree days. Budburst and leaf emergence are expected to be earlier for the invasive shrubs compared with their native counterparts. Permanently marks shrubs can be observed by students in future years to investigate how climate change may be advantageous to invasive shrubs at this site.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a chronic, inflammatory autoimmune disease that effects around 2.5 million people in the United States. Inflammation is localized to joints and is associated with high levels of TNF produced mainly by macrophages. Previous studies have shown that RA patients are two times as likely to develop bacterial infections. Patients are particularly susceptible to osteomyelitis and septic arthritis, typically associated with Staphylococcal ssp. The mechanism that causes the increased infection susceptibility is not yet clear. We tested the effect of extracellular inflammatory cytokines on macrophage function. Differentiated human THP-1 macrophages were stimulated with LPS to produce conditioned media which was later used to grow subsequent macrophages. We infected THP-1 cells with Staphylococcus aureus after growth in conditioned media. Bacterial internalization was quantified by gentamycin protection assay and inflammatory cytokine responses were analyzed by sandwich ELISA. This study will aid in the understanding of RA-associated infections.
The focus of this research is on the topic of microbial life that is resistant to common forms of antimicrobial medication, resulting in untreatable illnesses that were once very easy to treat. The research first delves into the origin and history of modern antibiotics, from their discovery by Alexander Fleming in 1923 to their further development and increasing promiscuity all the way into the modern age. Additionally, the world prior to the discovery of antibiotics is detailed, wherein many diseases we treat today as mere annoyances were once life threatening. The usefulness of modern antibiotics in many modern medical settings, such as surgical procedures is also described, leading to a discussion of the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria, as well as the common causes and enhancers of the development, such as the agricultural and medical industries. Many people take a lax attitude towards antibiotics today, resulting in misuse and over-prescription, two of the largest causes of development of antibiotic resistance. There is also an overuse of antibiotics in farm animals, which can lead to development of antibiotic resistance for human populations as well as among animals. Finally, this research will touch on methods by which we can prevent the impending obsolescence of these modern medical marvels. Without antibiotics, our way of life today would not be possible. We, as a species, would be forced to return to a time before the many boons of modern medicine, without any hope of reclaiming our former way of life due to a lack of any further options for treatment. This future is one that I, and hopefully many, would be willing to fight to prevent.
Wildlife populations are declining at alarming rates between 50-59% across Africa. Protected areas are not an exception to these declines. By identifying the species with the greatest declines, isolating the root causes, and assessing how these declines have shaped the structure of the overall community is ideal for wildlife managers to identify vacancies in management plans and evaluate appropriate intervention methods. This research aimed to address these concerns in Lake Manyara National Park, located in northern Tanzania, which has population data ranging from 1959-2016. We used general additive models and other statistical methods to assess population trends for thirteen herbivore species, we assessed trends in community structure and biomass, and we identified structural changes in the trends. These breakpoints were cross-referenced with documented local historical events. The main findings identified major population crashes of African elephant, Cape buffalo, and black rhinoceros, which resulted in a 42% loss of overall herbivore biomass and the local extinction of the black rhinoceros. Severe poaching in the 1980s is thought to be the main cause of these declines, and the root cause of a major regime shift in the park’s community structure that has begun to favour the spread of browsing species. The remaining species have overall faired relatively well, with many exhibiting natural fluctuations over the study period. This study supports prior research that anthropogenic disturbances are a major source of population declines and demonstrates how they can have impacts on an entire community system for decades beyond the initial affect.
Nicotine is a highly addictive substance used by approximately 16 million Americans. Controversy still surrounds nicotine on whether it should be labeled a carcinogen and tumor promoter. Previous studies have shown that nicotine accelerates cell proliferation in several cell types including A549 (NSCLC, lung cell line), MCF-7 and MDA-MB-468 (breast cell lines). Nicotine is a stimulant that has been shown to cross the blood brain barrier. It is unclear what effect nicotine has on neuronal cells. We performed a dose response curve on C6 rat astrocytoma cells. Cells were exposed to 1um, 100 um, .1um, and .01 um nicotine for 24, 48, and 72 hours. Cell viability was assessed both by microscopic techniques and WST-1 reagent. This study will lead to more information on the effect of nicotine on cancerous neuronal cells.
Patients with Type 2 Diabetes are more susceptible to developing bacterial infections and are more adversely affected when an infection occurs. High blood sugar levels have shown to weaken immune system’s functions. Macrophages grown in a high glucose environment may contribute to the likelihood of a more severe infection progression compared to macrophages grown in an environment with normal glucose levels. To test macrophage function, we grew differentiated THP-1 macrophages under high glucose conditions and infected them with a panel of microorganisms. Numbers of internalized bacteria were quantified by gentamycin protection assay.
Existing research on non-native, invasive plants is known to suffer from biases, with studies typically concentrated in developed countries and focused on a small subset of species. However, previous research on these biases has only focused on a portion of the scientific literature, such as studies evaluating invasive plant impact, and has not tested whether biases are changing through time. Here, we evaluate biases in invasive plant research using a more comprehensive database of papers published between 2000-2010. We searched Web of Science for all papers on invasive plants using the term ‘invasi* plant’. We read titles and abstracts of the resulting 9,929 publications and identified 1,178 studies focused on one or more invasive plant species for further analysis. These papers included 630 invasive plant species, however, only 29 species accounted for 1/3rd of the studies. Forbs/herbs (41%) were the most commonly studied growth form, while vines (2%) received little attention. Consistent with previous findings, field studies located in North America (55%), Europe (18%), and Australasia (10%) were overrepresented in the scientific literature. Through time, North America has been continuously overrepresented each year (roughly 50% of all publications) with little year-to-year change in invasive species research. However, the proportion of studies in Europe (13% in 2000 to 21% in 2010) and Asia (3% in 2000 to 8% in 2010) has been gradually increasing. Concurrently, the proportion of publications from Australasia (23% in 2000 to 7% in 2010) and Africa (14% in 2000 to 2% in 2010) over time appears to be declining. Future research should focus on underrepresented study locations and taxonomic groups in order to better understand the mechanisms and impacts of understudied invaders.
Current anti-cancer drug discovery and development efforts primarily utilize monolayer assays to verify the viability of drug candidates. However, this method excludes barriers to mass transport that may limit a drug’s ability to do its intended function. In contrast, microfluidic models can be used to more accurately mimic in vivo environments by including barriers to mass transport. Three-dimensional tumor spheroids can be placed into a microfluidic device and cell media containing a drug candidate can be flowed past the spheroid. The spheroid can be imaged over time to provide information on the efficacy and other properties of a drug candidate. This report presents the addition of a Continuously Stirred Tank Reactor (CSTR) to this previously developed microfluidic system for testing anti-cancer therapies. The inclusion of the CSTR enables predictable manipulation of the concentration of drug flowing past the tumor spheroids in the microfluidic device. Specifically, the rate of drug decay in plasma could be changed without affecting other pharmacokinetic parameters such as total drug exposure. The volume of the CSTR was used to reliably change the rate of drug clearance. FITC dye was used to characterize the relationship between volume and clearance rate. Doxorubicin (trade name Andriamycin) was flowed through the CSTR and past LS174T colon tumor spheroids in the microfluidic device at plasma half-lives between 15 minutes (near natural physiological conditions) and 4 hours. Initial concentrations inside the CSTR were altered to hold total drug exposure, the area under a pharmacokinetic curve, constant. Slower clearance rates (longer half-lives) allowed more Doxorubicin to travel deeper into the tumor tissue. After 24 hours, the tumor spheroids exposed to Doxorubicin with a longer half-live experienced more cell death at every distance from vasculature except the region directly adjacent to vasculature.
Cancer cells have six fundamental traits; they can proliferate without normal growth signals, avoid antigrowth signals, avoid apoptosis, limitlessly replicate, make the body grow new blood vessels to get a supply of nutrients and oxygen, and they have the ability to move and create new colonies in various types of tissue. The purpose of this research is to study cancer cells’, movement and growth, two of their significant characteristics and how these features relate to stiffness. Tumors stiffen over time, so we have examined breast cancer cells cultured on gels of different stiffnesses and observed how they react by tracking their proliferation and migration rates over time. The cells were cultured on 1 kPa gels, 41 kPa gels, and tissue culture polystyrene (TCPS). Average cell velocities were calculated by tracking in FIJI for each of the nine different cross sections of the three stiffnesses (1 kPa, 41 kPa, TCPS) and the three types of cultured cells (1 kPa, 41 kPa, TCPS). Additionally, using a plate reader, the fold change of the number of cells on day 1 to the number of cells on day 4 each week was calculated to examine the proliferation rates of the three different cell cultures. The results show that there have not been any significant differences between the cells cultured on 1 kPa, 41 kPa, and TCPS in migration or proliferation rates as of week 9. However, we have previously observed changes at much later time points to those cultured on TCPS. Based on this data, it can be concluded that the effects of stiffness on the migration and proliferation of breast cancer cells are not visible until some point past 9 weeks of being cultured. Cancer cells in the body will likely experience a given stiffness for months or even years, so we will continue the experiment in order to determine what changes occur to the cells and when. This will help us better understand signaling that occurs during early, intermediate and late tumor development. In the future, we will expand this experiment by examining how cells cultured on these gels behave across more stiffnesses. Additionally we will look at gene and protein expression to understand what causes functional differences in cell migration and proliferation. One protein that we expect to see a change in is Rho Kinase (ROCK), a protein involved in the phosphorylation of the myosin light chain (MLC), because ROCK activity has been linked to stiffness with more activity in stiffer environments. Because increasing phosphorylation of the MLC is linked to an increase in cell migration, we expect expression of this protein to increase in the cell cultures with the most migration.
Advanced engineering strategies are at the forefront in the race to develop novel therapeutics and treatment strategies to combat cancer. Metastasis, or the spread of cancer, is a main therapeutic challenge because it is difficult to locate and destroy cancer once it becomes systemic. Specifically, breast cancer preferentially metastasizes to the skeleton and is less manageable if not detected early. Certain environmental or physiological cues modulate the progression of breast cancer; however, the underlying signaling pathways are complex and not well understood. Recently, applied mechanical loading inhibited tumor growth in the skeleton and maintained bone mass in a mouse model, revealing that the tumor microenvironment can be manipulated by mechanical signals. My research focuses on investigating how in vitro mechanical loading impacts the expression of genes involved in breast cancer metastasis to the bone and in angiogenesis, which involves the formation of blood vessels required to sustain a tumor. MDA-MB231 breast cancer cells were seeded onto 3D bone mimetic scaffolds and compressive mechanical loading was applied (5% peak compression, 1 hour/day for 3 days). Cancer cells remained alive and expressed VEGF-A (angiogenesis-related gene) in both loaded and non-loaded groups. Current work investigates how loading impacts the effects of tumor-secreted signaling factors on VEGF-A expression in bone mesenchymal stem cells as they differentiate into osteoblasts, or bone-forming cells.
Complex coacervation is a liquid-liquid phase separation driven by electrostatics, resulting in a dense, polymer-rich phase. Coacervates, which scatter light while in aqueous solution, are measured through turbidity readings, or a reading of the amount of light scattered. Formed in aqueous solutions of oppositely charged polypeptides, coacervates have properties that can be altered through changes in polycation-to-polyanion ratio, temperature, pH, and polymer concentration. However, the architecture of the actual polymers that are used to form the coacervates has not been well studied, people have looked at polymers with branched structures, such as natural polymers, but their composition and number of branches was not well defined. A model polymer system based on polypeptides was utilized to compare the effects of polymer architecture on complex coacervation in systems of linear vs. comb polymers. The addition of the comb architecture broadened the range of polycation-to-polyanion ratios for which complexes formed. However, longer peptide chains induced beta-sheet formation. In addition to architecture, we looked to understanding the effects of incorporating zwitterions, with both positive and negative charges in close proximity, into our polymeric structure. These net neutral zwitterions are incorporated as copolymers into our comb polymer architecture. The zwitterions increase polymer solubility and interact electrostatically, which alters the salt stability of the mixture as zwitterion concentration increases. Understanding the affect that parameters like architecture and the addition of “neutral” zwitterions have on complex formation and properties could lead to things like vaccine stabilization through encapsulation and delivery vehicles for proteins.
Hospital – acquired infections are responsible for over 99,000 deaths per year, more than can be attributed to both AIDS and breast cancer combined. Many of these infections originate on implants and devices that are being used to improve the health of hospital - bound patients. Generally, these infections are combated using antibiotics. However, this antibiotic usage tends to spur the evolutionary advancement of antibiotic resistant bacteria known as “super bugs”. This evolution is not only detrimental to the patient involved but to the medical community as a whole as it decreases the efficacy of antibiotics for future infections. Therefore, it is crucial to find other methods of combating bacterial infections that do not rely on antibiotics. On such method is the mechanical modification of medical surfaces. The surface investigated in this study include hydrogel coatings for medical catheters. In previous work, my group has shown that bacterial attachment increases with hydrogel stiffness. Here, we expand upon this finding to determine the effect hydrogel thickness has on the bacterial attachment. Through bacterial growth experiments and mechanical characterization, it was determined bacteria can sense and respond to the thickness of a hydrogel coating. In thinner hydrogel systems, the bacteria can “feel” through the hydrogel and sense the stiff underlying support surface, allowing for increased attachment rates. This finding can be applied to improve catheter design, allowing for a safer, more robust catheter that deters bacterial infections without prompting the evolutionary advancement of bacteria.
Cell culture monolayers are used as a primary method to test cancer therapies. But, this lacks the important 3-D microenvironment that exists in the body. Microfluidic devices are a possible solution that can be packed with tumor spheroids that better mimic in vivo conditions. However, creating a high throughput method of testing drugs on these multicellular spheroids has been difficult. The goal of this project is two-fold: a.) create a high throughput tumor-on-a-chip device and b.) automate the selection of tumor spheroids of similar size. Tumor spheroids can better resemble in vivo conditions due to the tissue heterogeneity and the nutrient gradients generated by the cell clusters. We have created a device that can be readily scaled for high throughput drug testing on tumor spheroids. Eight drugs may be tested at once and theoretically this device may be scaled to test up to hundreds of drugs at once. The tumor spheroids used in these devices are manually selected which results in various sizes. The need for similar size spheroids are necessary for more consistent and reproducible results. Currently, we are designing a new microfluidic device with spiral channels that can separate tumor spheroids by size. Inertial focusing is the main driving force used to separate the spheroids by size. This method generates equilibrium positions within the channel due to a balance of size dependent, opposing forces. This microfluidic device will help automate the process of selecting tumor spheroids for drug testing.
The mechanical properties of the cellular microenvironment direct cellular processes including spreading, migration, and differentiation. Cells transmit force and regulatory signals via linkages to the extracellular matrix 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 material properties in 3D. Here, we employ a poly(ethylene) glycol based hydrogel, which can be independently tuned in stiffness, adhesivity, and degradability. To measure cell traction, we embed 0.5μm fluorescent microspheres with cells into the hydrogel and track their motion. Images of the cell and microsphere filled volumes are acquired using laser scanning confocal microscopy in time-lapse at 35 minute intervals to render spatiotemporal models of cellular environments in a non-invasive manner. These models can be processed with a digital volume correlation algorithm to compute cellular-generated displacements and further manipulated by a large deformation formulation calculation of stress to compute accurate traction. To validate that we are measuring cell generated traction, we drugged cells with Cytochalasin D to prevent actin polymerization, a process that creates structural filaments used in cell contraction and adhesion, in turn decreasing the ability for cells to exert force. This project aims to understand which features of the extracellular environment contribute most to cell forces so we can probe how cells interact with their environment in the context of disease.
Poly(ethylene glycol), or PEG hydrogels are used as cell culture systems because they are biocompatible, easy to use, and easy to chemically functionalize with bioactive chemistries. People have engineered these to be degradable because that happens within the human body. One aspect of tissues is that cells can degrade them, allowing for proliferation and migration. Some enzymes used to degrade extracellular matrix (ECM) are cathepsins and Matrix metalloproteinases or MMPs. MMPs are proteases which through upregulation degrade the ECM. These engineered peptides are limited to only MMPs. Current PEG hydrogels have only been designed to selectively degrade in response to MMPs; however, this is very limiting. Here, we have developed and characterized peptides that can be added to hydrogels and will degrade in the presence of cathepsins. Cathepsins are more wide-spread than MMPs so this hydrogel can be used to provide a better understanding of the role of cathepsins in tissues and disease. However, there are a lot of different cell-secreted enzymes approximately a dozen of which are a part of the cathepsins family. We developed peptides for cathepsins K, L, and S because of their roles in tissue remodeling and disease. Cathepsin K is almost exclusively secreted by osteoclasts to degrade bone matrix or in tumors. Cathepsin L plays a major role in tumor invasion and metastasis. Cathepsin S is expressed by antigen-presenting cells to cleave ECM proteins such as laminin and collagens. The peptides were identified by taking the FASTA sequences of the chosen cathepsins and running them across a database to determine potential peptides capable of being cleaved by cathepsins. The peptides were created using FMOC solid-phase peptide synthesis. A fluorescamine assay was created and optimized for the use of running peptides cleaved by cathepsins. The assay is used to validate these peptides found to be cleaved by cathepsins by measuring the Kcat/Km. Kcat is the time required by an enzyme molecule to turn over one substrate, our peptide. Km is the substrate concentration when the enzyme’s velocity is at ½ its maximum. Determining these values for each enzyme/substrate will show our substrates are selective. The assay is used to calculate the Kcat and Km by measuring the amount of N-terminal amines in solution overtime, so if an enzyme is cleaving the substrate this value will increase overtime. To date, we have synthesized our peptide substrates and shown this assay can measure Kcat/Km. Ultimately, optimized peptides will be incorporated into hydrogels in order to study how cells interact with the environment. By testing these peptides in hydrogels by dissolving them in PBS and adding them to a PEG-Maleimide solution, a better understanding of the role of cathepsins in tissues and disease will ideally be obtained.
Complex coacervation is a particular kind of polymer-based self-assembly which results in a liquid-liquid separation. The coacervate is a resultant dense, polymer rich phase, which retains salt and water. Here, we utilize spin-coating to investigate the preparation of thin coacervate films containing active small-molecule cargo. In particular, we investigated the encapsulation of fluorescent Rhodamine dyes as a proxy for small-molecule therapeutics to facilitate easy quantification of loading and release efficiency. Properties such as the charge and hydrophobicity of Rhodamine dyes, and their effect on the resultant films were studied. We have looked into the process of adding dye to the coacervate phase, and quantified dye retention by both the liquid coacervate and the resulting spin-coated films. We varied process parameters such as spin-time and spin-speed to analyze the effect of dye encapsulation on the resultant film thickness, which was quantified using profilometry. In addition, studies were conducted to measure the rate of release of dye from the films using molecular spectroscopy. These results suggest that nanostructured coacervate-based coatings hold potential to release active small molecule compounds from a range of surfaces, from indwelling medical device to food processing surfaces.
Much of the world’s rice contains concentrations of inorganic arsenic, a class I carcinogen, that may cause long-term health problems. Methods for determining inorganic arsenic in rice typically involve costly and complex instrumental techniques, such as high performance liquid chromatography with plasma-source mass spectrometry detection. A simpler and cheaper method is required. Our goal is to adapt the Hach EZ field test kit (designed to determine inorganic arsenic in groundwater) to the analysis of rice. There are two critical stages: extraction and conversion to the arsine gas (that gives the yellow/brown color on the test strip). Preliminary results indicate that the Hach test is inaccurate; our hypothesis is that the starch and protein co-extracted with the arsenic compounds interfere with the hydride generation (HG) reaction at the powdered zinc surface. We have shown that alkali solutions may be more effective in degrading the starch and protein than is either water alone or dilute acid, and a study of the relevant parameters is in progress. We are investigating sodium borohydride (NaBH4) as an alternate reagent for HG. A major problem is that the reaction is so fast that arsine is lost before the lid of the reaction vessel can be secured. Several procedures have been investigated, of which the most promising is an agar gel formed from 5 mL of 2% hot agar solution in a mold containing 350 mg of NaBH4 dissolved in 200 µL of 1.0 M NaOH. Results for the method optimization, validation, and application to real rice samples will be presented.
Organic semiconducting materials demonstrate potential for improved efficiencies or unique applications over their inorganic counterparts. Initial hurdles in synthesizing consistent materials resulted from complex supramolecular interactions involved when mixing compounds into an aggregate material. Established purification methods allow consistency for individual molecules, but aggregation to the nanoscale (<100nm) and mesoscale (100nm-100µm) are less understood. This has led to the use of nanoparticles, aggregates with diameters of ~10nm. Nanoparticles simplify mesoscale aggregation because they have more regular, spherical shapes, allowing them to pack the same way balls pack in a ball pit. This breakthrough, however, still leaves the problem of molecular aggregation within nanoparticles. This study focuses on the rylene diimide class of dye molecules. These molecules consist of fused aromatic rings with a pi electron network across a wide, flat molecule. The molecules pack in a stacking manner, but due to the electronic properties of the pi electron clouds, they do not necessarily stack vertically like plates, but rather may stack in a staggered fashion, like bricks in a wall. Unlike a typical brick wall, however, this staggering may occur on either axis. Furthermore, the molecules can be functionalized with alkyl side chains to influence stacking. Finally, the synthesis of nanoparticles involves emulsion by a surfactant, which also plays a role in the stacking interactions as molecules aggregate. This study will explore the effect of emulsifiers on packing to provide crucial insight into supramolecular chemistry and allow for control over material properties for applications in photovoltaics, electronics, and sensors.
Despite the considerable
efforts of researchers round the world, there are still problems with both the
accuracy and precision of methods for the measurement of various arsenic
compounds in rice. We are investigating
two possibilities: (1) a volatile arsenic compound is lost on drying (arsenic
contents are reported on a dry weight basis), and (2) there is considerable
variation in the concentration in individual grains from the same bag. We have developed a method for the
determination of arsenic compounds in white rice in which the ground rice was microwave
digested with nitric acid. The acidity was adjusted and L-cysteine was added to reduce
arsenate to arsenite, which was quantified by hydride generation atomic
fluorescence spectrometry. Our preliminary results show, on the basis of a one-sided
t-test, that a dried sample contained
a significantly lower arsenic concentration than a portion that was analyzed as
received. We have also applied the
method to the analysis of individual rice grains, and preliminary results show
that some grains contain arsenic concentrations hundreds of times higher than
the average, potentially causing a significant sampling error. As rice contains
both inorganic and dimethyl arsenic, we are working on methods for total
arsenic and the two arsenic species. Results for the optimization and validation
of the methods, based on microwave digestion of individual rice grains with
various reagents, will be presented. Currently the method for total arsenic,
involving dissolution in a mixture of nitric acid and hydrogen peroxide, has a limit
of quantification of 0.5 μg L-1, corresponding to about 5 µg kg-1 in the solid rice (well below the concentrations that are typically encountered).
Commonly used natural gas is composed almost entirely of methane. However, transporting methane as a gas is potentially dangerous. Thus, it is of scientific interest to find a method to transfer methane to a liquid, namely methanol. To complete this reaction in an energetically efficient manner, a metal catalyst is necessary. The Metz physical chemistry laboratory has investigated the interaction between iron and methane by creating iron-methane complexes in varying stoichiometry using mass spectrometry and vibrational spectroscopy. The vibrational spectra can then yield information regarding the effects iron has on the carbon to hydrogen bonds in methane. Additionally, computational methods are used to identify possible geometries and binding energies to be compared to the experimental data.
The purpose of this project was to adapt a reductive amination for use in the undergraduate organic laboratories. Following optimization, a full derivatization and characterization of the compounds used would then allow for the use of different aldehydes and/or amines as student unknowns.
Outer membrane protein G (OmpG) has been utilized to detect protein analytes through covalently affixing a small molecule ligand to one of its seven loops. We seek to genetically engineer a peptide site into several loops of OmpG in order to detect a known protein target. A peptide sequence from the protein hirudin will initially be added into loop 6 of OmpG. This allows for it to bind to thrombin, a serine protease that is involved in many physiological functions, most notably, blood clotting. We hypothesize that the peptide inserted into OmpG will mimic hirudin binding to thrombin, and through electrophysiology, the engineered OmpG can be used to detect thrombin once it binds to the hirudin sequence. This characteristic has never been seen with OmpG although other protein sensors have demonstrated thrombin detection. If the detection of thrombin is successful with one loop of OmpG, the project will be extended further to genetically engineer an OmpG with several hirudin binding sites incorporated into multiple OmpG loops with hopes of increasing the sensitivity of the OmpG sensor through multivalency.
Bromodomains are epigenetic reader proteins which recognize acetylated lysine residues in histones and can lead to the development of cancer when their activity is unregulated. Polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1) has been found to be overexpressed in some cancer types, thus both Bromodomains and PLK1 are therapeutic targets for the treatment of different types of cancer. BI-2536, a previously identified PLK1 inhibitor, has been identified to inhibit a specific Bromodomain containing protein, BRD4, with nanomolar inhibitory activity. A synthetic scheme was developed to synthesize analogs of BI-2536 aimed at producing a balanced dual kinase-Bromodomain inhibitor and an inhibitor which is selective to PLK1. The development of these simple, scalable, and efficient reactions were extremely important for the ability to develop analogs continuously. The synthesis of dual kinase-Bromodomain inhibitors and the simultaneous inhibition of the activity of these proteins is a powerful tool in combatting cancers in which their over-activity is implicated and can reduce the number of therapeutics taken by cancer patients. The leading dual kinase inhibitors UMB101 and 160, displayed potent inhibitory activity of 84 nm and below. Compounds UMB 92 and 86 have shown greater inhibitor selectivity for PLK1 over BRD4.
The instability of unpaired electrons in radical species contributes to the potency of these compounds as cell-damaging agents. Radical Oxygen Species (ROS) are among the most powerful molecules that can easily diffuse through the cell membrane and damage the vital cellular components. Of these cellular components, enzymes, chromosomes, and RNA derivatives are the most vulnerable, as they are more prone to dysfunction when they are structurally altered. Diseases such as amyloidosis and Alzheimer’s disease, which are manifestations of the accumulation of β-amyloid protein in vivo, have been found to be correlated with an increased activity of radical species in cells and a weakened defense mechanism toward neutralization of such damaging compounds. Vitamins C and E are organic molecules that are naturally obtained by diet and can modulate the activity of ROS in cells. But since the blood-brain barrier (BBB) is inherently impenetrable to most exogenous substances, delivering these vitamins to the brain, which is the main organ that is severely affected in the Alzheimer’s disease, has been shown difficult and ineffective. A new set of conjugated compounds were obtained through green synthesis methods and their antioxidant capacity was studied through various biochemical assays. In addition to making use of quick, solvent free, environment-friendly methods of synthesizing conjugated aromatic compounds, molecules with a higher possibility of passing through the BBB could be synthesized in this study; (1H-indol-3-yl)-hydroquinone, phenylhydroquinone (PHQ), and 2-(1H-indol-3-yl)-2-oxoacetyl chloride derivatives are among these newly synthesized compounds.
Radical S-adenosyl-L-methionine (rSAM) enzymes initiate complex radical reactions by enabling a molecule of SAM to bind to its [4Fe-4S] cluster to reductively cleave SAM, generating the 5’-deoxyadenosyl radical (5’-dAdo). The rSAM superfamily utilizes the 5’-dAdo radical intermediate to catalyze diverse radical transformations such as post-transcriptional and post-translational modifications, enzyme activation, and biosynthesis of antibiotic natural products. Neomycin C epimerase (NeoN) is a rSAM epimerase that catalyzes the selective epimerization of the C-5” of neomycin C to produce a more potent form of the antibiotic—neomycin B. In order to understand the catalytic activity of NeoN, we have generated expression constructs of the protein for crystallographic studies. Colony Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) was used to amplify the neoN gene from Streptomyces fradiae. The neoN gene was successfully ligated into two expression vectors, with either a hexahistidine tag or a soluble protein tag. These vectors were specifically used to overexpress the protein and increase protein solubility. Finally, expression tests were conducted in order to find suitable conditions for the production of the NeoN protein.
The self-assembly of peptides has numerous potential applications in the fields of energy, nanobiotechnology, and nanomedicine. Peptides serve as excellent building blocks because they offer a great diversity of chemical and physical properties, can be synthesized in large amounts, and can be easily functionalized. Aromatic peptides have the tendency to form dipeptides which then self-assemble into nanotubes. However, there is a lack of fundamental understanding as to how these nanotubes assemble. In this study, quantum-chemical computational methods were used in a bottom up approach to investigate the initial steps of cyclic tryptophan-tyrosine and linear tryptophan-tyrosine self-assembly. First the numerous conformations of the dipeptides were screened to find the most sterically and energetically stable forms. These stable conformers were then used to model and study their dimer and hexamer forms. For each monomer, dimer, and hexamer, the energetics, thermodynamics, and IR spectra were analyzed to gain knowledge on their chemical properties and interactions. Additionally, the effects of solvation were investigated using the same procedure but accounting for acetone solvation. Based on these work, it is possible that the growth of fibers involved π-stacking and hydrogen bonding interactions between planar diketopiperazine rings resulting in a tubular fiber-like morphology.
Nitroxyl (HNO) is a highly reactive nitrogen compound and its high reactivity and electrophilic nature makes it a strong candidate for reducing nucleophilic thiols. The thiophilic nature of HNO has the potential for enzymatic inactivation leading to protein modification. Given the strong affinity of HNO towards various thiols, previous thermodynamic calculations have shown that selenothiols have a lower energetic barrier and a faster rate constant than its sulfur-containing thiol analogue. To determine the kinetics under physiological conditions, hybrid quantum/molecular mechanic calculations regarding the reactivity of various thiols with HNO were carried out to determine the thermodynamic properties of the two-molecule system. Introduction of both temperature and varying concentrations of thiols provided further information on the reaction mechanism and potential insight into how HNO can deactivate enzymes such as glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase via conformational changes.
Telomeres mitigate the loss of genetic information during DNA replication and are composed of guanine (G) rich sequences. These sequences form G-tetramer complexes in vivo that are stabilized by eight G-G hydrogen bonds and ligand bonds to a central cation. While previous investigations utilizing ab initio methods have provided insight into the interactions that contribute to G-complex stability, they failed to identify the contributions of the individual bonds within the complex, as well as the cation contribution to the overall stability. A novel computational methodology is presented that has facilitated the characterization of each individual hydrogen bond’s energy contribution to the complex’s stability while selectively breaking individual bonds. This methodology will be utilized to elucidate the formation dynamics of parallel-stacked Guanine Tetraplexes.
Hydrogen, a renewable and environmentally sustainable energy source, is seen as a promising alternative to hydrocarbon fuels. Despite the advantages of hydrogen, the limitations of current hydrogen storage technologies have restricted its prominent use as a source of energy. The storage of hydrogen on graphitic materials, such as carbon nanotubes, is an emerging approach with high prospects. A theory known as spillover is hypothesized to account for the increased hydrogen storage capacity on metal decorated graphitic materials. In the spillover mechanism, molecular hydrogen is dissociated over a metal catalyst thus allowing atomic hydrogen to be chemisorbed to the carbon surface. In this study, the spillover mechanism on a nickel decorated graphene surface was investigated computationally. An activation energy of 2.99 eV has been determined for the dissociative chemisorption along the minimum energy path. This value is consistent with research performed by others on a similar system. Data from the three-body minimum energy path and the two-body interaction of the H2 with the Ni/graphene surface has been used to calculate a potential energy surface. With the potential energy surface established, focus has been turned to pursuing quantum dynamics calculations. Dynamics will provide detailed insight into the spillover mechanism.
Organic semiconductors materials possess thermoelectric properties that provide a means to transform waste heat to electricity from a temperature gradient. Therefore, they serve as a possible solution to the current environmental and energy problems. Variations of the organic semiconductors have been examined due to their high electrical conductivity, power factor, and figure of merit—all key features of effective thermoelectric materials. However, understanding the electrical conductivity and charge-transport properties of these materials are not well understood. By using analytical tools including UV-visible absorption spectroscopy, infrared spectroscopy and Seebeck coefficient measurements, the mechanism of charge transport can be probed. Moreover, the understanding of charge-transport models for disordered materials can serve as a propellant to the development of tunable and optimized organic semiconducting materials. This poster will present results from our recent investigations of organic semiconductors.
A fluid flowing through a capillary tube is subject to shear forces, which can denature proteins in solution. The extent of denaturation has been found to be variable with flow rate. Arterial rigidity increases while diameter decreases with age, thus increasing shear forces that may affect the aggregation of the protein Aβ1-40 in Alzheimer’s disease. The techniques developed in my study contribute to the study of spectrometric evidence of protein oligomerization upon exposure to shear and the effect of flow rates on extent of oligomerization. This is studied by sending small volumes of peptide-containing solutions through stainless steel capillary tubes by HPLC, which are then analyzed by UV-Vis and mass spectrometry to determine whether oligomerization has taken place and to what degree. Initial work has studied the peptide angiotensin, with eventual application to study Aβ1-40. Early efforts have focused on developing the proper methods and flow rates for studying the effect of shear. We have found that the most effective method for obtaining reproducible flow of peptides through a column consists of a series of tubing washes with milliQ water and solutions of 50:50 methanol/water with 5% acetic acid at flow rates of 1 and 2 mL/min. When using these washing steps, we have obtained peptide peaks that reveal information about the peptide’s transit through the column under different flow rates and how the resulting shear influences the protein’s diffusion in the tube. The peptide’s extent of diffusion provides information about any structural changes or aggregation due to shear.
The experimental processes of covalent labeling (CL) and hydrogen-deuterium exchange (HDX) are functionally related techniques used to selectively mass-label specific regions of proteins and peptides based in part on how solvent-exposed they are and/or how dynamic they are. HDX, as the name implies, exchanges labile hydrogens (specifically N-H and O-H) for deuterium. Interior and less dynamic regions of a folded protein will tend to exchange more slowly than more exposed and more dynamic ones. Thus, information about the rate and extent of deuteration gained from studying mass shifts of fragment ions can give structural information about the protein. In an analogous fashion, CL techniques use one of a number of reagents that react covalently with specific amino acid residues, again enabling researchers to infer information about the three dimensional shape of a folded peptide or protein based on the extent of labeling at different sites. Since protein structure is integral to its function, these techniques are extremely useful in proteomics and the pharmaceutical industry when combined with predictive software or other techniques in determining a protein’s function or mode of action. The current project will aim to determine optimal experimental conditions under which to perform HDX, and explore ways to use the two techniques simultaneously to provide more in-depth information about a protein’s conformation.
Proteins determine the behavior of a cell through regulation of major cellular functions. Many diseases are due to malfunctioning proteins or protein deficiency. Common complications with proteins are malfunctioning proteins and improper levels of protein expression. If a cell is deficient or contains malfunctioning proteins, the ability to deliver functional proteins would be able to compensate for the lack of natural proteins and ensure proper cell function. Transport of the new, functional proteins into the cell would be nearly impossible without the use of nanocarriers which are able to transport the proteins across the cell membrane and release them into the cytosol. Delivery directly into the cytosol is a difficult task. Release from the delivery vehicile requires release from the endosomal compartments without undergoing exocytosis. This release requires additional stimuli that would be able to withstand entrapment and degrade the endosomal compartments which then increases cytotoxicity and decreases the efficiency of the delivery. A more efficient, faster pathway would be if the nanocarrier fused directly to the cell membrane and was not dependent upon endocytosis. This would allow the nanocarrier and its cargo to bypass the endosomes completely, greatly lowering the amount of reagents needed in the nanocapsule and would create lower cytotoxicity. I have eliminated the surfacant limitations of previous delivery vehicles and the need for additional stimuli for release into the cytosol by using a water in oil membrane fusion technique with gold stabilized nanoparticles to deliver functional proteins directly into the cytosol of cells.
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 b-2-microglobulin (b2m), which deposit in the joints of patients, resulting in DRA. In order to prevent the formation of the amyloid fibrils, different small compounds were tested in order to inhibit the initial aggregation of the monomers of b2m. These experiments tested the compounds curcumin and polyphenol (-)-epi-gallocatechine gallate (EGCG) with b2m via fluorescence and high performance liquid chromatography size exclusion chromatography (HPLC-SEC). Intrinsic and extrinsic fluorescence experiments of the compounds at a wide range of concentrations determined if they influenced the aggregation of b2m. If the compounds were inhibitors, the increasing concentration would result in a decrease in fluorescence of b2m. This was generally observed for curcumin, however, some unexpected peaks appeared in the data which might be from alternate interactions of curcumin with other compounds in the solution. The EGCG fluorescence data was taken by another student in the laboratory. The HPLC-SEC experiments will occur at a smaller range of concentrations in order to observe the effect of the compounds on the rate of formation of the initial aggregates. Future experiments could test gold nanoparticles, which are predicted to influence the noncovalent interactions of the dimers, and could be tested through the HPLC-SEC. If these compounds demonstrate a decrease in the rate of formation of initial aggregates, they could be used to prevent DRA in patients undergoing dialysis.
Permaculture has started to gain considerable attention, particularly regarding sustainable food production. While research has examined the use of urine as fertilizer on plant growth, the question of how pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) in human urine effect the food we eat should also be considered. As such, we are working in conjunction with Grow Food Northampton to explore the presence of PPCPs. The experiment was setup to examine both a hydrodynamic system and a hydrostatic system. There were four combinations of urine compost and soil each run in duplicate in column or batch reactors. The hydrodynamic set up used a pump that delivered a constant stream of water at 0.05 mL per minute for 21 days. The water was delivered to the top of the column reactors, allowing it to percolate through the compost and soil mixture into collection jars. The hydrostatic set up incubated in batch reactor for 21 days. Liquid samples from each experimental condition were stored in a constant temperature room at 4˚ C until they were analyzed. Samples were filtered. The PPCP isolated with Solid Phase Extraction and mass profiles of the PPCPs will be identified with Xevo G2-XS QT. The mass profiles will be used to focus ultra-performance liquid chromatography protocol and concentrations of a suite of PPCPs will be measured; beta-blockers, analgesics, synthetic hormones, antibiotics, and bug repellents. Urine compost provides a sustainable alternative to chemical fertilizers. This study aims to add to the literature addressing the safety of urine composting applications.
Uber, an online
transportation network company, launched it’s app in 2011 and started competing
with taxicabs to provide on-demand mobility. The app allows users to submit a
trip request via their smartphone. This study was conducted to analyze the
patterns of taxi usage in New York City since the emergence of Uber. The New
York City Taxi & Limousine Commission has released data on over 1.1 billion
individual taxi trips from January 2009 through June 2015. Uber also released data
on 19 million Uber rides from 2014 and 2015. The data displaying the demand
patterns in the city was analyzed through ArcGIS. This mapping software allows
for a visual representation of the pick-up locations of yellow cabs, green
cabs, and Uber pickups. Green cabs are those that can only pick up passengers
north of Manhattan and the outer boroughs (excluding airports). Yellow cabs can
pick up passengers anywhere. The data in ArcGIS was joined through NYC
Neighborhood Tabulation Areas (NTAs). A question that came up while analyzing
the data was whether or not certain factors such as demographic profiles play a
role in which mode of transportation passengers choose to take. Also, where are
Uber pickups most concentrated in NYC? The data set along with the mapping
software address these questions to provide insights about the role that Uber
is playing in competing with or complementing conventional taxis.
Vehicles operating in traffic emit pollutants such as particulate matter (PM), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon monoxide (CO), and carbon dioxide (CO2). In urban traffic networks, pedestrians and cyclists passing alongside streets and crossing at intersections are exposed to the vehicular emissions. This pilot study demonstrates how vehicle operations at a roundabout relate to measurable pollutant emissions and establishes a method for future studies to compare different intersection designs. Quantifying the link between traffic management decisions and the potential human exposure that results is especially important for designing intersections and controlling traffic in urban or campus environments where there are many pedestrians and cyclists exposed to pollutants in the vicinity of traffic facilities. Three sources are used in order to collect data results: various air monitors, video cameras, and a traffic radar. Data from the three source materials are all in the form of time series of emission and traffic data. Analysis of data from the pilot experiment shows how the passage of different vehicle types (e.g., passenger car, truck, diesel bus, hybrid bus) are related to observed spikes in pollutant emissions by the roadside.
Traditionally, school breakfast programs have provided low-income students with an opportunity to begin the day with a good breakfast, but at the cost of setting these students apart from their peers. The stigma of being singled out manifests in the behaviors of students during the meal time – students may choose not to eat breakfast so they remain part of their peer group or they may choose to eat a minimal amount of food quickly, leading to high levels of waste, and consequently, poor nutrition. Beginning in the 2010-2011 school year, a new program called Breakfast in the Classroom has been implemented in schools throughout the country. This program provides breakfast to all students, regardless of income level, in their classroom to eliminate the stigma of a free breakfast, thereby reducing waste and ensuring that all students feel included in their peer groups. This study aims to observe student behavior and food waste during breakfast in both schools that have traditional breakfast programs and schools that have implemented Breakfast in the Classroom programs. It is expected that students who participate in a Breakfast in the Classroom will be more conversational, more engaged, and eat more slowly as well as waste less food than their peers in traditional breakfast programs. If this is true, then this study could encourage all schools to change their breakfast model to Breakfast in the Classroom in order to reduce costs and increase student well-being.
Identifying as Black has more to do with just the skin tone of an individual. Not only is color important, but so are factors like experience, location, and wealth; to name a few. The purpose of this project is to address the concept of identity and belonging within the Black community. The goal is to show how the stereotypes of race, as well as the separation of class within the Black community creates divisions among community members. This has been done by applying a discourse analysis to “The Nod,” an episode of ABC’s hit series Blackish. Using O'Shaughnessy's discourse analysis reveals that something as small and regular as a nod has deeper meaning. Analyzing “The Nod,” allows entry into issues that pertain to identifying as black within a broad national community. The analysis examines the concept of a single Black identity: Basic Blackness, and addresses how this concept may not in fact be accurate.
Wonder Woman is an American icon and comic book superhero worthy of her own feature film. Wonder Woman was created for DC Comics by an avowed feminist, psychiatrist William Moulton Marston during the height of WWII. Marston described his ground-breaking character as, “the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world.” Wonder Woman, AKA Diana, princess of the Amazons is adorned with several gifts from the Greek Gods; superhuman strength, the power of flight, and the lasso of truth; formed from Aphrodite’s girdle. Hollywood has a notorious reputation for its disrespectful and sexist treatment of women, especially the highest paid, award-decorated actresses. Women represent sex fantasies of adolescent boys with little or no experience with women. Females make up 51 % of the world’s population and have increased to 30% of comic book fans. Wonder Woman stole the spotlight in the film Batman vs. Superman with her fierce fighting in the climactic battle scene. Gal Gadot, who plays Wonder Woman, says, “I’ve got the opportunity to portray a great role model for girls to look up to – a strong, active, compassionate, loving woman.” Gadot, a former Israeli soldier, is trained in Kung Fu, kickboxing, swords, dance and gymnastics. She is the right choice to play the most powerful princess EVER. Wonder Woman is not your average cookie cutter version of a princess. She does not need saving from any man. Best of all, she is a savior to men and women alike.
Rather than officials solely keeping the public connected and well informed in real-time during disasters, the emergence of social media has enabled the public to respond and rally their own dialogue amongst each other when horrific events strike. This project compares some of the greatest natural disasters from before the advent of social media to those after the digital platforms became integrated into our daily lives, illustrating this new dialogue amongst the public and a new way of sharing global information. Focusing on statistical data, academic journals, news reports, and social media consumption during the time of the Galveston Hurricane (1900), Hurricane Katrina (2005), and Hurricane Matthew (2016) this project aims to compare how information was received by the public, determine social media’s positive impact in times of natural disaster including safety assurance and relief support, and identify the negative aspects of real-time social media response during these turbulent times such as economic exploitation and false content.
