Unearthing Bharat Mata: Utilizing An Ecocritical and Subaltern Focus to Comprehend Modern Indian Identity in English Literature
Mahreen Bashir, University of Utah Humanities A complicated social paradox humanity faces is assessing the union between the seemingly contradictory ideologies of “sustainability” and “growth” into one viable system. Adapting a merger between concepts such as: the retention of cultural values and social systems, industry, urban sprawl, modernity, sanitation, progress and the environment. This objective of this research project centers around using understandings of post-colonial theory to find new connections in South Asian identity through South Asian literature written in English, and the literature’s relationship to ecology. Specifically, it applies the nascent subaltern lens of a historiography that examines South Asia as both a post-colonial subcontinent, and an emerging “superpower,” in the rhetoric of a global economy, to understand a relationship between Indian people and India as place. Questions asked are posed in regard to the affects of orientalism and a cultural infiltration of seeing endemic knowledge to be degenerate in relation to Western academia; Indian-American identity; and the weight of the term “subaltern” through works by South Asian writers. Furthermore, the project uses an ecocritical lens on these works to extract how identity discourse and post-colonialism have created understandings of Indian identity within English literature. The anticipated outcome of this research paper is to create a greater understanding of both emergent academic lenses, and their application in understanding Indian culture and identity as portrayed by works written by Indo-American writers. This research idea was born out of my passion for both ecology and post-colonial studies that I have honed through my studies as an environmental studies and gender studies double major. The main objective is to investigate the plurality of identity, and the ramifications that identity, has on the establishment of more sustainable behavior to counter the impending global crisis the planet is facing in terms of lack of environmental stewardship, and subsequent social justice.
Master of Passion, Freed with Reason
Quinn Mason, Brigham Young University Humanities “Law is the highest reason, implanted in nature, which commands what ought to be done and forbids the opposite,” Cicero wrote, “This reason, when firmly fixed and fully developed in the human mind, is Law… Law is intelligence, whose natural function is to command right conduct and forbid wrongdoing.” In Bronté’s well-known novel, Jane Eyre, Jane is confronted with all she desires which is the love of Mr. Rochester, who is married under peculiar circumstances to crazy Bertha Mason. She is given the option of living with Mr. Rochester outside of marriage. However, Jane states, “I adhered to principle and law … [and] scorned and crushed the insane prompting of a frenzied moment”. My research focuses the role of natural law within the complicated situation presented before Jane Eyre and how she masters her passion, rather than being a slave to her desires.
Behold, Other Scriptures I Would that Ye Should Write: Malachi in the Book of Mormon
Colby Townsend, University of Utah Humanities A vast amount of literature has been produced on the Book of Mormon since its initial publication in 1830. Writers from all backgrounds have approached this text, generally in a polarized manner. Either they approach it as committed believers or non-committed skeptics. In reviewing this literature it becomes apparent that not enough work has been done on the influence of the King James Version (KJV) of the Biblical text on the actual production of the Book of Mormon. A large project is underway to locate all of the places in the text of the Book of Mormon that are literarily dependent on the KJV. This paper will be a contribution toward that end. Malachi 3-4 is quoted in numerous places throughout the Book of Mormon, not just 3 Ne. 24-25 where Jesus gives the Nephites these chapters because “they [had them] not.” The paper will locate all of those places in the text of the Book of Mormon where the language and phraseology of Malachi is used, and its use will be analyzed through literary and source criticism. At present this paper is still a work in progress, and therefore has no set conclusion, but the working hypothesis is that Joseph Smith either utilized the KJV Malachi directly in the process of dictating the Book of Mormon by taking out a KJV and having his scribe copy it down, or the language was so familiar to him it came to mind as he dictated to his scribe. This will contribute to the larger study of locating all those places in the Book of Mormon that are dependent on the Bible, which will be published as a scholarly reference for use in comparative studies between the Bible and the Book of Mormon.
Glioma stem cells, hypoxia inducible factor 1 alpha, and brain tumor dynamics
Bradley Weaver, University of Utah Health High-grade gliomas, especially glioblastoma (GBMs, WHO Grade IV), are the most common primary brain tumors in humans. Despite recent advances in molecular targeted therapies for cancer, there has been little progress in treatment of GBMs. Median patient survival after diagnosis is dismal: approximately 12 months. Hypoxia is a key clinical marker of GBMs, which contain pockets of necrotic and hypoxic regions within the solid tumor mass. The transcription factors in the Hypoxia Inducible Factor (HIF) family are the master regulators of the cellular response to hypoxia. Their downstream targets include compounds that promote angiogenesis, increase glycolysis, and inhibit apoptosis. Recent research has identified glioma stem cells (GSCs) surviving within the hypoxic microenvironment, and has implicated HIF1α as a potential regulator of the GSC phenotype. GSCs are thought to promote therapeutic resistance and recurrence of GBMs after surgical resection. Clarifying the role of HIF1α in glioma stem cell dynamics is important for targeting both the tumor cells and their environment in new treatment. It is expected that GSC populations with more aggressive phenotypes will express higher levels of HIF1α and have higher proliferation rates under acute hypoxia. In this study, the HIF1α levels and proliferation dynamics of multiple, unique GSC cell lines are investigated. Cell lines used include two GSC lines isolated from primary patient tumors (NSC20/23) and a stem cell enriched high-grade glioma line. Preliminary results suggest that not all populations of GSCs respond the same way to hypoxic stress, and HIF1α may play a central role in stem cell dynamics, but not in the growth of non-stem tumor cells. Probing further into this relationship will increase our understanding of how brain tumors behave, and how to more effectively target them in patients. Further data and conclusions from this project will be available at the time of presentation.
Dance Loops: A Dance Performance with Live, Interactive Video Looping
Hannah Braegger McKeachnie, Utah Valley University Fine Arts Purpose
Armenian Coffee Houses in David Kherdian’s Homage to Adana: Negotiating Geographical, Generational, and Cultural Identities
Helen Makhdoumian, Westminster College Humanities Despite roughly a century of Armenian American literary production, the literary theory and criticism on this body of ethnic literature has only started to develop in the last few decades. David Kherdian is an Armenian American writer whose works range from poetry to prose, fiction to memoir, and translations to retellings of Armenian tales. My research focuses on David Kherdian’s poetry collection Homage to Adana, published in 1970. Previous critics have analyzed Kherdian’s poetry for themes such as childhood, familial relationships, self-discovery, and personal and collective memory. Some critics have read some of Kherdian’s poems as reflecting the loss of Armenian culture due to assimilation in the U.S. In contrast, this presentation analyzes the motif of the Armenian coffee house in select poems in Homage to Adana as a space where geographical, generational, and cultural identities are negotiated. Although on the surface these poems indicate a loss of Armenian culture, I argue that they actually indicate a continuation and adaptation of Armenian culture in the U.S. by the younger generation. To support my argument, my approach uses the theoretical lenses of New Historicism and Cultural Studies. I contextualize these texts with the history of the Armenian diaspora and immigration. Furthermore, I include the historical and cultural significance of Armenian coffee houses as well as the use of Armenian coffee in cultural knowledge sharing. In general, the themes I look for are references to the old country, representations of immigrant Armenian men and women, oral storytelling, and food traditions. Ultimately, this analysis reveals how the poems reflect the negotiation of passing on cultural knowledge. By both continuing traditions and adapting them for everyday lived experiences, Armenian culture will remain vibrant in diaspora.
