Biology, Geology, & Environmental Science, 2008
  • Biology, Geology, & Environmental Science, 2008



    Development of an Interactive Computer Model of Hypothalamic Regulation of Body Temperature
    Kevin T. Blake
    Mentor: Catherine Boulant, Karl Romstedt

    The hypothalamus is the center of body temperature control in warm-blooded vertebrates. Warm-sensitive and temperature-insensitive hypothalamic neurons regulate body temperature around a set point. Deviation from the set point initiates a pattern of response that triggers heat loss or heat gain. The purpose of this project was to create a mathematical model to describe the network of hypothalamic neurons that regulate body temperate under normal conditions. An interactive model of temperature regulation was created using STELLA™, a computer-based modeling program. Each object of STELLA™ represents a specific type of neuron: warm-sensitive, temperature-insensitive, heat loss effector neuron, or heat gain effector neuron. The model visually and mathematically depicts the actions of individual neurons and the interactions between neurons in the hypothalamic network. This model allows users to visually comprehend the ways that each type of neuron is connected with others, and it allows them to manipulate firing rates of different neurons to model such events as a fever.



    Genetic Modification In Organics - Are The Labeling Laws Being Followed?
    Claire Brandon
    Mentor: Kerry L. Cheesman

    The labeling of organic products in the U.S. can be confusing. Although there is an increasing demand for organic products, most consumers do not know what organic means or that there are laws governing the use of the organic label. By U.S. standards, a product labeled "100% organic" must contain only ingredients grown under standard conditions with no pesticides and no genetic modification (GM). Products labeled organic must contain at least 95% organic ingredients. "Made with organics" must contain 75-95% organic ingredients; less than 75% organic ingredients cannot use the word organic. So are the manufacturing companies following these important laws? This experiment was designed to determine whether soy and corn products labeled organic are truly organic and not genetically modified. Using standard techniques and materials from Bio-Rad Laboratories, DNA was extracted in duplicate from various store-bought foods, and amplified with PCR to detect the transgenic CaMV 35S promoter and/or NOS terminator sequences (found in approximately 85% of all GM foods). Samples were run on 3% agarose gels, with known GM-positive and negative controls, and visualized with UV light after staining with ethidium bromide. None of the corn products labeled organic (n=12), including corn meal and corn starch, were found to contain GM. Of the soy products labeled organic (n=11), only one (8%) was positive for GM. Analysis of corn and soy products with no indication of GM content on the label revealed a 70% rate (n=18) of GM. It appears from these data that in nearly all cases U.S. manufacturers are indeed following the law, and American consumers can be confident in purchasing organic corn and soy products.



    Comparing Age and Sex of Captive Western Lowland Gorillas with Behavior

    Kyle Daly
    Mentor: Philip C. Whitford, Catherine Boulant

    Western Lowland Gorillas are some of the most intelligent, complex and social animals on the planet, showing a wide variety of social behavior and a multifarious hierarchy in their individual troops. In this study four Western Lowland Gorilla's behaviors were studied in order to create time-energy budgets and compare the behavior of the gorillas in relation to their age and sex. This study was accomplished from the 26th to the 28th of October, 2007 at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. The gorilla group was chosen so that one older male, one young male, one older female and one younger female could be studied. The older gorillas spent at least 55 % of their time inactive while the two young gorillas spent at most 25% of their time inactive during the observations, showing that there is a wide range of active behavioral differences between adult and juvenile gorillas. No significant behavioral difference was seen in relation to the sex of the gorilla.



    Ambient Temperature and Carbon Dioxide Levels in Three Battelle Hall Classrooms
    Nicole L. Driver, Bradley Pickens
    Mentor: Catherine Boulant

    In support of administrative efforts to improve conditions in Battelle Hall, a small study is in progress to determine ambient temperatures (Onset Computer Corp., Pocasset, MA) during hours of peak classroom use in three classrooms: BHSN 103, BHSN 289, and BHSN 359. At times of peak ambient temperatures, ambient carbon dioxide (CO2) levels (Alnor, TSI Inc., Shoreview, MN) will be measured and recorded. A preliminary review of the literature indicates that ambient temperatures of 83-85 degrees F or higher impair alertness and task performance. Normal atmospheric CO2 levels range between 300-500 parts per million (ppm). The Exposure Limits set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is 5000 ppm, total weighted average (TWA). Temperature measurements in BHSN 289 over 5 days peaked at 83.2 degrees F. Carbon dioxide levels taken on March 5, 2008 at 11:50, 12:50, and 1:50 averaged 1826.77, 927.53, and 917.00 ppm, respectively. These levels are well below the safety standard set by OSHA; however, studies have demonstrated that at CO2 levels as low as 600 ppm, occupants become aware of atmospheric deterioration and become distracted. The effects of transient exposure to high CO2 levels are readily reversed by moving to a well-ventilated area.