Civil disobedience has been a proactive approach to movements throughout history. In modern culture, we see movements like The Women’s March and Black Lives Matter making impacts across the nation. Our generation is experiencing a major cultural shift and with the recent election there has been mixed emotions and opinions. This recent motion has left people scared, angry, sad and some satisfied. We know that these reactions exist because we are exposed to media constantly covering topics that regard recent events, and we experience the behavior of society in our daily lives. We may not all agree that there is one particular reaction that is most effective, but we can notice social movements with the most publicity. Civil disobedience has been incorporated into cultural movements more and more, and they are impacting people everywhere. We want to study our own generation’s reactions to modern culture. By focusing on college communities across Massachusetts, we can observe this shift to our culture and how movements are affecting it. Many people talk about it, most post about it, and some act for it. We want to know what our generation’s opinion is, if it’s being enforced, and how. Why? We are the future, and our opinion matters. After we gather our research, we will enforce a promotional movement in our own college community. This project will help us gain more knowledge of the way people react, with participant observation. We will prove our generation's power.
There is no question that in our generation there is a massive overload of selfies being taken. And the big question is why? On average a person will take 25,700 selfies in their life time, and a female aged 16-25 spends about five hours a week taking selfies. My research examines 10 individuals, some high number selfie takers and some not. I have gained access to not only every selfie they have taken in a week, but also have captured the feelings and thoughts in their head while they were taking them. I have conducted a prior interview before the week of selfies and also an interview afterwards. This gives me the information into why we take so many selfies and what selfies do for us. I have looked into the means of repetition and repetitiveness in the selfie process, and why in this generation it is so time consuming. The cultivation theory states that the more time people spend “living” in television world, the more likely they are to believe social reality portrayed on television. My research helps to compare the selfie epidemic and the time we give to such social media and activities. Why do we take so many selfies? And how does it benefit us? In my study I will to bring light to why selfies are such an epidemic in this generation.
Since the 1800’s when Joseph Niépce and Louis Daguerre first invented photography, its interpretation has evolved significantly from classifying as documentary, artistic, and now a substantial part of everyday media intake. In my research, I examine the evolution of photography’s role and how social media platforms are now changing how it is interpreted. In social media aesthetics in photography are so crucial to consumerism that we now depend on them to verify reality, or allow us to imagine ourselves and others with certain lifestyles. Images constantly placed in our daily media platform browsing−whether they are marketing a product, or someone marketing their own lifestyle–are changing the way we construe photography. How is it affecting the way we interpret what we’re exposed to, and more importantly, does it affect the way we market ourselves? I’ve found that we now live in a world where photographs are evidence of lifestyle. Companies now pay thousands of dollars for product-placement in social media so consumers can envision it in their own lives. I gained insight to why people use photographs to place themselves within a certain aesthetic through extensive interviews, surveys, and photographs. I’ve accompanied an essay with a visual project showcasing trends and examples of how aesthetics now function to mold a persona. This examination of the history of photography in conjunction with a look at today’s practice of using it to place ourselves in an “ideal world” provides introspection to how photography is now a tool to confirm and mold reality.
The Massachusetts/greater Boston area has among the U.S.’s largest Brazilian population, yet this major group has not been well studied. Brazilian immigrant women are highly likely to work outside the home, both preserving culturally meaningful family and community practices while also taking important roles as workers, small business owners and entrepreneurs (deSa et al, 2011). Delgado (2011) argues that Latino immigrant small businesses contribute significantly to community economic development, improving community well-being. Recent work (Vilain, 2014) suggests that immigrant women entrepreneurs from Latin America gain benefits beyond their earned income, to develop community roles that enhance gender equality and social capital. Further, Brazilian women in Brazil are turning to a "solidarity economy" to support flexible work/family arrangements while increasing economic access, particularly during a time of economic crisis in Brazil. Finally, Brazilian immigrants are highly transnational and maintain ties to home country (Lucchese, 2016). This mixed methods project considers gender and social entrepeneurship to explore Brazilian immigrant women's small businesses as resources for social justice in gender equity and community economic development. The study will conduct community based ethnographic observation, interviews with Brazilian women entrepreneurs working in the Greater Boston area, along with academics and experts in community economic development and social entrepeneurship in the Brazilian community, to explore a gender perspective on the contributions and challenges for women small business owners. The project will discuss themes such as gender sensitive economic and work-force development through participation in work in the beauty industry, and enduring challenges due to gender inequalities.
Reyes House is a post-detox residential facility for Hispanic males recovering from substance abuse. Healthy living is generally a new concept for the gentlemen, and while they have been users of the health care system, most do not have a clear understanding of the availability and purposes of insurance, the necessity of securing a primary care physician or the benefits of physically preparing to re-enter the workforce. This project focused on a basic, high-quality educational workshop focusing on those topics and relating them back to their own health goals. With an aim to build confidence in their ability to self-advocate for their own health, we developed an interactive, three module program, solicited the services of a bi-lingual resident of the house, and presented this material to the gentlemen. In addition, we partnered with the Worcester Lions Club and arranged for a dedicated visit to Reyes House by the Sightmobile. Ten men were screened for vision, hearing, blood pressure and blood sugar. Half were found to need additional testing to more fully understand their needs and ascertain a diagnosis. While the Sightmobile was providing initial screenings, we were visited by a number of elderly neighbors requesting they, too, be included. We have arranged for a second visit, partnered with the Residence at Ascension Heights, and will be expanding our screenings to include this population. Metrics on workshop efficacy and medical screenings will be provided during the presentation.
Food insecurity is huge problem around the world. The latest U.S. government surveys indicate that one in six Americans suffer from food insecurity. In 2014 an estimated 46.5 million people were supported by Feeding America, and of those, 31% reported having to choose between paying for their food and paying for their education. Food banks mainly operate on donations and volunteers; $25 donated brings in 56 lbs. of food. Three hundred schools around the nation have recently added food pantries to their campuses. Many people think that those who can afford college would not have trouble in affording food. However, society’s push for young people to get at least an undergraduate degree while becoming financially stable on their own can cause some sacrifices to be made, including a regular diet. On campus pantries have also shown an increase in a sense of community on and off campus. 318 participants of a WSU survey have confirmed the need for an on campus food pantry. Approximately 44% have experienced food insecurity in the past thirty days. When asked if they would be willing to volunteer their time or donate supplies to the food pantry, only 9% of participants said they would not volunteer their time and only 7% said they would not be able donate. The purpose of the pantry on campus is to help those in need in our educational community so that they may continue and finish their educations without sacrificing basic human needs, like a regular and healthy diet.
Being able to provide fresh and locally grown food for everyone in the community is very important. Will Allen, the author of The Good Food Revolution, started to work toward this goal. He created a company called Growing Power in 1993. This company took kids from different parts of the community to help him grow and pick crops. The kids that helped him usually lived in troubled parts of the community. Allen knew that helping them would prevent them from making negative choices. The way Allen chose where he would place his companies depended on the availability of fresh food to people in the community prior to him building one. He would place his companies where there was not an easy, accessible place for people in the community to purchase fresh food. This is important because everyone deserves to have the opportunity to eat healthy food. When people eat healthy, it makes them healthier because they are getting the proper nutrients that they need and would not be getting. For this project, I researched how many places do have fresh food and how accessible it is for the people in the United States. Once that was done, organizations were researched. These articles focused on if anyone is trying to make a difference with this problem and people are. Will Allen is just one person who is trying to make a difference in these communities. With everyone joining together, people can eat healthy food and this will make everyones' lives better.
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.
Recent research has shown that there is a plethora of side effects that arise from structural racism in the food system and the impoverished food environments it creates. There is a clear injustice in the food system and this has led to a diabetes and obesity epidemic. Food deserts—neighborhoods vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthy foods—have been shown to influence these unhealthy outcomes. Such areas lack full-service grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and other healthy food providers. The inner-city neighborhoods of Springfield, Massachusetts exhibit these patterns of food injustice. In the city's Six Corners neighborhood, poverty, unemployment, and crime combine with high obesity and diabetes rates, negatively impacting the quality of life. Food justice activists have been working in the Six Corners neighborhood to provide solutions. In order to contribute to this work, students from a Food Systems Planning class at Westfield State University conducted research on a section of the local food environment. Students prepared a food outlet survey based on the USDA Thrifty Food Plan which included four different categories: dairy and cheese, meats and proteins, grains and whole breads, fruits and vegetables. Five food outlets were surveyed. After analyzing the data, it was found that the stores consisted mostly of processed, high fat, high sodium foods as well as a severe lack of fresh fruits and vegetables. Our findings confirm the importance of Springfield’s food justice activists, and their efforts to educate, empower and increase access to fruits and vegetables for the community.
In an effort to promote civic engagement, forge town-gown connections, and bridge the gap between two educational disciplines, first-year honors program students at Westfield State University participated in a newly-developed learning community, immersing them into the downtown area of Westfield, Massachusetts, the site of their new home away from home. Combining English Composition l and Introduction to Community Planning, the course provides students with applied classroom knowledge that can be used in real world experiences. This poster will highlight the benefits of first year involvement in civic engagement learning communities, through research-based community redesign. The learning community went on numerous class visits to the streets of Westfield, using the city as a classroom, and its memorials, burial grounds, rusty bridges, history and development plans as the tools for learning. In addition, visiting the shops that are intriguing to young adults increases the likelihood that students will venture downtown on their own time, further acclimating them to their new home and to each other. Then, going beyond the classroom walls, students collaborated with city leaders to envision plans for a future community. This poster will encourage the exchange of ideas about learning communities, city as text courses and models for how academic communities can partner with their local communities. This poster offers other collegiate programs one successful model for civic engagement and interdisciplinary studies.
The mode of Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) the public is most likely to encounter is applied A.I., which is the development of decision-making technologies to solve practical problems. The advantages and concerns about the technology have been at conflict with one another throughout the A.I. community, legislatures, and the public. Our research identifies which expert-posed risks are perceived as the highest concern by non-expert users. We review qualitative data to gauge people’s willingness to adopt the technology, with or without direct interaction with certain automation products via a survey sampling. The surveys collect individual’s perceptions about self-driving cars, automated voice response systems and personal digital assistants. These three examples of A.I. have more common public interaction to date. People have been able to formulate an initial impression of what these technologies represent to themselves and society. The surveys include multiple questions analyzing these three A.I.s within certain scenarios. For our concluding results, we will identify correlations between a particular risk and the willingness to adopt an applied A.I. technology.
Medical processes are often complicated and prone to various kinds of errors, which have been estimated to lead to approximately 98,000 avoidable patient deaths each year (Institute of Medicine, 1999). One major source of such errors is attributed to mistakes made during medical procedures. In an effort to minimize these kinds of errors and improve medical safety, the LASER (Laboratory for Advanced Software Engineering Research) team at UMass Amherst has been developing a “Smart Checklist” software system. This system provides a detailed list of steps in a given medical procedure that can guide healthcare workers through that procedure. In addition, it is able to handle exceptional situations and help users to recover from deviations from the normative path. My project aims to develop the Smart Checklist capabilities to improve error-prone aspects of cardiac surgery. Since cardiac surgery involves four teams composed of surgeons, anesthesiologists, perfusionists, and nurses, the focus is on how we can use the Smart Checklist system to enhance efficient communication and cooperation among interacting teams during a procedure. To evaluate this approach, I have elicited and improved the definition of the surgical process for two common critical procedures in cardiac surgery, aortic valve replacement (AVR) and coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG). Then I developed AVR- and CABG-specific surgical process models using the Little-JIL process modeling language. After that, safety properties will be defined using the PROPEL (Property Elucidator) system and the processes will be analyzed for consistency with these properties using the FLAVERS model checker.
In a short time period, artificial intelligence has gone from a futuristic concept to a technology many people use in their daily lives. With products like Amazon Alexa, consumers have access to many basic forms of artificial intelligence readily available for home use. Even with these products readily available, many people still lack knowledge regarding the current state of artificial intelligence. The type of education an individual is pursuing might affect the level of knowledge. A person whose college education has them learning about humanities and social sciences may not be as knowledgeable as someone whose studies focus on physical sciences. Less knowledge can result in fear or uncertainty about further developments of a technology; therefore, identifying if there is a significant knowledge gap is important. People with less knowledge on the current state of artificial intelligence and how its developing would have no understanding of how it could affect future jobs and other important aspects of life. In this study, we focused on the education of college students who are currently attending a four-year public university. We researched and gathered information from several academic articles, as well as surveyed a random grouping of students from each of the three educational traditional disciplines to find out if a field of study correlates with knowledge gap relating to information on artificial intelligence.
Traditional education can be defined as an instructor-centric delivery of core academic subjects, according to Paolo Freire, to classes of students acting as the receivers of information. This form of pedagogy operates in a unidirectional flow of information that defines the student-teacher relation, promoting standardized testing methods and a competitive grading system. This framework, especially in higher education, regards educational resources as intellectual property restricted to privileged students and professors with the economic means to obtain said resources. This restriction of information directly contrasts today's network connected society. Since the emergence of the Internet, individuals and institutions have adopted a new pedagogy, one that is redefining the student-teacher relation, Open Source Education. Open Source Education and Open Source Resources allows open and free access of information to the public domain, promoting participation, collaboration, sharing, and innovation. However, the political landscape of today poses a threat to Open Source Resources, and the Internet as a whole. Special interest groups desire to abolish Net Neutrality, the principle that the Internet and Internet Service Providers should enable equal access to all regardless of the source, and lobbyists continue to push for more restrictive Internet laws that could deeply effect future education. This research aims to compare the effectiveness of open source education to traditional education, identifying each ideology’s benefit to societal innovation and general public good.
Cloud computing is one of the latest innovations in the field of information technology allowing users to easily store and access their data at low cost from any point on the planet. Ever since it has been created, it has attracted businesses and organizations due to its unique features. However, as noted in Patrick Cunningham’s Information Management Journal 2016 article “Another Walk in the Cloud”, in addition to its numerous benefits related to its ease of access and connectivity, the cloud still presents a variety of concerns regarding its security, privacy, and distribution. In this research, the different weaknesses the cloud presents nowadays will be analyzed, and the barriers between the cloud and multiple organizations will be focalized on in order to define solutions for a more effective and efficient use of this exclusive technology. The architecture of the cloud must adapt to the needs and expectations of the businesses it serves. The security and privacy issues the cloud poses, representing the majority of the problems between the cloud and its users, should be addressed with ways to preserve the integrity and confidentiality of the data: this is where the work of Yesilyurt, Murat, and Yildiray Yalman on “Using data hiding methods” offers productive insight. The client/provider relation must also be improved through better understanding both the provider’s and the client’s needs, leading to friendlier contracts that benefit both parties.
Continuous remote monitoring of upper-limb movements in stroke survivors allows understanding of individuals’ motor behaviors outside of the clinical setting, improving clinical outcomes of rehabilitation interventions. The use of wearable sensors, such as wrist-worn sensors, have recently emerged as an objective monitoring tool. However, wrist-worn sensors do not capture fine hand movement (FHM), which is most relevant to the performance of activities of daily living (ADL) and quality of life. The ultimate goal of this project is to investigate the use of our novel finger-worn sensor, combined with a worst-worn sensor, to quantify the amount of FHM in the ambulatory setting. Validating the efficacy of our sensor requires a comparative ground-truth measure of the FHM. However, it has not yet been investigated in the related field of study. This abstract introduces a new benchmark measure of FHM using an motion capture system, a gold standard method to quantify human movement. We recruited four healthy subjects to perform a set of ADL with various levels of FHM. Two reflective markers were placed on their index finger and wrist of the dominant limb. We quantified the amount of FHM by computing the mean of the difference in the Euclidean distance between the finger and wrist over a sliding window of 1s. The test-retest reliability of this new measure obtained over two repetitions of ADL was investigated using the intra-class correlation coefficient (ICC). The results showed an ICC of 0.99 (out of 1), which validates the reliability of our new measure. Our future studies will investigate the responsiveness of this measure and the use of finger-worn sensor to estimate this measure.
Although neuroactivity of serial killers has been studied for years, a newer area of this study has recently emerged: the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). This is one of the least understood regions of the brain, linked to emotions, rational thought, and decision making. Researchers agree the OFC is a common factor, though various neuropsychological theories suggest different components contribute to the making of a serial killer. In addition, I will briefly explore the presentation of neuroscience as a criminal defense at trials. The interdisciplinary methodology I expect to use includes, scholarly literature, library databases, as well as interviews with researchers in various fields, including a law enforcement agent, abnormal psychology professor, and neuroscientist. This research will examine three theories: Neuroscientist James Fallon believes the MAO-A gene (warrior gene), childhood violence/abuse, and the inactivity in the OFC are the three key components. Psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Amen argues a normal brain that sustains injury to the frontal cortex is the main component, and criminologist Cesare Lombroso theorized that atavism is the key component. I will examine variables of each theory while exploring potential commonalities between them. In addition, I will analyze neuroimages of known serial killers and visually observe how each theory reached its respective conclusion. I expect the results to reveal that, although there are similar components, it is not one theory that fully defines the making of a serial killer. I believe there will be one striking similarity however, that each unique theory will include some degree of inactivity in the OFC, suggesting the frontal lobe of the cerebrum is the key component regardless of pre-existing neuroactive abnormalities.
The purpose of this research is to better understand what women in the law enforcement field have to deal with in their everyday lives. This could include and positives or negatives. I chose to research this topic because I am interested in joining this field and thought it would be helpful to understand what I was getting myself into. The research is not only significant to me, but all women in this field or interested in this field. Looking up different forms of literature on this topic was used, as well as one on one interviews with female officers of all ages. My results have shown that women in policing have come a long way from their beginning. The idea of feminism has influenced women working in these jobs, just as it influenced women working in any job. Ideas have changed, but all women in policing still have to fight to be heard and seen in order to rise in the ranks. After learning of these results, I have come to the conclusion that although the police field is a turbulent one, it is extremely fulfilling for women. Not only does the idea of serving the community and helping others appeal to many, but also the determination needed to succeed.
Emerging technologies that disrupt established industries share a common trait: they drastically reduce one or more of the production costs to nearly zero. Steam, for example, reduced the cost of energy. Computers reduced the cost of reducing. Autonomous driving will reduce the cost of transportation to nearly zero. With monumental changes facing the automotive industry, it is advantageous for automakers to align themselves with the autonomous future, but also pertinent for other companies and executives to stay aware of the changes and adjust themselves accordingly. Reverberations will be felt across every industry. Our goal is to determine which companies are best positioned to take the largest foothold in autonomous driving. We will examine how an incumbent is adapting to the entrance of the market and how an energetic newcomer hopes to use this movement as leverage to gain a foothold. From a consumer's point of view, autonomous driving will change our daily lives. Traffic, car ownership, cityscapes, and parking will be changed forever. Consumer preferences in cars will also change, and if you are the one to know what this future will look like before others, you will prosper. By understanding the landscape of the infrastructure supported by autonomous cars and working backwards to determine what strategic moves companies need to make to best meet the landscape demanded, we will be able to define who is best positioned to win the race of autonomous driving.
Hospitals are essential institutions for the provision of healthcare to society, providing medical diagnostics, surgeries, treatments, deliveries of babies, and emergency care. They are complex ecosystems, whose existence depends on quality care and value given to their patients. Driven in part by needs to reduce costs, and to being perceived as value-based (see Commins (2016)), hospitals are under increasing pressure and stresses to remain profit maximizing, resulting in consolidations and capacity decreases to ensure continuous demand of services by patients (Handel et al. (2010)). Given the importance of competition as a salient feature of hospitals today, there is substantial empirical literature focused on the relationship between quality and hospital competition (Gaynor and Town (2011) and Gravelle, Santos, and Siciliani (2014)). The approach in literature to the analysis of competition currently only provides a single estimation of costs, price, or price-cost mark up, resulting in biased outcomes (Propper et al. (2004)). Our model differs by reflecting the strategic decision-making of hospitals by considering both the cost and quality of varying procedures. Given the major concern of quality in healthcare, the prices and quality levels are also subject to lower and upper bounds in order to capture policy regulations, such as minimum quality standards. The utility function of each hospital in our model also consists of a revenue and altruism component to capture the unintended benefits made by decision-makers in healthcare. We present the variational inequality formulation of the Nash equilibrium governing the noncooperative game among the hospitals.
Proposed in 2015, Spectra’s Access Northeast Pipeline Project aims to expand on the Algonquin Gas Transmission system through the construction of the Q-1 loop and the West Boylston Lateral. The motivation behind this project, according to Spectra, is to meet the growing demand for natural gas at peak periods within the Northeast. The project’s website claims that the expansion will “save electric customers an average of $1 billion a year during normal weather conditions and even more during severe cold weather." Advocates of the project maintain any detrimental effects the pipeline would have on the environment or public safety would be minimal to non-existent. Opponents of this project strongly disagree with this overall assessment. They believe that the primary objective of the expansion is to export natural gas to Canada. Furthermore, these adversaries believe there would large negative externalities imposed on Northeast residents in the form of harmful pollutants and potential explosions, as well as exacerbation of climate change. The goal of this paper is to analyze the economic impact of such a pipeline, discuss the environmental impact of this development, and present a possible alternative to Access Northeast.
This thesis examines the impact that educational structure has on three nations in a globalizing world. Globalization is a process that encompasses the causes, courses and consequences of transnational integration, that can include economic and political factors. While the two terms are not coined together often, the significance of the two could be critical to a countries growth. This research uses a comparative analysis of three nations, Japan, Germany and the United States to assess how the structure of education mediates the effect of globalization the named countries. The thesis hypothesis states that countries will benefit from organizing their educational systems around the most effective ways to integrate into the global economy. The methodology involves a combination of (!): qualitative data that includes historical analysis of education structures and a rich description of current educational status of each nation and (2) basic statistical quantitative data that includes outcome measures of the educational structure. Those mechanisms include payments of teachers, high tech exports as a share of exports, labor source and level of education, teacher pupil ratio and completion rates among different levels of education. The goal of this thesis is to analyze how countries can use education to derive maximum benefit from globalization, and to assess whether countries should continue to align educational structures to available jobs in varying nations to enhance human well-being.
When a city in a developing country hosts a mega-sporting event (MSE), such as the Olympics or the World Cup, it constructs many large stadiums and other buildings. But what happens to these buildings after the MSE is over? The structures built in Brazil for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro are now vacant and underutilized; the same is true for many of the stadiums built when Brazil hosted the 2014 World Cup, and this is true for many structures built for sporting events of a similar scale in cities in many developing countries. The host cities often hope that hosting an MSE will improve the city's resiliency. While it might sometimes improve the city's welfare during the event itself, if the stadiums and other structures are left vacant and underutilized after the event, the improvements will not be sustained. This project considers ways to engineer structures created for MSEs in cities in developing countries with an eye toward sustainability and resilience. Questions to be considered include: how can green building design and energy efficiency principles inform the construction of stadiums for MSEs in developing countries? How could structures be repurposed after the MSE for productive use by the people of the host city? In short, how can the stadiums and structures be used to support and increase the city's resiliency even after the MSE is over? My research will contribute to enhanced long-term planning efforts for developing countries that may be considering hosting future MSEs.
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 is reason to believe that preferences elicited in experiments might be correlated with participant characteristics imported into the laboratory setting. The purpose of my research was to empirically test for correlation between proclivity towards following social norms and a decrease in bids associated with a negative information treatment. Specifically, I hypothesize 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. I ran a series of experiments in which I exposed participants to a negative information treatment about animal welfare standards in the dairy industry to influence consumer preferences for ice cream. Participants completed a survey about perceptions of dairy industry practices, engaged in a rule-following activity, and submitted bids in two rounds of second-price auctions. Analyzing the data, participants were sorted by their rule-following proclivity into four groups based on the total amount of time spent waiting at each cross-walk. “Total rule-followers” exhibited a larger decrease in WTP after the information treatment than “Mostly rule-followers” and “Mostly rule-breakers”. This supports our hypothesis that higher sensitivity to social norms is associated with greater bid decreases as a result of a negative information treatment. However, “Total rule-breakers” exhibited the largest decrease in WTP across all four groups, which can be explained by the “moral compensation effect”.
Venezuela is experiencing an extremely severe economic crisis. The Venezuelan government has been in power for 17 years. Under Hugo Rafael Chavez Frías, 1999-2013, followed by Nicolas Maduro who has been working to maintain Chavez’s legacy. Maduro has been unable to accomplish either; Chavez’s legacy is in tatters and the stability of the country is threatened. Venezuela’s economic crisis is caused mainly due to the lack of knowledge on economics. Inflation, hunger of power, hunger of money, oil mismanaged, and more than one exchange market at the same time are major factors for the current economic crisis. Venezuela needs political reform and move toward a non-oil-dependent economy, eliminate price controls, unify the exchange market, and sell assets to pay the debt and free float the economy. This poster presents the problems and needed reforms to begin resolving the crisis.
Under Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's economy began a downward spiral that continues to the present producing one of the most depressed economies on the planet. Oil is the primary resource for the country’s revenues, and it accounts for 25% of Venezuela’s GDP. The project will examine the many things that can be done to improve oil extraction so that the country can export it again and develop strategies to find a road back to stability. This project will also examine the problems facing Venezuela and report on solutions being offered to resolve the current crisis. It is so difficult to predict if the country will recover, but many researchers have been studying how changes in oil prices affect Venezuela’s economy and suggesting possible solutions.
Social media has revolutionized interaction, information exchange, and business communication. Social networking sites have allowed brands and companies to communicate directly with consumers and have given rise to entirely new methods of marketing and public relations techniques. Instagram accounts have become a necessity for marketers. Millennials and teenagers, the most avid Instagram account holders and users, are especially educated and aware when it comes to purchasing products, and they have become accustomed to e-commerce and Instagram shopping. Instagram has revolutionized fashion marketing, and although there has been a greater shift towards a more horizontal model of marketing, in which consumers have greater power to influence marketing decisions, marketers themselves still hold more influential power on Instagram. Instagram, with its inherent visual storytelling features presents a gold mine of opportunity for fashion marketers. Success in the industry, as online shopping and e-commerce are now more apparent than ever, is heavily dependent on Instagram, and the ability to influence and engage consumers. In this thesis, I have investigated the changes in customer/company interaction on Instagram and what this means for marketers in the fashion industry. I have also analyzed the specific techniques and tactics that allow brands, companies, and fashion bloggers to successfully create a visual story that sells and influences users on Instagram. This thesis summarizes which types of Instagram posts instigate the highest levels of consumer engagement, and I have introduced different theories as to why different brands, companies, and lifestyle bloggers in the fashion industry provoke and influence consumers.
The sliding filament theory of muscle contraction is a classroom topic that many students find difficult fully grasping. Normally it is taught through lectures and reading assignments. The purpose of this study is to test whether building a three-dimensional model will enhance learning and retention of this theory compared to a control condition when participants will draw concepts on paper. It is hypothesized that constructing a physical model will improve learning compared to a control condition. Thirty-two participants will receive a standardized lecture and reading. Each participant in the model building condition (n=16, MB) will be instructed to build a physical model with provided materials. Participants in the control condition (n=16, CON) will draw a schematic of the concepts. Multiple choice questions will assess learning before and after the activity, and a learning retention test will be given one week thereafter. The percentage change in correct answers from pre/post assessments, and between pre/retention assessments will be compared between CON and MB using an independent t-test, whilst the Chi square test will assess the frequency of correct answers. The alpha level will be 0.05. The outcome of this project will help educators in the allied health sciences choose the optimal pedagogical strategy to aid learning of this complex concept. Pilot testing has been completed and participant recruitment is underway (February). Data collection will be completed in March, followed by data analysis in April. Interpretation and conclusion will be drawn in time for the UMass Amherst Conference in April.
This study involves observation and research on multiple school models including Montessori, Reggio Emilia, Waldorf, Head Start Programs, and typically designed classrooms with the goal being to use elements of the various models to create and propose an ideal school model. This process includes finding a balance between implementation of elements such as physical environment, curriculum, school-wide goals, start and end times, organization, values, classroom community, etc. The goal of the proposed ideal model would be to provide greater access and compatibility for more students with differentiation of instruction for students who need a different approach to learning. Observations and anecdotal notes from school visits will couple with scholarly research sources and a descriptive survey study of teachers’ insights into the characteristics and applicability of the various models and proposed ideal setting and practice methods in the resultant paper.
This project incorporates observation and research on the presence of empathy in students’ behavior in the early elementary level classroom. The goal is to use authentic insight gathered from research and the study to create an instructional tool for teachers to facilitate conversations with children about disabilities. Various skills are involved in the project including increasing knowledge of the children’s empathic behavior, lesson development, instructional strategy, observation, inquiry promotion, and writing directed toward nonfiction experience for children. A literature review will be followed by lessons using “Persona Dolls” (child-size ragdolls with visible and/or non-visible disability) in a first-grade classroom, with observational notes leading to the book creation.
In the United States, over one million people are affected by neuromuscular disorders, and about 40% of those affected individuals are under the age of 18. Neuromuscular disorders, caused by genetic mutations, affect the peripheral nervous system and the muscular system. Although neuromuscular disorders typically do not cause cognitive incompetencies, they can clearly affect a child’s ability to attend, participate and learn in school. The biggest battle for students with neuromuscular disorders is keeping up with the demands of writing and completing assignments. My project explores how Physical Education programs can be adapted to include students with neuromuscular disorders, and if the presence of an on-site physical therapist would increase the effectiveness of the child’s learning environment. Based on research in the field of movement science and physical education, and interviews with a school-based physical therapist, this project explores the current accommodations available to students with neuromuscular disorders in the Massachusetts public schools and the possibility of incorporating a program that offers on-site physical therapy and a physical education program that offers a range of activities. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, children with neuromuscular disorders are ensured to be given free, public educational services, but this project explores the abilities of schools to exceed the law and offer an exceptional program that will benefit these student’s education.
My research focuses on the importance of music in the classroom at an early age. Through my qualitative research, I observe, collect, and analyze the professional reflections and experiences of elementary school teachers about how involvement of music in the classroom can be beneficial to students. The methods used for this research consist of interviews with teachers and observations of various classroom settings, as well as discussion of current research and literature. The purpose of this research is to examine the advantages of using music in elementary classrooms. I theorize that music is indeed important to one’s learning at an early age; however results will be reported after all data has been collected and evaluated.
When most Americans think of beauty pageants, they think of girls strutting across stages in swimsuits or waving to audiences with their shiny crowns. What the general public does not know is how much time is devoted to the art of being a queen, and how pageants prepare young women for academic success. I have been a participant in the Miss America system for six years and am also aware that this system is the number one supplier of scholarship dollars to young women in the United States. This project explores the academic performance of pageant competitors and how preparation such as college interviews, scholarships, steps to pursue careers and experience as a titleholder has paved the way for their success. Drawing from first hand sources, information from the official local, state, and national level pageant websites, and blog posts/media publications, this project will inform women who hold positions in educational administration, mothers of daughters interested in future competition, and potential participants about the benefits of being involved with the organization.
This qualitative research study aims to determine the cost of having a disability in a postsecondary institutional setting. The term cost is defined from three perspectives: the financial burden on the student, the time students have to dedicate to using their disability services, and the effects of the stigma surrounding a disability on the student. Participants will be contacted through a campus wide email that asks for students who are registered with a disability to participate in an intensive interview in which the students will be asked to share experiences and benefits and challenges that come with having a disability in higher education. Our goal is to help find data that can determine new strategies for helping students with disabilities in higher education.
This qualitative research study aims to determine the cost of having a disability in a postsecondary institutional setting. The term cost is defined from three perspectives: the financial burden on the student, the time students have to dedicate to using their disability services, and the effects of the stigma surrounding a disability on the student. Participants will be selected through a random sample of undergraduate students at a large public research institution in the Northeast to encompass both students registered and not registered with the disabilities support services on campus. Participants will be interviewed and asked to share experiences and challenges that come with having a disability as a participant in higher education. Our goal is to help find data that can determine new strategies and shape future practices for assisting students with disabilities in higher education.
Most of the research on education and poverty, and most of the attention on the issue, focuses on schools with high concentrations of poverty. However, poverty is an issue that is prevalent in all communities and is not exclusive to large cities. For middle class communities in particular, it can go undetected because the stigma around it makes people too proud to seek help. The current study will evaluate what is being done by middle class elementary and preschools to help their students break free from the constraints of poverty. It also examines how successful they are in assisting these students in comparison to what is being done in high poverty, urban communities. It uses a qualitative, case study approach and examines elementary and preschools in "Rivington", a predominantly middle class community in the Northeast. The data consists of interviews from teachers, principals, behavioral specialists, and other faculty from "Rivington". The paper argues that middle class schools have more advantages than urban schools in combating poverty due to the fact that they have a smaller number of students dealing with poverty and more resources to provide for them. The goal of this study is to help further the conversation on poverty in middle class schools and use the data to explore new ways to help low income students.
The engineering discipline is slowly merging with fields not usually associated with product design. In the 21st century, it is no longer sufficient for the engineer to remain rooted in rigid, modernist views while designing the technologies of the future. This paper identifies trends that have created the need for engineers to incorporate a broad academic knowledge and awareness. An analysis of the milestones of engineering innovation are associated with the existing philosophical ideas of the time. In particular, an attempt is made to identify a connection between philosophy and the thought process of the engineer. A focus is placed on the ideology behind the design rather than the design itself. Scholarly research of key developments in philosophy and engineering is used to determine the nature and extent of this possible connection. The findings of such research are anticipated to support the hypothesis that philosophy has influenced and continues to serve as a guiding compass for the transition from STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) to STEAM (science, technology, art, engineering, and math). The renaissance engineer is the end result of this shift, the artist-philosopher who applies knowledge from any or all disciplines to create.
The purpose of my research is to examine the food insecurity on college campuses and to explore changes being implemented to create more accessible resources for the students that need it. Food insecurity on college campuses has been linked to the increase in tuition and the loans taken out to cover the increasing cost of tuition. College degrees are critical in the 21st century workplace yet many low income families are doing whatever it takes to get through the four years with hopes of a better future for their kids. Food insecurity affects the physical and mental abilities preventing students from performing at their best. Colleges and communities are coming together to put an end to food insecurity through the use of food banks and food pantries.
Since the publication of the first installment in 1997, JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series has endured in popular culture as nothing less than a phenomenon. Thanks in part to its charming cast of complex characters, heroic adventures, and entertaining litany of magical spells, the series has attained a sort of immortality. Beyond entertainment, however, Rowling’s novels also contain a spectrum of compelling cultural issues that everyone eventually grapples with as their rose-tinted view of the world is compromised. Chief among these issues are the concepts of prejudice and racism, which are embodied in the series through the dispute over blood purity, specifically between those with entirely magical ancestry and those with mixed or non-magical ancestry. Racial purity has been a cornerstone of numerous historical regimes and conflicts and as such, many comparisons can be drawn from the Pureblood-Muggleborn struggle; however, given the lack of emphasis on physical appearance, as well as a number of additional parallels among characters and events, one historical conflict stands out from the rest: Nazi Germany’s anti-Semitism during the World War II era. Much of the existing criticism of the novels notes these parallels, but this paper seeks to deepen the examination of the overall theme of racial purity and its relations to WWII, primarily by engaging the mythology of the series and drawing comparisons between fiction and history. The paper also seeks to examine how these parallels help further understanding and tolerance on the part of young readers as they navigate modern society at large.
Through the analysis of Patrick McCabe’s novel Breakfast on Pluto, I researched female sexuality and LGBT identity in Ireland during the 1970s, a time in Ireland’s history wrought with political turmoil and violence. The main character, Patrick “Pussy” Braden, is a transgender prostitute working in both Ireland and England. Transgender identity becomes a metaphor for Ireland’s own divided nation, not just geographically, but culturally as well. Ireland’s revolution mirrors Pussy’s own acceptance of her identity, which is one that understands both the masculine and feminine aspects of herself. She comes to her own personal freedom, not just for herself, but for the queer community. As part of my research, I also considered how the Catholic Church plays a role in both the novel and Irish society. Pussy represents a united Ireland; not necessarily united politically, but accepting of the divergent facets of Ireland’s culture and population, living in a way that lets two opposite sides of a binary exist as one. By evaluating reviews and psychoanalytical papers about the novel, I used a literary lens to observe the acceptance of queer people and the possibility of peace, and created a poster with my findings. I believe my research will encourage the open discussion of gender identity and the possibility of merging history with modernity. I could further my research by comparing statistics on LGBT people in Ireland during the 1970s to current data, as well as contrast the differences in legal rights and lifestyles for transgender people.
Though cultures and subcultures may vary widely in ways of expression and language, food is something that connects different groups of people across cultures. This study was conducted in an effort to determine how one particular cohort’s food culture functioned and what that meant in terms of the larger surrounding community; in this case, that meant Westfield State University’s Dining Commons. As a residential student at the university, it was important to me not only to determine how I relate to the place I go to eat most meals, but also how other first-year students felt connected to the space and how it has played a role in their transition from living at home to being independent at college. Using qualitative data collected through numerous observational trips to the Dining Commons, interviews with other first-year students, and taking an intrapersonal perspective into my own views, I was able to draw conclusions about the habits and culture belonging to that location. Unfortunately, this was a short-term project that did not permit me to do more extensive research on the topic such as more interviews, polls, or an expansion of research to upper-level students. Through the research I was able to complete within my time constraint, I concluded that the students at Westfield State are creatures of habit with on-the-go mindsets. On a much smaller scale, the Dining Commons at Westfield State University reflects the first of many transitions that my peers and I will continue to undergo throughout our life stages.
Susanna Rowson’s novel Charlotte Temple (1791; 1794) and Harriet Jacobs’ slave narrative Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861) both fall under the category of a cautionary tale as they both chronicle the downfall of a female due to sin she allegedly commits, and they both attribute the woman’s downfall to her previous choices. However, by writing their stories as a way to hopefully prevent others from suffering the same fate, both authors assume that their protagonists had choices in their perceived sins, and that if a young woman is simply smarter and does not give in to her weak impulses, she will not endure the same ruin as Charlotte and Linda do. That optimistic outcome was simply not possible for the time period in which these works were written, contrary to both author’s beliefs. Both girls actively tried not to sin; neither of them embarked on their downfall willingly, they were coerced by influential people in their lives. Charlotte’s and Linda’s fates are an unfortunate byproduct of the patriarchal societies they lived in, not their own faults. Neither girl had any tangible autonomy; therefore, neither character is primarily responsible for the disgraced state they both experience in their respective works. Rowson and Jacobs intended to caution their readers against the folly of young girls, but they actually end up warning their readers about the institutions that can prey on young girls and sully their virtue no matter how hard one tries to resist.
The purpose of this project is to examine middle grade novels that celebrate choice as a thematic motivator for lifelong readership. By using novels that encourage choice, teachers can pass the literary torch onto students rather than expecting one flame, or one book, to illumine all. Middle grade novels have been valued by teachers for their relatable voices and accessibility, and prized for their role as a vehicle to classic literature. Using middle grade novels solely as a bridge ignores the capabilities of the literary art and the reader. By providing middle grade novels as a first step, students might reach the predetermined canonical destination: adult reading, the classics. However, since authorities are still choosing the destination and the path, students merely walk the same line as their classmates and generations before them. By sticking to one path, educators favor safety over individuality and authentic textual engagement. Instead, as a lead to independent reading, teachers can use middle grade novels to examine the value and weight that choices have. This project calls for a re-examination of young reading as a bridge. By studying agency and choice in middle grade novels as an art form rather than a vehicle, students can find empowerment in not only their role as a reader, but their role in the world, where people do not genuinely succeed when they cross a structure that's already been built, but when they actively and thoughtfully build something of their own.
Postmodernism is largely a reaction to the assumed certainty of scientific, or objective, efforts to explain reality. It is a term designated for multiple forms of art—literature, painting, and film—that go against the traditional narratives. Traditional narratives focus on chronological order; it is event-driven and tends to center upon individuals, action, and intention. Postmodern narrative tends to be characterized by reliance on narrative techniques such as fragmentation (the “broken narrative”), paradox, the unreliable narrator or multiple narrators, and the act of shifting through points of view and time as well. By going against these traditional narratives, postmodern texts open a unique area of criticism. This research will examine the works of David Foster Wallace, Thomas Pynchon, David Lynch—and juxtaposing these texts with critical works by Jacques Derrida that specifically define what Deconstruction is and its relationship between text and meaning—to explore what they deconstruct and how they deconstruct it. Deconstruction, for the purpose of this research, is defined as a form of literary analysis that questions the fundamental conceptual distinctions in narrative through a close examination of language. By exploring how postmodern texts disrupt narrative, this research will answer the question: What is the experience of disruption in post-modern texts?
The purpose of this research is to determine the connection between author Walt Whitman’s life and his written works. It will also endeavor to explain the relationship between the seemingly incompatible styles and personas which Whitman presented as well as understand how cultural phenomenon influenced his audience’s perceptions of his work. This thesis will analyze select works of Walt Whitman as well as the interpretations of literary scholars and historians. The poems which will be at the forefront of this research are “Song of Myself” from Leaves of Grass written in 1855 and “Live Oak, With Moss” from the Calamus series which was written in 1859. While the narrator of “Song of Myself” suggests that they are one with the audience and serve as a representative of the masses with an omnipotent sense of understanding, the speaker of “Live Oak, With Moss” provides a more personal, anecdotal, and intimate narrative. This paper will argue that while the style and voice which are employed in these works are different, these poems share common roots. By analyzing the effects that religious reformations, political movements, and scientific/medical findings had on America as well as on Whitman himself, researchers can begin to understand the connections between his written works. His works were not as different as we may have believed, and may have been less shocking to his audience than we have imagined.
Jealousy is a common and universally relevant feeling across cultures, time periods, and literary genres; however, the reaction to the feeling can range in severity from a mere angry thought to drastic and murderous actions. Due to the relatability of the feeling, which is regularly experienced in our everyday lives, jealousy is frequently used as theme in literature. Just as in real life, the level of jealousy a person or character feels can range from a very small amount to a murderous, jealous rage; this wide spectrum of feelings and reactions encompasses a broad audience and contributes to the theme’s ongoing relevance. In this presentation, jealousy is defined and explored through multiple examples in short fiction, drama, and poetry. The examples are given in the forms of quotes, short passages, and character analyses from the different forms of literature with the intent of highlighting the varying ways an individual can react to jealousy. The examples of jealousy from literature are also examined alongside samples from today’s modern culture, such as music, television, and movie clips. Through these examples, jealousy is shown to be a universally relevant feeling that influences literature and the actions of characters greatly; ultimately, reactions to one’s jealousy, either on a large scale or with a small response, can greatly impact the lives of the characters and the people around them.
In Western literature, authors and philosophers have debated the tension between humanity’s individual internal voices and surrounding social pressures. The idea of a “true” internal self has evolved into the literary theme of an Authentic Life, in which we follow our inner voice regardless of social temptations and pressures. Using three criteria drawn from Existential Philosophy, this presentation examines ten works of fiction, poetry, and drama and sixteen characters that supports the theory that authors portray humans as succeeding when they are free to align their genuine self with society and failing when they reject that alignment.
Climate change’s effect on the world has taken many forms. Most people recognize them as more extreme weather patterns, melting icecaps, and a rising ocean. A lesser-known change is that rising temperatures have led to an increased ability for native and non-native insect pests to expand their natural ranges northward. These expansions can have detrimental effects on areas unfit for the insect, and one of the only ways to help preserve these areas is to be proactive and know that it is going to happen before it does. This could eventually be the case with the black oak gall wasp, Zapatella davisae, a native pest of the Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard areas. The wasp has invaded and damaged the black oak tree population in an environment where black oaks are one of the primary species of the landscape. I am looking to determine the supercooling point, or the temperature at which the species can no longer tolerate the cold, of Z. davisae over the duration of the winter. Using that information along with local weather data and GIS mapping software, I will determine locations in the New England region where the insect could potentially expand to in the near future.
