Carter D. Allred, Mike Banda, Eric Jellen, and Moses F.A. Maliro
Protein deficiency is common amongst subsistence farmers in much of the developing world. It has been estimated, for example, that over one third of residents of rural Malawi are protein deficient. Adding to this problem in Malawi is the fact that there is only one brief rainy season, during which all crops are grown. Other countries with as dry a climate in the region have low population density, which allows them to reap more from their annual maize harvest. Meanwhile, countries in the region with similarly high population density as Malawi are able to grow higher value crops because of a more favorable climate.
Because of these challenges, Malawi is at a unique disadvantage when it comes to food security, and it is imperative that new crops be introduced to diversify the diets and rotations of subsistence farms. The UN has encouraged the diversification of agricultural systems worldwide to combat malnutrition. Quinoa is a promising crop that could be grown during the otherwise unproductive dry season of Malawi and help improve rural livelihoods.
Lars Anderson III, Eleanor R. DiNuzzo, Austen Walker, Haley Sasso, Ben Christiansen, and Blaine D. Griffen
Mud fiddler crabs, Uca pugnax, inhabit saltmarshes that experience a wide range of disturbance levels from humans, from pristine to highly disturbed. The species displays a patch on the frontal region of the carapace that can change color for an unknown reason. We photographically measured the color at 21 marshes along the South Carolina coast along a gradient of increasing human impact, mostly from tourism. At each marsh, we correlated color differences with crab size, marsh temperature, and factors associated with humans (distance from road, number of cars, number of pedestrians, heavy metals) with the goal of detecting a correlation between the easily-measured colored patch and less-easily measured metrics of human impacts. If a clear correlation can be found, then this colored patch could potentially be used as a simple bioindicator of the health of a given marsh.
Ian Berlin and Jason Kenealy PhD
- Cell viability assays to determine the concentration at which half the PC-3 cells died (IC50)
- Mixture design Surface methodology (MDRSM) with cell viability to determine most effective combination
D. Bird, Scott Kent Brown III, T. Hastings, and J. Edwards
Drug addiction results from neural plasticity in the ventral tegmental area (VTA), an area of the brain’s reward system, in which higher levels of dopamine are expressed. Research suggests that decreased activity of inhibitory neurons (specifically, GABAergic neurons) in the VTA could cause the hyperactivity of dopaminergic cells in the VTA and thus mediate opiate addiction. However, little additional research has been performed to evaluate plasticity of VTA GABA neurons and the role they play in addiction.
Why are VTA GABAergic cells inhibited and how?
- We hypothesize that inhibitory inputs onto GABA neurons in the VTA directly affect the degree of dopamine inhibition.
- We additionally hypothesize that GABAergic neurons of the lateral hypothalamus (LH) are a source input that extends into the VTA and inhibits VTA GABAergic neurons
To test our hypotheses, we have isolated GABAergic input sources to the VTA using optogenetics in mice. Specifically, we have assessed the plasticity of GABAergic neurons onto VTA GABA cells that receive input from GABA neurons in the LH, an area that has not been previously studied with regards to addiction. Identifying plasticity of VTA GABA neurons will allow us to target new areas involved in opiate addiction.
Why Parents Say No to Having Their Children Vaccinated Against Measles: A Systematic Review of the Social Determinants of Parental Perceptions and Family Approaches to Addressing MMR Vaccine Hesitancy
M. Lelinneth B. Novilla, Michael C. Goates, Mallory Showalter, L. Kirsten Novilla, Russell Doria, Michael Dang, Katelyn Aldridge, and Tyler Leffler
The increase in vaccine-preventable disease (VPD) outbreaks has caused great alarm to the public health community. While national and state immunization coverages remain high, the resurgence of measles points to local pockets of under-vaccination that coincide with higher parental vaccine hesitancy and more non-medical exemptions.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), vaccine hesitancy is the “delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines despite availability of vaccination services” and is problematic for highly contagious diseases like measles. Without adequate vaccination coverage to establish herd immunity, person-to-person transmission is facilitated, particularly in under-vaccinated communities. Central to the discussion about measles resurgence is a better understanding of the social factors influencing parental decisions concerning vaccination.
- Why do parents delay or refuse vaccination, particularly against measles?
- Which types of information are perceived to be reliable sources by vaccine-hesitant and vaccine-compliant parents/guardians;
- What is the social context of vaccine hesitancy and non-medical exemptions?
Kelsie Bonnett, Kaitlyn Golden, and Jerald B. Johnson
Is there a difference between male and female anal fin length in relation to body length in Alfaro cultratus?
