Celebration 2010 Poster Abstracts

Monday, March 22, 2010
7-8:30 p.m.
Dolan Science Center, Muldoon Atrium


“Characterization of Two-Photon Imaging with an Adaptive Optics Scanning Laser Ophthalmoscope”

John L. Moonan, undergraduate; Jennifer J. Hunter, Benjamin D. Masella, David R. Williams; University of Rochester Center for Visual Science

Correcting waves using adaptive optics is a good mechanism for increasing resolution when imaging the living eye in vivo. Using this technique, the retina may be studied in more detail. Of special importance, are the retinal pigment epithelial cells associated with the retinoid cycle. The retinoid cycle is linked to several diseases, one of the most common being macular degeneration. Little is known about these auto fluorescent molecules, and successful imaging of these cells could increase knowledge of the diseases. The usual method practiced for imaging is single-photon fluorescence using an adaptive optics scanning laser ophthalmoscope (AOSLO). Another technique is two-photon imaging. My project involved resolving one micron fluorescent beads on paper using the system designed to image living primate eyes. Resolution of one micron beads using the two-photon method was successful and may help to open up the possibility of using two-photon to image the living primate eye. This research was supported by NIH EY014375, NIH EY01319, NIH Bioengineering Research Partnership BRP EY014375, NSF Science and Technology Center for Adaptive Optics AST98-76783.

“Fluorescence and UV-vis Spectroscopy of Synovial Fluids”

Marie J. Pinti, Undergraduate, Physics, John Carroll University; Nenad Stojilovic,
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, faculty, Physics; Mark W. Kovacik, Summa Health System, Akron

Total joint arthroplasty involves replacing the worn cartilaginous surfaces of the joint with man-made materials that are designed to be biocompatible and to withstand mechanical stresses. Commonly these bearing materials consist of metallic alloys (TiAlV or CoCrMo) and UHMWPE. Following joint arthroplasty, the normal generation of micro-metallic wear debris particles that dislodge from the prosthesis has been shown to cause inflammatory aseptic osteolysis (bone loss) that ultimately results in the failure of the implant. Here
we report our results on the novel use of Fluorescence and UV-vis spectroscopy to investigate the metallic content of synovial fluid specimens taken from postoperative total knee arthroplasties. Preliminary finding showed presence of alumina and chromium is some specimens. The ability to detect and monitor the wear rate of these implants could have far reaching implications in the prevention of metallic wear-debris induced
osteolysis and impending implant failure.

“Effect of Nitric Oxide on TIMP-2 Expression in Pulmonary Hypertension Patients”

Joseph Cody, Undergraduate; Metin Aytekin, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Pathobiology, Cleveland Clinic; Sarah Haserodt, Research Technician, Department of Pathobiology, Cleveland Clinic; Raed Dweik, Principal Investigator, Department of Pathobiology, Cleveland Clinic

Nitric Oxide (NO) is a potent vasodilator, known to have decreased expression in patients with pulmonary hypertension (PH) and has been used as a treatment for PH. The molecular mechanism by which NO aids in treatment of PH has yet to be elucidated, however tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-2 (TIMP-2), a protein involved in maintenance of the extracellular matrix (ECM) may be involved. Using a human angiogenesis antibody array, we found that a 10 M NO treatment decreased the expression of TIMP-2 in PH PASMC supernatant. We further investigated the effect of NO on TIMP-2 in PASMC media using a TIMP-2 specific ELISA. We found that with a 500 M NO treatment, expression of TIMP-2 was lower in PH than control cell supernatants [TIMP-2 (ng/mL, mean ± SD): PH 8.00 ± .04, control 10.26 ± .57; P < 0.003]. Thus, NO may be a key regulator of proteins involved in ECM maintenance, such as TIMP-2.

“The effect of SYK kinase on the expression and activity of iNOS”

Elizabeth Zunica, undergraduate, John Carroll University; Ritu Chakravarti, Dennis Stuehr, Department of Pathobiology, Lerner Research Institute, Cleveland Clinic

Nitric oxide (NO) is an important gaseous signaling molecule for physiological process. It is synthesized during the catabolism of L-arginine to citrulline by nitric oxide synthase (NOS). All mammalian isoforms of NOS are multi-domain proteins and require heme, flavins, and calmadulin for activity. NOS´s role in the regulation of enzymatic activity is unclear. We were interested in studying the role of SYK, tyrosine kinase, in the regulation of iNOS expression and activity. We generated stable cell lines by transfecting wild-type SYK mammalian expression construct in human embryonic kidney (HEK) cells using lipofectamine 2000 followed by G418 selection. We did transient transfections of SYK constructs in RAW264.7 (murine macrophages) cells followed by cytokine induction for iNOS expression. The iNOS activity measurements were done using plate assays and expression of iNOS and SYK was studied using western blots. The over-expression of SYK kinase did not affect iNOS activity in RAW 264.7 cells.

“C4d as a Biomarker for Antibody-Mediated Rejection in Heart and Face Transplants”

Oksana Kozlovskaya, Undergraduate, John Carroll University; Jennifer Wehner, Graduate Student, Johns Hopkins University; Dr. William M. Baldwin III, Pathologist, Immunology Department, Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute

Organ and tissue transplants stimulate the human body to elicit powerful immune responses against foreign grafts which eventually leads to rejection of the transplants. Chronic rejection, or antibody mediated rejection (AMR), usually occurs over a period of several years and responds poorly to conventional therapy. This type of rejection causes injury to the graft largely through activation of the complement system which amplifies the body’s immune response by “complementing” the role of antibodies. An independent component of the complement system is the protein C4, which is cleaved to yield C4d.  Because a standardized method to detect and diagnose antibody mediated rejection of heart and face allografts has not yet been established, the possible utility of C4d in heart and face transplants was explored through immunohistochemistry. By knowing what stage of antibody mediated rejection the graft has reached, the physician can perform appropriate treatment to prolong the success of the transplant.

“The Health Effects of Spiritually-Focused Meditation for Patients with Acute Leukemia”

Brenda Cole, Ph.D, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute; Karen Broer, Ph.D., The Cleveland Clinic; Mikkael Sekeres, MD, MS, The Cleveland Clinic; Michael Boyiadzis, MD, MHSC, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute; Christopher J. McNally, Ph.D., The Cleveland Clinic; Jenny Schmidt, Undergraduate

A diagnosis of cancer can have a devastating and profound influence on a patient. This study aims to examine the roles that spirituality, religiosity, and meditation can have in relation to the experience of a first time acute leukemia diagnosis. The study compared the effects of spiritually-focused meditation (SpM) with the effects of secularly-focused meditation (SM), as well as compared to a usual care condition (UCC). The treatment outcomes were assessed in qualitative analyses of the patient’s experiences and perceptions. The primary goal of this study focused on whether participating in the SpM condition would result in an overall better adjustment to the cancer diagnosis and hospitalization, with the hypothesis stating that the SpM condition would result in improvements in well-being in terms of psychological, spiritual, and physical well-being, with less improvement in the SM condition, and no improvement in the UCC condition.

“Identification of MAP kinase Phosphatase-1 (MKP-1)-Regulated Genes in Endothelial Cells”

Emily G Tillmaand, Undergraduate, John Carroll University; Unni M Chandrasekharan, and Paul E DiCorleto, Lerner Research Institute, Cleveland Clinic

Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) phosphatase-1 (MKP-1) dephosphorylates serine, threonine, and tyrosine residues and inactivates MAPKs. Previously, we have reported that thrombin or vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) induces MKP-1 in endothelial cells. We also identified phospho-histone H3 as a novel substrate of MKP-1. The goal of the current study was to identify promoters of thrombin- or VEGF-inducible genes that are regulated by MKP-1 via histone H3 dephosphorylation. We performed Chromatin Immunoprecipitation (ChIP) in thrombin- or VEGF-treated human endothelial cells using a catalytically inactive mutant of MKP-1 (MKP-1CS). Though unable to dephosphorylate, MKP-1CS binds stably to the promoter-bound phospho-histone H3. The DNA-histone-MKP-1CS complex was immunoprecipitated using anti-MKP-1 antibody. DNA fragments from the complex were isolated and cloned in a bacterial plasmid. We have obtained multiple bacterial clones potentially with promoters of MKP-1 target genes. The promoters present in the bacterial clones will be identified by DNA sequencing. This study was supported by NIH grant HL29582 (P.E.D.)

