Recent Submissions

  • A Literature Review of Effects of Concussions on the Brain and Mental Health of Athletes

    Scottgale, Thomas; Devine, Tyler (2021-03-29)
    This literature review investigates the effects concussions have on the brain and mental health of athletes. The mechanism of concussions is described as how it affects the brain and some possible cellular effects. Then several studies are highlighted in the major contact sports of football and soccer as well as a comparison of the rate of concussions in men's versus women's sports. It is also pointed out that concussions occur much more often in competition than in practice sessions. The analysis shows there's a strong correlation between concussions and mental issues such as anxiety, depression, behavioral and emotional changes. Functional Neurocognitive Imaging is a new technique used in detecting concussion injuries and can be used to develop a treatment plan for injured individuals. It is also pointed out that concussions can lead to serious disorders like Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), Second Impact Syndrome (SIS) and Parkinson's Disease, but with the correct amount of treatment and recovery time, athletes can go back to living their life normally without the fear of future mental backlash from their initial concussion.
  • Investigating FDA-Approved Anti-Tumor Drugs For Effects On Template-Switch Mutagenesis (TSM) In E. coli

    Laranjo, Laura; Addorisio, Sydney (2021-01-01)
    Quasipalindromes (QPs) are imperfect inverted repeats of DNA that are known to form secondary structures (such as hairpins and cruciforms). QPs sites have also been associated with a specific class of mutation known as template-switch mutations (TSM). It is known that TSM can be caused by the addition of drugs such as 5-azaC, AZT, and ciprofloxacin. This study aims to analyze the effects of two FDA approved antitumor drugs, CPT-11 and Doxorubicin hydrochloride for their ability to promote or prevent template-switch mutagenesis and, if there is an increase in mutation rates, we aim to clarify by what mechanism that effect is induced. To do this, we use a previously published TSM reporter in the lacZ gene that provides both a qualitative and quantitative measure of TSM frequencies. Using this established system, we study mutation frequencies and rates in both the leading and lagging strand of DNA to provide possible pathways that lead to TSM. Our data proposes mechanisms of mutations that are correlated to each drug mode of action.
  • Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta) Conservation Efforts: Nesting Studies in Pinellas County, Florida

    Buttner, Joseph; Cierpich, Felicia Ann (2016-05-01)
    Understanding a species is very important to manage it effectively. Effective conservation efforts require detailed, accurate information. Such information is lacking for Loggerhead Sea Turtles, Caretta caretta, which are currently listed as endangered. Thorough data for all marine turtles, not just Loggerhead Sea Turtles is nonexistent, such as on details of their life cycle and demography. The majority of management practices focus on nesting females, eggs, and hatchlings. Clearwater Marine Aquarium is permitted through Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission to conduct Nesting Surveys in Pinellas County, Florida. Data collected through surveys for nesting seasons 2010 through 2015, inclusive, was analyzed for trends within and between nesting seasons. Trends observed supported a high success rate of hatching success and emergence success for nests in this region. It is suggested that post beach renourishment hatching success and emergence success rates increased versus pre-renourishment. It appeared that risks associated with nest relocation are less than the risks associated with washouts and a complete loss of the nest. Nesting surveys provide useful insight into where efforts and resources should be targeted. More studies should be conducted to confirm.
  • Measuring the Stress Level of Students Preceding an Exam and Post Animal Interaction Through the Use of Salivary Cortisol

    Schreiner, Sheila Marie; Duback, Victoria (2015-05-01)
    Stress is a sensation that can be helpful in a dangerous situation but also very harmful in excess. The body naturally begins to fight off the stress response in order to try and diminish the negative effects that it causes in the body. There are many adverse effects to experiencing stress which could include vomiting, panic attacks, changes in breathing, constipation and possibly an increase in drug and alcohol usage (1). College students are known to experience massive amounts of stress mostly revolving around examinations. Animals have been used to reduce stress levels for many years now, and it has been shown that animal owners show significant health benefits due to the reduction of stress. In this experiment we collected salivary cortisol, the hormone responsible for the stress response, from students prior to an exam. Half of the students participated in animal interactions with a friendly dog from the local animal shelter and half of the students did not get contact with the animal. After running the saliva samples through an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, no significant difference between the cortisol levels of students with the animal interaction and students without animal interaction were found statistically. Because the sample size was so low, the outliers from each group had a significant effect on the results. If repeated, the sample size will have to increase in order to see the difference between the experiment and the control.
  • The Role Of Antioxidant Gene Regulation During Bacterial Oxidative Stress Response

