NEWS & EVENTS
Biological & Environmental Sciences, 2010
  • Biological & Environmental Sciences, 2010

     

    Got Stress?
    Harshesh Amin, Sierra Hill, Cody Grady
    Mentor: Kerry Cheesman

    Adrenal glands are principal elements of the endocrine system and maintain homeostasis within the body. The adrenal glands counteract stressors acting on the body and preserve balance. Many college students experience excessive stress throughout their daily lives, which can affect their bodies. Students need to be informed of the consequences of excessive stress and ways to deal with stress. A literature review was conducted to explore the adrenal system, the effects of excessive stress, and ways to manage stress. While some stress is necessary for healthy bodily function, extreme amounts can cause serious health problems. If stress affects the adrenal’s function, deficiencies or excessive amounts of hormones are excreted into the endocrine system. Diseases such as Cushing’s and Addison’s are direct results of adrenal malfunction. If diseases do not occur, excessive stress still has negative effects on the human body. The majority of today’s lifestyles exhibit excessive amounts of stress. Consequently, college students need to be informed about the function of the adrenal glands, the results of large amounts of unmanaged stress, and techniques to control stress in their daily lives.

     

    Genetic Links to Autism
    Nicholas Arner, Christy Brown
    Mentor: Kerry Cheesman

    Autism is a prevalent phenomenon in the United States, with 1 out of 150 children diagnosed by the age of eight. Since its discovery, the cause has been unknown; but recent research has revealed that autism may be genetically linked. We highlight ongoing research in this area to understand the specific causes of synaptic breakdown that lead to autism. Since autism has historically been classified as a disorder (a collection of symptoms with no known cause), this new research means it has a great chance as being classified as a disease (a recognized set of symptoms with a set cause). A variety of scientific publications and research institutions’ work are analyzed, with a focus on research in the genetic aspects of autism and possible therapies. Autism is moving toward an era of gene therapy in which cures for specific individuals are more likely to be found. We explore the fact that many autistic individuals are perfectly capable of communication, and consequentially expect to be treated as peers, not as wards.

     

    Genetic Discrimination: The Next Great Divide?
    Justin Benedict
    Mentor: Kerry Cheesman

    Annual advances in genetics have allowed us to map the human genome and have helped us to understand diseases and their prevention. However, these gifts of science can have a negative outcome as well. Can health insurance deny people because of their genes? Can people be denied jobs because their genes are not to the company’s liking? Movies like Gattaca have raised these and other questions, but unlike their visions of the future, we as a nation are dealing with these problems now. The United States Congress has passed legislation to protect us from genetic discrimination but is it enough? This presentation gives an overview of the legislation passed by Congress and analyzes the gaps left in these laws that may lead to people’s genes becoming public information. Through analysis of the laws passed by Congress and research into the effects of those laws, it seems that we are protected from the rise of genetic discrimination. Nevertheless, are the fears of the misuse of this information valid? Only time will tell.

     

    Do Androgen Receptors Act as a Predisposing Factor Linking Females to Athleticism?
    Helen Breznicki, Katelyn Mescher
    Mentor: Kerry Cheesman

    Three reports (2006, 2008, 2009) indicated a possible link between the second and fourth finger length ratios (2D:4D) in female athletes and a predisposition to athleticism. This is reported to be linked to androgen receptor concentrations in the developing fetus. We followed up on these reports by studying female athletes (n = 72) and control females (n = 84) at Capital University. The woman’s hands were photocopied, and the lengths of their 2nd and 4th digits were measured. The control group was also divided into those who have never played on a sports team (n = 18) and those who have played on teams only prior to arriving at the university (n = 66). After controlling for height, comparisons were done between each control subgroup and each sports group. Control group participants were statistically different from basketball and volleyball players. It appears that 2D:4D ratios are correlated with athleticism, at least in some sports. Further research is being conducted to link a possible androgen receptor to the development of female finger length and predisposition to athleticism.

     

    A Comparison of Two Instruments for Hydration Assessment
    Brittney Cottman, Steven Veenstra
    Mentor: Catherine Boulant

    Objective hydration assessment in athletes is essential for optimal performance and, more importantly, for prevention of heat injuries. This study was performed to compare the urine specific gravity (USG) of urine samples to values obtained using a Urine Color Chart (Ucol). USG is a known valid and reliable indicator of hydration assessment. Urine samples were obtained from 15 healthy, athletic, female subjects under three conditions: BASELINE, hydration status not controlled; EUHY, a well-hydrated condition; and HYPOHY, under conditions of moderate (-3.05 ± 0.27% body weight) hypohydration. USG was determined by refractometry (model 5711-2021, Schuco International, London, UK). Values for urine color were obtained using a Urine Color Chart (Ucol) developed by Armstrong et al. (1998, 1994). Results indicate a positive, highly significant correlation between Ucol and USG Ucol vs. USG (r = 0.825; p ≤ 0.0001). The high positive correlation between Ucol and USG indicates that Ucol is an accurate tool for hydration assessment. Ucol is simple, quick, and easy to administer. It is especially useful in field settings and as a tool to increase awareness of hydration assessment, especially in naïve populations.

