2017 Sigma Zeta National Convention Presentation Abstracts

 Julianne Ankrom*, Heather Culbertson* & Halie Suttles* | Luke Arend & Caroline BellJoseph BarnesAlysha Basel Caitlin Behme* | Danielle Braund 
 Katherine CappelAlexander Cardascio | Katherine Crank* | 
Michelle Davis & Monique Davis | Megan Dondelinger, Amelia Amon & Ariana Huber 
  Robin Fettig | Korinne Frankford | Aubree KingAdam Lesniak & Kevin Hammond
Brittany Miller* & Cheyenne Stienbarger
Katie Miller & Michael Brewster | Allison NeireiterNicole McCamish
Delmar Oropeza* & Sierra Corbin | Zack PetersonAshlyn Raymond
Ruth Sexton & Rebecca Dahl | Trey Shupp  | Paige Stansell | Jenna Stillwell, Kenzie Wild, Maddie Howard & Glory Kom | Benjamin Stubbs
*
  Luke Teigen & Michael Solc | Jordan Thomas  | Sarah Thorud
Taylor Uccello* | Jessica Watson* | Bethanie Webb | Chloe Whitten 

* Recipients of Sigma Zeta Research Awards

Abstract Submission Form [Abstracts are posted as soon as possible after they are submitted.]


 
  Presenter PhotoJulianne Ankrom, Heather Culbertson, Halie Suttles, and Natasha M. DeVore

Chapter: Beta Eta
Evangel University
Life Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: March 8, 2017(fp)

Cloning, Expression, and Purification of Human Airway Trypsin-Like Protease Domains

Influenza infects three to five million people each year and results in 250,000 to 500,000 deaths. The virus is able to evolve from year to year, making it a continuous health concern. The influenza virus propagates by entering cells via cleavage of the influenza protein hemagglutinin. Human airway trypsin-like protease (HAT) and transmembrane protease, serine 2 (TMPRSS2), both serine protease transmembrane II family proteins, are thought to be responsible for the cleavage in this step. Very little information is known about these proteins’ structures and functions, resulting in an additional method of treating influenza undiscovered.

There are two different divisions of this project. The long-term goal of this project is to determine the roles of serine proteases in human disease due to their structures and functions. The HAT protein consists of a transmembrane helix, non-catalytic domain, and a catalytic domain.  The aim of this specific portion of the project is to truncate a section of the DNA sequence, express the sequence in Escherichia coli, and develop a purification scheme for the production of the catalytic and non-catalytic domain separately.  Current research and work that other students have done over the last year indicate that when expressed together, the catalytic domain is cleaved within the E. Coli cells.  In the current system, expression levels are also low.  It is hoped that separating the domains would enable us to have higher protein yield and would also enable us to know exactly what version of the protein is being worked with.  Over the last several months, the SEA domain of HAT was cloned, sequence verified, and expressed in Escherichia Coli. The protein was then purified using affinity chromatography. Currently, the cloning of the catalytic domain of the HAT protein is in progress. 


 

  Presenter PhotoLuke Arend, Caroline Bell, and Adam Johnson

Chapter: Beta Iota
Bethel University
Mathematics
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: March 10, 2017(fp)

Different memory functions and microcircuits in the rodent hippocampus

The hippocampus performs two fundamental memory functions: encoding and retrieval.  Presumably, these functions operate by using different functional microcircuits within the hippocampal complex.  Colgin et al. (2009) demonstrated two distinct functional microcircuits that route information through the hippocampus.  The microcircuit between CA3 and CA1 is active during periods of low gamma rhythm, while the microcircuit between MEC and CA1 is active during high gamma rhythm. Previous work has examined these functional microcircuits in terms of LFP synchrony and LFP spiking relationships.  We examine the differential information content of hippocampal place cells (O’Keefe and Dostrovsky, 1971) and conjunctive coding cells (Komorowski et al., 2009) during low and high gamma rhythms.  While high and low gamma rhythms have been observed in a number of previous studies on hippocampal spiking dynamics, this is the first study to examine the spatial and non-spatial information content during activation of each microcircuit.


  

  Presenter PhotoJoseph Barnes, Wang Pi-Han and Dennis Siegfried

Chapter: Gamma Kappa
Southwest Baptist University
Environmental Science
Oral Session Presentation
Date Submitted: March 6, 2017(fp)

River Benthic Diatom Community Structure Influenced by Effluents

The freshwater diatom community structure if highly variable within connected waterways.  One influence on this community structure is pollution from different sources (Pi-Han Wang 2016).  We used samples from the Fazi River in Taichung Taiwan to determine if we could detect differences in community structure based on three types of pollution (residential, industrial, and high tech). The Fazi River passes through three distinct pollution potential zones. We collected two samples from each part of the river within these zones. We used scanning electron microscopy to identify diatoms from each sample.  These were then placed in an index to evaluate the community structure in each zone. We evaluated our findings by principle component analysis to find similarities and differences between the six sites.  We also compared our results to those reported for a study in the Suez Canal.  Our six sites were most closely related to each other when compared to the communities sampled at the Suez.  Although this may be expected with the differences between the freshwater and marine environments.  Overall, the six sites remained fairly consistent in the community structure, although the Fazi 1D sample was the most different.  Overall, the diatom community structure during the summer in the Fazi River is fairly consistent regardless of the primary pollution type.  However, with the changing of seasons and increased rainfall totals there may be some differences at different times of year.  This remains to be seen and has been left for further research.

