100 `If One of Us Would Get Off, There Would Be Room for Me

‘If One of Us Would Get Off, There Would Be Room for Me’: Feminist Press Rhetoric
Against Section 213 of the 1932 Federal Economy Act
Jane Marcellus, Faculty, Journalism
In 1932, President Herbert Hoover signed into law a far-reaching Economy Act, designed
to cut federal spending during the Great Depression. One clause, Section 213, mandated
that if both members of a married couple were federal employees, one of them—usually
the wife—would be dismissed if cuts were made. The law not only challenged the federal
merit system, but codified existing prejudice against married women workers. Although
historians have discussed Section 213, none have systematically examined coverage in
the feminist press. This paper fills that gap, using discourse and narrative analysis to
study feminist press rhetoric against the law. Identifying recurring discourses—equity,
merit, damage to marriage, hardship and fascism—I argue that although feminist groups
differed ideologically on other issues, their rhetorical strategies against Section 213 were
consistent. This counters arguments regarding lack of feminist unity and adds to
knowledge of an understudied time in feminist press history.
Aerial Vegetation Monitoring of Riparian Areas in an Urban Environment
Jeremy Aber, Faculty, Geosciences; Whitney Patton, Undergraduate student,
Geosciences; Christopher Wyatt, Undergraduate student, Geosciences; Jeremy Aber
(Faculty sponsor), Geosciences
Riparian areas are important interfaces between rivers and the surrounding land; in an
urban context, this can have potentially serious implications for cities, particularly in
regards to flood potential. This project involves monitoring vegetation conditions along
the Stones River and Lytle Creek within the city of Murfreesboro using a combination of
kite- and blimp-based small-format aerial photography and Landsat 8 satellite imagery.
Small-format aerial imagery has the benefit of having an extremely high spatial
resolution, on the order of 1-2cm pixel size. Data collection focuses on specific sites
along the Murfreesboro Greenway system, collecting data in both the visible and nearinfrared wavelengths. This project is the first step of a long-term monitoring project
tracking changes in vegetation conditions along the Stones River and Lytle Creek in
Murfreesboro. One of the sites monitored is along the track of the April 10th 2009 EF4
tornado event, and quantifying the change in vegetation at this site over time is a focus of
the project. The current work revolves around refining methods of data collection and
analysis. Multiple field methods and cameras are used for collecting imagery, and
different methods of preparing the imagery are compared to see which best suits the data
for further analysis.
“Tethered” - An animated short film
Kevin McNulty, Faculty, Electronic Media Communication
“Tethered” is animated short film made entirely by EMC professor Kevin McNulty with
original music composed by RIM Professor, Joseph Akins.
The film is entirely 3D computer animated. Software used in the making of this film
includes Autodesk Maya, mental ray, Pixar’s Renderman for Maya, Adobe Photoshop,
Adobe After Effects, Adobe Audition, Adobe Premiere, Apple Motion, and Ableton Live
with plug-ins Ivory 2, Omnisphere, Stylus and Kontakt.
“Oppression, abuse and bullying are the ways of the land as seen through the eyes of one
red balloon. Take a stand.”
Brief Synopsis:
In a strange world, Ids rule the sky. They create and then enslave, abuse, and bully
balloons. Ids are completely reliant upon the balloons for nearly everything in their daily
lives, including transportation and sustenance. The balloons don't question this and they
don't fight back. Born into this world, the balloons have no choice but to endure the
horrible mistreatment.
Or do they?
“Tethered” is the story of one brave red balloon that sees the oppression for what it is and
must find the courage to take a stand showing its fellow balloons the power has always
been inside them.
“Coffee” - An animated short film
Kevin McNulty, Faculty, Electronic Media Communication
“Coffee” is an animated short film written and directed by EMC professor Kevin
McNulty. Kevin organized and oversaw a team of seven EMC Animation students over
the summer of 2014 to create the film. The endeavor was partially funded by the URECA
Summer Teams grant. Animation students who worked on this film include Andie Ayotte,
Derek Barnes, Chris Dyer, Simon Idiare Jr., Kelsie Richards, Erin Thompson, Raphael
Williams. Recording Industry grad student, Aaron Trimble, assisted with audio.
The film is entirely 3D computer animated. Software used in the making of this film
includes Autodesk Maya, mental ray, Autodesk Mudbox, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe After
Effects, Adobe Audition, Adobe Premiere, Adobe Illustrator, Apple Motion and ProTools.
“The ‘true’ story of the lives affected by America's addition to coffee.”
Brief Synopsis:
“Coffee” is a satirical look at consumerism and how most people don't really care where
their products come from as long as they work, are cheap or taste good. This film looks at
one such product; coffee.
The Harpeth River and Stones River fault zones on the northwest flank of the Nashville
dome, central Tennessee
Mark Abolins, Faculty, Geosciences; Joe Camacho, Environmental Science and
Management, Humboldt State University; Shaunna Young, Geology, Radford University;
Mark Trexler, Geosciences; Alex Ward, Geosciences; Matt Cooley, Geosciences; Albert
Ogden, Geosciences
The authors use mesoscale structures and existing 1:24,000 scale geologic maps to infer
the locations of four macroscale NNW-striking blind normal faults on the northwest flank
of the Nashville Dome approx. 30 km south of downtown Nashville. The Harpeth River
fault zone has an across-strike width of approx. 6 km, and, from west to east, includes the
Peytonsville, Arno, McClory Creek, and McDaniel fault zones. All of the fault zones are
east-side-down except for the west-side-down Peytonsville fault zone. Mesoscale
structures are exposed within each fault zone and are observed at three stops along
Tennessee-840 and at an additional stop 1.8 km south of the highway. These structures
include minor normal faults (maximum dip separation 3.8 m), non-vertical joints, and
mesoscale folds. No faults are depicted on existing geologic maps of the zone, but these
maps reveal macroscale folding of the contact between the Ordovician Carters Formation
and the overlying Hermitage Formation. The authors use the orientation and amplitude of
these folds to constrain the orientation and length of the inferred blind fault zones and the
amount of structural relief across the zones. The longest fault zones are the Arno (13.2
km long) and McDaniel (11.6 km) fault zones, and the amount of structural relief across
these zones peaks at 27 m and 24 m, respectively.
The authors also use existing geologic maps to hypothesize that a second east-side-down
blind normal fault zone (Stones River fault zone) is located approx. 27 km northeast of
the Harpeth River fault zone. The authors interpret non-vertical joints at one stop as faultrelated, and they interpret joints at a second stop as related to a hanging wall syncline.
Both of these stops are within 4 km of Tennessee-840.
Martin V. Stewart, Faculty, Chemistry
Middle Tennessee State Normal School (MTSNS) was established as one of three
teacher-training institutions resulting from the 1909 General Education Bill of the
General Assembly of the State of Tennessee. The first fall quarter began on September 11,
1911, with one president, 18 faculty, 125 students, and four buildings (a dormitory, a
cafeteria, the president’s home, and a single academic building). Classrooms and
laboratories for the physical sciences were located on the first floor of the west wing of
the academic building that was then known as the Administration Building and is now
called Kirksey Old Main. Two additional buildings were subsequently built in 1931 and
1967 to house the Department of Chemistry and associated departments (Physics,
Biology, and, until 1962, Home Economics). A new Science Building was built for
Chemistry and Biology in 2014 as the largest capital project in the history of the state of
Tennessee, concluding more than 20 years of planning. This presentation is part of an
ongoing effort to produce a written history of the Department of Chemistry including the
biography of Archibald Belcher, first professor for physical sciences.
Implementing authentic research experiences into freshmen biology courses through the
Small World Initiative
Drew Sieg, Faculty, Biology; Kim Sadler, Faculty, Biology
In 2012, the Presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology presented the
“Engage to Excel” call for STEM educational reform to President Obama. This call
highlighted the need for new approaches towards introductory science courses, namely a
shift towards authentic research or inquiry-based learning in order to hook perspective
STEM majors early on during their college education. One answer to this call was the
Small World Initiative (SWI). This program focuses on the rise of antibiotic resistance as
a running theme for introductory biology, and uses a semester-long series of labs to help
students isolate, screen, characterize, and identify soil bacteria that could be used as
sources for new antibiotics. This past fall, MTSU joined a collaborative network of over
50 institutions that were employing the SWI model. Here, we present the pedagogical and
scientific research generated by sections of honors introductory biology for majors (Bio
1110) and non-majors (Bio 1030). Students successfully identified members of the cedar
glade microbial community (including some putative antibiotic-producing strains) and
developed their scientific communication skills through oral presentations, lab reports,
and a capstone poster session. Exit interviews suggested that students in both sections had
a personal connection to their projects, a greater commitment to their studies, and a
strong interest in taking biology classes in the future. Overall, our pilot study
demonstrated that the SWI model could be successfully implemented in traditional
biology courses at regional public state institutions such as MTSU.
Walk a Mile in Her Shoes: Sexual Assault on College Campuses
Ashley Bass, Undergraduate student, Elementary and Special Education; Ashley Heath,
Undergraduate student, Nursing; Abdulhadi Alanazi, Undergraduate student; Laura
Dubek (Faculty sponsor), English
Many colleges, including Middle Tennessee State University, have become increasingly
concerned about the issue of sexual assault. Nineteen percent of U.S undergraduate
women are victims of sexual assault while in college (Campus Sexual Assault Study).
The cover story of the Nation, published on May 26, 2014, featured an article by Eliza
Gray arguing that “America’s campuses are dangerous places.” She discusses many
situations and events that happened on the campus of University of Montana to make her
argument. Our poster will analyze the rhetorical situation of Gray’s cover story “Under
the Spotlight”-its catalyst, purpose, audience. Our rhetorical analysis will include identify
the writing strategies Gray uses to draw attention to this issue and help us understand
why we must act. Finally, our poster will contextualize Gray’s argument with material
from the recent Vanderbilt rape trial in order to argue that this issue is close to home.
NSA: National “Spying” Agency?
Alan Goodwin, Undergraduate student, Recording Industry; Avia Hogan, Undergraduate
student, Recording Industry; Matthew Marlow, Undergraduate student, Computer
Science; Laura Dubek (Faculty sponsor), English
In 1952, President Truman established the National Security Agency, an agency
responsible for collecting, processing, and disseminating information from foreign
electronic signals for national foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes. Over
3,000 people were killed on 9/11 when terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center
and the Pentagon. Because of this tragic event, society views the supposed look of a
terrorist differently. Soon after, the NSA prepared a “special collection program” to track
the communications of Al Qaeda leaders and suspected terrorists. Recent news reports
exposed how the NSA has been collecting phone and online data from millions of
Americans. Our poster will present a rhetorical analysis of EFF’s (Electronic Frontier
Foundation) argument that the surveillance and collection of American citizens’ data
needs to be stopped, and the NSA should be confined by the limits defined by the
constitution. The NSA is working with major internet service providers and cell phone
companies to collect over 10 petabytes of data in 2014 alone. We will identify the
rhetorical strategies EFF uses that analyze the NSA’s surveillance of domestic data, and
inform our audience of the issue of big brother looking into their computers.
A Class Made of Glass: The Classroom of the Future is Now
Tyler Patrick, Undergraduate student, Concrete Industry Management; Krista Stahl,
Undergraduate student, Elementary and Special Education; Ashanti Holder,
Undergraduate student, Health and Human Performance; Laura Dubek (Faculty sponsor),
Monday through Friday students of all ages and all backgrounds go to school and sit in a
classroom. Our poster will highlight the need and demand for technology in these
classrooms. We will analyze the rhetorical situation of Alice Armstrong’s article
published in ''Education Digest” titled “Technology in the Classroom”-It’s Not a Matter
of ‘If” but ‘When’ and ‘How.’” By using statistics and giving examples, this article
attempts to convince schools and teachers to use more technology in their lessons.
“Technology in the Classroom” was written with the purpose of starting the technology
movement and opening the conversation in 2014. As we analyze this text, we will attempt
to illustrate that technology in the classroom has become a necessity. By using past and
present examples to support our argument, we also plan to highlight statistics of
importance and also mention where the article has been published and the significance it
has had. Our poster itself will be an example as it will be digital and stationary, thus
proving how deep technology is vested in education. Our supporting evidence by Corning
Incorporated, “A Day Made of Glass” resonates how a “Class Made of Glass” is possible
in the near further. By analyzing this rhetoric we aim to bridge the present to the future.
To Intubate or Not to Intubate? Emergency Pre-Hospital Intubation
Craig Young, Undergraduate student, History; Breia McCray, Undergraduate student,
Animal Science; Rontez Dalton, Undergraduate student, Exercise Science; Laura Dubek
(Faculty sponsor), English
Imagine you find your mother lying on the couch gasping for air. You call 911, and first
responders arrive along with EMS. A highly trained paramedic preforms an airway skill
and your mother can now breathe easier. In the January 2015 edition of EMSWorld
magazine, an article written by two doctors, Philip Moy and Aldo Andino, discusses
issues with Endotracheal Intubation in the pre-hospital setting. Endotracheal Intubation is
a procedure that involves skills used by properly trained healthcare workers that involves
placing a breathing tube down a person’s airway in order to keep that person breathing
and alive. Our poster will analyze and illustrate the rhetorical situation of Dr. Moy and
Andino’s written argument—its catalyst, purpose, and audience—as well as the rhetorical
strategies they use not only to respond to the critics, but also to persuade their audience to
continue fighting for pre-hospital intubation. This article shows how proper and
continued education is needed to perform a successful pre-hospital intubation. Our
rhetorical analysis will also include an examination of the article’s current evidence on
the survival rate of those who received field intubation verse the ones that did not, both in
cardiac arrest and trauma patients. There are a lot of concerns in the emergency medical
services that the lack of funding has hampered our technician and paramedics from
continuing their education on critical skills needed for patient survival. Finally, our poster
will present a compelling argument of our own, making clear exactly how and why
controlling a patient’s airway should be everyone’s concern.
Bridging the Gender Gap in Technology
Tina Warren, Undergraduate student, Electronic Media Communication; Todd O'Neill
(Faculty sponsor), Electronic Media Communication
A shift in educational, industry, and social mindsets is required to bridge the technology
gender gap. These mindsets can be changed through the implementation of education and
training within educational and work spaces. Promotional materials and media can also
be utilized to help shift mindsets, such as changing the wording of job descriptions for
tech positions so that they appeal to both genders. It is important to address the gender
gap and work towards closing the gap for a number of reasons, including ensuring ample
professionals to fill positions in a growing tech industry, gender equity, and diversity in
the field.
Women make up over 50 percent of the current workforce and Women's digital media
habits outpaced men's in 2011, according to international research firm Parks Associates,
yet women account for less than one quarter of professionals working in the tech industry
The purpose of this research is to determine if the gender technology gap exists on a local
level and to compare the local results with national results. The research should show
where the gap exists and where steps should be taken to ensure gender equity in the field
at a local level. It should also help to determine where more research is needed to better
understand why the gap exists and how best to address the issues surrounding it.
Assessing whether foraging range overlap between Apis mellifera and Bombus species
spreads parasites that contribute to colony collapse disorder
Anna Neal, Undergraduate student, Biology; Robert Sieg (Faculty sponsor), Biology
Populations of native Bombus species and of managed Apis mellifera have declined
across the United States due to a variety of factors. The simultaneous declines of these
insects suggest that they could be susceptible to the same suite of parasites. This study
investigated whether managed honey bees and wild bumblebees in middle Tennessee
were sharing parasites, specifically internal fungal parasites and mites. Suggestive
evidence of interspecific parasite sharing was found among the bees of middle Tennessee.
The study also identified nine species of bumblebees in middle Tennessee despite the
current assumption of only four species. These findings provide a clearer picture of the
intricacy of the causes behind these declines and a greater understanding of the stability
of middle Tennessee’s ecosystem.
Investigation of Liquid Film during Spin-Coating
Andy Black, Undergraduate student, Physics and Astronomy; Nathanael Smith (Faculty
sponsor), Physics and Astronomy
Spin coating is a popular method to deposit a thin film upon a substrate due to the ease by
which it can be accomplished. During the spin coating process, most of the fluid
deposited on the substrate is flung off leaving behind a thin film. Spin coating has many
applications including the deposition of photoresists and optical coatings, lithography,
and the fabrication of multilayer solar cells. In this work we investigate a particularly
simple and popular model for the thinning rate of a liquid film during the spin coating
process. Previously, it was found that this model works well when describing the thinning
rate at the center of a rotating substrate. Our measurements at an off-center location show
that this model is not effective in describing the thinning rate of the liquid film on the
substrate at an off-center location. Further, we show that the simple model becomes more
applicable off-center as the spin speed is increased.
Elucidating the molecular mechanisms that control the switch between repair and
destruction after mitochondrial damage
Andrew Nolin, Undergraduate student, Biology; Logan Bowling, Graduate student,
Biology; Larissa Wolf, Undergraduate student, Biology; Rachel Yates, Undergraduate
student, Biology; David Nelson (Faculty sponsor), Biology
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a debilitating neurodegenerative disorder affecting about one
million people in the United States. It is characterized by diminished motor control
resulting from the loss of dopaminergic (DA) neurons from the substantia nigra pars
compacta. Although the cause for PD is unknown, mitochondrial dysfunction in DA
neurons is thought to be a primary factor. In healthy cells a ‘mitochondrial quality control’
(MQC) pathway, mitophagy, maintains mitochondrial health by destroying defective
mitochondria before they compromise the integrity of the mitochondrial network. Two
proteins involved in the mitophagy pathway are PTEN-induced putative kinase 1
(PINK1) and Parkin. PINK1 surveils the mitochondrial network and marks depolarized
mitochondria by stably associating to their outer membranes. Once there it recruits and
activates Parkin, an E3 ubiquitin ligase. Parkin then polyubiquitinates multiple
mitochondrial proteins triggering the destruction of dysfunctional mitochondria by
autophagy. Recently, a new mechanism has been discovered in the MQC pathway.
PINK1-Parkin acts as a damage-gated molecular switch that signals apoptosis, mitophagy,
or mitochondrial repair. It is currently unknown what mechanism allows PINK1-Parkin
to determine each stimulus specific path. It is also unclear which protein, PINK1 or
Parkin, initiates mitochondrial repair. This project aims to produce a chimeric fusion of
PINK1 and mCherry to visualize PINK1 association to the mitochondria, validate this
fusion, PINK1-mCherry, through Western Blotting and fluorescence microscopy, and
measure kinetics of PINK1 and Parkin relocaliztion in response to mitochondrial damage
to investigate the regulatory switch responsible for the switch between mitophagy and
mitochondrial repair.
Completing the Circle: Donor-pi-Acceptor Polyene Dyes with Azacycloalkyl Donors
Gabrielle Ashley, Undergraduate student, Chemistry; Donnan Keith, Undergraduate
student, Chemistry; Andrienne Friedli, Faculty, Chemistry; Andrienne Friedli (Faculty
sponsor), Chemistry
In this study, subtle structural changes in azacycloalkyl donors in donor-pi-acceptor (Dpi-A) polyene dyes were used to probe structure-photophysical property relationships.
Here we report the synthesis and properties of dyes containing azacycloalkanes with a
range of geometries at nitrogen. Quantum-mechanical calculations using the B3LYP/631G(d,p) method were carried out within the Spartan 06 program. The calculations
predict that C-N-C angles range from 113.2º to 119.2º depending upon the size of and
substituents on the azacycloalkane ring (from 5 atoms to 7 atoms). Synthesis of 5, 6, and
7 membered azacycloalkyls was accomplished in four steps from commercially available
starting materials. Microwave irradiation of dihaloalkanes and 4-bromoaniline resulted in
1-(4-bromophenyl)-azacycloalkanes. Lithium-halogen exchange of the bromides,
followed by reaction with 5-(N,N-diethyl)pentadienal, gave 1-[4-azacycloalkylphenyl)]2,4-pentadienals. Knoevenagel condensation of the aldehydes with 1,3-diethyl
thiobarbituric acid produced three dyes with cycloalkylamine donors. The UV and NMR
solvatochromic properties of the dyes were compared to compounds with related acyclic
and aromatic amine donor groups.
Principles of Telerobotics Using an Engineered Robotic Hand
Alex Mitthivong, Undergraduate student, Engineering Technology; Justin McIntosh,
Undergraduate student, Engineering Technology; Chong Chen (Faculty sponsor),
Engineering Technology
Field application of robotic activities provides a solution for environments that are
difficult for human interaction. These environments most likely include access restricted
and hazardous conditions. Telerobotic interface provides a solution for the two difficult
conditions. Considering the many applications of a human hand, the engineered robotic
hand provides the ability of accomplishing several tasks in such conditions using the
methods of teleoperations.
A product development approach of a robotic hand will be demonstrated. Demonstration
substances will introduce the principles of telerobotics through the methods of
teleoperation. Teleoperation process is enabled using algorithms and scripted logic
programmed into microprocessors that control the functions of the engineered robotic
hand across wireless communication protocols from any distance. The fabrication of the
robotic fingers, thumb, and palm will have enough structural integrity to simulate the
hand should it be used in difficult conditions. Simulation of the hand is driven by
mechanical components receiving instruction from its local microprocessor. Paired with
the local microprocessor, there is a source of instructions coming from a distant
microprocessor that is being commanded by an end user. The two locations and
interactions of the microprocessors provide a scenario of how principles of telerobotics
are useful under difficult conditions.
3D Modeling Design and Development Process
Aaron Taylor Kelsey, Undergraduate student, Computer Science; Joseph Cannella,
Undergraduate student; Tiana Stigall, Undergraduate student; Taylor Carrick,
Undergraduate student; Patrice Porter, Undergraduate student; Miles Baer,
Undergraduate student; Zachary Armento; Medha Sarkar (Faculty sponsor), Computer
Three-dimensional (3D) modeling allows designers to preview a mock-up of a desired
product in three-dimensional space instead of simply viewing a two-dimensional output
such as a drawing or flat blueprint. Using 3D modeling can save resources from being
spent if the model is made and design issues are found. Software, such as Autodesk Maya,
Blender, or Cinema 4D can be used for the development of 3D models. The 3D models
can be viewed on the computer screen or printed using a 3D printer.
For this research and development project, the team used four primary steps to create
their own 3D model. We created a polygon mesh, applied a texture to the created model,
provided animation to the newly textured model, and through programming created
scripts to start and stop the animations on cue. By starting with a simple shape of a sphere,
cube, or pyramid, a polygon mesh can be created, and then the edges and vertices can be
manipulated. A reference image is commonly used for the primitive object to be molded
into the shape or form that is desired. Texturing comes after modeling, which uses the
concept of UV mapping, the process of wrapping a 2D image around a 3D model. Then
animation was applied to the model to make motion by using a series of key frames. The
differences between the key frames become processed by the computer and is known as
tweening. Then the model then goes through rendering.
The entire process of 3D modeling is possible only after a polygon mesh has been created,
has a texture applied to it, and the model is brought to life with animation. These
techniques and concepts can be used, for example, to create virtual reality environments
to help people with autism through therapy in this context.
INK INC.: Body Modifications in the Workplace
Brooke Griffin, Undergraduate student, Management and Marketing; Taylor Shelton,
Undergraduate student, Nursing; Dominic Bruch, Undergraduate student, Computer
Science; Laura Dubek (Faculty sponsor), English
As self-expression grows all the more popular among today’s fashion and social
industries, many people are expressing themselves with permanent modifications such as
tattoos and piercings. Because this is an outward form of self-expression, employers are
worried about the effect this growing trend will have on the appearance of their
employees and in turn the appearance of the company, leaving a void in the balance
between personal and professional life. Our poster will analyze and illustrate the
rhetorical situation of the implied argument as well as strategies used to show examples
of discrimination against body art in “Body Art in the Workplace: Piercing the Prejudice?”
by Brian K. Miller, Kay McGlashan Nicols, and Jack Eure. Supplementary to that we will
also look at the way people with body modifications are viewed in social situations as
well as look at the negative preconception of employers and fellow employees towards
employees with body modifications.
Experimental Realization of Extraordinary Acoustic Transmission using Helmholtz
Brian Crow, Undergraduate student, Physics and Astronomy; Jordan Cullen,
Undergraduate student, Physics and Astronomy; William McKenzie, Undergraduate
student, Physics and Astronomy; Vijay Koju, Graduate student, Physics and Astronomy;
William Robertson (Faculty sponsor), Physics and Astronomy
The experimental demonstration of near-perfect sound transmission through a solid
barrier was accomplished through the use of a hollow chamber with two-necks—a
Helmholtz resonator—embedded in the barrier. Near perfect transmission was measured
at the resonant frequency of the Helmholtz resonator. The experiment used an audio pulse
signal transmitted to a microphone through a waveguide with the Helmholtz resonator
installed. A reference signal was taken with the empty waveguide. The frequency spectra
of the test and reference signals were used to calculate that 97.5% percent of incident
sound is transmitted at resonance. The system was then used to create a slow audio pulse
that traversed the Helmholtz resonator at a fraction of the normal speed of sound. This
experiment used a narrow-frequency wave pulse at the resonance frequency of the
Helmholtz resonator. The time delay was determined by comparing the wave pulse
through the empty waveguide and one with a Helmholtz resonator. Finally, the ability of
this effect to slow certain frequencies was used to create an acoustic lens. These
experiments were the first demonstration of extraordinary transmission using Helmholtz
resonators. This effect is expected to find application in areas as diverse as sonar and
architectural acoustics.
Fashion Style in Baby Boomer Women
Brittany Conatser, Undergraduate student, Human Sciences; Lauren Rudd (Faculty
sponsor), Human Sciences
Baby Boomer women (b. 1946-1964) are neglected in the fashion industry. This project
included the development of a fashion styling guide for Baby Boomer women based on a
review of the literature related to boomer women and fashion with emphasis on clothing
fit, styling preferences, body image, and marketing strategies. Academic literature and
online sources were examined. It was found that boomer women are a large and powerful
spending force that is largely neglected in the fashion industry. These women are
unhappy with the available fit and styling of clothing to meet their needs. They do not
want to look like either their daughters or their mothers and the research shows little
available clothing designed for their lifestyles, body types, and personal preferences. The
guide was developed based on the needs and preferences identified in the research. The
looks portrayed in the styling guide will help ‘mature’ women identify fashionable
clothing silhouettes and styles appropriate for their body types. The guide will also
identify some of the retailers that carry those items. This styling guide ‘tool’ will be
shared with boomer women in the future to gather research about the use and
effectiveness of the tool, and how the styling advice may affect their body image.
#NoMeansNo: Sexual Assault in the Military
Brandon Reed, Undergraduate student, Human Sciences; Ravina Xayvong,
Undergraduate student, Human Sciences; Isabella Orozco, Undergraduate student,
Criminal Justice Administration; Laura Dubek (Faculty sponsor), English
Rape in the military is a growing problem, but it does not only happen to women. When
it happens in the military, it gets pushed under the carpet, or just forgotten about in some
cases. In the latest report by the Pentagon, it is estimated that 26,000 service members
experienced unwanted sexual contact in 2012, up from 19,000 in 2010. Our poster will
analyze and illustrate the rhetorical situation of James Dao’s “In Debate Over Military
Sexual Assault, Men Are Overlooked Victims,” appearing in the New York Times on June
24, 2013. It’s not a good thing that the assaults are still happening, but it’s a good thing
that it’s getting reported more often now. Men don’t often acknowledge that they’re
victims of a sexual assault. Usually the victims of the assault are of lower rank, so when
they report the sexual assault against a superior rank, there is sometimes backlash against
them. By rhetorically analyzing Dao’s written argument, our poster will show why this
situation deserves greater attention.
Research and Design of a Better, Faster Moonbuggy
Boston Weisgerber, Undergraduate student, Engineering Technology; Donte Kirk,
Undergraduate student, Engineering Technology; Ruth Tan, Undergraduate student;
Samuel Rector; Daniel Childers; Jeremy Posey; Saeed Foroudastan (Faculty sponsor),
Engineering Technology
The NASA Human Exploration Rover challenge is a design competition targeted at high
school and college students. The competition encourages students to develop innovative
solutions to real-world problems that NASA engineers face in creating space ready
exploration crafts. The MTSU rover has been participating in the competition since 2004,
and has enjoyed continuous improvements and widespread success including a 1st place
finish in the U.S. division in 2013 and the Neil Armstrong best design award in 2014.
The FirstStep Summer Immersion Program for 2014 aims to continue this record of
further improvements by answering the following question: What are the challenges of
placing a human powered rover into space, and how can they be overcome? Major
upgrades intended for the 2015 rover include the development of airless tires, optimized
gearing, and an improved power transmission method. In order to design these
improvements, students must first familiarize with basic mechanical and electrical theory.
Once basic concepts are grasped and initial designs are completed, then students are
introduced to advanced manufacturing practices including 3D modeling, laser etching
and cutting, and 3D printing using thermoplastics. The FirstStep 2014 students are a
fruitful success in developing prototype designs for improvements which will be
integrated into the 2014 MTSU rover. Several students have been elected to join the rover
team and see their designs by applying the applications they have learned. With the
passion for engineering and the support of the FirstStep program, students are able to
create and improve ideas that will help further develop the NASA rovers of today and the
MTSU Lunar Rover Team
Beau Hallavant, Undergraduate student, Engineering Technology; Saeed Foroudastan
(Faculty sponsor), Engineering Technology
The Lunar Rover (formerly the Moon Buggy) project offers a student-driven,
interdisciplinary, hands-on learning experience that is open to all students attending
Middle Tennessee State University. This project is one of five Experimental Vehicles
Program (EVP) projects and serves to offer students an opportunity to develop leadership,
communication, and organizational skills complementary to and beyond those obtained in
the classroom. Team members design and fabricate, in-house, approximately 80-90% of
the components that are required to construct the rover. The rover is designed to the
specifications and constraints put forth by the established rules for NASA’s Human
Exploration Rover Challenge, the event the vehicle is designed to compete in. The
process of designing, producing, and racing a lunar rover in this NASA sponsored event
provides team members with the opportunity to gain practical experience in computeraided design (CAD) and modeling, 3D printing, Computer Numeric Control (CNC)
milling and machine tool operation, project management, writing of technical and cost
reports, and the experience of prototyping an efficient human-powered vehicle in
accordance to the rules by which they are constrained. Unique challenges faced by the
Lunar Rover Team include having to design non-pneumatic tires for the rover, a
challenge that is currently being addressed by experiments involving 3D printed molds
that are being used to form room temperature vulcanizing rubber into various tire designs.
