2016 Sigma Zeta National Convention Presentation Abstracts

 Benjamin AlbersAli Al Saegh | Quinton BarnesKatie Beverley | Caitlin Behme | Codi Jo Broten | Alexander Cardascio | Dianessa Dizon | Maria Donnay

 Robin Fettig | Bethany FreelandMadeline Gemuenden | Grason GodfreyJoseph Hare | Taylor Hatch | David Hollis | Bailey Houle | Meia Kjellberg

   Joel Manzi | Brooke MaruskaAlexandra Nash | Matthew NelsonMarissa Owen | Peter Piers* | Amanda ScanameoHannah Schmiesing | 

Hunter Smith | Mikalah Smith | Jordan Thomas | Jessica Watson* | Madeline Weber | Elisabeth H. Wynia | Sara Yeh | Ashlyn York*

* Recipients of Sigma Zeta Research Awards


 Abstract Submission Form [Abstracts will be posted as they are submitted.]

 


  Benjamin Albers and Dr. David Houghton

Chapter: Alpha Psi
Hillsdale College
Life Sciences
Oral Session Presentation
Date Submitted: 2016-03-08

Determination of Discontinuity in a Pristine, Small Michigan River through Benthic Metabolism and T-RFLP Analysis 

This study utilized direct measures of benthic metabolism and a T-RFLP analysis of benthic sediment samples to evaluate the effects of terrestrial habitat change of a northern Michigan river with minimal anthropogenic disturbance. The study sites exhibited rapid transitions in terrestrial habitat, following a downstream progression of dense riparian vegetation and canopy cover interrupted by a floodplain, and ultimately transitioning back to dense canopy cover over the course of 3.5 km. Direct measurement of gross primary production (GPP) and respiration (R24), which serve as indicators of metabolic activity occurring within benthic communities, were obtained through physicochemical sampling of in-situ incubation chambers. Preliminary results were inconclusive, and suggested the importance of substrate type within study sites on benthic metabolism. A T-RFLP analysis of benthic sediment samples taken from the study sites, therefore, will be used to evaluate differences in microbial assemblages between benthic communities, and may provide a further answer on the effects of varying substrate and terrestrial habitat on biological assemblages and benthic metabolism.


 

 Erik Bye, Ali Al Saegh, Phil Kuball, M. Gus McCarthy, and Jason Askvig, PhD Poster Presentation

Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College
Life Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: 2016-03-09

Changes in the protein levels of an anti-sprouting factor, thy-1, with age in the supraoptic nucleus: implications for a role in collateral axonal sprouting

It has been demonstrated that a young brain can overcome injury by axonal sprouting; however, it is well understood that the mature brain has a reduced capacity for functional or structural reorganization following injury. To this point, following injury, uninjured axons from the supraoptic nucleus (SON) undergo collateral axonal sprouting in the 35-day-old rat, but not in 125-day-old rats. Therefore, it appears that within the SON there are age-related changes that preclude the older rat from recovering following injury. Cell adhesion molecules have been previously demonstrated to play a role in axonal sprouting, both in a stimulatory and inhibitory manner. Thus, we compared protein levels of the integrin family of cell adhesion molecules and the integrin receptor, thy-1, which is an anti-sprouting factor that interacts with integrin receptors, in 35 to 125-day-old SON using Western blot analysis. Our results demonstrated that there was more thy-1 protein present in the 125-day-old rat SON compared to 35 day-old rat SON. Conversely, there was no difference in the protein levels of alpha v, beta 3, or beta 5 integrin when comparing the sprouting (35-day-old rat) and non-sprouting SON (125-day-old rat). Our results suggest that the observed increase in thy-1 protein levels in the SON with age may contribute to an environment that prevents the collateral axonal sprouting in the SON of an older rat.


  Quinton Barnes, Brittany Miller, Cheyenne Parker

Chapter: Beta Eta
Evangel University 
Life Sciences
Oral Session Presentation
Date Submitted: 2016-03-10

Developing Partnerships for Research: The stake holder tightrope

Research often requires the investigator to leave the confines of their domain. When leaving controlled domain, stakeholders included in the decision process can have a great impact on the scope and direction of research. This relationship need not be contentious. Partnering with stakeholders can bring focus and enlighten research. Insight gained through interaction with stakeholders can guide scientific inquiry to solve problems which may not have been immediately apparent to the investigator. The stakeholder-investigator interaction is however an often overlooked element to the research process. This interaction however can have great influence. In this presentation we highlight the lessons we have learned in our cooperation with our local zoo to develop meaningful research questions.


 

 Caitlin Behme

Chapter: Rho
University of Indianapolis
Physical Sciences
Oral Session Presentation
Date Submitted: 2016-03-09

Progress toward improving the efficiency of cost-efficient photovoltaic cells

Solar energy has the potential to be a major source of energy for consumers if effective means can be produced to harness it. To that end, it is important to improve the efficiency of photovoltaic cells in order for them to be a viable option in converting solar energy into electrical energy. Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) are an alternative to silicon-based photovoltaic cells and if their efficiency can be improved, they have the potential to be another available option for consumers of solar energy to utilize.  In this presentation, the construction and evaluation of various DSSCs will be presented.  Focus will be given to the impact different gasket materials and conductive glasses used in their assembly, the development of a self-made testing box for their effectiveness, and differences in properties observed when different sensitizing dyes are used.