Insecticides in the past came in many different forms and styles. Often there are just as many off-target organisms affected as those the insecticides were meant for. This is what led to the production of insecticides like Methoprene, a Juvenile Hormone Analog (JHA). Insect growth regulators or IGRs are special hormones found within insects that indicate and respond to the insect’s current state between larval, pupal, and adult forms. Growing and metamorphosing between these states are controlled by the main two hormones ecdysone and Juvenile Hormone. Under control of brain hormones, the corpus allatum produces Juvenile Hormone, while the corpus cardiacum produces ecdysone. In adults, Juvenile Hormone's growing effect is not well understood. In the model organism, Musca domestica, the presence of a virus called Salivary Gland Hypertrophy Virus has many effects, including inhibiting the production of Juvenile Hormone. This inhibition prevents ovary development in adult females. The cells that make up each eggs endothelium require Juvenile Hormone to open and develop patency. Patency requires the ovaries to allow proteins such as yolk precursors into the eggs. Because of this, it is hypothesized that after the injection of SGHV into the thorax cuticle of the fly and the fly’s development is inhibited, regular treatments of Methoprene, as a JHA, will force the epithelial cells of the ovary to open and develop patency despite the presence of SGHV. To test this, flies all given SGHV can be separated and given varying concentrations of Methoprene.
The common housefly, Musca domestica, is a vector of various pathogens and it contributes to disease infection and pathogen transmission throughout clinical settings. They thrive in pathogen ridden environments, such as feces and garbage, and despite residing in these congested areas, they are not infected by these pathogens. Previous studies have indicated that a mechanism has evolved to prevent infection within the housefly during food intake, which involves the foregut including the crop and salivary glands. Destruction of pathogens within the crop by secretions of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) from the salivary glands would destroy many pathogens prior to entrance into the midgut. My hypothesis is that the AMPs present in the crop are secreted via salivary glands in adult flies. I focus on the barrier epithelial pathway, and specifically on the antifungal peptides, in adult Musca. For a minimally invasive procedure, flies are exposed to Fusarium oxysporum spores. Upon salivary gland extraction and analysis, the generated data is then compared to a negative control group, in which the flies are exposed to water. I observed differences indicating altered gene expression for key peptides between the experimental and control groups. My goal is to characterize the AMPs, contribute to the production of analogues, similar to the AMPs produced in M. domestica. New analogues may provide a line of antibiotics to fight pathogens that humans are in constant contact with. It may also aid in the control of universal human/domestic pest that transmits infectious disease agents.
With a changing global environment, integrated STEM education is paramount to better prepare tomorrow’s students to approach and solve real-world global environmental problems. Soil science is an interdisciplinary subject with application to many critical global issues, and yet it is absent from most secondary education curricula. An understanding of soil processes can aid in understanding the future of global food security, global climate change through carbon sequestration and release, and understanding ecosystem health worldwide. The intent of this project is to create the foundation of a secondary education soil science curriculum. Secondary science curricula would be greatly enhanced with age appropriate soil materials to help explore current topics and develop skills to approach global problems. The majority of the research of this project is to compile a comprehensive soil science curriculum plan consisting of five modules that can be easily implemented and integrated into a high school science program. Incorporating basic soil science subject matter into a secondary curriculum will better prepare students to understand ecosystem interactions, and better prepare them to solve interdisciplinary problems related to food security, climate change, clean water, and over-all ecosystem health. Soil science is an evolving field that needs to be integrated into a secondary education for students to be better able to approach global problems.
In order to protect waterways, there must be an ability to monitor them. Contaminants can emerge as run-off from agricultural, pharmaceutical, and personal care products; these contaminants include endocrine disruptors, which affect the developmental and reproductive systems of humans. Passive water sampling is the use of sorption media to uptake contaminants present in aquatic environments. Due to low material and implementation costs, passive water sampling devices can be useful for large-scale monitoring projects while being accessible to many entities. The researched conducted is for the feasibility of foam as a passive water sampling device. Foam has shown an exceptional ability to uptake contaminants, especially when compared to other low-cost sampler material. Foam samples were allowed to equilibrate with solutions, which have fixed concentrations of target compounds, and through the use of High Performance Liquid Chromatography, partition coefficients were determined to measure sorption capabilities. The acquisition of this data will allow a better understanding of how to best implement foam as a passive water sampling device.
Fish farming and crocodile farming in Cambodia have been on the rise in the last few decades, but it is crocodile farming that carries the most economic risk, given that Cambodia is not directly integrated into the market -- Cambodian farms strictly sell hatchlings and juveniles to neighboring Asian countries. A structured interview-based method was used to gather economic data on both fish aquaculture and crocodile aquaculture in Cambodia and because there are differing perceptions on what constitutes an expense for aquaculture feed, different economic scenarios were calculated. The return on investment for fish and crocodile aquaculture are proportionally very similar, but it is the expenses and profit where they differ the greatest. Because expenses are so high and return on investment (with all expenses considered) is on average so low, adjustments need to be made as to how resources are allocated for aquaculture.
Our research analyzes the history of urban greening – the planning, planting, and maintenance of urban trees and greenspace – in Mexico City. While the study of urban forestry and urban greening in the United States and Europe has been well documented in the past several decades, this discourse largely excludes Latin American cities. We posit, through the example of Mexico City, that urban greening has been a vibrant practice in Latin American cities for centuries. Furthermore, we argue that Mexico City’s urban landscape is a product of the city’s history of colonization, political ideologies, and pollution. For these reasons, we believe that the case of Mexico City offers valuable insight into the challenges and mechanisms of urban greening that the current discourse lacks. In this two-part project, we first depict the history of urban greening via major political ideologies and the cultural influences of the indigenous Aztecs and the Spanish and French colonizers. As a city with a rich legacy of urban agriculture stemming from its famous chinampa farming practices, we explore the process of relegating greenspaces to parks and draining water sources to accommodate rapid population growth and urbanization. In the second part, we investigate how the city is grappling with the effects of urbanization and prioritizing natural systems both today and in its plans for the future. We discuss several current greening initiatives and conclude by looking at Mexico City’s plans for combating climate change, negative effects of growth, and environmental and social issues.
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 24-hour exposure
periods from a range of rural, suburban and urban microenvironments will be
presented. The low-cost and easy-to-wear design of this sampler will enable
environmental exposure assessment across large cohorts of children to patient
High global GHG emission levels increase the pace of climate change and deterioration of the environment. Politicians and environmentalist have long debated how to respond to these rising GHG emission levels. The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) program provides monetary incentives for developing countries’ carbon sequestration initiatives to maintain carbon stock and reforestation efforts. The program’s importance stems from the forestry and land-use change sector's status as the second largest emitter of GHG. This study examines the cost and benefits of REDD+ on indigenous and forest based communities in Brazil, Indonesia, and Mexico. The analysis assesses the socio-economic and environmental impact in these designated communities by examining several sources of evidence concerning the consequences of the program. These include the perceptions of stakeholders through data from secondary sources and review of evaluations of REDD+ and forest carbon projects, documents on the initial project proposals, information on the extent of implementation, and social impact. In addition, the analysis considers the role played by local participants and nonparticipants. Indigenous and forest based communities rely on forests as a resource, so climate change can not only compromise their livelihoods, but also can make the people vulnerable to international climate mitigations. The research will be conducted through a case-oriented mixed comparative methodology using both qualitative and quantitative data. Using this data, the thesis examines specifically the carbon market and the impact of GHG reduction policies in Brazil, Indonesia, and Mexico, which requires analysis of various policy documents, reports, case studies, and other secondary sources. Multiple sources of evidence tend to support the conclusion that the costs of carbon markets in developing nations outweigh the potential environmental benefits, a strong example of why climate change initiatives need to be socially sustainable.
While many nations have been able to create clean renewable energy, replacing the harmful fossil fuels, the U.S. fails to comply. In recent years, physicists from Europe have researched and experimented with a new source of clean energy called Nuclear Fusion. With further development, Nuclear Fusion will be an unlimited source of clean energy that will only need to use a teaspoon of water to generate power for New York City. Fossil fuel is still taking control over the energy market in major countries in the world including the U.S. and China as the biggest polluters to date. However, unlike the U.S., China admits it is a big contributor in damaging the planet's climate and is beginning to strive to clean energy. Environmentalists and Ecologists over the years have been trying to persuade the Federal Government to do everything it can to preserve the environment. But oil lobbyist such as Exxon, Koch, Shell and other companies from natural gas and coal mining do everything in their power to go against any law/regulation preventing them from mining and generating profit. This research will focus on the lack in development of clean energy in the U.S. with Fusion Tech with how it competes with the fossil fuel industry.
Massachusetts is not the state with the most sun, but it has more solar power than most. One factor is how Massachusetts’s legislation has included “net metering” which allowing owners of solar panels to feed back excess electricity into the electrical grid, selling back the electricity to the utilities at the same price as when they buy. In effect it runs the electricity meter backwards. Developers of solar projects have benefited from this and created many jobs. However, utilities have found net metering to be unfair, and they have successfully pushed legislation eliminating net metering in Massachusetts. Clearly there are clashing interests. This research outlines the history of renewable energy legislation in Massachusetts, and the attitudes to it, and it compares and contrasts with selected other states. It describes the development of solar technology and especially the dramatic drop in the cost of solar panels. It discusses the politics of renewable energy in Massachusetts, discussing the various sides involved in lobbying at the State House and their arguments. Finally, it outlines the future developments of solar, which promise to not only become even more financially attractive, but also to change the entire nature of the electrical grid. The main development seems to be the combination of solar with electrical storage. If renewable energy generated locally, for example in residential homes, can be stored there for future use, it reduces the need for a grid as we know it, and it also changes the role of the utilities.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has identified three Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) as no impact zones. These areas are Maui's Ahihi Kinau Reserve, O'ahu's Hanauma Bay Marine Life Conservation District, and New York's Conscience Point National Wildlife Refuge. This paper will examine what is meant by no impact zone, assess whether or not these MPAs meet these standards, and lastly will determine if it is appropriate to use the term "no impact" when addressing MPAs. This will be accomplished by establishing a state of understanding about the purpose and history of MPAs, as well as the level of difficulty associated with protecting the ocean due to its interconnectedness. This will be followed by three mini case studies of the aforementioned sites, in order to answer the central question “Is this site a no impact MPA?” Lastly, upon concluding, this paper will make a suggestion on how to categorize the three areas.
Sao Paulo, Brazil, is a megacity with a population in excess of 21 million people. Beginning in 2014, Sao Paulo has experienced severe droughts resulting in major water crisis for the city. Droughts have led to the following: the shutdown of the Cantareira water supply system to 6% of its total capacity; power outages due to lack of hydropower; losses to agricultural crops, closures of hospitals and schools; increases to electricity and water bills; severe shortages of drinking water; and impacts to the health and well-being of Sao Paulo’s residents. Spring rain events during 2016, replenished Sao Paulo’s water reservoirs for now, but what about future droughts? The deforestation of the Amazon is one of the main factors for the change in Brazil’s regional climate. My research will investigate other reasons contributing to the drought and water crisis in Sao Paulo. Furthermore, I will recommend cutting-edge water protection strategies, water capture techniques, and mitigation measures. Sao Paulo's state water managers need to take action in order to prevent any future water crisis and to be more resilient during times of drought.
Resilience and renewable energy go side by side especially in the era of increasing global energy demand. There is an increasing trend for American families to utilize more environmentally friendly energy sources in order to become more resilient and to reduce energy costs. Yet, beyond energy efficiency measures and solar panels, little is available for the residential sector. My project will evaluate the feasibility of adapting biomass gasifier technology at the residential level in the Boston area. Biomass gasification is a process of converting solid biomass into a combustible gas (called producer gas) through a sequence of thermo-chemical reactions. The benchmark of a gasifier is that it allows for the effective energy production while utilizing household waste products including food, wood and plastics, thus eliminating the expense of household waste disposal. Furhermore, gasifiers will reduce the waste disposal going into landfills; an environmentally unsound practice. The purpose of this project is to identify whether a family size gasifier unit is an efficient way of energy production for a household, waste management and its potential safety risks. The focus of my research will include cost analysis, manageability, and safety hazards. Resilience is ability to adapt to and sustain life in effective manner. If the family becomes less susceptible to external power disruptions from the local electricity and gas authority all while converting waste products into environmentally friendly energy – it becomes resilient.
Composting systems are beneficial programs to have on college campuses. Westfield State University has one, but it is very under used and unacknowledged by students and staff alike. The system is meant to take food waste and break it down into something more useful, such as fertilizer. According to research on composting at universities, there are many benefits to a large functional system, including saving money, strengthening the campus and surrounding community, educating people by forming clubs that involve after school programs or workshops, as well as reducing greenhouse gasses produced when food is sent to landfills instead of compost systems. However, in order to gain from these benefits, Westfield State University needs to make their system more accessible and increase awareness. Goshen College provides a great model for how Westfield State University could integrate an easy system for disposing food waste in the dining hall and around campus. The current system is completely misused compared to the amount of good it is capable of bringing to the campus if they put in the effort to make it the large functional system it should be.
The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of chemical and mechanical treatments of Oriental bittersweet on trees of varying size, age, and type in Westfield State University’s Experimental Forest. Trees were assessed in terms of health, percent bittersweet coverage in their canopy, diameter at breast height, the number of vines alive on the tree, and the number of roots that had resprouted after previous treatment. The results were then compared with measurements from previous projects. It was determined that tree health increases over time with repeated mechanical treatment, that bittersweet coverage will decrease over time with repeated mechanical treatment, and that mechanical treatment was more effective over time than chemical treatment. On average, bittersweet coverage decreased more after one year with mechanical treatment than chemical treatment. It was also found that root sprouts were more prevalent in chemically treated trees than mechanically treated trees. For these reasons, we recommend the repetition of mechanical treatment to remove Oriental bittersweet most effectively and to prevent sprouting.
Crops greatly benefit from increased levels of nitrogen, but it is important to consider how surrounding plants respond to nitrogen application to crops. Timothy grass (Phleum pretense) is a highly allergenic plant that can be found across North America. This study investigates the impact of various nitrogen levels on the allergenicity of Timothy grass. We grew several specimens of Timothy grass in a greenhouse and applied different levels of nitrogen fertilizer to them throughout their life cycle. Once they flowered, we collected the pollen from each plant and weighed the dried vegetation and roots. Then, we extracted the pollen and processed each sample in a centrifuge. We are currently in the process of counting the pollen that has been processed. Once we have these values, we will use regressions and ANOVA to analyze the data. With increased research on this topic, we can gain more information about which factors impact allergenicity to prepare for these changes and possible public health concerns.
This project quantifies growth rates of the red oaks (Quercus rubra) and white pines (Pinus strobus) growing on the UMass campus, and examines correlations between their growth rate (or annual radial increment), age, and proximity to engineered structures like pavement and buildings. Through regression analysis, our data shows no convincing correlation between proximity to engineered structures and annual radial increment. However, a strong correlation is shown between tree age and annual radial increment. Urban trees are a valuable resource whose growth patterns are not fully understood, and through this research we provide information to the end of a deeper understanding of these patterns. This research is necessary for effective management of these trees with the goal of maximizing their health and longevity.
Over the past few decades, migrant songbird populations have been steadily shrinking. This trend is exemplified well in Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina), whose populations have dropped over 50% in the past 40 years. However despite these drastic declines, no single cause has been pinpointed. Possible sources for this decrease range from habitat destruction to pesticide use. For the Wood Thrush, one important and understudied aspect of this decline is nest ectoparasitism. Parasites, such as blowflies, that feed on nestlings steal nutrients needed by the chicks to grow and perform vital behaviors, ultimately hindering these birds’ chances of survival. In order to calculate the effects of ectoparasites on baby Wood Thrushes, blowfly numbers and nestling body conditions were measured for a group of 25 nests. Overall, I found that broods more heavily parasitized by blowflies produced birds with significantly larger wings relative to their mass. This finding suggests Wood Thrush chicks are able to adjust their growth patterns in response to nest parasitism. By prioritizing wing growth, chicks may be able to fledge faster and escape their parasitized nest earlier than with regular development. Currently, more research is needed to determine whether increased wing length corresponds to earlier fledging. It is also unknown whether ectoparasitism and the corresponding shift in growth have any influence on long-term survival outcomes of Wood Thrush populations. Likely, instead of just one factor leading to Wood Thrushes’ dropping numbers, there is a complex interplay between variables that all contribute to the observed songbird population declines.
Tidmarsh farms is a retired cranberry bog in Plymouth Massachusetts, that is the focus of the Living Observatory (LO) project. The LO project aims to tell the extended story of the Tidmarsh Farms Wetland Restoration and to advance scientific knowledge and public understanding of wetland ecology. This research will contribute to the project by creating a detailed understanding of the subsurface stratigraphy of the bog to determine the timing of the development of the modern bog system. To do this three 6 meter vibracores, taken from the bog in 2013 are being utilized. First, the stratigraphy of each core was recorded in detail and digital stratigraphic columns were created to allow for easier correlations between the cores. Loss on ignition testing has been conducted to determine the concentration of organics through the cores. Preliminary results suggest that after the retreat of the Laurentide Ice Sheet from southern Massachusetts, melting and collapse of an ice filled depression, a lacustrine environment dominated followed by a gradual transition to an anoxic environment conducive to the accumulation and preservation of organic matter. GPR data shows ~5 meters of post-glacial sediment in the basin, our new observations suggest that only 1.5 meters of this is organic rich sediments. This transition will be dated using 14C of organic matter in the core. Once completed this research will be on display at the bog sight, as part of the LO exhibit and will provide visitors and scientists with insight into the formation of the modern bog system.
Throughout parts of the Quaternary, the Laurentide
Ice Sheet covered much of Canada and extended across most of the northern
United States. The retreat of the Laurentide ice sheet from the last glacial
maximum, 20,000 years ago created much of the surficial geology seen in New
England today. While the nature and style of deglaciation in New England is
already known, glacial landforms in the highlands either side of the
Connecticut Valley have not been placed in a geochronological framework. Kame
terraces formed along the ice margin define the height and slope of the ice
margin as it became topographically controlled during retreat. Using GIS,
kame terraces in the Pelham and Leverett highlands were mapped using LIDAR
(Light imaging Detection and Ranging) and USGS surficial maps.
2-dimensional ice sheet modeling was then used to develop a profile of the ice
lobe in the valley. Employing the Antevs varve chronology updated by
Ridge et al (2013), the position of the ice terminus was placed in the same
relative time frame as the time of kame terrace formation. Rates of ice down
wasting in the Amherst – Northampton area are placed within the story of New
Hurricane and wildfire interactions for the southern United States, Mexico, and Central America have received relatively little research attention. Here we present a 4500 year high-resolution macro charcoal wildfire record from the late Holocene. This record was compiled from sediment cores obtained from Mullet Pond, a coastal sinkhole in the central panhandle region of Florida. These cores were the basis for a previously published paleo-hurricane record by Lane et al. 2011. This new record was developed using the same sediment cores, and both records reconciled with a Bayesian age model. Active hurricane intervals identified by Lane et al. occur between 1700 to 600 years before present (YBP) as well as 3000 to 2300 YBP. Fire frequency does not appear to vary throughout the entirety of the record. The intensity of wildfires, based on the magnitude of the charcoal peaks, does vary throughout the record, indicating two intervals of heightened wildfire intensity. The oldest segment of high intensity fires takes place from 3100 to 2300 YBP; 100 years before the corresponding hurricane interval and ending the same time as the active hurricane interval. The second high intensity fire interval occurs from 2100 to 1050 YBP; beginning 400 years before the onset of the analogous active hurricane period and ending 450 years prior to the end of the active hurricane interval. In this study, it appears that intervals of increased hurricane activity do not influence fire frequency. However, in the majority of two periods of hurricane activity, increased wildfire intensities are observed.
Students in an online research seminar explored healthy aging in their own communities in Massachusetts, Colorado, Texas and New Jersey through a case study approach. Healthy aging is defined by the World Health Organization as the process of developing and maintaining the functional ability that enables well-being in older age. The domains we included were: nutrition, social engagement, physical activity, meaningful lives, health, safety and security. For the Massachusetts communities, secondary data were extracted from the 2014 and 2015 community profiles of 351 cities and towns and 16 Boston neighborhoods. The community profiles, created by the Gerontology Institute at UMass Boston, are in the public domain on the Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative website supported by the Tufts Health Plan Foundation. Each profile contains over 100 indicators of healthy aging and compares community-level estimates to state rates. For the other states, indicators were drawn from census, county-level data, and local data where available. Primary data were collected via key informant interviews designed to facilitate an examination of the community profiles, help identify any challenges and/or strengths, and highlight what community resources are available and needed. Recommendations were shared to help stakeholders build on strengths and address challenges observed in the selected communities. An outcome of this study is a healthy aging strategic planning worksheet to assist community stakeholders in their short and long term efforts to address the challenges identified through this research.
Communication during the Civil War for soldiers was limited to a couple of mediums, the most famous of those being letter writing. Another prominent form of communication during the Civil War era was newspapers, as they were the national medium for describing major events in the war. This paper analyzes the letters of Civil War soldiers from Massachusetts and analyzes what these letters tell historians about familial relationships and modes of communication in the Civil War era. This paper argues that the letters of Massachusetts Civil War soldiers entail a personal nature because the newspapers stuck to reporting the major movements and battles of the war. The article further develops to argue specifically that the letters demonstrate the different relationships between family members, i.e. the father-son relationship varied from the mother-son relationship. From this argument, scholars can understand the vast difference in familial relationships in the mid nineteenth century as well as the popular modes of communication during the Civil War, most significantly the differences in use of letters compared to newspapers.
Irishmen, like Americans, sought independence from Great Britain during the late eighteenth century. After the conclusion of the Revolutionary War, Americans owed their newly gained independence, in part, to the Irishmen who fought alongside them. Scholars have tended to focus on Irishmen’s involvement in and opinion of the Revolutionary War. Instead, largely through an analysis of primary sources including letters, newspaper articles, and speeches, this paper examines the complicated stances American political elites and those without political power took on Irish independence. Political elites never wanted to get involved in Ireland’s cause for self-rule. At first, this was because government officials prioritized America’s own war for independence. By the 1790s, Federalists’ unfounded fears about Irish independence and ethnocentrism led to the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts to prevent Irish immigration and participation in politics. While Republicans maintained amiable relationships with Irishmen, they did so merely for their own political gain. Americans without political power who identified as Patriots during the Revolutionary War encouraged Ireland to pursue independence once America’s was secured. Later, ordinary Americans' stance on Irish independence was shaped by party affiliation or their ability to empathize with Irish emigrants. Ultimately, this paper reveals that Americans failed to reciprocate the support Irishmen gave to America during their cause for self-rule, and in so doing, in the words of the anonymous American author of the 1799 address “To the Friends of Freedom and Public Faith,” covered “the honest countenance of America with the odious Mask of faithless Ingratitude.”
When most people think of the American Revolution, they think of the rebellion by the American colonies to break away from the Parliamentary tyranny happening in the British Government through the taxation policies enforced without the colonists’ representation in Parliament. Many people do not realize that across the sea where the tyranny was coming from, there were also members in Parliament fighting against the taxation policies. These members, called the “Americanists,” were mostly members of the House of Commons. Among their most eminent members were Edmund Burke, Isaac Barré, and Charles James Fox. This thesis analyzed Burke, Barré, and Fox’s motivations and role in Parliament using a variety of both primary and secondary sources including Parliamentary debates, letters, and research by other scholars. The main finding was that each member focused on the principle of the tax and the illegal actions Parliament was taking against the colonies. Each member wanted to bring peace between the Empire and colonies again, restoring the balance that revolved around trade and economic purposes. Parliament was warned by these members that the colonies would keep rebelling and eventually try to break away from the Empire, something the Empire could not afford to lose. Overall, The Americanists, not widely recognized, were essentially proponents of the American Revolution across the sea where the tyranny was coming from, contributing to the overall fight for American liberties and freedom.
In 1951, President Eisenhower signed Executive Order 10450 barring homosexual men and women from federal employment. In doing so he officially sanctioned systematic persecution of gay and lesbian people in the workplace, the military, and daily life to a degree not yet seen in America. Scholars have labelled this era the Lavender Scare and attributed its rise to the xenophobic and frenzied politics of Senator Joseph McCarthy. The move against homosexuals destroyed the burgeoning gay and lesbian communities formed during and after World War II. Using primary sources such as letters from victims, flyers, photos, and declassified government documents, in addition to the work of noted historians, this paper examines the lives of its victims. Specifically, this paper argues that those persecuted during the Scare were not passive victims. Instead they fought back and created the politically motivated activist groups that rose to prominence in the 1960s gay rights movements, including the the Gay Liberation Front. The anger and despair felt by the Scare victims, including Franklin Kameny and Buell Dwight Huggins, directly shaped the earliest gay activist groups like the Mattachine Society. In turn these organizations created the structure of LGBTQ activism used by the movement today. Understanding the early origins of the gay rights movements recognizes that the tensions that erupted at the 1969 Stonewall Riots did not arise from nothing. Rather this paper demonstrates that these tensions began with the fear and pain of the Lavender Scare victims, who used their anger to start a movement.
An account of the history of Native Americans before settlers is sparse, and thus must be pieced together like a puzzle from various sources including archaeological finds, the biased accounts by colonists, and familial knowledge of indigenous descendants. This research uses archival materials from the Springfield Museum, local histories, land treaties, and a report from the Massachusetts Historical Commission, to piece together the history of the Woronoake, the tribal nation that owned and inhabited the land between the Westfield and Little Rivers. This poster succinctly tells the story of the Woronoake people before the land was acquired by European settlers through what little is known, and has been discovered. The Woronoake people belonged to the Pocumtuck Confederation of the Algonquian Nation. Algonquian society was primarily hunting based, but also harvested the “Three Sister” crops, corn, beans, and squash. Their location also allowed them to trade with other tribes as far as the Hudson River in New York via a network of foot trails that extended west of the river. Through treaty, this land would be acquired by John Pynchon from Sachem Alquat and come to be known as Westfield. The Woronoake continued trade with settlers, but disease and political intrusion by the settlers caused the tribe to suffer. By the conclusion of King Philip’s War, the remaining Woronoake dispersed to Vermont, Canada, and west of the Hudson River. From this research audience members will learn about the original inhabitants of Westfield and gain a greater insight into the remnants of the culture that still exist today.
Occurring at the height of the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis is one of the most prominent events in our nation’s history. Much has been documented about the situation in general; its inner workings, the players involved, and their debatable intentions. It is considered Kennedy’s finest hour in his tragically abbreviated time as our nation’s leader. Most Americans perceive him as the hero who stood eye to eye with Premier Khrushchev, and made him blink. But what has not been investigated nearly enough is how the general public perceived the actions of their government during this time of great crisis. Scant attention has been given to the influence this event had on the mindset of the everyday American. My research aims to discover how the American people felt during this thirteen-day standoff in October of 1962. Using personally conducted interviews with people who lived through the crisis, along with government reports and public opinion polls, I examine the impact that the Cuban Missile Crisis had on the American people. Through my work, I concluded that most Americans were incredibly tense and anxious during this moment of chaos. Bomb shelters were built, stores were cleared out, and practice drills were an everyday occurrence in schools. From Boston to Seattle the American people were afraid of what could happen next. We were on the edge; this was the closest the world has ever come to a full scale thermonuclear war.
While the 1930s are often remembered as a time of economic crisis and presidential leadership, the decade also witnessed extensive social, cultural, and political reforms for several marginalized groups of Americans. Some of the loudest demands for reform during this critical time came from the voices of women and African Americans. As the administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt implemented New Deal programs to provide economic relief to American citizens, dedicated activists campaigned for more rights for women and African Americans. However, the majority of these strides were carried out under the leadership of the First Lady, rather than the President. Mrs. Anna Eleanor Roosevelt repeatedly used her position to impact women’s rights and civil rights during the Great Depression, even influencing the decisions of her husband in these controversial subjects. Using both primary and secondary resources, including Mrs. Roosevelt’s newspaper column, autobiography, dairy entries, and personal notes, along with memoirs written by close companions, this paper demonstrates her singular contributions. Mrs. Roosevelt worked for more female and African American employment opportunities, greater representation of women and minorities in government positions, greater aid to impoverished mothers and widows, and anti-lynching campaigns, and set an outstanding feminist example for American women of that era and beyond.
In many ways home schooled students are just like students who have gone to public or privates schools. Although the two approaches to learning are very different, but in the end the student graduates with a well rounded, full education and a diploma. In this project, what will be looked at is how a home schooled student goes about choosing a college, and attending without any past knowledge of enrolling for classes, attending lectures, and functioning in a classroom. As a result of this comparison, this research project will cover how the former home schooled student functions on a community college campus, and what were their adjustments and challenges were. Furthermore, looking into what their reasoning behind choosing a community college over a four year university. Research will be done via email questionnaires/surveys and one-on-one interviews.
Medicine and pharmaceuticals have been around for decades and with one dosage a person can get on their way to getting better from an illness or sickness. Drug blister packets are made in a factory in a controlled environment to assure quality and to keep the moisture content below five percent. This is to protect the drugs from deterioration caused by bacteria. We proposed to develop a non-destructive device, with which the detection of moisture content of blister packages can be made. Our device will make use of the principle of capacitors, where the capacitance is proportional to the dielectric constant of the materials between two parallel plates. Using the packets as dielectric material between two metal plates, we can find the moisture content inside of the blisters. Our device will be capable of measuring the capacitance of the blister packet with the moisture within the blister. Almost all materials have a property known as a dielectric constant, which is an indication of how good they are at storing a charge. The higher the moisture content within the blister, the higher the capacitance will be. A base capacitance will originally be determined from oven-dried drug packaged in a blister. Any increase from this base value will almost certainly be an indication of moisture presence inside of the blisters. The idea of this project is to create a device that can measure the moisture content inside the drug blister package non-destructively using the principle of capacitors.
Cosmetics have been in use for over twelve thousand years and has evolved into a massive and profitable industry. The obsession of looking and feeling beautiful fuels a great deal of social behavior. From an ethical standpoint, there are subtle and not-so-subtle undertones of unethical methodologies related to the makeup industry, including the use of potentially lethal ingredients, animal testing, and marketing campaigns that claim to do the unachievable. Cosmetics have many toxic ingredients with damaging medical side effects and the cosmetic industry also engages in questionable animal testing. Many products have been known to cause illness, which is unethical and is one of the worst consequences for consumers. There are two sides to animal testing: ensuring humans don’t have harmful reactions seems to justify testing while harming animals offers a counterpoint to testing. Cosmetic marketing campaigns offer beauty regardless of side effects and the illusive search for lost beauty; a consequence of marketing is that more people will buy the product to feel young, creating profit for the company and perpetuating the current state of affairs in the cosmetic industry. A consequential ethical analysis of the beauty industry showcases its true values as well as its detriment to society.
This presentation will talk about bridging the divide between the United States in relation to Puerto Rico and Cuba. Since 1898, the United States has been the colonizer, establishing an oppressor/oppressed relationship, leaving the oppressed resenting their lack of freedom. Specifically the U.S.'s relationship with Cuba has been on poor terms until 2014, when Raul Castro and Barack Obama opened communication between the countries. Now, the U.S. is trying to reestablish their relationship with Cuba, in addition to trying to aid Puerto Rico in the economic crisis. With this economic crisis, though, arises the awkward limbo status of Puerto Rico, which is a territory of the United States. As a territory, Puerto Rico does not have the same rights as a state of the U.S. does, however Puerto Rico is not independent, thus falling into a division on the island and their relationship with the U.S. Through a postcolonial lens, this project analyses the relationship the United States has with Cuba and Puerto Rico throughout different time periods. Starting in 1898 and progressing forward, this presentation will focus on the development in the relationships between the U.S. and Puerto Rico and Cuba. In understanding the events leading up to the current relationship the U.S. has with Cuba and Puerto Rico, the divide between the U.S. and these countries becomes a pressing matter that demands attention and a solution to bridge the divide between these countries.
It is well known that physical activity is highly beneficial to individuals’ overall health and wellness. However, despite this knowledge, only 50% of college students are currently meeting physical activity guidelines. With the use of physical activity monitors on the rise, devices may be used to combat lack of physical activity in college students. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of step count display on physical activity monitors on physical activity level in college students. To accomplish this, participants (n = 6) will wear an ActiGraph GT9X activity monitor for 6 total days during all waking hours. Participants will have access to step count display for 3 days and will not have access to the display for the other 3 days. All participants will be asked to explain their experiences throughout the monitoring process in an exit interview. Future data is predicted to show that participants had a higher mean value of steps on days with access to step count compared to the days without step count. The results will indicate that having access to step count display is associated with higher motivation to increase daily physical activity. Ultimately, the results of this study will indicate that physical activity monitors with step count display are effective at increasing physical activity levels in college students.
Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) is a measurement of caloric expenditure following exercise. Investigations have shown EPOC to be elevated for up to 48 hours in subjects after resistance training (RT). The purpose of this study is to determine if multiple bouts of high intensity resistance training (MRT) raises EPOC and resting metabolic rate (RMR) to a greater extent than a single bout high intensity resistance training (SRT). It is hypothesized that multiple high-intensity resistance training bouts will raise EPOC and RMR to a significantly greater extent than a single bout of high-intensity resistance training. Two randomized resistance training groups, consisting of 16 males aged 18-39, will be divided into a single bout or multiple bout RT condition, with the single bout RT sessions conducted at least 72 hours apart. Each resistance training bout consists of 12 whole-body exercises performed at approximately 75% of the subjects pre-determined 1 repetition maximum lift, for 6-12 repetitions. Exercise energy expenditure (kcal), resting metabolic rate (RMR), respiratory exchange ratio (RER), VO2 (mL×kg-1×min-1) and Rating of Perceived Muscle Soreness (RPMS) will be measured for this study. Analysis of variance with repeated measures will be used to analyze dependent variables. Pilot testing will occur in late February and data collection will occur throughout March. We expect to have pilot data collected and analyzed for presentation at UMASS Amherst.
This thesis project consists of a research experiment designed to study the effect of an ankle brace on lower extremity kinematics during gait. After ankle injuries, many athletes will continue to compete but with the support of a commercial brace instead of resting until their injury is fully resolved. Although the brace is designed to aid in return to activity, it might alter the normal gait patterns exhibit by the athlete. In other words, the brace, although designed to allow the athlete to use during physical activity, may not allow the athlete to have the same performance as in their healthy state. If the ankle bracing alters lower limb movement, it could pose a risk to injury about the knee joint. Since the motions of the joints of the lower extremities (ankle, knee, and hip) are coupled, an alteration of one joint will cause alterations in the other joints. College-aged subjects were analyzed during a submaximal sprint running with and without a brace. Using the Qualisys Track Manager, data on body positions marked by retroreflective markers throughout the sprint were collected. Data were analyzed using the Visual 3D software. The kinematic variables of interest were rearfoot eversion and tibial internal rotation. Rearfoot eversion was used as an indicator of ankle motion and tibial internal rotation was used as an indicator of motion about the knee. It is hypothesized that the braced ankle trials will demonstrate equally proportional motion about the ankle and knee as the unbraced trials during stance phase as it is expected that there will be a reduction of peak calcaneal eversion. Due to the coupled relationship between the knee and ankle, the knee is expected to show a reduction in peak tibial internal rotation during stance phase.
The purpose of this study is to assess the differences in the changes in 3D Kinematics and 3D Kinetics between healthy men and women when wearing a Meuller wraparound hinged knee brace vs. a no brace condition. It has been shown that women suffer knee injuries at higher rates compared to men, and that women and men display differences in lower body biomechanics. It is hypothesized that in the braced condition there will be alterations in biomechanics, which could possibly improve symptoms of a pathology such as anterior knee pain, and these differences will be greater in women. Participants include 10 healthy men and 10 healthy women. Each participant walked at a speed of 1.3 m/s and ran at a speed of 3.2 m/s across the kinetic force platforms and past motion cameras. Ten trials were recorded at each speed while wearing the brace and without the brace. Peak and average knee, hip, and ankle angles and moments were analyzed over the duration of the trials as well as at specific points during the five phases of gait. Significant differences between the brace and no brace conditions (within the male group) were seen in initial ankle dorsiflexion (no brace: 13.04 +/- 2.95 degrees; brace: 10.83 +/- 4.57 degrees; p-value = 0.042) and knee flexion ROM (no brace: 31.21 +/- 5.12 degrees; brace: 30.02 +/- 5.22 degrees; p-value = 0.050). These initial results suggest the brace condition results in altered lower limb biomechanics compared to the no brace condition.
The sedentary behavior of employees during their typical workday may pose potential health risks for certain professions. These occupational health risks can be combated using simple interventions during work and non-work hours. More research is needed to identify occupational physical activity trends since different occupations can have unique physical activity patterns. No data have been obtained for healthcare providers outside of the hospital setting – especially emergency medical technicians working as first responders. The purpose of this study is to objectively measure the physical activity of first responders working on the UMass Amherst campus during work and non-work hours of a typical workday. Participants must be between 18-22 years of age and currently be active members of UMass EMS. These participants are expected to wear a waist-worn accelerometer (ActiGraph GT9X) during waking hours for three separate workdays on which the participants work more than 5 hours. Average total steps per hour during working hours will be compared to recent literature that monitored the occupational physical activity of radiologists, surgeons, and other clinicians. Behavioral trends during work and non-work hours will be observed by calculating the average peak 1 minute and 30-minute cadence for those times. It is expected that first responders will be more active than radiologists, but less active than surgeons and other clinicians during work hours. Also, average peak 1 minute cadence is expected to be lower for work hours and average peak 30-minute cadence is expected to be higher for work hours. Keywords: first responders, cadence
Commercial heart rate (HR) monitoring devices are becoming prominent as training aids. Recent development of photoplethysmography-based sensors made HR monitoring easier, as such sensors transmit light emitting diodes (LEDs) to irradiate through the skin and estimate HR by the blood volume that is being pumped by the heart. However, with multiple heart rate devices available, it would be helpful for consumers to know about the capability of such devices as consumers can easily be burdened by the amount of choices. Purpose: the study’s purpose is to look at the criterion validity of the Fitbit Surge with the use of a criterion measure in elite endurance athletes to assess the device’s HR measures at vigorous intensity running bouts. Methods: six elite athletes from the University of Massachusetts Amherst Cross Country and Track team will undergo a treadmill protocol of one 43-minute bout of continuous walking and running - 3.0 miles per hour (MPH) as the recovery walking speed; 5.0, 6.0, 6.5, 7.0, and 7.5MPH (5 min at each protocol speed with recovery walking in between for two minutes) with HR digitally recorded at a one-second epoch. Results: It has been documented that some commercial HR devices had reduced ability to detect HR at 5.0MPH and 6.0MPH due to increased upper body movement. If so, it is possible that having elite endurance athletes run at faster speeds will show a decrease HR readout from the Fitbit Surge. Conclusion: The Fitbit Surge may be deemed an accurate HR device for elite athletes.
Migration is an essential journey for the survival of many bird species. During migration, birds lose significant amounts of skeletal muscle mass. This breakdown is not completely understood and may cause altered skeletal muscle protein expression. The focus of my project was to establish gel electrophoresis techniques to determine the expression of a range of myofibrillar proteins, including myosin heavy chain (MHC) isoforms, in the white-throated sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) pectoralis and supracoracoideus muscle samples, the two major flight muscles in birds. Pre-cast gels were successfully used to separate numerous myofibrillar proteins in non-starved control birds and birds starved for 48 hours, which mimics migration. Densitometry protocols were developed to compare protein expression levels between the different muscles and conditions. MHC, a myofilament protein, is fundamental for understanding muscle function as it plays a significant role in dictating single fiber force generation and contractile velocity. Hand poured gels were used to examine MHC isoform expression in both sparrow muscles as well as chicken (pectoralis, gastrocnemius and latissimus dorsi), mouse (soleus and gastrocnemius) and human (vastus lateralis) tissue. Sparrow muscles contained a single isoform, which highlights one of its unique properties as muscles from chicken, mice and human tissue contained 2-4 isoforms. This work established reliable methods for measuring skeletal muscle protein and MHC isoform expression in sparrow flight muscle, which are necessary for investigating migratory induced alterations in muscle structure and function.
Many people accept the physical health benefits of living an active lifestyle, but the mental health benefits are less established. Exercise has the ability to increase mood in the short-term, but the extent of this relationship is unknown. The purpose of this study is to determine the relationship between daily physical activity and mood. The GT3X+ accelerometer and the Profile of Mood States questionnaire are being used to measure total active minutes per day and daily mood respectively. Six participants, 3 males and 3 females of college age (18-22 years), will be recruited via email, flyers, and word of mouth. Participants will wear the accelerometer for seven days with no change to their physical activity routine and will visit the lab before and after this free-living period. They will complete a log sheet to determine device wear-time and total sleep. The mood questionnaire will be completed daily at approximately the same time of night to control for fluctuations in mood throughout the day. A correlation will be computed between active minutes per day and mood. Active minutes will be categorized into light, moderate, and vigorous intensity based on established cut-points to determine any possible relation with the various mood categories obtained from the questionnaire. Total mood disturbance and active minutes per day are expected to be negatively correlated while active minutes and vigor are expected to be positively correlated. The results of this study will help reveal how mood functions and whether activity and mood are correlated.
Purpose: To study how change in walking speed and individual joint contributions affect the total support moment in an osteoarthritis (OA) knee. Hip, knee, and ankle joint moments contribution to the overall support moment during gait which may become altered in patients with OA. We hypothesized, patients with OA will rely on the hip and ankle joint to reduce loading on the knee joint. Also, we expect pain to influence the OA knee gait with higher joint contributions from the hip and ankle joints in different walking speeds. Methods: Eighteen participants, six males and twelve females between the ages 53-74 with knee OA were recruited. 3D overground gait analysis was completed using 11 cameras (Oqus, Qualysis), a three-dimensional kinematic motion capture system, and a force plate (AMTI) to record ground reaction forces. The markers were placed on the hip, knee, and ankle joints with the point cluster technique. Subjects walked first at a self-selected speed and then a faster speed. We quantified the percentage of individual joint moment contributions toward the peak total support moment for the ankle, knee, and hip joints. The mean joint contribution percentages in both walking speeds were be evaluated to determine differences in gait mechanics. Results: The results showed an increase in mean ankle joint contribution towards the total support moment in fast walking speed compared to normal speed. Increased mean knee contribution during fast walking was also observed.
Heart Rate Recovery (HRR) is an authentic measure of cardiovascular health and is parasympathetically mediated. Meditation has been shown to parasympathetically moderate heart rate via the vagal nerve. Research of vagal heart rate control due to meditation has primarily focused on psychological modalities, leaving the role of meditation in exercise largely unexplored. The purpose of this experiment is to evaluate the effect of habitual meditation practice on HRR after an acute bout of exercise. A convenience sample of participants will be recruited from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, comprising a group of habitual meditators (n = 3) and non-meditators (n = 3). The exercise habits of meditators and non-meditators are expected to be comparable. Participants will be asked to complete an incremental resistance protocol on a Monarch Ergomedic 828e stationary bicycle in order to standardize the work output and heart rate increase of participant's. Once the participant’s calculated target heart rate (THR) ([220 – age] x 0.75) is reached, they will be instructed to consciously return their heart rate to resting levels. Acute and prolonged differences in HRR time to resting heart rate will be recorded and analyzed. It is hypothesized that the habitual meditator's group will exhibit a faster HRR time than the non-meditator's group. The findings of this study may illuminate a novel use for heart rate monitoring technology in exercise and the inclusion of meditation practices as part of exercise programs.
Type 2 diabetes (T2DM) may decrease the therapeutic potential of stem cell therapies. The purpose of this study was to examine pericyte cell therapy and angiogenesis in a model of PAD in wild type (WT) and T2DM mice. The hypothesis was that diabetes impairs the ability of pericytes to improve angiogenesis and blood flow recovery after limb ischemia. Pericytes were transplanted into ischemic hindlimbs following unilateral femoral artery ligation. Control mice were injected with PBS vehicle control. Blood flow was assessed pre-surgery, post-surgery, and through postoperative day 28 (POD28). Capillaries and myofibers were visualized via immunohistochemistry at POD28 to quantify capillary density and capillary-to-fiber ratio. Linear models were used to determine differences in blood flow recovery. T-tests were used to test for differences in angiogenesis between experimental and control groups. WT mice receiving pericyte transplantation had greater blood flow recovery than controls at POD28 (79.3±5% vs. 61.9±5% for control; p=0.04) but not T2DM mice (48.6±6% vs. 46.3±5% for control, p=0.51). There were no differences in capillary-to-fiber ratio in the pericyte transplanted mice compared to controls in WT (1.26±0.06 vs. 1.18±0.04; p=0.23) or T2DM mice (0.99±0.07 vs. 1.00±0.05; p=0.44). Pericyte transplantation did not increase capillary density compared with vehicle control in WT (453.2±34 capillary/mm2 vs. 508.3±66; p=0.16) or T2DM mice (550.7±47 capillary/mm2 vs. 569.8±105; p=0.46). Pericytes augment blood flow recovery in WT but not T2DM mice, but not through increased angiogenesis. Mechanisms for augmenting blood flow recovery in diabetic mice should be examined.
