Recent Submissions

  • Does Teaching Grammar Lead To Better Writing? Questions from Evolving Writers and Teachers

    Osburn, Curtis; Department of English and Foreign Languages (2016-03)
    As a prospective English teacher, I have formulated the following research question for my project: Does the study of grammar lead to better writing? Specifically, my project examines whether or not the study of descriptive grammar (grammar defining the syntactical structures of the language) improves writing. My paper 1) contextualizes my research question within recent linguistic/pedagogical research and 2) explains the results of a grammar-in-context experiment I conducted using my own writing as data. In this experiment, I analyzed the effectiveness of my writing and utilized skills gained in my grammar class to correct and enhance them. Writing contains two phases: Invention and editing. Based on research and the findings from this experiment I concluded that the initial process of writing relies primarily on the writer’s intrinsic understanding of language and that grammar studies possess the capacity to help writers mostly in the editing phase. I believe this conclusion possesses important implications for teachers. Based on this project, I believe that grammar-in-context exercises during the editing phase can lead students to identify their own writing patterns and build the intuitive knowledge necessary to better communicate their thoughts. I intend to demonstrate how I utilized in-context grammar exercises during the presentation.
  • Assisting and Assimilating: How Culturally-Competent Care and Community-Centeredness Impact Quality of Life for Minority Members

    Thompson, Taylor; Department of English and Foreign Languages (2016-03)
    Most Americans are aware that the United States’ population is headed toward a minority-majority. Although demographers expect this shift to take at least another decade, the minority-majority is already a reality among the nation’s children. In 2014, 50.2% of America’s children under the age of five were minority group members. In 2016, the U.S. faces an influx of refugees and changing ethnic distributions, as Mexican immigrants return home in greater numbers while Asian immigrants arrive in greater proportions. In light of these facts, two community efforts are increasingly essential: preparing culturally-competent public servants and promoting resources available to both immigrants and minorities. This presentation will address both of these goals by first presenting a model for culturally-competent job training in The University of Texas at El Paso’s Master of Social Work Program, and then highlighting the services and successes of some of the CSRA’s minority-serving organizations.
  • Psychological Variables Associated with Health Behavior

    Gaffney, Jasmine; Rogers, Rebecca L.; Department of Psychological Sciences (2016-03)
    Forty percent of deaths from heart disease, cancer, respiratory diseases, and stroke are preventable. Altering compromising health behavior would significantly reduce premature death; thus, investigating variables associated with health behavior is important. We examined whether health locus of control (HLOC), hypochondriasis (Hs), and social introversion (Si) would predict perceived physical fitness (PPF) and health behavior (e.g., tobacco use). HLOC is the extent to which people believe that their health is controlled by internal or external factors. Individuals who score high on scales of Hs tend to be preoccupied with their health whereas those who score high on Si tend to be shy and submissive. Participants were 108 undergraduate students. Separate hierarchical multiple regressions were conducted with PPF and health behavior as the dependent variables. Factors of HLOC were entered at stage one of the analyses. Hs and Si were entered at stage two. HLOC did not predict PPF. However, introducing the Hs and Si variables explained 20% of the variation in PPF (p = .001). Likewise, HLOC did not predict health behavior but adding Hs and Si explained 14% of the variation in health behavior (p = .01). Higher Hs and Si were related to lower PPF and health behavior.
  • The Presence of Coliforms and Fecal Coliforms in a Sports Environment

    Caballer-Hernani, Teresa; Covington, Katherine; Chen, Lin; Department of Psychological Sciences (2016-03)
    Golf is relatively unique compared to other sports, with large nature landscapes providing the area of play. Golf courses are often home to wildlife and provide rest stops for migratory birds. Animal inhabitants, as well as natural streams and ponds, provide an ideal environment for the proliferation of coliforms and fecal coliforms. Unlike other sports, golfers may engage in several hand to mouth behaviors (e.g. licking their fingers to clean mud off a ball, eating food during play). Furthermore, the research team hypothesizes that golfers may not clean some of their equipment frequently (e.g. gloves, bags). To assess golfers’ potential exposure to coliforms and fecal coliforms during a round of golf, swabs were taken from a pilot sample of ten golfers’ hands and equipment prior to and following their round of golf. A brief survey assessed golfers’ hand washing, eating and golf equipment cleaning behaviors. While none of the golfers’ hands tested positive for fecal coliforms prior to the round of golf, 55% of the golfers’ equipment and/or hands tested positive after the round. No golfers reported cleaning their gloves or bags, and most reported they would likely lick their fingers and/or eat while golfing.
  • Determining a Correlation in Field and Lab Measurements of Cs-137 Concentrations in Deer at the Savannah River Site