  


 

 Katie M. Beverley

Chapter: Rho
University of Indianapolis
Life Sciences
Oral Session Presentation
Date Submitted: 2016-03-09

Ciprofloxacin, 5-Flouracil, and Gemcitabine as Adjuvant Chemotherapy Agents for Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic Cancer is one of the most lethal cancers with most patients dying within the first 5 years after diagnosis. Frequently it arises from cells in the pancreatic ducts and often fails to be diagnosed until it has already metastasized, and thus is significantly harder to treat. For these reasons, alternative therapy options should be investigated. We observed that ciprofloxacin kills pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma cells but not healthy human cells. 5-Flourouracil is a commonly used chemotherapeutic agent that inhibits DNA replication in the S-phase of the mitotic cell cycle. Another common chemotherapeutic is the nucleotide analog Gemcitabine (dFdC) which functions in a similar manner to 5-Flourouracil. We hypothesized ciprofloxacin would augment the anti-cancer effects of 5-Flourouracil and Gemcitabine. To evaluate this hypothesis, MIA PaCa-2 human ductal adenocarcinoma cells were cultured and treated with 5-Flourouracil and ciprofloxacin separately and then in combination for 24 hours.  A combination of gemcitabine and ciprofloxacin was tested in the same manner. The data from this study suggest that the combinations were more effective than either drug treatment independently. Therefore, further studies should be conducted to elucidate the mechanism of action for these drug combinations.


 

Codi Jo Broten and Dr. Francis X. Steiner

Chapter:Alpha Psi
Hillsdale College
Life Sciences
Oral Paper Presentation
Date Submitted: 2016-02-14

Evaluation of Forskolin for Desmutagenic and Antioxidant Activity via the SOS Chromotest and DPPH Assay

The bacterial SOS response involves the induction of a set of genes when a stressful state develops, such as DNA damage. In my experiment, these genes were induced via the addition of NQO, a known mutagen, activating the sfiA gene promoter and inducing Beta galactosidase synthesis. To test to see whether Forskolin, a popular diet supplement, is an ameliorative agent, Escherichia coli PQ37 was administered varying concentrations of NQO and treated with varying concentrations of Forskolin. The SOS response was monitored using SOS Chromotest. In order to mimic physiological conditions, some assays were run with S9 mix from rat liver homogenate. To measure the amount of genotoxic activity, a plate reader was used to quantitatively record the level of DNA damage, expressed by a yellow nitrophenol product. From the OD reading provided by the spectrophotometer, an IC value was calculated to measure inhibition. The IC value was then used in calculating a SOSIP value to compare genotoxicity. Additionally, the DPPH assay was performed with Forskolin to test whether the drug is an antioxidant. The DPPH assay uses the scavenging activity of the DPPH free radical as a measure for antioxidant activity. With the use of a spectrophotometer, IC50 values can be calculated from OD readings. Using a multiple linear regression, it was determined Forskolin has no significant promutagenic or desmutagenic capacity. The concentration of NQO used was significant in promutagenic activity. Forskolin also has no significant antioxidant activity, as demonstrated when compared with tart cherry juice.


 

Alexander Cardascio, Paris W. Barnes, and Timothy L. Guasco
Poster Presentation

Chapter: Pi
Millikin University
Physical Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: 2016-03-03

The Effects of Late Transition Metal Nanoparticles on the Formation of Carbonic Acid

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that is largely produced through human activities. Scientists have explored multiple methods to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere including its sequestration in water, forming carbonic acid. Bhaduri and Siller (Catal. Sci. Tech. 2013, 3, 1234-1239) reported a significant increase in water’s ability to dissolve carbon dioxide using nickel nanoparticles as a catalyst. This work focused on the effects of nickel, copper, or zinc nanoparticles on the hydration of carbon dioxide. The pH and conductivity of carbon dioxide-treated deionized ultra-filtered (DIUF) water and 30-ppm metal nanoparticle suspensions were monitored for 450-second periods. The DIUF water, nickel, and copper nanoparticle suspensions produced nearly identical results with respect to carbonic acid production. However, the zinc nanoparticle suspension showed a much higher uptake of carbon dioxide. Factors such as particle surface area, shape, and acidity of the metals used are being considered as possible explanations for our findings.

 


 Dianessa Dizon, Hannah Lundstrom, Beth Ringwelski, Hunter SmithPoster Presentation

Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College 
Life Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: 2016-03-10

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

The behavioral patterns of two interacting species of squirrels, red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus),and gray squirrels (Sciurus carolinesis), were observed on Concordia College’s campus in Moorhead, MN. The Competitive Exclusion Principle states that two species are not able to coexist in the same habitat, providing they are competing for similar resources. This principle may apply to red and gray squirrels since they are potentially competing for a similar food source in the same location. The purpose of this research was to compare and contrast the activity budget of each of the squirrels. Both red and gray squirrels were observed using an ethogram. The behaviors of the squirrels were observed and recorded every thirty seconds for ten minutes.  The behaviors observed between the squirrels did differ. The red squirrels spent more time chasing while the gray squirrels spent more time foraging. This difference conveys the fact that although red and gray squirrels are a similar species, their behavioral patterns do differ. These behavioral differences appear to be related to different foraging patterns and social systems.  Thus they appear to be able co-exist by behaviorally partitioning limited resources.   


 Maria Donnay*, Julianne Ankrom, Makenzie O'Bryan, Alyssa Maine, and Jason Streubel 

Chapter: Beta Eta
Evangel University 
Environmental Science
Oral Session Presentation
Date Submitted: 2016-03-10

Effects of urine and biochar on the emergence and biomass of cow pea

Due to unpredictable weather patterns in developing countries, it is crucial that seeds emerge and plant roots develop quickly to increase the likelihood of plant survival.  The standard in commercial agriculture is to add starter fertilizers at planting however in developing countries this is not available nor advised.  A series of experiments were set up to test the effects of urine and biochar,  as a seed pretreatment by determining its effect on seed germination, emergence, and biomass production.  The soils were treated with nothing (C), 10 lbs/acre nitrogen from urine (U), biochar (B), or both (UB) with 10 replicates. Seeds of cow pea were placed in 15 cm3 pots in a standard potting mix and sandy soil and wetted to field capacity. Plants were grown 7 days past emergence.   Results showed no significant differences in biomass production between the control and UB treatments, however there were slightly negative impacts on biomass production from both U and B treatments.   Germination rates differences where none significant.   A longer growth trial may be necessary to determine if fertilizer in the soil from organics contributes to impact.  