Research has shown consumer worn physical activity monitors validly quantify cadence during physical activity and exercise. Yet, there is less knowledge regarding accurate energy expenditure estimation. The aim of this study is to learn whether the Fitbit Alta and Fitbit Zip maintain, gain, or lose validity during resistance training. The researcher hypothesizes the Fitbit Alta will measure energy expenditure more accurately during upper body resistance training and the Fitbit Zip will measure energy expenditure more accurately during lower body resistance training, however, neither device will demonstrate good validity in comparison to the criterion measure. The participants (n = 6) will wear a wrist-worn Fitbit Alta and hip-worn Fitbit Zip during two resistance training sessions (session 1 = upper body; session 2 = lower body) to measure energy expenditure. Their data will be correlated to a Polar Heart Rate monitors heart rate measurements converted to energy expenditure as the criterion measure. Future data is predicted to show a mean absolute percent error (MAPE) greater than 10% between the Polar Heart Rate monitors converted energy expenditure measurements and the Fitbit Alta and Fitbit Zip from session one and session two. The results will demonstrate the Fitbit Alta and Fitbit Zip have poor concurrent and convergent validly when measuring energy expenditure during upper and lower body resistance training. Conclusively, consumers should be aware the Fitbit Alta and Fitbit Zip have invalidly measured energy expenditure in research studies when relying on the two devices to accurately quantify their physical activity and meet desired goals.
Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is a debilitating joint disease that can result in an increase in joint pain and stiffness, a decrease in joint range of motion, and ultimately leads to a loss of functional independence (Kaufman, Hughes, Morrey, Morrey, & An, 2001). However, patients vary in the amount of functional loss they experience, which can be quantified subjectively through the Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS) (Roos & Lohmander, 2003). Examining biomechanical differences in patients with varying KOOS scores could lead to a better understanding of how to optimize functional independence after treatment. For this study, 19 participants with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis were recruited. After providing informed consent for an IRB approved research protocol, each participant completed a KOOS Questionnaire. Kinetic and kinematic data were then collected using a motion capture system and force plates. Participants were outfitted with reflective markers, and walked through the motion capture area at their preferred walking speed with their symptomatic leg making contact with a force plate. Data analysis first included the separation of subgroups based on KOOS Questionnaires. Average KOOS scores below 60 were considered low-functioning, and average scores above 70 were considered as high-functioning. A significant difference in hip flexion during heel strike was found, with lower-functioning patients adopting a larger angle than higher-functioning patients. This suggests that lower-functioning osteoarthritis patients have weaker hip extensors than their higher-functioning counterparts.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a neurological disease which commonly results in sensorimotor impairments. Impaired proprioceptive information, location of one’s limbs in space, may lead to an increased risk of falling in MS. The Human Odometer is a full body proprioceptive measurement that evaluates distance perception. Purpose: to examine whether MS have proprioceptive impairment compared to healthy age-matched controls (Con) at shorter and longer distances. Sixteen participants will be recruited (n=8 MS, n=8 Con). Participants will perform the human odometer task consisting of a blindfolded 6ft and 30ft walk, with 5 trials for each distance. Participants are escorted out the distance, and their ability to walk back the exact distance is measured. Presented here is preliminary data on n=3 MS (52 yrs±9; Expanded Disability Status Score 13.67 ±3.21) and n=2 Con (55 yrs ±1). For the 6ft walk, MS had an average distance error of 2.46 ft ±1.26, while Con had an average distance error of 0.58ft ±.74. For the 30 ft walk, MS had an average distance error of 1.10ft ±2.38, while Con had an average distance error of 1.80ft ±3.36. Preliminary data shows that both MS and Con tended to overshoot the 6ft distance, however Con were more accurate at the 6ft distance. For 30ft, both groups were likely to overshoot, and the error percentage was similar for both groups but higher in Con. More participants will help clarify whether there are proprioceptive differences in MS versus Con, and whether the 6ft distance continues to show a greater difference between the groups.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a progressive neurological disease resulting from demyelination. Proprioception, the ability to perceive the body’s location in space, is commonly impaired resulting in altered balance and maladaptive motor control. Purpose: evaluate elbow and knee joint reposition accuracy and effect of dominance on reposition accuracy in MS versus Controls (Con). Sixteen participants (8 MS, 8 Con) will perform trials (n=3) of ipsilateral and contralateral repositioning of the elbow and knee joints using a goniometer and motion capture data. The protocol will include positioning of limb at an angle, relaxation of limb, and matching of joint angle. The Nine-Hole Peg Test (9HPT) and Six-Spot Step Test (SSST) will be used to measure hand and leg dominance, as well as dexterity and mobility, respectively. Preliminary data will be presented for n=3 Con and n=3 MS ±±(57.8yrs ±4.44). Ipsilateral repositioning data show that Con (63.7∞ ±8.96; 95% CI 10.1) are less accurate in matching 60∞ at the elbow versus MS (59.7∞ ±6.8; 95% CI 7.70). However, MS (152.3∞ ±6.67; 95% CI 7.54) are less accurate in matching 150∞ at the knee versus Con (156.3∞ ±5.13; 95% CI 5.81). All n=6 were right-dominant with 9HPT dominant hand scores of Con (18.06s ±0.304) and MS (29.12s ±7.16); and SSST dominant leg scores with Con (5.01s ±0.675) and MS (10.96s ±4.535). Preliminary data indicates Con performed faster in 9HPT and SSST suggesting better mobility and dexterity. However, further data collection is required to clarify any group differences in upper and/or lower extremity joint accuracy.
Anxiety is one of the most common and detrimental diseases of the current college-aged generation. The objective of this study is to determine whether yoga is an effective method of decreasing levels of stress and improving perceived quality of life in college students. The study involves two groups of college students, one of which will participate in one yoga class per week for 8 weeks, while the second group participates in a single yoga class. Participants volunteered to participate in either the 8-week practice or the one-time bout. All participants were measured using the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) and the 36-Item Short Form Survey Instrument (SF-36). At the conclusion of the study, it may be possible to determine whether regular yoga practice shows increased benefits compared to one session of yoga. Based on the results of similar studies, it is likely that the results of this study will show a decreased perceived level of stress at the end of the study in students who participated in weekly yoga sessions. In the one-bout of yoga group, it is likely that the perceived level of stress after the class will be lower than before the class; however, the stress reduction will not be as significant as in the consistent yoga group.
Muscle fatigue, defined as a contraction-induced decrease in torque or power is greater in older compared with young women during high-velocity contractions. The mechanisms of this age-difference in muscle fatigue are not known. The purpose of this study is to determine the role of excitation-contraction (EC) coupling failure in age-differences during muscle fatigue. Young and older women will complete a series of contractions at baseline and immediately after a 4-minute fatigue protocol. This series consists of 2 maximal voluntary dynamic contractions (MVDC) at 240°.s-1, 1 maximal voluntary isometric contraction, and 80Hz and 10Hz stimulated contractions of the knee extensors (KEs). The 10:80 Hz ratio will be calculated to examine the magnitude of EC coupling failure in young and older women. The fatigue protocol consists of 120 MVDCs of the KEs at 240°.s-1, with 1 contraction completed every 2s. Participants will be verbally encouraged throughout the protocol. Our pilot data (n=1, age: 21yrs, BMI: 25.8kg.m2) demonstrates KE power at 240°.s-1 decreased by 46.8% (baseline: 429W, post-fatigue: 228W), isometric torque decreased by 31.0% (baseline: 181N, post-fatigue: 125N), and the 10:80Hz ratio declined by 23.4% (baseline: 0.47, post- fatigue: 0.36) following the fatigue protocol. The fatigue protocol induces a similar degree of muscle fatigue to previous studies. The decline in the 10:80Hz ratio indicates EC coupling failure was present. Although muscle fatigue is expected to be greater in older compared with young women, it is unknown if the decline in 10:80Hz ratio is greater in older compared with young women.
There has been sufficient research into the validity of wearable devices at varying walking speeds, but more research needs to be done for varying running speeds. This research gap needs to be filled because it is important for athletes who use wearable devices during training, recreational runners who use running as a significant form of physical activity, and researchers who want to use wearable devices in studies. The purpose of this study is to examine the validity of the Garmin Forerunner 25 and Fitbit Surge in recording distance and step count at varying running intensities. While wearing the devices, participants will perform three 5-minute intervals of running at 6mph, 7mph, and 8.5mph with 3-minutes of recovery in between. During each interval, a researcher will directly observe and count the number of steps taken using a hand tally counter while their steps are video recorded as backup in case of hand count errors. Immediately after and prior to each interval, step and distance data will be gathered from both devices, distance will be recorded from the treadmill’s digital display, and the researcher will record the hand count of steps. Data collection for this project will run through February and March. Data analysis and interpretation will be completed in March and April. Data will be available for dissemination by late April. Conclusion: These results will help fill the research gap of whether running speed affects the validity of the distance and step count provided by the device.
Concussions have become a popular topic in sports medicine, with football as the leading sport responsible for the majority of sports-related head injuries. Research indicates that concussions alter normal brain function leading to variety of symptoms and abnormal neuropsychological effects as the result of the massive impact on the head. There have been numerous studies which suggest biomechanical evidence supporting the use of specialized headgear or helmets to reduce the impact forces on the brain from a collision, however, these findings have not been directly observed outside of the laboratory. The technology behind the devices is intended to decrease impact by reducing acceleration forces. The purpose of this study was to determine if the Guardian Cap (GC), a soft, light weight shell cap that covers the outside of the football helmet, was capable of reducing the number and severity of concussions among NCAA collegiate football players. The GC was designed to add an additional component to the helmet to reduce head. *The results are estimated to indicate that the overall number of concussions among NCAA universities using GC is lower than those schools not using GC. In addition, the number of concussions among frontline players is also estimated to be fewer among the schools using GC compared to those without GC. The data will provide coaches and athletic trainers with evidence of concussion reduction through the usage of specialized headgear added to a traditional football helmet, and whether the usage of this additional headgear, like GC, is a good investment for the safety of their players.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a progressive disease characterized by neuronal demyelination. Common symptoms, including fatigue, muscular weakness, and impaired plantar sensation, compound to increase falls in people with MS. Elevated fall risk is linked to impaired executive functioning likely due to fewer available attentional resources in people with MS. Purpose: evaluate effects of a dual-task on postural stability in MS versus healthy controls (CON). Sixteen adults will be recruited (n=8 MS, n=8 CON). Plantar vibration sensation is measured with a biothesiometer, as sensation may impact balance. Postural stability is evaluated during quiet or narrow standing with participants playing a simple cell-phone game, ‘Dots’. Higher game score indicates improved ability. Preliminary data comparing n=3 MS (52.3 yrs ±9.1) and n=3 CON (53.0 yrs ±2.6) are presented here. Baseline (seated) game scores were similar for MS (79 pts±23) and CON (80 pts ±22). However game scores were reduced in MS versus CON for quiet stance (MS 79 pts ±22; CON 89 pts ±29), and narrow stance (MS=77 pts ±20; CON=87 pts ±24). CON were more sensitive to vibration (6.9 volts ±2.7) than MS (16.6 volts ±14.6). Preliminary results indicate that MS have impaired vibration sensitivity compared to CON. Baseline performance scores were similar between groups, although MS displayed a decline during quiet and narrow stance, whereas CON showed improved scores. The dual-task activity in this study mimics the actions of standing while using a smartphone. Understanding the impact of dual-tasking on postural stability in MS may inform future fall risk prevention guidelines.
Advances in wearable technology have made it possible for people to track their health indicators with a small device attached to the body. The purpose of my study is to elucidate factors affecting the validity of activity trackers to estimate step counts. The study will conduct secondary analyses using data from the Cadence-Adults study. The participants were instructed to complete a series of tasks in the lab which simulated free-living situations and normal walking behaviors while concurrently wearing a series of commercial and research-grade activity trackers. Hand-counted steps taken will be the criterion standard. The study will use inferential statistical methods (i.e., ANOVA) to evaluate different factors. Mean absolute percentage error will be calculated to determine agreements between the target devices and the criterion were examined by conducting regression analyses. The data will be compiled and stored using Microsoft Excel. Calculations and analyses will be completed using R Studio. Data analysis and interpretation will be completed with existing data in March. Based on existing studies and data, we hypothesis that factors affecting validity will include walking speed, height of the participant (i.e., waist or wrist device). Each device has its own characteristics. Consumers of activity trackers may consult the results of the study to help them select a device based their own characteristics and use patterns. Commercial device manufacturers can learn about the weakness of the devices and improve the internal algorithms and device sensors accordingly.
Although wearable technologies are popular among consumers as fitness accessories deemed to help in the implementation of healthy exercise habits, research is limited as to the effect of these products in changing user behavior. Specifically, conclusions are mixed regarding the effectiveness of goal-setting features on wearable devices as well as intervention programs in general that focus on goal-setting techniques. The purpose of this study is to determine whether self-set goals based off of minimal information and instruction are more effective than no goal at all for producing short-term healthy behavior change when using wearable technologies. After an initial baseline phase of three days, participants in this study will be randomly divided into control (Group A) and intervention (Group B) groups. Group B will be asked to set a self-selected goal based on minimal information, while Group A will receive no intervention. Daily step counts will be measured throughout the study using a Yamax SW-200 Digi-Walker Step Pedometer (SW-200). This data will be used to calculate daily step count averages for each participant and group during baseline and intervention phases. It is hypothesized that Group B will have higher daily step count averages after receiving the intervention, although the individuals in Group A may also increase their daily step counts as a result of using a wearable device and viewing their step counts regularly. The results of this study can be used to create more effective features in wearable technology as well as better real-world intervention programs.
Depression is a mood disorder that can have adverse effects on both physical and psycho-social aspects of life. Previous research has shown an inverse correlation: higher levels of depression have been associated with lower levels of physical activity (PA). The mechanisms underlying this relationship and whether depression causes inactivity or if the inverse is true is still not understood. This study will examine whether inducing sedentary behavior in active, mentally healthy college aged students (students between 18-22 years and average >7,500 steps/day) causes an acute increase in feelings of depression. The Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ9) and a Beck’s Depression Inventory (BDI) will be used to measure baseline and subsequent reports of mental health. Participants will wear an ActiGraph GT9X accelerometer for a three-day baseline period to confirm normal PA of >7,500 steps/day. Participants will then complete a seven-day intervention period where they will be asked to limit PA to <5,000 steps/day and finally report their mental health again. We hypothesize an acute increase in feelings of depression associated with reduced steps/day. The results of this study will help us determine how we can potentially use wearable technologies to support increased PA as treatment for mental health issues.
Consolidation, the process serving to maintain and strengthen 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. In this study, we tested whether changing the task variability could strengthen the retention of a newly learned locomotor skill. In these experiments, we challenged walking control by presenting visual targets to instruct changes in step length (e.g., short, medium, long) from one trial to the next during treadmill walking. Subjects receive a point each time they hit the target accurately. The study design consisted of three testing sessions (acquisition, re-consolidation, retention) and two groups of subjects (variable vs. control). During Session 1, participants acquired a new step length sequence (skill A) by practicing the pattern over 11 blocks of 100 trials. During Session 2 (6-hr later), they retrieved the previously learned step length sequence (skill A) over 1 block of 100 trials, and then they practiced either a variable sequence (Group 1: skill A’) or the original sequence (Group 2: skill A) over 10 more blocks of 100 trials. Participants were randomly assigned between the two groups. During Session 3 (24-hours later), all participants were re-tested on skill A to measure retention. We measured the success rate of hitting the targets in each block. We predict that the group that is exposed to the variable task during the second session will have a better retention of the original task, as compared to the control group, resulting in a higher score during the final session.
Public spaces are the foundation of democracy in our society, and are one of the most important aspects of landscape architecture. When we enter a place for public use we enter a space where all are equal, and where people of all backgrounds can relax, socialize, and play. The exposure we gain from these environments reinforces basic understanding about the outdoors and civic society. They also provide many benefits, such as a stronger sense of community, economic success, a healthier population, and improved environmental awareness. The inclusion of public outdoor spaces is essential to diverse and active communities, and that need is even greater on a college campus. Unfortunately, colleges and universities often overlook these spaces, especially in campuses with large acreage and a large student population. In places where public spaces are not successful, the introduction of public art has been found to be an effective solution. By creating an art installation in an outdoor area at the center of the UMass Amherst Campus, I hope to demonstrate real-time improved site functioning. Public spaces are an important part of the commons, and their importance is particularly visible on college campuses.
Currently, federal statutes regarding treatment of animals are severely limited: only humane slaughter methods for livestock and humane containment and treatment methods for research animals are considered; all other considerations for companion animals, wild animals, livestock, and other categories are limited to the state level or below. In all cases, the definition for “animal” is either too exclusive or too broad. For example, the federal Animal Welfare Act only specifies dogs, cats, monkeys, guinea pigs, hamsters, and rabbits under its definition, with a broad inclusion of “other warm-blooded animals,” with the specific exceptions of birds, rats, mice, horses, and a general exception for livestock. Conversely, most state statutes define “animal” broadly as any “non-human, animate being which is endowed with the power of voluntary motion.” Such vagaries and ambiguities lead to unnecessary legal confusion. Standardized anti-cruelty laws should be developed instead on the basis of comparative neurobiology, that is, organisms should be protected based on their physiological capacity for pain processing. One major distinction in pain processing is made between vertebrates and invertebrates, however, new evidence suggests that certain taxa of invertebrates, especially mollusks and crustaceans, may have the same general capacity for nocioception as vertebrates. An additional distinction may be made, within vertebrata, in regard to responses to emotional rather than physical pain, as taxa including chimpanzees, elephants, and dogs have been observed exhibiting complex behavior comparable to human rituals of mourning. A neurobiological basis for law would have the added benefit of global as well as nationwide application.
Racism still exists in America. Rather than disappear, as we may all wish to believe, racism has only evolved. Most of us are familiar with the term “racial profiling,” or identifying a person’s race or ethnicity based on how they appear to our eyes, but what if you are making racial identifications based on something other than appearance? What if you were to guess a person’s race then proceed to make your own judgments from there after only hearing a person’s voice? Such a practice is what Stanford professor and linguistics expert John Baugh refers to as “linguistic profiling.” Linguistic profiling is a form of “new racism” in our society, a form that is marked by subtlety yet has the potential to cause so much damage. My research focuses on the effects, particularly on non-White minority groups residing in the United States, of linguistic profiling in the legal, housing, and occupational fields. This analysis creates a bridge between language and race. It creates a bridge between linguistics and racism, and between perception and opportunity. The purpose of this project is to bring about awareness of linguistic profiling and the dangers associated with it. This is the essential first step of the daunting yet rewarding task of bringing about an end to linguistic profiling and, by extension, racism itself.
This paper will focus on the issue of the identity of the bisexual being. From self-image to representation in literature, media, politics and so on we will explore bisexuality through a societal lens, as well as through singular human experiences. We are moving forward in terms of representation and public acceptance, even within the LGBT community. Unfortunately, in a 2011 study by Joseph P. Robinson and Dorothy L. Eselage professors of educational psychology in the College of Education at Illinois found that bisexuals experience high rates of suicidal ideation and attempts. Thirteen thousand middle and high school age students in Dane County, Wisconsin were asked eight questions. Robinson and Eselage found the rate for which suicide was contemplated in the last thirty days by bisexual students was considerably higher at 44%, compared to the 7% for straight students and 33% for either gay or lesbian students. Bisexual student also had a high risk for rate for attempting with 21% making at least one attempt in the last year. So, what have we, as a society done to shape the identity of bisexuals? We will explore possible influences on the bisexual identity through use of examples from literature, T.V., cinema and more.
Creation myths are figurative narratives created by ancient societies. Within these myths, societies sought to comprehend their place in the universe and their relationship with people, nature, and god(s). As stated in Charles Long's novel, Alpha: The Myths of Creation, creation myths can be categorized five ways; these stories are either created from chaos, nothing (Ex. Nihilo), world-parent, emergence, or earth-diver. Within these classifications, countless creation myths have been produced. Deepening on what myth classification is used, this provides insight into what relationships, morals, and culture these regions found significant. This also provides an understanding of the geography of the region. Since Asia is a large continent, divided by many environmental restraints, creation myths were not commonly shared; making viewpoints of how their world developed uniquely. As societies are just beginning to develop, it is easy to assume that all of Asia would have similar viewpoints on how the universe was created. However, in Eastern Asia, specifically China and Japan, creation myths vary from classification, themes, archetypes, and language. By considering Eastern Asian creation myths, this paper will examine the creation myths of Pangu (China) and Ainu (Japan) to determine how theses myths were inspired by examining myth classification, themes, archetypes, and language.
Within religious texts, guidelines
for acceptable behavior, and enacting the will of God, are outlined. In this
sense, God is the narrator in the story of peoples’ lives. The two religions of
Christianity and Islam, theological cousins, have been at war with each other
for over a thousand years. Differences in the narratives between the Christian
New Testament and the Koran, has led to each religion feeling their own ideals
are superior to the other; moreover, each culture believes that they solely
understand the true will of God. This study examines the literature of both
religions; specifically, passages regarding prophets, highlighting similarities
in the narratives that contribute to identity development within individuals
that practice either religion, and point to the differences that have led to
conflict between members of the opposing ideologies. In each of these
religions, most members are indoctrinated at birth; initiating a lifelong
development of deep rooted beliefs in a singular viewpoint, each being taught
that their beliefs were bestowed upon them by the one true God; therefore,
their scripture can be the only truth that exists. Despite common threads in
both stories such as: Moral obligation, patriarchal dominance, and key
characters; discrepancies in the interpretation of character role, namely Jesus
Christ and Muhammed, have led to violent acts committed by both parties for a
millennium. Is the perpetual bloodshed an effect of the human desire for power,
or is the strife between the two cultures enflamed by blind obedience to the
narratives in scripture?
This paper analyzes college student shopping behavior to determine how important buying "green" and sustainable products are to millennials in a college setting. A survey of Framingham State University undergraduates is used to determine product preferences and to determine to what extent “green” products are part of student buying behavior. Results are discussed and recommendations for increasing student “green” purchasing habits are provided.
Organizational culture is defined as the key values, beliefs and norms shared by members of an organization. In strong cultures, values are deeply embedded and “felt” rather than expressed. Culture is learned via symbols, stories, rituals and language. My project involved the melding of two organizational cultures through the bridging mechanism of a student chapter of an international student organization. Enactus is a world-wide student organization dedicated to making the world a better place through service to others. Employing the three P’s – people, plant, profit, students create and carry out projects to improve the lives of others. The organization is structured with World and Country Divisions (e.g., Enactus USA), and individual university chapters. Worcester State University has supported a chapter since 2004. The entire organization relies upon the active and enthusiastic participation of the individual chapters, therefore motivation, involvement, commitment and dedication are essential at the university level. Colleges and universities across the US have seen a drop in applicants due to demographic changes. Competition for students increases and marketing and recruiting strategies for this pool must emphasize the value-added of that particular institution. The video created for this project emphasized the cultural strengths of the WSU Enactus chapter to feed into both the “value added” aspect of WSU and the cultural expectations of Enactus. The presentation will highlight the assumptions behind both organizations, the creation of a storyboard, script and scene development, and the technical aspects of production. The final project will be displayed.
Self-driving cars are going to revolutionize the auto industry and transportation as we know it. Companies like Google and Uber are very close to bringing this technology to consumers and predict that self driving cars will be common place by 2020. In fact, they are currently being tested in cities like Boston and L.A. Imagine a person who is legally blind or too elderly to drive, being transported by their own self driving vehicle. Cars are only the beginning: Imagine self driving trains, and self flying planes. This technology is said to be more precise than the human driver and therefore will reduce accidents and safe lives. However, this is just part of a greater movement towards human dependence on computers. As we become more dependent on them, and they more accurately and precisely complete jobs that were once done by humans, what affect will this have on the employment of humans? Furthermore, as technology advances and computers become super, super computers, will they develop a level of consciousness and truly become "Artificial Intelligence?" Again, what consequences will humans face as a result? Moreover, what moral obligations must we consider as progress towards a more artificial intelligent driven society? This research project will attempt to answer these important questions and more.
Markov chains are random processes in which the next state depends only on the current state, not the entire past. They have a variety of applications throughout the sciences and mathematics, several of which are related to graph theory. One example of a Markov chain is simple random walk on a graph, which can be thought of as a particle jumping around the vertices of a graph so that at each time step it moves from the present vertex to a neighbor chosen uniformly at random. Random walks on graphs can be used in the study of electrical networks, traffic patterns, discrete harmonic analysis, and a variety of other topics. The goal of this project is to explore simple random walk in the setting of a particular family of finite graphs known as Turán graphs. Briefly, a Turán graph with parameters n and r is a complete r-partite graph on n vertices in which the parts are of ‘nearly equal sizes.’ After giving an overview of the relevant background, concepts such as reversibility, ergodicity, and the spectral gap are studied in the context of random walks on Turán graphs.
There is a demand for electronic devices such as phones, laptops, and computers to run faster and store more memory in a smaller space. However, conventional data storage technologies are nearly at their limits for optimization. Keeping up with the demands of a technology-driven world requires more research into novel methods of memory storage. Desired characteristics of new memory storage devices include low power consumption, high stacking density, fast switching speed, scalability, and simple fabrication. Nanowires made from metal and oxide layers show promise to achieve these characteristics in advanced electronics. Nanowires behave as one-dimensional structures with high surface-to-volume ratios, and often have different electrical and thermal properties than the same three-dimensional material. Metal-oxide nanowires have been shown to possess resistive switching characteristics, which can be used for non-volatile memory. This has implications for the future of data storage, as nonvolatile memory is retrievable even if there is an interruption in the power source. This research focuses on developing an inexpensive, scalable approach to fabricate cuprous oxide nanowires, as well as testing their electrical properties.
As energy demands increase, policy makers find themselves under strain to meet them as quickly as possible. They need reliable energy now, they don’t have time to consider every sustainable alternative. My research aims to fix this problem by providing a model that calculates the sustainability of complex systems. Klein and Whalley (2015) laid the ground work for comparing the sustainability of different isolated energy technologies, such as solar or natural gas. They compared thirteen technologies based on their technical, economic, environmental, and social sustainability through the use of eight sustainability factors. We extend this work to a portfolio of energy technologies, since all large-scale electricity systems use a number of different technologies simultaneously. These systems are more complex, as they are comprised of more than one type of technology at once. By doing so, renewable systems can be made more reliable by supplementing them with nonrenewable sources, like natural gas. My work involves applying the equations established by Klein and Whalley to portfolio systems. This is done by scaling the sustainability factor for each technology with the percentage of the energy output produces. This represents the contribution that technology has on the entire system. Summing these for each factor yields the sustainability information for the entire portfolio. Through this work, these portfolio systems can have their sustainability compared based on what type of sustainability is desired. This will further increase the number of options policy makers have for including sustainable systems in the community.
Hydroelectric power is a staple of the renewable energy industry, providing a large scale, reliable baseline output. However, the constraints of hydroelectric power mean that it is only built on large rivers with big elevation changes, and these huge dams quickly become an environmental issue, disrupting fish migration and flooding ecologies. This means that, in an age of increasing global activism, new hydroelectric dams are not being built to help keep up with global energy demand. So, if new dams cannot be built, how can we continue to utilize our existing hydroelectric dams in a more eco-friendly manner? The answer is to increase the turbine efficiency, allowing the same flow of water to generate more power through advances in technology. My research project focuses on water-repelling surfaces, called “super hydrophobic surfaces”, which have the unique property that the surface will not get when submerged in water. Specifically, I propose to put a water repelling surface on the turbine blade, and thereby increase its efficiency, making current hydroelectric dams more effective and eco-friendly.
The purpose of this study is to design and manufacture a solar tracking device that will power a scaled model of a house. Hold a solar panel and automatically orient the panel to face the source of light. The panel is 6 inches by 8 inches in size, and will sit on a structure that can rotate around two orthogonal axes. The panel does not need to move very fast, so the motor torque needed is relatively small, sufficient to overcome the inertia of the moving parts. The photoelectric sensor used sends information to the Arduino that is interpreted by the microprocessor. Output signals motivate the 2 motors to ensure that the panel always faces the light. A solid model of all the parts was created before 3d printing. Several initial designs were developed, and discussed by the research team. The final designs were 3d printed. The structure is required to house the solar panel, motors, and controller. The microprocessor controller is modeled as an input output system where photo-resistor inputs are routed through a voltage divider circuit to the microprocessor. 4 motors are connected to the output pins, through current amplifiers. Arduino script (c programming language) is employed to implement the logic, that is initially developed as a flowchart. This is a time consuming process, and several iterations may be needed.
This study was aimed at assessing a driver’s ability to anticipate latent threats and detect hazards on the forward roadway while using a hands-free cell phone (simulated by a validated mock cell phone task) during simulated autonomous driving. This driving simulator study had a within-subject design where each participant navigated all the four treatment conditions: a) manual driving without a cell phone, b) manual driving with a cell phone, c) autonomous driving without a cell phone, and d) autonomous driving with a cellphone. As the subjects drove through the simulated scenarios in each of the conditions, vehicle dynamics data, eye movement and accuracy on the mock cell phone task were recorded. The ordering of the conditions was completely counterbalanced across subjects. The results showed that while drivers detected the greatest proportion of hazards (73%) while driving manually without using a cell phone, the use of a cell phone while driving manually lowered the proportion of hazards detected by 33%. Driving in autonomous mode only caused a decrease of 20% in the proportion of hazards detected compared to manual conditions. This result is in part caused by the fact that drivers were not accustomed to autonomous driving and were likely overly alert. Longer times spent in simulator could affect this result. Autonomous driving with a cell phone only provided a 15% decrease in hazards detected compared to autonomous without a cell phone. This could be attributed to the decreased need for driver multitasking, thereby having ample opportunity to scan the road and detect hazards.
As energy and electronic devices grow in complexity yet shrink in size, the demand for smaller, more controllable technology increases as well. The use of nanotechnology opens a variety of options to scientists which could have impacts in a wide variety of fields such as: sensing, nanoelectronics, and drug delivery. The ability to predict the reaction of materials to phenomena at the nanoscale will change the way problems are solved in the world. This research looks to expand the possible materials that may be used in a nanotechnology context. Highly-controllable anodic aluminum oxide templates (AAO) are commonly used as a base for creating devices on a small scale. For example, templates used in conjunction with an applied voltage create controllably sized pores within the sample. These pores are subsequently used as a framework for devices such as nanowires, nanotubes, and other low-dimensional nanostructures. After removing the AAO template, the nanowires are left in an ordered array which may be tested. By using atomic force microscopy to locally probe different alloy nanowire arrays, potential uses for ferromagnetic cobalt-, iron-, and nickel-based alloy nanowires can be identified.
Breast cancer cells preferentially
metastasize to the skeleton and dysregulate the regular bone remodeling process,
causing a host of damaging skeletal-related issues (SREs). Bone cells under
normal conditions experience compression and fluid flow due to
physical activity, yet the response of cancer cells to mechanical stimuli is poorly characterized. Dynamic compression of cancer cells has been shown to
inhibit metastasis, but the effect of perfusion on these cells is little understood in 3D. My
research focused on validating a multi-modal loading system that recapitulates the bone
mechanical environment by combining perfusion and compression in a bone scaffold. The scaffold currently in use was permanently deformed under both 5% and 10% compressive strain; thus compression was eliminated from future studies. Current work focuses on establishing the peristaltic-pump perfusion system. Flowrate operating range and variability
will be determined, and then validated via experimentation with human bone metastatic breast cancer cells (MDA-MB231 cells) in scaffolds [poly(lactide-co-glycolide) combined with bone mineral crystals]. Future work will determine the range of flowrates in which cancer cells remain viable or die after 1 hour of exposure, determined via live/dead
staining and DNA quantification assays.
Ramjets are supersonic (>343 meters/second) jet engines primarily used for missiles several feet in diameter. No research has been conducted on ramjets with diameters under an inch, which have possible applications in long range munitions, low cost sounding rockets for space research experiments, and high density power sources. Such research can also (dis)prove numerous published theories in ramjet design. Thus, the design optimization of a supersonic ramjet slightly larger than a .50 caliber has been documented in MATLAB, including the diffuser, combustor, and outlet nozzle. This tool quickly outputs all dimensions of a ramjet for rapid prototyping. Calculations are based on Schlieren, pitot tube, pressure transducer, and force gauge data from testing a fabricated Mach 1.5 ramjet. The tool is also based on theory including modified 1D isentropic flow, the Taylor-Maccoll equation, MacCormack’s method, Method of Characteristics, and CFD for cold flow and 1D elementwise Rayleigh combustion and droplet combustion CFD for hot flow. Results from analytical/numerical calculations closely agree with each other, with CFD, and with both cold and hot flow experiments. Multiple theories for ramjet design have been disproven - notably, the common inlet normal shock assumption. Normal shocks should only appear in the diffuser diverging section. Multiple design aspects have also been discovered – notably, using the diffuser’s flat end as a flameholder, which retains high efficiency based on cold flow static and total pressure ratios. Most importantly, this research supports the construction of fully passive, small scale, liquid fueled ramjets.
The purpose of this project was to develop an efficient and sustainable form of electric energy from biomass, and it was hypothesized that electric energy could be derived from the exothermic decomposition of biomass. The specific method involved the use of a Stirling Engine and in due course, an Alternating Current (AC) Converter. Through rudimentary experimentation (i.e. with a lack of a pressurized container), the project found theoretical success in the way that an average American household could be sustained by a moderately-sized Stirling Engine flywheel and minimal maintenance, making it perfect to be placed in any domestic application. This preliminary research brings in the potential for a whole new field of renewable energy studies that is mostly ignored to date: biomass heat recycling and its application to energy production. This new expansive application cannot come at a better time, as the world begins to experience a decline in the health of our planet and a reducing amount of natural resources. This project is another step in the world’s conversion to renewable energy. In addition and with the declining health of the biosphere, there is a desperate need to develop more efficient forms of energy: current fossil fuel-based electricity production is limited by due to the sheer distance that the energy needs to travel. By placing such a system in every residence or building of residence using materials found in the residence, one is achieving a new level of efficiency.
Parkinson’s Disease limits fine motor skills in hands, fingers, and with hand-eye coordination. Fine motor skills are an important aspect to connecting fastenings such as buttons to button holes and beginning zippers. Other limitations include flexibility which is relevant when putting the second arm into a shirt or blouse, pulling a top over the head, and bending over to put legs through pants. The purpose of this study is to find solutions to these issues to create a small line of clothing that has been adapted to allow the subjects to get dressed quicker and easier than with non-adapted clothing. Data was collected to understand the needs of the target consumer in the design of the clothing and analyze the consumer’s behavior when purchasing clothing. Twenty-eight patients were invited for data collection. Qualitative data was analyzed through a transcription process. The results showed that 88% of participants find trying clothing on before purchasing is very important, 93% of participants are willing to spend more on functional clothing, and that the majority of participants find comfort and ease of dress the most important thing when purchasing clothing. This study is beneficial for discount retailers frequented by the subjects looking to add adaptive clothing to their catalog as it has potential to be a prosperous addition to their repertoire and would bring these companies popularity with both the general public and those that can benefit from the adapted clothing.
In America there is a difference in thinking between older and younger generations on the importance of domestic production and the motivations to purchase products made in America. The purpose of this research is to determine the extent to which generational divides on the importance of domestic production exists and to determine how retailers can best appeal to customers in regards to domestic production across the spectrum of generations in America. Past research indicates that younger generations value domestic production and are more inclined to purchase products that advertise it whereas older generations are less engaged and are not as likely to purchase a domestically made product. However, there is a gap in research in how retailers can best bridge this divide and find commonalities amongst generations in order to target the maximum number of customers possible. This research will be conducted through a survey instrument that is distributed equally amongst five age cohorts. Data will be collected to determine participants' attitudes on domestic production and what their biggest motivation is in choosing to purchase products made in America. The end goal of this research is to determine a way to bridge the gap between the differing viewpoints across generations on domestic production in the retail industry. The findings will be beneficial for retailers that are looking to target customers across generations by promoting fair trade practices that are important to younger generations without alienating older generations that are less concerned about the subject
Many fashion retailers market their styles for continuous consumption, and they primarily produce fast-fashions. Disadvantages of producing fast-fashions are their unsustainability to produce and their typically short lifetime. Fast-fashions, for their inexpensive nature and generally lower quality, typically have an elevated purchase frequency which may increase their disposability and overall waste. Sustainability in the fashion industry is a necessary issue to study, but it seems that a limited number of studies have been done to directly measure consumers, aged 18 – 30, and their knowledge on sustainable methods. The purpose of this study was (a) to understand what qualities are most important to consumers when they want to purchase new garments, and (b) to discover how educated consumers are on the sustainable methods of fashion retailers. A survey was administered via Facebook, E-mail, and Text Message to obtain a sample through the accidental sampling method. The researcher found that most of these college-aged participants were not sure how often they see advertisements for sustainable businesses. Additionally, most participants agree that mass producing clothing has negative environmental effects but almost none of them research manufacturers or retailers prior to buying from them. From this study, consumers, retailers and anyone working in the fashion industry can work to educate their peers on sustainability and they can work to practice more sustainable consumption or secondhand consumption themselves. Fashion retailers should use these results as a motivating factor going forward, and with this information they can work towards a more environmentally friendly business model.
The United States Marine Corps has a total of three
uniforms issued to them upon the successful completion of basic training. The
uniform that will be analyzed through this research is the uniform worn during
deployment. More specifically the T-shirt worn under the protective gear that
is issued to Marines while on a mission. The same T-shirt will melt to skin if
exposed to fire. Marines need to carry everything they deem necessary which causes
them heavy burden because of gear weight. This burden coupled with the hot
climates, these Marines are seeking for a T-shirt that offers both wicking
ability and flame retardant properties. The objective of this study is to find a fabric that offers better wicking and
flame retardant property necessary for deployed Marines to function properly in
hot climate while carrying heavy gear. Multiple knit fabrics will be tested for their wicking ability and flame
retardant properties. The
results should find a fabric with an acceptable balance of wicking and flame
resistant in order to improve both comfort and safety for Marines deployed. To creates a fabric that
improves the overall comfort and safety of Marines on deployment by improving
wicking and flame-retardant properties in T-shirts they worn.
Athleisure apparel consists of clothing
designed as workout apparel that is often worn in a different setting. The
demand for athleisure apparel has significantly increased and is a continually growing
industry. Most athleisure apparel items contain some percentage of elastomeric
fiber (e.g., spandex). The objectives of this study are to (1) identify varying factors among samples with varying spandex blend (e.g.,
95% cotton and 5% spandex, 93% cotton and 7% spandex, 97% Polyester and 3%
spandex), (2) assess the best amount of spandex for athleisure apparel, and (3) determine the amount of spandex needed to affect a fabric’s elastic recovery. Quantitative analysis will be
used to determine the outcome of elastic recovery. This analysis includes
stretching each three-inch swatch of fabric 20 times over a five-inch space. It is expected that the fabric swatch with higher percentage
of spandex will have better elastic recovery than the fabric swatch with lower
spandex percentage. This study will determine which spandex blend provides better
elastic recovery. This study will also help to better understand the properties of
spandex. Finally, this study will also determine the ability of a small percentage of
spandex to change the properties of other fabrics when blended.
It is known that every textile product purchased by a consumer has an
impact on the environment. However, the
average consumer likely does not realize how much impact one product has on the
environment compared to another. Any textile
product, which is made, used or disposed of in a way that is less harmful to
the environment could be considered beneficial.
The textile product is comprised of both natural (e.g., cotton, wool,
silk, flax, and hemp) and manufactured fibers (e.g., polyester, nylon, acrylic,
Lyocell, viscose). The objectives of this study are to (1) Identify fibers that are least harmful to the environment, (2) Understand which
fibers are most harmful to the environment, (3) Determine what the textile industry can do to lower carbon emissions from textile production. A mixed method of research will be
used. Qualitative and quantitative
research will require the use of secondary resources. It is expected that the production of synthetic fibers will have more of a harmful
impact on the environment than natural fibers. This study will determine which fibers
ultimately have the least and the most detrimental impact on the environment.
Knowing the most and the least environmental friendly fibers facilitates
eco-conscious behavior for both consumers and producers.
Lignocellulosic biomass is an abundant renewable resource available for the production of biofuels and other value-added products including polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) bioplastics. Due to the recalcitrant nature of lignin, biomass requires costly pretreatment to free polysaccharides for the enzymatic hydrolysis to fermentable sugars. As a result of their immense environmental adaptability and biochemical versatility, bacteria are being studied for their ability to directly convert lignin into bioplastics. Bacterial consortia derived from soil samples from the Harvard Forest were maintained on media containing lignin as a sole carbon source under anaerobic conditions. The community was screened for PHA production, and bacteria capable of bioplastics production were isolated and identified. Further experiments were conducted to synthesize PHAs directly from lignin or lignin derivatives as the sole carbon source. Such research may allow for future applications of lignin-based biomass processing with the additional advantage of co-product production.
The human microbiome is a complex and diverse mixture of microorganisms that symbiotically inhabit its human hosts. As infants, the colonization of the gut microbiome plays an important role in infant immunity and health. Bifidobacterium longum subsp. infantis is demonstrated to be one of the earliest commensal colonizers of the human infant microbiome and while the health benefits of a bifidobacteria-rich microbiome have become increasingly clear, genetic manipulation of bifidobacteria has not seen much success. The development of improved genetic tools to manipulate B. infantis—and Bifidobacteria in general—is indispensable. In the past, efforts have been hindered by the presence of a complex, thick cell wall and a restriction-modification system that degrades unmethylated, exogenous DNA. Our research has led to the development of various different conditions that bypass these hindrances and allow for better transformation efficiencies. Through the use of methylated shuttle vectors constructed from the insertion of an artificial operon containing B. infantis methyltransferases into E. coli, we obtained greater transformation efficiencies. To further increase these efficiencies, we improved electroporation protocols by varying growth conditions, methods of competent cell preparation, and electroporation settings. Once the optimal transformation protocol is identified, it is our goal to perform ssDNA λ-red recombineering to introduce a mutation into B. infantis. With this research, we will advance the techniques used in microbiome research regarding bifidobacteria genomics and provide a more efficient method of genetically manipulating Bifidobacterium longum subsp. infantis.
In today’s society there is a huge push for organic and natural products. The harmful chemicals and dyes in common household cleaners have created a growing market for natural alternatives to cleaners with bleach or alcohol bases. Natural cleaners are used because they are believed to be safer around children, pets and are not as harmful to humans. However, are these natural cleaners able to kill and destroy common bacteria that grows on household objects with the same effectiveness as the alcohol based alternatives? To determine if these natural cleaners have the same effectiveness as an alcohol based solvent, two cleaners will be chosen- one with a natural cleaning base and one with an alcohol cleaning base. Both will be used to sanitize a cell phone at three different dilutions (100%, 50% and 25%) over a six week course. After the cleaner has been applied and allowed to dry, the cell phone will be swabbed and cultured on a Tryptic Soy Agar plate which is a rich growth medium and on a Eosin Methylene Blue plate which is a selective medium for coliforms. Both plates will be incubated for 36 hours at 37 degrees Celsius. Post inoculation period, the cultures grown will be compared by counting the number of colonies grown between the two cleaners at the different dilutions. These results will then be calculated into the percentage of bacteria that is still able to grow after the cleaners have been used determining the effectiveness of alcohol vs green cleaners.
