2021 Undergraduate Exhibition
|The Degradation of Protein Aggregates via Small Molecule Activation of Autophagy||Eli Mertick-Sykes||Neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s diseases, are estimated to affect 44 million people worldwide. The accumulation of protein aggregates is a commonly displayed phenotype for patients at different stages of disease progression. Autophagy is a cellular pathway that is capable of clearing extensive protein aggregates. The Zhang group is looking for suitable autophagy activators that may assist in clearing these protein aggregates for potential pharmaceutical applications.||Xin Zhang||15968|
|The Effect of Childhood Adversity on the Cortisol Response to a Social Stressor: Evaluating Biological Sex as a Moderator||Nicole Jaquette||Childhood adversity is thought to negatively influence the stress response in adults, affecting cortisol levels such that cortisol output is lower in response to stressors. Females produce less cortisol in response to stressors than males, which may underlie evidence indicating differing health outcomes associated with stress among males and females. This research, expanding previous work, examines whether the association between childhood adversity and cortisol in response to a social stressor differs in males and females.||Kyle Murdock||15811|
|The Effect of Copped Induced Expression on the Intergral Membrane Protein, Lit and the Toll-like receptor 2 of Entercoccus faecalis||Phoebe Nabua||Bacterial lipoprotein modification is a process that is vital to both Gram-negative and Gram-positive microbial pathogens. Lipoproteins are pathogen-associated molecular patterns that interact with the Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) during the innate immune system response. In certain Firmicutes, external copper triggers N-terminal modifications of lipoproteins that can alter TLR2 detection. Herein, we examine the effect of these modifications on copper resistance in the nosocomial pathogen, Entercoccus faecalis.||Timothy Meredith||16137|
|The Effect of Gender Diversity and Geographic Dispersion on Continued Interdisciplinary Collaboration in NSF-Funded Teams||Bruce Tirrell||
Funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) increasingly require teams of researchers from multiple disciplines, i.e., different branches of scientific knowledge, to address society's major scientific and social challenges. This study examined the extent to which NSF-funded principal investigators and co-principal investigators continued to collaborate after the NSF project, and whether gender diversity or geographic dispersion had any effect on fostering more continued interdisciplinary collaboration.
|The Effect of Glycoprotein Variants on the Fusion of Herpes Simplex Virus 1 with Host Cells||Ellie Kim||Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) is a human pathogen that infects more than 60% of the global population and has life-long effects. Phylogenetic studies show that there is a lot of genetic diversity in human herpesvirus strains that may affect viral fitness between various stains. The molecular modeling software PyMOL was used to simulate various mutations in viral proteins to hypothesize how various mutations affect protein function and ultimately viral fitness.||Moriah Szpara||15144|
|The effect of the small RNA RyhB on the structure of its mRNA targets||Samantha Grecco||
RyhB is a sRNA in Escherichia coli that is expressed under iron-limiting conditions and regulates the iron sparing response. The majority of RyhB targets have not been characterized and the role of RNA structure in the sRNA-mRNA interactions is unknown. It is hypothesized that the target mRNA secondary structure influences the ability of RhyB to interact and that the interaction may induce a structural rearrangement that alters gene expression.
