Project Title: The Effects of Estrogen on Spatial Discrimination Within a Novel Environment in a Murine Model
Abstract: Estrogens, a major group of female steroid hormones, is involved in many processes in the body. For instance, 17B-Estradiol is vital for learning and memory processing, which mainly takes place in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a formation in the brain that plays a large role in memory. Learning and memory are related to a type of synaptic plasticity called long term potentiation, and therefore a more efficient learning system. High expression of estrogen receptors in the hippocampus suggest that this region is especially under estrogen control. It was hypothesized that hormonal status affects separation detection pattern. To test this, adult ovariectomized female rats were used. Six days after the surgery, animals were randomly assigned to their groups and either injected with estrogen or a control for four days. The animals underwent behavioral testing 24 hours after the last injection, to determine if either group recognized the spatial information change through active re-exploration. The study showed that estrogen injected rats had no improvement in their ability to re-explore a metrically altered environment. This research was designed to not only determine the effects of hormonal status, but also to discover if it is worthwhile for ovariectomized females to receive estrogen supplements after surgery. The results of this study indicate that estrogen doesn't improve the cognitive function of spatial discrimination, which will have to be investigated further.
Mentor & Affiliation: Dr. Jana Veliskova / New York Medical College
College Student will Attend Next Year: SUNY New Paltz Presentation Video:
Abstract: E-cigarette use has skyrocketed over the past decade amidst speculation over their potential health effects. Previous studies have noted the presence of heavy metals in the aerosol of outdated e-cigarette models, but thus far no research has been conducted to examine the potential heavy metal content of JUUL® (leading e-cigarette brand) vapor. Additionally, most studies in the literature do not use a puffing topography to generate their samples which mirrors that of actual e-cigarette users. In this study, a survey was conducted and cross referenced with existing literature to determine unique e-cigarette puffing patterns. The determined puffing topography was in turn used to draw vapor through a series of filters and collect condensed aerosol samples. Samples were run through an ICP for chemical analysis. Iron, copper, and chromium were detected in JUUL aerosol at concentrations higher than they are found in ambient air. Additionally, the metals detected in the samples digested from filters differed from the metals detected in the condensed aerosol samples, raising concerns that some metal particles have a mass minute enough to stay suspended in aerosol for a significant time after generation. This could suggest that metal nanoparticles are present in JUUL vapor, which would have considerable toxicological impacts. Despite perceptions of JUULs as a healthy alternative to smoking, the results of this study raise concerns regarding the health effects of prolonged JUUL use.
Mentor & Affiliation: Dr. Lynn Maelia / Mount Saint Mary College
College Student will Attend Next Year: Georgia Tech Presentation Video:
Project Title: Confirming the Target Protein Expression for Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell Therapy in Glioblastoma Multiforme
Abstract: Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) is a rare stage 4 glioma that is difficult to treat. Chemotherapy and radiation have done little to subside the pain or heal patients. In recent years, immunotherapy has gained interest as an alternative cancer treatment, especially for GBM. T-cell therapy, a type of immunotherapy, is focused on engineering T cells from the patient’s body to express and attack a target protein. This experiment focuses on Chimeric Antigen Receptor (Car) T-cell therapy, which is FDA approved in fluid cancers such as Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL). CARs’ capability of attacking solid tumors has yet to be demonstrated, but has shown promise. For this therapy to work, T-cells must be engineered to target one specific expression by confirming via cell lines and xenografts. This procedure is performed using immunofluorescence. The experiment focuses on the gene expressions wild type EGFR, EGFRvIII, IL13Ra2, and HER2, common proteins expressed in GBM patients. It was found that HER2 was the only positive target. While there was only one target, the rest of the tests confirmed each other as they were all false. Hence, the hypothesis was accepted. Confirming one target has allowed the process to continue in the creation of the therapy.
Mentor & Affiliation: Dr. Zev Binder / University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
College Student will Attend Next Year: Villanova University Presentation Video:
Project Title: Investigating the effect of Targeted Gene Deletions on the Expression of Mutant CDC42 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae for Potential Cancer Treatments
Abstract: Four different pathways in yeast transfer information from the outside of the cell to the nucleus allowing the cell to respond to certain types of stimuli. These pathways use the same proteins however, when each pathway is activated proteins will only activate the downstream protein that is needed for the correct cellular response. Our research showed that we can force a certain protein to activate the incorrect downstream protein which will allow two pathways to activate at the same time. This process is referred to as cross talk. In my research, I found that within a mutant strain of yeast there is cross talk between two of the pathways; when the mating pathway is overexpressed the vegetative growth pathway could be activated. I then created a series of genetic knockouts in order to investigate the effect of the gene deletions on the expression of this cross talk. I found that when the rsr1 gene has been deleted the level of cross talk between the vegetative growth pathway and the mating pathway was affected. This is due to the amount of the mutated protein cdc42p being changed within the yeast. This result allows us to now consider the rsr1 homolog in humans as a target for cancer treatments such as gene therapy. We can either reduce or increase the amount of the rsr1 gene in order to normalize the level of mutant cdc42p found. This return to normal level will preventing a cancerous cell from dividing out of control.