Brazilian malariology in international context, 1850-1950
Tyson Amundsen, University of Utah Humanities The focus of my research was to create a database of the various people, institutions, and funding agencies that constituted the discursive community of malaria specialists in Brazil—the network responsible for producing and distributing medical knowledge there from 1850-2012. This database will be used to chart trends in Brazilian research and publishing activities, Brazilian participation in international conferences, the reception of Brazilian research abroad, and Brazilian engagement with the work of foreign researchers.
Duty, Loyalty, and Righteousness in Chinese/Japanese Martial Literature
Garrett Norris, University of Utah Humanities In this abstract, I will summarize the major differences and similarities I have found between Chinese and Japanese concepts of loyalty represented in the the three classical texts I analyzed.
Peer Mentor Successes in a Low-performing, Upper Division Science Course
John Lorz, Utah Valley University Education How about a 20% increase in the class average on the mid-term exam compared with the previous two academic years of the same course? In this session two students share their experiences as (newly piloted) peer mentors in a low-performing, upper division genetics class. Student attitudes towards genetics improved and both mid-term and final grades increased by double-digit percentages. Not only did these peer mentors increase student success, but also experienced a personal developmental opportunity in preparation for graduate school, including this conference presentation and an anticipated peer-reviewed publication to follow.
A Novel Romance: Parasocial Interaction, Attachment Style, and Jealousy in female readers’ romantic relationships
Emma Josey, Dixie State University Communications Romance novels seem to be a staple in the devoted reader’s array of books and have remained an extremely popular genre throughout the centuries. Not only are the actual stories appealing to the readers, but some readers go a step further and interact with or create a relationship with characters themselves. A phenomenon called parasocial interaction. This research study seeks to discover if the parasocial interactions female romance novel readers experience relate to a practice of a particular attachment style and jealousy in their romantic relationships. These characteristics are important to the health and sustainability of people’s romantic relationships, and this study seeks to learn whether or not the quasi relationships romance novel readers create with characters influences those relationships.
Pick On This, Make A Change: Helping Prevent Youth Bullying through Grassroots Public Relations
Sydney Tycksen, Utah Valley University Communications An award winning research project, this summary highlights research conducted by Communication students at Utah Valley University of a grassroots public relations campaign created to increase awareness among middle school students, parents, educators, and community leaders of the serious short and long term consequences of youth bullying. The study also demonstrates how the campaign informed audiences of the steps they should take to help prevent bullying. The goal of the research was to understand the short-and-long term effects of bullying, types of bullying, and the prominence of bullying in the surrounding community where the research was conducted. A public relations strategic communication plan was developed based on the research to change bullying behavior in the community. The campaign aimed to spread awareness of the short and long term effects of bullying and outline the steps to report and prevent bullying through the development of strategies and tactics. These steps help students, parents, educators, and community members understand bullying, recognize the signs and types, and know the appropriate authority to whom to report the behavior. This presentation will show how the research provided the students with the information needed to establish measureable objectives for the campaign, reach their key publics and provide an evaluation of the strategies and tactics used to meet campaign objectives. The document reviews the outcome and evaluation of each strategy and tactic implemented during the campaign, including media relations and social media tactics, The summary concludes with an overview of how campaign objectives of teaching key publics how to take steps to prevent bullying were achieved due to thorough research and understanding of how to effectively use messaging to generate behavior changes within the key public.
High-frequency ultrasound study of excised tissue cryopreserved via simple sugars
Logan Warner, Utah Valley University Life Sciences High-frequency ultrasound (20-80 MHz) has been found to be sensitive to a range of pathologies in excised breast tissue before fixation in formalin or other formaldehyde analogues. Formalin fixation, however, may alter the structure and rigidity of a sample so that data gathered using high-frequency ultrasound after fixation may no longer be viable for research purposes. This limits the amount of time researchers may conduct tests, so preservation via simple sugars is being considered. Numerous studies have been conducted using sucrose, trehalose, or glucose as cryoprotectants for cells and simple tissues. The objective of this study was to test the sensitivity of high-frequency ultrasound to changes in the microstructure, stiffness, and cellular integrity of tissue samples due to cryopreservation with these sugars. Domestic pig heart tissue was placed in aqueous solutions of sucrose, trehalose, and D-(+)-glucose. The specimens were refrigerated and observed over time using high-frequency ultrasound to detect tissue damage. The results of this study suggest that cryopreservation with sugars will not only allow more time for researchers to conduct ultrasonic tests on surgical specimens, but also that high-frequency ultrasound could potentially be used as an assay to measure tissue degradation in preserved living tissues such as transplant organs.
Insights into the evolution of wings in Insects: Molecular Phylogenetics of Baetidae (Ephemeroptera)
Chase Barker, Utah Valley University Life Sciences Central Research Question: Phylogenetic relationships of mayflies are still not very well known, however molecular and morphological data have begun to shed light on the relationships of these insects (Ogden et al. 2009). Our central question is to elucidate the phylogenetic relationships within the mayfly family Baetidae.
High-frequency ultrasound of breast tissue phantoms with histology-mimicking microstructures
Audrey Butler, Utah Valley University Life Sciences High-frequency (HF) ultrasound has been shown to be sensitive to a range of breast pathologies, and is being explored for the intra-operative assessment of lumpectomy margins. This sensitivity is believed to arise from microstructure-dependent interactions of ultrasound in the tissue. The objectives of this study were to develop breast tissue phantoms with microstructures that accurately mimic the histology of normal and malignant tissue, and to determine the effects of these microstructures on HF ultrasonic spectra (10-100 MHz). Phantoms were created from a mixture of water, gelatin, and soluble fiber. To simulate various breast tissue histologies, polyethylene beads, polyethylene fibers, and nylon fibers with a range of diameters were embedded into phantoms. Microstructures ranging from randomly dispersed beads to bead-fiber constructs resembling terminal ductal lobular units (TDLUs) were modeled and tested. Pitch-catch and pulse-echo measurements were acquired using 50-MHz transducers, a HF pulser-receiver, and a 1-GHz digital oscilloscope. Spectra were derived from the data and peak densities were determined from the spectra. Peak density, which is the number of peaks and valleys in a specified spectral range, has been shown to correlate with tissue complexity. Preliminary results from dispersed beads (58-925 µm diameter) of constant volume concentration (0.8%) indicated that the smaller beads produced higher peak densities than the larger beads with a consistent and statistically significant trend. These results substantially improve upon previous phantom studies and upon results from original breast cancer studies, demonstrating the strength of the HF ultrasound response to tissue microstructure. The higher peak densities can be attributed to either the higher number of scatterers for small beads or the size of scatterer in relation to the ultrasonic wavelength. These and other results from more advanced histologically accurate microstructures modeling TDLUs will be discussed.
The function of β-catenin in the maintenance of multipotent pancreatic progenitors
Hillary Hansen, University of Utah Life Sciences Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where pancreatic β-cells are destroyed, resulting in insulin deficiency. Generating new β-cells from stem cells for treating diabetes will benefit from understanding their development in vivo. Pancreatic β-cells, along with all other pancreatic lineages arise from multipotent pancreatic progenitor cells (MPCs). Previous studies demonstrate that the structural and signaling protein β-catenin is required for the development of the exocrine acinar lineage. β-cells still differentiate in the absence of β-catenin, however, β-cell mass is dependent upon β-catenin. We determined that this dependency reflects a role for β-catenin in the maintenance of MPC patterning as well as for expansion of the progenitor pool. Whether our observed effects are due to the signaling or structural function of β-catenin remains unknown, and is the focus of this research. Using mouse genetics we are able to separate the structural and signaling functions of β-catenin. Eliminating both functions in PBKO (full knockout) mice produces decreased β-cell mass and irregular patterning. Decreased β-cell mass is also observed in PBsKO (signaling deficient) mice, though patterning remains unaffected. This suggests that pancreas growth is dependent upon canonical Wnt/β-catenin signaling, and that maintaining progenitor identity requires the structural role of β-catenin. Elucidating distinct roles for β-catenin could be used to drive stem cell-derived MPCs to expand and differentiate to the desired pancreatic cell fate.
