MindExpo Abstracts 2017

  

 

 
          

 


Biology

Authors: Jesse Baldwin and Dr. Brad Elder
Proposal title: UNDERGROUND VENTILATION TO REDUCE SYNTHETIC TURF SURFACE TEMPERATURES
Faculty sponsor: Brad Elder
Field of Study: Biology
Session type: Poster
Abstract: Synthetic turf field surfaces on average reach about 20-30 degrees warmer than ambient temperatures. This significant increase in surface temperature leads to heat illnesses for the athletes competing on these fields. We researched methods to reduce this significant increase in surface temperature. The design used subsurface aeration blown through the drainage pipes to provide an airflow that would reduce the surface temperatures to ambient. With the addition of water, ice, and a reduced plot size we were able to reduce temperatures to below ambient.

Authors: Dalton Bichlmeier, Dr. Erin Doyle
Proposal title: USING dTALEs TO CHARACTERIZE THE ROLE OF A RICE ETHYLENE RESPONSE FACTOR FOR Xoc VIRULENCE
Faculty sponsor: Dr. Erin Doyle
Field of Study: Biology
Session type: Oral
Abstract: The Earth’s population is predicted to reach 10 billion people by 2050.  Current food production levels cannot sustain a population of that size.  Rice is a staple food crop for 50% of the world population.  Improvements in rice disease resistance to diseases such as bacterial leaf streak (BLS) and bacterial blight (BB) could reduce crop loss and increase production.  The rice pathogen Xanthomonas  oryzae causes BLS (pathovar oryzicola, Xoc)  and BB (pathovar oryzae, Xoo).  During infection, the pathogen injects type-III effectors inside the plant cells, including some that are transcription activator-like effectors (TALEs).  TALEs manipulate the host transcriptome by inducing expression of specific target genes.  Both Xanthomonas oryzae pathovars induce an Ethylene Response Factor (ERF) gene in rice that has been shown to play a role in host plant susceptibility.  We investigated the function of ERF using designer Transcription Activator-Like effectors (dTALEs) that target the ERF promoter.  Although most of the dTALEs caused an increase in virulence, delivery of dTALE dT3 resulted in a hypersensitive response (HR) and reduction in virulence.  Here, we investigate why dT3 induced this unexpected phenotype by predicting TALE binding sites in the bacterial genome itself.  We found that there are many more targets predicted in naturally occurring TALEs compared to dTALEs and dT3 had the most predicted sites in comparison to other dTALEs.  Our results suggest that there may be some mechanism in Xanthomonas oryzae to prevent TALEs binding to its own genome, which may have further implications for the evolution of TALEs.

Authors: Kyle Copple, Kristian Kiland, Dr. Barb Clement
Proposal title: BiCl3 FLOCCULATION OF ALGAE FOR BIOFUELS AND CATTLE FEED
Faculty sponsor: Dr. Barb Clement
Field of Study: Biology
Session type: Poster
Abstract: Today’s society needs a carbon neutral fuel source to help combat the effects of climate change. Algae has the potential to produce enough oil to create the fuel needed, however harvesting methods are not yet optimized. Flocculation of the algae is the most cost efficient method of collection, and ideally will yield biomass (after oil extraction) suitable for livestock feed supplementation. Several polar salts of the post-transition metal group were tested for ability to flocculate cultures of Chlorella sp. Bismuth chloride (BiCl3) was the most effective flocculation agent of Chlorella at 3.5 g/L. After flocculation, the algal biomass was dried and treated for toxicity of the residual bismuth. EDTA (~1 M) was used to wash BiCl3 off of the dried biomass for use in cattle feed as a way to counteract the cost of biofuel production. EDTA was pipetted onto dried algal biomass. The EDTA solution was removed, and bismuth test paper was used to determine the amount of bismuth left on the algae. The resulting biomass contained less than 0.06 g/L of bismuth and is suitable for feed supplementation. This work demonstrates on a small scale that flocculation of algae for use in biofuel production is feasible, and that the flocculation agent can be recovered to reduce toxicity of the resulting material.

Authors:  Truc Doan, Tu Doan, Michael Kangas, Christina Wilson, Rachel Lukowicz, AdreAnna Ernest, Andrea E. Holmes, Erin Doyle, Tessa Durham Brooks.
Proposal title: DETECTION ROOT EXUDATE LOCALIZATION THROUGH COLORIMETRIC PAPERS.
Faculty sponsor: Tessa Durham Brooks
Field of Study: Biology
Session type: Oral
Abstract: A non-destructive detection assay was developed to observe and localize the production of exudates on the root surface of maize seedlings throughout its early development. Exudates are a chemically diverse array of inorganic acids, amino acids, proteins, sugars, and other metabolites secreted by roots. Exudates provide a unique chemical signature that can vary from plant to plant, across developmental stages, and in response to stress. Greater understanding of exudate composition and localization to root structures during the plant lifespan will facilitate development of agricultural innovations that target the rhizosphere. Building off of previously developed detection methods, ninhydrin, a sensor commonly used to detect free amine groups, was inkjet printed onto commercially available tissue paper.  The paper was then used to ‘blot’ the root to obtain an image of free amine-containing exudates such as amino acids on the root surface by gently pressing the paper to the root.
Finally, the resulting image of the developed ninhydrin paper was overlaid with a root image to localize exudate production to root structures. The planting, blotting, and imaging components of this novel method are accessible, expanding opportunities to study exudates and their significance.  Image analysis tools are currently being developed to increase the method throughput for larger studies. This novel method, once fully developed, will provide a non-destructive way for determining how genetic and environmental factors influence exudate production.

Author: Josh Forrest
Proposal title: Autoinducer Detection
Faculty sponsor: Dr. Sharmin Sikich
Field of Study: Biology
Session type: Poster
Abstract: Biofilms are colonies of bacteria that form on various surfaces throughout the environment. Biofilms rely on a signaling pathway called quorum sensing in order to communicate with other bacteria cells and indicate a stable environment for biofilm growth. Once a high enough concentration of molecules is received by the bacteria, biofilm formation occurs. Quorum sensing is used to activate specific biofilm related genes in the individual cells. In Pseudomonas aeruginosa the molecules, or autoinducers, used in quorum sensing are a collection of lactones that signal various receptors leading to gene expression. Quantifying the amount of these various lactones would be a way to determine the concentration of actual bacterial cells as the lactones are not otherwise found in nature. The research done uses colorimetric sensors in a Detechip system that bind to specific autoinducers and produce a visible response in the light that is absorbed by the sensors. By
determining the amount of change in color due to a specific amount of the autoinducer it will be possible to determine the specific amount of autoinducer. Then, based on the concentration of autoinducer, it is then possible to determine the concentration of actual bacteria cells. The system uses a similar method as the bacteria to determine the population in a sample.

Authors: Gabe Garbin, Dr. Tessa Durham Brooks, Dr. Terry Haverkost
Proposal title: POPULATION DYNAMICS OF PARASITES IN BLUEGILL (LEPOMIS MACROCHIRUS) FROM DOANE LAKE
Faculty sponsor: Dr. Tessa Durham Brooks
Field of Study: Biology
Session type: Oral
Abstract: The presence of parasites in an ecosystem is an indicator of overall animal diversity at that location (Sukhdeo, 2012).  Parasites have complex lifestyles that require several hosts to complete, so the presence of parasites in any host shows that all hosts in that area are present, no matter how brief their visit.  The identification of parasites’ species in any one host is a more humane way to determine the level of diversity within an area than catching and killing the other free-living animals in that area.  The purpose of the current research was to identify parasites and track the population dynamics present in the Bluegill population across time and fish age in a small lake located in Southeastern Nebraska.  Ten fish were caught per month across four months, April to July, dissected, and analyzed for parasites.  The liver and digestive tract of each fish were dissected and parasites were counted and collected.  Five species of parasites were
identified including two species of Nematodes (Camallanus and Spinitectus) and three species of Trematode (Bunodera, Postodiplostomum larvae, and Uvulifer larvae), none of which were previously found in Nebraska based on current research.  Results showed a larger abundance and prevalence for Spinitectus across months, as well a larger abundance of Postodiplostomum larvae than Uvulifer larvae.  Future research should explore other lakes in the area, as well study this population across the rest of the year with a larger sample population.