|The Effects of Fitbit Groups on College Students’ Attitudes Towards Exercise and Daily Step Count: A pilot study||Serena Schade||This study aims to assess the effects of Fitbit groups on attitudes towards exercise and physical activity amongst students. Subjects (n = 2, F) were given a Fitbit device. During the experimental portion, subjects completed the Attitude Towards Exercise survey, participated in an online group, then repeated the survey. During the online group, a higher (p||Praveen Veerabhadrappa||15617|
|The Effects of Judges’ Personal Attributes on Sentencing in State Criminal Cases||Kelsey Gorman||This thesis analyzes how different personal attributes of judges, namely, judges’ sex, political orientation, years served on bench, and prior legal experience, influence sentencing outcomes.The sentence imposed is measured by whether or not it includes incarceration, the length of incarceration (in months), and whether the sentence departed above or below the guidelines. Unique to my thesis, I use survey data administered to Pennsylvania judges in the Court of Common Pleas to analyze presonal attributes.||Jeffrey Ulmer||16152|
|The Effects of Motivational Messages on Physical Activity in Young Adults||Griffin Frobel||This content analysis investigated the end-of-study interviews of 75 Random AIM study participants to determine the effectiveness of sending motivational messages with or without images on physical activity. The reasons for message effectiveness on changing attitudes and behaviors related to physical activity as well as the association between race/ethnicity were explored. The interviews concluded that sending messages did increase physical activity behavior.||David Conroy||15846|
|The Effects of Natural RNA Modifications on G-Quadruplex Formation||Laurena Olsson||The project goal is to determine how modifications, specifically methylation, affect G-Quadruplex (GQS) formation. GQS are formed when four guanines interact on both the Watson-Crick and Hoogsteen faces through hydrogen bonding. It is hypothesized that natural RNA modification affect GQS formations, either enhancing or diminishing them. These modifications are catalyzed by different enzymes that are non-essential in bacteria. By knocking out these genes, modification no longer occurs and downstream effects can be studied.||Bevilacqua Philip||15851|
|The Effects of Symbol Background Color on Visual Search in a Large Grid Display in Adults Without Disabilities||Ashley Russo||Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is a way for individuals with complex communication needs to access speech and language. Previous research has indicated that the inclusion of background color on small arrays inhibits search for a target symbol in young children. This research aims to determine the effects of symbol background color on visual search within an adult population viewing a 60 symbol grid display.||Krista Wilkinson||15212|
|The Exocyst complex is essential for all forms of neurite outgrowth.||Rachel Swope||The Exocyst complex is an evolutionarily-conserved, well-studied mediator of polarized cell growth in budding yeast, but its function(s) in multicellular organisms are not well understood. Using Drosophila dendritic arborization neurons as model cells, we find that the Exocyst is required for axon and dendrite regeneration after injury and dendrite regrowth after developmental pruning in vivo. We are also investigating how the smooth endoplasmic reticulum (SER) might induce exocytosis at the growing tip via Ca2+ release.||Melissa Rolls||19914|
|The Future of Photovoltaic Technology: Using Amino Acids as Molecular Electronics||Maria Schultheis||
Amino acids are essential to life; however, their importance and their properties can be further extended into molecular electronics, or the use of molecules to fabricate electronic components. One of the most promising applications of molecular electronics is in novel photovoltaic technology. Using quantum mechanical calculations, I have studied amino acid structures linked to gold electrodes and have related stable structures to calculated currents and the ability of the molecule to transport charge.
|The Impact of a Single Payer Healthcare System on Pennsylvania Hospital Revenues||Rafay Nasir||What would be the impact of the establishment of a single universal public payor along with the elimination of the private payor on Pennsylvania hospital revenues? This study analyzes the impact of a single-payer healthcare system on Pennsylvania hospital revenues by conducting a literature review, creating a conceptual framework in the form of a Directed Acyclic Causal Graph, and finally using this conceptual framework to conduct a quantitative regressive analysis.||David Vanness||20775|
|The Impact of Wildfire on Lizard Malaria||Huntur Woodard||Hopland, CA is site to the longest-term study on a wildlife malaria pathogen where the lizard malaria parasite, Plasmodium mexicanum, naturally infects the western fence lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis. In Summer 2018, more than half of the site was devastated by wildfire. We aimed to determine if/how the wildfire affected the overall prevalence of malaria and if the genetic diversity of the parasite was significantly different compared to the diversity present before the fire.||Anne Vardo-Zalik||15913|
|The Importance of Early Socialization Into the Nursing Profession||Logan Desanto||Early socialization into the nursing profession is important for nursing students to enhance their clinical and cognitive skills. There are limited opportunites for clinical experience in the home health setting and for participation in nursing research. By working with Dr. Michael Evans, this experience provided insight as to what a nurse does on a daily basis and the factors that contribute to patient care. The Student Engagement Network Innovation Grant funded this engagement experience.||Michael Evans||15176|
|The Material and Psychological Effects of Executive Order 13769||Mikaela Walker||The purpose of this research study is to examine the effect that Executive Order 13769 (the E.O. that limited immigration to the United States from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) had on the visa process for Muslim international students. By pursuing a study specifically centered around Muslim international students, I will be able to demonstrate non-traditional security measures in immigration and highlight unintended impacts from these security decisions.||Gregory Kruczek||16103|
|The PFK-158 glycolytic inhibitor alters migration and cell morphology.||Khushi Kiran et al||
Metastasis of cancer cells can be promoted by epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) and migration. Targeting cancer cell metabolism with the PFK-158 glycolytic inhibitor would be expected to decrease cancer cell proliferation, but it is not known how this impacts cell migration. Recent studies suggest that cells can use lipid droplet energy stores to fuel rapid migration. We find PFK-158 alters lipid metabolism, increases migration, and alters cell morphology.