1. Does overall anal fin length (adjusted for body length) differ between sexes?
2. Does the rate at which anal fin length changes as body size increases differ between sexes?
3. Does predation affect these differences?
Zika and Dengue Virus Live Vaccines: Experiments to Improve the Thermostability of a Vaccine Candidate Through Lyophilization
Marshall S. Butler
With the recent outbreak of Zika virus in Central and South America, there has been an increased demand for vaccines around the world for both zika and dengue virus. Due to a combination of high environmental temperatures and poor cold-storage capabilities in developing countries, it is often difficult for a live-attenuated vaccine to be shipped and maintained. In order to preserve and stabilize vaccines at refrigerated temperatures so that they can be easily shipped and stored, lyophilization (freeze-drying) can be explored as a possible solution. A successful lyophilization process will ensure an extended product shelf life, improve virus stability, and result in less expensive shipping. Furthermore, expensive storage freezers, which are not often found in underdeveloped areas of the world that are most in need of lifesaving vaccines, will not be required.
While working as a student intern at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland within the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), experiments were conducted with a variety of lyophilization conditions. Scientific articles describing lyophilization techniques were studied in order to determine potential reagents and formulation conditions. A new VirTis® Lyophilizer (SP Scientific, Warminster, PA) was set-up and programmed. Successful lyophilization is dependent on several variables including temperature, pressure, and composition of the fluid excipient. Proper conditions and formulation of the excipient will result in a lyophilization "cake" that remains solid, yet fluffy, and is easily rehydrated. A variety of candidate excipients were formulated, lyophilized, and examined for suitability of the cake. Promising excipient mixtures were subsequently added to a live attenuated dengue virus vaccine candidate and lyophilized. Control studies were performed by comparing lyophilized samples to equivalent samples that were stored at -80°C. Following resuspension of the lyophilized material, both the frozen and previously dried samples were serially diluted and inoculated onto Vero [African green monkey kidney] cell monolayers in 24-well plates. After five days incubation, the cell monolayers were immunostained using antibodies and TrueBlue substrate. Virus-infected cells (plaques) appeared dark blue and were counted to determine the infectious tier of the virus. The tiers of some lyophilized virus formulations equaled or exceeded tier levels in samples that were frozen at -80°C, indicating that a desirable level of thermostability was achieved. A user manual was also created to teach NIAID scientists how to use the lyophilizer instrument and create their own samples for ongoing research. While results obtained in this pilot study appear promising in a laboratory setting, future studies are needed to demonstrate successful thermo-stability in the field especially under challenging shipping conditions. It is expected that important Zika and dengue vaccines under development for future use can benefit from the work performed here.
Lolita Chamberlain; Taryn Corey; Clint Frandsen; A. Wayne Johnson PT, PhD; and Sarah Ridge PhD
Video Presentation 1st Place Award Winner/Poster 3rd Place Award Winner
Purpose: To compare differences in foot muscle activation while resting, barefoot, and shod to determine which condition requires the highest level of activation. Hypothesis: It is expected that percent increase in muscle activation will be highest for barefoot walking followed by shod walking, and will be lowest after resting.
Fetal heart rate monitoring devices have brought information, assurance, and warnings to doctors and parents about their unborn fetus. In recent years, there has been a push to gather more information through continuous fetal heart rate (FHR) monitoring. Owlet Baby Care has created a continuous pregnancy monitor that uses electrocardiograph (ECG) technology to detect the FHR.
The product has multiple sensors to detect heart rate signals. The sensors will then send the information to the medallion to be processed through a machine learning algorithm. Next, the data will be sent to the user’s phone via an application. The Owlet Pregnancy Monitor is intended for mothers who are at least 24 weeks pregnant.
The Owlet Pregnancy Monitor is
- Does not require medical assistance
- Easy to use
However, it is only useful for the consumer and the clinical world if it correctly tracks the FHR.
In order to test the fetal heart rate accuracy of the Owlet Pregnancy Band, we compared it’s detected fetal heart beats to cardiotocography technology (CTG) for 50 pregnant women.
Lucie Dearden, Josue D. Gonzalez Murcia, John S. K. Kauwe PhD, and K. Scott Weber PhD
Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is a fatal neurodegenerative condition that is the leading cause of dementia among elderly patients. It is commonly associated with neuroinflammation and its progression is evident in higher levels of serum chemokines and activated microglia. We have identified a receptor and its mutant, CCRL2-V180M, associated with lower levels of the pro-inflammatory chemokine ligand, CCL4. We have previously identified ligand binding behaviorof one isoform of CCRL2, CRAM-A and propose to compare its behaviour to the more commonly expressed isoform, CRAM-B. We hypothesize that CCRL2-V180M binds with a higher affinity than WT to CCL4, decreasing levels of CCL4 in the CSF and offering possible protection against AD.
Joseph DeTemple, Veronica Mosquera, and Clinton Whipple
Gilia yorkii and Gilia capitata are two closely related species that have remarkably different inflorescence and floral structures. In this project we are seeking to find specific floral traits that differentiate the different species. These two species are ideal for this study because they produce a fertile hybrid in which elements of the two different phenotypes can be observed.
