2015 Sigma Zeta National Convention Presentation Abstracts

Harleen Athwal Remmi Baker | Peter Bergquist | Neil BerkelJesus Berlanga | John BonhamEllen BryantBrenton Douglass | Ashley Flores* | Trevor Grandgenett | Caitlan Hinton* | Bailey Houle | Ebony HugheyKyleray Katherman* | Shannon Leipus* | Reed McKinney | Alixandria Pappas | Victoria ParedesKarley PetersenChristopher Potter* | Lucas Roy | Macanda Simpson | Christine Skaggs | Brandon SmithAnna TeigenJordan Thomas | Haley Thomas* | Jessica Watson

* Recipients of Sigma Zeta Research Awards

Abstract Submission Form


 

  Harleen Athwal Harleen Athwal Presentation

Chapter: Rho
University of Indianapolis
Submitted 03/06/2015
Life Sciences
Oral Session Presentation

Intra-Sexual Selection in Habronattus clypeatus Jumping Spiders 

Natural selection is the process that allows the spread of heritable traits through a population. If individuals with specific traits are favored over others, this leads to changes in allele frequency within the species. Sexual selection is a similar process, but in this case traits directly influence reproductive fitness and may drive changes in the frequency of traits such as color, size, and ornamentation. Sexual dimorphism, the phenotypic differences between males and females, can be a result of inter-sexual and intra-sexual selection. Sexual selection research on the jumping spider genus Habronattus has shown that males use combinations of vibratory songs, colorful ornaments, and motions to entice females to mate. This type of inter-sexual selection is hypothesized to be driving the evolution of elaborate behavior and ornamentation. While many studies have explored inter-sexual selection, the role of intra-sexual competition was yet to be explored in this group.  For this study, I examined competitive interactions between male jumping spiders in Habronattus by staging contests and analyzed the factors that predict contest success as well as decision-making strategies.  I tested the hypothesis that heavier and larger males are more likely to win contests. I also tested competing hypotheses on decision-making.  This study was the first to explore the intra-sexual competition in the emerging model taxon Habronattus and the results set the stage for future sexual selection work in jumping spiders. 


 

  Remmi Baker, Paris Barnes, Eric MartellRemmi Baker Presentation

Chapter: Pi
Millikin University
Submitted 03/15/2015
Physical Sciences
Oral Session Presentation

Fabrication and Characterization of Air-Annealed Iron-Platinum Nanoparticles

It has been previously reported that annealing iron-platinum (FePt) nanoparticles initially fabricated with the disordered face-centered cubic stucture in an inert atmosphere leads to the ordered face-centered tetragonal (fct) structure. Scientists are interested in fct FePt nanoparticles because this material exhibits superparamagnetism. However, there is limited discussion on the effects of heating FePt nanoparticles in air. Iron-platinumnanoparticles (diameter = 5-10 nm) were synthesized by the one-pot reaction involving the simultaneous decomposition of iron (0) pentacarbonyl and reduction of platinum (II) acetylacetonate in the presence of the stabilizing agentsoleylamine and oleic acid. Part of the sample was heated in air to 500 °C for an additional 24 hours.  Both FePt samples were analyzed using X-ray powder diffraction, scanning electron microscopy, magnetic force microscopy, and magnetically. Differences in structure, particle size, morphology, and magnetic properties will be discussed. 


 

  Peter Bergquist, Jessica Watson, Brian Bickel
Peter Bergquist Presentation

Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College
Submitted 03/15/2015
Environmental Science
Poster Session Presentation

Effects of Prescribed Burning on the Small Mammal Community Inhabiting a Restored Prairie

Prairie habitats in North America have been reduced to 1% of their original area and as a result, many of the large-scale natural processes that maintained prairie habitat and prairie mammal communities no longer function without management.  The impact of fire management on small mammals is not well known, particularly on restored prairie.  We conducted our study on Concordia College’s Long Lake Biological Field Station in Becker Co., MN.  Parts of the Long Lake field station were restored to prairie habitat in 2010 with portions planted as part of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and others planted with a seed mix to attract and sustain pollinators.  During spring of 2013 portions of the prairie restorations were burned.  The other portions were burned in 2014.  Our objective was to examine the impact of fire on the small mammal community and to gain an understanding of how small mammal populations respond to fire as a management technique on restored prairie.  We conducted small mammal trapping in 2012 prior to, and in 2013 and 2014, following the burns.  We captured a total of 166 individuals (in 1,650 trap nights) representing six species during 2012, 226 individuals (in 1,200 trap nights) representing five species during 2013, and 109 individuals (in 1,200 trap nights) representing five species during 2014.  Our results in 2013 showed a decrease in captures of small mammals following the burn on both the CRP and pollinator sites compared to the unburned sites, but this decrease was less evident in 2014.  Further monitoring will see if there is a longer-term increase in small mammal density and biodiversity as a result of the burn.