Authors: Aaron Hanlin, Ramesh Laungani
Proposal title: Elevated CO2, not biochar, increases plant growth
Faculty sponsor: Ramesh Laungani
Field of Study: Biology
Session type: Poster
Abstract: Carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations in the atmosphere are continuing to rise due to human activities. These increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations are a key driver in climate change. While increased CO2 concentrations is a primary driver of increased global temperatures and can have other cascading impacts on ecosystem structure and functioning, it has also been shown to increase plant biomass in many cases. One way to combat this increase in atmospheric CO2 is to add biochar to soil. Adding biochar to the soil has been shown to increase soil carbon storage, while also showing both increases and decreases on plant growth. Taken together, the effects of elevated CO2 alongside the effects of biochar is unclear, and could have positive or negative impacts on plant growth.  However, the effect of elevated CO2 and biochar on plant growth is unknown. In the lab, we developed a chamber to expose Bromus inermis to a concentration of CO2 (1000 ppm)­ above
ambient (400 ppm). We also exposed pots of Bromus inermis to biochar from corn leaves to study the possibility of an interaction between elevated CO2 and biochar on plant growth. We found that an elevated concentration of CO2­ increased the aboveground biomass and total biomass of Bromus inermis. We found no effect of biochar and no interaction between biochar and carbon dioxide on the growth of Bromus inermis. In conclusion, our data suggests that the growth of Bromus inermis will be positively affected by increased concentrations of CO2, but will be unaffected by the addition of biochar.

Author: Martha Hart
Proposal title (all caps): Effects of Simulated Fire-Induced Low Oxygen Levels on Engines: Implications for Wildland Firefighters
Faculty sponsor: Dr. Brad Elder
Field of Study: Biology
Session type: Poster
Abstract: This study examined the effect of low oxygen levels on fuel injected engines. Historically fire fighting engines have often died crossing or working near active fire fronts. Previous research has found oxygen levels as low as 12% associated with wildland fires. In this study we controlled for oxygen levels and engine RPM to determine if previous field measurements could kill engines. We found that low oxygen levels recorded on wildland fires were low enough to kill engines in controlled conditions and that engines under acceleration tend to die at higher oxygen level than engines idling. Measurements, both in the field and in the lab, were atypical of wildfires in that the fires measured in the field were small.  It is suspected that larger, more typical wildfires would produce lower oxygen levels than those tested.  Additionally, how larger engines cope with low oxygen compared to small engines (we tested a four cylinder) is unknown. While the stoichiometry should remain the same, engine design and torque requirements might provide substantial differences. It is hoped that this research will improve firefighter safety while operating engines near firelines.

Author: Keagan Hill
Proposal title: EFFECT OF SELECTED DIETS ON THE RAT GUT MICROBIOME
Faculty sponsor: Dr. Barb Clement
Field of Study: Biology
Session type: Poster
Abstract: It is well accepted that diet has an effect on the composition of the microbial communities of the mammalian gut. This study analyzes the effect of two diets of differing cultures, American and Japanese, on the gut microbiome of rats. There are differences in the diets of these cultures, so there may be an effect of the food of different cultures on the content of the microbiome in those cultures. Three groups of rats were fed food representing either an American or Japanese diet, or commercial lab rat diet (control) for six weeks. Fecal samples were collected from the rats at 2 week intervals (4 samples from each group) and frozen. DNA was isolated from each sample and analyzed by PCR for microbial composition, primarily Firmicutes, Bacteroides, and total Eubacteria. PCR product was separated on 1% agarose gels, stained, and photographed.  Relative composition of the bacteria in fecal material was examined for changes related to time and diet composition.  Results indicate that no significant change in the microbiome was detected over the experimental time frame.

Authors: Nicholas Iwata, Jade Prochaska, Jackie Lewis, Ashlynn Baker, Hannah Carlstedt, Autumn Hurd, Cassidy Keppler, Kelly Luekens, Cali McEntee, Kelsey Snyder, Kali Ulrich, and Erin Doyle
Proposal title: ISOLATION AND GENOME ANNOTATION OF KSQUARED, A NOVEL CLUSTER P MYCOBACTERIOPHAGE
Faculty sponsor: Erin Doyle
Field of Study: Biology
Session type: Poster
Abstract: Bacteriophage are viruses that infect and destroy bacteria. Phage exhibit many different morphologies and infect a variety of different hosts, but individual phage are host specific.

Numerous phage were isolated from soil samples around Doane University’s campus in the fall of 2016 using Mycobacterium smegmatis mc2 155 as a host.  Phage were plated from enriched soil samples, purified, and concentrated into high volume lysates (HVLs).  HVLs were used for TEM imaging and DNA extraction.  Two phage were selected for genome sequencing.  Of the sequenced phage, mycobacteriophage Ksquared was selected for annotation due to it being a part of the rare P cluster and P1 subcluster.

Ksquared is a lytic siphoviridae. Ksquared’s genome is 48,699 base pairs in length with a GC content of 61.7%. Initial annotations predicted that the genome contained 83 ORFs; 78 of these were retained upon further investigation. Future work will continue to assign functions to the predicted ORFs. We hope to annotate more phage genomes to help learn more about their genetic characteristics that will potentially help with fighting antibiotic resistant bacterial infections. The knowledge gained from studying phage that lyse M. smegmatis could help with studying phage that could destroy M. tuberculosis since the two bacteria are closely related. Given this potential, phage could very well be the new age of antibiotics.

Additional authors: Riley Jones, Erin Doyle, Tessa Durham Brooks
Proposal title: DEFENSE-RELATED GENE EXPRESSION IN RESPONSE TO BIOFILM FORMATION ON THE ROOTS OF A. THALIANA
Faculty sponsor: Tessa Durham Brooks
Field of Study: Biology
Session type: Oral
Abstract: A biofilm is a group of microorganisms capable of adhering to organic or inorganic surfaces. Specifically, pathogenic strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa opportunistic bacteria are capable of attaching to Arabidopsis roots and creating a biofilm that can cause plant mortality within 7 days of inoculation. The goal of this study was to identify expression of genetic factors that contribute to defense against these biofilms, and how pre-treating the host with inactivated bacteria can affect expression of those genes.

A. thaliana roots were inoculated with P. aeruginosa and the genetic response of the roots was analyzed. Arabidopsis seedlings were grown in agar for 5 days, given a control treatment or inactivated bacterial treatment, and placed back into the growth chamber. After 2 more days the roots were removed, inoculated with live bacteria, and frozen. Their RNA was then extracted, and defense-related gene expression was recorded through RT-PCR.

Defense-related gene expression in roots pre-treated with avirulent bacteria before inoculation with live bacteria was compared to expression in the inoculated samples that were not pre-treated.

If pre-treating the sample promotes an enhanced defense response, it can be concluded that introducing an inactivated form of bacteria before live bacterial inoculation helps to raise a defense against potential biofilms.

Funding:
INBRE research grant P20 GM103427 from NIGMS, NIH

Author: Erin Keetle
Proposal title: INCORPORATION OF NEW EXPERIMENTAL DATA IMPROVES PREDICTION OF TAL EFFECTOR-TARGETS IN RICE DISEASE
Faculty sponsor: Erin Doyle
Field of Study: Biology
Session type: Oral
Abstract: Rice is considered a staple food crop throughout the world. By 2030, rice production must increase by 25% to feed the world’s growing population. The rice pathogen Xanthomonas oryzae is responsible for bacterial leaf streak and blight resulting in 30-50% yield loss. Xanthomonas infects plants using transcription activator-like (TAL) effector proteins as virulence factors. TAL effectors injected into the plant bind to the host DNA, recruit transcription machinery, and induce specific target genes for susceptibility or resistance.

Each TAL effector contains a central repeat domain of multiple nearly identical 33-35 amino acid repeats, with variation at residues 12 and 13, also known as repeat variable diresidue (RVD). RVDs specify and bind to a single nucleotide in a predictable fashion. Knowledge of RVD-nucleotide binding specificities enables the prediction of TAL effector targets in host plant genomes and construction of designer TAL effectors (dTALEs).

Several tools, including TALENT 2.0, are available to predict and rank candidate TAL effector targets in the host plant’s genome based on the RVD-nucleotide specificity. However, current tools frequently rank invalid targets above valid, experimentally verified targets.