    Laranjo, Laura; Vu, Lily (2020-12-01)
    Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are produced naturally in a cell and when the cell is in homeostasis, there is an equilibrium of ROS and antioxidants (enzymes that combat ROS). Stresses can occur such as "Oxidative Stress" which results in an influx of ROS compared to antioxidants in the cell and could lead to damage of DNA, lipids and proteins and also cell death. To return the cell’s homeostatic state, bacteria have evolved to contain defense mechanisms to eradicate ROS. This paper will focus on the regulation of antioxidants that are produced to eliminate high concentrations of ROS when the cell is under oxidative stress. These antioxidants are encompassed in a mechanism called a "Regulon," which controls the production of these enzymes. The regulons within this paper include the OxyR, Rpos, SoxRS, PerR, and OhrR regulons. Each regulon plays a critical role in the survival of bacterial species when experiencing oxidative stress. There are many mechanisms such as regulons that help defend the bacterial cell from damage or death from oxidative stress.
  • Literature Review of IFT Mechanisms and Functions in the Immune Synapse and Protein Family Tektin

    Brown, Jason M.; Stanhope, Sarah (2020-05-01)
    Cilia are microtubule based organelles that serve as specialized projections for the cell. There are two distinct forms of cilia—motile and non-motile. Motile cilia have responsibilities in cell locomotion and patterned beating, as well as the movement of fluid over cell surfaces. Non-motile or primary cilia, function in sensory perception for the cell often sensing extracellular signals and transmits signals from the cilium to the cytoplasm in order to control gene expression and cell behavior. Cilia are comprised of many proteins, but a main focus of this thesis are tektin proteins. Tektin is a family of proteins that provide structural support and are closely related to intermediate filaments and nuclear lamins. In order for both variations of cilia to develop, a system known as intraflagellar transport (IFT) must be functional. IFT is a motor-dependent cargo transport that is crucial for ciliary elongation, maintenance, and assembly of cilia. IFT is a coupled-bidirectional system that is comprised of two subcomplexes—IFT-A complex and IFT-B complex. The IFT-A complex primarily acts within retrograde transport to maintain the inward movement of materials, where as the IFT-B complex is involved with anterograde transport or outward movement of material during elongation and maintenance of cilia. Surprisingly, IFT has been found in cells that lack the presence of cilia. This can be seen in the formation of immune synapses of cytotoxic T-cells, which occurs at the same site where a primary cilium would develop. Although cytotoxic T-cells have not shown any projected appendages, there is a small bump present in the membrane that closely resembles the beginning formations of a primary cilium. This has been classified as a “frustrated cilium”, where IFT proteins have been isolated and studied. This thesis reviews some of the recent literature on the tektin protein family and the functions of IFT proteins in both cilia and the immune synapse.
  • A Literature Review on Mitochondrial Dysfunction and “Three-Parent” Babies

    Sprenkle, Amy; Curtin, Casie (2020-05-01)
    Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell. These organelles are vital in the cell’s production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) through cellular respiration. As living organisms, we need energy in the form of ATP to survive each and every day. Mitochondrial dysfunction can result in disorders that affect the entire body, and an affected woman will pass that dysfunctional mitochondria along to her offspring. Whether it is from a genetic mutation or a change in mitochondrial function, mitochondria that are functioning less than optimally can have a variety of negative effects on the body. If less ATP is produced throughout the body, muscles get weak, the body gets tired easily, and begins to shut down. In this literature review I will discuss healthy mitochondrial inheritance and embryonic development, mitochondrial dysfunction and its effects on fertility, emerging therapies to address infertility due to mitochondrial dysfunction, the ethics behind a “three-parent” baby, as well as the future perspectives and conclusions.
  • The Role of Body Farms and Forensic Entomology in Understanding the Decomposition of Human Cadavers