Anal or rectal fissures are tears or cracks in tissues of the anus, which may be caused by a variety of factors. While some tears are minor, others can be deep, causing further complications through increased probability of microbial involvement. Although current treatments are available for fissures, many prove difficult to treat due to awkward locations and can turn chronic. Recent research confirms that beta-glucans, which are carbohydrates found in cell walls of bacteria and fungi have wound-healing properties, accomplished through the activation of macrophage cells and boosting the overall immune response. We seek to determine whether creating suppositories containing a beta-glucan formulation could accelerate the healing process for anal fissures. We hypothesize that a B-glucan based treatment would be safe and would significantly improve the healing process in chronic anal fissures. Human dermal fibroblast, adult cells were treated with varying concentrations of beta-glucan to establish cytotoxic levels through LDH Assay. To assess the ability of beta-glucan to accelerate wound healing in a tissue culture system, we performed scratch assays and observed the rate of wound healing over time through cell proliferation and migration to the wound site microscopically. The data revealed a significant increase in cellular proliferation, survival time and accelerated wound healing in beta-glucan cells compared to controls. Our data therefore suggests that a beta-glucan formulation is an effective choice for creating anal suppositories to improve healing time and that the formulation might be a candidate to treat chronic wounds in general.
Sclerotinia homoeocarpa is a fungal plant pathogen which causes dollar spot, a common and costly disease of cool-season turf grasses. This fungus has developed resistance to multiple classes of fungicidal compounds. It has been discovered through RNA-seq and a genetic transformation that a class of enzymes, Cytochrome P450 monooxygenases, or Cyp450s, are essential in the ability of S. homoeocarpa to biotransform a wide range of fungicides. To detoxify these xenobiotic compounds, the Cyp450s are able to hydroxylate the substances, making them more water soluble and thus easier to export out of the cell. This function of Cyp450s makes them of industrial importance, with applications such as pollutant bioremediation. However, the biomodifications which are performed by Cyp450s to alter the compound may not always have neutralizing effects. The hydroxylation performed by the Cyp450s may make the secondary metabolite even more toxic than its parent compound. With increased toxicity, these secondary metabolites may serve as novel antimicrobial compounds which could not otherwise be synthesized by methods of modern chemistry. In this project, the novel secondary metabolites will be analyzed for their antibacterial capabilities against Escherichia coli and Bacillus licheniformis. Using the approach of biotransformation with mutants of S. homoeocarpa which overexpress a variety of Cyp450 proteins, multiple antimicrobial compounds will be analyzed for their effectiveness against bacteria before and after biotransformation with Cyp450 mutants. Harnessing the abilities of S. homoeocarpa Cyp450 proteins as a means of altering antimicrobial compounds holds great potential in the search for novel secondary metabolites relevant to the antimicrobial industry.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) is responsible for over 2 million deaths, worldwide, annually. Mtb, and closely related bacteria like Mycobacterium smegmatis, are known for their complex cell wall. One of the attributes that makes Mtb such a successful pathogen is this complex cell wall. Mtb is notorious for antibiotic resistance, making it more difficult to treat. Cell growth, in the presence of antibiotics, is common for diagnosing antibiotic resistance but current methods are time consuming and limited. This study looks at using DNA-labeling of the cell envelope as a method of evaluating cellular growth. Growing cells were exposed to cell wall probes that incorporate themselves into the cell envelope. Through bioorthogonal chemistry and a CuAAC reaction, a DNA label was added onto the probes. This study first looks at a loss of fluorescence as a means of successful labeling. The reaction described occurs twice; first with DNA, then with a fluorophore. The study then looks at evaluating DNA labeling, and therefore cell growth, through qPCR of the labeled bacterial cells. Initial results of the study revealed that there is indeed of loss of fluorescence when the cells are labeled with DNA and then a fluorophore, suggesting a successful labeling. It is hypothesized that the qPCR should reveal detection of the DNA label in small cell densities. This assessment of cell growth could be utilized as a new way of diagnosing antibiotic resistance in Mtb.
As a eukaryote, Saccharomyces cerevisiae is an important model for understanding gene regulation. Our lab’s research focuses primarily on phospholipid biosynthetic genes such as INO1 that codes for a key enzyme in the production of the membrane phospholipid precursor inositol. In exponential phase under activating conditions, the INO1 activators Ino2p and Ino4p are present within the cell. However, in stationary phase both activators disappear. In order to determine if ubiquitin targeting to the proteasome is directly responsible for the degradation of Ino2p in stationary phase (as suggested by previous research), potential ubiquitylation sites in INO2 are mutated. We expect that when cells containing the mutant Ino2p are grown and analyzed by Western Blot, these mutations may stabilize Ino2p in stationary phase. This would further support that INO1 growth phase regulation in stationary phase is controlled by protein degradation.
With the emergence of more multidrug resistant microorganisms, increase in immunocompromised populations, and rise of cross-border travel, the need for new therapeutic methods is more crucial for combating against disease spread than ever before. The past few decades has prioritized the identification of antimicrobials in fungal species, which has led to the discovery of most obvious drug targets. However, little attention has been drawn to the role medical plants, which constantly fight against ever-evolving microbial pathogens, and could play in the prevention of multidrug resistant microorganisms. Through a series of screening assays such as resazurin-based growth measurement, disk diffusion zone of inhibition, and transwell live plant-pathogen interaction assay, the viability of Mycobacterium smegmatis, a fast-growing non-pathogenic bacteria with similar machinery to Mycobacterium tuberculosis, was determined in the presence of various plant extracts and plant cell cultures from the Plant Cell Culture Library. These plants will be elicited to induce an immune response in two ways: by methyl jasmonate, a general stress hormone, and by direct contact with the bacteria. We have tested plant cell cultures with known antimicrobial activity, and found Eucalyptus calycogona, Buddleja colvilei, and Ficus craterostoma plant extracts with significant anti-mycobacterial activities. We are currently testing if, after elicitation by the bacteria, there is a greater decrease in cell vitality in comparison to when the same plant is elicited by methyl jasmonate. Such a result would indicate that the plant developed a bacterial-specific inhibition strategy. This strategy could later be further analyzed to shed more light on the pivotal roles plants could play within the medical community.
My research explores the relationship between Jordanian guardianship of the Jerusalem Holy Places and Jordan’s relations with Israel and the Palestinians since 1987. The project uses content and statistical analysis to examine Hashemite guardianship of Muslim and Christian Holy Sites in Jerusalem in the context of the First and Second Intifadas, as well as the peace process. Using diplomatic documents, beginning with the 1988 Jordanian announcement of disengagement from the West Bank, and news articles from regional sources during the 2012-2016 period, I address the questions of whether Jordanian guardianship of the Jerusalem Holy Places affects the role of Jerusalem in the Arab-Israeli conflict and whether Hashemite guardianship affects Jordanian relations with Israel and the Palestinians. I conclude that while Jordanian guardianship does not seem to have an effect on the role of Jerusalem and the Holy Places in the larger conflict, it does affect Jordanian relations with Israel and the Palestinians. Guardianship of the Holy Places provides Jordan a presence in Jerusalem and increases its regional importance, as evidenced by the inclusion of the Jerusalem Holy Places in the 1994 peace treaty between Jordan and Israel as well as the large amount of coverage of the issue by Jordanian news sources. This is essential as it means Jordan's role in the peace process must be considered when examining the future of negotiations around Jerusalem.
My thesis contrasts the legal condition of Palestinian and Syrian refugees in Jordan today. It analyzes the effect that the history of Palestinian refugees has had on the current Syrian refugee problem. Currently, the major explanation for why Jordan has certain policies toward Syrian refugees is that Jordan fears that terrorist groups might destabilize the country. Jordanians cite this as the reason for stopping the influx of Syrian refugees that have come over the border since the Syrian civil war began. I argue that there is a profound fear on the part of the Jordanian government that having a large number of non-Jordanians within the country could destabilize the Hashemite monarchy. I use the concept of identity as a way to discuss why Jordan is fearful of large non-Jordanian ethnic groups. My argument is based on the history of the Palestinian refugee crisis and the consequent policies that were put into place. I use historical sources as well as regional news sources in order to piece together the history that affects the refugee policies put into place today.
As part of a joint project combining music and theatre, my capstone is comprised of originally composed music that will appear in the production of Almost, Maine by playwright John Cariani. Just over twenty pieces are being used to capture the emotion and mood of multiple intertwining stories revolving around the struggles with love. Moods being expressed through the music for these stories vary from loneliness and isolation to warmth and comfort. The music is all instrumental and piano centered with cello, guitar, and other instruments appearing in many of the pieces. The creation process starts with the writing which takes the most time. All the details that go into a piece, from the key to the melody need to fit a specific mood when put together and figuring out what works takes time. As part of the writing process, notated ideas are written into the software program Finale Notepad. In one-on-one or group production meetings with the director, the files are reviewed, critiqued, accepted, or rejected. After gaining approval by the director and being polished, the files from the program will be exported into Garage Band where the notation will be assigned to the previously decided instruments. Any final adjustments will be made involving volume balance and effects. Finally, the music will be saved as mp3 audio files for the sound designer to use during the shows which begin March 2nd and end on the 5th.
Hip-Hop is the fastest growing genre of music in today’s society. It has been for nearly 30 years. Starting from a small neighborhood in the Bronx with DJ Kool Herc experimenting with a turn table, to the Notorious BIG, all the way to performers like Eminem, Tory Lanez, Migos, hip-hop has revolutionized the music industry. Using numerous outside sources, listening to music from various decades, and cultural geography studies, this paper examines how exactly hip-hop began and reached the heights it has today. Ever since the beginning, hip-hop has been about Tupac's message: “No matter how hard it gets, stick your chest out, keep your head up and handle it”, telling the struggle of the reality these talented poets and artists live. In the 1970’s, hip-hop overcame poverty and struggle. At a time when the Civil Rights Movement had come to an end, African Americans were still facing struggles with success and equality. As a result, these people were opposed to the popular disco genre. Songs like “Good Times” by Chic were disliked throughout these communities. They did not believe it represented the life they were actually living. Hip-hop has grown to gain a strong hold of influence on today’s society. Glorified lyrics of violence, drugs and gang-life are being absorbed by today's youth, giving them an altered perception and possibly a negative influence.
In the fields of Allied Health, there exist related services that a client or patient can receive to help that person complete their health goals, whether these goals are aimed toward mental or physical health. Music Therapy is one of these services. Unfortunately, not enough people are aware of Music Therapy or are not entirely sure what it entails, since the field is relatively new and up-and-coming. In my research, I investigated how Music Therapy has impacted those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), a neurodevelopmental disorder that impairs a person’s social skills and communication skills. I conducted literary research on ASD, Music Therapy, and the combination of the two, as well as the use of Music Therapy in Special Education classrooms. I also interviewed 3 professionals to research the personal experiences of experts in Music Therapy and/or Special Education. The end result is that I have created a source of reference to educate others and advocate for the field of Music Therapy, using literary and personal evidence. On a grander scale, I have created a unique project that is accessible to those who may no nothing about Music Therapy or ASD.
Decision making is a critical part of our daily lives. Cortical function during decision processing is heavily influenced by ascending monoamines, including norepinephrine (NE). The locus coeruleus (LC) provides the vast majority of NE to the cortex. We tested systemic administration of two NE targeted compounds, prazosin and propranolol, to identify potential impact of noradrenergic signaling in decision performance in a two-alternative forced-choice (2AFC) task. Prazosin and propranolol are widely used to treat hypertension. Female Long-Evan rats were trained on a 2AFC task in which cue lights (red/green) illuminated on every trial to indicate which of the two laterally-located levers would be rewarded. We found that prazosin (alpha-1 NE antagonist) slowed decision time as reflected in increased reaction speeds and omissions (measures of distractibility). However, the total number of trials (participation), premature presses (impulsivity), or accuracy were not affected by prazosin. Disrupting beta NE signalling with the antagonist S-propranolol increased decision time and reduced discriminability of target stimuli. Despite reducing impulsivity with propranolol we saw increases in reaction times as well as reductions in measures of accuracy and overall participation. During cognitive testing we also recorded neural activity from the secondary motor cortex (M2) which receives strong NE input from LC and is implicated in motor planning and initiation, action selection, timing, and switching. Analysis of pharmacological impact on neural signaling in the M2 during decision making is ongoing. These results have implications for understanding the cognitive impact of widely used drugs and highlight the intricacies of noradrenergic function during optimal decision processing that require further investigation.
This systematic literature review of health benefits of breastfeeding for infants serves to educate mothers about any potential developmental differences between breast-fed and formula-fed infants. Many factors go into a mother’s decision regarding feeding methods, but there may be gaps in knowledge that are important and significant between feeding methods. Breastfeeding vs. formula feeding has become a controversial social issue in our society. Other literature reviews as well as qualitative and quantitative studies were reviewed in order to clarify which method is better, specifically in terms of infant development and why. Analysis and review of data from these studies may clarify the answer to this question and may support the hypothesis that breastfeeding is more beneficial developmentally for infants than formula feeding. From this review, it could be concluded that the differences in development between breastfed and formula-fed infants are not significant, but there appear to be more benefits and advancements in infants who were breastfed, even for short periods. In yielding these results, it is possible that more mothers will choose breastfeeding and more healthcare providers, particularly nurses, will better educate about the differences and benefits of both methods. This may lead to healthier infant development in the future.
12.8% of Hispanics in the United States carry a diagnosis of diabetes (ADA, 2016). Diabetes is affecting Hispanic men and women disproportionately than other races. Hispanic men and women can approach disease management and health behaviors differently based on ethnic and cultural practices. The purpose of this study was to conduct a systematic review of the literature to explore the differences in disease management and health behaviors between Hispanic male and female adults diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. CINAHL was systematically searched using keywords: Hispanics, diabetes, men, women. Articles published between January 2008 and May 2016 were included in this review. Hispanic men and women face barriers to optimal disease management of Type 2 Diabetes. Men and women approach disease management differently based on gender cultural norms and approaches to health. Themes include family roles and responsibilities, social support, difficulty managing diabetes, and perceptions about diabetes. Findings from this study will inform development of culturally-tailored health care approaches responsive to the different needs of Hispanic men and women with Type 2 Diabetes. Culturally-tailored health care approaches can aid in reducing disease risk among this population. Future study should include development of culturally-tailored education interventions with Hispanic men and women using family approaches to disease management and improving health behaviors.
Mental health illnesses can manifest in various ways. According to the CDC (2016), millions are affected. The overwhelming number of people diagnosed with psychological disorders has sparked an increase in studies aiming to treat these conditions. Alternative therapies have gained support as evidence of their benefits gathers. Among these holistic methods, Animal Assisted Therapy and Animal Assisted Interventions focus on the ethical use of animals to promote health and wellness among diverse patient populations, especially benefiting those afflicted with mental health struggles. The aim of this systematic review of the literature was to explore the value of alternative therapies using animals as the therapeutic intervention among patients with mental health illnesses across varying settings. Health care workers and the general public can utilize findings from this study to determine how these therapies can benefit patients across the continuum of care. CINAHL was systematically searched using keywords: mental health, psychiatric care, pet therapy, animal-assisted therapy, and animal-assisted intervention. Articles published from 2005-2016 were included in this review addressing care of patients with mental health diagnoses and use of animals in their care planning. Results include the following themes: building a sense of purpose, coping, improved mood, and reduction of medication use. Findings highlight that use of animals in therapeutically caring for patients with mental health illnesses can enhance rehabilitation and overall well being. Study findings will inform care planning with this patient population.
This paper will focus on the effects of maternal substance use on gestational development and neonates. The research for this paper will be gathered through a systematic review of the literature, which will include both quantitative and qualitative peer-reviewed articles published within the last five years. The articles will be gathered using databases including CINAHL and EBSCO. The research will include many substances that can have an effect on gestational development including alcohol, cannabis, amphetamines and opioids. The articles will not be limited to a specific age range or ethnic or racial background, but rather all of the articles will include women who used substances at any point during their pregnancies. The demographics of the women and their socioeconomic status will be taken into consideration when analyzing the outcomes of the fetuses. For the purposes of this article, there will be a zero tolerance of substance use allowed during pregnancy and any use above zero would be considered abuse. The research will look into the roles of the women, their existing families and the physicians. The research will investigate many substances that can have an effect on gestational development including alcohol, cannabis, amphetamines and opioids. The articles will not be limited to women of a specific age range, ethnic or racial background, but rather all articles will include women who used substances at any point during their pregnancies. The goal of this study is to spread awareness on the effects of substance use during pregnancy and to help not only health care providers, but also women become more educated in the area and therefore make more knowledgeable choices.
The various controversies surrounding vaccines are a pertinent topic in our society today and have increased fear related to immunization. Despite advances in medicine and the development of life-saving vaccines, diseases that were thought to be long gone have crept back into our society and become a public health concern once again. As the anti-vaccination movement gains momentum and parents choose not to vaccinate their children, there are increasing numbers of reported cases of once-eradicated diseases like Pertussis and Measles. A systematic literature review was done to explore immunizations and the evolution of their impact on society as well as to identify vaccine-related fears and their validity. Using Nola Pender’s Health Promotion Model as a theoretical framework, the goal of this review was to discuss implications for future nursing practice and to identify possible interventions for decreasing immunization fears.
Research that supports alopecia as being the most feared side effect of chemotherapy exists in the literature. Most of the current research has been conducted collectively on male and female cancer patients experiencing alopecia. Although research supports distress amongst males experiencing alopecia, female patients have been more vulnerable to its adverse effects; specifically in respect to body image. While research has shifted its focus on alopecia and body image solely in females, there is little to no research focusing directly on the effects of alopecia and body image in female breast cancer patients. With an understanding of the negative body image women experience as a result of alopecia, research regarding the breast cancer population in women is needed. The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of chemotherapy induced alopecia on body image among female breast cancer patients. The researcher hypothesizes that women with breast cancer will report negative reactions or responses to chemotherapy-induced alopecia related to body image. A quantitative approach was utilized to assess the impact of chemotherapy-induced alopecia in 16 breast cancer patients. Participants were selected through a convenience sample and were asked to complete a demographic questionnaire, and a modified Body Image Scale via Survey Monkey that consisted of 8 questions on a Likert scale ranging from ‘not at all’ to ‘very much.’ Institutional Review Board approval was obtained through the university. Sixteen women aged 30-69 participated in the study. Participants reported being ‘quite a bit’ or ‘very much’ self conscious, less physically attractive, and dissatisfied with their appearance as a result of hair loss (56.5%, 50%, 50% respectively). Contrary to anticipated findings, the majority of women reported feeling ‘not at all’ or ‘a little’ impact on femininity, ability to look at themselves naked, sexual attractiveness, avoiding social interactions, and feeling less whole (56.25%, 62.5%, 62.5%, 81.25%, and 68.75% respectively). Participants impacted by chemotherapy-induced alopecia as stated above. Further research is needed to better understand the impact of alopecia in women with breast cancer. The data in this current study are not generalizable, but may encourage the creation of new tools and interventions in women with chemotherapy-induced alopecia in order to improve their body image during and after treatment.
Multiple literature sources seek to explain the many reasons why patients suffering from heart failure are unable to maintain self-care techniques related to their diagnosis after they are discharged from the hospital. Because many patients leave the hospital with proper teaching and are still unable to follow the self-care required of them to maintain their health following their heart failure diagnosis, it comes into question whether or not it is cognitive impairment playing a role in poor self-care. The purpose of this study is to describe levels of cognitive impairment; compare self-care maintenance, management, and confidence scores in heart failure patients (< 73 vs 73 years of age) and determine the correlation between self-care and cognitive status. A sample of 116 primarily male (58.6%) HF patients, with intact cognition (66%), and some level of cognitive impairment as demonstrated by the mean clock draw score of 7.8 were interviewed at an urban community hospital. Data on cognition (Clock Draw test, 0-10), Self-Care (Self-care of Heart Failure Index, scores >70 adequate), and demographics were collected by interview and chart review. Close to one-third (32.8%) of the participants presented with some form of cognitive impairment. Although not statistically significant, self-care maintenance scores were lower in those under the age of 73 and self-care confidence and self-care management scores were higher in those under the age of 73. Self-care maintenance (r = .124), management (r = .035) and confidence (r = .128) and cognition had non-significant small positive relationships.
Limited health literacy, a problem that affects up to half of American adults, is a public health problem requiring the attention of all health care providers, including nurses. Limited health literacy impacts an individual's ability to navigate the healthcare system and understand and apply medical information, resulting in less favorable health outcomes (Weiss, 2003). Nursing students need to be educated on this topic so that they are able to provide effective teaching in ways that their patient will understand. The purpose of this study is to assess knowledge of health literacy and experiences with health literacy during the education of undergraduate nursing students at UMass Dartmouth with the goal of improving the College of Nursing curriculum. The data was collected using a the Health Literacy Knowledge and Experience Survey (HL-KES), distributed online using SurveyGizmo to nursing students through email and social media posts. Students displayed a general knowledge and understanding of health literacy, but reported only “sometimes” participating in health literacy-related activities. Nursing course level, healthcare-related work, and frequency of engagement in health literacy-related activities and health literacy knowledge levels had no statistically significant relationship. Undergraduate nursing students at UMass Dartmouth are aware of health literacy, but they do not actively address the problems associated with limited health literacy in their clinical practice. It is recommended that improvements to the curriculum be made to emphasize this public health problem and train these future nurses to care for and educate patients of all health literacy levels before they enter practice.
The topic of family witnessed resuscitation (FWR) has been a subject of debate for many years among health care professionals in the literature. Requests from patients’ families to be present during resuscitation are increasing, but the topic remains controversial among care providers. The purpose of this study is to identify the FWR attitudes of American nurses in two community-based hospitals. The study explored differences in attitudes between nurses who have and have not experienced FWR. This study adds to what is known about nurse attitudes on FWR. A cross-sectional, multisite, descriptive design was used to survey a convenience sample of critical care nurses (n=40). The Attitudes toward FWR Questionnaire, a valid and reliable instrument, was used to collect data. The questionnaire is divided into three subscales: (a) Decision Making, (b) Process, and (c) Outcomes and consists of 12 items on aspects of FWR. The data was analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS) version 22. There were differences in agreement on FWR between the two nursing groups within the questionnaire subscales but these were not statistically significant. Seventy-five percent (n=30) of the nurses agreed that family members should be present during FWR so they can be involved in decision-making. Eighty-three percent (n=33) agreed that if the family is present that they are more likely to accept treatment decisions or the decision to withdraw treatment. These findings can be used to improve FWR nursing actions at the bedside and to promote acceptance of FWR among all health care professionals.
The purpose of this study was to determine the knowledge and attitudes of college students towards human papillomavirus (HPV) and the HPV vaccine and to assess the effectiveness of an HPV educational session on knowledge and attitudes. Despite the high prevalence of HPV in the United States, in 2013 only 57.3% of girls and 34.6% of boys had started the vaccine (CDC, 2014b). To date, much of the research targets young children (11-12 years) and their parents, since this is the recommended age for vaccination. However, the vaccine is available for college-aged students but there is limited research on how to reach this population. Participants completed a demographics survey and modified CHIAS tool as a pretest. Participants then took part in a twenty-minute educational session about HPV and the HPV vaccine. At the end of the educational intervention, the modified CHIAS post-test was given. Participants had a high level of knowledge regarding HPV and the HPV vaccine before the session began. A Bonferroni post-hoc analysis was performed on the data. Two items from the CHIAS were significant which showed increased knowledge of the participants. Almost all items moved in the positive direction. Improved knowledge in participants suggests the educational session was effective in improving HPV knowledge in college students. However, there was not a significant improvement in attitudes, which may indicate a need for a different teaching approach during the educational session.
Many students attending a university in Southeastern Massachusetts are from the local community, where the Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) prevalence is 4.85% higher than the state average. The primary cause of COPD is tobacco inhalation. The purpose of this study was to describe tobacco usage by students attending a university in Southeastern MA and identify gaps in tobacco inhalation risk knowledge. An exploratory-descriptive study design was used to address the study aims. A sample of 209 university students between the ages of 18 and 24 completed an 84-question electronic survey that assessed their knowledge, beliefs, and behaviors regarding tobacco inhalation. The Psychological Risk Profile Questionnaire and a Primary Investigator developed Hookah Questionnaire were utilized to collect data, which was then entered into SPSS where descriptive and correlational statistics were computed. 140 female and 69 male participants completed the survey. 12.5% of students identified as current daily tobacco users, which was an increase compared to a previous campus survey conducted in 2015. Knowledge disparities were apparent when comparing different tobacco products, with participants believing all tobacco products were equally harmful. Mean scores for perceived illness risk were low. Cigarettes, cigars, and cigarillos scored high on social acceptance. Hookah was found to be the least socially acceptable, although participants believed 47% of their peers had tried it. There were no significant correlations between risk knowledge and tobacco usage. There are still significant knowledge gaps regarding tobacco use in the college population. Targeted education is indicated in this population.
Heart Failure (HF) is a chronic and progressive condition, which continues to be an increasing problem associated with morbidity and mortality. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is an underrecognized predominant complication among individuals with HF. The precise origin of MCI in HF is still unknown, and currently there is no treatment. More research is needed to understand the relationship between HF and MCI and identify any predictors. The purpose of this study is to explore the blood pressure management pharmaceutical profile of HF patients who are admitted to an acute facility with and without MCI. This is an exploratory descriptive study with a convenience sample of eight admitted HF patients (6 HF with MCI/ 2 HF without MCI). The data was collected using a valid and reliable measurement of cognitive status. The Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) tool was utilized to identify cognitive status in participants. The Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI) was collected as descriptive data in addition to the patient's medication profile and demographics. Eight participants with a mean age of 69.25 years and 62.5% male completed the study. An independent t-test was performed to compare the admission systolic blood pressures (aSBP) of HF patients with and without MCI. There was no significant difference in aSBP for HF with MCI (M=129.2±21.8) when compared to those without MCI (M=164.5±5.0; t (6) =2.155, p=.08). Additionally, an independent t-test was performed to compare the number of blood pressure medications among the two groups. Those with MCI had a mean of 2.67±.8 compared to a mean of 4.5±.7 for those without MCI. There was no significant difference identified (t (6) =2.81, p=.06). Additional research is needed to understand the relationship between HF and MCI and if and how blood pressure management has an effect on cognition. These findings will help us to prescribe a more therapeutic treatment regimen to ultimately reduce the high rate of mortality and morbidity in HF patients.
The concept of health literacy is used in health science literature and discussions as a variable that relates to health outcomes (Speros, 2005). Although most nursing curricula include information on patient teaching process, many do not specifically address health literacy. Work by Owens & Walden (2007) reaffirm that students should be taught how to identify patients with low literacy beginning in introductory nursing courses as part of a basic nursing assessment. The purpose of this study was to determine where and in what ways health literacy content is integrated into and throughout a Baccalaureate Nursing Education Curriculum. This study examined how faculty define health literacy and what strategies were utilized by faculty to integrate health literacy in nursing courses. A descriptive qualitative design was utilized. A convenience sample of eight nursing faculty at a university in the northeast United States were interviewed. Faculty were asked seven open ended health literacy questions and their syllabi were also evaluated for content related to health literacy. The analysis of the data revealed two main themes: the varied definitions of health literacy and the concept of a hidden curriculum. All faculty believed they were integrating the concept of health literacy in their classes. However it was not clearly evident in their exemplars and was only evident in two of the syllabi reviewed. The results of this study affirm that health literacy content is inconsistently and likely inadequately addressed within a nursing curriculum.
Despite the dramatic increase in intravenous drug use and abuse in recent years, there has been little research of the knowledge of current nursing students on the subject. Cardiac effects are one of the most prominent and chronic categories of health issues of intravenous drug users and is therefore important to focus on in this population (WHO, 2015). It is important for new graduates to be both knowledgeable and comfortable with caring for this growing population. The purpose of this study is to determine the knowledge of the cardiac effects of intravenous drug use, as well as the attitudes held towards the users, in a group of junior nursing students. The study will determine the effectiveness a brief educational session on knowledge and attitudes. A junior level nursing class was given a test both prior to and after a brief educational session. The pre and post-test was created based off two valid and reliable instruments. The educational session consisted of a 20-minute information session on commonly abused drugs, the effects of the drugs, and the stigma associated with users. There was a significant increase in both knowledge of the cardiac effects ofintravenous drug abuse (IVDA) and improved attitudes towards this population in nursing students, after a brief educational session. There were no significant gender differences in knowledge and attitudes. Attitudes were significantly better in those who had previous experience with IV drug abusers than those without, however attitudes were not significantly higher among those with close friends or family with IV drug abusers than those without. Presence of a significant change in both knowledge and attitudes supports the efficacy of the educational session on the nursing students. The study adds evidence of the importance of including information about this population and their management into tradition four year nursing programs.
There is an abundance of research on heart disease in adult populations. Few studies discuss heart disease risk in college-aged adults. Behaviors and lifestyle factors that start in early childhood and throughout life affect heart health in the future. Age, ethnicity, gender, obesity, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, stress, diabetes, and smoking greatly affect heart health starting in youth. Atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease begins in childhood. By teenage years, plaques that are already formed will stay with us for life (American Heart Association, Coronary Artery Disease, 2015). Education and prevention of heart disease during youth may decrease prevalence of atherosclerosis, heart disease, and mortality in older adulthood. The purpose of this project is to determine heart disease risk factors of young adult college students. It will determine if students are aware of their actual or potential heart disease risk and compare risk scores by various factors and level of awareness. The goal of this project is to help students realize heart disease begins in youth, educate ways to prevent heart disease, and provide resources for heart disease education and prevention. Participants were recruited at the campus library. The study was explained and informed consent was obtained. Blood pressure and weight were measured by the key investigator. Participants completed a demographic sheet created by the key investigator. Participants were asked to complete the My Life Check, Life’s Simple 7 Success Plan tool from the American Heart Association to receive a Heart Health score between 0 and 10. Higher scores indicated better heart health. After a Heart Health score is assigned, an individualized progress report was offered to students which described current cardiovascular health, formulated an action plan and set goals to promote heart healthy lifestyles. Eighteen females and seven males completed the study. Mostly junior nursing students (36% of the study) participated. Mean age of participants was 21.4 years old. Mean height was 5 feet 6.2 inches. Mean weight was 156.3 lbs. Mean systolic pressure was 119.4. Mean diastolic pressure was 73.7. Mean heart score was 7.4 out of 10 (range of 2.1 to 10). Six participants had incorrect assumptions about their heart disease risk. Three participants believed they were at risk for heart disease when they were not and three participants believed they were not at risk when they were. The rest of the students’ assumptions about their heart disease risk were correct, therefore 76% of assumptions were correct and 24% were incorrect. Only two participants out of 25 (8% of the study) accepted their score reports. Eighty percent of the participants were not at risk for heart disease at this point in time. The participants were offered an electronic copy of their score reports to view their current cardiovascular health, action plan, and goals after the study. Eight percent of students accepted their educational score reports. Of the twenty percent who did have a current risk for heart disease, none accepted their score reports. This could possibly indicate the lack of interest by young adult college students in preventing heart disease and therefore contribute to the large amount of older adults suffering from heart disease in the United States today.
Studies of acute-care nurses’ perceptions of the DNR process has revealed that nurses do not necessarily think that patients are truly informed when making this important decision. They also feel that they are not always included in this important process. Clear communication with patients and family members whose first language is not English presents an additional challenge. Non English-speaking patients and their families need to engage in effective, clear conversations about DNR decision-making with healthcare providers so that there is no ambiguity or misunderstandings. Little is known about how nurses initiate and manage DNR decision-making with non-English speaking patients. The purpose of this exploratory-descriptive study was to describe nurses’ knowledge, attitudes and practice experiences regarding DNR decision-making with non-English-speaking patients. A convenience sample of 14 registered nurses in recruited from the ICU at a community hospital completed a modified version of the Thibault-Prevost Nurses’ Perceptions Surrounding DNR Status in the Critical Care Setting Questionnaire. Nurses’ perceived the importance of their role in the DNR process with patients and families to be high. Nurses also reported a high level of knowledge regarding their hospital’s DNR policy, and national DNR standards. However, participant’s reported practice gaps regarding nursing involvement in, and appropriate documentation of, the DNR decision-making process with non-English speaking patients. DNR decision-making with non-English speaking patients is a complex process. Clear and concise communication and documentation of a patient-centered treatment plan regarding the patient’s DNR designation, including the decision maker's rationale, is recommended.
This project focuses on preventing adolescent suicide in the community setting. Adolescents, ages 13-17, typically are covert with their emotions. Students spend the greater majority of their time in a community setting, surrounded by teachers, peers, and school nurses. If these individuals were better equipped with recognizing signs of emotional, physical or mental distress in adolescents, this could potentially save a life. The challenge of this project is to identify whether or not specific schools have programs and clinical placement guidelines set in place for when a crisis arises. My sources for this project included both evidence based research, as well as interviews with the nurse leader of the Leominster School Districts. Based on my extensive research, it has come to my attention that the majority of schools do not have protocols for these at risk students. Many schools were reluctant to admit that adolescent suicide was a problem in their community. Other schools stated that they had protocols, but none of these schools were able to provide me with these protocols in writing. This research has confirmed my idea that standardized guidelines need to be put in place in all community settings to help identify those at risk for suicide, and what should be done when someone shows signs of harming themselves. By identifying, and teaching the risk factors for suicide, this could ultimately reduce adolescent suicide rates, and provide better means for helping this at risk group in society.
Servant leaders are those who did not seek to lead, but rose to leadership through service to others (Greenleaf, 2015). Servant leadership has been applied to different divisions of nursing before, but a literature review of CINAHL, PubMed, and the Cochrane Library between 2006 and 2016 found no studies connecting this leadership model to foot care nursing. Using servant-leadership theory as a lens of inquiry, the purpose of this study is to explore how foot care nurses in the community describe themselves in their roles as leaders. Three to five foot care nurses will be interviewed about their occupation and leadership experience. These video recorded interviews will be conducted face to face, are expected to be 60 to 120 minutes, and will be compiled into one 15 minute long cohesive video. The interviews will be semi-structured, using standard open ended questions. The research questions asked will be (a) walk me through a typical encounter with a patient, (b) what do you typically teach your patient? (c) what are your strengths as a foot care nurse? (d) what are your weaknesses as a foot care nurse? (e) can you describe your therapeutic communication with your patients? (f) talk to me about your patients, and (g) is there anything else you want to add about patient care? Follow-up questions will be used as needed to direct flow of conversation. The data will be analyzed for common themes and values of servant leadership.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) has a major impact on physical activity, emotional well-being, and functional impairment in community-dwelling older adults. The purpose of this project was to create a unique assistive device that aids and improves life function for community-dwelling older adults diagnosed with macular degeneration. An interdisciplinary team of one nurse and four mechanical engineers collaborated weekly with a community-dwelling older adult client diagnosed with macular degeneration. The nurse conducted a comprehensive nursing assessment, evaluated the functional needs of the older adult, and assessed any environmental risk factors or safety hazards in the home. The team developed an obstacle-detecting attachment to the client’s walker with an effective non-visual alert mechanism to prevent the client from tripping over unseen objects in her path. Once the prototype was made, the nurse assessed its safety, effectiveness, and reliability with the client, notifying the engineers of any changes that needed to be made. The final product was an assistive walker that can detect obstacles and provide vibrational feedback to alert the client of obstructions in their path. The device effectively improved the client’s mobility by allowing her to avoid obstacles she cannot perceive in her visual fields. This assistive safety device could be an effective intervention for patients with AMD that reduces the fear of falling, encourages going outside, and improves psychological wellbeing.
A growing appreciation of the need to conduct research to determine best practice and to implement these evidence-based practices has resulted in the demand for nurses with advanced degrees. There are many factors that may influence nurses to seek higher education. Involvement with a mentor is one factor that may influence nurses to seek higher education as a result of the additional support, direction, and an enriched learning experience associated with mentorship. The purpose of this study is to learn about the relationship between having a mentor (structured or unstructured) and the decision to pursue higher education in the nursing profession. Focus groups and surveys on mentorship history will be conducted with graduate nursing students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Data will then be synthesized and compared with findings from current literature. We suspect that engaging in mentoring activities will be associated with pursuing higher education. Regardless of its association with pursuing higher education, mentorship will provide nurses at any stage with direction and guidance. It should therefore be a cornerstone of nursing education.
Using opioids during pregnancy has detrimental effects on child development (Benke & Smith, 2013). One studied outcome is Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). NAS presents with low birth weight, pain, and tremors (Pritham, Paul & Hayes, 2012). Reducing fetal opioid exposure is critical. Buprenorphine is the current standard of care for treatment (Jones et al., 2010). Our goal is to explore the impact of buprenorphine on functional outcomes in pregnant women. We will explore the relationship between a functional risk metric and multiple outcomes (medication adherence, drug use, and treatment retention). Data for 102 women were coded on the following dimensions: 1) contact with family/sober partners (risk=no); 2) counseling (risk=no); 3) stable housing (risk=no); 4) criminal activity (risk=yes); 5) stable finances (risk=no); 6) stable employment (risk=no); and 7) lost custody of children (risk=yes). One point is given for each risk response, yielding a risk score of 0-7. Women with a score of ≥ three were identified as “high risk;” < three as “low risk.” Average urine buprenorphine levels were compared by risk group. Although urine buprenorphine level is somewhat unreliable, women in the “low risk” group had higher buprenorphine levels than the “high risk” group (t=2.52, p=0.014). Another 200 records are being coded. Once complete, risk score will be evaluated using medication adherence, drug use, and treatment retention. Preliminary data suggests that buprenorphine compliance results in improved treatment outcomes.
Nursing research to advance human health faces multiple chokepoints in funding, potentially blocking innovative, influential crosscutting research. This poster uses data from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) RePORTER database to answer three questions: (1) how does NIH funding compare between schools of nursing, medicine, and dentistry, (2) how does the level of funding by the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) to schools/colleges of nursing compare to funding from other NIH institutes, and (3) how does the dollars allocated by NINR relative to the increase in numbers of doctoral (PhD/DNP) programs affect the capacity to support colleges/schools of nursing. The NIH RePORTER Database indexes grant funding information starting in 1992 to present and was queried using "Grants by Location" and "Organization." Grant award data provides information on direct and indirect funds awarded, principal investigator name, institution, and grant title. Graphs presented in this poster use data exported from RePORTER and compiled using Microsoft Excel. Grants fuel the future and capacity of nurse scientists to publish cutting edge research to advance human health. Researching the current standing of grant allocation creates a platform for nurse researchers and educators to argue for necessary increases to the NINR budget. Graphs on NINR funding relative to the explosive growth in doctoral programs makes a case for the critical increases needed to support the capacity of schools of nursing to conduct research to improve health outcomes. By isolating chokepoints on nursing research, future work can be done to identify strategies to improve conditions.
Substance use disorder (SUD) during pregnancy in combination with short interpregnancy intervals can potentiate adverse maternal and neonatal outcomes; therefore there is a need for promotion of postpartum contraception use for this population. A community hospital in Western Massachusetts created a nurse-led, community-based intervention program called EMPOWER (Engaging Mothers for Positive Outcomes With Early Referrals) for women with SUD during pregnancy, designed to improve clinical care and community support for this population. This study examines the impact the support from this program has on contraception use in the early postpartum period. Using a retrospective quasi-experimental design, we will collect data from medical records on maternal postpartum contraceptive use for 19 women enrolled in EMPOWER, and 19 women with SUD who received care at the facility prior to the start of the program. Data will first be analyzed using descriptive statistics. Postpartum contraceptive use will be examined using a chi-square test comparing cases and controls. We expect that preliminary data will reflect that pregnant women with SUD who participate in EMPOWER will have higher postpartum contraceptive use compared to women who were not in the program. Based on our findings, we anticipate using the information to further refine aspects of the EMPOWER program to effectively promote contraception use.
Varying degrees of trauma, especially endured as a child, can affect the way adults perceive current stress (Wanklyn et. al., 2016). There is also a relationship between childhood trauma and PTSD (Kulkarni et. al., 2013). Understanding the relations between childhood trauma, PTSD, and perception of stress is the aim of this study. The findings may help to develop interventions that will improve resiliency in stress conditions. A total of 237 college students were surveyed online via self-report in a correlational study design. Four self-report measures were obtained: 1) a lab-developed measure of acute stress, 2) Perceived Stress Index (PSI), 3) Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE), and 4) the Clinician Assisted PTSD Index. To understand the impact of trauma and PTSD on perceived stress, student responses were divided into four groups: low trauma/low PTSD, low trauma/high PTSD, high trauma/low PTSD, and high trauma/high PTSD. Using ANOVA, results identified a significant relationship between group membership and perceived stress (F=27.5, p<0.001). Post-hoc analyses (Bonferroni) found that individuals with no PTSD symptoms in either trauma group had significantly lower perceived stress (high trauma group PSI mean=28.8, low trauma group PSI mean=26.3) than individuals with PTSD symptoms (high trauma group PSI mean=34.4, low trauma group PSI mean=30.3) regardless of trauma exposure. Results indicate that some individuals, even with a high trauma load, possess a resilient response to everyday stress. An increased understanding of the relationships between trauma, trauma response (PTSD), and stress perception may assist in the development of better interventions.
Ethiopian teff grain may represent a nutrient-dense option for use in gluten-free baked products that require little or no rising. Researchers have examined sensory characteristics of baked products made with teff flour and found varying results. The purpose of this study was to examine physical properties, sensory characteristics and acceptability of oatmeal raisin cookies baked with two variations of teff and rice flour composites (40/60 and 50/50). The study used height and spread measurements; sensory quality ratings; and acceptability ratings to analyze differences between the test variations and a control cookie baked with wheat flour. Mean height measurements were significantly different (p<0.05). The mean tenderness rating for the teff and rice flour composite containing a 40/60 blend was significantly lower than the control (p<0.05). However, all other mean sensory quality ratings, including the mean overall rating, for the test variations were not significantly different than the control. The study results indicated that teff and rice flour composites may successfully be substituted for wheat flour in an oatmeal raisin cookie recipe; thus, providing a nutritional alternative for those with celiac disease and gluten intolerance.
The objective of this study is to investigate the effect of using commercial sugar replacers to decrease sugar content of gluten-free peanut butter cookies. A control and two variations of a gluten-free peanut butter were assessed. The control contained 200g of sucrose. In both variations, 100% of the sugar was replaced with a baking blend that contained both sweetener and sucrose. The first variation contained Truvia® baking blend (48g sucrose). The second contained Splenda® baking blend (80g sucrose). The cookies were evaluated by a semi-trained panel (n=7) and rated (1-5) least to most acceptable for key measures of color, mouthfeel, tenderness and flavor quality. An overall product score was calculated for each variation. Height, diameter and weight were measured. ANOVA with Bonferroni post-hoc adjustments assessed differences between the variations. Nutrient content was determined using ESHA Food Processor software. The control had a lower overall score (4.7+/-0.2) than the Truvia® cookies (5.0+/-0.6, P=0.034). There were no differences between variations for the key measures. The control cookies (5.5+/-0.5mm) were shorter than the Truvia® (9.9+/-2.9mm, P<0.001) and Splenda® (8.4+/-1.3mm, P=0.017) cookies and had a lager diameter (84.6+/-2.5mm) than the Truvia® (64.6+/-2.6mm, P>0.001) and Splenda® (69.4+/-1.2mm, P<0.001) cookies. Each control cookie contained 190kcal (14g sugar). Each Truvia® cookie contained 150kcal (3g sugar). Each Splenda® cookie contained 170kcal (5g sugar). Splenda® cookies were the most preferred. No significant differences were found in the quality of independent characteristics between the three variations. Cookies made with Splenda® baking blend produced acceptable products in gluten-free peanut butter cookies.