We have updated TALENT 2.0 to include improved accuracy for RVD-nucleotide binding and account for identifiable elements of context such as neighboring bases and repeats that influence binding specificity. These changes improved rankings for experimentally validated sites and lowered rankings for falsely predicted targets.
Accurate prediction of targets enables identification of target genes important for disease susceptibility or resistance and improved specificity and off-target prediction for dTALEs used in genetic engineering.

Authors: Connor Long, Nate Meier, Billy Garver PhD, Josiah Oyebefun, Alaetra Long, Macduff Okuom, Nick Stolze, Jenna Nieveen, Tu Doan, Rhiann Swancutt, Tessa Durham Brooks PhD
Proposal title: NOVEL USES OF NMR FINGERPRINTING TO IDENTIFY INDICATORS OF COLD TOLERANCE IN MAIZE
Faculty sponsor: Tessa Durham Brooks
Field of Study: Biology
Session type: Poster
Abstract: Expanding the duration of the growing season in maize is one way to improve yields.  However, early planting exposes seedlings to cold stress, which could compromise adult growth.  Therefore, mechanisms of cold tolerance are important potential targets for crop improvement.  Identification of early biomarkers that could reliably predict the impact of seedling cold stress on adult growth would make it possible to more efficiently identify genetic factors that contribute to cold resistance.  The objective of this study was to determine the feasibility of seedling root exudate composition after cold stress as a biomarker. Root exudate was collected from 3 day old seedlings of twelve Maize genotypes in control and cold stress conditions. Seedlings were removed from their growth tubes and transferred to a plot on Doane University’s campus. Weekly height measurements (cm) were taken for each seedling, as was shoot and root biomass after the growing season had concluded. Root exudate fingerprints were collected using a previously established technique from one cold tolerant (B73), one cold susceptible (B97), and two canalized (CML103 and CML247) genotypes using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. Analysis methods for investigating differences in overall fingerprint composition and relative concentrations of sugars and amino acids between genotype and conditions is underway.

Authors: Rachel Lukowicz, Charley Burtwistle
Proposal title: PLAYING WITH BRAINS; WHERE ENGINEERING AND COMPARATIVE ANATOMY MEET
Faculty sponsor: Ramesh Laungani
Field of Study: Biology
Session type: Poster
Abstract: The complex structure of the human brain, while fascinating, is often difficult to grasp. Further, understanding how the features of the brain have migrated and changed across diverse lineages is even more difficult to comprehend. The brain is a three dimensional organ, and studying it through images and photographs in a two dimensional space can be restrictive. Access to dissections are helpful to understanding the three-dimensional organization of the brain, however, access to diverse lineages of brain specimens can be limited, and require particular safety concerns. Therefore, we have proposed a method to scan brain specimens and print models through a 3D printer.

A search of free and accessible brain files that are open to the public, and able to be 3D printed is nearly non-existent. For example, scans of the human brain are limited to features of the cortex only, leaving out many of the complexities and integrity of the organ. Further, commonly dissected animals like sheep, mouse and frog were not able to be located all together. Therefore, we have used this method to also generate files that can be shared openly and publicly and are compatible with 3D printing software. This proposed method helps provide a solution to teaching basic comparative neuroscience, and show the scientific benefit of combining varying disciplines.

Authors: Jackson Mancieri, Ramesh Laungani, Allie Satterly
Proposal title: EFFECT OF BIOCHAR AROMATICITY ON NITROGEN LEACHING
Faculty sponsor: Ramesh Laungani
Field of Study: Biology
Session type: Poster
Abstract: Global warming is a growing problem in the world and is caused by human activity that causes a release of CO2 into the atmosphere. Biochar is a carbon rich material formed by the burning of biomass at high temperatures with a lack of oxygen (pyrolysis) that, when added to soil, can be a management tool for storing that carbon in the long-term.  Additionally biochar additions to soil have been shown to increase plant biomass.  This is potentially driven by increases in nitrogen availability in the soil, a resource that often limits plant growth. The benefits of biochar for soil carbon storage make it an attractive choice as a soil additive to fields but the relationship between biochar presence and nitrogen leaching is unknown. If biochar decreases the nitrogen retention of the soil it can cause a lack of nutrients for plants as well as contamination of groundwater that leads to serious health problems. The characteristics of the biochar are dependent on the
feedstock used to create it as well as the pyrolysis temperature. As the pyrolysis temperature increases so does the aromaticity of the biochar. There is limited information about how the aromaticity of the biochar affects nitrogen leaching in the soil. Biochar was made using corn leaves as a feedstock and 1H NMR was used to determine the aromaticity of the biochar. NH4+ /NO3- analysis was done to determine the amount of nitrogen leaching.

Authors: Cassa McConville, Brad Elder
Proposal title: IMAGE-J IS ONLY 4% LESS ACCURATE THAN HEMOCYTOMETER COUNTS OF ALGAE CELLS, BUT ALLOWS FOR HIGHER THROUGHPUT
Faculty sponsor: Brad Elder
Field of Study: Biology
Session type: Poster
Abstract: There are many ways to count algae cells, hand counting using a hemocytometer being the most common. This is an inexpensive but fairly time consuming process. Most other quicker methods require expensive equipment, such as a spectrophotometer.  In this study we examined cheaper and less time consuming alternatives to the hemocytometer. The most practical solution found was modifying a picture in ImageJ. This free software has relatively high accuracy and high throughput with minimal programming skills needed. The accuracy of this software was tested against hand counted algae cells and found to be 96%. We have developed lesson plans and videos to show teachers and students this technique. This will allow more robust research in K-12 and college classrooms.

Author: Nathan Meier
Proposal title: COLD TOLERANT AND COLD SUSCEPTIBLE MAIZE OBSERVATIONS THROUGH FIELD STUDY
Faculty sponsor: Tessa Durham Brooks
Field of Study: Environmental Science
Session type: Poster
Abstract:
        Nate Meier, Josiah Oyebefun, Connor Long, Billy Garver PHD Jenna Nieveen, Tu Doan, Rhian Swancutt, and Tessa Durham Brooks, Department of Biology, Doane University, Crete, NE 68333

During the planting season for maize, cold overnight temperatures can stress seedlings. Cold stress on maize seedlings can compromise growth during their adult life. With this in mind, means of improving cold tolerance in maize to ensure high yields and efficiency is crucial. Identifying differences in a genotype’s height, yield, and biomass out in the field is a reliable way to find maize varieties that are cold tolerant or cold sensitive. The objective of this study was to closely monitor twelve Maize genotypes in cold stress and control conditions. Seeds were planted in tubes and placed in a growth chamber. Three days after germination, seedlings were cold stressed. The seeds were placed in soil plots, grown, and transferred to a small test plot on Doane campus. Height measurements (cm) were taken two times a week during the plant’s life, along with shoot and root biomass at the end. Plants were dug up and roots were imaged. Data analyzing was done with R Commander. Two-way
anovas and repeated measures tests were used to find significant differences in genotypes.  From height, biomass, and imaging results; one cold tolerant (B73), one cold sensitive (B97), and two canalized (CML103 and CML247) genotypes were observed.

Authors: Jenna Nieveen, Tessa Durham Brooks
Proposal title: SNOR30 RELATED TO PLASTICITY OF ROOT GRAVITROPIC RESPONSE IN A.THALIANA SEEDLINGS
Faculty sponsor: Tessa Durham Brooks
Field of Study: Biology
Session type: Poster
Abstract: The ability of a plant to change its phenotype based on different environmental conditions, or phenotypic plasticity, is crucial for plant development. Root gravitropism is the growth of plants in response to gravity and has shown to be remarkably plastic in later stages of the response, possibly due to the expression of a small nucleolar RNA, snoR30. The goal of this study was to identify variation in growth of root tip angles of Arabidopsis thaliana seedlings over time to see if snoR30 is a factor in the plasticity of the root gravitropic response. Wild-type and mutant seeds were classified into categories of tiny or large and grown for 2 (large seeds) or 3 (tiny seeds) days. Variables of seedling age and size have both shown to influence the behavior of the root and gravitropic response. Once out of the growth chamber, plates were rotated 90 degrees and analyzed by capturing images from high-resolution cameras. Using Image Processing Toolkit 7 on a virtual network computer, time course measurements of root tip angles were extracted. Measurements of seedling root tip angles when snoR30 was expressed were compared to root tip angles when snoR30 was not expressed. If no variation in growth of root tip angles is seen when snoR30 is expressed, it can be concluded that snoR30 is involved in plasticity of root gravitropism. Research on functions of snoR30 are limited, so using these data could lead to ideas on plant development of a variety of species in the future.

