The 19th Annual Phi Kappa Phi Student Research and Fine Arts Conference is an opportunity for all undergraduate students of Augusta University (Summerville and Health Sciences campuses) to showcase their scholarly and artistic endeavors. The conference will be held on Wednesday, March 14, 2018 on the Summerville campus.

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Recent Submissions

  • Effects of Withholding Cell Phones on Students' Autonomic Arousal, State Anxiety, and Test Scores

    Recinos, Manderley; Streets, Hannah; Gaffney, Jasmine; Department of Psychological Sciences; Augusta University; Johnson, Michelle (2/13/2019)
    Approximately 85% of Americans aged 18-29 have smartphones. Many people report that they get agitated when their phones are not immediately accessible.Researchers studying the links between phone use and academic performance have focused on their disruptive nature (e.g., texting). No research has examined the effects of withholding phones during testing on test performance. The objective of this study was to assess whether withholding phones during testing affected students state anxiety, skin conductance (SC), and test scores. State anxiety is situationally determined, transitory, and associated with autonomic nervous system activation. SC (sweat gland secretions) is an index of sympathetic nervous system activation. We expected higher levels of self-reported state anxiety, higher levels of SC, and lower test performance among students who had their phones withheld compared with students who kept their phones. Eighty-six students participated. There were three conditions: phones withheld but kept in the same room as testing condition (n= 31), phones withheld but sequestered in a different room (n= 28), and control where students were not separated from their phones (n= 27). One-way MANOVA revealed no differences between the groups in state anxiety, SC or test scores. Data did reveal interesting trends we would like to discuss.

    Weather, Angel; Sweatman, Zachary; Bae, Junsoo; Lebedyeva, Iryna; Department of Chemistry and Physics; Augusta University (2/21/2018)
    Covalently linked acceptor-spacer-donor (A-S-D) multichromophoric systems have previously been discussed largely in mechanistic terms, with emphasis on the roles of electronic and nuclear functions in determining the factors of internal electron transfer. Electron energy transfer between donor (D) and acceptor (A) molecules has long been applied to measure or estimate distance in macromolecular systems, molecular stacking, intramolecular changes caused by ionic strength or target molecule binding, to define protein folding and aggregation and finally to give information about conformational changes in the molecule. Coumarins represent a family of dyes that often play the role of electron donor in electron-charged systems. During tailoring of new chromophore dyads, coumarin derivatives have been linked to fullerene, peptides, and dyes (benzimidazol benzopyrans). In particular, 7-methoxy-2-oxo-2H-chromene-3-carboxylic acid is a commonly used tag that provides strong fluorescence and acts as an electron-donor. In current work we are developing chiral systems of 10 Å and more in order to establish a structure map whenever the donor-acceptor fluorophore is conjugating with another system (e. g. peptides). Our team enhances the fluorescence of the two coumarin-based fluorophores by linking them to the N- and C-peptide moieties via 1,2,3-triazine linkers.
  • Structural Affinity of CAP1 and AC isoforms

    Mehrotra, Simran; Department of Biological Sciences; Augusta University; Sabbatini, Maria Eugenia; Department of Biological Sciences (2/12/2018)
    The major cause of death of pancreatic cancer is metastases. For that reason, it is of interestto study the mechanism through which the pancreaticcancercells migrate as itcould help with future medicine and prolong survivalrate. Adenylyl cyclase-associated protein 1 (CAP1)is involved in the regulation of actin microfilament formation, which ultimately regulatescell migration and invasion.CAP1 binds to G-actin,inhibiting polymerization. In previousresults,we found CAP1 interactswith a number ofadenylyl cyclase (AC) isoforms: AC1, AC3, AC4 and AC7. The goal for this project wasto study therelative affinityof CAP1 for each AC isoform. Using sequential co-immunoprecipitation, we found that AC1 is the isoform that interacts more firmly with CAP1 in HPAC cells. Further studies will be done usingthe homology modeling.
  • Patient Education of Acid Reducing Medication and Duration of Use

