The Arts and Research Showcase is an annual event that spotlights the research and creative activities of undergraduate students from all disciplines. Traditionally, students participate in-person but, in the face of the pandemic, this year we have moved the Showcase online. We partnered with ThinkIR, our institutional repository for scholarly works, to present student posters virtually. This will enhance the visibility of scholarly work and continue the tradition of showcasing the achievements of our undergraduate students.
Rahaf Alrefai, Kaelin Kinney, Maria Kondaurova, and Cara Cashon
How does the use of telepractice during speech-language therapy affect the attention of children with hearing loss who received cochlear implants (CI) in comparison to in-person intervention? The study examined the production and comprehension of clinician’s speech in children with CIs (n = 5, mean age = 61.6 months, range = 34 months) during one 30 minute in-person session and one sequential tele-session, order counterbalanced. Child verbal, tactile, and visual actions were coded as correct, incorrect, off-task, and silence responses to the clinician’s and maternal speech. In production, correct responses were defined as the correct reproduction of the clinician’s/maternal target utterances; incorrect child response was defined as any other utterance following the clinician’s/maternal target utterances within 3 seconds; off-task child response was defined as being distracted; silence response was defined as child being silent. In comprehension, the same codes were used but including a child’s gestures and looking at the target object. Child’s production and comprehension responses (correct, incorrect, off-task, and silence) in tele- vs. in-person sessions were analyzed using the Wilcoxon Signed Rank Test. During clinician-child interaction, there were more correct responses in in-person than tele-sessions in comprehension. During mother-child interaction, there were more correct responses in tele- than in-person sessions in both production and comprehension. These results suggest that the child’s attention in comprehension and production, as demonstrated by the occurrence of correct responses, is dependent on the type of therapy.
Jacoby D Banet
Project MK Ultra refers to a set of top-secret CIA experiments that took place from 1953 to 1973 and involved unwitting subjects being administered drugs and hypnosis. As there is little information currently existent digitally relating to the project, an archive was established through this essay which relates information regarding the truth of what happened during the experiments without conspiracy theories as are often found in relation to this project. After having done research on the project as a whole and subsequently finding fifteen artifacts that communicate important truths about the project, it can be concluded that the CIA, in a time of mass national paranoia, abused their powers in the search of techniques to assist in espionage and other similar practices. This can be seen in the detrimental effects which the experiments had on individuals who took place in them as is discussed in a few of the artifacts. The other artifacts reveal the CIA’s true intentions during the experiment, concluded to be a form of control over other nations in espionage by more thoroughly understanding the use of drugs and hypnosis on the brain. Valid intentions were thus shifted to abuse of power as the agency performed the experiments often without the subject’s knowledge of what was truly taking place. It was because of the underlying reasons for the experiment that it was able to be done and still remains a topic about which talking is not common.
Frequency and Perceived Authenticity of Social Determinants of Health Discussion by Medical Trainees
Priyadarshini Chandrashekhar, Emily J. Noonan, and Laura A. Weingartner
Social determinants of health (SDOH)—the conditions in which people live, learn, and work—play a vital, but often neglected role in shaping a community’s health. SDOH influence risk factors for disease and access to healthcare, consequently promoting health inequities among different populations. Examining how providers discuss SDOH with patients can identify opportunities to better integrate social context into care.
We analyzed standardized patient (SP) encounters of rising UofL M3 trainees to 1) determine whether SDOH are integrated into healthcare conversations, and 2) investigate what constitutes an authentic conversation to identify how trainees can better express interest in a patient. SP encounters (n=41) were randomly sampled from 139 video recordings of new patient histories. Discussions concerning SDOH categories were coded for content, patient response, and the perceived authenticity of each interaction.
The most frequently discussed SDOH was employment (80.49% of encounters) while financial security (0%), healthcare access (2.44%), and discrimination (2.44%) were among the least discussed. Trainees appeared more engaged and interested when they empathized with patients, provided reassurance, established personal connections, and displayed a logical/organized flow of thought.