 


 

 Robin Fettig, Bailey Houle, Dr. Graeme WylliePoster Presentation

Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College
Science Education
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: 2016-03-08

Concordia Science Academy: A Community-Based Science Outreach Organization

Concordia Science Academy is a science outreach organization involving faculty and students from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. The goal is to bring unique, entertaining and educational science-based activities to K-12 students in the Fargo-Moorhead (F-M) area. The aim is to make science available to students across the community in a fun and welcoming way. The faculty and students who participate in Science Academy are not only involved in the sciences at Concordia but are also from other academic fields which include English, business, and the arts. This diversified group of faculty and students not only help plan and run Science Academy events but they also help with new activity designs, preparation for events, and coordinating the events with various schools, libraries, and other local organizations around the F-M area and beyond.  As we have learned, an outreach program like Science Academy is not only made possible by the Concordia faculty and students but also the local organizations and charities that have worked with us. Concordia Science Academy may have originated in the F-M area but now regularly visits numerous towns throughout the Minnesota and North Dakota region.

This poster presents an overview of some of the projects carried out by the Concordia Science Academy in the past few years. Focus is given to both the types of science experiences as well as the ages of participants and the partners at the events, whether it be schools, local organizations and charities or even local TV stations. These community partners have been invaluable in making Concordia Science Academy the success it is today.

 


 

Carolyn R. Mickelson, Robin R. Fettig, and Dr. John A. FlaspohlerPoster Presentation

Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College
Life Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: 2016-03-08

Isolation and Cloning of Trypanosoma brucei Genes Involved in Lipid Droplet Function and Biogenesis

Trypanosoma  brucei, a bloodborne parasite of both humans and animals, has long been a public health concern in sub-Saharan Africa,  accounting for numerous human fatalities annually.  T. brucei is the causative agent of Human African Trypanosomiasis  (HAT), which is transmitted by the bite of the tse tse fly insect vector. Untreated cases are typically fatal. Currently, few effective treatments exist, but by obtaining a better understanding ofT.brucei genetics and physiology it is hoped that potential therapeutic drug targets can be identified. 

T. brucei is a single-celled eukaryote that possesses organelles called lipid droplets. Evidence indicates that this organelle may be important for the parasite to maintain proper lipid homeostasis as well as other critical metabolic processes.  In an attempt to learn more about lipid droplet function and biogenesis, we identified and cloned several genes from the T. brucei genome. We report here the cloning of these genes into a T. bruceiexpression vector designed to express an epitope-tagged version of the proteins.  In the future we hope to confirm the localization of the protein products of these genes to lipid droplets and extend this research toward the identification of potential drug targets in T. brucei.


 Bethany Freeland, Hannah Schmiesing, Kylee Seljevold, Katarina DomitrovichPoster Presentation

Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College
Environmental Science
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: 2016-03-09

The Effects of Burning and Elevation on Andropogon gerardii Height and Phosphorus Content in Restored Prairies 

Burning is a practice that restores nutrient levels and plant diversity to prairies. One vital nutrient, phosphorus, has been found to encourage root development in plants. Heights of big bluestem, Andropogon gerardii, were measured at two restored prairie plots at the Concordia College Long Lake Field Station near Detroit Lakes, Becker County, Minnesota. Measurements were taken at high and low elevation points on a 2013 and a 2014 burned prairie. Soil samples were collected to analyze phosphorus content. Statistical analysis indicated that both elevation and burn year had a statistical correlation with heights of A. gerardii and phosphorus levels; however, conclusions cannot be drawn as to which field or elevation contains the larger amounts of phosphorus and taller A. gerardii.


  

Madeline M. Gemuenden, Sarah E. Dotzler, Donald A. KrogstadPoster Presentation

Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College
Physical Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: 2016-03-09

Synthesis of Folic Acid Derivative of Cisplatin

Over the past 30 years, organometallic compounds have shown great medicinal promise because of their diverse structures, chemical stability, and electronic tunability. Unfortunately, many transition metal complexes are insoluble in biological fluids, and as such, recent research has focused on the preparation of water-soluble phosphines and their metal complexes. Our group has examined the little studied "cage like" water-soluble phosphine 1,3,5-triaza-7-phosphaadamantane (PTA) and used it to develop a new form of the current anti-cancer drug, Cisplatin. The newly synthesized potential drug contains two PTA complexes that possess a folic acid derivative that are able to bind to the receptors exclusive to cancerous cells. Details of the synthesis, characterization, and catalytic properties of the compounds will be discussed.

 


 

 Grason Godfrey

Chapter: Alpha Pi
Trevecca Nazarene University
Life Sciences
Oral Session Presentation
Date Submitted: 2016-03-09

GRK6, p38 MAPK, and Parkinson’s Disease: The Effects of Kinase Inhibitors on Alpha Synuclein Aggregation

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurological disorder affecting older adults in the United States. Physiologically, Parkinson’s disease is known to be caused by degeneration of dopamine-producing neurons; however, the cause of this degeneration is not completely understood. What is known is that large protein aggregates called Lewy bodies have been observed in these neurons. Lewy bodies contain relatively high levels of alpha-synuclein (αsyn), a protein involved in nuclear and synaptic events. The αsyn that aggregates to form Lewy bodies has been found to be highly phosphorylated. Therefore, two kinases (enzymes that phosphorylate proteins), GRK6 and p38 MAPK, were hypothesized in previous studies to be significant factors in the αsyn aggregation process. To further investigate the effects of GRK6 and p38 MAPK on the αsyn aggregation process, GRK6 and p38 MAPK inhibitors were tested on a neuroglioma cell line expressing a protein construct with both αsyn and part of a luciferase enzyme. Both aggregation and expression of the αsyn protein construct was quantified using a luciferase fluorescence assay and western blot, respectively. Both GRK6 and p38 MAPK inhibitors resulted in a decrease in αsyn aggregation as well as a decrease in phosphorylated αsyn levels.