    Fisher, Ryan; D'Eon, Kaylee (2020-05-01)
    Forensic biology is an area which analyzes forms of evidence such as hair or blood and more. These tasks are so critical when it comes to looking at a crime scene and trying to figure out what happened during a case. Another important aspect of forensic biology is the other work being done at body farms. Not many people know body farms exist especially if you live along the seacoast because a greater portion of the body farms are in the middle of the United States. The main point of body farms is to construct different scenes that can occur at a crime scene and see how the body can react differently to decomposition process in comparison to other crime scenes. Seeing these differences is so crucial because it allows crime scene investigators to be able to analyze a crime scene and see if a body has been moved or tell if there is something different that normally wouldn’t be. This is going to be due to all the work and research that the people on the body farms do. This may seem like a never-ending process and so much work for those working on these body farms but the impact they make is unbelievable. Forensic entomology studies the type of insects that take part in the decomposition of cadavers. This part is the most important part that takes place because it is fool proof. The bugs tell you all the truth you need to know because each insect stays for its own important part of decomposition. Therefore, paying attention and looking closely at a decomposing body is so important due to the fact that we can tell how long the body has been decomposing for due to which insect is present. Forensics is such a huge part of the world we all live in today and whether you choose to be a part of it or watch it from the sidelines is up to you.
  • Crowdsourcing Antibiotic Discovery from Soil

    Sprenkle, Amy; Angelli, Madison (2020-05-01)
    Crowdsourcing antibiotic discovery from soil is a rising technique that is continuously inspired, in part, by the Tiny Earth Network. The main goal is to find bacteria that are producing antibiotics. Common diseases are getting more difficult to treat with antibiotics due to the bacteria evolving to be able to grow in the presence of the drug. It is no help that antibiotic resistance is growing quicker than the discovery of new antibiotics. This experiment involved examining different types of bacteria, found in random soil samples, that could possibly contain bacterial growth inhibiting properties and thus be used to make antibiotics. Gram staining and other biochemical tests were performed to determine the cell morphology and chemical characteristics of the isolated bacterium. Promising producers were observed, including one that showed a filamentous pattern which represents the Actinomycetes family of common soil bacteria. Although this family is known to produce useful antibiotics, under the attempted culture conditions no robust producers were discovered. The conclusions demonstrate the difficulties of obtaining an antibiotic producing soil bacterium, however the continued work of the Tiny Earth Network exploring soil samples for antibiotic production suggests the discovery of a new antibiotic may be just around the corner.
  • Influenza: The Changes To The Flu Season

    Schreiner, Sheila Marie; Fonseca, Kara (2019-12-01)
    In this paper, the changes in flu season were examined. Additionally, reasons for changes to the flu season were explored. Data gathered from the Influenza Research Database was used to form graphs that show the changes in influenza cases yearly from 2008-2009 flu season to the 2018-2019 flu season in Massachusetts. A background for H1N1 and H3N2 including the difference between neuraminidase (N) and hemagglutinin (H), the excepted current timeline of flu season is provided. There are a number of factors that play a role in the changing flu season length, such as vaccination rates, effectiveness of that particular year’s flu vaccine, as well as the changing length of season and temperature. Other factors, such as signs and symptoms of influenza, affected population clusters, how the disease spreads from person to person, average temperature in Boston from US Climate Data, as well as the role herd immunity plays in protecting the general population could contribute to changes in flu season. This information is useful for human health, as we can develop new ways of protecting ourselves against influenza, as well as preventing a future pandemic.
  • Dueling Decapods: Observing Aggression Levels In One-On-One Interactions Between The European Green Crab Carcinus maenus And The Asian Shore Crab Hemigrapsus sanguineus In The Gulf Of Maine