Clinical skills around SDOH could be improved if students were provided more practice incorporating patients’ answers about SDOH into the health management plan. SDOH discussions can be used to get to know the patient holistically and foster strong doctor-patient relationships, both of which are crucial communication/clinical skills assessed by licensing exams. Emphasis on SDOH in medical education can help students advance these skills.
Madison E Clark, Campbell Rightmyer Bego, Derek K. McClelland, and Marci S. DeCaro
Studies have shown that exploration before instruction can improve learning. Students (N= 197) from the psychology participant pool were taught the concept and procedure of standard deviation in one of four conditions. Students were given both direct instruction and a problem to solve in one of two orders: instruction-first, or exploration-first. During the problem-solving activity, students were asked to determine the consistency of a set of numbers. This dataset was set up as a rich dataset, or to highlight contrasting cases. Students then completed a posttest. We compared mean posttest scores to find that exploration before instruction led to better understanding when using contrasting cases, but not a rich dataset. Exploring before instruction is benefited when students are helped to discern the key features of the problems, using contrasting cases.
Rebekah C Cook, Alexandra DuCloux, Allison Williams, and Judith Danovitch
The ability to make judgments about different kinds of evidence is an important skill for learning about science. This study investigated if children recognize how helpful relevant and irrelevant information is for evaluating biological explanations, and whether their judgments change with age. Participants were 24 7- and 8-year-olds and 26 9- and 10-year-olds. Children heard a statement about an animal's behavior. Then children heard an explanation for that behavior followed by 2 different observations. One observation was about the same animal but was irrelevant to the explanation. The other observation was about a different animal, but was relevant to the explanation. Children rated the helpfulness of each observation. Older children were less likely to rate the observations as helpful than younger children. More importantly, both age groups rated different animal-relevant observations as more helpful than the same animal-irrelevant. The findings suggest that when children are learning about science, they can differentiate between kinds of evidence regardless of the topic. However, they may still require assistance from educators in order to make more accurate judgments.
Cameron J Davis
Research for this project started in the fall semester of 2019 when I was assigned my graduate mentor, Erica Lewis, to assist and guide me through the process of my research. I then came up ideas that could be used for the Career Center's mural: (1) Portraits of the famous alumni who attended the University of Louisville, (2) School of Law building with the circular path and landscape, displaying students walking their way through college; contains the first thoughts as a freshman when it comes to choosing a major, progressing to show the students walking through college to graduation, (3) well-known landmarks in the Louisville area to express the opportunity for future employment in the city
After coming up with these concepts, I showed the three sketch ideas to Samantha La Mar at the university’s Career Center. We decided that instead of dividing one design across two walls, I would instead use two ideas: the School of Law landscape and the famous alumni portraits.
During the 2019 winter break, I started working on the physical mural itself. For the portrait mural, I used a projector to plan out the compositional layout of the alumni portraits with Erica’s assistance. For the larger School of Law mural, also physically started over winter break, I laid down base coats before adding details in the spring. These two murals where both finished around the first week of February 2020. Upon completion, a reception was held on February 26th to showcase my work.
Shannon Nicole Derkson and Marci S. DeCaro
Underrepresented minority (URM) students are disproportionately retained and underperform in STEM disciplines compared to non-URM students, yet are needed in the STEM workforce. Possible causes of this minority achievement gap are social isolation, “chilly” classrooms, low confidence, and stereotype threat (Ballen et al., 2017). Inclusive instruction, which includes active learning, may help to reduce this gap (Saunders & Kardia, 1997). Active learning engages students in learning through activities and/or discussion in class as opposed to passively listening to lectures (Brame, 2016; Freeman et al., 2014). But, not all active learning strategies promote inclusive learning environments. We examined whether a type of active learning activity called exploratory learning helps to reduce the minority achievement gap. Students (N = 356) in an introductory psychology statistics course or recruited for a lab study were randomly assigned to learn concepts of variance and standard deviation in one of two conditions. Students in the explore-first (EF) condition completed a novel problem followed by instruction. Students in the instruct-first (IF) condition received instruction followed by the problem, akin to a traditional learning sequence. All participants completed a posttest approximately one week later, or immediately after the first packet in the lab. Although posttest scores improved overall in the EF compared to the IF condition, a minority achievement gap was found in both conditions. Exploratory learning can be an effective method overall, but did not decrease the minority achievement gap.
