Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Scholarship

Events & Activities

Student Research Symposium

Saturday, October 18, 2014

9:00am – 1:00pm
Ahmanson Science Center

Since 2004, the CLU Student Research Symposium has showcased the work of top students, most of whom have spent the summer working full time on research and creative projects in collaboration with faculty mentors. This full time immersion is made possible by the generous support of fellowships and grants from a number of sources, including Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowships, Darling Summer Research Fellowships for Applied Scientific Computing, John Stauffer Research Fellowships in the Chemical Sciences, Pearson Scholars Summer Fellowships for Leadership and Engagement in a Global Society, Foster Family Foundation Undergraduate Student Research Fellowships in Religion, Amgen Research Fellowships and university Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships.

This year more than 25 students will present their work, representing a variety of disciplines, including biology, chemistry, computer science, exercise science, languages and cultures, mathematics, psychology and religion. Many of the original results shared at this venue will be presented at discipline-specific professional conferences throughout the region or country and may be accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals as well.

The morning will begin with six students giving brief oral presentations from 9:00 am to 10:30 am in Richter Hall, followed by interactive poster presentations and light refreshments in the Ahmanson Atrium until 1:00 pm. The community-at-large is welcome to attend and all events are free. 

The upcoming program will soon follow.

Schedule

Time
Topic
Presenter
9:00 - 9:15
Welcome (Richter Hall) Dean Joan Griffin

Overview of the Session and Presentation of Awards

Leadership: Carla De Lira and Alicia Vanessa Nuñez

Dedication and Excellence: Salvador I. Brito (gold), Su Ji Hong (silver), and Sharena Rice (bronze)

Dr. Marylie Gerson, Director, and Dean Joan Griffin

9:15 - 10:30
Oral Presentation Session - Richter Hall
Suzuki Cross-Coupling Synthesis of DANPY, a Fluorescent Dye Molecule Brittany Smolarski

New Synthetic Applications of the Diazoalkane-Carbonyl Homologation Reaction

Jacob S. Burman

The Effects of SOCS36E on JAK/STAT Signaling and Extra Eye Penetrance in Drosophila melanogaster

Jared I. Berman

The Correlation Between Ventral Patches and Dominance in Sceloporus occidentalis

Luis Patricio Burgos

Antibiotic Resistance in Local Waterways and the Hill Canyon Wastewater Treatment Plant

Danielle Renee Montoya
 

Latinas in the Los Angeles Street Art Culture

Marina Marisela Alvarez
 
Remarks

Dr. Marylie Gerson

10:30 - 1:00
Interactive Poster Session - Ahmanson Science Atrium
Latinas in the Los Angeles Street Art Culture

Marina Marisela Alvarez

Dr. Rafaela Fiore Urízar

Effects of Landing Direction and Gender on Lower Extremity Kinematics in Drop Landings

Tyler Berg

Dr. Michele LeBlanc

The Effects of SOCS36E on JAK/STAT Signaling and Extra Eye Penetrance in Drosophila melanogaster

Jared I. Berman

Dr. David M. Marcey

 

Manipulation of Cytokine Expression and Its Effecton Hepatitis C Virus Infected U937 Monocytes

Salvador I. Brito

Dr. Dennis Revie

The Correlation Between Ventral Patches and Dominance in Sceloporus occidentalis

Luis Patricio Burgos

Dr. Kristopher B. Karsten

New Synthetic Applications of the Diazoalkane-Carbonyl Homologation Reaction

Jacob S. Burman

Dr. Jason Scott Kingsbury

The Analysis of Gene Sequences in Canine Tumors

Tristen Burt

Dr. Chad L. Barber

Direct Arylation Methodology for the Synthesis of Flexible Electronic Materials

Mickey Da Silva,

Joseph Enders,

Hillis Johnson,*

Timothy Schwochert,

Matthew Slaught

Dr. John Tannaci

Measuring the Efficiency of Rapid Application Development Languages (LiveCod )in Creating Cross-Platform Software

Carla De Lira

Dr. Craig Reinhart

The Social Effects of Tail Loss on Sceloporus occidentalis

Katherine Dubsky

Dr. Kristopher B. Karsten

The Role of sRNAother in Antibiotic Resistance in Bacillus thuringiensis

Jordan Felipe

Dr. Theresa Rogers

 

Perceptions Regarding College from Adolescents with High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder

Chelsea M. Feller

Dr. Jodie Kocur
 

Longitudinal Associations Between Anthropometric and Functional Measures of Sarcopenia and Osteopenia

Amanda Hamilton*

Jessica Tran

Dr. Steven Hawkins

  Applying Queuing Theory to the a Queuing System

Su Ji Hong

Dr. John Villalpando

DANPY, Its Derivatives, and Its Cytotoxicity

Trevor Hougen

Dr. Jason Scott Kingsbury
Where’s My Car? An AI Assisted-Living Android App

Blin Kazazi

Dr. Chang-Shyh Peng

Sex and the City: A Study of Sexual Theologies across Christian Denominations

Malina Keaton

Dr. Peter Carlson

 

Macrolide Resistance in Local Waterways and the Hill Canyon Wastewater Treatment Plant Near Thousand Oaks, CA

Danielle Renee Montoya

Dr. Theresa Rogers
 

Critical Thinking and Its Implications for the Acceptance of New Scientific Information

Lauren Neiger

Dr. Andrea J. Sell

  Forgetting as a Cognitive Mechanism of Forgiveness: Studying Intentional Forgetting in Older Adults

Alicia Vanessa Nuñez

Dr. Andrea J. Sell

 

Interaction of Two Artificial Intelligences Using the Seek and Destroy Algorithm

Nickel Revie

Dr. Craig Reinhart

 

Localization of the ABCA4 Phospholipid Flippase in Developing Photoreceptors

Sharena Rice

Dr. Kenneth O. Long

 

Modeling Catalyst Transfer and Exploring Initiators for Direct Arylation Polymerization

Timothy Schwochert

Dr. John Tannaci

 

Suzuki Cross-Coupling Synthesis of DANPY, a Fluorescent Dye Molecule

Brittany Smolarski

Dr. Jason Scott Kingsbury

 

Cell Adhesion, Proliferation, and Morphology of PEGDA Hydrogels

Anthony Sotelo

Dr. Chad Barber

Abstracts

Darling

Darling Summer Research Fellowship for Applied Scientific Computing

Interaction of Two Artificial Intelligences Using Seek and Destroy Algorithm

Nickel Revie, Dr. Craig Reinhart

Department of Computer Science

Artificial Intelligences (AI) are very prevalent in many industries for their ability to autonomously accomplish tasks. As an example, a metro system in Hong Kong is managed by an artificial intelligence program and has seen significant improvement across the board which includes having a 99.9% on time record and saving two days of repair time a week. By relegating tedious tasks to AI controlled devices, it allows people to do other tasks that cannot be conducted by AIs. For example, a robot controlled by an AI can spend several hours a week cleaning a house autonomously instead of an individual (or several) doing the same job. Furthermore, a dependable and autonomous intelligence combined with reliable hardware will save costs and free up individuals for other jobs that require more technical skills or remove individuals out of hazardous occupations. In particular, sending teams on search and rescue operations has become a dangerous task. These teams are sent into the same environments that injure the traveler or travelers, making injured rescue personnel a real possibility. Having an AI control several drones may help ground teams locate the lost person or persons and will save money, lives and time during a search and rescue operation. This can cause a reduction of team sizes and injuries among rescuers in dangerous terrain. Using this as an inspiration, this study is aimed towards experimenting with the search and rescue algorithms and modifying them in order to investigate how two autonomous non-human intelligences interact. This will be implemented by using two different AI controlled robots; a “search and rescue” drone that will search, locate, and attempt to track a “fugitive” robot to evade the tracking AI. By doing so, we can see how the tracking AI will behave based upon the movements of the “fugitive” robot trying to evade the “search and rescue” drone.