Additional challenges include elaboration upon the telemetry system beyond the
requirements set forth by NASA. The current telemetry system is being designed to relay
performance data, live video, and biometric monitoring of the riders. The overall
experience provides team members with resume-building skills that will benefit them for
the rest of their lives.
Defeating ISIL: The Least Bad Option?
Brian Flynn, Undergraduate student, Business Communication and Entrepreneurship;
Brad Leininger, Undergraduate student, Criminal Justice Administration; Joshua Mitchell,
Undergraduate student, Basic and Applied Sciences; Laura Dubek (Faculty sponsor),
The extremist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is a
growing concern for U.S. political leaders and the international community. Terroristic
action by the group in Syria and Iraq have drawn increased attention from media outlets
around the world exposing the serious problem ISIL poses to peace throughout the
Middle East. As ISIL continues to maintain territorial strongholds throughout Syria and
Iraq, the question posed by foreign policy legislators is “How involved should the U.S. be
in deterring the threat and what external assets are available to mitigate the need for boots
on the ground?” On September 9, 2014, Paul Scharre, former Army Civil Affairs
specialist and director of the 20YY Warfare Initiative, Center for a New American
Security, published an opinion-editorial titled ‘To defeat ISIL, Empower Sunni Iraqis and
Syrians’. In his publication, Scharre expresses his concern for prolonged U.S. military
action in the region to diminish the threat and control of ISIL. Scharre details the
concerns and potential consequences of improperly choosing allies to assist in military
action against the Islamic State. Understanding second and third order effects of
decisions that may lead to tactical victories but ultimately be strategic catastrophe is
imperative in course of action development. Our poster will analyze the rhetorical
situation of Scharre’s proposal to empower Sunni Muslims to counter the growing ISIL
threat. Our analysis will also seek to understand and depict Scharre’s argument with a
concentration on historical context of the sectarian divide that has plagued the region.
Our presentation will make every effort to remain objective to the situation and express
the catalyst that has motivated Mr. Scharre to express such a proposal, his audience, and
purpose behind his proposal to an extremely volatile and relevant topic facing the modern
MIX13: A NIST interlaboratory study on the present state of DNA mixture interpretation
Brooke Morgan, Undergraduate student, Forensic Science; Alicja Lanfear (Faculty
sponsor), Biology
DNA evidence interpretation for single-source profiles—where single evidentiary profile
matches the profile from the suspected perpetrator—are relatively easy to determine and
report to a jury. For many cases the interpretation is not as straight-forward. In fact, one
of the biggest obstacles faced in today’s forensic laboratories is interpreting DNA
mixtures, where two or more individuals are in the evidentiary profile. Historically, there
has been little guidance to assist the analyst in determining the components of the mixture.
Peter Gill, a leader in the field of DNA typing once said, “If you show 10 colleagues a
mixture, you will probably end up with 10 different answers.”
In 2010, the Scientific Working Group on DNA Analysis Methods (SWGDAM)
published guidelines to assist labs in mixture interpretation. Since then, many laboratories
have improved their Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) based upon the 2010
SWGDAM guidelines.
An interlaboratory study is a useful tool that allows laboratories to compare their analyses
to other laboratories and determine if additional training is necessary. Previous NIST
interlaboratory studies on mixture interpretation resulted in a wide range of variation
within and between laboratories. In 2013, NIST conducted an interlaboratory study
(MIX13) to examine the present state of DNA mixture interpretation in the U.S. after the
implementation of the 2010 SWGDAM guidelines.
Here we present results from one of five MIX13 cases. A substantial amount of variation
was found within and between labs when interpreting a two-person mixture of equal
These findings can help the laboratory to identify potential limitations in their SOPs,
provide resources for future training, and conduct research to improve mixture
interpretation and reporting in the United States.
Use of Geotagged Twitter Data to Analyze the Spatial Distribution of Role Playing
Gaming in the Middle Tennessee Region
Arthur Reed, Undergraduate student, Sociology and Anthropology; Jeremy Aber, Faculty,
Geosciences; Jeremy Aber (Faculty sponsor), Geosciences
Twitter has quickly become one of the largest collections of real-time spatial data
available to the public. While the data is limited to active users of the Twitter service, the
volume of information is on a scale unheard of to social scientists just 15 years ago.
Researchers are now able to follow trends and patterns in human behavior in real time.
This project focuses on Tweets from the Middle Tennessee region related to tabletop and
role playing gaming activities. As an analog pastime, these gaming activities are in many
ways a throwback to a pre-networked computing era, where physical gathering was
necessary for participation. Additionally, in recent years interest in these gaming
activities has grown in the broader culture.
The uses the nTweetStreamer open source framework to collect and sort geotagged
Tweets, then the collected data is analyzed using several of ArcGIS’s spatial analysis
techniques to look at spatial distributions. The main question of this project asks if ‘Nerd
Culture’ on the internet translates to physical practices. Given the physical nature of
many of these games, it is reasonable to assume that players must gather in order to
participate, but is this practice reflected in the geotagged tweets? As a work-in-progress,
this project aims to understand the distribution of players and places that are connected to
these subcultural activities in the Middle Tennessee region.
Resource Mobilization and the Hierarchy of Rights in Civil Rights Movements
Charlotte Archer, Undergraduate student, Sociology and Anthropology; Angela Mertig
(Faculty sponsor), Sociology and Anthropology
Resource Mobilization Theory is a major sociological theory within the subfield of
sociology which studies social movements and social change. Central to resource
mobilization theory is the idea that a core group of leaders within a social movement
organization work to marshal and manage the resources (money, supporters, publicity
and political capital) necessary to achieve the change desired by the movement. In order
to successfully garner and utilize resources, leaders and organizations within a movement
may need to limit movement activities in such a way as to suborn the interests of some
groups within their ranks, sometimes in direct opposition to the philosophies of the
movement itself.
In my initial study of the civil rights movements which have occurred within the United
States, I have noted that such movements often have a dominant population which
defines the movement and subordinate populations within the movement whose rights are
relegated to secondary status or completely suborned for the sake of the rights of the
dominant population (e.g., women’s issues were treated as secondary within the free
speech and African American civil rights movements; something similar has happened
for lesbians and black women within the 2nd wave feminist movements and for
transgender and polyamorous people within the gay rights movement.)
Through an extensive literature review of these various movements I will explore the
extent of these patterns, and how sociological resource mobilization theories might
explain how and why this seems to occur, with the intention of formulating a coherent set
of hypotheses which may then be tested.
A Systematic Review of the Impact of Long-term versus Short-Term Consumption and
Supplementation of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Cardiovascular Disease
Carrie Hopson, Undergraduate student, Human Sciences; Janet Colson (Faculty sponsor),
Human Sciences
A systematic review looking at the overall relationship between cardiovascular disease
and the recommendation for supplementation and increased consumption of omega-3
fatty acids, such as are found within fish oils, in the later stages of life as compared to
high intake in earlier stages. This analysis will compare the overall occurrence of
cardiovascular disease in the Nunavik Inuit population to young adult American
population (ages 18-30) and the mature American population (ages 50 and up). All diets
and supplementation will be taken into account for all groups to give a more precise
understanding of the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids and their role in preventing
cardiovascular disease. Data is represented in the concentration of HDL and LDL level
within participants’ blood, their specific age groups, type of omega-3 consumed, and
DNA analysis. In conclusion the review will effectively describe the pathways and
specific roles for which omega-3 fatty acids are responsible and for which they may
contribute or participate in the increased or decreased occurrence of cardiovascular
Transposable Riparian Enclosures
Connor Olson, Undergraduate student, Biology; Gale Beaubien, Graduate student,
Biology; Mohammad Ali, Undergraduate student, Biology; Ryan Otter (Faculty sponsor),
Tetragnathid spiders (Araneae, Tetragnathidae) are riparian predators utilized as
bioindicators of inorganic and organic contaminants in aquatic ecosystems. Tetragnathids
offer several advantages over other bioindicators including low cost of sampling, near
world-wide distribution, and their unique food chain position. However, like all
bioindicators, there is a disadvantage; tetragnathids are sampled in the field and therefore
there is little sample control. In order to increase sampling control, we have engineered
transposable riparian enclosures (TREs). These enclosures consist of a floating,
pyramidal, PVC frame with a 2'x2' base. The frame supports a mesh netting surrounding
all sides, except the bottom. This allows emergent insects to enter the enclosure, but not
to escape it. Artificial plants hang from the top of the frame, acting as support for
tetragnathid webs and allowing them to catch prey. TREs offer more sampling control by
creating an isolated, artificial habitat for tetragnathids, while still allowing contaminant
uptake to occur. Native or foreign spiders can be placed inside the units enabling more
detailed studies to take place. Funding has been promised for contaminant site studies
once the prototypes have demonstrated their functionality.
Feminism Communication Project
Cody Lester, Undergraduate student, Speech and Theatre; Xiaowei Shi, Faculty, Speech
and Theatre; Xiaowei Shi (Faculty sponsor), Speech and Theatre
Last spring semester I completed an Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity grant
in which I had 120 students fill out a questionnaire about Feminism. I then analyzed all of
the responses and was able to uncover trends in feminist beliefs on campus. In my report
I published the beliefs and categorized them into 4 categories. These beliefs included 1.
Mixed beliefs. 2. Social Reasons. 3. Belief in tradition and non-traditonal roles. 4.
Maturity and belief. All of these show an interesting perspective about students
perceptions about feminism. Most students supported feminism. I would like to publish
these results to spread awareness of Feminism as well as advance the field of Gender
Communication on MTSU's campus. This report contains an introduction, background,
method, and the results. The method behind this study is as follows:
A total of 120 participants were recruited to participate in a four-step experimental study,
including (1) A self-report measure of feminist beliefs (N= 120, pre-test), (2) A feminist
message exposure (e.g., Persuasive Message) from either a male advocate, John (N=60)
or a female advocate, Amanda (N=60). (* the end result was 120 female advocate
questionnaires) (3) A semi-structured interview on feminist beliefs, and (4) post-test of
self-report measure of feminist beliefs and manipulation check. As a result of this
procedure, quantitative data of self-report measure on feminist beliefs and qualitative data
of how people react to feminist messages were gathered and analyzed.
Modern-Day Slavery in America: A Rhetorical Analysis of Tina Frundt’s “Enslaved in
Chelsea Babin, Undergraduate student, English; Faith Costner, Undergraduate student,
English; Ali Cooper, Undergraduate student, English; Laura Dubek (Faculty sponsor),
Human Trafficking, also known as Sex Trafficking, is one of the current forms of slavery
in the world. More narrowly, it is taking place in our own backyard threatening the
freedom of Americans in their own hometowns. There was a demonstration in February
of this year in Tallahassee to put a stop to Human-Trafficking. In the essay, “Enslaved in
America” written by Tina Frundt, she shares her experience being enslaved in the human
trafficking in the United States. Our poster will analyze and illustrate the written story of
young Tina Frundt and her life in human trafficking. It will analyze the catalyst, purpose,
and audience of Frundt’s essay. It will also show how sex trafficking is currently going
on all around us, including in the state of Tennessee. Recent articles in the New York
Times suggest ways to end sex trafficking. In order to put an end to this abuse, people
must stop portraying prostitution as it is shown in the media. Our poster will also make
the argument that everyone should care about this issue.
Media Influence: Watts Riots of 1965
Chelsea Baez-Johnson, Undergraduate student, Journalism; Dallas Adams,
Undergraduate student, Political Science; Darrell Martin, Undergraduate student,
Journalism; Sam Edwards, Undergraduate student, Journalism; Jane Marcellus (Faculty
sponsor), Journalism
On the evening of 11 August 1965, racial tension reached its breaking point after two
white officers used excessive force to arrest a man suspected of drunk driving. A crowd
of people on the street witnessed the arrest and became outraged at the belief that it was
yet another racially motivated incident of abuse. Soon, the residents of Watts began
After five days of continuous chaos, the peace was finally restored. It was reported that
34 people died, over 1,000 were injured, approximately 4,000 arrested and an estimated
$40 million worth of property was destroyed. Throughout the riot, public officials
maintained that the riot was the work outside agitators.
It was found that the riot was a result of the dissatisfaction with high unemployment rates,
and inadequate housing and schools systems in the Watts neighborhood. Despite the
discovery of these findings following the riot, city leaders and state officials still failed to
take action to improve the conditions of people living in the Watts neighborhood.
The Watts Riots of 1965 was considered the worst urban riot in 20 years. Our poster,
explains police brutality during the riot, the coverage of the riot from both the Black and
White media perspectives and media coverage from a modern-day perspective.
The Effect of Herbal Extract Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine on Breast Cancer
Christopher Adereti, Undergraduate student, Biology; Justice Adewumi, Undergraduate
student, Biology; Arol Zague, Undergraduate student, Chemistry; Brittnie Miles,
Undergraduate student, Biology; Daria Covington, Undergraduate student, Chemistry;
Keidra Freshwater, Undergraduate student, Biology; Caleb Walls, Undergraduate student,
Biology; James DuPois, Undergraduate student; Joel Lowry, Undergraduate student;
Tianna Grant, Undergraduate student; Nicole Walker, Undergraduate student; Joey
Clifton, Undergraduate student; Josie Lyon, Undergraduate student; Bryan Overbey,
Undergraduate student; Charlie Brown, Undergraduate student; Rance Solomon,
Undergraduate student; Dr. Ying Gao, Faculty, Biology; Daniel Erenso (Faculty sponsor),
The object of this research was to measure and analyze the physical and mechanical
effects of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) on the BT20 line of breast cancer and on
Human Mammary Epithelial cells (HMEC). The cells were treated with the resveratrol
extract from the Paeonia suffruticosa plant.
The cells were seeded and cultured in a 96 well plate 24 hours before each treatment,
then treated at 8am every morning. The cells were harvested at 2, 6 and 24 hours for
testing, as well as untreated samples for comparison. The cells were tested in the Laser
trap (LT) with ten cells tested at each power and multiple powers used. The cells are
photographed, trapped, then photos are taken at timed intervals as the cell is released and
allowed to decompress. ImagePro Plus is used to take measurements on multiple
properties including diameter, diameter when compressed, time to return to the original
size after the trap, and mean differences in the size before and after trapping. The data for
all cells was then collected and analyzed.
The data shows the treatment seems to damage the internal structure of the cells, causing
the spherical cell to flatten and the diameter to increase in proportion to treatment time.
The treatment also increases the cancers cells sensitivity to radiation and kills 60-70% of
the cancer cells in 24 hours at the concentrations tested. Cancer cells are believed to
spread so quickly because they are more elastic than normal cells, allowing them to
escape to other parts of the body. A major result of this research was finding the
treatments make the cancers cells much less elastic, preventing their ability to spread.
Our research will continue testing other extracts and measuring the treatment effects on
normal cells in addition to further tests on cancer cells.
To Infinity and Beyond!
Christopher Cunningham, Undergraduate student, Physics and Astronomy; Alexis
Patrykus, Undergraduate student, Political Science; Laura Dubek (Faculty sponsor),
Imagine a form of fuel that has endless energy and no harmful effects to a planet’s
atmosphere. Imagine colonizing another planet and finding a cure for cancer. Space
Exploration has an extraordinary amount of benefits involving the well-being of everyday
life. Capitalizing on what the universe has to offer will be pivotal to what humanity can
conquer. To do this, we all need to think long-term. Space exploration will require time
and money, but the potential reward is worth this investment. Our poster will analyze the
rhetorical situation—catalyst, purpose, and audience—of “A Case for Space” by Neil
Degrasse Tyson, as well as the rhetorical structure of the paper. Our analysis will
interpret the foundation of the beneficial circumstances derived from colonization of
habitable worlds. In regards to the content of the poster, we will characterize our
interpretations of the benefits and why we believe taxpayer money should be used for
space exploration despite no guarantee of an immediate positive outcome. Our poster will
argue that the benefits of what we can accomplish through space exploration far outweigh
any risks.
From Holidays to the Holy Land: Exploring Jewish Identity in Middle Tennessee
Cheyenne Plott, Undergraduate student, Foreign Languages and Literatures; Rebekka
King (Faculty sponsor), Philosophy
This presentation explores the fluid and multi-faceted nature of Jewish identity within the
Jewish community of middle Tennessee. Through surveying and interviewing the local
Jewish community, the wide range of opinion, observance, and thought was revealed.
The primary topics on which the questions focus are religious beliefs and practices, views
on American society, and connection to the state of Israel. Consequently, this paper
establishes a comparison between the local Jewish community and the American Jewish
population as a whole, thereby exposing the distinct characteristics of the local Jewish
community. The findings of this paper are paralleled with those of the Pew Research
Center’s recent study, “Portrait of Jewish Americans” in order to demonstrate this
comparison. A discussion of hybrid identity ensues, as it pertains to Jews living in the
South, and depicts the interaction between the Southern and Jewish identities. This
presentation displays the fluid nature of Jewish identity, which can be seen in various
Jewish cultures throughout the world and also reveals the facets that distinguish Jewish
identity in middle Tennessee.
Green Girls. Learning of Science and Civic Engagement
Caleb Hough, Undergraduate student, Biology; Sierra Shipley, Undergraduate student,
Chemistry; Judith Iriarte-Gross (Faculty sponsor), Chemistry
Green Girls: Learning of Science and Civic Engagement changes the equation for middle
and high school girls in Tennessee. It is projected that Tennessee will need to fill 109,000
STEM related jobs by 2018. The statistics clearly show that if women are not encouraged
to enter STEM and are not supported as STEM majors in higher education in Tennessee,
there will be no one available to fill the critical STEM jobs. Through Green Girls, we
increase girls’ interest in STEM by shaping the environment around them. MTSU
Women In STEM (WISTEM) Center has collaborated with TN-SCORE, Tennessee Solar
Conversion and Storage Outreach Research & Education since 2012. We provide
renewable energy activities and STEM career information for girls in grade 5 to 12
throughout Tennessee. We incorporate discussions and activities about the importance of
alternative energy research and solutions to our energy problems. We provide role
models and discuss career pathways. Green Girls learn how renewable energy careers
relate to a more sustainable environment as well as the state’s workforce and economic
development. Together, we help build STEM capacity, civic engagement and a diverse
workforce in Tennessee.
Exhaust Emissions Comparison of Glycerol Derived Additives for Diesel and Biodiesel
Christopher Moore, Undergraduate student, Chemistry; Joseph Close, Undergraduate
student, Chemistry; Ngee Chong (Faculty sponsor), Chemistry
There is an increasing need for the reduction of harmful diesel emissions and one
approach is by the addition of oxygenated compounds to reduce the concentrations of
volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in diesel exhaust. Two diesel additives to be studied
in this project are triacetin and solketal. Much research has gone into the efficiency of
solketal and triacetin as diesel additives but the research into their effects on emissions is
limited. By testing the combustion of diesel fuels blended with these additives in power
generator engines, these oxygenated additives will be studied for their effectiveness in
reducing harmful emissions. The emission profiles of these fuels were analyzed by both
Fourier Transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometry and gas chromatography coupled to
mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Preliminary data indicate that both additives are promising
fuel additives that can be produced from glycerol, which is the byproduct of biodiesel
obtained via transesterification reaction of triglycerides from soy bean, canola, and palm
oil. Therefore, it is highly desirable to pursue the synthesis of these glycerol-derived
additives because it has lesser environmental impact in the net production of CO2 that
contributes to global warming.
The Effect of Social Versus Personal Expression on Commitment to Campus Recycling
Carter Gibson, Undergraduate student, Aerospace; Krista Wilson, Undergraduate student,
Psychology; John Pennington (Faculty sponsor), Psychology
Seventy-two undergraduates were approached at the campus student union and randomly
assigned to one of four experimental conditions. In the first three conditions, participants
had their picture taken by an experimenter as they placed a soda can into a recycling
container. For those in the Personal Expression condition, a nearby sign read, “I recycle.”
In contrast, the sign near participants in the Social Expression condition read, “True Blue
Raiders Recycle.” No sign was present in the third, No Expression condition. Participants
in these three conditions were told that their picture would be posted to an MTSU Twitter
account and were then asked to report how many minutes (from 0 to 10) they would go
out of their way to recycle on campus. Based on comparisons to a (4th) group who
simply reported their recycling commitment, results suggest that social expression
increased students' commitment to campus recycling, whereas private expression did not.
Teaching Methods Research
John McCaghren, Undergraduate student, Aerospace; Wendy Beckman (Faculty sponsor),
Different methods of teaching students were researched, in order to find the best method
of teaching aviation topics to high school aged students. The two methods used were drill
based learning and problem based learning. The two methods were used to teach the
students why and how to plan a cross country flight. The students were evaluated with the
same test at the end of the lecture in order to determine which method encouraged
learning. Unfortunately, due to the small sample size, the differences on the test scores
were not statistically significant. With a larger sample, however, it is possible to find a
significant difference between the two teaching methods.
Automated EKG Diagnostic System Using NI LabVIEW
Dallas Trahan, Undergraduate student, Engineering Technology; Jason Pavlik,
Undergraduate student, Engineering Technology; Yating Hu (Faculty sponsor),
Engineering Technology
In an effort to reduce medical expenses and maximize physicians’ time in the hospital,
this project employs an automated heart monitoring system that detects abnormalities in a
patient’s heartbeat and notifies a doctor when necessary. The value of this project is a
faster diagnosis through constant automated monitoring rather than a periodic check-up.
This project would result in an inexpensive system that could be used in hospitals and
nursing homes around the world. This is accomplished through detection of
characteristics of the heartbeat signal sent from the sensor mounted on the patient,
including the PR and QT intervals, PR and ST segments, and the QRS complex. The
program uses peak detection and measurement of intervals between dramatic changes in
the first derivative of the signal received to calculate the length of each segment. The
program then compares the derived data against known values to determine if the
measured values of the patient’s heartbeat are within the normal range for healthy human
beings. If the measured values are outside the specified range of “healthy” values, the
program prints out a warning to the user stating that they may require medical attention.
The long-term goal is to develop a system in which patients are monitored by only a
computer which will notify a medical professional if abnormalities are detected.
Feature extraction from LiDAR point clouds using evolutionary computation
Evan Snapp, Undergraduate student, Geosciences; Ian Murray, Graduate student,
Geosciences; Henrique Momm (Faculty sponsor), Geosciences
As the availability of Light Detection And Ranging (LiDAR) datasets increases and more
counties and localities have access to this technology, the challenge resides on how to
convert the large amount of data into ready-to-use information and actable intelligence.
The raw information provided by LiDAR datasets goes beyond the traditional threedimensional coordinates for each laser point. Modern systems can record additional
information on the intensity and shape of the returned signal and based on that, additional
information that can be derived from each individual laser pulse, like the number of
return pulses and their order. The three-dimensional irregularly spaced points are
converted into a two-dimensional regular grid (image) through a process of known as
gridding, and as result several image channels can be derived; increasing even more the
amount of data. Evolutionary computation is evaluated as a potential alternative in
extracting information from three-dimensional point clouds generated with LiDAR
sensors. The optimized down-hill searching characteristic of genetic programming is used
to reduce the search space, composed of over 12 image channels, and to mathematically
transform the original dataset into a transformed image that maximizes the influence of
the desired feature while minimizes the influence of the remaining image background
based on. The system is tested on datasets of Rutherford County, TN and accuracy values
computed based on comparison with human classified reference data. The proposed
methodology offers practitioners a GIS-based methodology capable of deriving detailed
information from LiDAR point clouds in a semi-automated and reproducible fashion,
streamlining data analysis in a cost-effective way.
Why are some United Nations peacekeeping operations more successful than others?
Emiliya Mailyan, Undergraduate student, Global Studies and International Relations;
David Carleton (Faculty sponsor), Political Science
The most often used method for stopping conflicts such as civil wars and genocides is
peacekeeping by the United Nations. But these operations don’t always work completely.
In fact, they prove to sometimes be great failures.
But what can we consider to be a success? According to the UN, a success in
peacekeeping is defined as an operation where basic security guarantees and response to
crises were provided, as well as support for political transitions and fragile new state
institutions. The UN lists operations in countries such as Cambodia and El Salvador to
have been successful in ending conflict and promoting normal development, even if
major peace-building challenges remain.
However, there have been instances of failure (where the above criteria weren't met), and
the UN considers the operations in Rwanda and Bosnia among them.
To determine the chance of success, I have examined research on the effects of four
factors on the four countries developed above. By consulting many scholarly articles and
literatures on this topic, I developed and tested the following hypotheses:
Hypothesis 1: If the peacekeeping rules of limited force, impartiality, and consent are
followed to the highest degree, then the UN operation will increasingly result in a success.
Hypothesis 2: If the situational difficulty of a conflict (civil war and genocide in these
cases) is lower, then the UN operation will increasingly result in a success.
Hypothesis 3: If the Security Council members offer more attention towards the mandates,
call for cooperation from more countries than the ones involved, and in general offers
support, then the UN operation will increasingly result in a success.
Hypothesis 4: If the causes of conflict are sought to be understood and better addressed
by all those involved, then the UN operation will increasingly result in a success.
Assessment of somatic cell count, milk production, and hygiene in dairy cows housed in
a compost-bedded pack barn.
Emily Grosskreutz, Undergraduate student, Agribusiness and Agriscience; Song Cui,
Faculty, Agribusiness and Agriscience; Jessica Carter, Faculty, Agribusiness and
Agriscience; Jessica Carter (Faculty sponsor), Agribusiness and Agriscience
Milk quality is a major factor contributing to the profit of a dairy farm. Increased somatic
cell count (SCC) reduces the quality of milk, and therefore, causes a decrease in the
profits for the farm. Discounts for high SCC on a dairy farm can be significant. This
project was designed to assess the health, hygiene, and milk production of a dairy herd.
The objective of this project was to reduce somatic cell count of cows housed in a
compost-bedded pack barn through SCC testing, milk sampling for bacterial populations,
treatments for clinical signs, and measuring cow hygiene scores. This project was
conducted utilizing the dairy herd at the MTSU Experiential Learning and Research
Center. This herd includes Holstein, Jersey, and Crossbred cows. The herd was evaluated
over a period of 84 days and tested every 28 days for somatic cell count (d0 d28, d56,
d84). Data on milk quality, such as SCC, was collected monthly through regular Dairy
Herd Improvement Association (DHIA) testing. In addition, we tested milk samples for
SCC using a PortaSCC Test and digital reader (Nelson Jameson). Cows identified as
having a high SCC (> 200,000 cells/ml) were assigned to the treatment group and cows
with a low SCC (< 200,000 cells/ml) were included in the control group. Twenty-five
cows were assigned to the control group, and 22 were placed in the treatment group. Live
observation of cow hygiene was assessed for 4 days at the end of each 28-day period.
Cows were scored on a 4-point cleanliness scale (1= very clean to 4=very dirty),
evaluating the udder, lower legs, and upper legs/flank separately. Data was analyzed
using a 2-way analysis of variance (control vs treatment and breed type) with cow as the
experimental unit (SAS v9.3, 2012).
Chloroform Exposure Affects Alternative mRNA Splicing of UNC-9
Erin Herbstova, Undergraduate student, Biology; Destiny Donald, Undergraduate student,
Biology; Rebecca Seipelt-Thiemann (Faculty sponsor), Biology
Uncoordinated-9 (UNC-9) is a gene that encodes a protein called innexin, is a
transmembrane protein that is a component of gap junctions in the nematode
Caenorhabditis elegans. It has been previously identified as a protein involved in the
response to volatile anesthetics. The gene is encoded on the X chromosome and has eight
exons. Mutations in this gene suppress the slow movement phenotype caused by other
mutant genes in the presence of volatile anesthetics. To determine if exposure to a
volatile anesthetic could affect the expression of this gene in wildtype nematodes,
nematodes were exposed to chloroform, a volatile anesthetic, and their mRNAs examined.
Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction was performed using gene-specific
primers to determine the alternative mRNA splicing of exons 3-5. Visualization
following agarose gel electrophoresis showed that control nematodes had two
alternatively-spliced mRNAs in addition to the reference sequence. Chloroform-treated
nematodes showed only the reference sequence. This indicates that chloroform exposure
does indeed change the gene expression of UNC-9. Further analysis should include
cloning and sequencing the fragments to determine the identity of the alternativelyspliced fragments and domain analysis to determine how this might affect innexin
The Impact of Temperature on Dairy Production, a Regression Approach
Eryn Rogers, Undergraduate student, Agribusiness and Agriscience; Justin Gardner,
Faculty, Agribusiness and Agriscience; Justin Gardner (Faculty sponsor), Agribusiness
and Agriscience
One of the greatest factors that affect milk yield in dairy cows is temperature. Heat stress
in dairy cows reduces the cows’ ability to regenerate mammary cells, reducing milk yield
in the next lactation. Heat stress also causes the cow to decrease feed intake reducing the
overall nutritional value of the milk produced. The most efficient way to reduce
temperature in a dairy facility is to install cooling systems throughout. Some believe that
installing this type of system would increase production costs more than the loss incurred
from heat stress. After completing thorough literature reviews, we hypothesized that as
temperature increases milk production decreases. Data records were gathered and used
from the MTSU dairy farm herd. An ordinary least squares regression was found using
the explanatory variable, temperature, and the response variable, milk yield. A correlation
was found, determining that for every degree increase in temperature a decrease of .15
pounds occurs in production. Once calculating the total cost of production loss and the
total cost of installing a cooling system it was found that installing a cooling system
would be profitable.