“The Utility of Neuropsychological Tests in Predicting Frontal Lobe Seizure Foci in Epileptic Patients”

Andrew Barsa, Undergraduate

Little research has been done to characterize neuropsychological performance in patients with frontal lobe epilepsy (FLE).  The utility of standard neuropsychological measures of frontal lobe function in differentiating between patients with right-sided and left-sided frontal lobe epilepsy is unknown.  The current study sought to characterize and compare performance of right frontal lobe epilepsy (rFLE) and left frontal lobe epilepsy (lFLE) patients on neuropsychological tests as a means to investigate potential predictors of seizure foci.  A series of histograms were produced to evaluate the distribution of each variable while a series of independent groups t-tests were run on variables that showed normal distributions.  Consistent with previous research, most measures reported numerically higher average scores for patients with suspected right frontal seizure foci.  It is suggested from this data that neuropsychological tests are capable of differentiating between a neurologically impaired patient and a healthy patient, however, their utility in predicting seizure laterality is still undetermined.

“Hermes Transposon Barcode Library for S. pombe”

Dr. Kurt Runge, Ph.D., Associate Staff, Department of Molecular Genetics, Lerner Research Institute; Bo-Ruei Chen, Graduate Student; Michael Lajeunesse, Undergraduate

Hermes transposon is a transposon isolated from the common housefly that provides a means of transferring barcode DNA fragments into the genome of Schizosaccharomyces pombe.  The Hermes transposon requires the protein transposase for transposition.  The first vector, pHL2577 was modified to contain the mutated cre-lox site, lox-71; a gene providing tetracycline resistance was also inserted into the transposon in order to provide a stuffer for barcode insertion since the barcode is relatively small.  In another vector, pHL2578, the Leu 2 gene was replaced with URA4, a selectable marker for S. pombe.  This vector also contained transposase.  By transforming both vector plasmids into S. pombe on either EMM or YES with various mixtures of G418 (selects for presence of kanMX6), and FOA (selects against URA4), it was determined that successful transpositions did occur. Further work needs to be done to insert the barcode into pHL2577 and transform it into S. pombe.

“The Non-typeable Haemophilus influenzae SapF ATPase is Required for Innate Immunity, Nutrition, and Biofilm Formation”

Andrew Vogel, Undergraduate; Dr. Kevin Mason, Principal Investigator, Center for Microbial Pathogenesis, the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Haemophilus influenzae bacteria reside in the human upper respiratory tract of healthy individuals, yet this bacterium causes sinus infection, middle ear infection and complications in chronic diseases such as cystic fibrosis. Our work has shown that this bacterium requires a protein complex in its membrane to transport essential nutrients and avoid the immune response. Using recombinant DNA techniques, we removed the SapF protein of the complex to form a mutant strain. Bacteria lacking SapF exhibited slower growth in culture and an increased sensitivity to a specific antimicrobial peptide suggesting that SapF is required for proper biological function. Further studies must be done to evaluate the effect of this mutation on growth in animal models. These data support the importance of the SapF protein to the functions of this bacterium and targeting this protein complex could lead to more effective interventions for Haemophilus diseases including middle ear infections in children.

“Does Psychotherapy Really Help?”

Matthew Tomayko, Undergraduate; Dr. John Vitkus, Cleveland Clinic

In a field so dependent upon insurance support, there is a need to be able to document progress even in a subjective profession like psychotherapy. A General Mood Survey was given to patients in a general practice after each session with the therapist. Over a four month period, 34 subjects generated at least two completed mood surveys. An additional set of mood surveys was collected from college students as a non-clinical comparison group. There was a significant difference between patients’ beginning and ending scores on the mood survey indicating that their mood did improve over the course of therapy. In addition, the beginning scores on the survey were significantly lower than the scores of the college students while the ending scores were not significantly different from the college students. Not only did the patients improve, but they actually showed enough progress to match the scores of a non-clinical population.

“The Effect of Economic Hardship on Executive Health”

Brittany Daugherty, Undergraduate; Jerry Kiffer, M.A., Executive Health Department, Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

Self-ratings of life satisfaction in 5,234 healthy executives were examined, using the Spreadsheet of Life and Responsibilities, containing fifteen domains of life. Participants rated each life domain using a 0-10 Likert Scale (0=no satisfaction through to 10= high satisfaction). The participants were split into two distinct groups: Group One from September 2003 to September 2008 (good economic times) and Group Two from March 2009 to May 2009 (bad economic times).The research hypothesis was that the ‘bad’ economic group would have lower satisfaction ratings in all fifteen areas than those in the ‘good’ economic group. Results of independent t-tests were counterintuitive and showed that the ‘bad’ economic group had higher ratings in all areas, except financial and learning/growth areas. These results suggest more research needs to look at what factors can lead to a counter-intuitive effect or possibly the effect of resiliency in the ‘bad’ economic group.

“The Effect of the History of Sexual Abuse in Women on the Outcome of Bariatric Surgery”

Maggie Tierney, Undergraduate; Dr. Leslie Heinberg, Cleveland Clinic Foundation

Bariatric surgery has become a common treatment for morbidly obese patients.  Although most patients do well, psychosocial variables may predict weight loss outcomes. This study examines the difference between women who have a history of sexual abuse and women who have no history of sexual abuse and their outcomes after bariatric surgery.  The participants were 154 women presenting for bariatric surgery at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.   Patients’ percentage of excess body weight lost at one month and twelve months after surgery were analyzed.  It was predicted that women with a history of sexual abuse would have a less percent excess body weight lost after surgery compared to women with no history of sexual abuse.  This hypothesis was not supported.  Future research should focus on how women with a history of sexual abuse manage to put aside their emotional barriers and do as well as women without the history.

“The effect of progesterone on heme oxygenases’ (HO-1 and HO-2) protein expression in endothelial cells”

Jennifer Cenker, Undergraduate, John Carroll University; Unnikrishnan Chandrasekharan, Ph.D.; Paul E. DiCorleto, Ph.D., Cell Biology; and Mohammad Rajabi, MD, Ph.D., OB/GYN and Women’s Health Institute, Cleveland Clinic Foundation

Progesterone is the major hormone responsible for maintenance of pregnancy. It has been implicated in vascular endothelial cell homeostasis by promoting angiogenesis, vascular smooth muscle relaxation, suppression of pro-inflammatory cytokines and preventing endothelial cell apoptosis. The mechanism of action of progesterone on endothelial cells hemostasis is poorly understood. Heme oxygenases (HO-1 and HO-2),  convert heme to biliverdin, free iron, and carbon monoxide, which in turn acts as a protector of endothelial cells.  The purpose of this study is to test the hypothesis that progesterone upregulates the expression of heme oxygenases in endothelial cells.  The expression of HO-1 and HO-2 was determined via western blot of cell lysates in HUVECs treated with progesterone at 0.1-100 μM for 2-24 hours.  Findings from this study indicate that HO-1 and HO-2 are expressed in HUVECs and their expression is not altered by progesterone under our treatment conditions.