    Fregeau, Mark; Wilkins, Caitlyn (2019-05-01)
    European green crabs Carcinus maenus have invaded the shores of the Gulf of Maine since the early 1800’s, devastating native crab populations in the sandy shores and rocky intertidal zones. In the early 2000’s the Asian Shore Crab Hemigrapsus sanguineus was introduced to the Gulf of Maine, and has since dominated rocky intertidal zones, overtaking the green crab populations in those areas. A study performed at the Cat Cove Marine Lab at Salem State University looked into the level of aggressive behavior between these crab species. An individual of each species was introduced into a round glass arena (1.65 L in volume, 16.5 cm in diameter), lined with a thin layer of sand to replicate a sandy shore, and shucked blue mussel, Mytilus edulus, placed in the center to attract the crabs. The crab-on-crab interactions were videotaped for 6 minute intervals, then statistically analyzed using numbers assigned to specific aggressive traits in each minute segment. The data showed that the European green crab was 11.56 times more dominant than the than the Asian shore crab in all of the trials combined. This information can be utilized to understand the behavior of the two invasive species and why Asian Shore Crabs are outcompeting the European Green Crab populations in rocky shorelines.
  • Effects Of Low pH Water On European Green Crabs (Carcinus maenas): An Assessment Of Survival And Post-Ecdysis Cuticle Properties

    Fregeau, Mark; Pineda, Santiago (2019-05-01)
    Excess of carbon emissions drives not only global warming but also ocean acidification (OA). In addition to that, it has been established that OA negatively affects a variety of organisms that depend on calcium carbonate to build their shells. However, the effects of low pH water on crustaceans is not well understood. These marine organisms do not rely exclusively on calcium carbonate to build their carapaces, which are also composed of a wide range of organic and inorganic compounds. In this study, the effects of low pH water on the carapaces of European green crabs (Carcinus maenas) as well as on their survival were assessed. Twenty-two adult males between approximately 50mm and 60mm in length were included. Twelve were exposed to an initial decrease in pH from 8.0 to 7.8 over 50 days and then to a pH of 7.8 for 106 days, while the other ten were kept at a pH of 8.0 for the duration of the study (156 days). The thickness of the endocuticle and exocuticle was determined, and their quality assessed. Although the thickness appears to have been unaffected by the experimental conditions, the quality of the outer cuticle may have been compromised. In particular, structures such as tubercles and bristles were highly impacted. Survival analysis also suggests that drops in pH might lead to an increase in death that is not necessarily related to the process of ecdysis, a period in which the crabs are highly vulnerable. Negative impacts of OA on crustaceans could shed new insights on how this environmental problem indeed can impact not only calcifiers but possibly all marine life. A better understanding of the consequences of OA might lead to new initiatives on how to reduce carbon emissions.
  • Understanding The Human Immune System: The Power That Influences The Endurance Of The Species

    Sprenkle, Amy; Cierpich, Jordan (2019-05-01)
    Evolution has influenced the human immune system and allowed our species to endure amidst numerous plagues, but also to coexist with ubiquitous microbial symbionts on the human animal. Estimates of the ratio of human cells to resident microbial cells in the human body range from 1:1 to 1:10, and within the numerous bacterial species that exist, only a small percentage are pathogenic. The work of the 2018 Nobel Prize winners in Physiology or Medicine allowed for the production of new tools to understand how to stimulate the immune system to fight cancerous cells; human cells gone ‘rogue’, through immune checkpoint inhibitors. Though a strong understanding of the immune system is critical for maintaining health and wellness, in certain populations in the US, quality education regarding human health and the immune system is often absent. Today citizens may obtain information about immunizations through their pediatricians but also from the internet, and the potential misinformation distributed there by anti-vaccination groups. Since immunization campaigns have been successful in decreasing the prevalence of serious disease in the US, the fear of falsely claimed adverse effects of vaccination outweighs the fear of contracting the disease and may lead parents to choose not to immunize their children. It is proposed to create an online resource that has the power to bridge the gap between quick conversations pediatricians allot with parents and the misinformation of dense internet resources. This educational tool examines the components of the human biome, the immunization schedule for children, and myths which have given immunizations a negative connotation. Just as the adaptive immune system is educated by immunizations to fight against disease, parents will obtain the power to impact the lives of their children through knowledge of how the immune system works to make informed decisions about their children’s future health.
  • Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia from the Perspective of Immune Cells: A Book to Help Children Understand Cancer