     

    Genetic Alteration: The Next Step in Sports?
    Kelly Dainton, Alex Maze
    Mentor: Kerry Cheesman

    Gene doping in athletes works by transferring genes directly into human cells to blend into existing DNA. There are many different types of genes that, when doped, have the potential to boost athletic ability. Athletics is a huge part of our society and culture. Genetics is starting to play a bigger role in the sports world, so getting a better understanding of what is going on behind the scenes with the athletes helps us understand the future of athletics. Research on gene doping was conducted through literature reviews of the past 10 years, and additional knowledge was gained through sports television and newspaper articles. There are both benefits and drawbacks to gene doping related to athletic events. The various sporting agencies have documented numerous events in athletic history where these gene doping occurrences have happened. Particular genes are known to play a role in increased athletic ability, and some are already becoming a problem in today’s athletic world. Gene doping is real and is a concern to many in the athletic community.

     

    Doping: The Illegal Use of Steroids
    Brittany Davidson, Michelle Loeser
    Mentor: Kerry Cheesman

    Doping in athletes has increased vastly during the past few decades, although it has been an issue since sports began. The most commonly used drug is a steroid typically referred to as AAS, anabolic androgenic steroids. The use of this drug is to enhance muscle mass and strength, and although it began with use in male athletes, females have also been found to be users. AAS may have the short-term effect of increasing appearance, strength and endurance, but they have more severe long-term consequences including physical changes, psychological disturbances, morbidity and even mortality. In order for athletes to bypass the basic urine test they use the short-term half-life form of these drugs and stay below the detection level of dosage. This has created an increased need for a more effective form of testing that may include blood sampling. The World Anti-Doping Agency, an independent organization, attempts to develop extensive testing for steroid use in sports and creates a prohibited list of drugs each year. Until AAS are illegal to both possess and use these drugs continue to endanger more people each year with long-term side-effects.

     

    That Isn’t Tweety! It’s a Dinosaur!
    Katie DiPietro
    Mentor: Kerry Cheesman

    Many biological links have been made between modern birds and ancient dinosaurs. Considering the many physical similarities between dinosaurs and birds, one could easily hypothesize a link between the animal groups. This study attempted to explore the genetic link between dinosaurs and the modern bird. A literature review of the phenotypic evidence that links the two animal groups was done and was compared with the genetic evidence that has recently become available. Recent evidence has indeed shown that there is a genetic link between these two groups. With samples of DNA that have been extracted from dinosaur fossils, researchers have begun to demonstrate through evolutionary tracking of genotypes what scientists, geneticists, and paleontologists have suspected for years, based on the similar phenotypes of modern birds and dinosaurs. Dinosaurs are indeed the genetic ancestors of the modern bird.

     

    The Effect of Moderate Hypohydration on Anaerobic Power Performance
    Joel Eversole, Anthony Fowler, Cassandra Homan, Brian Zembower
    Mentor: Catherine Boulant

    Although it is well known that dehydration negatively impacts aerobic exercise performance, the impact of dehydration on anaerobic exercise performance is less well defined. This study tested the hypothesis that there would be no effect of hypohydration on anaerobic exercise in young, athletic subjects. Twelve healthy, athletic, subjects (8 males; 4 females) 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 (males: -4.06 ± 0.67 % body weight; females: -3.05 ± 0.53 % body weight). The iterations were randomly assigned and, for the males, were separated by 3-10 days. Females were tested during the early follicular phase of the menstrual cycle on successive cycles. Paired t-tests demonstrated no significant differences between treatment conditions in the male subjects. However, there was statistically significant (p = 0.007) decrement in power production during the HYPOHY condition for the female subjects. The results indicate that moderate hypohydration does not impair anaerobic exercise performance in males. However, moderate hypohydration induced a statistically significant decrement in power in young, athletic females.

     

    Asperger’s Syndrome: What’s Next?
    Tara Friedrich, Sarah Beinkampen
    Mentor: Kerry Cheesman

    Asperger’s syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder that affects every 1 out of 5,000 people with a male-to-female ratio of 4:1. This disorder can range from mild to moderate with common symptoms based around lack of interaction with others. The purpose of this research is to identify the genetic basis and also to look into the future of this disorder. The research for this study was gathered from the National Institute of Health, Medical Encyclopedias and various other literatures. Asperger’s is a diverse disorder that is becoming more common in diagnosis. Many theories try to explain this autism spectrum disorder, yet none have been factually proven since its discovery in 1991. This study focuses on the genetic basis of the disorder and highlights the future of Asperger’s syndrome.

     

    Differentiation in Nitrogen Loading Between Minor and Major Municipal Wastewater Treatment Systems in the Upper Scioto River Watershed
    Ryan M. Griffin
    Mentor: Terry D. Lahm

    Nitrogen constituents in surface water are integral to the influx of nutrients that are received by rivers and streams. Although most of this influx is often attributed to non-point source agricultural influence, many point source discharges are also considered as a contributing factor. In this study, nitrogen concentrations of two watersheds within the Upper Scioto River Basin are analyzed during the summer sampling season (June-September) to determine the influence of two different municipal wastewater facilities. Qualitative analysis was conducted in order to ascertain agricultural influence made by the surrounding area while quantitative analysis provided information about point source attributions to nitrogen made by wastewater treatment processes. Effluent from the larger wastewater treatment plant showed significant change between upstream and downstream concentrations (p = 0.57), whereas the smaller wastewater plant did not show significant attribution to the receiving stream’s average nitrate+nitrite concentration (p = 0.0002). Analysis suggests a greater influence of major WWTP facilities as measurable sources of point source nutrient influent than smaller municipal facilities.

