• Bound Relativistic Motion in One Dimension

      Dains-McGahee, Sydney; Department of Mathematics (Augusta University, 2021-05)
      This project is a mathematical study of the relativistic dynamics of particles in one dimension moving under forces derivable from a potential. These motions and their nonrelativistic counterparts are described by Hamiltonian systems of differential equations. These Hamiltonian systems are in general nonlinear. Linear algebraic and differential equations are quite easy to solve – their solutions can be determined exactly – although the same cannot be said for nonlinear equations whose solutions can only be approximated (most of the time, with certain exceptions). We use numeric approximations to explore the relativistic and nonrelativistic simple harmonic oscillator and find that, unlike in the nonrelativistic case, the relativistic simple harmonic oscillator is not isochronous. We further study what happens to the period as the energy increases and then extend to exploring and comparing relativistic and nonrelativistic motions and periods for systems with forces given by power law potentials.
    • From Tropical Rainforest to Pharmaceutical Laboratories: Nature versus Computational Medicine

      Esteban, Isabella; Department of Chemistry and Physics (Augusta University, 2021-05)
      Infectious diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide particularly in low-income countries (“Introduction to Infectious Diseases”). These types of diseases, such as Ebola, human immunodeficiency virus and human papillomavirus, are around for decades, even centuries. Some, such as variola strain of smallpox and polio, have been eradicated or become well con-trolled, while others mutated into newer and deadlier versions like coronavirus. Malaria is a tropi-cal disease carried by mosquitoes that can be traced back to colonial times as early as 1500s-1700s CE in places like Mesoamerica, specifically Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salva-dor, but it is thought to been around since 3200CE in other parts of the world.In 2018, the Cen-ter for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that this mosquito-borne disease killed approximately 405,000 people (CDC - Malaria). In efforts to eliminate this deadly ailment worldwide, much research in medicinal treatments has taken place, resulting in the decline of ma-larial human mortality by 25% from 2010 to 2016 (CDC – Malaria - About Malaria). Similar to malaria, leishmaniasis (leish) is also a tropical disease, though, in this case transmitted by sand-flies. It was first confirmed in 1903 by Scottish doctor William Leishman in Britain Medical Journal, yet medical archeologists found records describing leish as early as 1885 BCE (“leish-maniasis.” World Health Organization). This tropical disease kills anywhere between 700,000 to 1.2 million people who contract it each year (CDC - leishmaniasis). In contrast to malaria, little is known about leishmaniasis, and it is still currently being researched as newer and deadlier strands appeared worldwide. Medicine is trying to keep up with the mutations of infectious diseases, yet Western medicine has overlooked what ancient Mayan Curanderos utilized with little to no me-dicinal knowledge. By demonstrating the importance of nature’s secrets in treating malaria and leishmaniasis, this study seeks to implore big pharma to investigate more avenues in natural com-pounds for drug design.
    • Running a Food Bank During COVID-19

      Ertz, Olivia; Department of Kinesiology (Augusta University, 2021-05)
      The Golden Harvest Food Bank distributes food to 175 communities in 25 counties throughout the CSRA through local pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and other community facilities. The onset of COVID-19 forced people to change their daily activities abruptly including, but not limited to, employment and access to food. The food bank was impacted not only with the typical distribution channels being closed, but the increased need for their services. The volunteer base that is typically utilized allows for Golden Harvest to access people across the CSRA to run the pantries and provide clients with food was halted, thus impacting individuals, families, and communities. The purpose of this qualitative research was to explore changes that the Golden Harvest organization had to make due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through 12 interviews with Golden Harvest employees, this study gained insight to how operations were altered during the pandemic, identified the strategies applied for making sure the mission is continued and, finally, how challenges that were encountered, were conquered. This study provides insight to how the Golden Harvest Food Bank, with such essential work, can adapt and adjust to ensure that people’s basic needs are being met.
    • Characterizing the NADPH Oxidase 1-evoked Pancreatic Stellate Cell Secretome