Neil Berkel Presentation
  Neil Berkel

Chapter: Beta
McKendree University
Submitted 03/14/2015
Physical Sciences
Oral Session Presentation

Computational Analysis of Electrophilic Addition in Linear Conjugated Systems

This chemistry research project aims to study computationally the reaction mechanism and energetics of isomeric product formation in electrophilic addition reactions of linear conjugated systems. The specific reaction reported in this presentation involves the addition of HBr to 1,3-butadiene to form two isomeric products, 3-bromo-1-butene and (E+Z)-1-bromo-2-butene. In this study, Gaussian computational methods were used to determine the energy profile for each reaction pathway leading to a single isomer and their corresponding activation energies. A brief analysis of the predicted kinetics and thermodynamics of the reaction pathways will be presented. In conclusion, a consistent trend between the computational prediction and the experimental product yields will be shown.


  

  Jesus A. Berlanga, Christopher S. Mullins, Craig A. Grapperhaus Jesus Berlanga Presentation

Chapter: Alpha Beta
Campbellsville University
Submitted 03/03/2015
Physical Sciences
Poster Session Presentation

Synthesis and reactivity of a group of tridentate carboxamide ligands with N2O and NO2 donor spheres and their corresponding Ni(II) complexes

The goal of this study was to carry out the synthesis and characterization of a group of several related Ni(II) complexes where the central ion is coordinated by a tridentate ligand. While our previous studies focused on the well-known Schiff base ligand H2-SALAHE1, herein we report the synthesis of several new tridentate carboxamide ligands. Similar to the homoleptic bis-chelate [Ni(HSALAHE)2] complex, the UV-visible absorption spectra suggest octahedral coordination around the central ion1.

Methanol solutions of the tridentate ligands 1 and 2 were reacted with Ni(II) salts in 2:1 and 1:1 ligand to metal ratios respectively. The complexation of 1 with Ni(II) led to a forest-green compound 3 and the complexation of Ni(II) with 2 led to the formation of a blue compound 4. The characteristic functional groups of the ligands were confirmed in the products by FT-IR. Both compounds precipitated from solution after a 48 hour period, which is consistent with previous studies of Schiff base ligands1, 2. Proton NMR of the nickel complex 3 indicates it is paramagnetic in solution. Reactivity investigations of those complexes are ongoing.


 

  John Bonham 
John Bonham Presentation

Chapter: Alpha Pi
Trevecca Nazarene University
Submitted 03/06/2015
Life Sciences
Poster Session Presentation

Anatomical study of the anterolateral ligament of the human knee and its effect on rotational stability of the lower leg 

The function of the anterolateral ligament (ALL) of the human knee is only partially understood. While its anatomy has recently been studied, its functionality and clinical relevance has yet to be thoroughly investigated. The ALL has been hypothesized to aid in the control of internal tibial rotation, a common mechanism of injury to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) when under extreme force. Due to the widespread incidence of ACL rupture, comprehensive biomechanical studies performed on the ALL could be clinically relevant in understanding if an ALL deficiency results in a worse prognosis for ACL-repair patients. Eight embalmed human cadavers were obtained for anatomical and biomechanical study. The ALL was successfully located in each specimen (8 of 8, 100%). It was found in every case to be a flat, fibrous structure originating on or just posterior to the lateral epicondyle of the femur, and inserting on the tibia between the landmarks, Gerdy's tubercle and the tibial tuberosity. Also found in each specimen was a firm attachment from the ALL to the lateral meniscus (LM). Biomechanical tests were performed after full dissection of the knee joint, leaving only ligaments of the knee to be intact. Internal torque (0.25 Nm) was applied to the tibia with the knee joint in 30 degrees of flexion, and tibial rotation relative to the femur was compared to that of the ALL-deficient knee. An increase of internal tibial rotation was observed in 7 of 8 specimens (87.5%) when the ALL was severed versus being intact. The average increase in rotation was found to be 3.58 degrees (s.d. 2.70). According to this study, it is important that further biomechanical studies are performed to know if clinical examination of the ALL should be adopted in addition to other commonly performed tests.


 

 Ellen Bryant  Ellen Bryant Presentation

Chapter: Rho
University of Indianapolis
Submitted 03/05/2015
Life Sciences
Poster Session Presentation

Sonication as a Means of Eliminating Invasive Zebra Mussels from Neoprene Scuba Gear

The zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) is an invasive mollusk species that is spreading through the freshwater waterways of the United States and around the world.  They are easily introduced to new waters, and an established population can threaten local ecosystems, injure swimmers, and cost billions of dollars each year in damage to commercial pipelines. UV light and chemical controls have been used effectively to control them in pipelines, but are not designed to prevent their spread from site to site. Scuba divers and fishermen are the most likely to inadvertently spread the mussels, as adult mussels can live in damp gear for up to three weeks. A fast-acting solution is need to decontaminate gear after use in areas with zebra mussels and before use in areas with no established population. Therefore, sonication, or the use of ultrasonic waves to disrupt cellular membranes, is proposed as a method to kill mussels and their larvae that may otherwise hitchhike in gear from site to site. In this study, mussels were kept in captivity and subjected to various lengths of ultrasonication. Mussels were then placed back in the tank and observed for signs of death or injury.