     

    Population Dynamics of Small Mammals of the Primmer Outdoor Learning Center, Logan, Ohio
    Ryan M. Griffin, Corey J. Hinkle, Brianna Fabiani, Alysha Vehre
    Mentors: Christine Anderson, Nancy Swails

    A majority of Midwestern states contain natural ecosystems which have been transformed for agricultural use resulting in fragmented environments; however, there is little explanation as to why densities of white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) are greater in smaller forest patch fragments. In this study, populations of Peromyscus sp. were monitored at the 73 acre, Capital University owned, Primmer Outdoor Learning Center to collect data on population density and morphological differentiation. Thirty-three mice were live-trapped using small Sherman™ traps and tail tip tissue samples were humanely collected following IACUC guidelines. Monel™ ear tags were used for individual identification for future studies. Results indicate little difference in morphological characteristics between habitats and greatest population density was found within deciduous forest patches. While there is sufficient evidence to suggest that Peromyscus sp. populations prefer protective forest patches, further study is needed to include possible seasonal variation and migration factors.

     

    Effects of Nicotine on the Endocrine System in Men
    Sara E. Hoening, Andra Howard
    Mentor: Kerry Cheesman

    Smoking is an addictive habit because of the ingredient, nicotine. In 2008 the CDC reported that approximately 25% of men in the US are smokers. The average person knows about the consequences of smoking that are primarily caused by the tobacco and other ingredients not related to nicotine. However, these should not be the only concerns that smokers have. Researchers at McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School conducted a study with 20 men that were classified as nicotine dependent. This study and others show that nicotine has a significant effect on the endocrine system. The researchers measured the levels of the following endocrine hormones in response to different levels of nicotine dosage: adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH), cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and epinephrine. Cigarette smoking produced nicotine dose-related effects on hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) hormones. These results suggest that activation of the HPA axis may contribute to the abuse-related effects of cigarette smoking. The goal of our research is to present an overview of the endocrine system while focusing on the four hormones that nicotine affects.

     

    Merl and Margaret Primmer Outdoor Learning Center Tree Debut
    Cassandra Homan
    Mentor: Kerry Cheesman

    In 2005 Capital University received a generous gift of 75 acres of land from Merl and Margaret Primmer. The land, located near Logan, Ohio, includes areas of deciduous forest, grassland, and wetland, and was donated with the purpose of creating an outdoor learning facility. This project was designed to give the surrounding community greater access to the property and a method for becoming familiar with the property that is both educational and fun. Existing pathways in the forested area of the property were mapped and used, and individual tree species were identified and labeled using numbers. A booklet is being produced that contains key information about each tree species along the pathways, and is being written for the general public rather than for a scientific audience. Booklets will be distributed to the community when completed. A complete list of tree species on the property has been compiled, and information about each species has been obtained through reference books and on-line resources. An increase in visitors to the property has been seen, and more widely distributed educational booklets will continue that trend. Additional resources will be produced as other groups of organisms are identified and studied.

     

    Genetic Variation of Peromyscus leucopus in Logan, OH
    Andra Howard, Rachel Kluz, Kelly Woods
    Mentor: Christine Anderson

    Mice were surveyed in different habitats at Primmer Property located in Logan, Ohio, in October, 2009. The purpose of this survey was to determine genetic variation within populations of Peromyscus leucopus. Mice were live-trapped in the field, deciduous forest, and prairie and approximately 0.5 cm of the tail tips were clipped. An anesthetic was used, and the clipping site was cleaned before being clipped, to ensure humane treatment of the mice. QIAGEN® DNeasy Blood & Tissue Kit was used to purify and extract the DNA, and PCR was run using QIAGEN® Multiplex PCR kit as well as PAGE to amplify and confirm the presence of DNA. The extracted DNA from 16 individuals was then tested to compare the number of alleles and level of inbreeding between the populations. We calculated expected heterozygosity (HE) and the inbreeding coefficient (Fis) to determine level of inbreeding and overall genetic health of the populations surveyed. We found some indication of low levels of inbreeding occurring at Primmer Property, but overall, the data show a healthy population. However, additional trapping and analysis should be done to differentiate our samples from a morphologically similar species, Peromyscus maniculatus.

