Festival of Scholars

An annual celebration of research, scholarship, and creativity

Natural Science Oral Presentations

Date: Thursday, May 1, 2014
Time: 12:30pm - 2:10pm
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

Jacob Burman

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Jason Kingsbury
New Synthetic Applications of the Diazoalkane-Carbonyl Homologation Reaction

In the laboratory, we often rely on heteroatoms (oxygen- and nitrogen-based groups) to create C–C bonds, which are a foundation upon which structure and function can be realized in biological systems. Unfortunately, we are still far from Nature’s perfection in building diverse, biologically active molecules from inert carbon frameworks. Carbonyl homologation is a powerful catalytic transformation involving net insertion of carbon atoms from diazoalkane reagents into the C–C or C–H bond adjacent to C=O double bonds. In addition to permitting formation of two new C–C bonds in one step, this method imparts a synthetically useful ring expansion or chain elongation. Another advantage is that molecular nitrogen, a harmless gas comprising 60% of earth’s atmosphere, is the only stoichiometric byproduct of the process. Application of a 5-carbon diazo compound to the total synthesis of artemone, a natural product from the Indian sage Artemesia pallens, is reported.

Madeline Christman

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Michael Gagliardo
Lie Matrix Groups: An In-Depth Look at the Flip Transpose Group

In mathematics, matrices are objects central to the study of Algebra. Different transformations can be applied to matrices and the transformed matrices can be multiplied, creating equations that represent surfaces of different dimensions. The crossover between groups of matrices, which come from the field of Abstract Algebra, and surfaces of different dimensions, which come from Geometry, is an interesting and useful connection in mathematics. For my capstone thesis I studied Lie groups, which span both areas of mathematics, as they are groups that are also differentiable manifolds. My research looks at the Orthogonal Group, which is a set of matrices satisfying a matrix equation involving the transpose of matrices. The main research, however, focuses on the Flip Transpose Group, a group of matrices with properties similar to those of the Orthogonal Group. The work in the paper leads to the result that the Flip Transpose Group is a Lie group.

Michael Mayers
and Bryan Simmons, Vanessa Orr, Scott Lombardi, Steven Boggess

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. John Tannaci
Palladium-Catalyzed Direct Arylation with Unprotected Alcohol-Containing Substrates

Palladium-catalyzed direct arylation is a green alternative to traditional cross-coupling methods. By avoiding organometallic pre-functionalization, direct arylation minimizes hazardous waste and synthetic steps while improving atom economy. Unfortunately, there are only limited reports of palladium-catalyzed direct arylation in the presence of unprotected protic functional groups. To address this issue, we have focused on selective C-H activation with alcohol-containing coupling partners. A wide substrate scope, including a range of heterocycles and aryl halides, has been achieved by thorough optimization of the reaction conditions. Detailed small-molecule studies and potential polymer applications will be presented.

Maxine Nelson
and Shaun Douglas, Kirsten Fuchs, Clayton Craig, George Nasr

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Chad Barber, Dr. Craig Reinhart
Science Meets Engineering: Simulating Blood Flow to Study Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is a cardiovascular disease resulting in hardening of the arteries. This project aims to investigate two cardiovascular-related proteins, KLF2 and beta-1 integrin, that are associated with atherosclerosis. They are regulated in arteries by microRNAs and blood flow. To study effects of various types of blood flow on microRNAs and these proteins in endothelial cells, biology, bioengineering, and computer science students collaborated to develop a programmable pump that simulates laminar blood flow. Our interdisciplinary project utilizes methods including qPCR, co-culture, and microscopy to study the two proteins in communicating cells. The engineering process developed a variable pump that uses multiple subsumption controllers acting in tandem. A reconfigurable system allows control of the dynamics and kinematics of flow, without developing a custom control system. We will use this pump to simulate blood flow and study the presence of atherosclerotic and atheroprotective proteins in vitro.

Samuel Theis
and Garrett Naumann

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Dennis Revie
Characterizing HCV in U937 Human Monocyte Systems

Human Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) is a positive-sense RNA strand virus that infects hepatocytes present in the human liver. Approximately 50% of all HCV infections develop into chronic cases, and many of these cases can also present more serious conditions, such as liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Despite extensive research, HCV replication and proliferation mechanisms are poorly understood, partly due to the delicate nature of hepatocyte-based systems. However, the exploitation of U937 monocytes as hosts for HCV may provide the benefits to counter traditional hepatocyte research. Studies in Immunofluorescent Microscopy, real-time PCR Analysis and other data support findings that U937 monocytes immortalized by the viral genome compare favorably to traditional HCV research methods. The data obtained from these studies was then used in comparative experiments to gain a deeper understanding of the HCV infection pathway.

Bryce Truver

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Michele Leblanc
Differences in Functional Movements Between Mechanical and Biological Osteoarthritis

Biological osteoarthritis (OA) is the degradation of bone due to aging and repetitive forces. Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) is "mechanical" osteoarthritis caused by abnormal bony contact. Purpose: To determine differences in functional movements between symptomatic and asymptomatic FAI (FAI-s and FAI-a) and OA. Methods: 32 subjects were categorized based on radiographs. Subjects walked at a self-selected pace and performed maximal depth squats. Kinematic data was collected at 120 Hz by 6 Vicon MX40 cameras. Analysis was performed using SPSS v.20 (p < 0.05). Results: OA subjects walked slower than FAI-a (1.11 ± 0.21 m/s vs. 1.28 ± 0.11 m/s; p=0.031). Normalized stride lengths differed (p = 0.023). Hip ROM differed in the frontal plane (p = 0.001). Normalized squat low point differed (51.6 ± 12.8% for FAI-a, 65.5 ± 6.2% for FAI-s, 76.1 ± 8.0% for OA; p < 0.001). Low point lower extremity joint angle total differed (p < 0.001).

Annika Weber

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Grady Hanrahan
Metabolic Pathway Elucidation Towards Time- and Dose-Dependent Electrophoretic Screening of Phenols

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 it relates to phenolic-related exposure.

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