 

  Brenton Douglass, Jennifer Bath 
Brenton Douglass Presentation

Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College
Submitted 03/15/2015
Life Sciences
Poster Session Presentation

Cloning and production of Na99, a recombinant protein for in-house analysis of vaccine efficacy

Two species of hookworm infect humans: Ancylostoma duodenale and Necator americanus, the latter being the most prevalent. A recombinant protein, termed Ad99 from A. duodenale, is the main target in our recently developed vaccine aimed at decreasing hookworm fecundity and infection in humans. We formulated the vaccine using algorithms designed to select peptides with high probabilities of immunogenicity against both A. duodenale and murine targets. Pre-clinical trials confirmed exceptionally high protection against murine hookworm, demonstrating that a fragment of AD99 induces protective, murine antibodies against the human-derived target (likely because mouse hookworm produces a highly homologous protein, Hp99). Very recently, sequence data for N. americanus was released, from which we identified another homologous protein, Na99. Na99 shares the same strong sequence identity to Hp99 as Ad99 does, suggesting that the AD99-based vaccine, which demonstrates strong protection in mice, is a good candidate for trials against both human-infecting species. The aim of this experiment was to create recombinant Na99 protein, based on the newly released sequence data, so we can test the murine-produced Ad99-specific antibodies for binding against the Na99 protein, which shares over 95% amino acid identity with the Ad99-targeted epitope.  Na99 will serve as an additional positive control for serological analysis, adding to our proof-of-concept platform should the murine-induced antibodies bind Na99. This research project details the design and production of recombinant Na99 for use in this in-house binding assay: from the bioinformatic analyses used to determine the native sequence of the na99 gene to the production of master and working cell banks for Na99 protein expression. Ultimately, the recombinantly-produced Na99 will assist us in determining if there is evidence to suggest that the Ad99-derived vaccine should be submitted for consideration in phase I clinical trials.    


  Ashley Flores Presentation 

  Ashley Flores*, Hailey M. Albert, Amanda J. Stiner, Travis Mansur, Paris W. Barnes, and Allyson M. Fry

Chapter: Pi
Millikin University
Submitted 03/05/2015
Physical Sciences
Oral Session Presentation

Comparative Structural Studies of A2BTeO­6 (A = Ca, Sr, or Ba; B = Ca, Cd, or Cu) Double Perovskites

Tellurium (VI)-containing compounds have the potential to be useful as capacitor materials for applications utilizing microwave dielectrics. The synthesis and crystallography of double perovskites containing Te (VI) has not been extensively discussed in the chemical literature. We prepared seven materials with the chemical formula A2BTeO6 where A is one of the heavier divalent alkaline earth metal cations (Ca, Sr, or Ba) and B is either Ca (II), Cd (II), or Cu(II).  Their crystal structures were determined by Rietveld refinement of X-ray powder diffraction data. This poster will focus on comparing the crystal structures of the six closely related double perovskites.


 

  Trevor Grandgenett, Brandon SmithAndrew Olson, Emily Swenson 
Trevor Grandgenett and Brandon Smith Presentation

Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College
Submitted 03/15/2015
Environmental Science
Poster Session Presentation

Effect of Water Depth and Habitat Type on Long Lake Productivity

Lake ecosystem variation is dependent upon chemical, biological, and physical parameters and consequently varies laterally and at different depths in lake systems. At Long Lake in Detroit Lakes, MN we hypothesized that these variations in the habitats would have an impact on the local plankton population densities. Lentic layers in Long Lake were determined by constructing a temperature profile with depth, and dissolved oxygen was measured at each layer using a dark bottle (respiration only) – light bottle (Photosynthesis – respiration) system. It was found that the photosynthesis levels in the epilimnion were greatest, as we hypothesized. Our results suggest that even in late fall in northwestern Minnesota; a lake can continue to be productive.


