The Honors Program curriculum culminates in the Honors thesis, a directed undergraduate research project designed and completed by an individual student under the guidance of a faculty member working in his or her area of expertise. Depending on the field in which the work is being done, an Honors thesis may take a variety of forms: e.g., traditional library research, an original piece of quantitative or qualitative research, an exhibit or performance accompanied by a reflective, analytic essay, or a substantial work of fiction, drama, or poetry.

Recent Submissions

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Assessment of p65 in the Novel Microglial NF-κB Animal Model

    Frerichs, Ryan; Department of Biological Sciences (Augusta University, 2021-05)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Graham, Caroline; Hull College of Business (Augusta University, 2020-12)
    Prior research conducted by organizations such as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has shown that many people claim they feel secure with their knowledge of financial planning and management. However, as witnessed during the government shutdown, feelings are not the same as actions. If that was the case, then many people would have been able to cover their expenses despite missing a few paychecks. Moreover, whenever a financial literacy quiz has been provided to the public, history has shown that “less than ten percent of the respondents pass” (Martin, 2017) showing that financial literacy levels are low. Over the years, many people have gained more knowledge on saving strategies, budgeting, and the benefits of investing. In their report, the Federal Reserve found that, “when asked about their finances, 75 percent of adults say they are either doing okay or living comfortably. This result in 2018 is similar to 2017 and is 12 percentage points higher than 2013.” (The Federal Reserve, 2019, p. 1). However, the number of individuals still living paycheck to paycheck while drowning in debt is alarmingly high. A blogger from Equifax found that “56% of Americans don’t have any money left over at the end of the month after paying their bills” (Financial Literacy Survey: Do You Save for a Rainy Day?, 2019). This is caused by poor financial planning, living beyond one’s means or taking on too much debt, and sometimes, a combination of all three. This study will add to research by emphasizing the importance of financial literacy by evaluating the financial health of survey respondents and their knowledge of common concepts of finance. These concepts include interest, investments, and inflation. The respondents were recruited via Facebook and personal contact, such as family and classmates. The data collected will be used to examine how financial literacy varies across socioeconomic demographics. Lastly, the study will provide recommendations on ways financial education programs can improve to reach a larger audience and educate the public. These recommendations will be based on the survey responses on how people would like to receive financial education in the future.
  • Investigating the Functions of Tinagl1 in Embryonic Development

    Zwinklis, Brooklyn; Department of Biological Sciences (Augusta University, 2020-12)
    This research project was designed to explore the functions of Tubulointerstitial Nephritis Antigen-Like protein 1 (Tinagl1) in embryonic development. Prior work using morpholino knockdowns in zebrafish suggested that downregulating the tinagl1 gene has profound effects on development, resulting in defects including small eyes, body axis curvature, renal cysts, missing craniofacial cartilages, and reversed heart looping. Several of these defects could result from observed shortening and reduction in the number of motile cilia. However, morpholino knockdown techniques have fallen out of favor in zebrafish research and have been replaced by gene editing methods, such as Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR), to completely remove gene function throughout the embryo permanently. This project seeks to further test the function of tinagl1 on development through two independent and current approaches. The first approach will seek to validate or refute the prior morpholino results by knocking out tinagl1 via a 4-guide CRISPR method as it is described by Wu et al. The second approach will examine if overexpression of an engineered tinagl1 mutant mRNA can result in a dominant-negative effect that causes all the previously mentioned defects with the addition of asymmetrical craniofacial defects. These approaches will help establish Zebrafish animal models for studying functional requirements for Tinagl1 and its interactions with signaling pathways.
  • Ray Abundance and Diversity in the Satilla River

    Silliman, Brennan; Department of Biological Sciences (Augusta University, 2020-12)
    Over the past 100 years, the Satilla River has been cut several times for logging and navigational purposes. The most notable cut is Noyes Cut, located adjacent to Umbrella and Dover Creeks. Due to changes in local economic pursuits, Noyes Cut is not used except by a few local fishermen and has potentially altered water flow and salinity gradients. Ultimately, this affects habitats of animals, such as rays. The Satilla River is home to 52 different kinds of species of saltwater and freshwater fish. These include sunfish, sharks, catfish, seatrout, and tarpon (Kenakrow, 2020). Rays are found worldwide and are the most diverse of cartilaginous fish; they play a vital role in determining the health of an ecosystem by influencing/controlling where certain fish, mollusk, and crustacean populations are. Rays can indicate if an ecosystem is in distress. Four locations in the Satilla River were sampled using experimental gill nets, otter trawls, and a multi-parameter water quality probe from July 2014 through September 2019. All rays were identified by species with total length and disc width recorded to the nearest centimeter (cm). At least 3 species of rays (possibly more), which include the Atlantic Stingray, the Smooth Butterfly Ray, and the Southern Stingray, call this area home. Additionally, this five year data set will be compared to a creel survey currently being conducted on the Satilla River. We hope to make comparisons between our 2018-2019 sampling year and the 2019-2020 creel survey. Since rays are an indicator species, it may be possible to determine if they’ve been affected by Noyes Cut. Noyes Cut was originally constructed around 1910 as a way for Edward Noyes to float logs to his lumber mill business. He used this waterway until 1933 when the U.S. Army Corps seized it and deepened the cut as an inland waterway. Over several decades, channel sedimentation has gradually affected salinity gradients which ultimately altered the natural water circulation patterns within the estuary.

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