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2020 Submitted Abstracts

The Undergraduate Research Symposium, previously scheduled for April 15, 2020, has been cancelled

The Office of Undergraduate Research is acting in accordance with the recommendations from the University administration. Follow this link for more updates about the operations status at the University. 

Below, we present the submitted abstracts from undergraduate researchers across grounds representing many disciplines. 

Racemic Mixtures of RAPID Hydrogels  as a Tunable Cell Microenvironment and Delivery Method
Presenter Name: Connor Amelung
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Kyle Lampe
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Engineering
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
Self-assembling peptide hydrogels create finely tunable microenvironments to promote cell proliferation and differentiation . Previous work has shown that such hydrogels can be chemically modified while retaining physical characteristics and are capable of protecting cells during syringe injection. Racemic mixtures of peptide hydrogels add another dimension of tunability to alter hydrogel stiffness and chemical cues in the environment.  Here, we study  racemic hydrogels of the Rapidly Assembling Pentapeptides for Injectable Delivery (RAPID) KYFIL sequence to determine gel stiffness and chemical characteristics  as well as viability with cell culture. L- and D-form KYFIL have similar storage moduli and stress-recovery times, while the 50:50 racemic mixture was found to have a storage modulus that was 66% of the L-form and take up to 2.3x longer than the L-form to recover after being strained. FTIR indicated that L- and D-form KYFIL assembled in antiparallel beta sheet complexes, while the 50:50 racemic mixture formed in parallel beta sheets.   As found rheology results were in contrast with other published works, we recreated a similar known  hydrogel. Rheology of this sequence indicated that the racemic mixture was stiffer than either the L- or D-form, confirming previously published results. Our interesting and unexpected findings indicate that the KYFIL peptide sequence has assembly mechanisms in racemic mixtures unique to previously studied sequences, revealing novel hydrogel formations.
 

Investigating the Role of MIA3 in Human Aortic Smooth Muscle Cell Phenotypes Relevant to Atherosclerosis
Presenter Name: Rita Anane-Wae
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Mete Civelek
Secondary Research Mentor: Redouane Aherrahrou
Academic Category: Engineering
Grant Program Recipient: Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant
Coronary artery disease (CAD) caused by atherosclerosis is the leading cause of death worldwide. This disease is characterized by the buildup of atherosclerotic plaque made of substances including lipids and cellular waste. Succeeding plaque buildup, Smooth Muscle Cells (SMCs) migrate and proliferate to form a fibrous cap that stabilizes the plaque. In severe cases, the fibrous cap may be unable to prevent plaque rupture which can cause a stroke or myocardial infarction. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified 163 independent loci that influence CAD risk, each with distinct pathogenesis pathways. 1q41, an independent locus harbors the gene Melanoma Inhibitory Activity 3 (MIA3). Recent studies have found that genetic variant(s) in this locus affects the gene expression of MIA3 in the vessel wall where the disease develops. Using a unique source of Human Aortic SMCs in our laboratory, we identified that the same genetic variant(s) from the 1q41 locus affects SMC migration and proliferation. In addition, our preliminary studies in human and mouse models have shown a relationship between increased MIA3 expression and stability of atherosclerotic fibrous cap. Few studies have addressed the mechanisms by which MIA3 contributes to CAD. Therefore, we hypothesize that MIA3 plays a beneficial role in plaque stability by influencing SMC migration and proliferation. We will test this hypothesis by downregulating and overexpressing MIA3 in human aortic SMC’s using CRISPR interference and activation respectively and quantifying migration and proliferation. Understanding the mechanisms of MIA3 will lead us closer to discovering therapeutic approaches to reduce CAD risk.
 

Faster Synthesis of the Metal-Organic Frameworks NU-901 and NU-1000
Presenter Name: Brenna Bartholomew
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Gaurav Giri
Secondary Research Mentor: Prince Verma
Academic Category: Engineering
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
     Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are a class of highly porous, crystalline substances with many possible applications in areas such as gas separation, energy storage, catalysis, and sensing. In order to implement MOFs into such applications on an industrial scale, faster methods for their synthesis must be developed. In our research we focused on determining faster methods of synthesis for the MOFs NU-901 and NU-1000. NU-901 and NU-1000 were first synthesized over several days using the solvothermal method, during which the substrates were heated in solution for 24 hours, to ensure phase-pure samples could be obtained. Thin films of NU-901 were then successfully created using drop casting, a technique in which the solution is dropped via pipette onto substrates heated on a hot plate. This greatly reduced the length of the synthesis procedure from several days to several hours. So far, attempts to drop cast NU-1000 and synthesize thin films of NU-901 via solution shearing (which would further decrease the length of synthesis by using a mechanical blade to enhance evaporation) have been unsuccessful. Further research will continue exploring these options and we hope to have successful procedures for these techniques by the end of the semester. Reducing the time needed to produce these MOF thin films is an important step in successfully incorporating them into electrocatalysis, which in turn would be a substantial development towards creating renewable fuel cells.

 

Evaluating the Use of Thermoelectric Modules in Managing Spacecraft Heat
Presenter Name: Sean Benish
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Mona Zebarjadi
Secondary Research Mentor: Sabbir Akhanda
Academic Category: Engineering
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Spacecraft operate in harsh environments with temperatures changes in the tens to hundreds of degrees centigrade.  The delicate electrical components, therefore, require protection against these conditions.  Currently, specially-designed thermal regulators allow spacecraft to maintain their internal temperature, but the heat transfer rate and mission flexibility are low.  The state-of-the-art technology uses moving parts and chemical phase changes.  Recent discoveries in the field of thermoelectrics propose the viability of thermoelectric modules as a solid-state thermal switch, benefiting from its low maintenance requirements and light weight.  Within this work, we explore the comparatively desirable designs of thermoelectric modules in contrast to current thermal regulators.  Using theoretical heat modeling and ANSYS simulation software, different models compete to fulfill strict operation criteria defined by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).  We then compare the limitations of employing different high-performance thermoelectric materials for the device to address NASA’s requirements.  With a successful design, thermoelectric modules reduce cost and increase mission flexibility, keeping future exploration vehicles safe throughout their journey.
 

Metal Organic Frameworks and Particulate Matter 2.5 Capture
Presenter Name: Emily Beyer
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Gaurav Giri
Secondary Research Mentor: Luke Huelsenbeck
Academic Category: Engineering
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
    Metal organic frameworks (MOFs) are a class of developing chemical compounds that have a multitude of properties beneficial for small particle capture, including high porosity, large surface area, tunability, and a generous surface area to volume ratio. This uncommon combination of properties has resulted in MOFs being employed for various applications, including energy storage, the construction of electronic components, and gas containment. By exploiting these properties and applying knowledge of particulate matter, specifically PM 2.5, MOFs can be applied to filters utilized for air pollution control in heavily polluted and industrialized regions. 
    MOF synthesis can be achieved through the combination of an aqueous organic compound and aqueous metal linker, where a fabrication process is employed to ensure the reaction occurs on the substrate. This process relies on rapid synthesis, allowing multiple layers of MOF to be coated on a single substrate in an effort to improve capture efficiency. Using a PDR-1500 and a pollution air chamber system, the quantity of PM 2.5 entering the chamber versus the quantity leaving after being filtered through the textile can be determined, and therefore, the effectiveness of the MOF. 
    Performance is maximized via the optimization of the MOF and substrate relationship, creating an idealized pressure drop and PM 2.5 capture ratio. The successful coupling of MOF and an ideal substrate will increase the economical availability of pollution protection means globally.

 

Shaping the Next Generation of Urban Infrastructure Maintenance: The Potential Use of Mobile Application and Augmented Reality in Civil Engineering   

Presenter Name: Zachary Bilmen
Co Presenter Name(s):  Zijia  Zeng     
Primary Research Mentor: Devin  Harris 
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Engineering
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
The approach of using modern technologies in assisting non-intrusive infrastructure maintenance is beneficial. A machine learning algorithm for crack detection in concrete infrastructure is developed in the MOB Lab Group and is integrated into modern technologies to assist working professionals and to increase citizen engagement in monitoring the infrastructure health of their communities. This research focuses on two popular modern technology forms: mobile applications and augmented reality. A mobile application is easily accessible by the majority of the populace in a community such as Charlottesville, giving each individual the power to communicate local information. Augmented Reality via a HoloLens is not so easily accessible, but gives professionals the ability to view their surroundings with a quantitative lens. Towards this end, a Mobile Application has been developed to allow citizens to proactively support their community using a responsive camera tool to detect infrastructure depreciation. This semester, a proof of concept for what a structural engineer would perceive when using a HoloLens onsite. The founding of this research will unveil augmented reality technology’s great potential for real-time monitoring on large scale urban infrastructure networks.     

 

Identifying a Novel Role of Glucosylceramide Synthase to Enhance Ceramide-Induced Cell Death in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Presenter Name: Timothy Boyer
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Mark Kester
Secondary Research Mentor: Jeremy  Shaw
Academic Category: Engineering
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma (HNSCC) is a cancer arising from the squamous cells of the oral and nasal cavities as well as the larynx and pharynx. Despite over 800,000 individuals being afflicted with this disease across the globe each year, current treatment options remain poor. Radiation and chemotherapy have a myriad of negative side effects, surgical operations in these areas often leave patients disfigured, and the three targeted therapies exhibit minimal therapeutic benefits. The Ceramide Nanoliposome (CNL) is a ~90nm liposome that incorporates the anti-proliferative, cell death-inducing sphingolipid, ceramide and is currently in FDA Phase-1 clinical trials. We have previously shown that CNL has promise in vitro for inducing greater cell death in HNSCC cell lines than non-cancerous Primary Gingival Fibroblasts (PGF). However, the role of ceramide metabolism on cell death has not been fully elucidated. Here, we identify a striking cell death-inducing role of glucosylceramide synthase (GCS), an enzyme previously reported to be pro-survival. Specifically, we show that GCS inhibitors, PPMP and Ibiglustat, have minimal effect as single agents, yet dramatically prevent CNL-induced death in multiple HNSCC cell lines. We further demonstrate that this effect on cell viability is concentration- and time-dependent via MTS and flow cytometry assays. Taken together, this work highlights the novel role of GCS to enhance ceramide-induced cell death and identifies a novel pathway to further sensitize HNSCC to CNL or to other targeted therapies.
 

Determining Thermoelectric Generator Power Harvesting Potential of a given Space Based Solely on Temperature Gradient
Presenter Name: Nick Cooney
Co Presenter Name(s):  Izzy Yahia Alexander White  
Primary Research Mentor: Ben Calhoun
Secondary Research Mentor: Natalie Ownby
Academic Category: Engineering
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
In the coming years, the use of low-powered integrated circuits in self-powered systems and the Internet of Things will require millions, if not billions of sensors to be powered. This project aims to meet that need by exploiting temperature gradients through the use of thermoelectric generators. Thermoelectric generators are solid state devices consisting of two ceramic plates separated by a number of small, semiconductive, coupled rods. In accordance with the Seebeck effect, temperature variations between the two plates are converted into electrical power, which can then be harvested for small-scale electronic devices. The aim of this research is to determine whether it is possible to calculate the power available for a given space based solely on the temperature gradient measured within that space. This is being accomplished by measuring the current and voltage responses of a series of thermoelectric generators to various temperature gradients and directly relating those responses to power availability in order to develop a deterministic model. In addition, the temperature gradients are being determined by measuring common, household surfaces, such as desks or chairs, in common, everyday environments, and comparing these temperatures to the relative temperature of the air. If this project proves successful, it will directly contribute to future projects aimed at exploiting this temperature gradient/power availability relationship for low-powered integrated circuits.
 

Hindwing Aerodynamics in Oviposition Flight of the Damselfly (Neurobasis chinensis)
Presenter Name: Andreas Damm
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Haibo Dong
Secondary Research Mentor: Ayodeji Bode-oke
Academic Category: Engineering
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Damselflies have four wings that are controlled independently during flight. The fore and hindwings typically beat out of phase and the interactions which enhance or attenuate flight forces of the wing pairs is phase dependent. During oviposition, however, there exists a species (Neurobasis chinensis) that flies by beating only the forewings while the hindwings are kept outstretched and stationary. Through analysis using computational fluid dynamics, our lab has studied the passive benefits incurred on the hindwing’s aerodynamic performance during this manner of flight. The hindwing, when sufficiently close to the oscillating forewing, will benefit from the flow induced on it by the leading-edge vortex created during the forewing’s upstroke, which creates a pressure gradient across the hindwing. Although we have already reached a general understanding of the reasoning behind the passive lift contribution of the hindwing, how the damselfly is able to optimize this behavior in the wild is still unknown. In an effort to explore this optimization problem, we have broadened the scope of our research, exploring the orientation of the hindwing in its angle of attack, sweep angle, and dihedral angle to determine the ideal case for maximizing lift production. These values will be compared with the video and photographic evidence of this behavior in nature, to determine how well the damselfly optimizes this behavior for the purpose of lift production.
 

Effect of Calcium Ionophore on Toxoplasma gondii on Different Substrate Stiffnesses
Presenter Name: Felix Donis Barrera
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Brian Helmke
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Engineering
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Toxoplasma gondii (Toxo.) is a unicellular protozoan parasite that causes the disease toxoplasmosis. Although toxoplasmosis only shows symptoms in vulnerable patients, such as pregnant women and immunocompromised, over 40 million people are infected in the United States alone1. Studies have shown that calcium induces egress of Toxoplasma gondii in host cells2. Treating Toxo. with calcium ionophore before invading cells may have an effect on motility and how Toxoplasma gondii invades. In this study, Toxo. is treated with calcium before invading the cultured HFF2 host cells. The HFF2 cells are then plated on different substrates stiffnesses of polyacrylamide gels or on glass coverslips without gels (as a control group). Fluorescent microscopy was used to image the invasion of Toxo. into the host cells. The rates are analyzed to determine if Toxo. has decreased invasion in the presence of calcium. Understanding how calcium affects Toxo. may change the way we view invasion and could be useful in reducing invasion in other parasites. This may also be helpful for people with Toxoplasmosis.    
 

Engineering spatiotemporally dynamic hyaluronic acid hydrogels to mimic tissue fibrosis

Presenter Name: Kathryn Gimeno
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Steven Caliari
Secondary Research Mentor: Erica Hui
Academic Category: Engineering
Grant Program Recipient: Double Hoo Research Grant
Tissue fibrosis is a pathological scarring process triggered by chronic inflammatory processes resulting from repeated damage such as viral infection, chemical insult, or injury to the tissue. Although fibrosis causes nearly half of the deaths in the developed world, there are a lack of disease models that can accurately mimic extracellular matrix characteristics to understand  relevant cell behavior during disease progression, hindering the testing of therapeutics. The purpose of this project was to create a model for tissue fibrosis that more accurately mimics the natural microenvironment by developing a three-dimensional (3D) hydrogel system with heterogeneous mechanical properties. Both elastic and viscoelastic hydrogels were fabricated using hyaluronic acid as a polymer backbone due to its biocompatibility, high chemical tunability, and involvement in disease processes such as wound healing. Human lung fibroblasts (HLFs) were encapsulated in hydrogels by incorporating them into the hydrogel precursor solution prior to gelation. Cells were successfully encapsulated in hydrogels with uniform mechanics (soft/stiff, elastic/viscoelastic) with 76% viability on day 1 of encapsulation, determined by live/dead viability assays. It was observed that cells encapsulated in soft elastic hydrogel groups had increased spread area and more protrusions while those encapsulated in soft viscoelastic groups remained fairly rounded, comparable to how cells behave in normal tissue. By successfully creating a 3D hydrogel system with tunable mechanics that affords high cell viability, hydrogel patterning can be incorporated to better mimic the heterogeneous properties found in native healthy and diseased tissues.
 

Hyaluronic Acid Hydrogels Modified with Supramolecular Complexes
Presenter Name: Audrey Hansrisuk
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Steven Caliari
Secondary Research Mentor: Beverly Miller
Academic Category: Engineering
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Over the past decade, there has been a transition from conventional biomaterials to materials with injectability potential; both for minimally invasive therapeutics and for 3D printing applications.To address this problem, we have designed a biomaterial capable of recapitulating the complex extracellular matrix (ECM) microenvironment and capable of injectability. This work, done in the Caliari Lab in Chemical Engineering, uses hyaluronic acid (HA) as a material backbone due to its natural abundance in the ECM, and therefore biocompatibility, and due to its tunability via modifications to the pendant groups. Material injectability was accomplished via the non-covalent association of supramolecular chemical complexes which form reversible hydrophobic associations. The supramolecular association involves a guest molecule and a host molecule, which when conjugated separately to the HA backbone create a viscoelastic and injectable hydrogel. Oscillatory shear rheology was used to characterize the supramolecular interactions of the final hydrogel. The ratio of guest to host molecule abundance was investigated to determine the ideal ratio between the groups. The guest-host hydrogel was also covalently crosslinked to encapsulate cells and observe material biocompatibility. Live/dead staining was performed in addition to staining for cell process extensions indicative of cell spreading. Ultimately, we were able to synthesize a biocompatible hydrogel capable of supporting cell growth and migration and capable of injectability applications. 
 

A Study of the Effect of Liposomal KT109 in Reducing Liver Inflammation to Treat Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Presenter Name: Sydney Henriques
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Helena Snyder
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Engineering
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
This presentation reports on an ongoing study designed to test the effects of KT109 and a supplemental, proprietary drug in reducing inflammation in those suffering from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). NAFLD involves the excess of fatty tissue in the liver and can lead to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and cirrhosis. Certain endocannabinoids, which are upregulated by steatogenic agents found in high fat diets, are involved in regulating inflammation. This study explored possible mechanisms for reducing inflammation via increasing the efficacy of our liposomes in inhibiting macrophage signaling. Diacylglycerol lipase-beta (DAGLΒ) is an enzyme that produces numerous endocannabinoids involved in inflammatory signaling. KT109 is a compound known to inhibit DAGLΒ, therefore inhibiting the production of inflammation inducing endocannabinoids. Liposomes are lipid vesicles that can be used to increase the efficiency of delivering drugs and reduce toxicity. Previously, we have tested the ability of using macrophages to localize the delivery of KT109 to cells, using liposomal KT109. A single dose of the liposome solution was injected into mice, and after 4 hours their organs were harvested and tested. We found that liposomal KT109 increases efficiency of inhibiting macrophage inflammation signaling, finding that 5 micrograms of the liposomal KT109 can inactivate around 80% of DAGLΒ in macrophages. It was also found that the liposomes had the greatest effect in the liver, giving it a high potential to be effective in treating NAFLD and NASH. Our study proposes a novel treatment of NAFLD and NASH via liposomal forms of KT109 with a supplemental drug.  
 

Informing How to Improve Drug Delivery to the Brain Using Polymeric Nanoparticles
Presenter Name: Gilberto Hernandez
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Kyle Lampe
Secondary Research Mentor: Zhiqi  Zhang
Academic Category: Engineering
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Focal cerebral ischemia, also known as ischemic stroke, occurs when a blood clot restricts the flow of oxygen and blood to the brain, ultimately causing brain tissue degradation. If left untreated, the ischemic core, made up of decaying brain matter, increases in size due to inflammatory reactive oxygen species and further damages the brain. Because of the highly selective Blood-Brain-Barrier (BBB), it is difficult to provide direct treatment to the ischemic tissue in a non-invasive manner. Medications currently used to treat this condition only break down blood clots, however, they do not treat the brain damage: either in the ischemic penumbra, which surrounds the ischemic core, or the core itself. Medication encapsulated in a nanoparticle could be delivered through the bloodstream into the brain and release the drug over time. However, the size of the nanoparticle is a critical determinant in crossing the BBB. Our research team synthesized and measured nanoparticles to determine how polymer concentration, stabilizer type, stabilizer concentration, and encapsulating drugs affect particle size. We targeted a size around 100nm while maintaining a zeta potential between -1 to -45 mV, to create particles with properties known to permeate the BBB. Understanding these factors allow our research group to then tune the drug load and release rate from the nanoparticle. With this foundation, we will begin modifying our nanoparticles to target stroked regions of the brain. In the future, we aim to conduct in vivo studies to determine the efficacy of the nanoparticle as treatment for stroke. 
 

Identifying Nuclear Membrane Proteins that Facilitate Chromosomal Mechanotransduction
Presenter Name: Allison Horenberg
Co Presenter Name(s):  Victoria Hinchberger    
Primary Research Mentor: Thomas Barker
Secondary Research Mentor: Chiuan-Ren Yeh
Academic Category: Engineering
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) is an end-stage lung disease that is mediated by force interactions within the lung epithelium. The current standard of care aims to reduce the symptoms of the disease through non-curative drug treatments or by lung transplantation. Our team aims to determine an additional upstream target that would reduce the progression of fibrosis. We hypothesize that LRP-130, CAPZ-Œ±, and MATR3 play a role in force mechanotransduction and ultimately IPF. To determine the proteins involved in the mechanosensitive signaling pathway, a magnetic precipitation technique is used to pull down the proteins involved. These proteins are then analyzed through proteomics techniques such as western blotting and immunofluorescence. A knockdown study was performed to determine the individual role the proteins play in YAP/TAZ nuclear translocation. LRP-130, CAPZ-Œ±, and MATR3 have been established as potential proteins in the pathway and have been identified in samples subject to force. The localization of these proteins has been linked to the nuclear membrane. Additional knockdown studies will be performed to determine the extent to the protein’s effect on YAP/TAZ nuclear translocation. Overall, we have observed that these proteins play a role in regulating the cellular response to force mechanotransduction. This work is significant to the future of IPF treatments as these proteins serve as potential targets for curative therapies.

 

Application Development for Conducting Health Research Using Smart Watches
Presenter Name: Courtney Jacobs
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Laura Barnes
Secondary Research Mentor: Mehdi Boukhechba
Academic Category: Engineering
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Many human health studies require complex equipment and unwieldy wiring to accurately measure bodily functions such as heart rate. In this age of smartphones and smartwatches, potential study participants may already own an iPhone which tracks steps and sleep or an Android watch with a sensitive accelerometer and continuous heart rate monitoring. Thus, the potential value of using these smart devices in health research has skyrocketed, touting benefits such as user familiarity, comfort, portability, and lower price points. As these devices improve and are able to collect higher quality data, they will continue to usher in a new era of health research.

My main project this year has been developing an Android application that enhances the infrastructure our team uses to collect data for studies using Android watches. Each study requires certain sensors to be activated and has a specific storage location for the data. Previously, this information had to be manually created and transferred onto the watch, and was difficult to change on the go without causing other issues. My application allows users to set and change the settings for a study on their Android mobile device and transfer the settings wirelessly to an Android watch. This companion application reduces the friction in conducting studies and will help the process become more efficient. Several features have been implemented, but there is much more functionality that can be added to improve the process further for our team and, in the future, other teams.

 

Investigating the Interplay between Hydrogel Mechanics and TGF-Β Signal Transduction on Human Mesenchymal Stromal Cell Differentiation
Presenter Name: Priyanshi Jain
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Steven Caliari
Secondary Research Mentor: Beverly Miller
Academic Category: Engineering
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Tissue regeneration provides a method by which cell behavior can be guided toward functional tissue regeneration. Tissue regeneration scaffolds currently lack the ability to accurately represent and mimic the innate extracellular matrix (ECM). The ECM greatly influences cell development, processes, and signaling. Properties such as mechanical stiffness and signals such as growth factors interact to modulate cell behaviors; however, little is known about the interaction and the integrated impact they have on signal transduction. This project looks at the interplay between stiffness and growth factor presentation, specifically transforming growth factor (TGF)-√ü signaling, using ECM- mimicking hydrogels. Analyzing the differential expression of Smad and phosphorylated Smad proteins (canonical mediators of TGF-Β signaling) between human mesenchymal stem cells grown on hydrogels of varying stiffnesses (1, 5, 20 kPa) with either TGF-Β1 or bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)-2 via western blots can help understand the relationship between mechanical stiffness and growth factor signaling transduction. Thus far, I have optimized the western blot protocol, carried out material characterization, seeded hMSCs on hydrogels, and observed the ratio of Smad signaling to a housekeeping protein. I hypothesize that cells grown in the presence of growth factors will have a significantly higher quantity of phosphorylated Smad protein than those grown without the presence of growth factors. This study will contribute to the knowledge of the scientific community in order to help increase the efficacy of growth factor-mediated tissue regeneration. 
 

Effects of calcium ion on the invasion of Toxoplasma gondii
Presenter Name: Lauren Laughlin
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Brian Helmke
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Engineering
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Toxoplasma gondii is a parasite that can be found in humans and animals across the world. The disease caused by the infection of the parasite has the greatest effect on people with weakened immune systems and pregnant women. This project studies the effect of both increasing the concentration of calcium within the cells as well as the effect of the stiffness of the gels that the cells grow on have on the invasion rate of the parasite. The first step in the experiment is to produce the gels of different stiffness levels. The soft, medium, and stiff gels are then plated with equal concentrations of cells. The concentration of calcium within the cell is then increased by treating the cells with calcium ionophore. The plated cells are then infected with the parasite. The predicted results are that the calcium treatment will decrease the invasion rate of the parasite. This project has given the scientific community more knowledge on the invasion of Toxoplasma gondii that could potentially lead to a treatment for the people who have the disease.
 

Study of Perceived Safety of Bicyclists and Pedestrians Using Virtual Reality Environments
Presenter Name: Christopher Lee
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Donna Chen
Secondary Research Mentor: Erin Robartes
Academic Category: Engineering
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
This project is designed to study the behavior and perceived safety of bicyclists and pedestrians in the presence of vehicles. Our main procedure consists of creating and testing virtual reality environments of Water Street in downtown Charlottesville. One environment is set up for pedestrian studies and contains moving vehicles and a crosswalk. The other environment for bicycle studies is made of a street where participants will travel through using a mounted bike setup. In the near future we plan to have participants enter the VR environments and follow a series of actions to observe their behavior. Currently we have collected video footage of crosswalks on Water Street and will compare data from existing pedestrians and bicyclists to the participants. Doing so, we hope to find evidence for which aspects of road construction contribute to or decrease the perceived safety of people in the presence of vehicles. In the future, we can use this research to design better roads for bicyclists to travel alongside vehicles as well as crosswalks that make people feel safer when crossing. 
 

The Effects of Total Ankle Arthroplasty on Gait
Presenter Name: Allison Lehmann
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Shawn Russell
Secondary Research Mentor: Emily Dooley
Academic Category: Engineering
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
    The total ankle arthroplasty procedure, more commonly known as an ankle replacement, is a relatively new procedure used to repair years of wear and tear resulting in end-stage osteoarthritis of the ankle joint. The purpose of this study is to compare ankle joint function and mobility in healthy patients vs. patients who have undergone total ankle arthroplasty. We will use a 18 camera Vicon system with a full body marker set and the Oxford foot model to closer analyze the motion of the foot/ankle. We will collect kinematics, ground reaction force, and EMG (muscle activation) data with the patients walking on a level surface, a surface tilted 15 degrees, and up and down stairs to stress the ankle and create variation in the internal foot joints. These data will be processed using Vicon Plug In Gait Model to calculate the joint angles and joint movements used in the patient's movements.  We will use the kinematic data collected to find significant differences in the ankle joint movement of patients who have undergone total ankle arthroplasty. These results could be instrumental in understanding the impact of an ankle replacement on joint function and eventually, in determining which ankle procedure will allow patients the greatest mobility and comfort.
 

Synthesis of Noninvasive Digital-Image Based Remote Sensing Strategies for Condition Assessment and Simulation of Infrastructure 
Presenter Name: Hong Liang
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Devin Harris
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Engineering
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Improving infrastructure inspection methods and the ability to assess their conditions is a developing priority as the age of American infrastructure increases and their condition deteriorates. Current inspection techniques are labor-intensive subjective measures for quantifying this deterioration of structural elements, and may require traffic disruptions, total lane closures or other disruptive approaches that do not holistically display the structure's behavior. Digital imaging and photogrammetry provide a pathway for realistically modelling both individual components and constructing an object that can be studied off-site. The purpose of this work is to evaluate and construct a workflow capable of bringing interactivity and physical simulation to these objects as a method of visualizing infrastructure deterioration and analyzing potential damage. Virtual Reality technology using Unity 3D's engine is the current visualization environment from which interactions can be layered onto. The digital representation of infrastructure can be divided into separate meshes and volumes under which another finite element analysis program can simulate the expected deformation and strain that components under a defined force can experience, which is integrated into Unity along with VR controlled interactions to create a model that can be analyzed off site. The only required on-site collection are photographs as an initial data set which can be conjoined with other Digital Image Processing techniques such as a crack detection algorithm. Ultimately, this is a framework for creating flexible, transferable models optimized for multiple stress type analyses that can lower the ease of structural documentation and widen the understanding of many structures conditions.
 

Structural Modification to Improve Advanced Desalination Membrane Performance
Presenter Name: Sin Lin
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Geoffrey  Geise
Secondary Research Mentor: Kevin Chang
Academic Category: Engineering
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
With the growing demand for clean water around the world, there is an increasing interest in advanced membrane-based technology, and more performance efficient and cost-effective membranes are needed to purify increasingly contaminated and/or saline water. One way to help guide the design of advanced membranes is to establish the structure/property relationships between polymer chemistry and water and/or salt transport properties for these membranes. To achieve this, we modified the polymer structure to test their transport properties and performance. We will be using sulfonated polysulfones, prepared using a polycondensation chemical reaction. Sulfonated polysulfones are high-performance thermoplastics known for their toughness and stability that have an SO3 negatively-charged group. In this study, we hypothesized that adding a hydrophilic functional group (hydroquinone (HQ) and methoxy-hydroquinone (MHQ)) to the sulfonated polysulfone backbone will further distribute the water molecules throughout the polymer, thus suppressing salt transport properties. Water permeability and salt rejection were measured using a dead-end stainless-steel water flux cell, salt diffusivity was measured using the kinetic desorption method, and salt permeability was measured using the dual-chamber direct permeation cell. Our current results suggest: (1) the hydrophilicity of these materials increased significantly as sulfonation level increased; (2) the water permeability increased more than one order of magnitude as sulfonation level increased, while salt permeability increased by two orders of magnitude; (3) there is a water permeability to water/salt selectivity trade-off. Further experiments and result analysis of these HQ-based polysulfone materials is necessary to verify our research hypothesis.
 

Building the Internet of Wasted Things
Presenter Name: Sonali Luthar
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Madhur Behl
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Engineering
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
The U.S. faces a crisis that is burying cities in tons of landfill waste each day. Most waste management occurs downstream after commingled material has been collected from buildings. Sorting waste at that stage is expensive, slow, and manual. Due to the increased proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and their associated data, buildings and organizations are increasingly aware of energy and water usage. However, we lack the capability to track waste with the same ease and fidelity. Tracking waste and recycling provides the grounds to reduce waste within an organization. 

Motivated by real-world challenges to reduce recycling contamination, we propose building the Internet of Wasted Things‚Äîa closed-loop automated system with cameras detecting items to be disposed of and guiding the user towards the correct bin. We have built a waste object detector deep network that can classify commonly disposed items. When approaching a set of trash bins, the system detects the object and provides visual cues in real-time to help a person correctly dispose the item. The task of detecting contamination (e.g. food stains, presence of liquids, etc.) using vision is extremely challenging. 

We will describe starting from scratch by collecting and annotating large-scale video data at the UVA Link-Lab, to challenges with real-time object detection, to deployment on embedded hardware, and incorporating federated learning across multiple bin locations. Using AI-powered waste management, organizations can streamline the process from collection to disposal. This increases sustainability by reducing the volume of incorrectly disposed objects and minimizing other contamination.

 

Exploratory Analysis of Anomaly Data in Surgical Robot Tasks 
Presenter Name: Gabriel  Mallari
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Homa Alemzadeh
Secondary Research Mentor: Gabriel Mallari
Academic Category: Engineering
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
The da-Vinci Surgical System (dVSS) is a tele-robotic surgical system that provides surgeons with enhance dexterity, precision, and control in performing minimally invasive surgical procedures like laparoscopic surgery. To be able to use this technology, surgeons have to receive accreditation and proper technical training for these procedures. Previous studies have shown that these accreditation procedures are complex due to the lack of efficient and objective tactile feedback. To improve the training curriculum, we analyze data from JIGSAWS, a database containing results from experiments performed using the dVSS. The JIGSAWS database contains video and kinematic data of surgeons with various experience and expertise performing three tasks of Suturing, Knot-Tying, and Needle-Passing. Each task is divided up into different subtasks, called gestures. Each test was viewed by a group of professional surgeons and given a Global Rating Score (GRS) based on certain checklist standard. We use this data to generate anomaly data associated with how safe or unsafe a gesture was performed to identify the relationship between the presence of anomalies and the surgeons self-identified experience or GRS. We found that surgeons, regardless of experience and GRS, experienced a large number of anomalies with certain gestures. This data can be used to better understand human robot interaction and how humans obtain dexterity using this system. The data also has the potential to improve the safety and effectiveness of surgical patient care by improving surgical technical skill training.
 

Personalization of User Interface of MindTrails to Increase User Engagement and Reduce Attrition 
Presenter Name: Leigh Mante
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Laura Barnes
Secondary Research Mentor: Anna  Baglione
Academic Category: Engineering
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Approximately one in five adults in the United States have been diagnosed with some form of mental illness, but less than half received treatment in this past year (NAMI, 2019). The MindTrails Calm Thinking project was developed by an interdisciplinary Systems Engineering and Psychology research team to reduce barriers towards receiving mental health care through its readily available and cost-effective platform. MindTrails integrates cognitive bias modification for interpretation (CBM-I) in its training sessions which aims to reframe thinking patterns of highly anxious individuals when they respond to stressors. eHealth interventions generally struggle with user retention, and MindTrails is no exception. In order to reduce attrition (dropout) rates, I collaborated with a Systems Engineering capstone team to research strategies to improve engagement capacities of eHealth interventions with the goal of adapting these methods to further personalize MindTrails. Following the conduction of a literature review, we designed prototypes of a new mobile interface for MindTrails. This interface includes options for users to pre-select a domain of anxiety to work on (e.g. relationships or health) as well as a journal component for users to document their goals. We hypothesize that the mobile version of MindTrails will increase the efficacy of the program and allow users to experience a more engaging mental health intervention. 

 

Sonication-Induced Cross-Linking to Create Hyaluronic Acid Hydrogels
Presenter Name: Erin  McIlhinney
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Steven Caliari
Secondary Research Mentor: Jenna Sumey
Academic Category: Engineering
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Hydrogels are a type of biomaterial made up of networks of cross-linked polymers that are useful for replicating in-vivo tissue characteristics in an in-vitro environment. The most common process for forming hydrogels is to expose the material to light. However, this process can have concerning effects on the cells. My previous work involved cell viability studies that evaluated cells under different lights. Though most cells were viable, some did not respond as well to the light. To resolve this issue, I worked on a process for forming hydrogels using ultrasound. Different variables in the solution composition and sonication process will be tested to find the most effective method to create these hydrogels. The solution that will be used to create the hydrogels is made up of methacrylated hyaluronic acid (MeHA) is dissolved in either water, phosphate-buffered saline (PBS), or a .2M trietholamine buffer solution. Each sample is purged with nitrogen for thirty minutes to ensure formation of cavitation bubbles. The samples are sonicated using a laboratory-grade ultrasound bath for various amounts of time. The samples are then tested using rheology to test the liquid or solid properties of the material. Based on previous experiments, longer periods of sonication should result in the gelation of the material. The results of this work are necessary to work towards the use of ultrasound to create hydrogels in-vivo, which can be used for various applications in the medical field such as drug delivery or the treatment of diseased tissues and organs.
 