  

  Caitlan Hinton Caitlan Hinton Presentation

Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College
Submitted 03/15/2015
Environmental Science
Poster Session Presentation

Spatial and Behavioral Ecology of Tamiasciurus hudsonicus and Sciurus carolinensis in an Urban Setting

Squirrels are conspicuous members of the community and are one of the few wildlife species that has been successful in adapting to the urban landscape. However, relatively little has been published about the interaction of species in an urban setting, especially where red and gray squirrels co-exist. Generally, red squirrels are associated with coniferous forest where they tend to establish territories that they aggressively defend, while gray squirrels are more often associated with deciduous forest and establish a dominance hierarchy.  When occupying the same area, there are reports that red squirrels are more aggressive and even displace gray squirrels, but detailed studies fail to support aggressive behaviors between the two species.  Concordia College’s campus is a unique setting where both the red and gray squirrels are found occupying the same area. The goal for this project was to gain a better understanding of the use of the campus habitats by Tamiasciurus hudsonicus and Sciurus carolinensis. In order to study home range, habitat use, and behavior on Concordia College’s campus, we began conducting live trapping of squirrels in August 2014. Captured squirrels were anesthetized and fitted with radio transmitter collars. To date we have collared 26 squirrels (15 red squirrels and 11 gray squirrels) and have documented over 300 locations. We have observed gray squirrels nesting communally on campus, especially during the colder months, and have noted that they are almost entirely found associated with deciduous trees.  Conversely, red squirrels appear to be much more solitary and are almost always associated with coniferous trees.  We have had several observations of red squirrels moving through or foraging in deciduous trees, but all nest locations and the majority of locations have been in conifers. Our observations indicate that gray squirrels have a large home range and may move on and off campus, while the red squirrels have a much smaller home range and generally remain in or near the same cluster of conifers. 


 

 Bailey Houle 

Bailey Houle Presentation

Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College
Submitted 03/15/2015
Life Sciences
Oral Session Presentation

 

Demonstrating Humoral-Based Host-Protection through the Development of Epitope-Specific, Well-Defined, Anti-Helminthic Vaccines

Intestinal hookworm infections affect nearly 600 million people worldwide, yet very little is known about the details of host protection against these infections.  This is, in part, due to the fact that natural immunity against hookworm does not protect against infection. Another confounding variable in understanding protective host immunity is the fact that hookworm larva have the documented ability to skew the host's immune response in favor of their survival, by the secretion of immunomodulatory proteins. Despite generating powerful humoral responses from their hosts, these larva do not evoke a protective immunological response, but, in fact, suppress it. For several reasons, efficacious vaccine development is currently in the spotlight for promising long-term reduction of human hookworm infection, but its success depends on scientists’ ability to understand parasite-induced immunomodulation and the nature of host-protective humoral immune responses that reduce the spread of infection. This study details the pre-clinical results from a peptide based anti-hookworm vaccine, and novel trends in peptide generation, such as peptide linkers and bivalent peptides, that can be used to enhance the promising findings. We provide evidence to demonstrate that, in a murine model, host-protective responses are humorally-mediated and can be protective while still directed at a single epitope. These findings significantly reduce current concerns and obstacles regarding IgE-inducing allergic responses and the recognition of undesirable epitopes leading to non-protective or even detrimental responses (such as Th1 and smokescreen responses).  The profiles of highly protective humoral immunity along with the documentation of a method for inducing these responses without the high risk of allergic responses and unnecessary health risks for target populations, offers a path forward for the development of human hookworm vaccines that puts the safety of those in endemic regions first. In addition, epitope mapping to design a vaccine against a specific sequence of amino acids, although more time consuming from R&D to market, provides a level of knowledge about the specific target of the immune response and nature of the immune response (both detailed by this study) that is a valuable tool in better predicting (and preparing for) human immune responses.


 

  Ebony Hughey Ebony Hughey Presentation

Chapter: Pi
Millikin University
Submitted 03/14/2015
Physical Sciences
Oral Session Presentation

Determining the Temperature-controlled Activation of Hollow Gold Nanoparticles-liposome Composites

Nanoparticles have the potential to impact cancer therapy in a variety of ways. Encapsulating anticancer cytotoxins inside liposomes and using hollow gold nanoparticles to aid in opening is a potential means of combatting cancerous tumors. The goal of this project is to synthesize nanoparticle liposome-composites that  demonstrate controlled opening.  Fluorescein dye impregnated nanoparticle liposomes composites will be used to investigate temperature as a means of releasing the encapsulated dye. 


 

  Kyleray Katherman* 
Kyleray Katherman Presentation

Chapter: Beta Beta
George Fox University
Submitted 03/12/2015
Life Sciences
Oral Session Presentation

Comparative growth analysis of malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, using 3H-Hypoxanthine incorporation and SYBR green fluorescence

