Established in 1995, the JSU Student Symposium provides a forum to publicly display and acknowledge the best work of JSU's students. More than 50 papers, posters, and projects were presented at the 2020 symposium, held 12-14 February 2020 at the Houston Cole Library; these works are archived here, along with the symposium proceedings. The following awards were presented:
- Arts & Humanities
- Undergraduate: Miranda Ivey, "Andy Warhol's Influence in the American Pop Art Culture"
- Graduate: Karine Parker, "How UI/UX Principles Can Be Applied to Non-Traditional Projects in an Academic-Centered Environment" School of Human Services & Social Sciences
- Undergraduate: Kaitlyn Williams, "What's Your Type? The Comparison of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Howell Enneagram Test"
- Graduate: Brett Johnson, "Positive and Negative Aspects of the United States Social Security Program" School of Science
- Undergraduate: Caleb Hudson, "Unraveling R44P: A SLC6A1 Variant Which Includes Childhood Epilepsy"
- Graduate: Andrew Shirley, "Toxicity of Native and Invasive Apple Snail Egg Proteins on Developing Xenopus Laevis"
- Undergraduate: Olivia Sims, "A Discussion of the Guggenheims: The Links Between the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao"
- Graduate: Alex Rocco, "Battle of the Benthic: Comparing Aggression Differences Between a Native and Invasive Species"
- Undergraduate: Shelby Harris, "The Role of SLC6A1 Variant 468 C R in Myoclonic-Atonic Epilepsy and Autism"
- Graduate: Emily Hamilton, "Generalist Practice with Individuals, Families, and Groups: Competency Implementation and Evaluation"
- Brooklee Mason
- Melanie Spaulding, "Flora of Cleburne County, Alabama"
- Claire Behan, "The Burnout of Student Athletes"
[ Best Paper ]
[ Best Poster ]
[ Best Cover Design ] (for graphic design of symposium printed program)
[ Best of Showcase ]
[ Houston Cole Library Award for Research Excellence ]
Using a Complex Chemical Landscape to Find an Ideal Habitat under Predation Threat
Animals rely on information from their environment to detect predators, prey, and resources which can significantly increase fitness. Chemical signaling is widely used in aquatic animals and can influence decision making under stressful conditions. For example, aquatic animals, like crayfish, use chemical information to find mates, engage in contests over resources, and to manage access to resources (i.e. determine risks verses rewards). During this study, a habitat selection assay was used to study the relative importance of an attractive cue (i.e. shelter and food) to an aversive cue (e.g. predator odor). Crayfish were placed into a specialized arena with a gravel substrate and identical shelters on each side of the arena. Odors were delivered to each side of the arena using a gravity-fed system. Control trials used pre-conditioned, dechlorinated tap water as the odor. Treatment one trial introduced a predator odor into one side of the arena and tap water to the other. Treatment two introduced the same odors at random with a high protein diet located in the same habitat as the predator odor. Individuals could acclimate to the arena for 5 minutes prior to the start of odor delivery. Individuals were then allowed to explore for 15 minutes and were video recorded from above. Videos were scored for initial habitat choice and total time spent in each habitat section. As expected, the introduction of both an attractive and aversive stimulus influenced the crayfish’s decision on habitat selection. These results support previous studies that suggest sensory landscapes can be complex and influence an individual’s decisions.
Isolation and Identification of a Potential Brewing Yeast from Northeast Alabama
Sumer Al-Saadi and Lauren Usrey
Microbial fermentation is often utilized for industrial purposes, including the processes of beer brewing. Beer breweries traditionally use domesticated strains of yeast, such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Saccharomyces pastorianus. However, different yeast species yield various flavors and have a significant impact on the quality of the beer produced. The goal of this study was to isolate and identify strains of wild yeast from Northeast Alabama. As the source for wild yeast, the microbial communities from a single yellowjacket (Vespula sp) found in Jacksonville, AL were collected and incubated in a selective liquid medium for yeast . The yeast colonies were isolated and purified on selective media agar plates. Cell morphology and confirmation of yeast isolation was performed using microscopy. Furthermore, DNA was isolated from our yeast cultures and a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based assay was used to determine if the wild yeast was a traditional brewing strain (i.e., S. cerevisiae or S. pastorianus). Preliminary results have indicated indicated that the isolated yeast is not a traditional brewing yeast. Thus, further testing will occur for the determination of its strain identity, alcohol tolerance, and beer brewing potential.