      Chakraborty, Ananya; Department of Biological Sciences (Augusta University, 2021-05)
      Chronic pancreatitis (CP) is a persistent inflammation of the pancreas that leads to irreversible destruction of its functional tissue. CP is characterized by fibrosis, or scarring of the tissue, which is prominently caused by pancreatic stellate cells (PaSCs). In response to pancreatic inflammation, PaSCs are activated and change their phenotype from quiescent into myofibroblast-like cells, thereby secreting excessive extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins, ultimately causing fibrosis. Activated PaSCs also produce reactive oxygen species (ROS) through NADPH oxidase 1 (Nox1). However, it is unknown the extent to which Nox1-derived ROS in activated PaSCs participate in the secretory process of ECM and other PaSC proteins. This study used mass spectrometry to compare the secretome of PaSCs from Nox1-competent and Nox1-null mice with CP. These results uncover additional protein signaling pathways in CP regulated by Nox1 and may pose Nox1 inhibitors as potential therapeutic measures to impede fibrogenesis.
    • Dynamic knee valgus and lower extremity muscle activity in patients with chronic ankle instability after completing a home exercise program

      Eboigbe, Tammy; Department of Physical Therapy (Augusta University, 2021-05)
      Ankle sprains are one of the most common orthopedic injuries. Chronic ankle instability (CAI) develops when an individual has experienced at least one significant ankle sprain and has ongoing symptoms. Symptoms include pain, weakness, reduced function, and ankle giving way. CAI affects ankle stability and potentially other joints in the lower extremity. Muscle activity and joint movement at the hip and knee may be abnormal in individuals with CAI. Dynamic knee valgus (DV) is an abnormal movement pattern of excessive medial movement of the knee that may be present in individuals with CAI. Muscles of the lower extremity including the tibialis anterior, peroneus longus, gluteus medium, and gluteus maximus may also be affected by CAI. The purpose of this study was to assess and compare dynamic knee valgus and muscle activity in the leg with CAI and the leg without CAI, before and after completion of a home exercise program developed for individuals with CAI. To measure DV and muscle activity Simi motion analysis and Delsys electromyography systems were used. A case series was conducted using data from 3 participants to describe the effects of a home exercise program on people with CAI. Our results are pending further analysis.
    • Assessment of p65 in the Novel Microglial NF-κB Animal Model

      Frerichs, Ryan; Department of Biological Sciences (Augusta University, 2021-05)
    • ICE Operations and Their Effects on Latin American Immigration: Raids of the 21st Century

      Lopez, Jasmin (Augusta University, 2021-05)
      Immigration has shaped the United States’ culture. Many believe that immigrants are the backbone of the U.S. nation; however, in the past decades, citizens continue to use the term ‘immigrant’ negatively— those living for generations on United States soil often look down upon new immigrants, socially excluding them. Adversely, the events of 9/11 created a divide within the nation; those who were different became feared. In response, on March 1, 2003, the government finalized U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) under the newly formed Department of Homeland Security, birthing many benefits and consequences to the United States. Despite government plans to protect ‘legal’ immigration while minimizing ‘illegal’ immigration, ICE pinpoints Latino individuals, damaging not just the family unit but also community relations.
    • Coaching Life Skills and Promoting Positive Youth Development: A Study of Accomplished Female High School Team Sport Coaches

      German, Lindsey; Department of Kinesiology (Augusta University, 2021-05)
      The purpose of this study is to examine the personal experiences, philosophies, attitudes, opinions, beliefs, values, and practices of successful female high school team sports coaches in the southeastern U.S. area to better understand effective coaching practices for youth sports. More specifically, to better comprehend the complexities of youth coaching as it pertains to teaching life skills and promoting positive youth development. Also, to understand why and how successful female high school coaches use positive youth development to their advantage in coaching effectiveness in general. After thorough analysis of seven interviews from accomplished female high school coaches, it is apparent that all of the coaches that participated believe that life skills, positive youth development, and having a strong coach/athlete relationship is important for the success of the team.
    • Role of Dendritic Cells in Post-Extraction Alveolar Bone Healing