     

    The Effects of Moderate Hypohydration on Body Composition Assessment
    Whitney Kelley, Julia Harris, Nathan Siebenaller
    Mentor: Catherine Boulant

    Two commonly used field methods to determine body composition are bioelectric impedance (BI) and skin fold (SF) measurements. Both BI and SF are non-invasive; SF requires more skill but it but it is inexpensive and reliable. This study compared prediction of body fat determined by two methods, BI and SF, under two conditions, EUHY, a well hydrated condition and HYPOHY, moderate hypohydration. Body composition assessments were performed using a skinfold technique (SF) (Lange Skinfold Caliper, Beta Technology, Santa Cruz, CA) and bioelectric impedance (BI) (model HBF-301BL, Omron Healthcare, Inc., Vernon Hills, IL) on twelve (8 male; 4 female) healthy, athletic subjects in two treatment conditions: EUHY, a well-hydrated condition; and HYPOHY, under conditions of moderate hypohydration (-3.72 ± 0.56% body weight). Comparison of treatment groups (EUHY vs. HYPOHY) showed significant differences using BI (p = 0.007) but not SF (p = NS). Comparison of techniques (BI vs. SF) were significantly different in both conditions (EUHY p = 0.004 vs. HYPOHY p = 0.002). In each condition, body fat predicted using BI was significantly higher than SK. Results support published reports that hydration status confounds the prediction of body fat using BI. Prediction of body fat using the SF method is more reliable.

     

    Model Comparison Technique for Determining Spring Source Area: Crawford County, Wisconsin
    Ashley Krutko
    Mentor: Terry D. Lahm

    The state of Wisconsin relies heavily on the use of water resources, whether for domestic use, industry, or agriculture. A little more than half of the water supply for all sectors, excluding hydroelectric power, comes from groundwater sources. Springs are important hydrological and biological resources and in order to protect and manage the spring’s supply, the source area must be defined. The purpose of the current study was to determine the source area of a two spring study site in Crawford County, Wisconsin using both graphical methods and a computer model. The data collected from the field site and data from literature were used to interpret the geologic and hydrologic framework of the study area. The analytical element groundwater flow model (GFLOW) was calibrated to measure hydrologic values. Source area was defined with both graphical and computer modeling techniques. Highly detailed local flow models become difficult to produce because of a large number of complexities involved in local systems. This increases time required and possible problems with the production of models, and therefore assumptions need to be made to limit the amount of detail required. However, computer modeling can provide increased source area resolution when calibrated with accurate useful field data.

     

    Intelligence: Nature vs. Nurture
    Anna Kyaio, Haley Evans
    Mentor: Kerry Cheesman

    For years controversy has surrounded the debate of the development of intelligence and whether nature (genetics) or nurture (environment) plays a more influential role. This literature review looks at both of these influences and the implications in the fields of both education and psychology. A review of previous research and literature is used to discuss the current support for each side of this debate and the implications. Findings are discussed.

     

    Ecologically Interpreting Shakespeare
    Christopher J. Maggio
    Mentors: David Summers, Nancy Swails

    Ecocriticism is an emerging interdisciplinary study, bridging the gap between the humanities and the sciences. This criticism invites scholars to bring scientific knowledge to literature so that literature may help us to better understand the ecological crises of today. Ecocriticism especially pertains to William Shakespeare, who employed nature settings in many of his plays. Scholars can criticize a literary work for only so long until said literary work is exhausted. Ecocriticism, as a new type of criticism, offers yet another way to keep Shakespeare relevant, both to his time and to our time. After surveying both the many facets of ecological criticism and how critics have applied this criticism to Shakespeare’s plays, I then, from an ecological perspective I interpreted some of Shakespeare’s plays, specifically A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tempest. I predict that critics’ ecological interpretations of Shakespeare, coupled with my own interpretations, illustrate how and why people committed ecological travesties during the sixteenth century and today. Ecocriticism offers an innovative, interdisciplinary approach to Shakespeare by providing not only a new perspective, but also a perspective that is relevant to both the then and now.

     

    The Impact of Nitrates on Water Quality Attributed to Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations verse Organic Methods
    Katie McChesney
    Mentor: Terry D. Lahm

    Nutrient overload is a common threat to the water quality of many rivers, streams, and lakes. One of the primary pollutants impacting these watersheds (based on National Studies within the United States) is nitrate. There are many factors contributing to the influx of nitrate in the natural water systems. One factor is due to livestock production. Nitrate levels in watersheds within close proximity to some commercial livestock farms have seen dramatic increases. This has a negative impact on the surrounding ecology and the human population depending on the water source. However, there is a decreased impact on watersheds that are surrounding organic livestock farms. California, North Carolina, and Ohio have strict policies and vast monitoring systems to keep track of the nutrient water-quality standards. This is due to nutrient pollution that has taken place on a large scale in each of these states, as a result of their commercial livestock production. Federal policy also plays a fundamental role in setting the standard for nutrient values related to water quality. The impact of smaller farms in Ohio is compared to these larger case studies to determine the impact of organic farming practices.