    Stagich, Brooke; Jannik, Tim; Dixon, Ken; Department of Chemistry and Physics (2016-03)
    The Savannah River Site (SRS) hosts controlled hunts on their land to help control the population of deer and wild pigs. All of the animals harvested are measured for Cs-137 in the field to estimate the dose the hunter could receive from that animal. Flesh samples are taken from every tenth animal and sent to an onsite radiological lab for more sensitive measurements of the Cs-137 concentrations. The dose a hunter may receive from the deer or hogs is calculated using the field data; however, over the past few years, this data was found to be biased and lower than the lab data. Previously, this bias was adjusted by using a correction factor based on the weight of the animal. Over the summer, a comparison of the data from measured deer/hog samples was performed in an attempt to find a better correlation between the field and lab data to replace the current correction factor. Data from the past three years were used to help look at the possible sources of bias in the field data. A comparison between the NaI(Tl) detector readings and the source concentrations during calibration found a strong linear relationship. There was no correlation found between the weight of the deer and the readings from both the field and the lab. A definitive correlation was not found and two new correction factors were determined based on the concentration levels. For concentration below 2.00 pCi/g the correction factor is 1.44, and above 2.00 pCi/g the factor is 1.56. The previous weight-based correction factor was not technically correct and was replaced by the new correction factors based on concentrations. The new concentration-based correction factors will need to be revised on an annual basis as more data is collected. Funding Source: Department of Energy
  • Spin Wave Feynman Diagram Vertex Computation Package

    Datta, Trinanjan; Price, Alexander; Javernick, Philip; Department of Chemistry and Physics; Department of Physics and Astronomy (2016-03)
    Spin wave theory is a well-established theoretical technique that can correctly predict the physical behavior of ordered magnetic states. However, computing the effects of an interacting spin wave theory incorporating magnons involve a laborious by hand derivation of Feynman diagram vertices. The process is tedious and time consuming. Hence, to improve productivity and have another means to check the analytical calculations, we have devised a Feynman Diagram Vertex Computation package. In this talk, we will describe our research group’s effort to implement a Mathematica based symbolic Feynman diagram vertex computation package that computes spin wave vertices. Utilizing the non-commutative algebra package NCAlgebra as an add-on to Mathematica, symbolic expressions for the Feynman diagram vertices of a Heisenberg quantum antiferromagnet are obtained. Our existing code reproduces the well-known expressions of a nearest neighbor square lattice Heisenberg model. We also discuss the case of a triangular lattice Heisenberg model where non collinear terms contribute to the vertex interactions.
  • A MATLAB GUI to Study Ising Model Phase Transition

    Thornton, CurtisLee; Department of Chemistry and Physics (2016-03)
    We have created a MATLAB based graphical user interface (GUI) that simulates the single spin flip Metropolis Monte Carlo algorithm. The GUI has the capability to study temperature and external magnetic field dependence of magnetization, susceptibility, and equilibration behavior of the nearest-neighbor square lattice Ising model. Since the Ising model is a canonical system to study phase transition, the GUI can be used both for teaching and research purposes. The presence of a Monte Carlo code in a GUI format allows easy visualization of the simulation in real time and provides an attractive way to teach the concept of thermal phase transition and critical phenomena. We will also discuss the GUI implementation to study phase transition in a classical spin ice model on the pyrochlore lattice. Funding Source: Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship and Department of Chemistry and Physics
  • Studying the Interplay between Superconductivity and Anti-Ferromag-Netism through Bose-Fermi Mixtures on Optical Lattices