“P-glycoprotein-mediated cholesterol trafficking is required for polarization of plasma membrane microviscosity during endothelial cell migration”

Dr. Prabar Ghosh, Associate Researcher, Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute, Cell Biology; Ashley Wallace, Megan McCartney, Undergraduates

Endothelial cell (EC) migration plays critical role in blood vessel neogenesis and repair by initiating the process and regulating its rate. We have reported that plasma membrane microviscosity (PMMV) is a critical determinant of migration, and it is polarized along the plasma membrane (PM) of migrating EC. Angiogenic growth factors, i.e., basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), activate HMG-CoA reductase, the rate-limiting enzyme of cholesterol biosynthesis, to increase cholesterol synthesis and plasma membrane cholesterol content. Here we investigate the mechanism(s) by which angiogenic growth factors, induce PMMV polarization. Cholesterol visualization experiments show that polarization of PMMV is consistent with movement of non-raft cholesterol to the front of the migrating cells. Caveolin-1 down-regulation restricts cholesterol to the perinuclear region and inhibits growth factor-stimulated migration, suggesting an important role of caveolin-1 in PMMV polarization.

“Experimental Characterization of Nonlinear Optical Materials”

Katie Knox, Undergraduate; Chuan Yang, Graduate Student at The Pennsylvania State University; Zhiwen Liu, Professor of Electrical Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University

An optical system based on a half-wave plate-polarizer attenuator was designed to determine the transmitted light through materials that behave nonlinearly in the presence of high-energy picosecond laser pulses. The sample’s nonlinear absorbance of a frequency-doubled Nd:YAG laser was measured as the energy of the incident light was regulated by the rotation of a half-wave plate.  The optical system was used to measure the absorption of two linear samples as well as a nonlinear liquid crystal.  Experimental results revealed that the optical material, which was composed of gold nanospheres in the nonlinear liquid L34, behaved as expected in the presence of lower input energies, but the attenuated beam did not reach a high enough energy to observe the full limiting effects of the nonlinear material. This research was funded by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. EEC-0755081.

“Phosphorylation of the C-terminal cytoplasmic tail of SR-BI plays key role in reverse cholesterol transport”

Dr. Niladri Kar, Research Associate, Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute, Dept.  of Molecular Cardiology; Jamie Ott, Undergraduate, John Carroll University.

Scavenger Receptor class B type I (SR-BI) is a receptor protein found in hepatocytes. SR-BI is a critical player in High Density Lipoprotein (HDL)-mediated reverse cholesterol uptake, which is a key process in preventing atherosclerosis. HDL and Oxidized Low Density Lipoprotein (OxLDL) are bound at overlapping sites, making OxLDL a potential inhibitor against the removal of cholesterol from the body. After SR-BI binds to its ligand, it is internalized where it is decoupled from the ligand and recycled back to the membrane. However, the mechanism driving this process is unclear. It has been suggested that phosphorylation of the C-terminal tail of SR-BI initiates a downstream signal cascade which triggers internalization. We have identified six putative phosphorylation sites in the C-terminal tail of SR-BI and have created six unique mutants in which the amino acid cannot be phosphorylated. We will test these mutants for SR-BI internalization and activation of signaling pathways.

“A sin tax on bottled water to save public drinking water”

Jamie Ott, Undergraduate; Michael Martin, Ph.D., Department of Biology; Andrew Welki, Ph.D., Department of Economics

Recent reports by the EPA and other independent organizations have illuminated the need to rehabilitate the public water infrastructure in the United States. Cost estimates reach upwards of $250 billion over the next twenty years, and the Congressional Budget Office has stated that federal allocations will not be sufficient to meet the demand. In 2008, Americans bought $12 million of bottled water, largely from fear of contaminated tap water. However, studies show that bottled water is no safer than public. Recent studies suggest that a small per-ounce tax on sugary beverages can reduce consumption and raise large tax revenues. Similarly, I propose a federal excise tax on bottled water to raise the funds needed to repair our public water system, and reduce the pollution caused by the bottled water industry. I will use regression analysis of industry data to predict the reduction in consumption and potential revenues from such a tax.

“Fluorimetric Evidence for Structural Cooperativity in the Binding of Biotin by Streptavidin”

James M. Hiznay, Undergraduate Researcher, John Carroll University; Mark J. Waner, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, John Carroll University; David P. Mascotti, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, John Carroll University.

Streptavidin is a tetrameric protein that binds biotin with an extraordinarily high affinity, as shown by the complex’s dissociation constant of ~10-15 mol L-1.  The high affinity and specificity of the biotin-streptavidin association is used in many biochemical techniques, often as a means of protein purification and identification.  Despite its widespread use, the structural details of the binding process are not completely understood.  It is suspected that some form of structural cooperativity accompanies the binding of the cofactor.  Experiments measuring the quenching of Trp fluorescence in the binding site were used to determine the binding ratio of the complex.  The results of these experiments led to the conclusion that some form of cooperativity exists because the binding ratio is for more hydrophobic Trp fluorescence and less than 4:1.  These data and the plan to study the contribution of each Trp residue will be discussed.

“Propeptide Activation of Mutant γ-Glutamyl Carboxylase in Pseudoxanthoma Elasticum Patients”

James M. Hiznay, Research Student, John Carroll University; Dr. Kathleen L. Berkner, Staff, Department of Molecular Cardiology, Lerner Research Institute, Cleveland Clinic Foundation; Dr. Mark A. Rishavy, Project Staff, Department of Molecular Cardiology, Lerner Research Institute, Cleveland Clinic Foundation; Kevin W. Hallgren, Senior Technologist, Department of Molecular Cardiology, Lerner Research Institute, Cleveland Clinic Foundation

The enzyme γ-glutamyl carboxylase catalyzes the carboxylation of glutamic acid (Glu) residues in Vitamin K-dependent proteins, forming carboxyglutamic acid (Gla) residues.  This important chemical reaction activates Vitamin K-dependent proteins for further physiological reactions.  Propeptides, which are highly conserved sequences found on Vitamin K-dependent proteins, allow specific binding and activation of γ-glutamyl carboxylase.  The autosomal recessive disease pseudoxanthoma elasticum (PXE), a skin-folding disorder, causes eventual arterial failure but only mild bleeding (as opposed to severe bleeding), a previously unseen phenotype.  Two point mutations, V255M and S300F, found on the GGCX gene of PXE patients are believed to impair γ-glutamyl carboxylase’s ability to fully carboxylate Vitamin K-dependent protein substrates.  Because of PXE’s unique phenotype, propeptide activation experiments were conducted using two physiologically different propeptides called Factor X and Matrix Gla Protein (MGP).  Propeptide activation was severely impaired for the V255M mutant and was almost nonexistent for the S300F mutant.

“The perceptions of racial stigmas and acceptance of diversity on a predominately white university campus”

Emily Ferron, Undergraduate; Dr. Julie Knapp, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Dr. Thomas Frazier, Cleveland Clinic Foundation

Using 93 participants (59 females, 34 males) this study examined university students opinions on blameworthiness, violence, and punishment of White and Black males. They were then questions about their exposure and acceptance of diversity in their high school compared to their college community. Lastly, participants were given the 2002 Symbolic Racism Scale. It was predicted that participants who believed that the University was more diverse then their hometown, would also find the Black male more blameworthy, violent, and punishable.  Contrary to the hypothesis there was no main effect found between any of the conditions for blame, punishment, and violence. However there was a significant finding in that the University was found to be more friendly (p < .001), more diverse (p = .011), more respectful (p < .001), less sexist (p = .004), more cooperative (p < .001), less homophobic (p < .001), and more supportive (p < .001) then their high school communities.

“Autism spectrum disorders as a qualitatively distinct category from typical behavior in a large, clinically ascertained sample”

Emily Ferron, Undergraduate

Previous studies have examined several aspects of latent structure of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), including understanding the factor structure of ASD symptoms or possible qualitative distinctions among ASDs. The present study evaluated the hypothesis that ASDs are best represented as a discrete category distinct from typical behavior within autism-affected families. The latent structure, categorical versus dimensional of ASDs informs future diagnostic revisions, clinical assessment, and the design of future research. Data were obtained from the Interactive Autism Network (IAN), a registry that preferentially recruits families with at least one ASD-affected child. The 6,621 recruited caregivers resulted in a total sample size of 11,507 children. Caregivers reported autism symptoms for affected and unaffected siblings using the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS) and Social Communication Questionnaire (SCQ). Overall, autism is best characterized as a category distinct from typical behavior within autism-affected families.