Authors: Josiah Oyebefun, Tessa Durham Brooks
Proposal title: PRE-TREATMENT OF ARABIDOPSIS ROOTS WITH HEAT-KILLED PSEUDOMONAS AERUGINOSA TO PREVENT BIOFILM GROWTH
Faculty sponsor: Tessa Durham Brooks
Field of Study: Biology
Session type: Poster
Abstract: Pseudomonas aeruginosa is responsible for approximately 51,000 hospital-borne infection per year (CDC). Bacterial biofilms, a community of bacteria with unique physiological properties, are the basis of anti-microbial resistance. While the pathogenicity of P. aeruginosa is well documented, current treatments for limiting or even preventing infection are not sufficient or available. The goal of this project was to develop a vaccine against P. aeruginosa infections.
        The A. thaliana root was used as an easy to acquire biological surface for growing biofilms. Two strains of P. aeruginosa, the clinical isolate PA14 and the environmental isolate PA01, were used. PA01 and PA14 were heat-killed and introduced to roots before inoculation with the corresponding live bacteria. Two positive-control groups and a negative-control group were also included. Roots were imaged regularly for three days. Biofilm growth was measured using ImageJ and compared between treatments.
        It was observed that PA01 vaccination of the A. thaliana root significantly reduces the formation and growth of biofilm on the root’s surface while PA14 vaccination did not. In addition, biofilm formation and growth of the two strains occurred at different rates with PA14 growing slower. It was also observed that biofilms on the mock-vaccinated roots of both the PA01 and PA14 strains tended to initiate a distance away from the root and grew inward, toward the root’s surface. The vaccinated roots grew from the root’s surface outward. The role of peptidoglycan in explaining this observation was explored.
        To accomplish this, two groups were treated with peptidoglycan solution before inoculation with PA01 or PA14 in addition to the two experimental groups and the two positive control groups utilized in the previous experiment. Images were collected and analyzed as in the previous experiment to determine the role of peptidoglycan in the alteration of biofilm growth patterns on the root surface.

Author: Kayla Roesler
Proposal title: SYNERGISTIC EFFECTS OF TRICYCLIC ANTIDEPRESSANTS AND SELECTED ANTIBIOTICS IN INHIBITION OF PSEUDOMONAS AERUGINOSA BIOFILMS
Faculty sponsor: Barb Clement
Field of Study: Biology
Session type: Poster
Abstract: Antibiotics are used as a common treatment against Pseudomonas aeruginosa. However, PA14, a hospital derived isolate of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, has a tendency to be resistant to many antibiotics. It has been noted that using non-antibiotics (such as tricyclic antidepressants) in combination with antibiotics augments the inhibition of biofilm growth due to a synergistic effect between the drugs. Antibiotics target unique bacterial structures, while antidepressants target plasma (cell) membranes. It has been hypothesized that inhibition of the bacterium occurs by combination of effects on the cell membranes/proteins. In the current study, Pseudomonas aeruginosa was grown in tryptic soy broth overnight. Culture was then plated into a 96 round bottom well plate with combinations of different antibiotics and amitriptyline or trimipramine and then incubated overnight at 37 °C. After incubation, the biofilm present in the wells was quantified using the crystal violet assay. The absorbance of the biofilms was determined using the Cary 50 Spectrophotometer. There was no significant difference in the biofilm formation between treatments of antibiotics alone, tricyclic antidepressants alone and the combination of the two. However, biofilm formation in cells treated with Polymyxin B were reduced (but not significantly) and merit further study. To further explore potential synergistic action of amitriptyline and other chemicals, lemon and peppermint extracts were tested using the same methodologies. There was a significant difference in the biofilm formation in treatments with amitriptyline alone and biofilm formed in treatments of amitriptyline combined with the extracts. The data indicates that while most antibiotic combinations tested did not show significant inhibition of biofilm growth, there is merit to further studies of polymyxin B and amitriptyline.

Additional authors: Allie Satterly, Ramesh Laungani, Jackson Mancieri
Proposal title: THE EFFECT OF BIOCHAR DIVERSITY ON NITROGEN LEACHING
Faculty sponsor: Ramesh Laungani
Field of Study: Biology
Session type: Poster
Abstract: Biochar application has been known to benefit weathered soil by increasing soil fertility and decreasing nutrient leaching. Plant biodiversity has shown to increase long-term carbon storage in the soil while also reducing the loss of nutrients, particularly soil nitrate. However, little is known about the effects of biochar feedstock diversity on nitrate losses when applied to depleted soil. Nitrate is found in almost all cropland soils and is an essential plant nutrient. As nitrogen cycles through the air, water, and soil, it undergoes various chemical and biological changes. Excess nitrate ions are not absorbed by the soil, these ions are then able to move down freely with drainage water and are leached into groundwater, streams, and oceans.  Leaching is becoming an environmental concern with its contribution to groundwater contamination. Leaching of nutrients from agricultural soils have many harmful effects. These include depleting soil fertility, accelerating soil acidification, increasing fertilizer costs for farmers, and reducing crop yields. Biochar, a carbon-rich material derived from plant matter through high heat and low oxygen levels, may impact nitrogen availability in the soil through diverse application. The objective of our study was to quantify the influence biochar diversity has on nitrogen leaching in the soil.

Authors: Melissa Shadoin, Emily Belak, Barbara Clement
Proposal title: EFFECTS OF GREEN TEA EXTRACT ON PSEUDOMONAS AERUGINOSA BIOFILM ACCUMULATION ON CYSTIC FIBROSIS CELLS IN CULTURE
Faculty sponsor: Barbara Clement
Field of Study: Biology
Session type: Oral
Abstract: Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited, autosomal recessive disease in which a mutation is present in the gene for the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR). The CFTR functions as an ATP-gated anion channel regulating the transport of chloride and thiocyanate ions across the epithelial cell membrane and controls the movement of water to produce a thin, slippery mucus. When the CFTR is mutated, chloride channel proteins are unable to work properly, causing the secretion of mucus, sweat, and digestive juices that are thicker and stickier than normal. Consequently, the ciliary lining of the lungs is unable to clear out the bacteria and germs. This provides a good environment for bacterial biofilms, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Bacteria in a biofilm undergo physiological changes, including increased antibiotic resistance. Chronic P. aeruginosa infections lead to surface damage to epithelial cells, clogged airways, and impaired airway conductance, resulting in a decline in pulmonary function. Green tea extract has been shown to inhibit P. aeruginosa biofilm formation. CF epithelial cells were grown to a monolayer, inoculated with O.D 0.02 P. aeruginosa, and treated with green tea extract for up to 24 hours. At intervals during incubation, cultures were washed and photographed with phase contrast and fluorescent microscopy in order to determine whether biofilm accumulation decreases and the integrity of the cells is maintained in the presence of the plant extracts compared to control treatments. Phase contrast microscopy images indicate that CF cells maintain integrity longer in the presence of green tea extract.  Our evidence supports further study in the protective effects of plant extracts in inhibiting bacterial infections in CF patients.

Author: Ben Strobel
Proposal title: PERENNIAL RYE (Lolium perenne) OUTCOMPETES SMOOTH BROME (Bromus inermis) IN THE PRESENCE OF NaCl
Faculty sponsor: Brad Elder
Field of Study: Biology
Session type: Oral
Abstract: Smooth brome (Bromus inermis) is a grass that is agriculturally beneficial but is invasive in native prairie.  Its aggressive nature makes it a superb competitor in prairie environments. The goal of this study was to find a way to change the balance of competitive power by changing the environment in such a way as to force Smooth Brome to lose competitive battles.  One way to change the environment is to make it saltier. Sodium chloride solutions have been shown to negatively affect plant growth by inducing drought responses in plants in general and has been shown to have similar effects in Smooth Brome.  Perennial rye  (Lolium perenne) also exhibits a negative growth response when exposed to NACL.  But as the perennial rye cultivators used are drought tolerant, It should be harmed less by salt treatments than Smooth Brome.  Thus when put in competition with smooth brome, perennial rye should win.  We found that when brome and rye are in competition in a high salt environment, rye outcompeted brome. With a high salt environment consisting of NaCl treatments of 500ppm and 1000ppm. This has implications for native prairie conservation efforts since salt applications and rye seeds applied to patches of brome could eventually remove brome from fields.