Disordered eating (DE) among athletes is often overlooked or even encouraged, even though it can cause in an energy deficit, resulting in an increased risk of injury. Much research has been conducted on female athletes about this condition, but there is significantly less research on male athletes. The purpose of this study is to reinforce the relationship between DE and injury in both male and female athletes, and identify differences in DE and injury. Division III track and field and soccer athletes completed an injury history questionnaire and the Eating Disorders Examination Questionnaire. Males reported more injuries than females overall, but when contact injuries were excluded from analysis, females reported more injuries. Females had significantly higher levels of DE than males, with female track and field athletes exhibiting the highest levels of DE. There were no correlations found between the level of DE and number of injuries or number of overuse injuries (p > 0.05), and there were no significant differences found in the number of injuries reported between the cohorts (p > 0.05). Athletics programs should develop and implement strategies to prevent, identify, and treat athletes exhibiting DE, in order to improve their health and athletic performance.
Vitamin D deficiency and inadequacy is incredibly common in the United States, maintaining a rate of up to 32%. Vitamin D3 deficiency is suggested to be associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer (CRC), however we still lack an effective means of using vitamin D for CRC prevention. The present study explored using nano-based methods of delivery to improve vitamin D status. We nanoemulsified cholecalciferol (the supplementation form of vitamin D) and examined its in vitro bioaccessibility using a simulated gastrointestinal system. A further animal study was utilized to define its in vivo bioavailability and influences on vitamin D metabolically related genes in intestinal epithelial cells. The oil-in-water nanoemulsion created lipid particles with more negative charges (p < 0.05) and significantly smaller sizes (p < 0.05), and improved the incorporation of cholecalciferol into micelles in vitro by 3.94 folds from 0.45 ug/ml to 1.78 ug/ml (p < 0.05). The in vivo study showed significantly improved vitamin D status in blood, as indicated by the increase of 25-hydroxy vitamin D3 in serum from 16.48 ng/ml to 21.07 ng/mL (p <0.05). The supplementation of vitamin D in conventional emulsion increased the intestinal Cyp27a1 expression by 7.4 folds (p < 0.01), and the nanoemulsion further increased its expression up to 41.8 folds (p < 0.01). Results from both in vitro and in vivo studies suggest that the nano-based delivery systems can be utilized to improve vitamin D status, a critical nutrient whose deficiency is associated with a range of chronic diseases including CRC.
In 2015, 43.1 million people were in poverty and 15.8 million households were food insecure. Food insecurity is defined as the inability to consistently access nutritious food necessary for a healthy life. SNAP seeks to address food insecurity by providing financial support and assistance to families and individuals in need. However, there continues to be a debate among the public and policymakers on the effectiveness and necessity of SNAP. To better understand this disagreement, we conducted a literature review using numerous sources (e.g., peer reviewed journals, U.S. government websites, and national surveys). From this research, we have found that SNAP is currently the most effective program that addresses food insecurity in the U.S. It is important to reduce food insecurity because of the increased risks for chronic diseases overwhelming the health care system. SNAP facilitates financial progression and self-sufficiency for participants. Additionally, with the potential to improve health outcomes for the 45 million people who utilize SNAP, the continued support and innovation is vital. Innovations include utilizing technological applications, diversifying food distribution options, and addressing social biases toward SNAP through educational outreach. By allowing past studies and policies to inform the future, a research-led approach to policy-making will allow SNAP to improve the food security and health for millions of individuals in the 21st century.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) intends to provide economic assistance to food insecure households throughout the United States. The program, however, fails to meet the needs of participants due to inadequate monetary allotments and limited educational resources. SNAP benefits are based on the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP) market baskets, calculations of the minimum funds required for different age-gender groups to meet USDA nutritional guidelines through the purchase of specific foods. Allotments are designed to alleviate hunger and chronic diseases stemming from imbalanced nutrition. Recently, there have been proposals to switch the basis of SNAP benefits to the Low Cost Food Plan (LCFP), increasing monetary allotments for participants. Through the UMass Library databases and the USDA website, research was found regarding U.S. diet quality, the feasibility of eating on the TFP, and the possibility of switching to the LCFP. Research indicates that it is unrealistic for the average American to follow the TFP market baskets based on time limitations, geographic locations, and the dietary trends of Americans. In order to accomplish the goals of decreasing food insecurity and increasing nutrition, it is necessary but not sufficient to switch to the LCFP. Along with increased benefits, which would allow greater access to nutritious food, more robust SNAP Education programs are essential for significant behavior change among participants.
This experiment evaluated four different varieties of squash, Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbita maxima, Cucurbita moschata, and Cucurbita argyrosperma. Each squash was separated into two parts (skin and flesh). Samples were oven-dried and blended. Skin was extracted using 2.5 or 5.0 grams of ground sample in 50 or 100 mL, respectively, in 90°C water for one hour. The flesh was extracted using 5.0 grams of ground sample in 300 mL of 90°C water for one hour. The resulting flesh water-extracts were subjected to C18 column extraction to remove any interfering sugars and acids and to predominantly extract hydrophobic phenolic compounds with methanol, which was evaporated from the extracts using a rotary-evaporator. Following extraction skin and flesh samples were freeze-dried. The resulting freeze-dried samples were used to prepare solutions (0.01 grams in 10 mL water and 0.249 grams in 10 mL water, respectively). These extracts were analyzed and compared for their total phenolic contents and antioxidant activities. We observed that the flesh of C. pepo had the highest antioxidant activity (50.82%), and the flesh of C. maxima and C. moschata had the highest total phenolic content (41.9 and 42.9 mg/g respectively). Among the skin samples, C. argyrosperma had the highest antioxidant activity (65.89%) and the highest total phenolic content (11.24 mg/g). These findings indicate that the flesh has higher total phenolic content while the skin has higher antioxidant activity. From the knowledge gained through this research, the food industry should consider using squash skin byproduct to create food products with higher antioxidant activity.
Trans-resveratrol, a wine phenolic, has been shown to have a number of health benefits, among them antioxidative and anticarcinogenic effects. A growing body of research suggests that trans-resveratrol may also have beneficial effects on health risks associated with obesity by stimulating calorie restriction like pathways in the body. Low bioavailability severely reduces results in human models, though derivatives of trans-resveratrol have been suggested as a method of increasing bioavailability. This study aims to increase trans-resveratrol bioavailability by investigating both chemical and physical means by testing the effects of the methylated derivative trans-trismethoxy resveratrol and its effect on lipid accumulation in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans), and through a literature review of encapsulation methods for trans-resveratrol. Concentrations of 100 and 200 µM trans-trismethoxy resveratrol were used in assays for triglyceride and protein levels, tracking and pumping rates, growth rates, and brood size studies. Based on previous findings from trans-resveratrol, significant differences in lipid accumulation and no effects on tracking and pumping rates, growth rates, and brood sizes are expected. For physical means, nanoemulsion-based systems of delivering trans-resveratrol may be an effective method of increasing bioavailability. Further studies should seek out genetic pathways for these effects through testing on mutant strains of C. elegans. The effectiveness of nanoemulsion systems on increasing bioavailability must also be tested in animal models. In conclusion, trans-resveratrol bioavailability research is promising both chemically, using the derivative trans-trismethoxy resveratrol, and physically, by creating novel delivery systems for trans-resveratrol.
The purpose of this study is to evaluate microbiologic safety of donating buffet style hot foods in the hope of reducing food waste. I analyze the scientific safety and psychological aspects of food waste by examining literature, such as journal articles and government documents and interviews previously conducted with restaurant and large market personnel. Interviews, conducted with professionals in microbiology and food waste, conclude that people have a negative perception on eating donated or “leftover” food. However, I find that with proper holding at food safe temperatures, leftover hot buffet food would be safe to consume. Overall, this paper emphasizes the importance of donating leftover hot food to reduce waste in landfills and provide meals to those in need.
The focus of this research is the illusion of death, meaning, that death is not a reality and therefore we shouldn't have a fear of dying. Included in this presentation will be a discussion of the Schrodinger’s cat “thought” experiment, performed by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger in 1935. This experiment showed how a cat can be both dead and alive at the same time, also known as quantum superposition. Finally, this research will also detail different faiths and religion including how karma can play a small role in dying.
Darkside-50 is an experiment using a two-phase argon time projection chamber to search for weakly interactive massive particles (WIMPs), a front-row candidate for dark matter. WIMPs, if they exist, would interact with the argon nuclei causing them to recoil and produce faint, detectable signals. The main background to the search are trace radioactive decays that can mimic the nuclear recoil signal. This poster presents work a study of a specific decay, that of the isotope Kr-85. Kr-85 beta-decays to Rb-85 by emitting an electron and a neutrino with total energy of 687 keV. Once in 200 times, it instead emits an electron-neutrino pair with total energy 173 keV followed by gamma-ray of 514 keV. We present results on the concentration of Kr-85 in the DS-50 argon, its spatial distribution and pulse timing characteristics. Details of the simulation modeling of this background are also provided.
The Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility has proposed to make a precision measurement of the charged pion polarizability through measurements of γγ → π+π− cross sections using the new GlueX detector. This experiment will have a large muon background which must be filtered out of the pion signal. For this issue we are developing an array of Multi-Wire Proportional Chambers (MWPCs) that will allow the pions to be identified from the muons, permitting a precise measurement of the polarizability. Small (1:8 scale) and medium (1:5 scale) sized prototypes have been constructed and tested, and a full scale prototype is currently being assembled. Electronics were developed and tested to amplify the signal from the detection chamber, and were designed to interface with Jefferson Lab’s existing data acquisition system. In order to construct the detectors, a class 10,000 clean room was assembled specifically for this purpose. Lastly, Geant4 software is being used to run Monte Carlo simulations of the experiment. This allows us to determine the optimal orientation and number of MWPCs needed for proper filtering which will indicate how many more MWPCs must be built before the experiment can be run.
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. These particle-coated interfaces are particularly useful for the self-assembly of materials due to their large area, surface mobility, accessibility from both sides, their deformability, and for the chemical reactions that take place across them. In this research, we focus on the interface between oil and water which provides the ideal environment for the formation of emulsions stabilized by particles. Using selective partitioning of certain ionic (charged) compounds, mainly salts, we create an electric field at the oil-water water interface. This electric field is tuned to help drive particles to the interface. In this study, we investigate how the concentration of a salt, tetrabutylammonium perchlorate (TBAP), dissolved in the nonpolar oil 1,2 - dichloroethane affects emulsion stability. We use charged silica spheres suspended in a buffer of pH 8 for the water phase. With the results we determine the ideal concentration at which emulsions are formed and remain stable. We find that emulsions utilizing spherical silica particles were stable with TBAP concentrations of 3 x 10-4 M and greater, while those with lower concentrations were not. In addition to ion concentration, we investigate the role of particle shape on emulsion stability. Results from this study can be useful towards improving emulsion application in cosmetics, paints, and printing.
This project simulates the liquid xenon cell that we have in our lab using a simulation software called Chroma. nEXO is the ‘next Enriched Xenon Observatory’, an experiment designed to search for neutrinoless double beta (0νββ) decay of Xe-136 using a 5-tonne, enriched Xenon time projection chamber (TPC). The TPC is roughly a right cylinder, 1.3 meters in diameter and length. nEXO plans to use ~4 m^2 SiPMs installed on the cylinder side wall, behind the field cage of the TPC. Efficient light collection is crucial for nEXO to achieve good energy resolution at the double beta decay endpoint, where the 0νββ electron peak is expected. The motivation for this project is to analyze the light collection efficiency of the SiPMs in the liquid xenon environment by comparing experimental data with our simulations.
This project reports on the research and development process for a cathode electrode in the nEXO particle detector. nEXO is the ‘next Enriched Xenon Observatory’, an experiment designed to search for neutrinoless double beta decay of Xe-136 using a 5-tonne, enriched Xenon time projection chamber (TPC). The TPC is roughly a right cylinder, 1.3 meters in diameter and length. The motivation for this project is to create a cathode that is as light as possible and contains radioactive impurities to a minimum, while being mechanically robust. The nEXO cathode also needs to be highly resistive, an additional, non-conventional requirement meant to mitigate the adverse effects of a break-down in the detector. Testing will include designing a way to appropriately stretch large, circular metal sheets to counter their flexing under their own weight and the operating electrostatic forces, explore full sheets versus perforated sheets, and explore different materials for resistivity, and possibly, VUV reflectivity.
The plant secondary cell wall is a major sink of carbon in the form of cellulose, a potent substrate for renewable ethanol production. Recent work has sought to characterize genes involved in secondary wall development (SWD) in the grass Brachypodium distachyon, a model for biofuel feedstocks. Several genes have been implicated in SWD, notably CESA4/7 (cellulose synthesis), CAD1 (lignin synthesis), and GNRF (regulation of CESA4/7 and CAD1). Expression of each is localized to tissues that undergo secondary wall thickening and varies in response to temperature cycles. While established methods for measuring gene expression in B. distachyon (e.g. RT-qPCR of whole-tissue extracts, RNA in situ hybridization) have provided an initial picture of temporal and spatial variation, they are ill-suited for in planta study. Firefly luciferase is a bioluminescent reporter that can provide a high degree of temporospatial resolution in planta, but has not been well described in B. distachyon. Here we have sought to create and evaluate promoter::luciferase constructs for secondary wall genes. Regions approximately 1 kb upstream of the CDS for CESA4/7, CAD1, and GNRF have been cloned from genomic DNA of wild-type accession Bd21-3, sequence-confirmed, and LR-recombined to generate binary expression vectors. Constructs have been introduced into embryogenic Bd21-3 callus via Agrobacterium-mediated transformation and will be assayed in planta for luciferase activity following regeneration. Variation in luminescence is predicted to match that of mRNA transcripts. Confirmation of transient reporter activity will be carried out on separate tissue transformed via protoplast transfection or particle bombardment.
As of November 2016, the housing market and interest rates have gone up. Just prior to that time, the economy was starting to pick up from the rescission of 2008. In order to understand what happened we need to know how the mortgage industry works. There are so many intriguing details to the mortgage industry that, once understood, will provide valuable information. The housing market has boomed back to life in the past few years. Times are once again good for big homebuilders. The economic trouble of 2008 can be blamed on the subprime mortgage market. The effects of an imminent crisis, and its spread across different areas of the economy, impacted the mortgage industry. In order to understand the financial lessons from the economic slow-down we will need to understand why it happened. Why did this start and how will it affects home buyers in the long run? These are a few of the topics that are explored in this research on the housing market.
Over the past two decades, Brockton, Massachusetts has undergone significant physical and cultural transformations that have resulted in both positive and negative outcomes across the community. Downtown redevelopment, transportation upgrades, and the opening of upscale national establishments have all taken place but at what costs to the social and economic life of the city and its residents. I will focus on urban development changes by examining the relationship between community planning initiatives and the impact these initiatives have had and continue to have on Brockton’s lower and working class residents. Using data from city, regional, and state planning agencies this project will examine if any community groups have suffered while Brockton has its resurgence as the “City of Champions”, as well as, provide readers with further insights on revitalization projects that have taken and are currently taking place.
This project is in depth analysis of the future of American ideology and will detail how ideology has changed over time, the role that liberalism and conservatism has played, and how polarization is changing the country. It will look at the future of the two party system that has existed in the United States and how it is being affected by globalization and the resulting move of populist nationalism. The role of the wide array of ethnic groups and identities will also be considered when looking at the formation of identities. How media is affecting ideology in the US will also be looked at closely.
Although the U.S. spends roughly 17% of the GDP toward health expenditures (the highest out of the top 10 richest countries), American health outcomes fall at the bottom, with for example highest infant mortality rates. Through a historical comparative analysis of the United States and Canada, this thesis delineates the sources of the U.S health disadvantage. Canada moved to a universal public insurance system in the 1960s; and, while Medicare explains some of the Canadian health advantage, other social welfare policies mitigate economic inequality, and therefore are key to a fuller explanation of Canada’s health advantage, particularly for the poor and working classes.
Hydraulic fracturing has boomed in recent years, growing from 7% of domestic production in 2000 to 67% in 2015, with over six thousand wells drilled in Pennsylvania alone. The industry brings promises of riches, but at the risk of environmental hazards like water and air pollution. Existing literature reveals that fracking wells are sited disproportionately in poorer areas of Pennsylvania. This outcome could be due to a number of mechanisms. Geographic and zoning constraints could result in development primarily in poorer rural areas. The economic lure of industry could create greater acceptance of environmental risks by poorer areas that have more to gain from production royalties. Lastly, the diminished power of impoverished communities could reduce government enforcement of regulation and individual’s ability to seek legal reparation for damages, lowering the cost of operating as industry foregoes costly pollution prevention measures with little consequence. Depending on which factors are pulling the most weight, the industry could be seen as neutral, a blessing, or predatory. I theorize that while geography and economics play a role, the power of a community is relevant in terms of shaping industry practice and government protection. Research is conducted using multivariate regression to compare differences across regions using a variety of metrics for industry performance and quality of government enforcement. This work could inform the need for more regulation, or enforcement of regulation. Additionally, it could provide insight into the mechanisms that allow power disparities to translate into unequal environmental burdens.
Resource rich countries across the globe have proven to be patriarchal societies whose policies stifle the rights of women and limit their access to resources. Access to labor and wages is an important resource that is lessened in resource states due to the gender-biased nature of the industry. In today’s globalized society labor immigration is common, and it consumes much of the labor force, just as oil rents lessen the need for more than one wage earner per household. As a result, women in resource states are earning high degrees, but remain in a stagnant labor market. Furthermore, oil rents allow policy makers to legitimize discriminatory campaigns and traditions and uphold gender inequality. Therefore, despite a woman’s access to resources in resource rich states, women do not have autonomy. A woman’s autonomy can be defined as having the opportunity and power to make a decision for herself or her family, free of any intervention or consequences from the government or society. Through theoretical and quantitative analysis I will discuss how women cannot exercise autonomy in resource rich nation states.
Never before has the Middle East and North Africa region experienced a population of youth as high as the one today. More than 28% of the population is aged between 15-29, representing over 108 million young people. This large presence of youth in Arab countries is a reality that will mold the region's political, economic, social and cultural development. Jordan and Tunisia, two Arab countries both similar and different in various respects, present an interesting case for comparative analysis of government approaches to youth inclusion and why they differ in the manner in which they do. While both leaderships have had a history of extensive youth policies and are known by the United Nations as the most opportunity-equal countries, Tunisia produces one of the highest numbers of foreign fighters to the Islamic State, while Jordan does not. Through a comparative analysis, this thesis will examine the different approaches to youth that both states have implemented and assess how they have developed.
All humans experience stress: physiological stress, mental stress, and even emotional stress. Stress can be short-term due to the activation of the sympathetic nervous system and the secretion of the hormones norepinephrine and epinephrine from the adrenal cortex. However, stress can be long-term as well. When the human body experiences long-term stress, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is activated, leading to the release of cortisol from the adrenal cortex. Measuring the concentration of cortisol in hair is a widely accepted method of assessing long-term activation the HPA axis. In the field of neuroendocrinology, it is unclear whether activation of the HPA axis caused by stress is due to an individual’s genetics or an individual’s environment. In this study, in collaboration with Boston University, hair cortisol concentrations of five year old monozygotic twins will be compared to assess the similarity in cortisol concentrations between genetically identical individuals. Determining the heritability of cortisol has profound scientific and social implications. It is important to predict cortisol concentrations because a hyperactive or blunted HPA axis can lead to a multitude of disorders including cardiovascular disease, fatigue, anxiety and depression, and suppression of the immune system and inflammatory responses. The ability to predict cortisol concentrations may allow clinicians to directly combat the effects of a hyperactive or blunted HPA axis in children through the use of medications, life style changes, and even behavioral therapy.
The Fly Ball Project is a within subjects designed investigation into the timing and accuracy of the determination of the location of a fly ball. By watching videos under different viewing conditions, participants - being baseball players, college athletes, or non-athletes - will decide whether the fly ball in the video will land in front of them or behind them. The viewing conditions will consist of a normal condition, an eye patch condition, a tube condition, and a sunglasses condition. The videos that will be watched show the balls landing at a variety of time intervals. This study will be investigating whether the condition under which the participant viewed the videos, the amount of time the stimulus was shown, or the participants' athletic status allowed for a change in accuracy of determination. The goal of this study is to decide under which conditions it is optimal to elect the location of a fly ball's landing place. By investigating athletic status, the duration of time the stimulus is shown, and the depth cue alterations under which the videos are shown, information on how and when we determine a fly ball's landing position should be found.
Research indicates that the attitudes surrounding sexual assault are heavily influenced by cultural factors. A prevalent societal force today is “rape culture” which is fostered on college campuses. This culture influences the attitudes and actions of college students who are the victims of sexual assault. Research suggests that victim silencing is a major consequence, which is especially apparent when alcohol is a factor. This study will examine the perceived effects of victim intoxication and method of reporting on rape myth acceptance and victim culpability. A sample of 150 undergraduates will be randomly exposed to one of six sexual assault scenarios where reporting style and victim’s level of intoxication will be manipulated. Following the scenario, a series of questions regarding victim culpability and rape myth acceptance will be answered. Additionally, participants will complete items regarding their own alcohol use and experiences with sexual assault, followed by a demographic questionnaire. It is predicted that scenario character victims who are intoxicated and do not report an assault will have the highest culpability rating. It is also predicted that scenario character victims who are not intoxicated and report the assault to campus police will have the lowest levels of rape myth acceptance by participants. Implications of rape culture on college campuses will be discussed.
Limited research has been conducted on parents’ sexual orientation and how it affects their children. Past research has suggested that parents’ sexual orientation does not affect the outcomes of their children, despite perceptions that homosexual parents have negative impacts on their children. Research findings have also indicated that children of homosexual parents are less stereotypical in their play behavior than children of heterosexual parents. This study will examine the perceived effects of parents’ sexual orientation and the sex of their child on the child’s play and behavior. A sample of 150 undergraduate students will be randomly assigned to read one of six scenarios in which the parents’ sexual orientation and the sex of the child will be manipulated. Several measures will be used to evaluate participants' perceived masculinity and behavior of the child. An adapted measure will further be used to assess the participants’ degree of homophobic beliefs. These measures will be analyzed through a series of ANOVAs. It is hypothesized that children of heterosexual parents will be perceived as more masculine than children of homosexual parents. It is also predicted that boys of heterosexual parents will be perceived as the most masculine. It is hypothesized that boys of heterosexual parents will be perceived to exhibit the most hostile-aggressive and hyperactive-distractible behavior. Implications regarding the acceptance and awareness of same-sex parents will be discussed.
As the seasons change, people need to adapt to the drastic variations of weather. From warm, sunny summers to the frigid, dark winters, these climate changes may impact an individual's mood. Researchers have been interested in learning about the potential effects of seasonal variation on an individual’s mood. However, little research has been conducted comparing different ages during a specific season and any effects on an individual’s mood. This study will examine the perceived effects of age and type of season on women’s moods. A sample of 150 undergraduate college students will be randomly assigned to read one of six scenarios depicting a female character of different ages, in either the summer or the winter. Participants will complete a series of measures, first assessing their perceptions of the of scenario characters’ mood and then reporting on their own level of happiness and personality type. It is hypothesized that the younger scenario characters will be perceived as having a more positive mood than the older scenario characters. It is predicted that all scenario characters will be perceived to have more negative moods during the winter than the summer. It is also hypothesized that college students will perceive older scenario characters to have more negative moods during the winter than the younger scenario characters, and the younger scenario characters to have more positive moods during the summer than the older scenario characters. The findings relating age and seasonal variations on mood will be discussed.
Stimulant use is common among college students. Prior research has suggested that stimulants such as caffeine, Adderall, and cocaine are the most
commonly used stimulants by college students. Why do college students use these substances? The current research will measure college students' attitudes towards stimulant use for academic, health and/or recreational purposes through an anonymous survey. It is
hypothesized that for students who report using stimulants for academic reasons, there will be a positive correlation between reported stimulant use and grade point average (GPA). For students who report using stimulants for recreational purposes,
no correlation between reported use and GPA is predicted. Additionally, it is hypothesized that students
who use more than one stimulant will have a higher GPA
compared to students who do not use any kind of stimulants. Finally, it is
hypothesized that males will report more stimulant use than females.
This study examined the prejudices and discrimination Hispanics face in hiring decisions. We used 8 variations of the same resume. Four of the resumes had a stereotypical White name and four of the resumes had a stereotypical Hispanic name. Half of the resumes described high qualifications for the job candidate, and half described low qualifications. In addition, half of the resumes contained grammatical errors, and half did not. The likelihood of hiring an individual based on their resume was measured. We hypothesized that a White resume with grammatical errors and low qualifications would be more likely to get hired than a Hispanic resume with high qualifications and grammatical errors. We also hypothesized that a resume with low qualifications and a White name was more likely to be hired over a resume with high qualifications and a Hispanic name. A 2 (name: Hispanic or White) x 2 (grammatical errors: present or absent) x 2 (qualification: high or low) between-groups ANOVA was used to analyze the data. The interaction between name and qualification was significant, such that those with high qualifications were more likely to be hired, particularly if the name was Hispanic. The three-way interaction of name, qualifications and grammar was not significant. We were surprised by these results. We suggest that if we had older participants or a less diverse group of participants then the results would have been different.
Based on previous observations researchers were interested in gathering more information on beverage consumption and preferences of undergraduates, as well as how they contribute to academic achievement. Researchers created a questionnaire to assess participants’ frequency of beverage consumption, brand loyalty to water and coffee, mind wandering, and demographic information. Convenience sampling was used to administer 30 surveys around various locations on campus. Participants included undergraduate college students, 20 of whom identified themselves as women, and 10 who identified as men, all between the ages of 18-25 years. Approximately 73.3% of participants were Caucasian. Some participants were eligible for extra credit in their college classes for their participation. Results suggest no statistically significant correlations between variables. Keywords: brand loyalty, academic achievement, beverage frequency, undergraduates
This study examined the perceptions college students have of the romantic relationship quality of young adults in a hypothetical scenario categorized by the type of their romantic relationship and their parental marital status. Undergraduates (75 women, 22 men) were randomly assigned to read one of four scenarios, which described a character’s romantic relationship type (exclusive, non-exclusive) and their parental marital status (intact, divorced). Participants then completed a satisfaction scale, a commitment scale, and a demographics section. Results indicated that those who are in an exclusive romantic relationship with intact parents were perceived to have the highest romantic relationship quality among all other statuses. Considering the prevalence of divorce at this point in time, it is important to understand the present and future effects it has on the children of divorced parents. Analyzing the romantic relationships of these children gives insight into one of the many effects that parental divorce has.
A short norming study was conducted in order to investigate a new self-report inventory examining the concept of dogmatism. Dogmatism is defined as unwavering certainty not shown to be right or reasonable Thought to be structured by an individual’s personal belief systems and personal characteristics independent to political ideologies. Previous work examined dogmatism with elements such as: the concern of out-group rights, political affiliation, and religiosity. The present norming study defines dogmatism as made up of three elements: polarizing conclusions, the refusal of others’ viewpoints, and holding onto viewpoints and beliefs with unjustified certainty. Previous dogmatism scales contained culturally outdated items related to the rights of out-group members and authoritarian views. This norming study attempts to make item questions absent of cultural relevance, allowing for measurements of dogmatism to be independent to item questions related to current social issues. Mechanical Turk workers filled out a 20 item DOG (Altemeyer, 1996) and 20 item Dogmatic (DOGM) scales. The DOGM scale contained a high level of convergent validity with the DOG scale (.75) and high levels of inter-item reliability as measured by Cronbach’s (.89). It is believed that the DOGM scale will introduce novel elements for examining dogmatism as well as item questions that are absent of cultural relevance.
Eating disorders are the deadliest psychiatric disorder, affecting 20 million women and 10 million men in the Unites States. This study will examine perceptions of eating disorders based on body weight and exercise habits. Participants will consist of 120 female undergraduate college students from Framingham State University. The study will utilize a 2 (underweight versus average weight) x 2 (no exercise versus high levels of exercise) experimental design. It is expected that participants will be more likely to perceive an eating disorder in someone with a low body weight rather than average body weight. Participants will also be more likely to perceive an eating disorder in someone who engages in high levels of exercise rather than no level of exercise. It is also expected that for the average weight person there will be no difference in perceptions of an eating disorder for the high exercise versus no exercise conditions, but for the low body weight condition, there will be higher perceptions of an eating disorder for the high exerciser as compared to the no exerciser. There is minimal previous research on body weight and exercise habits in relationship to perceptions of eating disorders. This study is intended to expand the field’s knowledge of these factors by examining the stigma of eating disorder symptoms and their effect on one’s mental health. Keywords: Eating disorder, weight, body image, exercise
This 2X2 study was designed to examine college students’ perceptions of a treatment center for a person who has a drug addiction. This program is based off of a program using an Oxford home. An Oxford home is a non-state funded program where the residents of the home are contributing to the house by setting the rules and following the rules. A sample of 160 undergraduate students from Framingham State University will be randomly assigned to read one of four scenarios involving a hypothetical character that either became a drug addict from medical injury or someone who became addicted from trying the drug for fun. Another component to the scenario is that the hypothetical character will either come from a high- income family or from a low- income family. It is expected that participants will be more supportive of the program for an addict of low socioeconomic status than someone of high socioeconomic status. It is also expected that participants will be more supportive of a program for someone who became addicted due to injury, (medically) than someone who became addicted by choice, (recreationally). Implications of findings could be used to help educate those who have formed perceptions that prevent people from supporting recovery services for addicts
As society changes and develops it is important to keep up with the changing views of mental health within society. The importance of focusing on male mental health is demonstrated through the lack of previous research on male mental health specifically compared to female mental health. This research focuses on the perceptions of mental illnesses, specifically in regards to males with depression, among college students at a small university. To examine the perceptions of male mental illnesses three scenario-based surveys will be used. This survey will be administered to 90 participants within and outside of the classroom, with 45 male participants and 45 female participants. These scenarios will have varying levels of help seeking behaviors, from no help seeking behavior to receiving professional mental health support, of a male with symptoms of depression. The hypotheses being researched could help the community better understand mental health. Along with a better understanding, the implications could help the field overall better adapt to these perceptions in order to help those who are struggling with mental illnesses more effectively. This study will also bring light to the stigma that surrounds males with mental illnesses in today’s society, which can lead mental health professionals in the right direction in educating the public more thoroughly on male mental health.
This study primarily aims to note how college students’ aggression levels change depending on a video game’s level of violence, ranging from realistic high-violence, unrealistic cartoon violence, to completely non-violent. The study is also interested in whether arousal levels decrease in the non-violent condition for highly aggressive people, and how different types of aggression (social versus action-based) may change. Participants were 30 American college students aged 18-24. Participants read and reacted to a scenario in a Likert-style arousal and aggression scale in a pre-test, played a ten-minute game segment, and then read and responded to another scenario in a post-test. Results showed no significant findings in the relationship between game violence and aggression (F (2, 27) = .22, p =.38). Analyses also revealed no significant findings on game type impact on arousal in highly aggressive participants (F (2, 24) = 1.02, p =.38), as well as on the difference between social and action-based aggression (t (9) = .32, p = .75). These results are contrary to most previous research. This implies that there may be complexities beyond violent content that may affect aggression levels in game players.
Alcohol use is a common
risk taking behavior that may be related to emotional intelligence. The goal of
the current study was to investigate the relationship between emotional
intelligence and alcohol consumption among undergraduates at a small state
university. The Schutte Emotional Intelligence Scale (SEIS) will be used to
measure emotional intelligence abilities, and the Alcohol Use Disorder Test
(AUDIT) to measure alcohol consumption. It hypothesized that there will be a
negative relationship between alcohol use and emotional intelligence. Results
and implications will be discussed.
Both scientific and popular research has been focused on racial discrimination. However, there is less research concentrated on colorism, or discrimination against individuals with a darker skin tone within the same racial group. For example, studies have found that lighter African Americans are viewed more favorably than darker African Americans. This study will examine perceptions of minority women in regards to hireability, attractiveness, and discrimination of skin tone. A sample of 150 undergraduates will be randomly assigned to read one of six scenarios, depicting a female fictional character of varying race and skin tone. A series of measures regarding hireability and attractiveness of the scenario character will be completed. Participants will also complete a racial awareness survey and demographic questionnaire. It is hypothesized that the darker Asian woman will be perceived less physically attractive than the darker White woman, but more physically attractive than the darker African American woman. Implications of discrimination regarding the race and skin tone of minority women will be discussed.
Both popular and scientific literature explore the language used to communicate with children and adults about death, dying and grief. The communication differs based on expected or unexpected death and age of the person who died. However, there is little research on the language used to communicate with children and adults about biological death, spiritual death, and grief across cultures in expected and unexpected death. This in-depth examination of the language of death integrates scientific literature, interview data, and archival data as a presentation of a more thorough representation of the language used to communicate concepts related to death and dying. A review of the literature about unexpected and expected death for children, and adults focusing on both the biological and spiritual definition of death, language for grief, and death across religions and cultures is presented. Furthermore, consideration is given to the communications focused on the age of the person who has suffered the loss and the developmental stages of grief, and differing definitions of death in a variety of religions. Archival data provided from gravestones engravings is presented as they represent death across cultures and time. Interview data gathered from hospice workers and an undergraduate student in a volunteer position serving terminally ill children and teenagers sheds light on the application of the ideas presented above. Implications of communication about death and about grief are discussed. Keywords: death, grief, developmental stages and grief, religions and death
With the increase in internet use, time using social media networks has exponentially grown. Studies have found that people who were more likely to use the internet reported high levels of anxiety and loneliness. Research has also indicated that an increase in social network usage such as Facebook led to less satisfaction with life. Fewer studies have investigated the impact of different forms of social networks. This study will examine the perceived effects of sex and social media on life satisfaction and loneliness. A sample of 150 undergraduates will be randomly assigned to read one of six scenarios depicting social media usage (Facebook, Twitter, or None) of either a male or female adolescent. After reading the scenario, participants will complete questions on their perceptions of the character’s satisfaction with life and level of loneliness. Participants will also report their own media usage and satisfaction with life. It was hypothesized that non-social media users would be perceived to have a higher life satisfaction level than social media users. It was also hypothesized that non-social media users would be perceived to have a lower level of loneliness than social media users. Lastly, it is predicted that male Facebook users would be perceived to have higher life satisfaction and lower loneliness levels than female Facebook users. Implications of findings relative to satisfaction with life and loneliness will be discussed.
As cell phones are now a common part of daily life, the role of cell phones in social interactions has become a focus of research. Recent studies indicate that using a cell phone in a social situation where face to face interaction is expected, or “phubbing,” often can elicit disapproval among people who are surrounding the person using their cell phone. Researchers will investigated undergraduates’ perceptions of phubbing relative to relationship satisfaction. Researchers hypothesize that dependency on cell phones will be positively correlated with frequency of phubbing. Researchers further hypothesize that phubbing will be negatively correlated with relationship satisfaction. Researchers will survey approximately 60 undergraduates at a state university. Results and implications will be discussed.
Research has indicated drinking alcohol influences sexual behavior and attitudes, but little research has been done on how college students perceive another’s sexual beliefs depending on that person’s prior alcohol consumption. The purpose of this study is to examine how various levels of intoxication (drunk, buzzed, single drink) and types of alcohol (distilled, undistilled) may influence college students’ perceptions of sexual attitudes. A sample of 150 undergraduate students will read one of six scenarios that describes a female character's level of intoxication and type of alcohol, and then they will report on their perceptions of the character's sexual attitudes. It is hypothesized that college students will perceive consumption of distilled liquor to be more associated with risky sexual behavior and a promiscuous attitude toward sex than undistilled liquor and that college students will perceive someone who is drunk to be more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior and have a promiscuous attitude toward sex than someone who is buzzed or minimally drinking. This study will provide insight into the role alcohol plays on perceptions of sexuality.
effects of chewing gum on the learning and recall of words and pictures was
studied in this experiment. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four
conditions: chewing gum during both learning and recall, chewing gum during
just learning, chewing gum during just recall, and chewing gum during neither. A
PowerPoint consisting of neutral words and pictures was displayed during the
learning portion of the experiment. Participants completed the recall portion
through a worksheet. A 2 (gum during learning: yes or no) by 2 (gum during recall: yes or no) between-subjects ANOVA was conducted on the number of words recalled and separately on the number of pictures recalled. There was a significant interaction for pictures, such that those who chewed gum during both learning and recall remembered more pictures than other groups. Surprisingly, there were no significant effects for recall of words. The results suggest that chewing gum may improve recall, specifically for pictures.
This study will examine college students’ positive and negative perceptions of various skin tones. Approximately 200 college students will participate. In this 2 (male versus female) x 3 (dark, medium, or light skin tone) experimental study, participants will be randomly assigned to read about one of six possible scenario characters. Participants will then complete measures related to their perceptions of the scenario character’s threat level, academic success, and friendliness, as well as their own levels of implicit racism and political interest. It is expected that participants will view female characters more positively overall than male characters. It is also expected the characters with the darkest skin tones will be perceived more negatively overall than either the medium or light skin tones. An interaction between skin tone and gender on perceived threat level is expected. For both men and women, the character with the darkest skin tone will be perceived as more threatening than the characters with the medium or light skin tones, however, this effect will be larger for the male characters. The results of this study will highlight the need for more in depth research concerning light, medium, and dark skin tones, as opposed to only dark versus light in the past. Looking at this skin tone gradient is important because it raises awareness about colourism and emphasizes that biased perceptions do not simply halt at black versus white.
This study will examine the differences in perception of emotional abuse based on type of romantic relationship (opposite-sex versus same-sex) and gender of the perpetrator (man versus woman). There will be 120 undergraduate participants, and we will aim to recruit an equal number of men and women. Participants will fill out a scenario-based questionnaire that will ask them to identify the likelihood that emotionally abusive behaviors are present in the scenario characters’ relationship. Anticipated results from the research include that participants will perceive a higher probability of emotional abuse being present in an opposite-sex relationship than a same-sex relationship, as well as a man being more capable of emotionally abusing his partner than a woman. They may also identify that men in opposite-sex relationships will be perceived as more emotionally abusive than men in same-sex relationships, while women in same-sex relationships will be perceived as more emotionally abusive than women in opposite-sex relationships. These findings may help determine why some instances of emotional abuse go unreported and unacknowledged.
One of the many symptoms of schizophrenia is a loss of a sense of self. Sufferers of schizophrenia experience a fracturing of identity, which can include a loss of agency in day-to-day decisions. As identity and story are largely intertwined, narrative psychotherapy has been shown to be a successful therapeutic approach to help patients reconstruct their “sense of self” (Lysaker et al, 2003) Narrative psychotherapy help patients pick up the pieces of their fractured identity, and start living a more active life. Much of the current literature deals with an adult population and the effectiveness of various treatments for adults. This research will explore the effectiveness of narrative psychotherapy techniques with an adolescent population. In 2015, a research team of psychologists in South Korea conducted a study involving at-risk adolescent schizophrenics. The subjects engaged in narrative identity work over the course of a year, “storying” their own lives through narration and working with other stories through different forms of media. After a year, the team noticed marked improvements in linguistic abilities, and evidence of re-establishing identity and agency in the participants (Chae & Kim, 2015). While these narrative techniques have not been researched a great deal with this population, this research will consider the potential effectiveness of narrative psychotherapy through an analysis of case studies of at-risk teens for schizophrenia, where medical treatment only was used. This research hopes to add to the current research by exploring the benefits of narrative psychotherapy methods with at-risk teens.
At a staggering population of 75.4 million, the millennial generation upholds the largest buying power of 200 billion dollars. The buying power of this generation is affecting the stature of the market and income worldwide. Generation Y holds the largest market opportunity known to man. In order to flourish today’s economy and improve the structure of companies, the generation y population must be analyzed to discover their purchasing trends. Industries are currently developing strategic tactics to capture the mindshare of this generation to increase their own profit. However, this is difficult to accomplish due to millennials’ unpredictable consumer behavior. This study focused on the buying habits of millennials through an online survey to better understand their motives, interests, social factors, and shopping styles of this generation. The results from these 30 multiple choice questions uncovered where millennials predominantly shop, what type of marketing campaign is the most effective, and a general sense of their shopping behavior. The hypothesis proposed for this research is that millennials are more susceptible to online marketing campaigns and make more purchases online than brick and mortars due to their economic motives. The results will be furthered discussed.
This study investigates how and why individuals, private citizens and celebrity figures alike, involve themselves within the Church of Scientology, a publicly perceived cult, as well as the resulting transformative impact on the participant's life, causing many to leave. A better understanding of an individual’s desire for higher knowledge or power promised by a religious cult could be beneficial for psychologists or those involved in religious studies. This understanding would give them a better insight into the member’s inner motivations in joining or staying, the Church’s tactics to entice and retain members, as well as the Scientologist’s reasons for leaving. The Church’s use of free “stress tests” and therapy called “auditing” draw in members to an expensive road of church teachings and literature and organizations such as the Sea Org, a private navy of sorts. Billion year contracts are routinely signed to retain members, along with a policy of “disconnection” which demands current scientologists void all communication with family members or friends who have left the church. My study delves into personal accounts of those currently or formerly involved with the church, to uncover the power of many human’s desire for spiritual guidance which allows religions to influence the behavior and thinking of their members.
Stress is physiologically hardwired into all of us. When we experience stress, our heart rate rises, increasing blood pressure, adrenaline, and our stress hormone (cortisol). When this occurs, a surge of these components makes us stronger, faster, and more alert. However, our stress response is only naturally meant for brief periods of time. In a chronically stressful environment, the body’s stress response is always on high alert. There is very little time for relief from the constant surge of chemicals. When this occurs, the stress becomes toxic, causing a dramatic change in our body and brain. Toxic stress is a term used by psychologists and developmental neurobiologists to describe the kinds of experiences, particularly in childhood, that can affect brain architecture and brain chemistry. When the brain is exposed to a toxic environment it will slow its rate of growth, leaving us more vulnerable to anxiety and depression. Moreover, the brain becomes less resilient to stress. Toxic stress affects people of all ages. The long-term effects differ from age and stage of brain development when exposed to a toxic environment. The younger the age, the more damaging long-term effects will be. Exposure as an adult may speed up the aging process, affecting memory, cognition and emotion (Young, 2017). This research will explore the impact of experiences of toxic stress on identity. In addition to a review of the research literature, interviews with college students will be conducted and analyzed to consider how toxic stress experiences have impacted their identity and are represented in their personal narratives.
The purpose of this research will be to examine the ways in which people lie on social media platforms, such as Facebook. By examining closely basic interactions occurring on various platforms and the types of postings individuals make, as well as the purposes of the individual platforms such as; Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The basis of the research will revolve around Lev Vygotsky's sociocultural theory, where the virtual engagement between developing people occurs in the social platform which they interact. The sociocultural theory suggests that learning is a social process and social media prolongs this process well into adulthood, as users begin to learn and reshape their lives around the perception of their acquaintances on such platforms. An interview with one or two social media users may provide evidence and reasoning for any of the deception taking place. Does somebody else seem happier to them on the Internet? Does that persons life seem more interesting? What, if any, are the impacts on identity? From the findings one can attempt to extrapolate what role personal narrative plays in the experience of lying, and possibly even potential motivating factors. It is the expectation that this research will uncover that social media users lie to appear happier and more interesting in their everyday lives because they compare their experience to those of others/strangers. Thus, building a happy facade on these social media platforms and ignoring the very real problems of their daily life.
When working in the medical field, the true impact of disease on a patient’s daily life and on their family is often unseen or unknown. For my project, I have created a survey with questions regarding how some common ailments have affected or are now affecting Salem State students. In the survey, students are asked if they have/had a family member living with cardiovascular disease, dementia, cancer, or diabetes, and how it makes them feel emotionally, how it affects the family overall, and how it affects the student as an individual. Data collection is still ongoing, though preliminary results have shown dementia in grandparents to be the most common ailment affecting students and their families and has the most negative emotions associated with it. A majority of students feel that their grandparents have a heightened sense of trust for them, and that the condition has brought the entire family closer together. I will continue a similar analysis of the other conditions as I continue collecting data. Overall, it is important for those pursuing a career in scientific research and healthcare professionals to understand how a patient’s illness affects their home life and their family members in order to visualize how advanced treatment could change a patient’s entire life and how to provide adequate support to everyone affected.