“Territorial Residency in the Two Color Morphs of Plethodon cinereus”

Sarah DiPalma, Undergraduate; Carl D. Anthony, Ph.D., Department of Biology

“Understanding how new species form is a fundamental goal of evolutionary biology, and sympatric speciation (the divergence of species without geographical isolation) has recently received considerable attention, both theoretical and empirical.” With this being said, the goal of my project is to help determine whether or not territoriality is another niche dimension that can lead to the formation of a new species. Although there are many different species of salamanders, I will be looking specifically at the red-backed salamander, Plethodon cinereus. Within this species occur two different color morphs that are the main focus of my research: striped (red-backed)and unstriped (lead) salamanders.

“Effect of TFIIS and TFIIF on traversal of a mononucleosomal template by RNA polymerase II”
Lisa Spangler, Undergraduate; Faculty Sponsor: James Lissemore, Ph.D., Department of Biology; Collaborators: Andrea Újvári, Ph.D., Donal S. Luse, Ph.D., Molecular Genetics, Lerner Research Institute, Cleveland Clinic Foundation

Nucleosome traversal by RNA polymerase II (RNAP) during transcription is essential for proper gene expression. In vivo transcription is both efficient and rapid, however, in in vitro transcription systems RNAP has difficulty traversing the nucleosome. Therefore, current in vitro transcription systems must lack factors necessary for efficient nucleosomal traversal by RNAP. In this study we reconstituted nucleosomes using normal, N-terminal “tailless”, or Sin mutant histones. Using these nucleosomes, we conducted in vitro transcription experiments and observed RNAP traversal. These reactions were supplemented with the RNAP elongation factors TFIIS and TFIIF. We observed that TFIIS and TFIIF individually slightly increased RNAP traversal and had an additive effect when combined. Incorporation of either tailless or Sin mutant histones weakened the nucleosomal transcription barrier and facilitated greater RNAP traversal. The combination of both elongation factors and reduced histone-DNA interactions allowed elongation rates that approach those seen with pure DNA templates.

“Lead Poisoning in the United States”

Samantha Omilion, Jennifer Murphy, Undergraduates; James Lissemore, Ph.D., Department of Biology

Lead poisoning in the United States is a major threat to the health of individuals, especially children, despite the strides the government has made in its prevention.  In the last 20 years, the prevalence of lead poisoning has decreased by 86%, yet 1.6% of children are still affected. Lead poisoning is defined as having an elevated blood lead level greater than 10 micrograms per deciliter.  Since lead is not necessary for our physiological function, any amount in our body is a contaminant. Studies show that socio-economic status plays a major role in the likelihood of having lead poisoning, as well as the age and ethnicity of a person. Lead can be absorbed through the skin, ingested, or inhaled. It is then transported through the blood stream. There are currently many agencies working together to further prevent childhood lead poisoning, the largest is an interagency between the CDC, EPA and HUD.

“Hepatitis C”

Gina Bitonte, Amy Gunderman, Erin Nealon, Undergraduates; James Lissemore, Ph.D., Department of Biology

Hepatitis C, also known as HCV, is characterized by inflammation of the liver and affects approximately 170 million persons worldwide and approximately 4 million Americans.  There are approximately 26,000 new cases per year in the U.S. alone.  Hepatitis C is caused by the infection with the Hepatitis C virus, a single strand RNA virus transmitted by blood.  The most common risk factors are injection drug use, or receiving an unscreened blood transfusion.  Hepatitis C is diagnosed by the presence of HCV antibodies in the blood, and is usually treated with a combination of pegylated interferon and ribavirin.

“Tobacco Use In the United States”

Julie Papaleo, Dan Fitzmaurice, Undergraduates; James Lissemore, Ph.D., Department of Biology

Tobacco Use is a major factor of health problems individuals in the United States are faced with. It is estimated that 43.4 million adults (of 18 years or older) are current smokers. There is an observable social gradient within the population of smokers with regards to race, amount of education, and other socioeconomic and demographic factors. Cigarette use has many adverse health effects such as increased risk for various forms of cancer, (particularly of the lung) heart disease, stroke, and other major health problems. To prevent these health effects, education about the dangers of smoking, the implementation of policies regulating the use of tobacco, and studies on how advertising and marketing affects particular groups within the population are all being utilized to reduce the prevalence of smoking in the US.


Danny Snider, Barbara Pawlowski, Undergraduates; James Lissemore, Ph.D., Department of Biology

Measles is a highly infectious respiratory disease caused by a virus of the Family Paramyxoviridae. Measles virus is thought to have been established in human populations approximately 5,000 years ago, and has led to millions of deaths since. The virus is transmitted through either direct contact with body fluids or by inhalation from an infected person. Symptoms include high fever, cough and a rash, and can lead to other more serious disease complications including pneumonia and encephalitis. There are an estimated 10 million cases globally each year, leading to 197,000 deaths from measles and its disease complications; most of these deaths occur in India and sub-Saharan Africa. Measles vaccines have been profoundly successful in reducing disease incidence, and organizations including the WHO are working to provide vaccination in developing countries.

“African Sleeping Sickness”

Andrew Edmunds, Hans Baumgartner, Undergraduates; James Lissemore, Ph.D., Department of Biology

African Sleeping Sickness, also known at Trypanosomiasis, is a disease caused by the genus Glossina, common name Tse Tse Fly. Although estimates vary, over 500,000 cases are thought to occur each year. Sleeping Sickness is only endemic in rural areas of Southern Africa, the Tse Tse fly habitat. As such, prevention is focused on reducing fly bites, and on Tse Tse fly eradication. Meetings by the World Health Assembly have been held to support these efforts. Symptoms include rash, fever, malaise, behavioral changes, coma, and death if treatment is not followed. The symptoms are caused by trypanosomes carried in the Tse Tse Fly’s salivary glands which are injected into the human or animal host. Infection of the trypanosomes leads to a complex life cycle ending in invasion of the host’s central nervous system.

“Obstetric Fistula”

Jessica Grassi and Anna Aziz; Undergraduate; Jim Lissemore, Ph.D., Department of Biology

Obstetric fistula (OF) is a hole in the birth canal caused by prolonged obstructed labor without medical intervention. This condition is virtually eliminated in developed countries, yet continues to plague women in developing countries. Usually, the women or girls are left with chronic incontinence, and, in most cases, a stillborn baby.  Women suffering from obstetric fistula tend to be impoverished, malnourished, illiterate, and live in remote rural areas within developing countries (e.g. sub-Saharan Africa).  Women in these cultures tend to marry as adolescents and become pregnant immediately. They often do not have rights over their own bodies to decide when and how often they bear children. Approximately 2 million women are currently living with obstetric fistula, and between 50,000 and 100,000 new cases arise each year. It is easily and successfully treated via surgery, however, 80% of women with this disease never seek treatment. OF disproportionately affects impoverished women and is an exemplary model of a social gradient in health.


John Skomra and Kristy Watkins, Undergraduates; James Lissemore, Ph.D., Department of Biology

Cholera is an acute intestinal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae (WHO).  Cholera is endemic to most low income countries, particularly those with poor sanitation and problems with clean water.  The 2007 incidence reported in 53 countries was 177,963 cholera cases and 4,031 deaths.  The cholera toxin causes massive net water loss because of ions entering the lumen of the gut. This results in severe dehydration.  Oral rehydration salts containing electrolytes and other solutes is a simple treatment for dehydration caused by cholera.  There is a vaccine for cholera but is not available in the United States and not recommended for travelers.  Prevention methods include drinking water that has been boiled or treated, improving the water supply, sanitation, and waste removal, and health education.