     

    The Effect of Moderate Hypohydration on Standardized Concussion Assessment Tests
    Ben McGrath, Ashley Schemrich, Courtney Diller
    Mentor: Catherine Boulant

    Recent publications indicate that hypohydration may confound performance on standardized assessments for concussion. Since hypohydration is common during athletic events, it is essential that the clinician be aware of the effect of hypohydration on the signs and symptoms of concussion. Presently, hydration assessment is often overlooked in concussion assessment. This ongoing study is investigating the effects of moderate hypohydration on two standardized concussion assessment tools, the Standardized Assessment of Concussion (SAC) and the Balance Error Scoring System (BESS). Four healthy, athletic, female subjects completed two iterations of the SAC and the BESS in two conditions: EUHY, a well-hydrated condition and HYPOHY, conditions of moderate hypohydration (-3.05 ± 0.53 % body weight). The iterations were randomly assigned and performed during the early follicular phase of the menstrual cycle on successive cycles. Data from four subjects are not adequate to show statistical differences, if they exist; however, thus far results indicate no treatment effect on the SAC, but there is a consistent trend for higher scores (more errors) in the BESS in the HYPOHY condition. If there is a significant interaction between symptoms of concussion and dehydration, prudent clinical evaluation of the athlete must include determination of hydration status.

     

    Left Handedness versus Right Handedness in Society
    Mercy Kimawu Nange Luzolo
    Mentor: Kimberly W. Heym

    Over the centuries, in cultures all over the world, left handed people have been stigmatized and viewed negatively by their counterparts. Maybe as a result of this or by pure coincidence, left handedness is a much rarer occurrence than right handedness. According Wikipedia, left handed people make up 8-15% of the global population. This research tested the validity of this statement. A survey was carried out by Capital University students in the UC 240 class among college students from America, China, and other countries. Some of the data were further classified by the gender of the participants. It was discovered that the percentage of left handed Americans was higher than that reported in the literature, but much lower among students from China. There seems to be more left handed female young adults than left handed male young adults. The percentages reported in the literature do not correspond to those collected during the survey. This experiment gives ideas for further study on the reasons behind the low percentage of left handed people in certain parts of the world and the causes of handedness in general.

     

    Taking the Gloves Off: Simpson v. Knox
    Jacob Nickell, Haleigh Lanham
    Mentor: Kerry Cheesman

    This project, using the O.J. Simpson and Amanda Knox murder trials as case studies, examines how the perception of DNA evidence has changed in the courtroom from the early 1990s to today. It is important to consider studies like this because they explore how science applies to everyday life and how these applications can change over time. We treated the two murder trials as case studies and collected numerous pieces of news and media coverage to learn about the events involved in each circumstance. While DNA evidence was considered unreliable in the early 1990s and thus less accepted in the courtroom, today it is so valued that it is often the deciding factor of the trial. This is shown by comparing the two trials. The cases were similar in that they were murder trials in which genetic evidence was the main point of contention. Despite overwhelming DNA evidence against Simpson, the jury dismissed it as unreliable. Conversely, in the Knox trial, DNA evidence was circumstantial at best but was the jury’s primary reason for conviction. In conclusion, the scientific basis and merit for genetic evidence seems less important than the simple fact that it is present in the case.

     

    Investigating the Molecular Basis of Temperature-Dependent Sex Determination in the Painted Turtle
    Katherine L. O'Shaughnessy
    Mentor: Nicole Valenzuela

    Temperature dependent sex determination (TSD) is a commonly found mechanism in many reptilian species; however the molecular and evolutionary basis for this form of environmental sex determination remains unclear. This study used the painted turtle (Chrysemys picta) as a TSD model to analyze expression of two genes involved in vertebrate gonadogenesis, the Wilms’ tumor-suppressor gene (Wt1) and steroidogenic factor 1 (Sf1) respectively. Previous study observed differential expression of Sf1 and Wt1 in C. picta at constant temperature incubation. In order to mimic more ecologically relevant conditions this study compared expression of Sf1 and Wt1 under fluctuating incubation temperatures. The results obtained demonstrate significant differences in Wt1 and Sf1 expression; however, the timing of the differential expression is shifted to an earlier developmental period than under constant incubation conditions. These findings suggest that fluctuating incubation temperatures might affect the timing of the thermal sensitive period (TSP) and consequent activation of the genetic network responsible for sex determination in TSD species. This study was funded in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF IOS 0743284) and REU supplement IOS-0925486 to N. Valenzuela, and REU grant DBI-0552371 to M. Rothschild.

     

    Determination of Antibiotic Effect on Waterways through study of Resistant Bacteria
    Heather E. Payne
    Mentor: Terry D. Lahm

    Antibiotics are present in many waterways across the globe in small concentrations, and require significant time and funding to detect. Scientists often use antibiotic resistant bacteria as indicators of the presence of antibiotics. This research examines an alternative methodological approach to antibiotic detection. This method is used to complete baseline tests on four major waterways in central Ohio. One set of samples was taken in waterways at parks to the north of the City of Columbus along the Scioto River, Olentangy River, Alum Creek, and Big Walnut Creek. A second set of samples was collected in waterways at parks south of the City of Columbus. The water samples were plated on selective media which only allows for the growth of selected bacteria as well as easy identification of the specific bacteria desired. Once growth was observed, isolated colonies were streaked onto sensitivity plates with four antibiotic pads containing tetracycline, streptomycin, kanamycin, and ampicillin; evidence of growth inside the zones of inhibition would indicate resistant strains. It is expected that the percentage of antibiotic resistant bacteria increases downstream of urbanized areas because of increased antibiotic loading present in waterways.

