College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Chemistry

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College of Liberal Arts and Sciences - Chemistry

Fast Wittig-like reactions as a consequence of the inorganic enamine

One very famous class of compounds in Organic Chemistry is the "enamines". Enamines are compounds containing a C=C double bond having an amine functionality as its "neighbor". Various types of reactivity were shown as a consequence of the chemical properties that these molecules have. In 2012, the first case of an "inorganic enamine" was shown by our research group. The "inorganic enamine" had the presence of a metal (Tungsten) - carbon double bond, with an amine as its "neighbor". The effects of this type of compounds in many different reactions have never been explored before. The work I've been developing during my PhD, and will present in this conference shows some of the various reactivities that can come up from this new type of molecules. By studying a specific type of reactions, we bring in this work further proof for the presence of an "enamine" effect in inorganic chemistry as well. (Flesh-Kincaid Grade Level: 12)


College of Engineering - Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


"Paper-based microfluidics research aims to create cheap, fast, and easy-to-use point-of-care diagnostic devices. Consider at-home pregnancy tests and glucose meters, for example. Dramatic reductions in manufacturing costs have allowed us to build devices for less than a penny. This price point makes them ideal for resource-poor regions, a market greatly in need of cheap diagnostics. We make our devices using paper and lamination film, in a process similar to laminating an identification (ID) card.

Paper-based devices can detect biomarkers that are signs of kidney disease, diabetes, and second-hand tobacco exposure. They are not yet sensitive enough, however, to detect all biomarkers. This is where my research fits in the big picture: increasing detection sensitivity to diagnose disease earlier. My primary design goal for the devices was to make them simple enough to be used by a layperson, without any external equipment or technical knowledge. With all this in mind, I introduced evaporative enrichment, a method by which we can concentrate biomarkers in a urine sample by allowing the sample to evaporate in the device. This method improves the signal and sensitivity. We conducted a glucose assay (a common way to measure sensitivity) with our method, and showed that our sensitivity is about 20 times better than that of other groups. Potential applications include the detection of mad cow disease, flu virus, and certain toxic chemicals in the water supply. All of these were impossible to detect in low-cost paper-based devices before this research. (Flesh-Kincaid Grade Level: 14.1)"


College of Medicine - Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

Axolotl hematopoietic stem cells share similar functional characteristics with their mammalian counterparts

"Regeneration is the pinnacle of wound healing. Everyone is familiar with our inability to regenerate when we look at the various scars on our bodies. Axolotls, however, don’t scar and they can even re-grow amputated limbs. Axolotls are unique salamanders that have been studied for over 150 years because of their amazing regenerative abilities. Understanding the similarities and differences between how we scar and how axolotls regenerate will help researchers mimic this regeneration in humans. The more similarities found between mammalian and axolotl cell biology, the greater the likelihood researchers will be able to apply axolotl regeneration techniques to humans.

We started by comparing the blood stem cells of mammals and axolotls because blood cells are very important for our normal wound healing process and required for axolotl regeneration. The first characteristic we compared was the capacity of blood stem cells to make blood by doing the equivalent of a bone marrow transplant in axolotls. Similar to mammals, we found axolotl blood stem cells become exhausted and quit producing blood after four sequential transplants. Secondly, mammalian blood stem cells are characterized as having increased protection against toxins as compared to other blood cells. Part of this protection comes from a protein (aldehyde dehydrogenase) that breaks down harmful toxins produced by cellular metabolism. We found that axolotl blood stem cells also have increased activity of this protective protein. In future studies we will continue this comparative work with other blood cell types. These results show similar characteristics of cell biology between axolotls and mammals. This work supports the hope of a promising future for regeneration in mammals. Learning how to regenerate instead of scarring will aid in many medical conditions from people suffering from liver cirrhosis to burn victims.

(Flesh-Kincaid Grade Level: 13.7)"


College of Agricultural and Life Sciences - Agronomy


Root systems are essential for overall plant functioning including the ability to acquire soil water to provide the plant with nutrients, a medium for producing/transporting metabolites, and a mechanism to cool itself as water is transported to leaf cells where it vaporizes to the atmosphere. The development of these roots system, or root architecture, is often a response of the interaction between the plants genetic code and environmental influences. In row crop production many environmental influences are a result of how the crop is managed. The management factor of interest in this research is how the amount of irrigation applied over different periods of the plants life cycle influences root development of peanut varieties that are genetically different. Field experiments have been planted with different peanut varieties which have received varying irrigation rates over the peanut plants life cycle. Installed below the soil surface is a clear plastic cylinder where a camera is inserted that has the capability to image roots to a soil depth of 1 m. These images are analyzed using computer software which computes many different parameters for assessing root architecture. The overall objective of this research is to understand root development of particular peanut varieties to irrigation management for identify periods of crop development where water savings can occur without reducing production, which could provide the possibility to reduce water consumption and variable cost associated with crop production. (Flesh-Kincaid Grade Level: 19.4)