“Similarities and differences in the secondary structure of the 16S-23S ITS region of the ribosomal operon in Microchaetaceae (Cyanobacteria)”

Kevin Stoltz, Undergraduate; Michael P. Martin, Associate Professor; Jeffrey R. Johansen, Professor; Department of Biology

Secondary structure of the 16S-23S ITS region of the ribosomal operon has been used to differentiate and even diagnose cyanobacterial species.  The secondary structure of the 16S-23S ITS region can be partially determined by sequencing the region of DNA that encodes it, and folding the conserved domains.  However, to obtain the full structure one must have the leader of the operon, as well as the 23S-5S ITS.  These regions are rarely sequenced because they require novel PCR primers.  We have developed such primers, and used them to amplify the additional transcripts.  This poster presents the results of a comparative study of the full 16S-23S ITS region in several Microchaetaceae (Hassallia, Spirirestis, Rexia), as well as a genus from the putative sister taxon, Scytonemataceae (Scytonema).  We found that the representatives of the Microchaeatceae were consistently similar, whereas the more distant taxon Scytonema was indeed distinct by comparison.

“Phylogenetic placement of the Microchaetaceae (Cyanobacteria)”

Melissa A. Vaccarino, Graduate Student; Emily G. Tillmaand, Undergraduate; Michael P. Martin, Associate Professor; Jeffrey R. Johansen, Professor; Department of Biology

The heterocytous cyanobacteria which demonstrate false branching were long considered to be in one family, the Scytonemataceae. In revisions of the Cyanobacteria, Komárek and Anagnostidis separated the false-branching Nostocales into two families based upon polarity of the filaments. The Scytonemataceae is isopolar, while the Microchaetaceae is heteropolar. This proposed dichotomy has not been tested with molecular data because of the paucity of strains available. We sequenced the 16S rRNA gene together with the 16S-23S ITS region for 12 strains. A phylogeny based on sequence data from 285 OTU’s was constructed, and secondary structure of conserved domains was determined. Both molecular approaches demonstrated that Scytonemataceae and Microchaetaceae belong to separate clades, and should be recognized at an equal hierarchy as other major heterocystous clades. Tolypothrix is the most problematic taxon, as species of this genus are dispersed among Microchaetacean genera. Scytonema forms a paraphyletic grade at the base of the Nostocales.

“The Effects of Oral Administration of Xyzal on Body Weight, Food Intake, Water Intake, Adiposity, and Anxiety in Rats”

Katy Flynn, Undergraduate, Neuroscience Program; Helen M. Murphy, Ph.D., and Cyrilla H. Wideman, Ph.D., Neuroscience Program

Xyzal is a histamine (H1)-receptor antagonist, in which the active ingredient is levocetirizine dihydrochloride. Approved by the FDA in January of 2008, its popularity is growing. The present experiment investigated the effects of Xyzal on body weight, food intake, water intake, adiposity, and anxiety in Long Evans rats. The Elevated Plus Maze (EPM) was utilized for studying the effects of the drug on anxiety. Experimental (drug) and control (placebo) animals were studied. The experiment consisted of a two week habituation period and three weeks of drug or placebo administration. Experimental animals had significantly higher body weight, food intake, water intake, and visceral adiposity than control animals.  In addition, experimental animals showed significantly more anxiety than control animals on the EPM. The data suggest that Xyzal does have an effect on metabolic functions and behavior of rats and that further investigation of the effects of this drug in humans is warranted.

“Orally Administered Eszopiclone (Lunesta) Induces Negative Effects on Spatial Learning and Memory in Rats”

Kayla Cierniak, Undergraduate, Neuroscience Program; Helen M. Murphy, Ph.D., and Cyrilla H. Wideman, Ph.D., Neuroscience Program

Recent treatments for the common afflictions of insomnia and sleep-anxiety in humans have included a class of short-acting nonbenzodiazepine medications that act at the benzodizepine receptor-GABA complex. Along with a sedative-hypnotic effect, these medications have been hypothesized to hinder the processes of learning and memory. The present experiment investigated the effects of the nonbenzodiazepine medication eszopiclone (Lunesta) on body weight, food intake, water intake, adiposity, circadian rhythms, learning and memory in Long Evans rats. The Morris Water Maze, one of the most widely used tasks in behavioral neuroscience, was utilized for studying the effects of the drug on spatial learning and memory. Following the administration of eszopiclone, no metabolic or circadian differences were observed between the two groups; however, experimental animals exhibited a significant delay in ability to learn the location of an escape platform in the Morris Water Maze when compared to control animals.

“Dose-Dependent Venlafaxine XR (Effexor XR) Discontinuation Syndrome in the Rat”

Brianna Boslett, Undergraduate, Neuroscience Program; Helen M. Murphy, Ph.D., and Cyrilla H. Wideman, Ph.D., Neuroscience Program

Adverse events occur in a significant percentage of patients who abruptly stop their treatment of venlafaxine XR and other commonly prescribed antidepressants. Male Long Evans rats were treated with either a high dose of venlafaxine XR, a low dose of venlafaxine XR, or a control dose of distilled water for four weeks. Treatment was then stopped and discontinuation syndrome observations were made for five days. It was hypothesized that 1) the high dose group would experience the most severe withdrawal symptoms, 2) the low dose group would experience moderate withdrawal symptoms, and 3) the control group would experience no withdrawal symptoms. Results indicated that there was not a significant difference in the severity of withdrawal symptoms between the high and low dose groups  It was concluded that the level of dosage of venlafaxine XR does not significantly impact the severity of the discontinuation syndrome when abruptly stopping treatment.

“The Lack of Black Physicians and the Suffering Black Community”

Brittany Daugherty, Undergraduate; John Yost, Ph.D., Department of Psychology

This particular study is a historical analysis that will examine the underrepresentation of African American physicians and the effect it has on health disparities and distrust of the medical field by the African American community. A thorough literature review will be conducted on past historical accounts of the mistreatment of African American patients and the discriminatory acts against African American physicians. The purpose of this analysis is to repair the structural problem of health disparity and racial injustice by starting with acknowledging the findings from previous research and presenting to the research community, alternative ways to studying the many factors that cause health disparities in the African American community.

“Effect of Stereotype Threat and Self-Efficacy on a Gender Neutral Transfer Task”

Emma Taylor, Undergraduate; John Yost, Ph.D., and Sheri Young, Ph.D., Department of Psychology

The present study explored the effect of stereotype threat and self-efficacy on the performance of a gender-neutral transfer task.  Seventy-eight undergraduates (25 men, 53 women) completed demographic questions and scales to assess self-efficacy and were then randomly assigned to 1 of 3 conditions that created a gender-stereotype: a) males perform better, b) females perform better, or c) genders perform equally.  Stereotype threat was induced by a “social competency” test in which participants chose the better of two responses to a social scenario.  Performance was measured by the completion of a gender-neutral transfer task (anagrams).  Participants completed 2 sets of anagrams: each trial lasted 3 minutes.  Results indicated no main effect of gender, condition or self-efficacy and no interaction between the variables.

“Test Order and Can’t Answer Response Option (CARO) Effects in simultaneous Protocols”

Ellen Neumeister, Undergraduate; Abdulrazaq Imam, Ph.D., Department of Psychology

Simultaneous protocols typically yield poorer stimulus equivalence outcomes than other protocols used in equivalence research. Participants performed equally but completed shorter sessions with a hybrid simultaneous training and simple-to-complex testing than with a standard protocol when combined with CARO. Test order and CARO availability explain the present study’s poorer outcomes.