Coronary vascular function is improved in ischemic patients following continuous-flow left ventricular assist device implantation
Lance Deeter, University of Utah Life Sciences Continuous-flow left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) are used in advanced heart failure patients either to bridge them to transplantation or as a permanent-destination therapy. We determined whether chronic exposure to non-pulsatile blood flow and acute increases in coronary perfusion pressure associated with LVAD implantation would influence arterial function. Arteries from a transmural biopsy of the left-ventricle were obtained from ten male patients (54±4 years old) at the time of LVAD implant (n=17, 184±25 µm i.d.) and 239±51 days later upon LVAD explant (n=21, 281±22 µm i.d.). Lmax tension was determined and dose-response curves to potassium chloride (KCl, 10-100 mM) were performed using isometric tension techniques. Next, bradykinin (BK, 10-6 to 10-10 M) and sodium nitroprusside (SNP, 10-4 to 10-9 M) concentration-response curves were completed on vessels precontracted to ~65% of maximal tension development. Maximal BK-induced vasorelaxation was greater (p<0.05) at explant (85±5%) vs. implant (59±9%), while SNP evoked responses (~90%) were similar between time-points. These findings suggest coronary endothelial function is improved by LVAD implantation. Heart failure was precipitated by a myocardial infarction in six of the ten patients. These are referred to as “ischemic” patients whereas the remaining four are “non-ischemic” patients. We hypothesized that coronary vascular responses would be improved by LVAD implantation to a greater extent in ischemic vs. non-ischemic patients. In ischemic patients maximal BK-induced vasorelaxation was greater (p<0.05) in coronary arteries obtained at explant (87±6%, n=14, 305±30 μm i.d.) vs. implant (53±11%, n=12, 204±33 μm i.d.). In non-ischemic patients maximal BK-induced vasorelaxation was similar in arteries obtained at explant (79±9%, n=7, 232±21 μm) and implant (72±17%, n=5, 135±13 μm). SNP responses were similar (~90%) between groups at implant and explant. Collectively, our data suggest that LVAD implantation improves endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation in ischemic but not in non-ischemic patients.
Three-Dimensional Mapping and Virtual Reconstruction of a Pharyngeal Space Nerve Plexus
Jake Gamboa, Brigham Young University Life Sciences It is estimated that approximately 350,000 people in the United Stated die annually from post-myocardial infarction arrhythmias. A majority of these people will undergo a surgery that results in partial or complete removal of the stellate ganglion and other nerve fibers of the pharyngeal space in an attempt to prevent over stimulation from the neurons to the area of dead heart tissue and, therefore, future arrhythmias. However, without a somatomototopy, it is unclear what physiological effects partial or full sympathectomies may have. We will create a three-dimensional map of the pharyngeal space nerve plexus which will, in turn, allow for a more accurate and precise surgery.
Long-Circulating Backbone-Degradable HPMA Copolymer-Gemcitabine Conjugates for the Treatment of Ovarian Carcinoma
Shwan Javdan, University of Utah Life Sciences Each year in the United States, over 22,000 new cases of ovarian carcinoma are diagnosed and 14,000 women die from its progressive cancer stages. Anthracyclines, a class of common chemotherapy drugs, have long been the primary treatment for this and many other cancers, but they often leave patients with cardiotoxicity, hepatotoxicity, and other adverse effects. Polymer-drug conjugates using poly[N-(2-hydroxypropyl)methacrylamide] (poly-HPMA) are nanosized, water-soluble constructs that accumulate passively in solid tumors by the enhanced permeability and retention effect as well as actively by cell surface targeting methods. As such, they have exhibited reduced toxicity in the body. The goal of this study was to develop a novel, targeted HPMA copolymer-drug conjugate for the treatment of ovarian carcinoma. To accomplish this, an antibody fragment called Fab’, targeted to ovarian carcinoma cell surface antigen OA3, was bound to an HPMA copolymer-gemcitabine conjugate. Gemcitabine is a nucleoside analog used in chemotherapy that has demonstrated considerable effectiveness in recent years. The copolymer-gemcitabine conjugate was successfully developed following the synthesis of all the requisite components, including Fab’, diblock chain-transfer agent (di-CTA), N-(2-(2-pyridyldithio)ethyl)methacrylamide (PDTEMA), and polymerizable backbone-degradable gemcitabine derivative. Syntheses of di-CTA and PDTEMA were optimized and then characterized by high-performance liquid chromatography, H-NMR, and mass spectrometry. Monomers were combined by reversible addition-fragmentation chain-transfer polymerization, and then the Fab’ fragment was bound to the polymer backbone via a disulfide exchange reaction with PDTEMA. The targeted copolymer-drug conjugate was then verified by fast-protein liquid chromatography as well as ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy. A number of in vitro tests have demonstrated the properties of an efficient drug delivery system. Flow cytometry displayed active accumulation of the copolymer-gemcitabine conjugate to OVCAR3 cell surfaces. Furthermore, IC50 measurement found promising drug efficacy comparable to modern anthracyclines. Future work will involve in vivo evaluation of the conjugate’s therapeutic efficacy in nude mice bearing OVCAR3-xenografts.
Killing of intracellular Mycobacterium ulcerans by mycobacterial phage cocktail using avirulent Mycobacterium smegmaits as a vector
Justen Despain, Brigham Young University Life Sciences Mycobacterium ulcerans is an acid fast intracellular bacteria that is the causative agent of Buruli Ulcer, a disease endemic in tropical regions of Africa. The disease starts as a nodule that progresses into a necrotizing skin lesion. Treatment ranges from antibiotic therapy to surgical removal of surrounding skin to stop necrotization of the skin. Owing to the intracellular nature of M. ulcerans, antibiotic therapy can be an ineffective treatment option. It has been previously shown that mycobacteriophage can reduce extracellular bacterial load in mice infected with M. ulcerans. In this study, we propose a method of killing intracellular M. ulcerans by mycobacteriophage using avirulent Mycobacterium smegmaits as a vector.
Ethanol Inhibits Dopamine Release at Terminals in the Nucleus Accumbens Via GABA Receptors
Eliza Warren, Brigham Young University Life Sciences We have previously demonstrated that ethanol inhibition of medium spiny neurons (MSNs) in the nucleus accumbens (NAc), and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurons in other ethanol-sensitive brain areas, is mediated by GABA(B) receptors. The aim of this study was to evaluate the involvement of GABA and glutamate (GLU), and in particular GABA(A), GABA(B) and NMDA receptors, in mediating ethanol inhibition of dopamine (DA) release in the NAc. Using fast scan cyclic voltammetry (FSCV), we evaluated the effects of ethanol on DA release in the NAc core of C57/BL6 and CD-1 mice. In the slice preparation, local stimulation evoked robust, frequency-dependent DA release in the NAc, with maximal release at 20 Hz. Ethanol decreased DA release with an IC50 of 60 mM in C57Bl6 mice. In anesthetized C57BL6 mice, ethanol decreased DA release with an IC50 of 2.0 g/kg. Superfusion of the GABA(B) receptor antagonist CGP55845 enhanced DA release 85%, while neither the GABA(A) receptor antagonist bicuculline, the GABA(A) receptor agonist muscimol, the GABA(B) receptor agonist baclofen, nor the NMDA GLU antagonist APV significantly affected DA release. CGP55845 blocked ethanol inhibition of DA release, while neither bicuculline nor APV altered ethanol’s effects. GABA inhibited DA release at 0.5-10 uM but not at 0.1-1 mM. Compared to ethanol effects on DA release in C57BL6 mice, CD-1 GAD GFP knock-in mice, which only express GAD at 50% levels, were significantly less sensitive to ethanol. As DA release was sensitive to low concentrations of GABA, CGP55845 may act as a GABA(A) rho receptor antagonist, and neither bicuculline nor baclofen had any effect on DA release, ethanol may be acting on extrasynaptic GABA(A) rho receptors on DA terminals to inhibit DA release in the NAc.