      Patel, Jaimini; Department of Biological Sciences (Augusta University, 2021-05)
      Dendritic cells (DCs) are considered the main antigen presenting cells in the body. They are an essential link between innate and adaptive immunity. The plasticity of DCs allows them to initiate an immune response against foreign antigens while maintaining tolerance to commensal microbes. DCs have been recognized as important players in osteoimmunology through their role in regulation of inflammation-induced bone loss. DCs have been identified in inflammatory synovial and periodontal tissues, where they interact with activated T cells to form aggregates called lymphoid foci. DCs have shown an indirect role in inflammation-induced bone loss through activation of RANKL-producing T cells. However, a direct role has also been implicated through the ability of some DC subsets to transdifferentiate into osteoclasts. Although the role of DCs in inflammation-induced bone loss is well recognized, their role in alveolar bone healing and repair remains to be elucidated. We hypothesize here that ablation of DCs in the oral microenvironment will have a negative effect on alveolar bone healing following a maxillary molar extraction in mice due to disruption of osteo-immune homeostasis. Our hypothesis was tested using a classical dendritic cell ablation mouse model, in transgenic Zbtb46 tm1 (DTR)Mnz/J (ZDC-DTR) mice, which are rendered DC deficient by diphtheria toxin injection. Histological analysis of photomicrographs of bone sections at the extraction sites showed a significant increase in osteocyte death in the DC-deficient animals compared to wild type (WT) animals which had normal DC number and activity. Further, the animals deficient in DCs showed less bone regeneration in the extraction socket compared with WT animals. Our results shed light on the important role of DCs in post-extraction homeostasis of alveolar bone healing, allowing for a better understanding of the complex biological process of bone healing.
    • Ibuprofen Conjugates as Potential Anti-Inflammatory Drug Candidates

      Wade, Margaret; Department of Chemistry and Physics (Augusta University, 2021-05)
      Inflammation is a common immune response to harmful pathogens or damaged cells. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NAIDs) are commonly used to treat inflammation and pain. These drugs can also be used to treat inflammation due to diseases such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease. NSAIDs accomplish this through the inhibition of the cyclooxygenase (COX) enzyme systems. Selectivity for the inhibition of the COX-2 pathway is an aim in the development of NSAIDs. The COX-2 enzyme predominates at sites of inflammation and releases enzymes responsible for vasodilation. While the inhibition of the COX-1 pathway results in adverse side effects, such as gastric lesions and perforation. The current drug design process has focused on modifying existing NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen. In the current study, conjugates of ibuprofen were developed by incorporating triazole ring in the conjugated molecules through a ‘click’ chemistry approach. The anti-inflammatory properties of the conjugates were evaluated using the carrageenan-induced paw edema method.
    • Design and Synthesis of Metformin Derivatives as Anticancer Agents

      Thomas, Eyana; Department of Biological Sciences (Augusta University, 2021-05)
      Metformin is the first-line medication for type II diabetes. It initially entered the spotlight as a promising anti-cancer agent due to epidemiologic reports that reduced cancer risk and improved clinical outcomes in diabetic patients taking Metformin. To uncover the anti-cancer mechanisms of Metformin, preclinical studies determined that Metformin impairs cellular metabolism and suppresses oncogenic signaling pathways. Recently, the anti-cancer potential of Metformin has gained increasing interest due to its inhibitory effects on cancer stem cells (CSCs), which are associated with tumor metastasis, drug resistance, and relapse. There is a need to optimize this drug to target a more general audience of non-diabetic cancer patients. Metformin has low bioavailability, a narrow absorption window, and extensive liver metabolism. Its oral administration is accompanied by gastrointestinal adverse effects, including nausea, abdominal pain, abdominal bloating, flatulence, dyspepsia, and anorexia, resulting in up to 50% of patients. We have synthesized metformin hybrid conjugates with aromatics compounds. Spectral studies characterized all the synthesized compounds. The hybrid conjugates showed improved LogP values, determined from computational analyses, over tenfold of Metformin's 0.15, suggesting that these candidates will show better bioavailability in the body.
    • Understanding the compliance of individuals with chronic ankle instability to a home exercise program