Social Appearance Anxiety is Strongly Related to Eating Disorder Symptoms regardless of Age in both Clinical Eating Disorder and Nonclinical Cases
Jordan E. Drake, Caroline Christian, and Cheri Levinson
Eating disorders (EDs) are serious mental illnesses that often develop in adolescence and persist in adulthood. Social appearance anxiety (SAA; fear of appearance-based judgment) is a risk factor for EDs and related to ED symptoms. SAA is more prevalent in non-clinical adolescents than non-clinical adults, yet no research has investigated the relationship between SAA and ED symptoms across age. The present study tested if age moderated the relationship between SAA and drive for thinness (DT), bulimic symptoms, and body dissatisfaction in a clinical ED sample (N=952, 28.5%), a nonclinical sample (N=1,693; 51.7%), and the full sample (N = 3,273). In the clinical ED sample, there was a significant interaction between age and SAA on DT, such that SAA and DT were more strongly related in older participants (b=.43, p<.001), compared to younger participants (b=.25, p<.001). Age did not moderate the relationship between SAA and ED symptoms in the overall sample or nonclinical sample (p>.05), and results indicate SAA is strongly related to all three domains of ED symptoms regardless of age (bs=.25-.62, ps<.001). These results support SAA as a core factor in EDs across all age groups. Interventions focused on SAA may be used with people of all ages and levels of ED symptoms to improve outcomes. Future studies should examine the associations between SAA and ED symptoms across all developmental stages and duration of illness. Future research should test the influence of social media and technology on the relationship between SAA and ED symptoms across different age groups.
Inhibition of GRK2, but not HSP90 Reduces Mitochondrial Superoxide and Improves Vasodilation Capacity of Coronary Arterioles from Aged Female Rats
Michaela N Dukes, Evan P. Tracy B.S., and Amanda Jo LeBlanc Ph.D.
Introduction: In post-menopausal women, small coronary microvessel dysfunction is the predominant heart disease presentation.There is currently no single treatment to tackle the multifactorial etiology of micro vessel dysfunction including oxidative stress, hyper constricted state, endothelial dysfunction, and blunted beta-adrenergic function. In the heart, G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), such as the b-adrenergic receptor (bADR) investigated in this experiment, are active in mediating vessel contractility vasodilation to facilitate blood flow. The presence of GPCR kinase 2 (GRK2), which inhibit bADRs, increase in old age and may mediate blunted capacity to vasodilate. Furthermore, GRK2 can be translocated to the mitochondria via heat shock protein 90 (HSP90), where it is responsible for accumulation of damaging reactive oxygen species (ROS). Increased ROS, in turn, may also contribute to blunted BADR response via desensitization, which is why understanding this mechanism is valuable in order to understand why treatments, such as the injection of adipose-derived Stomal Vascular Fraction (SVF), works in improving the coronary flow reserve. Our hypothesis is that coronary microvascular b-adrenergic desensitization in old age is influenced in part by oxidative stress mediated by GRK2 translocation to the mitochondria via HSP90, reversible by 17-DMAG (HSP90 inhibitor) or Paroxetine (GRK2 inhibitor) treatment. Furthermore, b-adrenergic desensitization, we hypothesize, is inducible in young age via exogenous ROS treatment. Methods: Female rat coronary arterioles isolated from young (3 months) and old (24 months) were mounted in a pressure myography system. Arterioles were infused with Mitosox (superoxide) and 2,3-diaminonapthalene (nitric oxide) and the vessels were incubated in 17-DMAG or Paroxetine for one hour. Changes in mean fluorescence intensity (MFI) were monitored to compare concentration of ROS within the arterioles. Old vessels were also subjected to bADR agonists(dobutamine (b1), salbutamol (b2), BRL (b3), isoproterenol (b1 and b2), and norepinephrine (b1 and a1/a2) in a dose response fashion in the presence or absence of paroxetine or 17-DMAG. Dose responses were also evaluated in young vessels with or without the presence of menadione (superoxide donor, 10 mM) and hydrogen peroxide (1 mM). Results:Paroxetine and 17-DMAG significantly reduced superoxide levels in OC compared to YC vessels. Paroxetine increases while 17-DMAG reduces NO density. Exogenous ROS treatment of young vessel attenuated vasodilation response to all beta agonists. For old vessels, the incubation in 17-DMAG did not restore vasodilation capacity, whereas previously we have shown that paroxetine significantly improves vasodilation response to norepinephrine. Conclusions: Coronary microvessel bADRfunction is blunted by elevated ROS, and is restored upon reduction of ROS through GRK2, but not HSP90 inhibition in the aged female rat. The presented data suggests microvessel bADR dysfunction may be linked to increased oxidative stress in age. Understanding mechanisms behind the pathophysiology of microvessel dysfunction including oxidative stress-linked bADR dysfunction is critical for designing therapies to target this disease.