Suppresion of lymphangiogenesis using vegf-c trap
Ryan Watkins, Univeristy of Utah Life Sciences The lymphatic system is responsible for controlling systemic fluid buildup. Lymphangiogenesis is a dynamic process involving sprouting and maintaining new lymphatic vasculature. Vascular endothelial growth factor C (VEGF-C) is known as a key growth factor through VEGF receptor 2 and 3 (VEGFR2 and VEGFR3). Interestingly, the cornea expresses VEGF-C but is alymphatic. We found that the soluble isoform of VEGFR3, which lacks tyrosine kinase domains, is responsible for the alymphatic nature of the cornea by sequestering endogenous VEGF-C. Although soluble VEGFR3 or soluble VEGFR2 can be useful for inhibition of VEGF-C derived lymphangiogenesis, they also bind VEGF-A. Inhibition of VEGF-A suppresses blood vessel formation, damaging tissue and creating additional side effects. The development of a new anti-lymphangiogenic drug, that only blocks VEGF-C, has many implications: preventing tumor metastasis and reducing rejection rates of tissue and organ transplants. VEGF-C mainly binds to VEGFR3 domain 2 and VEGFR2 domain 3. To develop an anti-lymphangiogenic drug that specifically binds VEGF-C the binding domains were inserted into a vector that produces a recombinant protein (VEGF-C trap) that sequesters VEGF-C, suppressing lymphangiogenesis. Mice in a cornea transplantation model were treated with VEGF-C trap. After 8 weeks, 60% of the treated cornea survived (no rejection) compared to 10% in the empty vector control group. A 60% transplant survival rate is one of the highest rates compared to other single treatment methods. Blood and lymph vessel area was calculated and showed a decrease in lymph vasculature but not blood vessel. Suggesting only VEGF-C activity was affected. In a tumor metastasis model, nude mice will be injected subcutaneously with cultured MCF-7 cells which have been transfected with VEGF-C trap or an empty vector. We expect to see a decrease of lymphatic vasculature in the mice injected with MCF-7 cells containing the VEGF-C trap and ultimately less metastasis.
Standing on the shoulders of Woodrats: Adaptive Evolution in Desert Iguanas
Albert Pope, Utah Valley University Life Sciences Few animals are capable of using the creosote plant, Larrea tridentate, as food because of a high level of toxic secondary compounds. Some exceptions to this rule are Neotoma lepida and Dipsosaurus dorsalis which are both capable of sustaining themselves on this desert bush. In 2013, Magnanou et al helped identify heightened transcription of genes correlated with digestion of creosote in N. lepida. Building upon their findings, we explore whether the genes for digesting creosote are under an elevated evolutionary rate for D. dorsalis. We have obtained transcriptomes from whole blood of four Iguaninae species: Ctenosaura pectinata, D. dorsalis, Sauromalus ater, Cyclura lewisi yielding an average of 4 GB of DNA sequence data (~51,000,000 fragments) each. Using Velvet in Sequencher we assembled these data, recovering greater than 6000 unique RNA transcripts per transcriptome. We search through the contigs to identify genes in Iguaninae transcriptomes that are homologous to those showing differential expression in Lepida. Using BLAST, we retrieve homologous genes from the public NCBI database of Anolis carolinensis and other reptiles. Lastly we construct phylogenetic trees of each gene and investigate the rate of change along each reptile lineage.
Frog Behavior May Protect Against Potentially Lethal Chytriodiomycosis
Hailey Shepherd, Dixie State University Life Sciences Previous studies of canyon tree frogs (Hyla arenicolor) in Zion National Park have shown that some populations test positive for a dangerous fungus in the Chytridiomycosis family. This fungus has been linked to large population losses worldwide in many keystone amphibian species, but appears to have no effect on populations of H. arenicolor. Since Chytrid fungal growth is inhibited at high temperatures, we hypothesized the frogs are able to rid themselves of the fungus because they bask in the sun. During the summer of 2013 we swabbed frogs in multiple slot canyons to test for the presence of the fungus. We also recorded skin temperatures of the frogs we swabbed. Skin temperatures were as high as 38 C°, which is above the previously established lethal threshold of 28 C° for Chytridiomycosis. Our data support the idea that these frogs may be able to rid themselves of infection by allowing skin temperatures to raise enough to become intolerable for this fungus. This is the first known evidence of wild amphibian populations showing a behavior that may clear the infection. If further research supports these findings, it could lead to more effective allocation of limited conservation resources.
Intrauterine Growth Restriction Alters Estrogen Serum Levels and Signaling in Rat Adipose Tissue in a Sex Dependent Manner
Danielle Holliday, University of Utah Life Sciences Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) induces visceral obesity in adulthood, specifically among males. In male rat offspring, IUGR increases visceral adipose tissue (VAT) over subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT). VAT and SAT functions are regulated by estrogen signaling, and suppressed estrogen signaling contributes to obesity development. Estrogen signaling is composed of estradiol and estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) and beta (ERβ). Estrogen receptors regulate the expression of several obesity related genes, such as lipoprotein lipase (LPL). However, the effects of IUGR on estrogen serum levels and signaling in the adipose tissue are unknown.
Using breast cancer subtypes as a model for detecting cytoskeletal dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease
Ashley Calder, Utah Valley University Life Sciences An estimated 50-80% of dementia patients suffer from Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Currently there is no test to diagnose AD except post mortem. Recent papers indicate that AD affects the cytoskeleton and cellular structure through mutations that alter structural proteins, and that dysfunction of the cytoskeleton may play a pivotal role in AD and other neurodegenerative diseases. In particular, specific genetic components of AD affect microtubule and actin filaments that control endocytosis, exocytosis, the shape and size of the neuron, vesicular transport along neurites (dendrites and axons), and fibril formation. The goal of our research is to determine if breast cancer molecular subtypes can be used as a model for AD. Breast cancer is comprised of five molecular subtypes that contain different molecular structures depending on mutations specific to each subtype and the proteins being synthesized. These mutations and their expressed proteins change the characteristics of the cytoskeleton and resulting properties of the cell such as size, shape and stiffness. Both computer simulation and experiment have demonstrated that high-frequency ultrasound in the 10-100 MHz range is sensitive to these properties. For this study, ultrasonic tests were conducted on monolayer cell cultures of breast cancer cell lines of different subtypes. Ultrasonic waveforms were analyzed by transforming them into their corresponding spectra. The positions, widths, and shapes of the spectral peaks were compared and correlated to model results using a pattern recognition algorithm. Preliminary results indicate that cell stiffness and size can be determined from the measurements. Further analyses of these and additional data will determine if ultrasound is sufficiently sensitive to differentiate between the molecular subtypes of breast cancer. Results from these analyses, future studies with neuron cell cultures, and application of the results to the development of a minimally invasive, in vivo method for accurately diagnosing AD will be discussed.