Authors: Rhiann Swancutt, Tessa Durham Brooks, Nolan Field
Proposal title: IDENTIFYING SIGNALING COMPONENTS FOR THE A. THALIANA GLR-DEPENDENT PATHWAY BY PHENOTYPICALLY COMPARING A MUTANT CANDIDATE GENE TO MUTANT GLR3.3
Faculty sponsor: Tessa Durham Brooks
Field of Study: Biology
Session type: Poster
Abstract:
IDENTIFYING SIGNALING COMPONENTS FOR THE A. THALIANA GLR-DEPENDENT PATHWAY BY PHENOTYPICALLY COMPARING A MUTANT CANDIDATE GENE TO MUTANT GLR3.3.

Arabidopsis thaliana has 20 glutamate receptor (AtGLR) genes that are homologous to mammalian ionotropic glutamate receptors. Root gravitropism is the ability of a plant to direct its growth in a certain direction due to gravity. A. thaliana glr3.3 is highly expressed during the process of root gravitropism and promotes stronger, more coordinated curvature of the root. Previous studies identified two candidate genes that correlated with the same gene expression pattern of glr3.3 during the gravitropism process. The goal of this study was to take one of the two genes (At4g02820), and phenotypically compare it to glr3.3 and wild type to identify possible components for the GLR-dependent pathway during root gravitropism.

Infrared cameras took images of roots of wild type, glr3.3, and two alleles during the root gravitropism process. Root tip angles were collected from each image using image processing toolkit7.

All root tip angles were averaged and compared with error bars to identify a significant difference. Principal components analysis was used as an additional method to look for differences amongst the groups.

One allele of the candidate gene showed two regions, within the first 5 hours of the response that differed significantly from wild type. Principal components analysis supported this difference. The second allele did not show any significant difference. However, closer inspection of the allele suggests that it is not as drastic of a mutation in the candidate gene. Therefore, this data suggests that the candidate gene could be a part of the signaling components for the GLR-dependent pathway.

Author: Karli Weise
Proposal title: PSEUDOMONAS AERUGINOSA SMALL PROTEASE (PASP) PRODUCTION IS INDEPENDENT OF VARIOUS CONTACT LENS MATERIALS IN OCULAR KERATITIS
Faculty sponsor: Dr. Barb Clement
Field of Study: Biology
Session type: Poster
Abstract: Bacterial keratitis, or inflammation of the cornea, is a disease of the eye that is primarily caused by the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa when in combination with contact lens use. Certain proteases of P. aeruginosa play a dominant role in the pathogenesis during keratitis; specifically Pseudomonas aeruginosa small protease (PASP) is the one of interest due to its corneal virulence factor. Previous research suggests that the type of contact lens used plays a role in the development of keratitis. In this present study, P. aeruginosa was grown on three different contact lens materials and the expression of the PASP protease was investigated. Strain PA14 of P. aeruginosa was grown in tryptic soy broth and incubated with different contact lens materials. The PASP protease was present in the culture supernatant. The expression of PASP was determined by separating proteins by weight on SDS-PAGE gel electrophoresis. Total protein profiles of the experimental cultures were performed using Coomassie Blue staining. Bands that were detected at or around 18.5 kDa were identified as potentially representing the PASP protease. There was not a significant difference between the production of PASP in association with growth on different contact lens materials or control. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was further used to compare the growth of PA14 biofilms on different contact lens materials. We conclude that there was insufficient evidence to support the hypothesis that the type of contact lens material plays a role in the expression of the PASP protease, nor does the type of lens alter severity of the development of keratitis.


Business

 
          

Authors: Breeana Burkinshaw, Sharmin Sikich
Proposal title: USING REDUCED AMINO ACID ALPHABETS TO DETERMINE SIMILARITIES BETWEEN PROTEINS
Faculty sponsor: Sharmin Sikich
Field of Study: Chemistry
Session type: Poster
Abstract: Reduced amino acid alphabets have paired amino acids with similar structure and function. The best performing alphabets are between 10 to 12 letters and help to determine fold recognition in proteins, determining the structure and the function of the protein. With the reduced amino acid alphabet, we are trying to determine if there is homology between the eukaryotic protein MIC19 and a possible protein in the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa. We are also investigating if eukaryotic apoptosis proteins have orthologs to proteins involved in cell lysis in bacteria. This is important in determining the unknown structure and function of proteins. If MIC19 has similar fold recognition to a known protein, then we may be able to determine its structure. If CidA has orthologs to an apoptosis protein, then we may be able to determine similarities between apoptosis and cell death in bacteria. A student-developed a sequence conversion program, in addition to online tools such as MUSCLE, online BLAST, stand alone BLAST, and I-TASSER were used in determining which amino acid alphabet produced the most similarity between proteins. Thus far the results show that there is no significant similarity between the apoptosis proteins and the cell lysis proteins. However, possible structures have been discovered for MIC19 using I-TASSER, a protein structure and function prediction tool, and these structures differ from the previous possible structure. This shows the reduced alphabet is producing different results than the normal 20 letter amino acid alphabet and it is still unclear which structure is more accurate.

Authors: Shana Havenridge, Uwe Bog, Lei Li, Andrea Holmes, Pavel Levkin, Michael Hirtz
Proposal title: DIP-PEN NANOLITHOGRAPHY PATTERNED PHOSPHOLIPID-BASED FUNCTIONAL FILMS AS REACTIVE LAYERS FOR THIOLENE CLICK REACTIONS
Faculty sponsor: Andrea Holmes
Field of Study: Chemistry
Session type: Oral
Abstract: Dip-Pen Nanolithography (DPN) is a scanning probe lithography technique to generate functional molecular patterns on the nano-scale size, with their main application focusing on biomolecular studies. This research project investigates the potential of phospholipid-based reactive inks, written on polymer-based substrates by DPN, for thiolene click chemistry. Previously, shadow mask-based UV lithography has been utilized to spatially control these reactions. However, this approach is strongly limited in lateral resolution, as the UV exposure may only be performed under specific parameters. As an alternative route, DPN may provide a significantly improved resolution. In this work, different thiolene-terminated click-reactive compounds, such as allyl alcohol, were mixed into phospholipid-based inks, which were then deposited by DPN onto disulfide-modified polymer surfaces, to control the binding reaction to sub-micron sized dimensions. It will be shown how various process parameters, including reagent concentration, writing speed and process humidity, influence the binding results.

Authors: Rachel Lukowicz, Michael Kangas, Adreanna Ernest, Anais Quossi, and Andrea E. Holmes
Proposal title: A COLORIMETRIC SENSOR ARRAY FOR THE IDENTIFICATION AND QUANTIFICATION OF ANALYTES
Faculty sponsor: Andrea Holmes
Field of Study: Chemistry
Session type: Oral
Abstract: Colorimetric spot tests usually contain one sensor, are easy to use, and inexpensive. The limitation of these spot tests is the lack of specificity, thus leading to false positive and negatives. We have developed a colorimetric chemical array that utilizes a variety of different sensors to uniquely identify analytes, with very few false positives or negatives. Previous work in the laboratory has demonstrated the ability to correctly identify the concentrations of organic and inorganic acid and bases with a <80% accuracy on a solid nanoporous support systems.

Current work in the laboratory has been focused on screening over 130 potential sensors with 24 different analytes to determine which combination of sensors is most effective for each class of analytes. This has been achieved by scanning the 96 well plate liquid array with a desktop scanner, digital camera, or smartphone. Red green blue (RGB) were extracted through the image, and values were analyzed through principal component analysis (PCA), heat maps, linear discriminant analysis (LDA) loadings, and image correlations to determine efficacy.

Furthermore, we have developed a customized software application, available on both iOS and Android platforms, that is able to extract the RGB values and analyze colorimetric changes to identify unknown substances. Now, our technology has become portable and easy to use for field deployment in tactical areas. Results using this application technology will be presented.