Haylee E Figg RN BSN Student and Rachel Vickers-Smith PhD, MPH
Purpose/Background: With increased controls on opioid prescribing, the CDC has suggested prescribing gabapentinoids as a first-line alternative to opioids for pain. However, there have been an increasing number of reports of gabapentinoid misuse. Drug use forums are online spaces where individuals can anonymously post about their drug use experiences and may provide insight on gabapentinoid misuse. The purpose of this study was to extract and analyze posts from the drug use forum, Erowid, to examine reports of gabapentinoid misuse.
Methods: Data for the study was drawn from 53 pregabalin forum posts and 89 gabapentin forum posts by unique usernames. In order to be considered for this analysis, the poster had to report recreational gabapentinoid use. Posts were thematically analyzed by gender, age, gabapentinoid source, concomitant substances, and subjective experiences.
Results: Forum posts were created by 117 men, 19 women, and 6 users of undisclosed genders. The majority of forum posts were by 18-24 year olds. Erowid users reported obtaining gabapentinoids by stealing, misreporting symptoms to providers, and purchasing from a dealer. Erowid users reported taking gabapentinoids simultaneously with benzodiazepines, cocaine, alcohol, opiates, and heroin among a myriad of other drugs. Erowid users had varying subjective experiences while taking gabapentionoids, including: increased sociability, euphoria, hallucinations, dissociation, painlessness, and numbness.
Conclusions: Erowid users who report gabapentinoid misuse report obtaining the gabapentinoids in various ways and mixing them with potentially harmful substances. Medical professionals should be aware of the abuse potential of gabapentinoids and their increasing popularity within the drug use community.
Laura K Fortin, Caroline Jalain, Viviana Andreescu, and Elizabeth Grossi
Using the Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Service Members New Soldier Study data, the present analysis tries to identify some of the factors that may explain variation in violence perpetration (physical assault) among service men. We are particularly interested in observing the lasting effect of pre-service severe violent behavior on more recent violence perpetration. The potential for violence-deterring effect of an adult institution of informal social control such as marriage will be examined as well.
A great hunter needs a great spear: Experimental study of technological considerations that determine the efficacy of a hunting spear
Elizabeth M Hagan and Jordan Durham
This research project investigates prehistoric hunting practices, involving a hand-thrown spears, henceforth referred to as “Projectile Technology”. It aims to assess the influence of spear shaft size in the efficacy of spears as a whole during hunting pursuit. Moreover, we will evaluate how the hunter’s distance from the target may affect the efficacy of varying spear-sizes. The broader theoretical question we seek to address is what specific spear-size and throwing-location considerations determined the success of hunting with projectile weaponry. Projectile point technology has marked a major cultural innovation in human history in Africa around 200,000 years ago (Shea 2006; Milks 2019). This experiment will produce replicated projectile weaponry and will record participants in a prehistoric hunting scenario. Results achieved with each spear will be analyzed to understand the effect of various shafts lengths and their impact on distance achieved and successes. Understanding the nature of various shaft lengths through replicative hunting strategies of the past will aid in the rationalization of effects of shaft length at distance, due to the virtue of wood (presumable source material of shafts) being perishable in the archaeological record. Measurements will be taken such as participant height, arm length, and individualized spatial representations of their throws will be plotted on a 2 x 2 m grid. Comparative analysis of the range of achieved distances and the shaft length variation will provide experimental data with which to assess what would have been preferable or necessary technological considerations in order to achieve best results from prehistoric hunting.