 

 

Joseph Hare, Dr. Alisha Russell, Ph.D.

Chapter: Alpha Pi
Trevecca Nazarene University
Life Sciences
Oral Session Presentation
Date Submitted: 2016-03-02 

Meniscus Size: A New Approach to Meniscal Matching for Meniscal Transplants

The menisci are two C-shaped pieces of cartilage that act as shock absorbers between the femur and the tibia in the knee joint. Because the menisci are cartilage, they are avascular and do not possess the regenerative capacity of other connective tissues such as bone. Repairing large meniscal tears consists of two parts: the meniscectomy (the surgical removal of all or part of the meniscus) and the meniscal transplant. Like any transplant, the key to a successful meniscal transplant is finding a correct match. The current methods for meniscal matching include measuring a combination of bony landmarks and soft tissue insertion points through preoperative images obtained radiographically or by MRI. Because the donor is often deceased, and the recipient’s meniscus is often degraded, the measurements are not always obtainable. This research investigates a new method for meniscal matching. Height is an easily obtainable variable that could give insight into meniscal sizing. Eight cadaveric knees from the Trevecca Nazarene University Cadaver lab were dissected and the following four measurements were obtained along with the cadaver’s height: Medial Meniscus Width (MMW) and Length (MML) and the Lateral Meniscus Width (LMW) and Length (LML). The goal is to create a regression model that allows accurate meniscal measurements to be predicted from height. These predicted measurements will then be compared to the cadaveric anatomical measurements and the standard deviations will be calculated. The goal is for the height-based predictions to have a lower standard deviation than previously published standard deviations using MRI or radiography. If the standard deviations are lower, this would be suggestive that using height as a prediction for meniscal sizing is more accurate than traditional measuring techniques such as MRI or radiography.


Taylor Hatch, Jordyn Bever, Kevin GribbensPoster Presentation

Chapter: Rho
University of Indianapolis
Life Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: 2016-03-09

Ultrastructure of Spermiogenesis within the Germinal Epithelium of the Red-Eared Slider, Trachemys sctripta elegans

Trachemys sctripta elegans, more commonly known as the red-eared slider, is a turtle of the order Testudines and the family Emydidae. This turtle is most commonly found in the southern great lakes region where muddy-bottomed water and plentiful vegetation offer the most luxurious habitat for them to thrive. Histological data of spermatogenesis has been accumulating in reptiles recently, but turtles have been largely ignored. Turtles are unique in that they have long been placed in the most basal position of the living reptile taxon, but new amino acid sequence analysis, performed by Iwabe et al., has shown the turtles may be more closely related to birds and crocodiles. The following study looks at spermiogenesis within Trachemys sctripta elegans, using transmission electron microscopy. The goal of our research was to identify the ultrastructure of spermiogenesis in the species, Trachemys sctripta elegans, and be able to compare this to the observed ultrastructure of spermiogenesis in other reptiles in the future. Spermiogenesis is a highly conserved process so the results from this study could offer support or a valid argument against research done by Iwabe and his colleagues.

 


 David Hollis, Brad Neal, Levi Mielke Poster Presentation

Chapter: Rho
University of Indianapolis
Physical Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: 2016-03-10

Electrochemical analysis of 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl in different solvents using cyclic voltammetry

The organic compound 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) is one of the few stable free-radical molecules. Free-radicals are any chemical species with an unpaired electron and are generally very unstable. The central nitrogen of DPPH contains an unpaired electron yet the molecule remains mostly stable under normal conditions. The unpaired electron gives DPPH unique electrochemical properties which can be studied using cyclic voltammetry. Cyclic voltammetry is an analytical technique that applies a potential to a system causing either oxidation or reduction of the electrolyte initially, then reverses the potential to reduce or oxidize the species back to its original state. Cyclic voltammetry can determine the reversibility of the redox reaction as well as values for the potentials that cause oxidation and reduction of DPPH. Using a potentiostat, a three electrode system was prepared to observe the electrochemical reaction of DPPH in solution. The system consisted of a platinum working electrode, a platinum wire counter electrode, and both an aqueous silver/silver (I) chloride and a non-aqueous reference electrode. Applying a cyclic potential in varying magnitudes and directions as well as different solvents both affected the voltammograms for the DPPH. Further research on DPPH will involve using it in DPPH-radical-scavenging assays on anthocyanins.


 Bailey Houle, Robin Fettig, Hannah Wollenzien

Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College
Science Education
Oral Session Presentation
Date Submitted: 2016-03-10 

Concordia Science Academy: A collaborative science outreach organization run by students and faculty

Concordia Science Academy is a volunteer science outreach organization at Concordia College which involves both students and faculty.  The overarching goal of the organization is to provide educational and entertaining hands-on activities for kids of all ages in the Fargo-Moorhead area and beyond. Each year, Concordia Science Academy interacts with approximately two to three thousand K- 12 participants in the local community. In addition to running our own events, Concordia Science Academy has also been able to partner with local organizations and charities providing science experiences to an even wider audience.  Running an outreach program of this magnitude is only possible with the contributions from the student organization part of Concordia Science Academy.  The student organization is not only responsible for organizing student volunteers at the events but takes on various leadership responsibilities along with providing input on activity design and assisting in the  behind the scenes tasks.  Each year, there has been an increasing emphasis on the necessity of the student organization to help accomplish the many events and reach the numbers we have.

As a freshman in college, I began my involvement in Science Academy simply as a volunteer. The experience was so enjoyable for me it pushed me to become further involved.  By the end of my first year, I pursued a leadership position in the student organization, leading to serving as student president for the past two years. This position has granted me the opportunity to work with faculty on activity development, while allowing me to learn and grow as a scientist. Speaking with my fellow students, I am not the only one to feel this way.