    Effects of HIV/AIDS on the Human Immune System
    Ashley Durban, Adam Russell
    Mentor: Jerry P. Thomas

    The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and the resulting Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) are responsible for more then 25 million deaths since first being recognized on June 5, 1981, making HIV/AIDS one of the worst pandemics in recorded history. This poster explores the mechanisms of transmission of HIV, the course and mechanisms of infection, and how an individual progresses from HIV to AIDS. AIDS is a collection of different opportunistic infections and symptoms that result from the weakened immune system of an HIV patient. The different symptoms and infections that are collectively called AIDS will also be explored. The poster identifies the most common causes of death associated with AIDS as well as the social relevance of the disease.



    Behavior of Humboldt Penguins in Captivity
    Joe Francia
    Mentor: Philip C. Whitford, Catherine Boulant

    Humboldt penguins, Spheniscus humboldti, are an endangered species native to the coast of Chili and Peru. They generally live in small communities of twenty to thirty penguins in the wild. Captive communities are usually smaller, and individuals are paired with mates from other zoos. Social behaviors of five mated pairs and one juvenile (n=11) Humboldt penguins were studied for four two hour periods 23-28 October, 2007 at the Columbus Zoo, Powell, Ohio. Observations were made every five minutes as scan samples to define the behavior of all members of the group at that instant. The number of animals engaged in swimming, standing, preening, pacing, squawking was noted. Additionally, if mates were standing close together or behaviorally engaged with each other, that was noted. The results indicated that these pair members spent roughly 61% of their observed time with their mates. Additionally, 32% of their time was spent in the water and 13% of their time was spent preening themselves or their mates. Literature on Humboldt penguins indicates that they mate for life and spend most of their time behaviorally engaged with each other, and/or their young, if present. Results of these observations were consistent with that literature.



    The Primmer Outdoor Classroom
    Ryan Griffin, Corey Hinkle
    Mentor: Terry D. Lahm

    The Capital University Outdoor Learning Classroom (Primmer Property) located in Logan, Ohio provides students and faculty an opportunity to integrate these resources into our curriculum. The property has seven distinct ecosystems ranging from groundwater springs to wetlands. These ecosystems were the basis of field research carried out by the environmental science class during the fall of 2007. This research had two primary foci: To investigate the water quality parameters (chemical/biological) from samples collected across the property and to create a sustainable development plan to guide future use of the property. The water quality study examined the biotic integrity and chemical constituents of phosphates, nitrates, ammonia, total dissolved solids, pH, and alkalinity. Results indicate that nitrate levels present were abnormally high from possible contamination emanating from a nearby farm, a common source of nitrates. Water quality was also measured by examining the macro-invertebrate population using Invertebrate Community Index methodology. Sustainable development plans focused on green designs to promote the long-term use of resources while limiting the environmental impact. These designs include trail development, facilities development, and long-term usage policies for the property.



    The Behavioral Characteristics of the Bonnethead Shark, Sphyrna tiburo
    Matt H. Hedrick
    Mentor: Philip C. Whitford

    Many people believe that sharks will attack at any given chance. However, most shark attacks occur due to mistaken identity. The focus of my research was to determine aggressiveness of bonnethead sharks towards each other, fish in aquarium, and towards the diver when feeding the other reef animals. A modified focal scan recorded observed aggressive, submissive actions, and change in swimming speeds during non-feeding times, feeding times of other reef fish, and feeding of bonnethead sharks. Faster swimming speeds were observed 77 and 100 percent of the time during the feeding of other reef fish and the bonnetheads, respectively. No aggressive behaviors were recorded during non-feeding times; 1 during feeding of reef fish, and 11 during bonnethead shark feeding. All aggressive behaviors were rated a value of 4, which includes head butting or chasing, except for three ratings of 5, physically attacking, on a 1 to 5 scale, where 3 equaled neutral. One instance of aggressive behavior rating of 5 observed, during the feeding of the bonnethead shark, was the bonnethead shark biting at another reef fish. This suggests that the bonnethead shark is non-aggressive except during feeding times. Further research is being conducted to add to the previous observations.