Alex Haydon, Jeeva Rathnaweera, and Perri Eason
One way to quantify a prey’s response to a predator is by flight initiation distance (FID), the distance between a predator and prey at the moment the prey flees. As perceived risk from a predator increases, FID increases. Juvenile animals typically flee from approaching threats sooner than do adults because they have less able risk assessment. However, our observations suggested juvenile squirrels might use a different tactic: foraging near refuges. We first tested whether age affected squirrels’ FID in response to an approaching human on the UofL campus, where squirrels experience high levels of interactions with humans from an early age. We identified a focal squirrel’s age (adult or juvenile), and waited until it was within 5 meters of a refuge, i.e. a tree at least 6 meters tall. For all trials, the approaching person, focal squirrel, and refuge were in a straight line, with the squirrel between the person and the refuge. This arrangement and short distance to refuge facilitated flight decisions. A researcher approached each squirrel at 2 steps/second until the squirrel fled, and then measured initial distance between predator (person) and prey, FID, and the squirrel’s distance to the refuge. Results showed no difference in FID between adults and juveniles (GLM analysis; p > 0.50). We then measured squirrels’ distances from trees while foraging, and we found that juveniles indeed compensated for low FID by by a different anti-predator behavior: foraging significantly closer to the refuge than adults. This is a novel finding among vertebrates.
Dustyn D Hofer, Swagato Banerjee Dr., David N. Brown Dr., and Atanu Pathak
Since the start of software development at the Belle II experiment operating at the KEK national laboratory in Tsukuba, Japan, the simulation tool kit Geant4 has undergone several updates. As a member in the ongoing collaboration, the University of Louisville’s High Energy Physics (HEP) group is striving to validate newer versions of Geant4 to maximize improvements of physics performance.We have simulated the performance of a new physics list sub-module, the "Belle2 PhysicsList", with improved modeling of hadronic shower shape and standard electromagnetic processes. Using a reconstruction-based selection procedure on tau-pair events decaying into a final state consisting ofe lectrons, photons, and pions, we have concluded that the Belle2 PhysicsList is consistent with the default present in Geant4 v10.1.2. Furthermore, using a sample of bb-bar events, we find that the Belle2 PhysicsList decreases CPU requirements by up to 25%
Bailey M Hume, Mark P. Running, Jesse Rozsa, and Jin-Young Hyun
In our laboratory, we are focused on the study of plant cells and their use in daily, real-world applications. Our main goal is to produce organic, conductive, and biodegradable material to be used by KAMPERS collaborators. Physcomitrella patens is the model organism we have used. We have created a ggb knockout mutant line of P. patens which is long lasting (immortal) and advantageous over wild-type strains for use in bioreactors. Our laboratory has identified several different metabolic pathways that have potential uses in creating conductive material for use in 3D printing. These pathways are the polyisoprene pathway, the polyacetylene pathway, and the polythiophene pathway. These pathways will be manipulated in P. patens to maximize the production of the monomers needed for polymerization of these materials. Our model systems will be optimized to efficiently create these materials and increase their biomass. We have also found that Eumelanin is a promising conductive material.