This talk will provide insight and suggestions to those who are interested in developing an outreach program with particular emphasis on the benefits of strong student-faculty collaboration.


 

 Meia Kjellberg Poster Presentation

Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College 
Physical Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: 2016-03-09

Degradation of Sulfa Drugs with Chlorine Dioxide - Investigating the pH Dependence of the Reaction

The presence of pharmaceuticals in drinking water supplies as well as natural bodies of water is concerning because of the potential harmful effects on wildlife and on the human population. An example of one such contaminant is the class of anti-bacterials called sulfa drugs. These were the first synthetic anti-bacterials to be systematically used, having gained vast popularity in the 1930s. The danger of any anti-bacterials, particularly sulfa drugs, being present in the environment is the potential development of drug resistant bacteria. Many potential methods to break down these drugs exist, but frequently the method used is just as harmful to the environment of the problem it is trying to solve. As a result, researchers have focused on finding green methods to degrade these harmful pharmaceuticals. The Wyllie lab has previously investigated the efficacy of chlorine dioxide, a strong gaseous oxidant, in degrading a range of sulfa drugs. Our previous work identified variation of pH as a critical factor in the extent of degradation of sulfa drugs. Increasing levels of chlorine dioxide are known to be formed the more acidic the solution. Yet, the degradation of sulfa drugs was not shown to increase linearly with decreasing pH, suggesting the mechanism is more complex. This research systematically studied the effects of pH on the efficiency of chlorine dioxide’s degradation of sulfa drugs and will present the data obtained.


 

 Joel Manzi, Rachel Baines,  Matthew DeVore, Natasha DeVore, Trey Shupp

Chapter: Beta Eta
Evangel University 
Life Sciences
Oral Session Presentation
Date Submitted: 2016-03-10

Determination of the Crystal Structure and Kinetics of the Human Airway Trypsin-like Protease

The Human Airway Trypsin-like Protease (HAT) is a type II transmembrane serine protease (TTSP) that has been implicated in the viral infection mechanism in humans. Most trypsin proteases are found in the cytoplasmic region of the cell, and discovery of transmembrane TTSPs has created several questions as to their function in cellular processes and disease. In particular, these TTSPs have N-terminal regions in the interior of the cell and catalytic domains on the exterior of the cell indicating a potential for inclusion in cellar signaling mechanisms.

Recently, HAT has been shown to be associated with influenza and SARS-coronavirus’ entry into epithelial cells where it is located. However, a step-by-step picture of HAT’s role in this process has not been determined. Furthermore, recent studies have indicated that HAT may also play a role in skin cancer. HAT is missing from cells plagued by squamous cell carcinoma suggesting that it is disrupted by cellular process in cancerous cells and could be used as a potential marker for the disease. Although HAT is becoming a protease of interest in human disease, there is still much that is not known about this protease. Both the three-dimensional structure of HAT and its rate of action has not been determined.

In this work, we propose to solve the crystal structure of HAT and measure its turn-over kinetics. By close investigation of the structure of the protein, insight will be gained into HAT’s mechanistic role in cellular processes. The structure will used to analyze how HAT interacts with its targets. This will allow identification of important chemical motifs that control the action of the protease. Measurement of the kinetics of HAT will reveal the timescale on which it performs its proteolytic function. This information is vitally important to the understanding of the mechanisms in which this protein is involved. Ultimately, the proposed project will move the scientific community closer to unraveling the mechanism through which viruses such as influenza and SARS-CoV enter cells, and will also give insight into the role of HAT in skin cancer

 

 


 Brooke Maruska, Meia Kjellberg, Scott Schwandt, Jessica KongelfPoster Presentation

Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College 
Environmental Science
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: 2016-03-09

Wind Turbine Influence on Invertebrate and Mammal Species 

Wind turbines are becoming an essential part of sustainable energy development in America. While a great deal of research has focused on wind turbines and their effects on birds and bats, little research has focused on influences on terrestrial small mammals and invertebrates. The wind turbine “Freedom,” located in Moorhead, MN was used in our study. Three grassland sites, each a different distance from “Freedom,” site 1 (0-10M), site 2 (400M), and site 3 (4000M) were used in our study to test invertebrate and mammal presence and species diversity. Two soil samples and three mammal trapping sessions were conducted over a three-week period. While there was no significant difference in mammal species presence or species diversity across the three sites, there was a trend for more small mammals and higher diversity at the site adjacent to the turbine. There was a significant difference in invertebrate species presence across the three sites, being more present at site three. These results help illustrate the importance of considering terrestrial taxa, as well as volant species, when introducing wind turbines around the country to aid in sustainable energy production.


Alexandra Nash, Aubrey Masterson*, Brenae Hallam, Haley EckerPoster Presentation

Chapter: Beta
McKendree University
Environmental Science
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: 2016-03-09

Artificial prairie plant community effects on pollinator richness

We proposed that areas of greater plant community richness would host a larger variety of pollinator species. Data on plant and pollinator richness were obtained from three local sites each containing pollinator and non-pollinator plantings. Plant richness was assessed using 100 meter transect surveys, and pollinators were destructively sampled from each site and identified in the lab. No significant difference in mean pollinator or bee richness was found between non-pollinator and pollinator plantings. Further, there was no significant difference in plant community richness between the two plantings. However, only a fraction of the pollinator-specific species planted were successfully established at the pollinator planting sites, indicating that low establishment success of these plants could affect pollinator communities. 