Team Tennessee Solar Decathlon
Elizabeth Kurtz, Undergraduate student, Human Sciences; Team Tennessee,
Undergraduate student, Human Sciences; Janis Brickey (Faculty sponsor), Human
Throughout 2014 and into 2015, MTSU Interior Design and Construction Management
students teamed up with Vanderbilt University Engineering students to compete as Team
Tennessee in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon. This biennial competition
challenges college students nationwide to design, build and operate solar-powered houses
and compete against one another in a unique “village” environment. After Team
Tennessee’s initial proposal for “Harmony House” was accepted, MTSU students worked
with Vanderbilt students and Habitat for Humanity to design a forward-thinking and
appealing home that was both efficient and affordable. While Team Tennessee ultimately
was not able to raise the necessary money to continue on in the competition, the work
that was put into designing this home reflects interdisciplinary teamwork, innovation and
student commitment to excellence. The presentation includes a poster and 3D models
illustrating Team Tennessee’s design process in designing a solar-powered home.
Knockout of the SNF3 gene in Cryptococcus neoformans
Gavyn Stys, Undergraduate student, Forensic Science; Erin McClelland, Faculty,
Biology; Erin McClelland (Faculty sponsor), Biology
Background: Cryptococcus neoformans is a pathogenic yeast that is responsible for
worldwide infections in humans and pets. It causes opportunistic infections primarily in
immunocompromised individuals that start in the lungs and can travel to the spinal cord
and cause meningitis. Cryptococcus is an unusual yeast due to its polysaccharide capsule.
The capsule is the major virulence factor of Cryptococcus and primarily makes this
pathogen virulent. It’s still unknown how the capsule is synthesized. Thus, the more
knowledge we have about the capsule, the greater chance of preventing the fungus from
killing >600,000 people a year. SNF3 is a gene thought to be involved with sensing
extracellular glucose. If this gene is deleted, it’s possible that it could affect capsule
synthesis, which in turn may affect the virulence of Cryptococcus.
Methods: The SNF3 gene was deleted by creating a DNA construct using overlap PCR
and then using homologous recombination to replace SNF3 with an antibiotic resistance
Results: Analysis of the overlap PCR construct showed that SNF3 had been replaced by
the antibiotic resistance gene noursethricin. The overlap PCR products were then used to
transform Cryptococcus neoformans var grubii H99 (serotype A) by biolistic
transformation. The products were placed on plates containing the antibiotic. The
colonies from the plates will be analyzed using PCR, to find transformants where SNF3
has been knocked out. These transformants will then be analyzed by Southern blot to
ensure only SNF3 was genetically deleted.
Conclusion: Characterization of the function of SNF3 could lead to a greater knowledge
of how the capsule uses glucose, a precursor to the components of the capsule. Further
study will include creating the complemented strain. Then, the capsule can be studied in
both strains to determine how SNF3 affects capsule synthesis in Cryptococcus.
Effects of Temperature on Life History Traits of Male Daphnia lumholtzi
Hunter Morrow, Undergraduate student, Biology; Amanda Fox, Undergraduate student,
Biology; Melissa Pompilius, Graduate student, Biology; Robert Fischer, Faculty,
Biology; Robert Fischer (Faculty sponsor), Biology
The crustacean zooplankton Daphnia are considered keystone species freshwater
ecosystems, where they are primary grazers of algae, and the primary forage for many
juvenile fish species. Their highly plastic responses to environmental conditions have
made them an increasingly important model system for studying how environmental
factors interact with life history traits. Our lab is interested in the thermal biology and life
history characteristics of Daphnia lumholtzi, a non-indigenous aquatic species that has
spread rapidly throughout reservoirs in the U.S. High thermal tolerance has been
proposed as a key factor facilitating its rapid expansion. Temperature is also a key factor
involved in the production of male offspring by females, which reproduce by
parthenogenesis under favorable environmental conditions. While life history responses
of female Daphnia are well documented, there is limited characterization of the life
history characteristics of male Daphnia, and less still is known about male D. lumholtzi.
The purpose of this study is to describe the major events in the life history of male D.
lumholtzi, including lifespan and growth rate, as well as how these traits respond to
elevated culture temperatures and thermal stress.
Whiteness: An Examination of the Culture within a Middle Class Neighborhood
Hailey Lawson, Undergraduate student, Speech and Theatre; Patrick Richey (Faculty
sponsor), Speech and Theatre
Nakayama’s theory of Whiteness is defined as a set of “linked dimensions” characterized
as normative race privilege, how white people see themselves vs. others and society, and
cultural practices. Whiteness isn’t overt; rather, it is a subtle standpoint where many
white people believe their place in the world is what is normal. Whiteness has the
tendency to reject other cultural norms as “inappropriate” and “beneath” their own. This
paper examines a string of posts made to an anonymous middle class neighborhood’s
group Facebook page about residents on a certain street within that neighborhood. One
resident on the street became angry with their neighbors for continually parking in their
front yard. This resident used social media in an attempt to shame their neighbors and
bring about change. These posts are examined through the rhetorical lens of the
Whiteness theory to show how this neighbor shaming isn’t just a few people who are
power tripping on a social media platform, rather, it’s a few neighbors who are rejecting
certain families because they are culturally different.
Analysis of the Efficacy of a Health Literacy Intervention in Middle Tennessee
Hannah Told, Undergraduate student, Psychology; Stuart Bernstein (Faculty sponsor),
Following a 2013 needs assessment, an intervention was conducted using a high
readability children’s health manual. The goal of this study was to assess the intervention
for effectiveness in improving adult’s scores on an assessment of how to care for acute
childhood health conditions. Participants included parents and grandparents of children
who attended two Family Health Literacy Nights held at a preschool in Rutherford
County (n= 42). Participants were tested on three types of knowledge: the need for ER
care, doctor’s office care, or at home care. Pre- vs. post-intervention results showed that
participants knowledge of conditions to be treated at an ER were significantly higher than
knowledge of conditions for home and doctor’s offices. Although there was a marginally
significant interaction between question types, there was no significant improvement
between pre- and post-tests over any of the question types. It was concluded that the
nonsignificant results were most likely due to a small n, not the content of the
intervention itself.
Teamwork: Partnering for a Cancer Free Tennessee
Jasmine Stevenson, Undergraduate student, Adams Chair of Excellence in Health Care
Services Center for Health and Human Services; Emily Klingensmith, Undergraduate
student, Adams Chair of Excellence in Health Care Services Center for Health and
Human Services; Martha Edwards (Faculty sponsor), Adams Chair of Excellence in
Health Care Services Center for Health and Human Services
For ten years, The Adams Chair of Excellence in Health Care Services and the Center for
Health and Human Services have worked with the Tennessee Department of Health and a
statewide network of partners who are focused on educating Tennesseans about cancer
prevention, screening and treatment. The mission of the Tennessee Cancer Coalition is to
measurably reduce the burden of cancer on the citizens of Tennessee by implementing a
collaborative statewide plan driven by data, science, capacity and outcomes. The mission
is accomplished through a process of comprehensive cancer control. The Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention defines comprehensive cancer control, as “a
collaborative process through which a community pools resources to reduce the burden of
cancer that results in risk reduction, early detection, better treatment, and enhanced
survivorship.” The Center helped develop the Tennessee Comprehensive Cancer Control
Plan and works with Tennessee Cancer Coalition members to implement programs such
as 2004’s Taking It to the Streets and the current Ask Me project. This retrospective
covers ten years of progress in improving awareness, increasing screening, decreasing
risk factors, and decreasing cancer-related death rates.
Tailgate Alert
Jeremy Jackson, Undergraduate student, Engineering Technology; Saleh Sbenaty
(Faculty sponsor), Engineering Technology
Car collisions kill about 34,000 cyclists a year in the US alone. My project is a tailgating
alert and prevention system for cyclists. It detects when a vehicle is within an unsafe
proximity to a cyclist so that the rider will be aware of the tailgater and can take action to
avoid getting hit. It also alerts the person behind them that they are an unsafe distance
from the cyclist in hopes that they will be aware of the danger and avoid causing an
incident and possibly killing an innocent person. This market for this product is quite
large as over 67 million people in the US alone have ridden a bicycle in the last year.
Political Exhaust : The Rhetoric of Bumper Stickers
Joseph Dennis, Undergraduate student, University Studies; Kaylene Gebert (Faculty
Political discourse is hard. That may be why we relegate our opinions to shouting one or
two sentences at a time. Tweets, Facebook posts, the majority of our brash and hateful
comment sections. But do you remember the original one sentence political opinion ? The
bumper sticker. Write a shocking opinion, stick it on the back of your car, and watch the
world shake at your bold new stance on how the president is a wiener.
It is an effective system, but we now have the aforementioned social media that fulfills
the same purpose in almost the exact same way, and they have enough saturation that
people of all walks of life can tell their thoughts to the public. So why do we still see
bumper stickers?
This presentation explores the unique purpose on the rhetorical stage that bumper stickers
serve. The connected state of social media means that a controversial opinion can be
interacted with. Tweet ‘Obama is a communist,’ and you will spark an argument. Put a
picture of the president next to a hammer and sickle above your exhaust pipe, and you
never have to hear any contrary opinion it may elicit. Social media is open, but cars are
That does not mean they do not want any reactions. The bumper sticker is closely related
to the slogan t-shirt. That ‘Rubio Sucks’ sticker agitates those tailgating Republicans as
you sit back and laugh where they cannot get you, but it also signals the surrounding
Democrats that you are one of them. No one has ever or ever will be swayed by two
words. However, people who already agree now know they are not alone. It both repels
enemies and attracts friends.
“Nothing Tastes as Good as Skinny Feels”
Jennah Wilkes, Undergraduate student, Human Sciences; Whitney Smith, Undergraduate
student, Engineering Technology; Tayler Webb, Undergraduate student, Art; Laura
Dubek (Faculty sponsor), English
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and people need to realize that healthy is what they
should want to strive for. In today’s society, it seems like the pressure to have the perfect
body is at all-time high. The problem is that most women with eating disorders are not
idolizing models; but in fact, they have a serious psychological disorder. Our poster will
analyze Lisa Hilton’s “The Fashion Industry Should Not Be Held Responsible for Eating
Disorders” which appeared in Eating Disorders in 2012. In this article, models have to
work hard for their bodies just as hard as athletes do. Being thin is professionally
necessary, and models should not be negatively looked at for committing to their job. Our
poster will analyze how media can show people that it takes hard work for these models
to get their bodies the way they are. We also will show that there is not a body shape that
is ideal for everyone. The purpose for the analysis is to defend all body types, in relation
to their career or occupation. By evaluating the ethos, logos and pathos within the
argument, we plan to show how the emotions and the statistics portray the body image of
women in America. Finally, we will develop an argument that states how the media
affects women’s own personal views of their body image.
A Comparison of Garbage Collected in Two Limited Income Communities
Joey O'Dell, Undergraduate student, Sociology and Anthropology; Sydney Whitlock,
Undergraduate student, Sociology and Anthropology; Tanya Peres (Faculty sponsor),
Sociology and Anthropology
Garbology is the study of modern refuse in order to gain knowledge and understanding of
modern society through material objects through a medium of something that is generally
hidden from view: garbage. It is our contention that debris left over by two generationally
diverse, yet economically similar, communities may give us insight into how the limited
incomes of these two groups are being spent. Our comparison of a collegiate community
to a retirement community, we believe, will show that, given a similar level of income,
the qualities of life are on opposite sides of the spectrum. By trudging through the refuses
of both of these communities, we hope to show that the elderly have more of an emphasis
on health care where as the college students may more apt to spending their finite
monetary resources on less necessity driven purchases. The ultimate goal of this project
would be to provide a comparison of the health related, or personal care products, in the
differing communities; this will ultimately give insight into how to help improve the
quality of life within the senior citizen community by potentially giving the option for
future research into prospective raises in social security or by lowering the costs of health
related necessities for seniors. We contend that both of the aforementioned goals,
determining similarities as well as consumer choice, will both lend themselves well to the
end goal.
Crime Rates in Latin American Countries
Jodi Shockney, Undergraduate student, Professional Science; David Carleton (Faculty
sponsor), Political Science
A study of factors related to high rates of violent crime, particularly homicide rates. This
study focuses on Latin America as the most violent subregion in the world, specifically
studying the countries of Honduras and Venezuela as the two most violent countries in
the world outside of a war zone, and Costa Rica and Uruguay as the two least violent
countries in Latin America. It seeks to answer the question of why Latin America is
significantly more violent than the rest of the world. Factors examined in the study that
are related to high rates of violent crime include the level of adult education, the age
structure of the total population, the level of poverty, and faith in social institutions such
as the police and the judiciary in each country. Findings of this study could have
implications for Latin American and other countries in understanding causes of crime and
taking proactive steps toward lowering the rate of violent crime world wide.
Development of live cell markers to investigate how the pathogen, Cryptococcus
neoformans, alters the intracellular architecture of macrophages
Joy Fihosy, Undergraduate student, Biology; Jonathan Bowling, Graduate student,
Biology; James Hayes, Graduate student, Biology; Erin McClelland, Faculty, Biology;
David Nelson (Faculty sponsor), Biology
Cryptococcus neoformans (Cn) is an intracellular pathogen which has the capacity to
create life-threatening conditions in immune-compromised individuals, or alternatively
establish a long-lasting latent infection within healthy individuals. During chronic
infections Cn hijacks and grows inside host immune cells, specifically the alveolar
macrophages of the lungs. Previous work demonstrates the ability of a single yeast to
infect and replicate inside a macrophage to a volume almost equal the original volume of
the macrophage itself, with up to 40 Cn in only a few hours. Based on this evidence, it is
plausible that the intracellular growth of Cn incontrovertibly reconstructs the
macrophage’s architecture by compressing cellular organelles, causing what is known as
‘organelle crowding’.
Analysis from our lab, as well as others, show that post infection the behavior of
macrophages changes significantly, such as the impairment of their ability to respond to
inflammatory stimuli. The purpose of this project is to determine if changes in cellular
architecture in host macrophages, caused by Cn growth, is responsible for the
macrophages’ change in behavior. To begin measuring these changes, we needed to first
create analytical tools. To accomplish this task we created cell organelle markers, using
'In-fusion' cloning of genetically encoded fluorescent markers. These markers allowed us
to view the mitochondrial networks and endoplasmic reticulum in cultured human cells.
Using our genetic tools, we measured changes in organelle crowding and 'mass'. Changes
in these parameters could affect the diffusion of signaling proteins throughout the cell.
The data we gathered provide new insights about changes caused by Cn and other
intracellular pathogens on macrophage cellular architecture and function.
Snow Birds and Regency: An Examination of Negative Agency and Structural Power in
the American Southwest
Jessica O'Neill, Undergraduate student, Sociology and Anthropology; Ida Fadzillah
(Faculty sponsor), Sociology and Anthropology
The ethnography described in this poster interprets and examines class differences and
relational differences, as defined by their economic and material status, between groups
in the South West United States using the anthropological theoretical concepts of
negative agency as proposed by Corinne Kratz and the idea of structural power in Eric
Wolf’s economic theory. It will also examine the prevalence and occurrence of temporary
classes or groups, questioning the ability of a mobile class to change not only the
economic and political structure of an area, but the physical infrastructure and landscape.
The ability of a mobile group’s potential to shape the physicality of an area will pose the
option of further research and the possible development of a modern ecology theory to
postulate the correlation between different classes’ ability to interact and change their
environment based on the temporary mobile groups movement, ideas, and economic
resources when within the area. To what extent the mobile groups’ movements affect the
area permanently upon their movement outside of the area, with the consideration of the
already established classes within the area that they are visiting, should also be examined
when doing further research.
The Effects of Color on Flavor Identification Accuracy
John Murphy, Undergraduate student, Psychology; Brianna Werner, Undergraduate
student, Human Sciences; John Pennington (Faculty sponsor), Psychology
Prior research conducted by the first author found that a vast majority of research
participants misidentify the flavor of color-flavor mismatched candies (e.g., perceiving
red wintergreen-flavored gumdrops as actually cherry flavored). The present study was
conducted to replicate those findings and verify that such errors were due to expectancy
effects rather than the use of inadequate flavoring ingredients. Specifically, participants
in the present study sampled two color-flavor mismatched candies (of differing
“mismatch strength”). Half were randomly assigned to a “sight” condition in which the
candies were visible prior to consumption and half were assigned to a “blind” tasting
condition. Results indicated that participants in the prior group were significantly more
likely to make flavor identification errors than those in the latter group. Furthermore,
such errors were more common for the blatant color-flavor mismatched candy (i.e., red
color/wintergreen flavor) than for the subtly mismatched candy (i.e., orange
color/cinnamon flavor). Taken together, these findings provide strong support for an
expectancy effect in flavor perception.
Using Optical Tweezers to Measure the Elasticity of Breast Cancer Cells Treated with
Traditional Chinese Medicine
Josie Lyon, Undergraduate student, Physics and Astronomy; Daniel Erenso (Faculty
sponsor), Physics and Astronomy
In the study of methods of treatment for breast cancer patients, the use of Traditional
Chinese Medicine (TCM) has remained relatively untested. However, by utilizing both
the biological and physical side of TCM in modern medicine, a tested and thorough
analysis of experimental measurements allowed this project to form a basis for future
experimentation and conclusions concerning TCM as an alternative form of therapy
within cancer treatments. A particular herbal extract used in TCM has been shown to
increase the radio-sensitivity in certain cancerous cells while decreasing the radiosensitivity in their normal, non-cancerous counterparts. The means in which this extract
produces these effects have since eluded a complete interpretation. We have made an
investigation into the physical effects of the extract by treating BT20 cells, a line of
breast cancer cells, with the herbal extract and applying a central picoNewton force on
the cells via optical tweezers. The relative volumetric deformations of the treated cells
will give data on the effects of the extract that a complete interpretation must satisfy.
Synthesis & Microstructural Characterization of High Energy Density Piezoelectric
Ceramic Compositions
Ryan Daugherty, Undergraduate student, Engineering Technology; Vishwas Bedekar,
Faculty, Engineering Technology; Vishwas Bedekar (Faculty sponsor), Engineering
The objective of this research is to design, synthesize and characterize high energy
density piezoelectric ceramics for harvesting electrical energy from mechanical
vibrations. We will then use those piezoelectric ceramics along with electromagnetic
induction to fabricate multi-modal energy harvesters. Piezoelectric ceramic compositions
based upon lead zirconate titanate (PZT) were synthesized using conventional mixed
oxide ceramic processing route which includes ball milling, drying, calcination, sieving
and sintering. Microstructural characterization was performed using Scanning Electron
Microscopy (SEM) to calculate average grain size of the sintered compositions. Sintered
samples were electroded using Ag-Pd paste and poled in an oil bath at 120 º C using a
high voltage power supply. Piezoelectric and dielectric properties were measured using
d33 meter, impedance analyzer and LCR meter and compared for various compositions.
Our results show that there is a direct correlation between energy density and the
piezoelectric properties of the ceramics. We have observed a trend in our data that
ceramics that exhibit a high mechanical resistance factor have had higher values
piezoelectric charge constant d33. Optimization of processing technique such as sintering
temperature and time, poling conditions and measurement techniques led to enhancing
the charge and voltage constants of the compositions. This will be useful in engineering
new piezoelectric materials in energy harvesting applications.
Multimodal Energy Harvesting
Kayla Cowan, Undergraduate student, Chemistry; Charles Michael Soto, Undergraduate
student, Chemistry; Anna Moore, Undergraduate student; Kenneth Cobble; Ethan Miller;
Ryan Daugherty; Vishwas Bedekar (Faculty sponsor), Engineering Technology
The purpose of this study is to research the efficiency of harvesting electricity using
multimodal energy harvesters. Multimodal energy harvesters use more than one
mechanism to gain an electric charge. We chose to use multimodal harvesters instead of a
single modal harvester because it will allow us to enhance the harvesting abilities of the
harvester and expand the spectrum of functional capabilities. We based our design on the
intent to use the mechanical vibrations of everyday life to harvest energy. To convert
vibrations into energy we used the piezoelectric effect triggered by magnetosriction and
Faraday’s Law of Electromagnetic Induction. The harvester was designed combining
PZT harvesting and electromagnetic harvesting using magnetic levitation. The
Piezoelectric material was formulated from multiple original compositions and taken
through the conventional ceramic processing route. (This includes calculations, mixing
oxides, ball milling, drying, calcining, sieving, pressing, sintering, polishing, electroding,
and poling.) We used AutoCAD Inventor to design various structural components and
printed them using a 3D printer. We wound the structures with copper wire consisting of
36, 40, and 44 AWG. We assembled the end harvesting piece by suspending the PZT
with magnets and connecting leads to the energy sources. Our results show that using
more than one energy harvesting mechanism increases the energy output of our harvester
and expands the functional frequency of the working vibrations. The harvester generated
enough power to light an LED sensor. It was also confirmed that using multiple
mechanisms enhances the power density of the harvester using same foot-print. The
multimodal energy harvester can be used for supplemental or emergency on-board power
by storage in a battery.
Using Photometry to Calibrate AggieCam for Exoplanet Searches
Katelyn Stringer, Undergraduate student, Physics and Astronomy; Ryan Oelkers,
Graduate student, George P. and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Institute of Fundamental
Physics and Astronomy, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Texas A&M University;
Lucas Macri, Non-MTSU university faculty collaborator, George P. and Cynthia Woods
Mitchell Institute of Fundamental Physics and Astronomy, Department of Physics and
Astronomy, Texas A&M University; Eric Klumpe (Faculty sponsor), Physics and
Although thousands of exoplanets have been discovered, little is known about their
formation. The detection of a planet in a young stellar association with a well-determined
age provides a strong constraint on the formation time scales of planetary systems.
AggieCam, a wide-field, small-aperture telescope, was recently installed at Bosque
Alegre Astrophysical Station in Argentina to search for young (<50 Myr) planets and
stars in nearby (<150 pc) stellar associations. However, before any of AggieCam’s data
can be properly analyzed, calibrations are necessary to remove atmospheric extinction
effects and signal noise from the instrument. These effects were measured as the zero
point offset, color term, and extinction coefficients from analysis of time-series images of
two Landolt standard fields taken from two observing sites. Applying these calibrations
to images taken with AggieCam yields a more accurate measurement for an object’s
apparent brightness, thus increasing the confidence of an exoplanet detection.
Child Labor
Kelsey Beal, Undergraduate student, Political Science; David Carleton (Faculty sponsor),
Political Science
I conducted research on what factors lead to child labor. I focused on two high countries,
with high numbers of child labor, Nigeria and China, and two low countries, with low
numbers of child labor, Australia and Canada. The five factors I focused on were: poverty,
population growth, levels of technology, government regulation, and a lack of education.
Two of my hypothesis were accepted based on the research I conducted, while three of
my hypothesis were denied. The two which were accepted consisted of: As the
population grows in countries, child labor increases, and, where there is a lack of
education, there is more child labor. The three hypothesis which were denied consisted
of: where there is more government regulation on child labor, there is less child labor,
where there are higher levels of technology, there are lower numbers of child laborers,
and higher poverty rates lead to higher rates of child labor.
Introduction to Internal Combustion Engines
Kayla Arthurs, Undergraduate student, Aerospace; Kristelle Blake, Undergraduate
student, Aerospace; Cody Elliott, Undergraduate student, Aerospace; Wendy Beckman
(Faculty sponsor), Aerospace
The purpose of this research activity was to determine if there was a significant
difference in the ability to retain new information for aviation camp high school students
when instructional methods were varied. This was being investigated because of the
influence it may have on young adults choosing Middle Tennessee State University
Aerospace as their higher educational facility. The two instructional methods used to
introduce internal combustion engines were Static Based Learning (SBL) and Animated
Based Learning (ABL). SBL relies more on the teacher to introduce, explain and
demonstrate the items and concepts of a topic while ABL relies more on technology and
more specifically, animations, to convey a more complete understanding of the topic. The
topic of engines was introduced using a power point presentation that differed slightly
from one method to the next. In the ABL presentation there were three separate animated,
‘cutaway’ type illustrations showing how an internal combustion engine works. In the
SBL presentation there were no animations but simply static illustrations. Once the
presentation was over the students were taken to the maintenance hangar where they were
afforded the chance to gather around Lycoming O-360, four cylinder engines in order to
discuss the components introduced in the classroom setting. After this, the students went
back into the classroom to complete session evaluations and short ‘quizzes’ so the rate of
retention and enjoyment of the session could be analyzed. The SBL group was found to
have scored significantly higher (mean of 91.59) on their knowledge quiz than the ABL
group (mean of 77.76). A two sample t-test assuming unequal variances gave a t-statistic
value of 3.125, showing statistical significance at the .05 level of significance. There was
no significant difference found in the students’ evaluation ratings.
What does BCAT do in Cryptococcus neoformans?
Kathryn Brittain, Undergraduate student, Biology; Erin McClelland (Faculty sponsor),
Background: Cryptococcus neoformans is a pathogenic yeast with a polysaccharide
capsule, making it difficult for macrophages to digest it. Thus, it is a primary cause of
fungal meningitis in immunocompromised people. A comparison of microarray data from
high- and low-virulent strains of C. neoformans identified a branched chain amino
transferase (bcat) gene, suggesting bcat may be involved in pathogenesis. The bcat gene
is involved in metabolism through the catabolism of branched chain amino acids. Thus,
we hypothesize that bcat is involved in the virulence of C. neoformans because of its
ability to affect energy production in this pathogenic yeast. Methods: To test this
hypothesis, we need to create a strain of C. neoformans lacking the bcat gene. A DNA
construct was created using overlap PCR, where the noursethricin antibiotic marker was
used to replace the bcat gene. The construct was sequenced for verification and then
cloned into a bacterial plasmid. Using biolistic transformation, the DNA construct was
transformed into the wild type strain of C. neoformans. The resulting transformants were
tested to determine if the bcat gene was successfully deleted from the genome. Once the
bcat knockout strain is successfully created, we will insert the gene back into the knock
out strain to create the complemented strain. Results: Multiple transformants appear to
have correctly incorporated the noursethricin antibiotic into the genome. We are in the
process of verifying these transformants. Successful transformants will be analyzed using
Southern blot analysis. Conclusions: Once the bcat knockout strain has been constructed,
we will create the complemented strain and compare the virulence phenotypes. If the
knockout strain has a slower growth rate due to a possible defect in energy production,
we will infect, waxworms, Galleria mellonella, with both strains to determine if bcat
plays a role in virulence of C. neoformans.
Determining the Effect of Neuroinflammation on Mitochondrial Quality Control in
Parkinson’s Disease
Larissa Wolf, Undergraduate student, Biology; Jonathan Bowling, Graduate student,
Biology; David Nelson (Faculty sponsor), Biology
Parkinson’s disease is characterized by motor dysfunction, which is attributed to the loss
of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta. It is thought that
aggregation of misfolded proteins (including alpha-synuclein), neuroinflammation, and
mitochondrial dysfunction are significant contributing factors to the death of these cells
and that these cellular stresses are interrelated, with each possibly causing the other. For
instance, previous studies have shown that the mitophagic regulatory protein, Parkin, is
regulated at the transcriptional level by the pro-inflammatory pathway nuclear factorkappa B (NF-KB), implying that increases in neuroinflammation seen in the brain during
the natural aging process would deplete Parkin levels and possibly reduce the efficiency
of the mitochondrial quality control process. To determine whether this is the case, we
incubated cultured dopaminergic neurons, expressing fluorescently tagged Parkin and a
mitochondrial marker, with disease-relevant levels of the inflammatory cytokine TNFalpha and then induced mitophagy by treating with cyanide m-chlorophenyl hydrazine
(CCCP). We used live cell fluorescence microscopy of these cells to measure the rate of
Parkin re-localization to the mitochondria. Assaying for changes in the kinetics of the
process will provide new insights into the relationship between neuroinflammation and
mitophagy in Parkinson’s disease.
Regulation of NF-κB Nuclear Translocation by Cryptococcus neoformans Capsular
Lauren Heusinkveld, Undergraduate student, Biology; James Hayes, Graduate student,
Biology; David Nelson, Faculty, Biology; Erin McClelland, Faculty, Biology; Erin
McClelland (Faculty sponsor), Biology
Background: Cryptococcus neoformans (Cn) is an opportunistic environmental yeast that
causes meningitis in individuals with impaired immune function. Cn is protected by a
dense polysaccharide capsule composed of two polysaccharides, glucuronoxylomannan
(GXM) and galactoxylomannan (GalXM), both of which are released during capsule
growth. Cn is able to disrupt key macrophage cell-signaling pathways, including nuclear
factor kappaB (NF-κB), which may prevent macrophages from efficiently destroying Cn.
Previous studies have indicated that Cn capsular polysaccharides (particularly GXM)
suppress pro-inflammatory NF-κB signaling. However, the mechanism by which this
occurs has yet to be fully resolved. Methods: To investigate the effects of Cn
polysaccharides on NF-κB activity we have employed a dual biochemical and live cell
microscopy approach. GXM and GalXM were isolated from the cultures of wildtype
strain H99, GXM-negative strain Cap59, and GalXM-negative strain Uge1. An
experiment was performed in which RAW 264.7 macrophage cells that constitutively
express the NF-κB subunit p65 as a chimeric fusion protein with EGFP (p65-EGFP) were
stimulated with Cap59-derived GalXM. We then measured changes in the nuclear
localization of p65 (an indirect measure of its activity) by fluorescence microscopy.