Eating Expectancies Moderate the Relationship Between Negative Affect and Repetitive Negative Thought in Adolescents and Emerging Adulthood in Relation to Binge Eating Symptoms
Dylan M. Hurst, Leigh C. Brosof M.S., and Cheri A. Levinson Ph.D
Objective: Adolescence and young adulthood are critical time periods for the development of an eating disorder (Dakanalis et al., 2017). Eating expectancies that eating helps manage negative affect (EE; learned associations that eating manages negative emotions), negative affect (NA; negative emotions, such as sadness, guilt, and fear), and repetitive negative thinking (RNT; recurrent intrusive negative thoughts about past or future events) are all predictive of eating disorder behaviors, such as binge eating (Bruce et al., 2009, Berg et al., 2017, McEvoy et al., 2019). However, it is less clear how these risk factors may impact one another to influence the development of eating disorder symptoms. Examining the interactions of EE, NA, and RNT may provide insight into whether multiple risk factors need to be considered when designing effective interventions for eating disorder symptoms. The goal of this study is to examine interactions between EE, NA, and RNT in relation to binge eating in two samples of adolescents and young adults. Methods: The current study included two community samples: 1) female adolescents aged 14-15 (n = 43), and 2) female undergraduate students aged 18-26 (n = 729). A battery of measures was administered online to participants. Measures used include the Repetitive Thought Questionnaire (McElvoy, Mahoney, & Moulds, 2010) as a measure of RNT, the eating manages negative affect subscale from the Eating Expectancies Inventory (Hohlstein, Smith, & Atlas, 1998) as a measure of eating expectancies, the negative affect subscale from the Positive Affect and Negative Affect Schedule (Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988) as a measure of negative affect, and the binge eating subscale from the Eating Pathology Symptoms Inventory (Forbush et al., 2013) as a measure of binge eating. Results: In the undergraduate sample, a significant interaction (b* = .03, p = .005 partial r = .117) was found between EE and NA in relation to binge eating, such that higher levels of EE and higher levels of NA were associated with higher levels of binge eating. In addition, there was a significant interaction (b* = .096, p = .002 partial r = .104) between RNT and EE in relation to binge eating, such that higher levels of EE and higher levels of RNT were associated with higher levels of binge eating. There was no significant interaction between NA and RNT, nor was there a three-way interaction between EE, NA, and RNT in the undergraduate sample (ps > .05). In the adolescent age group, there was a significant interaction (b* = .36, p = .003 partial r = .486 between NA and EE, such that higher levels of EE and higher levels of NA were associated with higher levels of binge eating. There were no significant interactions between RNT and EE or NA and RNT, nor was there was a three-way interaction between EE, NA, and RNT in the adolescent sample (ps > 0.05). Discussion: We found that in undergraduates, both higher EE and NA and higher EE and RNT were more likely to be associated with higher binge eating, whereas in adolescents, only higher EE and NA was associated with higher binge eating. Adolescents had slightly different interaction between EE and NA such that higher levels of NA and lower levels of EE were more likely to have lower levels of binge eating. Cognitive bias in emotional processing are heavily associated with RNT, during adolescence these biases may not be as salient as they are in adults, which may explain lack of interaction between RNT and EE in relation to binge eating.
The Belknap Campus and Metro Louisville Urban Heat Island effect: Air and ground surface temperature analysis
Numerous studies show that urban morphologies and land covers generate excess heat emissions and retain heat relative to surrounding rural areas, known as the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect. Urban fabrics paved by concretes and asphalts absorbs solar radiation during solar peak then radiates heat after sundown. This study investigates temperature distribution data related to the UHI effect on the Belknap campus at the University of Louisville, which represents a small aerial sample of the Louisville metropolitan UHI effect. The objective of this study is to measure the reflectivity of ground surfaces and air temperatures on the Belknap campus during the Summer, Fall, and Winter seasons. Heat reflected off ground surfaces (i.e. concrete, asphalt, brick, and lawns) and air temperature was systematically measured using a portable infrared thermometer and a weather meter 5500. The data was transformed into thermal surface maps, using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software, and Excel graphs. 2 hours after recorded sundown, the data suggests asphalt retains and emits the most heat opposed to lawns in each season. In addition, average air and IR temps cool in Fall and Winter but not in Summer, which may indicate the UHI effect is stronger in summer. In conclusion, increasing tree cover and vegetation on campus in areas prevalent with paved ground surfaces could be a step to help mitigate the UHI effect on campus. Furthermore, steps to mitigate the campus UHI effect could potentially be replicated at the city level to reduce metro Louisville’s UHI effect.