“Outcomes of an Undergraduate Internship Program in Autism Spectrum Disorders: a Preliminary Analysis”

Rachel Zammito, John Carroll University; Tracy Loye Masterson, John Carroll University; Kristine Turko, Mount Union College; Julie Knapp, Cleveland Clinic Center for Autism; Francine Dimitriou; Cleveland Clinic Center for Autism

With rates of autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) continuing to rise, undergraduate students represent a resource that could help the autism community. In collaboration with the Cleveland Clinic Center for Autism (CCCA), selected students (n=12) at John Carroll University and Mount Union College participated in an internship program during the spring/summer 2009. Students participated in one of three tracks: (1) center-based applied behavioral analysis classroom, (2) community-based behavioral treatment program, and (3) center-based research. Preliminary outcome data were analyzed; across all rating categories, interns rated the internship positively. Supervisors rated the majority (92%) of interns favorably and the majority of interns have maintained involvement in working with children with ASD through CCCA. Data will be utilized to enhance the internship program and provide guidance for other institutions. Internships between universities and autism centers are mutually beneficial; outcome data suggests that students, organizations, and clients have benefited from the partnership.

“Preparing Short Chains of Polystyrene Polymer with Low Molecular Weight”

Grace Mahfouz, Undergraduate; and Michael Nichols, Ph.D., Department of Chemistry

Polymerization reactions of styrene with the sterically hindered initiator trimethylsilylmethyllithium (TMSMeLi) in the presence and absence of the ligand N,N,N’,N’-tetramethylethylenediamine (TMEDA) were studied. Previous studies have indicated the molecular weight distributions of polystyrene products to be approximately 400-2000 amu in microscale reactions. We are currently determining how the structure and molecular weight of the polystyrene products are influenced by using different proportions of hexanes, TMEDA, Styrene, and trimethylsilylmethyllithium. We are also performing the reactions at a larger scale, to determine if these reactions give the same products as microscale reactions. The molecular weights of the polystyrene products were obtained by Gel Permeation Chromatography (GPC), and we are also trying to find a reaction product that can be easily analyzed by Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR).

“Synthesis and Use of the Ligand PQAM in Copper Analysis”

Meghan Brown, Undergraduate; Michael Nichols, Ph.D., Department of Chemistry

The ligand PQAM (2-Pyridyl-N,N-bis[(8-quinolyl)amino]methane) has been shown to react with copper chloride to yield a new paramagnetic copper complex, CuCl2.PMAQ (8-[(2-Pyridine)-methylideneamino]quinoline). The synthesis of pure PQAM is complicated by a reversible equilibrium between the product and its amine and aldehyde starting materials. Therefore it is difficult to obtain pure PQAM for use in any analytical fluorometric copper analyses. A method to prepare high-quality PQAM as well as a preliminary assessment of its potential for use in copper analysis will be presented. We have also found that the CuCl2.PMAQ complex can be synthesized directly from the aldehyde and amine starting materials in a one pot reaction. The structural and paramagnetic properties of this complex will also be presented.

“Analysis of Hydrogen Peroxide-FE2+- Mediated Linoleic Acid Peroxidation Products ob GC-MS”

Danielle Maholtz, Undergraduate; Michael Nichols, Ph.D., Department of Chemistry

Currently, there are few published undergraduate biochemical experiments addressing the important issue of lipid peroxidation.  Lipid peroxidation can occur through the reaction of a lipid with a reactive oxygen species such as the hydroxyl radical, which can be formed by a reaction of Fe2+ ions with hydrogen peroxide.  When linoleic acid, an essential ω-6 fatty acid, is treated with ascorbic acid, Fe2+ ions and H2O2, several bifunctional electrophiles can be formed as products.  These include 2,4-decadienal, 4-hydroxy-2(E)-nonenal (HNE), and 4-oxo-2(E)-nonenal (ONE).  The concentrations of these oxidation products can be determined using Gas Chromatograph-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS).  Currently, an analysis of the efficiency of the method using direct extraction from GC vial by ether is being performed.  This method can then be used to study the effects of antioxidants such as ascorbic acid or α-tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E acetate) on the peroxidation reaction of linoleic acid in an undergraduate biochemistry course.

“Kinetic and Mechanistic Studies of the Deuterium Exchange in Classical Keto-Enol Tautomeric Equilibrium Reactions”

Cassie Giorgio, Undergraduate; Michael Nichols, Ph.D., Department of Chemistry

Acetylacetone undergoes classical keto-enol tautomerism when dissolved in a variety of solvents;  when dissolved in methanol-d4 (CD3OD) deuterium exchange occurs at the α–methylene carbon. Our research monitored the kinetics of this deuterium exchange reaction at 25°C via proton NMR. We have found that the reaction occurs by a series of equilibrium and non-equilibrium steps. The concentrations of a number of intermediates can be determined directly using NMR. To determine the sensitivity of the exchange reaction to a number of potential contaminants, micro amounts of H2O, D2O, KOD and D2SO4 were added and the resulting kinetic analyses of the deuterium exchange reaction were compared to the original reaction. Also, to further understand how the polarity of the solvent affects the keto-enol tautomeric equilibrium of acetylacetone, Kenol, ∆G, ∆H, and ∆S where determined using variable temperature NMR.

“Kinetic and Mechanistic Studies of the Deuterium Exchange in Classical Keto-Enol Tautomeric Equilibrium Reactions”

Nick Toney, Undergraduate; Michael Nichols, Ph.D., Department of Chemistry

Ethylacetylacetone undergoes classical keto-enol tautomerism when dissolved in a variety of solvents;  when dissolved in methanol-d4 (CD3OD) deuterium exchange occurs at the α–methylene carbon. Our research monitored the kinetics of this deuterium exchange reaction at 25°C via proton NMR. We have found that the reaction occurs by a series of equilibrium and non-equilibrium steps. The concentrations of a number of intermediates can be determined directly using NMR. To determine the sensitivity of the exchange reaction to a number of potential contaminants, micro amounts of H2O, D2O, KOD and D2SO4 were added and the resulting kinetic analyses of the deuterium exchange reaction were compared to the original reaction. Also, to further understand how the polarity of the solvent affects the keto-enol tautomeric equilibrium of ethylacetylacetone, Kenol, ∆G, ∆H, and ∆S where determined using variable temperature NMR.

“The Effects of Nanoscale Holes on Schottky Solar Cells”

Vincent DeGeorge, John Carroll University; Andrew Higgins and Sergei UrazhdiN, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV

Increasingly efficient solar to electrical energy conversion is of increasing interest as a viable and sustainable means of renewable energy. The effects of nanoscale patterning at the metal-semiconductor interface of schottky solar cells are investigated with funding provided by the National Science Foundation and WVNano. Indium deposited onto N-type GaAs(100) substrates formed the metal-semiconductor schottky barrier. Using electrochemical etching a selection of samples was made porous on the nanoscale in order to produce intermittent discontinuities in the schottky barrier during the deposition of Indium. The solar cells then underwent current/voltage measurements to determine their photovoltaic characteristics. Photoresponse was observed. However, the collected data remains inconclusive as to the effects of the nanoscale discontinuities on the thin film cell.

“Measuring and Modeling the Influence of Hydrostatic Pressure on the  Magnetotransport Properties of Pure Sb2Te3 Single Crystals”

Stephen Neil V. Tacastacas, Undergraduate; Jeffrey Dyck, Ph.D., Department of Physics

The effect of hydrostatic pressure up to 16 kbar was investigated in conjunction with the temperature dependence of the magnetotransport properties on a pure Sb2Te3 single crystal. The results show that  an increase in pressure suppresses the electrical resistivity of the sample and increases the magnetoresistance. The Hall coefficient decreased modestly with increasing pressure, and showed some dependence on magnetic field. Below 100 K, the dependence of the resistivity on magnetic field was
distinctly non-parabloic. To explain the results one must allow for the possible participation of more than one band in the transport, or for the single-band values of the Hall and structural factor to be different from unity. A single valence band model was used to fit both the  magnetoresistance and the Hall effect data which takes into account both the Hall and structural factors as free parameters to determine the sample’s carrier concentration and the carrier mobility. The results will be discussed in the context of the potential need to incorporate a second band.