Quantifying the interferon-stimulated immune response after MAVS cleavage by Coxsackievirus B3 (CVB3) proteases 2Apro and 3Cpro expressed in cardiomyocytes
Presenter Name: Page Murray
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Kevin Janes
Secondary Research Mentor: Andrew Sweatt
Academic Category: Engineering
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
Enteroviruses cause or are associated with many health complications such as myocarditis and dilated cardiomyopathy. In enterovirus infections, viral double-stranded RNA stimulates Mitochondrial Antiviral Signaling protein (MAVS). MAVS activation results in expression of interferons and interferon stimulated genes (ISGs), which have antiviral properties. Enteroviral proteases 2Apro and 3Cpro cleave MAVS to inhibit this antiviral effect. The roles of 2Apro and 3Cpro in the immune response remain unclear because it is difficult to separate the effects of the viral proteins. In this study, we use Coxsackievirus B3 as a model enterovirus and quantify the effects of 2Apro and 3Cpro on MAVS, interferon transcription factors (NF-kB and IRF3) and ISGs  (ISG15, OAS1, OAS2). To isolate the proteases’ effects, we established cardiomyocyte cell lines to inducibly express either 2Apro or 3Cpro. We have confirmed 3Cpro expression, and 2Apro cells are undergoing selection. In cells expressing 2Apro or 3Cpro, the MAVS pathway will be activated by Poly(I:C), which mimics double-stranded RNA. The cells will be lysed for protein and RNA. Immunoblotting and qPCR will be used to quantify changes in production of interferon transcription factors and ISGs. We hypothesize that 3Cpro will more efficiently cleave MAVS, suppress interferon production, and inactivate the innate immune response. Therefore, we expect to see abundant cell death or injury after protease expression. Clinically, larger amounts of cell death lead to severe health complications.  My research identifies functional differences of each protease, a critical step in developing novel therapies against enteroviruses. 
 

Optimization of Data Integration with Genome-scale Metabolic Models
Presenter Name: Ben Neubert
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Jason Papin
Secondary Research Mentor: Thomas Moutinho
Academic Category: Engineering
Grant Program Recipient: Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant

Genome-scale metabolic network reconstructions (GENREs) are a powerful computational tool for mathematically modeling the metabolic processes within a cell at a systems-level. The development of improved curation methods through strategic data integration would improve our ability to use GENREs to understand metabolic diseases and to inform metabolic engineering. Metabolomics aims to identify metabolites within a biological system, which can then be integrated into a GENRE to increase its accuracy. Due to the cost of gathering metabolomics data, there is a need to identify which media conditions would hold the most value for model curation. To this end, we created an ensemble of draft GENREs for E. coli K-12 using a combination of well-established packages and in vitro anaerobic single-carbon source utilization screen data. Production sub-networks were created using weighted parsimonious flux balance analysis with different objective functions based upon single products across 44 candidate minimal media conditions with varied carbon sources. The average likelihood of reactions in each production sub-network was used as data to assess which ensembles had the greatest variation in network structure as a result of a given media condition. We were able to identify the 10 media conditions that induced the greatest variation among ensemble members, representing the conditions for which gathering metabolomics data would be most informative. This study developed a process for creating a prioritized list of media conditions for which to gather metabolomics data, in order to best increase the accuracy of a GENRE’s predictions and reduce the uncertainty in network structure.

 

Cathodic and Anodic Oxidation within Aqueous Environments
Presenter Name: James Perry
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Robert Kelly
Secondary Research Mentor: Utibe-Eno Charles-Granville
Academic Category: Engineering
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
To further reduce the spread of corrosive behavior within common metals used in aircraft and watercraft construction, understanding of cathodic and anodic reactions within crevices is needed. Additionally, the study of the effects of chromate-based paints on the electrochemical environment is conducted. This study was conducted in two halves, one considering anodic reactions of chlorine ions dissolved within water on aluminum samples. The other half concerned cathodic reactions of the aluminum ion within solution with aluminum samples. Cathodic trials were tested within a rotational environment. In both situations, measuring the current density and pitting potential allows for understanding of the advancement of corrosive behavior. The cathodic trials also take into account several variables including pH, aluminum ion concentration, and rotational speed. This study concludes corrosive behavior exhibited by both. Pitting is more clearly seen from the cathodic reactions where pitting is visualized. Further study to be conducted within chromate solutions with chromium ions on common building metals.
 

The influence of chemotaxis in virulence of E. coli bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract
Presenter Name: Nushaba Rashid
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Roseanne Ford
Secondary Research Mentor: Xueying Zhao
Academic Category: Engineering
Grant Program Recipient: Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant
The mechanism by which pathogenic Escherichia coli (E. coli) trespasses into the gastrointestinal tract remains heavily under-investigated, even though it is the second most common cause of child mortality in developing countries. Previous research has supported the role of chemotaxis in the colonization by E. coli of protected surfaces, such as the mucosal layer that surrounds internal organs. Chemotaxis is the physical response of motile bacteria to external signals and concentration gradients. However, prior studies have not represented an in vivo environment as the acidity of the protective mucus increases during stomach infections. In this study, an experimental assay was developed to observe E. coli pH taxis in hydrogel. This was done by investigating bacterial swarming in the presence of a pH gradient on a hydrogel surface. The assay was used to examine swarming patterns of three different strains of E. coli. Preliminary findings suggest that wild type E. coli exhibits pH taxis as it preferentially moves towards a neutral pH, a smooth-swimming mutant strain does not demonstrate chemotactic properties, and a tar deleted mutant strain has a stronger response to the chemorepellent than the wild type E. coli. The experimental assay developed and the findings from this study can be applied to other species of bacteria to have a clear understanding of the mechanism by which pathogens invade the human body, which is critical for implementing effective treatment methods.

 

Process Engineering of Conductive Metal-Organic Frameworks 
Presenter Name: Sean Robinson
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Gaurav  Giri
Secondary Research Mentor: Sangeun Jung
Academic Category: Engineering
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Metal-organic frameworks (MOFS) are crystalline materials that have nanoscopic pores in their structure. The porous nature of MOFs allows for smaller  guest molecules to be introduced into their structure, giving MOFs emergent properties such as electrical conductivity. This project aims to refine the chemical processes associated with synthesizing conductive MOFs and to quantify how many guest molecules are binding to MOF pores during these processes. Process optimization is done by changing synthesis parameters and comparing the resulting infiltrated MOF products. Product quality is assessed using a variety of techniques including infrared spectroscopy, electron microscopy, and conductivity analysis. When combined, these analytical techniques provide a detailed snapshot of the structural properties of our product. So far, spectroscopic techniques have been unsuccessful in quantifying the amount of guest molecules that are bonded to MOF pores in our product. Additionally, electron microscopy analysis reveals that our current process is resulting in small defects in the final product’s structure. Conductivity data supports these findings as our product is much more conductive that previous experimental results suggest it should be. Currently, it is thought that defects are forming due to use of heating to remove moisture from MOF pores. Alternative methods that do not involve heating to remove moisture are currently being tested. Improving these processes will push MOFs further towards commercial viability and open the door to new MOF-based technologies. 
 

Harnessing a more efficient interaction between a wave guide and a microresonator to create a clearer input signal for a quantum computer
Presenter Name: Charles Rushton
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Xu Yi
Secondary Research Mentor: Zijiao Yang
Academic Category: Engineering
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Quantum computing is exponentially faster and more capable than classical computing. However, quantum computing requires a non-classical, quantum state to accurately tackle problems with seemingly infinite possibilities. One way to create a quantum state is by sending light into a microresonator‚Äîa device that contains light for an extended amount of time, creating a quantum state. After a quantum state is created in a microresonator, it must travel through a pathway to be interpreted by a computer. However, as a microresonator interacts with this pathway, called a waveguide, a quantum state becomes classical‚Äîcreating noise for a computer. The coupling coefficient is a metric used to determine how much of a quantum state is lost in transition between a microresonator and a wave guide. My research is centered around determining how a wave guide should be designed around a microresonator to produce the least amount of loss. A recent study shows that a waveguide that curves around a microresonator increasing the area of interaction of light allows for a better coupling between a microresonator and a waveguide. To determine the specific dimensions, I wrote a computer simulation to run through various dimensions (of both the waveguide and the microresonator) and the amount the waveguide curves around the microresonator. If a design can be reached with an optimal coupling coefficient, the quantum computer could use the quantum state to answer some of the world’s most complicated problems.
 

Characterizing Maturation of Oligodendrocyte Precursor Cells Encapsulated in 3D Urokinase Plasminogen Activator-Degradable Elastin-like Protein Hydrogels
Presenter Name: Anahita Sharma
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Kyle Lampe
Secondary Research Mentor: Edi Meco
Academic Category: Engineering
Grant Program Recipient: Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant
Approximately 350,000 patients in the United States are affected by multiple sclerosis (MS): a chronic, autoimmune inflammatory disease of the central nervous system (CNS) that causes demyelination of axons and neural cell (NC) death. Through remodeling of the extracellular matrix (ECM) and replacement of oligodendrocytes (OLs) - the cells responsible for creating the myelin sheath - CNS function can be restored. Oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) encapsulated within biomaterial scaffolds serve a two-fold purpose in facilitating MS treatment: an in vitro diagnostic platform to recapitulate the tissue’s native ECM and elucidate cell signaling pathways, and a therapeutic platform to facilitate remyelination by promoting viability, maturation, and adhesion of encapsulated cells. Studies in rats found urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA) expression transiently increased during developmental myelination in white matter regions of the brain. Incorporating uPA degradation sites into recombinant engineered elastin-like protein (ELP) hydrogels crosslinked via a bio-orthogonal strain-promoted azide-alkyne cycloaddition (SPAAC) reaction may increase uPA expression within OPCs and promote remyelination. Studies suggest OPC maturation accompanies a decrease in proliferation and metabolic activity. However, proliferation and metabolic activity measured via DNA and ATP assays, respectively, 1, 3, and 5 days following OPC encapsulation indicated no significant change in ATP/DNA ratio regardless of uPA cleavage site presence. Therefore, uPA cleavage sites may not promote differentiation as predicted, requiring further testing using quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) and immunocytochemistry to unveil true uPA-facilitated neurorepairitive capability. These characterizations of uPA-degradable hydrogels provide design criteria for facilitating differentiation of OPCs into mature phenotypes for therapeutic use.
 

Uncertainty and optimization analysis of airplane speed profiles for NextGen air transportation systems
Presenter Name: Neil Singh
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Cody Fleming
Secondary Research Mentor: Minghui Sun
Academic Category: Engineering
Grant Program Recipient: Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant
The current air transportation system is non-optimal: often airplanes fly routes that are longer than the shortest path, and pilots are often faced with heavy workloads. The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has implemented a program, called NextGen that develops initiatives which address airspace optimization and modernization. An overarching goal of the NextGen program is to provide support for Trajectory Based Operations (TBO). TBO describes the concept that flight should transition from speed-based directions (where velocity and direction are given) to trajectory-based directions (where position and time are given) [2]. The TBO principle presents benefits, including increased autonomy for pilots.  One of programs that addresses the speed profile aspect of airplanes under NextGen’s TBO idea is named Interval Management (IM). The IM paradigm is to develop techniques to delegate spacing in between aircraft during flight. Once implemented, airspace is expected to be optimal in terms of minimizing wasted space in-air. This work focuses on intersecting IM and TBO.  [3] proposed an algorithm designed to generate trajectories for pair-wise separations of aircrafts, which can be easily used to implement the IM concept. This work focuses on a simulation-based verification of the principles expressed by [3,4], and its applications to interval management. Additionally, the algorithm will be verified through 100,000 simulation trials.

References:
[1]https://www.faa.gov/nextgen/programs/adsb/pilot/ima/
[2]https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ang/offices/tc...
[3]M. Sun et. Al,  4 Dimensional waypoint generation for conflict-free trajectory based operation, Aerospace Science and Technology (88), 2019
[4]M. Sun et. Al,   Waypoint-based Flight Deck Interval Management, AIAA SciTech Exposition and Forum, 2020

 

Analyzing 2D Material Synthesis Parameters from Scientific Literature Using Deep Learning and Natural Language Processing
Presenter Name: Rohan  Taneja
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Prasanna Balachandran
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Engineering
Grant Program Recipient: Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant
The screening of high-performance materials via deep learning methods provides a new and advanced procedure for materials characterization by allowing scientists to quickly recognize patterns in high-dimensional data. However, the accuracy and precision of these deep learning methods is highly dependent on the quality of the data gathered from previous experiments. This project focuses on utilizing methods of natural language processing (NLP) and text mining to extract and codify synthesis parameters from research papers. By providing an automated way to collect and classify targeted information from previous experiments, we will soon be able to train machine learning models using this data to develop new key insights into the synthesis of monolayers. Monolayers refer to ultrathin films of molecular compounds on metals and semiconductors, and have become an increasingly relevant topic of discussion in the materials science community due to their emerging applications involving the fabrication of microelectronic devices. Our project aims to improve our understanding of how monolayers can be used to develop revolutionary nanotechnologies by using PDF documents from prior experiments to form a database that is machine-readable. By providing a digitized model for collecting and making predictions from this data, we hope that this project will significantly expedite the time it takes to discover new materials and understand the unique behavior of their monolayers. 
 

Modulating and Orienting a Zn-based Metal Organic Framework for Selective CO2/CH4 Separation
Presenter Name: Karl Westendorff
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Gaurav Giri
Secondary Research Mentor: Luke Huelsenbeck
Academic Category: Engineering
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
This work investigates the morphological control of the anisotropic [Zn2(NDC)2(DABCO)]n Metal Organic Framework (MOF) and its ability to selectively separate CO2/CH4 gas mixtures. The MOF's crystal morphology was controlled via the use of acetic acid or pyridine modulating species. The addition of acetic acid or pyridine successfully produced rod or plate morphologies, respectively, with each morphology possessing a different major surface pore aperture. Single-component equilibrium and kinetic adsorption data for CO2 and CH4 were collected. Equilibrium analysis indicated a slight selectivity towards CO2, but kinetic data showed surprisingly lower diffusion rates for CO2 compared to CH4. MOFs with rod morphologies were also oriented on a substrate via dropcast and solution shearing methods, suggesting viability as large area, thin-film separation membranes.
 

The Effect of Fast Setting Epoxy on Concrete Compressive Strength
Presenter Name: Connor Wynkoop
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Ji Ma
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Engineering
Grant Program Recipient: Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant
Concrete additive manufacturing is a new field of construction that has emerged in the past decade. The problem with concrete additive manufacturing is that the early compressive strength of concrete is very low, so it is hard to print tall or complex structures like overhangs without supporting the concrete itself. In order to try and solve this issue, a concrete mixture with a high strength epoxy and fast setting hardener was formulated to improve early compressive strengths. Since concrete has poor early strength and the epoxy chosen has high early strength, concrete mixes with 0%, 5%, 10%, and 15% epoxy with hardener by mass were tested at 2 and 5 hours under compression to determine if early strength was improved. It was discovered that the concrete mixes created with epoxy and hardener became significantly weaker than the lower bound of the rule of mixture predicted. This was found to be due to the high, local water content prevents adequate heat generation that is needed for the cross-link reaction between epoxy and hardener.
 

Slavic Studies Through Digital Media: Using various forms of digital media and digital research to engage, ensure accuracy, provide cohesion, and make attributions
Presenter Name: Anahissa Almaraz-Camacho
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Stanley Stepanic
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Humanities
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
By using interactive forms of digital media, we hope to engage students more thoroughly in the learning process, shifting away from static textbooks and towards integrated and interactive texts that include various forms of digital media. We have completed texts for courses concerning Russian Film and Dracula, and we are in the process of completing a text focused on Slavic Folklore, all through Top Hat. These are areas of study that still have much exploring left to do and which Professor Stepanic is hoping to translate into a holistic and straightforward text. 

In addition to this work, Professor Stepanic is in the process of rewriting the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker in order to make it historically accurate, improve its aesthetics, and give its plot more fluidity. He also intends to attribute ideas in plot and folklore to the original sources, which Stoker left uncredited and at times took full credit for himself. Another goal of this project is to provide context to the work by providing or clarifying background information and references for specific details in the work which exist in real-life. 

We work to shed light on areas of study and works that people believed had already been thoroughly studied but which still have much room for exploration. We look for relevant material using expansive searches to find sources or citations that weren’t easily accessible before or which have been only recently translated through access to digital media.

 

Forgiveness Amongst Opposing groups in Rwanda Post the Rwandan Genocide
Presenter Name: Abeba Amenshowa
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Larycia  Hawkins
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Humanities
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
My work this year has rotated around research pertaining to religion within Rwanda, the history of colonialism and imperialism within the country, as well as after effects, and events leading up to the Rwandan Genocide. The question we’re trying to answer is, how forgiveness plays a part amongst differing and opposing groups within Rwanda, post the Rwandan Genocide? The first semester was focused on researching the history of Rwanda post colonialism, and attempting to understand the complex relationship between the country’s two ethnic groups, Hutus and Tutsis. Next was trying to understand the hand that religion and the complexity of Christianity and Islam within the country. In understanding the path, this research is supposed to help shape programs that can allow open conversation between victims and perpetrators going forward.  
 

Indigenous Literatures of the Americas: A CTS Implementation of the Popol Wuj, the Maya
 K’iche’ Book of Creation
Presenter Name: Aldo Barriente
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Allison Bigelow
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Humanities
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Despite a rich history of aesthetic and narrative production, very few pre-Hispanic indigenous texts are known today, primarily because of their destruction by the Catholic Church and Inquisition during the colonial era. One of the few remaining texts is the Popol Wuj, a text from the K’iche’people of the Guatemalan highlands. The Multepal project at UVa presents a digital critical edition of the bilingual K’iche’-Spanish manuscript of the Dominican Fray Francisco Xim√©nez, the only version of the Popol Wuj to survive the Spanish conquest, now housed at the Newberry Library in Chicago. This edition is in the process of being converted to a CTS implementation, otherwise known as Canonical Text Services, a standard for formalizing citations of text, their respective hierarchies, and images. CTS is the forefront of the Open Greek and Latin and Open Persian projects. Once we complete our CTS edition of the Popol Wuj, Open Maya‚ will join OGL and OP in providing resources for scholars working in different regions of the ancient world. This implementation, however, raises interesting questions about the nature of a text and how we as researchers interact and divide its sections, variously marked explicitly and implicitly. In this talk, I will explain my work in implementing the CTS standard for Multepal, and the difficulties my team has faced in making decisions about the nature of how we treat the manuscript of the Popol Wuj and its various editions.
 

An Exploration of Demographics and Early Online Communities in the United States 
Presenter Name: Joshua  Beckman
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Kevin Driscoll
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Humanities
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Using Census records, I will combine a BBS database (organized by telephone area code) with US Census data from 1980, 1990, and 2000 in order to identify correlations between particular industries and online communities. 

 

Gossip Circles, Self-Fulfilling Prophecies, and Looping Effects
Presenter Name: Jordan Bridges
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Elizabeth Barnes
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Humanities
Grant Program Recipient: Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant
Imagine that someone‚ let's call her Zima‚ about to take a test, forms the unjustified belief that she is not prepared to do well. She psyches herself out and, lo and behold, fails the test. From her perspective, she has more reason to strengthen her credence in the irrational presentiment. Being unprepared often entails not doing well on tests, and she has perceptual evidence that she didn’t do well on the test, so her initial hypothesis is confirmed. This case presents a dilemma: We may either accept that Zima is justified in increasing her credence in the original belief or maintain that she does not receive additional justification. The first option is tempting; after all, should we recommend that Zima not believe her own eyes? Nevertheless, I will endorse the second option. Unbeknownst to Zima, the etiology of the evidence for her belief downgrades its justification. By having the original belief that she wasn't prepared, my test-taker created the evidence for the very same belief, but irrational beliefs should not be able to pull themselves up by the bootstraps in this way. Perception should allow us to check our beliefs against the world, not perpetuate irrational, self-fulfilling prophecies. In this paper, I argue that beliefs that actively create the reality they purport to merely represent are epistemically downgraded. I first defend this thesis for cases involving an individual (such as Zima), then turn to social-level cases. I argue that knowledge of socially-constructed kinds can be epistemically contaminated for the same reasons.
 

The Washington Papers: Closing the Gap between Us and the Past
Presenter Name: Sarah Combs
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: William Ferraro
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Humanities
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
     The past is often regarded as distant and elusive. By analyzing firsthand accounts and primary documents, history can be brought closer to us. The Washington Papers assists this endeavor by collecting, editing and publishing all of George Washington’s documentary record from his colonial days to the week of his death. Many of the letters published in these carefully prepared volumes and modern electronic formats reside in the National Archives or Library of Congress. The project’s mission is to make largely-inaccessible documents available to everyone to further an understanding of Washington, his numerous correspondents, and the time period that profoundly shaped subsequent American history.
     My principal work at the Washington Papers has involved compiling a thorough main entry index for Volume 28 of the Revolutionary War Series, which focuses on Washington’s role as Commanding general of the Continental Army in late summer and early fall 1780. The index guides scholars and students as they look for information on the people, places or topics related to their research. To be truly helpful, an index must be accurate, consistent, and complete. Such entries open up the full panorama of American history, which is the goal of projects like the Washington Papers. Allowing researchers to explore mysteries through Washington’s documentary record makes possible elucidations of the past that suggest answers to pressing questions of the present and future
 

Comprehensive Summary of Marketing Techniques and Consumer Psychology Concepts
Presenter Name: Justin Costello
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Luca Cian
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Humanities
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
The field of marketing communications and consumer psychology is as broad as it is complicated. This project aims to summarize the important concepts in a comprehensive set of Module Notes, making the concepts more accessible and understandable. Module notes are a set of summaries that aim to convey complicated concepts in a clear and simplified manner. The information used in this review stem from an array of academic journals and interviews with the Assistant Professor of Marketing at the Darden School of Business , Luca Cian. The culmination of this research will be a set of Module Notes that will be accessible to both the general public and students of academia. When complete this module will be used to provide individuals with a resource to limit confusion as well as a resource to allow them to better understand the field as a whole. 
 

Washington at the Museum: Facilitating Accessibility and Discovery through the Process of Editing George Washington’s Presidential Household Accounts
Presenter Name: Carly Dotson
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Jennifer Stertzer
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Humanities
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
The purpose of the George Washington Financial Papers Project is to make all of George Washington’s financial documents accessible in a digital edition.  These documents are being compiled into this digital edition through the process of documentary editing.  The methodology of this process primarily includes transcription, annotation, and indexing.  Throughout this academic year, I have focused on the transcription aspect of historical editing.  Specifically, along with Adrina Garbooshian-Huggins from the Washington Papers, I have transcribed George Washington’s Presidential Household Financial Accounts.  These accounts detail the financial transactions made during Washington’s second term as president in Philadelphia (1793-1797).
Through the process of transcribing this document, I noticed that George Washington visited a natural history museum, the first museum of its kind in the United States.  Through the use of secondary sources, I learned that this museum was founded by the painter Charles Willson Peale, and it contained specimens from the Lewis and Clark expedition, a portrait collection, and other artifacts. The museum was also a popular attraction to Philadelphians, and to George Washington and his household.
This finding demonstrates how the process of digital editing can reveal additional content and discovery within historical documents.  Information of this kind might be difficult to uncover otherwise, due to the complexity of these texts. This content can also be used in the annotation stage of documentary editing, such that in the digital edition, information will be intellectually accessible to its users.

 

Exhibition Curation on the Skyscraper Gothic
Presenter Name: Madison Dudrear
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Lisa Reilly
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Humanities
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Abstract: Skyscraper Gothic describes the Gothic style buildings of an architectural movement of the early 20th century. As skyscrapers became more common and served as emblems to advertise businesses like the Woolworth Company and Chicago Tribune, distinctive building forms became common. Architects looked to European Gothic cathedrals for the new building type. The Gothic forms emphasized the height of the new buildings while clothing a revolutionary building form in a familiar vocabulary.This past semester, I have researched objects relating to an upcoming exhibition at the Fralin Museum of Art on Skyscraper Gothic to create and research  a preliminary object list. Our goal has been to create a checklist of objects that we can eventually use to narrow down the number of objects for the exhibition. During my work, I have cataloged hundreds of objects from ten different museums using Excel. I have also worked on creating a bibliography for the exhibition by researching over sixty buildings that we have identified as a part of the Gothic skyscraper tradition using databases such as the Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals and Art Full Text. I have learned about how to search these databases efficiently based on the kind of information I’m looking for and the type of object I am researching. Once all of these tasks have been completed, we will be able to move on to further stages of the exhibition, such as writing wall labels. The exhibition will be on view during January of 2021. 
 

Du Bois, Johnson, and Brown: Investigating the Poet Anne Spencer through her Political and Social Connections
Presenter Name: Gideon French
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Allson Booth
Secondary Research Mentor: Sherri Brown
Academic Category: Humanities
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
    This project will explore the poet Anne Spencer’s political and social connections to people and broader movements. Anne Spencer was active in the civil rights movement, especially the local NAACP, and she made important friends and allies who often stayed at her house when passing through the town. This project will specifically focus on her connections and relationships with important figures in the civil rights movement such as James Weldon Johnson, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Sterling A. Brown. 
    The project uses a timeline and ArcGis StoryMaps, an online tool, to represent the research both spatially and temporally. The primary sources of information are various biographies of Anne Spencer and others, her poems, and UVa’s own special collections library on Anne Spencer, which features letters, diaries, and photos.
    Anne Spencer didn’t often leave Lynchburg, but she had connections to larger national organizations and movements through her friends and colleagues.Though she was several states away from the Harlem Renaissance's center, and far from the most active areas in civil rights, she maintained a link to broader happenings across America.
Anne Spencer was the first black poet to be featured in Norton Anthology of American Poetry, and was recently featured on a 2020 stamp honoring the figures of the Harlem Renaissance. Still, there is not as much research on her as there is on other members of the movement. This project will help call attention to a relatively underappreciated poet in the Harlem Renaissance and highlight her political involvements.

 

The Psychology and Rhetoric of Women Artists 
Presenter Name: Anastasia  Gerdes
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Connie Smith
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Humanities
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Globally, countries that have historically denied their citizen’s political, social, and economic freedoms are now engaging with issues and themes of liberation. Our research focuses on South Africa, a country that has recently experienced a political shift that has transformed the lives of its citizens. Our research examines the rhetoric and psychology of women artists, especially as it relates to concepts of liberation.     Through a combination of one-on-one interviews and focus groups with women artists, this research allows us to acknowledge and address the challenges of 21st-century women in the arts. To determine the effects of liberation on the internal self, we explored the implicit bias of participants via an assessment of microaggressions. In addition, we utilized a combination of one-on-one interviews and focus groups to examine and explore the rhetoric and psychology of the women participating in the study.     Far too often, the examination and valuation of art are conducted upon the artist’s death. However, this research captures the actual language and attitudes of the artists regarding their lived experiences in the present. 
 

The Psychology and Rhetoric of Women Artists
Presenter Name: Anastasia  Gerdes
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Connie Smith
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Humanities
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Globally, countries that have historically denied their citizen’s political, social, and economic freedoms are now engaging with issues and themes of liberation. Our research focuses on South Africa, a country that has recently experienced a political shift and transforming the lives of its citizens. Our research examines the rhetoric and psychology of women artists, especially as it relates to concepts of liberation.     Through a combination of one on one interviews and focus groups with women artists, this research allows us to acknowledge and address the challenges of 21st-century women in the arts. To determine the effects of liberation on the internal self, we explored the implicit bias of participants via an assessment of microaggressions. In addition, we utilize a combination of one-on-one interviews and focus groups to examine and explore the rhetoric and psychology of the women participating in the study.     Far too often, the examination and valuation of art are conducted upon the artist’s death. However, this research captures the actual language and attitudes of the artists regarding their lived experiences in the present. 

 

The Viability of Municipalism and Solidarity for Communities
Presenter Name: Garvey Goulbourne
Co Presenter Name(s):  Rajaah Alagib    
Primary Research Mentor: David Edmunds
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Humanities
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
The Global Municipalities Movement is a worldwide network of communities who have created highly participatory democracies, and turned to collaboration between local enterprises to regain true control of their own politics. These communities, called confluences, emphasize social and environmental issues while enabling citizens to be active participants in community decisions and assemblies. They’ve also used solidarity economy; a system that urges local cooperation instead of competition. Municipalist confluences have different practices, which are specific to their socio-economic conditions, political disparities and historical context. In our case studies of Durham and Jackson, we will examine how these circumstances have resulted in the creation of confluences and the use of solidarity principles, to see how they can produce positive social change, reorganize local politics, and promote collaboration to fight the economic disadvantages that come with capitalism, both in their communities and here in Charlottesville. Our procedures will include interviews, focus groups, field observation, and collection of demographic information. With the results of this study, we will be able to start determining the viability of localizing politics and decentralizing government as a way to change social and political dynamics. As a result of our research, we hope to establish a class under the Global Studies department that teaches the fundamentals of the municipal movement. Ultimately, the research will introduce the movement to the Charlottesville community with appropriate applications.
 

Locating the Cultural Materials of Manmade Species Extinction in UVA's Special Collections
Presenter Name: Abigail Harrell
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Adrienne Ghaly
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Humanities
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
The purpose of the study is to find cultural materials related to manmade/anthropogenic species extinction in the university’s archives not often categorized or recognized as part of the history of extinction. The first phase of the research project was to find these materials in the Harrison-Small Special Collections Library. This was done through searching the University of Virginia’s Library catalog, Virgo, along with using the IUCN Red List as a reference for extinct and endangered animals, birds, plants and aquatic life. The second part of the research project was to organize these materials into categories and creating Special Collections exhibition on this topic for the university community and the wider public. In the third phase, materials that were not presented in the exhibition are being investigated, and the research team is moving towards finding new materials in other archives that can support the narrative of extinction that was found in the University of Virginia’s Special Collections Library. The significance of the research is to discover archival materials that record processes of extinction such as consumption and the commodification of animals that are often difficult to see. 

 

Remembering the Past in the Modern Era:
How Communities Deal with Contested Spaces
Presenter Name: Mae Hovland
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Frank Dukes
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Humanities
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Although the events of August 11th and 12th in Charlottesville forced the world to pay attention to how we use public spaces to preserve history (and what history is preserved), similar contested spaces exist around the world. The Transforming Community Spaces project at the Institute for Environmental Negotiation hopes to create resources for communities with such spaces by studying past community reactions. I focused on one case study of a middle school in Minnesota that wrestled with the implications of being named after Alexander Ramsey, a proponent of forcing Native Americans from their homelands in Minnesota. By engaging the student body as well as the outside community in the decision making process, this school came to the decision to change their name. This case was unique in that the school used the discussion as an educational tool to teach students about the untold history of Minnesota and the importance of inclusivity. This is just one of many case studies that will be soon published online to give other communities struggling with conflicted spaces some guidelines on how to approach the issue.
 

The Effect of Business to Consumer Marketing via Online Reviews on Customer Activity
Presenter Name: Rose Huang
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Jeffrey Boichuk
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Humanities
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
The research team has been gathering data on customers of The Juice Laundry, an environmentally conscious juice bar with locations in Charlottesville, D.C., and Richmond. My specific role involves responding to customer reviews through Google MyBusiness. My goal has been to vary responses with the syntax, keywords (ie. consistent, support, constant, grateful), emojis, and personal elements (ie. I hope you enjoyed your Super Smoothie Bowl!). These responses have been logged in a spreadsheet where we also keep track of customer identification, their rating out of five stars, any comments, and which location they ordered from. Later on, we will evaluate customer activity and the type of response they received to determine whether or not there are correlations. The results can be used by other businesses to improve customer activity through business to consumer marketing strategies.
 

Using Contemplative Science for Human Flourishing 
Presenter Name: Ruma Jadhav
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Michael  Sheehy 
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Humanities
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
There have been various studies conducted regarding the effectiveness of contemplative
practices and exercises. However, there is less research on how these
practices can be implemented in public settings. Through the integration of contemplative
practices in the workplace or school, researchers can observe the need for contemplation and
start to develop resources and methods for what kinds of practices may be most useful. The main goals of the Contemplative Science Center’s research project are to investigate what kinds of practices and/or exercise best support pedagogies for student flourishing in the classroom and provide resources to develop those practices. The project is also concerned with how we document contemplative practices via audio and text to build resources for others to use. The project will investigate these questions through building multimedia bibliographies around different areas of contemplative research, creating curated guides to help people navigate those resources, and publishing the guides and repository of media on a website, Mandala. The focus of my project specifically is building multimedia bibliographies. We predict that through this research, we can highlight the interdisciplinary nature of contemplative practices and make these practices more integrated within academic disciplines. We predict that this repository of resources will have a positive effect on the way students and teachers foster an ideal learning environment beyond the scope of the University of Virginia. 

 

Evaluation of the Modified Early Obstetric Warning System (MEOWS) as an early detection tool for critically ill obstetric patients in Rwanda 
Presenter Name: Sonja Kapadia
Co Presenter Name(s):  Rees Huggins Brooke Adams  
Primary Research Mentor: Dr. Marcel Durieux
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Humanities
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
Rwanda’s maternal mortality rate (MMR) was the 44th highest in the world with an estimated 248 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2017. The most common causes of maternal mortality in Rwanda are postpartum hemorrhage (PPH), eclampsia, sepsis (infection), obstructed labor, and malaria. In order to achieve goal 3 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which aims to decrease the MMR to less than 70 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births by 2030, healthcare providers in Rwanda must direct their attention to screening for risk factors of maternal death and managing delivery-related complications. A sample of 800 medical records were analyzed with 364 MEOWS and 436 No MEOWS cases. The aim was to determine if the protocol decreased delay in care pre-delivery thus reducing maternal morbidity and mortality. No significant relationship was found between the implementation of the MEOWS tool and a decreased delay in detection and management of critically ill obstetric patients in Rwandan district hospitals amongst all treatments analyzed. Although the results of this study remain inconclusive, this study emphasizes the need for a standardized triage and a screening protocol for obstetric patients within district hospitals. Further studies should be conducted with a focus on groups that receive medications pre-partum to most effectively analyze the tool.
 

Not In My Backyard: An Unstoppable Manifestation of Grass-Roots Politics
Presenter Name: Rebekah Madigan
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Brian Balogh
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Humanities
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
The Not In My Backyard (NIMBY) phenomenon is a form of grass-roots activism currently pervasive in the United States. From New Yorkers fighting the building of the second Amazon headquarters to a citywide cry for more homeless shelters in San Francisco, locals’ desires to establish and maintain a level of quality in their own neighborhood bridges the gap between local and national governments. In my research, I explored the process of a grassroots political campaign in Green Springs, VA, beginning in the 1970s. In a historic movement, Ms. Rae Ely led the battle against the building of a state penitentiary in her pristine and historically-acclaimed neighborhood. To create a timeline of events that led to her and other impassioned Green Springs residents’ success in blocking the prison, I accessed the online archives of The Richmond Times Dispatch and Preservation News. I analyzed relevant articles and ultimately reached a greater understanding of the impediments against grass-roots politics and preservation movements alike. With the ever-growing value of a multitude of neighborhoods in the nation today, it is critical to understand the process of successful grass-roots NIMBY movements like these. 
 