Presentation Video


 

  Presenter PhotoAlysha Basel

Chapter: Phi
Eureka College
Life Sciences
Oral Session Presentation
Date Submitted: March 5, 2017(np)

Embryonic Stem Cell Research: How Understanding Attitudes Can Lead to Advancements in the Field

Stem cell research involves studying the use of stem cells in therapies to cure diseases and conditions such as, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and vision and hearing loss. Since embryonic stem cells have the ability to become any type of cell, they hold a potential that can change the entire medical field. Although some oppose the idea of using stem cells for research, arguing that it is destroying an embryo, others believe that with enough understanding, this practice can lead to life- saving cures. The most controversial subject involving stem research is the way that researchers obtain stem cells by destroying embryos. Current methods of receiving stem cells involve trying to avoid killing the entire embryo.  If researchers are able to receive the egg cells needed for research without the destruction of an embryo, then there may be more acceptance. Egg cells could potentially be obtained from women who have had radical hysterectomies and would not be using the egg cells to bear children. By providing more alternatives, funding can be given to researchers who can then unwrap the hidden benefits that stem cells have to offer. Understanding how knowledgeable individuals are and where they receive this knowledge will help researchers know what is driving the opinions of the general public. This study surveyed a small population on a liberal arts college campus to better understand their opinions on stem cell research. The results of the study supported previous research i.e. it will take more than just education to truly change the opinions and give more support to the subject, but having a better understanding of how attitudes are formed will allow researchers to develop better methods to gain more support.

Presentation Video


 

  Presenter PhotoCaitlin Behme

Chapter: Rho
University of Indianapolis
Environmental Science
Oral Session Presentation
Date Submitted: March 8, 2017(sp)

Working towards improving the efficiency of natural dye sensitized solar cells

Solar energy has the potential to be a major source of energy for the world if effective means can be produced to harness it. Various methods of converting solar energy into electrical energy have been explored, including photovoltaic (PV) devices.  To make a PV viable for large scale energy production, it is important to improve the efficiency of these devices in terms of both effectiveness and cost. In this presentation, the construction and evaluation of dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs), a form of PV device, will be discussed, as will the construction of an instrument built in-house to analyze these devices. Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) are an alternative to traditional silicon-based PV cells and if the DSSC’s efficiencies can be improved, they have the potential to be another viable option for solar energy utilization.  Focus within the presentation will be given to the impact of different components of the constructed DSSCs, the decision to build an instrument to analyze these cells, and differences in the observed properties when different sensitizing dyes and electrolyte solutions are used. 

Presentation Video


 

  Presenter PhotoDanielle Braund, Chloe Whitten, Grant Vagle, Jessica Watson, Joseph C. Whittaker

Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College
Environmental Science
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: March 10, 2017(sp)

Recent Occurrences of the Plains Pocket Mouse (Perognathus flavescens) in Northwestern Minnesota

Trapping of remnant and restored prairies in northwestern Minnesota has provided data on presence and population levels of small mammals that inhabit those prairies. Among the species caught over a 12 year span (2004-2016) was Perognathus flavescens. The species reaches its northern and eastern range limit in Minnesota.  We have caught a total of nine individuals at sites in Clay and Norman Counties. In Clay County, one site was a remnant prairie and the other site was a restored prairie. The Norman County site is a remnant prairie.  The total number of sightings has remained low through the years of trapping. Throughout 28,229 trap nights, only nine individuals have been caught. Additional sampling and continued vigilance is recommended in order to determine if the species should be one of conservation concern.


 

  Presenter PhotoKatherine Cappel

Chapter: Alpha Beta
Campbellsville University
Environmental Science
Oral Session Presentation
Date Submitted: March 10, 2017(fp)

Bat Call Monitoring Study and Discrimination Between Species in Taylor County, Kentucky

The purpose of the bat monitoring program at Clay Hill Memorial Forest (CHMF) is to discriminate between bat species using multivariate analysis. Song Meter SM3 Bat from Wildlife Bioacoustics is the recorder being used within this study. It was hung on a pulley system 65 feet up high in a tree and the calls were recorded on a SD card. These were filtered through Kaleidescope 3.0.1 set at recommendation of USFW Indiana bat monitoring. Analysis was done using SyStat and SigmaPlot to visually plot species separation. The variables used for discrimination include: frequency maximum, minimum, and mean, frequency of the characteristic, frequency of the knee, slope of the characteristic, initial slope, duration of the call, time between calls, time of the characteristic, time of the knee, and the species of each identified call. Gray, Little Brown, Silver-haired, Tri-colored, Big Brown, Eastern Red, Hoary, and Evening are the species that have been positively identified as having been present at CHMF. Small-footed and Indiana had a few identified call series but not enough to show with little doubt that they were in fact present. This scientific study can hopefully assist in formulating a baseline on what bat species are present at CHMF.

Presentation Video


  

  Presenter PhotoAlexander Cardascio, Mason Dulakis, Abigail Cardascio, Paris Barnes and Timothy Guasco

Chapter: Pi
Millikin University
Physical Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: March 9, 2017(sp)

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. 20133, 1234-1239) reported a significant increase in water’s ability to dissolve carbon dioxide using nickel nanoparticles as a catalyst. Our 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, acidity of the metals, nanoparticle purity, and industrial source of the nanoparticles used were considered as possible explanations for our findings.


