The Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship (CURS) supports faculty-led research and scholarly activity with undergraduates at Augusta University in a variety of ways including: faculty and student development activities; sponsoring the monthly student research brown bag seminars; assessing the impact of student research on campus; and offering student research grants.

CURS defines undergraduate research as "an educational experience in which a student, in collaboration with a faculty mentor, strives to answer an open-ended question within the discipline and/or make a creative contribution to the discipline." Research can be done in a laboratory, in the field, in the library or in an art studio. CURS is interested in cultivating the creative activity of students from all academic disciplines.

Collections in this community

Recent Submissions

  • An Examination of HPV Vaccine Administration in Georgia

    Denson, Samantha; Holleran, Ericka; Gaffney, Jasmine; Department of Psychological Sciences (2016-09-16)
    HPV is the leading STI in the US and Georgia (CDC, 2016). HPV is the necessary precursor for cervical cancer, other cancers and genital warts (CDC, 2016). Georgia is unique in that it tracks statewide vaccination rates by provider. This data is entered into the Georgia Registry of Immunization Transactions and Services (GRITS). Our goal was to use these data to examine: 1) How do HPV vaccination trends compare to other childhood vaccines? and 2) Are there gender differences in HPV vaccine uptake? Data was extracted from the GRITS database for all Georgia children aged 9-14 who received vaccines between 2009-2014. GRITS data variables were coded and descriptive analyses were conducted to examine vaccine uptake. Specifically, we examined the vaccines: HPV, pertussis, measles, mumps, rubella, and meningococcal. We also examined HPV vaccination rates by gender. Results: There was a total of 2,457,005 entries into GRITS during 2009-2014. Vaccination rates increased for HPV, meningococcal, and pertussis, but remained relatively low for rubella, mumps, and measles. Although HPV vaccine uptake started low, it had the highest uptake frequency from 2012-2014. In comparison to males, HPV vaccine uptake was higher for females across all years. However, HPV vaccine uptake for males increased more significantly than for females. The rates of childhood vaccine uptake in Georgia were relatively low for rubella, mumps, and measles. Females received the HPV4 vaccine more frequently than males. Learning more about vaccination patterns and provider recommendations will provide the necessary framework for improving HPV vaccine uptake.
  • Perfluorooctanoic acid reduces viability and gene expression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha and estrogen receptor alpha in MCF-7 cells

    Smith, April; College of Science and Mathematics (2015-10-09)
    Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is an endocrine disrupting compound found in food, water, clothes, and other consumer products. It is known to accumulate in the environment and can be taken up through ingestion, inhalation, or skin contact. It has a half-life of nearly four years in humans. PFOA has been shown to bind and activate peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs), which are transcription factors found in mammalian cells. PPARs regulate numerous cellular activities, including proliferation and differentiation. Several studies have suggested crosstalk between PPARs and estrogen receptors (ERs). This study aimed to examine the effects of PFOA on cell viability and on PPAR and ER gene expression in MCF-7 breast cancer cells. The results showed a decline in cell viability after 48h of PFOA treatment. In addition, 24h of treatment with PFOA led to a significant decrease in PPARα and ERα, but not PPARβ, PPARγ, or ERβ. Begin Time: 28:30 End Time: 50:40
  • Cloning, Over-expression and Purification of Nanoluc