Differential growth of Plasmodium falciparum in red blood cells (RBC) is an essential feature of malaria parasite biology. High growth rate results in increased parasite biomass which is correlated with disease severity in patients. ‘Growth’ is generally ascertained microscopically or through a surrogate reporting system such as tritium labeled hypoxanthine (3 H- Hx). The use of tritium has been the ‘gold standard’ for measuring parasite growth as it effectively mirrors visually determined parasitemias. This method of labeling requires the parasites to be starved of the essential nucleic acid precursor, hypoxanthine (Hx) for 48 hours in order to facilitate uptake of the isotope. SYBR green, a relatively inexpensive fluorescent dye, has been shown to give similar results to 3 H-Hx-incorporation in drug assays, providing an alternative method for ascertaining parasite growth. However, a side-by-side comparison of SYBR green and 3 H-Hxincorporation has yet to be completed in the absence of drug. Here we provide a head to head comparison of the SYBR green and 3 H-Hxincorporation assays in a set of genetically unique progeny to ascertain if these two methods can be used interchangeably in determining parasite growth. Our data shows a correlation between the data sets indicating that the relative growth rate as measured by both assays is comparable. In addition we use the SYBR green assay to measure differences in parasite growth in Hx starved and unstarved conditions. Preliminary data indicates decreased parasite growth in Hx starved conditions. More interesting is the observation that parasites show variable responses to Hx starvation suggesting a possible genetic mechanism may be involved.


  

  Shannon Leipus, Brian Bickel, Sonali Mehta, & Dr. Joseph C. Whittaker Shannon Leipus Presentation

 

Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College
Submitted 03/15/2015
Environmental Science
Poster Session Presentation

Comparison of Cellulose Acetate Electrophoresis of Salivary Amylase and Mitochondrial DNA Analysis to Differentiate White-footed Mice (Peromyscus leucopus) from Deer Mice (P. maniculatus)

 

The white-footed mouse, Peromyscus leucopus, and the deer mouse, Peromyscus maniculatus should ecologically be demonstrating character displacement due to competition of limited resources; however, these two species exist in the same regions and are virtually indistinguishable. A ratio of body measurements has been used as a method of distinguishing these two species but it is often not practical and has been demonstrated to be inaccurate. Two molecular methods have been identified as alternative options. The first uses cellulose acetate electrophoresis on allozymes of salivary amylase. This method involves taking a saliva sample and running it against the saliva of the two known species. The second is done by analyzing mitochondrial DNA from tissue samples. It involves mechanically breaking up a sample, checking the DNA content, running it through a PCR reaction, and finally running the sample against a marker through agarose gel electrophoresis. The second method is relatively new to us, and the samples require a lot of preparation which has proven to be time consuming and expensive. As of now, we conclude that the cellulose acetate electrophoresis method is the easier of the two methods and it provides definitive results the majority of the time. 

 


  

 Reed McKinney, Dr. Richard Gregory 
Reed McKinney Presentation

Chapter: Rho
University of Indianapolis
Submitted 03/05/2015
Life Sciences
Oral Session Presentation

Effects of Nicotine and Nicotinic Analogs on Kinetic Growth and Dental Biofilm Formation of Streptococcus mutans

Biofilms are any group of microorganisms in which cells stick to each other on a surface. The presence of biofilm on teeth is more commonly referred to as plaque. An abundance of plaque can lead to dental caries, or cavities, forming through bacterial metabolism of carbohydrates into lactic acid, which diffused into enamel and dentin layers, dissolving calcium phosphate ultimately leading to tooth decay. Among the many bacteria present in such biofilms, they are primarily composed of a facultative anaerobe known as Streptocuccus mutans.  Nicotine has been consistently found as an inhibitor for S. mutans biofilm formation at high concentrations, but enhanced at physiologically relevant concentrations – about 0.25 mg/mL. S. mutans has beta-2 nicotinic receptors that are able to be activated at increasing nicotine concentrations. These receptors were hypothesized to be able to be altered by other compounds similar to nicotine. S. mutans was exposed to varying concentrations of analogs of nicotine, particularly cyclic compounds with an amine group, in order to analyze how they influenced both biofilm and kinetic growth.  Upon evaluation of the data, two analogs – Epibatidine and Tubocurarine – was found to have an upregulating effect on S. mutans kinetic growth, reaching a higher optical density than a nicotine control well on the same plate. Conversely, cotinine, buporprion, Mecamylamine, and Varenicline had a downregulating effect, achieving a lower optical density than the nicotine control well. The maximum absorbance of each treatment was analyzed as well as an indicator as to how much bacteria grew as a biofilm. It was found that all of the analogs had a lower maximum absorbance on average than the nicotine control, with Varenicline causing the least amount of bacteria to grow as a biofilm at lower concentrations and Mecamylamine at the highest concentration.  Additionally, the time to maximum absorbance was calculated, with Tubocurarine enhancing growth at low concentrations and Varenicline enhancing growth at high concentrations. Bupoprion and Mecamylamine had an inhibitory effect at high concentrations. A comparison of nicotinic analogs and nicotine together in the same sample is currently being conducted.