    Brackett, Jeremy; Department of Chemistry and Physics (2016-03)
    Motivated by the recent experimental progress with ultra-cold atoms, we investigate the physics of a Bose-Fermi mixture on a two dimensional optical lattice. We treat the system parameters such that 2-component fermions are in a deep external trap and weakly interacting bosons are in a shallow external trap, however both of these atoms are subjected to the same optical lattice. In this parameter regime, the bosons form a Bose-Einstein condensate and mediate an attractive interaction between fermions through low energy Bose excitations. As a result, the dynamics of the fermions can be described by the single band Hubbard model that involves on-site repulsive interaction and elementary excitation mediated attractive interactions. Using a mean field theory, we derive an effective action up to the quartic order in both d-wave superconducting and anti-ferromagnetic order parameters. Using this Landau energy functional, we then discuss the phase transition and study the competition and/or cooperation of anti-ferromagnetism and d-wave superconductivity in the system.
  • Can Anti-Ferromagnetism And Anisotropic Superconductivity Coexist In Iron Pnictides?

    Newman, Joseph; Department of Chemistry and Physics (2016-03)
    By treating both anti-ferromagnetism (AFM) and superconductivity (SC) on an equal footing, we investigate the possible coexistence of AFM and SC of recently found high-temperature superconducting compounds. Assuming that the electron pairing is mediated by the spin fluctuations and using a mean-field theory, we derive a set of gap equations for both AFM and SC order parameters. In the spirit of the second order phase transition, we then linearize the gap equations using various base functions for superconducting order to include the different pairing symmetries. By analyzing the solution of our linearized equations, we then discuss the possible coexistence of AFM and anisotropic SC in these compounds.
  • Expression of Suv39h1 in Escherichia coli

    Baumert, Delphine; Department of Chemistry and Physics (2016-03)
    A hallmark of metastatic human colorectal cancer is silencing of Fas expression, a death receptor protein involved in an extrinsic apoptotic pathway. A number of histone methyltransferases (HMTases), including SUV39H1, have recently been linked to silencing Fas expression through methylation of histone H3 lysine 9 (H3K9) in the Fas promoter region; methylation being an epigenetic factor commonly associated with gene silencing. A natural compound found in pathogen-infected mushrooms, verticillin A, has been identified as a potent inhibitor of SUV39H1, as well as a number of other HMTases. Unfortunately it exhibits toxicity at low concentrations in mice, likely because of its association of multiple targets. Because of this toxicity and the lack of specificity exhibited by verticillin A, the goal of this project is to to identify SUV39H1-specific small molecule inhibitors. Once identified, these inhibitors will be tested for their ability to suppress colon carcinoma growth. In order to obtain large amounts of SUV39H1 for this study, we are working on sub-cloning the gene for SUV39H1 into the expression vector, pET21c(+), so that the gene product can be over-expressed in E. coli BL21 cells. Once the protein has been purified, we will test the effects of various inhibitors on the activity of SUV39H1 in vitro. Funding Source: Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship and Department of Chemistry and Physics
  • Epidermal Growth Factor Mediates Di-N-Octyl Phthalate-Induced Hepatocyte Proliferation

    Buckner, Shelby; Department of Biological Sciences (2016-03)
    Certain chemicals used in manufacturing plastics are linked to severe, negative health effects such as cancer. Di-N-Octylphthalate (DNOP) is a phthalate found in many plastics and has been linked with hepatocellular carcinoma. The aim of this research project was to study the effect of DNOP on the proliferation of normal mouse hepatocytes and the growth factor implicated. The expression of several growth factors and receptors (epidermal growth factor receptor (egfr), epidermal growth factor (egf), insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (igf1r), insulin-like growth factor 1 (igf1), insulin-like growth factor 2 (igf2), and hepatocyte growth factor (hgf)) was assessed in normal hepatocytes AML-12 cell line by RT-PCR and qPCR. The rate of cell proliferation of AML-12 cells was measured using MTT cell proliferation assay kit. DNOP at 0.1% caused an increase in expression of egf at 24h, 48h, and 72 h. This result was confirmed by Western blot. DNOP did not cause changes in any of other studied genes. The rate of cell proliferation increased in those cells treated with 0.1% DNOP at 72 h and 96 h. In conclusion, our observation indicates that DNOP, through an increase in the expression of egf, acts as a proliferative agent in normal mouse hepatocytes. Funding Source: Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship, Department of Biological Sciences and Scholarly Activity Award
  • Ufmylation Maintains the Proper Er Homeostasis of Pancreas from Alcoholic Rodents