Richard L Kornrumpf
While scholars of conspiracy theories have recently made great strides in understanding the basic nature and correlates of conspiratorial thinking, we still know little about how conspiracy beliefs are disseminated and communicated, especially when it comes to traditional media. Here we use a unique experiment to investigate whether media coverage of mass shootings – complete with the uncertainty, conflicting reports, and dubious official narratives that characterize such coverage – provides the raw material for conspiracy theories and promotes conspiracy beliefs among viewers. We find that implicit conspiratorial information – that which causes confusion and foments uncertainty – does not enflame conspiracy beliefs. However, more explicitly conspiratorial information – that which challenges the official narrative and questions the details of investigative findings – does, fostering conspiracy beliefs about second shooters and governmental false flag operations. These findings suggest that conspiracy theories may be a natural consequence of the 24/7 news cycle.
Miranda Massmann, Katie Humrick, and Linda Fuselier
Belief in genetic determinism (BGD) is the belief that genes attribute more influence on the expression of traits than scientific research supports. The environment and other factors, such as epigenetics, factor heavily into the expression of traits and it is important that students from all backgrounds understand this since BGD has been associated with societal instances of racism and sexism. We analyzed essay responses that undergraduate students wrote in response to a socioscientific issue (SSI) about the use of CRISPR/Cas9 technology for non-medical enhancement in humans to examine the presence of BGD. Our sample was composed of non-biology majors, lower level biology majors, and upper level biology majors, representing three academic levels that differed in genetics background knowledge. We hypothesized that students with more genetics knowledge would display less BGD in their writing. The most frequent BGD that appeared across all academic levels was the belief that changing the genetic makeup of a human can cure or prevent a disease completely. Another frequent BGD that was present was build-a-baby, where a student believed that by only altering genes, we can choose the traits of embryos and children. Students from all three academic levels displayed the same amount of BGD in their essays, but the types of BGD displayed were different. ULM displayed more BGD concerning physical, behavioral, and mental characteristics but less BGD about side effects and disease cures/prevention. This is important because it indicates that curriculum and genetics knowledge impacts BGD.
Do Eastern Gray Squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) use Human-provided Cues to Increase Foraging Success in Urban Landscapes?
Aditya A. Mehta and Jeeva H. Rathnaweera
The coexistence of humans with other animals in urban and suburban areas has given rise to a spectrum of agonistic and beneficial interactions. Animals thriving in urban settings are known to exhibit superior foraging and food extraction abilities compared to their wild conspecifics. This has raised the question regarding if non-human animals can form and maintain a similar “theory of mind” to humans based on the actions they observe in their environments (Schloegl et al., 2007). For this experiment, human-made click and gaze cues were used while placing food for eastern gray squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) located on the University of Louisville’s Belknap Campus. Control trials were also employed, during which the food container was placed without any other cue directed at the squirrels. The age (adult or juvenile) and gender categories were recorded for each squirrel. The results of this experiment illustrated that squirrels on the campus usually had very quick response times to the placement of food if their attention was directed to the container via cues. Adult male squirrels took the most time to respond to click cues compared to all other categories, while adult females responded better to human gaze direction than the other cues. Most of the time, the use of click or gaze cues increased the foraging success rate. This research suggests that there is some awareness of human-produced cues present in squirrels searching for food, but this is not required for food acquisition.
Madeline C Mitchell and Maureen McCall Ph.D
Retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) are a group of over 40 different types that use both GABAergic and Glycenergic inhibition. There are four different types of Glycine receptors (GlyRs) known as GlyRα1, GlyRα2, GlyRα3, and GlyRα4 (Sanes & Masland, 2015; C. Zhang & McCall, 2012). Electrophysiological data has supported the theory that the RGC cell type On-Off directionally selective (ooDS) cells express both GlyRα4 and GlyRα2. If ooDS cells do express only GlyRα4 and GlyRα2, an immunohistochemical analysis of these cells should support this theory. By comparing the expression of GlyRα4 and GlyRα2 in Glra4-/- , Glra2-/- Glra4-/- , and Glra2-/- the expression we can support or weaken the findings made by previous electrophysiological data. Comparing cell images of colocalized dendrites and GlyRα4 or GlyRα2 in an original and randomized orientation can determine if an immunohistochemical analysis confirms the presence of GlyRα4 and GlyRα2 on ooDS RGCs. Our findings confirmed that both GlyRα4 and GlyRα2 are expressed on ooDS RGCs.