    Lewis, Allison; Autry, Prentiss; Spell, Dan; Rao, Amy; Hampton, Sarah; Department of Biological Sciences; Augusta University; University of Georgia; Medical College of Georgia; University of Georgia; et al. (2/12/2018)
    Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a physical condition in which acid from the stomach flows into the esophagus. One of the most common symptoms of GERD is heartburn. Morethan 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month, and some studies suggest that more than 15 million Americans experience heartburn symptoms every day1. With Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) being one of the most commonly prescribed medications in the United States2, it is important to understand how patients are using these medications. Limited literature exists concerning a correlation between patient knowledge and duration of heartburn medication usage. This research identifies the demographic characteristics associated with the improper usage of acid reducing medications, specifically in the Southwest Georgia population. The participants of this study are representative of that area, with a majority of population residing in the medically underserved, low-income region of Albany, Georgia3. This information aims to help healthcare providers identify patients that are at a higher risk to misuse heartburn medication and be able to address these concerns.
  • Isolation and Culture of Microglia

    Doughty, Deanna; Venugopal, Natasha; Department of Biological Sciences; Augusta University; Bradford, Jennifer; Department of Biological Sciences (2/12/2018)
    Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most aggressive and common adult brain tumor subtype, with the majority of patients surviving less than one year. The GBM microenvironment is composed of tumor cells as well as non-cancerous cells, such as microglia, a component of the immune system in the brain. To better understand the role of microglia in GBM, we have optimized in vitroculture conditions for primary microglia. Growing microglia in culture is challenging, but this technique is needed for planned future experiments. Microglia were isolated from mouse neuronal tissue by magnetic bead antibody cell separation using the cellular marker CX3CR1. Isolated microglia were then cultured in various culture conditions, and cellular morphology by light microscopy was used to determine cell health, viability, and activation status. It was determined that the primary microglia grow best in neurobasal media in wells coated with poly-D lysine. Future studies aim to isolate a larger number of cells to allow forco-culture of the inactivated microglia with GBM cells. These results will allow us to better understand the role that microglia play in GBM progression.
  • Expression and Treatment of Pain-Related Depression of Fixed-Ratio and Progressive-Ratio Food-Maintained Behavior in Rats

    Baker, Frederick; Frazier, Eric; Marshall, Laura; Sinclair, Sequoia; Thakkar, Parth; Department of Psychological Sciences; Augusta University; Miller, Laurence; Department of Psychological Sciences (2/12/2018)
    Increasingly, preclinical studies on the expression, mechanisms, and treatment of pain have been aimed at improving understanding of pain-related interference with behavior. Positively reinforced operant behaviors are sensitive to depression by physiologically relevant pain stimuli. Most studies using operant conditioning procedures to examine pain-related depression of behavior have used fixed-ratio schedules of reinforcement. The primary dependent variable in these studies is the rate of behavior. In contrast, the primary dependent variable in studies using progressive-ratio schedules of reinforcement is breakpoint. Breakpoint is defined as the total number of reinforcers earned, and is thought to be related to the subject's motivation to obtain the reinforcer. This study examined effects of pain and analgesic manipulations on behavior maintained under fixed-ratio and progressive-ratio schedules of behavior. Intraperitoneal injection of dilute lactic acid was more potent at depressing behavior under the fixed-ratio schedule compared to the progressive-ratio schedule. Ketoprofen was equipotent at blocking pain-related depression of behavior maintained under both schedules. These findings support the validity of operant procedures astools to examine candidateanalgesics for the treatment of pain-related depression of behavior. Moreover, the use of diverse schedules of reinforcement may yield important scientific information on the mechanisms underlying pain-related interference with behavior.
  • High glucose treated cells may lead to cellular senescence effecting function of bladder