Mentor & Affiliation: Dr. Paul J. Cullen / SUNY Buffalo
Project Title: Bulk Heterojunction Morphology for Efficient Organic Solar Cells by Surrogate Modeling
Abstract: With the recent advancements in organic solar cells, addressing the gap between manufactured and lab-controlled power conversion efficiencies of these solar cells is necessary. Their performance highly depends the optimization of their microstructures. They're highly dependent on nanomorphology in order to understand and quantify the physics and design for optimization. Thus, multiple hand-drawn microstructures were designed and converted to nm measurements for analysis in MATLAB by pixel quantification. Designs were drawn based on 6 main groups with varying thicknesses. Estimated PCE was then determined by F ABS, F DISS, and F CT parameters. Increasing the active layer’s thickness exponentially decreased its efficiency because of the exponential decay of light, affecting exciton generation. Geometric designs weren’t effective due to their constricted surface area for charge dissociation. Decreasing the domain size increased PCE until low absorption became prominent. Higher numbers of donor figures between sinusoid and comb decreased absorption, and ellipse gap design increased absorption. However, the rate of efficiency increase is slower, undermining all its positive trends. For all design categories, taller features increased PCE due to increased SA. Branched designs, closely resembling dendrites, were the most optimal. Nonetheless, development in fabrication and processing is necessary for making nucleation and growth feasible to manufacture these more efficient design.
Mentor & Affiliation: Dr. Olga Wodo / SUNY University at Buffalo
College Student will Attend Next Year: Worcester Polytechnic Institute Presentation Video:
Project Title: The Role of Selenium in Reducing Mercury Toxicity: An Analysis of Selenium and Mercury interactions in Fish Tissue Samples from Onondaga Lake in Syracuse, NY
Abstract: Selenium (Se) protects brain tissue against oxidative damage and performs vital functions in humans and fish. High methylmercury (CH3Hg) exposures can severely diminish Se transport across the placenta and irreversibly inhibit fetal brain selenoenzymes and serious cardiovascular issues in adults. Se binds with mercury in fish to prevent pathological consequences of methylmercury. Since Se can be highly variable between watersheds and different fish species, further evaluation of freshwater fish is needed to identify locations where fish with high levels of mercury (Hg) cannot be consumed by vulnerable subpopulation groups. My project looked at seven different samples of fish tissues from Onondaga lake (the most polluted lake in the US) due to decades of mercury pollution. Samples of fish tissue were digested using an Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS). Molar ratios of selenium and mercury were calculated to analyze if certain fish can be consumed by humans using the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) risk assessment. In order to identify freshwater fish that can be eaten and others that have excessive levels of selenium, which can also have serious brain impairment due to selenium poisoning.
Mentor & Affiliation: Dr. Charles T. Driscoll / Syracuse University
College Student will Attend Next Year: University of Maryland Presentation Video:
Emily Arena & Emily Heese
Project Title: The Effect of Combined Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation and Bimanual Intensive Therapy on Upper Limb Function in Children with Unilateral Spastic Cerebral Palsy. Abstract: Unilateral Spastic Cerebral Palsy (USCP) is a pediatric physical disability caused by brain malformation during the first two years of life, resulting in movement deficit on one side of the body. Developments in rehabilitation have created effective treatments for USCP, however, they do not fully improve upper extremity function nor are improvements made sustained. For this study two rehabilitation techniques were combined to identify if the conjoint therapy is more effective than individual therapy. Bimanual Intensive Training focuses on the improvement of motor activity while using both hands to achieve a task. tDCS is a form of non-invasive brain stimulation that delivers an electrical current creating a shift in the membrane potential of stimulated neurons. 11 children with USCP received 2 hours of therapy a day for the duration of 5 days and 2mA of either sham or active tDCS was administered. To determine if UE function levels improved, the children completed multiple hand function assessments before, after, and 6 months after treatment. It was able to be determined that overall UE improved and one of the hand function assessments (Box and Blocks Test) showed statistically significant data meaning that this assessment can accurately measure hand function.
Mentor & Affiliation: PhD Kathleen Friel / Burke Neurological Institute College Student will Attend Next Year: Emily Arena: The Ohio State University Kayleigh Kenny: Drexel University Presentation Video:
Project Title: Predicting Conflict in The Legend Of Zelda with Artificial Intelligence
Abstract: 12% of high school students have been in a fight, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. There are specific warning signs of these fights which are numerous, and more importantly, quantifiable. Using artificial intelligence (AI), these types of fights could potentially be predicted, and then stopped. To create an AI algorithm that can do this, it needs to be trained. In this project, an algorithm was trained to predict conflict (fights) in The Legend of Zelda, a video game. The algorithm was provided with a database of images of all the characters, weapons, items, and backgrounds. It was also given a database of images of warning signs of fights. For example, the animation of an enemy starting an attack. Then, the algorithm was shown a video of conflict so that “conflict” was defined. The algorithm’s prediction capabilities were then tested with a series of conflicts. Non-conflict events were also mixed in to act as a control. The algorithm was able to predict conflict with an accuracy of 90% and it did not predict that non-conflict events would be conflicts. The algorithm is successfully able to predict conflict in The Legend of Zelda, and so the next step would be to increase the complexity of the environment.