 

  Presenter PhotoKatherine Crank, Matthew DeVore, and Joshua Kendall

 

Chapter: Beta Eta
Evangel University
Environmental Science
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: March 20, 2017(fp)

Seeds vs. Stems: Two Economical Water Purification Methods

Globally, millions of households do not have a reliable water source. Additionally, the seasonal water sources on which many of these households depend are adversely impacted by climate change and have contaminates that are deleterious to community health. Methods of water purification are needed which are economical and accessible. Xylem filters and Moringa seed coagulation are two methods that have been considered as treatment methods in developing nations. Both are practical, economical, and available in the developing nations in Africa, South America, and parts of the Middle East. Xylem filters involve using easily accessed materials such as plastic tubes, clamps, and plant xylem from common trees, and moringa seed coagulation uses of seeds from Moringa oleifera, a common tree in many equatorial and developing countries. A xylem filter project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology successfully used a small 3 cm3 portion of sapwood to filter several liters of water in one day, and effectively removed over 99.9% of bacteria, as well as successful pigment filtration. The comparison of these two methods as viable drinking water purification methods has not been previously conducted. The main research questions of this study are: * Which method is most effective for the removal of bacteria from contaminated water? * Which method preforms the best water purification based on common water quality indicators such as turbidity, bacteria, heavy metals, ect? * Which method is the fastest way to acceptably clean water in the case of an emergency? So far, Moringa oleifera has not proved a viable method for cleaning drinking water or lowering turbidity of turbid waters between 5 and 10 NTU. The xylem filter has been constructed but testing on purified water is awaiting a better construction of a higher volume filter that can hold up to higher pressure. The results of this experiment will answer the questions posed above, and help further research into the most sustainable and easily accessed water purification options to increase accessibility of purified water globally.


 

  Presenter PhotoMichelle Davis, Monique Davis, and Robbie F. Kouri

 

Chapter: Sigma
Our Lady of the Lake University
Physical Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: March 7, 2017(fp)

Determining the Index of Refraction of Various Liquids Using a Hollow Right Triangular Prism

We present a novel and simple method to determine the index of refraction of various transparent liquids using a laser pointer and a hollow right triangular prism.  Similar experiments have used equilateral triangular prisms and the angle of minimum deviation to calculate the index of refraction of various liquids.  In our experiment the geometry of the right triangular prism allows direct calculations using trigonometry of the angle of incidence and refraction at the vertical face of the prism from data points on the screen due to the non-refracted and refracted laser light and the projection of the normal using a fiber optic rod.  The angle of minimum deviation can then be calculated as a confirmation of the angle of refraction.


 

  Presenter PhotoMegan Dondelinger, Amelia Amon, Ariana Huber and Riley Kramer

 

Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College
Environmental Science
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: March 8, 2017(sp)

Recovery of Biodiversiy through Shoreline Restoration

In 2009 Concordia College began the process of restoring habitats at the Long Lake Field Station, near Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. One of these restorations involves a piece of shoreline that was previously landscaped by the former owners. The main goals of restoration include attempting to bring the species abundance and diversity of the land back to its original state. In order to assess the progress of these efforts, we conducted experiments comparing species abundance and diversity at three locations around Long Lake. These locations were a natural area, the restored property, and a currently landscaped area.  A 10 x 10 meter area was established at each location and species were captured in these areas using sweep netting. When the data were analyzed, we found the highest species abundance and diversity in the natural shoreline and the restored shoreline numbers very similar to natural shoreline. Alternately, the landscaped shoreline had very few species and very low diversity. Our results indicate that the restored shoreline is more comparable to the natural shoreline than the currently landscaped shoreline. In conclusion, it appears that Concordia’s shoreline restoration efforts at Long Lake Field Station are accomplishing the goal of reestablishing species abundance and diversity.


 

  Presenter PhotoRobin Fettig and Graeme R. A. Wyllie

Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College
Science Education
Oral Session Presentation
Date Submitted: March 10, 2017(sp)

Concordia Science Academy: The Evolution of Our Science Outreach Program

As the importance for providing positive STEM experiences for children grows, our science outreach organization Concordia Science Academy has not only continued to grow as a program but also expand into areas where science outreach might not traditionally go. No child should be unable to have a positive hands on science experience for any reason whether it be cost, location, or disability. Concordia Science Academy has held true to this philosophy in providing interactive, hands-on, educational, and positive science experiences to children of all ages in the Fargo Moorhead area and beyond. These science experiences include all areas of the sciences such as physics, chemistry, biology, and math and by doing this, we get children excited about all areas of science, not just one particular field. In the past year, we have brought science to over 4,000 children in a variety of events and settings. These events and settings vary widely from rural, small-town schools to large libraries in Fargo to playgrounds in impoverished neighborhoods. During most of our events, we are collaborating and communicating with others in the F-M area or in the rural towns we visit which has provided Science Academy with many outlets for expansion. In this presentation I will showcase some of these experiences and discuss some of our future plans that are in store for Concordia Science Academy.