 

Measuring the Efficiency of Rapid Application Development Languages (LiveCode) in Creating Cross-Platform Software

Carla De Lira, Dr. Craig Reinhart

Department of Computer Science

Software development has become more complex with the need to provide applications on platforms (e.g. desktop, laptop, tablet, smart phone) and operating systems (e.g. MacOS, Windows, Linux). The time to develop cross platform application has also increased dramatically. Furthermore, cross platform development may require different programming languages (e.g. Objective C for iOS and Java for Android), further stressing resources. Much significance is made in cross-platform development's importance as key to an application's success, especially mobile applications. Recently, developers have turned to web-based applications that depend on internet connections for its accessibility. Although this solves the cross platform issue, it is not practical in its overall usability and imposes limitations in completing specifications with HTML 5 and JavaScript. The purpose of this study is to develop an application using LiveCode (livecode.com) to see how efficient it is in creating a usable, binary compatible, cross-platform application. Parameters to be studied include the consistency of the user interface, speed, disk space, and memory usage across each operating system and device. The application is S.E.A Navigation, a cross platform mapping application. S.E.A Navigation will be tested on different platforms on several devices with a specific test plan which focuses on specification fulfillment, resource usage, and speed. Each conducted test will be completely neutral to the operating system and device. By doing this, it will reveal insights for future development of other IDEs and programming languages that have a similar cross-platform centered design.

 

Foster Family Foundation Undergraduate Student Research Fellowship in Religion

Sex and the City: A Study of Sexual Theologies across Christian Denominations

Malina Keaton, Dr. Peter Carlson

Department of Religion

Christian theologies on topics of gendered sexuality have been informed by many different sources throughout history. Theologians such as Augustine and Jerome are famous for their “sex negative” ideologies, views still manifested in many denominations today. Feminist, Lesbian/Gay, and Queer theologies have also opened the door for marginalized Christians to look at their bodies in different ways than before. Voices within this movement have shaped a new sex ethic, one that emphasizes the important potential of the church within sex education. Whether “conservative” or “progressive”, denominations are becoming part of the ever-increasing discussion about sexuality within the context of religious conviction, discourse that can sometimes empower or shame its laity. As more and more people—and, in particular, more and more college-age people—seek to find ways of integrating their sexuality and their spirituality, there is a need within the current scope of religious influence to connect the physical bodies we are now much more open about in the “secular” world with a theology that is created to deal with temporal issues. The world has shifted since the days of Augustine; sexuality has become more of a question rather than a statement. It is because of this that research of sexual theology is of vital importance individually, academically, and ecclesiastically. With the generosity of the Foster Family Foundation and Office for Undergraduate Research and Creative Scholarship, I conducted an ethnographic study involving eighteen semi-structured interviews with clergy in the Ventura and LA counties, and additionally collected the official denominational positions and legislation of thirteen Christian denominations pertaining to issues of gender, marriage, and sexuality. Research conducted this previous summer often showed disparity between denominational doctrine and congregational experience regarding issues of sexuality, placing clergy in a position of mediation between an official voice and lived reality. Due to the divisive nature of discussion that centers around these topics, my research additionally documents the forms of marginalization that occur within a congregation—a marginalization which repeatedly places clergy in situations of tension.

 

John Stauffer Research Fellowship in the Chemical Sciences

New Synthetic Applications of the Diazoalkane-Carbonyl Homologation Reaction

Jacob S. Burman, Dr. Jason Scott Kingsbury

Department of Chemistry

In the laboratory, we often rely on heteroatoms (oxygen- and nitrogen-based functional groups) to create C–C bonds, which are the foundation upon which structure and function are realized in biological systems.  Contemporary research has shown that laboratory methods for functionalizing unactivated C–H bonds represent an impressive feat for chemical synthesis.  Today, a number of techniques exist for installing oxygen- or nitrogen-based groups in a selective fashion, and the resulting functionality imparts useful reactivity to the target molecules.  However, in spite of great achievements, we are still far from Nature’s perfection in building diverse and biologically active molecules from inert carbon frameworks.  Thus, identifying strategies for C–C or C–H insertion events will greatly advance the field. One reaction type that formally allows for carbon insertion is Diazoalkane-Carbonyl Homologation. This C-C bond forming system 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. Optimizing this reaction and rendering it scalable for the community/field will not only change the way we build up molecular complexity, but represent a victory in our quest to expand on the number of environmentally-friendly chemical practices.

Presently there are two related projects under investigation in the Kingsbury group that focus on the strategically powerful Diazoalkane-Carbonyl Homologation reaction. In the first, application of a 5-carbon diazo compound to the total synthesis of artemone, a natural product from the Indian sage Artemesia pallens is being pursued. In the second area of study, a 15-carbon diazoalkyl insertion is being applied to the synthesis of a mitochondrial marker for MPTP (Mitochondrial Permeability Transition Pore).

 

DANPY, Its Derivatives, and Its Cytotoxicity

Trevor Hougen, Dr. Jason Scott Kingsbury

Department of Chemistry

Prior investigation into the field of fluorescent DNA markers has presented the need for a marker that could operate within a live cell, and whose binding mechanism to DNA did not cause mutations within the genome, or other forms of cytotoxicity.

Purpose: This project examined the synthetic route taken to make a recently discovered novel fluorescent DNA marker, as well as determined the efficiency of each step in order to increase yield.Methods: The synthetic route for the target molecule had a crucial intermediate step that needed to be optimized. This step involved the binding of two molecules one being incorporated with a Boronic acid side chain and the other containing a halogen group in order to undergo a common synthetic process known as Suzuki Coupling. We then altered the conditions with which we ran the Suzuki Couplings, for instance we tested whether the less stable Boronic acid would create a higher yield than using a more stable Mida-boronate. Furthermore, we adjusted the concentration of the reactants in our solvent system from 0.05M-0.1M, temperature from 75oC-95oC, and equivalencies of the reactants to further increase the overall yield of the novel marker. Lastly, we sought to ensure the work up for the reaction was easy and efficient, so we checked whether to use chromatography to properly separate our product or if we could simply use hot filtrations and recrystallizations.Results: In the end the highest yield we managed to achieve for the crucial intermediate synthetic step, was ~85% from chromatography, and ~40% from hot filtration and recrystallization. We further optimized the final step and found roughly 80% conversion for creating the target DNA marker. In addition, the purity of our resultant compounds was high, so the overall performance of the synthetic route was very good.Conclusion: The conclusion for this project was finding the most optimal and efficient method to synthesize this novel fluorescent DNA marker, which we were successful in doing with high purity and high yield.

 

Direct Arylation Methodology for the Synthesis of Flexible Electronic Materials

Mickey Da Silva, Joseph Enders, Hillis Johnson,*Timothy Schwochert, Matthew Slaught, Dr. John Tannaci

Department of Chemistry

Direct arylation is an effective way of synthesizing new molecules by forming carbon-carbon bonds.  It offers a “greener” and more cost-effective method for generating many known compounds, as well as new ones. Applying direct arylation to the synthesis of conjugated materials and polymers greatly increases the viability of flexible electronics. This is because the direct arylation reaction tolerates a greater range of functionalities than previous methods of carbon-carbon bond formation, thus providing a more versatile tool for engineering devices at the molecular level.  However, there are still issues with controlling the unselective C-H activation observed during direct arylation reactions and polymerizations. The unselective activation leads to the formation of bonds in undesired locations on the molecules. In order to approach this problem, we used small molecule systems to optimize the reaction and minimize unselective activations. These optimizations included catalyst loadings, temperature, and time. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry was used to analyze the experiments. Additionally, calibration curves for each model system were created in order to quantify the results. Despite extensive optimizations, unselective C-H activations were still observed. In addition to the optimizations, we studied the initiation of conjugated polymers using direct arylation. Careful initiation of a polymerization reaction can lead to increased control with minimal side reactions. The goal was to combine the findings of the optimizations with that of the initiators to produce a controlled reaction. Controlling the unselective coupling through experimentation will make direct arylation more competitive with current synthetic methods.