    DuPlain, Holly; Parks, Jasmine; Blocker, Brittany; College of Science and Mathematics; Spencer, Angie (2015-11-13)
    Bioluminescence is a natural phenomenon that occurs in bacteria, insects, fungi and some marine species whereby a living organism emits light via a chemical reaction catalyzed by enzymes called luciferases. Luciferases are utilized in various applications including Bioluminescence Resonance Energy Transfer (BRET). BRET uses a luciferase (energy donor) to transfer energy to a fluorescent protein or dye (energy acceptor). If the donor and acceptor are close together and their emission and absorbance spectra overlap, the acceptor absorbs the energy from the donor and light is emitted at a longer wavelength. This spectral shift is measured. One such luciferase is Nanoluc (Nluc), a genetically engineered enzyme from the deep sea shrimp Oplophorus gracilirostris. To explore the use of Nluc as a BRET energy donor, the Nluc gene was cloned into the plasmid vector pET21c(+). Recombinant DNA formation was verified by agarose gel electrophoresis. After transformation of the recombinant plasmid into E. coli BL21 cells, C-terminal His6 tagged Nluc protein was over-expressed and purified using affinity chromatography. Purification yielded a relatively pure protein with a molecular weight of 19 kDa as judged by SDS-PAGE. Protein activity was assessed by measuring its ability to generate light in the presence of the substrate coelenterazine. Begin Time: 08:25 End Time: 31:16
  • Comparative Study of Aggression in Captive Western Lowland Gorillas with Their Wild Counterparts

    Dixon, Megan K.; Katherine Reese Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; Trunzo, Jennifer (2015-11-13)
    Observational research on captive populations of Western Lowland Gorillas has been used to identify and understand the social patterns of captive, as well as wild, gorilla groups. My research focuses on identifying aggressive and competitive behaviors such as biting, slapping, threatening, pushing, etc. in the Western Lowland Gorilla population at Zoo Atlanta. This research is in its preliminary stages, focusing on the existing literature and studies of both wild and captive gorillas used to gain insight into the social dynamic of primates. The literature reviewed for my research focuses on the impact of aggressive behaviors on a gorilla family group, the situation the target behavior occurred in, and the types of responsive behaviors elicited from the initial aggression. Begin Time: 31:17 End Time: 59:58
  • Environmental Aesthetics, Ethics, and the Land-Community: An Ecocritical Reading of Flannery O’Connor’s “A View of the Woods”

    Atkins, Hunter; Katherine Reese Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; Armstrong, Rhonda (2015-09-25)
    The human impact on the environment is more relevant than ever, but comparatively little attention is given to the way cultural media such as literature, film, and art have shaped our ideas about how we interact with the land and its inhabitants. Ecocriticism is literary theory that examines representations of the environment in order to better understand our attitudes toward the natural world. This presentation is an ecocritical analysis of the 1957 short story “A View of the Woods” by southern female author Flannery O’Connor. In “A View of the Woods,” O’Connor portrays a tension between the agrarian landscape and the changes brought about by economic progress and urbanization. Published in 1957, this story predates a great deal of American cultural media that would later address this same tension. O’Connor’s agrarian orientation gives her a uniquely advanced perspective for her time, and in this presentation, I examine the ways in which O’Connor’s narrative presages those later environmental theories and attitudes popularized by writers including Rachel Carson and Allen Carlson. In doing so, I argue that careful analysis of a literary narrative can help lead us to clearer understandings and articulations of our environmental values and attitudes. Begin Time: 07:35 End Time: 34:05
  • RCAD is a Key Post-Translational Modification for the Proper Sorting of Digestive Enzymes and the Secretory Function of the Exocrine Pancreas