    Vincent, Julie; Klee, Nicole; Webb, Clinton; Department of Physiology; College of Education; Augusta University; Klee, Nicole; Department of Physiology; Webb, Clinton (2/12/2018)
    Introduction: Diabetic bladder dysfunctioneffects 30-50% of all diabetespatientsand is characterized by symptoms of overactive and underactive bladder, which greatly effects quality of life.Diabetes is correlated with increased cellular senescence. Senescence is a physiologic phenomenon; however, chronic high levels can lead to tissue dysfunction. Multiple in vitrostudies have shown that high glucose exposure results in an increase in cellular senescent cells.The smooth muscle layer of the bladderis responsible for contraction and relaxation of the bladder; therefore, we hypothesize that primary bladder smooth muscle cells exposed to a high glucose environment will result in an increased number of cellular senescent cells.Methods:Rat primary BSMcells were incubated in normal glucose (4mM), high glucose (22mM), high mannitol (22mM), and bleomycin(+ control). Abeta-galactoside assay was utilized to visualize the presence of senescent cells.Results: Cells treated with high glucose exhibited increased cellular senescent cellscompared to both normal and high mannitol control. Conclusion: We conclude that high glucose exposure increases cellular senescence in primary bladder smooth muscle cells. An increased amount of cellular senescence within the smooth muscle layer of the bladder could contribute to bladder dysfunction as seen with diabetes.
  • Guidelines for Healthy Food Production in an Urban Brownfield: Is Aquatic Vegetation Safe for Composting?

    Barrera, Bryuanna; Greene, Rhiley; Mondeddu, Sheena; Department of Biological Sciences; Clinical and Digital Health Sciences; Augusta University; Wear, Donna; Department of Biological Sciences (2/12/2018)
    Sibley Mill, located in the community of Harrisburgnear Augusta University, is a designated brownfield. The property was the site of theConfederate Powder Works and later that ofa cotton mill.Soil contaminantsinclude arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium,lead and mercury.There are documented cases of children in this community with elevated blood concentrations of lead. Risks associated with lead poisoning are damage to the brain and nervous system, slowed growth and development, and behavioral problems.The benefits of urban agricultureare wellestablished, but currently there are no guidelines for safe methods of food production in brownfields. Aquatic vegetation is removed weekly from the Augusta Canal to enablehydroelectric powergenerationat Sibley Mill. We are using this vegetationto implementa novel approach for the production of compostfor raised-bed gardening.We measured the concentrations of 14 heavy metals, prior to composting, to establishbaseline data. Concentrations of barium(253.3-962.4 ppm)and lead(4.1-16.5ppm)exceed the guidelines recommended for drinking waterand are the two metals of greatest concern for the productionof safe, usablecompost.
  • Expression of Bcl-2 in MCF-7 cells treated with PFOA

    Glenn, Manderrious; Glenn, Manderrious; Gaw, Tori; Cannon, Jennifer; Department of Biological Sciences; Augusta University; Cannon, Jennifer; Department of Biological Sciences (2/12/2018)
    Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), also known as C8, is a man-made chemical that has the ability to repel oil and water. For that reason, it is used to manufacture a number of consumer goods like cookware and clothing. PFOA is an endocrine disruptor as it interferes with normal hormonal processes and proposes a health concern in high concentrations due to its high stability and its persistence in the environment and in our bodies. Previous research in our lab has shown that MCF-7 breast cancer cells treated with 50?M and100?M PFOA for 48h show a 25% decrease in cell viability. A significant decrease in estrogen receptor alpha (ER?) mRNA and protein and the reduction of peroxisome-proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPAR ?) mRNA levels are thought to be associated with apoptosis in these cells. Experiments using the Caspase-Glo® 3/7 Assay (Promega) were used to determine that MCF-7 decreased viability in response to PFOA is in fact due to apoptosis. It is hypothesized that this PFOA-induced apoptosis may be caused by decreased levels of anti-apoptotic factors such as Bcl-2. We are using the Qiagen® RT2Profiler PCR Apoptosis Array and western blotting to determine the levels of Bcl-2 in control and PFOA-treated MCF-7 cells.
  • Production of a NF-¿B Deficient Microglial Animal Model