 

Pearson Scholars Summer Program for Leadership and Engagement in a Global Society

Latinas in the Los Angeles Street Art Culture

Marina Marisela Alverez, Dr. Rafaela Fiore Urízar

Department of Languages and Cultures

In the urban setting that composes Los Angeles, graffiti, street art, and murals are visible in nearly every part of the city. They have been crucial to the formation of its identity, as well as the identities of the artists that produce the public art. Though few question the identity of these artists were due to the nature of this art, it has traditionally been a space dominated by men. It is important to acknowledge the female Latina artists who are leaving their mark in the history of this art form. Although many people would like to attribute its origins to New York’s Hip-hop scene of the 1970’s, its beginnings can be traced much further to 1930’s Los Angeles when Latino shoeshine boys would write their names on the walls of the neighborhoods they claimed. It was an act that proclaimed territorial spaces, but it was also an expression of identity and the attempt to survive a series of unfortunate circumstances. Latino gang members later used this concept to assert their dominance in neighborhoods as they struggled to find, and create, their spaces within American society and culture. When the writing developed into what is now known as Cholo writing, it had already become a pivotal aspect of Latino identity and culture in Los Angeles. Many of the Latina graffiti writers found themselves influenced by this epoch, along with Hip-hop music and New York-based ‘Wildstyle’ type graffiti in their artwork. The intimate world of street art is one that is not easy to get into. It takes practice, dedication, and hard work to be accepted and finally recognized. Not only have these Latina street artists and graffiti writers had to endure this code of the street world, but they have also had to maneuver through their culture’s stereotypes, one that promotes a patriarchal gender relation. It would be an understatement to say that they have proven every person wrong. Among them, they are world-renowned artists that have sold pieces in famous galleries, as well as continuing to be well-received artists in the communities they used to serve or still serve today. It is clear many of their experiences have shaped who they are, but they are the ones who ultimately claim the power when it comes to defining themselves, with a spray can or paintbrush in hand. Now is the time they are being credited with the recognition they deserve.

 

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship

Perceptions Regarding College from Adolescents with High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder

Chelsea M. Feller, Dr. Jodie Kocur

Department of Psychology

Given recent research which indicates that a growing number of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are moving on to higher levels of education, it is important for colleges to discover how to best support students with ASD and for students with ASD to properly prepare for college. The present study aimed to better understand the feelings that individuals with High Functioning ASD have about attending college. Gaining insight into how these individuals feel about college and a better understanding of the challenges that a student with High Functioning ASD might face in the college setting will give valuable information to all those working to help these students transition successfully into post-secondary education. Seven male students with High Functioning ASD (ages 17-25) who were planning to attend college completed a fifteen minute interview regarding their perceptions of college. Students discussed when they started considering college, colleges they were considering and why, excitement and concerns about college, and their goals for college. A majority of participants started thinking about college in middle school and hoped to attend a 4-year university with a strong disability support services office.  Prominent concerns regarding college were socializing and managing their time to handle the work load. A majority of participants reported being excited about the opportunity to learn more about their particular field of interest. Other prominent college goals included making friends and getting a degree. Recommendations for future research as well as implications for how professionals and college personnel can best support students with ASD as they prepare for this transition are discussed.

 

Critical Thinking and Its Implications for the Acceptance of New Scientific Information

Lauren Neiger, Dr. Andrea J. Sell

Department of Psychology

The scientific community currently faces a challenge in helping the general public understand and act on the current scientific conclusions published and supported by data.  For reasons unknown, the general public is critical of these new research findings and often chooses not to accept them. The present study aims to explore the connection between this criticism of new scientific findings and elements focused on in traditional critical thinking instruction. In this experiment, it was hypothesized that people who understand an article will be less likely to criticize it. Twelve undergraduate students from California Lutheran University who were enrolled in summer courses participated for extra credit. Participants read an article from a leading peer-reviewed psychology journal, and then wrote an open-ended response in paragraph form. Participants then answered questions for reading comprehension. Lastly, participants rated their perception of the article in terms of interest, believability, understandability and readability, using Likert scales. Two research assistants who were blind to the hypothesis read responses and coded each sentence as either criticizing or not criticizing, with fair agreement (K=0.368, p<.01).  Correlational analyses were run to test for relationships between perceptions of believability, readability, understandability and the critical sentence ratio and the ratio of critical sentences to total number of sentences for each response. Results show that participants who correctly answered all of the comprehension questions showed the hypothesized relationship between critical sentences and understandability r(12)=-.670, p=.048.  As perceived understandability increased, the number of critical sentences relative to total sentences decreased. This study is a good first step in exploring factors involved in critical thinking and criticism of new scientific findings. Future studies will further investigate how manipulating the difficulty of the article changes the ratio of critical sentences to total number of sentences in a response.

 

Forgetting as a Cognitive Mechanism of Forgiveness: Studying Intentional Forgetting in Older Adults

Alicia Vanessa Nuñez, Dr. Andrea J. Sell

Department of Psychology

Intentional forgetting is forgetting information on purpose (MacLeod, 1998). Often, it involves inhibiting or limiting details of a memory from coming into awareness (Levy & Anderson, 2002). Previous research suggests that intentional forgetting is useful in the forgiveness process (Sell, under review; Noreen, Bierman, & MacLeod, 2014). However, previous research has only examined this process in younger adults. Older adults, on the other hand, are known to have trouble with tasks that rely on inhibition, including intentional forgetting (Hasher, Zacks, & Radvansky, 1996). The current study explores the ability of older adults to use intentional forgetting in the forgiveness process. Thirty adults over the age of 65 from the community readtwo short stories, one sentence at a time. Each sentence was followed by a forget (F) or remember (R) cue. Midway through each story, an antagonist character perpetrated a conflict. This target sentence was either followed by a (F) or a (R) cue. After the story, participants were asked how likely they would be to forgive the antagonist. In a second manipulation, participants read two more stories; in these stories, the antagonist was either closely related (brother) or not related (stranger). This manipulation was used to examine how these relationships predicted forgiveness scores. Findings from the first manipulation revealed that the forget and remember cues did not produce increased forgiveness [b=-0.11, SE=0.32, t(18)=-0.36, p=0.72].  However, forgiveness scores predicted whether or not participants subsequently remembered the conflict sentence [b=-0.89, SE=0.33, t(18)=-2.69, p=0.02]. Perhaps, for older adults, intentional forgetting does not produce increased forgiveness, but forgiveness on the other hand, can influence the availability of an offending memory trace. Findings for the second manipulation found that, closeness in relation to the antagonist affected forgiveness scores [b=1.09, SE=0.37, t(14)=2.91, p=0.01].  While low power is a limitation in this study, overall these findings support the hypothesis that older adults are less able to use intentional forgetting in the service of forgiveness. Likewise, participants are much more likely to forgive a family member than a stranger.

 

Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship

Effects of Landing Direction and Gender on Lower Extremity Kinematics in Drop Landings

Tyler Berg, Dr. Michele LeBlanc

Biomechanics Laboratory, Department of Exercise Science

Previous research has identified several factors that may contribute to ACL injury, including gender, improper landing mechanics, and landing direction. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to compare the effect of landing directions and gender on lower body landing kinematics. Methods: Twenty-nine physically active subjects (15 M, 14 F) age 18-25 years with no previous jump or landing training participated in this study. Drop landings were performed from a 60 cm box with lower extremity kinematics captured with a Vicon 6-camera motion capture system collecting at 120 Hz. Trials were performed from six equal distance directions (Right, Diagonal Right, Forward with Left foot, Forward with Right foot, Diagonal Left, Left) with direction order randomized.  Sagittal and frontal plane angles at the hip, knee and ankle for the lead leg were computed at touchdown (TD), at maximum knee flexion (LP), and the corresponding ROM with five clean trials per direction averaged for analysis.  Analysis was performed with a two-factor ANOVA (p < 0.05) with post hoc tests using Bonferoni.  Results: There were no gender differences or interactions for the hip or ankle angles in either plane.  Ankle angles did not differ based on direction in either plane.  Gender differences existed for the knee in the frontal plane at TD (-3.7° ± 10.4° for F, 6.1° ± 8.8° for M; p < 0.001), at LP (-7.1° ± 19.0 for F, 15.0° ± 13.3° for M; p < 0.001), and the ROM (-3.4° ± 11.1° for F, 8.8° ± 6.3° for M; p < 0.001) with females generally exhibiting valgus angles. Landing direction affected hip adduction and knee flexion angles.  In general, subjects had smaller hip adduction and greater knee flexion angles when landing in directions that had their right foot as lead.  Conclusions: Various landing directions maintained the knee frontal plane angle differences associated with gender.  Subjects altered landing mechanics based on lead foot which may affect injury potential.