Results: Previous experiments suggest while GalXM promotes NF-κB activation, GXM
suppresses it. We are in the process of analyzing this experiment, but we expect the RAW
264.7 cells that were treated with GalXM to show NF-κB activation and RAW 264.7
cells treated with GXM to show suppression of NF-κB activity. Conclusions: The
mechanism by which the different capsular polysaccharides of Cn alter NF-kB signaling
is not clearly understood. We hope this data will provide insight into how Cn survives
within host macrophages. A better understanding of pathogens with immunomodulatory
capabilities such as Cn could have important implications for medical management of
inflammatory conditions such as acute endotoxic shock, which involves dangerous
systemic inflammation in response to bacterial lipopolysaccharide.
Investigation of Fecal Bacteria and Nutrient Levels in Lees Spring Branch, Rutherford
County, TN
Lara Jarnagin, Undergraduate student, Biology; Euvelisse Jusino-DelValle,
Undergraduate student, Biology; An Nguyen, Undergraduate student, Biology; Victoria
Kremer, Graduate student, Biology; Gale Beaubien, Graduate student, Biology; Megan
Stallard, Graduate student, Biology; Frank Bailey, Faculty, Biology; Frank Bailey
(Faculty sponsor), Biology
Murfreesboro’s Lees Spring Branch is fed by several springs that appear to have
underground connections with groundwater that could be coming from many sources,
including urbanized areas and agricultural land. Lees Spring Branch is known to be
contaminated with fecal pathogens/Escherichia coli and listed by the Tennessee
Department of Environment and Conservation on the 303d list for impairment due to
nutrients from unknown sources. Nutrient and E. coli sampling was undertaken on Lees
Spring Branch in 2014 to determine seasonal concentrations of E. coli and nutrients and
to gather baseline data before future planned development in the area. Quantitative
polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) was used with the host-specific fecal bacteria,
Bacteroides spp., to determine if fecal sources in Lees Spring Branch were human in
origin. Lees Spring Branch was monitored seasonally at base flow (i.e. summer, winter,
spring, and fall) for one year with arithmetic and geometric means calculated for
Bacteroides and E. coli concentrations, respectively. Wet weather samples were taken
once each season. Nitrate, nitrite, orthophosphate, TSS, DO, pH and conductivity were
collected with each sample. Escherichia coli and nutrient values were highly variable by
season and weather conditions. Only a small fraction of the fecal bacteria present were
found to be from human sources.
The Hindenburg Disaster Coverage
Landy Tate, Undergraduate student, Journalism; Atlanta Northcutt, Undergraduate
student, Journalism; Victoria Thompson, Undergraduate student, Recording Industry;
Aaron Overton, Undergraduate student, Journalism; Rachel Dobbs, Undergraduate
student, Journalism; Daniel Kriepe, Undergraduate student, Journalism; Jane Marcellus
(Faculty sponsor), Journalism
For a group project for a Media History American Culture course, five others students
and I developed a 12 page research paper and tri-fold board about the Hindenburg
Disaster of 1937. The Hindenburg Disaster was a historically catastrophic event because
it involved an aircraft explosion and fatalities. It was unlike anything the world had
witnessed before. The element of surprise and casualties made the event “news.” Our
group thought it would be exciting to perform a close examination of how media
channels such as newspapers, magazines, radio and newsreels covered the details of the
event compared to how today's version of those same sources would cover the event, in
addition to social media. Our research paper draws attention to specific sources, such as
the Washington Post and New York Times and the techniques those publications used to
cater either to or against the rules of journalism. Our black and white tri-fold board
illustrates the disaster, people of significance at the time and examples of publications
during the Hindenburg's time period.
Molecular Epidemiology of Erythromycin Resistance in Streptococcus pyogenes
Lenzie Howell, Undergraduate student, Health and Human Performance; Stephen Wright,
Faculty, Biology; Stephen Wright (Faculty sponsor), Biology
Streptococcus pyogenes, also referred to as Group A Strep (GAS), is a Gram positive
coccus that is the causative agent of several diseases. The Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention estimate that this bacterium is responsible for 1-2.6 million strep throat
infections each year in the United States. Erythromycin is an antibiotic commonly used to
treat GAS; however, the bacterium is reportedly developing resistance to macrolide drugs.
The purpose of this study was to determine what gene(s) may be present in local GAS
isolates and potentially contribute to erythromycin resistance in Streptococcus pyogenes.
Seven GAS clinical samples obtained from the Murfreesboro Medical Clinic were found
to be resistant to erythromycin. These isolates were examined to determine whether
candidate genes responsible for erythromycin resistance were present. Following
extraction of DNA, the samples were amplified by the polymerase chain reaction using
three sequence-specific primer pairs characteristic of genes recognized to confer
resistance to erythromycin. Amplicons were checked by gel electrophoresis and any
bands of the appropriate size verified gene presence. We report detection of the mef(A)
gene in four of the samples, providing genetic evidence for erythromycin resistance. This
study demonstrates increasing antibiotic resistance and the importance of using the
appropriate antibiotic for treatment of a common childhood pathogen.
Feminist Critique of the Video Game Industry Starting from Ms. Pac-Man
Manuelle Lempin, Undergraduate student, Communication Studies; Patrick Richey
(Faculty sponsor), Communication Studies
Ms. Pac-Man was revolutionary upon its release in 1981. People were excited to see a
female video game character. However, there were many elements of Ms. Pac-Man that
would be seen as sexist through a 2nd Wave Feminist lens. It perpetuated negative female
stereotypes. Furthermore, these stereotypes still exist within the video game industry
Rhetoric of the Creation Museum
Mitchell Brisbon, Undergraduate student, Speech and Theatre; Patrick Richey (Faculty
sponsor), Speech and Theatre
Few issues produce greater ire than the question of whether God created the Earth or
whether it evolved. Answers in Genesis (AiG), an organization run by Ken Ham, has
played a significant role in the battle over the last few decades, a role summated in their
project the Creation Museum. As a piece of culture, this museum represents a very
strongly held belief on the part of the evangelical community and therefore has become a
significant force in culture on the whole, as it attempts to respond to the countervailing
idea that the world evolved.
In analyzing the rhetorical significance of the Creation Museum, one must consider the
issue from two important perspectives: the Aristotelian theory of persuasion, using the
elements of ethos, pathos, logos, and mythos; and Sherif and Hovland’s Social Judgment
Theory. Aristotle’s theory of rhetoric lays out the fundamental elements of persuasion
(credibility, emotional impact, the logic and evidence behind an argument, and the story
which the presenter tells in making his or her argument); Social Judgment Theory
considers how the person subject to communication receives it, especially in relation to
whether or not the subject has already accepted, rejected, or remained non-committal on
an issue, which determines a subject’s receptivity to another position. The one who
wishes to influence how people think must adapt his method to appeal to the perspective
which he wishes to change. The Creation Museum’s current method appeals to those who
accept AiG’s position, but it pushes away those who have rejected AiG’s position and
those who are undecided.
Artifact Analysis of Features 6 and 7, Magnolia Valley (40RD314), Tennessee
Megan Merrick, Undergraduate student, Sociology and Anthropology; Tanya Peres,
Faculty, Sociology and Anthropology; Tanya Peres (Faculty sponsor), Sociology and
The purpose of this research is to determine the nature of two pit features identified and
excavated during the MTSU 2014 Archaeological Field School. The field school was
held at the Magnolia Valley site (40RD314), located in southwest Rutherford County in
Eagleville, Tennessee. Both of the pit features included in this study are large (ca. 2 m in
diameter and 2 m deep), and were radiocarbon dated to the Archaic period (ca. 5,300
years before present). Artifacts recovered from these pits include charcoal, seeds,
carbonized bone and walnut shell, lithic tools, and heated rock. The analysis of the
artifacts gives us insight into the function of the pit features and their relation to one
another. This research gives us new information about the Archaic Period in Rutherford
County and Middle Tennessee.
Artificial Riparian Containment System: Build it They'll Come
Muhammad Ali, Undergraduate student, Biology; Gale Beaubian, Graduate student,
Biology; Connor Olson, Undergraduate student, Biology; Ryan Otter (Faculty sponsor),
Tetragnathid spiders (Aranae, Tetragnathidae) are a versatile and cost-efficient
bioindicator capable of identifying inorganic and organic contaminants in aquatic
ecosystems; however, because the burden of finding multiple spiders can significantly
increase field time, sampling concerns exist. To increase sampling efficiency we
engineered multiple Artificial Riparian Containment systems (ARC systems). The Build
it, They'll Come (BiTWC) system - expanded the viable riparian habitat with a four-foot
tall, one-foot wide, and one-foot deep PVC platform filled with imitation aquarium plants.
The platform was then mounted on a steel frame and buoys were attached to the lowest
PVC bars. By enabling lateral mobility while maintaining a stationary streamside position,
upward refugia is offered to the spiders in high-flow or flooding events and emigration
from the habitat is decreased. Once field-testing confirms the structural integrity of the
BiTWC system, the EPA has pledged all contaminant analysis and deployment costs
associated with one of the most contaminated rivers in the United States, the Ottawa
River Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act
(CERCLA) site, commonly referred to as a “Superfund site.”
Construction of a live cell model to simulate the effects of Lewy body formation on
inflammatory signaling pathways in Parkinson’s disease
Martha Fonseca, Undergraduate student, Chemistry; Alexis Johnson, Undergraduate
student, Biology; Olivia Slayton, Undergraduate student; Taylor Norris, Undergraduate
student; Sarah Ragsdale, Undergraduate student; Rachel Yates; David Nelson (Faculty
sponsor), Biology
Parkinson’s disease is the most prevalent neurodegenerative disorder affecting movement.
In the United States alone, as many as one million people live with this disease, whose
symptoms include muscle rigidity, tremors, and unsteady balance. These symptoms are
caused by the progressive loss of dopaminergic neurons from a region of the brain called
the substantia nigra. In the vast majority of cases the cause of the disease is unclear but it
is thought that chronic inflammation of the brain (neuroinflammation), a common feature
of the disease, is a major contributing factor, creating a toxic environment for neurons.
A histopathological ‘gold standard’ for Parkinson’s disease is the presence of intraneuronal proteinaceous plaques in the brain, known as ‘Lewy bodies’. These structures
are largely made up of a protein called alpha-synuclein, ubiquitin and misfolded proteins.
While it is still unclear whether Lewy bodies are toxic, protective or merely an incidental
byproduct of the disease. Recent data has shown that Lewy bodies can inappropriately
sequester important cellular proteins, preventing them for functioning normally.
Our hypothesis is that the formation of Lewy bodies contributes to neuroinflammation by
capturing proteins, such as RNF11, that negatively regulate the NF-kappaB pathway, the
primary regulator of the inflammatory response in man. In order to answer this question
we developed a single cell model of Lewy body formation by genetically modifying
cultured neurons to express an aggregation-prone variant of the alpha-synuclein protein
when treated with the drug, tetracycline. We also designed genetically encoded molecular
probes to observe the formation of these artificial Lewy bodies in live cells. Having
validated our system, we showed that a fluorescently tagged form of RNF11 co-localized
with the Lewy bodies.
This system will enable us to study the effects of Lewy bodies on the NF-kappaB
pathway and other Parkinson’s disease-relevant signaling pathways in living neurons.
Focus on Fallacy: Jim Daly's “The Daly Focus” viewed through a Burkian Lens
Michaela Edwards, Undergraduate student, Speech and Theatre; Patrick Richey (Faculty
sponsor), Speech and Theatre
This paper will analyze the use of Kenneth Burke’s terministic screens, God and Devil
terms, as well as the concepts of scapegoating, and fallacy laden logic, in Jim Daly’s blog
“The Daly Focus.” Jim Daly is the president and chief executive officer of “Focus on the
Family,” a Global Christian ministry that provides resources such as videos and blog
posts to help couples build marriages and raise children. Through the use of the
aforementioned theories and concepts applied to the overarching principle of effective
persuasion, Jim Daly’s blog can be shown to lead viewers in prescribed directions
dependent on mediated word choice and fallacy, resulting in desired response and support.
Health Literacy Comprehension in Rutherford County.
Michaela Edwards, Undergraduate student, Psychology; Stuart Bernstein, Faculty,
Psychology; Catherine Crooks, Faculty, Psychology; Stuart Bernstein (Faculty sponsor),
The National Assessment of Health literacy reports that 14% of adults of all education
levels and 50% of adults who have not completed high school are below basic health
literacy. One of the consequences is over-use of the emergency room for children’s
healthcare, where visits for fevers and earaches far outnumber trauma. An intervention
was implemented in Rutherford County, giving adults a high readability book on
children’s health care (What to Do When Your Child Gets Sick) and teaching them how
to use the book. In a test of health knowledge, parents showed significant improvement in
selection of appropriate levels of care for childhood ailments after the training,
replicating previous work with this book and training. We will devise a new measurement
of comprehension that will assess the ability to use the book to look up new information
that is to be implemented in future training. We expect to see an improvement in
comprehension parallel to the improvement in knowledge previously shown.
Chemical Degradation by Chlorine Dioxide
Madison Toney, Undergraduate student, Chemistry; Ngee Sing Chong (Faculty sponsor),
Chlorine dioxide has been used as an effective compound to disinfect and degrade a
variety of mold, bacteria, and water supplies. Aqueous chlorine dioxide treatment is an
FDA approved method to clean fresh fruits and vegetables. The strong oxidation potential
of chlorine dioxide also allows for not only disinfection of produce but also degradation
of contaminants in water supplies.
The purpose of my research project is to characterize the mechanisms of how chlorine
dioxide can deactivate microorganisms by disrupting their protein structures. The
degradation process will be modeled by studying the interaction of polypeptides and
chlorine dioxide in order to better understand how chlorine dioxide would react with
specific amino acids within the polypeptides and potentially deactivate the protein
functions of pathogenic microbes. Since most fruits and vegetables may also be
contaminated with pesticides in addition to harmful microbes, it is also the goal of this
project to study the efficiency of chlorine dioxide in breaking down the pesticides. The
degradation effects of chlorine dioxide will be examined by using gas chromatographymass spectrometry (GC-MS) as the primary test method and Fourier Transform infrared
(FTIR) spectrometry for small gas phase compounds like CO2, SO2, and NH3.
The preliminary results for the degradation of pesticides and aromatic amines by ClO2
look promising. For instance, 2-Aminobiphenyl was found to yield degradation
byproducts of biphenyl and 2-chlorobipheny. This reaction shows that the removal of the
amino group in 2-aminobiphenyl can potentially reduce the toxicity of the aromatic
amine such as 4-aminobiphenyl that is classified as a human carcinogen. Many more
amines are currently being tested to observe the effects of ClO2. Eventually, the
degradation of peptides with specific amino acid sequence by ClO2 will be evaluated to
provide a better understanding of how ClO2 may deactivate pathogenic bacteria.
Reconstitution of pro1 in Cryptococcus neoformans
Martina Ramos, Undergraduate student, Biology; Erin McClelland, Faculty, Biology;
Erin McClelland (Faculty sponsor), Biology
Background: Cryptococcus neoformans (Cn) is a pathogenic yeast that can cause
cyptococcal meningitis. The yeast infects the respiratory system where it can disseminate
into the blood stream and cause fungal meningitis. Previous research in the lab led to the
discovery of a transcription factor that may be involved in dissemination. A knockout
strain of the gene encoding the transcription factor, PRO1 showed reduced hyphal growth
and a diminished capsule, an important virulence factor. Additionally, mice infected
intratracheally with the knockout strain lived significantly longer than mice infected
intravenously, suggesting that the knockout strain was unable to disseminate from the
lungs. PRO1 is also found in Sordaria macrospora where it is involved in fruiting body
development. It is hypothesized that PRO1 is used similarly in Cn and is involved in
dissemination into the blood stream. Methods: In order to determine if PRO1 is involved
in dissemination, we must create the reconstituted strain, in which the pro1 gene is put
back into the knock out strain in conjunction with an antibiotic resistance marker. The
resulting reconstituted strain will be tested to determine if the phenotype observed with
the knock out strain has reverted back to the wild type phenotype. PCR will be used to
create an overlap construct that will be introduced into the genome through biolistic
transformation. Results: The overlap construct has been created and purified. We are in
the process of transforming the knock out strain using biolistic transformation.
Conclusions: We expect the reconstituted strain to have a wild type phenotype: hyphal
growth will be restored, the yeast will have a normal polysaccharide capsule, and the
strain will be capable of disseminating into the bloodstream. Characterization of the
function of pro1 will help determine how C. neoformans causes disseminated infection,
an important step in the pathogenesis of this yeast.
Do you want to die? Physician-Assisted Suicide
Sarah Monroe, Undergraduate student, Agribusiness and Agriscience; Madison Michael,
Undergraduate student, Psychology; Stacy Finley, Undergraduate student, Art; Laura
Dubek (Faculty sponsor), English
On November 2, 2014, after suffering from her brain cancer, Brittany Maynard passed
away, but not from the cancer. She is one of a lucky few percent that qualify for
physician-assisted suicide in the four states that have made it legal. She moved to the
state of Oregon just so she could partake in PSA. The law for Physician-Assisted Suicide
has been in effect since the 1990s, but you don’t hear that much about it. Maynard’s story
brought the uncomfortable topic to light. Our poster will analyze the rhetorical situation
of Timothy E. Quill’s “Physician-Assisted Suicide is Ethical.” We will identify the
rhetorical strategies Quill uses to argue that PSA should become an option for the
terminally ill. We will analyze why it is ethical and how it affects Hospice and Palliative
Care. Our poster will also include our own argument for why we Hospice and Palliative
Care should include the choice of Physician-Assisted Suicide.
Synthesis of beta-lactam analogs of belactosin A
Nikita Shokur, Undergraduate student, Chemistry; Jonathan Byrd, Undergraduate student,
Chemistry; Anuradha Pathiranage, Graduate student, Chemistry; Norma Dunlap (Faculty
sponsor), Chemistry
Belactosin A is a naturally occurring proteasome inhibitor with potent anti-tumor activity,
isolated in 2000 from Streptomyces. This peptidic compound has a cyclopropyl amino
acid as the core, and a “serine trap” at one end. Activity is conferred by enzymatic
acylation of the beta-lactone serine trap. Several syntheses have been reported, however
only a few analogs have been prepared. An approach to the synthesis of analogs is
reported here, with the key step being the nitrocyclopropanation of an amino-acid derived
enone. We have previously reported this synthesis, however it suffers from a lack of
stereoselectivity. Efforts to improve stereoselectivity in the cyclopropanation are also
reported here. Reduction of the nitro group, followed by coupling to a beta-lactam as the
serine trap will afford belactosin A analog s which may have improved stability over the
beta-lactone. The use of alanine, phenylalanine, leucine and valine as starting materials
leads to methyl, benzyl and isobutyl and isopropyl analogs of the natural product.
Deletion of Folate Biosynthesis Gene, ABZ1, Produces Transient Life-Span Extension in
Budding Yeast
Nausheen Qureshi, Undergraduate student, Human Sciences; Rebecca Seipelt-Thiemann
(Faculty sponsor), Biology
Folate, also known as vitamin B9, is essential for cellular processes in many organisms,
including humans and nematodes. A prior study found that reduced folate levels led to an
increase in nematode lifespan. The purpose of this study was to determine if folate
biosynthesis mutations could also affect lifespan in the model organism, budding yeast.
Yeast have five folate biosynthesis genes, one of which is the ABZ1 gene. This gene
encodes an enzyme that converts chorismate to 4-amino- 4-deoxychorismate. Deletion of
the gene produced a viable yeast, so it is not an essential gene. Wildtype and abz1 mutant
yeast were grown and aged in 96 well plates. The viability of yeast in these aging plates
was assayed each week for 7 weeks. Briefly, aged yeast were inoculated into fresh
medium and growth was measured after 24 hours by optical density. The null hypothesis
was that there is no statistically significant change in between the mutant and wildtype
populations using T-tests and they are both behaving the same way. The null hypothesis
was not rejected for weeks 1-4 and week 7, indicating both yeasts were behaving
similarly. However, the null hypothesis was rejected for week 5, showing the mutant and
wildtype populations behaved significantly different. Since the mutant change in optical
density was greater than the wildtype change in optical density, the mutation caused the
mutant yeast to live longer. Week 6 data was lost due to a technical error in plate reading
and so its data is not included, but it would have been of considerable interest. Future
studies should include repeated trials with single mutants to ensure the results are
consistent and trials with double and triple mutants to determine if the effect is
Stop Lying to Me! A Rhetorical Analysis of Johann Hari’s “Just You Wait Until I Grow
Olivia Agostinho, Undergraduate student, Criminal Justice Administration; Silas Broden,
Undergraduate student, Business Communication and Entrepreneurship; Laura Dubek
(Faculty sponsor), English
On September 9th, 2013, Colorado became the first state to legalize the sale of recreation
marijuana, slowly leading America into the world of legal drugs. Adults, twenty-one and
older, were legally allowed to obtain an ounce of marijuana at a time. Just 14 years ago,
July 9th 2001, Britain’s New Statesmen published an article by twenty-two year old
Johann Hari. Hari wrote about recreational use of several different extreme drugs in an
attempt to give young adults a better insight on people using drugs. Hari’s article was
published in several newspapers, like The New York Times. Our poster will analyze and
illustrate the rhetorical situation of Hari’s written argument, not just how he uses
criticism and examples of others’ mistakes, but also how he uses rhetorical strategies to
help his audience understand the circumstances of how and why people use drugs. Our
poster will also show the argument for both sides of drug use and legalization, using
examples to back up choices. Finally, our poster will present an argument of our own,
providing clarity to exactly how and why Hari’s 2001 argument remains relevant to
today’s fight on drugs. And the idea of only younger people are the ones to use
Chloroplast Lipid Composition of Brown Algae
Katie Press, Undergraduate student, Biology; Jeff Leblond, Faculty, Biology; Jeff
Leblond (Faculty sponsor), Biology
This study focuses on the chloroplast lipid composition of three genera of brown algae,
Ectocarpus, Dictyota, and Sphacelaria. Brown algae are filamentous multicellular algae
from the class Phaeophyceae, and are common seaweeds in marine environments. The
plastids found in Phaeophyceae are descendent from red algae. Our hypothesis was that
by analyzing the chloroplast lipid composition of these genera of brown algae, one would
expect to find a similarity to what has been observed previously in red algae. To this end,
the galactolipids monogalactosyldiacyglycerol and digalactosyldiacylglyerol (MGDG and
DGDG, respectively) were analyzed using positive-ion electrospray/mass spectrometry
(ESI/MS). These lipids contained a variety of C20/C18 fatty acid forms with sn-1/sn-2
regiochemistry, many of which are commonly found in red algae. This work presents the
first known work on the characterization of brown algal chloroplast lipid composition,
and reinforces an evolutionary link between the galactolipids of both the brown and red
Synthesis of Antimicrobial Combinatorial Peptoid Library to be Screened Against E. coli
Ashley Corson, Undergraduate student, Chemistry; Kevin Bicker (Faculty sponsor),
Due to the increasing rate of antimicrobial resistance for bacterial, fungal, viral, and
parasitic infections, measures must be taken to expand the research field in alternative
methods to combat these organisms. One possible alterative is the use of antimicrobial
peptides; however, there are severe limitations in the therapeutic application of these
peptides due to the human body's ability to easily degrade the compounds before reaching
their target organisms. Peptoids are peptide mimics that function similar to peptides but
have a slight structural difference. A peptide has side chains branching from the α-carbon
and hydrogen attached to the nitrogen. A peptoid has the side chains attached to the αnitrogen. The absence of the hydrogen on the nitrogen allows for an increase in half-life
and increased stability of the peptoids, while allowing them to have the same or very
similar actions on infectious organisms to peptides. The purpose of this research is to
optimize the techniques of synthesis and sequencing of viable antimicrobial peptoids
from a combinatorial library. Establishment of these methods will give a one-bead-onecompound library that will allow for millions of unique compounds to be synthesized and
screened against nearly any bacteria for potent and effective antimicrobial agents in a few
days. This will be an efficient way to determine other therapeutic options in dealing with
antibiotic resistant infections.
Modeling the Ebola Epidemic with Population Mobility
Samantha Pulido, Undergraduate student, Mathematics; Chris Murphy, Undergraduate
student, Mathematics; Wyatt Goff, Undergraduate student, Mathematics; Rachel Leander,
Faculty, Mathematics; Rachel Leander (Faculty sponsor), Mathematics
The growing Ebola epidemic has been a major concern of many in this past year. Despite
the efforts of local governments and hospitals, the UN, Doctors without Borders and
many other organizations, the spread of Ebola has continued far beyond previous
outbreaks. Many instances have arisen to where the virus was seemingly dying out only
to flare up unexpectedly. The purpose of this paper is to explore the effects population
mobility has on the spread and transmission of Ebola. The scope of our research
examines ground zero of the outbreak in Meliandou, Guinea. The results are not
particularly accurate, but the model creates a good basis for moving forward in modeling
the Ebola outbreak without neglecting the factor of a highly mobile population.
Varying Instructional Methods for Teaching Weight and Balance and Aircraft
Stephanie Arcamuzi, Undergraduate student, Aerospace; Wendy Beckman (Faculty
sponsor), Aerospace
Middle Tennessee State University held an Aviation Camp for young students potentially
interested in the field of aviation. This was an undergraduate research project designed to
determine which method of instruction was most beneficial for the student. The
participants in the study were the 36 high school grouped into two sets of eight and two
sets of ten students, totaling four subject groups. The students had to complete a lesson
on weight and balance and performance. The groups participated in an hour and a half
long session while being taught using two approaches. One subject group learned by
using a drill based method of teaching while the other subjects learned from a scenario
type teaching process. Scenario-based requires some self-directed learning on the part of
the student, and while students are more engaged in the learning process, it requires them
to think about what they are doing. The scenario group was given the theory behind
weight and balance and aircraft performance first, watched three video clips, and then
worked out scenario-based problems on their own. The drill based group was given the
problem at the beginning of the class and it was worked through as a class. Then, the
students were taught the theory behind the lesson and watched the three video clips. After
both groups finished the lessons, they were given assessments to see how much
information they retained, and if they enjoyed it and learned anything from the session.
The drill-based group excelled on the assessment, potentially due to increased attention at
the beginning of the lesson session, versus the scenario-based group which had to listen
to all of the theory before learning how to do the problem. However, in all other
categories neither teaching method proved significantly more effective than the other.
Tobacco-Free Campus Initiative
Sarah Killets, Undergraduate student, Health and Human Performance; Bryan Killets,
Undergraduate student, Health and Human Performance; Bethany Wrye (Faculty
sponsor), Health and Human Performance
The purpose of this study is to develop a strategy for effective promotion and/or
enforcement of MTSU’s Tobacco-Free Campus policy. Although MTSU has an antitobacco policy in place, it has been widely observed that tobacco (especially e-cigarette)
use outside of set boundaries still persists on campus. This study will employ the use of
student focus groups in order to better understand how the current policy could be better
promoted and/or enforced.
Participants will be invited via random sample to join a focus group discussing the
current Tobacco Free program at MTSU. They will be asked open-ended questions
regarding the program and ways to improve its marketing strategy. The group will meet
for no longer than one hour and discuss the current tobacco free campus campaign and
ways to better promote and/or enforce the already active policy. Investigators plan to use
previous data collected by Lisa Shrader, the Director of Health Promotions, in order to
enhance our question formation. Results from her research will be used to better inform
the questions posed to the participants of this focus group.
Responses recorded from this focus group will be categorized using a coding scheme in
order to reduce the responses for the qualitative questions to a manageable number of
categories with numeric codes. In addition, insightful quotes of responses given by
participants will be included in order to form a more complete narrative about what
influences tobacco use and/or adherence to MTSU's anti-tobacco policy.
The Impact of Birth of a Nation and Gone With the Wind
Sara Snoddy, Undergraduate student, Journalism; Jane Marcellus (Faculty sponsor),
This study examines media coverage of the release of Birth of a Nation and Gone With
the Wind. These are epic films that revolve around the Civil War Era, dealing with race
relations and the effects of the war among other things. Released in 1915 and 1939
respectively, both films were widely popular in mainstream media and have been praised
as the greatest films ever made. These films were also protested and picketed. Birth of a
Nation was banned from some theaters and Gone With the Wind was criticized for being
too much like it's ancestor film from nearly twenty-five years earlier. By looking at
coverage in newspapers such as The Chicago Defender, The Washington Afro-American,
The Baltimore Afro-American, and The Washington Times, I discovered that there was a
disconnect between the messages presented in the Black Press and the opinions in the
mainstream press. This study contends that by comparing the news coverage it is clear
that cultural and sociological views regarding African-Americans, although they were
progressing towards acceptance, did not change very much in the early 1900s, and the
print news coverage proves that the white mainstream reporters were completely
disconnected from the black community.
Prehistoric Cooking Technology Uncovered: Analysis of a 5,000 year old Earth-Oven
Feature from Rutherford County, Tennessee
Sara Northcutt, Undergraduate student, Sociology and Anthropology; Tanya Peres,
Faculty, Sociology and Anthropology; Tanya Peres (Faculty sponsor), Sociology and
The Rutherford County Archaeology Research Program (RCARP) was launched in 2014
to identify prehistoric archaeological sites in Rutherford County. The 2014 MTSU
Archaeological Field School was held at the Magnolia Valley site (40RD314) in western
Rutherford County. Geophysical survey, shovel-testing, and unit and feature excavation
were all completed during the seven-week field season. During the geophysical survey
portion of the field school a number of large anomalies were located and a select number
excavated. Feature 3 was chosen for further investigation. This rock-lined pit yielded
carbonized plant materials, faunal remains, lithic flakes and two partial projectile points.
Its location adjacent to a larger circular feature is also intriguing. Little is known about
the prehistoric cooking technology of Rutherford County and this feature is the first of its
kind for the area. The analysis of the remains from Feature 3 are being used to identify
the feature’s function at this Archaic Period habitation site.