    Developing a Digital Methodology for Odontometric Studies
    Nicholas C. Hobbs, Matthew A. Stevens
    Mentor: Nancy Swails

    This study was performed to develop a methodology for assessing dental asymmetry by digital means. The lower jaws of seven rhesus monkeys were used. The measurements that were made were mesial-distal length and buccal-lingual width. A digital camera was used on the super macro function to obtain images of the occlusal surface of deciduous molar number two. These images were then measured using a program created in Python. Chronbach’s Alpha test was performed to determine reliability of the measurements. When a single set of pictures was measured by each individual researcher it was found that inter-observer and intra-observer reliability were high. When each researcher captured their own set of pictures the intra-observer reliability was high but the inter-observer reliability was not. These results indicate that the orientation of the tooth is important when using pictures as a means of digital analysis, therefore further standardization must be developed to establish a more reliable methodology for assessing asymmetry. Refinements in the methodology are currently underway.



    Rheumatic Fever
    Korynn Krino, Meghan Williams
    Mentor: Jerry P. Thomas

    Rheumatic fever is a common worldwide disease affecting the peri-arteriolar connective tissue. Since the 1960's few outbreaks have occurred in the Western countries due to the widespread use of antibiotics and the ability to seek medical attention. When cases do arise, it is often seen in children and adolescences ages 6 through 15. The disease typically stems from an untreated Group A streptococcal pharyngeal infection, which is believed to be caused by the cross-reactivity of the streptococcus antibody. Usually, self-reactive B cells remain anergic in the periphery without T cell co-stimulation. During a strep infection, however, activated antigen presenting cells such as macrophages present the bacterial antigen to helper T cells. These helper T cells subsequently activate B cells and induce the production of antibodies against the cell wall of streptococcus. However, the antibodies may also react against the myocardium and joints which consequently produce the symptoms of rheumatic fever. Treatment focuses mainly on the reduction of the inflammation via aspirins in conjunction with antibiotics. Rheumatic fever, if left untreated, will result in heart failure.



    Risk Factors for Cystic Fibrosis Related Diabetes (CFRD)
    Jaymie Lemmon
    Mentor: Catherine Boulant

    Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an autosomal recessive disease affecting nearly 30,000 children and adults in the United States. One of the most common complications arising in adults with cystic fibrosis is the prevalence of diabetes mellitus. Because of improved treatment methodologies for patients with CF, their life expectancies have considerably improved. As these patients live longer, however, the risk for co-occurrence of CF and diabetes mellitus (CFRD) increases; 25 percent of adults with CF are affected by CFRD. This study presents the results from a review of the literature to identify risk factors associated with the development of CFRD. Many variables correlate with incidence of CFRD. Of these risk factors, elevated serum gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT) and elevated plasma fibrinogen appear to have a very strong association with development of CFRD. Elevated GGT is a marker for liver dysfunction; high plasma fibrinogen is an accepted marker for inflammation. Epidemiological studies on the risk factors for CFRD are very limited. Effective treatment for this newly emerging disease requires further elucidation of risk factors, which leads to a greater understanding of the etiology of CFRD and more effective treatments.



    The Adversary: A Study of Allergic Asthma
    Morgan L. Locy, Lesley M. Ross
    Mentor: Jerry P. Thomas, Kerry L. Cheesman

    Allergic asthma is a disease that affects individuals of all ages and just over one out of ten people are diagnosed with asthma in the United States within their lifetime. Each day, roughly 11 individuals die from asthma and around 40,000 people miss work or school due to the ailment. Approximately 50-60% of the total cases of asthma are in the form of allergic asthma, which is also known as extrinsic asthma. Allergic asthma differs from non-allergic asthma in that the obstruction and inflammation of the airways is triggered by inhaled allergens. However, the symptoms that are presented by allergic asthma and non-allergic asthma are the same. It is to one’s advantage to know which type of asthma he or she is enduring, due to the difference in treatments. We have researched the allergic cascade that results in allergic asthma response, symptoms, preventative strategies and treatment.