Presentation Video


 

  Presenter PhotoKorinne Frankford, Abigail Cardascio, Denise M. Freeman, Bradley E. Day, and Paris W. Barnes

Chapter: Pi
Millikin University
Physical Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: March 9, 2017(sp)

Structure-Property Relationships of Sr2ZnW1-xMoxO6 Materials

Sr2ZnW1-xMoxO6 double perovskites are being investigated for their interesting optical properties. Previous studies performed by Dr. Barnes’ research students revealed that the W6+-to-Mo6+ ratio present in the material affects its light reflectance spectrum.Previous measurements were conducted on Sr2ZnW1-xMoxO6 compounds prepared without considering the potential loss of zinc oxide (ZnO). ZnO is significantly volatile at 1100 °C, which is the final heating temperature used to prepare the Sr2ZnW1-xMoxO6 compositions. A total of five compounds were synthesized with x values between 0 and 1. Compounds with similar x values are being resynthesized using muffling techniques to prevent zinc loss. Each compound will be analyzed using X-ray powder diffraction and diffuse reflectance spectroscopy. The significance is to determine how compositional variation affects the perovskite structure and ultimately the efficiency to convert electrical energy to light energy.


 

  Aubree King
Presenter Photo

Chapter: Rho
University of Indianapolis
Life Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: March 19, 2017 (fp)

Analysis of At-Home Teeth Whitening Products

The research done aimed to compare the composition of peroxide-based teeth whiteners and their label claims as well as their effectiveness. These substances work by going through a radical reaction that allows peroxides to bind with teeth stains and remove them. This process occurs by using ultraviolet radiation as a catalyst. Two products, Twilight Teeth P6 Whitener and Bright White Smile Whitening Pen, were diluted into varying volumes of sample and analyzed with a Cary 60 UV-Vis Spectrophotometer. The standard addition method was used to determine the concentration of hydrogen peroxide in each product. In addition, the UV light device that comes with each product package was analyzed to find the wavelengths of light being produced. Both Twilight Teeth and Bright White Smile were hypothesized to only work at specific concentrations with specific wavelengths and intensities of light. 


 

  Presenter PhotoAdam Lesniak and Kevin Hammond

Chapter: Gamma Eta
Marian University
Physical Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: March 10, 2017 (sp)

Analysis of Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry Injection Methods

Gas chromatography requires that the analyte be prepared in a specific way for injection and analysis. This experiment compared two different injection methods for gas chromatography: the traditional “solvent-dilution” method and the solid-phase microextraction (SPME) method. It was expected that the SPME method would yield larger and more definitive peaks. The experiment was performed by preparing samples of coffee, one using the traditional, solvent-based method and one using the SPME method. The samples were then analyzed using a gas chromatograph and mass spectrometer. The chromatogram for the SPME method sample showed a caffeine peak approximately 3 times larger than the chromatogram for the solvent-based method sample. Additionally, two other compounds, acetone and palmitic acid, were identified using SPME and not the solvent-based method. Furthermore, the SPME method did not include a solvent delay, nor was organic waste disposal necessary. Given these data, it was concluded that the SPME method is distinctly superior to the traditional solvent-based dilution method, and should be used for any future analyses with GC-MS. 


 

   Presenter PhotoNicole McCamish 

Chapter: Alpha Beta
Campbellsville University
Environmental Science
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: March 10, 2017(fp)

Preliminary Study of Bird Diversity and Community Structure Correlation with Forest Habitat in Second-growth Woodland of Southcentral Kentucky

 The purpose of this study was to determine what correlations might exist between various aspects of forest habitat, bird diversity, and abundance at three separate sites within Campbellsville University’s Clay Hill Memorial Forest (CHMF) in northern Taylor County, Kentucky.Forest habitat assessments were completed in June 2016.  Parameters assessed at each site included: tree richness, average diameter at breast height (dbh), relative abundance, foliage height diversity, herbaceous groundcover, and canopy cover.Bird counts were also conducted at all three plots, in breeding season (May 15- June 15) and in winter (Feb 4-March 4). The bird communities were compared by assessing differences in catch-per-unit effort, relative abundance, species richness, diversity, and community similarity between each of the research plots. It is hoped that the patterns and relationships established in this baseline study will provide a foundation for future studies of change in forest habitat over time and bird communities at CHFM.  


 

   Presenter PhotoBrittany Miller, Cheyenne Stienbarger, and Natasha DeVore

Chapter: Beta Eta
Evangel University
Life Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: March 4, 2017(fp)

Expression and purification of transmembrane serine protease 2 (TMPRSS2) to determine crystal structure

Transmembrane serine protease 2 (TMPRSS2) is a protease involved in influenza viral entry into human cells and prostate cancer. Despite the multiple biological applications for inhibition of TMPRSS2, very little is known about the actual three-dimensional structure of this protein. The purpose of this study is to determine the crystal structure of TMPRSS2.  The first steps in this study are to express this protein in the highest yielding E. coli cell line and purify the protein using cobalt affinity chromatography. TheTMPRSS2 gene-containing plasmid was introduced into three separate cell lines of E. coli: DH5α, BL21(DE3)-pLysS, and JM109. SDS-page gel analysis of expression samples demonstrated that the DH5α cell line had the most overexpressed protein. Large-scale growth of DH5α in LB media and centrifugation produced 80 mL of buffer-resuspended cell pellet to use for purification. The histidine-tag on the TMPRSS2 gene allowed for isolation of the protein by binding to cobalt beads. The desired TMPRSS2 protein is removed from the column via imidazole elution. SDS-page gel analysis confirmed the purification of the TMPRSS2 protein. Future directions include crystallization of the concentrated purified protein, analysis through x-ray crystallography, and determination of protein crystal structure.