 

  Alixandria Pappas, Sara Ruch, Jeanne Andreoli Alixandria Pappas, Sara Ruch Presentation

Chapter: Beta Upsilon
Marygrove College
Submitted 03/15/2015
Environmental Science
Poster Session Presentation

The Influence of Color-Coded Bins and Educational Signs in a Campus Recycling Initiative at Marygrove College

Campus recycling is important to reduce the ecological footprint.  A pilot study was conducted during the Fall 2014 semester to assess the current state of recycling, and examine the influence of color-coded bins and educational signs on the recycling habits in the Liberal Arts building at Marygrove College. A preliminary one-week audit was conducted to assess the availability, location and use of trash cans and generic white recycling bins in the corridors and classrooms. Following the audit, existing trash cans and recycling bins were removed and color-coded, 3-way recycling and trash receptacles were strategically placed in the corridors. Classrooms received either a trash can or both a trash can and recycling bin. The use of the new recycling bins and trash cans were assessed, including overall usage and correct usage, for a one-week period.  During the 3rd week of the study, educational signs were placed above the recycling bins to determine if the additional signage would impact the use of the receptacles.  Data was analyzed according to floor and location. Overall, the study showed students, faculty and staff the amount and correct usage of the receptacles increase during three-week period in the corridors, but less so in the classrooms. This pilot study found that proper placement of bins, changing the appearance of the bins, and educational signs set above the bins are effective techniques in increasing and improving recycling habits on a college campus.


 

  Victoria Paredes 
Victoria Paredes Presentation

Chapter: Sigma
Our Lady of the Lake University
Submitted 03/05/2015
Life Sciences
Oral Session Presentation

Discovery of Soil Bacteria Natural Products from Campus Soil Samples

There are major concerns in the medical community about the rapid rise of bacterial resistance factors against modern antibiotics and pharmaceutical drugs. Crucial antibiotics, such as vancomycin and methicillin, previously the last alternative methods of treatment, have now become ineffective in the treatment of many deadly bacterial infections. This serious problem has spurred a demand to increase research in the discovery and harvest of natural secondary metabolites that can be utilized in the production of antibiotics, antitumorals, and other drugs. Presently, 80% of the world’s antibiotics are derived from the bacterial genus Streptomyces.

Streptomycetes are gram positive, multicellular strictly aerobic bacteria that are found in a variety of soils. This experiment focused on the discovery of Streptomycetes in different soils that possibly produced medically useful secondary metabolites. The soil bacteria collected from across the Our Lady of the Lake University campus were classified as Streptomycetes based on bacterial morphology and growth patterns on differential production media. Secondary metabolites were harvested from differential media through solid and liquid extractions and isolated through step gradient fraction separation. Metabolite-containing fractions were run through Preparatory and Fraction Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC) to obtain pure collections of secondary products. These products were sent to Dr. Robin L. Davies, Professor of Cellular and Molecular Biology at Sweet Briar College in Sweet Briar, Virginia, for further testing of the metabolites’ efficacy on cancer cell lines such as SW480 and HCT-15, which are both colon carcinomas. Preliminary test results demonstrated that an unidentified species of actinomycetes (which was named the Pink bacterial strain) had a high antitumoral efficacy on both SW480 and HCT-15 with 80 - 89.8% cell death rate on SW480 and 86.1% cell death rate on HCT-15 cancer lines. Additional testing must be conducted, but the discovery of anti-cancer activity from a metabolite in the Pink strain may be a promising lead in the search for new anti-cancer (antineoplastic) agents.


  

  Karley Petersen, Madeleine Grosland, Dr. Jennifer Bath Karley Petersen, Madeleine Grosland Presentation

 

Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College
Submitted 03/15/2015
Life Sciences
Poster Session Presentation

 

Pre-Clinical Immunogenicity and Efficacy Trials of a Peptide Anti-Helminth Vaccine

 

Soil-transmitted helminth infections plague millions of people globally, being particularly prevalent in developing nations. The development of a protective vaccine for humans is necessary to effectively address this major public health concern.  Over the past three years, we have conducted several pre-clinical trials investigating potential vaccine candidates for hookworm. These results detail the outcomes of these trials (and will include the first disclosure of the newest dataset), and emphasize the positive results from one candidate (without disclosing the active part of its formulation). The vaccines trialed consisted of both peptide and recombinant proteins, and were screened, prior to formulation, for: pre-determined favorable biochemical properties, high levels of sequence conservation across homologous proteins, and tertiary structure locations based on computer-aided 3-D modeling. Efficacy was determined by vaccine-induced reduction of hookworm in mice. These trials revealed favorable results for one vaccine formulation. The data include significant worm burden reductions, with no evidence of toxicity. Serological studies, including analysis of epitope-specific antibodies, demonstrate a significant, positive correlation between parasite-specific, vaccine-induced antibodies and worm burden reduction. This long-term study is still ongoing, and thus, special emphasis will be place on comparing/contrasting the newest data with the previous results, and drawing a final conclusion on the best way forward.