    Scottgale, Gwen; Aparicio, Irune (2019-05-01)
    Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) is the most common type of childhood cancer. According to the American Cancer Society 3 out of 4 childhood leukemia cases are ALL, and the main treatment for these patients is chemotherapy. There are various tools that doctors and nurses use in order to effectively communicate with these young patients and their families about what this type of leukemia is, and what chemotherapy will do in order to help. There are children’s books on cancer, but they are mostly coping aids or answer general questions. My children’s e-book however invites the young reader (6 to 14-year-olds) into the world of immune cells, by following the life of a T-cell as he learns about his environment and how to interact with other immune cells to fight against ALL and protect their human. The reader also witnesses how the cells react to the chemotherapy, and their journey after treatment. My goal for this creative project is that it will serve as another educational tool for patients with ALL. Also, I hope that it inspires its audience and gets them excited about science. Even though this children’s book is written with scientific detail, the concepts are presented in a simple and attainable way, enabling my young audience to comprehend what ALL is, unlocking their perception towards the disease with this new approach.
  • Isolation And Characterization Mutants Defective In Cilia Regeneration In Chlamydomonas reindhartii

    Brown, Jason M.; Acheampong, Ellen (2019-05-01)
    Cilia and flagella are identical brush-like organelles found on the surfaces of eukaryotic cells and are involved in motility, sensing, and signaling. Defects in cilia assembly or function lead to polycystic kidney disease, congenital heart disease, Bardet Biedl syndrome, and other emerging ciliopathies. In Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, one of the most well-studied flagella model organisms, regeneration of flagella to normal length and normal function occurs within 90 minutes of acid-shock deflagellation. During this process hundreds of genes are induced. Much is left to be determined about how cells regulate expression of these genes: How do cells detect the presence or absence of cilia? How do cells send an ‘absence of cilia’ signal to the nucleus? How are the hundreds of genes encoding cilia proteins coordinated with each other? Previous experiments found that cells that failed to upregulate a reporter of flagella gene expression also had a delay in flagella regeneration. The goals of this experiment were to generate new C. reinhardtii insertional mutants defective in cilia regeneration, to identify the mutated genes in these strains, and ultimately, to identify transcription factors and signaling components needed for flagella assembly. 3000 hygromycin-resistant colonies were generated by the insertion of aph7” DNA fragment through electroporation. 42 of the 3000 colonies exhibited defective flagella structure, defective motility, or delayed flagella regeneration; 14 of these 42 mutants had delay in regenerating their flagella. To identify the mutated genes, genomic DNA for a subset of mutant strains was extracted, and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) reactions were set up using the Restriction Enzyme Site Directed Amplification polymerase chain reaction (RESDA PCR) protocol with primers specific for the aph7” insert combined with four different degenerate primers. DNA fragments from successful PCR reactions were gel purified and sequenced. Using this method, mutated genes were identified and characterized to identify the proteins encoded by these genes. Flagella regeneration and reporter gene assays were conducted to further characterize the phenotypes of two of the mutants originally identified as having a delay.
  • Music To Our Ears: Cochlear Hair Cell Action Upon Human Perception Of Music

    Pariser, Harry; Soffron, Cassandra (2018-01-01)
    Every day we are inundated with sounds, and we are able to separate noises into language, information, or music. As humans, we have many adaptive auditory features that contribute to our ability to create and understand music. This study is a review of current literature that explores our comprehension and expression of music. The inner structures, and their functions of the inner ear are fundamental to the human perception of music. First, the broad structures and functions of the ear and specifically the inner ear will be addressed. The gross anatomy of the ear will be discussed to understand the complex structures that make hearing possible. The remainder of this review will focus on the specific cellular complexes that enable sound perception within the ear. It is these structures that help translate vibrations produced by musical means, such as vocals and instrumentals, into sounds that we interpret as music. This study will explain how human interpretation of sound originates from the structures and functions of the ear on a molecular level, especially the action of cochlear hair cells.
  • CTE And The Effects Of Multiple Concussions On College Athletes