 Matthew Nelson, Lily Erdal, Maddi Gemuenden, Landry HacklanderPoster Presentation

Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College
Environmental Science
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: 2016-03-09

Analyzing Effects of Urine and Meat on Vertebrate Scavenging Behavior

Scavengers are an important but often overlooked component of the ecosystem.  Through their consumption of dead and decaying organic material they assist in recycling nutrients.  This process breaks down complex compounds and makes nutrients available for primary producers.  Understanding activity of scavengers and what attracts them to an area is important in order to understand their role in the ecosystem.  Our goal was to determine whether scavenging behavior of vertebrates was impacted by the presence of animal carcasses and urine, and in what ways. Chicken carcasses and raccoon urine were used as bait and data was collected with trail cameras. The number and type of animals at each site was recorded. Our results indicated that chicken carcasses proved more efficient at attracting scavengers. Crows and weasels were only recorded in the presence of meat, while deer were more frequently observed at locations baited with urine. These trends indicate that scavengers respond to the scent of meat, while prey animals are drawn to urine scents. 


 

 Marissa Owen and Dr. R.R. Miller Jr (Thesis Advisor)

Chapter: Alpha Psi
Hillsdale College
Life Sciences
Oral Session Presentation
Date Submitted: 2016-02-04


Ethanol-induced effects on embryonic brain glutathione levels and glutathione peroxidase activities

 Exogenous ethanol is known to be detrimental to embryonic cell survival. Specifically, it increases lipid peroxidation and apoptosis. Antioxidants and the related enzymes may ameliorate the effects of the oxidative stress caused. Therefore, we asked how levels of glutathione (GSH), an antioxidant, and the activity of glutathione peroxidase (GPx), an antioxidant enzyme, would change with differing exogenous ethanol concentrations. The levels of lipid hydroperoxides (LPOs) and caspase-3 were also measured. Exogenous ethanol was administered to fertile chicken eggs in medium concentrations (1.5 mmole/kg egg) to high concentrations (3.0 mmole/kg egg) during early embryogenesis (E0-2). Water was administered to eggs representing the control group. Brains were excised from the chicks during mid embryogenesis (E15). Medium levels of exogenous ethanol decreased glutathione levels, decreased Se-dependent GPx activity, and increased caspase-3 and LPO levels, but failed to significantly decrease Se-independent GPx activity. High levels of exogenous ethanol decreased glutathione levels, Se-dependent, and Se-independent GPx activities, and increased caspase-3 and LPO levels. 


 

 Peter Piers*, Timothy L. Guasco, Anne Rammelsberg

Chapter: Pi
Millikin University
Physical Sciences
Oral Session Presentation
Date Submitted: 2016-03-09

Lysis of liposome and nanoparticle composites by laser and thermal heating

Liposome nanoparticle composite research has been on the rise with a look at utilizing them in anticancer work. Complete characterizations of the composites remain unfinished, particularly with the variety of nanoparticles and the complexation with liposomes. UV-Vis, thermal heating and light induced opening of the liposome will provide insight and aid understanding of the formation and characterization of gold nanoparticle composites with liposome. A significant challenge in using liposomes as drug carriers is properly controlling the release of the encapsulated drug. Ideally, the liposome would be stable enough to prevent the drug from leaking before entering the tumor, but fragile enough that the drug would be released soon afterwards. This project is focused on performing controlled experiments on well-characterized, synthesized HGNs and liposome/HGN composites in order to rationally investigate their thermal stability both directly via sand bath and indirectly via light induction. HGN and liposome composites showed an increase in fluoresce when heated in a sand bath for one hour at 77°C.  Thus, testing the targeted release of fluorescein or dye containing liposome/HGN composites via controlled laser intensities.


  Amanda Scanameo, Christine Skaggs, Alyssa Heffren, Kristy Wilson PhD, Rod Macrae PhD

Chapter: Gamma Eta
Marian University
Life Sciences
Oral Session Presentation
Date Submitted: 2016-03-21

In vitro analysis of the antimicrobial efficacy of rose bengal and green light against Staphylococcus aureus

In light of increasing antibiotic resistance, we modeled a recent variation of an eye procedure known as cross linking in vitro to determine if it has any potential in treating serious infections of the cornea, the eye's frontmost structure. We compared the antimicrobial effects of rose bengal and green light (RGX) to those of the current standard, riboflavin and UV-A light (CXL), againstStaphylococcus aureus, a common cause of corneal infections. To do so, S. aureus was suspended in phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) and samples were divided into five treatment groups: RGX (rose bengal soak, green light irradiation); rose bengal only (rose bengal soak, no light treatment); green light only (no soak, green light treatment); CXL (riboflavin soak, UV-A irradiation; positive control); and untreated (PBS soak, no light treatment; negative control). Samples underwent their respective soak treatment (if applicable), were plated on phenylethyl alcohol media, and exposed to their respective light treatments (if applicable). The test plates were then incubated at 37°C for 24 hours and observed for bacterial growth. Rose bengal alone was found to have an inhibitory effect on the growth of S. aureus, but at lower concentrations of rose bengal, this inhibitory effect was augmented by the addition of green light. Furthermore, RGX had a statistically significant inhibitory effect on the growth of S. aureus in vitro, while CXL did not. Our findings demonstrate that RGX inhibits the growth of S. aureus in vitro more effectively than the current cross-linking standard, CXL. These results may be useful in the development of clinical protocols to treat patients with thin corneas suffering from S. aureus corneal infections. 

 


 

 Hannah Schmiesing, Jessica Watson, Benjamin Stubbs, Marcus Comstock, Joseph Jr. Whittaker, Hannah Fordahl, Peter BergquistPoster Presentation
Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College
Environmental Science
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: 2016-03-09

Response of the small mammal community to prairie restoration in northwestern Minnesota

North American prairies have been reduced to a fraction of their original range.  Remnant prairies often remain as isolated habitat patches and require extensive management in order to maintain them.  Prairie restorations have become increasing important in returning more prairie habitat and recovery of this highly impacted ecosystem. Impacts of these efforts at prairie restoration on small mammals have not been well studied.  We conducted small mammal trapping at a number of restored and remnant prairie habitats throughout northwestern Minnesota.  Our main site was Concordia College’s Long Lake Field Station, which had several prairie plots restored in 2010.  The area is actively managed and half of the prairie plots were burned in spring of 2013 and the remainder in 2014.  Our objective was to examine the impact of restoration on the small mammal community and compare the small mammal community at restored sites with that found on nearby remnant prairies.  Our results indicate a decrease in captures of small mammals in 2013 immediately following the burn, and that populations of at least some small mammals were substantially higher on the restored prairie sites than neighboring native prairies.

