Festival of Scholars

An annual celebration of research, scholarship, and creativity

Natural Science Oral Presentations

Date: Thursday, May 2, 2013
Time: 12:00pm - 2:30pm
Location: Richter Hall
Description: This session will highlight students from various disciplines within the Natural Science Division. Each student will give a 15-minute oral presentation using PowerPoint. These stimulating presentations will reflect months of work on a single project which has likely been presented at a discipline-specific professional conference.

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Student Abstracts at this Session

Kyle Evans

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Michele LeBlanc
Mechanical Characteristics of Patellar Tendon via Acoustoelasticity Analysis of Ultrasound Images

Acoustoelasticity has been used to obtain non-invasive mechanical measures of in-vivo tendon from ultrasound images. Purpose: To use the acoustoelasticity-based software program, EchoSoft (Echometrix, Madison, WI), to compare strain developed in the patellar tendon during an isometric contraction between younger and older participants and determine the behavior of the tendon’s strain-signal change curve. Methods: Younger subjects (n=14, age = 22.6 ± 3.8 years) and Older subjects (n=13, age = 82.2 ± 5.6 years) performed graded isometric knee extensions on an isokinetic dynamometer while ultrasound data were collected. Results: There was no difference in the maximum strain between the two groups (8.4 ± 6.0% versus 8.7 ± 5.3%, respectively). There was a significant relationship between the maximum strain and maximum torque values for the Younger group, but not the Older group. The exponential curve and general linear model fits were best and nearly identical for both groups.

William Kennedy

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Dennis Revie
Quantifying the Effect of Hepatitis C on the Interferon α and β Pathways Using Human PBMCs

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is one of the largest causes of liver transplant in the world today (Gregory et al., 2006), but may also use peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) as a reservoir (Baré, 2009). In this study, RNA was purified from mononuclear cells and mononuclear cells infected with HCV. Changes in expression of genes between the infected and uninfected cells were quantified using reverse transcription and real-time PCR. Interferon genes are expressed in cells infected by viruses. For the interferon α and β pathways, Toll-like receptor 3 and interferon- α gene expression appear to decrease upon infection, but further study is still needed. If these results are confirmed, they suggest that HCV interferes with the expression of these genes, thereby making it harder for the cells to prevent infection.

John Tannaci
and Steven Boggess and Bryan Simmons

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. John Tannaci (faculty co-author)
Enhancing the Regioselectivity of C-H Activation in Direct Arylation Polymerization (DArP)

Palladium-catalyzed direct arylation polymerization (DArP) has emerged as a viable method for the synthesis of organic electronic materials. By circumventing organometallic coupling partners, direct arylation minimizes both the required synthetic steps and the hazardous waste produced. Unfortunately, polymers generated using DArP can suffer from lower regioregularity and significant crosslinking, presumably via unselective C-H activation. To address this limitation, we investigated small-molecule model systems to develop improved DArP conditions, which were then applied to the synthesis of conjugated polymers. Small-molecule studies were conducted using GCMS analysis, while polymers were thoroughly characterized using a combination of gel permeation chromatography, NMR and UV-vis spectroscopy, grazing incidence x-ray diffraction, differential scanning calorimetry, and thermal gravimetric analysis. Ongoing research regarding the substrate scope for DArP will also be presented.

Lauren Toohey

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Nathan Carlson
Stochastic Optimization and the Newsboy Problem

We look at the Newsboy Problem from the field of Economics and delve into its applications in upper division level Mathematics. Probability is the overarching mathematical theme of this presentation. A topic that stems from this discipline is stochastic optimization. We will explain some techniques of stochastic optimization, as well as how they are used in Hon-Shiang Lau’s paper “The Newsboy Problem under Alternative Optimization Objectives.” A further research section is included, which considers a probability distribution not found in Lau’s studies on this topic.

Annika Weber
and Ivy Nguyen

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Grady Hanrahan
Mechanistic and Chemico-Physical Approaches for Elucidating the Separation of Phenolic Biomarkers

This study investigated the separation and mechanistic pathway of pentachlorophenol and its metabolites to better understand their possible toxic and carcinogenic affects. Capillary electrophoresis (CE) and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) were employed to separate and characterize these compounds, demonstrating simultaneous determination of pentachlorophenol and its associated metabolites. Results provide confirmation for these techniques being effective methods of separation and identification of phenolic compounds and their derivatives. Such outcomes bring about advances in separation sciences as they relate to phenolic-related exposure.

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