    Miller, Camille; College of Science and Mathematics; Sabbatini, Maria (2015-09-25)
    Introduction: Chronic alcohol consumption is one of the main cause of acute pancreatitis. An excess of alcohol causes an increase in free radicals formation and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in pancreatic acinar cells. There are a number of ER proteins that participate in the correct folding/sorting of proteins. One of these proteins is the Ufm1 (Ubiquitin-fold modifier 1) conjugation system, which is a novel ubiquitin-like modification system and part of the unfolded protein response. Regulator of C53 and DDRGK1 (RCAD) has recently been identified as an important regulator of several signaling pathways, including the Ufm1 conjugation system. Endogenous RCAD forms a complex with two proteins, C53 and DDRGK1, and promotes Ufmylation of DDRGK1. Aim: To identify the role of RCAD for the proper sorting of pancreatic enzymes and the normal exocrine function of the pancreas. Methods: The relative expression of RCAD and DDRGK1 in alcoholic-treated rats compared with non-treated rats was evaluated by qPCR analysis. Adult male SD rats were fed the Lieber-DeCarli liquid diet containing ethanol (36 % of total calories) or an isocaloric substitution with maltose-dextrin ad lib for 8 weeks. To determine the functional relevance of RCAD in the exocrine pancreas, isolated pancreatic acini from WT and RCAD inducible conditional KO (CKO) mice were prepared. CCK-induced amylase secretion was measured. Results: Both RCAD and DDRGK1 transcript levels were up-regulated in alcoholic-treated rats. To generate RCAD CKO mice, we crossed RCADTrap-F/+mice with FLPo deleter mice B6(C3)-Tg(Pgk1-FLPo)10Sykr/J to remove the gene trap cassette. The floxed RCAD mice were crossed with ROSA26-CreERT2 mice (B6.129-Gt(ROSA)26Sorotm1(cre/ERT2) Tyj4/J in which CreERT2 was inserted into ROSA26 locus. The constitutive and CCK-inducible amylase secretion was much higher by isolated pancreatic acini prepared from RCAD CKO mice. Conclusion: RCAD is likely to be involved in a post-translational modification system for the proper sorting of amylase and normal pancreatic secretion. The significance of RCAD will provide an important insight into the pathophysiology of acute pancreatitis. Start Time: 34:06 End Time: 46:37
  • Effects of monoamine uptake inhibitors in an assay of pain-related depression of behavior in male mice

    Alexander, Khadijah; College of Science and Mathematics; MIller, Laurence (2015-10-09)
    Consequences of pain include stimulation of some behaviors (e.g. vocalization, reflexive withdrawal from stimuli), and depression of others (e.g. exercise, and work). Pain-related decreases in behavior are among the primary diagnostic and treatment concerns for physicians, but preclinical research has often ignored this important endpoint. This discrepancy between basic research and clinical application may be one obstacle to the development of new pain treatments. In the present study, we modeled pain-related depression of behavior by examining nesting behavior in male ICR mice. Nest building is an innate mouse behavior that is sensitive to depression by a pain stimulus, and pain-related depression of nesting is blocked by the clinically effective nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) ketoprofen. This project examines effects of monoamine uptake inhibitors with varying selectivity for serotonin (5HT), norepinephrine (NE) and dopamine (DA) on pain-related depression of nesting. Citalopram (5HT-selective), nisoxetine (NE-selective), milnacipran (mixed action, 5HT/NE-selective), and bupropion (DA-selective) were evaluated for their ability to block pain-related depression of nesting. Results show that the monoamine uptake inhibitors lacking significant dopamine had no effect on pain-depressed nesting. This finding is consistent with previous work suggesting that dopamine may be a key neurochemical target in the treatment of pain-related depression of behavior. Begin Time: 09:28 End Time: 28:00
  • Text Mining and Digital Humanities: Quantitative Analysis of African American Poetry

    Jenkins, Diamond; Brown, Taylohr; Quiller, Walter; Katherine Reese Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; Williams, Seretha (2015-09-11)
    “Text Mining and Digital Humanities: Quantitative Analysis of African American Poetry uses quantitative and qualitative analysis to formulate research questions about African American poetry. In this project, we use text-mining software to determine whether distinctive word patterns can be used to quantify the characteristics of African American poetry. For the purposes of this study, we rejected the notion that Black poetry is defined as poetry written by black authors. Instead, we argue, the distinctions in black poems should be specific enough to be classified in a separate category from other kinds of literature such as American literature, and we assert the definition of black poetry should not reduce “blackness”- what we describe as the shared cultural traditions or practices of African Americans- to certain experiences or tropes such as the rural, folk black experience. We selected Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance as the earliest historical point for our inquiry, and we used Margaret Walker, Gwendolyn Brooks, Maya Angelou, and Alice Walker, poets whom Hughes directly influenced, as comparisons. We created a text database of the collected poems of the five authors and assessed the frequency of words/phrases related to three main categories that recur in the scholarship of black poetry: memory, identity, and music. After running our text data through mining software and looking specifically for words coded as memory, identity, and music variables, we were able to support our initial claim that quantitative analysis can be used as to support qualitative assertions of black poetry as a distinct genre of American poetry. Begin Time: 08:02 End Time: 37:58
  • Dual- RNA Guided Editing of E.coli's DnaB Helicase Using the CRISPR/Cas9 System