Intermolecular interactions in mono-unsaturated fatty acids: An atoms-in-molecules
comparison of cis and trans conformations
Sydney Smith, Undergraduate student, Chemistry; Preston MacDougall (Faculty sponsor),
Trans-unsaturated fatty acids, as opposed to cis-unsaturated fatty acids, have long been
known to conglomerate in blood vessels, increasing the risk of coronary artery disease. A
common explanation attributes this to more dense packing of the trans-unsaturated fatty
acids (linear shape), compared to less dense packing of cis isomers (bent shape). Using ab
initio model calculations of monomers and dimers, we investigate the possibility of
electronic factors, in addition to steric ones, differentiating the isomers. Topological
analysis of intermolecular interactions, including hydrogen bonding, for numerous
conformation pairings is augmented by atoms-in-molecules partitioning of interaction
energies. The goal is a more complete understanding of the way in which trans-fats pack.
They will never be blue: an examination of identity and preservation through Cherokee
women of the 1820s
Sherry Teal, Undergraduate student, Sociology and Anthropology; Ashley Riley-Sousa
(Faculty sponsor), History
My research examines the Cherokee law which legitimized Cherokee patrilineal
inheritance. In the 1820s, United States legal codes did not recognize women’s rights to
land. In 1825, the Cherokee National Council sought to align themselves with the
existing United States legal codes and so reversed a centuries-old matrilineal system of
inheritance. The Council transferred inheritance to the father's lineage as a measure to
validate Cherokee land ownership in the eyes of Euro-American settlers and courts. With
this measure, the Council had hoped to stifle encroachment into their territory. Through
examining the Council legal texts from 1808-1827, Cherokee Supreme Court transcripts
of 1827-1839, Tennessee Acts of 1833, land grant documentation from 1819-1959, Big
Cove genealogical records, and beloved women oral histories, I argue that despite the
Council legislation—and with the full knowledge of its authors—traditional matrilineal
systems remained the way of life in many communities. This research examines the
layers of meaning in the 1825 Council law and how Cherokee women and individual
communities continued to actively pursued life on their own terms. My research position
is that of the cove perspective. Instead of looking at this topic from the typical
nationalistic position, I examine the events of the 1820s at the community level.
Understanding the Monster
Shelby Weeks, Undergraduate student, Psychology; Shelby Terry, Undergraduate
student; Aeriell Tidd, Undergraduate student, Agribusiness and Agriscience; Laura
Dubek (Faculty sponsor), English
Serial killers have been a popular topic since the 1990’s. Patricia Pearson’s “Murder on
her Mind” profiles the life of Candice Skrapec, the leading specialist in serial homicide
early in her life. Skrapec did extensive research, going to prisons to interview convicted
serial murderers as well as accompanying police officers and FBI agents in their
investigations. Pearson describes Skrapec’s keen insight into the serial killer mind.
Skrapec has a natural compassion and lack of fear that most people lack due to
objectifying and labeling the murderer. Our poster will rhetorically analyze Patricia
Pearson’s “Murder on her Mind,” focusing on audience, purpose, and her motivation to
write this article as well as tone, structure, and other rhetorical strategies she employs to
make her article appealing. A summarizing biography of Candice Skrapec will be given
with some of her contributions to the understanding of murderers. Other lesser-known
serial killers will be profiled, such as Mitchell DeBardeleben. Our analysis will
contextualize this issue using research from experts in serial homicide, such as Ann Rule
who was friends with Ted Bundy before he was arrested. Advancements in knowledge
include the concern of serial killer’s behavior and neurology, like the compulsive
behaviors displayed in Jeffrey Dahmer, and learning why they do what they do.
Identification of Cryptococcus neoformans Virulence Factors by Means of a
Caenorhabditis elegans Killing Assay
Travis Rush, Undergraduate student, Biology; Erin McClelland (Faculty sponsor),
Background: The pathogenic yeast Cryptococcus neoformans primarily infects
immunocompromised patients to cause fungal meningitis. Because the current treatment
regimens for C. neoformans infections are highly toxic, new therapeutics are desperately
needed. Thus, a better understanding of the various steps in the pathogenesis of disease is
needed. One way to do this is to use the soil nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, an
invertebrate host model for C. neoformans, to identify genes involved in virulence.
Methods: To identify new factors involved in pathogenesis, the Cryptococcus
neoformans knockout library will be screened using a C. elegans killing assay. This
involves culturing two strains of C. elegans worms (the N2 wild type and the km4
increased susceptibility mutant strain) and testing the 1400 C. neoformans knockout
strains for reduced pathogenesis (less killing of C. elegans). Results: We expect that
many of the 1400 C. neoformans knockout strains will not show any reduction in
virulence. However, some C. neoformans strains may be less virulent and allow the
survival of both the km4 and N2 C. elegans strains. These reduced virulence C.
neoformans knockout strains will be further tested for virulence factor phenotypes.
Conclusions: By using C. elegans to screen the C. neoformans knockout library, we hope
to identify a number of C. neoformans genes that are involved in the pathogenesis of
disease. A few of those genes will be picked for further characterization to better
understand their function in disease.
The Clock Stops Today: A Rhetorical Analysis of Kim Schoenhals’ “Turn Back Time”
Al'leta Ector, Undergraduate student, Sociology and Anthropology; Shonda Clanton,
Undergraduate student, Biology; Laura Dubek (Faculty sponsor), English
In the February and March 2015 Time Magazine special double issue, the cover featured
a baby asking the question, “How old can we live to be?” It’s a question that crosses
everyone’s mind at some point in their life. In June of 2004, Better Nutrition published an
article written by Kim Schoenhals on the prevention of aging. Our poster will analyze
and depict the rhetorical situation of her argument, that aging must not be seen as
inevitable – the catalyst, purpose and audience- as well as the rhetorical strategies she
employs to prove that there are safer and more natural ways for Hollywood’s elite to
“slow down the clock.” We will also analyze the strategies she uses to attempt to change
the mindset of the world at large when it comes to what aging is and whether or not it is
inevitable. Our analysis will also include an examination of the difference between
chronological aging, psychological aging and biological aging as it relates to our topic.
Finally we will present an argument of our own, supported with research and facts, as to
how and why this is relevant to today's society.
Development of a Live Cell Model to Study Impairment of Macroautophagy and
Mitophagy in Sporadic Parkinson's disease
Tiara Rainer, Undergraduate student, Biology; Jonathan Bowling, Graduate student,
Biology; Andrew Nolan, Undergraduate student, Biology; David Nelson, Faculty,
Biology; David Nelson (Faculty sponsor), Biology
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is an age-associated neurodegenerative disorder that strikes
sporadically, causing the loss of dopaminergic neurons from the substantia nigra pars
compacta, which is involved in the control of movement. The study of rare genetic forms
of PD have indicated that defects in mitophagy and autophagy processes, mechanisms
that control the destruction of damaged and unwanted mitochondria and organelles, are
compromised in this disease. However, it is not entirely clear how these processes are
affected in the more common sporadic form. Therefore, there is a need to study these
processes in detail using models of the disorder.
The mitophagic process begins with the recruitment of PTEN-induced putative kinase 1
(PINK1) to the outer mitochondrial membrane of damaged mitochondria. PINK1 then
recruits and activates a ubiquitin ligase protein called Parkin by phosphorylation, causing
Parkin to polyubiquitinate many mitochondrial proteins. This triggers the break-up of
damaged regions of the mitochondrial network into smaller pieces and the recruitment of
the core macroautophagy machinary, such as LC3 and p62, causing the lysosomaldependent destruction of the damaged mitochondria.
As it is unclear which stages of this process are affected in sporadic PD, we will develop
molecular tools that will enable us to monitor each phase in living cells by fluorescence
microscopy. We have successfully developed fluorescent markers to track the
accumulation of PINK-1 at mitochondria. We are currently developing additional tools to
view how PD-associated stresses affect other regulators involved in mitophagy and
Antares Launch Vehicle Environmental Impact Studies at NASA Goddard Space Flight
Tammy Sheppard, Undergraduate student, Chemistry; Andrienne Friedli (Faculty
sponsor), Chemistry
At NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, rockets and high altitude balloons are used to
measure and collect a multitude of scientific data. Air quality and ozone is of upmost
importance to NASA since rockets of all sizes are launched from the Mid-Atlantic
Regional Spaceport. Ozone sondes (meauring devices) are released at least once a week
around 1:00 PM to collect data on contamination particles and O3 profiles. This is so that
the ozone sonde can sync with satellites that collect ozone data from several different
release points throughout the world. The balloon stays aloft at 60,000 ft for
approximately an hour to collect ambient air into electrochemical concentration cells. The
anode and cathode cells use potassium iodide, which is oxidized and sends a current to
the package breadboard. The purpose of this research is to collect data on O3 columns and
CO2 concentrations during all seasons.
In addition, the environmental impact of the Antares Launch Vehicle upon wildlife on the
protected Eastern Shore was studied. Monitors were placed on the beaches to collect data
on sound levels. Sensors were placed around the launch pad to collect data on water
quality to ensure waterways were not contaminated. The Antares rocket is a three stage
rocket that contains two AeroJet AJ26 engines that use liquid oxygen (LOX) and
kerosene as the fuel in the first stage, an ATK Castor 30B solid propellant engine in stage
two, and an optional helium pressured bi-propellant third stage that consists of nitrogen
tetroxide and hydrazine. Sounding rockets use solid propellants that contain the fuel and
oxidizers in the combustion chamber.
In this presentation, data on ozone and carbon dioxide levels, sound pollution, and water
quality measurements made during the study will be analyzed and presented.
Workforce Development Internship at NASA
Tammy Sheppard, Undergraduate student, Chemistry; Andrienne Friedli (Faculty
sponsor), Chemistry
Wallops Flight Facility, located on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, approximately 100
miles north-northeast of Norfolk, is operated by the Goddard Space Flight Center in
Greenbelt, Maryland. The facility acts primarily as a rocket launch site to support science
and exploration missions for NASA and other Federal agencies. WFF includes an
extensive flight range to support launches of more than a dozen types of sounding rockets,
small expendable suborbital and orbital rockets, and high-altitude balloon flights carrying
scientific instruments for atmospheric and astronomical research. The facility also uses its
Research Airport to perform flight tests of aeronautical research aircraft, which include
unmanned aerial vehicles.
Students who intern at Wallops Flight Facility or Goddard Space Flight Center will
engage in applications of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), as
well as other subject areas, in a research-focused work environment. Student interns learn
and apply research protocols and processes related to Earth- and space-systems science,
computer science, and engineering technology. Knowledge of computer applications is
essential for all placements. This poster session will provide an overview of an internship
at Wallops Flight Facility during the summer of 2014. The internship included research
on rockets, rocket fuels, environmental impacts, atmospheric and ozone particulates, as
well as student and teacher outreach opportunities.
Thermal Tolerance of Invasive and Native Daphnia Species from the Alabama River
Thuy Huynh, Undergraduate student, Biology; Cara Vielhauer, Undergraduate student,
Biology; Melissa Pompilius, Graduate student, Biology; Robert Fischer, Faculty,
Biology; Robert Fischer (Faculty sponsor), Biology
Waterways in the U.S. are being increasingly impacted by non-indigenous aquatic
species (NAS), particularly in the warmer southeastern waters. Daphnia lumholtzi is a
non-indigenous aquatic zooplankton that is of particular interest due to its very rapid
expansion throughout the U.S. Other studies have shown that D. lumholtzi has a wide
range of thermal tolerance, which may be facilitating its invasive potential. In reservoirs,
D. lumholtzi appears to fill a vacant thermal niche, achieving high population densities
only during the warmest temperatures, when native species decline. However, we have
found that in the estuarine environment, D. lumholtzi and native species are present at
similar densities. The purpose of this study was to compare thermal tolerances of
Daphnia lumholtzi and native species found in the estuary. D. lumholtzi and native
Daphnia were collected from the Alabama River Delta and acclimated to laboratory
culture. Survival of four native species was compared to D. lumholtzi following exposure
to thermal stress. Two native species exhibited high thermal tolerances that are similar to
D. lumholtzi, while two other species showed sharp declines in survival within 24 hours
following thermal stress. This suggests that D. lumholtzi may not be filling a vacant
thermal niche in the estuary. Microcosm experiments are underway to evaluate
differences in population growth rates under temperate and elevated temperatures
experienced in the estuary.
Assessment Of Traditional Chinese Medicine Herbal Extract’s Potential to Inhibit Herpes
Simplex Virus Type 1
Trang Huynh, Undergraduate student, Biology; Stephen Wright (Faculty sponsor),
Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) is associated with oral and genital lesions as well as
more serious, even fatal, infections in immunocompromised patients or when transmitted
to infants. HSV-1 infections are widespread among the population, having a
seroprevalence of 60 to 95% in various places. Currently, there is no cure or preventative
vaccine available for HSV. Acyclovir is used for treatment of HSV infections but
resistance against this drug is common in immunocompromised patients and severe side
effects can develop when used on pregnant mothers and infants. The lack of a
preventative option and limited treatments demonstrates the need for more effective
treatment measures. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been used for centuries
throughout China to cure diseases. Many studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of
TCM plants against various illnesses, but little has been done to evaluate TCM plant
extracts against HSV-1. This study tested 51 TCM extracts from 13 different plants for
their potential to inhibit HSV-1. Extracts were separated into fractions and dissolved in
the solvents petroleum ether, ethyl acetate, 95% ethanol or water. Vero cells were used to
evaluate plant extracts for anti HSV-1 activity. Extracts were combined with virus and
protection of cells was determined by using PrestoBlue, a cell viability fluorescent dye.
Extracts were tested for toxic effects on host cells and were diluted to non-toxic levels
prior to anti viral testing. We report cytotoxicities of all extracts and early results of
antiviral activity. To date, two extracts have been determined to inhibit HSV-1 and merit
future investigation as anti HSV-1 compounds.
Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Mapping and Analysis of a Historic African
American Community Near Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Wm. Matthew Whitten, Undergraduate student, Geosciences; Jeremy Aber (Faculty
sponsor), Geosciences
This project explores the areal extent of “Cemetery Community,” a post-emancipation
rural African American settlement located near the Stones River National Battlefield
north of Murfreesboro, Tennessee by comparing the results of two studies of this
community conducted by MTSU Public History students: a historic architectural survey
(2011) and a cultural landscape analysis (2007). GIS was used to map the structures and
proposed Cemetery Community historic district boundaries identified by the historic
architectural survey as well as features associated with the Cemetery Community
identified in the cultural landscape study. This project also used Bing Maps and Google
Earth to identify and map potential routes to a graveyard and possible baptismal site
recorded in the historic studies. The map indicates that the cultural landscape associated
with the Cemetery Community extends beyond the proposed historic district boundaries
and can be used as a base map for the local community to offer their personal
Incorporation of transition metal cations into PbS QDs via cation exchange
Wayne Tilluck, Undergraduate student, Chemistry; Amanda Evans, Undergraduate
student, Chemistry; Jason Gurchiek, Undergraduate student, Chemistry; Clay Minge,
Undergraduate student, Chemistry; Alexander Morris, Graduate student, Chemistry; Paul
Greg Van Patten (Faculty sponsor), Chemistry
Cation exchange provides a method to synthesize altered semiconductor quantum dots
(QDs) that can otherwise be difficult to produce. The introduction of transition metal ions
to a system offers possibilities for manipulation of the structural, optical and magnetic
properties of the QDs. With previous success in cation exchange with PbS QDs, we here
report the reactions of several transition metal cations, including cadmium, nickel, silver,
iron, manganese, copper, chromium, zinc and cobalt, under various reaction conditions.
Ligand exchange, temperature, concentration, reaction time and solvents are examined as
important reaction parameters. Optical and structural properties are studied via electronic
spectroscopy, elemental analysis, and TEM imaging. Where appropriate, magnetic
susceptibility results are also reported as a function of composition and metal distribution
within the QDs.
Enhancement of Raman Signals for Nitroanilines Adsorbed onto Gold Substrates
Yvonne Ejorh, Undergraduate student, Chemistry; Dr. Beng Ooi, Faculty, Chemistry; Dr.
William Ilsley, Faculty, Chemistry; Dr. Beng Ooi (Faculty sponsor), Chemistry
Nitroanilines are used as chemical intermediates in the manufacturing of dyes, pesticides,
gasoline, specific pharmaceuticals, and poultry medications. There are three isomeric
forms of nitroanilines that differ from one another in the position of the nitro substituent.
The three isomers, namely 2-nitroaniline, 3-nitroaniline, and 4-nitroaniline, can be
distinguished by Raman spectroscopy. The Raman signal can be enhanced by the use of
gold or silver nanoparticles in a technique known as Surface Enhanced Raman
Spectroscopy (SERS). In this project, colloidal gold nanostars and Klarite™ substrates
based on nanoscale patterning of a gold coated silicon surface were used for SERS
analysis and characterization of the three isomers. Even though the three nitroaniline
isomers have similar structures, their SERS spectra were easily distinguishable from one
another and from aniline. The degree of Raman signal enhancement were of the order of
2-nitroaniline > 3-nitroaniline > 4-nitroaniline. The enhancement effects of colloidal gold
nanostars versus Klarite™ substrate was compared. The enhancement factors of the
different isomers were used to investigate the steric hindrance effects associated with
nitroaniline chemisorption as well as the inductive effects due to the position of the nitro
substituent group. Computational modeling based on Density Functional Theory (DFT)
was also conducted to study the adsorption characteristics of the analytes on gold colloid.
Aurone X Inhibits Cryptococcus neoformans
Yusra Mohammed, Undergraduate student, Biology; Danielle Araujo, Graduate student,
Biology; Erin McClelland, Faculty, Biology; Erin McClelland (Faculty sponsor), Biology
Background: Cryptococcus neoformans is an opportunistic, fungal pathogen that can
spread from the lungs to the central nervous system and cause life-threatening meningitis,
most commonly in immune depressed individuals. Amphotericin B and fluconazole are
the standard treatment; however, this has resulted in renal toxicity and resistant strains.
The lack of safe, effective medication for dealing with cryptococcal meningitis was the
area of interest for this research project. Methods: We screened an aurone library and a
library of plant extracts from the Guanxi Botanical Garden for inhibition of C.
neoformans using the A27-M2 CLSI standard micro-dilution method. The compounds
that showed inhibition were further tested for the minimum inhibitory concentration
(MIC). Toxicity assays of these compounds were also conducted on human THP1
macrophages. Results: Over 40 compounds showed >90% inhibition of C. neoformans at
100 µM. Aurone X was selected for further characterization based on its low MIC and its
low toxicity to THP1 macrophages (>100 µM). Conclusions: Preliminary data on the
inhibition of C. neformans by Aurone X suggests that it may be a potential drug
candidate for C. neoformans. This cannot be determined unless further tests are done on
the compound. We will determine if aurone X inhibits growth of C. neoformans in other
media besides the standard RPMI (that better replicate human infection), if aurone X
inhibits C. neoformans at higher numbers of cells (to mimic numbers seen in an acute
infection), and if aurone X inhibits other serotypes and strains of C. neoformans. Thus,
due to its low toxicity and potential effectiveness at low dosages, aurone X could be a
possible drug candidate against C. neoformans infections.
Cross coupling of iodo-substituted aurones
Zachary Taylor, Undergraduate student, Chemistry; Scott Handy, Faculty, Chemistry;
Scott Handy (Faculty sponsor), Chemistry
Aurones are a group of biologically active compounds belonging to the flavonoid family
of natural products. Found to be active in the treatment of cancer, microbial infections,
parasitic infections, and several other common medical issues, interest in the synthesis of
aurones has grown in recent years. The most common synthetic route for aurones is the
condensation of a coumaranone and an aryl aldehyde, this reaction has numerous benefits
and due to the large number of commercially available aldehydes has allowed a large
number of diverse aurones to be synthesized. Using substituted coumaranones in this
reaction has also been explored but the substituents have been limited; the most common
substituents have been hydroxy and methoxy groups. The aim of this project is the use of
an iodo substituted coumaranone for the formation of the aurone after which using
coupling chemistry the iodo group can be exchanged for a large variety of substituents.
This will allow for the attachment of a diverse array of substituents not previously seen
on aurones and takes place in a one step reaction, compared to the traditional route for
coumaranone synthesis which normally takes between 2 to 4 steps.
Effects of Temperature on Daphnia Lumholtzi Life History Traits
Zach Grimes, Undergraduate student, Biology; Samantha Fann, Undergraduate student,
Biology; Melissa Pompilius, Graduate student, Biology; Bud Fischer, Faculty, Biology;
Bud Fischer (Faculty sponsor), Biology
Daphnia is crustacean zooplankton that is keystone species in most aquatic ecosystems.
Its highly plastic responses to environmental conditions have made it an increasingly
important model system for studying how environmental factors interact with life history
traits. While life history responses of native pond and lake-dwelling Daphnia are well
documented, there has been limited characterization of the life history characteristics of
Daphnia lumholtzi, a non-indigenous aquatic species that has spread rapidly throughout
reservoirs in the U.S. High thermal tolerance has been proposed to facilitate the rapid
expansion of D. lumholtzi throughout U.S. waterways. We have previously shown that D.
lumholtzi has maintained stable populations in the Alabama River Delta at temperatures
ranging from 14°C to 32°C, and that it has a higher limit of acute thermal tolerance than
most native species found in this environment. The purpose of the current study was to
determine the effects of chronic thermal stress on life history traits in Daphnia lumholtzi
reared in the laboratory.
The Effects of Regularly Playing Video Games on Stress Management
Allison Helton, High school student, Psychology; Gene Cowart (Faculty sponsor),
Life is full of daily hassles and stressors which makes stress management a necessity, and
based on past research forms of social media specifically video games have the potential
to help individuals manage the stress they face in day to day life. In the past, many
experiments have been conducted testing how video games affect individuals stress and
mood. Among these studies, are the ones conducted by Dr. Hasan and Dr. Ferguson with
each coming to a different conclusion on whether video games raise or lower stress and
hostile feeling. In order to further studies this topic, this study was designed to investigate
whether individuals who regularly played video games had better or worse stress
management than their peers. An experiment was designed to test gamers’ and non
gamers’ responses to a stressful situation based on their heart rate and blood pressure
taken before and after a stressful task and answers on a short survey taken after the task.
Academic Success in Economically Disadvantaged and English Language Learner
Lauren Grizzard, High school student, Psychology; Robyn Sharp, High school student,
Psychology; Gene Cowart (Faculty sponsor), Psychology
There is always room for improvement in the education system; therefore, our study was
designed to identify and understand shortcomings in academic performance of
economically disadvantaged students and English language learners in Rutherford
County Schools. We hypothesized that there is a significant gap between these subgroups
and their peers due to a combination of the home and classroom factors. Robinson,
Keogh, & Kusuma found that the academic performance gap in English Language
Learners is influenced by home and classroom factors. Research done by Grogan-Kaylor
& Woolley found the same trend for economically disadvantaged students. Using 2014
TCAP data from Rutherford County, the achievement gap was identified. Teacher
surveys were also distributed to gather a better perspective of the classroom. The
hypothesis was supported, however a large gap was also located between ELLs and their
economically disadvantaged peers. Teacher surveys indicated that home factors tend to
influence the students more than classroom factors, and that there is a large concern for
students outside the classroom. Even though the data was specific to Rutherford County
Schools, the results can be applied on a wider scale. Rather than focusing on test scores,
subgroups, or the gap itself, educators need to give more attention to the student’s
individual progress. This can stem from invested parents that are pushing their children to
try. It can be unrealistic to think that performance can be improved in a 7 hour school day,
therefore, parents should be given more encouragement and opportunities to be involved
in their child’s success. Although you can not force anyone to be involved, allowing
parents to see the classroom or be apart of the student’s work should give them new
perspective and encourage a good parent-child involvement in the classroom.
Color Is Deceiving
Katelyn Walls, High school student, Central Magnet School, Psychology; Jasmin Laurel,
High school student, Central Magnet School, Psychology; John Pennington (Faculty
sponsor), Psychology, and Gene Cowart (Central Magnet School)
Our world is filled with foods of every color imaginable, but which colors are most
appealing to our senses, and how do we judge if our food tastes good? One way
industries manipulate taste is with the saturation of colors. Have you ever had a lighter
orange Cheeto? We believe that your eyes would tell you it was not going to be as intense
a taste as a Cheeto with a darker orange. This also applies with daily foods such as orange
juice, meat, and broth. By controlling the hue of a food or drink, companies manipulate
what we taste. Through this experiment, we hope to determine the individual's capability
of discerning taste (in this case, level of sweetness) based on color intensity. Participants
in this investigation include CMS high school students and MTSU students. Our
experiment utilizes three glasses of white grape juice, which have the same levels of
sweetness but are tinted with varying measurements of purple food coloring. We
hypothesize the participants will interpret the different hues as differing amounts of
sweetness. This may be because color is not a property of light; it is a psychological
interpretation (Weitan. 2007).
Prototypicality and Punishment
Leigh Stanfield, Undergraduate student, Speech and Theatre; Xiaowei Shi (Faculty
sponsor), Speech and Theatre
This proposal is designed to examine the possible relationship between perceived
leadership styles and large group performance. It examines pre-existing research in the
field of leadership and large groups, evaluating trends and past research in order to
determine prominent themes in leadership styles and their effects on large group
performance. Specifically, this proposal looks at two prominent styles of leadership:
prototypical leadership, which relies on the principle of similarity-affection and norm
representation; and punishment-style leadership, which is founded in the principles of
authoritarian leaderships. It goes on to delineate, from existing research and emergent
norms in the field of leadership and communication studies, appropriate measures for
large group success: group identification, or the degree to which members of the group
identify with what they perceive to be in-group norms; and collective action, which
measures the degree and frequency of member participation in group activities. By crossexamining leadership styles with measures of group participation, the proposed research
will ideally provide new insights into trends in the impacts of leadership styles on large
group performance.
Encryption and Decryption Using Cellular Automata
Stephen Faulkenberry, Graduate student, Engineering Technology; Karim Salman
(Faculty sponsor), Engineering Technology
The purpose of this research was to demonstrate that Cellular Automata can be used for
random number generation and thus encryption, which is increasingly becoming a
concern across the United States and much of the world. Cellular Automata (CA) are
systems of discrete mathematics where the next state is determined by previous states,
acted on by a constant set of rules. Several representations of automata are possible, but
not all representations or rules that act on them are suitable for random number
generation, due to a lack of chaotic propagation. In this project, single dimensional
(CA1D) are programmed and tested against Diehard, a suite of random number tests, to
determine at what stage they become statistically random. Using this method, generated
binary files (raw bytes) can be strung together from the CA1D output and have a logical
exclusive-or (XOR) applied to both the bytes and any given file. This method of
encryption is called a stream cipher. Reapplying the XOR operation to the encrypted file
and the original key reverses the process, essentially decrypting the file. As a
demonstration, the Raspberry Pi, a Linux-based mini-computer, is used to encrypt or
decrypt the contents of a flash drive by using the stream cipher with a binary file created
from the CA methods. Provided the message does not repeat excessively, using Cellular
Automata as a stream cipher is a simple way of ensuring moderately strong encryption at
a low level.
An exploration of music production and artist development in the digital era
Andrew Riehle, Graduate student, Recording Industry; Cosette Collier (Faculty sponsor),
Recording Industry
Beginning with introduction of the digital audio workstation in the early 1990's, music
recording a production has shifted away from the studio model to a greater prevalence of
desktop production and artificial instrumentation and arrangement in new popular music.
This study explores the process of arranging and producing original compositions by
songwriter Susan Gray using both modern sample-based track production and live
session musicians to reflect on the merits and shortcomings of both approaches to music
creation. Considerations include the quality of the recordings both technically and
musically, balance of the human element inherently lacking in processed digital creation,
the benefit of collaborative creativity and a cost analysis of a more traditional studio
approach on a limited budget compared with production done by a lone producer on a
computer. Input from Nashville recording professionals, music industry legends and a
self reflection of this endeavor combine for a balanced critique of music production in the
21st century.
Culture Integration in the College Language Classroom: Instructors’ Views and Students’
Ahmad Jeddeeni, Graduate student, Educational Leadership; Johnna Paraiso (Faculty
sponsor), Educational Leadership
Almost every current foreign language book contains some cultural elements in it.
However, it is ultimately the language instructor that highlights target culture instruction
in the classroom or downplays it. This case study is aimed at examining the views of
foreign language instructors on the integration of target culture in the foreign language
curriculum. Moreover, the study explores how foreign language instructors employ target
culture in classroom instruction, and how instructors can use target culture as a way to
foster their students’ understanding of the target language. The study also investigates
how foreign language students experience language learning when target culture is
integrated in the classroom.
Asli Kars, Graduate student, Economics and Finance; Karen Mulligan, Faculty,
Economics and Finance; Charles Baum (Faculty sponsor), Economics and Finance
We use Turkey’s 1997 Education Law that increased compulsory schooling from 5 to 8
years, in order to identify whether there is a causal relationship between education and
health and health-related behaviors of ever married women in Turkey and their children’s
health outcomes. Using a non-parametric fuzzy regression discontinuity design, we find
that the mandatory schooling reform increased the first month of prenatal visit by 7
percentage point, and increased the probability of having necessary vaccinations for the
last child of woman who are affected by policy change by 0.4 percentage point. Even
though there is a strong correlation between education and the BMI of these women, their
smoking habits, and birth weight of their last child, there is no causality between
education and these outcomes. There is no evidence that schooling changed the child
BMI percentile.