     

    Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
    Stacey Rauch
    Mentor: Kerry Cheesman

    As the most common hormonal disease in females, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) affects many women during their reproductive years. This condition involves the growth of cysts along the outer edge of the ovaries. This disease causes changes in the body that affect fertility as well as physical appearance and health. Many symptoms are apparent in the diagnosis of PCOS. The goal of this research is to discover the cause of the disease as well as symptoms, treatments, and the effect that it has on the female body. A review of scientific literature explaining Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is being conducted in order to gain knowledge about the endocrine disorder. Information concerning the cause of the disease, the symptoms, and current treatments is being assembled. The hormones involved in this disease, and their role and interconnectedness is discussed. Sharing knowledge of this important endocrine disease with the campus community helps students and faculty to be more aware of its presence.

     

    Contribution of Nitrates by Agricultural Fields to Deer Creek Lake
    Sophie Roome, Cody Grady, Steven Veenstra
    Mentor: Christine Anderson, Nancy Swails

    Nitrate has long been known to be a determinative factor in the health of a body of water. In modern agriculture, the use of fertilizers containing nitrates can negatively impact the quality of nearby bodies of water due to agricultural runoff. The purpose of our study was to determine whether the abundance of agronomy in Madison County has a significant effect on the health of its water bodies, and subsequently within and around them. Five test sites along tributaries ranging from the south end of Madison Lake in Madison County, Ohio to the southern end of Deer Creek Lake were tested for the presence of nitrates and fecal coliform bacteria, an indicator of a living nitrate source. Results showed highest nitrate levels (31.99 ppm) in a small tributary running into Deer Creek Lake, contributed by a pipe (68.12 ppm). Fecal coliform bacteria were detected at the inlet and outlet of Deer Creek Lake. High nitrate levels are known to have detrimental effects on aquatic life, thus future studies should be conducted to determine the source of the nitrate and the fecal contamination as well as ways to limit the presence of these contaminants.

     

    The Future of Nanogenetics
    Ashley Schorkhuber
    Mentor: Kerry Cheesman

    Nanotechnology is an emerging field of scientific study, but is it ready to take the next step into the realm of human genetics? In order to determine the possibility of nanogenetics in the future, people must first understand its capabilities and the ethical issues facing scientists today. To illustrate this, nanotechnology was reviewed through online and print sources for its validity and success in the scientific community. This was used as an introduction to the advances in nanogenetics and any theoretical studies in progress. By analyzing nanotechnology as a whole and its impact on society, I hope to establish the innovation and potential of the study of nanogenetics. If ethical reasoning will allow, nanogenetics offers possible solutions to various issues in human development.

     

    An Analysis of Soil Depth Distribution on Ustupu in Kuna Yala, Panama
    Zachary A. Simpson, David W. Pickering
    Mentor: Alan C. Stam

    The Island of Ustupu, a San Blas island located off the northern coast of Panama, is inhabited by the Kuna Yala people. Increasing population, limited space, and geographical isolation have given rise to unique challenges regarding sanitation and construction. The objective of this research was to study the distribution of soil depth in the Kuna Indian community on the Island of Ustupu in order to provide the community with data to inform future growth and development. Soil depth was measured using standard soil depth poles at 50 m increments along three major pathways that ran though the village and at intersecting paths to form a grid-like pattern across the community. GPS measurements were input into a mapping program for analysis to determine the distribution of soil depth. Results yielded an average depth in excess of 4.5 m along the southwestern and southeastern sections of the grid and shallower depths of 0.9144 m in the northern sections. This may imply that the ancient coral in which the island was formed upon is situated on inclined bedrock. This study contributes knowledge about the geology of the island and offers recommendations to assist the Kuna Yala people with future growth and development.

     

    A Preliminary Feasibility Study of Rates of Recolonization and Growth by Hard Corals on Post Hurricane Wilma Parision Reef in Cozumel, Mexico
    Amber N. Slezak, Heather E. Payne, Katherine L. O'Shaughnessy
    Mentor: Phillip Whitford

    Developing a useful methodological approach to hard coral growth sampling is a difficult task requiring creative solutions. This study focused on a new underwater data collection method which can be used in future studies in determining coral recovery rates. Following the destruction of coral populations by Hurricane Wilma in 2005, coral populations were quantified in the fore reef and reef shelf of Cozumel, Mexico by employing a transect grid method. Plots which encompassed six by one meter areas were defined by pre-made grid lines. The final area surveyed was approximately 66 m2. Hard corals were visually identified within zones with their size recorded to the nearest millimeter. Histograms were compiled to show general growth in accordance to species, zone, and rate of colonization. The methods developed are a valid and reproducible system. The preliminary data collections contribute to potential projects in the future as distinct coral size ranges were observed, which may be indicative of separate colonization periods. The system employed may serve as a useful research methodology for future studies. With respect to the data collected, further research is needed to determine significant relevancy, but still provides appropriate baseline data.