      Patel, Annie; Department of Physical Therapy (Augusta University, 2021-05)
      Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries caused by physical activity such as running, kicking, or loss of balance 1. However, the majority of people never seek proper medical treatment, and this tends to lead to chronic ankle instability (CAI) 2. CAI is described by a subjective feeling of the ankle giving way or being unstable 3. CAI may develop after one, or repeated, ankle sprains due to weakened ligaments. Ligaments are structures that connect a bone to another bone crossing a joint to provide it with stability. The development of CAI is caused by a pattern of instability on the lateral side of an ankle. The ankle will repeatedly give out or sprain again because the ligaments have become damaged1. CAI is a problem because the continuous spraining can lead to a decrease in range of motion, strength, postural control, and movement of the ankle 4. However, there are treatments to remedy this form of injury. The proper treatment for acute ankle sprains would be applying ice, rest, and elevation to allow the ligaments to heal. Further treatments include looking at an ankle’s range of motion, exercise, and manual therapy in order to promote proper healing and recovery. CAI is best treated through proper physical therapy 5.
    • Distribution of Leptin receptor-expressing Cells in Various Regions of the Mouse Brain

      Kudchikar, Arsheen; Department of Biological Sciences (Augusta University, 2021-05)
      One of the most life-changing mental disorders in the population all over the world is depression. There have been many treatment options that have been introduced in the medical field but the most prevalent are antidepressants that may not be effective leading to the constant need for more research to be done regarding other viable options when it comes to treating patients with this serious mental disorder. Recent research regarding depression has shifted its focus to the hormone leptin. This hormone has been the topic of many recent findings as it has been found out that leptin has antidepressant-like effects; with this emerging research, it has become more of an interest to find out the potential function of leptin in depression. The hormone is already well known for its role in the control of energy homeostasis, but recent findings have supported that leptin is also involved “in the regulation of mood and emotion” (Lu, 2007). By locating leptin receptor-expressing cells in various regions of the brain, it may bring about more knowledge and evidence in the scientific community of how to manipulate leptin receptor-expressing cells and possibly use this information for the discovery of potential therapeutic targets or new strategies as compared to the traditional route of pills and drugs.
    • The examination of tianeptine as a possible treatment for traumatic brain injury

      Ravula, Havilah; Department of Psychological Sciences (Augusta University, 2021-05)
      Tianeptine is an analgesic, antidepressant drug that has been previously studied for its benefits in improving recovery conditions in rodent models post injury or stress. In particular, it is of interest in the treatment of traumatic brain injury in humans, especially since there is currently no reliable treatment for human TBI patients. This project examined tianeptine’s efficacy in reducing ventricular enlargement in rodent models caused by TBI. Brain tissue samples were collected from the rodents and studied and the average areas of the lateral ventricle region were compared. The study found that, when administered to rodents with TBI, tianeptine treatments, while not significantly different, showed a strong trend for smaller ventricular areas when compared to saline vehicle treatments; overall, the ventricular area was smallest in rodents with sham surgeries and tianeptine treatments. In rodent models, tianeptine may be beneficial in reducing ventricular enlargement caused by TBI. It is worth exploring the anti-inflammatory benefits of tianeptine for its use as a treatment for TBI.
    • The Safeness and Effectiveness of Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs When Used Postoperatively in Pediatric Patients

      Long, Nadine; Department of Biological Sciences (Augusta University, 2021-05)
      The purpose of this study will be to examine the effect of routine use of NSAIDs compared to opioids and its complications in postoperative pain management in the pediatric population. We hypothesize that NSAIDs are a safe and effective alternative to opioids for the management of post-operation pain in the pediatric population. Patients between the age 0 – 17 years-old admitted to the PICU at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia between July 2018 to June 2020 were enrolled in the study. Then postoperative chart review and survey was conducted. It was found that those who took NSAIDs reported similar analgesic effects as those who took opioids; however, those who took opioids reported a higher incidence of side effects. Therefore, we believe NSAIDs are a safe and effective way to manage the pediatric pain after an operation. NSAIDs can be used alternatively to opioids or to reduce opioid usage.
    • Genomic analysis reveals clinical significance of PGK1 in head and neck cancer