 

The Effects of SOCS36E on JAK/STAT Signalling and Extra Eye Penetrance in Drosophila melanogaster

Jared I. Berman, Dr. David M. Marcey

Department of Biology

The Janus Kinase/Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription (JAK/STAT) pathway governs many developmental and pathological processes in Drosophila melanogasterExtra eye (ee) is an incompletely penetrant, variably expressed mutation located on chromosome 2L. Prior studies of JAK/STAT signaling and ee indicate that the penetrance of ee phenotypes increase as JAK/STAT activity is upregulated. SOCS36E is a known feedback inhibitor of the JAK/STAT pathway. Thus, loss of function of SOCS36E may be used to analyze the penetrance of ee in a scenario of intensified JAK/STAT signaling. Purpose: This investigation was intended to assess the amplification of ee phenotype penetrance in Drosophila populations bearing the ee mutation as a result of JAK/STAT activation.  Methods: The experiment utilized four Drosophila lineages: Wild type individuals (1), ee individuals (JG1), and two lines containing SOCS36E loss of function mutations (35896 and 33106). Virgin JG1 females were simultaneously crossed in three separate instances to males of wild type, and both SOCS36E mutant populations. F1 generations for each of the three crosses were collected and evaluated for ee penetrance. Scored flies included 660 individuals from the 35896xJG1 population, 649 from the 33106xJG1 cross, and 200 1xJG1 individuals. Flies with an ee phenotype were recorded and used to determine penetrance levels in each respective F1 generation. Results were compared with chi square analysis to elucidate significant increases in penetrance. Results: An evaluation of the three crosses indicated that there was a significant increase in ee penetrance in both of the SOCS36E crosses in relation to the control wild type cross. The 33106xJG1 cross yielded a penetrance of 1.08% and the 35896xJG1 cross demonstrated a value of 1.82%. The 1xJG1 cross presented moderately lower expression, with a penetrance of 0.500%. Conclusion: It appears that ee penetrance is heightened by JAK/STAT activation. Future investigation should be devoted to considering other potential effectors of JAK/STAT signaling and ee penetrance.

 

Manipulation of Cytokine Expression and Its Effect on Hepatitis C Virus Infected U937 Monocyte

Salvador I. Brito, Dr. Dennis Revie

Department of Biology

According to the World Health Organization, there are approximately 150 million people infected with the human Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) worldwide. Out of the ones infected, about 500,000 people die per year from HCV-related diseases, like liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. However, due to the elusive process of infection by HCV, discovering a proper vaccine has been difficult. Thus, it is important to obtain as much knowledge as possible on how HCV is expressed in infected cells. Because of its asymptomatic characteristic, HCV has been inferred to avoid the human body’s immunological response to infections. This evasion by HCV has thus brought forth an interest in cytokines, which are intercellular proteins that act as signals between different cells, including monocytes. The first part of this ongoing study is to quantify the expression of cytokines in monocytes before and after HCV infection. After the quantification step, manipulation of cytokine expression will be done through a gene knockdown in order to understand the role specific, over-expressed cytokines play during HCV infection. In the study, two samples of U937 monocytes were cultured by Dr. Dennis Revie: uninfected (U) and HCV infected (I) cells. RNA purification was then done on both cultured cells, which was followed by Reverse Transcriptase (RT) to obtain cDNA strands. Upon reaching this step, Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR) was done on uninfected and infected samples in order to compare cytokine expression. A standard curve composed of different concentrations of HCV and glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) were used in order to quantify the analyzed cytokines. Over the course of this study, approximately 25 unique genes were analyzed. From these 25 genes, 6 genes (TAF1L, TNF, TNFAPI3, TAX1BP1, PAK2, and API5) showed a considerable amount of up-regulation after infection. Five of the formerly mentioned genes, not including TAF1L, have been showed to be anti-apoptotic genes. Because liver cells are known to avoid apoptosis after HCV infection, these genes are of particular interest. Further quantification studies and analysis will be conducted on these anti-apoptotic genes as well as a gene knockdown to further study their role in HCV infected cells.

 

The Correlation Between Ventral Patches and Dominance in Sceloporus occidentalis

Luis Patricio Burgos, Dr. Kristopher B. Karsten

Department of Biology

In many lizard systems, males often engage in physical confrontations for access to resources such as food, territory, or access to females. However, physical combat carries significant risks. As a result, many species have evolved displays to establish social dominance without physical confrontation. In western fence lizards, Sceloporus occidentalis, males signal with large ventral blue patches that they display via ‘pushup’ behavior. I proposed that male S. occidentalis lizards with larger ventral blue patches would display territorial dominance (both size of territory and number of females present in that territory) over males with “lesser” blue patches. In my research, I studied these displays but I mostly focused on identifying the territories of males correlated to the size of their blue patch. I did this by going out with a small team of researchers who aided in capturing and marking the lizards, both semi-permanently with paint and permanently by clipping their toes. The paint markings were four markings of varying colors placed on the back of the legs of the lizards in order to identify them from afar. The paint markings corresponded to the toe clippings, which were three toes, specific to one lizard (toes 14 and 19 were not clipped because of their effect on sprint speed and possible fitness). After marking the S. occidentalis lizards, we would go out and do ecological surveys where we would identify the lizard by its markings and mark its location with a GPS device that saved all the locations. Over the course of the summer, we conducted over 20 surveys. Anytime we came across a previously unmarked male during the surveys, we would capture him and take him back to the lab for the spectroscopy measurements that quantified the blue of the patches. The males were released soon after the tests were completed.

 

The Analysis of Gene Sequences in Canine Tumors

Tristen Burt, Dr. Chad L. Barber

Department of Biology

With over 33 commonly mutated gene loci an ever-increasing demand exists for mammalian model systems between human and canine cancers. As such, the canine genome has become a popular model for mammalian comparative genomics within the past decade. An investigation was conducted into identifying different genomic mutations in canine in situ carcinomas and comparing those mutations with those found in human cancers. It was expected that the tumor cells harvested and cultured in vitro should prove to be useful models for comparative genomic study. Four canine tumor lines (a mammary gland carcinoma (MG1), a canine lipoma (CL1), a sebaceous adenoma (SA1), and an osteosarcoma (OC1)) were harvested from dogs at Arroyo Vista Veterinary Hospital and grown in vitro. Meanwhile, DNA was extracted, purified, and amplified with 30 oligonucleotide primer sets, corresponding to common proto-oncogenes shared between canines and humans, using polymerase chain reaction. Their respective presence on the genome was verified via agarose gel electrophoresis, optimized, and then sequenced via capillary electrophoresis. In vitro studies concluded that the neoplasms harvested were not truly immortalized cell growths, with MG1 cultures going into quiescence after passage 11.  Molecular studies concluded and verified the presence of a majority of common proto-oncogenes among all four canine carcinomas, including genes of interest—TP53, KRAS, EGFR, and HMGA2 (common in human lipomas), all of which are common mutations observed in human cancers. Due to quality of genomic DNA, oligonucleotide design, and further optimization needed, only short sequences obtained were viable candidates for alignment and comparative analysis. In conclusion, our in vitro system can sustain most cell lines for at least 5-10 passages in culture.  In addition, primer sets for gene sequencing have been validated and should yield sequences in the next phase of the project.

 

The Social Effects of Tail Loss on Sceloporus occidentalis

Katherine Dubsky, Dr. Kristopher B. Karsten

Department of Biology

Introduction: As in many species of lizards, male Western Fence Lizards (Sceloporus occidentalis) are territorial. The more dominant males keep larger territories with better basking spots, hiding places, and food resources. A bigger and better territory means that the male will likely have more females nearby and therefore more access to mating opportunities. Lizards can voluntarily lose their tails to avoid predation. However, because they store fat in their tails, losing them may lower lizards’ chance of survival as well as their social status. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine if tail loss in males affects ability to maintain territory and/or access to females. Methods: Data were collected from late May to early August in the Briar Bluff region on Mount Clef. Males and females were marked with toe clippings and paint dots on their hind limbs for identification. Each time a lizard was spotted, a GPS point was taken at the exact location where it was found. Individual territories were mapped out using these GPS points. The number of females accessible to a male was determined by the number of female home ranges his territory overlapped. Results: This year, 18 males and 17 females were recorded. The GPS points for every lizard were plotted on a map of the region. Ten or more GPS points are required in order to accurately determine territory size. However, due to time and weather constraints, most lizards did not have enough points by the end of the season. Future Work: Next season, tails from half of the males will be removed. In addition, bite force, sprint speed, and the size of the blue patch on the underside of the male lizards will also be measured to observe any relation to territory size or access to females after tail loss.