Authors: Jasmin Sandoval, Doane University & Karlsruhe Institute of Technology: Institute of Toxicology & Genetics, M.S. Ivana Pini, Dr. Christina Wilson, Dr. Andrea Holmes, Dr. Raychelle Burks, & Dr. Pavel Levkin
Proposal title: APPLICATIONS OF POLYMER SLIPS
Faculty sponsor: Andrea Holmes and Christina Wilson
Field of Study: Chemistry
Session type: Oral
Abstract: This research aimed to demonstrate the variety of ways that polymer slippery liquid infused porous surfaces (SLIPS) can be used to selectively protect surfaces. This was shown through two projects: (1) selective patterning of hydrophilic-hydrophobic areas on porous HEMA-EDMA surfaces for high throughput organic reactions and (2) determining antibiofilm efficacy of porous BMA-EDMA surfaces under low shear force. In the first project, Krytox was added to patterned HEMA-EDMA surfaces which confined ethanol, an organic solvent, to hydrophilic regions of various shapes and sizes. These results overcome one hurdle in developing HEMA-EDMA surfaces for high throughput small scale reactions. In the second project, biofilms of Pseudomonas aeruginosa were grown on PFPE infused BMA-EDMA polymer surfaces. Slippery BMA-EDMA were successfully created and confirmed to be stable over the biofilm growth period under low shear conditions. Preliminary results suggest that
despite the hydrophobic chemistry of the surface biofilm attachment and growth occurred at a similar extent as the unmodified slides. Future work in this area is to confirm current results and investigate underlying cause of bacterial attachment to the modified surface.

Authors: Brady Stuhmer, Dr. Chris Huber
Proposal title: DEVELOPING SPECTROSCOPIC METHODS FOR STUDYING PSEUDOMONAS AERUGINOSA ATTACHMENT ON SIO2 SURFACES
Faculty sponsor: Dr. Chris Huber
Field of Study: Chemistry
Session type: Oral
Abstract: Biofilms are a collection of microorganisms that collect together on a surface and function as a single body for the betterment of the colony. Biofilms are almost everywhere and each carries out a varying set of functions. The affects of different biofilms can range from a series of damaging affects, such as plaque on teeth that cause cavities, to restorative properties, such as purifying wastewater. The development of these ecosystems is complex and there is still a lot to be discovered about the mechanisms by which these biofilms attach to surfaces, grow, and maintain a healthy ecosystem.  We have set out to directly measure the attachment of Pseudomonas aeruginosa strain PA01 bacteria to SiO2 using Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS). In this work, the surface enhancement is generated by a gold film deposited on top of polystyrene nanoparticles. A thin film of silica is then deposited onto the surface using a combination of SAM and sol gel techniques, providing a hospitable environment for the bacteria.  The work presented here details the construction of the SERS substrates and the subsequent growth of biofilms on these surfaces.  The substrates were characterized using Scanning Electron Microscopy. The PA01 bacteria growth was monitored using fluorescence microscopy via a GFP fluorescent tag. The data collected from this experiment is a step towards decoding the complex mechanisms of biofilm attachment and may bring forth a better understanding of biofilms as a whole.

Authors: Helena Valquier-Flynn, Chris Wentworth, Christina Wilson
Proposal title: THE EFFECT OF SURFACE MATERIAL ON BIOFILM FORMATION IN A HIGH SHEAR STRESS ENVIRONMENT
Faculty sponsor: Chris Wentworth
Field of Study: Chemistry
Session type: Oral
Abstract: Biofilms are an accumulation of microbial cells that adhere to a surface and form a polysaccharide matrix. Biofilms grow on many devices, such as medical implants and other biomedical devices. This is not ideal for patients with implants as biofilm formation may cause infections that require extensive treatment and expensive replacement of the biomedical device. Developing methods of preventing biofilm growth is an important problem of current interest.The investigation explores how changing an abiotic surface material affects the quantitative growth rate of a PA01 strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilm during its log phase of growth in a high shear fluid environment. The growth rate was measured for three surface materials: glass, polycarbonate, and slippery BMA-EDMA polymer. Growth was performed in a CDC bioreactor using TSB as the growth medium at 37 [C].  The contact angle was measured for each surface and statistically significant differences in growth rate were measured for the three surfaces. Growth rate was not correlated with contact angle, a measure of hydrophobicity.  An extremely small growth rate was observed for the slippery BMA-EDMA surface, suggesting it may be a good candidate for antibiofilm coatings.

          

Communication

 

Author: Rachel Jacobsen
Proposal title: CARTOGRAPHIC OMISSION: ANALYZING THE IMPACT OF GOOGLE'S CHOICE TO NOT LABEL PALESTINE ON GOOGLE MAPS
Faculty sponsor: Nathaniel Wilson
Field of Study: Communication
Session type: Oral
Abstract: On August 9th of last year, countless news sources began covering Google’s erasure of Palestine’s label from Google maps after a video shared on Twitter showed a snapshot of the Holy Lands on Google Maps, where only Israel was labeled. The video and consequent coverage brought immediate outrage from pro-Palestinian and human rights groups.
In response, Google explained in a press release on August 11th 2016, that Google Maps has never labeled Palestine, but a glitch in the system did temporarily remove the West Bank and Gaza Strip labels, which Google soon restored. However, as many pointed out, Google clarifying they have never had the label in the first place is just as powerful as removing it. According to the Guardian on August 22nd, 2016, Palestine is the only state recognized by the UN that Google Maps does not label.  In case you are curious, Apple Maps doesn’t label Palestine either. But, considering Business Insider September 14th, 2016 states over 1 billion people use Google maps per month, we must ask the research question: How do cartographic omissions, like Google’s choice to not label Palestine, alter perception of omitted areas and their populations?
To answer we turn to Secrecy and Silence by J.B Harley, published in the 2001 book “The Nature of Maps”; fitting because it explores how cartographic silence serves as a “suppression of knowledge.”

Author: Cheyanne Jessen
Proposal title: 'DEEP IN THE MEADOW, HIDDEN FAR AWAY': THE SUPPRESSED SIDE OF THE STOIC HUNTRESS
Faculty sponsor: Dr. Katy Hanggi
Field of Study: English
Session type: Oral
Abstract: This essay explores the complexities of Katniss Everdeen, heroine of Suzanne Collin's best-selling novel The Hunger Games, and seeks to offer a new interpretation of her character. It is my argument that the stoicism Katniss exhibits throughout the majority of the novel is a performative identity which she consciously assumes as a strategy to protect herself. While Katniss actively endeavors to suppress her more vulnerable personality traits, an in-depth analysis of her language reveals the love and appreciation she has for the natural beauty abounding in the woods outside District 12. Furthermore, Katniss’s use of environmental analogies explicitly link Prim, Rue, and Peeta to those qualities of nature that bring her happiness; in the moments when these three are faced with danger, Katniss’s emotions heighten, causing her indifferent mask to slip and the more genuine aspects of her character to come to light.

Author: Cheyanne Jessen
Proposal title: 'HERE IT'S SAFE': NATURE AS KEY TO UNLOCKING THE VULNERABILITY OF KATNISS EVERDEEN
Faculty sponsor: Dr. Katy Hanggi
Field of Study: English
Session type: Oral
Abstract: This essay explores the complexities of Katniss Everdeen, heroine of Suzanne Collin's best-selling novel The Hunger Games, and seeks to offer a new interpretation of her character. It is my argument that the stoicism Katniss exhibits throughout the majority of the novel is a performative identity which she consciously assumes as a strategy to protect herself. While Katniss actively endeavors to suppress her more vulnerable personality traits, an in-depth analysis of her language reveals the love and appreciation she has for the natural beauty abounding in the woods outside District 12. Furthermore, Katniss’s use of environmental analogies explicitly link Prim, Rue, and Peeta to those qualities of nature that bring her happiness; in the moments when these three are faced with danger, Katniss’s emotions heighten, causing her indifferent mask to slip and the more genuine aspects of her character to come to light.