CGA - A Contig Generation Algorithm that produces contigs with quality scores
Awa Sisay, Graduate student, Computational Science; Hyrum Carroll (Faculty sponsor),
Computer Science
The process of producing genomes without the aid of a reference genome (commonly
known as de novo methods) has been successful in the assembly of short sequencing
reads generated by next-generation sequencing technologies. Researchers have developed
de novo assembly software tools that join overlapping reads to form contiguous
sequences (contigs). Genome assembly is mainly carried out using two methods; overlap
layout consensus and de Bruijn graph. For overlap layout, reads are used as nodes and
overlaps between them are merged to form the final consensus sequence. Recently
developed tools use the de Bruijn graph assembly method, where reads are split into kmers (fragments of reads). Often, some of these reads are erroneous and the incorporation
of quality scores in some recently developed tools can distinguish between trusted and
untrusted k-mers. These studies have shown that the use of quality values in an assembly
greatly improves ambiguous error correction steps and maximize contig lengths. We
developed CGA, a de novo assembler that incorporates quality scores throughout the
assembly process and outputs the aggregate quality scores for contigs. This tool uses the
de Bruijn graph method to build the contigs. The quality scores are also used for error
correction. Several research studies have been done on genome assemblers and some of
the available tools use quality scores for error correction, while others use them to
generate longer contigs. We are not aware of a tool that provides the quality scores of the
contigs. Therefore, to provide readily available data that can be further explored, our tool
produces contigs along with the quality scores of each base pair of the contigs.
Identification of Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers for muscle yield and
quality in Rainbow trout using RNA Seq
Ali Ali, Graduate student, Biology; Bam Paneru, Graduate student, Biology; Rafet Al
Tobasei, Graduate student, Biology; Mohamed Salem, Staff, Biology; Mohamed Salem
(Faculty sponsor), Biology
Background: Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) is one of the favorite sport fish
species in North America and the second most important fish species for aquaculture in
the U.S. Muscle yield and quality traits are important factors of profitability for the food
fish aquaculture industry. Most of the genetic variations are caused by Single nucleotide
polymorphism (SNP). Our previous studies were successful in finding SNP markers
associated with different traits in rainbow trout.
Methods: In the current study, whole-transcriptome sequencing (RNA-Seq) was used to
detect SNPs associated with fish muscle yield, fat content, flesh whiteness and softness
(shear force). Variations in these muscle quality traits were measured in about a 100
families from two generations produced at the USDA/NCCCWA rainbow trout breeding
program. RNAs isolated from four full-sib families (5 fish per family), sorted as high or
low for each of these traits, were separately sequenced using an illumine RNA-Seq
technique. Sequences from different families were mapped to the reference
genome/transcriptome to predict SNPs that are associated with each quality traits.
Predicted SNPs were confirmed on a small set of fish using the Sequenom genotyping
technology. Then, the validated SNPs were assessed for association with the
aforementioned traits in approximately 1000 fish from two generations. Results: The
study identified seven SNPs (potential genetic markers) associated with these quality
traits. In addition, digital gene expression profiling identified a small number of
differentially regulated protein coding genes and long non-coding RNAs (LncRNAs) that
are associated with each quality attribute, perhaps, indicating that selective breeding have
had a relatively low impact on modifying gene expression.
How effective is motivation in the retention of college STEM majors?
Ameneh Kassaee, Graduate student, Mathematics; Ginger Rowell, Faculty, Mathematics;
Ginger Rowell (Faculty sponsor), Mathematics
Researchers have proven that students’ motivation to learn is essential and plays a key
role in achieving success in college. This study examined the role which students’
motivation played in retention of first-time, full-time, freshman (FTFTF) STEM majors
at the Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). The research centered around 37
participants in a program at MTSU, called FirstSTEP, designed to improve the
mathematics background of FTFTF STEM majors with Math ACT scores of 19-23,
which are below the ACT benchmark for college readiness in mathematics. This program
focuses on mathematics preparation as a first step in helping students improve their
success in college STEM majors. During a two-week, intensive program called
Mathematics Summer Bridge (MSB), student’s motivation to be successful in their
STEM major was assessed using the Science Motivation Questionnaire II (SMQ-II)
authored by Glynn (2011). The SMQ-II motivation scores included five components:
intrinsic motivation, self-efficacy, self-determination, grade motivation, and career
motivation. Their motivation scores were compared across race and gender. The
participant’s SMQ-II scores were compared to the scores of students in the Glynn (2011)
study. Except for the self-determination components, these participants scored higher
than science majors in the Glynn research. To further understand our students’ selfdetermination perceptions for success in their STEM majors, an instrument known as the
Digital Metaphor (Rowlett, 2013) was used. Participants’ progress in their STEM majors
was monitored and compared to that of a matched control group. Based on their precalculus semester grades, FirstSTEP participants were successful at a higher rate than the
matched control group (81% to 73%, respectively). FirstSTEP students, who were
provided additional academic and motivation support, had higher GPAs, grades in precalculus, and retention as compared to the control group.
Lean Manufacturing- MTSU Team at Nissan Plant
Ane Marie Harb, Graduate student, Professional Science; David Gore (Faculty sponsor),
Engineering Technology
Productivity Strategies/Lean Systems (Lean Manufacturing) class requires a project
completion in order to obtain the Lean Manufacturing Certification and can be done
individually or working in teams. At the end of March 2014, a group of 4 graduate
students went to Nissan plant in Smyrna, Tennessee and used the lean manufacturing
tools to analyze a system performance within the plant. Industrial Engineering
Department from Nissan Plant was very supportive in helping the MTSU students
complete the project. The collaborative efforts between MTSU students and Nissan
Industrial Engineering Team resulted in a very positive and good experience for both
parties. The poster illustrates the Current State Value Stream Map and the key
performance measure ‘calculations used in Absolute Benchmarking Calculator:
Throughput (TH), Work in Process (WIP) and Cycle time (CT), together with the
calculated parameters: The bottleneck rate (rb), raw process time (T0) and Critical Wip
(W0). The results shows that the system analyzed at Nissan plant is not Lean and it can
be improved. WIP is excessive and causes added expense for the overall operation.
Variability is the cause.
The Relationship Between Running Mileage and Perceived Stress Levels
Angela Fachini, Graduate student, Health and Human Performance; Norman Weatherby,
Faculty, Health and Human Performance; Norman Weatherby (Faculty sponsor), Health
and Human Performance
Introduction: This quantitative study aimed to determine the relationship between the
number of miles an individual runs per week and that individual’s perceived stress level.
Methods: Two running programs volunteered (n = 156) to participate and were given a
questionnaire consisting of running questions and a perceived stress scale (PSS). Epidata
was used for data entry, SPSS version 16 was used for data analysis, and ANOVA was
Results: Results found that there was no relationship between the number of miles
individuals run per week and their PSS score. Results did find that gender and type of
runner had a significant effect on an individual’s PSS score.
Conclusion: Men (M = 11.88, SD = 4.73) had a lower PSS score than women (M = 14.17,
SD = 5.48). Individuals who classified themselves as full marathon runners (M =12.37,
SD = 5.56) and half marathon runners (M = 12.39, SD = 4.81) had lower PSS scores than
non-runners (M = 17.13, SD = 4.50). More research should be done on the relationship
between the runner type and the runner’s stress levels to see if too much running might be
just as harmful as none at all.
Long non-coding RNAs (LncRNAs) associated with disease resistance in selectively bred
control, susceptible and resistant rainbow trout lines
Bam Paneru, Graduate student, Molecular Biosciences; Rafet Tobasei, Graduate student,
Computational Science; Mohamed Salem (Faculty sponsor), Biology
Farmed fishes are vulnerable to several bacterial and viral infections. Flavobacterium
psychrophilum, the most common cause of Bacterial Cold Water Disease (BCWD),
causes significant loss of trout and salmon worldwide. Despite several efforts of
producing vaccine, commercial vaccine against it still is unavailable. The National Center
for Cool and Cold Water Aquaculture has developed three genetic lines of rainbow trout
by selective breeding. These genetic lines designated as ARS-Fp-R, ARS-Fp-C and ARSFp-S show differing susceptibility to BCWD following an infection challenge with F.
psychrophilum under laboratory as well as natural settings. RNA-seq based approach was
used to elucidate the possible regulatory role of LncRNAs on altered infection
susceptibility of these trout families. We used 1.1 g fry from each genetic line and
performed RNA Seq study to measure the abundance of long non-coding RNA in naïve
and F. psychrophilum infected fish on day 1 (early time point) and day 5 post-challenge
(onset of mortality). Many lncRNAs were differentially expressed between naïve and
infected fish as well as between different genetic lines with or without challenge. Largest
number (~60) of differentially expressed transcripts were between naïve and infected
ARS-Fp-S line correlating with high bacterial load in the body compared with as ARSFp-C and ARS-Fp-R line. In order to identify their potential targets lncRNAs and protein
coding genes were clustered together based on their expression value. Some of the
protein coding genes and lncRNAs showed similar or reciprocal expression patterns
under different infection status and genetic lines. Genomic position analysis of lncRNAs
also showed that some of the differentially expressed lncRNAs were neighboring to the
genes with known role on immunity like Toll-like receptor, interferon, antimicrobial
peptide, MHC and others. This study helps understand the biological basis of how
selective breeding program has improved the disease resistance in rainbow trout.
The Effects of Technology and Hands-on Activities Have on Student Understanding and
Motivation in Science
Brooke Penrod, Graduate student, Educational Leadership; Angela Risto (Faculty
sponsor), Educational Leadership
This study examines to see whether hands-on activities or technology have a greater
effect on student understanding and motivation in a science classroom. The participants
of this study are 20 5th grade students from Whitthorne Middle School. The perspectives
of two different methods will be studied: students view of whether technology or handson activities help them understand and stay motivated better and the teacher’s view of
whether technology or hands-on activities help students understand and stay motivated
better. Through qualitative interviews, surveys, examples of student work, and field notes
regarding observations and the interviews, the study will address the following questions:
1) Does technology alone help students understand science better, and does it keep them
motivated to learn? 2) Do hands-on activities alone help students understand science
better, and does it keep them motivated to learn? 3) Are both technology and hands-on
activities needed together to help achieve the goal of student learning and motivation in
science? Findings will be organized, summarized and presented to the class and shared
with colleagues in order to improve practice of technology and hands-on activity use.
Women's Participation in a Pill Sharing Newtork
Cynthia Bass-Thomas, Graduate student, Health and Human Performance; Amber
Dorsey, Faculty, Health and Human Performance; Norman Weatherby (Faculty sponsor),
Health and Human Performance
Background: In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported
widespread prescription opioid use among reproductive-aged women, and these women
have an increased risk of death from an overdose. Limited research is available regarding
pill sharing networks and prescription drug abuse. Therefore, this study will examine the
relationship between women’s participation in pill sharing networks and the number of
opiate pills taken per month.
Method: The target population will be drawn from women who are opiate prescription
abusers in Nashville, TN. The sample size will consist of 2 to 3 networks with 10 to 20
participants each. A cross-sectional research design method will be employed, in addition
to combining qualitative interviews and survey research, and a network analysis.
Results: The anticipated results should show women who are central figures in a pill
sharing network are more likely to take at least 30 opiate pills per month than women
who are on the fringes of pill sharing networks. Other expected outcomes will identify
participant’s interactions within a pill sharing network amongst one another, and how
doctor shopping is navigated outside of their network.
Conclusion: The number of opiate pills taken, the extent of participation in a pill sharing
network, and diversion mechanism are factors that should be considered when designing
measurement instruments and interventions to reduce prescription opiate abuse among
this population.
Objective: Describe information measuring the distance between women and the number
of direct and indirect links they have within the pill sharing network.
Correlations between Schizotypy, Transliminality, Paranormal Belief and Experience
Christina Miller, Graduate student, Psychology; William Langston, Faculty, Psychology;
William Langston (Faculty sponsor), Psychology
Using a sample of real world ghost tour participants and undergraduate students,
individual difference measures were correlated with belief in, and prior experience with,
paranormal phenomena, specifically ghosts. Schizotypy, measured with the Schizotypal
Personality Questionnaire-Brief (SPQ-B), allows individuals to make more connections
from environmental perceptions. Transliminality is related to how easily information
from the environment passes into and out of consciousness, and was measured with the
Revised Transliminality Scale. It was hypothesized that these two perceptual
characteristics may relate to more belief in, and previous experiences with, paranormal
phenomena. Transliminality and the cognitive-perceptual deficits factor of the SPQ-B
were positively associated with belief in ghosts, but not the other two schizotypy factors:
interpersonal factor and disorganized factor. More previous paranormal experience was
also associated with higher belief. These results suggest that belief in ghosts may be
influenced by individual perceptual differences that lead to a “loose” processing style of
ambiguous stimuli.
MTSU Solar Boat Team
Cary Woodson, Graduate student, Engineering Technology; Saeed Foroudastan (Faculty
sponsor), Engineering Technology
The Solar Boat is one of five Experimental Vehicles Program (EVP) projects that is open
to all students attending Middle Tennessee State University. Like all EVP projects, The
Solar Boat serves to offer students an opportunity to engage in hands-on learning
activities and develop organizational, leadership, and communication skills beyond what
is possible in the classroom alone. Team members design and construct the boat from the
ground up. This process exposes students to practical applications for project
management, computer-aided design (CAD), composite construction processes, machine
tool use, 3D printing and other rapid prototyping techniques, hydrodynamic and
aerodynamic design principals, long-range radio links for data telemetry and system
communications, electrical circuit design, power management, materials science, physics,
OSHA safety procedures, and technical report preparation. Also, given that it is powered
entirely from solar energy derived from photovoltaic cells, the Solar Boat is considered a
green renewable energy project which allows it to appeal to a broad range of interests.
Students that participate on the Solar Boat Team not only have the opportunity to design
and construct a functional boat based on green technology, they are rewarded with the
opportunity to enter and race the boat in the Solar Splash competition, an international,
intercollegiate, solar boating competition that is sponsored by the Institute of Electrical
and Electronics Engineers Power Electronics Society (IEEE-PELS) and the American
Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). Participating students are additionally
rewarded with enhanced technical and soft skills, along with resume and portfolio
building experiences that are impossible to obtain from the classroom alone.
Physical Aspects of Drums and Their Sonic Implications
Daudi Fletcher, Graduate student, Recording Industry; Bill Crabtree (Faculty sponsor),
Recording Industry
This project deals with the physical aspects of drums, and there sonic implications.
Primary aspects include materials used, diameters, shapes, depths, drumhead
compositions, tuning, and hardware. A drum sample CD has been recorded and compiled
into a multisample format and will be accessable to the public. A poster detailing the
project as well as a copy of an EP that was recorded as part of the project will also be
accessable to the public.
Living Well with Diabetes Education
Dorothy Simmons, Graduate student, Health and Human Performance; Norman
Weatherby (Faculty sponsor), Health and Human Performance
Type 2 diabetes is on the increase in Tennessee, due to factors such as overweight,
obesity, and limited physical activity. In 2013, Rutherford County’s population age 18
and older was 209,900 persons. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC,
2012) reported that 9.2 percent of adults were diagnosed with diabetes in 2011.
Fifty one percent of adults with diabetes attended self-care classes in Tennessee during
2012 (CDC, 2012). Even though diabetes counseling and education is available for
people with pre-diabetes and diabetes (Rutherford County Health Department, 2014),
there is a need to reach more people for control and/or prevention of diabetes.
A program called Living Well with Diabetes Education (LWWDE) program will be
planned to reach 200 people with high probability of being diagnosed with diabetes. The
program’s mission is that people with family history of diabetes or persons with diabetes
will have updated information and resources to prevent or manage their diabetes.
A diabetes cooking school will provide hands-on experiences for at least fifty (50)
percent of the participants in the LWWDE program. Two 2-hour educational sessions
will be offered bi-weekly. Three month and six month follow up classes will be
scheduled to check progress and results of the program.
Living Well with Diabetes Education program help participants take action to control
their glucose levels, thereby preventing or controlling diabetes.
The Implementation of Safety Management Systems in Maintenance Operations
Daniel Siao, Graduate student, Aerospace; Wendy Beckman (Faculty sponsor),
Literature for Safety Management Systems (SMS) that apply to flight operations is
abundant, but there is a limited supply of SMS-related literature for maintenance
operations. The FAA emphatically states on its website that safety is the “foundation of
everything we do,” and this is reflected in the FAA Flight Plan, where the general tenor
of this document is increasing safety. However, while there is ample mention of flight
safety, there is no mention of maintenance-related safety in the FAA Flight Plan.
Even though the benefits of SMS are well established, it is difficult for maintenance
facilities—especially small repair stations—to justify the cost. Current research also
reveals a negative sentiment shared by small repair stations regarding SMS. While the
high cost of implementing an SMS is the putative reason for not doing so, there could be
other non-identified factors that hinder its implementation.
This research project utilizes a survey of practicing maintenance technicians to attempt to
reveal the hindrances that prohibit successful SMS implementation in maintenance
facilities. The study will determine the safety practices currently utilized, the attitude of
maintenance personnel toward SMS, the awareness of safety reporting systems, the level
of protection offered to employees who submit safety reports, and what is seen as the
greatest hindrance to SMS implementation.
Integrating the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol Model
Edward Dillard, Graduate student, Educational Leadership; Johnna Paraiso (Faculty
sponsor), Educational Leadership
This study is intended to look at the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol Model
(SIOP) to determine its effectiveness in teaching phonics to a first-grade generaleducation classroom. This study will look at two ability-based general-education classes
that receive two separate forms of instruction. One group will follow the lesson format in
the Scott Foresman Reading Street series, while the other will receive the same content,
but follow the guidelines of the SIOP model. We will focus strictly on the phonics skill of
the week, and both groups will follow the same story and lesson progression, under the
different models. The expectation of this study is that it will provide a concrete
quantitative example of the impact of the SIOP Model on the students. Students will have
their growth measured by 3 facets: 1. The growth on the language portion of the
Northwest Educational Assessment (NWEA) testing that will be conducted April 2015. 2.
The pre-test to post-test growth over the duration of the lessons. 3. The students daily
work in class and on assessments. My expectation is that the group receiving the SIOP
model will show a greater growth than the group receiving the standard basal lessons.
Influence of whole body vibration on bone density in the stalled horse
Emily Hulak, Graduate student, Horse Science; Holly Spooner, Faculty, Horse Science;
Holly Spooner (Faculty sponsor), Horse Science
The use of whole body vibration (WBV) therapy to influence bone density has proven
successful in other species. High frequency mechanical accelerations resulting from
WBV have a strong osteogenic effect, increasing quality and quantity of bone. It is
hypothesized that WBV will maintain bone density in stalled horses, equal to a stalled
control group receiving light exercise.
Twelve mature horses age 17±4 yr were randomly assigned to either control (CON, n=6)
or treatment (VIB, n=6) groups. Radiographs were taken of the left third metacarpal on
day 0 and 28 for determination of bone mineral density. All horses were subjected to 28 d
of pasture turn out (free-choice exercise) to serve as a baseline (d 0-28). Horses were
placed in stalls for an additional 28-d treatment period (d 28-56). The CON horses
worked on a mechanical panel exerciser for 60 minutes 6 days/week. The exercise
protocol involved 17 min walk, 10 min trot, 3 min canter in both directions. At no time
did speed exceed 8 m/s. VIB horses stood on a WBV platform (Equivibe) set at 50 hertz
for 45 min 5 times/wk. End radiographs were taken on d 56. Bone density of the third
metacarpal was determined from the radiographs using radiographic bone aluminum
equivalency (RBAE) for all cortices and total bone mineral content (BMC). Changes in
BMC were analyzed using mixed model ANOVA with repeated measures.
Both groups increased total BMC (P= 0.02) from d 0 to d 28. No differences were
observed in BMC due to treatment in the medial (P=0 .98), lateral (P=0.93), dorsal
(P=0.69), or palmar (P=0.90) cortices. Total BMC was not different due to treatment
We observed no loss of BMC due to stalling in horses receiving either light exercise or
WBV. WBV maintained BMC similar to that of horses receiving light exercise.
Association between Objectively Measured Sedentary Time and Hepatic Steatosis
Among U.S. Adults
Heontae Kim, Graduate student, Health and Human Performance; Junbae Mun, Graduate
student, Health and Human Performance; James Farnsworth, Graduate student, Health
and Human Performance; Brian Ragan, Faculty, Health and Human Performance;
Minsoo Kang, Faculty, Health and Human Performance; Minsoo Kang (Faculty sponsor),
Health and Human Performance
BACKGROUND: Hepatic steatosis (HS) or fatty liver disease caused by accumulation of
fat, mainly triglycerides, inside hepatocytes is the most common type of chronic liver
disease in the U.S. The prevalence of HS has grown with the rise in sedentary lifestyles.
Recent studies have focused on the relationship between moderate to vigorous physical
activity (MVPA) on HS in adults. However, little research has been conducted
investigating the impact of sedentary time (ST).
PURPOSE: To examine the association between ST and fatty liver index (FLI) as an
indicator of HS among U.S. adults.
METHODS: Data from the 2005 to 2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination
Survey (NHANES) were analyzed for this study. A total of 2327 adults (age >19), who
wore an accelerometer (Actigraph AM-7164) for a minimum of 4 days (which included
at least 3 week and 1 weekend days) were included in the analysis. Accelerometers were
used to measure the average duration of minutes spent in ST and MVPA. A cutoff of 60.
Logistic regression was used to examine the association between ST and HS after
controlling for covariates (i.e., age, race, education and income).
RESULTS: Analysis revealed that among U.S. adults an estimated 42.2 % reported HS.
Participants in the highest tertile of ST (≥66%) were more likely to report HS (OR =
1.50; 95% CI: 1.24 – 1.80) compared to those in the lowest tertile of ST (≤33%). After
controlling MVPA, however, participants in the highest tertile of ST (≥66%) were not
significantly more likely to report HS (OR = 1.13; 95% CI: .95 – 1.35) compared to those
in the lowest tertile of ST.
CONCLUSION: The current study suggests that increased ST increases the risk of HS
among U.S. adults. However, there was no association between ST and HS, independent
of MVPA, among U.S. adults.
Electrophysiological Neural Basis of the Noun/Verb Distinction in English Stress
Heechun Moon, Graduate student, Literacy Studies; Cyrille Magne, Faculty, Literacy
Studies; Cyrille Magne (Faculty sponsor), Literacy Studies
The purpose of this study is to examine the neural basis of role of speech rhythm in
language comprehension. Previous studies have shown that sensitivity to speech rhythm,
especially the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables, is an important aspect of
language acquisition and comprehension from infancy through adulthood. In addition,
recent findings suggest that speech rhythm sensitivity also plays a role in literacy
acquisition. Interestingly, English includes a group of bisyllabic words, known as stress
homographs, that are spelled the same but are pronounced with a stress on the first
syllables when used as a noun or on the second syllable when used as a verb. Eventrelated potentials (ERPs) were recorded in sixteen participants while they performed a
semantic judgment task on spoken sentences containing a stress homograph either in a
noun or a verb position. Stress homographs were pronounced with the stress pattern that
either matched or mismatched their grammatical function. Statistical analysis of the ERP
revealed larger negativities over the centro-frontal scalp regions when the stress
homograph were mispronounced. These negativities were significant between 200 and
500 ms post word onset. The characteristics of these effect (polarity, scalp topography
and latency) were similar to the N400 component classically associated with lexicosemantic processes. Thus, the present findings suggest that rhythmic incongruities
hindered word recognition by creating a violation of grammatical category. Implications
for models of speech perception and reading acquisition will be discussed
Numerical Simulation of Multidimensional Nonlinear Reaction-Diffusion Systems with
Locally Extrapolated ETD-LOD Scheme.
Harish Bhatt, Graduate student, Computational Science; Abdul Q. M. Khaliq, Faculty,
Mathematics; Abdul Q. M. Khaliq (Faculty sponsor), Mathematics
The local extrapolation of first order locally one-dimensional exponential time
differencing scheme is introduced for numerical solution of multidimensional nonlinear
reaction-diffusion systems. The stability, monotonocity, and convergence of the scheme
have been examined. The performance of the novel scheme has been investigated by
testing it on two-dimensional Schnakenberg model, two and three-dimensional
Brusselator models, and a three-dimensional enzyme kinetics of Michaelis-Menten type
reaction-diffusion problem. The Numerical experiments demonstrate the efficiency,
accuracy, and reliability of the scheme.
Modulation of Macrophage Inflammatory NF-kappa B Signaling by Intracellular
Cryptococcus neoformans
James Hayes, Graduate student, Biology; Lauren Heusinkveld, Undergraduate student,
Biology; Rachel Leander, Faculty, Computational Science; Wandi Ding, Faculty,
Computational Science; David Nelson, Faculty, Biology; Erin McClelland, Faculty,
Biology; Erin McClelland (Faculty sponsor), Biology
Background: Cryptococcus neoformans (Cn) is a spore-forming yeast that is present
worldwide in soil and bird excrement. Exposure to Cn is thus incredibly common, and it
has been found to infect roughly 70% of individuals under the age of 5 living in urban
environments. For immunocompromised persons, Cn exposures can result in lifethreatening opportunistic infections like fungal meningitis, wherein Cn is able to escape
immune destruction and penetrate the central nervous system (CNS). To avoid immune
clearance, Cn can act as a facultative intracellular pathogen, and is known to alter cell
fate and suppress the inflammatory function of macrophages. However, the precise
molecular mechanisms by which intracellular Cn achieve such results is unknown.
Methods: By using single cell imaging techniques, we have monitored the effect of
intracellular Cn proliferation on the temporal dynamics of the NF-kappa B signaling
pathway as well as the expression of downstream pro-inflammatory genes, such as TNFalpha. These data were compared to the output of a computational model of NF-kappa B
signaling in macrophages.
Results: At low burden (defined as macrophages containing 1-3 ingested Cn organisms),
Cn impaired the ability of macrophages to respond to secondary pro-inflammatory
stimuli (i.e. bacterial lipopolysaccharide) by delaying translocation of NF-kappa B to the
nucleus. At high burden (>4 Cn per macrophage), Cn induced spontaneous nuclear
translocation of NF-kappa B, which did not necessarily increase expression of NF-kappa
B dependent genes. Computational modeling has suggested that these abnormal
behaviors may depend on upstream pathway components.
Conclusions: The contrasting effects of intracellular Cn at low and high burden suggest
the existence of two different mechanisms through which Cn alters inflammatory NFkappa B signaling. These results shed light on how intracellular Cn modulates
macrophage function, and perhaps more importantly, may increase overall understanding
of the intricate relationship between this pathogen and its host.
DNA methylome analysis in improved rainbow trout broodstocks for resistance to
diseases and fast growth: a plan of study
Jesse Chambers, Graduate student, Biology; Moh Salem (Faculty sponsor), Biology
DNA methylation is an important epigenetic regulatory process that controls gene
expression in vertebrates. DNA methylation usually refers to the addition of a methyl
group to cytosine residues that regulates gene expression through a mechanism that is
well documented but poorly understood. Analyzing the differences in methylation
patterns between broodstocks of trout may provide useful information for genetically
improving existing broodstocks of rainbow trout and more accurately selecting for
disease resistance and growth.
To better understand how DNA methylation affects traits like growth and disease
resistance, a genome wide representation of DNA methylation also known as a
Methylome will be constructed using samples from existing lines of rainbow trout. Of the
available methods for detecting DNA methylation, Whole Genome Bisulfite sequencing
(WGBS) provides the most comprehensive and accurate results. WGBS will be used to
compare the methylomes of fast versus slow growing specimens and disease resistant
versus susceptible specimens. These methylation patterns will be mapped to the recently
published rainbow trout genome and submitted to an online Methylome database.
Determining Conformation and Geometry of Specific Residues in a Model Peptide by
13C Isotope-Edited ATR-FTIR in H2O
Joseph Combs, Graduate student, Chemistry; Chengshan Wang, Faculty, Chemistry;
Chengshan Wang (Faculty sponsor), Chemistry
Isotope edited Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy has been used to study
protein structure in D2O at the residue level by the position of 13C the amide I band of
peptides of identical sequence but labeled at different residues with 13C isotopically
substituted in the amide carbonyl carbon [1]. The position of the amide I band of the 13C
labeled residue has been also shown to relate to the conformation of the labeled residues
in peptides/proteins in D2O, which is not physiological solvent. This research applies
attenuated total reflectance technique (ATR) to minimize the intense background
absorption band of H2O at around 1620 cm-1, which blocks the amide I band, in order to
obtain FTIR spectra of model alpha helix peptides in H2O. This study shows that 13C
isotope-edited ATR-FTIR spectroscopy can be used to determine the conformations of
residues in the model peptide pep17 and geometry of the model peptide pep25 in H2O.
[1] Decatur, S. M., Elucidation of residue-level structure and dynamics of polypeptides
via isotope-edited infrared spectroscopy. Acc. Chm. Res. 2006, 39, 169-175
Multi-group fMRI data analysis using tensor probabilistic ICA with an optimization
back-reconstruction method
Jingsai Liang, Graduate student, Mathematics; Don Hong (Faculty sponsor), Mathematics
ICA (independent component analysis) method has been used widely and successfully in
fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) data analysis in both single and group
subjects. However, none of these algorithms based on ICA can perform well to utilize
different information from multi-group data. In this talk, we propose a multi-object
optimization method to replace the existing simple projecting method in the backreconstruction step of the tensor probabilistic ICA. This new method can show more
details between different groups.
Pilot Study: The Effect of Music on Infants from the Mother's Perspective
Jessica Scruggs, Graduate student, Music; Jamila McWhirter (Faculty sponsor), Music
The purpose of this pilot study is to explore the effects of music on infants from the
mother’s perspective. The effects of the mother’s voice on infants will also be examined.
For this pilot study, infants are defined as children under the age of two years old. The
study will focus on the mother’s perspective of her baby’s reactions to different types of
music, mediums of music (mother singing, CD, radio, etc), amount of music played, and
the overall impact of music on her baby. According to current research in “Brain and
Language”, children who listen to classical music have an advantage over those that do
not and a mother’s voice plays a crucial role in infant development. In this pilot study,
interviews will be conducted, and a confidentiality statement will be provided to each
interviewee. Data collected from the interviews will be reported as a categorization of
comments. Results may indicate that from the mother’s perspective, a mother singing to
their child is the most common and most well received singing medium, based on a study
in “Early Child Development and Care” that found that singing is the most commonly
used musical activity and has the greatest effect on children under the age of two. Results
may also indicate that playing classical music often from the time of birth will also have a
positive effect on the infant from the mother’s perspective based on the current research
in “Brain and Language”. Recommendations will be provided to mothers of infants under
the age of two as to the best methods for early music training and the benefits of those
methods for their infants. From these data, we expect the results to support the literature
in regards to the early musical training of infants and the effects of music on infants.