 

Mikalah Smith and Dr. Jeffrey VanZant

Chapter:Alpha Psi
Hillsdale College
Life Sciences
Oral Session Presentation
Date Submitted: 2016-02-22

Acute Phase Protein Assays with qPCR in Cows and Giraffes
The acute phase response is an innate response to stimuli such as tissue damage, infection, inflammation, or trauma.  Serum proteins, or acute phase proteins (APPs), are released into the blood from the liver.  The concentration of APP in the blood varies in response to trauma.  Investigating the circulating concentrations of APPs offers promising applications in diagnosing the extent of tissue damage and the efficacy of clinical treatment.  Using beta-actin (β-actin) as a control, I focused on quantifying the major positive APPs, Haptoglobin (Hp) and serum amyloid A (SAA).  The first step of this process was RNA extraction and purification.  Second, RNA was converted to cDNA via reverse transcriptase, which was then quantified.  Primer sets were designed and optimized for use in traditional PCR using cDNA sequences of dairy cows (Bos taurus).  Using these primers, I attempted to quantify these proteins in giraffes (Giraffa campeolardis).  I successfully optimized primers, which quantified Hp, SAA, and β-actin, in both animals in traditional PCR.  Fragment lengths generated by the primers, approximately 100 base pairs, were compatible with qPCR.  SYBR green reagents were used to test the primer efficiencies of the previously optimized primer sets using qPCR.  I found the efficiencies of these primers to be insufficient for further quantification in either organism.  TaqMan probes were then tested using qPCR to quantify APPs. Quantification of APPs in giraffes using TaqMan has been unsuccessful.  However, in cows this method has yielded more reliable results and I am currently investigating Ct values to determine ratios of expression between the positive APPs and the reference protein.  This protocol was developed as a diagnostic tool for APP quantification as a biomarker of inflammation in cows and giraffes. 
 

 Hunter Smith, Jordan BolgerPoster Presentation
Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College 
Environmental Science
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: 2016-03-10

Understanding Morphological Differences of American Waterweeds that Invade Europe

Invasive species are organisms that have been introduced to an area outside of their native range. Many organizations exert significant effort and resources with hopes of reducing the spread of harmful aquatic plants, animals and other organisms.  Determining what characteristics lead to invasiveness is important in determining the most effective method of controlling the invader.  Two species, Elodea canadensis and E. nuttallii,are native in Minnesota but are invasive in Europe. The ultimate goal of this experiment was to bring to light the differences of the two Elodea species in their native and invasive environments. We analyzed the differences in plant morphology, sediment chemistry, and lake chemistry between the two species from Minnesota lakes. The best ways to morphologically determine E. canadensis from E. nuttallii was by measuring leaf size near the plant’s apical meristem and the main shoot length of the plant. Basic nutrient parameters varied by lake but not by species, indicating that differences observed among the lakes were not reflected by the presence of Elodea spp.. This summer, we will collect this same and some additional data fromElodea species in France, where these plants are invasive, to determine the differences between plants that are invasive and plants that are native and whether those differences can be exploited in controlling the plants.


 Jordan Thomas, Dr. James Hall, Dr. Areej Al-Bataineh

Chapter: Sigma
Our Lady of the Lake University
Life Sciences
Oral Session Presentation
Date Submitted: 2016-03-02

Computational model of the afferent connections to the mesocorticolimbic pathway

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that has been determined to be involved in reward signaling. One of the areas of the brain that produces dopamine is the ventral tegmental area (VTA). Two neural pathways that originate from the VTA include the mesolimbic pathway and mesocortical pathway, collectively called the mesocorticolimbic pathway. This pathway is thought to play a role in reward-prediction error signaling; however, the exact mechanism of how the VTA produces these signals is still unknown. The purpose of this research was to create a computational model that will outline the afferent pathways of the mesocorticolimbic pathway. By performing a meta-analysis on scientific literature over the afferent pathways of the mesocorticolimbic pathway, the exact function each of these afferent pathways was hypothesized, according to their function in reward-prediction error signaling. This information was then utilized to develop a computational model of the afferent pathways of the mesocorticolimbic pathway. The model allows researchers to visualize the anatomy of the mesocotricolimbic pathway and provides the physiology of this pathway, along with connecting the user to the original articles used to construct the model. This model would also give educators an interactive way to teach the anatomy and physiology of the mesocorticolimbic system.

 

 Jessica Watson*Poster Presentation
Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College 
Environmental Science
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: 2016-03-10

A Comparison of Behavioral and Spatial Interactions Between American Red (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) and Eastern Gray (Sciurus carolinensis) Squirrels

Tree squirrels (Order Rodentia, Family Sciuridae) are one of few groups to thrive in an urban setting such as on the Concordia College campus in Moorhead, MN. Our campus has a mix of deciduous and coniferous trees and supports populations of both American red (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) and eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis). These two squirrels are typically found in different habitats, with red squirrels found associated with conifers and gray squirrels found associated with deciduous forest.

Red squirrels actively defend exclusive territories and at the center of these territories is typically a midden, which is where the squirrels maintain a larderhoard (centrally stored food cache). By contrast, gray squirrels are not territorial and use scatterhoarding to store food. Gray squirrels exhibit a dominance hierarchy and may or may not nest together.