Shoemaker Will: The Life of George Washington’s Enslaved Valet, William Lee, as depicted by the Mount Vernon Ledger 1794-1796 
Presenter Name: Madeline Pannell
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Jennifer Stertzer
Secondary Research Mentor: Erica Cavanaugh
Academic Category: Humanities
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
William  Billy Lee was an enslaved man owned by George Washington who served as his personal valet until he suffered injuries that prevented further service. He was delegated the role of shoemaker, and in current archives derived from George Washington’s correspondence and official documents, his story essentially ends. In the unpublished Mount Vernon financial ledger from 1794-1796,  Shoemaker Will reappears: by analyzing his representation in financial data, I constructed a narrative of William Lee’s life post-injury to fill archival absences using financial documents and existing histories on Lee from the the Papers of George Washington and George Washington's Mount Vernon. I collected in Google Sheets metadata referencing Lee, shoemaking, and Washington’s enslaved community to analyze the amount of shoes made, volume of materials, who received shoes, and the broader financial value of his labor to determine Lee’s quality of life and work.  Shoemaker Will appears more frequently in financial records than other enslaved laborers, indicating the direct value of his work and status (both among enslaved laborers and the broader Mount Vernon community). I highlighted the significance of Lee and his largely unknown cobbler craftsmanship at Mount Vernon through metadata analysis, both in the prominence of Lee and of shoemaking. Creating a more complete narrative of Lee’s life presents a truer vision of the lives of the general enslaved community at Mount Vernon. This connects us across time with real people who lived in slavery, facilitating understanding of experiences of injustice that cannot otherwise be captured by generalizing or moralizing.
 

Underneath the Marble: George Washington and the Men in the Fine Print
Presenter Name: Samanta Pomier Jofre
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: William Ferraro
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Humanities
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
George Washington is by no means an enigmatic figure; he is in our wallets, maps, monuments, and school names. But the luster in his name tends to obscure the people whose actions contributed to the myth of America's first president. My research included sources in European archives, historical newspapers from the colonial era, letters of French soldiers, journals by Hessian (German) auxiliaries, and the work of 19th-century editors. Biographical information from national databases and the website Ancestry.com also helped contextualize individuals and events. What I found revealed Washington to be more flesh than marble: a man defined by the world he occupied as well as the future that followed him. Historians after his death shaped his reputation just as much as his contemporaries. Together, they show Washington's image to be more in a state of flux rather than stone. The implications are far-reaching and humbling for the United States. The involvement of foreign actors in the War for Independence discredits the notion of American exceptionalism and establishes the founding of the United States as an international effort.
 

Islamic Rhetoric as a Response to Modernity
Presenter Name: Julie Noreene Quibuyen
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Stephen Parks
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Humanities
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
The colonial power structure that the Western European nations imposed when creating the nation-state of Syria has resulted in a cultural resurgence of Islamic rhetoric as a political and cultural response to modernity (Western values of secularization). As such, religious belief has been instrumentalized as a means to articulate an alternative worldview resting within a Sunni/Shia context and struggle over the  future. This new perspective envisioned a political order that transcends post-colonialism.  As such, this study argues that the use of Islamic religious rhetoric in response to modernity has produced a process within the Muslim world that not only ostracizes other non-mainstream Islamic communities/minorities, but it also predisposes such groups to falsify their identities to harrowingly integrate into the majority to avoid oppression. This dynamic forces the non-mainstream religious follower to shift religious beliefs so as not to offend Shia and/or Sunni religious (and thus political) dominance. In this research, the integration of the Nusayris/Alawite minority group into the colonial structure of Syria in the context of consolidated public religious Sunni identity is analyzed to further understand the process of political identity formation of non-mainstream religious identities. The concept of decoloniality is then utitlized to demonstrate what an actual  alternative worldview might produce in the political/religious culture. 

 

The Power of Imagery in Julian of Norwich's Revelations of Divine Love
Presenter Name: Josy Raheem
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Elizabeth Fowler
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Humanities
Grant Program Recipient: Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant
In the late fourteenth century, Julian of Norwich experienced twenty one visions while in the throes of life-threatening illness. Upon recovering, she dedicated her life to God and spent the remainder of her life in a small cell attached to a church. During this time, she produced the first work in English known to be written by a woman: Revelations of Divine Love. This text painstakingly details each of her visions and interprets them with sophisticated theological commentary. Scholars of medieval mysticism have worked to untangle her intellectual thought, leaving her visions largely behind. While Julian is famous for her comforting mantra that  all shall be well, her visions focus with unflinching attention on the Christ's suffering. Scenes from his passion are painted for the readers to envision for themselves ‚Äî the blood leaks from his crown of thorns, his flesh is scourged open, his carcass decays upon the cross. My research works to understand the power of Julian's horror. I show how Julian's imagery invites the reader to undergo intense meditations that provoke disgust in the same moments where they encourage compassion. My research proposes a reading of Julian's text that prioritizes her imagery and understands it in the context of medieval art and architecture, particularly the Decorated Gothic cathedrals flourishing in England. I seek to demonstrate the interconnected nature of medieval art forms, to bring the affective elements of her work to the attention of Julian scholars, and to champion the power of imagery for historians of emotion.
 

A Closer Look at Anne Spencer 
Presenter Name: Taina Santana
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Alison Booth
Secondary Research Mentor: Sherri Lynne Brown
Academic Category: Humanities
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Anne Spencer was a female African American poet who primarily published work during the Harlem Renaissance. In addition to her love for writing poetry Spencer was also an active advocate for civil rights for the African American community. Despite all this activism and poetry, Spencer is still not a very well-known figure. She is best known through her close partnership with James Weldon Johnson and WEB Du Bois, rather than for her work.  This is why our research is focused not only on Spencer’s poetry but also on her role as a political activist, specifically, her membership with the NAACP and how she distinguished herself from other political activists through some of her more unique opinions. We have pursued this goal through analysis not only of her poetry but also her various letters, journals etc. While we are in the beginning stages of research we hope to shine a light on Anne Spencer’s life and accomplishments which could open doors for new avenues of thought in various fields from literature to the dynamics of race relations. 
 

 

Infecting the Public Domain with Imagevirus: Archival Research and Interviewing of General Idea and their project to aestheticize the virus during the AIDS epidemic
Presenter Name: Jackie Siegel
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Christa Robbins
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Humanities
Grant Program Recipient: Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant
My project examines the career and artistic practice of the Canadian artist-collective General Idea, beginning with its conception in 1969 and culminating with their largest and final project, Imagevirus. Before they created Imagevirus, General Idea had for years investigated mechanisms of distribution and viral infection. They maintained an interest in the communications systems of mainstream culture and transformed this interest into a medium of art. Their conceptual exploration of the viral spread of information readied them to create an activist project during the AIDS epidemic, a time when misinformation about the disease eclipsed its physical realities. Moreover, I show how images spread like viruses, and thus provide a powerful means of combatting a viral epidemic.
To this end, I travelled to Berlin, Germany to conduct archival research at Esther Schipper Gallery, which represents the Estate of General Idea. Further, I met and interviewed the group’s sole surviving artist, AA Bronson. I obtained primary evidence about their twenty-five-year-long practice and received invaluable insight of the origins, path, and consequences of Imagevirus directly from its procreator. I discovered firsthand General Idea’s intentions with Imagevirus, their efforts to spread AIDS consciousness like a virus, making art about an epidemic by imitating the viral nature of the epidemic itself.
 

The Freedmen’s Savings Bank: A Financial Institution Failure and the Integration of Former Slaves into a Racialized U.S. Economy
Presenter Name: Alisia Simmons
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Alisia Simmons
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Humanities
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
The Freedmen’s Savings and Trust Company (1865-1874) was a financial institution intended to soften the transition into American economy for former slaves and African American civil war veterans. Not soon after establishment and expansion, the bank met a tumultuous end due to fraud and mismanagement. The purpose of our research is to investigate the collapse of the Freedmen’s Savings Bank. More specifically, we investigate how the collapse of the Freedmen’s Savings Bank may have contributed to the long history of financial deficits for African Americans. We found that the collapse of the Freedmen’s Savings Bank had a large negative impact on the African American community; however, the integration of the bank wasn’t a financial savior for many former slaves either. This was discovered thorough analysis of Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers Project, a collection of slave narratives whose interviews were conducted from 1936-1938, and several other sources from different perspectives. We conclude that the collapse of the Freedmen’s Savings Bank was due to poor mismanagement and fraud. The collapse of the bank amplified disadvantaged positions for African Americans and heightened their distrust in U.S. financial institutions. African American Slaves may have been emancipated; however, they remained slaves in a racialized, capitalist economy, which can provide explanation for a long history of financial deficits amongst African Americans.
 

Cult and Industry: An Analysis of Religious Shrines in the Commercial Spaces of Pompeii
Presenter Name: Abigail Staub
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: John Dobbins
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Humanities
Grant Program Recipient: Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant

Scholars of Pompeii have historically ignored the spaces of non-elite laborers in favor of the elite Roman domus. While domestic shrines to the Lares in the elite domus are widely known, the function or ritual of worship in commercial industries is rarely discussed, outside of the fact that shrines existed in these spaces. As archaeological material continues to decay, it becomes even more crucial to shed light on these understudied narratives. How did worship in commercial spaces differ from domestic worship of the Lares? Can one simply name these shrines  lararia when many do not depict the Lares at all, but rather a wide variety of other deities? What conclusions can be drawn from particular industries’ intentional choices? Through a survey of published commercial shrines in Pompeii, further consideration will be given to these shrines and their iconographies, scales, materials, and locations within these properties. With preliminary conclusions offered in this paper, fascinating iconographic patterns have already begun to emerge. For example, despite Vesta and the Lares’ shared associations with the hearth, the only depictions of Vesta in Pompeiian commercial shrines are found in bakeries, where she is almost always accompanied by an ass. Such iconography is supported by the ancient authors-- bread, the goddess, and the ass share a tight relationship, referenced in Ovid’s Fasti:  quem tu, diva, memor de pane monilibus ornas (6.347). Investigating the non-elite commercial shrine as a class of evidence is vital for a holistic understanding of Pompeian industry and cult.

 

The Making of an Artist: Identity in Greek Vase Painting
Presenter Name: Caroline  Stratos
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Tyler Jo Smith
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Humanities
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
The general purpose of my research is to discover the artistic identity of ancient Greek vase painters, and to discern whether the word  artist in this context has a clear-cut definition or not. To accomplish this, I scanned and compiled information from Greek vase painting books, especially those from Greek vase painting scholars Sir John Beazley and Sir John Boardman, as well as the Beazley Archive Pottery Database, and other published works by specialists in the field. This is an interdisciplinary approach to research that involves the fields of archaeology, classical studies, art history, and computer science. I have written over fifty artist biographies that each include a detailed summary of the artist’s career, including the origins of their name, the time of their career, the subjects they painted, their style, their technique, where their vases have been discovered, and much more. There is constantly new evidence to take into consideration when trying to understand who these artists were and therefore the definition of a Greek vase artist is fluid. Once completed, these biographies are to be included on a linked open data site called Kerameikos.org. Kerameikos.org’s mission is to keep these Greek vase painting records relevant and useful for those seeking information about them. This will allow for the legacy of Greek vases and their artists to live on with their own digital footprint in our increasingly digital world. 
 

Muslim Identity at the University of Virginia
Presenter Name: Fawzia  Tahsin 
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Stephen  Parks
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Humanities
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
The University of Virginia (UVA) positions itself as an inclusive, tolerant, and diverse campus, as evidenced by its numerous programs and offices dedicated to such efforts. The purpose of this study is to compare the rhetoric of tolerance and diversity to actual student experience for UVA students who identify as Muslim. For Muslim students, we found there are three primary resources, a Muslim Student Association (MSA), a University Chaplain, and undergraduate courses. We then interviewed various Muslims from different classes, majors, schools, and ethnicities to describe their experience of the university’s academics and culture concerning their Muslim identity and resources/venues supportive of that identity. Interviews were transcribed and coded for common themes. Results show that Muslim students believed there is a lack of awareness among the general UVA student population which allows certain stereotypes to pervade among academic and social settings. Notably, participants’ backgrounds influence perceptions of the existence of a  diverse student body. When discussing existing resources to counter such general student perceptions, interviewed Muslim students also framed issues of representation within faculty/course offered as well as divisiveness among the MSA. While Muslim student identity at UVA is nuanced in various ways, our initial findings show such students find the university is far from perfect in its effort to promote inclusiveness among student culture in academic and social settings. Research has shown that giving Muslim students a platform to voice their experiences opens up avenues for students and faculty to empathize and change the way they promote diversity and equity within the university. 

 

Revealing Truth after Conflict: How Communities have Addressed Historical Legacies in the Modern Era
Presenter Name: Tiffany Thai
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Frank Dukes
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Humanities
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
As histories of colonialism, slavery, and violence continue to shape the world today, global and
domestic communities have struggled on how to address these historical conflicts and their enduring legacies. In¬†my work,¬†I focus on one method of historical truth-telling‚Äîtruth and reconciliation commissions which are tasked with discovering and addressing past wrongdoings and providing recommendations for the future. Specifically, I conduct a case study of the Maine Wabanaki-State Truth Commission which addresses the issue of colonialism and forced assimilation on current child-welfare policies in Maine. Children of the Wabanaki tribe have been disproportionately removed from their homes by state social-workers and so the community decided to create a commission in order to analyze the historical factors shaping child-welfare policies as well as provide opportunities for healing within the community. Research of this specific truth and reconciliation commission is unique in that it provides a model for potential future truth and reconciliation commissions such as the current efforts to create one for central Virginia. 
 

Multiplication of Gold: Discovering the Philosopher’s Stone Through the Ripley Scroll

Presenter Name: Tongtong Zhang
Co Presenter Name(s):  Kexuan  Liu    
Primary Research Mentor: Benjamin Bennett
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Humanities
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
This paper attempts to study imagery and verses in the Ripley Scroll and presents a comprehensive comparison and contrast of its ten different versions. Our sample focus points are the sun, the half-woman half-lizard, water/pond, the chemical wedding, blood and feather, lion and dragon, and the choice of numbers and colors. Analysis of such imagery and texts will unveil at least part of the purpose and significance of alchemy embodied in them. Through this compare and contrast process, we expect to elicit the authors’ opinion of alchemy and try to decipher the non-scientific aspects of alchemy.
 

Simulating Sustainable Policy Choices and Results in Urban Water Management 
Presenter Name: Jane Ann Langford
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Noah Myung
Secondary Research Mentor: Adam Roux
Academic Category: Other
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
In my research, I examine urban water management and systems as they currently exist, as well as their future potentials. This project will be incorporated into the Center for Leadership Simulation and Gaming’s most recent simulation, the Sustainable City, which is a game that allows players to experiment with the effects of local policy in areas like transportation, energy, and waste management on a city’s health and prosperity. I surveyed the field of sustainable urban water management by reading a range of research papers covering subjects from public engagement in water projects to cost benefit analyses of stormwater control measures. I synthesized this research to create a module where players can control how proactive their city governments will be in pursuing sustainable water management practices. 

My research indicates that management options that introduce sustainable, eco-friendly, and decentralized strategies to address urban water issues produce the best results. These options work within an existing framework of gray infrastructure such as pipes and sewers to increase efficiency and lower costs for cities while also being less detrimental to the natural environment. The water management module is a closed system of factors affecting each other, with some contributing to feedback loops, just as in real urban water management. The Sustainable City is a valuable exercise in leadership and effective decision-making both for policy makers with expertise in city management and, in general, people interested in understanding the best policies to move their own cities into sustainable futures. 

 

Analysis of Hiring Patterns between Statistics Departments
Presenter Name: Elena Lensink
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Tianxi Li
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Other
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
While obtaining a graduate degree from any institution is necessary when pursuing a career in academia, not all degrees are created equal, as the school where one obtains their PhD has a large effect on where that person may be hired in the future. We analyzed the hiring networks between different statistics departments to determine the hierarchical relationship between where faculty received their PhD and where they were hired.  We first collected data by manually recording names, presumed gender, and position of faculty at their Universities.  We then created multiple web crawlers to scrape web pages where faculty appeared documenting their PhD accrediting university and the date of graduation from the PhD program, as well as the date and department of where they first hired. Using this information, we will run network analysis based on previous studies on other academic departments, to explore social inequity between hiring  measures such as network centrality and hierarchy. We will also extract patterns about PhD exchange over time, which could determine if the influence of prestige in academia has been increasing or decreasing. The trend of hiring women may also be discovered, as well as if the institution of education has influence over whether women are hired. 
 

Streets For People
Presenter Name: Laura Nagle
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Andrew Mondschein
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Other
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
This project explores ways that communities can reclaim control over their streets as Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAVs) and associated technologies become part of the urban fabric. Historic loss of flexible public space associated with the introduction of cars in the early 20th century and emerging concerns about management of CAVs today indicate that local governments and communities must reassert control over the planning and operation of streets. We define how technology can serve as a transportation management tool that could shift who decides how streets are managed. Critical to this approach is a direct relationship between policy and technology, with planners and regulators using technology to accomplish long-standing social objectives. We investigate how cities and communities have begun to reimagine the use and management of streets through smart mobility technologies and context-sensitive street design methods. Building on current transportation planning visions and implementations in several cities, such as Los Angeles, Seattle, and Barcelona, we believe new systems of participation, street appropriation, and self-management can be established, affording communities greater access to and control over public rights of way. We propose strategies for elected officials and local transportation authorities to co-create public rights of way with neighborhood activists that are flexible and responsive to the diverse needs of communities. 

 

An Examination of the Structures and Memberships of State Boards of Education in the United States

Presenter Name: Kevin Rodriguez
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Bryan VanGronigen
Secondary Research Mentor: David H. Eddy Spicer
Academic Category: Other
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Despite their potential influence in educational policy, State Boards of Education (SBOEs) have received little attention from researchers. SBOEs are composed of groups of  qualified individuals who function as governing bodies making decisions about educational policy within their states. All but two states in the United States have a SBOE. This study, which is part of a larger examination of SBOEs, aimed to better understand the structures, functions, and members of SBOEs along with their policy making authority and processes. We investigated the different structures of each SBOE and its members. Because SBOEs are so understudied, findings from this study also update and extend the extant literature on SBOEs. Specifically, we explored the differences in SBOE structures (N = 48) along with creating profiles for every SBOE member in order to examine members individually and collectively (N = 592) member individually. We used qualitative research techniques to review and analyze publicly-available documents from state government and SBOE websites. This approach included studying state constitutions, state statutes and rules, state newspapers, and SBOE meeting minutes and agendas. Our findings suggest considerable variety in structures and membership across the 48 SBOEs. Key differences included variety in requirements, sources of legal authority, existence of student members, and meeting schedules. This exploratory study created a centralized data resource in order to lay a foundation for future research efforts on SBOEs. Future research on State Boards will create implications that reach far outside of the realm of academia, and will affect educational policy formulation in years to come. 
 

Effects of Using Electronic Devices for the Completion of Patient-Reported Outcome Measures on Survey Completion Rates
Presenter Name: Karlie Sivetz
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Jose Mattos
Secondary Research Mentor: Andrew Strumpf
Academic Category: Other
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Patient-reported outcome measures (PROM) oftentimes yield underwhelming completion rates, despite their clinical relevance towards improving patient care. Previous studies have demonstrated improved PROM completion rates by transitioning from paper-based to electronic-based surveys. The purpose of this analysis was to measure completion rates following implementation of tablet-based survey collection among patients treated at UVA’s Voice and Swallowing Clinic. The following PROMs were included for analysis: the 10-Item Voice Handicap Index (VHI-10), 10-Item Eating Assessment Tool (EAT-10), and Clinical Dyspnea Questionnaire (CDQ). Paper-based PROMs collected between 7/28/2014,8/25/2019 and tablet-based PROMs collected via REDCap between 8/26/2019,1/23/2020 were included. The average completion rate of each survey based on collection mode was calculated. Mean completion rates of patients who took multiple surveys during the study period were also calculated and included for paired, sub-analysis. Welch’s two sample t-tests were performed to assess differences between modes of data collection. On average, tablet-based survey collection yielded significantly higher completion rates than paper-based. VHI-10 surveys completed electronically had an average completion rate of 99.33% (97.89% paper-based, p<0.0001). Average completion rate for the EAT-10 was 99.21% (93.35% paper-based, p<0.0001). Electronic CDQ’s had an average completion rate of 98.92% (91.73% paper-based, p<0.0001). Paired analysis showed similar trends favoring electronic-based collection. Based on these results, we can conclude that transitioning to electronic surveys in the UVA Otolaryngology clinic has benefitted data collection. The results also indicated that survey order effects completion rates, however, further investigation is required to confirm this relationship.
     

 

How Marketing Experienced Board Members on Corporate Board of Directors Influence Board and Firm-Level Outcomes
Presenter Name: Sarah Young
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Kimberly Whitler
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Other
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Marketing Experienced Board Members (MEBMs) are known to have positive impact on board and firm-level outcome. Despite this, less than 3% of corporate board members have significant marketing experience, making MEBMs a functional minority among others who have expertise in finance dominated fields. As a result, we are motivated to understand how MEBMs create influence for a firm, in hopes to decrease the skepticism in their role. For the purpose of the research, a minority is anyone who is defined against a majority; it can be a minority school of thought, physical trait, or other individualistic characteristic. In this project, we investigate how a marketer on the board (specifically) and minorities (more generally) are able to influence board and firm outcomes. After analyzing 23 semi-structured interviews from professionals with board experience by coding and analyzing the trends from a process theory perspective, we developed a conceptual framework to describe the influence tactics that marketers use to impact firm performance. Ninety-four percent of the interviews mentioned the importance of long-term growth in the communication of a marketing perspective, 80% recognize the effectiveness of asking questions as an influence tactic, and 64% emphasize the benefits of a high regularity of contact with the board and Top Management Team (TMT). These characteristics and influence tactics, among others, were identified using a quantification strategy in which we used a general 0-1 matrix to organize qualitative data. It is evident that the addition of a marketing perspective as a minority brings diversity of thought and new focus to a Board of Directors.
 

Community-Centered Urban Sensing: Democratization of Public Space
Presenter Name: Gabriel Andrade
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Mona El Khafif
Secondary Research Mentor: Zihao Zhang
Academic Category: Performance, Visual Arts, Design/Architecture
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Community-Centered Urban Sensing (CCUS) is a project of the University of Virginia School of Architecture, collaborating with communities and government to better understand and address neighborhood issues using community-based methods for collecting, analyzing, and acting on urban environmental data. Working with the City of Charlottesville, CCUS examines the issue of nighttime street lighting across the City. Low-quality and uneven lighting of streets and public spaces affect mobility and health by limiting our ability to travel on foot or by bike and affecting our sense of security, but also by disrupting the natural rhythms of night and day. CCUS collects both lighting data using low-cost environmental sensors and public input on lighting issues through a website. The CCUS website maps environmental data and public input of photos and text and allows for comparison to other key environmental and demographic factors. The online data, maps, and analysis are contributing to the design of new responsive lighting infrastructures and a plan for lighting in the City that accounts for local concerns.

 Using Sensing technologies, the Community-Centered Urban Sensing (CCUS), developed sensing devices, mappings, and analytics focused on the issue of nighttime exterior lighting in the City of Charlottesville, Virginia. The project emphasizes two key challenges in applying sensing data to design and planning, (1) integrating top-down and bottom-up approaches to community data collection, mapping, and analytics (2) integrating quantitative and qualitative information and translating them into actionable environmental improvements. 
 

Quality Assurance Research on Support Vector Machine and Neural Network Models in the Clinical Laboratory
Presenter Name: Zacary Abushmaies
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: James Harrison
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Machine learning is an invaluable tool in modern healthcare. Algorithms have begun to play important roles in the clinical fields, not only by handling analytics and decisions previously associated with human work, but also by increasing efficiency in the healthcare delivery systems. The purpose of this quality assurance research is to improve on a currently existing machine learning model for auto validation of liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectroscopy (LC/MS/MS) analyses in the clinical laboratory. The existing model used a support vector machines (SVM) algorithm, having features based on parameters in labeled data to identify patterns for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) tests, classifying good and bad analytic runs with recall and precision of 100% and 83% respectively. The improved model will use the same labeled data and be based on a neural network developed using the TensorFlow library in a Python framework. This model will be tested on data to determine whether the neural network model has increased precision while maintaining high recall. Then we will test the generalizability of the models to larger volume LC/MS/MS assays with similar parameters, with and without training on assay-specific data.  Cross-validation will be used for all training data. Successful results from this research will be a more general model that can process different kinds of assays, and decreased time spent on manual review of acceptable runs for lab technicians.
 

3D Field of View: Effects of Immersive VR on Visual Perception and Experience

Presenter Name: Ian Adoremos
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Katherine  Rahill
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
Virtual Reality (VR) research has produced a substantial amount of evidence showing that humans significantly underestimate distances in Virtual Environments (VEs; Creem-Regehr et al. 2013; Messing & Durgin, 2015). This poster presents preliminary findings of a baseline assessment that compare perceptual accuracies between a large 65-inch screen-based VR display (SBD) and a current HMD model, the Oculus Rift. 54 CUA undergraduates participated in this study (nmale= 27, nfemale = 28) with a mean age of 19.6 years. They were randomly assigned to one of two conditions (HMD and SBD) in two phases of the within-subjects baseline assessment. In phase 1, participants were shown a series of buildings and craters and were told the distances and slopes of each. The upward slope condition used a 90¬∞ reference angle. This reference angle was not present in Phase 2. In phase 2, participants were shown a random series of buildings and craters and asked to estimate their distances and slopes to the nearest 5/10 feet for distance and 5/10 degrees for slope. Stimuli shown in Phase 2 differed from those values presented in Phase 1.  The results of this study indicate that while there was no significant difference between HMD and SBD modalities in participants’ ability to estimate crater distance, there were significant differences between HMD and SBD modalities in participants’ ability to estimate distance and slope for buildings as well as slope for craters. 

 

Probing natural killer cells, CD8+ T cells, and MHC class I molecules within the non-small cell lung cancer tumor microenvironment 
Presenter Name: Nardin Ageeb
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Michael Brown
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
According to the American Cancer Society, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounts for 80-85% of all lung cancers in men and women. Unfortunately, the response rate to immunotherapies is only 15-30% in NSCLC patients. Some immune cells (NK and CD8+ T cells) are able to detect cancer cells by recognizing antigens known as major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC I) molecules. All nucleated cells have MHC I on their cell surface facilitating immune cell recognition and activation in response to cancer. We predict that MHC I tumor expression is correlated with higher NK and CD8+ T cell infiltration into tumor cell regions marked by expression of pan-cytokeratin in NSCLC patient tumors. To test this hypothesis, we stained for seven different cell molecules (pan-cytokeratin, MHC I, CD56, CD8, CD3, IFN-gamma, and DAPI) in patient tissues using the multicolor Vectra imaging analysis system. A machine learning approach was utilized to obtain automated counts for different combinations of stained molecules using HALO software. The absence of MHC I expression in the majority of patient tumors is a remarkable finding, and more extensive than previously suspected. Further study is focused on analyzing the relationship between tumor cell MHC I, tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes and position within tumor versus stromal regions. This work has clinical implications for improving the treatment of NSCLC. If we are able to understand how the tumor evades our immune system and what factors of its microenvironment aid in this evasion, we may be able to develop more effective immunotherapies of cancer. 
 

The Functional Role of Cytoplasmic RNA Binding Element 4 in Body Fat Distribution and Type 2 Diabetes

Presenter Name: Ngozi Akingbesote
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Mete Civelek
Secondary Research Mentor: Jameson  Hinkle
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a group of metabolic conditions that occur together and promote the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and type 2 diabetes. Disease conditions include abdominal obesity, insulin resistance, elevated serum triglyceride levels, depressed serum high-density lipoprotein levels, elevated blood glucose levels, and hypertension. Heritability estimates for individual components of MetSyn vary between 40% to 70%, suggesting a strong contribution of genetic components to disease pathology.  A recent genome-wide association study of body fat distribution conducted in approximately quarter-million men and women from different ethnic groups identified significant associations of genetic variants in the chromosome 5q35 locus with BMI-adjusted waist-to-hip ratio, a measure of abdominal obesity. Given these results, the study had two aims: (1) to predict the causal gene in the 5q35 locus, and (2) create and characterize a mouse model of the predicted causal gene. Using gene expression data from subcutaneous adipose tissue biopsies collected from 770 participants of the Metabolic Syndrome in Men (METSIM) cohort, this study showed that CPEB4 is the likely cis-effector gene for this locus. The A allele of the single nucleotide polymorphism rs875741 at the 5q35 locus was associated with increased abdominal obesity and higher expression of CPEB4 in adipose tissue (P-value = 4.27x10-174; effect size =1.16). In agreement with the human genetic data, CPEB4 expression was significantly positively correlated with waist-to-hip ratio in 770 METSIM participants (r = 0.21, P-value = 2.83x10-9). CPEB4 encodes an RNA-binding protein but its role in obesity is not known. To further study the impact of Cpeb4 on obesity, this study generated mice which had three genotypes at the Cpeb4 locus: wild-type (WT), Cpeb4-deficient (KO), or heterozygous (het). First, total RNA was isolated from various fat depots and Cpeb4 expression was measured by using quantitative reverse transcriptase-PCR. As expected, Het mice had half the amount of Cpeb4 abundance compared to WT mice and KO mice had no Cpeb4 expression. Second, 8-week old male and female mice were placed on a 12-week high-fat diet (45% fat calories) and body fat was measured every four weeks using an echoMRI. In agreement with the human studies, mice, which were Cpeb4-deficient, gained less body fat compared to WT mice.  Collectively, the human results predict Cpeb4 as the causal gene in the 5q35 locus for body fat distribution and the mouse results show that Cpeb4 impacts body fat under high-fat diet conditions. Future work will delineate the adipose-specific role of Cpeb4 on obesity in our mouse model, and its function in adipocytes using cell culture models of adipogenesis.

 

The Effect of Delirium on Mechanical Ventilation Rates of Acute Hypoxic Respiratory Patients in the MICU
Presenter Name: Olga Akopiants
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Dr. Alexandra Kadl
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
In the Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU), many factors can impact a critically ill patient’s outcome. Acute hypoxic respiratory failure is a common condition in the MICU that has a significant mortality rate and often requires mechanical ventilation. Lack of sleep has been shown to result in delirium, which is a risk factor for critically ill patients; however, it is unclear how delirium caused by lack of sleep affects patients with acute hypoxia. In this retrospective analysis, we analyzed UVA’s MICU patients with a diagnosis of acute hypoxic respiratory failure who came in between 2016-2017. We investigated their admission time, delirium development (based on the Confusion Assessment Method score) and if delirium increased the need for mechanical ventilation. In preliminary analysis we found that of the delirious hypoxic patients, 49% required mechanical ventilation, demonstrating delirium as a risk factor for MICU patients. Future studies should consider whether improved sleep quality would lower the risk of mechanical ventilation due to delirium. 
 

Mapping Ligand-Receptor Interactions Between the Immune and Central Nervous System
Presenter Name: Robin Bai
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Alban Gaultier
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant
The central nervous system and immune system are far more intertwined than we previously imagined. Understanding the interactions between the two would be critical for understanding the underlying causes of many neurological diseases, such as Alzheimes, multiple sclerosis, etc., and identifying treatment options. The various ways of communication between these two systems still remain poorly understood. Therefore, I introduce a publicly available, user-friendly ligand-receptor network between the CNS and the immune system, utilizing publicly available mouse single-cell data for the CNS and the meninges (for immune cells) and a compiled list of ligand-receptor connections. Since there is currently is no accurate way to translate the number of gene transcripts to level of protein expression, proportional analysis was used to both quantify the percentage of cells of a certain type that express the protein and reduce dimensions. To calculate the weight for each connection, I took the root of product between the ratio of cells that express the ligand and the ratio of cells that express its corresponding receptor. The product itself represents how likely the two cells will talk to one another, but it skews the data toward the left and would not be a good representation of the weight. Hence, the square root of the product was used. The measurement achieves the desired effect of preferring values closer to one another. With this tool, we can readily predict neuro-immune interactions and better analyze its downstream effects. 
 

Behavior of group members determines social network structure
Presenter Name: Olivia Baker
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Edmund Brodie
Secondary Research Mentor: Phoebe Cook
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Double Hoo Research Grant
Collective traits of a group can impact the fitness of the group and the fitness of the individuals within the group. For example, the structure of a group social network can impact the spread of information and disease and therefore affect the survival and reproduction of its members. One possibility for the evolution of group traits is that the composition of individuals within the group shapes the characteristics of the group. Many studies assume a relationship between the traits of the individuals in a group and those of the group; however, few studies demonstrate this relationship with empirical evidence. We created groups with different behavioral compositions in the forked fungus beetle, Bolitotherus cornutus, and asked whether social networks differed between the groups. Forked fungus beetles have behavioral consistency; some individuals consistently interact more than other individuals. In order to create different group compositions, we sorted individuals into populations based on their level of sociality. Some populations contained all highly social individuals and other populations contained all less social individuals. We counted the total number of interactions between all individuals in each population and found that the highly social populations had a greater number of total interactions. Highly social populations also had higher social network density and were more clustered. This study provides an example of emergent group properties arising from the composition of individuals within the group. This means that the evolution of individual social behavior could be a mechanism for the evolution of social networks. 
 

The Effect of a Deficiency in Tryptophan and Lysine on Dopamine Deficient Drosophila melanogaster W1118 Larvae.
Presenter Name: Aaron Bangad
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Jay Hirsh
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
The purpose of this study was to determine how dopamine deficient Drosophila melanogaster W1118 larvae respond to varied amino acid composition in food. Previous research has determined that wild-type W1118 fly larvae exhibit a 20-30% decrease in the amount of food eaten when their food is deficient of specific amino acids. The research question investigated in this study was whether the absence of two essential amino acids, tryptophan and lysine, from the diet of dopamine deficient fly larvae would affect their feeding behavior. The dopamine deficient flies being used in the experiment have dopaminergic neurons, but lack the neurotransmitter dopamine itself. Dopaminergic neurons use a GCN2/ATF4-dependent mechanism to respond to the deficiency of essential amino acids in food. Activating transcription factor four (ATF4), is a downstream target of the general control nonderepressible 2 protein kinase (GCN2). Upon knockdown of GCN2, the feeding inhibition response is abolished on flies fed essential amino acid food. This rescue of feeding is characterized by a decrease in roaming behavior. However, the role dopamine itself plays in this feeding response is under further investigation. A potential hypothesis for the outcome of this experiment is that if the dopamine deficient larvae display no feeding inhibition, then dopamine has a role in mediating the feeding response of fly larvae. 
 

The Effect of Captivity on Expression of Behavior in Forked Fungus Beetles, Bolitotherus Cornutus
Presenter Name: Austin Barlow
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Edmund Brodie
Secondary Research Mentor: Liza Mitchem
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
Organisms raised in captivity are known to have differences in expression of behavior in relation to their wild counterparts. One example of this phenomenon is increased aggression levels toward conspecifics in captive-raised organisms, which is primarily a result of a decrease in quantity of social interactions.  We used forked fungus beetles, Bolitotherus cornutus, as a system to test the effect of captivity on interactive behaviors. We measured the amount and duration of initiated behaviors displayed towards a same-sex partner in dyadic behavioral assays. Our captive beetles were isolated for three years in individual containers and provided with a reliable food source and constant photo-cycles after their capture, while our wild beetles were obtained from their natural populations the day before testing. We predicted that the number and duration of aggressive behaviors would increase in captive beetles in comparison to wild beetles. Our hypothesis was not supported by our results, which demonstrated similar aggression levels between the wild and captive beetles. However, wild beetles performed more total interactive behaviors compared to captive beetles, which demonstrates that social isolation decreases the tendency to interact with conspecifics. The effect of the lab environment on behaviors is substantial and is important to consider when assessing interactions of captive organisms.
 