Using live cell imaging to measure the effect of alpha-synuclein accumulation on
mitochondrial dynamics and mitophagy in Parkinson’s disease
Jonathan Bowling, Graduate student, Biology; David Nelson, Faculty, Biology; David
Nelson (Faculty sponsor), Biology
The study of Parkinson’s disease (PD), a neurodegenerative disorder affecting movement,
has led to an intense focus on the function of mitochondria and ‘mitophagy’, the
mechanism used by neurons to eliminate damaged and potentially toxic mitochondria.
Overexpression of the alpha synuclein (A-syn) protein is believed to interfere with
mitophagy and is a primary component of Lewy bodies found in the brains of PD
individuals. The role of A-syn in sporadic PD, which has no known genetic component,
still remains incompletely defined, and it is unclear how the protein may interfere with
mitophagy. Recent studies suggest that A-syn could have a high affinity for a
mitochondrial lipid called cardiolipin, supporting the idea that A-syn could disrupt
Until recently, the most common way to study the mitophagic process was through the
use of the mitochondrial uncoupling agent carbonyl cyanide-m-chlorophenyl hydrazine
(CCCP). This method, though effective, may actually be a poor mimic of actual
mitochondrial stresses that trigger mitophagy in neurons. This is because reactive oxygen
species (ROS) are generated under physiological conditions by dysfunctional
mitochondria. However, CCCP bypasses ROS production and disrupts the mitochondrial
ion gradient, depolarizing the cell’s entire mitochondrial network to initiate mitophagy.
There now exists a new genetically encoded tool known as ‘KillerRed‘ (KR) that can
better simulate the mitophagic process in dopaminergic neurons. We propose that the KR
method provides a more meaningful way to study PD by simulating ROS-dependent
mitophagy of a small portion of the cell’s mitochondria. Through the use of the KR
system and in conjunction with fluorescent-fusion proteins also involved in the
mitophagic process, we found a delay in the onset of the mitophagic process in cells
overexpressing A-syn.
The Effect of Dry versus Soaked Hay on Glycemic Response in Horses
Josie Collins, Graduate student, Agribusiness and Agriscience; Rhonda Hoffman, Faculty,
Agribusiness and Agriscience; Holly Spooner, Faculty, Agribusiness and Agriscience;
Rhonda Hoffman (Faculty sponsor), Agribusiness and Agriscience
Dietary management of equine metabolic syndrome includes minimizing glycemic
response. Previous research indicates soaking hay for 30 min in warm water or 60 min in
cold water prior to feeding reduces nonstructural carbohydrate content, but little research
has addressed if soaking hay reduces glycemic response in horses. In this study, four hay
diets were evaluated for effect on glycemic response: dry prairiegrass hay (DG), soaked
prairiegrass hay (SG), dry alfalfa hay (DA), and soaked alfalfa hay (SA). Wet hays were
soaked in cold water for 60 min. Twelve healthy horses aged 17 ± 4 yr, weighing 549 ±
51 kg, with BCS 5 to 6 were randomly assigned into two groups and fed the hay diets at
0.5% of body weight in a 2x2 factorial design. Blood samples were collected at 0, 30, 60,
90, 120, 180, 240, and 300 min after feeding. Samples were collected into heparinized
tubes, placed immediately in ice, centrifuged, and plasma aliquots frozen at -4
pending analysis. Plasma glucose concentrations were analyzed using a colorimetric
assay, and incremental area under the curve (AUC) of postprandial glucose response was
calculated. The AUC of glucose response was higher (P =0.0004) in horses fed alfalfa
compared to grass hay. There was no difference in AUC of glucose response in horses
fed DG vs SG (2780±563 vs 1271±465 ug*dL-1*min-1, respectively; P =0.26) or DA vs
SA (5156±905 vs 3347±473 ug*dL-1*min-1, respectively; P =0.13). Plasma glucose
concentrations over time were higher (P =0.001) in horses fed alfalfa compared to grass
hay, while no difference was identified in horses fed DG vs SG (P =0.99) or DA vs SA
(P =0.82). While type of hay fed influenced glucose response and glucose AUC, no
difference in physiological glucose response or glucose AUC was observed in healthy
horses fed dry vs soaked hay.
Comparative Analyses of Adolescent Reading Comprehension Assessments Using Item
Response Theory (IRT) and Classical Test Theory (CTT)
Joanne Coggins, Graduate student, Literacy Studies; Jennifer Cooper, Graduate student,
Literacy Studies; Jwa Kim, Faculty, Literacy Studies; Jwa Kim (Faculty sponsor),
Literacy Studies
Purpose. Reading comprehension is difficult to measure, but it is done in order to
determine which students are normally developing and which are at-risk for reading
comprehension difficulties. This study compares two measures using classical test theory
(CTT) and item response theory (IRT) to determine which model can provide finer
grained identification of an at-risk reading pool.
Method. Using a quasi-experimental design, students (N = 400) in grades 9-12 were
assessed on measures of reading comprehension and vocabulary. Students who scored 1
standard deviation below the mean were assigned to the at-risk pool. The scores of
students in the at-risk pool were compared using classical test theory (CTT) and item
response theory (IRT) to determine whether IRT analysis is a better predictor of which
students are at risk of reading comprehension difficulties. A researcher-devised Posttest
attitude and effort poll was administered and analyzed using polytomous IRT to
determine whether and to what extent motivation explains reading comprehension
Measures. The Gates-MacGinite Reading Comprehension subtest and the ACT Reading
Comprehension practice passages were administered. A researcher-devised Posttest
attitude and effort poll was also administered.
Investigating the link between undergraduate microbiology students’ conceptual
understanding of key disciplinary concepts and their shift toward a more expert-like
perception about biology
Jeffery Bonner, Graduate student, Mathematics and Science Education; Grant Gardner
(Faculty sponsor), Biology
A research-based instructional strategy (RBIS) was implemented in an undergraduate
microbiology course for the purpose of increasing student engagement in a course that
traditionally emphasizes note taking and rote memorization. These characteristics, which
are indicative of a passive-learning instructional model, are shown to be less effective at
fostering learning and interest when compared an active-learning model. The strategy
chosen for this research utilizes an inquiry-based set of exercises specifically designed to
target students' conceptual understanding of key microbiology concepts established by
the American Society of Microbiology. In additional to learning we were interested in the
effect of this strategy for shifting student perception toward a more expert like view of
biology along a novice-to-expert like continuum. Data was collected at the beginning and
end of one semester using validated pre- and posttest instruments in two sections of a
large-lecture microbiology course taught by the same professor. Correlations are
presented here to demonstrate the relationship between students’ conceptual
understanding and novice-to-expert like shift as a result of two distinct implementation
strategies of a student-centered curriculum. Results suggest that continued emphasis
should be placed on student-centered instructional strategies. Such efforts are
recommended as a means to improve both student learning and retention within
biological disciplines. Practical implications of this research demonstrate that RBISs that
actively engage students in the process of learning are effective and can be efficiently
integrated into traditional lecture courses that historically rely on a passive-learning
The role of the rta1 gene in the pathogenicity of Cryptococcus neoformans
Kourtney Kizer, Graduate student, Professional Science; Erin McClelland (Faculty
sponsor), Biology
Background: Cryptococcus neoformans is an encapsulated yeast that primarily infects
immunocompromised people, which can lead to fungal meningitis and encephalitis. The
rta1 gene was identified in a screen of C. neoformans mutants that did not make melanin,
one of C. neoformans virulence factors. To determine if rta1 was involved in melanin
formation, a knockout strain was constructed, in which the rta1 gene was deleted.
Characterization of this strain found that rta1 was involved in resistance to 7aminocholesterol. In addition, the rta1-/- strain grew significantly slower, released more
capsular polysaccharide and secreted less urease than the wild type strain, suggesting a
role in pathogenesis. To confirm that rta1 is responsible for these phenotypes, we need to
construct the complemented strain, in which the rta1 gene is inserted back into the
knockout strain. Methods: We will characterize the function of rta1 in C. neoformans by
reconstituting the rta1 gene in the knockout strain. The first phase of this project involves
cloning the rta1 gene and the neomycin antibiotic resistance marker into a plasmid vector.
Gel electrophoresis and sequencing will confirm the cloning results. The second phase of
this project will involve isolating large amounts of rta1 DNA to be used to transform the
rta1-/- strain to create the complemented strain. Results: The rta1 gene has been cloned
into pUC18, and its presence was confirmed with sequencing. We are in the process of
cloning the neomycin resistance gene into pUC18. Conclusions: We expect to see that the
complemented strain has a wild type phenotype: it displays resistance to 7aminocholesterol, a faster growth rate, less capsular polysaccharide release, and more
urease secretion. These observations would suggest that the gene is involved the
pathogenesis of C. neoformans. Thus, characterization of the function of rta1 could result
in potential therapeutics, which could help patients with cryptococcosis.
Development of a Gene Regulation Concept Inventory
Katherine Stefanski, Graduate student, Biology; Grant Gardner, Faculty, Biology;
Rebecca Seipelt-Thiemann, Faculty, Biology; Rebecca Seipelt-Thiemann (Faculty
sponsor), Biology
Concept inventories are valuable tools for educators which assess student achievement
and identify common misconceptions held by students. Students’ responses can then be
used by instructors to adjust or develop new teaching methods for a given topic. The
regulation of gene expression in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes is an important concept
in genetics. For example, humans and chimps have 96-98% genetic similarity, but these
genes are expressed different ways. To study how to best teach and learn gene regulation,
we developed a concept inventory (CI) covering the lac operon, a commonly taught
model of inducible gene regulation. Development started with opened ended questions
and in-class testing with undergraduate microbiology and genetics students. We then
derived common misconceptions held by students about the lac operon and determined
what language and wording was appropriate for these students. Using this information, a
12 item multiple choice CI was constructed, which was reviewed for validity by faculty
members (n=2). The CI then underwent item analysis and was tested for reliability by
having genetics students (n=115) answer it. The CI was found to be both valid and
reliable (alpha coefficient = 0.994). The CI will be used in a larger project examining the
use of a hands-on model in teaching the regulation of the lac operon.
Comparisons of readability formulas and text complexity measure
Laura Briggs, Graduate student, Literacy Studies; Rebecca Fischer (Faculty sponsor),
Health and Human Performance
In recent years, much attention has been given to the readability and complexity of texts.
With the move toward the use of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) by many states,
policymakers and educators have directed attention to the ability of American students to
successfully navigate complex text. This concern with text complexity and readability is
not new; in fact, the earliest American attempt to use quantitative measures to examine
text began in the late 19th century. This review examines how readability has been
gauged in the United States in the 19th and early-to mid 20th century and whether
mathematical formulas to determine readability have remained constant over the years or
whether they have been improved upon, augmented, or discarded in favor of other
mathematical models. This review further examines catalysts behind the attention,
research, application, and sense of urgency to make text readable to Americans: war and
the nation’s economic interests.
Effect of Caffeine on near Maximal Blood Pressure and Blood Pressure Recovery in
Physically-Active, College-Aged Females
Laura Connahan, Graduate student, Health and Human Performance; Vaughn Barry
(Faculty sponsor), Health and Human Performance
Purpose: The purpose of this study is to determine how caffeine affects maximal blood
pressure (BP) and active and passive recovery BP after maximal exercise in active
college-aged females.
Methods: Fifteen aerobically active, ACSM stratified low-risk females participated in this
cross-over double-blind study. Participants were asked to refrain from caffeine for 72
hours before trials. Participants performed two Bruce Protocol maximal exercise tests to
85% of their age-predicted maximum heart rate (APMHR) after consuming 1) a placebo
and 2) a dosage of 3.3 mg.kg-1 of body weight of caffeine. During exercise, heart rate
(HR) and ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) were assessed each minute and BP was
taken at the end of each three-minute stage. After reaching 85% of their APMHR,
maximal BP was assessed and participants began the active recovery phase. During
active recovery, participants walked at 2.0 mph at 0% grade. BP was assessed every two
minutes until systolic blood pressure (SBP) was within 20 mmHg of resting. When in this
range the passive phase (i.e. sitting) began and BP was assessed every two minutes until
SBP was within 10 mmHg of resting. Participants returned 1-2 weeks later for their
second trial.
Results: Maximal SBP and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) were not significantly
different between the two trials. In contrast, recovery times were significantly different
between the two trials. Active recovery (P = 0.003), static recovery (P = 0.026), and total
recovery (P = 0.001) time were all significantly longer during the caffeine trial then the
placebo trial. Furthermore, the time to reach APMHR was significantly shorter in the
placebo trial (P = 0.017) than the caffeine trial.
Conclusions: While maximal blood pressure was not significantly affected, caffeine
affects active and passive recovery time following maximal exercise in aerobically active
females. Exercise endurance was improved after consuming caffeine.
How physical education impacts behavior
Lisa Butts, Graduate student, Educational Leadership; Angela Risto (Faculty sponsor),
Educational Leadership
This study will analyze the effects that physical education has on behavior in the
classroom. The negative and positive behaviors will be examined after students have
physical education class and on days that students are not scheduled for physical
education class. Teacher observations along with a behavior rubric will be used to score
the behavior. The study will take place over a period of four days and a variety of data
will be collected over the week. Data will be analyzed after the four days of the study.
The participants of the study are middle school students that are currently enrolled fulltime in a behavior intervention training class. The study uses a qualitative approach
following action research guidelines, data collection will include interviews, and behavior
observations scored on a behavior rubric.
Physical Activity Impacts Health and Medical Cost
Marquinta Harvey, Graduate student, Health and Human Performance; Norman
Weatherby, Faculty, Health and Human Performance; Catherine Bass, Industry
collaborator, Health and Human Performance; Norman Weatherby (Faculty sponsor),
Health and Human Performance
Introduction: Understanding physical activity’s effect on medical claims cost and the
amount of time required to have sustained improvements in biometric risk factors has not
been widely documented.
Methods: A three year retrospective study (n = 5,060) abstracted from a large US medical
insurer was analyzed. Complex sample frequencies and logistic regression analysis were
utilized to calculate prevalence estimates and odds ratios, respectively, focusing on
biometrics and claims cost.
Results: Active persons had 11.7% lower medical costs than sedentary persons.
Beginning a moderately active lifestyle brought about a one year reduction in medical
claims costs by 42.4%. Sedentary participants were more likely to be obese 2.1 (95%CI
1.24-3.70) and have diastolic blood pressure (DBP) of 90 or above 1.3 (95%CI 0.77-2.27)
than those who were active. The effect was more pronounced among women, with
sedentary women being more likely to be obese 3.7 (95%CI 0.43-3.19) and have elevated
DBP 1.6 (95%CI 1.62-8.36) compared to active women.
The effect is strongest among mid-life and older adults. The sedentary population over 60
were more likely to be obese 6.1 (95%CI 1.88-19.60), have systolic blood pressure of 120
or above 10.5 (95%CI 2.08-46.82), and DBP 5.4 (95%CI 1.81-16.02) than their active
counterparts. Furthermore, sedentary 50-59 year olds are more likely to be obese 3.3
(95%CI 1.28-8.28) than their active peers.
Conclusion: Physical activity has a beneficial impact on medical costs and is highly
effective at reducing hypertension and obesity, especially for mid-life and older adults.
Game-Based Learning's Impact on Motivation and Perceived Language Improvement in
Computer-Assisted Language Learning Labs
Meredith Spencer, Graduate student, Curriculum Development and Instruction: English
as a Second Language; Angela Risto (Faculty sponsor), Educational Leadership
Anyone who has spent some time learning a foreign language at the university level has
probably participated in a computer language lab working on programs like Rosetta Stone.
These computer-assisted language labs, whether optional or required, have been an
integral part of foreign language teaching in the U.S. for over thirty years. Likewise, adult
international students who are enrolled in intensive English language programs in the U.S.
are required to spend some time daily on computers in language labs. The problem with
this is that many students and teachers report boredom with the labs. Educators are quick
to blame the lab itself, not the methods or programs used. Therefore, this qualitative
study, which will take place at the academic English Language Center (ELS) on campus,
will explore whether using a game-based learning approach in conjunction with the
programs in place will improve student motivation and perceived language improvement
taking place in the lab. Data sets will include student surveys, interviews, group
discussions, and field notes. Data collection will begin around the beginning of March.
Once completed, results will be shared with the center staff and other intensive English
programs in the area to improve the efficiency of language labs.
Prosody Sensitivity and Reading Skills: Event-Related Brain Potentials and Individual
Melissa Brock, Graduate student, Literacy Studies; Cara Otte, Graduate student,
Psychology; Heechun Moon, Graduate student, Literacy Studies; Hershel Eason,
Graduate student, Psychology; Cyrille Magne, Faculty, Psychology; Cyrille Magne
(Faculty sponsor), Psychology
An increasing body of research suggests that prosody (i.e., the music of speech) plays an
important role in the acquisition of good literacy-related skills. The present study sought
to identify electrophysiological indices of prosody sensitivity during spoken sentence
comprehension, and to examine the relationship between those brain responses and
several measures of reading achievement. The electroencephalogram (EEG) was recorded
in twenty-four participants while they listened to pairs of spoken instructions regarding
the movement of objects onto shapes drawn on a mat. Each trial was composed of a
context instruction (e.g., “Put the mouse on the square”) followed by a target instruction.
The target instruction included either the same object (“Now, put the mouse on the
circle”) or the same shape (Now, put the frog on the square.”). In addition, the prosody of
the target instruction was manipulated so that an emphasis was put either on the new
object/shape (expected prosodic pattern), or incorrectly on the previously cited
object/shape (unexpected prosodic pattern). Participants were also administered a series
of standardized reading measures. Results showed that objects pronounced with an
unexpected prosodic pattern elicited a larger positive waveform in the EEG. In addition,
the size of this positivity correlated with individual differences in phonological
processing skills and oral reading measures. Implications for models of reading
acquisition and for educational practices will be discussed at the conference.
New Teachers: Navigating the World of PLCs
Mary Elizabeth Vest, Graduate student, Assessment, Learning and School Improvement;
Rick Vanosdall (Faculty sponsor), Assessment, Learning and School Improvement
Teacher retention is a common concern among school leaders, and new recruits are
leaving the profession within the first five years of employment at alarming rates
(Ingersoll, 2002). Structured collaboration is one strategy for providing new teachers with
support and guidance that has the potential to improve retention rates. Many schools have
implemented Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) to provide a structure for their
collaborative efforts because of the evidence that it has the potential to improve student
achievement (DuFour, DuFour, & Eaker, 2011). Could the PLC model be used to support
our new teachers in their early years or are the demands placed upon them within their
PLC teams more than they can handle with all of their other new responsibilities as
teachers? From a social constructivist and pragmatist point of view, this qualitative case
study looks at what type of responsibilities new teachers were asked to perform within
their PLC teams, what they found helpful in their work, and the challenges they faced.
Through structured interviews, the researcher explored how new teachers with less than 3
years of experience adjusted to working within a Professional Learning Community
(PLC). Four new teachers with less than three years of experience from the same school
were interviewed in order to learn more about their experiences working within a PLC
team. Through this study, it was evident that these teachers believed that their overall
experience had been a positive one and they appreciated the opportunity to collaborate
with their more experienced colleagues. From this study, school leaders may consider
how new teachers perceive PLCs as a support system as they navigate their first years of
teaching in order to improve teacher quality and student success.
Contributions of Individual Performance on Team Performance in a High Fidelity Flight
Operation Center
Morgan Pearn, Graduate student, Psychology; Amanda Beaufore, Graduate student,
Psychology; Glenn Littlepage (Faculty sponsor), Psychology
Teamwork is an important factor that supports effective team performance, which is
necessary for safe functioning within the aviation industry. Previous studies have shown
that overall teamwork and individual team member performance are related to team
performance (LePine, Piccolo, Jackson, Mathieu, & Saul, 2008). Flight operations centers,
which are the coordination center for airline’s operations, are comprised of members of
diverse aviation specializations who must work as a team to perform the activities needed
to maintain smooth operation of the airlines in the midst of changing conditions. The
current study uses participants of MTSU’s high-fidelity flight operations unified
simulation (FOCUS Lab) to examine how individual positions' performance and their
level of teamwork affect their overall financial performance. Senior level aerospace
students participated in a total of three two and half-hour simulations over the course of a
semester. Prior to the FOCUS Lab, aviation concentrations have little interaction and
training with students in concentrations other than their own. The FOCUS Lab was
developed to help improve aviation students’ teamwork skills and to help them
understand the roles of other specializations. After each simulation, participants were
asked to rate their team performance on Marks, Mathieu, & Zaccaro (2001)’s teamwork
questionnaire. Additionally, staff who observed the simulation rated each individual’s
behaviors and performance in their given position. Financial data was also collected for
each simulation based on flight delays accrued by the team; a metric called delay loss.
Individual position ratings and teamwork ratings were compared to overall performance
ratings as measured by the delay loss.
The Surface Enhancement Effects of Substituent Groups on Aniline Derivatives in
Raman Spectroscopy
Maryam Aldoghaim, Graduate student, Chemistry; Ngee Chong, Faculty, Chemistry; Ooi
Beng (Faculty sponsor), Chemistry
Surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) can greatly enhance the signal from the
Raman-active molecules that have been adsorbed onto specially prepared metal surfaces.
The selectivity and the high sensitivity of SERS make it a superior method to Raman
spectroscopy. The advantage of SERS technique is that it greatly enhances the signal
from the Raman-active molecules, which have been adsorbed onto specially prepared
metal surfaces. Normally the factor by which the signal is enhanced is 104-106. In certain
cases, it may be as high as 1014. Nanostructures based on gold and silver are widely used
for analyte adsorption in SERS method. In this study, the SERS analysis of ortho-anilines
and para-anilines using silver colloids are compared. The dependence of SERS signal
intensity on aniline substituents including halogens, nitro, methoxy, methyl, isopropyl,
and tert-butyl groups are elucidated by SERS analysis of these compounds in silver
colloid with a Raman spectrometer having an excitation wavelength of 785 nm. Both the
steric requirements of chemisorption and the inductive effects of electron-withdrawal due
to the substituent groups affect the signal intensities. The colloidal nanoparticles were
also deposited onto copper surface for surface-enhanced analysis of the aniline
derivatives. The characteristics of their adsorption onto metal surfaces and enhancement
factors of SERS are discussed in terms of the computational modeling of the aniline
Adolescent physical activity outcome expectancies: Parental support does not work
Mychal Bowling, Graduate student, Health and Human Performance; Norman Weatherby,
Faculty, Health and Human Performance; Norman Weatherby (Faculty sponsor), Health
and Human Performance
Background: This study aimed to provide information on the relationship between
parental support and adolescent physical activity outcome expectancies.
Methods: Control variables include BMI, age, sex, race/ethnicity, days physically active
for at least 60 minutes, and sports team participation. We utilized data from a crosssectional study conducted by the CDC - The National Youth Physical Activity and
Nutrition Study (NYPANS) in 2010. A sample of 9,427 participants from high schools
across the United States was drawn, and data were analyzed first using simple descriptive
statistics. The hypothesis was tested using regression analysis with SPSS complex
samples. Regression was used to study the effect of parental support and the control
variables in the model on students’ outcome expectancies towards physical activity.
Results: The unexpected results indicated a negative relationship between parental
support and adolescent physical activity outcome expectancies (b = -0.064, Se = 0.008,
and p < .001).
Conclusions: Future research is needed to examine this relationship and further explore
other social-cognitive variables as they relate to adolescent physical activity attitudes and
Modeling, Simulation and Optimization of Piezoelectric Bimorph Transducer for
Broadband Vibration Energy Harvesting
Nan Chen, Graduate student, Computational Science; Vishwas Bedekar, Faculty,
Engineering Technology; Vishwas Bedekar (Faculty sponsor), Engineering Technology
The objective of this research is to design a millimeter scale broadband energy harvester
device through the use of a multi-cantilever beam approach with a non-linear geometry.
In this research, we use COMSOL finite element analysis software to design, simulate
and analyze the voltage and power characteristics under applied mechanical vibrations of
a piezoelectric cantilever beam. Two piezoelectric ceramic composition samples were
compared using series combinations of a bimorph energy harvester design vibrating at the
natural frequency of the beam. We propose a new design and geometry for bimorph
harvesters to capture energy at multiple frequencies in order to realize a broadband
vibration energy harvester.
Supplement Use and Perceptions: A Survey of U.S. Horse Owners
Nicole Swirsley, Graduate student, Agribusiness and Agriscience; Holly Spooner,
Faculty, Agribusiness and Agriscience; Rhonda Hoffman, Faculty, Agribusiness and
Agriscience; Holly Spooner (Faculty sponsor), Agribusiness and Agriscience
The pet supplement industry, including supplements for horses, contributes over $1
billion to the US economy. However, little research has been done on horse owner use of
supplements or opinions about their safety and efficacy. We hypothesized that
perceptions about the use, safety, and efficacy of supplements would differ among riders
of different disciplines and between competitive (COM) versus recreational riders (REC).
An online survey was developed to include demographic information, rider discipline,
and identification as a COM or REC rider, along with 6-pt Likert scale questions
regarding perceived issues in their horses, use of supplements to treat issues, and beliefs
surrounding supplement safety and efficacy. 2,219 respondents completed the survey
over one month, 2,087 of which met inclusion criteria. Respondents represented a wide
variety of disciplines. 43% of respondents reported owning 2 to 4 horses. 84% of
respondents reported giving supplements to at least one horse, and 58% reported
spending $30 or more per month per horse on supplements. 87% of COM reported giving
horses supplements vs. 79% of REC. 21% of owners believe their horse has a behavior
issue, 57% a joint issue, 43% a hoof issue, 18% a skin/coat issue, 9% a colic issue, 20% a
digestive issue other than colic, and 49% a performance/energy issue. Perceived issues
showed strong positive correlations to use of supplements to treat or prevent those issues.
There was no difference according to discipline or competitive status concerning
perceptions and views on supplements, or on supplement safety or efficacy. 50% of horse
owners “slightly agree, agree, or strongly agree” supplements are safe, while 48% believe
supplements are well researched. In spite of the lack of research on supplements, the
majority of owners, regardless of discipline or competitive status, report giving
supplements and indicate belief in their safety and efficacy.
A refined implementation of sliced inverse regression
Ning Zhang, Graduate student, Computational Science; Qiang Wu (Faculty sponsor),
Sliced inverse regression is a statistical method for dimension reduction. Sliced inverse
regression can effectively reduce the dimension of the input variable without complicated
techniques such as smoothing, a principal component analysis on the covariance matrix
for the estimated inverse regression curve can be conducted to locate its main orientation.
it can be easily implemented on personal computers. I proposed a refined implementation
by allowing overlapping slices, the basic idea for this algorithm is to compute the sample
mean of the standardized independent variables within two adjacent slices instead of
doing so within one slice. Simulation studies show that the refined algorithm is able to
estimate the effective dimension reduction space more accurately and more stable, the
refined algorithm can get a better effective dimension reduction space with a small angle
between the ideal space and itself, and better Eigen values which can be used to evaluate
the number of components in the model.
Genome-wide discovery of long non-coding RNAs in rainbow trout and their potential
roles in muscle growth and quality
Rafet Al-Tobasei, Graduate student, Computational Science; Bam Paneru, Graduate
student, Biology; Mohamed Salem, Faculty, Biology; Mohamed Salem (Faculty sponsor),
Background: The ENCODE project revealed that ~70% of the human genome is
transcribed. While only 1-2% of the RNAs encode for proteins, the rest are non-coding
RNAs. Long non coding RNAs (lncRNAs) form a diverse class of non-coding RNAs that
are longer than 200nt. Evidences are emerging that lncRNAs play critical roles in various
cellular processes including regulation of gene expression. LncRNAs usually show low
levels of gene expression and sequence conservation, which make their computational
identification in genomes difficult.
Results: In this study, more than two billion Illumina sequence reads (including data used
in annotating the trout genome and de novo assembling a transcriptome reference) were
mapped to the genome reference using the TopHat and Cufflinks software. Transcripts
shorter than 200 base-pairs, with more than 100 amino acids ORF, or with significant
homologies to the NCBI nr-protein database were removed. In addition, a computational
pipeline was used to filter the remaining transcripts based on a protein-coding-score test.
A total of 62,919 lncRNAs were identified, with only 477 matching known lncRNAs in
other species. RNA-Seq expression profiling identified differentially expressed lncRNAs
in rainbow trout families showing variations in fish growth, muscle yield and quality
traits. Some of the differentially expressed lncRNAs may be involved in regulating
protein-coding genes associated with muscle traits. In addition, a digital gene expression
atlas revealed 2,673 tissue-specific and 22,397 housekeeping lncRNAs. Conclusion: The
rainbow trout lncRNAs identified and characterized in this study provide a valuable
resource for functional genome research in salmonids.
Industry Recognized Certifications in Drafting and Computer Aided Design Technology
Russell White, Graduate student, Engineering Technology; Greg Sedrick (Faculty
sponsor), Engineering Technology
Preliminary research reveals the need to develop a new certification for Drafting and
Computer Aided Design Technology (DCT). Currently there are two types of industry
recognized certifications: drafting standards and software competency. These types of
certifications represent a test of knowledge of typical standards of drafting and familiarity
with the tools and user interface of a specific computer aided design (CAD) software
respectively. Industry has shared the data of a growing deficiency in filling open jobs
with skilled drafters and designers who possess more than just the knowledge of
standards and software application know-how. They lack professionalism, soft skills, and
industry specific experience. While the experience can only be obtained by working the
day-to-day job, professionalism and ethics can be taught and practiced within the
classroom through teamwork exercises and project-based learning.