 

  Presenter PhotoKatie Miller, Michael Brewster, Jessica Mohr, Sweta Kharel, Derek Bowen and Scott Carr

Chapter: Upsilon
Anderson University
Science Education
Oral Session Presentation
Date Submitted: March 10, 2017(sp)

Fun_Raiser! Anderson University's Scientific Awareness Project

Anderson University’s Sigma Zeta Upsilon chapter was established 70 years ago. For the past 10 years, Sigma Zeta Upsilon’s After School STEM Awareness Program has been its primary community outreach, main opportunity for member involvement, and fundraiser for the chapter. This eight-week program in the Spring semester allows for Sigma Zeta members to provide lessons and materials for area middle school and elementary students for a nominal cost. Students are able to experience hands-on learning in a college setting, while the university students are able to teach students in their areas of interest in STEM (Lessons are prepared in the areas of biology, chemistry, physics, math, computer science, engineering). This program has been a successful outreach to the East Central Indiana community, and also has been a benefit to the university and the Upsilon chapter as well. The planning, pitfalls, and profits of our decade long program will be presented in this multifaceted fun_raising talk.

Presentation Video


 

Allison Neireiter 
Presenter Photo

Chapter: Alpha Beta
Campbellsville University
Environmental Science
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: March9, 2017(fp)

An inventory of large mammals at Clay Hill Memorial Forest (CHMF) in central Kentucky

Clay Hill Memorial Forest is a 305-acre, mostly wooded tract. Much of the property was acquired with funds from the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Board. This board dictates that bioinventories be completed for acquired land. Our purpose was to determine which species were present using remote wildlife camera traps. The research began in June of 2016 when 26 cameras (Browning BTC-5) were deployed at georeferenced locations in CHMF. Cameras were set to record short videos of animals lured with various attractants. At each site we placed hair snares with a goal of getting hair samples for genetic analyses but that was not successful. The research ended in December of 2016 with over 12,000 videos. Our results showed interesting patterns in mammalian distribution and abundance. Animals observed included coyote, bobcat, long-tailed weasel, raccoon, opossum, Southern flying squirrel, striped skunk, turkey and others. Distribution maps were plotted using ArcGIS Online.


 

 Presenter PhotoDelmar Oropeza and Sierra Corbin

Chapter: Rho
University of Indianapolis
Life Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: March 4, 2017 (fp)

Analysis of the linkage between the OR6A2 Olfactory Receptor Gene and Taste Preference for Coriandrum sativum: Testing for Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium

Human preferences for certain foods may be influenced by their genetics. For example, geneticists have established that there is an inherited component that determines whether or not an individual can detect the taste of the chemical phenylthiocarbamide (PTC), and this may influence an individual’s preference for bitter-tasting vegetables like brussel sprouts and broccoli. Recent studies have proposed that whether or not an individual likes the taste of the herb cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) is associated with a single DNA nucleotide difference in the olfactory gene, OR6A2. This nucleotide difference leads to two different versions or “alleles” of the OR6A2 gene. The receptor protein coded for by this gene detects aldehydes, chemicals often found in detergents. In individuals with the dominant allele, aldehydes present in cilantro may activate this receptor, causing the person to detect the taste of cilantro as “soapy”. We designed primers to amplify the portion of the receptor gene containing the SNP. The primers were designed to create a binding site for the PvuII restriction enzyme, such that the OR6A2 allele associated with tasting cilantro as soapy has the restriction site and the allele with the SNP associated with not tasting cilantro as soapy does not have the restriction site. We isolated DNA from individuals that self-reported as either a “cilantro-like” or “cilantro-soap” and used our primers to amplify the receptor gene using PCR.  We sent the resulting amplicons to GENEWIZ to be sequenced to confirm that the correct gene was being amplified. We then performed a restriction digest using PvuII on the amplicon from each of our individual samples and used gel electrophoresis to visualize the resulting fragments. The results indicated that the sequence data from our amplicon aligned with the reported sequence of the receptor gene with a 99.53% match, confirming the amplification of the correct gene by our primer set. The individuals tested also differed in their genotype for the SNP, which matched their phenotype for cilantro preference. Finally, the restriction digest was able to detect the presence of the SNP, which suggests we can use this procedure to genotype individuals for this genetic polymorphism.   


 

  Presenter PhotoZack Peterson, Andrea Ferrero, PhD, John Knoedler, MD, Cynthia McCollough, PhD, Shuai Leng, PhD

Chapter: Beta Iota
Bethel University
Life Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: March 9, 2017 (fp)

Predictive value of multi energy CT to determine stone fragility using conventional and novel CT detectors

Percutaneous lithotripsy (PCNL) is a minimally invasive method of removing renal stones. In this study, we investigated the predictive value of internal and surface morphology features of renal stones to determine stone fragility using dual energy (DE) CT and photon-counting-detector (PCD) CT.