 

The Role of sRNAother in Antibiotic Resistance in Bacillus thuringiensis

Jordan Felipe, Dr. Theresa Rogers

Department of Biology

An extraordinary number of lives have been saved each year by the clinical use of antibiotics, but as we continue to use these drugs, bacteria evolve to withstand them. Antibiotic resistance, especially multidrug resistance, is a major public health concern as it not only increases morbidity and mortality rates, it also costs more money as hospital stays for the infected tend to be longer that those infected with a nonresistant bacterial strain. Purpose: The purpose of this study is to gain a better understanding of different methods of antibiotic resistance by investigating the naturally occurring increased multidrug antibiotic resistance found in the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis. Methods: This investigation was done by selectively removing a gene sequence in B. thuringiensis, pseudotRNATrp, thought to be responsible for conferring an increase in antibiotic resistance. This selective deletion was achieved by a multistep method, generally: (a) obtain genomic DNA from stock B. thuringiensis; (b) selectively remove pseudotRNATrp via the use of specific primers and polymerase chain reaction, PCR, to create a sequence, ΔpseudotRNATrp, without our gene of interest; (c) insert ΔpseudotRNATrp into plasmid DNA of E. coli; (d) obtain modified plasmid from E. coli; (e) recombine E. coli plasmid DNA and B. thuringiensis genomic DNA in living B. thuringiensis bacteria to create deletion strain.  Future Work: Once this deletion strain of B. thuringiensis is obtained, we will perform growth analyses of this mutant alongside its wild type counterpart in the presence of varying levels of different antibiotics. This will help us understand the phenotypic differences between B. thuringiensis strains with the pseudotRNATrp sequence and those without said sequence. Outcomes: If pseudotRNATrp does as we expect, this would provide us with a platform to further study an actual mechanism of antibiotic resistance, specifically the intriguing method possibly employed by this bacterium. B. thuringiensis would be an ideal candidate for study because, as an insect pathogen, it can safely be handled by humans without the need for elevated health protocol or special certification.

 

Longitudinal Associations Between Anthropometric and Functional Measures of Sarcopenia and Osteopenia

1Amanda Hamilton, 2Jessica Tran, 1Dr. Steven Hawkins

1Department of Exercise Science (California Lutheran University), 2Cell and Molecular Biology and Public Health (Tulane University)

The purpose of this study was to determine the longitudinal associations between anthropometric and functional measures of sarcopenia and osteopenia.  Fifty-three subjects (19 males and 34 females) aged 68-91 yrs were recruited from the previous study done in 2011. Bone mineral density was measured by a dual energy x-ray absorptiometry. A leg strength test, performed on a leg press machine, and a pinch strength and handgrip strength tests, performed with a dynamometer, were used to measure muscle strength. A get up and go test was performed as a measure of functionality. Data were compared across time by paired samples t-tests (p < 0.05).  For males, there was a significant decline in leg press (471±158 vs. 379±125 lbs, p < 0.05) and grip (40±8 vs. 37±7 kg, p < 0.05) strength.  GUG time (6.8± 1.3 vs. 7.8±2.9 s) and hip BMD (0.930±0.14 vs. 0.902±0.15 g/cm2) approached significance. For females, GUG time (6.7±1.1 vs. 7.1±1.3 s, p < 0.05), grip strength (27±5 vs. 25±6 kg, p < 0.05), and hip BMD (0.761±0.10 vs. 0.741±0.11 g/cm2, p < 0.05) changed significantly.  For both males and females, change in GUG time and change in grip strength were the strongest predictors of change in hip and spine BMD.  It appears that strength and functional measures may be useful to predict osteoporosis in older men and women.

 

Applying Queuing Theory to a Queuing System

Su Ji Hong, Dr. John Villapando

Department of Mathematics

I waited over an hour for a ride at Magic Mountain even though the sign at the entrance said that the wait time is 30 minutes. This begged the question how does one estimate the length of time people wait in line.  In math terms the study of systems with lines is called queuing theory. In queuing theory a state represents the number of customers present at the system. Queuing theory uses flow balance equations derived from steady states to determine the probability of each state.  Then the expected number of customers and the expected time spent in the system can be figured out using the definition. I modeled the queuing system at the Centrum. After studying queuing system, I collected the data at the Centrum and formed models of the queuing system. Assuming that the arrival and service rates follow exponential distribution, I modeled the waiting line at the register and the network of queue line between the register and the kitchen.  From my observation, the queue system at the register followed M/M/1/FCFS// : the arrival and service times are independent, there is one server, it has a first come first serve queue discipline, infinitely many people can be in the queue, and there are infinite many people from which customers are drawn. I figured out the arrival rate,, and service rate,  I computed the waiting time and compared it to the data. For the queuing system at the kitchen, it had M/M//FCFS// : the arrival and service times are independent, there are n servers depending on what people ordered, it has a first come first serve queue discipline, infinitely many people can be in the queue, and there are infinite many people from which customers are drawn. I simplified this model to M/M/1/FCFS//. Then I connected them using the fact that  depends on  of the register. This gave flow balance equations similar to the one before but with more variables. After calculating the probability of each steady state, I calculated the queue time at the register and the kitchen.

 

Where’s My Car? An AI Assisted-Living Android App

Blin Kazazi, Dr. Chang-Shyh Peng

Department of Computer Science

Driving and using our cell phones is illegal and very dangerous. However in the 21st century when driving is part of our daily lives, finding our way in the maze of streets, highways and freeways has become almost impossible. People can no longer pull over to the side of the road and read a map to see where they want to go. There have been multiple attempts that big companies have made to solve this problem. Google has done an excellent job with the Google Maps. However operating the app still requires a lot of attention, and it is difficult to set the app and drive at the same time. My goal is to design a simple interface that is safe to use while driving, so that people can operate their phones and also drive at the same time. The goal of this project is to find ways to help people better use today’s technology to improve their efficiency. Technology is always changing, and keeping up with it is a challenge. This is why in this research project I intend to make a Map application that will be really simple to use, and in addition it will boost the user experience by already knowing where the user intends to go.

One area that needs serious consideration is parking in parking structures. With multi-story parking buildings and large parking areas, remembering where one parked is becoming more of a challenge everyday. Technology can  make the process of finding your car much easier. This is a problem amongst all age groups, however elderly people are more prone to forgetting where they parked. This can happen for multiple reasons, however Alzheimer’s disease is one of the main causes. This investigation will be part of the research project. By creating a simple to use application that will help people affected by memory loss, we will also indirectly expand the smartphone market to older age groups.

Using the Java programming language, in combination with a MySQL database, PHP scripts, and Javascript I am working on a revolutionary app that will change the way we use maps on our phones.

 

Antibiotic Resistance in Local Waterways and the Hill Canyon Wastewater Treatment Plant

Danielle Renee Montoya, Dr. Theresa Rogers

Department of Chemistry

Antibiotic resistance has recently become a global concern. Over the past three decades, the level of antibiotic resistance in bacterial pathogens has increased dramatically due to the misuse and overuse of antibiotics in medicine and agriculture.  Antibiotic resistant bacteria from hospital and municipal waste collect in wastewater treatment plants where they can transfer genes conferring antibiotic resistance to other bacteria. Large and comprehensive studies have shown tetracycline, erythromycin, and sulfonamide resistance have been found in bacteria isolated from wastewater treatment plants around the globe. Various studies have demonstrated that some of these antibiotic resistant bacteria can pass through wastewater treatment plants into local waterways.  These studies may be underestimating the amount of antibiotic resistance entering local waterways because they relied on isolating bacteria in order to test for antibiotic resistance, yet only about 1% of bacteria can be cultured.  In this study, bacteria were collected by filtration and their DNA extracts analyzed for the presence of genes conferring resistance to tetracycline, erythromycin, and sulfonamides.