      Crystal, Evan; Department of Biological Sciences (Augusta University, 2021-05)
      The underlying abnormality that yields cancer development is the unregulated growth and proliferation of cancer cells. Phosphoglycerate kinase-1 (PGK1) is a key regulator for cell metabolism and is encoded by the gene PGK1. The protein translated by this gene is a glycolytic enzyme that catalyzes the conversion from 1,3-Bisphosphoglyceric acid to 3-Phosphoglyceric acid. This enzyme takes part in the first energy-producing step of glycolysis. High intracellular expression of PGK1 has been linked to tumor cell proliferation, and high PGK1 mRNA expression predicts poor survival in head and neck cancer. Therefore, the role of PGK1 in cancer cell metabolism could potentially display clinical significance in the treatment of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). The study that I will conduct under the advisement of Dr. Teng will investigate the role and importance of PGK1 in HNSCC through bioinformatics analysis with RNA sequencing data. The goal of this project is to reveal the clinical relevance/significance of PGK1 in head and neck cancer. In addition, a goal is to provide a strong rationale for further studying PGK1’s role and molecular regulations in head and neck cancer development and progression.
    • Does chronic ketone salt supplementation alter blood pressure, complete blood count, or comprehensive metabolic panel results in adults diagnosed with PTSD?

      Locklin, Jordan; Department of Kinesiology (Augusta University, 2020-12)
      Post-traumatic stress disorder is a condition that is associated with high levels of stress, that can be linked to elevated resting blood pressure and heart rates in those who have it. Ketone bodies are chemicals that the body utilizes as fuel when glucose is not readily available, and have been shown to improve metabolic diseases, as well as decrease systolic blood pressure in healthy populations. The purpose of this study was to determine if chronic ketone salt supplementation alters blood pressure (BP), complete blood count (CBC), or comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) results in adults diagnosed with PTSD. The hypothesis was that 6-weeks of chronic KS consumption will not have any negative effects on the CMP and CBC health markers, and potentially have positive effects on BP in the PTSD population. Participants included males and females between the ages of 21-65 years of age, all of whom had been previously diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The study was randomized, double-blinded, and placebo-controlled. The findings of the study showed that there were no significant interactions, positive or negative, between 6-weeks of chronic KS supplementation and BP, CBC, and CMP in adults with PTSD.
    • Trainee Therapist Personality, Technique Usage, and Helpfulness

      Sandlin, Samantha H.; Department of Psychological Sciences (Augusta University, 2020-12)
      The goal of the present study was to explore how trainee therapists’ differential technique usage and perceived helpfulness ratings of the techniques used in therapy relate to their personality characteristics. The NEO-FFI-3 was administered to 59 clinical and counseling graduate students prior to training to assess their self-reported personality traits. Then, during their first therapy course, trainees conducted four therapy sessions with a volunteer client. Trainees watched the videotape of their third session and rated the techniques they perceived themselves to have used and their view of how helpful those interventions were. Results showed a significant, negative relationship between trainee conscientiousness and their use of interventions aimed at helping clients identify contradictions in their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Moreover, significant associations were found between two personality traits and trainees’ perceived helpfulness ratings of their technique usage. Specifically, as trainees’ neuroticism increased, their perception of how helpful they were in helping their client gain a new perspective decreased. Conversely, as their extroversion increased, they perceived themselves to have been more helpful in assisting clients in gaining a new perspective. Notably, all statistically significant findings had a moderate effect size. Our findings provide preliminary conclusions about the relation between trainee personality characteristics and differential technique usage in sessions, as well as how helpful trainees perceived those techniques to be.
    • Implementing the Healthy University Approach to Mental Health at Augusta University