|The PFK-158 glycolytic inhibitor increases cell migration fueled by lipid droplets||Ofure Akhigbe et al||
PFK-158 is a recently developed cancer drug that targets PFKFB3 to diminish glycolysis and decrease cell proliferation. PFK-158 has been shown to promote lipophagy, but it is not known whether this impacts other cell functions, such as migration. To look into this, we studied the impacts ofPFK-158 on MDCK cells and monitored migration and lipid droplet content. We found that migration was increased, while the number of lipid droplets decreased.
|The Psychological Effects of Social Media and Activism||Lauren Kang and Adella Lewis||
This study aims to find the psychological effects of social media and activism. The purpose is to identify the social effects social media has on members of our society and discern those effects (e.g., polarizing opinions, activism). Through an online survey, we found there was a positive correlation between time spent on social media and the more activism you believe to have, but no correlation between social media use and feelings about social justice.
|The Psychological Effects of Social Media and Polarization||Adella Lewis and Lauren Kang||
With the increased social media use today due to time availability from the pandemic many are wondering what affects is this having on people. This study will look into details like is it becoming more of a distraction, what platforms are more popular, and whether there may be a correlation between personality and social media usage.
|The Push for Police Reform in Pennsylvania: Understanding Residents' Attitudes||Payton Perry||Recent events involving questionable police officer use of force on Black citizens have captured the attention of many Americans. Indeed, police reform has been a hot topic of discussion among academics. The goal of this project was to assess public perceptions of various types of police reform. Data were collected and analyzed from a sample of more the 500 Pennsylvania Residents. Policy implications based on our findings are discussed within.||Nathan Kruis||16046|
|The Relationship Between Community Violence and Risky Drug Behavior||Kiara Brown||The purpose of this study is to explore how variations in a child’s environment may moderate the relation between community violence and risky behaviors. The data obtained indicates that while there are variations in drug use patterns across locations, conditioned by sex and age, in 6th grade, many of these differences disappear 4 years later. However, at both time points, the presence of heavy drug use is limited to a minority of participants, skewing patterns.||Jon Tveite||15920|
|The Sandman Project||Nina Gold||
The Sandman Project seeks to re-imagine iconic scenes from cinematic musical history through a modern lens, featuring a diverse set of actors from all different backgrounds. By juxtaposing classics from performers like Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly with people of different races, gender identities, and abilities, we can bring our history to meet our present and give representation to marginalized groups of people.