Music has, for many years, been used as a form of therapy to treat a wide variety of illnesses. One of the many benefits of music as a form of cognitive therapy is its ability to help with memory recall. The main objective of this research paper is to examine how music can serve as a preservative strategy against the autobiographical deterioration that is associated with Alzheimer’s disease. This look at music as a preservative strategy will examine the current research literature to determine what it suggests about music therapy as an effective intervention for memory loss with Alzheimer's patients. Further investigating the practical effects of music could be beneficial to Alzheimer’s patients, many of whom struggle with memory recall, as it can serve to help enhance autobiographical memories (Haj, Postal, & Allain, 2012). Memory loss obfuscates self-narration--or one's ability to actively tell their story as it happens or has happened--in those afflicted with the disease. Music as a form of supplemental therapy could serve to both help lessen that obfuscation and alleviate the problems that many patients have with memory recall. This research hopes to present evidence of music therapy's effectiveness in accessing autobiographical memories for Alzheimer's patients and maintaining greater connection to self-narrative.
As college level athletes endure the demands for their sport while balancing academics, reports of debilitating anxiety seem to be on the rise. Statistics published by the NCAA show more than 21% of all collegiate male athletes reported suffering from some form of depression and 31% experienced anxiety within a 12 month period (Kearns, Davoren & Hwang, 2014) which often negatively impacts the academic and social realms of the college experience. For female athletes the numbers are even more troubling (28% and 48%, respectively). Biofeedback training (BFBT) has been a technique used by sport psychology practitioners to help athletes improve performance for many years (Collins, 2002) “Biofeedback … involves training patients to control physiological processes such as muscle tension, blood pressure, or heart rate” (Nordqvist, 2014) using computer software and graphic read outs of physiological measures that are captured with sensitive detection devices. The essential impact of BFBT occurs as the athlete learns to regulate physiological functioning which constitutes a treatment for symptoms of anxiety. In this study we will be using the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) to measure anxiety before and after BFBT. The STAI is a self-report measure designed to distinguish (Spielberger, 1977) between in the moment, feelings of anxiety from the more dispositional variety. This will be a descriptive study looking at the effect of BFBT on measures of anxiety and with a hypothesis that systematic training will reduce anxiety in participating athletes.
The purpose of my research is to explore existing strategies and promising practices for opening the conversation regarding first-generation Latinx immigrants struggling with depression and anxiety in a culture that stigmatizes these concerns. In many Latin American countries, admissions of struggling with mental illness are often seen as a sign of weakness or ignored altogether, attributed to the sense of responsibility - as if it is the individual’s own fault for being depressed or lacks the will to "get over it". This behavior is perpetuated as youth “gaslight” themselves – a term meant to convey the manipulation by psychological means in order for one to question their own sanity – and continues well into adulthood as they administer the same behavior to younger generations. Because of this continually replenished stigma, children and adolescents can be hesitant to seek the help they need, worsening the symptoms and contributing to the high rate of lifetime suicide attempts among Hispanic youth. Achieving a fundamental knowledge of these issues, beginning by focusing on the linguistic component of framing the concept of mental illness as a biological disease, has been shown to influence their perception. John Read & Alan Law believe that psychosocial explanations like traumatic life-events have been shown to reduce fear and improve general attitudes toward people suffering from mental illness. Increased education and exposure to the cultural dynamics of diagnosis and treatment for Latinx youth are critical to addressing inadequate mental health care.
This research project studied the effect of dogs and other pets on college students’ stress levels in comparison to stress levels of adults who are not in college. We conducted online surveys and completed observational research on the Salem State campus in an effort to study our hypothesis. We found that there was a positive correlation where students reported comfort creatures to be beneficial as they decreased their stress levels. This study can contribute to the increased use of therapy animals on college campuses. Further results will be discussed within our presentation.
In the late 1990s, the drug company GlaxoSmithKline launched a marketing campaign, which, together with the education of interested Japanese mental health professionals, promoted a new concept of depression in Japanese culture. Prior to 1999, the Japanese word for depression (utsubyo) was reserved for serious mental illness. GlaxoSmithKline introduced the concept of a “kokoro no kaze”, or “cold of the soul”, along with a handy cure (antidepressants). This concept and antidepressant sales took off in Japan. For some Japanese, this may have been a welcome relief from the social pressure to repress or silently suffer with their feelings of sadness, emptiness, malaise, etc., but it had a significant impact on a culture in which the community was traditionally prioritized over the individual, and personal problems were kept private. Now, psychological distress became an acceptable topic of conversation, suicide was viewed as a social issue rather than just a personal one, and institutions that functioned before this shift were struggling to regain their footing. This paper aims to explore how the core concept of self in Japan shifted as a result of the introduction of a new concept of depression. Through a review of scholarly literature, news and popular science articles, Japanese advertisements and other media, this research will examine how a Western concept of depression was narrated into Japanese culture, how it was assimilated, and how that assimilation affected how people in Japan describe and think about themselves and society.
“How will my narrative identity shift if ritual is introduced into my life?” Using a heuristic approach, I will analyze the effect that participating in ritual has on the lives of participants. The thesis question will be posed to the I Ching, then the participants will engage in basic yoga practices, journaling, and an experiment involving post-it notes (detailed below) for several weeks. Analysis: A creative reflection on my experiences, while also touching upon the psychology of ritual. Reflect on ritual/belief in my life, signs/symbols, and experiences in deep meditation. Recall real life effects brought about by experiences, such as overcoming fears. Look at some examples of ritual in scholarly texts/scriptures/literature. Theory/Methodology: Introduce readers to basic concepts of I Ching, and yoga. Participants will reflect on what they feel their narrative identity (their “story”) is and how it changes over the course of the study through application of post-it note experiment, twice-weekly meditations, weekly journaling, and any other practice that develops intuitively. Participants will be asked to keep several post-it notes in places where they spend a lot of time, such as their car or office. Post-it notes will contain a word/phrase/symbol relating to both a self-identified positive and negative aspect of their life they wish to engage with more deeply. Conclusion: Analyze stories of participants after experiment is over. How do they affect/reflect my story? Are we more connected? Have we unconsciously shared experiences? How do the results tie in to the initial question?
Approximately 50% of all adolescents have reported one instance of bullying, but only 12% have reported the incident to the school or parents. Bullying is a national epidemic that has many severe consequences, including its toll on adolescent mental health. Bullying can lead to anxiety, depression, anger issues, and even suicide. I will be focusing on adaptive versus maladaptive ways that adolescents deal with bullying and the toll it takes on their mental health. For maladaptive coping, I will examine suicide, alcohol, and drugs as ways adolescents deal with bullying. Adaptive methods examined will be seeking help, going to therapy and attending support groups. The 2010 suicide of bullied teen, Phoebe Prince, will be the main focus in regards to the worst case scenario for maladaptive coping. As for adaptive healing, I will be examining various cases of adolescent bullying where the victim sought out help and made a full recovery to a normal life, such as plus sized model Barbie Ferreira.
The term “Mandela Effect” has been applied to events both significant and seemingly meaningless. This phenomenon involves a substantial number of people remembering an event that didn’t actually happen. In other cases, people will remember events differently from how they occurred in reality and share that common memory with others. Several have pointed to the Mandela Effect as evidence of the existence and merging of alternate realities. For the majority of the world’s population, the idea of multiple universes is strictly science fiction. As a civilization, human beings cannot prove one way or the other that multiple universes exist, and much less so that they have, will, or even can be merged. It is possible however, to examine other explanations to the Mandela Effect that do not involve theoretical physics, or impossible hypotheses. One such explanation is that long-term memory can be manipulated. To demonstrate how easily false memories can be formed, this project will use a memory test that involves participants recalling a list of words after studying them for two minutes, which is long enough for long-term memory storage. Through careful investigation into the most recent developments in memory research, as well as putting participants’ memory to a test, this project hopes to demonstrate that false memories can be induced, and thereby offer an alternative theory of how the Mandela Effect manifests.
The mediation of others, through the mediation of adults – social relations – in the social world is an essential element in self-development and development of one’s identity (Ivic, 1994). Due to the proliferation of technology, our social worlds have exponentially expanded from families, neighborhoods, and schools to a more globalized society. Self-identity – how we see and define ourselves as unique individuals – plays a vital role in who we are today, and helps shape the direction of our future tomorrow. One’s identity story or narrative is representative of and constitutive of identity – a life story includes past, present, and future. (Kenyan and Randall, 1997). Self-identity encompasses the totality of understanding and knowledge that we gain about ourselves as we continue to develop including: personalities, physical and intellectual attributes, aptitudes and capabilities, interests and relationships. Before the digital-age, one’s identity was constructed in a more intimate local environment. A prominent cultural force today that shapes identity is social media. (Singh, 2010). Social relationships have shifted in this new paradigm where social media influences and offers near-limitless perspectives as the world becomes more interconnected (Speck-smith and Roy, 2008). This research investigates the new digital-age paradigm and how it influences, impacts, and shapes one’s self and narrative identity.
Compared to forced rehab, the free programs of Narcotics and Alcoholics Anonymous are more effective in motivating addicts to stay sober by participating in an international community that alters identity through social support, spirituality, introspection, and above all else, hope. According to a 5-year follow up study, Alcoholics were found to do better in support groups in staying sober by engagement in a spiritual community that supports and encourages a shift in their identity from active user to recovery. In their study, Gossip et al. (2008) concluded that “for patients who were more severely dependent upon alcohol, the 12-step approach led to greater improvement in drinking behavior than cognitive–behavioral treatments”. The white key tag is a significant symbol of an addict’s recovery because it marks the pivotal moment when he or she not only admits to having a problem, but also reaches out for help. Just getting clean is only the beginning of a long journey, and sustained holistic treatment is necessary for proper recovery. The 12 Step programs provide addicts the tools they need in a spiritual and social environment that unlike conventional healthcare, has no dues or fees besides the desire to stop using. In addition to sharing stories in meetings, literature guides members through a twelve-step program of introspection. This research will examine the effectiveness of the 12 step programs through exploration of the current research literature, the step books of NA and AA, and an interview with a long term member and mentor of the program. Analysis of the interview narrative will consider how participation in the program, particularly engagement in practices of spirituality, introspection, and story-telling in a group environment motivates members to create a new life narrative and identity, free of substance abuse.
Beliefs are the acceptance of information as true, or that something exists. Social life greatly impacts individuals’ beliefs through sharing information and influencing thoughts. Beliefs can be good; they can motivate people and lead them to maintain faith in a worthwhile venture. Beliefs can also be a major flaw that psychologically causes people to react negatively and leads to the bad attitudes they have about things. Socially this can be very beneficial or detrimental depending on the accuracy and intent of the information. With technology advancing and information being shared in so many different ways, and coming from many different mediums the problem of misinformation is very prevalent. The aim of this research was to see how likely people are to accept new information that may be hard to believe yet believable, because someone said. Whether or not this person is truly reputable and whether being well-known or famous influences this decision one way or the other. This study had participants look at a claim from a famous person and rate their opinion of it, then look at a counter claim from a knowledgeable, but lesser known person. As a control the claims attributed to each person were randomly swapped and each participant was randomly assigned to one of the two possible groups. The goal was to see what people actually believed and why. How likely the participants were to accept a claim because someone said and why. Results of the study will be discussed at the research conference.
The amount of stress and anxiety experienced by college students daily is an issue that needs to be addressed. Meditation is a method that shows promise, given the growing evidence that it can result in reduced stress, anxiety and tension. The present study uses fading strategies to gradually diminish the use of verbal and audio prompts in a guided meditation program to eventually get participants to meditate in silence. The goal is to increase the probability of maintaining a frequent practice of meditation in a natural environment, as well as the effectiveness of meditating. Participants (n=24) will be recruited from Salem State University students. A multiple-baseline across participants design will be used to determine the effectiveness of the fading procedures. It is expected that the fading procedures will (a) be effective in transferring control of meditation practice over to the participants; (b) result in reduced heart rates after each session; (c) lead to less fidgeting; and (d) lead to all participants being more likely to persist with their meditation practice after completion of the study.
Behavior is distinguished as positive or negative. The Applied Behavior Analyst (ABA) helps autistic children increase positive behaviors or extinguish negative through reinforcement. An ABA incorporates multiple steps when creating a program to enhance the autistic child’s behavior. These steps include: collecting data on non-compliance, tantrum, flopping, aggression, property destruction. An ABA therapist strives to use positive reinforcements when an autistic child is compliant. It has been shown to help improve negative behaviors in autistic children and transform negative behavior into a positive behavior. A strategic plan to improve autistic behavior is to always be alert and in control of the environment, always use a verbal positive reinforcement when the autistic child is being compliant and having visible reinforcements so that the child is motivated to continue to be complaint. Before placing a program in place for the autistic child they must first be diagnosed. Once diagnosed, the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) designs a program the ABA therapist can then implement. When we think of punishment: the word NO, negative reinforcements, physical and mental punishment, painting an image that isn’t pleasant, specifically when working with autistic children. Those working with autistic children need to know how to circumvent these old routines (punishment/negative reinforcement) that many continue to use, and instead start looking for the alternative bright side, positive reinforcement. In order to see these patterns and progression I will be elaborating in depth on steps and actions taken towards positive and negative reinforcement on autistic children.
Dogs are ubiquitous in the human social environment, making it important for the two species to successfully communicate. The present study looks at each species’ ability to comprehend the communication of the other. In Experiment 1, participants view images of dog body postures and must identify whether the dog is signaling to approach, to not approach, or ambivalence. In other trials they will be asked to compare two images in which the dogs’ body postures look similar, and then determine whether the two images are expressing the same message about approach. Experiment 2 evaluates dogs’ and humans’ ability to detect human deception. The stimuli are full-body videos of volunteers telling of three past memories, two of which are true events that they have stored as memories, and one a story they fabricated on the spot. Participants, viewing the videos, are expected to identify each statement as true or false. Human participants will do this by means of an answer sheet, while dogs’ behavior while viewing is recorded for later coding for signs of confusion. Humans pay disproportionate attention to one another’s facial cues, but in interactions among themselves, dogs attend not only to faces but to one another’s postural cues. The main interest in this experiment is to see whether this holistic approach to communications allows dogs to notice human cues that other humans might miss.
The graduation rate for Latinos with a disability is 50.47% and the dropout rate is 30.42% (Lucio, 2014). Being discriminated against & experiencing low expectations due to memberships in two marginalized groups is one of the challenges (Leake et al., 2011). Latino male college students often avoid asking for help, feeling that they are solely responsible for their own success…similarly, Latino males with learning disabilities demonstrate preferences for not asking for help (Chambers, 2016). This participatory action research project uses Photovoice to identify challenges encountered by Latino students with disabilities on a University campus, propose solutions, and identify opportunities to raise campus awareness and promote change in critical, identified areas of culture and access. Photovoice has proven to be an empowering tool for students with disabilities regarding advocacy and has helped transform university campuses to be more inclusive environments (Agarwal et al., 2015). Through individual interviews with students, faculty, and community advocates, the project explores how participants view intersectional challenges and how they mobilize personal, familial and community resources to address challenges. Based on these dialogues, the project makes recommendations for improving University and community supports. The Photovoice project will itself be presented on the campus as a means of education and advocacy. The guiding research questions are: What challenges do Latino students with disabilities identify in their education? What are the personal, familial, academic and non-academic resources they utilize to cope? What do Latino students with disabilities, faculty, and community advocates recommend to minimize challenges to education?
Classroom quality and student outcomes in special education classrooms can be improved by targeting the relationship between the educator and paraprofessionals. To be successful, teachers and paraprofessionals must view themselves as partners in the educational process (Butt & Lowe, 2012; French & Gerlach, 1999). Due to the lack of paraprofessional training, there is a need to examine and develop strategies to help improve special education teachers’ supervision of training for paraprofessionals with their ever expanding roles and responsibilities (Gaylord, Wallace, Pickett, & Likins, 2002; Pickett, 2002). Few studies have examined the inter-relationships between the special educators and paraprofessionals, which may impact student outcomes. Professional development (PD) can produce reliable gains in achievement and therefore favorable outcomes among students in special education classrooms. Two questions guided this project: 1) What are the characteristics of a successful professional development program for teacher-paraeducator teams in New Bedford? and 2) How do the embedded elements of the professional education and development help to improve the relationships among teacher-paraeducator teams? Participants completed a series of self-report measures to assess mindset, general well-being, efficacy, and burnout/time pressure. The PD program consisted of sessions during the district scheduled PD time. Artifact data collection included blinded data on classroom achievement and student conduct scores at the district level for the purposes of predictive analyses and to cross reference the results with teacher-mindset assessments. Proximal and distal outcomes were measured by district-level achievement and conduct data. Descriptive and inferential statistical analyses were conducted using the SPSS platform.
A subject makes an intertemporal choice when she decides between an instant or delayed outcome. Such decisions often feature a trade-off between sooner, smaller (SS) rewards or later, larger (LL) rewards. A common example is whether to eat that fatty chocolate cream dessert to maximize current pleasure or the less desirable strawberry sorbet that is better for long term health. Many intertemporal choices are made under stress. For example, impulsive intertemporal choices are related to behaviors such as substance abuse, poor nutrition, under-saving/over-spending and under-investment in education and career outcomes (Urminsky & Zauberman, 2016). To examine whether acute stress makes people more impulsive (i.e., prefer SS rewards), 49 healthy college Chinese males were subjected to the TSST-G (Trier Social Stress Test-Group version) protocol. This is an social stress protocol in which a 3-minute videotaped public speech, and a 2-minute mathematics task were performed by the subjects. They then made a series of intertemporal choices and were compared to a control group that had not experienced the acute stressors. Saliva samples were taken and free cortisol was analyzed using immunoassay as a measure of physical stress. Self-reported Positive and Negative Affect Scale (PANAS) questionnaires were completed as a measure of self-reported stress. Consistent with previous research (Haushofer et al., 2013), the current results indicate no overall impact of acute stress on subjects’ impulsiveness (i.e., economic discount rate). However, some types of acute social stress – inducing subjects to think about the future, rather than the past – significantly reduced subjects’ discount rates.
In 1992, the Inter University Program in Latino Research started and coordinated the The Latino Leadership Opportunity Program (LLOP). LLOP has offered Latino students the opportunity to develop as leaders by learning to conduct policy research in partnerships with faculty and community organizations. For 25 years, The Mauricio Gaston Institute at UMASS Boston, has housed the program. As well as designed and implemented a leadership development seminar focused on Latino public policy research and community engaged advocacy. LLOP students learn together about cultural and community strengths as resources for leadership development, and the central role of community partnered research in informing policy for social justice advocacy. Students learn to use research as a tool for community leadership informing policy change. This project presents findings from a mixed-methods study exploring the experiences of program alumni, program faculty and current students in order to define Latino Leadership and identifying areas of policy research for maximum impact on Latino communities. Components of the research will include key informant interviews with faculty, staff, funders & other community stakeholders, and program alumni, interviews with program alumni to evaluate themes in their views of Latino Leadership and to explore program impacts in their education and evolving careers as Latino leaders, an anonymous on-line survey will provide opportunities for confidential feedback regarding program experience, and current LLOP class will review literature on Latino Leadership and summarize findings across sources of data.
The strength of multisensory integration is most pronounced when audiovisual stimuli are spatially co-localized, temporally synchronized, and when sensory input is weakest (the principle of inverse effectiveness). Ross and colleagues (2007) find a window of maximal integration as predicted by the principle of inverse effectiveness, with the greatest benefit in audiovisual integration between intensity extremes. At either extreme, integration is not needed as either modality alone provides sufficient information. This experiment used a speech recognition task, thus it is not clear if such a window can also be seen for lower level stimuli. We examined audiovisual integration for low level stimuli, while altering visual salience and temporal synchrony, in relation to the principle of inverse effectiveness. Participants were presented with auditory white noise, modulating at one of five contrasts from a speaker right or left of center. In addition, a task-irrelevant visual stimulus was modulated randomly at one of four salience levels (75, 90, 150, 180 cd/m2) either in-phase (synchronous) or out-of-phase (asynchronous) with the auditory stimulus, or did not modulate (baseline condition). Participants judged where the sounds originated from by looking to that location as recorded via eye-tracker. Percent correct performance across conditions was fit to estimate auditory thresholds. We found a significant benefit, lower auditory threshold, for the in-phase relative to out-of-phase and baseline condition, but only when visual salience was at 90 cd/m2. Our results indicate auditory contrast enhancement, the strongest audiovisual integration, at an intermediate salience level, suggesting a window of maximal enhancement.
Humans differ in metacognition, their capacity to monitor and to evaluate the success of their cognitive processes, that is, in the accuracy of their thinking, remembering, and perceiving. Experimental evidence assesses metacognition from confidence ratings based on the accuracy of responses while performing memory or perception tasks. Metacognition can be quantified by the degree of correspondence between accuracy and confidence with respect to the task. Moreover, clinical studies of patients with psychiatric and neurological disorders provide evidence that impairments in metacognition are characterized by reduced correspondence between accuracy and confidence ratings, and as such, failure to accurately monitor performance may play a critical role in treatment. Indeed, studies have suggested that these clinical disorders characterized by metacognition deficit may also benefit from mindfulness training. While mindfulness has been used in clinical settings to help people live in the present moment, engage in current thoughts and events, and accept them for what they are in order to let them pass without judgment, few studies have examined how metacognition, as measured by objective task performance, might be related. Accordingly, the current study examines metacognition using a recently-developed perceptual discrimination experimental task, then tests the relationship of performance on this objective measure with positive mental health as assessed by individual differences in mindfulness. Perceptual metacognition will be quantified using signal detection measures and mindfulness will be assessed using the Southampton Mindfulness Questionnaire (SMQ). It is hypothesized that mindfulness as measured by self-report, will be positively correlated with metacognition, as measured by behavioral performance.
Prescription painkiller abuse has become a widespread public health issue across the United States in recent years, part of the phenomenon commonly known as the “opioid epidemic”. Consequently, there has been significant growth in investigation of nonprescription use of prescription painkillers and its association with pain perception, e.g. exploration of abnormal pain in opiate addicts (Ren et al., 2009), or the risk of painkiller dependence in the general population (Elander, Duarte, Maratos, & Gilbert, 2014). The current study examines use of prescription painkillers and its effect on pain tolerance. Data were obtained from participants who completed the Midlife in US Study (MIDUS) surveys, a nationally representative sample of English-speaking adults within the United States. Data were collected via telephone interviews and self-administered questionnaires returned by mail. The current study used two items from the study’s Wave II, collected from 2004-2006 (N=3970): “Used painkillers on own ever (past 12 months),” a dichotomous variable, and “low pain tolerance,” a Likert item. A point biserial correlation revealed a small but significant negative correlation (r=-0.064, p<0.001). These results indicate an association between increased nonprescription use of prescription painkillers, and decreased low pain tolerance ratings. As previously mentioned, while past studies have investigated general pain perception, this study is unique in focusing on pain tolerance. Further research could focus on administered tasks (e.g. cold pressor task) instead of self-ratings, which may give more insight to the psychophysiological effects of prescription painkillers.
One need only witness children in a schoolyard to understand the wounds caused by derogatory language. Yet few researchers have seriously considered psychological effects on female self-perception and self-esteem invoked by derogatory terms such as “bitch.” While many feminists have attempted to re-appropriate this term’s meaning, the lack of public retaliation to its colloquial derogatory use has effectively reinforced female oppression within a patriarchal society. This research intends to explore the psychological and social consequences on female identity when called a “bitch,” through the dissection of its etymology, social parallels with racial and homophobic slurs along with examples that demonstrate how people of both genders often use “bitch” in microaggressions. This research will explore how glorification of masculinity and subordination of femininity has caused society to disregard the devious effects this word has on gender identity, and has effectively perpetuated female implicit subordination within a patriarchal culture.
Visual Search is an attention task that measures how efficiently a person is able to find a target among distractors. In the current study we investigated the visual search abilities of toddlers who have been diagnosed with ASD and compared them to age-matched typically developing (TD) toddlers. This study focuses on how familiarity and language skills may affect toddlers’ performance in this task. Toddlers aged 18-36 months participated in this study (N=38 in the ASD group, N=45 in the TD group). Participants watched a short animation on a Tobii T120 eyetracker. The study consisted of three phases, but here we are limiting the analysis to the first phase only. Participants were introduced to a target object (apple or carrot), then were presented with displays there this object was shown among 7 other distractors and we coded how long it took for participants to find the target (5 trials). We assumed that there is a difference in familiarity between the two targets (both visually and linguistically). All participants also completed the Mullen Scales of Early Learning test. We analyzed if the toddlers’ diagnosis, target identity, or Mullen language scores affected participants’ performance. Data analysis is in progress. Both groups found the target sooner when it was the apple, but the effect was bigger in toddlers with ASD. We will discuss the role of familiarity in visual search, and the potential of how language and word knowledge may impact a child’s ability to succeed in finding objects.
Aggression is a complex behavior that has been reported to be highly dependent on gonadal steroids, specifically testosterone (T). A large body of literature has demonstrated that aggression is directly related to gonadal steroids. However, individual differences in aggression have been documented in numerous species in the absence of gonadal steroids (e.g., T). Since underlying mechanisms that regulate steroid-independent aggression are not well understood, we utilized the B6D2F1 hybrid mice, a cross between C57BL/6J (B6) females and DBA/2J males, in which a subset of these B6D2F1 hybrid male mice continue to copulate long after orchidectomy (herein after referred to as ‘maters’). This behavior is normally dependent on testosterone in almost all rodent species. To test for T-independent aggression, hybrid male mice were observed in a resident-intruder paradigm, which reliably assesses offensive attack aggression, before and after orchidectomy. Since dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) has been found to be associated with aggressive behavior in the Siberian hamster, a rodent species that also displays steroid-independent aggression, hormone assays will be run to determine whether differences in DHEA levels exist in mice that exhibited steroid-independent aggression and those that do not. We hypothesize that if steroid-independent aggression occurs in hybrid maters, DHEA levels will be higher in these mice relative to those that do not.
Recent research reports increased mental health distress on college campuses as significantly impacting both educational success and wellness. Yet many undergraduates refuse traditional mental health services, due to stigma, lack of knowledge of how services can help advance their educational goals, and lack of culturally appropriate services. These challenges are increased for first generation college graduates and ethnically/racially diverse students, particularly on urban/non-residential campuses, with multiple financial and family responsibilities. First generation college graduates from diverse backgrounds lack knowledge needed to navigate university environments, report different cultural preferences for services, and experiences of discrimination in university and community settings. This presentation describes ongoing, student-centered Participatory Action Research identifying student stressors and resources and conducting Health/Mental Health Promotion Outreach supporting educational success through wellness. This research includes campus-wide forums, an anonymous online self-report survey of academic, realistic and life-events stressors, personal, familial, cultural and community resiliency resources used and barriers experienced; qualitative research with specific student populations; and student-led data reviews and development of an action plan emphasizing peer advocacy. Resilience resources at multiple levels of student ecologies, including family supports, ethnic-identity and spirituality, were found to significantly protect mental health outcomes for specific student groups including Veterans, students in mental health/substance abuse recovery, experiencing gender-based violence or bereavement, Black, Latino, Muslim, and LGBT students. This presentation focuses on current outreach projects, including a suicide prevention initiative in partnership with University Health Services, Dialogues/Forums supporting Women of Color with undergraduate student organizations, and supports needed by students parenting young children, in partnership with UHS & U-ACCESS.
Based on results from the World Health Survey, research has linked chronic pain and depression (Stubbs et al., 2016). For example, chronic back pain sufferers from Japan reported that, when pain scores increased and quality of life (life satisfaction) scores decreased, depression scores increased (Tsuji et al., 2016). While pain and depression are linked, another factor, quality of life may facilitate the relationship between the two; decreases in the quality of life can lead to the experience of chronic pain driven by depression. Life satisfaction itself, has been shown in to influence depression (Koivumaa-Honkanen et al., 2004). This study focuses on the association between chronic pain, depression, and quality of life. Data obtained from a sample on 3937 individuals through the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) study in which participants answered questionnaires regarding life and health conducted over the phone. Linear regression analyses revealed chronic pain (β=-.082, p<.001) and life satisfaction (β =.204, p<.001) predicted depression (R2=.055). In follow up analyses, partial correlation revealed an association between chronic pain and depression (r=.082, p<.001), even after controlling for life satisfaction. While the results show an increase in depression with chronic pain, adding life satisfaction supports an additional increase in depression. Results support the connections between chronic pain, depression, and life satisfaction. Treatments have been developed to alleviate chronic pain and depression simultaneously focusing on attributes of life satisfaction (Barrett & Chang, 2016). Focusing on both chronic pain and life satisfaction of an individual may help alleviate depression in the sufferer.
Attitudes toward transgender individuals are generally negative, which results in a variety of discriminatory outcomes. Negative stereotypes, or myths, may explain the poor treatment faced by the transgender community. We theorized that the public may believe that transgender people are: mentally ill, HIV-positive, or sexual predators. We also investigated whether allies of transgender people are similarly stigmatized. American community members ages 18-98 (M=37.61, SD=12.76) were recruited via MTurk (N=1387; 78% white, 58.6% female, 88.1% heterosexual). Participants each read one vignette about “A.” who was described as behaving in a manner exemplifying one of the above-mentioned myths. They then judged whether it was more likely that “A.” was either a bank teller or a bank teller and a XXXX, where XXXX was randomly one of the following: man, woman, transgender man (i.e., born female, identifies as male), transgender woman (i.e., born male, identifies as female), gay man, or lesbian. The latter choice represents a conjunction error, indicating that the myth is perceived as representative of the presented gender category. For the mental illness vignette, conjunction errors were significantly more likely for transgender man and transgender woman than woman, gay man, and lesbian. For the HIV vignette, conjunction errors were significantly more likely for transgender man compared to woman and lesbian. For the sexual predator vignette, conjunction errors were significantly more likely for transgender woman compared to woman. Participants viewed the ally target as representative of all categories except man. We discuss implications in terms of gender roles and transgender stereotypes.
This research examines the relationship between childhood emotional abuse (CEA) and later adult male perpetration of intimate partner violence (IPV). While research has examined the contribution of childhood physical and/or sexual abuse to adult IPV, there has been little attention paid to CEA. Previous studies have examined the relationship between CEA and variables that predict IPV. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to investigate the connection between CEA and IPV and whether CEA contributes to IPV independently of childhood physical/sexual abuse. Indeed, CEA may moderate the effect of physical/sexual abuse, helping us to understand why some individuals with a history of physical/sexual abuse become perpetrators of IPV while others do not. Study participants completed seven surveys online. Multiple regression was used to assess whether emotional abuse accounted for unique variance in scores on the Revised Conflict Tactics Scale and to explore the possible relationship among multiple variables known to contribute to IPV (attachment style, trait dissociation, and current trauma symptoms). In addition, multiple regression was used to test two hypotheses, a) that CEA may moderate the effect of childhood physical/sexual abuse on IPV and b) that secure attachment might mediate the effect of CEA on IPV.
Correctly interpreting the emotions expressed in faces is essential for human interaction. Individuals high in social anxiety fear negative evaluation, and may be especially sensitive to faces conveying negative emotional information. We examined how different negative emotions, anger and sadness, were processing in individuals high in social anxiety (HSA). We hypothesized that HSA individuals would show weaker adaptation to negative compared to positive emotions, and show especially weak adaptation for anger compared to sadness. Social anxiety status was assessed using the Brief Fear of Negative Evaluation (BFNE). Participants scoring high in social anxiety (>=25) either viewed faces morphed along a angry/happy continuum and judged the faces as happy or angry, or they viewed faces morphed along the sad/happy continuum, and judged the faces as happy or sad. Following this assessment of baseline perceptual biases, participants were adapted to angry, sad, or happy faces for three minutes and then judged the same face morphs again. For each participant, we calculated the point of subjective equality (PSE), the point at which the participant was equally likely to judge the face as angry/sad or happy, and quantified the shift in perception following adaptation as the shift in the PSE post-adaptation relative to baseline. As predicted, our results suggest that HSA individuals show weaker adaptation to angry versus happy faces, while showing no difference in adaptation to sad versus happy faces. Thus, participants high in social anxiety remain sensitive to anger and this maintained perception of threat may serve to perpetuate their fear of negative evaluation.
Antidepressants are commonly prescribed for depression treatment, in the absence of an adjunctive such as psychotherapy (Cuijpers et al., 2012). In many cases, additional pharmacological treatments such as other antidepressants are even added to produce or enhance existing benefits (Trivedi et al., 2006). The current study explored the self-reported success of antidepressants in a community sample with a history of depression. Data were obtained from participants who completed Wave II of the Midlife in US Study (MIDUS) surveys, a nationally representative sample of English-speaking adults within the US; participants who specifically reported a history of antidepressant use over the past 12 months were examined (N=65; Mage=54.25; SD=11.5). Those participants answered whether they felt sad or depressed for at least a two week period over the past 12 months. Of those participants with a history of antidepressant use, 49.2% (N=32) still endorsed feeling sad or depressed for a two week period over the past year. Thus, in a sample of community dwelling adults on antidepressant treatment, more than half still reported feeling depressed despite taking antidepressants. This research highlights the dynamic nature of affective disorders such as depression, supporting the notion that treatment should be individualized. By further considering treatment alternatives, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (Cuijpers et al., 2012) as well as integrative methods of treatment like medication along with therapy (March et al., 2004), there could be a potential increase in alleviation of symptoms among people experiencing feelings of depression.
Our ability to interpret others emotional state is critical for social interaction. However, how do other factors, such as one’s own race and the race of the face being observed, affect perception of emotional state? We hypothesized that participants would judge faces of their same race as less threatening than faces of a different race (Hutchings & Haddock, 2008) and would show greater adaptation to same-race compared to different-race faces, given that adaptation is weaker for threatening information (Gerlicher et al., 2014), To date, we recruited 53 participants, 39 self-identified as White and 14 self-identified as Asian. First, participants judged a series of faces morphed along the angry to happy continuum (8 unique identities, including 2 White and 2 Asian female faces) as either happy or angry. We quantified percent happy judgments for neutral faces of the same race (White or Asian) as the participant and of a different race (Asian or White, respectively). We then measured judgments of same-race and different-race neutral faces after adaptation to happy or angry (30 unique happy/angry face identities and/or 15 unique positive/negative sounds). Results suggest that after adaptation to happy emotions different-race faces are judged as more negative than same-race faces and after adaptation to angry emotions different-race faces are judged as more positive than same-race faces. Contrary to our prediction, this suggests that adaptation to both angry and happy emotional information may be stronger for faces of a different race than faces of the same race.
Western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) in the wild spend approximately 67-70% of their time foraging and feeding, and a mere 21% resting and/or remaining inactive. In captive environments, however, this foraging and feeding behavior is limited, as 20-25% of their time is spent foraging, while their resting/inactive state increases to 54%. Welfare for captive animals is a major concern for zoos, as boredom, diet changes, stress, space restriction, and/or lack of control in a captive environment may lead to stress and stereotypic behaviors, such as coprophagia, regurgitation and reingestion, sitting alone, and stomach scratching/holding. To examine the behaviors exhibited by western lowland gorillas living in captivity, an observational study on the eldest female gorilla was conducted at a zoo in the New England area. Due to the nature of zoo environments, an emphasis was placed on stress and stereotypic behaviors, as well as behaviors that may be due to human presence, such as making eye contact with humans and smiling. Other observed behaviors included face scratching, carrying an object, holding an object, and being out of sight. Observations revealed that she engaged in regurgitation and reingestion, spent a majority of the time alone, and acknowledged the presence of humans. This study served as an exploratory study on the behaviors exhibited by one female gorilla living in captivity. A study with a larger sample of gorillas is currently ongoing to further examine animal welfare.
Psychostimulant use and abuse have become an increasing problem worldwide, with devastating effects on individual, familial, and socioeconomic levels. Amphetamines are a class of psychostimulants that affect specific reward pathways in the brain, including the mesocorticolimbic dopamine system that originates in the tegmental area and projects to medial prefrontal cortex and the nucleus accumbens. Recent research has indicated that neuroimmune factors including chemokines and cytokines also interact with this dopamine pathway and modulates plasticity thus, providing new areas of focus for interfering with addiction. The current project aims to investigate the role of CXCR4, a G-protein coupled receptor for the chemokine CXCL12, in the development and expression of amphetamine sensitization. In a series of 2 different experiments, both adolescent and adult Long-Evans rats received repeated AMPH (4-days 4.0 mg/kg IP) and changes in CXCR4 protein levels were evaluated. CXCR4 was also blocked (AMD3100 1.0mg/kg IP) during the repeated treatment or final challenge dose. Expected findings will suggest that CXCL12 signaling changes across addiction-related learning and contributes to the expression of sensitization to amphetamine. Future work should explore the potential role(s) of chemokine signaling as a possible treatment of clinical addiction to amphetamines.
The number of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) placed in inclusive classrooms has increased in recent years. ASD is characterized by behavioral problems associated with two domains: social communication and restricted, repetitive behavior. Children with ASD placed in inclusive classrooms generally have the least severe impairments within each of these domains. Many of these children also have IQs that fall in the normal and/or high rage and they are able to handle the same academic work as their typically developing peers. Even though these children are academically similar to their typically developing peers, they are noticeably different with respect to social communication. These differences can lead to problems in forming friendships. In this paper, primary research examining friendship in children (5-14 years of age) with autism in inclusive classrooms was reviewed. This research suggests that children with autism perceive friendship differently from their typically developing peers. They tend to be less accepted, have fewer friendships, poorer friendship quality, and a lack of social involvement. There seems to be a difference in how children with autism see themselves, and how others see them. This can result in children with autism being unlikely to understand problems with social relationships. The implications of these differences are further explored with the paper. The results of this review could be used by teachers to help them identify areas where more or less support may be needed for children with autism trying to strive to form and maintain friendships in inclusive classrooms.
Nationwide, there is a need for interventions to improve academic performance among community college students. Of the 7.3 million students currently enrolled in a community college, only 25.3 percent complete an associate’s degree or transfer within four years (AACC, 2016; ACT, 2015). Increasing students’ academic self-regulation is one such means of improving academic performance (Zimmerman, Bandura, & Martinez-Pons, 1992). Interventions targeting mindset have also proven effective in enhancing classroom motivation and overall grade trajectory (Blackwell, Trzesniewski, & Dweck, 2007). Our research seeks to explore how growth mindset contributes to academic self-regulation by considering, via mediation analysis, the relationships between self-regulated learning, mindset, and an additional construct known as goal orientation. Work by Hong, Chiu, Dweck, Lin, & Wan (1999) experimentally demonstrates that inducing a growth mindset increases the likelihood of students taking a remedial course in an area of deficiency—a concrete manifestation of learning goal orientation. In light of this prior work we hypothesized that growth mindset would have an effect on self-regulation that would be mediated by learning goal orientation. This hypothesis was investigated by administering a computerized-survey, which was part of a larger project including many measures. Participants included 504 students from two-year institutions from across the United States (mean age = 22.74). Results identified a positive relationship between growth mindset and academic self-regulation. Our findings suggest that the goal of increasing academic self-regulation may benefit from interventions designed to boost growth mindset, but that this occurs via the effect of mindset on learning goal orientation.
Memory retrieval can sometimes lead to suppression and/or forgetting of competing information. Evidence suggests that rapid-eye-movement sleep (REM) may reduce competitive forgetting in young adults. Older adults show declines in some aspects of sleep and memory. Though the proportion of time spent in REM is relatively maintained with aging, it is unknown whether sleep restores competing memories in an older population. The purpose of this study is to determine the effect of sleep on competitive forgetting in older adults. Participants 55-75 years old are split into sleep and wake groups. Both groups complete a retrieval-induced forgetting task. The sleep group passively views 240 word pairs and then practices a subset in the evening (session 1). They sleep with polysomnography and are tested on all word pairs in the morning (session 2). The wake group follows the same procedure except session 1 is in the morning and session 2 is in the evening (no sleep). Preliminary results (n=9) show increased recall for practiced words after sleep (70.12%+/-15.46%) compared to wake (57.33%+/-15.17%), and no difference between groups for non-competing word-pairs that were not practiced (control stimuli). Importantly, memory for competing word pairs (also not practiced) is lower in the sleep group (30.29%+/-11.63%) than wake group (37.33%+/-12.53%). Though preliminary, these results suggest that sleep may not restore competing memories in older adults, which may have implications regarding age-related memory impairments.
Transgender and non-binary gender identities have become increasingly visible in modern society. There has been an increase in media attention and legislation relating to transgender identity, particularly focusing on bathroom usage. Despite increasing prevalence in society, there is no extensive psychological research that focuses on attitudes toward transgender and non-binary individuals and views toward policies affecting the transgender and non-binary community. Additionally, there is minimal literature focusing on what prompts individuals to take action to change these types of policies. The present work is a two-part study that aims to address the following questions: “What are the existing attitudes toward transgender individuals?”, “What constructs are related to, or predict, attitudes toward transgender and non-binary individuals?”, “What constructs are predictors of collective action intentions?”, and “What types of message frames motivate people to partake in collective action?”. The first wave of the study included an exploratory survey aimed to understand UMass students’ existing knowledge and opinions regarding both transgender individuals and policies impacting the transgender community at UMass. This survey also examined the collective action/activism behaviors of UMass undergraduates. The second wave of the study aimed to see what message frame, either story-based or information-based, is more effective in eliciting emotive responses, altering attitudes, and/or motivating students to engage in collective action on campus. The hope is for this work to help facilitate further study of attitudes towards both the transgender community and gender inclusive policies, as well as participation in gender-focused activism.
Little research has assessed effects of touchscreen usage on child psychological development, though these devices are increasingly used by children (Ofcom, 2014). Parents may fear that a screen time affects children’s ability to voluntarily sustain attention. We investigated this by recruiting two groups of 12-month-olds, either with low/no daily exposure to touchscreens or with high (10+ minutes/day) exposure. 56 infant-parent dyads were given toys to play with across three 3-minute blocks. Conditions were: 1) iPad and three toys, 2) followed by one condition (only iPad or only toys), and then 3) other condition (only iPad or only toys). Parent and child behavior was videoed and the child’s engagement with objects was hand-coded. Engagement was defined as the child looking towards an object for at least one second. Preliminary analysis of average engagement period durations across the blocks and between the two usage groups revealed a significant main effect of block (engagement periods longer with toys than with iPad), a marginal effect of usage (low users > high users), and a marginal interaction (low users only had longer engagement periods than the high users when playing with the toys). While analysis is ongoing and may change, current results suggest that children with high daily-exposure to touchscreens display less sustained attention. Further work is needed to identify whether these differences are caused by the touchscreen usage or vice versa and identify long-term consequences. This highlights the need for further research on the relationship between technology and attention control during childhood.
Pathological gambling disorders have complex development pathways, and pinpointing the many motivating factors for gambling behaviors is critical for effective treatment and prevention. The fear of missing out (FoMO), a recently-developed social concept describing the anxiety of missing a potentially rewarding experience, has never before been explored as a potential factor in the development and maintenance of gambling addictions. The present study aims to determine the impact of missed opportunities on both gambling behaviors and physiological responses. Undergraduates completed a slot-machine gambling task. The participants choose how to take turns gambling with the computer, creating instances where they see the outcome they would have received had they chosen differently. We measured both the amount bet and physiological arousal (via skin-conductance) in response to various missed outcomes, focusing particularly on the response to the missed opportunity to win the jackpot. The relation between these measures and a FoMO scale is examined, along with FoMO correlates including anxiety, satisfaction with life, boredom proneness, mood, social connectedness and social assurance. If, after a missed opportunity, bet values and physiological measures increase, this study could indicate that the fear of missing an opportunity is a motivating factor in gambling. Furthermore, if there is a positive correlation between these effects and FoMO scale scores, FoMO and its personality correlates should be considered in future treatment methods and prevention programs.