Seventy urinary stones were scanned on a micro CT and a third-generation dual-source CT scanner using a routine dual energy protocol and mimicking an average patient size. The acquired CT images were imported into a validated in-house software for subsequent data analysis. Stone composition, volume, and texture features were estimated after segmenting the CT images. 56 of the stones were subsequently disintegrated in the surgical room in a controlled experimental setup, recording the time to comminution for each stone. A linear regression model was developed to determine the best combination of composition and texture metrics that predicted the time to comminution – and hence fragility – for the set of stones investigated. 14 stones were additionally scanned on a research photon counting detector CT (PCD-CT) using high resolution mode, with resolution of 250 , unsurpassed in whole-body CT imaging, to investigate the effect of improved spatial resolution on the texture analysis.

Several metrics describing internal and surface morphology showed significant correlation with the time to comminution. The best multivariable model to predict renal stone fragility using textural features extracted from dual energy CT is currently under investigation. Preliminary quantification of the textural features extracted from high resolution PCD-CT data showed better representing stone morphology compared to conventional DECT.


 

  Presenter PhotoAshlyn Raymond and Brad M Neal

Chapter: Rho
University of Indianapolis
Physical Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: March 10, 2017 (sp)

The Design and Implementation of a Project to Functionalize 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 the design and implementation of an experiment with the goal to increase the lipophilicity of the molecule so as to prolong the stability in the body. There will be discussion on the extraction of the polyphenol moiety from Camellia sinensis and separation of EGCG from the other polyphenols via an HPLC method and confirmation of structure via 1H NMR spectroscopy and FT-IR, followed by a brief synopsis of the reaction mechanism to functionalize EGCG with stearoyl chloride. The process of designing the experiment and the analytical progress that has been made with Epigallocatechin gallate will be presented.


 

  Presenter PhotoRuth Sexton, Rebecca DahlMichelle Marko, Hunter Smith and Jordan Bolger

Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College
Environmental Science
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: March 10, 2017(fp)

Morphological Variation in Elodea spp. in their Native and Invasive Ranges

Elodea nuttallii (Hydrocharitaceae) and E. canadensis are two aquatic plants common throughout North America. They provide valuable shelter and grazing opportunities for fish, muskrats and waterfowl in lake or river ecosystems, but can also become overgrown nuisances in their native ranges.  In Europe, E. canadensis and E. nuttallii have different invasion histories, which may have created morphological and biochemical changes as each responded to the unique circumstances of their invasion. In some cases, E. canadensis is considered to be an environmentally harmless naturalized species, whereas E. nuttallii is often considered a nuisance species. Three populations of E. canadensis and E. nuttallii from Minnesota and France were observed for morphological and chemical differences. E. canadensis was found to have greater biomass, leaf area, and leaf width than E. nuttallii.  Understanding differences that exist in the invasive and native ranges will help determine whether there are variables that can be exploited in controlling invasive plants.


 

  Presenter PhotoTrey Shupp, Rachel Baines, Joel Manzi, Natasha M. DeVore, and Matthew S. DeVore

Chapter: Beta Eta
Evangel University
Life Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: March 5, 2017(fp)

First Steps Toward Solving the Crystal Structure of the Human Airway Trypsin-like Protease

The Human Airway Trypsin-like Protease (HAT) has been found to play a role in virus entry into human cells.  HAT is a type II serine protease that is attached to the cell membrane by a single transmembrane helix.  The catalytic domain is located on the exterior side of the membrane, while the N-terminal domain is interior.  Currently, the three-dimensional structure of HAT is unknown.

We present the first steps in crystalizing a truncated form of HAT with the purpose of solving the protein’s crystal structure.  The transmembrane portion of the protein has been removed to facilitate purification.  The protein was expressed in E. Coli cells and purified using nickel affinity chromatography.  The purified protein was concentrated to ~15 mg/mL.  It was then screened for crystallization with a commercial 96 condition kit.  An initial crystal hit was identified from this screen and is being optimized.  In addition, we performed an enzyme activity assay to determine the activity of truncated HAT.


 

  Presenter PhotoPaige Stansell, Jacklyn Miller, Kimberly Mantzke Baker

Chapter: Rho
University of Indianapolis
Life Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: March 10, 2017 (sp)

Assessing the Effects of Garcinol and EGCG on Breast Cancer Cell Proliferation

Epidemiological studies indicate that there is a positive correlation between the consumption of foods rich in polyphenolic compounds and cancer prevention. Garcinol, found in the fruit Garcinia indica, and EGCG, found in green tea, are polyphenolic compounds that have been shown to exhibit anticancer activity in vitro. In this study, we evaluated the effects of Garcinol and EGCG, individually and in combination, on cell proliferation in MCF-7 breast cancer cells. In agreement with previous studies, we found that both Garcinol and EGCG inhibited MCF-7 cell proliferation in a dose dependent manner. Further studies to determine if co-administration of Garcinol and EGCG will result in synergistic inhibition of breast cancer cell proliferation are underway.


  

  Presenter PhotoJenna Stillwell, Kenzie Wild, Maddie Howard, Glory Kom, and Joseph Whittaker

 

Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College
Environmental Science
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: March 9, 2017(fp)

Charateristics of Cone Caches by American Red Squirrels on Concordia College Campus

We examined the cone collecting behaviors of American Red Squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) on the Concordia College campus. Red squirrels are solitary, territorial, and known to conduct larder hoarding and create one or more food caches that are actively defended.  Previous observations of squirrel foraging, cone collecting, and the storage of cones under, or in campus trees lead us to ask questions about the characteristics of the cones stored in these caches.  We wanted to see if there certain sizes or masses of cones that were more likely to be stored.  Random samples of cones were collected from each of the three caches chosen around campus.  Cones were organized into categories based on weight and size. They were then dyed by size class, and placed back into their piles for further observations. The results of the study indicate that campus squirrels tended to collect middle weight-class cones most frequently, as they are easy to transport and contain enough seeds to make the effort of storing them worth the effort. Future studies would aim to investigate the sizes of cones that are available to squirrels on campus and compare them to the cones that are selected for storage.