|The State Initiative: An Exploration of the Variation in Climate Change Policies Passed in the Fifty US States||Emily Kiver||This poster examines the variation in state-level policies on climate change contributors, and what factors are most influential to their passage. I perform a nested analysis of several policies, including renewable portfolio standards, greenhouse gas reductions targets, and cap-and-trade policies. I find that political factors (liberal public opinion and Democratic state government control) are strongest in the determination of climate change action, with significant climate-related natural disasters and industry lobbying playing secondary roles.||Eric Plutzer||15475|
|The Supreme Court's influence on public’s opinion in salient and low salient cases||Richard Montone||My thesis examines whether the Supreme Court has the ability to influence public opinion for both salient and low salient cases. I looked at four separate cases. Two of the cases involved gun rights while the other two looked at executive powers. For each topic, one case is a salient case while the other is low salient for the purpose of comparison.||Christopher Zorn||16060|
|Thermal Simulations on MOSFETs with Heatsink of Multi-cells Inverters Using Autodesk Fusion 360||Fanfu Wu||Temperature is a crucial factor of the circuit design in power electronics. The heat of MOSFET mainly comes from its switching and conduction loss. The poster will provide instructions on how to build and run the thermal simulation on the MOSFETs with known power loss in order to find suitable size of heatsinks that can make the devices run at the desired temperature. The calculations on the thermal resistances will also be performed.||Arash Khoshkbar-Sadigh||15891|
|Thrust Measurement of a Microwave Electrothermal Thruster||Andrew Dauby||The process of using microwaves to heat a gas to plasma temperatures is a proven method of providing thrust to spacecraft in orbit. This technology provides a higher performing alternative to cold-gas thrusters. The objective of this project is to produce thrust measurements for a streamlined microwave electrothermal thruster (MET) that generates a surface wave plasma and allows for more reasonable dimensional tolerances and uses simplified geometries for improved performance, when compared to traditional designs.||Sven Bilen||20737|
|Transitional Justice and Ex-Combatant Reintegration in Post-Civil War States||Ryan Westlake||In an attempt to answer the question of why some post-civil war states remain stuck in a cycle of violence, I explore policy options and their impacts on conflict recurrence. I specifically test the potential for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programs and transitional justice mechanisms to interact in ways that impact peace. My results (quantitative analysis of civil wars 1950-2006 & Colombia case study) indicate that addressing grievances is most important in reducing conflict.||Cyanne Loyle||16047|
|Twenty Years Projections of Plasmodium falciparum R561H Frequencies in Rwanda||Haojun Li||
Rwanda, a landlocked African nation located at the east of Lake Kivu, struggles with widespread malaria. Our study focuses on Plasmodium falciparum's R561H mutation and builds upon a previously developed model of malaria transmission. In this poster, we will show our R561H frequency prediction under various scenarios over the next twenty years.
|Type VI Secretion System Diversity within a Single Host||Allison Rawson||The bioluminescent marine bacterium,Vibrio fischeri, exists in a symbiotic relationship with the Hawaiian bobtail squid. In order to study the strain diversity of the symbiosis, specifically the diversity within a single animal, various strains of V. fischeri were isolated from a wild-caught adult squid. This project uses a bioinformatic approach to study diversity in terms of the type VI secretion system, a contact-dependent, interbacterial, killing mechanism.||Timothy Miyashiro||15346|
|Undergraduate Student Perspectives on Gender and Social Support for Criminal Justice Careers||Salvatore Defeo and Genesis Munoz Arias||
Because of recent events involving the criminal justice system, levels of support for criminal justice professionals have fluctuated, but not much is known about how it affects pre-professionals. This study investigates the effect of gender on social support for careers in criminal justice from the perspectives of 31 criminal justice students at Penn State Berks. These findings can be used to improve social support for students interested in pursuing careers in the criminal justice system.