Hold Your Horses: Tracking Spatial Patterns of Feral Horse Movement Across Seasons and Months in Northwestern Nevada
Logan Kalai Ellis
Free roaming horses are found on allcontinents worldwide. These horsesinfluence a range of biotic and abioticfactors but managing these horses hasfaced many challenges, one of which isunderstanding the spatial movementpatterns of these horses. The Sheldonwildlife refuge area is home to wildhorses that are free roaming in thenorthwest corner of Nevada. Managingthese horses is important as theyimpact other wildlife and affect landuse of people living around the wildliferefuge area. Feral horses do notrecognize management areas in thesame way that humans acknowledgeand follow them so understanding theirspatial movement patterns will assist indecision making about managementareas for these animals.
Savannah R. Fahning and Bryan G. Hopkins
Nutrient loss contributes to pollution, depletion of natural resources, and economic loss
Enhanced Efficiency Fertilizers (EEF) increase uptake efficiency and crop yield/quality
This research focuses on Nitrogen EEF, namely Coated Urea
Aubree Graham; Dustin Bruening PhD; A. Wayne Johnson PT, PhD; and Sarah Ridge PhD
Purpose: To examine the relationship between IFM strength and dynamic balance in healthy, active older adults.
Ashley Hale, J. Greenall, J. Kilmer, and E. G. Bailey
- No matter their level of education or preferred title, many university-level STEM instructors experience variability in how their students address them, with younger female professors having been addressed by their first name more than male professors in the past (Rubin, 1981).
- Titles hold certain implications and perceptions. For instance, a study found that female professors who were addressed as “Dr.” were perceived to be less accessible than their male colleagues were (Takiff, 2001).
- Rate My Professors is an anonymous platform allowing students to refer to their professors in whatever way is most comfortable for them
- A recent study using Rate My Professors found that male professors are more likely to be referred to by their surname alone. Female professors are more likely to be addressed as “Dr.”
- Our study focuses on the difference in titles used at a private, church university and two public universities, focusing on gender and age as predictors of title used to address professors.
Matthew Hodgman, Justin Miller, Taylor Meurs, and John Kauwe
CUBAP is an interactive web portal that allows users to query population differences in codon usage biases across 17,635 genes. It is freely available at cubap.byu.edu.
Does Negative Frequency-Dependent Selection Maintain Gonopodial Asymmetry in Xenophallus umbratilis?
Mary-Elise Johnson, Erik S. Johnson, and Jerald B. Johnson
How does negative frequency-dependent selection emerge in populations?
The idea of negative frequency-dependent selection is elegant and simple: Traits are evolutionarily favored when they are rare but disfavored when they become common. This can theoretically lead to oscillations in the ratios of morphs within populations. Unfortunately, there is still little evidence that this process occurs in the wild. The live bearing fish Xenophallus umbratilis exhibits uniquely asymetrical morphology in the male mating structure, called a gonopodium. In this species, the gonopodium terminates with either a dextral (right-handed) or sinistral (left handed) twist, suggesting that mating within this species could be lateralized. Given this unique asymmetry, we propose that X. umbratilis is a candidate species to test for negative frequency-dependent selection.
Savannah J. Kobza and Bryan G. Hopkins
- Phosphorus (P) fertilizer loss = negative environmental & economic impacts
- Surface P runoff = eutrophication & natural resource waste
- P Enhanced Efficiency Fertilizers (EEF) = reduce P loss & improve crop yields by up to ~5%
- P EEF evaluated = organic acids, polymer coatings, struvite
Cognitive Decline in Older Adults After Incident Coronary Heart Disease or After First Receipt of CABG Surgery or PCI
Jacqueline E. Kunzelman, Evan L. Thacker, Rachel M. Gabor, Monica Scrobotovici, Natalie J. Blades, WT Longstreth Jr., Susan R. Heckbert, Bruce M. Psaty, Alice M. Arnold, Annette L. Fitzpatrick, David J. Llewellyn, Elżbieta Kuźma, Hooman Kamel, Mandip S. Dhamoon, Sarwat I. Chaudhry, John A. Dodson, Dawson W. Hedges, Shawn D. Gale, Lance D. Erickson, and Bruce L. Brown
- Cardiovascular health and disease are important determinants of cognitive decline
- Population-based longitudinal studies of this issue are needed
- Incident CHD leads to faster long-term cognitive decline in older adults
- Among older adults with CHD, treatment with CABG surgery or PCI leads to slower long-term cognitive decline
Utah Lake's Cyanobacteria Proliferation and Toxin Production in Response to Nitrogen and Phosphorous Additions
Gabriella Lawson, Jonathan Daniels, Erin Fleming Jones, Rachel Buck, Michelle Baker, Benjamin Abbott, and Zachary Aanderud
Understanding cyanobacterial nutrient requirements and toxin production will help the Utah Department of Environmental Quality control toxic algal blooms on Utah Lake. Cyanobacteria’s primary nutrient needs include phosphorous (P) and nitrogen (N). Despite the fact that some cyanobacteria species can fix their own N, many still prefer utilizing easily accessible nitrogen sources (Dolman et al., 2012). Thus, explaining why both P and N can limit or accelerate cyanobacterial proliferation (Dolman et al., 2012). As it turns out, cyanobacteria nutrient needs are particularly complex. One purpose of this study is to detail the multifaceted N and P nutrient requirements of the cyanobacteria in Utah Lake.