    Mercer, David; Cote, Hunter (2018-01-01)
    The purpose of this research was to determine if signs and symptoms of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) could be detected in college athletes who have suffered multiple concussions. College athletes are likely to be at an increased risk of suffering a concussion, due to the high-impact trauma that is often seen in contact sports. This question was explored through the use of a survey, cognitive test, known as the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE), and the Beck Depression Inventory. The questions on the survey included necessary background information (i.e. age and sex), as well as more personal information including; number of concussions and organized sports played. The Beck depression inventory quantified the research subject’s level of depression, which is associated with CTE. The Mini Mental State Examination is another clinical test used primarily with Alzheimer’s disease patients to examine cognitive degeneration. We found no notable differences in cognition between members of the control group and members of the experimental group. However, the results of the Beck Depression Inventory displayed a significant difference between the two groups. The average score for the control group was a 5.5, which is considered normal, whereas, the average score of the experimental group was an 18, which would be considered borderline clinical depression. This would suggest that college athletes who have suffered multiple concussions may be more likely to be diagnosed with clinical depression, and some signs of CTE may be detectible in college athletes.
  • Myopia Control: Methods To Slow The Progression Of Childhood Myopia

    Scottgale, Gwen; Bouchard, Brian (2018-01-01)
    Myopia is one of the most common eye diseases that affect the U.S. and the world. Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a condition of the eye in which light focuses in front of the retina rather than on the retina. Recent studies have shown that myopia is a combination of both genetic and environmental factors. Myopia has increased dramatically in children due to increased near work and decreased time outdoors. As the disease has become increasingly more common, new treatments have been developed to manage and stop the progression of it. This review looks at recent literature and clinical studies to determine what works for myopia control. Low dose atropine and pirenzepine proved to be effective but is rarely used due to the multitude of side effects. Treatments such as undercorrection, bifocals, progressive lenses, orthokeratology contacts, and multifocal contacts were evaluated for effectiveness, safety, and practicality. The results of these studies showed that undercorrection was either harmful or had no effect on myopia progression. Bifocals and progressive corrective lenses showed positive results in some studies but were ineffective in others. Orthokeratology proved to be effective in slowing myopia progression, but often resulted in infections. Increased time outdoors and light exposure decreases the risk of developing myopia, but not slowing its progression. Multifocal contact lenses were the most effective and safest intervention as they slowed myopia progression by nearly 50% when compared to the control group.
  • An Examination Of Marine Fouling Organisms' Presence On Varying Substrates In A New England Marina

    Fregeau, Mark; Urh, Michelle (2017-04-01)
    Marine fouling communities are comprised of various marine organisms that begin life as planktonic larvae before attaching to submerged surfaces. The purpose of this study was to develop an understanding of the substrate preferences of marine organisms that commonly foul New England marinas. Two sets of four 14x14cm fouling plates were constructed out of one of four materials: polyvinyl chloride (PVC), fiberglass, concrete or slate. These plates were suspended off a floating dock at 1 and 2 meters below the surface of the water. The 16 plates were placed at the Boston Harbor Shipyard and Marina in East Boston, MA, on 17 July 2016 and photographed every two weeks until 4 December 2016 for a total of 20 weeks. Individual organisms were counted and the percent cover calculated for colonial species to examine what settled and general abundance. It was found that the most common fouling organisms were Ciona intestinalis, Molgula sp., and Botrylloides violaceus. Ascidiella aspersa and Botryllus schlosseri were also present. The two most common solitary species present on all plate materials were C. intestinalis and Molgula sp. with B. violaceus being the most common colonial species. C. intestinalis showed a preference for the concrete plates over the other available surfaces. B. violaceus was most common on the slate plates. All colonial ascidians were observed growing on other organisms showing their involvement in secondary settlement. Understanding the substrate preference of these species develops a baseline for further research and the potential to control the spread of invasive species naturally.
  • Bacterial Attachment To Microspheres

    Alachi, Peter; Schreiner, Sheila; Troisi, Kathleen (2017-05-01)
    Microspheres are small beads that average around 875 μm in diameter and are found in popular facial soaps and toothpastes. They are popular with consumers which raises the concern over how they impact the environment after they have been used. Our data suggests that bacteria were able to attach to the microspheres and crevices within. But can be detached when subjected to different rates of saline solution washes. Since these microspheres can stay intact in water, there are many concerns over their impacts on marine and freshwater life and environments.

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