 

Localization of the ABCA4 Phospholipid Flippase in Developing Photoreceptors

Sharena Rice, Dr. Kenneth O. Long

Department of Biology

Introduction: Flippases are proteins that transport lipids across cell membranes and serve as key regulators of cell polarity.  There are a number of flippases in the retina. A defect in the photoreceptor-specific flippase ABCA4 is linked to Stargardt macular degeneration in humans. In the adult fish retina there are developing photoreceptor cells at the periphery of the eye (close to the iris) along with fully differentiated photoreceptors throughout the rest of the retina.  Using goldfish retinas allows the visualization of the developmental appearance of ABCA4 and related proteins in photoreceptors.Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of different commercial antibodies in labeling flippases (ABCA4 and ATP8a2) in the goldfish retina.  These antibodies were not known to work in fish retina before.  The ultimate goal is to analyze the developmental appearance of flippases in photoreceptors and whether they appear before or after opsin, the light-capturing protein of photoreceptors. Materials and methods: Commercial goldfish were used.  SDS-PAGE and Western blotting were used to determine the molecular weights of the proteins and to tell which antibodies bound proteins of the goldfish retina.  The antibodies tested included Abcam's monoclonal anti-ABCA4, GeneTex’s polyclonal anti-ABCA4, Santa Cruz Biotechnology's anti-ATP8a2 (a related flippase) and anti-opsin.  Light and dark-adapted retinas were also fixed processed for immunocytochemistry. Results: This study demonstrated that GeneTex’s polyclonal anti-ABCA4 is effective in labeling ABCA4 in goldfish retinas.  Santa Cruz Biotechnology’s monoclonal anti-ABCA4 does not work as well, as it requires a great concentration of these antibodies to work.  Further studies will analyze the localization of the ABCA4 in the developing retinas.  Preliminary immunocytochemical results demonstrated ATP8a2 labeling of developing photoreceptors.  The anti-opsin also worked well in labeling.Conclusion: Since the polyclonal anti-ABCA4 from GeneTex and the anti-ATP8a2 were working for the goldfish retina, they can be used in further studies to find more about these flippases and their developmental appearance in the retina.

 

Modeling Catalyst Transfer and Exploring Initiators for Direct Arylation Polymerization

Timothy Schwochert, Dr. John Tannaci

Department of Chemistry

The synthesis of conjugated materials with an application to organic photovoltaic devices has been an increasingly growing field of study in recent years. Traditionally, these conjugated polymers (CPs) have been synthesized using transmetallated monomers via Stille, Suzuki, or Grignard metathesis (GRIM) preparations. Direct arylation, a type of Palladium catalyzed C—H activation, presents a different potential synthetic process for these CPs without unstable and/or toxic monomer functionalization. Additionally a controlled chain growth polymerization in coordination with an initiator is ideal when developing a synthesis for CPs. To better understand catalyst transfer properties of Direct Arylation, four small molecule systems were used to model the polymerization reaction of poly-3hexyl thiophene(P3HT), a common conjugated polymer. These novel model molecules were synthesized on a gram scale, purified, and were used to quantify the effect of reaction conditions on C—H selectivity and catalyst transfer efficiency. After extensive optimization, we observed that lower catalyst loadings (1%) and a moderate temperature (70°C) was ideal for conversion. However, even for these optimized conditions we found that as our model systems better represented P3HT, we observed less C—H activation control.  Regardless of the lack of specific C—H activation, these reactions yielded very interesting data as only completely substituted products were observed throughout all systems strongly favoring a catalyst transfer mechanism. Preliminary work has been conducted on an initiator for the polymerization. This extensive optimization of reaction conditions yielded promising results due to catalyst transfer being strongly observed, as well as the finding of a potential initiator for Direct Arylation polymerization, but we believe that a more refined understanding of the reaction mechanism is still necessary. Through the development of a ligand specifically tailored for Direct Arylation this synthetic technique could yield polymers analogous to controlled polymerizations such as GRIM.

 

Suzuki Cross-Coupling Synthesis of DANPY, a Fluorescent Dye Molecule

Brittany Smolarski, Dr. Jason Scott Kingsbury

Department of Chemistry

Intracellular fluorescence staining, a common microscopy technique used to enhance image contrast, utilizes dye molecules to target specific parts of a cell for visualization.  Currently, ethidium bromide is the most widely used biological stain for nucleic acids such as DNA.  Unfortunately, ethidium bromide is extremely toxic and requires involved procedures for its use and disposal, pressing the need for other nontoxic dyes that stain DNA as efficiently.  Collaborators at the University of Washington have identified the small pyridinium cationic dye DANPY-1, which demonstrates high affinity for DNA and optical nonlinearity in excess of that of Disperse Red 1. DANPY-1 binds to DNA in vitro and demonstrates quantifiable photophysical characteristics.  Further experiments have targeted higher hyperpolarizability variants and optimization of conditions for incorporation of the dye into thin films for materials applications.  Regrettably, a first generation synthesis of this dye molecule based on convergent Suzuki coupling was inefficient, with only a 30% yield in the key step.  The aim of our study was to develop and streamline a highly efficient synthesis in order to facilitate further study of the photoactivity and biological applications of this molecule.  

A GC assay utilizing 2-amino-6-bromonaphthalene and 4-pyridinylboronic acid was implemented with tetramethylbenzene as an internal standard.  This allowed for rapid condition screening, through which Pd2(dba)3 and SPhos were identified as the optimal catalyst system.  Greater than 81% conversion to product was observed in DMF and ethanol, a solvent mixture chosen based on literature foresight.  Because the structure of DANPY-1 readily lends itself to electronic tuning, a cyclic pyrrolo derivative, DANPY-2, was developed, requiring synthesis of an alternative starting material as the electrophile for the Suzuki reaction.  Conditions were quickly optimized for a double SN2 reaction, with over 75% purified yield. Gratifyingly, the optimal Pd(0)/SPhos combination identified for the parent system translated well to DANPY-2 system.  Simple N-methylations of both pyridines were then performed, allowing transformation to the cationic forms of the dye and yielding DANPY-1 and -2 in over 93% yields. Ongoing experiments are focused on further diversification of the alkyl moiety on the cation, with possible application of the novel catalyst system to other challenging pyridinyl and pyrrolo cross-couplings. 

 

 

Cell Adhesion, Proliferation, and Morphology of PEGDA Hydrogels

Anthony Sotelo, Dr. Chad Barber

Department of Biology

Hydrogels are increasingly being used in the developing field of tissue engineering and for drug delivery systems. Different monomer substituents and cross linkers are being used in the development of these gels which include macromolecules such as polyethylene glycol (PEG), poly(acrylamide) (PAAm), N-isopropylacrylamide (NIPA), poly(acrylic acid) (PAA), as well as other various monomers. These synthetic hydrogels have an advantage over natural hydrogels such as collagen plugs or Matrigel® by being able to manipulate the mechanical properties of the gel and the polymerization used to create the gels. While natural gels have a fix concentration, synthetic hydrogels can be tuned to a specific concentration of monomers, ligands, and spacers.  PEG gels can be selectively modified at different functional groups, are biocompatible, and resistant to protein adsorption or degradation. PEG hydrogels are an attractive platform for cell culture because of the potential to introduce different spacers, linkers, or binding sites into the gel network. PEG monomers are not limited to a linear network; branched PEGs provide a higher degree of spacing and branching which leads to a higher specificity for the gel’s mechanical properties. The stability of the gel can be influenced by the functional groups used in its synthesis. PEGDA hydrogels with ranging weight percent were used to determine the morphologic effect on 3T3 fibroblast and SMC cell lines. PEGDA hydrogels were cross-linked using TEMED and APS in solution. It was found that pure PEGDA hydrogels yields no cell adhesion on the gel platforms resulting in a spherical morphology in contrast to the branched morphology that the 3T3 cell line typically maintain. The PEGDA hydrogels are resistive to protein absorption, which leads to the inability for the cell lines to adhere to the platforms. The inclusion of an adhesion promoting peptide will be included to enhance the binding of the cells to the gel platform in hopes to create a biomimetic platform for cell culture.

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Abstracts for the 2011 SRS PDF icon

Student Biographies

Numerous students were on campus at CLU conducting research through the summer. Some were volunteers; others were funded by fellowships or departmental funds. The biographies that follow include primarily those students who were officially funded with the assistance of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Scholarship to conduct mentored scholarly projects, full time throughout the summer.

Marina Marisela Alvarez is from West Los Angeles, CA. She is a senior, majoring in Global Studies and Spanish. Following graduation, she hopes to enter a graduate program in Cultural Anthropology or Cultural Studies, ultimately to become a museum curator. Marina enjoys traveling and reading. Of the summer research experience, Marina says, “If it were not for the summer research, I would have never gained the experience I needed to be able to apply to graduate programs. I have been able to learn so much about myself, as well as my future career goals.” Her project was mentored by Dr. Rafaela Fiore Urízar and funded by the Pearson Scholars Summer Program for Leadership and Engagement in a Global Society.

Tyler Berg is from Winters, CA. He is a senior, majoring in Exercise Science. Following graduation, he hopes to enter a Doctor of Physical Therapy program, to pursue a career as a Physical Therapist with an Orthopedics or Sports Rehabilitation Specialty. Tyler enjoys swimming, hiking, hunting, and fishing. Of the summer research program,hesays, “The Swenson summer fellowship program allowed me to immerse myself into the biomechanics field, which has prepared me for grad school and future work with patients, as well as give me the knowledge and more importantly the experience, of a field that I will need to use as a Physical Therapist. I will be able to take this knowledge and understanding and maybe one day apply it to my own practice.” His project was mentored by Dr. Michele LeBlancand funded by a Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship.