    Jones, Preston Dimitri; College of Science and Mathematics; Spencer, Angie (2015-09-11)
    Precise manipulation of the genomic DNA is necessary for the characterization and identification of new genes and proteins. New technologies have enabled more facile and precise genomic engineering. Genome editing using the clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)- CRISPR associated protein method affords precise manipulation of the genome. This system relies on a precise RNA guide (crRNA) that guides the cas9 nuclease to a specific location on the genomic, where it creates a double strand break (DSB). We can take advantage of this adaptive immunological advance and reprogram crRNAs to target whatever gene we like and introduce precise mutations to the genome by offering a designer template to introduce the changes and help the cell remain viable. This method is on the forefront of biochemistry and is being implemented in a numerous eukaryotic systems. However, it has yet to be fully utilized in bacterial genome editing. We are interested in exploring the bacterial helicase EcDnaB. The EcDnaB helicase has been hypothesized to unwind DNA in two fashions; both strands simultaneously or by unwinding one strand while excluding the other. Our lab postulates that there is a steric exclusion of one of the strands as it winds around the exterior of the helicase via electrostatic interactions. We used the CRISPR-Cas9 system to precisely mutate six loci on the EcDnaB gene, corresponding to amino acid residues on the external surface of the helicase, in order to better understand the mechanism of unwinding and to support our proposed method of unwinding. Begin Time: 37:59 End Time: 59:59
  • Neuropathology of Anxiety Disorders Comorbid with Alcohol Dependence

    O'Connor, Tara; Keough, Kelsey; Layton, James; Carpenter, Timothy; Crethers, Danielle; Patton, Tadd; Vazdarjanova, Almira; College of Science and Mathematics (2015-08-11)
    Anxiety disorders commonly occur along with other mental or physical illnesses, including alcohol use disorders (AUDs). Like most coexisting disorders, treatment for individuals who suffer from an anxiety disorder and an AUD is particularly challenging, contributing to an increased risk for suicide attempts, more intense withdrawal symptoms, and a higher probability of alcoholism relapse. Previous research has shown that a dysregulation of certain neuronal plasticity-related events in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) is implicated in anxiety disorders and alcohol dependence. However, the exact role this dysregulation plays in the comorbidity of these disorders is not well understood. The experiments conducted here were part of a larger study aimed at understanding the neuropathological characteristics present when anxiety disorders and AUDs coexist. We examined anxiety-like behavior and plasticity-related activity in the brains of rats bred to consume large or small quantities ethanol. After obtaining a prestress baseline of alcohol drinking behavior, rats were exposed to a standard shock procedure in which a mild footshock (paired with a tone) was administered. Drinking activity and anxiety-like behavior were assessed on multiple days following footshock. The rats were then euthanized so that the brains could be examined for activation of plasticity-related activity in the PFC. Significant differences in alcohol consumption and anxiety-like behavior were observed between alcohol-preferring and alcohol-non-preferring rats and are discussed in relation to drinking alcohol as a means to reduce anxiety. These findings will be included in our larger study and will ultimately lead to a better understanding of the neuropathological substrates associated with comorbid anxiety disorders and AUDs.
  • Citizen Perceptions of Police in the Post-Ferguson Era: A Survey in Partnership with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office