Biodegradation of Hydrocarbons by Great Salt Lake Microorganisms
Camrin Rivera, Westminster College Life Sciences The Great Salt Lake (GSL) of Utah is home to organisms that are able to survive and reproduce in waters that can have a salt concentration of over 30%. Oil Jetty is located on the saltier north arm of the GSL and is the location of a natural hydrocarbon seep that flows into the lake. Previous work showed that organisms capable of degrading hydrocarbons can be cultured from this area (Ward & Brcok, 1978). It has also been shown that the salt concentration has an inverse relationship with these organisms’ ability to degrade hydrocarbons (Ward & Brock, 1978). This previous study gives insight of the hydrocarbon degrading capabilities of microorganisms in the GSL; however, the identification and characterization of individual hydrocarbon-degrading microorganisms has yet to be completed. The purpose of this study is to identify GSL microorganisms capable of degrading hydrocarbons under high salinities by sequencing of the 16s rRNA gene. Future studies will include the characterization of these microorganisms in order to find isolates whose hydrocarbon degrading abilities could be utilized for bioremediation and biotechnologies.
Functional Switch in GABA(A) Receptors on VTA GABA Neurons by Chronic Ethanol
Ashley Nelson, Brigham Young University Life Sciences The motivational effects of opiates and ethanol switch from a dopamine (DA)-independent to a DA-dependent pathway when the animal is in a drug-dependent state. A corresponding change occurs in ventral tegmental area (VTA) GABA(A) receptors in opiate-dependent animals, which switch from a GABA-induced hyperpolarization of VTA GABA neurons to a GABA-induced depolarization. The aim of this study was to evaluate VTA GABA neuron excitability, GABA synaptic transmission to VTA GABA neurons and GABA-mediated DA release in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) under ethanol-naïve and dependent conditions. To accomplish these studies, we used standard whole-cell and attached-cell mode electrophysiological techniques to evaluate acute and chronic ethanol effects on VTA GABA neurons in GAD GFP mice, which enabled the visual identification of GABA neurons in slice preparation. In naïve animals, superfusion of ethanol (IC50 = 30 mM) and GABA(A) receptor agonist muscimol (IC50 = 100 nM) decreased VTA GABA neuron firing rate in a dose-dependent manner. Compared to saline-injected controls, in animals made dependent on ethanol by twice daily injections of 2.0 g/kg ethanol, neither ethanol nor muscimol significantly affected VTA GABA neuron firing rate on average. We and others have found that ethanol decreases DA release at terminals, as measured by fast scan cyclic voltammetry. We have recently reported that ethanol inhibition of DA release at terminals in the NAc of ethanol-naïve animals is mediated by GABA, possibly from VTA GABA neurons that project to the NAc. We evaluated the effects of ethanol on DA release in the same ethanol-dependent animals. Compared to controls, superfusion of ethanol did not significantly affect DA release. Together, these findings suggest that VTA GABA neurons undergo a switch in GABA(A) receptor function with chronic ethanol, which results in a corresponding switch in DA release, perhaps resulting from adaptations in VTA GABA neuron input to the NAc.
The effect of residue 21 on drug resistance of the A/M2 proton channel of the influenza virus
Cameron Haas, Brigham Young University Life Sciences The influenza A virus contains a proton-selective ion channel, A/M2, through which acidification of the cell is induced. A/M2 is a homotetramer (consists of four identical helices) consisting of 97 residues and activated by low pH levels. Mutations in the amino acid sequences may induce resistance to channel inhibiting drugs. It is believed that residues 26, 27, 30, 31, and 34 are the major contributors of drug resistance, but other nearby residues may prove important as well. The A/California/04/2009 version of the influenza virus is sensitive to the drug AK-11, while its M2 channel is not. The A/Udorn/307/1972 with the S31N mutation M2 channel has been shown to have reduced sensitivity to amantadine compared to its wild type. While both contain a D (aspartic acid) at residue 21, A/Puerto Rico/8/1934 has a mutation from D to G (glycine). The A/Puerto Rico/8/1934 virus A/M2 contains mutations S31N and V27T and has shown sensitivity to the AK-11 drug, but the mechanism of inhibition of the A/M2 channel has not been verified. In these experiments we will be identifying sensitivity to AK11 of A/Udorn/307/1972 with the S31N mutation as well as inducing double mutations with S31N at residues 27 and 21 in the A/M2 from the virus and measure sensitivity by electrophysiological recordings in oocytes of Xenopus laevis. By doing so we may identify the role of these residues in drug resistance and the effects of these amino acid mutations, while verifying the A/M2 channel as the mechanism of acidification inhibition and drug sensitivity. We hypothesize that either D21G, V27T or both mutations causes drug sensitivity in M2 S31N, explaining the sensitivity of A/Puerto Rico/8/1934 to AK-11.
Ethanol inhibits gaba neurons in the ventral tegmental area and dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens via presynaptic alpha-6 nicotinic receptors on gaba terminals
Taylor Woodward, Brigham Young University Life Sciences The prevailing view is that enhancement of dopamine (DA) transmission in the mesocorticolimbic system, consisting of DA neurons in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) that innervate the nucleus accumbens (NAc), underlies the rewarding properties of alcohol and nicotine (NIC). Dopamine neurotransmission is regulated by inhibitory VTA GABA neurons. We have shown previously that VTA GABA neurons are excited by low-dose ethanol, but inhibited by moderate to high-dose ethanol. The aim of this study was to evaluate the role of 6 nicotinic cholinergic receptors (nAChRs) in ethanol effects on VTA GABA neurons as well as DA release in the NAc. In electrophysiology studies, superfusion of ethanol enhanced the frequency, but not amplitude, of mIPSCs recorded in acutely dissociated VTA GABA neurons from GAD GFP mice. The 6 nAChR antagonist -conotoxin P1A did not affect mIPSCs, but prevented the ethanol (30 mM)-induced increase in mIPSC frequency. While microdialysis studies show that ethanol enhances DA release in the NAc, we and others have found that ethanol decreases DA release at terminals using fast scan cyclic voltammetry (FSCV). We have reported that ethanol inhibition of DA release at terminals in the NAc of ethanol-naïve animals is mediated by GABA. Using FSCV in the slice preparation, ethanol inhibited DA release in the NAc. Superfusion of the 6 nAChR antagonist -conotoxin MII did not affect DA release, but prevented ethanol inhibition of DA release. Taken together, these findings suggest that ethanol enhancement of GABA inhibition of VTA GABA neurons is mediated by 6 nAChRs located on GABA terminals to other VTA neurons, affecting DA release in the NAc. Results from this study could provide a pharmacologic rationale for considering drugs that act selectively on nAChRs as therapeutic agents for the treatment of alcohol dependence and alcohol and NIC co-dependence.