Methods for categorizing the functional identity of single hypothalamic neurons involved in obesity
Presenter Name: Katherine Battin
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Christopher Deppmann
Secondary Research Mentor: Brandon Podyma
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Obesity is a growing problem in America. Nearly 110 million people in the US, ~40% of adults and ~20% of children, are considered obese by the CDC. Currently, FDA approved medications are only available to address comorbid conditions, including diabetes and hypertension, but none solely target obesity. One of the largest barriers to pharmaceutical progress in treatments specifically for obesity has been the lack of high-throughput characterization of the cellular changes that occur during the onset and progression of obesity. Several cell types and signaling pathways in the hypothalamus are known to be significant in body weight homeostasis. While previous research has used RNA-seq to capture genetically-encoded cell identity, we are no closer to identifying the functional identity of these cells in response to physiological changes. We are interested in developing an interconnected picture of how various signaling pathways within single cells change and interact with one another during metabolic changes by using a high-throughput technique called mass cytometry. As this technique has not been previously applied to neurons of the adult CNS, we have first ventured to validate it’s appropriateness for this task. By varying collection methods, fixation of tissue samples, and methods of dissociating neurons from samples, we have achieved promising preliminary results that suggest this may be a viable path forward. With a method to assess signaling pathways in individual hypothalamic neurons, this approach will provide a platform for future high-throughput assessment of mechanism of action of pharmaceutical drugs for the treatment of obesity.
 

Creation of a Deep Learning Based Algorithm for the Efficient Quantification of Atherosclerotic Lesions
Presenter Name: Monique Bautista Neughebauer
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Weibin Shi
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
Atherosclerosis is a leading contributor to mortality in America, as it is the underlying cause of heart attacks and strokes. In fact, atherosclerosis kills more Americans per year than all types of cancers combined. This NIH funded project is directed towards understanding genetic connections between atherosclerosis and its major risk factor, type 2 diabetes.  This involves the manual measurement of plaque sizes on numerous histological sections for a large mouse population.  The process is incredibly time consuming and tedious.  Thus, an artificial intelligence-based technology to speedily and accurately quantify atherosclerotic lesions was developed.  Microscopic images of atherosclerotic lesions were converted to 512 px by 512px images through ImageJ and then segmented through the use of ITK-Snap. Over 1000 images have been segmented.  70% of them have been used to train the U-net architecture, publicly accessible through the open-source ANTsRNet library, and the remaining 30% was used to test the accuracy of the algorithm in quantifying atherosclerotic lesions.  The results have shown the similarity of lesion sizes measured by deep learning with those from manual measurements with some outliers due to inclusion of vessel walls.  In the future, this deep learning algorithm will be used to quantify plaque sizes for a large F2 mouse population, which is designed to find genetic loci contributing to both atherosclerosis and diabetes. 
 

Investigating a Synergistic Effect between Ceramide Nanoliposomes and EGFR Inhibitors in Head and Neck Cancer
Presenter Name: Patrick Beck
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Mark Kester
Secondary Research Mentor: Jeremy Shaw
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Double Hoo Research Grant
 Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma (HNSCC) is the 7th most common cancer worldwide; however, only one targeted therapy exists to treat it, which has shown mixed outcomes in patients. The need to develop a more effective treatment is apparent. The ceramide nanoliposome (CNL) is a nanoscale therapeutic that has been documented for its ability to synergize with other drugs, enhancing their effectiveness. The Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) is a particularly druggable target in HNSCC, as it is overexpressed in over 40-80% of tumors, but EGFR inhibitor Gefitinib has previously failed clinical trials in HNSCC. From this, the potential for a combinatorial therapy between CNL and Gefitinib arises. This study characterizes a novel synergistic effect between CNL and Gefitinib from both efficacy and mechanistic standpoints, and provides strong evidence for such a combinatorial therapy to be developed in HNSCC.
 

University of Virginia - Guatemala Initiative: An analysis of the longevity and efficacy of the Potable Water Project in San Lucas Tolim√°n
Presenter Name: Jate Bernard
Co Presenter Name(s):  Elayna Render    
Primary Research Mentor: David Burt
Secondary Research Mentor: Aaron  Mills
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Community Based Undergraduate Research Grant (CBURG)
The UVa-Guatemala Initiative San Lucas Tolim√°n (SLT) Potable Water Project works to provide potable water to the communities surrounding San Lucas Tolim√°n. The project has provided over four hundred Biosand water filters to families in four communities and has educated participants on overall hygiene, water sanitation, and filter maintenance.  This summer, the SLT team conducted water filter tests and evaluated the retention rate of participants in the program to understand what additional support could be provided and to ensure the safety of the filters. Data was collected by interviewing each of the participants who no longer use their filter.  The team found a correlation between distance and unused filters, which were often broken during filter or home relocation. The results indicate that after filter installation, more regular filter maintenance and an easier method to contact the support team is necessary.  Also, the efficacy of the filters was investigated using filter and tap water samples. The vast majority of filters showed no signs of E. coli and minimal coliforms when compared to the tap water in the communities.  These findings can be generalized to envelope other aid/research projects of this form and indicate that a donation of a filter is not enough to ensure that it will be used.  Instead, a dynamic education and support structure is crucial not only for the continuation of the project, but also to better help the communities and efficiently utilize project resources.
 

Hyperspectral Analysis of Arctic Tundra Plant Communities along Latitude and Soil Gradients
Presenter Name: Kole Bowersox
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Howard Epstein
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
         Climate change is warming the Arctic at twice the rate of the global average. In general,
the  greenness of arctic tundra vegetation has been increasing over at least the past five
decades. Assessing changes in plant community composition, however, is challenging.
Hyperspectral remote sensing may provide a tool for examining tundra plant communities across local, landscape, and regional scales. From        2007 to 2010, field-based hyperspectral data were collected throughout the Yamal Peninsula region of northwestern Siberia in Russia, at lo        cations that varied in latitude and soil type (texture).
        PLSDA statistical procedures were performed on the hyperspectral dataset to analyze the spectral signatures of the different tundra plant communities along the latitude and soil texture gradients. We analyzed the variance explained by different spectral wavelengths for the entire
dataset, and then with the data separated by soil texture. For all three PLSDAs, the first multivariate component explained approximately 65% of the variability in the dataset, and the second component explained ~25% of the variability. We identified several important explanatory factors in the data. A high degree of variability was explained by wavelengths in the red-edge and near infrared (700-800 nm). The green wavelength range (~500-600 nm) also has a significant amount of influence on variability in the dataset. The results of this research will allow us to isolate key wavelengths for identifying different tundra plant communities from remotely sensed data and potentially monitor their dynamics.

 

Effects of carbodicarbenes on borafluorene material applications
Presenter Name: Grace Breiner
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Robert Gilliard
Secondary Research Mentor: Jacob Walley
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant
Boron infused heterocycles with œÄ-conjugated systems have shown utility in organic light emitting diodes, photovoltaic cells, and sensor technology due to their unique optical properties. There has therefore been a great deal of interest in the tunability of these œÄ-systems in order to discover new optoelectronic properties. Recently, our group published the first N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) and cyclic(alkyl)(amino) carbene (CAAC) stabilized borepinium and borafluorenium cations. Notably, the first thermochromically active cationic species was reported. In order to further explore the tunability of the optoelectronic properties of borafluorene, we utilized a œÄ-donating ligand, carbodicarbene (CDC), to contrast the effects of the œÄ-accepting NHC and CAAC. Compared to NHCs and CAACs, carbodicarbenes (CDCs) are notably more nucleophilic. Therefore, upon coordination to borafluorene, CDC is able to directly form the cationic species, which contrasts the analogous chemistry observed with NHC and CAAC. Additionally, the fluorescent properties of the molecule were observed to be tunable with temperature and notably intense in solid-state. This work highlights the optoelectronic properties of this CDC complex, which was analyzed by UV-Vis and fluorescence in solution and phospholuminescence in the solid-state.   

 

Ground-Based, Diffuser-Assisted, Multi-Wavelength Study of K2-22b
Presenter Name: Mary  Brewer
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Steven Majewski
Secondary Research Mentor: Hannah Lewis
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Double Hoo Research Grant
We executed a ground-based, diffuser-assisted, multi-wavelength observational campaign of one of the few known disintegrating exoplanets : K2-22b. These recently discovered systems feature short orbital periods causing the planets to be subjected to intense photo-evaporation from their host star resulting in the planet being stripped of its atmosphere. We aimed to look for a changing disintegration status over time and the color dependence of the dust grains that compose the tail that is drawn out from the dust cloud that envelopes the planet. The scattering efficiency of the dust grows smaller as the observational wavelength approaches the approximate grain size. The Astrophysical Research Consortium (ARC) 3.5-m Telescope and ARC Small Aperture Telescope (ARCSAT) were operated simultaneously to observe the planetary transit of K2-22b in three wavelengths. The five observations in this campaign resulted in one detection of K2-22b with a transit depth of less than 0.4%. The transit light curves in three wavelengths (SDSS , SDSS , and white light) of the one detection featured differences in transit shape and the transit occurred after the predicted window. 
 

Input Organization onto Relay Cell Dendrites in the Mouse Visual Thalamus
Presenter Name: Alex Briegel
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Alev Erisir
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Previous studies in the visual thalamus use 2D transmission electron microscopy (tEM) to study synaptic circuitry in the brain. However, studying synaptic circuitry in two dimensions does not account for the complexity of synaptic interactions happening in a three dimensional space.  In this study, we used 3D electron microscopy to overcome this disadvantage and investigate the organization of synaptic circuitry in the visual thalamus (LGN) that relays information from the retina to the visual cortex.  We use Gaussian based normal distribution modeling as a means of determining putative terminal origin to study how axon terminals from different origins organize on post synaptic dendrites in the LGN.   Large terminals from the retina tend to synapse on large primary and secondary dendrites, while modulatory inputs from the cortex and brainstem tend to synapse on small secondary and tertiary dendrites.  In addition, dendrite diameter and order (primary, secondary, and tertiary) are not predictive of each other.  Understanding all of this will ultimately lead to a greater understanding of how the visual thalamus encodes visual features.
 

Balance Differences Between Patellofemoral Pain and Healthy Individuals using the Star Excursion Balance Test and the Dynamic Leap and Balance Test
Presenter Name: Marin  Bronaugh 
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Sue  Saliba 
Secondary Research Mentor: Andrea  Baellow
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
Dynamic balance is important while performing everyday activities; walking, squatting, and stair usage. Dynamic balance is impaired in individuals with Patellofemoral Pain (PFP) based on laboratory instruments. Clinically, the Star Excursion Balance Test (SEBT) is utilized to evaluate dynamic balance. However, the base of support is static during the SEBT, and deficits on this task have been attributed to decreased ankle range of motion. The Dynamic Leap and Balance Test (DLBT) is a novel dynamic balance test in which the base of support is serially changing, however has not been examined in the PFP literature. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to evaluate balance using the SEBT and DLBT in healthy and PFP individuals using a cross-sectional, matched case-comparison design. 36 individuals with PFP (age=20.53ÔDZ3.75years, mass=69.42ÔDZ13.05kg, height=171.13ÔDZ12.28cm) and 36 healthy individuals (age=20.44ÔDZ3.13years, mass=64.81ÔDZ11.36kg, height=169.28ÔDZ9.11cm) participated in three trials of SEBT and DLBT. SEBT reach distance in each direction (anterior, posteromedial, posterolateral) were averaged and normalized to leg length (%MAXD). DLBT trials were averaged based on time (in seconds) to complete the task and overall errors. There were no differences in %MAXD SEBT in any direction between PFP and healthy groups (all P>0.05). The PFP group took significantly longer to complete the DLBT (PFP:50.31±8.27s, Healthy:42.98±6.01s, P<.001) and committed significantly more errors (PFP:5.98±4.11, Healthy:3.06±2.69, P=0.001) than the healthy group, with strong effect sizes (both d>1.00). Overall, the DLBT exacerbated balance deficits in PFP individuals that were not identified in the SEBT. This gives evidence to utilize the DLBT in clinical evaluation.
 

STAT3/STAT5b mutational impacts on the clinical features of Gammadelta T-Cell Large Granular Lymphocyte (LGL) Leukemia
Presenter Name: Jasmanet Chahal
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: David Feith
Secondary Research Mentor: Heejin Cheon
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
Large granular lymphocyte (LGL) leukemia is a cancer where cytotoxic cells are chronically and abnormally expanded. These cells are defined by the expansion of CD8+/CD57+ T cells. Gamma Delta T cells are defined by their expression of γ and δ T-cell receptors (TCRs). These γδ cells aid in recognizing and lysing virus-infected cells and malignancies. STAT3/STAT5 genes impact cell proliferation, deregulated STAT3/STAT5 genes promote cancer cell proliferation and survival. The overall purpose of my study is to gain clinical insights on γδ T-LGL leukemia patients, a rare variant of the disease, to better understand biological reasons behind their symptoms.
Fifty-four cases from the LGL Leukemia Registry diagnosed with Œ≥Œ¥ T cell LGL leukemia were characterized by their STAT3/STAT5 mutation and analyzed based on various criteria. The parameters of this data set included a comprehensive workup of each patient’s blood count (platelets, absolute neutrophil, hemoglobin, and etc.), flow cytometry profile (test the presence of surface proteins on cells to distinguish cell types), TCR (quantifying T-cell receptors on the surface of T cells that are responsible for recognizing antigens), diagnosis, and treatment information. The analysis thus far has shown that the average hemoglobin (g/dL) counts for STAT3 mutated patients is 10.77, the ANC (k/uL) is 1.84, and the platelets (k/uL) is 252.1. A better understanding of the biological aspects of Œ≥Œ¥ LGL can aid in gaining insight into the origins of leukemic cells to garner more effective treatment options for patients.
 

Disease progression in hypertension and breast cancer via caveolin-1 pathways
Presenter Name: Tina Chai
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Robin Felder
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant
Hypertension affects approximately one in three adults, leading to significant morbidity and mortality if untreated. Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer diagnosed in women in the United States. Meta-analyses indicate that breast cancer incidence is higher in women who also have hypertension. An association between the two diseases likely lies in an overarching signaling pathway involving caveolin-1 (CAV1), the dopamine-1 receptor (D1R), and G protein-coupled receptor kinase 4 (GRK4), proteins linked in a pathway shown to be involved in the maintenance of hypertension. This study reveals that D1R regulation, stimulated by dopamine agonists, can also inhibit breast cancer cell proliferation, especially in CAV1 over-expressed cells. Western blot and co-immunoprecipitation data supports a pathway in which CAV1 inhibits GRK4 while GRK4 desensitizes D1R, the primary regulator of the dopaminergic pathway crucial to the prevention of breast cancer and hypertension. As CAV1 levels increase, oncogenic protein mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) protein levels decrease. CAV1’s role as a potential tumor suppressor is further supported by flow cytometry, in which cell count in the S phase, or the DNA replication phase, was suppressed in cells lines over-expressing CAV1. Determining an overlapping pathway between these two diseases, which affect multitudes of people globally, provides a means to effectively understand and combat them, and could ultimately lead to the development of a drug that will treat both conditions simultaneously. 

 

Heisenberg-Limited Interferometric Phase Deviation by Photon Number and Parity Measurements
Presenter Name: Ningshun Chen
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Olivier Pfister
Secondary Research Mentor: Nehra Rajveer
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Interferometry is a family of measurement techniques using the physical phenomenon of wave interference, typically electromagnetic waves, to extract information. Such information is often encoded in the phase difference in the waves that undergo interference, which means that the precision of phase measurement by interferometry is critically important. Thus, interferometry is an important and useful technique in many scientific areas, such as astronomy and bimolecular interactions. My research is based off of the application of interferometry in quantum metrology, which focuses on making high-resolution and highly sensitive measurements of physical parameters. Simulations of various quantum states evolving through the the Mach-Zehnder interferometer are explored, in attempt to discover states that provide the optimal measurement sensitivity. This process involves implementing theoretical calculations, translating results into programmed simulations, and extracting data for analysis. So far a few proposed quantum states have shown to be candidates that optimize measurement sensitivity.
 

Acute modulation of activity in the circadian core of the brain in response to a high-fat diet, and its dopamine-1 receptor dependence. 
Presenter Name: Krystyna Cios
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Ali Guler
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant
Obesity and its comorbid conditions are pandemics, as over 30% of the U.S. population is obese. The feeding behavior that leads to obesity is controlled by homeostatic factors, such as hunger drives and sleep-wake cycles, and hedonic factors, such as the dopaminergic reward pathway. Disruptions to circadian rhythms lead to feeding behavior dysregulation, and mice maintained on a high-fat diet (HFD) exhibit disrupted circadian rhythmicity. These effects are mediated by the dopamine-1 receptor (D1R) signaling pathway. Here, we investigated the effects of acute HFD exposure on the activity of the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) neurons, which make up the central circadian clock. We hypothesized that HFD acutely modulates the activity of SCN neurons by engaging the dopaminergic reward signaling pathway that projects to this region. To test this, wild type (WT) and dopamine-1 receptor knockout (D1R-KO) mice were given a HFD  for 1 or 3 hours over three days. Fixed brains were stained via IHC for c-fos, an indicator of increased neuronal activity, and activity was quantified as the density of positively stained cells in the region. There was no statistically significant change in SCN activity for WT mice treated with acute exposure to HFD under a 3-hour treatment paradigm, and a slight decrease in activity for mice under a 1-hour treatment paradigm. We observed no change in activity for D1R-KO mice under the 1-hour treatment paradigm. The data indicate that circadian core activity is not acutely modulated following exposure to HFD using c-fos IHC as a marker for activity. 
 

Analysis of Climate Change Effects on Arctic Tundra Ecosystem Biomass and Plant Community Composition 
Presenter Name: Daniel Collins
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Howard Epstein
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Climate change has been one of the defining crises of the 21st century. As we consider its effects, there have been myriad climate models predicting substantial changes in temperature at differing time scales ranging from within the next few decades to the end of the century.  The Arctic is currently warming at twice the rate of the global average and is considered to be one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change.  The goal of this study was to examine how the arctic tundra would be impacted by varying rates of climatic change. To accomplish this, we used an arctic tundra vegetation dynamics model, ArcVeg, developed with the intention of simulating the growth of various plant types in arctic/subarctic climates. We simulated the vegetation dynamics for all five of the arctic tundra bioclimatic subzones (based on the Circumpolar Arctic Vegetation Map), by applying the climate of the next warmest subzone (or the tundra-taiga ecotone in the case of the most southern tundra subzone); this warming amounts to approximately 3 ¬∞C of average summer temperatures.  We varied the length of time (20, 50, 100 years) required to shift from the original climate to the new climate, and determined the effects on plant biomass and community composition. Finally, we will compare model output to satellite and (sparse) field observations.  The results of this study will increase understanding of how tundra vegetation will be affected by future climate, and inform on implications of these changing ecosystems.
 

Oncogenic TRIM37-driven chemo-resistance and metastasis in triple negative breast cancer
Presenter Name: Caroline Conlan
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Sanchita Bhatnagar
Secondary Research Mentor: Michael Wormington
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant
Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive breast cancer subtype that accounts for nearly 40,000 deaths each year in the United States alone, predominantly affecting younger African American women. Although patients tend to exhibit an initial positive response to chemotherapy, TNBC has the highest risk of relapse, highest frequency of metastasis, and worst overall survival rate of any breast cancer. This poor prognosis is in part due to unidentified molecular mechanisms of chemo-resistance and metastasis as well as no preferred standard therapy for patients due to a lack of actionable therapeutic targets for TNBC. We have discovered a new metastasis promoting function for oncogenic tripartite motif-containing 37 (TRIM37), an E3 ubiquitin ligase previously identified and characterized by Bhatnagar lab. To this end, we have found that when highly immunodeficient NOD scid gamma mice are given subcutaneous TRIM37-depleted TNBC tumors, these tumors are more sensitive to the chemotherapeutic agent doxorubicin when compared to control TNBC tumors. Surprisingly, we have also found that mice given subcutaneous TRIM37-depleted TNBC tumors exhibit significantly less metastasis to the lungs compared to mice given control tumors. Collectively, our findings not only support our hypothesis that TRIM37 plays a role in TNBC chemo-resistance and metastasis in vivo, but also indicate TRIM37 as an oncogenic target in an innovative therapeutic approach for treating TNBC with the potential to selectively eliminate TNBC chemo-resistant cells and reduce TNBC metastasis.
 

Screening of Forensically Relevant Samples via LAMP-on-chip
Presenter Name: Antea  Cooper
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: James Landers
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
          There are currently 400,000 untested sexual assault kits (SAKs) across the US, due in large part to an increasing sample influx and reliance on labor-intensive, time-consuming, and expensive analysis techniques. Current forensic methods for semen identification do not definitively screen for male DNA, instead relying on detection of prostate specific antigen (PSA). The presence of PSA is a presumptive result for semen, and is critical to the sexual assault case. However, PSA screening is prone to false positives due to cross-reactivity and the subjective nature of colorimetric detection. An alternative, more specific approach to SAK screening involves loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) to directly detect DNA associated with the male perpetrator. This method uses six primers designed to target Y-amelogenin, which confers high specificity for male DNA, and requires simpler, more portable instrumentation than traditional PCR. The microfluidic chip was fabricated via the Print Cut Laminate (PCL) method, using inexpensive, commercial-off-the-shelf materials. A rapid, 10 min nucleic acid extraction resulted in amplification-ready DNA, which was then loaded onto the chip along with LAMP reagent.  The assays were incubated at 65 ÔÇ∞C on a portable heating system.  Accurate male DNA screening based on the hydroxy naphthol blue (HNB) indicator was available within 30 min, making LAMP-on-chip a highly specific, cost-effective method that is amenable for point-of-crime scene analysis for time-sensitive cases, and serves as an alternative to the standard screening methods widely used today.  
 

An Anti-inflammatory Cytokine to Promote Kidney Repair 
Presenter Name: Gabrielle Costlow
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Rahul Sharma
Secondary Research Mentor: Vikram Sabapathy
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Acute kidney injury is common in hospitalized patients, occurring due to loss of blood supply (ischemia) to the kidneys. Activation of immune cells causes inflammation leading to fibrosis. Certain immune cells such as regulatory T cells (Tregs), help by suppressing inflammation and prevent further damage after injury. Tregs are dependent on two signaling molecules (cytokines), IL-2 and IL-33, which promote the survival and function of Tregs. Combining these two molecules, we created a hybridized version termed  IL233 , that more efficiently increases the number and activity of Tregs. We set up three groups of mice, in which blood-supply to kidney was transiently interrupted to mimic ischemic injury. One group was treated with IL233 before ischemia (Pre), another with IL233 treatment after ischemia (Post) and an untreated group (control). The extent of injury and inflammation of the kidney were probed using several parameters. As expected, treatment with IL233 rapidly increased Treg numbers in the blood and kidneys. Mice treated with IL233 either before or after injury had lower kidney injury and inflammation scores as compared to the controls. Kidney function estimated by measuring plasma creatinine and blood urea nitrogen levels also indicate that IL233 pre- and post- treatment significantly protected renal function. Treatment with IL233 led in increasing the levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines and decreasing the pro-inflammatory cytokines. Importantly, IL233 administration post-IRI restored the kidney function and showed a higher presence of cells that participate in kidney repair. The study suggests that IL233 bears therapeutic potential to rescue kidneys from ischemic injury.
 

Understanding the Role of the Meningeal Adaptive Immune Response in Alzheimer’s Disease
Presenter Name: Nisha  Dabhi
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Sandro  Da Mesquita 
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive type of dementia, associated with the accumulation of amyloid-beta (AΒ ) peptides in the brain. While the role of the innate immune response in AD pathology has been investigated, the role of the adaptive immune system of the meninges remains poorly understood. Specifically, the response by peripheral and meningeal T- and B-cells on AD pathology, specifically AΒ  plaque load, should be further elucidated. To explore the role of the meningeal adaptive immune system in AD, AD transgenic mice that express transgenes with five AD-linked mutations (5xFAD) were crossed with severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice, which lack T and B cells‚Äîor with muMT-knockout mice, which have a reduced number of B-cells. Additionally, to explore whether the adaptive immune cell activation status can modulate brain AΒ  pathology, programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1), which reduces T-cell activation, was blocked, and C-C chemokine receptor 7 (CCR7) expression, which furthers T-cell activation, in 5xFAD mice was modulated. There is no difference in AΒ  plaque load of the brain parenchyma in 5xFAD mice crossed with SCID or muMT mice. Blocking PD-1 through treatment with anti-PD-1 antibodies shows an increase in activated T-cells and increased AΒ  brain plaque load. 5xFAD mice deficient for CCR7 show increases in AΒ  plaque load. While changes in adaptive immune cell activation status appears to modulate AΒ  pathology, the specific relationship remains unclear. Further research can lead to new therapeutic targets to provide novel immunotherapies for AD and other neurodegenerative disorders with strong neuro-immune components.  
 

The role of spatial and temporal environmental heterogeneity in population patterns and maintenance of diversity among and within Daphnia species
Presenter Name: Morgan DeLong-Maxey
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Karen Barnard-Kubow
Secondary Research Mentor: Alan  Bergland
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant

Temporal and spatial environmental heterogeneity have the potential to impact population dynamics. Environmental heterogeneity leads to unique ecological niches that can be exploited by different species, facilitating species coexistence. Within species, temporally and spatially varying selection could lead to the persistence of multiple, functionally different genotypes within a population. So, how does spatial and temporal environmental heterogeneity impact population patterns and maintenance of diversity among and within species? Daphnia are small aquatic crustaceans that live in freshwater habitats like small lakes and ponds and can reach large population sizes (millions). They are a great system for examining this question because they begin the growing season with a burst of genetic diversity, allowing selective pressures come into play. Biweekly data was collected from five adjacent ponds in the UK. Daphnia were gathered along with environmental data at each of the ponds. Demographic data was collected by sorting Daphnia samples by species, sex, clone, and life stage. Then the impact of environmental factors were analyzed across time points. My findings have revealed striking changes in species composition across time and within-species population dynamics. Lifestage development, reproductive tunings, and species composition of the Daphnia populations are influenced by the ephemerality of the environment, water hardness, and temporal conditions. These findings imply that population dynamics shift in response to ecological heterogeneity. Overall, these findings have potential to address how spatial and temporal heterogeneity contribute to a maintenance of diversity, both in terms of species diversity, as well as genetic diversity within species.
 

INSULIN STIMULATION REDUCES ARTERIAL STIFFNESS IN ADULTS WITH METABOLIC SYNDROME 
Presenter Name: Brielle Dotson
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Steve Malin
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Adults with metabolic syndrome (MetS) have increased fasting arterial stiffness compared with healthy counterparts, which increases risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Although insulin reduces arterial stiffness in healthy adults, the effects in obese individuals with MetS are unclear. We hypothesized insulin stimulation would reduce measures of arterial stiffness. Thirty-one obese adults (24F; 53.7±6.0yrs; 37.4±4.8kg/m2) were screened for MetS (NCEP ATP III criteria) following an overnight fast. Augmentation index (AIx), augmentation pressure (AP) and brachial systolic (bSBP) and diastolic blood pressure (bDBP) were assessed using SphygmoCor before and after a 2hr euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp (90 mg/dl, 40 mU/m2/min). Aerobic fitness (VO2peak; ml/kg/min) was measured through a treadmill protocol while body fat (BF; %) was determined using DEXA.  Compared to fasting, insulin significantly reduced AIx (28.5 ± 9.9 vs. 23.2 ± 9.9%, P<0.01) and AP (15.1 ± 6.7 vs. 21.1 ± 5.8 mmHg, P<0.01). Insulin had no effect on bSBP (P=0.19) or bDBP (P=0.21). Fasting AIx and AP correlated with VO2peak (r=-0.42, P=0.02 and r=-0.37, P=0.04) and BF (r=0.64, P<0.01 and r=0.68, P<0.01). The change in AIx and AP did not correlate with VO2peak (r=-0.18, P=0.33, r=-0.12, P=0.95) or BF (r=-0.29, P=0.24 and r=-0.17, P=0.58). Insulin stimulation reduces arterial stiffness in adults with MetS. While high VO2peak, lower body fat, and blood glucose levels may contribute to less arterial stiffness in the fasted state, they were not associated with insulin action, suggesting insulin impacts arterial stiffness through another mechanism. Future research is warranted to determine the role of insulin on arterial health. 
 

Highly Efficient Electrocatalytic Reduction of CO2 to CO by a Molecular Chromium Complex
Presenter Name: Julia Dressel
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Charles Machan
Secondary Research Mentor: Shelby Hooe
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Double Hoo Research Grant
Rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from anthropogenic sources demonstrate the need for carbon neutral energy generation. Electrocatalytic CO2 reduction could address this by using CO2 as a source of small carbon molecules, including carbon monoxide (CO) and formate, which are valuable building blocks for commodity chemicals and fuels. A variety of earth abundant molecular electrocatalysts for CO2 reduction have been developed, but group 6 metals remain relatively unexplored in comparison. Due to their known function in formate and carbon monoxide dehydrogenase enzymes, group 6 metals could offer another avenue of efficient CO2 reduction.
    A molecular chromium (III) complex with a 2,2-bipyridine-based ligand was evaluated as an electrocatalyst for CO2 reduction by examining the mechanistic and kinetic factors governing the reaction. Electrochemical investigations show that the chromium complex is active for CO2 reduction to CO with a Faradiac efficiency of 96 ± 8% with phenol (PhOH) as a proton donor. These results suggest that electrocatalytic CO2 reduction by early transition metals is possible and comparable to the reactivity seen with late transition metals.
    To lower the energy requirements of CO2 reduction further, a modified ligand framework was developed and metalated with nickel to generate a nickel (II) complex. Electrochemical studies show that this species is active for CO2 reduction and hydrogen evolution reactions (HER). Further electrochemical and spectroelecrochemical investigations are underway to identify kinetic and mechanistic features of these reactions.

 

Data Augmentation of Meningeal Lymphatic Vessels for Segmentation and Analysis Using Deep Learning Networks
Presenter Name: Michael  Ferguson 
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Scott  Acton 
Secondary Research Mentor: Nazia  Tabassum 
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Double Hoo Research Grant
This paper summarizes our building of a tool to automatically analyze images of lymphatic vessels. These vessels surround the cerebral cortex and have been known to drain waste from the brain, and studies on mice have shown loss of memory and impairment in cognitive ability if the vessels do not function adequately. Since these vessels were only recently discovered, there is no software available for automatically analyzing these images. Instead, segmentation must be achieved by hand, a tedious and error-prone process. By building the first automatic segmentation tool for these vessels, we can provide more measures for understanding and researching them, in a quick and reliable way. A modified version of a convolutional neural network, called U-NET, is applied to microscopy images of these vessels, with the goal of teaching the network how to segment the vessels. After creating ground truth for the images by hand, a custom data-preprocessing pipeline was also created to speed up network training and testing. Different combinations of image size, training time, data augmentation techniques, and network hyperparameters were tested to achieve the best accuracy - currently at 96%. We also experimented with the network architecture itself and included automatic image analysis tools to achieve our results. The existence of a program to automatically segment and analyze these vessels will drastically speed up subsequent neuroscience research in the field, and thus chip away at the mystery surrounding diseases that result from their malfunction. 

 

Diffusivity of immunized lymph node tissue measured with micro-IOI
Presenter Name: Timothy Freeman
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Rebecca Pompano
Secondary Research Mentor: Megan Catterton
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Double Hoo Research Grant
    Vaccines are an established treatment to develop a protective immune response to pathogens. The adaptive immune response is coordinated in secondary organs called lymph nodes which results in swelling and rearrangements within the tissue. This response is triggered, or amplified, by a component of the vaccine called the adjuvant. It is currently unknown how different adjuvants affect the diffusivity, how molecules move through a medium, of protein-sized molecules through lymphoid tissue during a vaccine response. We expected a decrease in diffusivity as a result of increased swelling in the lymph node. In order to measure diffusivity and tortuosity in vaccinated lymphoid tissue, mice were vaccinated with four different adjuvants (PBS, Alum, CFA, Poly(I:C)), and live lymph node slices were collected 1- and 4-days post vaccination. A Microfluidic Integrated Optical Imaging (micro-IOI) device was used to deliver fluorescently-labelled dextrans (non-binding glucose polymers of varying sizes) to lymph node slices, and diffusion was measured over the course of three minutes. As expected, there was a significant difference between the diffusivity of the smaller 3 kDa dextran, which was faster than the larger 10 kDa dextran in all conditions tested. Contrary to our hypothesis, on day 4 there was an increase in the diffusivity and decrease in tortuosity in Poly(I:C) and CFA vaccinated mice compared to the PBS and alum conditions, not seen on day 1. These results are important for understanding the molecular transport during an immune response, which may help to inform development of novel drugs and therapies.
 

Impact of Volume Resuscitation for Severe Sepsis and Septic Shock on Development of ARDS and Hospital Mortality
Presenter Name: Heidi  Freking
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Alexandra Kadl
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Aggressive volume fluid resuscitation is a standard treatment for patients with sepsis and septic shock. There is debate over whether a conservative or liberal fluid management strategy is best for increasing survival rates and mechanical ventilator free days. We are interested in determining if the amount of fluid administered to patients 24 and 72 hours after the onset of severe sepsis or septic shock correlates with the time spent on mechanical ventilation and hospital mortality.  In a retrospective analysis of patients that were transferred to the medical intensive care unit from the medical floor with sepsis or septic shock in 2014, data was compiled including each patient's demographics, comorbidities, source of sepsis, need for mechanical ventilation, transfusion, renal replacement therapy, and mortality. The data was analyzed for the development of ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome) with a need for mechanical ventilation, and in-hospital mortality. We hypothesize that there is a correlation between volume resuscitation for severe sepsis and septic shock and the development of ARDS and hospital mortality. It is speculated that a conservative fluid management approach increases the amount of ventilator free days and survival rates of patients after 30 days. Results of the study can be used to determine the optimal fluid management strategy for severe sepsis and septic shock and identify factors for the development of ARDS during treatment. 
 

Toxoplasma Gondii Invasion of Host Cells with Varied Cytoskeleton Configuration Induced by Substrate Stiffness

Presenter Name: Grace Gallagher
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Brian Helmke
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Toxoplasmosis, a disease caused by Toxoplasma gondii, affects about a third of Americans and can be especially harmful to people with immunodeficiencies or pregnant mothers. Many mechanical and biochemical factors play a part in the microorganism’s invasion and proliferation within host cells, yet very little is known about the specifics of mechanochemical interactions. My research question asks how the rate of Toxoplasma gondii invasion is affected by host cell cytoskeleton stiffness and cell density. Previous research has shown that a cell’s cytoskeleton tension is dependent on the stiffness of a substrate, and the relationship between host cell cytoskeleton and invading parasites varied depending on this resulting cytoskeleton stiffness. After plating human fibroblasts on several polyacrylamide gels with varying stiffness, I then measured cytoskeletal organization and Toxoplasma rate of invasion for each gel. With fluorescent staining and microscopy, the cytoskeletal structures of the cells grown on stiff polyacrylamide gels have distinct F-actin microfilaments that stretch at the front of the cell and create lines on the cell’s edge, but the cells on the soft polyacrylamide gels have curved F-actin microfilaments that do not stretch across the cell’s edge. Additionally, the rates of invasion varied between each group of cells grown on different gels, after normalizing for the variation in cell density on gels due to various growth rates.  This balance of forces could be further studied to gain knowledge of how or why the microorganism generates force and provide treatment and preventative options. 
 