Jared I. Berman is from Westlake Village, CA. He is a senior, majoring in Biological Sciences. He hopes to attend an MD/PhD program with an emphasis in Molecular Biology, with a long term professional goal of serving as a faculty member of a Medical School and conducting Biomedical Research. Of his hobbies and other interests, Jared says, “As the descendant of Swedish immigrants, I actively promote Scandinavian heritage on campus. I helped create the CLU Scandinavian Student Club in 2011. On my free time I create digital graphics, tinker with programming, or work with computer hardware.” Of the summer fellowship program, he says, “The Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship enabled me to learn how to work on an independent basis with my mentor’s guidance—an experience that would otherwise be unavailable at an undergraduate level. Conducting full time research reaffirmed my passion for a career in the Biological Sciences, and provided me with indispensible experience that has undoubtedly prepared me for graduate research and beyond.” Jared’s project was mentored by Dr. David Marcey and funded by a Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship.

Salvador I. Brito is from Oxnard, CA. He is currently a junior, pursuing a BS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, a BA in Psychology, and a minor in Mathematics. Of his future, Salvador says, “After graduation, I would love to enter a PhD program in Neurobiology. I believe that the brain holds many secrets we have yet to discover. In the long run, I plan to dedicate my life to research. Specifically, I would like to explore brain degenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.” Regarding hobbies, he says, “Although learning is my biggest passion, I also enjoy watching and playing soccer, spending time with my family and friends, watching movies, and playing League of Legends.” Of the summer fellowship experience, Salvador says, “This summer fellowship program has further affirmed my desire to end up in the research field. I am fascinated by the unknown and exploring it would be a dream come true.” His project was mentored by Dr. Dennis Revie and funded by a Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship.

Luis Patricio Burgos is from Whittier, CA. He is currently a junior, majoring in Biology. After graduation, he hopes to apply to enter a PhD program, to pursue a career as a field biologist. Luis says that he likes animals, playing the trumpet, and swimming. Of the summer fellowship experience, Luis says, “This fellowship definitely cemented in my mind that my future lies in research, I thoroughly enjoyed being out in the field. I learned that I can definitely see myself as a field biologist.” His project was mentored by Dr. Kris Karsten and funded by a Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship.

Jacob S. Burman is from Chatsworth, Los Angeles, CA. He is a senior, majoring in Chemistry and minoring in Mathematics. After graduation, he hopes to enter a PhD program, and is considering a future in either academia or industry. His interests include "tinkering away at the unfamiliar,” going to the beach, hiking, theatre, and listening to music. Of the summer research experience, Jacob says, “Working this summer with Dr. Kingsbury has been eye-opening to say the least. There’s so much that I don’t know about my field and every day has been an adventure in learning all the advance techniques professional chemists employ in expertly manipulating materials.  While my experience has grown greatly since the start of my research endeavors, the most valuable piece of information is knowing that I still have plenty to learn.” His project was mentored by Dr. Jason Kingsbury and funded by a John Stauffer Research Fellowship in the Chemical Sciences.

Tristen Burt is from Simi Valley, CA. He is a senior, majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and minoring in Music. Following graduation, he hopes to pursue medical graduate studies and enter an MD program, with the goal of becoming a Medical Doctor. He says of his hobbies and outside interests, “Piano. I accompany for 3 separate churches in the local area, and love every minute of it! Additionally, I love to hike and rollerblade.” Of the summer research experience, Tristen says, “The Swenson Summer Science Fellowship has granted me an opportunity to see where and what I want to be doing in ten years down the road. This summer has really solidified a passion in me for biological and biomedical research, and hopefully one day, I will get the opportunity to work just as hard with patients in this same manner!” His project was mentored by Dr. Chad Barber and funded by a Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship.

Carla De Lira is from El Sereno, Los Angeles, CA. She is a senior, majoring in Computer Science and minoring in both English and Mathematics. Following graduation, she says, “I hope to enter a PhD program in computer science at a … university (with a) … strong research focus in human computer interaction or cross platform development.” Her long term goal is “To become a full time professor at a university and mentor students.” Her hobbies include creative writing, web development, graphic design, and learning new languages. Of the summer research experience, Carla says, “Since there are many facets of computer science you can discover, my research experience served as a way to focus on a specific issue in the field and allowed me to delve deeper and learn more about cross platform development. I gained insights of the field that I would have otherwise not been able to explore had I not had the opportunity to do research.” Her project was mentored by Dr. Craig Reinhart and funded by a Darling Summer Research Fellowship for Applied Scientific Computing.

Katherine Dubsky is from Livermore, CA. She is currently a junior, majoring in Biology and minoring in Computer Science. Upon graduation, she hopes to enter a PhD program in Biology, with a long term professional goal of continuing research or entering a career working with animals. Outside interests include crochet and other crafts, reading, playing music, and video games. Of the summer research experience, she says, “This summer, I found that the research I was able to do with this program is something I want to continue after I graduate from CLU.” Katherine’s project was mentored by Dr. Kris Karsten and funded by a Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship.

Jordan Felipe is from Ventura, CA. He is a senior, majoring in Bioengineering. He is considering a career in Biomedical Engineering and may take a year off following graduation to prepare for graduate school. His outside interests include, “playing music, running (not necessarily from a wild animal), and anything that has to do with computers.” Of the summer fellowship program, Jordan says, “This summer research has provided me the opportunity to learn technical skills and develop methods for gaining a deep understanding of a topic in limited time that will help me to be a better, more suited individual in whatever situations I may encounter.” His project was mentored by Dr. Theresa Rogers and funded by a Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship.

Chelsea M. Feller is from Simi Valley, CA. She is a senior, majoring in Psychology with an Emphasis in Clinical/Behavioral Psychology. Following graduation, she hopes to enter a PsyD program, ultimately to become a Psychologist to conduct therapy with children. Chelsea enjoys running and hiking. Of the summer fellowship experience, she says, “My summer research opened my eyes to how wide the field of psychology truly is. The differences among individuals with the same diagnosis was astounding. The research I conducted allowed me to understand that no two people are the same and that every person deserves to be heard. Through my research I have realized how much I want to work in the field of psychology in order to help people. Over this past summer I was able to learn more about Autism Spectrum Disorder and how life might be different for those with ASD. Conducting summer research helped me develop skills such as planning, being able to work well with others, presenting and much more, all of which I will use throughout the rest of my life.” Her project was mentored by Dr. Jodie Kocur and was funded by a SURF.

Amanda Hamilton is from Simi Valley, CA. She is currently a junior, majoring in Exercise Science. Following graduation, she hopes to attend graduate school to earn a Doctorate in Physical Therapy, with a professional goal of working as a Physical Therapist. Amanda loves to run track. Of the summer research experience, she says, “The summer fellowship program has provided me with hands on experience with testing and data recording that is similar to my future career goal of being a physical therapist. This experience also helped me improve my organization and communication skills through data collection and scheduling appointments.” Amanda’s project was mentored by Dr. Steven Hawkins and was funded by a Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship.

Su Ji Hong is from Jeju, South Korea. She is a senior, majoring in both Mathematics and Physics. Following graduation, she hopes to enter a PhD program in Mathematics, with a professional goal of becoming a Math Professor. Su Ji enjoys playing games such as Sudoku, Kakuro, and set game. Of the summer research experience, she says, “This summer has been a trailer to my future career and it was an eye-opening experience to (the) life of a real mathematician. It provided experiences that are not available in a classroom.” Su Ji’s project was mentored by Dr. John Villalpando and was funded by a Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship.

Trevor Hougen is from San Diego, CA. He is currently a junior, majoring in Biochemistry. Following graduation, he hopes to go to Medical School to pursue an MD. Trevor enjoys playing soccer, writing, and swimming. Of the summer research experience, he says, “The most important thing I learned from my summer fellowship program was what it is like to work in a research setting on a day to day basis, and by way of this routine, I learned how to continue to problem solve and be flexible in order to complete a project successfully.” Trevor’s project was mentored by Dr. Jason Kingsbury and was funded by a John Stauffer Research Fellowship in the Chemical Sciences.