“Emission Spectroscopy of Rare Gas Plasmas”

David Davenport, Undergraduate; Naveed K. Piracha, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Physics

We report on the emission spectroscopy of the rare gas plasma of neon, argon, krypton and xenon. These spectra were taken using an Ocean Optics HR4000 spectrometer, SpectraSuite, and multiple HCLs, containing rare gases in the spectral range from 250 nm – 700 nm. These spectra were analyzed and transition assignments were developed. We have formulated data on the widths of line spectra, transition intensities and measured electron temperature. Using a He-Ne laser, we obtained emission spectra of a rare gas discharge to see the effect of non-resonance absorption. The results of this research will assist in simultaneous optogalvanic and laser induced fluorescence investigations.

“Theoretical Modeling of Nanostructured PbTe”

Diego Hernandez, Undergraduate; Jeffrey Dyck, Ph.D., Physics; Yixin Zhao, Graduate Student; Dr. Clemens Burda, Case Western Reserve University

Thermoelectric materials convert a temperature difference into an electric potential and vice versa. One route toward increasing thermoelectric efficiency is by creating nanometer-sized inclusions in traditional thermoelectric materials to scatter acoustic phonons, which transmit thermal energy, more strongly than free charge carriers. This study used lead telluride with PbSe nanoparticles. Measurements of thermal conductivity were performed from 8 K to 300 K. Experimental thermal conductivity data were compared to a model of lattice thermal conductivity based on Debye theory. The model takes into account grain boundary, phonon-phonon, and point defect scattering. We then added an additional scattering term that describes scattering by spherical nanoparticles. The theoretical analysis reveals that the addition of this term does not improve the fitting significantly. However, by fixing parameters we are able to see trends that support the hypothesis that some fraction of the nanoparticles are behaving as the model predicts.

“Cities Going Green”

Melissa Dillon, Ben Morris, Cassie Jaksic; Undergraduates; Dr. Dyck, Department of Physics

Cities around the world have taken the initiative to go green and improve many different aspects in the way they function. From the materials and construction in which buildings are made, to the drainage which transports the water, there are many unique and productive ways to reduce emissions and use natural resources to their advantage. This poster focuses on the pros and cons of alternatives to a drainage system with a connected pedestrian path, Pay-as-you-throw system, and green roofs. Many of these new ways of going green have been used in many different cities around the United States. Several cities have saved an exuberant amount of money, waste, as well as creating popularity to the city by adapting these green methods. There have been a great advantage to these green changes, and hopefully the city of Cleveland can incorporate some of these new ideas.

“The Maya Calendar I a Middle School Classroom”

Anne Heller, Undergraduate; Barbara D’Ambrosia, Ph.D., Department of Mathematics and Computer Science

This research project examines the ancient Maya, specifically the development of their calendar system. The mathematics the Maya utilized to create a three-calendar system directly related to their way of living, specifically their religious beliefs. Each calendar had a purpose and was created using extremely accurate observations of the sky by the Maya elite. The Maya calendar has become an interest to our current culture and has appeared in films such as the latest Indiana Jones movie. With an emphasis placed on their prediction that the world will end in 2012, the Maya civilization is ideal to study in a middle school classroom. As a middle childhood education major with concentrations in the areas of Math and Language Arts, I have found specific ways to instruct and assess within the Ohio Content standards, and created a series of lesson plans that discuss the Maya and their calendrical math.

“Bootstrapping Methodology Applied to Selecting an Optimal Cutoff Value”

Nicholas Hermez, Undergraduate; Thomas Short, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, John Carroll University

Binary logistic regression models predict the probability of success for an event that can take on two outcomes. These predicted probabilities can be used to categorize events into predicted successes or predicted failures using a cutoff value specified by the analyst. Practical applications of binary logistic regression include medical research and management decision-making. Bootstrapping is a technique used to estimate properties of a statistic whose distribution is unknown, such as standard error of a model estimator. Since there are several ways to select a cutoff value in a logistic regression model, the bootstrap can be used as a means of comparison between cutoff value selections. Funded by the Huntington-Codrington Summer Research Program.

“Database Web Technologies”

Holly Lane Girardin, Undergraduate; Linda Seiter, Ph.D., Department of Math and Computer Science

There are many different technologies that web developers may choose for developing web applications, but two of the methods are Enterprise Java Beans and the Spring Web Framework. Enterprise Java Beans is a modular solution that focuses on being able to deploy different parts of the project on different servers, while the Spring Web Framework attempts to package everything in the project cleanly and compactly together in one application.  Being able to neatly tie the different parts of the application together with Spring Beans is often an incentive for developers, although Enterprise Java Beans’ ability to identify the table structure from its entity classes can also be appealing to a developer with needs that require that feature. Developers can choose a convenient method depending on their project’s requirements. Funded by the Huntington Foundation.

“College freshmen perceptions of their high school Counselors: How the college decision process affected their perception”

Mary Bridget Mathews, Graduate Student, School Counseling program; John Rausch, Ph.D., Department of Education and Allied Studies.

It is beneficial to understand the role that students believe counselors play in their college decision and how specific counseling strategies (or lack thereof) influence the student perception of their specific school counselor and the school counseling field in general.  This study attempted to understand this question qualitatively utilizing grounded theory to understand the process of how students form perceptions of school counselors. Five traditional-aged college students participated. The following two categories emerged as paramount: 1) Whether the counselor provided useful information and 2) If there was a positive relationship between counselor and student.  If a student had a positive perception of their counselor then their counselor was fulfilling either one of these two categories or both.  These actions and perceptions can be seen as cyclical processes with a counselor’s action impacting a student’s perception which in turn impacts a student action which in turn impacts a counselor’s perception.

“ ‘Super Readers to the Rescue’: How a Popular Children’s Television Program Depicts Reading, Writing, and Other Literacy Activities”

Annie M. Moses, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Education and Allied Studies, John Carroll University; Rachel Brod, Graduate Student; Dr. Deborah L. Linebarger, Assistant Professor, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania

Television remains a steadfast companion for children and has received much attention regarding its influence on young, developing minds. Researchers interested in the effect of television on children’s literacy development have found mixed results: some programs positively affect literacy skills, some do not. Less is known about television’s impact on children’s literacy attitudes. Through a content analysis, this study* analyzed transcripts from two seasons of a popular children’s program, Super Why!, for messages about literacy. Messages were coded for affective statements about literacy (e.g., reading is powerful, writing is useful), type of message (explicit or implicit), and type of literacy activity (reading, writing, etc.). Results show that Super Why! incorporates many positive messages about literacy, especially about the power of reading and the encouragement of literacy activities. These findings will inform a larger experimental study investigating the impact of many positive literacy messages on 4- to 6-year-olds’ attitudes about literacy.

*This project is supported by a cooperative agreement between the U.S. Department of Education, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the Public Broadcasting System for the Ready to Learn Initiative, PR# U295A050003.

“Asperger’s Syndrome: A Father’s Perspective”

Alicia Pascoe, Graduate Student; John Rausch, Ph.D., Department of Education and Allied Studies

Asperger’s Syndrome has widely become known as a diagnosis that implies deficits in social interaction. A qualitative research study was conducted to evaluate the perceptions of fathers of children diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. The goal was to assess participants’ role as a father, how they reacted and learned to cope with their children’s diagnoses, and how Asperger’s Syndrome has impacted their view of life. The subsequent data was analyzed for recurrent themes and similarities among the participants’ personal experiences. A comparative analysis of current research will accompany the results of this study to enhance current knowledge of Asperger’s Syndrome.

