SURF Awards 2012
2012 SUMMER UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH FELLOWSHIP (SURF) STUDENT AWARDS
ALEXANDER J. STEENO
Mentors: Dr. Tulay Atesin, Co-Mentor: Dr. BaoCheng Han
Research: Inhibition of Cys2His2 Zinc Finger Proteins with Co(III) Complexes
Many transition metal complexes have long been known for their highly useful therapeutic effects. The exact mechanism of how they work is not quite understood. My research will hopefully accomplish two things. The first being to develop a much better understanding of the mechanism of action of Co(III) complexes on the inhibition of Cys2His2 zinc finger proteins. With this, I will be able to design new therapeutic drugs and synthesize them accordingly. The second goal is to experimentally test these drugs on actual purified proteins to see if our mechanistic hypothesis developed in goal one is working. I will use 1H NMR Spectroscopy in order to analyze the products and verify our findings. The implications of this research are groundbreaking. Several zinc finger proteins are believed to play an important role in cancer metastasis. My hypothesis is that if we can replace the zinc complex in these proteins with a cobalt complex, the effect of these proteins will decrease significantly. In other words, I would be inhibiting cancer metastasis and therefore providing a much better window of opportunity to treat cancer patients.
Mentor: Robert Kuzoff
Research: Evaluating and Implementing Bioinformatic Analyses of Influenza A Evolution
Influenza A is a genus of rapidly evolving viruses that cause considerable morbidity and mortality each year. It is thought that aquatic and shoreline birds are the historical reservoir from which all subtypes of influenza A emerged, but the evolutionary history of these subtypes is complex. Subtypes are identified serotypically, but they often prove to be polyphyletic assemblages, due to frequent exchanges of hemagglutinin and neuraminidase encoding genomic segments. Accordingly, the composition of clades of influenza A and relationships among them need to be resolved using other methods. Our research seeks to identify ancient dichotomies in the diversification of major lineages of avian influenza A and the clades that descend from them. To explore these deep level relationships, we sampled a set of proteins that are less prone to inter-subtypic exchange from a broad range of 2625 isolates obtained from the Influenza Virus Resource at NCBI. Our preliminary analyses have identified some large clades of Influenza A that garner high statistical support and others that are poorly resolved. We are exploring the full composition of these clades and relationship among them using a set of comparative methods that depend on distinct methodological assumptions and using more variable RNA sequences.
LISA A. GRIFFIN
Mentor: Dr. Elisabeth Harrahy
Research: Effects of Wastewater Treatment Plant Effluent on Survival, Growth, and Vitellogenin Concentrations of Fathead Minnows (Pimephales promelas)
Concern over pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) in surface waters has increased as scientists have discovered more of these contaminants in more places, and in higher concentrations. One source of this pollution is wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), where PPCPs are being discharged to surface waters. Last year I conducted a study to determine if effluent being discharged from the Whitewater Wastewater Treatment Plant has an effect on survival, egg production, and vitellogenin (egg precursor protein normally produced in female fish only) concentrations in fathead minnows caged upstream and downstream of the discharge pipe. I observed no significant difference in survival or egg production, but higher concentrations of vitellogenin in male fish located downstream. The goal of this summer's study is to examine the effects of WWTP effluent on fathead minnows under controlled laboratory conditions. I will conduct whole effluent toxicity tests following standard protocols. Toxicity tests conducted in summer will focus on early life stages of the fathead minnow, which are typically more sensitive to contaminants. Toxicity tests conducted in fall will focus on sexually mature fathead minnows. I will also begin single PPCP (e.g., ibuprofen) toxicity tests. By completing both field and laboratory studies, and both whole effluent and single PPCP studies with the fathead minnow, I hope to add to the weight of evidence that PPCPs coming from WWTPs may cause adverse effects on an important forage fish species. The significance of these results will be crucial in understanding the impacts that PPCPs have on the aquatic environment.
Mentors: Eric Brown, Catherine Chan
Research: Effects of Titanium Dioxide (TiO2) Nanoparticles on Arabidopsis Thaliana and other Land Plants
As a current subject of research at UW-Whitewater, 6 nm titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles have shown potential for use in cancer treatment and antimicrobial products. These properties lead us to believe that nanoparticles may affect other biological species, and very little is known about the possible effects on land plants. This is potentially a significant concern, as widespread use of nanoparticles would cause them to be released into the environment. We aim to study the effects of 6 nm TiO2 particles and dye conjugates on the germination, growth, and overall health of land plants.
GARRETT J. FRANCIS
Mentors: Dr. Tulay Atesin, Co-mentor: Dr. Marcus A. Tius, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Research: Mechanistic Investigation of Nazarov Cyclization Reaction Catalyzed by Palladium(0) Complexes
The Nazarov cyclization reaction is a powerful reaction for the assembly of five membered rings that are a part of many natural products. One such product is terpestacin, which is used in cancer therapy. This drug is difficult to synthesize using current methods and harvesting from plants does not meet the maximum efficiency that is needed. During my research over the spring 2012 semester, I worked with Dr. Tulay Atesin and Dr. Marcus Tius on the elucidation of the reaction mechanism of Nazarov cyclization, which could be used in the synthesis of terpestacin. I studied two main mechanistic pathways and found the transition states for the cyclization as well as the possible reaction intermediates. To do this, I used Molden to view the molecules and ran the job files through the Gaussian DFT computational program. During these calculations I did not use the complete molecule of terpestacin, instead we focused on simpler structures in order to both decrease the required computational power needed, and also to get more mechanistic information. Over the course of the summer, I will be working on the fine details of the mechanism, several other possible reaction pathways and use these mechanistic information to choose the ligands that would make the Nazarov cyclization a more powerful synthetic method.
Mentors: Renee Melton. Jared Janovec
Research: Global Starvation: Reanimating a Negligent Social Issue Through Visual Communication Media
According to the world food program, there are more hungry people in the world than the combined populations of the United States, Canada and the European Union. Sixty-five percent of those hungry people live in only seven countries (India, China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and Ethiopia). Today, aspiring designers like myself predominantly subscribe their adeptness to the consumer market. However, I will be using my creative design skills to develop an exhibit that animates the concept of hunger using ceramic forms and print media to display visual information.
Mentor: Rex Hanger
Research: Using Pleurocera acuta and Elimia livescens at the forefront of Freshwater Gastropod Conservation: Mukwonago River, Wisconsin
This summer I will sample the gastropod faunas of the Mukwonago River, Waukesha County, WI. All gastropods will be sampled, though Pleurocerids are the primary target taxa. The family has a long geologic history of success in freshwater streams and they have even recently been called "the snails the dinosaurs saw". Sadly, many species of this group are now extinct in North America, and the current designation of P. acuta for Wisconsin is "imperiled". The 2011 field season confirmed the high abundance and diversity in the Mukwonago River, especially of Pleurocera acuta and Elimia livescens of the Family Pleuroceridae, and we have already published preliminary results (Hansen and Hanger, 2011, 2012). Sampling will occur on a monthly schedule beginning in May and likely continuing through November. Environmental parameters of dissolved Oxygen, electrical conductivity, turbidity, pH, and flow velocity, temperature and sediment type will be recorded for both locations on each sampling trip. All collected gastropoda will be taken to University of Wisconsin - Whitewater for sorting, counting, measuring, and preservation in alcohol. For Plureocerid species we will include the determination of characteristics of density and secondary production. Data collected on Mukwonago River populations, which are thriving to the point of being dominant taxa, can be used to develop a proxy of baseline optimal conditions with which to compare other streams and future Mukwonago conditions.
Mentor: Jeannine Rowe
Research: Does Teaching a Process for Serving Family Caregivers of Older Adults Increase Practice Skills?
An exploratory study is being conducted to examine the relationship between utilizing a process and development of three practice skills. The researcher is drawing from the social work practice literature to develop and test a conceptual model that establishes a link between process and practice skills. Specifically, the researcher is examining social workers' levels of communication skills, supportive skills, and linking skills prior to being trained to utilize a care management process and 6-months after being trained. The specific research question is: Does training social workers to use a process, improve their use of practice skills? It is hypothesized teaching social workers a process will increase their use of the three practice skills.
Mentor: Russ Kashian
Research: The Demand for Supermarkets in the Food Deserts of Wisconsin
In Wisconsin there are an abundance of food deserts in rural areas. The hypothesis for this study is that there are food deserts in rural Wisconsin that are capable of supporting a successful supermarket or a farmer's market. The goal of the study is to identify these rural deserts, the gaps they produce and the economic opportunities that exist in serving them. The regions of Wisconsin that are going to be identified are Grow North, Northwest, Centurgy, Momentum West and Prosperity Southwest. Eventually the study will incorporate rural areas in the other regions of Wisconsin. Once the model is created, the information from this study will be distributed to areas that unnecessarily have food deserts. This information, when applied accordingly, could potentially benefit many communities throughout rural Wisconsin.
Mentor: Dr. Meg Waraczynski
I will spend the summer of 2012 developing a protocol for a process known as immunohistochemistry (IHC). IHC is a procedure developed by combining the fields of immunology, histology and chemistry to detect the presence of proteins in a tissue sample. Proteins of particular interest to our laboratory are brain receptors for neurotransmitters dopamine. Our lab has studied the role of this neurotransmitter in brain reward mechanisms. Dopaminergic modulations of two reward relevant brain areas called the nucleus accumbens (NAc) and central portion of the sublenticular extended amygdala (SLEAc) have different effects on reward. This suggests two possibilities; one is that the two areas might have different receptor populations. There are 2 main types of dopamine receptors, types D1 and D2. If one area has a different distribution of these receptors than another area, applying the same dopaminergic drug to both areas will have different effects. The second possibility is that they have the same receptor populations but different roles in reward related function. My goal is to distinguish between these two possibilities by using IHC to compare the distribution of D1 and D2 receptors within the NAc and the SLEAc.
Community Based Research (CBR): Funded by the School of Graduate Studies and Continuing Education
Mentor: Barbara Grubel
Research: Bringing Music and Theater to the Land O' Lakes Community
For my Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship for Community-Based Research Project, I will be traveling to the northern Wisconsin city of Land O Lakes. There I will be involved in a student centered community outreach summer arts program. Through my prestigious mentor Barbara Grubel and the efforts of Kelly Kachelski, a summer dance program was introduced to this city last summer in partnership with LOLA (Land O Lakes Arts Alliance). Through my mentor's vision, the helpful staff of LOLA and Kelly's gifts in both dance and education; The program was successful in becoming sustainable. Their next goal was to add music and theatre, and that is where I came in. As a Music Education Major of UW-Whitewater, I was ecstatic when Barb pitched this idea to me. Through careful planning and communication with LOLA I will be teaching multiple music and theatre classes to this population of rural children, including directing a musical. I will also be given the opportunity to visit and give a seminar at the nearby Indian Reservation. Words cannot express how blessed I feel to be a part of this journey. Not only will this summer teach me skills for my future career, it will give me the opportunity to reach out to a community in need. I am so excited to be a recipient of the SURF CBR. I look forward to the lessons that this summer has in store for me. My ultimate goal is to allow these students the opportunity to experience the joy and fulfillment that the arts have to offer.
Mentor: Dr. Alena Holmes
Research: Crossing the Cultural Barriers with Authentic Music: Survey of Chinese Children's Music Used in American Elementary Schools and Schools in the Republic of China
As communities are becoming more diverse and countries are progressing towards a more international approach to their affairs, the need for more authentic and accurate educational materials increases when it comes to our multi-cultural curricula. The only way to meet that need is by extensively researching cultural artifacts from each country and culture, pulling information from multiple sources. It is important to look at what we have, find out what we don't know. The purpose of this research project is to collect and analyze the resources and information on children's songs originating from China to be used in the general music classrooms at the elementary level. During the first phase of the study the researcher will search for published resources available in the USA. There are dozens of children's songs published in the general music textbooks such as the Silver Burdette and McGraw/Macmillian series as well as other music books focused on world music. By looking at these resources, already available to music educators here in the United States, and combining that knowledge with authentic songbooks and sheet music from China, we can create more accurate materials to better depict the rich music culture found in China. This information will be verified and expanded through interviews with Chinese immigrants and citizens living in the United States. During the interviews participants will be able to share the children's songs they learned in China and information about it. They will also have an opportunity to sing and record some songs on a digital voice recorder that will be transcribed and notated. The last phase of the project will be carried out at the Shanghai Far East School where the researcher will be participating and observing activities and lesson in the general and choral music classrooms. During this time the researcher will take field notes of music taught in the Chinese general music classroom. The goal is to create a resource for teachers where they can find accurate and authentic materials to teach in the general music classrooms. I strongly believe that if the distinctive musical nature of rich Chinese culture is introduced to American students, their musical horizons will be broadened and cultural experiences enhanced.
Colorado State University (CSU) Fellowship
I am fortunate enough to have been granted the SURF CSU fellowship. I will be working in Dr. Basaraba's lab at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. This lab focuses on the pathogenesis of mycobacterial infections in animal models which can be related to the understanding of tuberculosis in humans and cattle. More specifically lesion necrosis development is being investigated as well as how mycobacteria interact with lesion necrosis and how that interaction affects the survival of mycobacteria in the presence of necrotic host cells. I look forward to the exposure to Research in infectious disease. I hope to gain insight into the process of research and see the application of biological science to the disease process. I also hope to understand the implications of Colorado State University's Infectious Disease Program's goals on the field of medicine and treatment for patients. My future goal is to work in the health care industry and this fellowship will give me exposure that will enhance my understanding of evidence based medicine.
BETH ZARDEN-BENSON AND KELLEY MORRISON
Communty Based Research (CBR): Funded by the School of Graduate Studies and Continuing Education
Mentor: Teresa Faris
Research: The Importance of Hand Skills and Craft in Community
As Metalsmithing students we have noticed that our society finds less importance in hand-made objects and the skills that are necessary to produce hand-made obj ects. We wonder if our culture has lost its respect for the hand made and the crafts people that still possess the skills to produce handmade objects. We will be working with the CATHE (Community, Art, Technology, Health, and Education) Center in Burlington, Wisconsin, to lead metalsmithing/oral history workshops for high school aged community members. We will bring local artist together with workshop participants to pass on and preserve the history of hand skills that are disappearing from our culture. Participants will learn basic Metalsmithing techniques as well as interview local artists. We will provide the students with video recording equipment as well as a list of questions pertaining to the artists, their views on Craft in the community. The participants will then make a piece of jewelry/body adornment inspired by the artist they have interview. The resulting jewelry/body adornment will be sold in a silent auction, the proceeds of which will go to the CATHE Center. The CATHE Center is currently trying to build an art studio in order to offer regular art classes. We hope that working with the CATHE Center will help the community to develop an interest in implementing long term art classes. Through research and working with local artists and younger community members the awareness of Craft in local communities can begin to grow. By recording interviews with local artists and workshop participants we wish to preserve Craft and its overlooked place in history.