The Brown Bag Series serves as a way for students to present original research or scholarship to the campus community. The talks are given by either individual or teams of students who have conducted an original study or produced original work using the methods of their discipline. The series is a way to showcase the quality and breadth of research at Augusta University. Presentations are accepted on a competitive basis The presentation series is sponsored by the Augusta University's Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship. .

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
  • Measuring Surface Tension Using the Pendant Drop Method

    Jaleel Bolden; Zane Corder; Charlene Higdon; Miller, Camille; College of Science and Mathematics; Millan, Josefa Guerrero (2015-04-17)
    Measuring surface tension between fluids is of a great practical importance in the oil, food, chemical, cosmetic, etc. industries. Also, the measurement of the contact angle tl1at is formed between the fluid interface and a restricting wall are of prime importance in surface science. Instruments that employ the DuNouy ring and Wilhelmy plate methods are in common use at industry and research laboratories but they are very labor intensive. Th ere is a need for a rapid, easy and low cost technique with satisfactory accuracy and reproducibility. Reliable measurement of these parameters require significant computer programming and image analysis. The goal of the project has been the development of a computer program written in Matlab which use the pendant drop method to measure t he surface tension between two fluids. In addition, an experimental setup has been developed to test the accuracy of this method. In the framework of the soft matter, where tl1e surface tension of tl1e fluids plays a key role, the use of more complex and biological fluids make harder to find data a bout how interact these fluids. This is the reason that codes like these are inclispensable tools in these laboratories.
  • Effect of Food Labeling, Weight Consciousness, and Gender on Eating Behavior

    Kelley, Johnna; College of Science and Mathematics; Widner, Sabina; Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship; Department of Psychological Sciences; College of Science and Mathematics (2015-04-17)
    What, and how much, people eat can play an important role in weight control and health management. The purpose of this study is to test several aspects of the Food Choice Process Model (Furst, Connors, Bisogni, Sobal, & Falk, 1996), which proposes that food choice involves multiple global factors that vary in their degree of influence and interaction. Specifically we seek to examine the effects of food labeling, weight consciousness, and gender on food consumption and the perceptions of the taste and healthfulness of a granola bar. We hypothesize that individuals who are high in weight consciousness will eat more of a “healthy” granola bar than of a “gourmet” granola bar, individuals who are high in weight consciousness and receive a “healthy” granola bar will eat less than those who are low in weight consciousness and receive a “healthy” granola bar, and individuals who are high in weight consciousness and receive a “healthy” granola bar will eat less than those who are low in weight consciousness and receive a “healthy” granola bar. In order to gather data, participants were asked to take part in a market research study in which they tasted and rated a granola bar product on aspects including taste and healthfulness. Data collection began in fall semester and data analysis should be completed by the end of March. We hope that our data will contribute to a better understanding of what influences people’s healthy (or unhealthy) food choices.
  • Authenticity and Performativity in Saul Bellow’s Herzog

    Quiller, Walter; Katherine Reese Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; Hoffman, Todd (2015-03-27)
    Saul Bellow's Herzog provides a platform through which the concept of subjectivity can be discussed. For some theorists, the subject is something that can be grounded. Martin Heidegger for instance employs ontology in order to present a stable, authentic subjectivity. In contrast, Judith Butler argues that this subject does not exist. Rather it is an illusion carried out through performances. Research on Heidegger's idea of authenticity and Butler's notion of performativity provides insight into Bellow's treatment of subjectivity. The characters in Herzog both reject and fail to uphold Heideggerian standards of authenticity. However they do participate in performativity. The identities that they attempt to convey are actually performances that create illusions of a grounded subject. Through analyses of Bellow's central characters, it is evident that he rejects the Heideggerian view and that the Butlerian model of subjectivity (or anti-subjectivity) is a more appropriate means of exploring subjectivity in the novel. Therefore viewing literary characters as performers (in the Butlerian sense) reveals Bellow’s tendency to present characters who do not have stable identities, but instead fluid illusions of identity.
  • Histology of the Normal Mouse Trachea