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences - Political Science

The Democratizing Effect of Elections? Regional and Global Analyses

Since the end of the Cold War, most countries in the world have adopted some form of multiparty elections. In some cases, these have been seen as meaningful improvements toward democracy, while in others, elections have been used by non-democratic elites to legitimate their rule. This suggests that it is possible to have meaningful multiparty elections without democracy. Do these elections have any affect on the character of the regime? In this paper, we test whether elections in general have a positive impact on democracy using data from the Varieties of Democracy project. This data covers over 150 countries from 1900 to 2012. We specifically address whether the number of multiparty elections the country has held leads to increases in civil liberties and rule of law. We find that in general, elections do have a democratizing effect on non-democratic regimes. In particular, these results are strongest during the post-Cold War period and in the sub-Saharan Africa and Post-Communist European regions. These findings provide a starting point for future research that further addresses the reasons why elections increase the level of democracy in some cases and not in others. (Flesh-Kincaid Grade Level: 14.7)


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences - Chemistry

Ferulic acid and p-coumaric acid-based copolymers as biorenewable polyethylene terephthalate and polystyrene mimics

Scientists have an increasing motivation to develop bio-based commodity plastics that are not built from fossil fuels. These materials should also degrade more readily into environmental friendly by-products. Our goal is to make polymers from abundant and inexpensive biorenewable starting materials, resulting in products with properties which mimic or excel those of commodity polymers. Ferulic acid and coumaric acid, both naturally occurring acids, also possess antioxidant properties. They are used to produce polymers with controllable properties. Our materials exhibit thermal properties comparable to commercially available non-renewable packaging plastics. With such promising properties, polymers from naturally abundant acids could prove to be sustainable replacements for non-biorenewable and non-degradable commodity plastics. (Flesh-Kincaid Grade Level: 17.5)


College of Pharmacy - Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy

Factors Associated With Pharmacological Treatment Initiation in Adult Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Patients: Findings from a Publicly Insured Population "Many adults struggle with Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), they can barely follow directions, remember things, concentrate or organize tasks. This can cause serious trouble in their life. Although medications can manage the symptoms of ADHD effectively, a large proportion of patients does not receive treatment. In order to change such situation, it is important to understand factors that determine whether a patient initiates the therapy or not. Such knowledge is well learnt in children, but little is known for adults.

Using the US Medicaid data in 29 states from 1999 and 2010, we identified around 33000 adult ADHD patients. We compared patients who initiated the therapy to those who didn't.

The treatment initiation rate was quite low in this socio-economically disadvantaged group, only 26% of them started the therapy after diagnosis. Female, White and older patients were more likely to initiate therapy. The mental disease burden was high, with more than 70% had one or more diagnoses for mental disorders. Schizophrenia and bipolar disorders decreased the probability of initiation, while the presence of anxiety and substance use disorders increased the probability. In light of the concerns over the cardiovascular safety of ADHD drugs, patients with cardiovascular diseases and diabetes were less likely to initiate the treatment.

Our findings provide valuable information to clinicians and policy makers, it informs the future efforts of providing timely and appropriate therapy to these patients. If carefully treated, adults with ADHD can develop their personal strengths and find success.

(Flesh-Kincaid Grade Level: 13.1)"


College of Agricultural and Life Sciences - Biology

Effects of herbivore extinction and climate change on pollination in an African savanna 

Pollination mutualisms are essential for both biodiversity maintenance and agricultural productivity with more than 75% of flowering plants relying on animal pollinators. Similar to food webs but containing only 2 levels, flowers and their animal pollinators form pollination webs known as pollination networks. Previous studies on pollination networks have shown that the networks exhibit consistent characteristics that prevent fragmentation or collapse of the networks. It has been suggested that human driven changes including climate change and herbivore extinction will likely affect pollination networks. Therefore, it is important to understand how pollination networks and their network characteristics are affected and influenced by anthropogenic change. In order to determine how anthropogenic changes are affecting pollination network structure, it is essential to use manipulative experiments. We used a long-term experiment in Kenya known as UHURU to investigate how varying levels of rainfall (a proxy for climate change) and herbivore exclusion (simulating extinction) influence pollination network structure. We constructed pollination networks in plots allowing complete access to herbivores and in plots allowing no herbivore access at high (639mm/yr.) and low (439mm/yr.) rainfall sites. In total we sampled 2,514 flower visits across 12 plots. Preliminary results, prior to full network analysis, indicate that low rainfall plots (1574 interactions) as well as total exclusion plots (1707 interactions) exhibited more flower-pollinator interactions than high rainfall plots (940 interactions) and open-access plots (807 interactions). Pollination networks that will be constructed from the data after all 2,514 insects have been identified to species level will allow us to investigate how community structure and network characteristics change across the rainfall gradient and when herbivores are removed. This will allow us to examine how climate change and extinction might impact relationships among plants and their pollinators and, consequently and importantly, affect the reproductive success and productivity of the plants. (Flesh-Kincaid Grade Level: 17.1)