Robo1 involvement in growth and aging in genetically modified mouse models
Presenter Name: Anna Gan
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Kwon-Sik Park
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
At present, there is a great deal of literature on the relationship between Robo1 and neuronal development, however, little causational relationships has been established between Robo1, growth, and aging. Mice with mutations in both copies of the Robo1 gene often die immediately after birth, and therefore, intensive studies have not been done on the gene’s relationship with aging and growth thus far. In a previous experiment, a strain of mice with mutations in both copies of the Robo1 gene were viable for a much longer period of time, and seemed to exhibit growth deficits and early onset aging. From this finding, we hypothesized that Robo1 may play a role in the regulation of growth and aging. To test this hypothesis, a gene knockout was induced in genetically engineered mice models. Body weight, body size, and the presence of graying was measured over a period of time; These phenotypes were chosen for their feasibility, universality, and measurability. Knockout mice were discovered to exhibit these following phenotypes relative to their wildtype counterparts: reduced body size, reduced body weight, and greater presence of graying. 
 

 

Inadequate Physical Activity of Preschool-Age Children in a Setting that Promotes Physical Activity
Presenter Name: Sarah Garzione
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Sibylle Kranz
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Physical activity is decreasing in children as young as preschool-age. The purpose of this study was to investigate physical activity and energy expenditure of 3-4-year-old children during day camps with free play and structured activity periods. Children were recruited to participate in day camps with at least 120 minutes of free play and 60 minutes of directed PA games. An ActiGraph GT3x+ was secured to a flexible belt and placed on each child’s hip to collect tri-axial movement data. Time spent in various activity levels was calculated using ActiLife software. Kilocalories expended for PA were obtained. Participants were classified based on time spent in moderate/vigorous physical activity (MVPA). Twenty-two children completed at least two camp days, wore their ActiGraph for the entire camp day, and were included in analysis. Average PA-related energy expenditure was 103.8 kcal/d. Children spent 61.5±0.1% in sedentary, 28.5±0.1% in light, 6.7±0.1% in moderate, and 3.4±0.01% in vigorous activity levels. Only 9% of the children met the minimum PA guideline of 60 minutes/day.  Preschool-age children spent only a small proportion of their time being physically active, even in an environment that utilizes directed active time. Our findings indicate a need to explore the underlying factors of preferring sedentary time at a very early age and how behavior change can be accomplished to achieve higher average PA levels.

This study was funded by the Curry Initiative Fund and is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, Identifier: NCT03861208

 

Novel Ribosomal Reporter Characterizes Cell Cycle-Specific Gene Regulatory Networks
Presenter Name: Tess Gibson
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Matthew  Wolf
Secondary Research Mentor: Leigh Bradley
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
Transcriptomes dynamically change throughout the cell cycle and likely dictate whether a cell divides or enters quiescence. A detailed understanding of the changes in gene expression as cells transition into and out of the cell cycle may potentially guide manipulation of the cell cycle as a target for new therapies to treat heart disease and cancer. Unfortunately, current methods of gene expression analysis require the physical separation of cells, a challenge limiting the characterization of many cell types in vivo. To address this challenge, my work merged two powerful strategies, the cell cycle-dependent control of protein expression of degrons associated with Fluorescence Ubiquitin Cell Cycle Indicators and differentially epitope-tagged ribosomal proteins, creating a new technology, denoted ccTaggedRP. ccTaggedRP is predicted to effectively isolate ribosome-associated mRNA transcripts from cells at specific phases of the cell cycle. To investigate this new strategy, I created a cell line, called Flp-In-ccTaggedRP-HEK293 cells, which expresses a bicistronic cDNA composed of epitope-tagged ribosomal proteins individually fused to cell cycle-specific degrons and cleaved at an internal T2A sequence. Validation studies with immunocytochemistry, immunoblotting, and immunoprecipitation suggest that ccTaggedRP ribosomal proteins fold correctly and their expression changes depending on the phase of cell cycle. This technology can be used to extract mRNA during specific phases of the cell cycle to give researchers a better understanding of the genes governing cell cycle progression.
 

Evaluation of non-psychoactive Cannabis extracts in animal models of epilepsy
Presenter Name: Brett Goerl
Co Presenter Name(s):  Sarah  Watkins    
Primary Research Mentor: Mark Beenhakker
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant
Epilepsy affects 3 million people in the United States, and current medications fail to control seizures in one-third of patients. Studies demonstrate that Cannabidiol (CBD), a compound in Cannabis, is anticonvulsant. Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), the acidic precursor to CBD, may also be anticonvulsant due to its ability to agonize serotonin receptors in vivo. 

Our study aims to determine the anticonvulsant dose and time effect of CBDA extracts in the rat maximal electroshock seizure (MES) test, an acute model of epilepsy. Animals were challenged with a 0.2 s, 60 Hz, 150 mA stimulus and evaluated for tonic seizures. Animals failing to exhibit tonic seizures after drug administration were considered  protected from the test. A broad spectrum cannabinoid complex enriched with 74.4% CBDA (Chylobinoid), Mg-CBDA (95% w/w), and CBD (99% w/w) were evaluated. Compounds were administered via intraperitoneal injection at various time points [0.5-4 hrs] and doses [20-250 mg/kg].
Chylobinoid and Mg-CBDA demonstrated peak efficacy at 1 hour and CBD at 2 hours. Median effective doses (ED50) were calculated with 95% confidence: Chylobinoid at 102.9 [69.4-146.3] mg/kg; Mg-CBDA at 124.3 [109.5-144.9] mg/kg; CBD at 68.8 [56.6-80.0] mg/kg. 
Both CBDA extracts act as anticonvulsant in the rat MES model at a dosage comparable, but not more effective than, CBD. Future studies are necessary to confirm whether these results are replicable in chronic and pharmacoresistant models of epilepsy.

 

Individual Variability in the Oxytocinergic System and the Development of Amygdala Functional Connectivity
Presenter Name: Alison Goldstein
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: James Morris
Secondary Research Mentor: Amalia McDonald
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Double Hoo Research Grant
Functional connectivity between the amygdala and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) has been identified as a primary neural substrate of emotional processing and regulation that undergoes substantial changes throughout development. Additionally, maternal deprivation in childhood has been associated with dysregulation of this network in adulthood. A relevant biomarker for social behavior and maternal bonding is oxytocin. Methylation of the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTRm) impacts expression of the molecule that allows an individual to make use of oxytocin, which has important social and emotional ramifications. As part of an ongoing longitudinal study, 72 participants aged 5-11 underwent fMRI scans and saliva collection to obtain functional connectivity and OXTRm data. The film Inscapes was shown to participants as a well validated proxy for resting state. The Test for Emotional Comprehension (TEC) was administered to assess emotion understanding and parents completed several questionnaires on the participants’ behavior, including an emotion regulation checklist. Our analysis revealed that OXTRm is associated with negative connectivity at resting state between the right amygdala and the left IFG, an area associated with emotion regulation. This suggests that methylation may mediate the relationship between amygdala functional connectivity and mood symptomology, and future research should focus on understanding the relationship in the context of socio-emotional behavior. Overall, this project informs researchers of the influence of the endogenous oxytocin system on the development of neural networks, factors that may alter typical course of development, and the associated socio-emotional cognitive and behavioral outcomes of the development and maintenance of these neural networks. 
 

Loss of the inhibitor of differentiation 3 gene in endothelial cells elevates atherosclerotic burden with increased vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 expression
Presenter Name: Young Min  Haider
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Coleen  McNamara
Secondary Research Mentor: Victoria  Osinski
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
Atherosclerosis is the accumulation of fat in the arteries, resulting in an excess concentration of low-density lipoproteins (LDL). White blood cells bind to the adhesive molecule, Vascular cell adhesion molecule 1(VCAM-1), on endothelial cells (EC) and move between ECs to enter the lesion area. Some of these white blood cells differentiate into macrophages, eventually becoming foam cells. The gene of interest is the inhibitor of differentiation 3 (Id3), a protein which regulates cell differentiation and proliferation. The McNamara lab has found that in conjunction with a high-fat western diet in mice, a deletion in the Id3 gene significantly increases atherosclerotic development. Therefore, the hypothesis for this investigation is that loss of Id3 specifically in ECs results in increased atherosclerotic lesion due to increased expression of VCAM-1 and immune cell recruitment. The experiment involved dividing the mice into two groups: Id3 wild type (WT) and the Id3 knockout (KO) mice and feeding them a western diet to induce atherosclerosis. Both groups were harvested for atherosclerosis quantification by sectioning the aortic roots under a cryostat and staining them to detect VCAM-1 molecules. The McNamara lab has preliminary data suggesting that Id3 KO-EC specific mice have higher atherosclerotic burden, and current studies are being conducted to validate this and quantify VCAM-1. The purpose of studying cardiovascular disease at the genetic level is because, despite alternative therapeutic options addressing the issue of coronary occlusion, they are not completely effective due to the unhealthy lifestyle that an individual continues.

 

The role of HSF-1 and DAF-16 in oxidative stress resistance in C. elegans
Presenter Name: Emma Harrison
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Eyleen O'Rourke
Secondary Research Mentor: Anna Way
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
Oxidative stress is an imbalance between free radicals and an organism’s ability to detoxify them, that leads to damage in the cells and tissues. 
Insulin receptor (DAF-2) and Notch receptor (GLP-1) C. elegans mutants under conditions of oxidative stress have an increased survivorship compared to wild type worms. Our lab has shown that this increased survivorship is dependent on lysosomal lipolysis. Lysosomal lipolysis is the process by which lipases break down triglycerides to free fatty acids and glycerol. In daf-2 and glp-1 mutant strains of C. elegans, lipase (lipl) genes are induced. We have found that the daf-2 and glp-1 mutants trigger lipase induction through the transcription factors DAF-16 and HSF-1. We have tested this interaction using RNAi to inactivate genes. To confirm the results with a more effective treatment, I constructed double mutants of daf-2; daf-16, glp-1; hsf-1 and glp-1; daf-16, and I am working to confirm that HSF-1 and DAF-16 are controlling lipl expression downstream of DAF-2 and GLP-1. 
Additionally, I tested the question whether HSF-1 is upstream of DAF-16 during oxidative stress. I exposed C. elegans to a chemical agent that induces oxidative stress and tested the survivorship of animals. HSF-1 overexpression was found to be sufficient to extend the survivorship. I also found that increased survivorship of HSF-1 overexpressing worms is partially dependent on DAF-16, suggesting that DAF-16 may be downstream of HSF-1 in oxidative stress conditions. This has been the first thorough investigation into the role of HSF-1 in oxidative stress.

 

Single-cell proteomic analysis of trophic regulation of somatosensory differentiation
Presenter Name: Connor Haynes
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Chris Deppmann
Secondary Research Mentor: Austin Keeler
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant
The brain builds circuits to translate external stimuli into appropriate reactions; however, aberrant circuits can lead to disorders, such as chronic pain conditions. Learning how somatosensory circuits form will provide clues for uncovering therapeutics to tackle these disorders. In the somatosensory system, different populations of neurons, corresponding to different functions such as pain or touch sensitivity, are defined in part by expression of neurotrophic receptors. Thus, I sought to use a novel tool created in collaboration between the Zunder and Deppmann labs, neural mass cytometry (nMC), to characterize the extent that trophic signaling determines neuron fate decisions. nMC uses metal-conjugated antibodies for rapid single-cell protein analysis thus analogous to single-cell western blots. Briefly, I have built a new antibody panel to phenotype the major somatosensory populations (both neuronal and non-neuronal) and to recognize phosphorylated proteins downstream of neurotrophic signaling. Then I applied neurotrophic ligands to cultured embryonic day 12.5 somatosensory neurons. At this age the immature neurons express both TrkB and TrkC and may become mechanoreceptors or proprioceptors, respectively. I hypothesized that exposure to the cognate ligand of a Trk receptor would stabilize the expression of that Trk and enrich that sensory neuron type. Surprisingly, preliminary results suggest the reverse; that application of NT-3, the ligand of TrkC, decreases TrkC expressing neurons by ~25% and doubles the number of TrkA expressing neurons, creating a shift from proprioceptive to nociceptive fate. My research sheds light on the patterns underlying neuron development and provides another step to therapies for somatosensory disorders.
 

Cationic ferritin enhanced-MRI to investigate changes in kidney structure in a model of the transition between acute kidney injury to chronic kidney disease
Presenter Name: Jillian Hughes
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Jennifer Charlton
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Patients who develop acute kidney injury (AKI) are at risk for chronic kidney disease (CKD). Tools to assess these conditions are insufficient. Our group has developed a noninvasive, radiologic method to count nephrons called cationic ferritin enhanced-MRI (CFE-MRI) and have applied it to investigate the microstructural changes in the transition from AKI to CKD. Adult C57Bl/6 male mice were injected with folic acid (125mg/kg) to induce AKI. The contrast agent (CF) was administered at 4 days (AKI) or 4 weeks (CKD) post-injury. Using histological and ex vivo MRI techniques, we found that CKD animals had fewer and larger glomeruli, as well as clusters of glomeruli without tubules as compared to controls. Our major goal was to track the nephron from AKI to CKD in vivo, but these studies made it clear that the multiple injections required for in vivo imaging are not feasible in the C57Bl/6 mice. Therefore, we adapted the model to the CD-1 strain. In a pilot study, two folic acid doses were compared (125 vs. 250 mg/kg) and similar injuries were observed, informing the decision to use 250 mg/kg of folic acid in the CD-1 mice. Early results show a decrease in renal function in AKI animals (mean: -65±22% n=4). Ongoing data analysis of the CKD group is underway. The folic acid induced AKI-to-CKD model is consistent between mouse strains, and creates an accurate representation of renal disease. This ex vivo study provides a foundation for future in vivo studies to track kidney disease progression more closely.  
 

Role of WNT4 in the Continuing Growth of Lung Cancer Cells 
Presenter Name: Emma  Imbarlina
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Kwon Sik-Park 
Secondary Research Mentor: Pei-Chi Hou
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Cancer is a prominent disease which affects a large portion of the human population. It stems from genetic mutations, prompting an analysis of the cancer genes which allow for cell division and regulation. WNT4 is a growth factor that activates intracellular signaling proteins involved in development. Some studies have linked WNT4 to cell proliferation, but others have suggested its role as a regulator of tumor development. A recent finding of remarkable increase in the WNT4 level of lung cancer cells as compared to normal lung cells implies that it promotes tumor growth. My project aims to investigate the effects of a knockout of WNT4 on lung cancer cells, using CRISPR-mediated gene targeting. We generate a lentiviral vector to deliver guide RNA and the Cas9 enzyme to target the WNT4 sequence in mouse lung cancer cells. Cas9 and the guide RNA from this vector allow for removal,  knockout, of WNT4. We then confirm the knockout through genotyping and compare targeted cancer cells to non-targeted control cells for proliferation rate and other phenotypes suggesting an effect of the WNT4 knockout. We expect that a loss of WNT4 will decrease proliferation of the lung cancer cells, suggesting that blocking of the WNT4 signal pathway may suppress tumor growth. 
 

IP-10 as a Marker to Screen for Pathogenic T-Cells in Acute Rejection in Lung Transplant Patients
Presenter Name: Hejin Jeong
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Judith Woodfolk
Secondary Research Mentor: Lyndsey Muehling
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
Acute cell-mediated lung transplant rejection is the destruction of the transplanted lungs by the recipient’s own immune cells, including a type of immune cell known as T-cell. Despite the high rates of incidence of acute cell-mediated lung transplant rejection, with approximately one-third of patients experiencing rejection within the first year of transplant, little is known about its mechanism. It has been proposed that rejection is mediated by Th1-cell, a subtype of T-cell. Binding of IP-10, an inflammatory protein, which can be released upon viral infection, to its receptor (CXCR3) expressed on Th1-cells may initiate inflammatory cascade to ultimately destroy the transplanted lungs. In this study, we hypothesized that increased IP-10 level can serve as a marker for acute transplant rejection and the presence of pathogenic Th1-cells in the lower airways of transplant recipients.
IP-10 levels in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) specimens obtained from post-transplant bronchoscopies of lung transplant recipients were monitored via enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). A trend towards increased IP-10 concentration was observed for samples obtained from patients with decreased lung function. IP-10 concentration was positively correlated with increased differential lymphocyte (p=0.03) and neutrophil (p=0.016) counts in the lungs, and negatively correlated with macrophage count (p=0.01).
Collectively, these data link IP-10 concentration and lung transplant rejection. Further, they establish a relationship between IP-10 and cells that mediate both innate and adaptive inflammatory immune response. In the future, we aim to use IP-10 as a screening tool to validate the proposed relationship between Th1-cells and acute lung transplant rejection.

 

The Effect of Diet and Exercise in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder 
Presenter Name: Divya Kalluri
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Sibylle Kranz
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
The purpose of this study is to look at how diet and exercise can have an effect on emotional and behavioral problems associated with children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder. A survey was conducted where parents of children with ASD indicated the amount of diet and exercise that their children had, including questions how often they participated in physical activity and questions on the type of eater they are. The study was sent to parents who voluntarily filled out the survey. No significant conclusions have been drawn from the study yet, but there was a variety of data collected from the children. Implications of the study can help therapists and doctors better tailor treatments for children with ASD by providing them ways they can change their everyday activities to potentially allow for improvements in their emotional responses and behavior. 
 

Utilizing gravity-driven fluid flow to culture ex vivo lymph node slices long-term.
Presenter Name: Erica Kem
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Rebecca Pompano
Secondary Research Mentor: Alexander Ball
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
The immune system is the body’s defense system against infection and illness. Lymph nodes are organs that are an integral component of the immune system as they are the location in which the immune response develops. We have recently started using slices of lymph nodes as a model to visualize and study the development of immune responses. As many immune responses require several days to develop, we need to be able to culture the slices long term to study this process. However, lymph node slices currently are only viable for 48 hours because after that amount of time, there is cell egress (cells leaving the slices). We hypothesize that fluid flow would limit cell egress because in the body, fluid flow is important for cell retention in lymph nodes. Our engineering approach is to create a system where gravity drives fluid flow through our lymph node slices. Once we can culture lymph node slices long-term, we will be able to use these lymph node slices as a way to thoroughly study immune response and eventually use slices to screen novel immunotherapies, drugs that use the immune system to treat diseases.
 

Monitoring the Spindle in a Dividing 2 Cell Embryo
Presenter Name: Iris Kennedy
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Stefanie Redemann
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Faithful segregation of chromosomes is very important to life. An embryo forms through a series of cell divisions. It starts as one cell, then divides to two and then four and so on. During these divisions, if a chromosome were to segregate incorrectly, the consequences could be disastrous for the embryo. Mis-segregations can lead to genetic diseases and defects, and often can result in the death of the cell or embryo. The division of these chromosomes is driven by a structure called the spindle. The spindle is anchored to the chromosomes on a region called the centromere, and structures called centrosomes anchor the spindle and pull the chromosomes apart. Understanding these spindle-chromosome interactions can provide valuable insight into why chromosome segregation can go wrong.
    The goal of this project was to study the division of a C.Elegans embryo from two cells to four cells, and observe the rate of centrosome and chromosome separation. Using an inverted light microscope, the division of these embryos was filmed. The distance between centrosomes as the cell divided, as well as the distance over time between segregating chromosomes was measured. The data collected provides insight into the mechanisms of chromosome segregation, and the interaction between the chromosomes and the spindle.

 

Uncovering the genetic basis behind locomotor variation in Drosophila Melanogaster

Presenter Name: Ingrid Kenyon
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Jay Hirsh
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
The fruit fly, Drosophila Melanogaster, has been studied genetically for over 100 years and serves as a model organism for genetic processes in humans due to conservation of many developmental and behavioral pathways. My project seeks to determine genes responsible for differing levels of locomotor activity between two closely related wild-type strains of Drosophila in order to obtain a better understanding of the mechanisms behind such changes. I used a Linux based computational protocol to perform a Genome Wide Association Study (GWAS) to locate and identify genetic variants that are associated with phenotypic differences observed between flies that display high and low levels of locomotor activity. This study yielded a ‘Manhattan plot’ of single nucleotide variants showing association with the phenotype, allowing visualization of regions of phenotypic association along each chromosome. I am in the process of breeding flies for another round of analysis that should help corroborate my previous data. These flies come from an expanded genetic background and will undergo more generations of recombination than my previous experiment, allowing me to better narrow in on interesting regions of the genome. Isolated genes can then be investigated further through the use of knockdown and overexpression studies to determine their effects in live flies. Overall, the goal is to uncover the genes responsible for these quantitative locomotor differences in our wild-type flies, allowing us to better understand what mechanisms control this process.

 

Quantifying the expression level of MYO7A isoforms in auditory hair cells
Presenter Name: Jeewoo Kim
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Jung-Bum Shin
Secondary Research Mentor: Sihan Li
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Double Hoo Research Grant
It has been reported that outer hair cells (OHCs) in the basal region of the cochlea have higher tip link tension than apical outer hair cells. Since basal and apical OHCs correspond to different frequency ranges, correct tip link tension is very important. However, the mechanisms of this phenomenon is not understood. Previously, we have shown that MyosinVIIA (MYO7A) is the motor protein that establishes the tip link tension. By using RACE, we have identified that two isoforms of MYO7A are expressed in the OHCs. The canonical isoform of MYO7A (MYO7A-C) composes 50% of the total MYO7A levels in the apical OHCs, and 10% in basal OHCs. Another newly identified MYO7A isoform (MYO7A-N) is the counter part of the MYO7A-C and has complementary expression. However, the quantification of MYO7A isoforms in OHCs was done at the cellular level, while the MYO7A level at stereocilia, especially the upper tip link density (UTLD), where MYO7A is proposed to establish the tension, is unknown. We hypothesize that the ratio of MYO7A-C and -N contribute to the gradient of tip link tension in OHCs.  I propose to quantify the levels of MYO7A-C and -N in the UTLD of OHCs at different regions of the cochlea, by using -C and -N isoform deletion mice. I expect that the ratio between MYO7A-C and -N isoform is correlated with the ratio in the cytosol. I will be able to show that MYO7A-N levels follow the expected gradient of abundance in UTLD of OHCs from base to apex. 
 

PressRite: Application of Pressure on Post Cardiac Device Implantation Site
Presenter Name: Sieu Kim
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Nishaki Mehta
Secondary Research Mentor: Katerina Morgaenko
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Approximately, 2 million patients undergo Cardiac Implantable Device (CIED) procedure annually, of whom up to 9% can develop of device related hematomas. Such incidences can result in life threatening cardiac infections which have no universal consensus on how to prevent hematomas. UVA has developed PressRite (PR), a transparent air compression bandage, with intention of preventing CIED hematomas and purpose of investigating safety and efficacy of PR in patients. IRB approved 160 patients to be randomized in 1:1 manner with PR vs Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). Baseline, durometer readings were obtained pre and post procedure, and follow up for skin tensile strength. In PR group, the device application was done for 4 hours, 40 mmHg of pressure was applied and pressure monitoring was conducted every 30 min. Surveys and photographs were collected for patient tolerability and assessment of scar healing. Of 64 patients enrolled in the study so far, 22 had PR application among 35 patients with intention to treat (ITT). The average ages were 66 ± 16.3128 for SOP and 72 ± 13.8673 for PR. 24.32% of SOP was African Americans and 11.54% of PR was African American or Hispanic. PR held initial of 42.73 ± 4.7595 mmHg to 32.66 ± 5.3482 mmHg at the 4 hour period with no adverse events. Based on our preliminary analysis so far, PR appears to be safe, is well tolerated and can exert reliable pressure over a 4 hour period. 

The Lone Star Tick as a Disease Vector for Red Meat Allergy
Presenter Name: Ankith Laichetty
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Martin Wu
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Tick populations across the continental United States are on the rise and with them, come new diseases. Among them, is red meat allergy, which is transmitted by the bite of the Lone Star tick. The purpose of this study is to investigate the mechanism of action, which involves alpha-galactose, a sugar found in red meat but not in higher primates. The hypothesis of the study is that there is a new mutation in lone star tick populations that initiates an immune response involving alpha-gal, resulting in a red meat allergy in bitten individuals. In order to test the hypothesis, we used wild caught ticks using the drag sheet method for forest transection surveys. Wild ticks were fed horse blood using an artificial feeding system and were dissected, and extracted tissues were immune-stained for alpha-gal. Findings are predicted to implicate the diet of the tick in causing the immune response to alpha-gal in humans. This can be proved by using blood with alpha-gal removed to feed the ticks but still finding alpha-gal in Lone Star tick salivary glands. This study has far reaching implications, since understanding the mechanism of a contractable allergy may revolutionize treatment strategies for existing allergies and auto-immune diseases.
 

TM1385 from Thermotoga maritima functions as a phosphoglucose isomerase via cis-enediol-based mechanism with active site redundancy
Presenter Name: Katherine Lake
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Linda Columbus
Secondary Research Mentor: Nicole Swope
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Double Hoo Research Grant
Phosphoglucose isomerases (PGIs) belong to a class of enzymes that catalyze the reversible isomerization of glucose-6-phosphate (G6P) to fructose-6-phosphate (F6P) and are crucial in both glycolysis and gluconeogenesis pathways. In humans, an inactive or inefficient PGI leads to nonspherocytic hemolytic anemia, and PGI elevation is a known marker for tumor metastasis, which highlights the importance of characterizing PGIs. Identification of a thermostable PGI may be advantageous for industrial applications, as bioengineering thermostable enzymes is of broad interest. The  proposed phosphoglucose isomerase function of TM1385, a previously uncharacterized protein from the thermophile, Thermotoga maritima (TmPGI), is hypothesized based on structural similarity to established PGI crystal structures and computational docking. We propose an acid/base catalyzed reaction comprised of ring opening, base-catalyzed cis-enediol intermediate formation, and ring closure based on structural similarity to previously mechanistically characterized PGIs. Kinetic and colorimetric assays confirm that TM1385 is a phosphoglucose isomerase (TmPGI). To determine which amino acid residues are critical for TmPGI catalysis, putative active site residues were mutated to alanine and screened for activity. Results support that E281 is most important for TmPGI function, and presence of either H310 or K422 may be required for catalysis, similar to previous observations from homologous PGIs. However, at non-physiological concentrations of substrate, only TmPGI E281A/Q415A and H310A/K422A double mutations abolished activity, suggesting that Q415 may participate in sugar phosphate isomerization upon E281 mutation. Combined, we propose that TmPGI E281 participates directly in the cis-enediol intermediate step, and either H310 or K422 may facilitate sugar ring opening and closure.
 

An Analysis of the Risks of Tick-Borne Diseases in the Areas surrounding the University of Virginia 
Presenter Name: Aubrey Leaser
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Martin Wu
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Ticks transmit multiple human diseases including red meat allergy (by the lone star tick Amblyomma americanum), Rocky Mountain spotted fever (by the American dog tick Dermacentor variabilis) and the Lyme disease (by the deer tick Ixodes scapularis). Although the number of actively questing ticks varies from season to season, recent studies suggest that tick populations are surging in Virginia and pose year-round threats to Virginians. 
Despite the substantial risk ticks pose to students and local residents, tick populations have not been surveyed on Grounds and around Charlottesville. The goal of this project is to survey the tick populations on Grounds and around Charlottesville and assess the risk of tick-borne diseases. To this end, we have conducted weekly tick surveys in outdoor areas around UVA’s grounds since September 2019. We collected ticks using the cloth-dragging method and identified tick species by morphology. We found that although different tick species are present in different months of the year, the tick population is significant in the area around Hereford Resident College at UVA year round and therefore poses a potential risk to students living in the area.
 

The Effect of Different Implant Designs on Incidence Rates of Patellar Clunks Following Total Knee Arthroplasty
Presenter Name: Haryoung Lee
Co Presenter Name(s):  Nicole Natarelli    
Primary Research Mentor: Joseph Hart
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Total knee arthroplasty (TKA) is a common surgical procedure as human knees wear out naturally due to age, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, unusual bone growth, injury, deformity, or loss of cartilage, etc. The TKA surgical procedure replaces the knee joint with artificial material in order to relieve knee pain and increase knee function. One potential complication following this surgery is patellar crepitus and clunk syndrome, in which a fibrous nodule develops a scar tissue that can cause painful grinding, catching, or clunking; arthroscopic debridement, a second surgical operation, is required for symptom relief. Two primary implant designs used during the procedure include DJO Surgical Empowr 3D (DJO) and DePuy PFC Sigma (DePuy), yet past research comparing the two is relatively limited as the former design has only been recently developed and introduced. A retrospective chart review was done to determine the incidence rates of patellar crepitus between the two different implant designs while controlling for surgeon and facility factors. The incidence of patellar clunk was significantly higher in individuals receiving DePuy implants than those receiving DJO (46 vs. 0 respectively, p <0.001), despite no significant difference in BMI between groups. As the DJO implant demonstrated no incidences of patellar clunk, it is suggested that the incidence of patellar crepitus and clunk syndrome is dependent on implant design, rather than patient or surgeon factors. As this syndrome may require revision surgery, understanding factors that are correlated to higher incidence can reduce overall cost and recovery time following total knee arthroplasty.
 

Elevation and mean winter temperatures differentially impact the distribution of two non-native mason bee species (genus Osmia) across the Commonwealth of Virginia
Presenter Name: Nayoung Lee 
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: T'ai Roulston
Secondary Research Mentor: Kathryn LeCroy
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Double Hoo Research Grant
Concern for the status of  wild bee populations in the US is growing amid reports of bee decline and threats to pollination as an ecosystem service. Data from the USGS have found steady persistence of the intentionally introduced Osmia cornifrons throughout the Mid-Atlantic US, but researchers have observed population explosions of a newly-introduced Japanese mason bee, Osmia taurus. Our citizen scientist-fueled surveys reveal 70% of Osmia collected were Japanese Osmia. In their native range, O. cornifrons and O. taurus are both found in Japan, but O. cornifrons is restricted to central and northern Japan, whereas O. taurus is ubiquitous throughout Japan, including the South and coasts. This restricted distribution of O. cornifrons may be due to the summertime temperatures in southern and coastal Japanese climates are too extreme for O. cornifrons to survive prepupal development; or that O. cornifrons cannot successfully overwinter in warmer wintertime climates. Our species identification data from 100 trap-nesting locations indicate there is a significant difference in O. cornifrons and O. taurus distributions. While O. taurus is ubiquitous throughout Virginia, O. cornifrons is found in areas with colder wintertime temperatures but lower elevations (logistic regression, binary logit, mean winter temperature:ln[p/(1-p)] = 4.4238,1.3131(X), X2=12.2267, p=0.0005; elevation:ln[p/(1-p)] = 4.4238,0.00490(X), X2=4.0167, p=0.0451). This matches the distribution patterns of O. cornifrons and O. taurus in Japan, such that O. cornifrons is found less in areas of Virginia with warmer wintertime temperatures but lower elevations. Projecting the spread of O. taurus in the US is a crucial next step.
 

Impact of Culture Media on Hepatitis C Virus infected Hepatocytes on Hepatic Stellate Cells Activation
Presenter Name: Arnold Leigh
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Diane Nam
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
Hepatitis C virus otherwise known as HCV is a bloodborne virus that is a major cause of liver cancer and liver degradation. HCV symptoms include jaundice, ascites, and liver cirrhosis which affects 3-4 million people annually. Activation of hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) is a major event of HCV-induced chronic liver disease. These activated HSCs are closely related to fibrosis and progression to Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). HSCs are located between the hepatocytes and liver sinusoidal endothelial cells in a region called the extracellular matrix (ECM). Liver damage turns HSCs into active states which promotes liver disease progression. I investigated the role of the culture medium of HCV-infected hepatocytes (HCV CM) on HSCs activation. On plastic plates, HSCs interfere with accurate analysis due to spontaneous activation. I used a Matrigel-coated plate to check for spontaneous activity of HSCs and analyzed the effects of HCV CM on HSCs activation: LX-2 cells (HSCs) were seeded on a Matrigel-coated plate and treated with supernatant of HCV-infected hepatocytes (HCV CM) versus supernatant of uninfected hepatocytes (UI CM). qPCR was used as the procedure to quantify the amount of mRNA expression. The human hepatic stellate cell line LX-2 was used. Genes (TIMP1, N-cad, aSMA, and COL3) were tested due to their association with cell proliferation. The significance of this experiment is to reduce the spontaneous activation of LX-2 cells and to efficiently determine the effect on LX-2 cells activation by HCV CM as well as HCV CM and matrigel on the HSCs activation.
 

Genetic Dissection of Vagal Motor Circuits Controlling Pancreas Function 
Presenter Name: Chelsea Li
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: John Campbell
Secondary Research Mentor: Nicholas Conley
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant
The DMV (dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus) is the brain’s primary source of parasympathetic output to the digestive system. DMV neurons are thought to comprise  functional units which control different digestive tract functions such as pancreatic insulin release, gastric muscle tone, and hepatic glucose production. Using single-nuclei RNA sequencing (sNuc-Seq), we identified at least 9 molecularly-distinct neuronal groups which potentially correspond to  functional units. We hypothesize that each of these groups mediates a different function in the digestive tract, and preliminary functional and connectivity studies are underway. These preliminary studies have led us to focus on three neuronal subtypes which are specifically marked by expression of markers CALB2, GRP, and VIP. We hypothesize at least one, if not all, control elements of pancreatic function, most notably insulin release. We are currently mapping the location of these putative populations within the DMV using in situ RNA hybridization and immunohistochemistry. In addition, by leveraging the genetic diversity of these neuron subtypes to specifically target and manipulate them, we are 1) determining whether these populations innervate the pancreas using genetically-targeted anterograde synaptic tracing and 2) defining the physiological function of these neuronal populations by optogenetically activating them in vivo while assessing pancreas endocrine function. The results of these studies will yield key insight into how the brain controls pancreas endocrine function, as well as how that circuitry might be targeted to treat diabetes and other related diseases.
 

Elucidating the role of Pou6f1 in the production of memory cells and secondary germinal center formation
Presenter Name: Andria Li
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Chance Luckey
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant
The Pou6f1 gene has previously been shown to play a role in the memory immune response, but its exact role and mechanism was still unknown. My previous experiments indicated that Pou6f1 played no role in antibody affinity and antibody evanescence following primary immune response to vaccination. However, after secondary immune challenge, Pou6f1 knockout mice showed slower rates of antibody decay compared to wild type mice, suggesting that the Pou6f1 gene plays a role as a suppressor of antibody production over time following the secondary immune response. Additionally, the data from my most recent experiment, when the Pou6f1 gene was selectively knocked out in either B or T cells, suggests that Pou6f1acts primarily in B cells. In this experiment, flow cytometry was run on splenocytes collected in both a primary immune response experiment and a secondary immune response experiment to determine whether the total number of memory cells produced in the primary immune response or a difference in germinal centers produced in the secondary immune response that were driving the Pou6f1 phenotype. Both of these experiments yielded negative data, further narrowing down the potential mechanisms of Pou6f1. Further research into the mechanism of Pou6f1 can lead to a  better understanding of immune memory. This information can bring about improved design and the engineering of memory to have more directed effects, eventually leading to superior vaccine development and alloimmunization therapies for cancer and autoimmune diseases. 
 