    Hendricks, Austin; Kelley, Johnna; Gordon, Paxton; Foley, Alison, PhD; Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (2015-08-11)
    The current study reports the results of a survey designed in conjunction with Richmond County Sheriff’s Office (RCSO) to assess citizen satisfaction with local police. Research suggests that overall satisfaction with and perceptions about police are shaped by individual’s personal experiences with police as well as their perception of neighborhood safety, sex, race, education level, and age. Based on prior research, we hypothesized that general attitudes about local police would be influenced by attitudes about American police as a whole. This is particularly important given the current national conversation revolving around police use-of-force in the wake of the highly-publicized events in places such as Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland. While results are limited by the small and relatively homogenous sample of participants, linear regression models show that when race, neighborhood safety, and gender are controlled for, attitudes towards American police and attitudes towards the officer involved in their most recent encounter were significant predictors of attitudes toward RCSO. Attitudes towards the American police were the strongest predictor of satisfaction with RCSO. The majority of open-ended responses reflected negative attitudes towards police, which varied by race and sex, though many participants offered suggestions for improvement.
  • The Effects of Acute and Repeated Exposure/s to the Organophosphate Pesticide Chlorpyrifos at Subthreshold Doses on Brain Structural Integrity

    Lalani, Ashish; Murphy, Shannon; Beck, W. Dan; Poddar, Indrani; Terry, Alvin V.; Hernandez, Caterina M.; Medical College of Georgia (2015-08-11)
    Organophosphates are a class of chemicals that are used in pesticides, herbicides, and also as nerve agents. Organophosphate pesticides are ubiquitous among agricultural fields and the prolonged effects of organophosphates are not well understood. It is believed that exposure to Organophosphates can cause neurological deficits and impaired neurobehavioral function. We hypothesize that the organophosphate pesticide chlorpyrifos (CPF) is associated with mechanisms that directly and/or indirectly disrupt axonal transport in brain regions integral for learning and memory. To assay this claim, rats were treated acutely with CPF at a subtoxic dose (18 mg/kg) or with repeated exposures for 14 consecutive days at subtoxic doses (3.0, 10.0 or 18 mg/kg). Whole brain was collected 6 or 24 hours after acute exposure or directly following 14 days of repeated exposure or a 30-day drug-free washout period. For my project, I focused on the prefrontal cortex, a brain region important for executive function. Prefrontal cortex was processed using a subcellular fractionation protocol and extracts were assessed by immunoblotting methods to measure the expression of a-tubulin, a microtubule protein critical for axonal transport. Our results will help us gain insight into a potential mechanism by which CPF affects axonal transport.
  • Impossibly Complicated Tales of Dispossession and Betrayal: Thomas Pynchon's Vineland and the Neoliberal Shift in America

    Williams, Daniel; Hayes, Adrienne; Atkins, Hunter; Hoffman, Todd; Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (2015-08-10)
    The 1970s were characterized by the ascendancy of a particular breed of right wing conservatism that advanced neoliberal reforms and precipitated the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan. As an economic theory, neoliberalism proposes that the government de-regulate markets and ease financial burdens on corporations thus enabling wealth to be evenly distributed across the social spectrum by natural market processes. In practice, the process of manufacturing consent for these policies mobilized religious and nationalist rhetoric, caused an abiding cultural shift, and resulted in numerous economic crises and inequitable concentrations of wealth. Our project conducts an analysis of Thomas Pynchon's novel Vineland in order to derive insights into this transformation of America. Published in 1990, the scope of Pynchon’s novel encompasses both the hippy movement that peaks in the late 60s and the rise of neoliberalism up through the middle of the Reagan administration in 1984— the year in which the novel takes place. Pynchon’s work is exemplary of what is called postmodern literature—the defining literary genre of the period which in many ways is unique precisely because of its political engagement with post-industrial capitalism—and, as such, encapsulates perhaps better than any writer the effects of neoliberalism. Our project has produced an essay (and a poster) that is comprised of three sections: An economic, cultural, and historical explanation of neoliberalism— An investigation of Pynchon’s critique of the media as it works to assimilate citizens into the cultural hegemony— And Pynchon’s critique of the ideologies and policy decisions surrounding the then contemporary environmental movement.
  • Metabolic and Performance Effects of Different Warm-up Protocols on Aerobic Exercise in Physically Active Adults