College of Agricultural and Life Sciences - Wildlife Ecology and Conservation


"Waterfowl and passerines have made an unproportionally large contribution to our knowledge of migration facilitated disease movement. However, other genera of Neotropical migrants have received less attention although their life history traits and habitat requirements make them potential candidates for the maintenance and dispersal of infectious disease agents.

Charadriiformes which encompass the migratory shorebirds are an important group to investigate because of their global migration patterns and sensitivity to landcover change. Human development on wintering grounds, stopover sites and breeding grounds may change vector dynamics and increase transmission of vector-borne infectious diseases. Avian malaria is a mosquito-borne disease that cycles within the avian reservoir, but in contrast to infectious zoonoses exhibits a strictly enzootic avian cycle. The disease is caused by parasites in three families (Plasmodidae, Haemoproteidae, Leucocytozoidae) with a nearly panglobal distribution, that is likely facilitated by the movement patterns of the host species. Investigation of the evolutionary relationships of avian malarial parasites suggests several cases of host sharing between avian species in North America and the West Indies; most likely a result of migration. In my dissertation research, I utilize avian malaria as a model to understand the movement of vector-borne infectious disease by Neotropical shorebird species. The dataset available for my analysis is the largest collection of molecular samples of migratory shorebirds; including over 3100 individuals that belong to 14 shorebird species that represent migration across every continent except Australia and Antarctica. This unprecedented collection of samples will allow me to address the importance of avian malaria to shorebird health, evaluate the role of habitat modification in the prevalence of the blood parasite, and extend the resulting patterns to address the risk of global dispersal of arboviruses with avian reservoirs.

(Flesh-Kincaid Grade Level: 20.1)"


College of Agricultural and Life Sciences - Soil and Water Science

Soil organic matter chemical composition of freshwater peatlands from contrasting climates zones My research determines what kind of organic matter (dead plant, animal, and microbe parts) make up wetland soil across the globe. I am analyzing soils from wetlands around the globe (Sweden to southern Australia) with different vegetation (forested to mosses) and nutrient concentrations (high to low) to determine what kind of organic matter dominates their soil. We found that organic matter does differ from cold climates in the tundra (more easy for microbes to decompose) to warm climates in the tropics (organic matter is already more decomposed). If wetlands have been drained for over 50 years, the organic matter looks highly decomposed due to microbes getting more oxygen to help break down the old organic matter. The amount of nutrients also plays a role: the more nutrients, the more help microbes have to break down the organic matter. These findings are important as not all wetlands soil can be considered equal. Climate, drainage, and nutrients play an important role in the kind of organic matter stored in wetland soils. The differences in organic matter determine what happens to wetland soils when they become warmer, wetter, or drier due to climate or man made changes. (Flesh-Kincaid Grade Level: 14.4)


College of Agricultural and Life Sciences - Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Assessing Population Level Impacts of Catch-and-Release Angling on Reproductive Success and Recruitment in Florida Bass, Micropterus Floridanus

Recreational freshwater fishing in North America is a multi-billion dollar industry and significant effort is put forth to manage human impacts on wild fish populations. In particular, specific types of fishing may have unintended negative consequences that are difficult to observe. For example, one common form of fishing involves targeting fish as they attempt to reproduce, a period during which fish are generally easier to capture. This fishing tactic bares the potential to impact the number of offspring produced by a fish as the stresses associated with capture may result in egg loss due to predation. This research examined the impacts associated with fishing during the reproductive season for the most important recreational fish species in the United States. Using experimental populations, we tested if fishing during can reduce the number of offspring produced, and using genetic techniques we tested if captured fish were more or less likely to produce offspring relative to fish that were never captured during the reproductive period. Results from this study indicate that captured fish did not suffer from reduced reproductive success relative to fish that were never captured. The implications of this research are that fisheries management agencies in the southeast United States should not place restrictions on bed fishing, as such activities appear to have no significant negative impacts. (Flesh-Kincaid Grade Level: 18)


College of Agricultural and Life Sciences - Entomology and Nematology

Toxicity of the isoxazoline fluralaner to larval and adult Aedes aegypti mosquitoes