 

  Presenter PhotoBenjamin Stubbs and Joseph Whittaker

Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College
Environmental Science
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: March 9, 2017(np)

Comparison of Bird Communities on Remnant and Restored Prairies in Northwestern Minnesota

Prairie habitats have been reduced to approximately 1% of their pre-settlement area.  As a result many efforts have been made to reclaim or restore this imperiled habitat.   Little data is available on the response of the avian community to these restoration efforts, especially in northwestern Minnesota.  During June and July 2016 we examined bird communities on remnant and restored prairies in northwestern Minnesota.  We sampled a total of four sites, two restored and two remnant.  At each site we walked a 150 m transect and recorded birds heard and seen within a detectable distance in the habitat.  During the first two sampling sessions only birds present were recorded, but during sessions three through nine we also recorded the number of individual birds.  Although we had similar numbers of species overall at both restored and remnant sites, we had more bird species associated with prairies at remnant sites.  The bird community also seemed to be influenced by surrounding areas as one of the restored sites was surrounded by additional remnant prairie and showed greater diversity of prairie species as compared to the other, more isolated restored site.  We recommend further research to examine the effectiveness of restoration on bird communities, particularly in reference to additional factors, such as the influence of surrounding habitats, age of restored prairie, and plant species composition.


 

  Presenter PhotoLuke Teigen and Michael Solc

Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College
Environmental Science
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: March 10, 2017(sp)

Burn Year Effects on Coneflower Biomass

Fire often activates the recycling of nutrients in terrestrial systems. Plants that encounter fire more frequently are more likely to utilize the nutrients to grow larger the next growing season. Yellow coneflower (Ratibida pinnata) thrives in soil recently burned due to nutrient regeneration.  For our experiment, we investigated how fire affected biomass of the yellow coneflower. We hypothesized that the biomass of the yellow coneflower will be greater in the fields that were burned most recently. Ten yellow coneflower plants were collected from prairie units at the Long Lake Field Station. These units differ in how long they have undergone a prescribed fire treatment.  Plants were collected at least ten meters from roads to avoid possible influence from road runoff.  Plants were dried for two weeks and leaves were removed to eliminate water storage. Masses of stems and cones were determined using a hanging scale. The burning of prairies had an effect on plant biomass when comparing to an unburned control unit (p < 0.05).  However, Tukey posthoc tests did not reveal a difference in plant mass between two prairie units burned in 2013 and 2014.  Our hypothesis is only supported by comparisons involving the unburned field. Possible errors could have resulted from the lack of a desiccator. Future research could involve doing experiments regarding biomass and burn year but with invasive species, as well as examining the effects of prescribed fire on reproductive structures of plants.


 

  Presenter PhotoJordan Thomas and Candace Zepeda Ph. D.

Chapter: Sigma
Our Lady of the Lake University
Life Sciences
Oral Session Presentation
Date Submitted: March 7, 2017(fp)

NIH Grant Proposal: Mechanism of the Cycle of Abuse 

The Children’s Bureau estimated that on average 700,000 children are abused or neglected each year; the majority of these children (75%) are neglected. Children that are abused are thought to be more likely to become abusive parents themselves. If the abused or neglected child does become an abusive parent, their children are likely to do the same creating a cycle of abuse. In addition, published research has suggested that oxytocin, a neurotransmitter in the brain, is responsible for the onset of maternal behavior. More specifically, the medial preoptic area (MPOA)-mesolimbic pathway responds to and utilizes oxytocin to produce voluntary proactive maternal responses. Furthermore, this pathway has also been implicated in and affected by child neglect. Thus, this proposal aims to investigate the relationship between oxytocin and the cycle of abuse. There are three aims to this proposal: (1) determine if different rates of voluntary proactive maternal responses performed by dams affects the strength of the MPOA-VTA connection in pups; (2) determine if the rate of voluntary proactive maternal responses performed by dams affect the degree of methylation of the ERα gene in the pups; and (3 determine if pups with a weakened MPOA-VTA connection and/or highly methylated ERα gene produce low rates of voluntary proactive maternal responses toward their pups. These aims will be evaluated using a novel long-term neglect mouse model. 

Presentation Video


 

   Presenter PhotoSarah Thorud and Nathan Lindquist 

Chapter: Beta Iota
Bethel University
Physical Sciences
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: March 10, 2017(fp)

Multiplex Spectral Imaging of Plasmonic Nanoholes on Analyte-Sensitive Substrates for Real-Time Vapor Sensing

Plasmon-enhanced optical transmission through an array of nano-structured holes has led to the development of a new generation of optical biosensors.  While nanoholes have been typically used in liquid environments, plasmonic sensing of gas-phase analytes is also an important area of research and development.  In this paper, we employ a template stripping method to produce plasmonic nanohole arrays on analyte-sensitive substrates for real-time vapor sensing.  By properly positioning the nanoholes, a multi-point illumination source, and a suitable spacer layer, transmitted light will diffract from the nanohole array, spread into spectra spanning a few millimeters from each point of light, and land on an imager chip.  These spectra are monitored in real-time and the plasmon-enhanced transmission peaks shift upon exposure to different concentrations of ethanol vapor in nitrogen.  This on-chip solution circumvents the bulky components (e.g. microscopes, coupling optics, and spectrometers) needed for traditional plasmonic biosensing setups while maintaining good sensitivity and multiplexing capability.  The multiple points of light from the illumination source create multiple sets of spectra.  This, in conjunction with a computer program that reads and analyzes multiple spectra at different points and angles on a chip of nanohole arrays, allows for a multiplexing capability.