Evaluation of Anti-wrinkling Properties of Chili Pepper (Capsicum Annum) Extract
Aging is a natural process of living organisms that consists of becoming older. In human and other animals, aging is accompanied by several physiological changes. These include deterioration, oxidation and wrinkle formation. Wrinkle formation may also be caused by various environmental factors such as excessive exposure to sun, pollution, and continuous deprivation of sleep. These environmental factors in turn cause oxidation of the skin cells and degradation of the subcutaneous fatty acid layer, leading to the formation of wrinkles. The global anti-aging industry is estimated to be worth over fifty-billion United States dollars. Plant based products are alternative methods for treating wrinkles of the skin or premature aging. Several antioxidants naturally found in plants, such as the pepper, have been associated with slowing or preventing wrinkle formation and premature skin aging. Pepper belongs to the species Capsicum annuum. It is a vegetable, native to southern and central America and Africa. It is a relative of the tomato and the potato. Pepper comes in several colors including green, yellow, orange, and red. It also comes in several flavors such as sweet, bitter, sour and spicy hot. There are several health benefits associated with the consumption of chili pepper including increasing appetite, treating anemia, improving eyesight, supporting hair growth, and supporting skin health. Chili peppers are believed to be high in vitamin A, a group of unsaturated organic molecules important in growth and development. They may also contain vitamin E, a fat-soluble antioxidant that protects lipids from oxidizing, as well as vitamin C, an essential nutrient in tissue repair. The objectives of this study are to investigate the vitamin A, E, and C contents of chili pepper extract and to investigate the effects of chili pepper extract on the growth and development of tobacco, Nicotiana tobacum, callus. The experimental procedures consisted of culturing tobacco callus and tobacco explants on tumor inducing media, Murashige and Skoog (MS) media supplemented with pepper extract. Callus formation, growth, and health status will be recorded.
Isolation and Characterization of a Venom Protein, Cratrin, from Crotalus horridus (Timber Rattlesnake)
Snake venoms are rich in enzymes and other biologically-active peptides. These proteins tend to be relatively small, with their primary functions to immobilize, kill, and begin the digestion processes of prey. In addition to the obvious toxic effects of snake venom, they have the potential to be a source for novel proteins with medical/pharmacological applications. For example, some venom components such as disintegrins, phospholipase A2 (PLA2), and metalloproteinases have been used in the treatment of thrombosis, arthritis, cancer, strokes, and heart attacks. In our research we have created normalized cDNA libraries from venom gland tissues from Crotalus horridus. Recently, we have identified a vascular endothelial growth factor-like protein, cratrin, from our cDNA libraries. These types of vascular endothelial growth factors are crucial in the development and maintenance of blood and lymphatic vessels. They are one of the main drivers of angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels from existing ones. They are also implicated in several pathologies including tumor growth. This is the first reported cratrin homolog from C. horridus venom transcriptome. Due to its integral role as both a growth factor as well as its implicated toxicity contribution to the venom, understanding the regulation of expression and protein structure are of utmost interests. Continuing research in our lab is focused on elucidating functions of cratrin in C. horridus, as it relates to other vascular endothelial growth factors.
Possible Method of Storing Plant Cells at Subfreezing Temperatures and Recovering Viable Cells
Alexa Grace Baldwin and Taylor West
The process of stabilizing biological materials at cryogenic temperatures is called cryopreservation. The practical example of cryobiology is the study of life at low temperatures. The use of cryopreservation is to recover the preserved living cells and tissues when brought out to ambient temperature. Advances in cryopreservation technology have led to methods that allow low temperature maintenance of a variety of tissues, cell types and subcellular materials. Low temperature preservation has been used intensively in food industry and in medicine. Cryopreservation techniques are applicable for the preservation of microorganisms, tissues, primary cells, and small multicellular organisms. The freezing process involves complex phenomena that are not fully understood. During sudden freezing, a process called vitrification transform the cytoplasmic water into sharp edge-ice crystals. The ice crystals poke holes through the cellular and organelles membranes. This causes leakage to occur at all level in the cell interior and extracellular environment causing cells and tissue death. Some microscopic organisms can survive freezing by replacing most of their internal water with low molecular weight solutes to prevent crystallization. It was shown that plant cells will respond to environmental stresses, heat, cold, by synthesizing and accumulating low-molecular-weight compounds and proteins and amino acids in their cytoplasm. These low molecular weight compounds act as cellular osmoprotectants to help protect the cell life. The increase in solute concentrations inside the cytoplasm can equally be detrimental to the cell survival. For this reason, we set our objective to investigate two possible freezing methods and insure greater chances of recovering viable cells. Tobacco, Nicotiana tobacum, cells grown in liquid Murashige and Skoog (MS) media containing 30g/L sucrose and 2 mg/L 2,4-D, and 0.1 mg/L kinetin were pretreated with different concentrations of Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and glycerol and stored at -80oC for 7 days. The cells were brought back to room temperature gradually and their viability determined. The cells were also plated on 2MS media and their growth was recorded.