    The Origin and Evolution of Whales
    Francisca Moya
    Mentor: Nancy Swails

    A review of the literature on the evolution of Cetaceans, specifically whales, was undertaken in an effort to analyze the fossil, geological, and paleoenvironmental evidence supporting an evolutionary transition from a predatory, terrestrial mammal to an aquatic mammal. The study focuses on the influence of the geologic, geographic, and climatic settings at the end of the Mesozoic Era that may have affected the transition. Additionally, the effect of the extinction of the dinosaurs at the end of the Era was investigated. Over the last 30 years, evidence of Cetacean origins have been discovered and examined by scientists. The discovery of each fossil revealed anatomical correlates indicating a transition from land to water. The evolution has been traced back to the Paleocene Period of the Cenozoic Era. The significance of each fossil and its place, geographically and chronologically, was examined. Overall, the Paleocene Period was a time of mammalian radiation that exploded after the extinction of the dinosaurs. In particular, the conditions such as the extinction of the large aquatic reptiles and scarcity of terrestrial carnivores contributed to the emergence of whales.



    Grave's Disease
    Teara Nil, Luke Johanson
    Mentor: Jerry P. Thomas

    Grave's disease is a type of autoimmune disease that causes over-activity of the thyroid gland or hyperthyroidism. The over-activity is sometimes called toxic diffuse goiter. High levels of thyroid hormones, T3 and T4, cause a number of side effects; involuntary weight loss, rapid heart rate and nervousness. The disease can be caused by heredity, existing thyroid problems, the body's immune system, age, sex hormones, and stress. The actual trigger for the disease is still unknown. Grave's disease is uncommon and affects two percent of all individuals, usually between the ages of 20-40 years, although infants and the elderly can also develop the disease. There are three possible treatments for Grave's disease: Anti-thyroid medication that lowers the levels of thyroid hormones, radioactive iodine that damages and eventually destroys the thyroid gland, and surgery that removes the thyroid gland entirely. The destruction and removal of the thyroid gland requires the individuals to be placed on thyroid replacement hormones for the rest of their lives.



    South Well Field Model Visualization
    Chelsea Ridenour
    Mentor: Terry D. Lahm

    The city of Columbus, Ohio operates a well field located in southern Franklin County, known as the South Well Field, that supplies approximately 30 percent of the water for southern Columbus and its suburbs. The well field obtains the majority of its supply from groundwater found in glacial material. Additionally, the wells gain water by inducing infiltration from the nearby Big Walnut Creek and Scioto River. Lastly, a small percentage of the supply comes from the limestone bedrock. An aggregate quarry is located roughly a mile north of the nearest collector well. This quarry could potentially begin removal of the limestone bedrock which could change the quantity and quality of water at the South Well Field. A preexisting four-layer model of the groundwater flow is used. Initial conditions used by the model are exported to another software package in order to produce visualizations. These include an overlay base map, contour maps of the hydraulic conductivity of each layer, and elevation maps for each layer. Future work on the model is expected to include visual representations of the results of the simulations and creation of additional simulations examining the effect of limestone quarrying.


    The Effect of Hypohydration on Anaerobic Exercise Performance
    Christopher Stembridge
    Mentor: Catherine Boulant, Robert A. Thorne

    Hypohydration is common during exercise or work, especially under conditions of extreme heat. In the sport or occupational setting, individuals who are hypohydrated are often required to perform anaerobic exercise. Although it is well known that hypohydration negatively impacts aerobic exercise performance, the impact of hypohydration on anaerobic exercise performance is less well defined. This study examined the effect of moderate hypohydration on anaerobic exercise performance. Eight healthy, athletic, male subjects (age: 19.6 +/- 1.3 yrs; height: 180.1 +/- 8.6 cm; weight: 82.6 +/-10.8 kg; VO2 max: 46.5 +/- 3.8 mls/kg/min) completed two iterations of a 30-second Wingate Anaerobic Power Test: EUHY Wingate, in a well-hydrated condition, and HYPOHY Wingate, under conditions of moderate hypohydration (-3.8 +/- 0.6 % body weight). The iterations were randomly assigned and separated by 3-10 days. Paired t-tests demonstrated no significant differences between treatment conditions (EUHY vs. HYPOHY) in mean power (EUHY: 663.08 +/- 90.30 watts vs. HYPOHY: 641.40 +/- 70.01 watts) p = 0.52; or power/kg BW (EUHY: 8.37 +/- 1.24 watts/kg BW vs. HYPOHY: 8.31 +/- 0.95 watts/kg BW) p = 0.89. Results of this study indicate that moderate hypohydration does not impair anaerobic exercise performance in young, athletic, male subjects.