Julie T. Nguyen, Deborah R. Yoder-Himes Ph.D., and Rhiannon Cecil
Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a genetic disorder characterized by faulty ion channels and result in thick mucus accumulation, especially in lungs. Mucus buildup provides ideal conditions for bacterial infections. Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) is the second most prevalent bacterium isolated from people with CF and has a high clinical importance. Most CF pathogens form biofilms which make treatment of infections difficult. Biofilms are clusters of cells attached to a surface enclosed in a structured matrix. These structures are a means to provide shelter for bacteria from the environment, especially antibiotics and the immune system. PA alone can form these biofilms, but communities of different bacterial species can also form biofilms together. Multispecies biofilms can form beneficial or antagonistic relationships with PA. In this study, we investigated the interaction between PA and two other important CF pathogens, Staphylococcus aureus (SA) and Burkholderia cenocepacia (BC). SA is the most prevalent CF pathogen and BC is arguably the most fatal. We tested the survival of these species in groups or alone in various nutrient conditions and in differing tobramycin concentrations. We chose tobramycin because it is an antibiotic commonly prescribed to treat PA infections. Our results show that nutrient composition, antibiotic concentration, and time all had a significant effect on the interactions between PA mono-culture and co-cultured biofilms. Understanding these interactions may set the stage for a better understanding of the clinical course of infection and how treatments can be altered for multi-species infections.
Joseph T. Nunziata, Atanu Pathak, and Swagato Banerjee
Particle identification (PID) is a critical procedure carried out in high energy physics experiments in search of new physics. When particles of matter (i.e., an electron) and antimatter (i.e., a positron) collide, new types of particles may form given certain conditions. Such particles may be classified as hadrons--which feel the strong nuclear force--and leptons--which do not. Identifying particles at the Belle II experiment is done by combining the measurement of energy deposited in the calorimeter with the measurement of track momentum in the tracker. In a tau lepton ($\tau$) decay sample, particles such as electrons, muons, and pions may be separated and identified using such measurements.
Felicity Peebles and Grigorii Rudakov
We have demonstrated a simple, scalable, and tunable method of obtaining densely packed Ni Nanoparticles encapsulated in Carbon Nanocages (Ni@CNCs). Using a facile method, it was shown that via a simple annealing process of precursor based on nickel acetate and citric acid, Ni@CNCs with sizes varying from 5 to 20 nm can be synthesized by changing the heating ramp rate during the synthesis from 25 to 53 °C/min. The final temperature of 600 °C was held for 10 min, and was the same for all the samples. X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) multiple peaks analysis was performed to show large Ni nanoparticles (NPs) peak growing with increasing heating ramp rate. The samples were also characterized with Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM), and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) to investigate Ni@CNCs structural properties.
Michael A Schmidt, Emily J. Noonan, and Laura A. Weingartner
E-cigarette usage has grown significantly in recent years, with over 5 million US middle and high school students reporting recent usage. The long-term health consequences of these devices are still being investigated, but it is known that e-cigarette aerosol could contain harmful substances including nicotine, heavy metals, and carcinogens. Therefore, it is important for physicians to ask patients about e-cigarette usage specifically, as this may contribute to future health problems. The goal of this study was to investigate if and how medical students screen for e-cigarette usage. Screening language was reviewed in standardized patient encounters, which are a type of assessment that medical students undergo in order to observe how they interact with simulated patients. Video-taped patient encounters were coded to examine the specific phrasing of questions related to tobacco usage, including initial and follow-up questions. The majority of students (97%) did not ask about e-cigarettes specifically. Most students (66%) simply asked, “Do you smoke?” Overall, the evidence shows that e-cigarette and vaping device usage is not being addressed specifically in these interactions. These results demonstrate a need for updated patient screening in regards to tobacco use. Because the majority of e-cigarette users report not knowing that the product contains nicotine, physicians must be made aware of their unknown effects on patient outcomes and the need to screen specifically about e-cigarette usage separately from smoking. Continuing medical education may also help address this gap since many cohorts of practicing physicians were training before the popularity of these types of devices.