Physiological and pathophysiological stimuli alter endothelial cell autophagy
J David Symons, University of Utah Life Sciences Autophagy plays a central role in cellular quality control by destroying damaged or excess proteins, lipids, membranes, and organelles that accumulate in response to deviations from homeostasis. The existence and role of autophagy in endothelial cells (ECs) and blood vessels has not been established. Autophagy can be quantified by assessing the ratio of the membrane bound conjugate of microtubule-associated protein light chain 3 (LC3-II) to the cytosolic non-lipidated conjugate LC3-1 (LC3-II:LC3-I) or GAPDH (LC3-II:GAPDH) via immunoblotting. We sought to determine the extent to which a variety of cellular stressors induces autophagy in ECs and intact blood vessels. LC3-II:LC3-I or LC3-II:GAPDH was elevated (p<0.05) (i) 450±6% (n=4) in ECs incubated for 2 h in amino acid (AA)-deplete vs. AA-replete media; (ii) 47±3% (n=3) in arteries from fasted (14 h) vs. fasted / refed (1 h) mice; (iii) 40±2% (n=3) in arteries from mice that completed acute exercise vs. sedentary controls; (iv) 38±1% in arteries from exercise-trained vs. sedentary mice under basal conditions (n=2 per group); and was decreased (p<0.05) (v) 57±8% (n=4) in arteries from ~30 month-old (i.e., old) vs. ~6 month-old (i.e., young) mice. Further, indices of autophagy were elevated (p<0.05) 101±6% in ECs exposed to 3 h x 500 uM palmitate vs. vehicle (n=4), and 50±6% in arteries from obese vs. lean mice (n=4 per group). Thus, autophagy is altered in ECs and blood vessels in response to physiological (e.g., fasting, acute exercise, exercise training, aging) and pathophysiological (acute lipotoxicity, diet-induced obesity) stimuli. Ongoing research will determine the functional role of vascular autophagy in health and disease.
Utah Valley University/Huntsman Cancer Institute Collaborative Breast Cancer Study: High-Frequency Ultrasound for Margin Assessments
J Andrew Chappell, Utah Valley University Life Sciences In a joint effort with Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah, students from Utah Valley University are using high-frequency (HF) ultrasound to test the pathology of surgical margins from breast cancer conservation surgery. The method, developed by Dr. Timothy E. Doyle, provided significant results in a NIH-funded 2010 feasibility study. The results of the study indicated that peak density, the number of peaks and valleys in the HF ultrasonic spectrum, correlates to breast tissue pathology. This technology would allow surgeons to test – in the operating room – whether a surgical margin was clean or if cancer still remained in the margin. This advancement would decrease the amount of return surgical visits a patient must undergo, reduce costs for patients and hospitals, reduce breast cancer recurrence rates, and ultimately increase the survival rate of patients with breast cancer. During the ultrasonic testing, the students work in a team of four in a room outside of the surgical suite. Specimens are brought in by the surgeons’ team and tested immediately following resection. The margins are approximately 3x20x20 mm in size, and are oriented using a small staple inserted by the surgeon in one corner and a stitch on one side. The margin is tested at specific locations depending on the size of the margin and then sent to pathology for analyses. Pathological results and HF ultrasound results will be compared for correlation at the end of the study, which is expected to last about one year. The study will include approximately 80 patients, 360 tissue samples, 1400 tested locations, and 4,300 data points. The goal of the study is to evaluate the accuracy of the method in determining margin pathology. If successful, the method will be moved into clinical trial.
The effect of anxiolytic mediation administration on interval timing distracters
Chance Christensen, Utah State University Life Sciences Affective disorders such as depression, phobias, schizophrenia, and post-traumatic stress disorder impair the ability to time in the seconds-to-minutes range, i.e., interval timing. According to the Relative Time-Sharing (RTS) model, presentation of task-irrelevant distracters during a timing task results in a delay in responding suggesting a failure to maintain subjective time in working memory, possibly due to attentional and working memory resources being diverted away from timing. Given that some anxiolytic medications have beneficial effects on attention and working memory, e.g., decreasing emotional response to negative events, we hypothesized that they would result in a decreased effect of distracters on the timekeeping abilities. We investigated the effect of acute administration of anxiolytic medication when anxiety-inducing task-irrelevant distracters were presented during an interval timing task, using methods similar to Matthews et. al. (2012) Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience 6(111): 1-12. Results are discussed in relation to the brain circuits involved in RTS of resources, and the pharmacological management of affective disorders.
Correlation between phantom thickness and peak density in high-frequency ultrasonic spectra
Robyn Kira Omer, Utah Valley University Life Sciences Peak density, which is the number of peaks and valleys in a specified spectral range of high-frequency (HF) ultrasound, correlates to breast pathology in lumpectomy specimens. It has been a question in both previous and current studies, however, whether the thickness of a sample has an independent effect on the peak density. The objective of this study was to discover any correlation, if any, between specimen thickness and peak density in HF ultrasound measurements (10-100 MHz). Phantoms were fabricated from a mixture of water, gelatin, and soluble fiber. Polyethylene microspheres (180-212 micrometer diameter) were embedded into half of the phantom specimens at 0.0003% concentration to simulate tissue heterogeneity. The other phantoms were devoid of microspheres to provide control measurements. Seventy two pitch-catch measurements were acquired in triplicate using 50-MHz transducers, a HF pulser-receiver, and a 1-GHz digital oscilloscope. The waveforms were analyzed to provide spectra and the resulting peak densities were determined. The results indicate that no significant correlation exists between specimen thickness and peak density. The coefficients of correlation for the microsphere and control specimens were 0.366 and 0.652, respectively. The peak density values were most consistent within the control specimens, ranging from 1 to 4. The peak densities for the microsphere phantoms had a greater range of values, varying from 1 to 8. It is believed that the wide variation in peak density for the microsphere phantoms was due to clustering of the microspheres. Future studies will include looking at previous phantom and tissue studies to further investigate the apparent lack of thickness-peak density correlation.
Life at the Extremes: Finding Earthly analogs for potential life on Mars
Alysa Fratto, Westminster College Life Sciences Although the idea of life on other planets is mused over by many, the scientific study of the potential for extraterrestrial life did not begin until the mid-1950s (SETI, 2013). Since then, many technological advancements have been made that make the study of life on other planets simpler, however it is inherently difficult to study the potential for life in an environment that one cannot access. To address this issue, scientists look on Earth for extreme environments that mimic those found elsewhere in the universe.
Genomic analysis of six Paenibacillus larvae bacteriophages
Bryan D Merrill, Brigham Young University Life Sciences The spore-forming bacteria Paenibacillus larvae causes American Foulbrood (AFB), a highly contagious disease that is lethal in honey bee larvae. P. larvae is the most serious pathogen affecting honey bees. Its increasing antibiotic resistance has led to more research in characterizing bacteriophages which infect and destroy P. larvae. Of the 13 P. larvae phages that have been described in publications, six have been fully sequenced and are currently available for genomic analysis. To understand how P. larvae phages are related to each other and to other phages, the computer program Phamerator was used to analyze more than 100 phage genomes and group phage genes into “phams” based on similarity. Through analysis of grouped phage genes (structural proteins, terminases, recombinases, etc.) we can better understand in vivo replication strategies and evolutionary history of these P. larvae phages.
3D printing from MRI data of stroke and Alzheimer’s disease subjects: An educational model of neurologic disease
Brett Gardiner, Brigham Young University Life Sciences Normal human anatomy used in the classroom is not reflective of variations confronted in pathology subjects. Current commercialized models are not products of real data, rather representations of it. While learning complicated medical anatomy, students take an enormous stride from the anatomy lab to situational surgical settings. 3D models can bridge this gap in medical education without patient risk, particularly for the brain where surface regions have strong associations to specific physiological activity. Subject specific models are especially advantageous for comprehending real surface morphology of neurologic diseases. Using rapid prototype technology, we have developed an accessible process to produce physical 3D models from specific MRI data of stroke and Alzheimer’s subjects. The neuroanatomical abnormalities modeled from real data by our 3D printouts will educate students on the anatomical variations encountered in an authentic clinical scenario of neuropathology. Our project consists of three phases: (1) image acquisition, (2) post-processing imaging data with segmentation, and (3) 3D printing. By delineating cortical regions we are providing a unique multidimensional facet of clinically accurate data not before available to the classroom. This powerful and versatile technique can allow students and professionals to visualize the inherently complicated structures as seen in clinical neuropathology. From students in the classroom, lawyers in the courtroom or preoperative surgical explanations, these customizable models will resemble real anatomical information. Through rapid prototyping of specific subject data, unique variations in pathology can be reviewed outside of the clinical setting. Beyond its potential use by teachers, lawyers and doctors can benefit from a 3D production to enhance their explanations of anatomical variations from specific pathological subject data.