    Blanco, Chris; Brown, Julian; James, Torrian; Mojock, Chris; College of Education (2015-08-10)
    Pre-competition warm-up (WU) routines have long been prescribed as necessary components to optimize performance in athletic contests. Although WU routines are ubiquitous prior to competition, there is limited, inconclusive evidence on the impact to performance and the research focus has been on short to moderate duration exercise (< 7 min). This project was the first to investigate the effects of WU on metabolic responses and performance during long duration endurance performance. PURPOSE: To determine the metabolic and performance effects of different warm-up (WU) protocols on high-intensity aerobic exercise in physically active adults. METHODS: In a randomized, controlled crossover protocol, qualifying participants performed a continuous, graded maximal exercise test and multiple time-to-exhaustion (TTE) performance tests. On separate days, two 10-minute WU protocols, moderate and vigorous, were performed prior to the TTE. The near-threshold TTE used varied intensity (3-min 100% of ventilatory threshold (VT) power, 1-min 110% VT) to simulate the undulations common in races. Measurements of metabolic activity were recorded by indirect calorimetry. RESULTS: Physically active men (age: 24 ± 2.5 yr; body fat: 15.9 ± 6.51 %; VO2max: 40.2 ± 10.41 ml/kg/min; VT: 69.9 ± 0.72 %) were able to maintain high-intensity aerobic exercise longer (TTE increase: 8.05 ± 9.93 min) following a moderate vs. a vigorous warm-up protocol. CONCLUSION: The moderate intensity warm-up was more effective than a vigorous warm-up to increase time to exhaustion prior to high intensity aerobic exercise. Further research is needed to determine the metabolic and neuromuscular changes that contribute to the difference in performance.
  • AC3 has an Inhibitory Effect on Cell Cycle and Enhances Staurosporine-Induced Apoptosis in Pancreatic Cancer Cells: Participation of R-Smads

    Dains-McGahee, Clayton; Friedman, Emilee; Graves, Sarai; Sabbatini, Maria; College of Science and Mathematics (2015-08-10)
    Introduction: Adenylyl cyclase (AC) is an enzyme responsible for converting ATP into cAMP. Previously, we found that five AC isoforms are expressed in HPAC and PANC-1. Two of them, AC1 and AC3, were highly expressed in pancreatic tumor tissue. Objective: To silence the expression of AC1 and AC3, in order to determine their participation in the effect of FSK on cell proliferation. Results: After FSK stimulation, there was a slight increase in BrdU incorporation. The lack of AC3 caused a significant increase in FSK-induced BrdU incorporation. FSK on its own had a negligible effect on programmed cell death. The combined effect of FSK along with staurosporine led to an increase in apoptosis. This effect was not seen in cells treated with siRNA AC3. Upon an increase in cAMP, two pathways become active: PKA and Epac. Next, we determined which pathway is activated upon AC1 or AC3 stimulation. Using Western-blotting our data showed that R-Smads were phosphorylated by AC1, whereas CREB was not phosphorylated by either AC1 or AC3. Conclusion: While stimulation of AC by FSK produced a slight increase in BrdU incorporation, the effects of FSK were most exaggerated in the absence of AC3. We hypothesize that AC3 may have an inhibitory effect on cell proliferation of pancreatic cancer cells. While, FSK alone did not modify apoptosis, FSK enhanced staurosporine-induced apoptosis in both cell lines via AC3 activation. In pancreatic cancer cells, CREB is phosphorylated by PKA through a pathway independent of AC1 and AC3, while AC1 phosphorylates R-Smads.
  • Augusta Training Shop: Snowflakes