Mechanistic studies of formation of a female-specific chimeric RNA
Presenter Name: Emily Lin
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Hui Li
Secondary Research Mentor: Xinrui Shi
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Double Hoo Research Grant
Transcripts including exons from two separate parental genes (chimeric RNAs) that arise from cis-splicing between adjacent genes (cis-SAGe) without chromosomal rearrangement are an emerging mechanism of diversification of the human transcriptome. Their exact generation mechanisms are complex and myriad. One such cis-SAGe transcript, UBA1-CDK16, was found via preliminary studies to be expressed solely from the female inactivated X chromosome and highly in blood cells. We hypothesized that its mechanism of formation involves binding of the transcription factor CTCF, which may form a chromatin loop structure in a way that facilitates readthrough events by RNA polymerase II, resulting in a  fusion pre-mRNA that can be further processed by post-transcriptional machinery. To investigate, we used 1) 3C (chromosome conformation capture) to study the chromatin loop structure concerning the two parental genes, 2) CTCF-ChIP (chromatin immunoprecipitation) to research possible roles of this transcription factor, and 3) RNA pol II-ChIP to examine potential for transcriptional readthrough. Our 3C results showed a significantly higher level of interaction between a 5’ sequence of UBA1 and a sequence near the intergenic region. CTCF binding was found to be significantly higher in female peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) near the intergenic region compared to male PBMCs against IgG control. Female PBMCs were found to have significantly decreased RNA pol II attachment at the UBA1 termination site. These results hold promise for a CTCF-mediated chromatin loop mechanism. Future research may further elaborate upon this hypothesis and potentially identify functional role(s) for this chimeric RNA.  
 

Microbiota Impacts Drug Efficacy in Caenorhabditis elegans
Presenter Name: Alexandra Loperfito
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Eyleen O'Rourke
Secondary Research Mentor: Anna Way
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
Chemotherapeutic drugs, including Fluorodeoxyuridine (FUdR), are commonly utilized in the treatment of cancer but vary in efficacy among patients. Patient and tumor genetic differences were unable to fully explain differences in efficacy and toxicity of FUdR. Emerging studies have shown that intestinal microbiota (microbes living in our intestine) influences chemotherapeutic capacity to kill cancer cells in culture. Further, our research using a nematode model system Caenorhabditis elegans as the host and Escherichia coli as its microbiota shows that fluoropyrimidine toxicity is defined by the capacity of the microbe to convert FUdR into a more toxic derivative fluorouracil-monophosphate (FUMP), and not by the host’s metabolism. Our lab determined that the E. coli strains OP50, HT115 and BW25113 are highly effective in metabolizing FUdR into the more toxic derivative (FUMP); while the strain HB101 has poor FUdR-to-FUMP metabolizing capacity. If the microbiota is defining the toxicity of fluoropyrimidines, then sequencing the individual patient’s microbiota genome may allow us to predict the toxicity of these drugs. We sequenced and aligned the genomes of E. coli OP50, HT115, HB101 and BW25113. Two genes, crp and gpt, were found to be intact in E. coli strains that metabolize FUdR into FUMP efficiently, but are mutated in HB101. To investigate whether the loss of crp and/or gpt is responsible for the reduced toxic capacity of HB101, HB101 was transformed with functional copies of gpt and crp. Single mutants of HB101 with the addition of a functional copy of crp and gpt showed increased FUdR toxicity.

 

The Plight of the Honeybee: Pollinator Behaviors as Affected by Glyphosate Pesticides and the Threat of Colony Collapse Disorder
Presenter Name: Caitlin Magro
Co Presenter Name(s):  Hans Theiler    
Primary Research Mentor: Hartmut Doebel
Secondary Research Mentor: Jessamyn Manson
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
Recent decreases in Apis mellifera honeybee populations due have sparked global concerns for the health of this crucial pollinator. Though the causes of these losses are still unknown, one proposed explanation is the phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which is characterized by the death of individual hives due to insufficient numbers of workers and brood. A potential explanation for CCD is the use of pesticides, such as glyphosate (RoundUp), which impact the neurological and behavioral capacities of honeybees. Using classical conditioning through the honeybee Proboscis Extension Response (PER) and maze training methods, this project evaluated the effects of baseline concentration exposure to glyphosate pesticides on honeybee memory and performance. 
Upon investigation, the bees demonstrated significantly reduced memory retention in PER studies. Maze-training results were inconclusive. Additionally, observations regarding comparative honeybee demeanors and mortality when exposed to glyphosate were noted; glyphosate bees had a significantly higher rate of mortality than control bees during trials, while also demonstrating abnormal, erratic behaviors compared to those bees not under the influence of glyphosate. These findings are critical to further understanding the plight of honeybees and the potential consequences of anthropogenic interference through pesticide usage on honeybee health and function as pollinators.

 

The Effect of Voltage-gated Sodium Channel Kinetics on Ionic Current and Neuronal Excitability: A Modeling Study
Presenter Name: Abrar Majidi Idrissi
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Manoj  Patel
Secondary Research Mentor: Eric Wengert
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Double Hoo Research Grant
SCN8A encephalopathy is a devastating epilepsy syndrome caused by mutations in the SCN8A gene which encodes the voltage-gated sodium channel isoform NaV1.6. However, it is currently unknown exactly how patient mutations modulate the kinetics of the voltage-gated sodium channel, and how these altered kinetics of the voltage-gated sodium channel result in abnormal excitability. Computational models have proven useful in modeling how individual kinetic parameters contribute to sodium currents and the firing of action potentials by changing a single kinetic rate at a time. 
Here, using an established Markov chain model of voltage-gated sodium channels and a simple neuronal spiking model, we systematically examined how each parameter within the voltage-gated sodium channel model relates to the sodium channel function (persistent, resurgent, and transient sodium currents) and the excitability of a neuron. Instead of modeling one single patient-derived mutation, our data provide a full quantitative spectrum relating how mutations may impair sodium channel function and disrupt normal excitability in neurons. 
Based on our data, certain kinetic parameters contribute to sodium channel function and excitability more than other kinetic parameters. Specifically, the kinetic rates for channel states nearby the open state more profoundly influence channel function than other parameters do. 
These results will contribute to understanding how kinetic rates affect sodium channel function and neuron spiking behavior. Therefore, this will provide a framework for understanding how SCN8A encephalopathy patient mutations, which alter sodium channel biophysics, might lead to impaired neuronal excitability in epilepsy. 

 

DNA damage and repair leads to circular DNA formation through alt-NHEJ pathways and inhibition of NHEJ
Presenter Name: Pumoli Malapati
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Anindya  Dutta
Secondary Research Mentor: Teressa Paulsen
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
Extrachromosomal circular DNA (eccDNA) are circular DNA molecules that are recognized for their prevalence in normal cells, existing in humans to yeast cells. They are specifically abundant in UTRS, exons, and CpG islands within the genome. A primary function of eccDNA is to help the tumor quickly reach high copy numbers, along with promoting genetic heterogeneity in cell to cell interactions, further contributing to tumor adaptation and evolution through amplification of oncogenes. However, previous research has not identified a way to quantify eccDNA abundance within a cell due to the vague understanding of the processes that form eccDNA. In order to understand a cancer cell’s ability to adapt through genomic instability, we investigated specific DNA repair genes and how they contribute to microDNA formation. Through our development of an eccDNA quantification assay, it was evident that eccDNA was generated by alternative non-homologous end joining (alt-NHEJ) pathways specifically microhomology-mediated end joining (MMEJ). Further, the disruption of c-NHEJ led to increases of eccDNA, suggesting that the presence of functional NHEJ represses eccDNA formation. Disruptions to DNA structures such as hypermethylation, double strand breaks, thymine dimers, and crosslinking can lead to eccDNA abundance increases, suggesting that all types of DNA damage can lead to stimulated eccDNA production. Together, these novel insights of eccDNA formation will help create effective chemotherapy strategies by suppressing eccDNA formation.
 

DNA damage and repair leads to circular DNA formation through alt-NHEJ pathways and inhibition of NHEJ
Presenter Name: Pumoli Malapati
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Anindya Dutta
Secondary Research Mentor: Teressa Paulsen
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
Extrachromosomal circular DNA (eccDNA) are circular DNA molecules that are recognized for their prevalence in normal and cancer cells, existing in humans to yeast cells. They are specifically abundant in UTRS, exons, and CpG islands within the genome. A primary function of eccDNA is to help the tumor quickly reach high copy numbers, along with promoting genetic heterogeneity in cell to cell interactions, further contributing to tumor adaptation and evolution through amplification of oncogenes. However, previous research has not identified a way to quantify eccDNA abundance within a cell due to the vague understanding of the processes that form eccDNA. In order to understand a cancer cell’s ability to adapt through genomic instability, we investigated specific DNA repair genes and how they contribute to microDNA formation. Through our development of an eccDNA quantification assay, it was evident that eccDNA was generated by alternative non-homologous end-joining (alt-NHEJ) pathways specifically microhomology-mediated end joining (MMEJ). Further, the disruption of c-NHEJ led to increases of eccDNA, suggesting that the presence of functional NHEJ represses eccDNA formation. Disruptions to DNA structures such as hypermethylation, double strand breaks, thymine dimers, and crosslinking can lead to eccDNA abundance increases, suggesting that all types of DNA damage can lead to stimulated eccDNA production. Together, these novel insights of eccDNA formation will help create effective chemotherapy strategies by suppressing eccDNA formation. 
    

 

DNA damage leads to increased eccDNA formation by mismatch and microhomology-mediated end-joining repair pathways
Presenter Name: Pumoli Malapati
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Anindya Dutta
Secondary Research Mentor: Teressa Paulsen
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
Extrachromosomal circular DNA (eccDNA) have recently been discovered to exist in high levels in cancer cells and can amplify oncogenic genes that increase cancer growth and drug resistance. The elucidation of the mechanisms that lead to the formation of eccDNA has proved elusive. Our research shows that the formation of eccDNA is through the mismatch repair (MMR) pathway and the microhomology-mediated end-joining (MMEJ) pathway. We show that the knock-out of MSH2 and MLH1, genes necessary for MMR, causes a significant reduction of eccDNA. Further, the inhibition of PARP1, gene necessary for MMEJ, also causes a significant reduction of eccDNA. The inhibition of other DNA repair pathways did not change eccDNA levels, suggesting that the formation of eccDNA is specific to MMR and MMEJ repair pathways. The inhibition of RAD51, a protein necessary for homologous recombination repair, and the inhibition of RAD52, a protein necessary for single strand annealing repair did not change eccDNA levels. 
    In addition, we found that triggering DNA repair through the induction of DNA damage leads to increases of eccDNA levels. EccDNA levels increased by 2-fold when thymine dimers were induced by UV irradiation and DNA crosslinking was induced by cisplatin. This suggests that eccDNA formation is directly tied to DNA repair. Together, our data suggest that cancer cells that utilize MMR and MMEJ after DNA damage will have an increased and more diverse population of eccDNA. The inhibition of these DNA repair pathways may lead to more effective chemotherapeutic strategies by preventing eccDNA formation. 

 

Role of P300 in the Homeostasis of Adult Lung Epithelium

Presenter Name: Leilani Miranda
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: kwon park
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
P300 is a multifunctional transcription factor that has a role in gene expression. P300 often functions in histone acetylation and contributes to chromatin remodeling. A mouse model has been developed based on the fact that knockout of p300 lead to the lack of proper organ development in neonatal mice lines.  This evidence suggests that p300 may act as a homeostatic regulator in adult mice, since many developmental mechanisms are paralleled in adult maintenance and repair. To test this idea, we used a conditional mutant mice line to delete p300  in adult lung type II cells. We found that the loss of p300 resulted in an increased proliferation of cells in the alveolar structures compared to wildtype mice. These findings suggest that p300 plays a role in the maintenance of proper cell growth regulation
 

Outlook on changes in 21st century Bering Sea oxygen cycling 

Presenter Name: Samuel Mogen
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Scott Doney
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
Rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations are driving global ocean temperatures increases, ocean acidification, and ocean deoxygenation that will all have major impacts on marine ecosystems. Estimates suggest that global ocean oxygen inventories have declined by ~2% since mid-century, with strong signals found regionally in the Gulf of Alaska and subpolar north Pacific. The adjacent Bering Sea region supplies 60% of U.S. fish catch by weight so any changes to oxygen in the region threaten the U.S. Blue Economy. The region is shown to be experiencing rapid temperature rise and ocean acidification, but few have quantitatively examined oxygen decline. In this study, a regional ocean biogeochemical model (Bering10k) simulated oxygen cycling in the Bering Sea over a forecast (2006-2100) period. Simulations were forced using boundary conditions derived from three climate projections at varying levels of global warming. It was hypothesized that the simulations would show declines in oxygen values over the century that increased with warming trends. Long term trends suggested significant change in bottom oxygen levels on the Bering shelf by the end of the century. These changes were spatially and simulation-dependent, with strong region-wide declines observed alongside local increases. Simulations that showed stronger warming trends also showed larger changes in oxygen. These results suggest Bering sea ecosystems and communities will face stressors related to deoxygenation within the 21st century. Future work should determine the drivers of oxygen changes and eventually provide seasonal hypoxia forecasts for those that rely on the region for their livelihoods.

 

Simplifying Fluid Flow Through an Organ-on-a-Chip Model of a Lymph Node 
Presenter Name: Alyssa Montalbine
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Rebecca Pompano
Secondary Research Mentor: Jennifer  Ortiz-Cardenas 
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant
The methods for controlling fluid flow dynamics within microfluidic systems have been well-established, including the use of syringe pumps, peristaltic pumps, and gravity-driven flow. In the development of microfluidic organ-systems, the use of peristaltic pumps and syringe pumps can be time-consuming and logistically complex, due to the large quantity of tubing used for these systems, the need to direct tubing into and out of an incubator, and the need to maintain sterility without air bubble introduction. Gravity-driven flow offers a solution to this issue by allowing the devices to be easily reloaded, transported, and maintained in sterile isolation, without tubing. Gravity-driven flow is established by placing reservoirs over the device’s channel openings; the flow rate depends on the difference in fluid height between the two reservoirs. Here, gravity-driven flow was prototyped for the Pompano Laboratory’s  lymph node-on-a-chip. Experimentation confirmed the gravity-flow design was reproducible between the reloading of a single chip over several time points and between multiple chips tested in parallel, with standard deviations >±0.8 um/s. Additionally, the time-course of fluid flow confirmed the gravity-flow was correlated with the differences in reservoir height, leading to a decaying flow-rate as the run-time proceeds without additional reloading. A protocol was also established to load the gravity-driven lymph node-on-a-chip with cells under sterile conditions, following photopatterning of cells within a UV-crosslinkable hydrogel, gelatin norbornene (GelNB). Further experimentation will include prototyping the device and gravity reservoir additions to maintain transportability and sterility, while producing fluid flow with minimal variance in rate over time. 
 

Synthesis of Macrocyclic Electrocatalysts for Small Molecule Reduction 
Presenter Name: Erin Morrisroe
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Charles Machan
Secondary Research Mentor: Emma Cook
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
The effects of climate change are becoming increasingly evident in today’s society, and it is important to develop new and sustainable methods to generate energy. One approach to this issue is to convert electricity to chemical energy using electrochemistry. Electrochemistry is used to mediate the transfer of electrons from one species to another through reduction-oxidation reactions. It is possible to develop chemical catalysts that will facilitate efficient electron transfer reactions between small molecules to produce energetically important precursor molecules for industrial reactions using renewable energy sources. Catalysts typically consist of a molecular framework with a metal center. Earth-abundant transition metals are of interest because they are widely available, inexpensive, and non-toxic. Small molecules of particular interest are dihydrogen, dioxygen, and carbon dioxide. They exist as stable molecules under standard conditions, yet their bonds contain significant energy. The purpose of this research is to develop a catalyst that interacts with these small molecules, and facilitates the reduction of these compounds. This research specifically has focused on synthesizing a cobalt complex with a macrocyclic N-based ligand framework, CoCRpy2. Cobalt was used as the metal center of interest because it is an Earth-abundant transition metal. Preliminary electrochemical studies have indicated promising electrochemical properties. Current work is focused on optimizing the synthetic route to this electrocatalyst to increase the yield of the Co metal complex. Studying CoCRpy2 in the future will allow for further characterization of its catalytic ability. This will be accomplished through additional cyclic voltammetry and IR-spectroelectrochemistry investigations. 
 

Characterization of Intrinsically Photosensitive Retinal Ganglion Cell Subtype Resistance to Glaucomic Degeneration
Presenter Name: Joanna Moy
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Xiaorong Liu
Secondary Research Mentor: Jingyi Gao
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Glaucoma refers to a group of eye diseases characterized by high intraocular pressure (IOP), progressive retinal ganglion cell (RGC) death, and connective tissue restructuring around the optic nerve. Intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs) are a subgroup of the general RGC population that has been shown in previous studies to be more injury-resistant in glaucoma rodent models. Within the ipRGC subpopulation, there are 6 different subtypes of ipRGCs (M1-M6) and it has been previously shown that specific types of ipRGC subtypes, in particular M1 cells, preferentially survive neurodamage. In this study, laser photocoagulation was used to induce glaucomic conditions in C57BL/6 mice to enable further characterization of ipRGC subtype degeneration with immunohistochemistry. We show that the density of ipRGCs varies across the retina, with the greatest concentration located in the middle temporal region. Moreover, general ipRGC degeneration under glaucomic conditions shows a consistent pattern wherein the percentage of cell loss is inversely correlated with the ipRGC regional density. Within this trend, the M4 subtype is revealed to be more susceptible to glaucomic conditions compared to other subtypes. This study further defines regional and subtype based differential survival of ipRGCs under glaucomic conditions and provides further insight into minimizing vision loss in glaucomic patients. 
 

Engineering a Gene Therapy that Selectively Targets Epileptic Neurons
Presenter Name: Elsa Nylund
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Edward Perez-Reyes
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant
The lab designed a synthetic activity-modulated promoter, called EpiPro, to target hyperactive neurons that are present in epileptic animals. The activity modulation of EpiPro was established by comparing expression in control animals and those induced to have a seizure with a chemoconvulsant or by electric kindling. We predicted that combining the novel promoter with the Dox-on system would create a gene therapy that specifically targets epileptic neurons and will produce a strong delivery during epileptic activation and Dox induction.  The Dox-On system has two components: the reverse tetracycline transactivator (rtTA) and the tetracycline operator (tetO). EpiPro drives the expression of the rtTA, and in the presence of Dox, it binds to the tetO response elements, inducing the expression of the chosen  gene-of-interest. A second unique feature of the gene therapy system is its modular design, that is, separate AAVs will be used to deliver the rtTA and the tetO-driven genes-of-interest. A third novel element is the use of the destabilizing 3’ untranslated regions (3’ UTR) to reduce unwanted expression in the absence of Dox, so called  leak. My contributions in these studies include tissue processing, imaging, and analyzing brain slices from our mouse and rat models. The goal of my studies was to validate EpiPro and a Dox-on system delivering inhibitory modulation, which could be a major step toward discovering a safe and effective cure for Temporal Lobe Epilepsy.

 

The Effect of White LEDs in an Urban Environment on Leaf Senescence in Catalpa (Catalpa speciosa), Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum), and Red Oak (Quercus rubra)

Presenter Name: Alex Oliver
Co Presenter Name(s):  Caleb  Hallinan     
Primary Research Mentor: Melissa  Hey
Secondary Research Mentor: Alexandra  Parisien
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
The rapid global spread of artificial night lighting has created a new set of environmental problems by disturbing the natural day-night cycles and circadian rhythms of a variety of organisms. A global shift to broad-spectrum LEDs could impact the timing of biological events in plants because the wavelengths in which light is emitted in these bulbs overlap with regions of the light spectrum that are important for guiding various plant responses to their environment. Despite the significance in the light environment for plants, plant responses to artificial light at night (ALAN) from such sources remain mostly unknown. We explored the effects of ALAN on leaf reflectance and traits from trees located on a university campus in Charlottesville, VA. We sampled leaves from catalpas (Catalpa speciosa), sugar maples (Acer saccharum), and red oaks (Quercus rubra) that were either near or far from a broad-spectrum LED light source. Using hyperspectral imaging, chlorophyll content analysis, and elemental analyses, we found that ALAN alters the reflectance of leaves in ways that relate to important foliar qualities which are linked to foliar health. 
 

 Macrophage Regulation of MCU Complex 
Presenter Name: Rachel Olson
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Bimal Desai
Secondary Research Mentor: Philip  Seegren 
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant
The Desai Lab’s research focuses on understanding the role of Ca2+ signaling in
immune cells. When ion channels open, Ca2+ moves down its electrochemical gradient into the cell to promote a number of signaling pathways. Once inside the cell Ca2+ is
quickly buffered by the mitochondria through the mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU) complex. I wish to further define a role for Mitochondrial Calcium Uniporter (MCU) in the cell by understanding its use of calcium after an inflammatory influx. I hypothesize that macrophages transcriptionally regulate the MCU complex in response to pathogenic stimuli. To test this hypothesis, I will look at mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake from isolated mitochondria before and after pathogenic stimulation through western blotting, quantitative PCR, and an in vitro Mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake assay. The data show a decreased expression in wildtype (WT) and knock out (KO) mice when inflammatory stimuli are added. This data suggests that Ca2+ uptake by MCU play an important role in inflammatory responses, invoking more inflammatory responses in its absence. If I am able to show that MCU complex regulation influences mitochondrial calcium uptake during inflammation, this would show a novel regulation of the MCU channel and its function in macrophages. Inflammation is a serious problem during many chronic disease (Alzheimer, Autoimmune Diseases, etc.) causing serve tissue damage. Therefore, this novel regulation of the MCU channel and its function may offer a new therapeutic strategy for these diseases. 

 

The Role of Tumor Necrosis Factor and Trk Receptor Interactions in Neurodevelopment
Presenter Name: Paulina Payne
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Christopher Deppmann
Secondary Research Mentor: Shayla Clark
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Development of a functional nervous system relies on the overproduction of neurons in early development. Over time, only half of these neurons survive. How is this achieved? 
    The nervous system differentiates between neurons that survive and neurons that die through a balance of progressive and regressive cues. Progressive pathways mediate developmental outcomes such as axonal growth complexity; these typically rely on the tropomyosin-related kinase (Trk) family of receptors. Regressive pathways mediate developmental events like axonal pruning or neuronal death via tumor necrosis factor receptor (TNFR) superfamily members. While previous studies have examined either Trk family or TNFR superfamily members individually to assess their function in neuronal development, few have examined how possible interactions between these family members impact neuronal function and signaling. Our goal is to fill this knowledge gap by determining physical interactions between these receptor families with bimolecular fluorescence complementation and co-immunoprecipitation, and examining effects of these receptor interactions on signaling via mass cytometry. Previous results from our lab indicate that neuronal growth and complexity are impacted by physical interactions between p75 and TNFR1 (members of the TNFR family). Additionally, preliminary data suggests that physical interactions are occurring between p75 and TrkA.
    Research indicates that some receptors in these families may be implicated in the progression of neurodegenerative diseases. Therefore, deepening our understanding of the role these receptors play in neurodevelopment may prove vital to better understanding and treating some of these neurological disorders.
 

Examining a Floor Effect with the Efficacy of Exercise in Reducing Relapse Vulnerability 
Presenter Name: Lasyapriya Pidaparthi
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Wendy Lynch
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant
Exercise has been suggested as a treatment alternative to pharmacological intervention for drug addiction, and wheel running as a form of exercise, during withdrawal, has been shown to prevent the progressive increase, or incubation, of drug-seeking in rats, ultimately reducing relapse vulnerability. In this experiment, cocaine was given on an extended access self-administration procedure (24-hr; 4 discrete trials/hr; 1.5 mg/kg/inf; 10 days), after which they went through two weeks of protracted and abstinence and were tested on day 15 with an extinction and cue-instated reinstatement procedure, a model to measure relapse vulnerability. Reinstatement responding was compared between sedentary rats and exercise rats. The initial purpose of this study was to examine molecular markers within the prefrontal cortex that underlie the efficacy of exercise in a rat model of cocaine addiction, however, there arose issues as the reinstatement responding of sedentary rats were too low to observe an exercise effect previously demonstrated, suggesting a floor effect influencing the results. Hence, the study focus shifted to examining testing conditions in order to determine if differences in relapse testing start time significantly affected reinstatement responding. Through this analysis, we have shown how sedentary rats that began relapse testing after 10:30 A.M. significantly responded higher than those that began earlier in the morning, but this trend was not seen with exercise rats. These conclusions present us with translational information, where treatment and testing must be completed in appropriate conditions in order to be optimally effective in reducing relapse vulnerability.
 

The Multifaceted Role of The ST2/IL-33 Axis During Kidney Injury
Presenter Name: Airi Price
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Rahul Sharma 
Secondary Research Mentor: Vikram Sabapathy 
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant
With a 3rd of Americans at risk, renal disease is a leading contributor to mortality. A primary root of renal failure is inflammation, resulting from acute kidney injury, in hospitalized patients. Inflammation is the result of alarmins secreting from damaged cells, and activating innate immune responses that ultimately affect healthy tissues. With many at risk, research in the reversal and prevention of renal injury is imperative. IL-33 is one such alarmin that, once released, binds to an ST2 receptor to activate pro- and anti-inflammatory immune cells. This receptor is expressed in tissue cells and Tregs (cells that are crucial to the suppression of inflammation). Multiple studies have suggested the indispensable role of ST2/IL-33 signaling in counteracting inflammation. Thus, our goal is to further understand cell-specific expression of ST2 signaling in Tregs and tissue cells. To do so, ST2 receptors were deleted in stromal and epithelial cells or Tregs (via Cre-Loxp system), and kidney injury was induced. Following, analysis on the extent of injury was conducted on knockout and wild-type (control) mice through plasma creatinine, blood urea nitrogen, and quantitative-PCR. Flow-cytometry, histology (using H&E and Masson’s trichrome) and immunostaining were also implemented for a more thorough measure of injury. It was found that obstruction of the ST2/IL-33 pathway in Tregs resulted in exacerbation of injury, while its disruption in epithelial or stromal cells resulted in tissue protection. Such findings offer preliminary evidence for the potential that ST2/IL-33 signaling may have in treating autoimmunity/inflammation, and ultimately, reducing renal disease/failure incidence. 
 

Diagnostic Examinations as Requisites for Ocular Disease Progression Studies
Presenter Name: Carlos Rodriguez
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Xiaorong Liu
Secondary Research Mentor: Mingna Liu
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
    The efficiency and reliability of diagnostic exams is critical for ocular neuroscience disease studies ranging from glaucoma to aniridia. The World Health Organization identifies glaucoma as a major leading cause of blindness, predicted to affect approximately eighty million people worldwide. The most common form is open-angle glaucoma, characterized by an increase in intraocular pressure that is modeled in our lab through laser photocoagulation. Disease progression is accompanied by a loss in visual capabilities, potentially stemming from the increase in intraocular pressure (IOP) which were tracked using optomotor testing and rebound tonometry respectively. After the desired model conditions were confirmed and sustained, retinas were extracted to quantify the amount of retinal ganglion cell (RGC) loss as well as the susceptibility patterns of specific RGC types. Our results, as well as outside literature, indicate that intrinsically photosensitive RGCs (ipRGCs) exhibit an increased resistance against glaucomatous damage. The level of ipRGC resistance, however, was shown to vary among different subtypes. Diagnostic tests are also an important component for the pursuit of refining pharmacological treatments for aniridia, a genetic disorder that results in the absence of an iris. While the mechanisms of ocular injury differ between aniridia and glaucoma, aniridia models exhibit a similar increase in IOP and decrease in visual acuity, indicating a need for similar diagnostic tests before proceeding. Current experiments are exploring the neuroprotective benefits offered by the drug Ataluren on the Pax 129 mouse models.
 

Stress-induced changes in mucin composition in the small intestine
Presenter Name: Victoria Russell
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Alban Gaultier
Secondary Research Mentor: Courtney River-Noor
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Stress is known to be a risk factor for many of the world’s most prevalent diseases (1). Stress has also been associated with changes in the gut microbiome (2). However, little is known about the mechanisms of action through which stress changes the microbiome. One proposed mechanism is through the gut mucosal layer. The mucus layer is made of mucins, glycoproteins that perform a variety of regulatory functions including providing an anchor point and nutrient source for the microbiome (3). We hypothesize that stress induces changes in the composition of mucins in the small intestine, which in turn mediate the observed changes in the gut microbiome. 
We tested this hypothesis using in vivo and in vitro animal models and an in vitro human model. Animal models utilized Balb/C mice, which are known to be more susceptible to stress (4). Mice were exposed to an unpredictable chronic stress (UCS) paradigm. We performed behavioral experiments and analyzed mucin expression of each section of the gastrointestinal tract via quantitative-polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). For the in vitro animal and human models, we created organoids of the small intestine, then, depending on the species, exposed them to either corticosterone or hydrocortisol for varying lengths and performed further analysis via qPCR. 
Changes in mucin levels were observed in all three models. These results implicate mucins as having a role in the stress-induced changes in the microbiome.  This work begins to illuminate the mechanism by which stress changes the microbiome, potentially allowing for new therapeutic targets in dysbiosis associated diseases. 

 

Role of Beta-catenin Gene in Cell Proliferation and Lung Cancer
Presenter Name: Anna Sacchetti
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Kwon-Sik Park
Secondary Research Mentor: Peggy Hou
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Cancer remains a significant human health problem, and many cancers are caused by the uncontrolled proliferation of cells. The Wnt signaling pathway is involved in the process of cell proliferation, and includes the catenin gene. Mutations in catenin are detected in approximately 10% of all cancers, suggesting that mutations in this gene affect the proliferation of cancerous cells. We hypothesize that removing catenin decreases cancer cell proliferation. To test this, we remove, or  knock out, catenin using the CRISPR system. CRISPR is a bacterial defense mechanism including the Cas9 enzyme, whose action leads to mutations in the target DNA sequence. This is aided by guide RNAs (gRNAS), which are capable of finding specific  enemy gene sequences in the genome. We design sequences of gRNAs for a part of the catenin gene, and clone them into plasmid vectors containing Cas9. Then, we introduce the plasmids into mouse lung cancer cells, and genotype these cells to confirm that catenin is targeted. Once the gene targeting is confirmed, we compare targeted cells with non-targeted control cells. We expect to see a decrease in cell proliferation in those cells containing the engineered plasmid when compared to cells without the plasmid. By performing this research using mouse cells, we can gain a better understanding of the role catenin plays in the uncontrolled proliferation of human lung cancer cells. 
 

Assessing the Geographical Distribution and Reduction Potential of the Nitrogen Footprint of a Community: A Case Study in Charlottesville, VA

Presenter Name: Julia Stanganelli
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: James Galloway
Secondary Research Mentor: Elizabeth Dukes
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
Nitrogen is imperative to life on earth, but excess reactive nitrogen can have harmful effects on marine and terrestrial environments, the atmosphere, and human health. Anthropogenic creation of reactive N (Nr; all N species but N2) and consequent inputs to the environment are associated largely with agricultural production and fossil fuel combustion. A Nitrogen Footprint is a tool created to track the impact of an individual, institution, or community’s impact on excess Nr released to the environment. This study uses the community nitrogen footprint tool to ask: 1) what is the geospatial variability of the N footprint in Charlottesville City, and 2) how does it relate to socio-economic patterns such as median household income? Additionally, 3) where in Charlottesville City are the greatest opportunities for reduction in the N footprint, and 4) how might certain changes in consumer choices offer strategies for reduction? Great geographical variability in the nitrogen footprint of Charlottesville City was found. This variability in the nitrogen footprint, specifically in the nitrogen footprint per capita by census block group, correlated positively with median household income (p <0.01). This may add evidence from a local context to support the theory that socioeconomically advantaged populations contribute more to climate change on a global scale. Additionally, census block groups within Charlottesville which have a higher nitrogen footprint have a greater potential for reduction. Changes in consumer choices could help to realize this reduction potential and lower the environmental impact of the community, on both a local and broad scale.
 

Elevated Persistent Sodium Current Induces Neuronal Depolarization Block
in a Mouse Model of Epilepsy
Presenter Name: Samantha Strohm
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Manoj Patel
Secondary Research Mentor: Eric Wengert
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant
SCN8A encephalopathy is a rare form of epilepsy that results in refractory seizures and premature death. SCN8A encephalopathy is caused by mutations in the SCN8A gene that encodes the voltage-gated sodium channel isoform NaV 1.6, which plays a significant role in the generation and propagation of action potentials. However, the precise link between the dysfunction in NaV 1.6 and SCN8A encephalopathy remains unclear, creating a significant need to further investigate the characteristic mechanisms of SCN8A encephalopathy. In this study, we investigate the potential relationship between an altered persistent sodium current (INaP) and neuronal depolarization block, which is typically seen in SCN8A encephalopathy models. Depolarization block is characterized by the cessation of action potential firing with the equilibration of the neuronal membrane at the highly depolarized steady-state. Brain slices were obtained from both wild-type (WT) controls and a transgenic mouse model of SCN8A encephalopathy. Using patch clamp electrophysiology, we characterized membrane and action potential properties before and after treatment with varied doses of veratridine , a known sodium channel agonist. Veratridine-induced elevation of INaP induced depolarization block in somatostatin (SST) interneurons in WT and Scn8a D/+ mice. Further investigation of the persistent sodium current may provide an avenue for the development of novel therapeutic strategies for SCN8A encephalopathy. 
 

Encapsulation of Hydrophobic Drug (AI-4) into Diblock Copolymer Nanoparticles 

Presenter Name: Rachana Subbanna
Co Presenter Name(s):  Christopher Zaino Colin Haws Divya Balaji
Primary Research Mentor: Anuradha Illendula
Secondary Research Mentor: Mark Kester
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
The formation of polymeric nanoparticles using bulk-nanoprecipitation has shown promising results in targeted drug delivery by increasing bioavailability and eliminating off-target effects. AI-4, a plant-derived alkaloid, significantly reduced the growth of Acute Myeloid Leukemia tumors in mice. This drug is known for its poor pharmacokinetics and high toxicity. After review of the solubility of AI-4, we decided to  Nanosize '' this inhibitor by using a monomethoxy-polyethylene glycol (m-PEG) diblock copolymer through bulk-nanoprecipitation. This involves the addition of an aqueous solution to an organic, water-miscible solvent. Polymer m-PEG poly(dl-lactic acid), or PDLLA, is a biodegradable, biocompatible polymer consisting of hydrophilic PEG block and hydrophobic PDLLA block exhibiting amphipathicity. PDLLA is also comprised of a highly crystalline, viscous, and branched-chain length which additionally stabilizes nanoparticles. Poloxamer, a surfactant, is used to reduce average particle size and increase encapsulation efficiency. The choice of surfactant can further affect the colloidal stability and drug release kinetics. In this study, the concentration of AI-4 to polymer, addition type, centrifuge speed, and co-surfactant was varied. Characterization of particles was obtained using Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS) in order to measure Polydispersity Index (PDI), Z Average, and Count Rate. Mass spectrometry was conducted to determine the encapsulation efficiency of AI-4 in formulated nanoparticles. We prepared a nanoformulation of AI-4 in PDLLA with poloxamer as a surfactant to improve particle stability. The method yielded nanoparticles with a relatively high PDI between 0.45 to 0.448, z average of 45 to 70 nM, and encapsulation efficiency of 128 ùúág/mL.
 