Hillis Edward Nguyen Johnson is from Livermore, CA. He is currently a junior, majoring in Chemistry and minoring in Mathematics. His goal is to enter a PhD program in Materials Chemistry, with the aim of becoming a professional Research Chemist, either in academia or industry. He also enjoys playing music, especially jazz, on clarinet and saxophone. Of the summer research experience, Hillis says, “This summer has allowed me to expand my research thinking. It has taught me how to think around problems and to concisely prove an idea. I feel more confident in my own independence as well as closer to my lab mates. The summer has showed me what it is like to be a research chemist, and as a result, piqued my interest even more.” Hillis’ project was mentored by Dr. John Tannaci and was funded by a John Stauffer Research Fellowship in the Chemical Sciences.

Blin Kazazi is from Gjakove, Kosovo. He is currently a junior, majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Mathematics. Following graduation, he hopes to “continue working as a web developer and hopefully advance in my career.” Blin says, “I have always wanted to go to grad school, get an MBA degree, and then have my own software company. I would love to work on revolutionary new technologies, such as 3d printing, or maybe cool web technologies.” Of outside interests, he says, “ I really enjoy paragliding, skiing, swimming. Bicycle riding is my favorite sport. Recently I have also started taking flight classes.” Of the summer research program, he adds, “It has made me realize that I have chosen the right major. This has been one of the coolest projects I have done at CLU. I have learned more during this summer than during an entire school year. Thank you!” His project was mentored by Dr. Chang-Shyh Peng and was funded by a Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship.

Malina Keaton is from Castro Valley, CA. She graduated from CLU last May, with a major in Theology and Christian Leadership with an Emphasis in Youth and Family Ministries and a minor in Psychology. She is now hoping to attend Seminary. Her outside hobbies include reading, playing the guitar, and collecting Frida Kahlo paraphernalia. Malina was funded during the school year to conduct a research project in religion. Of her experience, she says, “In many institutions, research is something done through extracurricular avenues with many students having to work without much support. Luckily I had the opposite experience with my research endeavor. Through the Foster Family fellowship, I was able to get class credit for my research along with financial support for my budgetary needs. I cannot tell you how supported I felt as a beginning student researcher, and am so grateful that I could pursue a passion I didn't originally know I had through the generosity of the Foster Family Foundation and the wonderful faculty of this university.” Her project was mentored by Dr. Peter Carlson and was funded by a Foster Family Foundation Undergraduate Student Research Fellowship in Religion.

Danielle Renee Montoya is from Oxnard, CA. She is a senior, majoring in both Biology and Global Studies. Danielle is currently applying to Medical School and hopes to become an Emergency Medicine Physician, specializing in natural disaster relief. Her hobbies include writing poetry, going to concerts, and gardening. Of the summer fellowship experience, Danielle says, “The Swenson Science Summer Fellowship has helped me learn more about research as a whole, what to expect out of the trial and error, and the unexpected things in research. It taught me patience, and allowed me to express creativity with my ideas. I learned to trust my capabilities in lab and that my research was worth it.” Her project was mentored by Dr. Theresa Rogers and funded by a Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship.

Lauren Neiger is from Costa Mesa, CA. She is currently a junior, majoring in Psychology and minoring in both Biology and Religion with an Emphasis in Children, Youth and Family Ministry. She hopes to attend a PhD program in Clinical Neuropsychology, with a professional goal of practicing as a Clinical Neuropsychologist for children and adolescents. Her hobbies include yoga, traveling, and cooking. Of the summer research program, Lauren says, “I gained some really good insight into the wonderfully complicated field of research within the psychology field. This opportunity has affirmed my aspirations to carry on with research in my academic and career goals.” Her project was mentored by Dr. Andrea Sell and funded by a SURF.

Maxine Nelson is from Simi Valley, CA. She is a senior, majoring in both Bioengineering and Multimedia and minoring in Chemistry. Upon graduating, she hopes to enter a PhD program in Biology. She says, “Long term, I hope to work in science communication visually, especially using video, animation, photography, and design to communicate scientific concepts and discoveries to the broader community.” Her hobbies include traveling, drawing, writing, and participating in multicultural and interfaith groups and activities. This past summer, Maxine participated in a research program at UCLA. Of this experience says, “My summer experience at UCLA taught me how challenging significant research in angiogenesis can be but also the importance of understanding vascular development. I learned essential molecular biology techniques, especially how to optimize immunofluorescence imaging.” Her CLU mentor was Dr. Chad Barber and UCLA mentor was Dr. Luisa Iruela-Arispe. The Amgen Foundation funded her participation as an Amgen Scholar.

Alicia Vanessa Nuñez is from Canoga Park, CA. She is a senior and is pursuing a BS in Psychology with an Emphasis in Psychobiology, a BA in Spanish, and a minor in Biology. She hopes to enter a PhD program in Clinical Psychology, with the goal of becoming a Clinical Neuropsychologist. Of her hobbies, she says, “Since entering college, travelling throughout Latin America has caused me to become increasingly interested in Street Art. While many don't consider this a true art form, I have grown to see Street Art as a way of understanding that particular location's views on a wide variety of subjects.” Of the summer fellowship program, she says, “Completing this summer fellowship program has allowed me explore the multifaceted world of research and academia. Further development of my strengths and awareness of my weaknesses have showed me that I do want to continue my path towards graduate school.” Alicia’s project was mentored by Dr. Andrea Sell and funded by a SURF.

Nickel Revie is from Thousand Oaks, CA. He is currently a junior, majoring in Computer Science. Upon graduating, he hopes to either pursue a Master’s degree in graduate school or to get a job at a game studio to develop games. His long term professional goal is to work as a Game Designer or Narrative Writer. About his summer fellowship experience, Nickel says, “I had to teach myself a new programming language, read up on materials that I was to work on and implement them to the best of my ability. I also learned to never be afraid to ask questions if you can’t figure out a solution.” Nickel’s mentor was Dr. Craig Reinhart and he was funded by a Darling Summer Research Fellowship for Applied Scientific Computing.

Sharena Rice is from Simi Valley, CA. She is a senior, majoring in Biochemistry and minoring in both Psychology and Philosophy. She hopes that upon graduation she will have the opportunity to teach math and/or science with Teach for America or AmeriCorps. Her long term professional goal is to become a Neuroscience Professor. Her hobbies include playing the oboe, public speaking in Toastmasters, interning at the Community Service Center and civic engagement. Of the summer research program, Sharena says, “Summer research has allowed me to gain mastery of lab techniques, making me not a mad scientist, but a happy one.  This fellowship challenged me to gather information and to be able to discuss ideas on a higher level.” Her project was mentored by Dr. Kenneth Long and funded by a Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship.

Timothy Schwochert is from Simi Valley, CA. He is a senior, pursuing a BS in Biochemistry. He hopes to enter a PhD program in Chemistry. He enjoys hiking and spending time with friends. Of the summer research program, Timothy says, “Scientific research is a colossal effort from all laboratories around the world, and it felt humbling and thrilling to be a part of something larger than myself. Having this opportunity to see what research looks like in an academic setting will greatly prepare me in my pursuit of higher scientific education.” His project was mentored by Dr. John Tannaci and funded by a Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship.

Brittany Smolarski is from Oak Park, CA. She is currently a junior, pursuing a BS in Biochemistry. Upon graduating, she hopes to attend Medical School, and then enter “…a highly-ranked surgical residency program, where (she) can learn and practice surgical techniques and eventually become a top surgeon.” Her hobbies include horseback riding, reading, spending time with family, and trying new things. Of the summer research program, she says, “The Swenson Summer Research Fellowship has provided me with the opportunity to not only expand my organic chemistry knowledge, but to also delve into the world of scientific discovery and grow as a student, researcher, and a person.  I believe that the work I did this summer has prepared me for the demands I face in pursuing medical school by allowing me the opportunity to develop the skills to interpret data, analyze information, and drive the intellectual process.” Brittany’s project was mentored by Dr. Jason Kingsbury and funded by a Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship

Anthony Sotelo is from Sylmar, CA. He is a senior, majoring in Biochemistry. Upon graduating he hopes to earn a PhD in Chemistry and work in Pharmaceuticals. Of the summer research experience, he says, “This summer research provided me with the experience of adapting to the ever changing problems that arise when you are developing a project, and the collaboration between different departments as well as other students.” Anthony’s project was mentored by Dr. Chad Barber and funded by a Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship.


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