 


 Christopher Potter Presentation

  Christopher Potter*, Paris Barnes

Chapter: Pi
Millikin University
Submitted 03/03/2015
Physical Sciences
Oral Session Presentation

Energetic Effects of Metal Nanoparticle Fuel Additives on the Combustion of Ethanol

The purpose of this project is to study the effects of aluminum (18 nm) and indium (80 nm) nanoparticle fuel additives on the combustion of ethanol. The compositions, sizes, and shapes of the nanoparticles were characterized using X-ray powder diffraction and microscopy. After characterization, the heats of combustion for ethanol and ethanol-nanoparticle mixtures were measured and compared.


  

 Lucas Roy, Andrew Haddad, Craig Grapperhaus 
Lucas Roy Presentation

Chapter: Alpha Beta
Campbellsville University
Submitted 02/027/2015
Physical Sciences
Poster Session Presentation

Exploring Hydrogen Evolution Reactions with Cu-ATSM: Proton Reduction with a Mononuclear Copper Complex in Acidic Media

The non-innocent ligand complex, Cu(ATSM) [ATSM = diacetyl-bis(N4-methyl-3-thiosemicarbazone)] catalytically reduces protons giving H2.  Reaction kinetics were studied and the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) is 1st order dependent on the    [H+], and 3rd order overall.  The 3rd order rate constant, k=29.0 x 10-3 (M-2 . s-1), was calculated from experimental data.  In addition, Cu(ATSM) exhibits a low overpotential of 200 mv.  Based on preliminary data collected, we propose that Cu(ATSM) undergoes an ECEC mechanism in which both thiols are protonated, commencing in the homolytic release of H2, and generation of di-thiyl radicals on cis sulfurs. After H2 evolution, it is proposed that the formally reduced Cu(I), undergoes a two electron metal-stabilization via di-thiyl radicals, enabling the catalytic cycle.  Cyclic voltammetry, and controlled potential coloumetry experiments were performed, testing ability for proton reduction, as well as stability of the catalyst, respectively. 


 

  Macanda Simpson Macanda Simpson Presentation

Chapter: Rho
University of Indianapolis
Submitted 03/05/2015
Mathematics / Computer Science
Oral Session Presentation

Health Simulation of Colon Cancer Treatments and Preventative Screenings for a Company of 30,000 Employee

During a 4-week, intensive research program, my research advisor and I took a look at the future of healthcare and discovered the push towards big data. This inspired us to write the simulation that would be presented at the conference. The idea was to focus on a health problem that had a common enough screening procedure the program would appeal to everyone. The program focuses on colonoscopies and colon cancer, and it is intended be used to simulate the cost of these treatments and procedures for a company of 30,000 employees over 10 years if a certain set of parameters is meet. The parameters include sex; age of first colonoscopy, youngest employee, and oldest employee; cost of colonoscopies and different cancer treatments; and the compliance rate. The first page is a user-friendly dashboard that allows the user to play with these variables and compare them on two simulations. Then, the results are displayed in 3 different ways on the dashboard for the user to see. The first way is a bar graph that shows the percentage of each year’s cost— colonoscopies and cancer treatments—in different colors. The second figure is a line graph that shows the trends of the yearly cost. This plots both simulations on the graph for an easy comparison of total yearly cost. The final figure shows the cost breakdown by age and gender. This is a useful tool for employers to see where their money would be going, and would allow them to make changes such as negotiating a lower colonoscopy cost for the company’s employees.  


 

  Christine Skaggs, Amanda Scanameo, Alyssa Heffren 
Christine Skaggs, Amanda Scanameo, Alyssa Heffren Presentation

Chapter: Gamma Eta
Marian University

Submitted 03/05/2015
Physical Sciences
Poster Session Presentation

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

Corneal crosslinking (CXL) is a highly studied topic in treating keratoconus, a corneal disorder that involves the weakening and bulging of cornea; however, it poses some risks to the patient being treated due to the extensive UVA light exposure.  An alternative crosslinking procedure, involving rose bengal and green light (RGX), has been proposed to have a safer means to treating the same bacterial infection in the cornea.  Based off of a previous experiment done on fungal infections, we proposed that RGX would be able to treat bacterial infections as efficiently and as well as the CXL procedure.  We treated a bacterial colony (diluted to 10-4 with nano-pure water) using both the CXL and RGX procedures and analyzed the results using a one-way ANOVA to show significance.  This translational research gives greater insight into the clinical applications and modifications of the treatments used on corneal tissue (bovine, porcine, rabbit corneas, and possibly human donor tissue). 