“The Relationship between ADH1B Gene Polymorphisms and Smoking Status of Bladder Cancer Patients”

Emily Misconish; Undergraduate. Dr. Donna Hansel, M.D. Ph.D., Department of Anatomic Pathology, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation

The goal of the project was to determine if ADH1B gene polymorphisms were related to the smoking status of patients with bladder cancer. We first obtained lymph nodes from patients with urothelial or squamous carcinoma of the bladder and classified patients according to smoking status because smoking is a major risk factor for bladder cancer. Extraction of lymphocyte DNA was performed utilizing proteinase K, Nucleic Acid Lysis Buffer, NaCl, and ethanol. The concentration of each sample was determined via NanoDrop measurement. Restriction digests were performed on each sample with Mae III and products were run on 1% agarose gel at a constant voltage of 10V/cm.  Data was analyzed by UV illumination and genotyping was performed. The expected results including increased expression of ADH1B and more frequent polymorphisms in the smoking population are likely to predispose patients to reduced nicotine exposure and therefore higher carcinogen levels, a primary risk factor for bladder cancer.

“The Effects of Global Warming on Animals”

Andrea Csok and Esther D’Mello, Undergraduates; Elaine Hocevar, Ph.D., Assistant Dean, College of Arts and Sciences

As greenhouse gases increase in the atmosphere, the extra heat they trap leads to global warming, placing pressure on earth’s climate system which leads to climate change. Animals are affected by habitat displacement, predator decline as prey decline, shifting in migration patterns, entire ecosystem changes. There are many records of the adverse effects of global warming all over the world. Habitats are destroyed by the effects of climate change and by human force. At the moment 22% of all mammals are endangered. One main question arises when dealing with this problem, is it just to drive all these animals into extinction simply because they are unable to adapt to the new environmental changes?  We can make a difference in our effects on the environment by driving more fuel efficient cars, using energy star appliances, and being more environmentally friendly. With the problem of climate change there have been solutions to the increasing problem.

“Lessening the effects of climate change with home electricity”

Sari Whims, Izabella Buczkowski, Undergraduates; Elaine Hocevar, Ph.D., Assistant Dean, College of Arts and Sciences

Carbon dioxide emissions are the cause of global warming which basically is the Earth’s temperature increasing. As the Earth’s temperature increases the ice caps melt and this causes a domino effect to the end of all living things on Earth. Our presentation explains the first step people need to take to save the Earth. The first step is reducing the amount of energy used at home. Some steps we are encouraging people to take are changing home appliances to Energy Star appliances because they use less energy. With less energy being use, less carbon dioxide is needed to be burned and therefore less gas is being released into the atmosphere. Not only will people be decreasing the amount of gases being released but also they will save money. Overall people have no excuse they need to start changing things at home to save the Earth, our home.

“Ma Famille, Les Huguenots (My Family, the Huguenots)”

Bill Cook, Undergraduate; Faculty Sponsor: Hélène Sanko, Ph.D., Professor, CMLC Classical and Modern Languages and Cultures Department

Following the Protestant Reformation in France, the Protestant sect of French society became known as “les Huguenots (the Huguenots),” and were expelled from France.  After settling in Vauffelin, Switzerland, just over the French border, they began to thrive. Then in 1848, the Huguelet family emigrated from Switzerland to the United States, to settle in New York City. There, Emil Huguelet (French Protestant) married an Irish Catholic and converted to Roman Catholicism.  Following the conversion, he moved to Chicago.  Once there his family split, to the North side went the remaining Protestants, and to the Southside went the Catholics.  His son, Norbert Huguelet, married Catherine Conmey, had children, and started a construction company, “Huguelet Homes” in 1928.  The northern group founded coffee houses and a parking garage.  This poster will follow my ancestors and their stories using pictures, genealogy, and history. The poster will tell their stories as it really happened.

“Seventeenth Century Madame de Sévigné and her Correspondence”

Helene Andang, Daryl Anderson, Gillian Calig, Emily Cassidy, Daniel Deptowicz, Alyssa Harr, Cherine Hatem, Allison Hibbard; Faculty Sponsor: Hélène Sanko, Ph.D., Professor, CMLC Classical and Modern Languages and Cultures Department

Students will present their researches on Seventeenth century famous Letters written by Madame de Sévigné (1626-1696).  Each student will showcase one particular famous person who is either mentioned in her Letters or with whom she corresponded. These Letters provide numerous details which enable us to better understand the life at the court of king Louis XIV at Versailles.  The portrait of each famous person will be coupled with the most significant excerpt from one of Madame de Sévigné’s Letters.

“A Thousand Faces of France – La France aux cent visages – French Civilization and Culture through the Ages”

Martha Pereszlenyi-Pinter, Ph.D., faculty sponsor, CMLC

“Le Rock à travers les yeux français” — “Rock through French Eyes”

Breanne Hunter, Grace Kmiecik, Caley Prendergast, Natalie Talis, Undergraduate Students; Martha Pereszlenyi-Pinter, Ph.D., CMLC Classical and Modern Languages and Cultures Department

During the first decades of the 20th century, Paris was the cultural capital of Europe. But Rock music did not make any significant cultural inroads in France until the 1970s, which were a completely different decade from the Sixties of the Anglo-Saxon world. Suddenly, France became one of the leading European nations for rock music. Again in the 1980s, a changing political culture was accompanied by an explosion in youth culture, from which emerged a distinct French rock that could equal or even surpass American and British rock music. This poster explores the impact of four French “rockers” and their French cultural as well as global impact.

“Le Vin: le cadeau de la France au monde” — “Wine: France’s Gift to the World”

Alyssa Fligge, Alyssa Harr, Adele Koury, Colleen Stanard, Ken Tubbs, undergraduate students; Martha Pereszlenyi-Pinter, Ph.D., CMLC Classical and Modern Languages and Cultures Department

This poster reflects an overview of the French wine industry from its ancient to its modern day cultural presence and economic impact. French wine originated in the 6th century BC, with the colonization of Southern Gaul by Greek settlers. Next, the Roman Empire licensed regions in the south to produce wines. Eventually, monks engaged in spreading Christianity and planting vineyards both for celebrating Mass and generating income. Over time, the nobility developed extensive vineyards, — which the French Revolution then confiscated. An economic downturn in Europe, two world wars, and competition nearly devastated the wine industry, but by 1935 the designation of the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée protected French interests, creating the modern French wines we know today.

“La Cathédrale de Chartres” — “Chartres Cathedral”

Frances Csarny, Samantha Filar, Ali Hibbard, Rachel Zammito, undergraduate students; Martha Pereszlenyi-Pinter, Ph.D., CMLC Classical and Modern Languages and Cultures Department

Designated a “World Heritage Site” (1979), the Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres (built 1194-1260) is located about 50 miles southwest of Paris. It is regarded by many as the most perfect of the Gothic style of architecture in France. The cathedral was for centuries the most important building in the town of Chartres, the centre of its economy and the focal point of almost every activity that today would be provided by civic buildings such as city hall. Its portal sculptures and glowing stained-glass windows are all originals. Its two magnificent but contrasting spires both predate the current edifice. The clocher vieux (1145–65) is a plain pyramid. The clocher neuf, begun in 1134, was not completed till the 16th century and in a “Flamboyant Gothic” style.

“La Tour Eiffel” — “The Eiffel Tower: ‘Grand Iron Lady’ of Paris”

Jenna Bartusiak, Kitty O’Neil, undergraduate students; Martha Pereszlenyi-Pinter, Ph.D., CMLC Classical and Modern Languages and Cultures Department

Once described as “monstrous,” Gustave Eiffel’s crowning achievement is more than a landmark recognized around the world. A target of controversy early on, the Eiffel Tower was intended to be torn down after two decades. On hundred twenty years later the “Grand Iron Lady” of Paris continues to serve scientists as a laboratory, inspire incredible sporting feats, host unique artistic events and welcome millions of visitors each year.

“PTEN Clinical Research”

Laura Gruber, Undergraduate

The PTEN research study is a clinical study performed at the Genomic Medicine Institute at the Cleveland Clinic.  The study participants are screened for certain eligibility criteria, for example different cancers, macrocephaly, etc.  Then a DNA sample is collected and tested for mutations in the PTEN gene.  The object of the clinical research is to find the minimum number of criteria needed to test for a PTEN mutation.  A second goal is to calculate the frequency of the different criteria present in those with a diagnosed PTEN mutation.