Cyanotoxins are harmful to human health (liver and nuero-toxins), but also have numerous functional roles regarding cyanobacterial proliferation, including nutrient sequestering, signaling, and defense. Cyanotoxin production has been linked to both nutrient rich and nutrient deficient environments (Horst et al., 2014). This study will examine the multifaceted relationship between cyanotoxin production and nutrient resources.
Ramp Sequences Change Across Tissues: How Ramps Correlate with Differing Tissue-Specific Expression Levels
Taylor Meurs, Justin Miller, and Ben Song
Poster People's Choice Award Winner
Our bodies are made of proteins. They help our cells function, give them structure, and cause some diseases. Different amounts of proteins are required for different functions, which makes regulation of protein production a scientific concern. Genes produce quantities of proteins dependent on many factors. Rare regions at the beginning of genes have recently been attributed to variation in protein expression. These regions, called ramp sequences, correlate with higher production. Protein expression differs across tissue types, but it has yet to be explored if ramp sequences correlate with these differences.
- Do different tissues use different percentages of ramp sequences?
- Can we confirm that highly expressed genes use more ramps than lowly expressed genes?
Why Longer Exams Are Better for Learning: Extended Exams Increase Information Retention by Creating Stronger Connections in the Brain
Haley Mickelsen Moe, Jacob Sowards, Tana Sowards, and Jamie L. Jensen
Poster 1st Place Award Winner
Although it’s been shown that extended exams significantly improve long-term conceptual understanding, researchers are still unsure which learning pathway contributes to this phenomenon. In order to determine which learning pathway is responsible for increasedconceptual understanding, we administered and analyzed biology exams of various lengths and levels in 3 different treatments.
Kaeli Mueller, Kaitlyn Golden, and Jerry Johnson PhD
Poster 2nd Place Award Winner
Poeciliids, such as the species Alfaro cultratus, have a unique reproductive system in which males internally fertilize females, which facilitates competition between males. This takes the form of two strategies:
- Court females
- Chase away small males
- Have a higher number of successful mating attempts
- Allocate less energy to reproductive organs, i.e. gonads and gonopodium
- Can’t mate with as many females
- Attempt sneak copulations, often unsuccessful
- Allocate more energy to reproductive organs, i.e. gonads and gonopodium
These alternative mating strategies can be seen with regressions between gonad and body mass, or gonopodium length and body length. Alfaro may display this shift in reproductive strategy, but it has never been studied in this species.
Tanner Nelson, Zak Webber, Aaron Peatross, Alex Pittard, Andrew Sykes, Ayden Olsen, Brandon Meeves, Chris Baeza, Christian Nilsen, Craig Reeves, David West, Dexter Tan, Elijah Lindstrom, Emma Holdaway, Gregg Davis, Iliana Madsen, Niko Jones, Olivia Grinnell, Sawyer Colvin, Tyler Humpherys, and Jason Adams
Video Presentation People's Choice Award Winner
- Preserving human tissue is widely important in many different fields including the burial of the deceased, forensics, and education. Most cadaveric preserving solutions contain a humectant chemical which keeps the tissue moist and well-preserved.
- We believe that in a comparative study a wet/dry tissue analysis can be used to analyze which humectants are most effective at preventing water loss from the tissue.
- Through further comparative analysis using our methods, we hope to determine the most effective humectant for the preservation of tissue.
Invasives and the Native Great Basin Desert Plant Community: Competition Response Under Changing Precipitation and Fire Regimes
Baylie C. Nusink, Tara B.B. Bishop, and Samuel B. St. Clair
Climate change forecasts for cold North American deserts predict drier summers, early fall rain, and less winter precipitation as snow (Abatzoglouand Kolden2011).
In the Great Basin Desert the invasive species cheatgrass (Bromustectorum) has spread, altered fire patterns, and changed competitive interactions with native plants (Germinoet al. 2016b).
The objective was to understand how fall precipitation timing, fire disturbance, and the competition between native and invasive plants may alter the plant community in the Great Basin Desert.
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