    Goodall, Michael; Soni, Karan; Department of Biological Sciences; Augusta University; Bradford, Jennifer; Department of Biological Sciences (2/12/2018)
    Our goal is to determine how the nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-?B) signaling pathway is used in the communication between microglia and the progression of glioblastoma (GBM) cancer cells. The NF-?B signaling pathway is very important in normal immune system function and has been implicated in various types of cancers, including, GBM. GBM is the most common type of adult brain cancer, has altered NF-?B signaling, and is also characterized by a large population of microglia, the immune cell of the central nervous system. Based on our recent studies, we hypothesize that deleting the major transcription factor (p65) of the canonical NF-?B pathway in microglia would slow the progression of GBM. To test this hypothesis, we have developed a p65fl/fl/CX3CR1CreERtransgenic animal, which should lack microglial p65 after exposure to tamoxifen. We currently have heterozygous animals and will soon begin characterizing them to determine p65 deletion efficiency.
  • The Significance of the Study of Evolution: Development and Implementation of an Interactive Course Module: Phase I

    Wilson, Cynthia Lynn; Sanyal, Nilabhra; Wise, Alisha; Department of Biological Sciences; Hull College of Business; Augusta University; Mukhopadhyay, Soma; Department of Biological Sciences (2/12/2018)
    The goal of this project is to create an interactive, one week coursemoduleto supplement teaching students about the connections between molecular evolution, macroevolution, microevolution and how they pertain tothehuman body and health. Thisinteractive course module is beingdeveloped using resources from the Internet that will allow the students to better understand the content. The main purpose of this course modulewill be to show that evolution is an evidence based science that affects public health and all fields of biology. Those who believe that evolution is antithetical to their beliefs, their concerns and the controversies that surround the study and teaching evolution will be addressed to ease any problemsthatthey may have. Surveys will be given at the beginning and end of the course to gauge the students' current and learned knowledge of evolutionand to get feedback for further improvement. This pedagogical research will be used to show that evolution is based on empirical evidence and is necessary to learn as it serves as the foundation of phylogenetic studies in biology. This knowledge can be applied to better understand individual human health and then to the wider field ofpublic health.
  • Role of Perivascular Adipose Tissue in Vasoreactivity

    Prasad, Rosaria; Department of Biological Sciences; Augusta University; Kim, Ha Won; Department of Medicine (2/12/2018)
    Perivascular adipose tissue (PVAT) surrounds most systemic vessels directly around the lamina adventitia, which has an anti-atherosclerotic effect. However, inflamed and dysfunctional PVAT induced by high fat diet (HFD) is associated with various cardiovascular disease. The aim of this study was to investigate the systemic effect of PVAT on vascular functions in the setting of diet-induced obesity. 50 mg of PVAT or subcutaneous adipose tissue (SQAT, as a control) from obese donor mice (fed with HFD) was transplanted into the abdominal aorta in recipient mice. We found that PVAT transplantation group showed significantly higher insulin resistance than the SQ group (p=0.095) whereas no differences were observed in body weight, fat composition, and glucose tolerance between these groups. Interestingly, PVAT transplantation, but not SQAT or sham group, showed the impaired vasoconstriction in thoracic aorta, as examined by wire myography. Furthermore, PVAT transplanted group promoted endothelial dysfunction as evaluated by endothelium-dependent relaxation curve analysis.PVAT transplantation into the abdominal aorta is associated with endothelial dysfunction of the thoracic aorta. Dysfunction of PVAT induced by high-fat feeding may negatively affect metabolic and vasoreactivity in an endocrine manner.
  • Energy Transfer Phenomenon with Nanoluciferase as Energy Donor

    Bailey, Joseph; Department of Chemistry and Physics; Augusta University; Spencer, Angela; Department of Chemistry and Physics (2/12/2018)
    Bioluminescence is a phenomenon that occurs where light is emitted from a chemical reaction that occurs in an organism.An enzyme called a luciferase assists in the catalysis of a reaction that releases the energy of broken bonds as light at a certain wavelength. Bioluminescence Resonance Energy Transfer (BRET) is a technique that utilizes a luciferase as an energy donor, whichemits energy from catalysis of a substrate. Fluorescence by Unbound Excitation from Luminescence (FUEL) deviates fromBRET slightly. FUEL involves an energy donor exciting an energy accepting particle; however, the acceptor and donor are unattached to each other. The luciferase being used as an energy donor is Nanoluciferase (Nluc)that emits light at 454 nm. Nluc beenmodified to expressa His-6 tag. The energy acceptors being used are Alexa 488, 555, and 647 and reemit light at the corresponding wavelength. Each of the Alexa dyes has been modified to include an anti-His antibody, causing attachment between Nluc and the respective Alexa dye.Energy transfer in the form of BRET did occur between Nluc and the Alexa 488 and minimally with Alexa 555. No energy transfer was noted with Alexa 647. Energy transfer was quantified using a fluorometer.
  • Role of Aging in The Expression of Pain-related Depression of Nesting in Mice

    McPherson, Sarah; Patton, Tadd; Hunter, Lance; Department of Psychological Sciences; Augusta University; Miller, Laurence; Department of Psychological Sciences (2/12/2018)
    Pain stimulates some behaviors (e.g. flinching, vocalization), and depresses others (e.g. locomotor activity, social interactions). Pain-related depression of behavior is a key diagnostic criteria and treatment target in clinical settings, but preclinical research has primarily focused on pain-related stimulation of behavior. The present study aims to improve understanding of the impact of aging on pain-related depression of behavior by examining pain-related depression of nesting behavior in male ICR mice. The mice are placed in a cage containing nesting material, and the rate of consolidation of that material is determinedwith a schedule of data collection intervals. The impact of pain stimuli and analgesic drugs on nesting behavior are then determined. Previous studies have shown that physiologically-relevant pain stimuli depress nesting behavior, and clinically-relevant analgesics block pain-related depression of nesting. The present study will examine the role of aging as a determinant of the expression of pain-related depression of behavior by comparing pain-related depression of nesting by three age groups.
  • Characterization of Serotonin Receptors in Response to Ligand Binding Using BRET

    Trang, Amy; Adams, Elizabeth; Acevedo, Aja; Miller, Donnyell; Farooq, Maheen; Little, Lauren; Lambert, Nevin; Department of Biological Sciences; Department of Chemistry and Physics; Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology; et al. (2/12/2018)
    G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are receptors that act in signal transduction pathways via activation of guanosine nucleotide-binding proteins, known as G proteins. An extra-cellular signal (a ligand) activates a receptor from outside the cell and working through a G protein, the external signal is transmitted inside the cell. There are four main classes of G proteins: Gs, Gi, Gqand G12. When activated, eachof these G protein types is responsible for a specific intracellular event, often determined by measuring how the concentration of a second messenger changes as a function of the concentration of the external signal. This indirect approach limits our understanding of the role of each type of G protein in signaling pathways. Our group is currently using Bioluminescence Resonance Energy Transfer (BRET) to directly measure G protein activation by GPCRs in response to external stimuli (includingboth endogenous and synthetic ligands). We have generated recombinant DNA for nanoluciferase fused to GPCRs in the serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) receptor family. These genetic fusions, along with fusions of yellow fluorescent protein and various G proteins were co-transfected into HEK293 cells for BRET assays. Initial results show that activation of receptors 5-HT1D and 5-HT1F with serotonin are coupled to Gi. Future studies will include a G protein profile for all twelve receptors in the serotonin family.
  • Fighting Fear with Fire: A Political Analysis of the Rohingya Conflict in Myanmar

    Latremouille, Georgia; Department of Political Science; Augusta University; Albert, Craig; Department of Political Science (2/12/2018)
    Political instability in Myanmar has been a reoccurring pattern since the country's independence in 1948 with ethnic conflict playing a central role in these issues. Most recently, the Rohingya ethnic group has been involved in a deadly ethnic war against Myanmar's government military. If politicians aim to end this war and seek to prevent future conflicts, it is necessary to examine why ethnic conflicts occur in the first place. This study aims to understand the question: what is the cause of the Rohingya conflict and why is it occurring? I address this question by examining relevant theories of ethnic conflict and utilizing such theories to make an assertion about why the Rohingya conflict is occurring. Ignoring the issue of why these types of conflicts occur has negative consequences for future policy and peacemaking strategies.
  • Forecasting Hotel Occupancy Rates in Augusta: Can Google Trends Improve Forecasts?

    Callison, Jamie; Hull College of Business; Augusta University; Thompson, Mark; Hull College of Business (2/12/2018)
    This project will develop models in an attempt to develop better forecasts of hotel occupancy for the market in Augusta, Georgiaby utilizing historical occupancy data and Google trends data. Using the historical data from the years 2012 through 2015, a series of five univariate modelswill be made with differing forecasting equations to forecast the year 2016. The forecast for theyear 2016 will be compared to actual occupancy data from 2016 to measure for errors. The models will then be re-estimated with additional keywords that will be chosen on the basis that they will be commonly used to search for and book hotels. Some terms will be specific to Augusta and others will be general for booking hotels. With those terms, an index will be created to weigh the terms according to their relevance throughout the year, according to Google trends. With the addition of the keywords, the newforecasts will be compared to actual occupancy data from 2016. Errors of the univariate models and the models utilizing Google trends data will be compared to determine the accuracy of the two forecasting techniques.
  • An examination of the morale of Women During the United States Civil War

    Williams, Rebecca; Department of History, Anthropology, & Philosophy; Augusta University; Hayes, John; Department of History, Anthropology, & Philosophy (2/12/2018)
    An examination of the morale of Women During the United States Civil WarThis paper is analysis of morale of women during the American Civil War. In the past, when discussing the Civil War classes covered a majority of battles and events instead of expanding about the people. One main focus covered is the change from women believing political affairs were not their concern to wanting to be involved due to the effects they felt such as separation, lack of protection and the adjustment to new responsibilities. The main focus of the research is class and religion. Comparing the common experiences of women in the upper class to women in lower classes in Georgia is a valuable tool when analysing the Civil war through a socioeconomic lense. It is also valuable to examine the feelings the women had toward god as the war progressed. Thereligious practices of women during the Civil war is reflects the morale of the women in Georgia. This paper offers sociocultural perspective of state history and gender roles.

    Treacy, Corey; Department of Biological Sciences; Augusta University; Christy, Charlotte; Department of Biological Sciences (2/12/2018)
    The genus Sisyrinchium(Iridaceae) is a taxonomically complex group that includes several species that are native to the Eastern United States. Initially, two populations with differing morphologies were observed in areas with contrasting maintenance and mowing regimes. This generated two initial questions: Are these populations the same species, and if so, are the contrasting morphologies due to phenotypic plasticity? Investigations included: surveys for additional populations; whether plants could be transplanted to a common habitat; observation of seedling morphology; simulated mowing to test for plastic responses; germination of seeds; and comparisons of reproductive output and of pigmentation. Results suggest that these populations are the same species but that there are differences in reproductive effort, in pigmentation, and in response to fertilizer application. Further investigations to determine if observed differences are heritable and to characterize the type and extent of genetic differences among populations are planned.

    Dojack, Amanda; Schulte, Megahn; Meyers, Amos; Curry-McCoy, Tiana; Department of Kinesiology and Health Science; Department of Radiology; Augusta University; Holland, Angelia; Department of Kinesiology and Health Science (2/12/2018)
    Cognitive function and cardiovascular health often decline with age. Purpose: The relationship between cognitive performance and cardiovascular health in older versus younger men and women was examined. Methods: This cross-sectional study included 13 younger(18-35years old)and 10 older (55-75 years old) individuals. Participants visited the lab fasted and the following occurred in order: informed consent and questionnaires filled out, blood pressure and resting heart rate recorded, triglyceride and cholesterol measured via a fingerprick, anthropometric measures recorded, cognitive performance assessed via tests from the Automated Neuropsychological Assessment Metrics, and a modified YMCA 3-minute step test assessed recovery heart rate. Results: No differences between male and female between six different cognitive tests. The older group demonstrated significantly greater scores on five of the six cognitive tests (P<0.01-0.05) and had a higher education level (P<0.001). The younger group had lower systolic (P<0.01) and diastolic (P<0.05) blood pressure while the older group demonstrated a lower resting heart rate (P<0.05). Females demonstrated a greater recovery heart rate (P<0.01) and total cholesterol (P<0.05) than males. There were no differences in age groups for BMI, fitness level, or glucose, triglyceride, and cholesterol levels. Conclusion: Higher education and fitness may negate age-related cognitive declines.

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