      Jackson, Lauren; Department of Psychological Sciences (Augusta University, 2020-12)
      In recent times, there has been an increase in self-reported mental health issues in college students (1). This increase is not due to the fact that there are more students with mental health issues, but because there is an increased societal awareness and a lesser stigma in receiving help for these issues (1). In response to the increase of students with self-reported mental health issues, many institutions of higher education are taking steps to meet the demand by re-evaluating existing student wellness clinics and initiatives (1). The Healthy Universities System was created to improve the overall physical and mental wellness of college students, with the purpose of providing university systems with guidelines that will promote health and well-being on their campuses. A Healthy University is an institution that has “a holistic understanding of health; takes a Whole University approach; and aspires to create a learning environment and organizational culture that enhances the health, well-being, and sustainability of its community” (2). The system is currently operated and funded by the University of Central Lancashire and Manchester Metropolitan University, and co-chaired by Mark Dooris and Sue Powell who are faculty at the respective institutions. Although the Healthy University system focuses on developing student health policy at universities in the United Kingdom, the resources used to design a Healthy University are readily available on the system’s website and can be implemented at any institution of higher education. There are several approaches to implementing Healthy University initiatives: Whole System, Health and Sustainable Development, Health and Well-being, Mental Well-being, Student Experience and Performance, and Staff Experience and Performance (3). This study will focus on the Healthy University mental well-being approach and mental health awareness as it relates to the undergraduate student population at Augusta University. The mental well-being approach emphasizes the importance of university awareness regarding the “impact of stigma, social inclusion, and access issues associated with mental wellbeing, and to be proactive in addressing them” (4). It also asks universities to evaluate the mental health support services provided to students and staff, and to conduct qualitative or quantitative research on those services to ensure their efficacy, and to improve overall well-being (4). Case studies that detail a university’s approach to becoming a Healthy University provides a baseline of how initiatives to support student health through programming can be implemented on college campuses around the world. Studies done on the Healthy University approach show that as a result of programming, “students are more likely to value and prioritize health and well-being” (5).
    • Mechanism of Retinal Neovascularization in OIR: Role of ACAT-1

      Santana, Isabella Noel; Department of Biological Sciences (Augusta University, 2020-12)
      According to the National Eye Institute, Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) is the leading cause of vision loss in childhood. About 400–600 infants each year in the US become legally blind from ROP (NIH, 2019). ROP primarily affects premature infants weighing less than 2.75 pounds who are born before thirty-one weeks of gestation (NIH, 2019). Today, with the advances being made in neonatal intensive care, smaller premature infants are being saved. Because these infants are at a much higher risk for ROP, it has become increasingly important to understand ROP. ROP affects the blood vessels in the retina, which is the thin layer of tissue that lines the back of the eye and is responsible for receiving light and converting it into neural signals. Loss of vision occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow and spread throughout the retina and into the vitreous, developing neovascular tufts, causing hemorrhage. Retinal detachment is the main cause of visual impairment and blindness in ROP (NIH, 2019). The primary current treatments are laser therapy and anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), but these therapies have shown negative side effects and complications associated with them being invasive procedures such as intraocular swelling, retinal detachment and infectious endophthalmitis (Dowler, 2003). The mechanism behind retinopathy of prematurity is unclear, however; macrophage proliferation has been found to have a critical role in the development of retinal neovascularization by secreting growth factors and inflammatory cytokines such as VEGF, Interleukin 6 (IL-6), Monocyte colony stimulating factor (MCSF) and trigger receptor expressed on myeloid cells (TREM-1) (Zhou, et al. 2017). The manner in which macrophages are activated for this process is also unknown, however; lipid metabolism is vital for maintaining macrophage homeostasis and function. Lipid loading in macrophages increases intracellular cholesterol esters (CEs), which induce an inflammatory phenotype. Acyl coenzyme A: cholesterol acyltransferase-1 (ACAT-1) is an enzyme localized in macrophage endoplasmic reticulum that is responsible for cholesterol esterification with fatty acids and the formation of CEs. Our preliminary results in wild-type (WT) mice pups treated with intraperitoneal injections (I.P.) of ACAT-1 inhibitor in a model of oxygen-induced retinopathy show significant decrease of retinal neovascularization, avascular area and expression of TREM-1, M-CSF and VEGF. We hypothesize that ACAT-1 activityderived high cholesterol levels in macrophages during hypoxia induce retinal neovascularization.