"Mosquitoes, such as Anopheles gambiae and Aedes aegypti, are important vectors transmitting mosquito-borne diseases. The purpose of this research is to investigate the insecticidal activity and mechanism of action of isoxazolines, a new type of molecules. In the first phrase of study, the insecticidal activity of fluralaner (an isoxazoline sold as a veterinary parasiticide) has been tested by bioassay. Fluralaner was quite toxic, and showed relatively low LC50 (lethal concentration for 50% mortality) and LD50 (lethal dose for 50% mortality) values in larval assay and adult topical assay, respectively. In adult topical assay, the LD50 value of fluralaner after 24 h treatment is 1.3 ng/mg, higher than carbaryl (0.95 ng/mg) but slightly lower than indoxacarb (1.5 ng/mg) (Pridgeon et al. 2008). In time course studies, the insecticidal activity of fluralaner to adults increased by a factor of around two every other day, suggesting a slowly developing toxicity, and that the large size and lipophilicity of this molecule might influence its penetration into the mosquito body and central nervous system. In adult contact paper assay, the high concentration of 2 mg/paper of fluralaner could only kill around 12 % of the tested mosquitoes, which is much less active than topical application.


Pridgeon JW, Pereira RM, Becnel JJ, Allan SA, Clark GG, Linthicum KJ. 2008. Susceptibility of Aedes aegypti, Culex quinquefasciatus Say, and Anopheles quadrimaculatus Say to 19 pesticides with Different Modes of Action. Journal of Medical Entomology. 45 (1): 82-87. (Flesh-Kincaid Grade Level: 12.4)"


College of Journalism and Communications - Mass Communication

A Qualitative Framing Analysis of HPV Vaccine Coverage in U.S. Newspapers

"In 2006, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the HPV vaccine - the only vaccine available to prevent HPV-related diseases - for use in the United States in females between 9 and 26 years old in 2007, and it was also approved for use in males between 9 and 26 years old in 2009. The HPV vaccination provides a chance to reduce the burden of cancers and diseases in both males and females.

Despite various benefits of the HPV vaccine, there are some controversies regarding its use. Issues contributing to the controversy include concerns about (a) providing children with a ""license"" to become sexually active, (b) promoting a false sense of confidence because the vaccine protects only against certain strains of HPV and other sexually transmitted diseases, (c) requiring the vaccination, which brings up issues of parental discretion, and (d) creating new health disparities for low-income, uninsured women who do not have access to the vaccine (Briones, Nan, Madden, & Waks, 2012) as it is an expensive tool for preventing HPV (Quintero Johnson, Sionean, & Scott, 2011). Furthermore, when the Japanese government withdrew its recommendation for the HPV vaccine (Mulcahy, 2013), the arguments surrounding the vaccine became heated.

In this situation, it is important to understand how the U.S. media framed the HPV vaccine because the manner of presenting the HPV vaccine in the media can influence individuals' perceptions, responses, and behaviors. Therefore, drawing on framing theory and health belief model (HBM), this study examined how U.S. newspapers framed the HPV vaccine using qualitative framing analysis of 45 news articles and analyzed the newspaper articles based on the four HBM factors.

* This paper has been selected as one of the top papers at the conference which will recieve the Guido Stempel award with accompanying plaque.

(Flesh-Kincaid Grade Level: 13.6)"


College of Agricultural and Life Sciences - Forest Resources and Conservation

Aerial insights into tree species diversity and biomass in a tropical agricultural landscape

"Tropical forests are being cut down to make room for more agricultural land. Despite having few trees compared to a tropical forest, agricultural areas in some regions of the tropics have a large number of trees. These trees are found in small forest patches, living fences, and as individual isolated trees. The goal of my research is to understand the environmental value of trees across a large agricultural landscape. My study site is the Azuero Peninsula, located in southern Panama. The first part of my research is to identify tree species in a digital aerial photograph. Unlike a standard color photo, the aerial photo I use contains 8 times the amount of information. This extra information means that tree species have different color patterns. A computer model is used to recognize the species pattern and estimate how many species occur in the entire photo. The second part of my research is to calculate the amount of carbon stored in trees on the landscape. This research uses a digital photo that contains information about tree height. The main results of my research highlight the species diversity and amount of carbon found in an agricultural landscape. Over 80 species were identified in the area and 25 species were the most common. Furthermore, half of the trees are located in active pastures and crop fields, with the other half located in small forest patches. This research highlights the abundance and diversity of trees found in areas that are not considered to be environmentally valuable. Additionally, because digital aerial images were used, I could study a very large area. This area would have been difficult and expensive to survey with people on the ground. (Flesh-Kincaid Grade Level: 11.4)"

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