    Holsey, Alisia; Smith, Kelsey; Whitaker, Dantavious; Medcalfe, Simon; Hull College of Business (2015-08-10)
    The Augusta Training Shop was founded in 1947 as a daycare, but transformed into a work training facility for adults with mental and physical disabilities. The Training Shop’s main business was furniture restoration which was supported by donations and fundraisers such as derby days. In 2012, the executive director of the Augusta Training Shop, Audrey Murell, designed a fundraising program to aid in supporting the nonprofit. Snowflakes could be made by mentally and physically challenged workers from cane used to restore furniture. In 2013, the first full year of production, the snowflakes generated revenue of close to $25,000. In 2014, while attending a trade show, Audrey was asked if she could provide a bulk purchase discount. This raised several unanswered questions: How big of a discount could be given to wholesalers? The Training Shop was faced with a dilemma if they gave too big of a discount, would the company take a loss on the snowflake fundraiser? Moreover, Audrey was left clueless when it came down to the average cost to produce each snowflake. She knew that the snowflakes could bring in more revenue to help cover some of the higher expenses in the nonprofit, but were they profitable? Audrey had to adapt to an actual business mindset for her to be able to produce the snowflakes. She needed to figure out her direct cost and indirect cost per snowflakes in order to become successful with the snowflake fundraiser. Overall, her long-term goal was to create more jobs, revenue, and to spread the gift of the snowflakes among other nonprofits.
  • Expression and Treatment of Pain-Related Depression of Nesting Behavior in Male ICR Mice

    Alexander, Khadijah; Rodriguez, Taylor; Sarfo, Amma; Miller, Laurence; College of Science and Mathematics (2015-08-07)
    Consequences of pain include pain-related functional impairment and depression of behavior, including decreased ability to work and exercise. Such pain-related depression of behavior is one of the primary treatment targets for clinicians. In contrast, most preclinical pain research with animal models has examined pain-stimulated behaviors such as reflexive withdrawal from a pain stimulus. This approach bears little resemblance to clinically-relevant pain-related behavioral depression. Moreover, reliance on this approach may have limited the development of novel, effective pharmacological pain treatments. The present studies rely on the innate nesting behavior of mice as a behavioral baseline to study the expression and treatment of pain-related depression of behavior. On test days, six pieces of cotton nesting material were evenly distributed on the homecage floor, and consolidation of this material was quantified over the course of a 100-min session. Control nesting was compared to nesting in sessions preceded by an intraperitoneal injection of dilute lactic acid (IP acid), a commonly used, physiologically-relevant noxious stimulus. When IP acid was administered prior to nesting sessions, the rate of nest consolidation was decreased. Ketoprofen, a clinically-effective non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), blocked IP acid-induced depression of nesting. These findings support the utility of this assay of noxious stimulus-depressed nesting for research on the expression and treatment of pain-related depression of behavior. Future studies will use the procedure to examine the efficacy of monoamine uptake inhibitors with varying selectivity for blocking uptake of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.
  • Cloning, Expression, and Purification of Nanoluc