     

    Prevelance of Genetic Modification between Corn Products and Whole Corn
    Tiffany Smith, Megan Thiery, Michael Lanning
    Mentor: Kerry Cheesman

    The genetic modification of food crops for use in commercial markets remains a polarizing topic. Advocates argue for higher yield and better nutrition, while opponents claim development of new allergies and detrimental environmental impacts. This study tests for prevalence of genetic modification of whole kernel maize comparing it with previous experiments of processed maize. Maize products contain a significantly lower percentage of nucleic acids than the nucleus of a whole kernel of maize. The assay for processed maize previously used is incompatible with these higher percentages of nucleic acids. The assay was altered through experimentation using different ratios of nucleic acids obtained through dilution of slurries. Using standardized biochemical practices, DNA was extracted in duplicate from whole kernel maize samples and amplified through PCR to detect the CaMV 35S promoter and NOS terminator sequences. Samples were run on 3% agarose gels, along with positive and negative GM controls, and visualized with ultraviolet light following ethidium bromide staining. Regarding processed maize products (n=53), approximately 75% were found to be modified. Preliminary results of whole maize products indicate a lower prevalence of genetic modification in these samples. Further exploration is needed for a conclusive result.

     

    A High Incidence of Genetic Anomalies among the Indigenous Kuna Population in Panama
    Marissa Snyder
    Mentor: Kerry Cheesman

    Previous reports have indicated a high incidence of both albinism and progeria among the Kuna Indians of the San Blas Islands in Panama. This study was designed to investigate the cause of this phenomenon. We traveled to the Kuna Island of Ustupu. Here we observed a large number of albinos of all ages; the number approximates a 100-fold increase in incidence of albino people as well as children with progeria compared with populations of equal size. Additionally, other genetic anomalies were seen in the population; at least one dwarf and three people with mild trisomies were observed. The proposed reason for the high number of genetic abnormalities on the island is inbreeding. We spoke with a doctor and other medical professionals on the island, along with native Kunas, to explore the relationships among the population. Even though our definition of cousin and the Kuna definition of cousin are not quite the same, there is strong evidence of close genetic relationships among this population. Our research leads us to believe that inbreeding does indeed occur to a large extent among the Kuna, and that it is likely the basis for the genetic anomalies seen.

     

    Before You Drink From That Bottle...
    Abigail Taylor, Tiffany N. Smith
    Mentor: Kerry Cheesman

    Much contemporary research is aimed at revealing detrimental effects of Bisphenol A (BPA) on the human body. Researchers have termed the synthetic chemical an endocrine disruptor; BPA’s activity as an estrogen agonist or antagonist has sparked many recent studies. Anyone who is a consumer in the United States has almost certainly been exposed to this xenoestrogen at some time, most likely via ingestion of a product packaged in a polycarbonate plastic container. Thus, informing students and others about the effects of this chemical is important. Many studies suggest that neo-natal exposure to BPA is directly correlated with both altered reproductive and hypothalamic-pituitary function in research subjects. Other studies indicate that BPA has a carcinogenic effect, especially on the reproductive system, when exposure occurs during critical periods of female reproductive differentiation. As BPA gains recognition as an environmental toxin, new research is now considering the legal aspect of its continued production. This poster provides readers with a synthesis of knowledge acquired through results extracted from the breadth of empirical research concerning the deleterious effects of Bisphenol A.

     

    Morphological and Genetic Variations Among Peromyscus leucopus and Peromyscus maniculatus
    Kelsey Tellings, Danny Kear, Mimi Sayre, Courtney Swickard
    Mentors: Nancy Swails, Christine Anderson

    Peromyscus leucopus and P. maniculatus are the most abundant species of mice in the Ohio region and are morphologically similar, which makes field identification unreliable. This study focused on the electrophoresis of salivary amylase and morphological measurements to discriminate between these two species of mice live-trapped at the Primmer Property in Logan, Ohio. We took morphological measurements including body length, tail length, ear length, and weight. Saliva samples were collected using distilled water and frozen upon returning to the laboratory. The presence of a bicolor tail, a distinct characteristic of P. maniculatus, was used to identify the species that were trapped. Those with a unicolor tail were deemed P. leucopus. A significant difference in hind foot length was discovered between the two species of mice. The electrophoretic testing could not be completed due to diluted samples of salivary amylase. Due to the similar morphological characteristics of P. maniculatus and P. leucopus, identification in the field may have a high percentage rate of error. However, our preliminary work shows that mice with bicolor tails, identified as P. maniculatus, had slightly larger hind feet as compared to P. leucopus. Future work includes concentrating samples and conducting electrophoresis of salivary amylase to confirm species identification.

     

    Amphibian Diversity at the Primmer Property Wetlands
    Megan Thiery, Krystal Woolley, Brittany Davidson, Julia Lawson
    Mentors: Nancy Swails, Christine Anderson

    Amphibian species population is greatly influenced by tree density in areas surrounding wetlands. A study at the Merle and Margaret Primmer Property in Logan, Ohio was conducted to determine the common tree species and density of the forestry surrounding the wetlands to determine the number of amphibians species expected to be found. Information for the procedure was obtained by using a gridding method established by Stam (2009). This method involved dividing forests into plots and recording tree species and circumference to establish tree density in the surrounding riparian and deciduous forests. From this information we are able to hypothesize that the quantity of amphibian species living in the riparian forest is much greater in quantity then that of the deciduous forest. This preliminary study is used in further exploration of the habitat and species found at the Primmer Property wetlands. From the current findings, we expect to find a variety of amphibian species when trapping resumes in the spring.