|Understanding localization patterns of individual strains of V. fischeri within a single host animal||Caroline Ulanoski||Understanding the biological process through which diversity within a multi-strain host microbe relationship is developed is vital because of its importance in human and animal health. A common model to study host-microbe interactions is the squid E. scolopes which is colonized by the bacteria V. fischeri. When multiple hosts are exposed to the same strains of bacteria there will be high diversity of strains within each host, and low diversity in colonization patterns among hosts.||Timothy Miyashiro||15103|
|Understanding Mechanisms Controlling the Localization of Microtubule Organization Proteins in Drosophila Neurons||Melissa Long||Microtubule organization is crucial to neuronal growth and neurodegenerative disease mechanisms since microtubules comprise the core structure of neuronal components. Proteins involved in this organization localize at dendritic branchpoints, however, the signaling pathways controlling their targeting are unclear. Four receptor proteins act upstream of localizing microtubule regulators in dendrites, some concentrating in branchpoint endosomes. We therefore hypothesize that clathrin-mediated endocytosis internalizes receptors after they encounter cell-surface ligands. Clathrin localization to branchpoint structures supports this hypothesis.||Melissa Rolls||19770|
|Understanding Motivations For Split-Ticket Voting: Evidence from Germany||Brian Arata||Voters who choose to cast a split-ticket have perplexed political scientists, campaigns, candidates, and media for years. Despite an increase in split-ticket voting, researchers have largely failed to keep up and examine why these voters are choosing to act in this way. This research seeks to fill that void as it analyzes three potential motivations for split-ticket voting in the 2017 German Bundestag elections. The evidence suggests motivations for ticket splitting are complex and varied.||Sona Golder||15483|
|Using Computational Methods to Identify Inhibitors of CaMKII and SGK1 Enzyme-Function in the Fight against Heart Disease||Nicholas Tomasko||Heart disease causes 25% of deaths worldwide. The continued discovery of new medications to treat heart diseases is thus essential for preserving human life. Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) and serine/threonine protein kinase 1 (SGK1) are two enzymes associated with severe heart conditions. Computational methods were employed to screen for inhibitors of these enzymes. Three compounds were found to bind with high affinity within the active site of each enzyme, potentially inhibiting their function.||John Alumasa||15762|
|Using deficiencies to screen for dendrite regeneration genes in class IV neurons of Drosophila||Samantha Simonovitch et al||
Neurons must last the lifetime of an organism and subsequently require repair pathways when injury occurs. Using deficiencies in Drosophila, we can test several genes on the third chromosome at once in dendrite injury experiments to identify genes that play a role in dendrite regeneration. Two deficiencies have shown decreased regeneration, and one gene responsible for this has been characterized. Further deficiency screening will identify the additional gene(s) essential for dendrite regeneration after injury.
|Using honey bee collected pollen as an early indicator for viral plant diseases impacting crops in Pennsylvania||Brock Molloy||Viruses infecting agricultural crops in Pennsylvania can be extremely detrimental to growth and yield. Our study used a strategic pollen collection technique to screen pollen collected from colonies housed at three apiaries across Pennsylvania||Christina Grozinger||15377|
|USING QUANTIFIABLE BEHAVIORAL TRAITS TO PREDICT A COUNTRY’S COVID19 INFECTION RATES||Charles Alba, Manasvi Mittal and Anmolika Singh||
COVID19 has shown that indicators that are a function of a nation's economy and healthcare infrastructure are inaccurate in predicting a country's outcomes should a health pandemic occur. Our poster suggests the utilization of quantifiable traits like Individualism, Power Distance, Masculinity, Uncertainty avoidance, long-term orientation, and Indulgence to predict a country's COVID19 infection rates. This is accomplished by applying machine learning techniques like multi-variate imputation and Poisson regression against COVID and behavioral datasets.
|Using ReMOT technology to genetically modify Culex tarsalis mosquitoes||Brittany Chapman||The main objective of this project is to knock-out the Kynurenine monooxygenase (kmo) gene responsible for the eye color in Culex tarsalis by using ReMOT technology. In-vitro cleavage assay confirmed sgRNAs raised against exon 3 and 5 will be injected into 24h post blood fed females along with P2C-Cas9 and saponin. The offspring of the injected females will later be screened for any change in the eye color.||Jason Rasgon||17467|
|Wears and Tears: Imagining Lost Futures and Listening to Ghosts||Tucker Johnson and Amber Lucas||
Tucker Johnson composed Wears and Tears in 2021 for clarinetist Amber Lucas as a duo between live clarinet and a computer-controlled virtual clarinet made of pre-recorded samples. Tucker deploys a system based on two pitch-class sets that are rotated to create a dynamic and colorful sonic world. Together, the structure and performance-framing evoke Jacques Derrida's neologism "Hauntology," as the persistent past of Amber's samples haunt her through the piece.