    DuPlain, Holly; Parks, Jasmine; Blocker, Brittany; Spencer, Angie; College of Science and Mathematics (2015-08-07)
    Bioluminescence is a natural phenomenon that occurs in bacteria, insects, fungi and some marine species whereby light is emitted by a living organism. This emitted light is generated by a chemical reaction that occurs when a substrate is reacted upon by a class of enzymes called luciferases. Bioluminescence Resonance Energy Transfer (BRET) is a technique that relies on the use of a luciferase (energy donor) to transfer energy to a nearby fluorescent protein or dye (energy acceptor). If the donor and acceptor molecules are in close proximity and their emission and absorbance spectra overlap, the acceptor absorbs the energy from the donor (luciferase) which results in the emission of light at a longer wavelength (i.e. different color). This spectral shift can be measured and quantified. Because of the widespread applications and utility of luciferase enzymes, many assay systems have been developed that make use of various luciferases as energy donors. One such luciferase is Nanoluc (Nluc), a genetically engineered enzyme from the deep sea shrimp, Oplophorus gracilirostris. In order to explore the use of Nluc as an energy donor in BRET, we cloned the gene for Nluc into the plasmid vector, pET21c(+). The formation of the recombinant DNA was verified by agarose gel electrophoresis. After transformation of the recombinant plasmid into E. coli BL21 cells, the Nluc protein containing a C-terminal His6 tag was over-expressed and purified using affinity chromatography. The purification yielded a relatively pure protein with a molecular weight of 19 kDa as judged by SDS-PAGE. The activity of the protein was assessed by measuring its ability to generate light in the presence of the substrate coelenterazine.
  • Text Mining and Digital Humanities: Quantitative Analysis of African American Poetry

    Brown, Taylohr; Jenkins, Diamond; Quiller, Walter; Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (2015-08-07)
    “Text Mining and Digital Humanities: Quantitative Analysis of African American Poetry” uses quantitative and qualitative analysis to formulate research questions about African American poetry. In this project, we use text-mining software to determine whether distinctive word patterns can be used to quantify the characteristics of African American poetry. For the purposes of this study, we rejected the notion that Black poetry is defined as poetry written by black authors. Instead, we argue, the distinctions in black poems should be specific enough to be classified in a separate category from other kinds of literature such as American literature, and we assert the definition of black poetry should not reduce “blackness”- what we describe as the shared cultural traditions or practices of African Americans- to certain experiences or tropes such as the rural, folk black experience. We selected Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance as the earliest historical point for our inquiry, and we used Margaret Walker, Gwendolyn Brooks, Maya Angelou, and Alice Walker, poets whom Hughes directly influenced, as comparisons. We created a text database of the collected poems of the five authors and assessed the frequency of words/phrases related to three main categories that recur in the scholarship of black poetry: memory, identity, and music. After running our text data through mining software and looking specifically for words coded as memory, identity, and music variables, we were able to support our initial claim that quantitative analysis can be used as to support qualitative assertions of black poetry as a distinct genre of American poetry.
  • Adolescent Women's Perception of Individual and Partner HPV Risk

    Best, Candace; Couba, Edison; Norviel, Anne; Rogers, Katie; Gaffney, Jasmine; College of Science and Mathematics (2015-08-07)
    Introduction: Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common STI in the U.S. (MMWR, 2014). HPV has been implicated as the necessary precursor for cervical cancer and it has been associated with other cancers and genital warts (Chaturvedi, 2010). The most promising HPV prevention strategy is the 3-dose HPV vaccine which is recommended for adolescent males and females ages 9-26. Currently, HPV vaccination rates remain unacceptably low. We were interested in how young women perceived their HPV risk and their partner’s HPV risk. We also examined whether perceptions of risk changed after young women were provided with information about HPV and HPV infection. Methods: As part of a larger study, participants included 27 African American heterosexual young women (ages 14-17). Participants met with an interviewer once for approximately 2.5 hours. During the interview, participants were asked about their probability of having and transmitting HPV to a potential partner. Participants were then asked about their probability of their partner having and transmitting HPV to them. Next, participants received in-depth information about HPV and HPV infection. They were again asked about their individual and perceived partner risk of having and transmitting HPV. Results: Young women were more likely to report transmitting HPV post HPV information. Young women also displayed a significant bias that their partner had and would transmit HPV, pre and post HPV information. Conclusion: Education about HPV risk and infection will continue to be an important component to informing adolescents of their HPV risk and potentially increasing HPV vaccination rates.

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