        

Author: Jacob Maris
Proposal title: PRAIRIE DOG BEHAVIOR
Faculty sponsor: Dr. Russ Souchek
Field of Study: Environmental Science
Session type: Oral
Abstract: Cynomys ludovicianus (black-tailed prairie dog) has been a native creature to the mid-west long before Europeans had discovered the new world, and for many years the black-tailed prairie dog has thrived across the majority of the Nebraska prairie. The black-tailed prairie dog is also the most abundant species found in the United States. The diet of the black-tailed prairie dog mainly consists of small grasses. While foraging, the black-tailed prairie dog will rely on forage groups to keep them safe from possible threats such as hawks and coyotes. Head bobs are used as a strategy to accomplish this task. A head bob is when an individual will switch its focus from the ground while foraging to the sky to search for possible threats. The research question focuses on the number of head bobs conducted by a single prairie dog in relationship to the size of the forage group the individual is in. The data shows that far more head bobs were conducted by individuals in large forage groups. Prairie dogs observed alone conducted little or no head bobs at all. The research was conducted at the Doane University Aldrich Prairie Research site.

 
 

Authors: Honors Seniors: Reba Burgett, Hannah Dull, Shana Havenridge, Grace Kelly, Rachel Lukowicz, Melissa Shadoin, Emily Vokal
Proposal title: DOANE UNIVERSITY AND RETENTION AMONG OUT-OF-STATE STUDENTS
Faculty sponsor: Timothy Hill
Field of Study: Honors
Session type: Oral
Abstract: An examination of the factors that enhance or retard the retention of out-of-state students at Doane University. We look at the extant literature on the question, examine the data of our peers and aspirants, and conduct our own focus group with the target population. We conclude with a few suggestions for ways to improve retention among this population.

         

Author: James Clothier
Proposal title: PITCH-ALYTICS
Faculty sponsor: Alec Engebretson
Field of Study: Information Science & Technology
Session type: Oral
Abstract: PitchAlytics is a web application implemented using Microsoft’s Visual Studio. The application uses the ASP.Net framework with Visual C#. The application is a real-time baseball score-keeping platform that allows the user to track pitches as the game goes on, while receiving critical in-game analytics. At the end of the game, the user is presented with a post-game report which contains various useful metrics for assessing a team’s pitching performance throughout the game. The application contains a database of past games for convenience, and the application contains a page describing the application as well as interaction with it. The application was designed using the RADIS (Recognize, Analyze, Design, Implement, Support) problem-solving framework used in the IST Department at Doane University.  In the Mind Expo presentation there will be discussion of the RADIS process; the application’s design, development and difficulties; and, finally, a demonstration of the application.

Author: Aaron Cook
Proposal title: TENNIS DRILLS FOR COACHING MOBILE APP
Faculty sponsor: Alec Engebretson
Field of Study: Information Science & Technology
Session type: Oral
Abstract: For my senior project I created a mobile application that helps coaches efficiently search for drills or games to use in practice. This application is aimed at both veteran coaches looking to mix up what’s done in practice, and novice coach looking for ideas. The application centers around a simple database with a record for each drill or game.  Information stored for each that a coach can use to find a drill or game includes skill level needed, amount of people involved, and amount of time to complete.  The coach can filter by these fields, hit submit, and read the results quickly and efficiently . The presentation will follow the RADIS framework, which is a problem-solving framework used in the IST Department at Doane University.  Included in the framework will be a discussion of the problem being addressed, the requirements of the application, the design of the application, and the process of implementing the design.  The application will be demonstrated in its most recent form.

Authors: Shaquan Dayton
Proposal title: ANALYTICAL STUDIES OF HELP DESK AND TICKETING SYSTEM
Faculty sponsor: Alec Engebretson
Field of Study: Information Science & Technology
Session type: Oral
Abstract: Within a user support environment, a ticketing system is a software package that supports and helps the IT staff deal with any incidents in the organization by managing the incidents from the moment they are captured to their resolution. The first part of this project analyzed the current ticketing system at Doane University including not only the software, but also the policies, procedures and processes involved.  The second part of this project involved putting in place a new ticketing system, Spiceworks, including not only the software, but any changes to current policies, procedures and practices.   This presentation will include an overview of the old and new ticketing systems focusing on comparisons of the two including the pros and cons of both. It will also include a discussion of the experience of transitioning from the old system to the new, and what was learned from that experience.  Finally, future plans to make user support at Doane University more effective will be presented.

Author: Craig Lechner
Proposal title: NETWORK DESIGN FOR DOANE UNIVERSITY
Faculty sponsor: Alec Engebretson
Field of Study: Information Science & Technology
Session type: Oral
Abstract: Doane University in Crete, NE is growing in size, student population and staff. This prompted the need for planning a new dorm hall and administrator/learning hall. This project planned out the future network with the RADIS framework, which is a problem-solving framework used in IST courses. The needs of current and future Doane students and staff were first recognized. Analyzing those needs, it was determined what hardware and software is to be implemented into the future network. These decisions were made considering current networking best practices. Included in this project was the design of the network topology and the various VLANs along with the proposed switch closets. An implementation plan was included to provide a step-by-step plan to show how the network will be implemented in the new buildings.  The presentation will include a discussion of the requirements, the network design in light of best practices, and the implementation strategy.

Author: Yuu Sakaguchi
Proposal title: MOBILE APP FOR ANALYZING POINTS IN TENNIS
Faculty sponsor: Alec Engebretson
Field of Study: Information Science & Technology
Session type: Oral
Abstract: Tennis is a mind sport, and players need to physically and mentally perform their best in order to win matches. However, it is extremely hard to keep the best performance at every point. Tennis matches sometimes last more than two hours, so there are moments when players are tired and not able to do the best. Tennis uses a unique scoring system, and that makes player struggle to finish a match. Tennis matches do not end until someone wins a match point, so it is possible to come back from 00-40 in 0-5.
It is ideal if a player can do his or her best at the most important moments. My project helps players and coaches find points that are very important in order to win a match. Important points in each game can be found using a probability distribution called the negative binomial distribution. I developed a mobile application that analyzes which points are more important than others, and let coaches know when a point is important. Points in tennis go quickly, so I developed easy to use user interface. The app also analyzes data from a match and provides useful information. The information includes recommended service placement and prediction of an opponent’s serve based on long term and short term databases. It stores result and statistics of each match for review after matches. A demonstration of the application will be provided.

Author: Ty Haase
Proposal title: JACKIE ROBINSON
Faculty sponsor: Carrie Petr
Field of Study: Leadership
Session type: Poster
Abstract:
Leader's major accomplishments
Leader's style of leadership, with analysis of the style's effectiveness and shortcomings
Discussion of the impact of historical context on leader's work
Lessons the leader has taught you

Author: Drew Hostert
Proposal title: RONALD REAGAN
Faculty sponsor: Carrie Petr
Field of Study: Leadership
Session type: Poster
Abstract: I will be discussing Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States. I will look at his major accomplishments and the leadership style(s) with an analysis of the positives and negatives of this leadership style. I will also show the historical importance of this leader's work and the lessons that this leader has taught me in my time researching him.

Author: Nate Kuhl
Proposal title: LEADERS EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW- MIKE KRZYZEWSKI
Faculty sponsor: Dr. Carrie Petr
Field of Study: Leadership
Session type: Poster
Abstract: This is a presentation over a "Leader Everyone Should Know” – but not a leader who is already “overdone.” That is why I decided to do mine over Mike Krzyzewski, the basketball coach at Duke University.

In this poster and oral presentation I will articulate on:
1) His major accomplishments
2) His style of leadership, with analysis of the style’s effectiveness and shortcomings
3) Discussion of the impact of historical context on his work
4) Lessons he has taught me
5) Anything relevant to him in particular

Author: Haley Nast
Proposal title: LEADERS EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW: MARY JENNINGS HEGAR
Faculty sponsor: Carrie Petr
Field of Study: Leadership
Session type: Poster
Abstract: Shooting Down the Glass Ceiling: Major MJ Hegar is a fighter. For her country. For her comrades. For women. Major MJ Hegar was a combat fighter in the United States Air Force being who was shot down behind enemy lines. On Hegar’s third tour in Afghanistan, her and her crew were shot down behind enemy lines. She became only the second woman in history to earn a Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor Device. She was also awarded a purple heart. Following the mission, Major Hegar came home and fought for women to be allowed to serve. She filed and won a lawsuit against the Department of Defense that opened the doors for women to apply for previously closed combat positions within the military. This lawsuit changed the policy for positions open to women in the military from closed by default to open by default. Hegar now travels and speaks about igniting change in the world.

Author: Tristan Shaw
Proposal title: SERENA WILLIAMS
Faculty sponsor: Carrie Petr
Field of Study: Leadership
Session type: Poster
Abstract:
• Leader’s major accomplishments
• Leader’s style of leadership, with analysis of the style’s effectiveness and shortcomings
• Discussion of the impact of historical context on the leader’s work
• Lessons the leader has taught you
• Photos or other visuals to help your poster be interesting and informative
• Anything relevant to your leader in particular.

Author: Moises Valadez
Proposal title: DESMOND DOSS
Faculty sponsor: Carrie Petr
Field of Study: Leadership
Session type: Poster
Abstract:
• Leader’s major accomplishments
• Leader’s style of leadership, with analysis of the style’s effectiveness and shortcomings
• Discussion of the impact of historical context on the leader’s work
• Lessons the leader has taught you
• Photos or other visuals to help your poster be interesting and informative
• Anything relevant to your leader in particular.

Author: Reid Williams
Proposal title: THE FIRST FEMALE F-14 FIGHTER PILOT: CAREY LOHRENZ
Faculty sponsor: Carrie Petr
Field of Study: Leadership
Session type: Poster
Abstract: Carey Lohrenz became one of the first female fighter pilots in the United States Navy. Using courage, tenacity, and integrity Carey has helped change the face of the United States military.  She is the author of "Fearless Leadership: High-Performance Lessons From the Flight Deck," a 2014 Wall Street Journal best seller. Now, this pioneer travels the country giving leadership lessons to Fortune 500 companies and has been featured on CNN, NPR, CBS and many other publications. She is inspiring and teaching thousands of business leaders ways to be more effective and consistent in the constantly changing business environment. Her leadership principles fit directly into the authentic and relational models of leadership.

Author: Zach Zahnow
Proposal title: KENT ROCHFOD A GUY YOU SHOULD KNOW
Faculty sponsor: Carrie Petr
Field of Study: Leadership
Session type: Exhibition
Abstract: This poster will be an Expo about Kent Rochford who is the head of the NIST organization. It will explain what NIST is what it does for the people of America. It will also say why he is an inspirational leader. It will also convey the overarching ideas over his leadership type and style.


 

Mathematics

Authors: Shana Havenridge
Proposal title: MODELING THE BELOUSOV-ZHABOTINSKII REACTION WITH DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS
Faculty sponsor: Kristopher Williams
Field of Study: Mathematics
Session type: Oral
Abstract: This research demonstrates the kinetics of the Belousov-Zhabotinskii (BZ) reaction in a closed vessel in the presence of a ferroin indicator. By analyzing the underlying chemical kinetics of the important compounds in this ten-step reaction, a system of nonlinear ordinary differential equations is created. The system is then solved numerically using the computer program, Sage, by inputting in initial concentrations and rate constants. Finally, the model is compared with experimental results by analyzing the reaction oscillations in the phase plane. Based off of methods in Casey Gray’s analysis of the BZ reaction, the purpose of this research is to identify if different reaction recipes yield the same set of system parameter values.


Philosophy

         

 


Physics

 Author: Charley Burtwistle
Proposal title: DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION OF A FLUIDIZED-BED BIOREACTOR SYSTEM FOR BIOFILM STUDIES
Faculty sponsor: Chris Wentworth
Field of Study: Physics
Session type: Oral
Abstract: Biofilms are complex communities involving microorganisms such as bacteria and extracellular  polymeric substances mixed together and attached to a surface.  An important part of understanding these systems is to characterize the growth kinetics of the cells.  This requires quantitative data on film accumulation and substrate concentrations over time under controlled environmental conditions.  This investigation was concerned with developing an inexpensive fluidized-bed bioreactor for growing biofilms that allowed for controlled temperature and fluid flow rate. This type of reactor offers large surface areas for film growth, which aids in achieving higher precision measurements.  We discuss the reactor design and operating characteristics of the prototype.   

       

 Author: Jamie Bohlen
Proposal title: WHY RACE STILL MATTERS: WHITE PRIVILEGE AWARENESS AND ATTITUDES TOWARD SOCIAL JUSTICE
Faculty sponsor: Natalie Homa
Field of Study: Psychology
Session type: Poster
Abstract: An overarching theme in America today centers around the complexities of social situations and interactions (McIntosh, 2012). Underlying those interactions are various social beliefs and attitudes, which help serve to dictate human response and behavior (Myers, 2013). What is of particular concern for this project is the concept of race and psychological constructs that serve to illustrate how Americans react to current social inequalities and injustices. The idea of racial privilege may be unknown to many white Americans, and this very unawareness likely serves to foster the continuation of the advantages that members of the white race have in America (McIntosh, 2012). The concept of white privilege has relatively recently been studied in psychological and sociological literature, but it has never been studied within the guise of an increased awareness of one’s privilege and then measured one’s attitudes toward social justices. This research will serve to explore this relationship and give insight as to why race still matters in America.   

Author: Taylor Helton
Proposal title: PERSONALITY TRAITS AND BELIEFS ABOUT EFFECTIVE GROUPS
Faculty sponsor: Brian Pauwels
Field of Study: Psychology
Session type: Poster
Abstract: This study analyzed how personality traits are linked with what one believes is an effective in a teamwork setting. Eighty-three (47 men and 36 women) college students were given a brief set of surveys designed to assess the personality traits individualism, collectivism and agreeableness. These traits were measured by the Concise Scale of Individualism and Collectivism (CSIC) and the Big 5 Inventory, respectively. They were then given a scale created specifically for this study, designed to measure beliefs about performance. However, The results of this study failed to be consistent with any hypothesis predicted. In contrast to prediction, a correlation that could be a point of exploration for future research was a significant relationship between individualism and value of assertiveness. Limitations outline the operational definitions of the variables assessed in the study and state that they could be stronger for future research. Discussion emphasizes future research improvements with the use of more personality traits such as openness or conscientiousness. Also, the addition of more factors that could aid in the increased productivity in a group could strengthen the research.

Additional authors: Kailey Meyer, Natalie Homa, Kate Marley
Proposal title: LEARNING VERSUS GRADE ORIENTATION IN UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS
Faculty sponsor: Natalie Homa
Field of Study: Psychology
Session type: Oral
Abstract: This research examines the relationship between students’ learning orientation and personal characteristics (Pintrich, 2000). Surveys were completed by 115 college students. Those with a high learning orientation had significantly higher time management skills (t(112)=-2.04, p=.04), academic self-efficacy (t(112)=-4.05, p<.001), and academic self-regulation (t(112)=-2.38, p=.02) compared to low learning orientation.  Juniors were significantly more likely to be high learning oriented than freshmen, F(3,110)=2. 89, p=.04. These findings can be used to consider designing class activities to encourage learning orientation beliefs in college students.

        

Author: Kelsey Hunter
Proposal title: POLITICAL SOCIALIZATION AMONG COLLEGE STUDENTS: THE ROLE OF EDUCATIONAL AND EXPERIENTIAL FACTORS
Faculty sponsor: Kari Gentzler
Field of Study: Sociology
Session type: Oral
Abstract: The democratic act of political participation has long been a topic of research. Using data from a sample of 117 college students at a small liberal arts university in the summer of 2016 we examined the relationship between various educational and co-curricular factors and political participation. Our findings suggest that factors such as attending diversity events and travel experience sponsored by the institution, class rank, and gender are all associated to political participation. This study provides beneficial information in regards to how higher education can influence the political participation of its students. It reveals the implications of how the programming a college or university offers can impact those who partake, and how they will participate in our democratic society.

Author: Hanna Venclauskas
Proposal title: SAFE PLACE
Faculty sponsor: Jennifer Bossard
Field of Study: Sociology
Session type: Poster
Abstract: We will be presenting a poster over The Safe Place Program. This is a program that provides a safe place for anybody in danger whether they need medical help, or the police. They can go into these safe places and be taken to the back of the store and they will get whatever attention needed.

Author: Colin Koehler
Proposal title: “THE IMPACT OF NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS ON THE CRETE (IM)MIGRANT POPULATION”
Faculty sponsor: Jared List
Field of Study: English
Session type: Oral
Abstract: The proposed research project aims to collect and analyze data regarding the impact that Crete Public Schools Special Program ELL, GED and literacy courses (as well as other programs supported by Crete Public Schools Special Programs, Sixpence and Blue River) have had in the local community in the past 15 years.

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