 

  Presenter PhotoTaylor Uccello and Greg Maniero (PhD.)

Chapter: Alpha Rho
Stonehill College
Life Sciences
Oral Session Presentation
Date Submitted: February 26, 2017(fp)

Characterization of Amphibian CD4

The African Clawed Frog, Xenopus laevis, is a well-characterized model for studying the adaptive vertebrate immune response. Although Xenopus have been shown to demonstrate activity consistent with helper T lymphocytes (TH cells), the existence of these cells has not yet been proven. TH cells are identified by the presence of a cell surface co-receptor known as CD4, which helps to stabilize the interaction of the TH cells with MHC class II molecules on the surface of antigen presenting cells. Another important, and perhaps ancestral, role for CD4 is as a receptor for the cytokine IL-16. Cytokines are molecules that affect the activity of immune cells. IL-16 binds to CD4 and influences the TH cells in several ways. IL-16 affects TH cells by binding to the CD4 receptor, stimulating TH cell growth and migration, recruiting cells to the site of inflammation, up-regulating the surface molecule MHC class II on the surface of the cells, and by inhibiting the TH cells ability to respond to allogeneic cells. This work seeks to provide evidence for the existence of the CD4+ TH cells in Xlaevis through observation of sequence alignments and PCR amplification. Additionally, the responses of the IL-16:CD4 interaction were examined. 

Presentation Video


 

  Presenter PhotoJessica Watson and  Joseph Whittaker

Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College
Environmental Science
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: March 10, 2017(sp)

Spatial and Behavioral Interactions Between American Red (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) and Eastern Gray (Sciurus carolinensis) Squirrels on an Urban College Campus

Tree squirrels (Order Rodentia, Family Sciuridae) are one of few groups to thrive in an urban setting such as Concordia College’s 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 species are found usually in different habitats, with gray squirrels associated with deciduous trees and red squirrels associated with conifers.    Red squirrels actively defend exclusive territories and at the center of these territories is typically a midden. By contrast, gray squirrels are not territorial and use scatterhoarding to store food. Gray squirrels exhibit a dominance hierarchy.    Over the past two years we have collared 58 squirrels and documented over 691 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. During 2016, an increase of gray squirrels has been observed and red squirrels have been exclusively using conifers.     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.


 

  Presenter PhotoBethanie Webb 

Chapter: Alpha Beta
Campbellsville University
Envioronmental Science
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: March 10, 2017(fp)

Bioinventory and Frequency Distribution of Salamander Species at Clay Hill Memorial Forest

At Clay Hill Memorial Forest (CHMF) in central Kentucky nine species of salamander have been observed; Southern Two-Lined (n=52), Longtail (5), Slimy (6), Jefferson (2), Northern Red (1), and Zigzag (18). Most of these are terrestrial; several migrate to ponds to mate.  Approximately one-half (150 acres) of CHMF was acquired with funds from the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Board.  A requirement of this funding is completion of a bio-inventory.  This research supplements early bio-inventory of salamanders by investigating ravines and springs feeding into those ravines at CHMF.  Between November 2016 and February 2017, six species of salamander were observed during eight samples from forested ravines and springs.   Salamanders were observed in the field by turning over rocks, logs and brushing away leaf litter. When salamanders were caught their weight, snout-vent length, and total length were recorded. These data were used to calculate mean weights of salamanders residing on the Clay Hill Property as well as frequency distributions of species known to occur at CHMF. In the future a perceived preferred location and/or habitat of CHMF salamanders may be determined as well as continuing on with the current methods to add on to these data and pre-existing data.

 


  

  Presenter PhotoChloe Whitten, Danielle Braund, Grant Vagle, Jessica Watson, Ben Stubbs, and Joseph C. Whittaker

Chapter: Gamma Gamma
Concordia College
Environmental Science
Poster Session Presentation
Date Submitted: March 10, 2017(fp)

Comparison of small mammal communities on restored and remnant prairies in northwestern Minnesota

Remnant prairies are one of the most threatened habitats in North America.  This has led to the restoration of prairie habitats by some organizations to support and protect native prairie species.  The effectiveness of these restored prairies to support small mammals is not well studied, however.  We trapped small mammals on various plots of restored and remnant prairies in northwestern Minnesota during the summer of 2016, adding to the existing dataset from previous years.  Trapped sites were in Becker, Clay, Mahnomen, and Norman counties.  The dominant species caught included Microtus pennsylvanicusPeromyscus spp., and Ictidomys tridecemlineatus; rare species encountered included Poliocitellus franklinii, Mustela spp., and very rarely Perognathus flavescens.  It appears that restored and remnant prairies in this area have similar patterns of diversity, though proximity of restored sites to remnant sites may have an influence on diversity.