Many youth around the country age out of foster care without having been adopted and experience negative outcomes after. The National Youth in Transition Database collects data on foster care youth at the ages of 17, 19 and 21 from every state in the U.S. including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Using the data obtained by the National Youth in Transition Database, the study will determine if having a connection to an adult and receiving education at age 17 decreases the likelihood that they have experienced homelessness, been incarcerated or have had a child by the age of 19. The study will also determine if having a connection to an adult increases the likelihood that a youth receives a substance abuse referral by the age of 19. The sample includes 6515 youth who provided information on all the relevant variables. Results should provide insight about factors that could decrease the likelihood that foster care youth experience these negative outcomes.
Generally, people have difficulty solving problems that require Bayesian reasoning, a mathematical method of evidence evaluation and interpretation. The goal of our study was to develop an effective training method to teach people how to use Bayesian reasoning without any mathematical equations. A seven-minute video was developed for the training, which used a visualization consisting of interactive bars. We provided the participants with a problem such as, “30% of people have allergies. 40% of people who do not have allergies are outgoing. 60% of people who have allergies are outgoing. Given that a person is outgoing…Is it more likely to be true or false that this person has allergies? How much more likely?” We measured accuracy by comparing the correct answer (e.g., 1.56 times more likely to have allergies) to the response from the participant (e.g., 3.4 times more likely to have allergies). Results showed that the training video substantially improved accuracy. Our experiments demonstrate that Bayesian reasoning can be taught in a short amount of time without mentioning mathematical equations. Additionally, we found that people can apply the visualization technique with pen-and-paper or even via mental imagery with no external support, so the technique can be applied in real-world settings.
Obesity has become a serious problem negatively affecting the health of countless. Physical activity is a means to prevent obesity in children, however, it has been found that children with Autism Spectrum Disorders are not participating in as much physical activity as their typical peers. Music has been used to increase motivation to exercise and exercise intensity. This study is looking at the effect of music on exercise intensity in a group of elementary school age children with autism. The children attend a school designed for individuals with autism where they jog each morning for 20 minutes. In this study, we are going to measure students' exercise intensity across nine school days using an activity monitor on their waistbands. Across the nine days, three music conditions were randomized: no music, slow-tempo music, and fast-tempo music. The data will be collected in the beginning of March. We expect that exercise intensity will be highest in the fast-tempo music condition, Followed by low-tempo music and no music. We expect this project to have implications for school-based exercise programs.
Older adults report more positive affect, less negative affect, and better well-being than younger adults (Mather & Carstensen, 2003). In addition, older adults show a relative attentional preference for positive stimuli over negative stimuli while younger adults show the opposite pattern. What has not been studied is the relationship between attentional biases and emotion outcomes in older and younger adults. This study aims to explore this relationship and contribute to the growing literature on age group differences in attentional biases and how they contribute to emotion outcomes. We hypothesized that older adults will show a relative bias towards positive material and/or away from negative material while younger adults will not show such preferences. We also hypothesized that attentional biases will be more consequential for emotion outcomes for older than younger persons and that older adults with greater positive attentional biases and/or lesser negative attentional biases will have a quicker recovery from the stressor. This study involved a laboratory based mood manipulation to measure emotion reactivity and recovery in older and younger adults. Attentional biases were measure via a dot-probe task (Lacreuse et al., 2012). Older adults who attended more rapidly to negative social stimuli had stronger reactions to the mood manipulation film compared to younger adults who attended more slowly to negative social stimuli. In addition, older adults who attended more rapidly to negative non-social stimuli also showed the strongest reactivity.
studies have linked increased parental anxiety and depression to decreased
quality of parenting, including decreased warmth, engagement, and positive
affect. Although parenting and the home learning environment play an important
role in children’s academic development, these studies have mostly focused on
overall parenting quality. This study examines the relationships of parental
anxiety and depression with parental warmth, playfulness, engagement, and
autonomy support during a math-oriented task. A community sample of 36 parents
and their preschool aged children were videotaped during play with a math toy.
Videotapes were coded for parental warmth, playfulness, engagement, and
autonomy support. No significant relationship was found between parent
depression and parenting quality. Contrary to hypotheses, bivariate
correlations showed a significant positive relationship between parent anxiety
and autonomy support (r=.37, p=.04), and a marginally significant
positive relationship between parent anxiety and warmth (r=.31, p=.09). A
significant negative quadratic relationship was found between parent anxiety
and playfulness (b=-.004, t(28)=-2.16, p=.04) and between parent anxiety and engagement (b=-.004, t(28)=-2.67, p=.01). Results
indicated that parents with optimal levels of anxiety engaged in higher quality
interactions during academically-oriented play. While previous studies have
overall shown a negative relationship between psychopathology and parenting
quality, results of this study might suggest that perhaps some level of anxiety
is necessary for quality parenting.
Emotion regulation is the maintaining, enhancing, or subduing of emotional arousal according to an individual’s goals and self-management strategy, and it is influenced by various external factors (Thompson, 1994). Previous research has utilized affective picture viewing to examine neural correlates of emotion regulation using event-related potentials (ERPs), which are changes in neural activity time-locked to specific events or stimuli (McBride & Cooper Cutting, 2015; Olofsson et. al., 2008; Sur & Sinha, 2009). The late positive potential (LPP) is an ERP that has been associated with emotion regulation during passive picture viewing in adults, adolescents, and children. Although previous research has attempted to study the LPP in preschool-aged children, such attempts have been limited. The goal of this study was to examine the LPP response to affective, age-appropriate stimuli in preschool children (aged 3-6 years old). This study utilized storybook pictures as affective stimuli during a passive picture-viewing task while children wore an electroencephalogram (EEG) cap to record brain activity. The pictures were selected with the intention to elicit a range of pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral emotions. EEG recordings were time-locked to the presentation of each picture to obtain an ERP for each picture. Based on previous research in adults, adolescents, and older children (Hajcak & Olvet, 2008; Zhang et al., 2012; Hajcak & Dennis, 2008), it is hypothesized that LPP amplitudes in preschoolers would be greater after passively viewing affective pictures than neutral pictures. I will present my findings on approximately 20 preschool-aged children, and discuss implications of these findings.
Neuroscientific research is predicated on being able to observe activation in distinct structures throughout neural tissue. However, until recently, the only way to achieve this feat was to slice the brain into sections, and try and piece the structures together like a puzzle. This changed with the advent of light-microscopy, which, in conjunction with clearing methods, allowed for visualization of neural architectures in their native forms. However, while these techniques revolutionized the field of systems neuroscience, they are far from perfect. Current techniques for producing transparency often fall prey to the tradeoff between increased transparency and loss of important molecules and structures. Likewise, while allowing for visualization of intact tissues, the lack of ability to stain for species of interest post-clearing significantly limits the amount of data that can be collected from a single specimen. In this presentation, I outline a newly developed method, which utilizes the phenomenon of magnetohydrodynamics to both increase the functional transparency of biological tissue, and allow for immunohistochemical staining of cleared, intact tissues. Using a Zeiss light sheet microscope along with simple cameras, I will demonstrate the efficacy of these techniques in comparison to those traditionally utilized. This includes both increased data quality with respect to both tissue transparency and quality immunostaining along with a radical improvement in the time required to produce these data.
Our study examines whether or not infants are biased to infer the social behavior of others based on their gender. The goal of this research is to determine the role that gender plays in infants’ socialization and to examine the possible presence of a gender bias. In Experiment 1 we test infants aged 9.5 to 10.5 months old in a looking time task. Subjects are first familiarized to both a male and female puppet appearing on the stage. In the test phase they are shown these puppets perform both harmful and helpful actions towards a third puppet on stage. We then measure infants looking responses to determine whether they were more surprised when a female vs. male puppet performed the nice or mean action. Experiment 2 tests a similar ability in 15 to 17 month old infants in a choice task. These infants see an interactive puppet show and make choices as to which character (male or female) they think acted in either a helpful or an unhelpful scenario. If infants think more positively about females, then they should look longer when females act in unhelpful ways. However, if infants are biased based on their own gender, then they should look longer at a character of their own gender acting in unhelpful ways. Whereas previous work shows that infants use sound to predict social behavior, preliminary results from the current paper show that longer looking time is equally likely when infants view either gender engaging in a positive action.
Are humans good or evil? The answer to this question may at first seem subjective, but after years of investigation, researchers have found evidence suggesting that there lies an innate tendency for humans to be good. Researchers have investigated this question by studying humans in their most simple and unbiased form, during infancy. By studying infants, researchers have been able to design studies that have determined the proclivity for humans to favor good over evil, a preference that later in life leads humans to develop their sense of morality. Research has furthered these findings and has suggested that this preference for good can be linked to specific brain regions, and therefore hints at the possibility that this innate goodness is hard wired in the human brain. This thesis aims to present the reader with the optimistic research findings that supports the statement that humans are innately good.
Past literature has established that children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) have difficulties with emotion competence. It has been suggested that deficits in emotion competence skills in children with ADHD contribute to the development of comorbid psychopathology. This study examines whether early emotion competence predicts symptoms of anxiety, depression, and aggression among children with and without ADHD. In this longitudinal study, children took part in laboratory assessments when they were 4 to 7 years old (Time 1) and again approximately 18 month s later (Time 2). At Time 1, parents completed a demographic questionnaire and a rating scale of children’s emotion regulation, while children completed a frustration task while wearing a cap to measure electrical brain activity. Children’s expressed affect was coded during this task and children also provided self-reports of their emotions throughout this task. At Time 2, parents completed the same questionnaires along with a rating scale to assess child psychopathology symptoms. Children completed a self-report of symptoms of psychopathology as well as a frustration task, which was video-recorded and coded for specific behaviors related to emotion regulation strategies. It is hypothesized that children who exhibited poor emotion competence when they were 4 to 7 years old will display emotion dysregulation and present with symptoms of anxiety, depression, and/or aggression approximately 18 months later. Multiple regression analysis will be used to assess whether emotion competence mediates the relation between ADHD and later psychopathology.
The prevalence of mild and severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) in athletic, military, and other vulnerable populations is a considerable public health concern. TBI affects the brain in many ways. Depression, anxiety, impaired memory, and sleep disturbances are common even in those who have sustained mild TBI. Given that sleep is important in emotional regulation, this study examines the long term effects of TBI on sleep-dependent emotional processes. Our investigation probes emotional attention biases and sleep’s ability to regulate these biases in those who have sustained a TBI within 8 months and 3 years ago. We expect those who have experienced TBI to exhibit increased bias toward emotionally-negative stimuli. Our results may provide early evidence for changes in sleep-dependent regulation of emotional attention biases following TBI that may contribute to common emotional disturbances.
In many psychological studies, outcomes of two-choice tests are used as a tool to indicate preference between given stimuli. Preference, however, can be difficult to assess and animal models of stimulus preference can be useful tools to study cognition. The zebra finch is a sexually dimorphic species of which each male sings a unique song and females do not sing. Females often prefer father’s or mate’s song, hence familiar songs, over novel songs. Previous studies have shown that zebra finches show a longer response latency for novel songs than familiar songs. However, no studies have been done to determine whether familiarization to a novel song will induce similar preference in females, i.e. induce preference over non-familiarized novel songs. In this study, female adult zebra finches were played 900 iterations of a novel song (familiarized) for 3 hours, and were tested for song preference behavior in a two-choice paradigm 24 hours later. We found that 7 subjects preferred the novel song whereas 6 preferred the familiarized song. Contrary to previous studies, we found that 5 subjects showed longer response latency for familiarized songs, while 8 subjects showed longer latency for novel songs. Interestingly, we detected an inverse correlation between song preference and response latency, showing that the more a subject has preference for one song, the shorter the response latency. Our results indicate that familiarization has no effect on individual song preference and that response latency can be a predictor of stimulus preference.
Microglial cells in the central nervous system play an active role in neuroinflammation and repair. Alcohol has been shown to act as an neuroinflammatory agent when administered in large quantities and this inflammation is mediated by microglia. Data from our lab suggest that there may be sex differences in microglial activation after two weeks of binge drinking. It is possible that hormones could underlie differential sensitivity of microglia to alcohol exposure. Previous in vivo studies have shown that estradiol can protect against neuroinflammation and this may be mediated by estrogen receptor alpha (ERa). It is not known whether hormones may have direct or indirect effect on microglial cells. While in vitro studies suggest that microglia can express ERa, it is not clear whether this also occurs in vivo. The goal of the present study is to determine whether ERa is expressed in the brain and if receptor expression differs in males vs females. We hypothesize that ERa is produced in microglia cells in the cortex and that expression of this receptor is higher in females. Alternatively, ERa expression may be exclusive to experimental conditions when microglia cells are cultured. To differentiate between these two possibilities, we have used immunofluorescent histochemistry to label ERa and microglial cells in frontal cortex tissue of male and female rats. We are quantifying the proportion of microglia cells that co-express ERa. These analyses will help determine if gonadal hormones may have a direct effect on microglial populations. In addition, these findings will give a more comprehensive understanding of how alcohol could differentially affect the brain in males vs females.
Postpartum depression is a serious psychiatric condition that has deleterious effects on the mother, and poses a risk for the mother-infant relationship and ultimately the infant’s development. Anhedonia, a decreased ability to experience pleasure, is a core symptom of postpartum depression thought to be the cause of depressed mothers’ difficulty bonding with their infant. The present study used Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) mother rats, a putative genetic rat model of depression-like symptomatology to investigate the relationship between depressive-like affective symptoms and parenting disturbances. WKY and Sprague-Dawley (SD, control strain) virgin females underwent a series of sucrose preference testing for their choice between tap water or various sucrose concentrations (2.5%, 5%, or 10% sucrose in a semi-randomized order). Females were then mated and tested again following parturition during their early and late postpartum periods. Both WKY and SD females preferred sucrose over tap water. Preliminary analysis of results indicates that WKY females consumed significantly less sucrose than SD females, indicative of anhedonia. Similarly, WKY mothers exhibited substantial disturbances in their maternal behavior. Taken together, these results confirm the feasibility of the WKY as a model of postpartum depression, increasing its utility in identifying the neurobiological mechanisms by which postpartum depression disrupts parenting.
The goal of this study was to examine the usability of two mobile health devices, the Fitbit Flex and Misfit Shine. Past research shows that measures of physical activity and sleep have good accuracy and reliability. But when sleep measures are compared to a gold standard (polysomnography), the Misfit Shine has been shown to have excellent validity with the Fitbit Flex only showing good validity (e.g, Mantua et al., 2016). Additional research from Chang et al. (2016) showed that the growing use of activity trackers among the general population has increased awareness individuals have about their physical behaviors. However, factors that influence use of these devices, has not yet been examined. Thus, we examined subjective measures of usability of the Fitbit and Misfit in 49 athletes at UMass Amherst. Athletes wore the device for 4 weeks before an online survey was administered. The survey included a measure of feelings towards accuracy of both sleep and activity measures and feelings towards self from using the device. Results revealed that 17.7% of student-athletes wearing the Fitbit Flex device perceived the device as unreliable while only 11.11% of the student-athletes wearing the Misfit Shine perceived it as unreliable. In addition, 59.6% of Fitbit Flex users and 84.4% of Misfit Shine users reported feeling more informed about their physical activity and sleep after the study. These results are consistent with findings from past research and the current hypothesis. Limitations are the small sample size and the between-groups comparison. Future studies will address this gap.
Faces are arguably the most important visual stimuli through which infants learn about their social environment. This project examines how infants process information about gender from faces by addressing two related questions. First, we ask whether infants have a social preference for faces of different genders. We test this using a crawling task where infants are given the choice of crawling towards a bucket containing a food reward that either has a male or female face attached. Second, we examine whether infants think about gender as a stable characteristic that they use to represent someone’s identity over time. We test this using a looking time task where infants’ see a pair of puppets with distinct facial features appear from behind an occluder. After seeing these two characters appear and disappear from behind the occluder, the occluder is removed revealing either one or two puppets. We measure how long infants look when either one or two puppets are revealed to determine if infants individuated the faces based on their different genders; If infants identify the two different faces as belonging to different individuals then we expect longer looking when only one face is revealed. Infants' looking behaviors in this condition are also compared to a control condition involving a male or female face and a “non-face” pattern to determine the relative salience of the difference. Together, these studies will help determine how infants’ early perception of gender differences matures into more complex thoughts and expectations.
Motor activity is a critical part of our daily life decision-making. For instance, we need to decide whether or not to drive fast if we are running late to a meeting. Thus it is important to understand the mechanisms behind them in order to enhance our understanding of decision-making. Decision-making can vary from person to person. Differences in personality traits such as impulsive and risk-taking tendencies can affect decision-making. Previous studies have shown that beta event related desynchronization (ERD) in the sensorimotor regions of the brain measured through electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) represents neural activity related with movement planning. In the present study we used EEG to measure the magnitude of beta ERD in the right inferior frontal cortex (rIFC) during a decision making task which involves decisions to initiate or inhibit a motor response in order to achieve a reward under risk. We aim to observe its relationship with impulsive and risk-taking tendencies measured via standardized survey measures.
Sleep improves memory in infants. However, whether different bouts of sleep have differing impacts on memory has yet to be assessed. At the age of 12 months, infants typically take two naps per day, with one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. In this study, eight infants participated (4 female, age = 12 months ±1 week). Each child came to the lab two separate times for a nap condition and a wake condition. All infants took two naps and stayed overnight in the lab on nap day, and took only one nap and stayed overnight in the lab on wake day. For four of the children, the morning nap was prevented (morning nap manipulation), whereas for the other four children, the afternoon nap was prevented (afternoon nap manipulation) during the wake condition. For both conditions, before the manipulated nap period (morning or afternoon) and before the overnight sleep bout, infants were shown a deferred imitation task, and their recall was tested after the bout time concluded. Brain activity was recorded using polysomnography during nap, wake, and overnight sessions. Results so far are inconclusive, showing no significant results. This is likely due to the small sample size. It is predicted that with a larger sample size, there will be a nap benefit for memory such that infants will perform better on the deferred imitation task on the day they took two naps compared to the day they only took one.
Sleep extension improves cognitive functioning of young children. However, the neural mechanism underlying this effect is unknown. Thus, the aim of the current study was to examine how sleep extension altered sleep physiology and whether these changes were related to changes in cognitive functioning of young children. Thirteen typically-developing children, 6-9 years of age, were recruited. Participants obtained 10-or-less hours of sleep per night, and had a bedtime after 8:00p.m. Children completed a five-day baseline period using their normal bedtime, and a five-day sleep extension period, during which their bedtime was 1.5 hours earlier than baseline. Actigraphy was used to record sleep patterns during both testing periods to assure accordance with experimental procedures. During each testing period, participants spent one night in the sleep lab, where sleep physiology was recorded using polysomnography. A Go/No-Go task was used to assess inhibitory control before and after overnight sleep. Preliminary results show that total sleep time was significantly greater and sleep onset time was significantly earlier during sleep extension(p’s<0.01). Inhibitory control was significantly greater in the morning than at night for both conditions(F(1,11)=9.51, p=0.01). However, inhibitory control did not differ between baseline and extension periods(F(1,11)=1.14, p=0.309). These findings suggest that inhibitory control is improved following overnight sleep in young children, regardless of the amount of sleep. This could be because our sample consisted of typically-developing children who may already have sufficient inhibitory control and therefore do not benefit from sleep extension. Future analyses will examine the effect of sleep extension on sleep physiology.
Increasing evidence suggests that midday naps facilitate some emerging regulatory behaviors in early childhood, such as the ability to self-regulate emotional responses. Another regulatory behavior that may be developing at this age is inhibitory control—the ability to suppress prepotent responses. Inhibitory control is important, as it has been positively linked to academic and social functioning later in life. Although naps facilitate some regulatory processes in early childhood, the specific impact of naps on inhibitory control in preschoolers has yet to be investigated. To study the relation between inhibitory control and naps, we tested 5 children (M= 3.8 years, SD= 0.63; 2F) recruited from the area using a within-subjects design. Inhibitory control was tested using a zoo-themed Go/No-Go task where children were instructed to make a button response when they saw an animal (Go trials) and withhold a button response when they saw a chimpanzee (No-Go trials). Children were tested 4 times: before and after a polysomnography-recorded nap, and before and after an equivalent wake period. Accuracy on the No-Go trials was compared post-nap and post-wake using a paired samples t-test. Preliminary results show a significant increase in accuracy on No-Go trials post-nap, compared to post-wake accuracy, suggesting a beneficial effect of naps on inhibitory control. These results suggest midday naps in children may facilitate some aspects of cognitive control, allowing children to monitor behaviors that facilitate attainment of their goals. Conversely, nap deprivation may hinder this ability, which may put them at risk for reward-seeking behavior later in life.
Sleep has several effects on daytime functioning for young children including improved attention, academic performance, and memory consolidation. Previous research indicates that sleep-dependent memory consolidation can be observed after a nap when using a visuo-spatial declarative memory task. The present study investigated immediate and delayed benefits of a nap on declarative memories for preschool-aged children using a sequential memory task. It was hypothesized that daytime napping would improve consolidation of declarative memories in the sequential memory paradigm. Participants included 18 children ranging from 33-66 months of age. The task was a 10-page storybook depicting a sequence in an event. During the encoding phase participants were read two different stories, then later tested on their ability to recall the sequence presented in the book during encoding. During the classroom naptime, participants were encouraged to take a nap (nap condition) or stay quietly awake (wake condition). Memory was probed immediately after learning the sequence (immediate recall), right after the nap/wake manipulation (delayed recall), and 24 hours after encoding (24-hour recall). Results indicated that the declarative memory was greater in the nap condition than the wake condition (p<.01). A similar benefit was seen in the 24-hour recall (p<.05). Accuracy of the delayed recall and 24-hour recall were compared to the immediate recall results. The results support the hypothesis that daytime napping improves consolidation of declarative memories in a sequential memory task. Children who napped also demonstrated improved declarative memory during the 24- hour recall as well, indicating napping also benefits long-term memory consolidation.
Prior research shows that infants are capable of judging the social behaviors of others as helpful or unhelpful. However, no prior study has shown whether infants categorize others by these behaviors and whether they view such socio-moral actions as stable traits. In our poster we present evidence from several looking-time experiments testing 11-month old infants' responses to characters that exhibit helpful or unhelpful behaviors towards others. During test trials, infants observed a sequence of events involving a puppet appearing twice from behind an opaque screen to interact with a character struggling to open a box. The screen was then lowered to reveal either one or two puppets on the stage and infants’ looking times were measured. Infants who observed identical-looking puppets perform two opposite social actions (e.g., being helpful vs. unhelpful towards another) assumed that 2 different puppets would be present behind the screen (Experiment 1). In contrast, infants who observed identical-looking puppets performing the same social actions showed no such expectation (Experiment 2). In Experiment 3 we determined that infants’ expectations were based on actions that were different socially, and not based on puppets exhibiting different patterns of movement, per se. Finally, in Experiment 4 we tested whether infants expect that a puppet will treat all other characters the same way by showing infants’ puppets that perform opposite social actions but to two different recipients. Together these studies help describe one early foundation of social and moral judgment that may be present in infancy.
Evidence suggests that stress, anxiety, and depression may impart a negative emotional bias. Compared to healthy controls, distressed individuals have been shown to exhibit attentional and memory biases towards negative stimuli and away from positive stimuli. One treatment that may reduce negative bias and improve overall well-being is mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). Emotional memories are consolidated, or strengthened, preferentially during sleep as opposed to wake. Recent evidence suggests that sleep strengthens emotional memory bias and such processing may influence emotional well-being. Thus, the effects of mindfulness training may be particularly pronounced for sleep-dependent processing, and sleep may mediate the beneficial effects of such training. The goal of the present study is to determine the effects of MBSR on sleep-dependent processing of emotional memories. Using an emotional picture memory task, participants’ emotional memory will be evaluated before and after completing an 8-week MBSR course. At each time point, participants will have a 12-hour period of wake (wake group) or sleep (sleep group) between first viewing positive, negative, and neutral pictures and subsequent memory testing. It is hypothesized that MBSR will reduce negative memory bias (the ratio of negative to positive pictures remembered) and improve emotional well-being (assessed with questionnaires). Importantly, it is expected that the reduction in negative memory bias will be more pronounced in participants in the sleep group than the wake group. This would suggest that emotional benefits of mindfulness training may be due to changes in sleep-dependent processing of emotional memories.
Postpartum depression is a serious psychiatric condition that has deleterious effects on the mother and can lead to compromised social interaction and communication between the new mother and her infant. Maternal anhedonia, a decreased ability to experience pleasure, is a major clinical feature central to postpartum depression that likely contribute to deficits in parenting. Rats emit ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) in different social contexts that are thought to reflect their affective state and serve affiliative communicative functions. The present study uses Wistar-Kyoto (WKY), an animal model of depression-like symptomatology, and control Sprague-Dawley (SD) mother rats to investigate their affective responses during social interaction with their pups, as measured by their USVs during a maternal behavior test. In order to determine which member of the mother-infant dyad was calling, three additional recording scenarios were implemented: i) mother alone, ii) mother anesthetized with pups, and iii) pup alone. Total number of calls, peak frequency, bandwidth, duration, and amplitude of calls were analyzed to create a detailed catalog of the mother USV profile. Both WKY and SD dyads predominantly produced high-frequency USVs, in the 38-80 kHz frequency range, termed ~50 kHz calls that have been associated with positive affective states. Preliminary analysis of results indicates that WKY mothers exhibited fewer vocalizations as compared with SD ones, indicative of anhedonia. Taken together, these results provide evidence for the presence of maternal USVs during mother-litter interactions, and further suggest that variations in USVs produced by mothers during social interaction with their pups may function as an index of their positive maternal affect.
Instinctively, adults understand that a person’s ‘insides’ are what matters most. Similarly, even infants seem biased to associate a character’s movement to internal features (e.g., its stomach) than to its external features (e.g., hair). Other works shows that infants of the same age are able to perceive the actions of others in sociomoral terms—categorizing some actions as helpful and others as hurtful. Do infants attribute such sociomoral actions to a character’s internal features? We examined this question by testing whether infants associate characters’ moral behaviors with internal rather than external features. In our first experiment infants observed novel characters interacting with others in either helpful or unhelpful ways. Each character had a salient feature on both its outside and on its insides (visible through its transparent body). When presented with scrambled versions of these characters infants preferred to reach towards the one that displayed the internal property and not the external property that was similar to the helpful character. A control condition tests whether or not this effect was due to a perceptual bias or due to infants believing that the character’s insides actually cause it to move. Preliminary results indicate that when the inside properties are removed the infants do not attribute the cause of the actions, suggesting that infants associate a character’s internal feature with the cause of their unique behavior. We argue that such early biases towards internal properties may serve as the foundation for more mature thinking about social and moral behavior.
Although cohabiting and single-mother families are the fastest growing family types in the U.S., little research has examined linkages between unintended pregnancy and relationship quality among these groups, because the predominant focus has been on married couples. Thus, the current study examines the role of pregnancy intention (i.e., planned vs. unplanned pregnancy) as a predictor of new parents’ relationship stability, quality, and satisfaction. Participants are 207 low-income women from racially diverse backgrounds who identified as single, cohabiting, or married and are expecting a baby. Descriptive analysis address whether or not pregnancy intentions differ across family structure, race, and ethnicity groups. Married couples have the highest percentage of planned pregnancies, with a fewer planned pregnancies among cohabiting couples and the fewest among single mothers. Additionally, single Black and Latina women report the highest rates of unplanned pregnancy compared to their peers. Additional analyses, using One-way ANOVAs, will determine whether pregnancy intention (planned, unplanned, or unsure of intention) is associated with women’s perceptions of (a) relationship stability, (b) relationship satisfaction, and (c) relationship quality with their baby’s biological father. It is hypothesized that women reporting unplanned and unsure pregnancy intentions will report less relationship stability, less relationship satisfaction, greater conflict and less love in their relationships, compared to women whose pregnancies were planned. Altogether, a deeper understanding of pregnancy intention can give healthcare providers and relationship counselors a more holistic understanding about the variety of stressors that affect partners during the transition to parenthood.
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are a type of brominated flame retardant that are extensively found in a wide range of commercial products. The level of PBDEs in human tissue and breast milk has been exponentially increasing for the past 30 years. Previous studies of PBDE toxicity have focused on neurodevelopment, endocrine and reproductive endpoints. Although PBDE are highly lipophilic and bioaccumulate in adipose tissue, it is not clear if they induce any toxic response in this storage depot. In our study, we exposed pregnant mice to 0.2 mg/kg BW/day of BDE-47 from pregnancy day 8 through post-partum day 2, and harvested gonadal adipose tissue from randomly selected male pups on post-natal day 21. RNA-seq was performed using a NextSeq 500 sequencing system, and sequencing data was analyzed using three bioinformatics software: DAVID, GSEA and IPA. We found no significant differences in litter size, total body weight and adipose tissue weight between control and exposed pups. Bioinformatics analysis revealed that genes involved in the complement and coagulation cascade, xenobiotic metabolism, lipid metabolism and transport were significantly suppressed. Particularly, several coagulation tissue factors, serine protease inhibitors, cytochrome P450, and apolipoprotein genes were downregulated. Given that adipose tissue is involved in secretion of various adipocytokines and tissue factors, our results suggest that the accumulation of PBDEs in adipose tissue could be interfering with these functions. The lack of phenotypic observations to support our findings limits our study. Nevertheless, our findings warrant further investigation to understand the relationship between PBDE and its effect in the physiological role of adipose tissue.
Many people are diagnosed with Lyme disease on a yearly basis. Interestingly, but some get better with antibiotics and others do not. The purpose of this study is to find out why certain patients that get treatment with the recommended antibiotic Doxycycline get better, while others have a refractory response and only end up having even further complications with Lyme disease. To gain some insight to why this might occur, I will be conducting retrospective studies (with IRB approval) on Lyme patients to establish their health status when diagnosed, as well as any confounding factors, including supplements taken, topical treatments (e.g. lotions, fragrances) and occupation. I will also be looking for links to month diagnosed and area visited. My goal is to establish a correlation to time of year when bites occurred, preventative measures, and pre-existing conditions. I will also be exploring the mechanisms by which infection with Borrelia Burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme Disease, invades the body’s nervous tissue to cause neuro-Lyme, which is significantly harder to treat and eradicate. In addition, I will be working to try to establish a Rhode Island Chapter of the National Lyme Disease Association to increase public awareness of the disease. I do believe that Lyme Disease will one day be curable, once we know more about the mechanisms by which it invades the body and all the risk factors for infection and severity of infection.
This paper investigates the effect that sibling birth spacing has on long-term health outcomes. Closely spaced children may form warmer bonds, but this can reinforce delinquent behaviors such as adolescent drinking and smoking. Further, research suggests that sibling influence is stronger than parental influence with regard to alcohol and tobacco use. Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, this analysis seeks to estimate the effect that birth spacing has on risky behaviors, such as drinking and smoking, and their implications for cardiovascular health in adults aged twenty-four to thirty-four. Respondents were initially interviewed in 1994 and 1995 when they were between seventh and twelfth grade and subsequent interviews have reoccurred every three to four years since. Data include information about family composition, sibling relationships, alcohol use, and tobacco use, as well as biomarkers such as cholesterol, body mass index, and blood pressure. I then use both non-linear and linear regression models to estimate a casual relationship between birth spacing and long-term health outcomes. Preliminary findings suggest that parents who are poorer and less educated are more likely to have birth spacing intervals less than 12 months. Additionally, as birth spacing increases, older siblings are less likely to smoke. These results suggest that policies intended to help women increase birth spacing, such as insurance-covered contraception, could potentially be used as an intervention for mitigating adverse health in adulthood.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) leads to approximately 17.5 million deaths in the world every year, according to the World Health Organization. Approximately 375,000 deaths are related to CVD in the United States each year, making it a leading cause of death in the US. There are a plethora of societal factors that are strongly associated with cardiovascular disease. Many of these such as, lack of health care access, high rates of unhealthy behaviors (such as smoking), lack of access to healthy foods, and jobs that are physically stressful are more frequent within lower income communities. We are going to research stressors that are considered to be risk factors for CVD, especially within lower income urban areas, such as Springfield, MA. According to Partners for a Healthier Community, Inc., which is located in Springfield, MA, heart disease was the leading cause of death in Springfield in 2011. We will research programs and policies that have been shown to address these stressors and improve cardiovascular health. We aim to recommend programs associated with decreasing disparity and policy initiatives that are known to promote healthier life choices, specifically for implementation in Springfield, MA.
Diabetes is a serious health condition and is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. It occurs when a person’s pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin or when their body cannot use insulin efficiently. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and can lead to health complications such as heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and amputation. Diabetes can be developed at any age, although it occurs most commonly in adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 29.1 million American adults are living with diabetes. In South Texas, 11% of the adult population is diabetic. Key risk factors associated with diabetes include obesity, physical inactivity, older age, impaired glucose tolerance, and race/ethnicity. Compared to the rest of Texas, Hispanic adults in South Texas have a higher prevalence of diabetes and a higher diabetes mortality rate than white non-Hispanic adults. Type 2 Diabetes is largely preventable and in some cases, reversible. This project will evaluate existing interventions, including health literacy resources, that can help to reduce death and disability as a result of Type 2 diabetes and make recommendations based on the findings. A review of the literature will be conducted using the University of Massachusetts Amherst Library Databases, including PubMed and the Cochrane Library. We will evaluate evidence-based practices with a focus on health literacy to create a plan that will improve the outcomes of those at risk for and living with Type 2 diabetes.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a brain disorder that affects over 10% of school-age children, and this percentage continues to grow. Many people consider ADHD to be a childhood disorder, although there are a significant number of adults with the disorder. When discussing treatment options there are several aspects to consider including age, developmental level, the intensity of the symptoms, and individual/familial preferences. This study is a review of literature relating to treatment options for ADHD. The most common forms of treatment are behavioral therapy, medications, and a combination. The current standard of treatment in the United States is as follows: children under six receive behavioral therapy only, children over six receive combination therapy, adolescents over age 12 and adults usually receive medication only. Treatment varies geographically as well as among healthcare providers. Behavioral therapy takes many forms, and may focus on the child and/or the family or guardian. Medications are individual specific, with different dosing and management of side effects, all unique to the individual. One major problem with prescribing medication treatment to individuals is the immense deficit of knowledge pertaining to the long-term effects of stimulants. Using previous research, this paper reviews the effectiveness of treatment options, and identifies the need for continued research to assist individuals and families in their treatment decisions.
Accurate nutrition information is needed for the 29 million people with diabetes in the US. However, information about topics including carbohydrate, fiber and artificial sweeteners (AS) may be unintentionally confusing. We surveyed 41 people with diabetes in a clinical setting to assess their understanding of these three categories. The average age of subjects was 60 +/- 14 yrs. Of the 41 subjects, 27 were on medicines which would be directly affected by mealtime carbohydrates (short-acting insulin, glitinidies, incretins, glucosidase inhibitors). Subjects reported multiple sources of dietary information including: dietitian (30), diabetes classes (17), weight loss programs (4), and books/magazines (19). Over 80% described their diabetes control as "fair" or "good". However, almost 58% felt they did not receive enough information about at least one of the categories from their providers. The response accuracy for five sample questions on carbohydrate counting was only 47% and was less for fiber (36%). Almost all ranked fiber as very important to a diabetic patient’s diet, but only 53% could accurately identify daily fiber recommendations. The percent of subjects who believed there was a health difference between various AS for the general public or for people with diabetes was 64% and 42%, respectively. Although the majority of this sample had seen a dietician and been prescribed a regimen affecting mealtime carbohydrates, gaps in knowledge/confidence persist in specific areas. We conclude that there is a need to improve information regarding carbohydrates, fiber and AS for people with diabetes who take medications directly affecting mealtime carbohydrates.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is an umbrella term that is used to describe inflammatory conditions that can occur in the digestive tract. This inflammation leads to symptoms such as: persistent diarrhea, abdominal pain, cramping, rectal bleeding, and fatigue. The exact causes for IBD are unknown. However, there are several risk factors that can result in someone suffering from IBD. These risk factors include genetics, smoking, ethnicity, and geographical region. Approximately 1.6 million Americans currently have IBD, many of whom are diagnosed with this disease before the age of 35. IBD can affect both men and women equally. The two most common diseases that fall under IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. These diseases disrupt the responsibilities of the digestive tract in breaking down food, taking nutrients, and the removal of waste. Disruption to these responsibilities can be painful and often life-threatening. IBD can be diagnosed through various tests such as taking stool samples or blood tests. There are several treatments available such as: medication, antibiotics, or surgery. We will undertake a literature review to understand the risk factors and potential prevention and treatment strategies for IBD. We will evaluate possible interventions and make nutritional recommendations for action to reduce the burden of this disease.
Multiple myeloma is a rare form of cancer that affects 4 out of every 100,000 people each year. The cancer is located in the bone marrow which produces red blood cells that carry oxygen through the body, white blood cells that fight infection, and platelets which help clot blood. When abnormal plasma cells multiply at an exponential rate, tumors begin to form in the bone marrow. Recent research has found that as a result of genetics, somatic mutations of plasma cells have been identified in people with multiple myeloma. These mutations case the plasma cells to multiply in an uncontrolled way. Individuals who are at a higher risk for multiple myeloma are: older than 45 years of age, biologically male, African-American, have had exposure to radiation, and have a history of other types of plasma cell diseases. The most common forms of treatment for multiple myeloma are: biological therapy, chemotherapy, stem cell transplantation, and radiation therapy. Once diagnosed, 48% of patients survive up to five years. The purpose of this project is to investigate the role of genetics in multiple myeloma and possible preventative measures that can be utilized to either slow down, or stop the formation of tumors. A literature review will be performed using the University of Massachusetts Library using key terms “multiple myeloma”, “multiple myeloma genetics”, and “multiple myeloma treatment”. We will evaluate the most promising treatment approaches, barriers to widespread adoption, and make recommendations for action to reduce the burden of this disease.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, rainforests across the world are being cleared at a rate of 300 football fields per hour to farm palm oil. This results in mass deforestation, the extinction of multiple species, and contributes to greenhouse gases. The accumulation of carbon dioxide and other gases become trapped in the atmosphere causing the global temperature to rise, as stated by the Environmental Protection Agency. This rise in emissions is accelerated by deforestation; with fewer trees, less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is converted into oxygen. Palm oil farms replace forests in West Africa and Southeast Asia to fulfill the demand for palm oil that is found in almost half of packaged foods in the U.S. Safe living conditions and the public health of communities are at risk for many populations around the world dealing with climate change. Potential risk factors include heat waves, wildfires, air pollution, water wars, crop failures and infectious diseases resulting in severe health consequences. By examining peer reviewed articles we will determine the health effects of palm oil on the environment and human health and elaborate on the effects and importance of limiting air and water pollutants. Our findings will exemplify how significant the forests and rainforests are to maintaining a healthy planet by showing the effects of deforestation through data and attempt to identify a way to limit palm oil usage. As natural resources diminish it is critical to conserve what we have and find alternatives to support the growing population.
Beginning in 2014, the water supply in Flint, MI has been contaminated with high levels of lead. As many as 7,306 children within our focused age range who were tested were reported to have elevated blood lead levels. Lead has a dangerous impact on children due to their developing brains. Behavioral issues, slowed growth, and anemia are just some of the many ways lead is harmful to children. Lead levels in water exceeding 15 parts per billion (ppb) require action from the EPA. 90% of the drinking water samples taken by ACLU showed that the lead levels in Flint were around 25 ppb. Since 2014, action has been taken to achieve clean drinking water, but as of this year, the water is still not drinkable and must be filtered before use. Using the University of Massachusetts Amherst library databases and research from the EPA and CDC, we will conduct a literature review using key terms such as Flint, MI water, lead exposure in children, and lead and the developing brain. This project seeks to explore the impacts and possible solutions to the contaminated water supply. If additional strategies to address this problem are implemented, such as continuing the replacement of lead pipes as well as developing improved corrosion control protection, we hope that lead-associated problems will be reduced for the next generation of children in Flint, MI.
The purpose of this research project is to analyze the disparity of opioid dependence across a multitude of counties in the state of Massachusetts, as well as understand how primary prevention at the population level can reduce opioid dependence in at-risk counties. After analyzing data provided by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, we found that the counties in Massachusetts that have the highest drug dependence are Essex, Plymouth, Bristol, and Barnstable. In Massachusetts, 1379 unintentional overdoses were recorded in 2016; this is an increase of 350% since 2000, resulting in a crisis that involves people of all ages, gender and races. This study will utilize the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, County Health Rankings, PubMed and CINAHL databases to extract information and investigate possible solutions to the rising opioid epidemic in Massachusetts. In order to determine which factors lead to higher opioid death rates, it is vital to immerse ourselves into the lives of people at risk. We will contact several rehabilitation facilities in susceptible counties and inquire about their recent experiences with opiate abuse. When comparing the rates, it is evident that there are several risk factors that are directly correlated with a higher incidence of opioid abuse. Our expectation is that mental and physical health, demographic factors, rates of previous incarceration, and prescriber behavior will be associated with higher opioid dependency. After reviewing existing qualitative and rehabilitation-based data, we aim to provide prescriber and individual awareness strategies for the mitigation of opioid abuse endemic to high-risk communities.
According to the Bureau of Justice statistics, 61.2% of female inmates in federal prisons are faced with mental health issues. Current prison systems, for the most part, lack programs able to mend this problem, leading to an increase in or failure to reduce recidivism. These inmates are also prone to joblessness, homelessness, and loss of custody of their children after being discharged. A comprehensive literature review will be assembled in order to research programs that can address and lessen the impacts of mental illness by helping women cope, and define the problem more succinctly. In particular we will define the scope of the problem in Hampden County Women’s Correctional Facility as well as Massachusetts Committing Institution (MCI) Framingham, and build a specific set of recommendations that can be applied. We will then research existing international and domestic programs that address and lessen the impacts of mental illness. A better understanding of how to resolve problems of mental health in incarcerated female populations can lead to improved treatment and better facilities in the U.S. The most prevalent types of mental health issues stem from traumas associated with physical or sexual abuse, depression, and substance abuse. These key risk factors affect the psyche and educational performance of children and those connected to the incarcerated individuals. Solutions may be modeled after international and federal prisons that implemented successful programs that greatly improved the mental health of inmates and lowered the rates of recidivism as well as impacts on individuals related to the inmates.
Over the past decade, the non-medical use of prescription opioids has become the fastest growing form of drug abuse in the United States. Young adults, ages 15-24, are the largest afflicted population. The increase in use of prescription opioids has not only led to the increase of accidental overdoses but also to the increase use of heroin and dependence. According to the Mayo clinic, the leading risk factors for opioid dependence include: younger age (young teens and early 20s), preceding psychiatric issues, easy access to prescription drugs and a family history of substance abuse. The problem is particularly severe in rural Kentucky. This project's goal is to examine the existing literature on the risk factors for making a transition from prescription opioid use to heroin abuse. We will conduct a literature-based review to focus on improving transition prevention practices and access to care among young adults. This exploration will be done through the University of Massachusetts at Amherst database system, using keywords such prescription opioids, addiction, and Kentucky. Our project will identify areas for improvement in opioid abuse prevention and make recommendations that, if implemented, could reduce the severe public health toll of opioid drug dependence.
Each year across the United States, an estimated 40 million people, 6 million of whom are children, are food insecure. The United States Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as households or individuals who have uncertain access to adequate food. As a general trend, Hispanics and African Americans are more than twice as likely to be food insecure than White, non-Hispanics. In Massachusetts, approximately one in ten people are food insecure. Some contributing risk factors include geographic location, low socioeconomic status, high unemployment rates, and high costs of living. Previous studies have shown that food insecurity is associated with an increased risk of low birth weight, cognitive developmental delays, low academic achievement and behavioral challenges among children, while chronic diseases, such as obesity and diabetes, are observed in both children and adults. Although there are resources in place, such as federal food assistance programs for those vulnerable to food insecurity, there are still large disparities in accessibility to these resources among different population groups. Access to sufficient and proper nutrition is a crucial component of physical and mental health among populations of all ages and backgrounds, and thus, widening accessibility to existing food assistance programs, implementing additional programs, and passing legislation will aid in combatting food insecurity across the coun