Extraction of Extracellular DNA from Environmental and Biological Media with Novel Surfactants
Derek Harris, Dixie State University Life Sciences The presence of extracellular DNA (eDNA) in various environmental and biological media has become the subject of growing interest in the field of research. In media such as bacterial biofilms, it has been shown to play a vital role in their structure and antimicrobial properties. Existing methods for extraction of pure eDNA from these media are complex and problematic; particularly from biological media where cells containing genomic DNA are also present. Novel surfactants have been developed, whose miscibility and polarity are easily tuned to suit a variety of conditions necessary for eDNA extractions. They can accomplish extraction of pure eDNA through concurrent hydrophilic and hydrophobic interactions in a single step, while remaining unreactive with the surrounding media or lysing cells and exposing genomic DNA. We have shown by spectrophotometric quantification that these surfactants extract measurable amounts of DNA into a water-immiscible solvent layer, which can then be removed from the media. The DNA can then be further amplified and purified for analysis. Further refinement of extraction methods utilizing these surfactants could prove a tremendous asset to research attempting to elucidate the possible genetic content of eDNA and the mechanisms behind its often crucial role in environmental and biological media.
Tissue Engineered Vascular Graft for Surgical Implantation
Dusting Day, Brigham Young University Life Science Atherosclerotic vascular disease is the leading cause of morbidity and death in the United States. Approximately 1.4 million surgical procedures are required every year for treatment of vascular disease and its subsequent issues. While saphenous vein and internal mammary artery grafts are most commonly chosen by physicians, many patients who are in need of arterial grafts have vessels that are not ideal for grafting because of damage to the vessels or disease. This introduces the necessity for synthetic blood vessel grafts that function precisely as natural vessels in vivo. Our blood vessel research team has entered the tissue engineering field in its most exciting effort: the scalable rendering of cell-seeded vascular constructs with rapid prototyping machines or 3D printers. We have built and are modifying a 3D printer to deposit living endothelial and smooth muscle cells into vascular structures. Using agar, alginate, or collagen gels as placement media, cells can be arranged in shapes resembling multilayered artery tubules and proliferate to form functional arteries. The endothelial layer and smooth muscle layer of cells interact to secrete a natural extracellular matrix (ECM) between them. We have successfully cultured endothelial cells and are perfecting our technique of harvesting aortic smooth muscle cells for culture. These cells will be encapsulated in a gel we have optimized for cell adhesion and proliferation and will then be printed with our rapid prototyping machine into the shape of a blood vessel. After proper cell growth and secretion of the ECM we will subject our synthetic graft to tensile strength testing, thrombosis tests, and eventually implantation into an animal for observation of any immunogenic effects. Our project’s success would bring an array of new treatment options through biomedical engineering that would save many lives of those who suffer from cardiovascular disease.
Genetic Origins of Mercury Resistance in Great Salt Lake Halophiles
Ashtyn Smith, Westminster College Life Sciences Methylmercury (CH3Hg) is a neurotoxin that accumulates in lakes and streams due to the action of microorganisms, which can produce this biologically relevant organic form from elemental mercury (Hg). Therefore, the activities of microorganisms become key to understanding the balance of Hg and CH3Hg in the movement through the food chain in any ecosystem. Many species of microorganisms are resistant to Hg and can thrive in polluted waters. Recent studies have shown that Hg resistance in microbes can stem from one of two gene pairs, merAB or hgcAB. The merAB system allows the organism to covert CH3Hg into elemental Hg. Conversely, the hgcAB system coverts Hg into CH3Hg. Thus, it is important to determine how the microbial community of Great Salt Lake, Utah is affecting the CH3Hg concentrations in the lake. In order to determine the genotype of the lake’s halophiles, “salt-loving” organisms, microorganisms were collected from the deep brine layer in eight areas of the lake. The microorganisms were then isolated and cultivated on increasing concentrations of HgCl2. Halophiles from these samples have been isolated on 25 ppm HgCl2 at various salinities, demonstrating a robust resistance to Hg. PCR amplification and genetic sequencing will be used to determine the gene mechanism of mercury resistance (merAB or hgcAB) as well as the 16S rRNA gene, which will aid in identification of the species. Should this study identify GSL microorganisms that exhibit the merAB genotype, these organisms could potentially be utilized as bioremediators of the CH3Hg pollution in the lake.
Prevention and Disruption of Bacterial Biofilms
Aimee Newsham, Dixie State University Life Sciences Millions of people are infected yearly with resistant pathogens, including MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), a biofilm-forming pathogen that is often transferred to patients from contaminated surfaces. Therefore, improved methods to destroy biofilm-encapsulated pathogens or to prevent their initial formation are required. This research is focused on the development of a safe treatment against biofilms by integrating organic salts, or ionic liquids (ILs), into different surfaces. Textiles were integrated with ILs to prevent formation of biofilms/bacterial growth, and were also treated post-exposure to determine if the biofilms could be destroyed post-contamination. Effectiveness of newly designed ILs were tested via inhibition zone studies on LB agar plates, and post-treatment samples were analyzed via scanning electron microscopy for presence of bacteria. The bacteria tested included Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus epidermidis, and Escherichia coli. These microbes are similar to MRSA in that they form biofilms comprised of extracellular proteins, DNA and polysaccharides. Bacterial colonies encapsulate themselves with biofilms to provide protection from threats, including antibacterial drugs. By integrating ionic liquids into textiles, formation can be prevented by IL solvation and sequestering of the extracellular biofilm components, including the proteins and DNA. This research could have tremendous implications regarding defeating bacteria that are resistant to existing treatments due to biofilm encapsulation. Additionally, the results could lead to new antimicrobial textiles and new approaches to prevent adherence and growth resistant biofilm-encapsulated pathogens.
3D Mapping of Cardiac Nerves for Improved Cardiac Ablation Procedures in the Treatment of Cardiac Arrhythmia
Adam Jorgensen, Brigham Young University Life Sciences Arrhythmia is a serious heart defect that effects 14 million people in the United States. It is characterized by irregular rhythm in the electrical impulses of the heart. Arrhythmia can cause sudden cardiac arrest and stroke. Recent developments in cardiac ablation have helped in the treatment of arrhythmia. Cardiac ablation works by scarring tissue in the heart, thus preventing abnormal electrical signals to travel through the myocardium. The three-dimensional map created in this project will improve the accuracy of cardiac ablation by offering a more dynamic view of the human heart and associated nerve branches. By properly articulating the intricate nerve branching of the heart, surgeons will be able to better target the nerves themselves when scarring heart tissue, thus allowing a less invasive procedure.
How a Small Group of Middle School Students Engaged with Data and Evidence While Addressing a Local Water Quality Issue
David Turner, Utah State University Education Problem based learning is an approach to education where students develop solutions to authentic problems (Hmelo-Silver, 2004) with support from scaffolding (Wood, Bruner, & Ross, 1976; Reiser, 2004). Computer based scaffolding helps students organize thoughts and arguments while solving problems (Belland, Glazewski & Richardson, 2008). We examined how students from one small group constructed order in their interactions and arguments as they solved an environmental issue using a stakeholder lens.