Impairment of memory consolidation through seizures
Presenter Name: Smriti Subedi
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Jaideep Kapur
Secondary Research Mentor: Aijaz  Naik
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
Memory is a delicate and complex process of encoding, storing, and retrieving information. Memory consolidation is the process of stabilizing and transforming short-term memory into long-term memory. When seizures occur, they disrupt the process of consolidation; thus, the memory of the event prior to the seizure cannot be retrieved. This is called retrograde amnesia. The engram theory of memory suggests that there are neuronal circuits called  engrams in the brain involved in storing memories. We studied the dentate granule cells (DGCs) engrams. We mapped the activated neuronal ensembles in dentate gyrus (DG) following spatial learning and induced retrograde amnesia using a convulsant, pentylenetetrazol (PTZ). Using transgenic mice that express tdTomato (tdT) under an immediate early gene, we tagged neurons activated following learning and after seizure. Separate cohorts of mice were studied after training on rewarded alternation task in T maze on days 1, 2, and 3 and learning occurred after day 2. The number of tdT+ve DGCs significantly increased from day 1 to day 2 in T maze group mice representing learning associated ensemble. A single PTZ seizure also induced large scale activation of tdT+ve DGCs compared to that in saline injected controls. Finally using dual labelling with Arc and tdT+ve, we checked whether there was any overlap amongst the DGCs activated by learning versus by seizure. We found only 2% overlap in the DGCs between seizure and T-maze. We speculate that the collision of engrams might occur in other brain regions that may support seizure-induced retrograde amnesia.
 

Differences in patient response rates for the SNOT-22 pre and post-iPad intervention
Presenter Name: Amanda Talalaj
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Jose Mattos
Secondary Research Mentor: Andrew  Strumpf
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
The Sino-Nasal Outcome Test (SNOT-22) is a subjective health assessment survey for patients undergoing issues relating to the condition chronic rhinosinusitis to complete. The purpose of this study was to see whether implementation of the SNOT-22 via an electronic data collection tool would increase patient response rates. Patients were administered the SNOT-22 survey via iPads, as opposed to on print, beginning June 5, 2019, up until present day. All surveys prior were administered via print and compiled in the database beginning around March 2014. Comparing the wealth of data found in the UVA’s otolaryngology sinus database, we compiled statistics through paired T-testing, comparing the amount of people who took the SNOT-22 survey in full, pre and post iPad intervention. An average 96.9% of patients took the SNOT-22 in full pre-intervention and an average 99.8% of patients took the SNOT-22 in full post-intervention (p<0.0001). Our data indicates we reject the null hypothesis that completion rates are the same in SNOT-22 response rate scores when administered on the iPad vs. on print.  The implementation of a tablet-based data collection tool is likely to increase patient response rates when administering the SNOT-22. The SNOT-22 being conducted on an iPad vs. on print is a much more viable, cost-effective option and should be considered for future subjective tests being completed at otolaryngologic clinics.

 

Characterization of Epigenetic Regulation of the Glucocorticoid Receptor in Prairie Voles
Presenter Name: Kevin Tarczon
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Jessica Connelly
Secondary Research Mentor: Amalia McDonald
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Double Hoo Research Grant
Glucocorticoids are a class of steroid hormones that play an important role in regulating the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal  axis and stress response across species. Elevated glucocorticoid levels and impared glucocorticoid receptor (GR) function have been associated with a variety of disorders including anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. One mechanism for impaired GR function is DNA methylation which impacts expression of the molecule that allows the body to respond to glucocorticoids. Seminal research has established the relationship between early life experience and GR DNA methylation in rat and human brain tissue. Additional studies have shown associations of early life experience and GR DNA methylation from  peripheral tissues in humans, but there is little evidence to demonstrate peripheral tissues are valid markers of GR methylation and expression in the human brain. To address these limitations, we utilized prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster) as a novel animal model in which the GR gene region is 89% conserved with rates and 73% conserved with humans and several critical sites shown to regulate expression are directly conserved. Immunohistochemistry was used to verify expression of glucocorticoid receptors in the hippocampus and hypothalamus of three male and three female prairie voles. We developed an assay to characterize the mechanism by which early life experience influences GR DNA methylation in brain and blood tissue in prairie voles. Findings from this study will have meaningful implications for the validity of research investigating the effects of early life experiences on GR DNA methylation derived from peripheral tissue in humans. 

 

A data science approach for predicting transcriptional regulators in cancer genomes
Presenter Name: Zachary Thomas
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Zhenjia Wang
Secondary Research Mentor: Chongzhi Zang
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
Dysregulation of gene expression plays an important role in cancer development. Identifying transcriptional regulators that drive gene expression programs in each cancer type is a critical task in cancer research. Using Binding Analysis for Regulation of Transcription (BART), a computational method for predicting transcription factors from a gene set, we developed a data science approach to gain insight into gene regulatory patterns in cancer. We integrated over 10,000 gene expression profiling datasets from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) with over 7,000 transcription factor ChIP-seq datasets from the Cistrome database and the public domain to predict putative transcriptional regulators responsible for up and downregulation of genes in each of 15 different cancer types. We built the BART Cancer database, an interactive web resource to display the results (https://faculty.virginia.edu/zanglab/bartcancer/). BART Cancer provides insights into the epigenetic and transcriptional regulation of cancer gene expression and will be a useful resource for the cancer research community.
 

Using Machine Learning to Improve Research Capabilities in Particle Physics
Presenter Name: Colby Thompson
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Christopher Neu
Secondary Research Mentor: Benjamin Tannenwald
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Physicists at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) have been researching new and exotic particles for sometime now in order to both expand and develop current physics knowledge. To help do this, LHC physicists plan to increase particle collision rates in upcoming years in order to increase the probability of detecting these exotic particles (signals). As a result of increasing collision rates, not only do the chances of detecting signals increase, but so does the rate at which we see common particles (background). This is troublesome, what we want to do is be able to differentiate our signal from our background in an efficient manner because typically for every signal there are millions of background. Machine learning techniques can help us differentiate and isolate signal events from the larger population of background events. Because there are a variety of different machine learning architectures that we can use, we can test several which we have determined might work well on dihiggs interaction data; ultimately concluding their significance by the end. We will analyze the significance of a Feed-Forward Neural Network--an architecture which yields some of the most statistically significant results of the various architectures we have tested--and compare it to the various other architectures that we have tested. The results of this research will result in further understanding of the effectiveness/usefulness of different techniques to search for new physics in LHC data.
 

Early nurture mediates neural development in the nucleus accumbens of male prairie voles
Presenter Name: Anila Tynan
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Alev  Erisir
Secondary Research Mentor: Jessica  Connelly
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
During sensitive periods for plasticity, experiences in early childhood may alter behaviors later in life via changing synaptic circuitries and gene expression in the brain. Parental care in particular has been shown to change neuropsychological outcomes. For example, maternal and paternal warmth in early childhood is associated with increased prosocial behavior. Previous research using the prairie vole animal model found that male offspring that experience increased parental care (nurture) in the first days of life have modulated expression of 259 genes involved in neuronal processes and development. Genes with increased expression are associated with synaptic transmission and glutamatergic postsynaptic density proteins, while genes with decreased expression are involved in synaptic pruning. This project seeks to show that the synaptic circuitry and particularly the glutamatergic inputs from the prefrontal cortex to the nucleus accumbens (NAc) are preferentially retained by early parental care, leading to more synapses in this brain region. This may be a mechanism by which social behavioral outcomes are modulated. An electron microscopy anatomical approach will be used to classify and quantify the NAc synapses in prairie voles that received differential nurture during early development. This is expected to reveal the male-specific functional effect parental care early in life has on anatomy, and may offer insight into how the male brain displays unique sensitivity to early life experiences, which has implications in neurodevelopmental disorders that predominantly affect males. These results may also clarify the sequence of biological mechanisms that mediates behavior, confirming that nurture-dependent gene expression ultimately modifies anatomy.
 

Nephrotoxin-induced acute kidney injury in a neonatal mouse model
Presenter Name: Margaret Van Cleve
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Jennifer Charlton
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Background: Gentamicin and indomethacin are therapeutic interventions to increase survival in preterm neonates, yet these medications are associated with acute kidney injury (AKI). AKI increases the risk of chronic kidney disease for many preterm neonates who begin life with an incomplete number of nephrons. This project seeks to understand how gentamicin and indomethacin affect the developing kidney. 

Methods: The AKI group received gentamicin on postnatal day one and three (P1 and P3) and indomethacin on P1-3. The control group received sham injections. Kidneys were histologically assessed at P4-5 and week 2-3 to determine glomerular maturation and generations, measurements that quantify kidney development. Atubular glomeruli (ATG) and proximal tubule content, structural measurements that can indicate the relative function of the kidney, were also assessed. At three and six weeks, glomerular filtration rate (GFR) was measured and glomerular number (Nglom) was determined using cationic ferritin enhanced-MRI.
Results: There was no difference in body or kidney weight between the AKI and control groups. The number of glomerular generations was not different at P4 or P5. The AKI group had fewer immature glomeruli than control animals at P5. At 2-3 weeks, there was no difference between percentage of ATG, and the AKI group had lower proximal tubule content and an increased mean GFR as compared to controls. There was no difference in Nglom. 
Significance: By understanding the structural implications of nephrotoxic medicine-induced AKI in preterm neonates, potential therapies can be explored to reduce AKI and promote normal kidney development in this vulnerable population.

 

A Flexible Parametrization to Compute Chiral-Even Generalized Parton Distributions
Presenter Name: Philip Velie
Co Presenter Name(s):  Emma  Yeats Fernanda Yepez-Lopez  
Primary Research Mentor: Simonetta  Liuti
Secondary Research Mentor: Brandon Kriesten
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
Generalized Parton Distributions (GPDs) are powerful tools that allow greater insight into the internal structure of nucleons. Specifically, our group focused on creating models for the distributions of quarks and gluons within a proton using numerical methods. We originally set the chiral even GPDs in terms of the variables X, ζ, and t. We used Polynomiality, a method which required a transform of our functions into terms of x, ξ, and t, to both test and improve the physicality of the model. We then varied the different parameters in the GPDs in order to find the envelope of physically accepted values. A large range of GPD values enabled us to reconstruct the partonic spatial distributions of the nucleon from a Fourier transformation. We used this Fourier transformation to build our spatial distribution models, and also to serve as input data for the machine learning group of our collaboration. At first, the project was done at a Q^2 value of GeV^2, and after adjusting the model we evolved the GPDs to a range that would match the current and future kinematical data at the EIC. Finally, we computed the Compton Form Factors that enter Deeply Virtual Compton Scattering (DVCS).
 

Functional Alterations in Ciliogenesis Associated Kinase 1 (CILK1) by Mutations Linked to Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy
Presenter Name: Eric Wang
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Zheng Fu
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant
Ciliopathies are an expanding group of human genetic disorders associated with dysfunction of the cell sensory organelle, the primary cilium. Ciliogenesis associated kinase 1 (CILK1) is a serine/threonine protein kinase that negatively regulates the length and formation of primary cilia. Mutations in CILK1 have been linked to ciliopathies and juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME). However, the effects of the JME-related mutations in CILK1 on kinase activity and CILK1 function are unknown. Using site-directed mutagenesis, we generated plasmid constructs that can express human CILK1 wild type (WT) and JME variants in mammalian cells. Using a phosphosite-specific antibody on Western blots, we showed that JME pathogenic mutations in the CILK1 N-terminal kinase domain abolish kinase activity, evidenced by loss of phosphorylation of kinesin family member 3A (KIF3A), a CILK1 substrate, while JME mutations in the C-terminal non-catalytic domain (CTD) have little effect on KIF3A phosphorylation. Using confocal immunofluorescence microscopy, we evaluated cilia length, cilia formation, and CILK1 subcellular localization in mammalian cells that express WT or JME variants of CILK1. Although CILK1 variants in the CTD retain catalytic activity they nonetheless lose the ability to restrict cilia length and also gain function in promoting ciliogenesis. We show that wild type CILK1 predominantly localizes to the base of the primary cilium; in contrast, JME variants of CILK1 are distributed along the entire axoneme of the primary cilium. These results demonstrate that JME pathogenic mutations perturb CILK1 function and intracellular localization and suggest a potential link of cilia dysfunction to the pathogenesis of JME. 
 

Teasing Out Meaningful Differences in How Humans Process Reward Using fMRI
Presenter Name: Elizabeth Wat
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: James Morris
Secondary Research Mentor: Stefen Beeler-Duden
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant
When examining conditions characterized by social differences, such as autism, a deficit model has been primarily used to explain the conditions’ causes, stating that brain regions normally active when processing social reward are less active in people with the disorder. This approach views the brain as a modular system, but the brain functions as a series of networks. Functional connectivity analyses, such as psychophysiological interactions (PPI), acknowledge this concept and can determine how different brain regions operate together during a particular task. The purpose of this study is to investigate how brain regions associated with social, emotional reward may be functionally connected differently in individuals with autistic traits. Participants completed a novel monetary and social incentive delay fMRI task; in the monetary condition, participants could win or lose varying amounts of money, and in the social condition, they could receive positive social stimuli or avoid negative social stimuli of varying intensities. Psychophysiological interactions existed between regions of the reward pathway, and social processing regions were also involved in the functional connectivity of social reward anticipation. The interactions of reward anticipation were also influenced by the participants’ level of autistic-like traits. These results support the neuroconstructivist approach to understanding conditions that involve social differences. If more neuroimaging studies utilize functional connectivity analyses, the social reward circuit in autism may be able to be characterized, making fMRI a potential diagnostic tool.
 

Establishing an automated method for assessing anhedonia in mice
Presenter Name: Ciarra Whindleton
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Michael Scott
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Depression is often characterized by anhedonia, a reduction in hedonic evaluation. Not surprisingly, there are many behavioral tests used to study depression in rodents, such as the forced swim test and tail suspension test. However, such tests fail to assess the value of something the animals may like. Through the use of a new device called an open-source, automated home-cage sipper, we aim to find other ways of studying motivated behavior and depression in mice. The auto-sipper has been shown to successfully measure liquid consumption in rodents. Additionally, the device is small, wireless and battery powered, allowing for it to conveniently be placed on the home cages of the animals. Consequently, we aim to use this device to perform a sucrose preference test in order to investigate levels of anhedonia. Following this investigation, our ultimate goal is to apply the auto-sipper to an investigation of chronic pain modulation. Here we present our attempt at constructing and testing this new apparatus in our lab for future studies. 
 

Rab7-Dependent Degradation of Dendritic Cargos does not Require the Rab7 Effector RILP
Presenter Name: Isabelle Witteveen
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Bettina  Winckler
Secondary Research Mentor: Chan Choo  Yap
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant
Neurons are incredibly complex cells making proper protein transport a challenge as it is critical that protein trafficking is maintained across long distances for the entire life of the neuron. Neurodegeneration is often associated with accumulation of aggregated proteins, meaning that degradation is failing. We used a mutant form of Rab7, Rab7L8A, to assess the importance of the Rab7 effector RILP in the degradative endocytic pathway and the transport of the late endosome (LE). After confirming the Rab7L8A mutant was defective in binding RILP, we found that the mutant impacts RILP enrichment in the perinuclear region of HEK293 cells. Surprisingly, this effect was not seen in neurons as Rab7L8A failed to prevent RILP clustering. The short-lived dendritic membrane protein Nsg2 was used to assess levels of terminal degradation of dendritic cargos. It was found that RILP interaction with Rab7 is not a determinant factor in Nsg2 degradation as only the dominant negative form of Rab7, Rab7T22N, caused an increase in Nsg2 puncta in neurons. We conclude that the Rab7-RILP interaction is not important for trafficking of the late endosome to the center of the cell in neurons, and this interaction is not necessary for terminal degradation of dendritic cargos such as Nsg2. 
 

The role of transforming growth factor beta (TGF-Β) signaling in mice alveolar epithelial cells. 
Presenter Name: Rebecca Woodhouse
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Thomas  Braciale
Secondary Research Mentor: Amber Cardani
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
The transforming growth factor beta (TGF-Β) family is known to regulate the generation and functions of both pulmonary epithelial cells and immune cells. TGF-Β signaling also plays a major role clinically in emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis, and asthma pathologies. In lung tissue TGF-Β is produced by macrophages and metaplastic alveolar epithelial cells. In this study, we disrupted the gene encoding the intracellular TGF-Β family canonical signaling pathway, SMAD4, in alveolar type II epithelial cells. We found that the timing of the SMAD4 deletion has a significant impact on pulmonary homeostatic immune cell infiltration. Specifically, when the gene was deleted in mice at four weeks of age, by the administration of a doxycycline diet, the SMAD4 alveolar epithelial knockout mice had a two-fold decrease in homeostatic immune cellular infiltration. However, when the gene was deleted two weeks later at six weeks of age, homeostatic infiltration was normal. Using quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) we first confirmed that SMAD4 target genes were decreased in the SMAD4 knockout lungs. Using a luminex multiplex protein screen and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA)s we compared pulmonary cytokine and chemokine protein concentration in control and SMAD4 knockout mice placed on the diet at four and six weeks of age. Additionally, primary immunofluorescence (IF) was used to stain hematopoietic cells to compare their location in the lung tissue of control and SMAD4 knockout mice. Surprisingly, we also found that the SMAD4 deletion drove pulmonary fibrosis after influenza infection, regardless of when the doxycycline treatment was administered.    
 

How does KLF14’s mechanism function in Type 2 diabetes mellitus? 
Presenter Name: Zhiwen  Xu
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Mete Civelek
Secondary Research Mentor: Qianyi Yang
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
The prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D) has increased rapidly worldwide. The individual risk of T2D is modified by the perturbations to the mass, distribution, and function of adipose tissue. In preliminary human studies done in the Civelek Lab, a genetic variant in the chromosome 7q32.2 locus was identified to be associated with risk for T2D. Single nucleotide variants at this locus were shown an association with the expression of the transcription factor (TF) KLF14 exclusively in adipose tissue. The KLF14 risk allele was associated with lower expression of KLF14 and increased insulin resistance. Strikingly, this effect is more pronounced in women as compared to men. Our goal is to understand the mechanism of how KLF14 functions in T2D. Thus, we have generated two mouse lines to manipulate KLF14 expression in adipocytes. To validate human genetic data, we generated adipose-specific KLF14 knockout mice. To establish the therapeutic benefits of adipocyte-specific induction of KLF14 expression, we generated adipocyte-specific Klf14 overexpressing mice. We will characterize metabolic parameters in these mice, including insulin and glucose tolerance, body fat amounts and distribution, and plasma lipid profiles in both sexes. The results will be compared between two different mouse lines. Preliminary results showed that consistent with human data, female mice without KLF14 in adipocytes showed increased body fat amount and changes in insulin sensitivity. By understanding the mechanism of KLF14 and its association with T2D, new customizable therapies can be developed for individuals to treat T2D more effectively.
 

OPC-like Cell Maturation via Urokinase Plasminogen Activator
Presenter Name: Wenxuan (Sharon) Zheng
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Kyle Lampe
Secondary Research Mentor: Edi Meco
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant
In the United States, multiple sclerosis (MS) is estimated to affect about one million people. MS is a demyelinating disease, which oligodendrocytes (OLs) are damaged and are unable to generate sufficient myelin to facilitate signal transmission in the central nervous system (CNS). Elastin-like protein (ELP) hydrogels are suitable for guiding the maturation of oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) to OLs by promoting cellular interactions and regenerative responses. One ELP bioactive variant (ELP-U1) contains urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA) cleavage sites, allowing the ELP hydrogel to degrade in response to uPA expression. The biodegradability provides space for cells to differentiate, proliferate, and migrate. As there is no direct evidence showing OPCs express uPA, the goal is to characterize the interaction between ELPs and OPCs to determine if OPCs express uPA. The method used is zymography, which can visually detect and identify the expression of uPA.  OPC-like cells and conditioned media in the tissue culture polystyrene plates (TCPs) and different hydrogels were tested through zymography. The presence of low molecular weight (LMW) uPA was only detected in samples containing cells, indicating the uPA is a cell-bound enzyme. Further research using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) showed that OPC-like cells encapsulated in ELP-U1 hydrogel are more differentiated. The confirmation of uPA expression by OPC-like cells proves that the ELP-U1 hydrogel is able to induce OPC-like cell maturation through the uPA cleavage sites.
 

Neopentane Reactivity on Pt(111): Towards Computational Optimization of Natural Gas Conversion to Commodity Chemicals
Presenter Name: John Zima
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Ian Harrison
Secondary Research Mentor: Mark Bernard
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
Roughly 2% of global energy (~250 GW)^1 is consumed in converting natural gas (alkanes) into more desirable chemicals and fuels. Most of these chemical transformations are catalyzed by transition metal surfaces which makes an understanding of the gas surface reactivity important because it may lead to improved catalysis and energy efficiency. The reaction of neopentane on Pt(111) is of interest due to neopentane’s ability to act as an intermediate in the production of petrochemicals. Additionally, neopentane’s high symmetry and multiple pathways for reaction with the surface make it a useful model system. There is a schism in the current scientific literature as to whether the initial dissociative chemisorption of neopentane into chemisorbed fragments on the surface occurs via a C-C or C-H bond cleavage. Therefore, it is useful to study the reaction computationally, because ongoing experiments lack the microscopic clarity afforded by theory. Energies of the physisorbed molecule (bound by van der Waals forces) and the two possible sets of chemisorbed fragments resulting from dissociative chemisorption will be calculated using density functional electronic structure theory, thereby establishing the reaction thermodynamics. Thereafter, nudged elastic band calculations can determine transition state properties, such as the activation energy and transition state vibrational frequencies necessary for kinetic models. Ultimately, the computed properties will be used to calculate and predict gas-surface reaction rates that can be compared and validated against experimental findings.

References:

1^I. Fechete, Y. Wang, and J. C. Vedrine, "The past, present and future of heterogeneous catalysis", Catal. Today 189, 2-27 (2012). 

 

Measuring Nuclear Matter Parameters with the Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer and the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory
Presenter Name: Josef Zimmerman
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Kent Yagi
Secondary Research Mentor: Zack Carson
Academic Category: Science
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
To date, the properties of nuclear matter at the extreme densities remain largely unknown.  Because densities beyond that of the atomic nucleus are difficult to access in a laboratory setting, we study the properties of nuclear matter in neutron stars, which demonstrate strong correlations between macroscopic observables of the astrophysical object and the microscopic interactions in the interior.  The Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) Collaboration recently reported the most precise measurement of the mass and radius of the pulsar PSR J0030+0451.  We use this new measurement to constrain Ksym,0, a higher order parameter describing nuclear matter at extreme energy densities.  We further combine with the tidal deformability measurement of the binary neutron star merger GW170817 by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) to derive a joint 1-œÉ constraint as Ksym,0 = -102 ± 72 MeV.  We believe this is the most reliable bound on the parameter to date under the assumption that there is no new physics above the saturation density which impacts neutron star observations.  This research provides a promising method to refine models of nuclear interactions using current and future observations of neutron stars.
 

 Reinforcement Learning in Artificial Intelligence: An Observational Study 
Presenter Name: Ian Adoremos
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Katherine  Rahill
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
A theory in Psychology that has inspired the algorithmic framework of machine learning is called  Information Processing Theory. The basic premise of this theory states that humans process, store, and integrate information, rather than learning through operant or classical conditioning.  Another concept  which explains reinforcement learning is operant conditioning. This theory states that behaviors alter through positive and negative stimulus.
       A goal of this observational study is to support the notion that both theories are within the fundamentals of machine learning frameworks, both quantitatively and qualitatively. Qualitatively, when an agent acquires new strategies from its learning environment. Such  changes are identified as an increase in the knowledge base (i.e. working memory capacity), and strengthening the connections of cognitive associations. 
In this poster presentation, I will examine the relationship among the cognitive frameworks which serve as a platform for AI designs in this specific software to the central tenets of operant conditioning and information processing theory. For this observational study, I will design the self-driving car and its environment through a software called Spyder, an open-source, integrated development environment platform for the Python language. I will set coordinates, vectors, and learning rates. Also, I will activate algorithms and construct neural networks, which will allow the car to develop cognitive skills. Finally, I will record the car’s learning behavior, closely observing how its neural structure evolves through these parameters. 

 

How Bad Is Big Tech Really? Examining and Addressing Novel Harms by the "Big Five" Technology Companies
Presenter Name: Avital Balwit
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Herman Schwartz
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
These past few years have been bad for  big tech. In early 2018, we learned that Facebook had allowed political consulting firm  Cambridge Analytica to collect data on ~90 million users without their consent, and to use it for targeted political advertising. Facebook was not alone in scandal: Google received an EU fine, summons for congressional hearings, and company outcry over sexual harassment and defense contracts. Amazon was criticized for forcing cities into a bidding war for its second headquarters and mistreatment of its warehouse workers. According to polling from Data for Progress, a majority of Americans support breaking up big tech.
My research aims to answer whether there is something uniquely harmful about these companies, or if they have simply become easy targets for ire. I examine the behavior of five companies in four areas of concern. The five companies are Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and Alphabet. At the time of writing, these five are the most valuable publicly traded companies in the world.  I say  areas of concern, because only some of their behavior is covered by current laws, and some points to the need for new or updated laws. These areas are taxation, privacy, antitrust, and attention concentration. I intend to answer these questions through examining news articles, recent scholarship, legislation, regulation, and corporate statements.
Thus far, it appears that while these companies are violating norms -- and occasionally laws -- in the realms of antitrust and taxation, that their truly novel behavior concerns privacy and attention. 

 

Case Study on the Instructional Approaches of Mathematics Teaching Assistants 
Presenter Name: William Brinkley
Co Presenter Name(s):  Lee Corbin    
Primary Research Mentor: Jennifer Maeng
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Undergraduate mathematics is stressed in nearly every discipline, often warranting its own place as a general education requirement. It then seems reasonable to stress the importance of mathematics education. The purpose of this study is to examine the differences in the teaching style and approach of two undergraduate mathematics instructors, comparing their methods both to each other and to literature on the subject. Special focus will be paid to methods involving the use of visual aids and representation. After collecting field notes during observations on instructor-student interactions, the encounters are to be coded based off of teaching methods used in which order. This will be done on the larger scale including overall classroom setting progression and lecturing methods as well as on the smaller scale individual or small group interactions. This goal of this case study is to develop an understanding of the various progressions and methods seen across mathematics education. Future research may delve into the effectiveness of the various methods used and differences in teaching progressions, thereby bettering mathematics and overall STEM education at the undergraduate level.
 

Qualitative Study on Patient Perspectives Towards Home-Based Medical Care in China
Presenter Name: Joyce Cheng
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Nengliang Yao
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: Community Based Undergraduate Research Grant (CBURG)
The rapid aging of the global population presents new challenges for healthcare systems, as the institutional, human, and financial resources necessary to meet the needs of vulnerable homebound older people (those unable to leave their homes without assistance) are currently limited. China, the world’s most populous country, is beginning to prioritize home-based medical care (HBMC). My research on HBMC in China focused on the following questions: What challenges do homebound older individuals face in regards to accessing healthcare and how can they benefit from HBMC? What factors affect patient satisfaction for individuals served by HBMC programs? How and why do the experiences of homebound patients in the United States differ from the experiences of homebound patients in China? Data collection methods involved participant observation of healthcare providers and semi-structured interviews conducted with 17 homebound patients in Jinan, Zhangqiu, and Shanghai who have received HBMC. The interview transcripts were analyzed using an anthropological approach to qualitative coding. Most participants were satisfied with the care they have received. Participants reported that HBMC is extremely convenient, as it prevented completely homebound individuals from having to call an ambulance for transportation. In China, home care providers and their patients often become very friendly. Healthcare system differences and cultural factors may affect the delivery and perception of HBMC in China versus the United States. These observations may help researchers and physicians better understand the healthcare experiences of older homebound patients, informing the global development of effective and empathetic home-based care.
 

Bridging Spaces, Building Places: exploring the effects of artistic endeavors on socioeconomic development 

Presenter Name: Jessica Copeland
Co Presenter Name(s):  Carlin  Smith Ruthie Rosenfeld Jon Roberts
Primary Research Mentor: David Edmunds
Secondary Research Mentor: Noel Lobley
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant
Freedom of the human mind in knowledge and expression is a central tenant guiding the collaboration between The Black Power Station (TBPS) in Makhanda, South Africa, and the University of Virginia, right here in Charlottesville. This project took place in close collaboration with artists Xolile  X Madinda and Andiswa  Bliss Rabeshu to explore possible avenues of socioeconomic development at the Black Power Station, a creative arts venue in Makhanda. Initial findings suggest a way to integrate productions from The Black Power Station into the creative sector of the formal economy. There is also evidence that artistic endeavors promoted by The Black Power Station have the potential to create networks of solidarity both within the Makhanda community itself and transnationally. This research utilized a deeply entangled model of community engagement, as well as collective inductive content analysis of art and music, interviews, and analysis of financial figures of TBPS. The study carried over into February, when X and Bliss visited Charlottesville to interact with UVA students and host an exhibition of TBPS-affiliated work at McGuffey Art Center. The future of this project holds the promise of establishing a long-term mutual exchange between artists in Makhanda and Charlottesville, making UVA exemplary of the kind of work that universities are able to do in terms of promoting equity and building bridges both locally and globally. 

 

Sino-US Digital Frontier: An Exploration of International Data Security
Presenter Name: Haolin Deng
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Aynne Kokas
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
This research project explores the international data security regulations and actions between US and China. In the digital age, the Sino-US data battle highlights the importance of consumer data and the impact of data regulations on countries’ soft power in a global setting. As more US companies face strict regulations entering the Chinese market, Chinese companies appear to enjoy relatively open market in the US. To explore the nature of the current Sino-US data security landscape, we use qualitative including but not limited to gathering and analyzing privacy regulations of social media platforms, data security policy of the respective governments, and interviews with concerned officials and industry leaders. Specifically, we break down the project into different stages chronologically. It addresses past actions that led to the current situation; the tactics of companies and individuals; the role of Chinese legislation in controlling market access; and future expectations. Our preliminary finding suggests that through its heavy regulation of digital business and consumer data, China was able to gain significant leverage over Sino-US trade relations for tech companies. In addition, there is a lack of effective regulation on the US side, which allows China to gradually gain more global consumer data. These data are extremely valuable for surveillance and national security. Through controlling commercial data by taking advantage of blind spots in regulations, China is able to advance its global power.
 

Assisting the Ethno-religious Yazidi Minority in Recovering from Genocide: Analyzing Current Efforts and Future Opportunities
Presenter Name: Kat  DesCamp-Renner
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Jerry White
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
The genocide of the ethno-religious Yazidi minority by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in 2014 created an unmitigated humanitarian crisis that continues to this day. The purpose of this study is to analyze how to substantively improve the conditions of survivors of the Yazidi genocide, including those who remain displaced in refugee camps, and those who have sought asylum in foreign countries. As a result, this research involves direct overlap between academia and advocacy efforts. The methods utilized in investigating this topic include literature reviews, analyses of advocacy efforts by nongovernmental and nonprofit organization, the creation of an online advocacy network via Twitter, and tracking relevant regional conflicts through news sources. The results of this research demonstrate that the ongoing crisis is due to a lack of investment by international organizations in the Yazidi cause, the unaddressed issue of refugee displacement, and the ongoing regional conflicts that undermine the security of minority groups. The primary conclusions are that the factors required to improve the status of Yazidis include a reinvigoration of advocacy efforts by international organizations, comprehensive and refugee-specific mental health interventions, and increased admittance of Yazidi refugees into foreign countries. This research is significant as it can be directly transmitted into policy recommendations to substantively improve the lives of survivors of the Yazidi genocide. 
 

Capacity Building as a School Improvement Strategy
Presenter Name: Trevor  Doiron
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Michelle Young
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
        What capacities allow state education agencies to successfully implement policies like the Every Students Succeeds Act (ESSA)? What provisions could the next re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) include that could allow state education agencies to more effectively enact federal policy? These are the two research questions this project seeks to answer.
     The University Council for Educational Administration conducted a nationwide review of all 50 ESSA plans following the federal approval of each plan. The review found that only twenty-two states‚Äîless than half‚Äîelected to pursue the new three percent set-aside (Doiron & Reedy, 2018). Following the publication of these findings interviews are currently being conducted with state education agency officials from the twenty-two set-aside states. As a result qualitative data is being gathered to identify specific capacities that permitted these twenty-two states to pursue the new set-aside. In identifying capacities that made implementation more conducive policy considerations for the next reauthorization of the ESEA will also be discussed.
    Emerging trends of the preliminary research include capacities of supportive state budgets, amicable relationships with school districts, and transparent federal guidelines. State officials have stated that supportive state budgets increase staff retention and overall morale within the workplace which leads to more engaged and committed staff working on implementation. Amicable relationships with school districts matters because it is district leaders who implement state plans. Lastly, transparent federal guidelines is important as some state education agencies do not have the staff to successfully carry out this work alone. 
 

Farm Fresh Spectrum: Rural Broadband Policy and the Future of Connectivity
Presenter Name: Mark Duemmel
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Christopher Ali
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Today, approximately 39% of rural Americans lack access to proper broadband speeds.  The politics of rural broadband in America has a long history and complex array of stakeholders who govern who gets internet access and how it is funded.  After briefly discussing the history of connecting America through the Rural Electrification Act, this research unpacks the roles of relevant stakeholders in the rural broadband space.  Through regulatory efforts dating back to the electrification of rural America, the Rural Utilities Service has been given the unique power to exert heavy influence over rural broadband policy.  Through comprehensive stakeholder analysis and thematic content analysis, this research suggests the Rural Utilities Service uses its power in a very unstable way to exert influence over rolling out the internet to under-connected rural America.  Next, our research delves into the technologies and stakeholders behind  precision agriculture.  These advanced farming technologies require farmers to use broadband, thereby creating a complex relationship between the government, precision agriculture equipment companies, and farmers themselves.  To conclude, our research proposes recommendations and looks to the future of rural broadband, especially with respect to the uncertain promises related to 5G.
 

The er/est phenomenon in marketing and its relationship to the judging and comparing mind in Buddhist philosophy
Presenter Name: Diana Echeverria
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: David  Mick
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
There is a widescale phenomenon in marketing to promote products using comparative words ending in  er or  est such as  better or  best. Although not malicious in nature, it invites consumers to habitually compare products and want their lives and possessions to be different than they are. This comparative mind, when hyperactive, can influence a consumer’s personal life and cause dissatisfaction. The purpose of this study is to identify examples of the er/est phenomenon and suggest how it can foment unhappiness. We adopted a Buddhist perspective lens when looking at the phenomenon that argues the following: the judging and comparing mind when unnoticed or out of control sets up a propensity for ungratefulness and a never-ending pursuit of something other than what is present. In Buddhism, the attachment to things and the desire for more are core causes for dis-ease. After reading Buddhist philosophy on the effects of the judging and comparing mind, we analyzed advertisements from a variety of sources to see how pervasive the  er  est phenomenon is in modern marketing strategies. We found that the use of er/est words was prominent in multiple sources of media, household brands, and social media. 