    Miller, Camille; Department of Biological Sciences (2016-03)
    The accumulation of misfolded pancreatic enzymes in the rough ER causes an activation of unfolded protein response (UPR). Ufmylation (Ufm1) is a novel post-translational ubiquitin-like modification system involved in UPR. Ufm1 modifies its target proteins through a biochemical pathway that involves E3 ligase. RCAD is an E3 ligase that forms a complex with DDRGK1. Be- cause of the synthesis, folding/sorting of pancreatic enzymes takes place in the rough ER and Ufm1 is involved in ER homeostasis. The first objective was to study the importance of RCAD and DDRGK1 in both proper sorting and secretion of digestive enzymes. We found that the lack of RCAD or DDRGK1 causes an increase in the expression of pancreatic amylase and trypsin activation. Because Ufmylation is involved in rough ER homeostasis and alcoholism causes changes in the expression of multiple rough ER proteins involved in the UPR, the next objective was to compare the relative expression of RCAD and DDRGK1 in alcohol-treated rats with non-treated rats. We found that both RCAD and DDRGK1 are highly expressed in alcohol-treated pancreas. In conclusion, alcoholism could increase the level of these proteins in the exocrine pancreas to protect it from ER stress and inflammation. Funding Source: Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship, Department of Biological Sciences and Scholarly Activity Award
  • A Prospective Dominant Negative Mutant of Wnt Signaling In Zebrafish Causes Craniofacial Asymmetry with Low Penetrance

    Ravilla, Dheeraj; Neiswender, Hannah; Department of Biological Sciences; Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy (2016-03)
    Wnt gene signaling pathways have been implicated in development, cell behavior, and diseases, including craniofacial abnormalities. We created mutant complementary DNA constructs using QuikChange mutagenesis and then compared them to wild-type cDNA for effects on zebrafish development following injection into one-cell embryos. We hypothesized that disrupting a putative Wnt-binding lipocalin motif would allow mutant tinagl1 mRNAs to induce a dominant negative phenotype, similar to tinagl1 gene knockdown. Mutant LCN-W2 but not WT mRNA preferentially gave small eyes and ventral body curvature similar to the gene knockdown. Our main focus was on craniofacial development using Alcian blue staining of cartilage elements in 5 day old zebrafish. Abnormalities were seen at low penetrance in high-survival (high-quality) clutches with the highest injected dose of TIN LCN-W2,150 pg. These included smaller head and asymmetric head skeleton with one smaller eye on side of variable cartilage defects. Craniofacial defects, especially asymmetry, were more prevalent in clutches with lower survival rates. These asymmetric defects had not been seen in the gene knockdown. In summary, the phenotypes of LCN-W2 partially support similarity to a dominant negative phenotype with cartilage defects, small eyes, and ventrally curved body, but the craniofacial asymmetry appears novel. More research is needed for further understanding.
  • Effectors Implicated In the Ac1 Inhibitory Effect on Cell Proliferation in Pancreatic Cancer Cells

    Medepalli, Vidya; Department of Biological Sciences (2016-03)
    Introduction and aim: Pancreatic adenocarcinoma is among the most aggressive of all cancers. Adenosine 3’, 5’ cyclic monophosphate (cyclic AMP) is involved in the internal cellular enzymatic activity and gene expression. It is found to be involved in the mechanism of pancreatic tumorigenesis. So far, two effectors for cyclic AMP are known; one is protein kinase A (PKA) and the other is an exchange protein directly activated by cAMP (EPAC). Our research group has found that AC1 is responsible for the inhibitory effect of Forskolin on cell proliferation of HPAC. My research project focuses on studying the effectors implicated in the inhibitory effect of activated AC1. Result: We were successfully able to overexpress AC1 using a plasmid human ADCY1 cDNA in pCMV-SPORT6. Through the overexpression, we were able to support the conclusion that AC1 inhibits cell proliferation in HPAC cells. We found that both H-89 (inhibitor of PKA) and ESI (inhibitor of EPAC) counteracts the effect of AC1. Conclusion: Both effectors- PKA and EPAC- mediate the inhibitory effect of AC1. Funding Source: Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship and Department of Biological Sciences, Scholarly Activity Award