Mother and Child Factors Influence on Parent Language
Kristin Murphy, Utah State University Education Past research shows that parents interact more positively with their children and use more supportive language during play than during teaching interactions (Kwon, Bingham, Lewsader, Jeon, & Elicker, 2013). Children with normal language development tend to have parents who use more language supporting speech, (Vigil, Hodges, & Klee, 2005) than parents of children with language delays. The specific research question addressed in this study is: Do maternal (maternal depression, education levels, parenting stress) or child factors (language development, social-emotional development) influence maternal language behaviors in teaching and play contexts?
The Need for Teacher Evaluations in High Schools
Tyler Mathis, Brigham Young University Education We need to improve our educational system through giving our teachers more chances to be given constructive feedback through teacher evaluations. As teachers receive feedback and are put through effective teacher evaluations their performance will improve and the upcoming generation will be more educated. This will greatly beneficial to the future of our society as a whole. Teacher evaluations is an important topic to raise awareness of to help produce effective and beneficial teaching to the upcoming generation. The topic I will address is how we can make teacher evaluations more effective by exploring ways to quantitatively measure teachers’ effectiveness through examining student gains. I will also examine why implementing teacher observations will be an asset to teacher performance and a necessity in teacher evaluations.
The Parent-Teacher-Student Triad in Mexico
Jonathan Welling, Brigham Young University Education The demographic shift of Mexican immigrants within the public school system in the US has created a great need for teachers to better understand the expectations that immigrant families bring with them from their education system in Mexico. This research provides contextual information to educational stakeholders in the US to better accommodate to the needs of immigrant students from Mexico. This study explores the norms, roles and expectations of teachers, parent and students in the education system in Irapuato, Mexico. Data was collected from observations and interviews with teacher, parents and students from three different public high schools in Irapuato, Mexico: CBTis- a technical school, The Official Preparatory School of Irapuato- a standard public school and SABES- a small rural school. Analysis was done using a systematic approach of open coding to identify emergent themes. Preliminary results provide contextual information explaining the expectations parents hold for the teachers in Irapuato, Mexico. The data is valuable in understanding the norms, expectations and perceived roles held immigrant Mexican families. Applications of this data may be used to facilitate both collaboration between teachers and Mexican immigrant parents and the adjustment of immigrant students to a new educational system.
MicroScribe 3D digitizing of quadriceps tendon and calcaneal tendon with staining technique
Michael Gillespie, Brigham Young University Life Sciences It is vital to understand the anatomical microstructure of tendons and ligaments in order to ascertain their specific qualities and functions. Recent developments in micro-scribe 3D digitization are highly effective in revealing these intricacies. A necessary component to creating 3D fiber maps from this technology is the ability to distinguish between individual tissue fibers with the naked eye. However, this is a very difficult task with most tendons and ligaments. We developed a paste made of blue dye and powdered sugar that when applied, fits in-between these fibers and contrasts the specimen color. This exposes the fine architecture, making individual fibers much more visible and thus able to be 3D digitized. With these 3D fiber maps now available, tendon and ligament microstructure can be viewed in greater detail than previously possible. This technique was applied to human cadaveric calcaneal tendon and quadriceps tendon. It was discovered that the fibers of human calcaneal tendon have higher overlap relative to the rigidly parallel fibers of the quadriceps tendon. This further understanding carries implications regarding the advancement of biomechanical models, artificial reconstruction, and surgical repair of these tissues. It also highlights the need for further investigation into the microstructure differences among tendons and ligaments.
Engineering a Pathogen Specific Single Chain T-Cell Receptor Specific for Listeria monocytogenes.
John Hancock, Brigham Young University Life Sciences LLO56 and LLO118 are CD4+ T cells specific for the same Listeria monocytogenes epitope. Despite their TCRs differing by only 15 amino acids, LLO118 and LLO56 have dramatically different primary and secondary responses to Listeria monocytogenes infection. We reasoned that LLO56, the single chain TCR (Vβ2-linker-Vα2) could be subjected to directed evolution to generate mutants that are more stable and bind to peptide-MHC with higher affinity. Single chain LLO56 was fused to the yeast surface protein Aga-2 and error prone PCR was used to generate mutagenic libraries. A first generation stabilized single chain TCR (scTCR) was selected using biotinylated Vβ2 and Vα2 antibodies and anti-biotin beads. The first generation LLO56 mutant expressed LLO56 on the surface of yeast at higher levels than wild type by flow cytometry. To produce mutants with additional stability, a second-generation mutant was generated by combining multiple stability mutations isolated in a number of first generation clones.
Cortisol Patterns Used as Bio-markers of Extreme Temperaments
Claudia Gonzalez, Brigham Young University Life Sciences Cortisol has been shown to be a potential bio-marker as it discriminates between individuals with and without depression (Rush et al., 1996 and Ising et al., 2007). However, cortisol has not been used to predict variation in temperament extremes that lead to pathological behaviors in adulthood. In order to examine the relationship between cortisol and temperament extremes, data from the bio-behavioral assessment (BBA) was used. The BBA data base includes data collected from over 2,700 infant rhesus macaques located in California National Primate Research Center (CNPRC). During the BBA four blood samples per subject are obtained and later assayed for plasma cortisol levels. In this study, the plasma cortisol response levels were looked at in a holistic form encompassing all individual cortisol samples. The four points of plasma cortisol concentrations were used to extract patterns of response per subject which provided classifications for each of the monkeys. The pathological patterns of cortisol response were characterized by abnormal plasma cortisol levels in response to Dexamethasone suppression testing and adrenocorticotropin ACTH injections. The variability in plasma cortisol patterns was then compared to BBA temperament ratings of vigilance, gentle, nervousness and confidence. These results showed that 12 of the 26 possible patterns of response were significantly (p<.05) related to each of the temperament ratings of vigilance, gentleness and confidence. Thus cortisol response patterns can be used both as biomarkers for vigilance, gentleness and confidence, and as potential predictors for pathological behaviors in adulthood.
Phylogeny of Heptageniidae Through Molecular Analysis
Jeffrey Leavitt, Utah Valley University Life Sciences Central Research Question: Heptageniidae is a large family within the order Ephemeroptera (mayflies). This family consists of over 500 described species. Recently a study was done across 200 of the species to break them up into subfamilies, and genera. The studied concluded that there are 29 genera and three subfamilies Ecdyonurinae, Heptageniinae, and Rhithrogeninae (Wang, 2004). Furthermore, Ogden et al. (2009) proposed that the families Arthropleidae and Pseudironidae were derived heptageniid lineages. The phylogenetic relationships of Heptageniidae, Arthropleidae, Pseudironidae, to other closely related families are inconclusive. We propose to study these three families and the three subfamilies of Heptageniidae in detail via molecular systematics.
Exercise Reverses Stress-induced LTP Reduction in the Hippocampus
Teresa St. Pierre Nufer, Brigham Young University Life Sciences Acute stress has been shown to decrease Long-Term Potentiation (LTP) in the CA1 region of the mouse hippocampus. Stressed animals also show signs of anxiety and suffer decreases in spatial memory tasks such as object recognition and maze navigation. Conversely, exercise has been shown to increase spatial memory task performance in mice, attenuate anxiety-like behaviors and enhance neurogenesis and LTP in the dentate-gyrus. While the effects of stress and exercise have been examined independently, there is currently a lack of experimental evidence that connects how stress and exercise, when experienced by the same animal, might modulate LTP in the CA1 region of the hippocampus. In our ongoing study, mice have been separated into a control group, a stress group (restraint and tail-shock), and an exercise with stress group where mice have voluntary access to a running wheel (for 30 days) before undergoing the stress protocol.