Over the past year and six months we have collared 41 squirrels and documented 495 locations. Recently we have observed some shifts in habitat use. During 2014 we observed gray squirrels almost exclusively using deciduous trees and red squirrels using coniferous trees. Over the summer of 2015, we saw a decrease in the number of gray squirrels (high mortality coupled with apparent dispersal) and have seen more red squirrels using deciduous trees.

Our hypothesis is that the two species will partition the campus in such a way that gray squirrels will occupy deciduous trees and red squirrels will move back into predominantly coniferous trees. We further predict red squirrels and gray squirrels will have low overlap of locations determined through telemetry.

 

Madeline Weber, Jocelyn Young, Samantha Collins, William GrabowskiPoster Presentation

Chapter:Gamma Eta
Marian University
Life Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: 2016-03-03

Examining reactive oxygen species (ROS) as a trigger to induce mitochondrial biogenesis in Saccharomyces cerevisiae
This research explores the correlation between reactive oxygen species (ROS) and mitochondrial density to determine if reactive oxygen species are the trigger for mitochondrial biogenesis. While other research has looked at reactive oxygen species as a component of cell damage, little has been done to see if small amounts of reactive oxygen species exposure could lead to mitochondrial growth, a process which could have implications in diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson’s, and ALS. Two mechanisms for ROS generation were used: the Fenton reaction and FCCP, a mitochondrial uncoupler. Quercetin was also tested as a positive control. Three treatment groups were used: FCCP, Hydrogen Peroxide, Quercetin. Two combination treatment groups were used: FCCP and Quercetin, and Hydrogen Peroxide and Quercetin. It was hypothesized that the hydrogen peroxide/iron treatment or FCCP treatment would generate ROS which would stimulate an increase in mitochondrial density because the ROS would signal cell distress. In response to this distress, mitochondrial density will increase in order to remove damaging ROS. For each treatment, there was a bell-curve effect on citrate synthase activity when compared to increasing treatment dosages. Citrate synthase is the initial enzyme of the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle, present in mitochondria and therefore indicative of mitochondrial biogenesis when shown in activity per unit protein. For the combination treatments, there was an additive effect to a certain point, possibly indicating some competing pathways genetically in this experiment. 
 

Elisabeth H. Wynia and Mark M. Nussbaum, PhD

Chapter: Alpha Psi
Hillsdale College
Physical Sciences
Oral Session Presentation
Date Submitted: 2016-03-02

Determination of the Effect of Analyte Charge and Concentration on Chiral Separation Efficiency by Capillary Electrophoresis

Analysis of a variety of neutral, zwitterionic, cationic, and anionic analytes was completed with the goal of determining the effect of analyte charge on efficiency, a measure reflecting peak shape. Neutral analytes included acetaminophen, 3,4-dihydroxybenzaldehyde, L-DOPA, and dimethylformamide. Cationic compounds isoproterenol and chlorpheniramine, and anionic compounds p-hydroxybenzoic and 3,4-dihydroxyhydrocinnamic acid were also analyzed. Each compound was analyzed at a range of concentrations to determine the efficiency trends as concentration increased. The effect of cyclodextrins on the separation efficiency was also explored by using sulfated-β-cyclodextrins (S-β-CDs), and a  few neutral β-CDs. Data showed that neutral analytes do not lose efficiency as concentration increases when analyzed without S-β-CDs, but that neutral compounds decrease in efficiency as concentration increases when analyzed with S-β-CDs present. Charged compounds lose efficiency at higher concentrations, both with and without cyclodextrins. Although most analytes followed these trends, p-hydroxybenzoic acid behaved anomalously by having a constant efficiency trend when analyzed in the presence of S-β-CDs. This behavior is hypothesized as being due to a stronger binding interaction between p-hydroxybenzoic acid and the S-β-CD.


Sarah Yeh, Maria West, Kailee ZabolotnyPoster Presentation

Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College
Environmental Science
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: 2016-03-08

Effects of Fire on Grasshopper Assemblages

In prairie grasslands, grasshoppers have a significant positive role as nutrient recyclers and negative role as rangeland pests. Fire occurs as a natural disturbance and as a means of selective control of grasshoppers by farmers. During investigation of the effects of fire on grasshoppers at Long Lake Field Station, we measured the number of grasshoppers and percent composition in six sites including fields burned in 2013, 2014 and two unburned fields. We found prairie sites burned in 2014 contained the fewest while the unburned prairies contained the most grasshoppers. Unburned prairies had the highest percent cover grass and grasshopper density increased as percent cover of grass increased. Considering recently burned sites contained fewer grasshoppers and lower coverage of grass, our results suggest that fire can negatively affect prairie grasslands by reducing grass cover and grasshopper density and thus impact nutrient cycling for other grassland organisms. 


 

 Ashlyn N York*, Brad M NealPoster Presentation

Chapter: Rho
University of Indianapolis
Physical Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: 2016-03-09

Progress Toward the Functionalization of Epigallocatechin Gallate

Epigallocatechin gallate, better known as EGCG, is the major polyphenol in Camellia sinensis, a popular genus of tea leaves. In previous studies, it has been shown to contain high antioxidative and possible anticancer capabilities. The greatest hindrance with using EGCG medicinally is that while in the human body, it breaks down progressively in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract; therefore, the maximum beneficial capabilities cannot be achieved. Here, we will discuss our progress in modifying the molecule via adding a stearoyl functional group towards the aim of increasing the lipophilicity of the molecule. This will potentially prolong the stability of EGCG in the GI tract by allowing for a more rapid diffusion through the cell membrane and thus may allow the EGCG moiety to reach its maximum potential for health benefits. Specific discussion on the extraction of EGCG from Camellia sinensiswill be discussed, including its separation from other polyphenols using HPLC and its characterization using 1H NMR spectroscopy. Our progress towards the addition of a stearoyl functional group to the 3” and 5” positions on the gallate ring of the EGCG molecule will be presented.