 

Optimizing Customer Engagement Strategies with Advanced Analytics
Presenter Name: Jonathan Eman
Co Presenter Name(s):  Amelia McCrory    
Primary Research Mentor: Jeff Boichuk
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
This study intends to determine the optimal points in a customer’s journey in which a company should engage with them, through the development of a widely adaptable and reproducible marketing campaign framework and advanced analytics. We use The Juice Laundry and Elements Real Food, restaurants in Charlottesville and Asheville, respectively, as test subjects. To address our question of interest, we have employed a methodology consisting of 3 automated surveys: one that asks customers to provide general feedback, one that requests demographic information from the customer, and one that asks customers questions related to how they perceive certain products (in terms of health, environmental impact, etc.). The latter two provide a $2 coupon upon completion as an incentive. Within the surveys, the effects of other factors, such as the colors or the tone of the words in the marketing campaign, as they relate to a customer’s decision to respond to a marketing campaign and subsequently engage with the business, can be analyzed. Customers are randomly assigned to one of four frequency conditions that determine how often they receive a form of engagement from the company. This allows us to study the relationship between frequency of engagement and dependent variables including a customer’s transaction frequency, average purchase amount, and average tip amount. Ultimately, the goal of this study is to understand the factors that motivate customers to engage with businesses and to help businesses leverage the power of digital marketing and data analytics to optimize their marketing strategies and drive increased sales. 
 

Engaging with the Moral Parenting Approach to Involve Latino Families in their Children’s Education
Presenter Name: Astrid  Escobar
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Tonya Moon
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant
Parent-involvement is a predictor of academic success among primary school students (LeFevre & Shaw, 2011). However, Latinx families are less likely to reach out to teachers, and more likely to morally support their student because many of them have difficulty interacting with the U.S education system (Auerbach, 2004). An increasing number of Latino-Language-Learners (LELs) from low-socioeconomic (low-SES) backgrounds continue to enroll in U.S. public schools and their families’ involvement is imperative as research indicates strong association between parents’ academic expectations for their children and their children’s academic success as well as a strong correlation between home-school connection and student’s academic success (Castro et al., 2015). 
My research addressed parents’ involvement, the school-parent communication patterns, and the ways in which schools can better bridge the communication gap with Latinx families. A semi-structured interview protocol was used to interview families; the collected data were analyzed using a priori codes. Themes from the analysis indicate that Latinx families hold high expectations for their children and at the same time have developed workarounds for the barriers they encounter that deter their active involvement in their children’s schooling. Despite these barriers, families continue to hold a positive outlook for their children’s academic success. 
The findings of this research serve two main purposes: (1) to provide a better understanding of Latinx parents’ perspectives regarding the school-home connection and (2) to offer Latinx parents considerations on how to play a more active role in their children’s education. 

 

Moderators of the Relationship Between State and Trait Anxiety and Depersonalization
Presenter Name: Noah French
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Bethany Teachman
Secondary Research Mentor: Jeremy Eberle
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant
Depersonalization is a ubiquitous yet little-studied psychiatric symptom marked by a sense of unreality and detachment from oneself and one’s surroundings. Depersonalization is common in anxiety disorders, but little is known about the factors that influence co-occurring anxiety and depersonalization. We investigated trait moderators of the relationship between state and trait anxiety and depersonalization to better understand their comorbidity and to identify potential points of intervention. In an online study, 303 participants (age: M = 34.56, SD = 9.80; 65.4% male, 33.3% female, 1.3% other gender identity; 66.3% white) completed two exercises designed to increase variability in state anxiety (imagining an upcoming anxiety-provoking event) and depersonalization (staring intently at a dot), with intermixed self-reports of state anxiety and depersonalization, followed by a series of trait-level questionnaires. As hypothesized (preregistration: https://osf.io/xgazd), anxiety positively predicted depersonalization at both a state level, Β = 0.43, 95% CI [0.39, 0.47], and trait level, Β = 0.60, 95% CI [0.51, 0.70]. Moreover, as hypothesized, the trait anxiety-trait depersonalization relationship was strengthened by greater anxiety sensitivity, Β = 0.25, 95% CI [0.17, 0.34], distress intolerance, Β = 0.15, 95% CI [0.05, 0.25], negative interpretation bias for anxiety sensations (inverse transformed), Β = -0.21, 95% CI [-0.30, -0.13], and negative interpretation bias for depersonalization sensations (inverse transformed), Β = -0.27, 95% CI [-0.35, -0.19]. These findings support the view of depersonalization as a protective mechanism against intolerable anxiety and suggest that on a trait level, anxiety and depersonalization more frequently co-occur when people catastrophically misinterpret their symptoms.
 

Virtual Reality and Humanitarian Aid: Increasing Empathy or False Understanding?
Presenter Name: Jayla Hart
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Sophie Trawalter
Secondary Research Mentor: Jin Bak
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Little research has currently been done into the various ways in which immersion in virtual reality (VR) increases one’s understanding, empathy, and compassion for others. As a part of the UVA Humanitarian Collaborative with the United Nations Office for Humanitarian Office, this project represents the second part of a two-part stud which tests the effectiveness of VR in increasing prosocial behavior (i.e donations) towards internally displaced peoples (IDPs). During the second study, participants experienced one of four conditions: a VR video about a displaced person, a standard informational video about IDPs, the informational video followed by the VR video, or a neutral video (the control condition).  Afterward, they took a survey about their feelings toward refugees and IDPs and were given the opportunity to donate their study compensation ($6) to a refugee/IDP aid organization.  After some cursory analysis, the data shows a slight positive correlation between more support for IDP related policies and feelings of empathy. However, the VR condition doesn’t translate into significantly larger donations as compared to other conditions. This is also an interaction between exposure to both information and VR which lowers victim-blaming. There is also the possible limitation that VR promotes donations but also false understanding (pity instead of genuine empathy). All in all, this project will provide us with a better understanding of how VR campaigns (such as the ones carried out by the UN) influence key outcomes such as increased perspective-taking, empathy for others, and prosocial behavior. 

 

Life satisfaction among Chinese international students of diverse sexual identities: Association with acculturation, social support, and depressive symptoms
Presenter Name: Xinyu Hou
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Charlotte Patterson
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
The study examined the association between life satisfaction and depressive symptoms, social support, and acculturation among Chinese international students of diverse sexual identities studying in the United States. 272 Chinese international students participated in this study, of which 210 self-identified as heterosexual (Mage = 23.09; SD = 3.37) and 62 self-identified as non-heterosexual (Mage = 22.82; SD = 3.43; 10 lesbians, 15 gay men, 31 bisexual, 6 pansexual). Data regarding their demographics, life satisfaction, depressive symptoms, social support, and acculturation to the American culture were collected in the form of a self-reported survey via Qualtrics Portal. ANOVA analyses results showed that there was no difference in life satisfaction, depressive symptoms, social support, and acculturation between heterosexual participants and non-heterosexual participants. Regression analysis was conducted to test whether life satisfaction can be predicted based on depressive symptoms, social support, and acculturation. Results revealed that depressive symptoms and social support significantly predicted their life satisfaction, while there was no predictive effect of acculturation on life satisfaction. More social support was associated with higher life satisfaction, whereas more severe depressive symptoms were associated with lower life satisfaction. The results suggest that social support and mental health but not acculturation to the American culture are crucial for the subjective well-being of Chinese international students of diverse sexual identities.
 

Manipulating Factors Within Inter or Intra Group Aid
Presenter Name: Victoria Hume
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Eileen Chou
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Groups of individuals with a common identity may choose to aid themselves, intra group aid, or outside groups, intergroup aid. To explore what situational factors might influence individuals to aid their own group versus outside groups, and the possible inequality, bias, and inclusive nature behind this aid distribution, we created four conditions for participants to read about. Two conditions primed participants on the naturally occurring issue of Flooding, but the conditions differed on if they read about flooding occurring domestically (intra group level) or in a foriegn country (intergroup level). Two other conditions primed participants on the manmade problem of child hunger, but the conditions differed on if they read about child hunger occurring domestically or in a foriegn country. Next we will test the participants through, qualitative, quantitative, and effort based tasks on how likely they are to support or aid the cause. We hypothesize that individuals will deny intra group, man made problems, due to pride, but help intergroup man made problems, because of some other form of group bias. We believe that knowledge of how man made or naturally occurring problems stimulate different aid responses for different groups of people has important implications for understanding the nature of prejudice towards outgroups and group identity. 
 

Communities and Copper: A Study of Mining-Induced Water Degradation and the Role of Sustainable Income-Generating Initiatives in Intag, Ecuador

Presenter Name: Emma Karnes
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: David Edmunds
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: Community Based Undergraduate Research Grant (CBURG)
Throughout the rural region of Intag, Ecuador, transnational copper-mining corporations have sustained a presence since the 1990s and are currently undergoing advanced exploration. Many community members fear mining-induced contamination of waterways, which would threaten public health, agricultural livelihoods, and Intag’s habitability. Mining has also sparked social fracture, inspiring activists to take direct action measures and develop sustainable income-generating activities that pose an alternative to mining. In partnership with conservation NGO DECOIN, I studied 1) the extent of mining-induced water contamination and natural baselines, and 2) strategies, limitations, and paths forwards of selected sustainable development initiatives.
I utilized three methodologies. First, I recorded temperature, conductivity, TDS, and pH levels across 54 test sites in three communities, using handheld multiparametric meters. Second, I financed laboratory testing for the presence of 13 heavy metals at 36 sites. Finally, I conducted 18 semi-structured interviews with activists, government officials, sustainable initative employees, and mine employees. I found a consistent increase in indirect indicators over time in communities closest to mining, despite laboratory results demonstrating a minimal presence of heavy metals. These trends suggest early-stage contamination, although metal concentrations haven’t reached significant levels. In addition, testing established baselines in ‘clean’ communities that will contextualize future monitoring and provide credibility to confrontations with corporations. Interviews suggest that initiative participants see their organizations as successful vehicles for political organization, but weak economic stimulators; however, stakeholders are interested in strengthening their economic relevance. This research engages communities facing potential destruction, focusing on dangers and strategies both environmental and economic. 

 

Research for Sustainable Commerce - Impact of BCorps Certification
Presenter Name: Areeba  Kausar
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Jeffery Boichuk
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Sustainable Economic Growth has been gaining significant traction across various geographic and industrial market segments where shift in customer preferences and perspectives has introduced the concept of conscious customers. These customers aim to develop purchasing habits which promote sustainability and advocate a form of development which minimizes negative impact on the environment and society. As the market follows the shifting demand, corporations have been revitalizing their core business strategies and rebranding their corporate image to fit the new customer standards. Research for Sustainable Commerce is an attempt to collect data and formalize the recognized customer trends around sustainable growth in global economics today. This research is assessing the effects of B Corps Certification on companies. B Corps Certification is issued to companies who demonstrate their dedication to environment, suppliers, workers and customers. Two central databases that are being tapped for the data collection purposes include B Corps and Google Trends. There are two possible outcomes for this study which will be derived through running mixed affect linear models and interrupted time series models on the final datasets. If a positive connection is found between corporate adaption of fair business practices and increased business profitability, it will encourage other firms to follow more sustainable practices as well. On the other hand, if this study fails to find a correlation between its two variables as a result of, timing of a company’s Bcorps certification and its revenues, other companies could be deterred from adopting fairer business models.
 

A quasi-experimental inquiry on the severity of caffeine withdrawal on different age groups.
Presenter Name: Jordan Kerere
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Robert  Scott
Secondary Research Mentor: Maria Accavitti
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
The purpose of this research was to determine whether adults or children had greater success in withdrawing from caffeine. The researcher worked with 24 volunteer participants from a suburban, middle-class school district. Originally, this study was to be comprised of one pre-data collection survey with following weekly surveys over an 8 week monitored period addressing progress and symptoms to then be followed by an additional 2 week unmonitored period with a final survey to be compared to the monitored responses. After the first 7 weeks of data collection, however, the researcher concluded that after the monitored period the unmonitored aspect would not assist the findings since over 80% of participants had already used caffeine. Instead, these 2 weeks were made into a period of reflection for participants to note side-effects of returning to caffeine and this study's impact on themselves. These findings did not provide a significant answer to the original research question, but it did reveal 4 distinct time-related stages that participants uniformly experienced during caffeine withdrawal. Additional research would be needed to better answer this study's research question and further analyze the withdrawal stages discovered. 
 

Mousetracker: Approach and Avoidance Behavior Helps to understand Decision-Making Processes Using Several Lab Techniques and Mousetracker
Presenter Name: Cierra  Klett 
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Bethany  Teachman 
Secondary Research Mentor: Nauder  Namaky
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
In this study we seek to understand what underlies mood and anxiety disorders by honing in on approach and avoidance regarding specific stimuli. Prior research on this process and decision making has relied heavily on the final outcome of the decision. The purpose of this research is to collect data about the approach and avoidance making process in its entirety, by using a computer-based measure called Mousetracker. Participants in the study are invited to use Moustracker to complete a computer-based task that involves them clicking on certain animals as their computer mouse movements are tracked. Through the different tasks the participants wear an EEG cap that indicates how markers like frontal alpha symmetry are measuring approach and avoidance in the tasks. After the computer-based task the participants complete a set of questionnaires, and a behavioral avoidance task involving a tarantula intended to provoke a sense of anxiety within the participant. The participants in this study have varying levels of spider phobias and these tasks measure anxiety based on approach and avoidance. This study aims to collect data from several tasks in order to take a step toward understanding how approach and avoidance plays a part in mood and anxiety disorders, and to understand the relationship. 
 

Obstruction to the Political Participation of Marginalized Groups: The Coding 

Presenter Name: Julia  Lee
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Denise Walsh
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
An obstruction is an act that impedes on a certain activity. In the past and today, there is a range of impediments to political participation. Through an analysis of these different types of obstruction on political participation, we explore further and the effects that these different types have on women. A meta-analysis was conducted and at first, 402 sources for this paper were analyzed to see which examples of obstruction to political participation would make the most sense. My role in this project was to identify the best examples of the different types of obstruction to include in this paper. We finalized the different levels of coding to figure out the best 13 academic papers to use, and from these pieces of literature, I found the examples that were needed for this project to be stronger and more accurate. 
 

Addressing Sustainable Material Management: Public Policy’s Role in Production, Consumption, and Waste
Presenter Name: David Li
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Noah Myung
Secondary Research Mentor: Andy Ortiz
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
The main focus of my research is to understand the problem of waste, develop a collection of policies that could be utilized to tackle that problem, and summarize and model these findings. This is part of my contribution to my lab’s research which is aimed at collecting information on different crises, modeling these issues, and creating a simulation using this information that help individuals learn more about the issue and train skills related to teamwork and decision making. To help make this contribution, I have read and extracted information from scholarly literature that enable me and my team to construct models which simplify real world interactions relating to waste. From this work, I have found that the reduction of waste is closely tied with more sustainable material management, and that in order to achieve waste reduction in a manner that is truly sustainable, we should focus on considering creating incentives to encourage change in production and consumption that are truly consistent with our true environmental goals. I have evaluated difference policies and concepts like: zero waste policy, and the circular economy. Ultimately, we hope to create a simulation that people can play to get a more  hands-on experience in tackling the waste problem from the point of view of a policy maker. Though the simulation cannot solve the problem of waste, it helps raise awareness surrounding the waste issue (and more broadly the issue of material management) and increases an understanding of what can be done to address it.
 

Reducing the Liking Gap: Exploring methods to increase perceived liking in conversation
Presenter Name: Brigitte Lieu
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Timothy Wilson
Secondary Research Mentor: Quinn Hirschi
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: Double Hoo Research Grant
People systematically underestimate how interesting others find them in conversations, demonstrating a  Liking Gap (Boothby, Cooney, Sandstrom, & Clark, 2018). Prior studies show that participants particularly underestimate how much others enjoy hearing the stories they tell about themselves. The present research sought to reduce this moderator of the Liking Gap by manipulating a lay theory people might use to infer how their conversation partners view them (Epley & Waytz, 2010)--specifically, that other people love talking about themselves, and only themselves. We hypothesized that participants prompted to imagine their partner as self-conscious would view their partners as more similar to them, and would thus more accurately forecast their partners’ interest in learning about them. That is, participants would project their own conversational preferences (e.g., not being the center of attention) onto their partners to inform their forecasts of their partners’ enjoyment. Participants conversed for five minutes before separately writing responses to prompts about themselves and the other person. After reading and reporting their interest in their partners’ responses, participants were randomly assigned to write about how their partner might be self-conscious or self-confident. Participants then forecasted how interesting their partner would find their responses. Participants in the  self-conscious condition did not show significant differences in forecasting accuracy from those in the  self-confident condition, but the results replicated the effect where participants particularly underestimate their partners’ interest in conversational contributions about themselves. Future research will explore novel methods to reduce this moderator of the Liking Gap.
 

Gender and Racial Differences in Safety Technology Perception and Engagement
Presenter Name: Angel Martinez
Co Presenter Name(s):  Ty'Leik Chambers    
Primary Research Mentor: Elizabeth Ellcessor
Secondary Research Mentor: Rose Buckelew
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
In this research project, we investigated the topic of safety technology on college campuses and its perceptions amongst varying demographics. Through the use of group interviews and follow-up individual interviews, we collected qualitative data and used qualitative coding methods to interpret the data. We found that safety technology such as the blue-lights are rarely used by students of certain demographics over others. This points to the notion that blue-lights offer a false sense of security and are not useful. We also found that men engage less with safety technology and feel safer in general than women. Women find comfort in large crowds and tend to feel uneasy being in predominantly male spaces during dark hours. Furthermore, Black, Latinx, and Asian students find themselves feeling uneasy about some security measures such as ambassadors (individuals in bright-yellow vests, used to enhance visibility and engagement with the safety of the public), where white students would either feel safe or neutral towards. Lastly, we discovered that safety is often tied to a geographical location for some students. Asian students, for example, find comfort with being on Jefferson Park Avenue. These findings introduce the idea that safety is not universal, and what feels safe for some, maybe uncomfortable for others and colleges and universities must be mindful of that when implementing safety measures.
 

The Impact of Inequality on Young Children's Helpfulness
Presenter Name: Jenna Marzougui
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Amrisha Vaish
Secondary Research Mentor: Meltem Yucel
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
Wealth inequality is increasing across the globe, and yet little is known about its effect on children’s wellbeing. We analyzed how experiencing inequality affects children’s helping behaviors. Sixty 5- to 6-year-old participants (M = 70 months, 11 days; 30 girls) were randomly chosen to receive either fewer resources (Disadvantageous Inequality), more resources (Advantageous Inequality), or the same number of resources (Equality) as a hypothetical child in another room. The participants were then measured on their physical and verbal helping behavior across four different tasks, each designed to elicit help. The study found that children in the Disadvantageous Inequality, Advantageous Inequality, and Equality conditions did not differ in the physical help they provided F(2, 57) = 0.20, p = .817. Likewise, there was not a significant effect of condition on verbal help F(2, 57) = 0.64, p = .530. Although brief experiences of inequality did not change children’s helping behaviors in this study, further research is needed before drawing any conclusions about the effects of inequality. Future work could consider ways to increase the strength or recurrence of the experimental manipulation of inequality to more accurately represent inequality in the real world. The negative results notwithstanding, this study is a stepping stone for future experimental research examining the ways in which social inequality shapes development.
 

Analysis and Development of Framework for Improving Mental Health in Communities with Shared Trauma
Presenter Name: Indigo  Milne
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Jerry  White
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Undergraduate students with a wide range of interests and passions have pursued the development of a coalition titled Collaborative Communities. The objective of developing this coalition has been to develop a framework for actions that are based in research and knowledge gained from local leaders involved in particular issues on a microlevel. Existing organizations can be connected and aligned through the work of Collaborative Communities to elucidate new solutions to pervasive problems with varying global impacts. The common issues being evaluated include destruction of major environmental resources, persecution and violence against religious and ethnic groups, and public mental health issues across all areas especially regions with people living in refuge and diaspora to escape persecution. Through extensive literature review and interviews with subject-matter experts, potential solutions to these large-scale issues are currently being developed and refined. A working case study is being developed to assist the community of Yazidis who have been displaced from their homeland in the northwest region of Iraq. Further research has shown many cases of psychosomatic disorders and other physical problems related to the emotional pain that people in these communities have experienced. Two strategies that will be pursued to assist the Yazidi people include improving their own understanding of mental health and how their physical health relates to the trauma they have experienced, as well as developing a way to assist people in this community in narrating and sharing their own stories, to provide agency and strength to the voice of the Yazidi people. 

 

The Role of Cultural Capital and Mismatch of Identity on Opportunity Gaps 

Presenter Name: Hadassah  Muthoka
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Yoi Tibbetts 
Secondary Research Mentor: Sasha  Miller-Marshall
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
Black students perform disproportionately lower than their white counterparts. Opportunity gaps contribute to negative school- and achievement-based outcomes (US Department of Education, 2016). In Tennessee community colleges, these gaps are especially apparent. Graduation trends reflect that 3.7% of Black students are expected to graduate within two years, compared to 14.1% of white students (The College System of Tennessee, 2017). 
This poster will discuss proposed solutions to two major hypothesized sources of racial/ethnic opportunity gaps. First, black students often lack the cultural capital to help them succeed in higher education (Ra, 2011). Second, black students often enter education systems with values that differ from their own, leading to a mismatch of identity (Massey, Charles, Lundy, & Fischer, 2011). These solutions include: student-centered mindset interventions, Student Learning Communities, and policy-oriented interventions. Mindset interventions have demonstrated to improve academic achievement for minority students by fostering adaptive beliefs about learning (Yeager & Walton, 2011). Mindset changes can also be fostered within learning communities, which can promote goal setting and problem solving to improve retention and persistence (Kirby et. Al., 2019). Policy change is also an integral source of student success, addressing the social class issues that fail to change within institutions (Phillips et. al., 2016). 
This poster will examine how future work must serve to understand the context and environment of the institution, tailoring programs to individual needs. By demonstrating the power of these programs in reducing opportunity gaps, this poster will contribute to current discourse concerning how researchers may best serve black students.

 

Second Chances in the #MeToo Movement 
Presenter Name: Catey Nash
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Gabrielle  Adams
Secondary Research Mentor: Margaret  Wiwuga 
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
I am interested in why victims and transgressors disagree about when someone deserves a second chance. I am studying this specifically within the context of the #MeToo movement. To investigate this, I conducted a literature review and learned that while there is extensive research to suggest that transgressors believe they deserve a second chance before the victim is willing to give it, there is a dearth of empirical research aimed at understanding whether people are willing to grant transgressors a second chance. The next step for this research is a study that manipulates whether the participant assumes the role of transgressor or victim while measuring how much time the participant believes the transgressor should wait before a second chance is granted. I predict that transgressors will demonstrate a belief that they deserve a second chance before victims demonstrate a willingness to offer it. This research will give further insight into why people decide to give others a second chance (or not). This knowledge is important because the ability to grant a second chance is one way in which power can be given back to victims who have been stripped of it. A proper understanding of the timing of second chances is integral to the progression and ease of victim healing.
 

Analyzing Microaggressions: Did that Statement cause Emotional Damage?
Presenter Name: Oluwafunmilayo Ogungbade
Co Presenter Name(s):  Kiara Cross    
Primary Research Mentor: Beverly Adams
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
Microaggressions are intentional or unintentional brief exchanges that communicate hostile, derogatory, negative slights and insults that result in harmful or unpleasant psychological influence to an individual or group (Sue, 2010; Sue et. al, 2007). The purpose of the study is to explore young adults’ reactions to ambiguous statements. In this study, we ask participants to distinguish between microaggressions and non-microaggressive statements on a scale from 0 (doesn’t bother them) to 3 (it doesn’t bother them, but will bother other people) and document the age at which they first experienced these statements on a scale of 0 (never experienced) to 3 (college/post-secondary education). Undergraduate students from the University of Virginia responded to our survey, composed of statements of microaggressions and non-microaggressions. The microaggressions are sensitive to five different marginalized communities: race/ethnicity, gender, body image, sexual orientation, and first-generation college students. Each participant was allowed to complete the Qualtrics survey online, on their own time. We hypothesized that participants can identify microaggressions based on their responses to the questionnaire. Additionally, we hypothesize that participants will report that they first became aware of microaggressive statements during their college years.
 Based on a pretest exploring some of the microaggressions in this study, early data suggest that participants can identify microaggressions with consistency. This work is relevant to understand what kinds of statements different marginalized groups (e.g., African Americans, women, LGBTQ+, Latinx, and first-generation students) consistently identify as microaggressions and what strategies we can use to combat these kinds of verbal assaults.
 
Keywords: microaggressions, race, gender, image, sexual orientation, LGBTQ+, first-generation college 

 

Examining Socioeconomic Status and Decisions on Further Education 
Presenter Name: Avni Parthan
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Eileen Chou
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Socioeconomic status (SES) acts as a composite indicator for overall well being using individual variables such as education, income, wealth, etc. From published research and exploration we know that this composite variable influences behaviour and decisions of individuals. This research considers the socioeconomic status of the household and explores how it affects decisions on further education and career. We look at ‘decisions’ to be a result of action influenced by perspective. Income and education levels of the household are used as a means to categorize different SES and identify variations in environments that may be  created. 
We explored whether parents of one group (higher SES or lower SES) exhibit greater indicators of control over the child’s application over the other. We examine if they possessed certain preconceived expectations of the students’ college or career path. The study data collected includes the past decisions of parents whose children have recently gone through the college application process along with proposed decisions and perspectives of participants within similar SES groups.

 

The Identifiability Effect and prosocial behavior in young children

Presenter Name: Kayla Pelletz
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Amrisha Vaish
Secondary Research Mentor: Stefen Beeler
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: Double Hoo Research Grant
The ‘Identifiability Effect’ has been well-documented in adult psychological research: Individuals are more likely to provide life-saving aid and distribute resources more fairly, and less inclined to cheat a partner, when that person is identifiable. Moreover, identifiability produces greater empathetic responses and prosocial behaviors (i.e., behaviors that benefit others), and increased willingness to pay a personal cost to benefit others. However, little is known about this phenomenon in children. The primary goals of this study were to understand the development of the Identifiability Effect and how the identifiability of the recipient may promote children’s prosocial behaviors.  Specifically, we examined how recipient identifiability impacts young children’s generosity. We predicted that children will act more generously (by sharing more resources) with a recipient child who is identifiable than with one who is anonymous. Children between 3.5 to 6.5 years of age (N=102) participated in a resource distribution task in which they could keep five stickers for themselves or share some or all of the five with an absent child recipient. For half the children in each age group, the potential recipient was identified by name (Identified condition), and for the other half, the recipient was anonymous (Unidentified condition). More children chose to share, and children shared more stickers with the recipient in the Identified condition than those in the Unidentified condition (both ps < .047). These results suggest that like in adults, recipient identifiability can promote children’s prosocial behavior from early in development.             
                    

 

Network of Collaboration in the Field of Environmental Science
Presenter Name: Riley Power
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Simone  Polillo
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
The speakers and lecturers at the world’s top 10 research institutions for Environmental Science are considered to be major contributors to the field of Environmental Science and are recognized for their contributions to this field. The field of Environmental Science is an interdisciplinary field that integrates physical, biological, and information sciences to study the environment, as well as the solution to environmental problems. The goal of this study was to identify overlapping relationships or commonalities that contributed to success in the field of Environmental SCience by observing mentorships and collaborations among awardees. We postulated that there would be evident networks of collaboration and success that could be traced to innovation within this field. To answer this question, we identified those who gave public lectures and presentations in the past twelve months at each of the top ten best research universities worldwide and compiled a network of their earliest collaborations and mentors. While there are a few crucial associations among collaborators, and the collaboration among them in the cutting edge facilities led to significant research in this field, a majority of the lecturers are disconnected from this apparent network. This may be because the field of environmental science is so broad and ever expanding. It appears, however, that those who have entered the field later have more common associations, and so if this trend continues the results may be more applicable in later years. 

 

HOW A NINETEEN-FIFTIES  LADIES ASSOCIATION SAVED MOUNT VERNON: An Exploration of The Influential Role of Women in Obtaining Scenic Easements. 
Presenter Name: Sarah Rigazio
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: 
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
What originally emerged as a subset of Professor Brian Balogh’s work writing The Nation’s Backyard, this project aims to further the exploration of the role that women played in establishing scenic easements in Virginia in the twentieth century. A scenic easement is the legal right to control a historic area of land for the sole purpose of preserving the scenery and history of the site. The research conducted in this project narrows its focus to one specific case involving scenic easements, examining the extent to which the  Mount Vernon Ladies Association (MVLA) salvaged George Washington’s property from being used by various external organizations in the nineteen-seventies. The largest player in the movement to save Mount Vernon was President of the MVLA, Congresswoman Frances Bolton of Ohio. Bolton used her network of connections, her power in office, and her bank account to save the estate of the first President of the United States. Bolton ultimately purchased the land at Mount Vernon herself, to block other organizations from marring the historic landscape. The research conducted in this experiment works to place the actions of Bolton and the MVLA in the broader context of women exercising political authority in the second half of the twentieth century.
 

How Demographic Data Informs Research on Internet-Based Anxiety Interventions 
Presenter Name: Tylar Schmitt
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Bethany  Teachman
Secondary Research Mentor: Claudia Calicho-Mamani
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
There are many barriers that stand in the way of people getting help for their anxiety. Internet-based anxiety interventions can reduce these barriers and allow more people to access treatment. Our lab is currently studying how effective an internet-based anxiety intervention, called MindTrails, is in training people to think in more flexible, less threat-oriented ways. At the beginning of the study, participants are asked about their demographic information, such as gender, racial, and ethnic identity. We’re curious about the distribution of this demographic data so we can see a trend in what groups of people are participating in the study and what groups may be underrepresented and underserved by this internet-based anxiety intervention. This can help guide our recruitment efforts. Demographic data is downloaded and analyzed weekly using the code program R. We are able to see what participants specified in their demographics questionnaire and the distribution of people in different gender, racial, and ethnic identities. Additionally, we’ve written code to differentiate demographic information for participants from the United States versus international participants, and we compare the data from participants who reported being United States residents with the United States census. Furthermore, we collect data on how participants discovered MindTrails and tailor our recruitment methods based on who is participating in the study and where they’re coming from. It’s important to pay attention to demographic information in psychology research so that we can provide interventions to populations that may not have the resources to seek help otherwise.

 

High Confidence Errors in Eyewitness Memory: Face Recognition Ability and the Confidence-Accuracy Relationship
Presenter Name: Ted Schubert
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Chad Dodson
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
There are many cases in the judicial system of highly confident eyewitnesses mistakenly identifying an innocent suspect leading to a wrongful incarceration.  However, mounting research shows that eyewitness confidence can be a strong predictor of face recognition accuracy (Wixted & Wells, 2017).  Another factor that has been shown to influence eyewitness accuracy is face recognition ability, which differs greatly from person to person.  Weaker face recognizers are much more vulnerable than stronger face recognizers to make high confidence errors.  This study seeks to better understand this relationship between confidence and accuracy.  Specifically, are weaker face recognizers selectively vulnerable to making high confidence misidentifications of faces or are they vulnerable to making high confidence misidentifications of all different kinds of objects?  To address this question, participants completed baseline tests that measured their face and car recognition abilities.  They then watched four videos of mock-crimes, each involving a different car and a different perpetrator and completed a series of car and face lineup tests.  They were asked to identify the cars and perpetrators from the videos and rate their confidence in their selections.  According to the domain-specific account, weaker face recognizers will make more high confidence misidentifications of perpetrators than will stronger face recognizers but there will be no difference between the two groups in the occurrence of high confidence misidentifications on the car lineups.  By contrast, the domain-general account predicts that weaker face recognizers will more often make high confidence errors of both perpetrators and cars.
 

Meritocracy and Marriage: an ethnographic study of the relationship between patron-client systems and low divorce rates in Italy
Presenter Name: Jacob Shaw
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Simone Polillo
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant
     Based on existing research on links between individualistic and meritocracy-based ideologies and a style of marriage leading to high divorce rates in the United States and other industrial countries, this project investigates marriage styles in Italy, characterized by low divorce rates despite being an OECD country. For this project, it was hypothesized that a cultural history of patron-client systems in many aspects of Italian life leads to a functional view of marriage that takes precedence over individual interests in marriage, keeping the divorce rate low.
     Direct ethnographic data was collected by the researcher through living directly among a large Italian family, consisting of both direct conversations and noted observations. The data was analyzed and interpreted in the context of relevant literature on the subject so as to create a dialogue between the raw data and the relevant discourse surrounding the subject. The resulting work was a rich narrative that drew subtle, yet deep examples from the daily lives of Italians that connected the dots between the family, politics and the economy, welfare and family policy, religious tradition, and how the individual saw themselves in relation to this complex structure.
     The results provide a compelling argument for further research into the topic of the relationship between patron-client systems and perspectives on marriage, perhaps with greater resources and a larger sample, or maybe in a similar context outside of Italy. The work can also fit into a dialogue on broader topics such as individual agency, and the relevance of structural determination.

 

Exploration of Emotion Expression in Text Messages Preceding a Suicide Attempt

Presenter Name: Maya Stephens
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Karen Schmidt
Secondary Research Mentor: Tara Valladares
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: Not a Recipient
Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for teenagers and young adults. With the growing popularity of technology, researchers have begun using social media to research trends in suicidality. However, there has been very little research done with one of the most popular forms of communication: text messaging. Since text messages are more likely to contain personal conversations than public social media posts, research on how suicidality is expressed in text messages is critical for understanding and preventing attempts. Previous research has shown that emotion expression plays a key role in identifying at-risk individuals (Negron et al., 1997). Additionally, machine learning techniques can identify markers of suicidality through text analysis (Desmet and Hoste, 2014). In the present study, we aim to compare how emotions expressed in text messages sent two weeks prior to a suicide attempt correspond with participants’ self-reported, retrospective emotion states from each incident. 46,800 texts will be analyzed from 15 participants using machine learning techniques. All participants gave informed consent to having their text messages extracted from their phones. We expect to see that emotion identified in texts from two-weeks before a suicide attempt will correspond significantly with retrospective emotion self-reported by participants from the same time period.  We are examining this from the lense of lexicon validity, participant disclosure rates, and retrospective accuracy.

 

A Survey of Intermediate Statistics Courses in Regression
Presenter Name: Jessica  Troup
Co Presenter Name(s):       
Primary Research Mentor: Krista Varanyak
Secondary Research Mentor:  
Academic Category: Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: USOAR Program
Statistics has grown rapidly in popularity as an undergraduate major as statistical skills become in greater demand in the workforce in recent years. To encourage consistency among Statistics undergraduate degrees, the American Statistical Association has published recommendations for skills Statistics majors ought to have upon graduation. Consistency across programs ensures that all graduates enter the workforce with the needed and expected skills. The Guidelines for Assessment and Instruction in Statistics Education (GAISE) College Report defines a specific set of recommendations for the teaching of introductory statistics courses, however there is no such standard for intermediate level courses.  Regression analysis is a crucial statistical skill, but in our experience courses in regression are incredibly varied between universities.  We surveyed 52 instructors of regression-focused intermediate statistics courses from United States institutions which offer a Statistics major. The goal of this survey was to identify and quantify the inconsistencies among these courses, both in their content and method of instruction. From this survey we aim to highlight the areas of greatest inconsistency, and provide a basis for recommendations to improve this and other intermediate Statistics courses. 
 

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