SLC6A1 I220V is Projected to Not Impact Protein Function but Could Cause Epilepsy
SLC6A1 is a gene in humans that codes for one of the main GABA transporter proteins in the central nervous system. This protein is associated with an autosomal dominant disorder that can cause epileptic encephalopathy. A variant at the 220 amino acid position is classified as a missense mutation that causes myoclonic-atonic epilepsy and is a result of Isoleucine being improperly replaced with Valine. This variant has not yet been clinically reported in individuals experiencing physical symptoms linked with an SLC6A1 related disease. Statistical comparison of this gene in humans to 225 other species containing the same gene was performed and aligned, where each codon was then studied for long term stability. The variant is presented with an unknown significance and a low impact score of 6 on a scale of 0 to 148.5 with a relative correspondence to other known benign variants of this gene. According to Align-GVGD, I220V is a Class 0 missense and is suspected to be least likely to affect molecular function. However, since this variant has been identified to cause myoclonic-atonic epilepsy, a model of the gene with this variant was conducted to determine molecular shifts in the transmembrane bound proteins that may have unexpected impacts when used as a transport protein for key ligands.
The Burnout of Student Athletes
The purpose of this research is to gain a deeper understanding of the factors that affect burnout in student athletes. For the literature review, many sources were evaluated to discover how much specific factors impact the burnout of student athletes. The factors discussed were early sport specialization, body fatigue, overwhelming schedules, oppressive coaches, and poor mental health. To back the information in the literature review, three distinct studies were assessed. These studies included injuries in Major League Baseball, factors of burnout on the campus of Kennesaw State, and the effects of coaching behaviors on Division I swimmers. From this research the hypothesis that a student athlete will burn out of their sport before reaching full potential is supported.
Analysis of the Aversive: The Impact of Negative Chemical Stimuli on Faxonius erichsonianus Fighting Behavior
Crayfish rely significantly on their ability to detect and decipher odor cues in their environment to make important ecological decisions. For example, crayfish regularly engage in contests with conspecifics to accrue resources. While these contests are important, they can potentially leave individuals vulnerable to predation. Adequate predator and alarm odor identification is crucial for prey organisms and can be regarded as a key process responsible for increased chance of prey survival. To determine if alarm cues from conspecifics affect Faxonius erichsonianus fighting behavior, crayfish were exposed to alarm or predator odors during a staged dyadic interaction. Animals were first socially isolated for one week to eliminate past social effects. For trials, individuals were placed in a divided 40 cm x 40 cm Plexiglas fight arena. Dividers remained in place during a 15 minute acclimation period and were removed at the beginning of a 15 minute fight trial. Control trials took place solely in pre-conditioned tap water, while alarm odor trials incorporated water containing the scent of a deceased conspecific and the predator odor treatment contests integrated the scent of predatory fish into the arena. All trials were video recorded and analyzed for fight duration and maximum behavioral intensity. We predicted that the introduction of alarm and predator odors into the fight arena would reduce the occurrence of fights as well as their overall intensity. The implication that crayfish are equally impacted by conspecific alarm odor and predator odor means that detection of these chemical cues plays an important role in their survival. However, a pronounced difference in behavioral outcome for alarm and predator odor means that these signals are not as ecologically relevant to the prey organism as fighting behavior.
Graphic Design, Symposium Printed Program Contest, Ashlyn Brooks
Art and Design students participated in a graphic design project contest. The winning design was used for the 2020 JSU Student Symposium printed program.
Graphic Design, Symposium Printed Program Contest, Eli Cobb
Art and Design students participated in a graphic design project contest. The winning design was used for the 2020 JSU Student Symposium printed program.