2014 Cohort


Blair Baker
Sex Differences in Children's Suggestibility
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Debra Poole
Studies have found that younger children are more suggestible than older children and adults. Although age is strongly related to suggestibility and boys mature more slowly than girls, an early review of studies did not find consistent sex differences (Bruck & Melnyk, 2003). Due to this, we revisited the question of sex differences in suggestibility by (a) summarizing reports of sex differences from studies published after 2002 and (b) re-analyzing two data sets. For the re-analyses, we compared (a) the mean number of false reports of touching by boys and girls and (b) the proportion of boys and girls who produced a high rate of errors during interviews. Both the literature review and the re-analysis of one data set found that young boys are more suggestible than young girls.
Samantha Bent
Being Multi-Racial: Understanding Racial Identity in Multi-Racial Persons
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Carmen White

This research aims to add to the understanding of racial identity of multi-racial persons by interviewing male and female college students ages 18-24 from diverse multi-racial backgrounds. The interview style research approach will provide an understanding of the development of the individual’s racial identity and factors that have contributed to this identity, offering a better understanding of racial identity among multi-racial college students. The goal of this research is to contribute to a better understanding of racial identity on an individual basis among multi-racial persons by conducting participant-directed interviews.

Bianca Blackmon
Degradation of “Sweet” Aspirin under Mimetic Physiological Conditions
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Minghui Chai
It is known that aspirin, as well as many other NSAIDs, works well for minor aches and pains as well as for reducing fever and inflammation. There have been side effects associated with NSAIDs because of the low solubility of the drugs. The low solubility calls for large doses which can lead to complication in the stomach. "Sweet" aspirin has been synthesized in the hopes to reduce these side effects by increasing solubility 100 times. The "Sweet" Aspirin is an incorporation of sugar units with the active components of aspirin. During this research, we will be studying the decomposition of the newly synthesized drug as well as monitoring what pH works best for the slow release of the drug into the bloodstream.
Bryana Borders
Cpn A's interaction with F-actin and G-actin
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Cynthia Damer
Copines are calcium-dependent lipid binding proteins found in many different eukaryotic organisms, including humans. We are studying copines in the model organism, Dictyostelium discoideum. There are six different copines genes in the Dictyostelium genome. The specific function of copines is unknown; however our previous studies suggest that one of the coipnes, CpnA, is involved in regulating the actin cytoskeleton. The purpose of this project is to determine if CpnA can directly bind to either globular actin (G-actin) or actin filaments (F-actin) in a calcium-dependent manner. We used immunoprecipitations to bind the actin to the GFP and used western blots to view the results of the binding behavior. With the blots, we were able to observe that actin does bind to F-actin, but not G-actin and the A-domain does little to no binding to actin.
Christian Burns
New Compounds for Disrupting Biofilms in Mycobacterium Tuberculosis
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Benjamin Swarts
Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the causative agent of human tuberculosis (TB), contains a cell-wall that is complex in that it includes various trehalose glycolipids that contribute to a process known as biofilming, which may confer drug tolerance during infection. We synthesized novel trehalose analogs through a chemoenzymatic method, and evaluated their anti-biofilm activity in Mycobacterium smegmatis, a model organism for Mtb. Several analogs showed selective biofilm inhibition at low µM concentrations. The identification of trehalose-based biofilm inhibitors would create new tools for researching mycobacterial biofilms and potentially inform the development of novel therapeutic approaches for TB treatment.

Christopher Frazier
Feeding behavior of Hemimysis anomala
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Scott McNaught
Hemimysis anomala, a species of zooplankton from the Ponto-Caspian region, was discovered to have been introduced into the Laurentian Great Lakes in the early 2000's. Since its introduction, relatively few studies have been done on its behavior and feeding preferences for native plankton in our lakes, both of which are vital in understanding the potential impacts this new invader can have on Great Lakes ecosystems. This study is designed to help analyze the feeding behavior and behavior of Hemimysis when preying upon several types of prey zooplankton of contrasting body sizes and types.
Vanessa Graves
Sexual Dimorphism in the Tlaxacala Population: A Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Catherine Willermet
This paper investigates the possible presence of sexual dimorphism using dental anthropological methods among the twentieth-century population of San Pablo, descendants of the sixteenth-century Tlaxcaltecans. In two separate studies fifty-one dental casts were examined adhering to the combined conventional methods of odontometrics and the ASUDAS scoring system. This research is not only original as it is the first to combine the quantitative and qualitative methods of dental anthropology, it also adds to the knowledge base created by O’Rourke and Crawford’s 1976 study, and the on-going debate of sexual dimorphism. The hypotheses of this study predict the men and women for both quantitative and qualitative data would not be equal, meaning either the men or women would show statistically significant evidence of sexual dimorphism for each trait.
Allison Moore
Comparision of Human and Mouse Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Expression in Genetically Modified Bone-marrow Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells as a Treatment for Huntington's Disease
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Julien Rossignol
Huntington’s disease (HD) is a fatal neurodegenerative disorder caused by a genetic mutation. This genetic mutation causes depletion of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a growth factor crucial for neuronal survival. As a potential treatment for HD, bone-marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) were genetically altered to over-express BDNF and transplanted into a transgenic HD (R6/2) mouse model. To determine clinical relevance, immunogenic response was evaluated using MSCs genetically modified with both human and mouse BDNF. HD symptoms were expected to be alleviated post-transplantation. Although the human and mouse BDNF genes are 96% identical, immunogenic response was expected to vary between species.
David Syckle II
Biology:  Natural Resources
To Sniff or Not to Sniff? A Comparison of the Influence of Scent on Animal Behavior
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Bradley Swanson
We evaluated four different scents (fatty acid scent, hog urine, Liquid Smoke, and non-scent control stations) to determine if there were significant differences among the scents in their ability to attract or repel animals in a northern forest habitat. Our results suggest that none of our scents attracted or repelled any species. We did find that deer avoid scent stations where coyote recently visited. We found no relationship between scent investigations and time. We did not find any evidence suggesting that coloration, or attachment mechanism, altered the probability of a camera remaining aimed at the targeted scent station. Our results call into question the use of scents as attractants, given the cost of maintaining scent stations, for common forest animals.

Laura Warner
Biology:  Natural Resources
Vigilance Behavior in Foraging Chipmunks
Faculty Mentors: Dr. Kevin Pangle and Dr. Wiline Pangle
Vigilance behavior of foraging animals is influenced by multiple factors, many of which are related to perceived predation risk. Spatial familiarity should also affect vigilance behavior, as perceived predation risk is expected to decrease with increasing time spent in an area. Although this has been previously documented as an anecdotal result, the effect of familiarity on vigilance has not been directly examined. In this study, the environment of foraging Eastern chipmunks (Tamias striatus) was altered to create an unfamiliar setting by moving logs around an artificial food patch. Observing the vigilance behavior of the chipmunk made it possible to consider multiple variables novel in the field of vigilance behavior: the effect of the range of view and complexity of the field of vision on vigilance.