Mentor & Affiliation: Stephen Breidenbach / NA
College Student will Attend Next Year: Purdue University Presentation Video:
Project Title: An X-Ray Fluorescence Comparative Analysis of a Native American Paint Pot to Soil and Clay Samples on a Significant Archeological Site
Abstract: Much of Native American society and culture has been lost to the progression of time. It is up to those who find the artifacts of these lost civilizations to interpret and analyze, to fill in chunks of previously unknown information. The basis of this project is formed around a Native American paint pot found in southern New York. The goal of this project is to find a possible link between a known Native American tribe and this pot. Many tribes navigated through the Hudson Valley during the European colonization of the Americas. There are many mysteries surrounding exact tribe locations, and many period documents show conflicting information on who exactly was in the Hudson Valley area during this time. Actual physical proof from a settlement that is clearly linked to a certain Native tribe could map out a better understanding of the Iroquois nation and the very history of New York State. In this project, using X-Ray Fluorescence, commonalities were found in the elemental compositions of various soil and clay samples and the paint pot. Thus, establishing a clear link between the scans taken from the pottery and the dig site in Bedford, NY, which can be seen as a previously unknown Native American settlement.
Mentor & Affiliation: Bob Hanley / Panam Consultants Dr. Lynn Maelia / Mount Saint Mary College
College Student will Attend Next Year: Baruch College Presentation Video:
Sun Graham & Kayleigh Kenny
Project Title: The Effects of Subfreezing Temperatures on the Efficacy of Permethrin-Treated Clothing as a Repellent for Haemaphysalis longicornis Ticks
Abstract: Permethrin is an insecticide often used to protect against tick-borne diseases. It can be applied to clothing to repel and kill ticks and is commonly used in labs to protect researchers in the field. Our lab’s protocol is to store permethrin-treated suits in -80°C freezers overnight to kill any ticks that could be on the suit after field data collection. We aimed to determine if this process weakens the efficacy of permethrin, and to test the effect of freezing permethrin-treated clothing since permethrin has directions not to store below 30℉. Therefore, we had a null hypothesis that the storage of permethrin-treated cloth in -80℃ conditions will not decrease the efficacy of permethrin as a repellent against Haemaphysalis. Longicornis (H. longicornis) ticks, and an alternative hypothesis that it will decrease the efficacy of permethrin against H. longicornis ticks. In our project, we used Petri dish assays with permethrin-treated and untreated (control) cloth. H. longicornis ticks were used for our petri dish assays due to their abundance at our lab facility. For the efficacy of treated room temperature cloth versus treated cloth stored at -80°C, there was a p-value of 0.999999. This indicates that the storage of permethrin-treated clothing in -80°C conditions doesn't weaken the efficacy of permethrin significantly. In conclusion, we fail to reject our null hypothesis, which is beneficial in that the protocol of storing permethrin-treated clothing is safe to use in labs.
Mentor & Affiliation: Dr. Nicholas Piedmonte / Louis Calder Field Station
College Student will Attend Next Year: Sun Graham: Georgia Institute of Technology Kayleigh Kenny: Drexel University Presentation Video:
Project Title: Investigating the Relationship Between Misophonic Trigger Prevalence and their Sound Structures
Abstract: Misophonia is a disorder characterized by the autonomic adverse reaction to typical sounds. In recent years, there has been increased interest in the etiology of Misophonia. Some studies, such as the Brain Basis for Misophonia in 2017 by Dr. Kumar, have found data pointing to the etiology of Misophonia being neurological while others have found increased prevalence of Misophonia in the families of Misophonics, pointing to some hereditary etiology. Though, there has been a lack of research into the etiology being derived from the sounds themselves and not the individual with the disorder. This is most likely due to the lack of unification of sounds that cause the disorder’s response, as one Misophonic’s “trigger noise” can be extremely different to others. In a prior survey study of Misophonia, a list of Misophonic triggers was created and then ordered by their prevalence within the population. In this study, the student researcher recorded sounds from the list provided and then analyzed them using the program Praat. The six different variables--pitch min, max, and mean; intensity min max mean--were then run through a correlation test with the prevalence provided by the previous study. The study found there was no correlation between Misophonic trigger prevalence and their sound structures, supporting a Misophonic etiology not based in the sounds of Misophonia. Though, this study may still help Misophonic researchers in deciding where to put further funding in the field by supporting the previous works of Kumar, Sanchez & Silva.
Mentor & Affiliation: Dr. Jennifer Jo Brout
College Student will Attend Next Year: Syracuse University Presentation Video: