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BIOLOGY DEPARTMENT

 

STUDENT PRESENTERS

Organized By Presentation Subject Material

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CLARISSA APONTE '21

MAJOR: BIOLOGY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR ROBIN WHITE, BIOLOGY

Experimental Effects of Nicotine Exposure Using a Model of Parkinson's Disease in Drosophila Melanogaster

Previous literature has shown that nicotine supplementation has positive effects on those suffering with Parkinson’s Disease. Some studies have found that when supplemented with traditional treatment methods, such as L-DOPA, neurons are protected which reduces disease progression and severity of symptoms. Due to the prominence of nicotine available on the market today and the many forms that it can be administered, we proposed further investigation of this chemical to add support to the growing conversation. Using an accepted model for humans, Drosophila melanogaster, better known as fruit flies, nicotine supplementation will be studied. More specifically, we will investigate nicotine’s effects on brain anatomy, brain function and survival rate. Using Rotenone, an accepted model for Parkinson’s disease in flies, motor function, brain morphology and survival rate will be analyzed. From these experiments, we expect to find no morphological change within the brains of flies supplemented with nicotine. Additionally, we expect to observe no negative effects when subjected to a negative geotaxis assay as well as no detriments to brain morphology.

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BEVERLY APPIAH '21

MAJOR: BIOLOGY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR ROBIN WHITE, BIOLOGY 

Experimental Effects of Nicotine Exposure Using a Model of Parkinson's Disease in Drosophila Melanogaster

Previous literature has shown that nicotine supplementation has positive effects on those suffering with Parkinson’s Disease. Some studies have found that when supplemented with traditional treatment methods, such as L-DOPA, neurons are protected which reduces disease progression and severity of symptoms. Due to the prominence of nicotine available on the market today and the many forms that it can be administered, we proposed further investigation of this chemical to add support to the growing conversation. Using an accepted model for humans, Drosophila melanogaster, better known as fruit flies, nicotine supplementation will be studied. More specifically, we will investigate nicotine’s effects on brain anatomy, brain function and survival rate. Using Rotenone, an accepted model for Parkinson’s disease in flies, motor function, brain morphology and survival rate will be analyzed. From these experiments, we expect to find no morphological change within the brains of flies supplemented with nicotine. Additionally, we expect to observe no negative effects when subjected to a negative geotaxis assay as well as no detriments to brain morphology.

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EMMANUELA FRIMPONG '21

MAJOR: BIOLOGY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR ROBIN WHITE, BIOLOGY

Experimental Effects of Nicotine Exposure Using a Model of Parkinson's Disease in Drosophila Melanogaster

Previous literature has shown that nicotine supplementation has positive effects on those suffering with Parkinson’s Disease. Some studies have found that when supplemented with traditional treatment methods, such as L-DOPA, neurons are protected which reduces disease progression and severity of symptoms. Due to the prominence of nicotine available on the market today and the many forms that it can be administered, we proposed further investigation of this chemical to add support to the growing conversation. Using an accepted model for humans, Drosophila melanogaster, better known as fruit flies, nicotine supplementation will be studied. More specifically, we will investigate nicotine’s effects on brain anatomy, brain function and survival rate. Using Rotenone, an accepted model for Parkinson’s disease in flies, motor function, brain morphology and survival rate will be analyzed. From these experiments, we expect to find no morphological change within the brains of flies supplemented with nicotine. Additionally, we expect to observe no negative effects when subjected to a negative geotaxis assay as well as no detriments to brain morphology.

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MATTHEW GIBEL '21

MAJOR: BIOLOGY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR ROBIN WHITE, BIOLOGY 

Experimental Effects of Nicotine Exposure Using a Model of Parkinson's Disease in Drosophila Melanogaster

Previous literature has shown that nicotine supplementation has positive effects on those suffering with Parkinson’s Disease. Some studies have found that when supplemented with traditional treatment methods, such as L-DOPA, neurons are protected which reduces disease progression and severity of symptoms. Due to the prominence of nicotine available on the market today and the many forms that it can be administered, we proposed further investigation of this chemical to add support to the growing conversation. Using an accepted model for humans, Drosophila melanogaster, better known as fruit flies, nicotine supplementation will be studied. More specifically, we will investigate nicotine’s effects on brain anatomy, brain function and survival rate. Using Rotenone, an accepted model for Parkinson’s disease in flies, motor function, brain morphology and survival rate will be analyzed. From these experiments, we expect to find no morphological change within the brains of flies supplemented with nicotine. Additionally, we expect to observe no negative effects when subjected to a negative geotaxis assay as well as no detriments to brain morphology.

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CLARISSA APONTE '21

MAJOR: BIOLOGY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR EMILY POLINA, BIOLOGY

Modeling the relationship between Tick Biodiversity and Lyme Disease Pathogen

Biodiversity is known as the variability among organisms from all sources and it includes the diversity within species, between species and of the ecosystem. In this study, we questioned whether there is a relationship between vector biodiversity and reports of vectored diseases. We used Ticks to conduct our study to see if there was a correlation between the Ticks biodiversity and lyme disease pathogens. To assess biodiversity and lyme disease pathogens, we used NEON data products. The data that was collected from the NEON data was then sorted and modeled in R studio. Data on nymph ticks and larva ticks were collected and compared. We followed this up with a continuing study on campus where we performed collection and sampling of ticks. The results of this project and the challenges will be presented and discussed.

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JULIA HONG '21

MAJOR: BIOLOGY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR EMILY POLINA, BIOLOGY 

Modeling the relationship between Tick Biodiversity and Lyme Disease Pathogen

Biodiversity is known as the variability among organisms from all sources and it includes the diversity within species, between species and of the ecosystem. In this study, we questioned whether there is a relationship between vector biodiversity and reports of vectored diseases. We used Ticks to conduct our study to see if there was a correlation between the Ticks biodiversity and lyme disease pathogens. To assess biodiversity and lyme disease pathogens, we used NEON data products. The data that was collected from the NEON data was then sorted and modeled in R studio. Data on nymph ticks and larva ticks were collected and compared. We followed this up with a continuing study on campus where we performed collection and sampling of ticks. The results of this project and the challenges will be presented and discussed.

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ASMA MUSE '21

MAJOR: BIOLOGY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR EMILY POLINA, BIOLOGY

Modeling the relationship between Tick Biodiversity and Lyme Disease Pathogen

Biodiversity is known as the variability among organisms from all sources and it includes the diversity within species, between species and of the ecosystem. In this study, we questioned whether there is a relationship between vector biodiversity and reports of vectored diseases. We used Ticks to conduct our study to see if there was a correlation between the Ticks biodiversity and lyme disease pathogens. To assess biodiversity and lyme disease pathogens, we used NEON data products. The data that was collected from the NEON data was then sorted and modeled in R studio. Data on nymph ticks and larva ticks were collected and compared. We followed this up with a continuing study on campus where we performed collection and sampling of ticks. The results of this project and the challenges will be presented and discussed.

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VANESSA SANCHES '21

MAJOR: BIOLOGY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR EMILY POLINA, BIOLOGY 

Modeling the relationship between Tick Biodiversity and Lyme Disease Pathogen

Biodiversity is known as the variability among organisms from all sources and it includes the diversity within species, between species and of the ecosystem. In this study, we questioned whether there is a relationship between vector biodiversity and reports of vectored diseases. We used Ticks to conduct our study to see if there was a correlation between the Ticks biodiversity and lyme disease pathogens. To assess biodiversity and lyme disease pathogens, we used NEON data products. The data that was collected from the NEON data was then sorted and modeled in R studio. Data on nymph ticks and larva ticks were collected and compared. We followed this up with a continuing study on campus where we performed collection and sampling of ticks. The results of this project and the challenges will be presented and discussed.

Gabrielle Biseinere - GabrielleBiseinere

GABRIELLE BISEINERE '21

MAJOR: BIOLOGY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR ARNE CHRISTENSEN, BIOLOGY 

Ingesting Secondary Microplastics Induces Apoptosis Without Proliferation in the Daphnia magna Intestinal Epithelium

Microplastics in aquatic environments are a contaminant of emerging concern. The ingestion of primary and secondary microplastics (MP) by aquatic invertebrates have been previously shown to disrupt a wide range of physiological processes, but little is known about what drives these effects. We exposed Daphnia magna to secondary MP fibers in two 48 hour trials and investigated their impact on cellular apoptosis and proliferation in the intestinal epithelium. We hypothesized that ingestion of secondary MP would lead to increased apoptosis and cell proliferation in the intestine of D. magna. We found that D. magna readily ingest MP (< 240 μm) added to the culture medium. Using fluorescence microscopy, we observed a greater abundance of cells undergoing apoptosis in D. magna exposed to MP compared to the control. We did not observe a significant difference in proliferation of intestinal cells between groups. Our results suggest that ingesting secondary MP induces apoptosis in the intestinal epithelium of D. magna, leading to increased mortality and decreased growth and fecundity shown in previous studies. The present study provides a cellular basis for the negative effects of ingesting MP fibers in D. magna.

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GRACE BRUNNER '21

MAJOR: BIOLOGY & HEALTH SCIENECES

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR ROBIN WHITE, BIOLOGY 

Using rotenone, negative geotaxis, and brain dissections to model Parkinson's Disease in Drosophila

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects dopaminergic neurons within the substantia nigra due to nerve cell damage that results in decreased levels of dopamine. The progression of PD often develops slowly, but can also vary. Diagnosis of PD is based on symptoms of; tremors, slow movement, stiffness of limbs, and loss of balance. In the United States, approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with PD every year. Drosophila melanogaster is a commonly used animal model in PD research due to the ability to observe PD progression, both physically and anatomically, at a small scale. Studies have used rotenone to induce PD within Drosophila and found the pesticide results in similar symptoms seen in those who have progressive PD. Creatine, a dietary supplement, is an amino acid that’s produced in your body's pancreas, liver, etc., and can be used as an energy source. Research has shown that creatine can improve muscle mass, prevent injuries, and improve mental cognition. Since PD results in a decrease in muscle mass, creatine may be able to regenerate previous lost mass. This study takes a deeper look into PD progression and relief in Drosophila by using rotenone to induce PD within the animal model, and uses creatine as a possible symptom relief. We use negative geotaxis to measure the physical PD progression and relief within Drosophila, as well as brain dissection to measure the anatomical PD progression. We expect Drosophila treated with creatine will experience improved muscle mass and decreased anatomical PD progression.

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KIRSTEN JUSSAUME '22

MAJOR: BIOLOGY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR ROBIN WHITE, BIOLOGY 

Using rotenone, negative geotaxis, and brain dissections to model Parkinson's Disease in Drosophila

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects dopaminergic neurons within the substantia nigra due to nerve cell damage that results in decreased levels of dopamine. The progression of PD often develops slowly, but can also vary. Diagnosis of PD is based on symptoms of; tremors, slow movement, stiffness of limbs, and loss of balance. In the United States, approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with PD every year. Drosophila melanogaster is a commonly used animal model in PD research due to the ability to observe PD progression, both physically and anatomically, at a small scale. Studies have used rotenone to induce PD within Drosophila and found the pesticide results in similar symptoms seen in those who have progressive PD. Creatine, a dietary supplement, is an amino acid that’s produced in your body's pancreas, liver, etc., and can be used as an energy source. Research has shown that creatine can improve muscle mass, prevent injuries, and improve mental cognition. Since PD results in a decrease in muscle mass, creatine may be able to regenerate previous lost mass. This study takes a deeper look into PD progression and relief in Drosophila by using rotenone to induce PD within the animal model, and uses creatine as a possible symptom relief. We use negative geotaxis to measure the physical PD progression and relief within Drosophila, as well as brain dissection to measure the anatomical PD progression. We expect Drosophila treated with creatine will experience improved muscle mass and decreased anatomical PD progression.

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JENNIFER KRAHALA '21

MAJOR: BIOLOGY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR ROBIN WHITE, BIOLOGY 

Using rotenone, negative geotaxis, and brain dissections to model Parkinson's Disease in Drosophila

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects dopaminergic neurons within the substantia nigra due to nerve cell damage that results in decreased levels of dopamine. The progression of PD often develops slowly, but can also vary. Diagnosis of PD is based on symptoms of; tremors, slow movement, stiffness of limbs, and loss of balance. In the United States, approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with PD every year. Drosophila melanogaster is a commonly used animal model in PD research due to the ability to observe PD progression, both physically and anatomically, at a small scale. Studies have used rotenone to induce PD within Drosophila and found the pesticide results in similar symptoms seen in those who have progressive PD. Creatine, a dietary supplement, is an amino acid that’s produced in your body's pancreas, liver, etc., and can be used as an energy source. Research has shown that creatine can improve muscle mass, prevent injuries, and improve mental cognition. Since PD results in a decrease in muscle mass, creatine may be able to regenerate previous lost mass. This study takes a deeper look into PD progression and relief in Drosophila by using rotenone to induce PD within the animal model, and uses creatine as a possible symptom relief. We use negative geotaxis to measure the physical PD progression and relief within Drosophila, as well as brain dissection to measure the anatomical PD progression. We expect Drosophila treated with creatine will experience improved muscle mass and decreased anatomical PD progression.

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EMILY KYSER '21

MAJOR: BIOLOGY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR ROBIN WHITE, BIOLOGY 

Using rotenone, negative geotaxis, and brain dissections to model Parkinson's Disease in Drosophila

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects dopaminergic neurons within the substantia nigra due to nerve cell damage that results in decreased levels of dopamine. The progression of PD often develops slowly, but can also vary. Diagnosis of PD is based on symptoms of; tremors, slow movement, stiffness of limbs, and loss of balance. In the United States, approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with PD every year. Drosophila melanogaster is a commonly used animal model in PD research due to the ability to observe PD progression, both physically and anatomically, at a small scale. Studies have used rotenone to induce PD within Drosophila and found the pesticide results in similar symptoms seen in those who have progressive PD. Creatine, a dietary supplement, is an amino acid that’s produced in your body's pancreas, liver, etc., and can be used as an energy source. Research has shown that creatine can improve muscle mass, prevent injuries, and improve mental cognition. Since PD results in a decrease in muscle mass, creatine may be able to regenerate previous lost mass. This study takes a deeper look into PD progression and relief in Drosophila by using rotenone to induce PD within the animal model, and uses creatine as a possible symptom relief. We use negative geotaxis to measure the physical PD progression and relief within Drosophila, as well as brain dissection to measure the anatomical PD progression. We expect Drosophila treated with creatine will experience improved muscle mass and decreased anatomical PD progression.

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JOEL COLLINS '21

MAJOR: BIOLOGY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR EMILY POLINA, BIOLOGY

Effect of Temperature and Precipitation on Tick Abundance

The increase of Lyme disease in North America is evident as there are over 30,000 annual cases. It is known that increased levels of tick abundance results in higher levels of vector-borne diseases such as Lyme disease. This is a brief overview of data collected on the abundance of ticks in response to two variables, average daily temperature and average daily precipitation. Here, we investigate if daily temperature and precipitation amounts have an effect on the abundance of ticks. Data was collected from NEON data collection. Our datasets were collected from the Harvard Forest site. The collected data was from 2017-2018. Statistical analysis of the data was performed in R studio. The relationship of average daily temperature and average precipitation amounts were tested against tick abundance. After analyzing the data, it was found that there was no significant relationship between tick abundance and average daily temperature and average daily precipitation. This review is in conflict with previous studies performed and can be used as a catalyst to investigate other factors that may be influencing the abundance of ticks.

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SYED KHALID '21

MAJOR: BIOLOGY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR EMILY POLINA, BIOLOGY 

Effect of Temperature and Precipitation on Tick Abundance

The increase of Lyme disease in North America is evident as there are over 30,000 annual cases. It is known that increased levels of tick abundance results in higher levels of vector-borne diseases such as Lyme disease. This is a brief overview of data collected on the abundance of ticks in response to two variables, average daily temperature and average daily precipitation. Here, we investigate if daily temperature and precipitation amounts have an effect on the abundance of ticks. Data was collected from NEON data collection. Our datasets were collected from the Harvard Forest site. The collected data was from 2017-2018. Statistical analysis of the data was performed in R studio. The relationship of average daily temperature and average precipitation amounts were tested against tick abundance. After analyzing the data, it was found that there was no significant relationship between tick abundance and average daily temperature and average daily precipitation. This review is in conflict with previous studies performed and can be used as a catalyst to investigate other factors that may be influencing the abundance of ticks.

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ILYA KOLESNIK '21

MAJOR: BIOLOGY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR EMILY POLINA, BIOLOGY

Effect of Temperature and Precipitation on Tick Abundance

The increase of Lyme disease in North America is evident as there are over 30,000 annual cases. It is known that increased levels of tick abundance results in higher levels of vector-borne diseases such as Lyme disease. This is a brief overview of data collected on the abundance of ticks in response to two variables, average daily temperature and average daily precipitation. Here, we investigate if daily temperature and precipitation amounts have an effect on the abundance of ticks. Data was collected from NEON data collection. Our datasets were collected from the Harvard Forest site. The collected data was from 2017-2018. Statistical analysis of the data was performed in R studio. The relationship of average daily temperature and average precipitation amounts were tested against tick abundance. After analyzing the data, it was found that there was no significant relationship between tick abundance and average daily temperature and average daily precipitation. This review is in conflict with previous studies performed and can be used as a catalyst to investigate other factors that may be influencing the abundance of ticks.

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SHIV PATEL '21

MAJOR: BIOLOGY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR EMILY POLINA, BIOLOGY 

Effect of Temperature and Precipitation on Tick Abundance

The increase of Lyme disease in North America is evident as there are over 30,000 annual cases. It is known that increased levels of tick abundance results in higher levels of vector-borne diseases such as Lyme disease. This is a brief overview of data collected on the abundance of ticks in response to two variables, average daily temperature and average daily precipitation. Here, we investigate if daily temperature and precipitation amounts have an effect on the abundance of ticks. Data was collected from NEON data collection. Our datasets were collected from the Harvard Forest site. The collected data was from 2017-2018. Statistical analysis of the data was performed in R studio. The relationship of average daily temperature and average precipitation amounts were tested against tick abundance. After analyzing the data, it was found that there was no significant relationship between tick abundance and average daily temperature and average daily precipitation. This review is in conflict with previous studies performed and can be used as a catalyst to investigate other factors that may be influencing the abundance of ticks.

Samantha Falcone - 40D85A90-7615-40B4-A3

SAMANTHA FALCONE '22

MAJOR: BIOLOGY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR JASON RAMSAY, BIOLOGY

Functional morphology of the feeding apparatus of chain pickerel, Esox niger: Adaptations of manipulation and consumption of large live prey

Fish of the family Esocidae include the chain pickerel, northern pike, and muskellunge. These fish are ambush predators that can capture and consume prey, such as other fish, aquatic birds and mammals that are more than 50% their body size. They capture prey by seizing it between heavily toothed jaws that have a wide gape (mouth opening). Once captured large struggling prey is manipulated so the head is facing into the mouth for swallowing. This is problematic because most fish would have to open their mouths to reposition the prey, giving the prey the opportunity to escape. Yet, these fish have a method of moving their mouth over the prey without letting go. Here we examine and describe the anatomy of the feeding apparatus of Esox niger, the chain pickerel to determine the roles of the cranial elements during large-prey manipulation. The oral and pharyngeal jaws, and all tooth pads with in the buccopharyngeal cavity are examined. Manual manipulation of the feeding anatomy suggests that the prey manipulation mechanism may be similar to the pterygoid walk that snakes perform, as a “hands-free” way of “walking" their jaws along their prey. A new mechanism of prey manipulation in the these fish is proposed, and potential implications for biomimetic tool design are discussed.

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MATTHEW GIBEL '21

MAJOR: BIOLOGY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR KRISTEN PORTER, BIOLOGY

Effects of Stress on the Rate of Wound Closure Within the Female Reproductive Tract

Wound healing of the skin is a well-known process, however wound healing within mucosal environments lacks understanding. Further adding to this unknown process is the effects of stress hormones on this process. Using human endocervical and ectocervical cells, innate immune cells, and stress-related hormones, wound healing in the mucosal tissue was investigated. Significantly, it was found that cortisol has detrimental effects upon wound healing macrophages while it is able to increase the healing properties of inflammatory macrophages. In addition to this significant finding, anti-inflammatory hydrocortisone was found to increase the wound healing rates of all macrophage types. Furthermore, we observed difference in wound healing rates amongst THP-1 and primary monocytic cell lines. Our findings are able to suggest that the presence of cortisol, hydrocortisone, macrophage type and cell line all further impact the rate of wound closure within mucosal tissue.

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JACOB HEILMANN '21

MAJOR: BIOLOGY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR EMILY POLINA, BIOLOGY

The Effects of Humidity and Temperature on Mosquito Diversity

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ALEXANDRA MELLO '21

MAJOR: BIOLOGY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR EMILY POLINA, BIOLOGY 

The Effects of Humidity and Temperature on Mosquito Diversity

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LIZBETH MORALES '21

MAJOR: BIOLOGY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR EMILY POLINA, BIOLOGY

The Effects of Humidity and Temperature on Mosquito Diversity

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MAHA YAYA '21

MAJOR: BIOLOGY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR EMILY POLINA, BIOLOGY 

The Effects of Humidity and Temperature on Mosquito Diversity

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ILYA KOLESNIK '21

MAJOR: BIOLOGY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR ROBIN WHITE, BIOLOGY

Effects of β-Hydroxybutyrate on Traumatic Brain Injury in Drosophila

β-Hydroxybutyrate (BHB) is a ketone body that inhibits class 1 histone deacetylases (HDAC). It has been shown that cells treated with BHB displayed higher levels of histone acetylation at promoter genes involved with reduction of oxidative stress, such as FOXO3A and MT2. During oxidative stress, excess free radicals have the ability to damage neuron cells and can in some cases cause cell death. BHB has been shown to affect transcription of genes encoding oxidative stress resistance factors by selectively depleting HDAC1 and HDAC2. Furthermore, BHB has been shown to reduce oxidative stress by increasing levels of catalase via the AMPK-FOXO3 pathway. Here, we investigate the effects of a diet consisting of BHB on the symptoms of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the fruit fly Drosophila Melanogaster. Due to information aforementioned, we expect flies fed with BHB to display symptoms of TBI that are less severe as compared to the control group. The control group were fed a regular diet while the treatment group were fed a diet consisting of BHB at a dose of 2mM. The control group and the BHB group of flies were put through a traumatic brain event with using a TBI apparatus. The severity of symptoms was determined by analyzing the results of negative geotaxis ten minutes and one week after the TBI. Catalase levels were measured post-mortem. Increased levels of BHB have been correlated with a ketogenic diet. This study gives further insight into how diet may affect the symptoms of TBI.

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EMIL LASKOWSKI '21

MAJOR: BIOLOGY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR ROBIN WHITE, BIOLOGY 

Effects of β-Hydroxybutyrate on Traumatic Brain Injury in Drosophila

β-Hydroxybutyrate (BHB) is a ketone body that inhibits class 1 histone deacetylases (HDAC). It has been shown that cells treated with BHB displayed higher levels of histone acetylation at promoter genes involved with reduction of oxidative stress, such as FOXO3A and MT2. During oxidative stress, excess free radicals have the ability to damage neuron cells and can in some cases cause cell death. BHB has been shown to affect transcription of genes encoding oxidative stress resistance factors by selectively depleting HDAC1 and HDAC2. Furthermore, BHB has been shown to reduce oxidative stress by increasing levels of catalase via the AMPK-FOXO3 pathway. Here, we investigate the effects of a diet consisting of BHB on the symptoms of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the fruit fly Drosophila Melanogaster. Due to information aforementioned, we expect flies fed with BHB to display symptoms of TBI that are less severe as compared to the control group. The control group were fed a regular diet while the treatment group were fed a diet consisting of BHB at a dose of 2mM. The control group and the BHB group of flies were put through a traumatic brain event with using a TBI apparatus. The severity of symptoms was determined by analyzing the results of negative geotaxis ten minutes and one week after the TBI. Catalase levels were measured post-mortem. Increased levels of BHB have been correlated with a ketogenic diet. This study gives further insight into how diet may affect the symptoms of TBI.

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RAYMOND LASKOWSKI '21

MAJOR: BIOLOGY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR ROBIN WHITE, BIOLOGY 

Effects of β-Hydroxybutyrate on Traumatic Brain Injury in Drosophila

β-Hydroxybutyrate (BHB) is a ketone body that inhibits class 1 histone deacetylases (HDAC). It has been shown that cells treated with BHB displayed higher levels of histone acetylation at promoter genes involved with reduction of oxidative stress, such as FOXO3A and MT2. During oxidative stress, excess free radicals have the ability to damage neuron cells and can in some cases cause cell death. BHB has been shown to affect transcription of genes encoding oxidative stress resistance factors by selectively depleting HDAC1 and HDAC2. Furthermore, BHB has been shown to reduce oxidative stress by increasing levels of catalase via the AMPK-FOXO3 pathway. Here, we investigate the effects of a diet consisting of BHB on the symptoms of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the fruit fly Drosophila Melanogaster. Due to information aforementioned, we expect flies fed with BHB to display symptoms of TBI that are less severe as compared to the control group. The control group were fed a regular diet while the treatment group were fed a diet consisting of BHB at a dose of 2mM. The control group and the BHB group of flies were put through a traumatic brain event with using a TBI apparatus. The severity of symptoms was determined by analyzing the results of negative geotaxis ten minutes and one week after the TBI. Catalase levels were measured post-mortem. Increased levels of BHB have been correlated with a ketogenic diet. This study gives further insight into how diet may affect the symptoms of TBI.

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BRIANNA ST. MARIE '21

MAJOR: BIOLOGY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR ROBIN WHITE, BIOLOGY 

Effects of β-Hydroxybutyrate on Traumatic Brain Injury in Drosophila

β-Hydroxybutyrate (BHB) is a ketone body that inhibits class 1 histone deacetylases (HDAC). It has been shown that cells treated with BHB displayed higher levels of histone acetylation at promoter genes involved with reduction of oxidative stress, such as FOXO3A and MT2. During oxidative stress, excess free radicals have the ability to damage neuron cells and can in some cases cause cell death. BHB has been shown to affect transcription of genes encoding oxidative stress resistance factors by selectively depleting HDAC1 and HDAC2. Furthermore, BHB has been shown to reduce oxidative stress by increasing levels of catalase via the AMPK-FOXO3 pathway. Here, we investigate the effects of a diet consisting of BHB on the symptoms of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the fruit fly Drosophila Melanogaster. Due to information aforementioned, we expect flies fed with BHB to display symptoms of TBI that are less severe as compared to the control group. The control group were fed a regular diet while the treatment group were fed a diet consisting of BHB at a dose of 2mM. The control group and the BHB group of flies were put through a traumatic brain event with using a TBI apparatus. The severity of symptoms was determined by analyzing the results of negative geotaxis ten minutes and one week after the TBI. Catalase levels were measured post-mortem. Increased levels of BHB have been correlated with a ketogenic diet. This study gives further insight into how diet may affect the symptoms of TBI.

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EMILY KYSER '21

MAJOR: BIOLOGY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR KIMBERLY BERMAN, BIOLOGY

Obese NLRP12-deficient mice exhibit increased symptoms of type 2 diabetes and high circulating leptin levels

The chronic disease of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) accounts for 90% of overall diabetes cases worldwide since 2015. T2DM results in high blood glucose levels, insulin insensitivity, and a chronic pro-inflammatory state. The pro-inflammatory state is caused by cytokines such as IL-1β and IL-18 that are produced by adipose-infiltrating immune cells, such as macrophages. These macrophages have been directly linked to the development of insulin insensitivity in T2DM. Nod-like receptors, such as NLRP3, create the cascade of effects that result in the secretion of IL-1β and IL-18. Studies have identified NLRP3 as a key component that induces the metabolic inflammation and insulin insensitivity seen in T2DM. More recently, previous research showed that NLRP12-deficient mice exhibited diet-induced obesity and inflammation, and demonstrated that the mice experienced a worsening of all symptoms related to T2DM. This study takes a deeper look into these results in order to further characterize pathologic and inflammatory changes in NLRP12-deficient mice that were fed a high fat diet. We specifically quantified levels of leptin, a hormone that is responsible for regulating energy balance and plays a significant role in the immune system by upregulating the secretion of proinflammatory cytokines, such as IL-1β. Quantification of leptin levels demonstrated NLRP12-deficient mice present to have increased levels of leptin compared to wildtype mice.

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JESS LEVY '22

MAJOR: BIOLOGY & SECONDAY EDUCATION, MINOR IN CHEMISTRY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR ROBIN WHITE, BIOLOGY 

The effect of CBD oil on Rotenone-treated Drosophila melanogaster as a model of human Parkinson’s Disease

The purpose of this study is to investigate if CBD oil alleviates the Parkinson’s Disease (PD) - like symptoms found in rotenone-treated Drosophila melanogaster (fruit flies). CBD oil is non-addictive and due to recent policy change has become an easily attainable substance that has been widely studied for its potential use in humans. D. Melanogaster is a model organism for human systems making it a convenient and effective test subject for potential human ailments such as PD. Rotenone-treated flies will be introduced to CBD oil through their food medium, with 0.005mg/mL and 0.01mg/mL doses. Flies are evaluated using a RING test method to measure their motor behavior before and after being treated with CBD. A change in the flies’ instinctual negative geotaxis behavior would indicate an effect from the CBD. Catalase enzyme breaks down hydrogen peroxide, which is a reactive oxygen species that leads to degeneration of cells and tissues. Decreased catalase activity would indicate the presence of more hydrogen peroxide and more cellular damage. An improvement in motor function and increased catalase activity would indicate that CBD oil induced positive effects on the flies. Positive results from this study could provide beneficial data to support the use of CBD treatments for PD in humans.

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ANNA POSTNIKOVA '21

MAJOR: BIOLOGY, MINOR IN CHEMISTRY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR ROBIN WHITE, BIOLOGY 

The effect of CBD oil on Rotenone-treated Drosophila melanogaster as a model of human Parkinson’s Disease

The purpose of this study is to investigate if CBD oil alleviates the Parkinson’s Disease (PD) - like symptoms found in rotenone-treated Drosophila melanogaster (fruit flies). CBD oil is non-addictive and due to recent policy change has become an easily attainable substance that has been widely studied for its potential use in humans. D. Melanogaster is a model organism for human systems making it a convenient and effective test subject for potential human ailments such as PD. Rotenone-treated flies will be introduced to CBD oil through their food medium, with 0.005mg/mL and 0.01mg/mL doses. Flies are evaluated using a RING test method to measure their motor behavior before and after being treated with CBD. A change in the flies’ instinctual negative geotaxis behavior would indicate an effect from the CBD. Catalase enzyme breaks down hydrogen peroxide, which is a reactive oxygen species that leads to degeneration of cells and tissues. Decreased catalase activity would indicate the presence of more hydrogen peroxide and more cellular damage. An improvement in motor function and increased catalase activity would indicate that CBD oil induced positive effects on the flies. Positive results from this study could provide beneficial data to support the use of CBD treatments for PD in humans.

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JAILENE STAPLETON '21

MAJOR: BIOLOGY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR ROBIN WHITE, BIOLOGY 

The effect of CBD oil on Rotenone-treated Drosophila melanogaster as a model of human Parkinson’s Disease

The purpose of this study is to investigate if CBD oil alleviates the Parkinson’s Disease (PD) - like symptoms found in rotenone-treated Drosophila melanogaster (fruit flies). CBD oil is non-addictive and due to recent policy change has become an easily attainable substance that has been widely studied for its potential use in humans. D. Melanogaster is a model organism for human systems making it a convenient and effective test subject for potential human ailments such as PD. Rotenone-treated flies will be introduced to CBD oil through their food medium, with 0.005mg/mL and 0.01mg/mL doses. Flies are evaluated using a RING test method to measure their motor behavior before and after being treated with CBD. A change in the flies’ instinctual negative geotaxis behavior would indicate an effect from the CBD. Catalase enzyme breaks down hydrogen peroxide, which is a reactive oxygen species that leads to degeneration of cells and tissues. Decreased catalase activity would indicate the presence of more hydrogen peroxide and more cellular damage. An improvement in motor function and increased catalase activity would indicate that CBD oil induced positive effects on the flies. Positive results from this study could provide beneficial data to support the use of CBD treatments for PD in humans.

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KIA YANG '22

MAJOR: BIOLOGY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR ROBIN WHITE, BIOLOGY 

The effect of CBD oil on Rotenone-treated Drosophila melanogaster as a model of human Parkinson’s Disease

The purpose of this study is to investigate if CBD oil alleviates the Parkinson’s Disease (PD) - like symptoms found in rotenone-treated Drosophila melanogaster (fruit flies). CBD oil is non-addictive and due to recent policy change has become an easily attainable substance that has been widely studied for its potential use in humans. D. Melanogaster is a model organism for human systems making it a convenient and effective test subject for potential human ailments such as PD. Rotenone-treated flies will be introduced to CBD oil through their food medium, with 0.005mg/mL and 0.01mg/mL doses. Flies are evaluated using a RING test method to measure their motor behavior before and after being treated with CBD. A change in the flies’ instinctual negative geotaxis behavior would indicate an effect from the CBD. Catalase enzyme breaks down hydrogen peroxide, which is a reactive oxygen species that leads to degeneration of cells and tissues. Decreased catalase activity would indicate the presence of more hydrogen peroxide and more cellular damage. An improvement in motor function and increased catalase activity would indicate that CBD oil induced positive effects on the flies. Positive results from this study could provide beneficial data to support the use of CBD treatments for PD in humans.

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MITCHEL MASLOWSKI '21

MAJOR: BIOLOGY (BIOTECHNOLOGY)

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR PORTER, BIOLOGY

Observing Growth and Maturation differences in THP-1 macrophages in the prescence of TGF-bObserving Growth and Maturation differences in THP-1 macrophages in the prescence of TGF-b

There are many studies conducted using THP-1 monocytes and maturing them into macrophages, but within protocols, many inconsistencies arise with cell density and PMA concentration. This results in little reliability and validity amongst all research, therefore, it is hypothesized that differing cell densities with different PMA concentrations effect cytokine release of M1 and M2 macrophages. By using ELISA, it is observed that lower densities with higher concentrations of PMA release the most TGF-b which creates controversy. This highlights the importance of finding optimal culturing conditions for better research.

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MADELINE MORIN '21

MAJOR: BIOLOGY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR EMILY POLINA, BIOLOGY

The spatial relationship between temperature, moisture, and tick abundance

Ticks can carry more than 16 diseases capable of infecting humans, the most common of which being Lyme disease. Knowing the factors affect their abundance is useful for mapping populations and predicting when and where vector ticks may be present. Here, we attempt to determine if there is a spatial relationship between temperature, moisture, and tick abundance in Massachusetts. Data on tick pathogen-status, monthly precipitation, and monthly temperature from 2017-2018 was obtained from the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). The data was used to build a linear model as well as statistical tests in R-Studio® to test for significant correlations between temperature and tick abundance, as well as precipitation and tick abundance. Both statistical tests yielded p-values of over 0.05, indicating a lack of statistically significant correlations. However, this study focused on a very narrow timeframe in one location, so future research is needed to gain a more accurate picture of the spatial relationship between temperature, moisture, and tick abundance.

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MITCHELL SADOWSKI '22

MAJOR: BIOLOGY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR EMILY POLINA, BIOLOGY 

The spatial relationship between temperature, moisture, and tick abundance

Ticks can carry more than 16 diseases capable of infecting humans, the most common of which being Lyme disease. Knowing the factors affect their abundance is useful for mapping populations and predicting when and where vector ticks may be present. Here, we attempt to determine if there is a spatial relationship between temperature, moisture, and tick abundance in Massachusetts. Data on tick pathogen-status, monthly precipitation, and monthly temperature from 2017-2018 was obtained from the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). The data was used to build a linear model as well as statistical tests in R-Studio® to test for significant correlations between temperature and tick abundance, as well as precipitation and tick abundance. Both statistical tests yielded p-values of over 0.05, indicating a lack of statistically significant correlations. However, this study focused on a very narrow timeframe in one location, so future research is needed to gain a more accurate picture of the spatial relationship between temperature, moisture, and tick abundance.

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SARAH STAPLETON '21

MAJOR: BIOLOGY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR  EMILY POLINA, BIOLOGY

The spatial relationship between temperature, moisture, and tick abundance

Ticks can carry more than 16 diseases capable of infecting humans, the most common of which being Lyme disease. Knowing the factors affect their abundance is useful for mapping populations and predicting when and where vector ticks may be present. Here, we attempt to determine if there is a spatial relationship between temperature, moisture, and tick abundance in Massachusetts. Data on tick pathogen-status, monthly precipitation, and monthly temperature from 2017-2018 was obtained from the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). The data was used to build a linear model as well as statistical tests in R-Studio® to test for significant correlations between temperature and tick abundance, as well as precipitation and tick abundance. Both statistical tests yielded p-values of over 0.05, indicating a lack of statistically significant correlations. However, this study focused on a very narrow timeframe in one location, so future research is needed to gain a more accurate picture of the spatial relationship between temperature, moisture, and tick abundance.

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BRENDAN WALKER-DAVIS '21

MAJOR: BIOLOGY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR EMILY POLINA, BIOLOGY

The spatial relationship between temperature, moisture, and tick abundance

Ticks can carry more than 16 diseases capable of infecting humans, the most common of which being Lyme disease. Knowing the factors affect their abundance is useful for mapping populations and predicting when and where vector ticks may be present. Here, we attempt to determine if there is a spatial relationship between temperature, moisture, and tick abundance in Massachusetts. Data on tick pathogen-status, monthly precipitation, and monthly temperature from 2017-2018 was obtained from the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). The data was used to build a linear model as well as statistical tests in R-Studio® to test for significant correlations between temperature and tick abundance, as well as precipitation and tick abundance. Both statistical tests yielded p-values of over 0.05, indicating a lack of statistically significant correlations. However, this study focused on a very narrow timeframe in one location, so future research is needed to gain a more accurate picture of the spatial relationship between temperature, moisture, and tick abundance.

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KIA YANG '21

MAJOR: BIOLOGY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR E,ILY POLINA, BIOLOGY

The spatial relationship between temperature, moisture, and tick abundance

Ticks can carry more than 16 diseases capable of infecting humans, the most common of which being Lyme disease. Knowing the factors affect their abundance is useful for mapping populations and predicting when and where vector ticks may be present. Here, we attempt to determine if there is a spatial relationship between temperature, moisture, and tick abundance in Massachusetts. Data on tick pathogen-status, monthly precipitation, and monthly temperature from 2017-2018 was obtained from the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). The data was used to build a linear model as well as statistical tests in R-Studio® to test for significant correlations between temperature and tick abundance, as well as precipitation and tick abundance. Both statistical tests yielded p-values of over 0.05, indicating a lack of statistically significant correlations. However, this study focused on a very narrow timeframe in one location, so future research is needed to gain a more accurate picture of the spatial relationship between temperature, moisture, and tick abundance.

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NATASHA NEVUE '21

MAJOR: BIOLOGY/ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR JASON RAMSAY, BIOLOGY 

A new description of muscle architecture in the adductor mandibulae complex of spiny dogfish, Squalus acanthias.

The Spiny Dogfish (Squalus acanthias) has been a model organism for teaching since the late 1800s. This fish is in just about every textbook and lab exercise that focuses on comparative vertebrate anatomy. Visualization of the musculoskeletal system of S. acanthias is relatively consistent in the literature with one acceptation, the adductor mandibulae complex (AMC). The AMC is a group of muscles that close and protrude the jaws during feeding. Graphic and pictorial visuals, and general descriptions of the AMC differ from literature source to literature source. Here we reexamine the architecture of the AMC divisions in fresh and preserved specimens of S. acanthias through dissection, recording our findings through photo documentation. The main goals are to provide a new and accurate description and illustration of the AMC for universal use in comparative anatomy educational literature, and discuss the function implications of the muscle architecture. Our results reveal the presence of a previously overlooked division of the AMC. This division extends from the caudolateral surface to the upper jaw superior to the jaw joint. The fibers of the muscle converge onto a broad tendon that extends rostrodorsally to insert onto the postorbital process of the cranium. The muscle tendon lies directly under the skin, making it immensely easy to cut if off if one isn’t dissecting with this muscle in mind. Furthermore, the mechanical position of the muscle suggests that it would function in upper jaw protrusion, altering the description of the feeding mechanism in this well studied species.

Renee St. Jacques

RENEE ST. JACQUES '21

MAJOR: BIOLOGY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR JASON RAMSAY, BIOLOGY 

A new description of muscle architecture in the adductor mandibulae complex of spiny dogfish, Squalus acanthias.

The Spiny Dogfish (Squalus acanthias) has been a model organism for teaching since the late 1800s. This fish is in just about every textbook and lab exercise that focuses on comparative vertebrate anatomy. Visualization of the musculoskeletal system of S. acanthias is relatively consistent in the literature with one acceptation, the adductor mandibulae complex (AMC). The AMC is a group of muscles that close and protrude the jaws during feeding. Graphic and pictorial visuals, and general descriptions of the AMC differ from literature source to literature source. Here we reexamine the architecture of the AMC divisions in fresh and preserved specimens of S. acanthias through dissection, recording our findings through photo documentation. The main goals are to provide a new and accurate description and illustration of the AMC for universal use in comparative anatomy educational literature, and discuss the function implications of the muscle architecture. Our results reveal the presence of a previously overlooked division of the AMC. This division extends from the caudolateral surface to the upper jaw superior to the jaw joint. The fibers of the muscle converge onto a broad tendon that extends rostrodorsally to insert onto the postorbital process of the cranium. The muscle tendon lies directly under the skin, making it immensely easy to cut if off if one isn’t dissecting with this muscle in mind. Furthermore, the mechanical position of the muscle suggests that it would function in upper jaw protrusion, altering the description of the feeding mechanism in this well studied species.

Renee St. Jacques

RENEE ST. JACQUES '21

MAJOR: BIOLOGY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR MAO LUN-WENG, BIOLOGY 

Analysis of Indel Mutations in A. thaliana

Mutations are a primary source of genetic variation. Up until recently point mutations were the main focus of many genetic studies because of a lack of technology to read long-read sequences. One of the main organisms that is oftentimes used as the test subject for mutation studies is Arabidopsis thaliana, because of the establishment of mutation accumulation lines in this plant species. In this study we will be focusing on the insertion and deletion mutations (indel) in the chloroplasts and mitochondria of Arabidopsis thaliana. Studying the mutations in the organelles of this plant will allow us to identify structural mutations in Arabidopsis thaliana. In order to identify structural mutations in Arabidopsis thaliana we utilized the Nanopore MinION sequencer for our data collection. We used six samples of Arabidopsis thaliana DNA from both the chloroplasts and mitochondria, barcoded them, then sequenced them through the MinION for approximately 24 hours. We will then be comparing the sequence data we collected to a reference chloroplast and mitochondrial genomes to observe insertions and deletions that occurred in Arabidopsis thaliana. We aim to quantify the number of insertion and deletion mutations that occurred in the individual and estimate the indel mutation rate.