     

    Control for Menstrual Cycle Phase in Research
    Acacia Truesdale
    Mentor: Catherine Boulant

    Fluctuations in ovarian hormones, estrogen and progesterone, over the menstrual cycle influence many physiological and behavioral variables. In areas that are affected by these hormones, lack of control for menstrual cycle phase in the research design may confound the interpretation of results. The purpose of this study was to review the scientific literature for evidence that control for the fluctuating levels of reproductive endocrines, estrogen and progesterone, over the menstrual cycle is required in some research designs. Published literature on this topic was reviewed. Sources were obtained through a systematic review of online databases and from reference lists of pertinent original research. Physiological and behavioral research using females as subjects must consider the effects of fluctuating levels of reproductive endocrines, estrogen and progesterone, on dependent variables. Lack of control for menstrual phase may confound the interpretation of results in the following areas: fluid regulation, stress responses, eating behavior, hunger, taste preferences, and gastrointestinal function. Failure to control for menstrual cycle phase in some research designs may induce confounding results.

     

    Survey of Fruit Plants of Ustupu, Comarca Kuna Yala, Panamá.
    Alysha Vehre
    Mentors: Alan Stam, Kerry Cheesman

    Ustupu is a Kuna Indian island community in the semi-autonomous Comarca Kuna Yala province on the Caribbean coast of Panama. As one of approximately 49 islands inhabited by the indigenous Kuna Indians, the Ustupu Kuna grow or harvest the majority of their foods. In order to better understand their culture and means of obtaining sustenance, the fruit plants that are grown in the family compounds on Ustupu were surveyed. During March 2010, 100 family compounds were surveyed visually for fruit plants. A compound is a small, fenced grouping of houses of an extended family. The three primary fruit plants observed were; bananas/plantains, which were present in 85% of the compounds surveyed; mango, which was present in 61%; and breadfruit, which was present in 43%. Due to difficulties in identification of non-fruiting plants, bananas and plantains were grouped. Coconut palms were present in 13% of the compounds and papayas in 6%. Interestingly enough, 4% of the compounds did not have any visible fruit plants leaving question as to how these families meet their nutritional needs. It seems reasonable that the Kuna’s primary source of fruit-derived nutrients come from harvesting bananas/plantains, breadfruit and mangos.

     

    A Comparison of Kuna and Bribri, Two Indigenous Central American Languages
    Sarah Wills
    Mentors: Maria Jose Delgado, Alan Stam, Kerry Cheesman

    This research examined languages spoken in the indigenous Bribri village of Yorkin in Costa Rica and Ustúpu, an island that is home to a group of the indigenous Kuna of Panama's San Blas islands. The Bribri are a much smaller group of about 400 people, while Ustúpu is home to about 3,000 Kuna. Research has indicated that both ethnic groups came from one similar people. The purpose of this study was to compare and contrast the Kuna and Bribri languages. A Bribri language teacher, one Kuna town historian, language, history and culture professor, and several native speakers of both tribes were interviewed. Books and websites were also use. Research showed that Kuna and Bribri are both Chibchan languages, meaning they are spoken in the northwest corner of South America and the southern part of Central America. While in the villages, similarities in structure in the Bribri and the Kuna languages were noticed. Since the Bribri are smaller, there is more consistency in their language, while Kuna has several dialects. The languages have strong similarities and distinct differences. The basic grammatical structure is the same.

     

    A Comparison of Design Modifications to a Novel Microbial Fuel Cell for Electrical Production and Bacterial Load Reduction
    Rachel Yoho
    Mentors: Patrick Shields, Jerry Thomas

    The future of electrical production is one of the most pressing issues facing society. Microbial fuel cells have the potential to offset some of this problem through their ability to use many different materials to generate electrical power. Nine microbial fuel cells were constructed using different cathode materials and carbon cloth anodes for voltage production from a pig manure substrate. The open circuit voltage (OCV) of each of these cells was collected continuously, and the internal resistance (Rint) was measured at periodic intervals. From this information, the current (I) could be estimated. The change in the bacterial load of the manure in colony forming units per mL (CFU/mL) was also determined. Data collection on six of the cells was discontinued due to low voltage production. The remaining three cells (copper, brass, and carbon cloth) continuously generated an OCV for over eighteen weeks. Compared to the discontinued cells, the copper and brass cathode cells produced consistently higher voltages (approximately 0.65 V and 0.55 V) and had currents in the range of 15 to 25 mA and 8 to 10 mA, respectively, for the majority of their life spans. The carbon cloth cathode cell produced high voltages, approximately 0.68 V, but displayed a current of less than 10 mA. These three cells displayed an average bacterial load reduction of 93.6%. This information can be applied towards the development of more efficient microbial fuel cells with higher OCV and current outputs, and cells with increasing efficacy at reducing the bacterial load.