  Anna Teigen Anna Teigen Presentation

Chapter: Alpha Psi
Hillsdale College
Submitted 03/15/2015
Life Sciences
Oral Session Presentation

Comparison of the CRISPR/Cas System and Traditional Restriction Endonucleases

The CRISPR/Cas system, though originally discovered as a bacterial defense mechanism used to defend against invading viruses, currently extends to several branches of biology and shows promise as a versatile form of genetic manipulation. By recognizing invading DNA within the cell, these systems integrate a genome fragment of foreign DNA into the organism’s CRISPR locus. Once it is incorporated, the loci are transcribed, then these transcripts are processed to become small crRNAs (“CRISPR RNAs”). Guided by an sgRNA (“single guide RNA”) including this complementary crRNA molecule and a PAM sequence (“protospacer adjacent motif”), the Cas9 endonuclease cleaves subsequent invading DNA to render it harmless. In this study, we established a protocol for an in vitro proof-of-concept experiment using Cas9 S. pyogenes and the CRISPR/Cas system. Following an RNA transcription reaction necessary to create the sgRNA, parallel digests were run with Cas9 and EcoRI-HF. Cleavage efficiencies were analyzed, and ligation reactions accomplished in order to insert a kanamycin resistance gene into our plasmid. The plasmid was then transformed into an ampicillin-resistant strain of E. coli and the transformation efficiencies compared based on the presence or absence of colonies on comparable kanamycin and ampicillin plates. The system’s flexibility and reliability were proved by the success of this transformation, establishing this protocol as a viable method for future genome editing experiments.


 Haley Thomas Presentation

  Haley Thomas, Alisha Russell

Chapter: Alpha Pi
Trevecca Nazarene University
Submitted 03/14/2015
Life Sciences
Oral Session Presentation

The Effect of High Fructose Corn Syrup on THF101 Esophageal Cancer Cells

With the amount of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) increasing in the average diet in recent years, questions regarding this sweetener as a contributor in metabolic and inflammatory conditions have arisen. It is known that cancer causes a major metabolic shift-- cancer cells undergo anaerobic glycolysis and use more glucose than their healthy counterparts. This phenomenon, known as the Warburg Effect, is thought to be essential for cancer development and survival. Recent studies have shown a correlation between obesity and inflammation; taken together, the effect of HFCS metabolism in cancer etiology and progression needs to be investigated. Since patients with esophageal cancer are usually unaware of their illness until it is relatively advanced—resulting in poor diagnosis-- understanding possible contributors and sustainers is critical to helping those diagnosed with this form of cancer. High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) was used to quantify the saccharides present in commercial HFCS, and the information used to make caloric equivalent cell media containing fructose, glucose, sucrose, and HFCS, each in RPMI 16-40 media containing L-glutamine, and supplemented with 10% fetal bovine serum, sodium bicarbonate, and penicillin-streptomycin. THF101 esophageal cells were cultured in normal RMPI 16-40 media, which contains excess glucose, and a standard growth curve then prepared using alamarBlue Viability Reagent. These steps will allow for assaying THF101 sugar metabolism via HPLC and viability via the alamarBlue Reagent when cells are grown in the 5 different sugar medias. The comparison of these various conditions will allow the effects of HFCS and its components on THR101 esophageal cancer cells to be studied.


 

  Jordan Thomas 
Jordan Thomas Presentation

Chapter: Sigma
Our Lake of the Lake University
Submitted 02/01/2015
Life Sciences
Oral Session Presentation

Computational Model of the Mesocorticolimbic Dopamine Pathway

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that has been determined to be involved with reward signaling. Dopaminergic neurons are primarily located in three regions of the brain, the retrorubral field (RRF), substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc), and the ventral tegmental area (VTA). Two 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 signaling, but the exact role is still unknown. Afferent pathways to the VTA originate from the ventral hippocampus, laterodorsal tegmentum (LDTg), pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus (PPTg), medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), and others. The efferent pathways from the VTA include the nucleus accumbens (Acb), mPFC, basolateral amygdala (BLA), and others. The goal of this project is to create a computer model that will outline the mesocorticolimbic pathway, including the activation of the afferent neurons to the VTA and the destinations of the efferent neurons from the VTA. This program will allow researchers to visualize the anatomy of the mesocotricolimbic pathway, along with connecting the user to the original articles used to produce the program. This program would also give educators an interactive way to teach the anatomy and physiology of the mesocorticolimbic system.


 

  Jessica Watson, Peter Bergquist, Brian Bickel Jessica Watson Presentation

Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College
Submitted 03/14/2015
Environmental Science
Poster Session Presentation

Comparison of Small Mammal Communities on Restored and Established Prairies in Northwestern Minnesota

Prairie habitats in North America have been greatly reduced and fragmented.  Prairies now require extensive management to maintain them.  Recent efforts at prairie restoration have returned some of the previous prairie plants, but the impact restoration has not been well documented within the small mammal community.  We conducted our study on Concordia College’s Long Lake Field Station in Becker Co., MN.  Parts of the field station were restored to prairie habitat in 2010 and in spring of 2013 and 2014 portions of the restored prairie were burned.  We conducted small mammal trapping at several plots at the field station before and after the 2013 and 2014 burns.  For comparison, we also conducted trapping at several nearby native and restored prairie sites.  Our objective was to examine the impact of restoration on the small mammal community and compare the small mammal community at the field station with that found on nearby native 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 higher on the restored prairie sites than neighboring native prairies.