Information and input through industry/education partnerships drive this research to
answer the question of how the DCT program at Tennessee College of Applied
Technology - Shelbyville can meet the needs of industry through a collection of
curriculum that includes soft skills.
Using TPR to Help Students Learn Vocabularies in Japanese Language Classroom
Ryoko Fujise, Graduate student, Educational Leadership; Johnna Paraiso (Faculty
sponsor), Educational Leadership
The study is to show how much students can gain retention of Japanese vocabularies
through Total Physical Response (TPR) method. Western learners consider Japanese
language to be difficult because it has few cognates with Western languages and many
equal-sounding syllables. TPR is a known method of foreign language teaching, which
works on a learner’s long-term retention. However, previous studies mainly examine
Western languages, such as English, French, Spanish, and German, and there is little
research about Asian languages, especially Japanese.
In this quasi-experimental study, two groups of elementary-level Japanese language
learners were taught Japanese vocabularies through TPR and traditional flashcards. A
pre-test was given to participants before the intervention to examine their current
knowledge of vocabularies. At the end of each regular class session, participants were
given ten minutes of vocabulary instructions; one group was given TPR instruction and
the other was given flashcard instruction. After five times of those interventions, post-test
one was conducted on the last day of intervention to examine how much score was
gained. After a week after of the first post-test, the second post-test was conducted to
examine participants’ retention of the vocabulary. The intended result of the tests is that
both groups will have similar gain scores on the first post-test, yet TPR group will gain
more scores than traditional flashcard group on the second post-test.
Passengers' Perception Of The Safety Demonstration On Board An Aircraft
Ratchada Ruenruoy, Graduate student, Aerospace; Ratchada Ruenruoy (Faculty sponsor),
The cabin safety demonstration on board an aircraft is one of the methods to provide
safety information for passengers before aircraft takeoff. However, passengers'
enthusiasm toward safety demonstrations is normally low. Therefore, the study of
passengers’ perception toward safety briefings on board an aircraft is important in
increasing the safety awareness for the travelling public on commercial aircraft. A survey
was distributed to measure the perceptions of Middle Tennessee State University
(MTSU) faculty and staff, Aerospace students, and international students who have
traveled in the last year. It was generally found that watching the cabin safety
demonstration before aircraft takeoff was believed to be important for passengers.
However, the attention to the safety demonstration remained low because the safety
briefings were not good enough in terms of clear communication, particularly in the
recorded audio demonstration and the live safety demonstration methods of briefing.
High school biology student attitudes toward science and career path
Rachel Lytle, Graduate student, Biology; Kim Sadler, Faculty, Biology; Anthony Farone,
Faculty, Biology; Mary Farone, Faculty, Biology; Ginger Rowell, Faculty, Mathematics;
Kim Sadler (Faculty sponsor), Biology
The NSF GK-12 program at MTSU partners graduate students and high school teachers
with biotechnology companies to promote STEM learning opportunities. Graduate
Fellows spend one year in high school biology classrooms mentoring student research
projects. The purpose of the study was to determine if introducing Graduate Fellows into
high school biology classrooms to engage with students during the year influences the
students’ attitudes toward science. The expectation was that programs such as GK-12
would generate a positive perception of science and increase interest in pursuing a
science career. Using a mixed methods approach with interviews and pre and post survey
design, the Student Attitude Inventory II with added demographic and career interest
questions, was used to determine student attitude toward science and the nature of science.
Classes with a Graduate Fellow were compared with a corresponding class taught by the
same teacher. After one year of Graduate Fellow interactions and open-inquiry research
projects, high school students attitudes’ toward science increased in the following
categories: understanding of scientific objectivity, appreciation for the peer review
process in science, and the importance of the public’s understanding of science. In
comparison, high school students that did not interact with a Graduate Fellow, showed
decreases in their viewpoints that although busy, scientists do have time for family and
fun and that a science career would be fulfilling. With the country facing a call for a more
scientifically literate society, these preliminary findings support the implementation of
projects that bring graduate student scientists to classrooms to engage students
interactively and mentor student research projects. To fully analyze the impact of this
practice, longitudinal studies of students’ attitudes toward science from secondary
education to their chosen career path would provide deeper insight.
Which genres motivate students to read independently
Rodney Butts, Graduate student, Educational Leadership; Angela Risto (Faculty sponsor),
Educational Leadership
This study examined the student’s perspectives regarding what genre of reading material
is favored in third through sixth grade. The questions studied: If more students read
favored genre independently, will they get better at reading? Students will be encouraged
to read their favorite genre. The study examines the potential of a measurable gain in
reading skills. Teachers will answer a survey at the end of the study. The students will
also answer a survey at the end of the study that is a follow up on the outcome of the
study. The perspectives of three different grade levels 3-6 will be studied. Through
qualitative surveys, the study will address the following questions: What genre of reading
material is favored in third to sixth grade? How can we best contribute to our students'
reading development and achievement?
The Mixing Engineer's Guide to Surround Sound
Ryan Talbot, Graduate student, Recording Industry; Matt Foglia (Faculty sponsor),
Recording Industry
My Final Project for the MFA degree is all about how to mix popular styles of music in
5.1 surround.
I look at what some successful mixing engineers have done on surround mixes they have
completed through written research and listening examples to figure out what are some of
the common ways to take popular music purposed for stereo mixing and maximize its
potential for 5.1 surround.
Topics covered in my guide include setting up a mixing room for surround mixing, usage
of the center, surround, and LFE channels, delivery and release formats, aesthetic tips for
remixing classic albums in surround, and more!
The project also has a hands-on mixing component that includes me completing stereo
mixes for several songs within certain popular genres of music and then taking those
mixes and expanding them out to surround.
This requires a balance between keeping the original intent of the stereo mix while also
finding ways to make the surround mix enveloping and exciting for the listener.
Pilot Study: Professional Development Offered to Elementary General Music Educators
in Tennessee
Rebecca Turner, Graduate student, Music; Jamila McWhirter (Faculty sponsor), Music
The purpose of this study will be to find out what types of professional development
music educators in major districts across Tennessee have had during a typical school year.
It will strive to discover if music educators are offered the option to participate in musicspecific PD or any other type of collaboration with other music educators. I plan to take a
survey of elementary general music educators in four major cities in Tennessee
(Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, and Knoxville) to acquire this information.
According to the NAfME website, professional development for music educators should
be musical and result in improved musical achievement for students. This and other
related literature will be used to create an online survey. A cover letter will be sent via
email to elementary general music educators in the four cities mentioned above. Data
collected will be reported as frequencies and percentages. The results may indicate that
school districts are not providing their music educators with relevant professional
development. Recommendations will be provided that can assist districts in choosing
appropriate PD for their music educators. From these data we may learn that elementary
general music educators need better options for professional development.
Synthesis of metal nanoparticles supported by graphene and their catalytic activities
Rajeh Alotaibi, Graduate student, Chemistry; Sharifah Aleid, Graduate student,
Chemistry; Nouf Bedair, Graduate student, Chemistry; Touby Homsombath,
Undergraduate student, Chemistry; Keying Ding (Faculty sponsor), Chemistry
Graphene has recently attracted numerous attention due to its exceptional optical and
chemical properties. Graphene nanosheets have been utilized as catalyst support to
enhance catalytic activities owing to its large surface area and unique interactions with
metal nanoparticles and substrates. Most of current work on graphene supported catalysts
have been focused on photocatalysis and electrocatalysis. However, the application of
graphene based catalysts on the rest of catalysis area is rarely found. In our group, metal
nanoparticles (MNPs) supported by graphene are synthesized by several methods. Their
catalytic activities are explored for decarbonylation reactions, hydrogenation reactions
and Suzuki coupling reactions. The catalytic results, activity and selectivity are presented,
emphasizing the role of the graphene support in the catalytic processes. The role of
graphene in the catalytic reactions is ascribed to its excellent properties for dispersing and
stabilizing MNPs, and to the efficient electron transfer and mass transport between the
support and the metal.
Comparison of the Emissions of Various Biodiesel Formulations by Gas
Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) and Fourier Transform Infrared
Spectrometry (FTIR)
Shruthi Perna, Graduate student, Chemistry; Christopher Moore, Undergraduate student,
Chemistry; Ngee Sing Chong (Faculty sponsor), Chemistry
Biofuels including biodiesel have gained popularity because they help reduce the
dependency on imported crude oil and address the growing concern about global
warming caused by carbon dioxide emission from the combustion of fossil fuels.
Biodiesel is synthesized by using waste cooking oil and catalysts such as sodium
hydroxide, barium hydroxide and barium oxide by a process called as transesterification.
After the characterization of biodiesel by infrared spectrometry and GC-MS, emission
testing was conducted by using a Yanmar power generator fueled with diesel and
biodiesel blended with different biomass-derived additives. The Tedlar™ bag samples of
emissions from different fuels were analyzed by GC-MS with a pre-concentrator outfitted
with a glass bead trap and a Tenax™ TA trap. The emission samples were also
introduced into a 10-meter gas cell for quantitative determination of carbon monoxide,
formaldehyde, methane, and ethylene by FTIR spectrometry.
Individual life history analysis of three mussel species: Implications for a Mussel Health
Amber Hills, Graduate student, Biology; Susan Lanier, Government agency collaborator;
David McKinney, Government agency collaborator; Ryan Otter, Faculty, Biology; Ryan
Otter (Faculty sponsor), Biology
Freshwater mussels are important ecologically and economically. Currently, a reliable
standard health index for mussels does not exist. Monkeyface (Quadrula sparsa) and
Winged Mapleleaf (Quadrula fragosa) mussels are federally endangered species, due to
competitive species invasions and polluted waters. In this study, Quadrula sparsa,
Quadrula fragosa, and Ebonyshell (Fusconaia ebena) mussels were sampled annually at
two sites: Richland Creek, a tributary to the Tennessee river below Watts Bar dam, and
Diamond Island, in the Tennessee River downstream from Pickwick dam, over a period
of nine years, 1998-2007. Individual life history measurements of total mass, tissue mass,
volume, age, and length were taken on at least 20 mussels per site per year. From these
measurements, total density and tissue density were calculated. All seven variables were
analyzed for each species and season using the following regression models: volume/age,
total mass/age, tissue mass/age, length/age, total mass/volume, tissue mass/volume,
length/volume, tissue mass/total mass, length/total mass, length/tissue mass, total
density/age, tissue density/age. Significant differences were found between species and
seasons. Results from this study can be applied to determine a standard mussel health
Offshore Nuclear Powered Water Desalinator
Stephen Porch, Graduate student, Geosciences; Pat Boda (Faculty sponsor), Geosciences
Over this past summer I completed an internship with the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission. During my time there, I learned how nuclear power plants work and this
was the seed for my idea. All reactors produce power by creating steam and using the
steam to turn turbines. The 2 types of reactors used in the US are boiling water reactors
(BWR) and pressurized water reactors (PWR). In a BWR the steam that is created is
exposed to radioactive material. In a PWR the system is closed and the steam is indirectly
created. In this way, the steam is never irradiated.
My idea is to place smaller PWR reactors on oil-rig platforms (mounted or free floating).
These would then be placed out to sea with a water pipeline and a power cable run back
to land. The plants would pump ocean water through the system to create the required
steam. Once the ocean water is transformed into steam the salt and minerals are left
behind this desalinates the water. After the steam passes through the turbine, it would be
condensed and pumped back to the mainland for drinking water or farming. As a
byproduct the salt and minerals would also be collected for use as table salt or for
industrial purposes.
Due to the impending shortage of fresh drinking water and the power shortages that are
becoming more apparent on the west coast and all over the world, this could be a
powerful tool for supplying power and fresh water. It could be used in many places
around the world, including, islands such as Barbados, or along coastlines all over the
Knowledge of Bound Morphemes as an Indicator of Morphological Awareness in Adults
R. Stacy Fields, Graduate student, Literacy Studies; Tess S. Fotidzis, Graduate student,
Literacy Studies; Victoria Gay, Graduate student, Literacy Studies; Annette Kent,
Graduate student, Literacy Studies; Melanie Maxwell, Graduate student, Literacy
Studies; Karen Reed, Graduate student, Literacy Studies; Adam Rollins, Graduate student,
Literacy Studies; Kelli Wallace, Graduate student, Literacy Studies; Joanne Collins,
Graduate student, Literacy Studies; Dehong Luo, Visiting scholar, Literacy Studies;
Aleka Blackwell, Faculty, Literacy Studies; Aleka Blackwell (Faculty sponsor), Literacy
Maag (2007) introduced a method for assessing morphological awareness (MA) of native
English speaking adults involving morphological decomposition and vocabulary
definition of 50 multimorphemic English words. The measure produced two
metalinguistic scores: (i) an MA score which represented the number of known words for
which the morphological base was accurately identified and (ii) an accuracy score which
represented the number of known words for which the correct definition was selected.
While an effective type of measure of morphological awareness in adults, this test proved
inadequate as a measure of MA in adults because its items produced significant ceiling
effects. We developed a more challenging set of items (N = 36) to assess MA in adults.
Specifically, whereas Maag's (2007) test used only free stems as answer choices (e.g.,
believable-belief, noncombatant-combat), the test we developed required participants to
select words with bound stems in common (e.g., masquerade-mascara, desolate-soliloquy,
sonorant-dissonance). We piloted our measure with a sample of native English speaking
adults (N = 73). Our data analyses confirmed that, compared to items in Maag's (2007)
measure, our test items are adequately challenging to produce no ceiling effects. The
poster presents details on the development of the test items as well as results comparing
mean MA and accuracy scores obtained with this test compared to Maag's (2007) test.
Genre Oriented Music Production and Mixing
Truman Lusson, Graduate student, Recording Industry; Daniel Pfeifer (Faculty sponsor),
Recording Industry
While the lines between some musical genres have begun to blur over recent years, it is
still wildly important for both recording engineers and producers to have a strong sense
of the appropriate considerations taken when working within different genres, in order to
deliver the message to the audience in the format they are expecting.
The purpose of this project is to develop a more defined and practical knowledge of the
processes involved in creating “authentic” sounding recordings typical of commercial
releases for 5 different genres. This will entail both the study and actualization of the
production, engineering (recording), and mixing for each of the following selected
-Classic Rock (70’s)
-Pop Ballad
-Acoustic/ Folk
-Jazz/ Blues/ Big Band
Each of the five songs chosen will be produced in a genre alternative to the original in
order to emphasize the aesthetic values of each genre. The final report will document the
entire process in detail, from pre-production to the final mixes.
Tara Prairie, Graduate student, Health and Human Performance; Bethany A.E. Wrye,
Faculty, Health and Human Performance; Norman Weatherby, Faculty, History; Sharon
C. Parente, Faculty, Library; Bethany Wrye (Faculty sponsor), Health and Human
Enacted stigma involves labeled individuals being treated differently from or denied
access to resources available to non-labeled individuals. When studying stigma in the
medical field, researchers tend to focus on the extent to which labeled patients feel or
internalize stigma and then avoid situations or interactions to prevent anticipated
stigmatization. The purpose of this bibliographic citation analysis is to examine enacted
stigma by health personnel toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, questioning,
intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA) patients.
This analysis incorporates the passage of time into the study of networks of citations in
the scientific literature. A review of articles from 1970 to the present was conducted to
trace citations across time and find links among the cited articles shown. A study sample
was developed from bibliographic databases by identifying articles using the terms
“enacted stigma”, “physician stigma”, “physician bias”, and “physician attitudes.” The
citations in these articles were than used to retrieve additional articles.
The amount of published research involving enacted stigma towards LGBTQIA patients
has increased over time. Examination of the citation networks as they evolve across time
helps us to understand the extent to which knowledge is communicated among
researchers. The implication is that, until knowledge of the detrimental effects of enacted
stigma become widespread among health personnel, it will continue to be an issue that
affects access to health care for this population.
Marine-Derived n-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Body Composition: A MetaAnalysis of Randomized Controlled Trials
Tracy Morris, Graduate student, Health and Human Performance; Amanda Cook,
Graduate student, Health and Human Performance; Minsoo Kang, Faculty, Health and
Human Performance; Norman Weatherby, Faculty, Health and Human Performance;
Norman Weatherby (Faculty sponsor), Health and Human Performance
Background: Increased levels of dietary, marine-derived omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty
acids (n3-PUFA), either through supplementation or increased consumption of fish, have
been linked to weight loss, decreased body mass index (BMI), decreased body fat and
reduced waist circumference. Each of these outcomes can be used to evaluate body
composition. Evidence is inconsistent, but it suggests that fish oil supplementation and
dietary interventions to encourage fish consumption might be a low cost, low risk
strategy for weight loss and improved body composition, particularly when combined
with diet and exercise programs.
Methods: Web of Science, Google Scholar, and PubMed were searched for randomized
controlled trials (RCTs) exploring the effects of either fish oil supplementation or fish
intake on body composition. Search terms included ‘fish oil’, ‘omega-3 polyunsaturated
fatty acids’, ‘fatty fish’, ‘weight loss’, ‘body composition’, ‘body mass index’, ‘waist
circumference’, ‘percent body fat’, and ‘fat mass’. Individual meta-analyses on five
outcomes were conducted with a random effects model used to estimate pooled
standardized mean differences, effect size (Hedge’s g) and the corresponding 95%
confidence intervals (CI).
Results: The analysis included 26 RCTs (n = 1592). Marine-derived n-3 PUFA had no
effect on body composition when compared to placebo group. Results by outcome were:
body weight (g = 0.001, p = 0.984, 95% CI = -0.107, 0.109), BMI (g = 0.005, p = 0.934,
95% CI = -0.114, 0.124), waist circumference (g = 0.024, p = 0.733, 95% CI = -0.114,
0.162), percent body fat (g = -0.018, p = 0.847, 95% CI = -0.199, 0.163), fat mass (g = 0.004, p = 0.965, 95% CI = -0.185, 0.177). A moderator analysis of these outcomes by
gender found no significant difference by gender.
Conclusion: This meta-analysis does not support a link between marine-derived n-3
PUFA and body composition.
A Comprehensive Study of the Fundamentals of Mixing Music
Tyler Spratt, Graduate student, Recording Industry; Bill Crabtree (Faculty sponsor),
Recording Industry
This is a study of topics and techniques that can be researched, and practiced, in order to
acquire the skills necessary to become proficient at mixing music. The project consists of
three phases. Each phase is designed to help a mixing engineer understand what they
need to learn, and practice, in order to become better at mixing.
Phase one is research into acoustics, monitor setup, and monitor calibration. A basic
knowledge of these three topics can help an engineer achieve a great listening space
which will allow them to hear, and understand, what is going on within a mix. In this
phase I performed research on each topic, built a listening space, and wrote a research
paper about my findings.
Phase two is the exploration and practice of the fundamentals of a mixing. An engineer
must learn to hear problems within a mix, understand balance and arrangement, and learn
how to use signal processing in order to attain a great mix. During this phase I used a
program called Golden Ears to develop essential listening skills and hear how signal
processing affects each mix. I also performed four exercises from a book called
Understanding and Crafting the Mix: The Art of Recording by William Moylan. Each
exercise is designed to develop an engineer’s understanding of balance and arrangement.
Along with the exercises, I researched different signal processing techniques and wrote a
daily reflection about my findings.
The third phase is to implement the newly acquired knowledge and skills by mixing for a
client. This allows me to apply what I have learned and it gives me real world experience
in mixing. It is the best way to understand the client/engineer relationship, as well as
validate whether or not these fundamentals have helped me become better at mixing
Highly sensitive biosensors based on grating coupled Bloch surface waves
Vijay Koju, Graduate student, Computational Science; William Robertson (Faculty
sponsor), Physics and Astronomy
Ability of photonic band gap multilayer films to couple light into strongly confined
surface wave, known as Bloch surface wave, can be exploited to design highly sensitive
biosensors. We present finite element based numerical simulations of Bloch surface
waves in such multilayer structures with enhanced electromagnetic field intensity at the
interface between the top layer of the multilayer structure and air. We use grating
coupling, as opposed to a more conventional prism coupling technique, to excite the
surface mode. The use of grating coupling offers a number of advantages. First, it
significantly reduces the size of the biosensor as it eliminates the need to attach a bulky
prism on the device. Second, several Bloch surface modes can be generated by a single
carefully designed grating layer on the multilayer structure. We further explore relations
between different parameters of the multilayer structure such as grating period, grating
height, number of multilayers, angle of incidence, and operating wavelengths to optimize
the sensitivity of the multilayer based biosensor. Finally, to validate our numerical
simulations, we compare our results with the results from other widely used numerical
techniques such as rigorous coupled wave analysis, and finite difference frequency
domain method.
Fully Implicit Runge-Kutta Methods for Multi-Channel Stiff Stochastic Differential
Systems with Jumps
Viktor Reshniak, Graduate student, Computational Science; Abdul Khaliq (Faculty
sponsor), Mathematics
We discuss systems of ordinary stochastic differential equations (SDE) with noncommutative multi-channel noise including jump-diffusion Levy processes. These
equations arise in various fields where evolution of the system involves multiple time
scales such that the large and sudden changes of states may happen at certain moments.
The list of possible applications includes but is not limited to differential geometry,
quantum theory in physics, biochemical reaction networks, gene expression dynamics,
portfolio management and option pricing in finance. Due to their multi-scale nature such
systems are inherently stiff, both in deterministic and stochastic components, and can
change their stiffness with uncertainty. A classical way to resolve the problem of stiffness
is by incorporating implicitness into numerical schemes. However, in the case of SDEs,
the straightforward implementation of an implicit approach can lead to unbounded
solutions. To resolve this issue we consider fully implicit split-step stochastic balanced
Runge-Kutta methods and investigate their convergence, stability and positivity
preserving properties. Numerical examples are provided to show the effectiveness of the
proposed methods.
Psychometric Calibration of an Eighth-Grade Reading Comprehension Test
Weon Kim, Graduate student, Literacy Studies; Amy Elleman, Faculty, Literacy Studies;
Amy Elleman (Faculty sponsor), Literacy Studies
The purpose of this study is to conduct item and test analyses for a large data set for a
reading comprehension test. Both classical test theory (CTT) and item response theory
(IRT) were utilized to evaluate psychometric properties of a 31-item eighth-grade reading
comprehension test. The results showed a good test reliability index in CTT as well as a
strong model-data fit for the 3-parameter logistic model in IRT. In IRT analyses,
likelihood ratio tests, Bayesian information criterion (BIC), and Akaike information
criterion (AIC) were applied for model comparisons. Person’s ability (θ-parameter), item
discrimination index (a-parameter), item difficulty index (b-parameter), and pseudochance parameter (c-parameter) were estimated through the expected-a-posteriori (EAP)
estimation method. Item information functions, test information function, and item
characteristic curves were also reported. For future study, testlet response theory will be
applied to the data in order to address the correlated nature of items in reading
comprehension tests.
Spatial Multitask Learning Models and Application for functional Magnetic Resonance
Xin Yang, Graduate student, Computational Science; Qiang Wu, Faculty, Mathematics;
Dong Hong, Faculty, Mathematics; Don Hong (Faculty sponsor), Mathematics
Functional magnetic resonance imaging(fMRI) has become an important technique to
investigate brain activities. The general purpose of fMRI studies is to detect active and
nonactive brain region in response to a particular stimulus and hence to infer neuronal
activity. Because the neuronal activity can be indirectly observed via the blood
oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) signal contrast, usually the BOLD signal is used to
detect the neuronal activity.However, fMRI data has extremely complicated structure.
The subject's 3D volume brain is divided into a grid of volume boxes, or voxels. The
BOLD signal is observed at each voxel at each time point resulting in an enormous
amount of data (possibly as many as 40 million observations). Hence powerful models
are necessary in detecting accurate neuronal activity.
In this paper, we use General Linear Model to formulate the fMRI data, and we assume
that each voxel is a task. In application, there are a lot of methods to find the solution for
the GLM such as Ridge, Lasso Regularization and Elastic Net. However, all these
methods are based on single task, which means they learn each voxel/task individually
without considering the spatial information. This kind of single task algorithm may lose
some important information due to the ignore of the neighbor effect. Because the voxel of
the brain is not isolated, in reality some brain area has extremely close relationship.
To overcome the shortage of spatial correlation problem, in this paper, we proposed a
new technique spatial Multi-task Learning model, which incorporates spatial information
provided by each task's 8 neighbor tasks.
Is There a Relationship between Affective Factors and Second Language Speaking
Yanan Zeng, Graduate student, Educational Leadership; Johnna Paraiso (Faculty
sponsor), Educational Leadership
As an English learner myself, I always feel my mood has a big influence on my English
speaking fluency. I realize that my English speaking contains many mistakes when I am
in a bad mood; and I feel my English speaking contains fewer mistakes and is smoother
when I am in a good mood. In addition to my own experience, I have studied Linguistic
Krashen’s The Affective Filter Hypothesis. This theory states that affective factors such
as nervousness, boredom, and anxiety can serve as filters to block out incoming messages.
Therefore, Krashen’s hypothesis and my own experience generated my doubt: if these
negative factors can block out incoming messages, can they also influence language
output? So in my research, I will study different language learning groups about their
target language speaking experiences. The purpose of this research is to figure out
whether there is a relationship between a person’s mood and his second language
speaking fluency. This research is significant to the body of second language acquisition
because the understanding of the relationship between a person’s mood and his target
language speaking fluency will help language instructors and second language learners
build more effective ways to teach and study a language.
What are challenges English-speakers meet in learning to listen, speak, read and write
Yanan Zeng, Graduate student, Educational Leadership; Johnna Paraiso (Faculty
sponsor), Educational Leadership
With an increasing number of Chinese learners among English speakers, there is a need
for some research on learning Chinese as a second language. Such research would
provide Chinese learners and Chinese instructors more effective ways to acquire and
teach Chinese. In my research, I will study the challenges English-speakers meet in
learning to listen, speak, read and write Chinese. This study is significant to the body of
knowledge of second language acquisition because understanding of the process and
challenges that Chinese learners face will guide the Chinese instructor’s curricular
decisions. In this study, I am expecting that Chinese language teachers will develop more
effective teaching strategies that address students’ needs and can encourage more
English-speaking students to learn Chinese. In this paper, I will talk about the previous
research about Chinese acquisition, the participants’ facing problems, the reasons why do
they face these problems, and effetive methods of teaching and learning Chinese.
The impact of students’ art work on their English language learning
Munirah Almuawi, Graduate student, Educational Leadership; Johnna Paraiso (Faculty
sponsor), Educational Leadership
The research is aimed to analyze the impact of students’ artwork on improving their
English language learning. The participants of the study would comprise of students and
teachers and the data will be collected through students’ test scores and the teacher’s
feedback obtained via interviews. The study would involve assessing students’ artwork
on regular basis or as desired as an aim to motivate students to improve their language
skills by looking at their art and asking them to read, write, speak or listen applying
brainstorming and organized thinking .The study would require art teacher to design
small assignments on the art work such as verbal explanation of the work, presenting
artwork and writing artist statements and reflections on the process and product. These
tasks will be followed by the students in their art classes. Later on, their English
assessment and grades will be monitored in order to see what improvements were shown
by the students in their English language learning and vocabulary after attending their art
classes. The feedback from art and English teachers would allow assessing the outcomes
of using the artwork projects to formally evaluate students’ assessment on English
language learning. In addition to observing formal test scores of the English language,
verbal meetings with the concerned Art and English language teachers would be
conducted by the researcher to gain feedback for analyzing the student’s learning
achievements. The teachers’ feedback as to what they learnt about their student’s cultural
background from their artwork will also be used in this study. The results will be based
upon evaluation of students test scores and the teacher’s feedback collected from the
Are There Statistically Significant Differences in Language Use Between Mothers and
Fathers During Child Interaction?
Adam Rollins, Graduate student, Literacy Studies; Eric Oslund (Faculty sponsor),
Literacy Studies
Baker and Vernon-Feagans (2015) studied the impact of parental language input on their
children prior to kindergarten and its ability to predict certain reading & math skills by
the end of kindergarten. The used the Family Life Project dataset (a longitudinal data
collection following children from birth through kindergarten), which transcribed
interactions between parents and children during a picture book activity. The data
contain various linguistic variables, such as number of free morphemes used and mean
length of utterance. They found that the father's use of language was far more predictive
for kindergarten performance than the mother's. They conclude that more research is
needed to determine if language use is statistically significantly different between
mothers and fathers. I intend to use the same Family Life Project dataset to do the
research they suggested. I will run ANOVAs and/or independent sample t-tests on
relevant language variables within the data, comparing mothers and fathers, to determine
1) Do statistically significant differences exist? 2) If so, which language variables were
statistically significantly different?
Traveling a Thousand Miles: The Role of Education Diplomacy through Study Abroad
Emily Tinch, Graduate student, Elementary and Special Education; Sheila Watkins,
Undergraduate student, Elementary and Special Education; Jane Lim (Faculty sponsor),
Elementary and Special Education
Over the past two decades, United States students who participated in study abroad
programs have tripled; (Institute of International Education Open Doors, 2013). From
2011 to 2012 there were a total of 63,427 students who received academic credit for their
study abroad program. Out of that number, only 4.1 percent of students were from the
field of education. By participating in a study abroad program, students begin to develop
emerging concepts of the political, economic, social and cultural relationships, which
allows them to explore the concept of global diplomacy (Nadine, 2008). This enables the
students to broaden their concepts of being a global citizen of the world. However, the
role of education diplomacy is limited, which is evidenced by a data based search.
The purpose of this study is to analyze the concepts of diplomacy in education of four
college students. These students were from Tennessee and participated in a faculty-led
study abroad program to Singapore in May, 2014. An in depth, qualitative approach was
used in this study. Data were collected through pre and post surveys, personal journals
and interviews. This data was used to better understand the evolving concepts that a study
abroad program has on the concept of education diplomacy.