    Latremouille, Rachel; Weinberger, Paul M.; College of Science and Mathematics (2015-02-06)
    The first tissue engineered tracheal transplantation was performed in 2008 and has since been proposed as a treatment for patients who suffer from severe tracheal stenosis. While the procedure has been performed experimentally on several patients in Europe, the outcomes are poorly documented and complications including patient deaths have resulted in a call for more pre-clinical investigations. Due to multiple factors, our laboratory chose to adapt a mouse model for bronchiolitis obliterans, to model tissue-engineered tracheal transplantation. Early on, it was realized that there was little literature on normal murine tracheobronchial anatomy. To resolve this problem, we set out to create a histological atlas of the murine trachea. Histologic images of normal murine tracheae (hematoxylin and eosin, and Masson's trichrome) were obtained using brightfield multispectral imaging at 5x, 1 Ox, and 1 OOx. Images were reviewed and annotated by specialists in airway surgery,veterinary medicine, and anatomic pathology. It is our hope that establishing this atlas will provide important normative data for researchers already using this model , and will cultivate increased interest in the murine model for future tracheal transplantation research. Begin Time: 09:12 End Time: 25:40
  • How Perceived Autonomy Affects Teachers Work

    Scalia, Alicia; Avent-Holt, Dustin; Katherine Reese Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; Avent-Holt, Dustin (2015-02-20)
    Education today is made of standardized tests and controlled curriculum, and this is not always beneficial for the students or teachers. Before the standardization teachers had autonomy inside their classroom to make choices on how and what to teach. The impact of how standardization on students has been researched, but it has not been as thoroughly researched for teachers. The lack of autonomy greatly affects teachers work and consequently it affects how children are taught and learn. In order to discover how teachers perceive their autonomy and the affects it has on their work I have interviewed several teachers who work in different subjects and different grades. I have also done historical data analysis to track the change in policies over time and see how it compares to the teachers experiences. It has been found that teacher's perceived lack of autonomy has negatively impacted their ability to teach students who learn differently and has also changed their view of teaching as work. Researching how teachers are affected by the changes in the education system is important because it impacts the quality of teachers attracted to the profession, the ability of teachers to teach, and therefore the children. Begin Time: 28:25 End Time: 52:35
  • The Lack of AC1 Impairs the Inhibitory Effects of cAMP on Cell Mitigation and Proliferation in Pancreatic Cancer

    Quinn, Sierra; Sabbatini, Maria; College of Science and Mathematics (2015-02-06)
    Introduction: Adenylyl cyclase (AC) is an important enzyme in signal transduction processes. This protein catalyzes the conversion of ATP to cAMP. We found five isoforms of AC in human pancreatic carcinoma HPAC cell line: AC1, AC3, AC6, AC7 and AC9. Both AC1 and AC3 are very important because they are up-regulated in HPAC cells. We also found that forskolin (FSK}, inhibits cell proliferation and cell migration but not cell invasion in HPAC cells. Objective: To silence AC1 and AC3 and determine their participation in the inhibitory effect of cAMP on cell migration and proliferation of HPAC cells. Results: To study the functional roles of AC1 and AC3, the expression of both isoforms were knocked-out using siRNA (human). The lack of either AC1 or AC3 proteins was assessed using Western-blotting. When testing for cell proliferation and cell migration, we found that the inhibitory effect of FSK was impaired in the presence of siRNA AC1, but not in the presence of siRNA AC3. Discussion: We conclude that AC1 mediates the inhibitory effect of cAMP in cell proliferation and migration. Begin Time: 26:09 End Time: 44:52
  • Investigating the role of Hob1 in Repairing Double Stranded DNA Breaks in the Fission Yeast, Schizosaccharomyces pombe

    Ozturk, Sarah; Abdulovic-Cui, Amy; College of Science and Mathematics (2015-02-20)
    Mutations in DNA induce many diseases, including cancer. The human protein, Binl, has anticancer properties and interacts with proteins involved in maintaining DNA stability. Work completed at the GRU Cancer Center has shown that Binl is specifically involved in the nonhomologous end-joining pathway (NHEJ), a pathway that repairs DNA breaks. To complement this work, we are investigating the role of Hobl, the homolog of Binl in fission yeast, in NHEJ, If Hobl functions in a similar manner to Binl, then removal of Hobl from yeast should decrease the cells ability to repair breaks in the DNA. We are testing this hypothesis using a genetic yeast transformation protocol that measures how efficient the yeast are at converting a linear piece of DNA into a repaired circular piece of DNA. Our initial data showed that yeast lacking the HOB1gene are 10 fold effective at repairing the linear DNA compared to wildtype yeast. These data were surprising as they contradict our hypothesis and the data collected in human cells that lack Binl. We are currently repeating the experiment to verify our results. Together our research supports a negative role for Hobl in repairing DNA double strand breaks in the fission yeast. Begin Time: 06:50 End Time: 28:24