Skip to Main Content

Abstracts 2020

The Abundance Of Fentanyl

Shwikar Abdelrahman
Dr. Brittany Patterson, Psychology

The number one cause of overdose in the United States can be attributed to the use of fentanyl. Researchers have made connections between prescription drugs and increase of use. Since fentanyl is easy to obtain we see many individuals overdose in cities like Baltimore. Great findings show that, a medicine such as Naloxone is able to reverse symptoms caused by fentanyl receptors. Naloxone responds very quickly, within 2 minutes of administrating the drug, the effects kick in. Since Naloxone is very useful in reversing fentanyl, other drugs such as buprenorphine, methadone or naltrexone has little to no information on reducing fentanyl overdose. The research would mainly be on how drugs like buprenorphine, methadone, and Naltrexone helps treatment of overdose.

back button


Object Recognition In Stomatopod Crustaceans: Shape Or Color?

Laylo Abdurahmonova, Ahmad Shah, Olivia Pettyjon-Robin, Tamar Goldwasser
Thomas Cronin, Biological Sciences

Neogonodactylus oerstedii, also known as Stomatopoda Crustaceans or Mantis shrimp, are marine invertebrates that have unique and highly-developed visual systems that allow them to discriminate ultraviolet light, colors, and linearly as well as circularly polarized light. Furthermore, they have shown to utilize landmarks during navigation under the sea. In our research experiment with mantis shrimp, we hypothesized that one visual modality (shape or color) is more salient to these marine invertebrates over the other when recognizing features in their environment. Mantis shrimp were trained and tested in a dichotomous choice “Y” shaped maze. Initially, they learned to associate food to a target with a distinct shape and color. Later, they were tested on their abilities to distinguish the color and shape of the target they were trained to as well as their preference for one modality over the other when recognizing the target. Overall results suggest that the Stomatopods prefer and distinguish the shape to which they were trained over the trained object’s color for object recognition.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Assessing The Age-specific Phagocytic Ability In Drosophila melanogaster Using An in Vivo phagocytosis Assay

Murielle Abissi, Aarsh Sheth, Oladeji Akinbamowo, Kristina Atanasoff, Shonda Campbell1
1 Biological Sciences deparment
Jeff Leips, Biological Sciences

Age-related decline in the ability to fight infection is a hallmark of aging in multicellular organisms, including humans. However, the effect of age on immunity varies among individuals, primarily due to genetic differences. The genes that influence the ability of older individuals to fight infection have not yet been identified. However, previous data from the Leips lab identified a large number of candidate genes that contributed to genetically-based differences in the ability of older flies to clear infection; many of these genes are involved in phagocytosis. In this project, we assess the phagocytic abilities of rho1 knockout genetic lines of Drosophila melanogaster flies aged 1 week and 5 weeks using a phagocytosis assay developed in the Leips lab. This assay examines the ability of hemocytes to engulf bacteria and to process and kill the internalized bacteria. With this project, we are testing the hypothesis that rho1 is involved in the process of phagocytosis and plays a role in the age-related decline in immune function.

National Institutes of Health R03 AG061484-02 and the UMBC College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences Becton Dickinson Faculty Research Fund.

back button


Seeing In Parts: Borderlands Consciousness In Bless Me, Ultima

Jonathan Acuna-Lopez
Sharon Tran, English

This project explores the formation of Chicana/o identity in the novels Bless Me, Ultima(1972) by Rudolfo Anaya, and Loteria (2013) by Mario Alberto Zambrano. I deploy Gloria Anzaldua’s borderlands theory, which offers a useful framework for analyzing how literal (e.g. geographic) and figurative borders (e.g. psychological, spiritual) can exert power over the individual and shape their sense of self. For this URCAD presentation, I will share my research on Bless Me, Ultima. In the novel, the protagonist Antonio achieves what Anzaldua terms “borderlands consciousness” after realizing that he does not have to choose Catholicism over indigenous beliefs and liberates himself by forming a hybrid belief system. Antonio demonstrates that borderlands consciousness is productive for the decolonization of the self, but his individual empowerment does not equate to structural change in his community. Not all characters in the novel can achieve borderlands consciousness and questions are raised about the options available to those individuals. The research is important to Chicana/o studies because the literature draws attention to spaces that cannot be fully addressed by borderlands theory, which allows for the development of a theoretical framework in which the burden of addressing social inequity is not placed on the individual.

back button


Effects Of Oxygen On NDRG1 Function

Theodore Addo, Jong Park
Rachel Brewster, Biological Sciences

Oxygen loss, which occurs in ischemic injuries and diseases such as heart attack and strokes, is a cause of mortality in many organisms. Due to diminished oxidative phosphorylation, there is a decrease in available adenosine triphosphate (ATP) for cellular homeostasis, and thus, organs with high metabolic demand are the most affected. The Brewster laboratory has shown that upon prolonged exposure to anoxia, the sodium-potassium pump (Na+/K+-ATPase) is degraded in an N-myc downstream regulated gene 1 (NDRG1)-dependent manner. Recent data curated by the Brewster laboratory has shown that ATP1a, the catalytic subunit of the Na+/K+-ATPase, which normally localizes along the basolateral membrane, was observed in what appears to be recycling endosomal compartments and at the apical plasma membrane in NDRG1 mutants. This lead me to hypothesize a general perturbation of cell polarity and/or vesicle trafficking of Na+/K+-ATPase. In order to gain further insight into the normoxic role of NDRG1 in establishing/maintaining cell polarity and polarized vesicle delivery, I will examine a battery of apical markers in NDRG1 mutants under normoxia and anoxia. This proposed experiment will address whether NDRG1 is required for the removal of plasma membrane-associated ATP1a under anoxia, thereby teasing apart its normoxic and anoxia-induced functions.

This research was supported by NIH/NICHD – 1 R21 HD 089476-01A1, DOD W81XWH-16-1-0466, and in part by a grant to UMBC from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute through the HHMI Adaptation Project.

back button


Links Between Air Pollution And Student Academic Achievement

Olusayo Adeleye
Christine Moser, Michigan State University.

There is significant evidence to conclude that air pollution has adverse effects on human health and wellbeing. In that vein, there are studies across various disciplines that show that air pollution negatively effects cognitive ability. In this study, we look at the effects of air pollution on seventh grade student math test scores from across the United States using academic achievement as a proxy for cognitive ability. To do this we combine data from the Census Bureau, Environmental Protection Agency, and Stanford Education Data Archive from 2009 to 2015. Fixed effects regression results show a small negative relationship between “bad days” of air quality and test scores. This is consistent with all models. The results show that decreased academic performance is yet another way that air pollution can have negative effects on children. However, the exact mechanism by which air pollution effects cognitive ability is not explored in this study, only the effects themselves.

This work was funded, in part, by the American Economic Association and Michigan State University.

back button


Developing Tools To Characterize Ubiquitin-Chain Patterns In Vivo

Precious Adeniyi
Achuth Padmanabhan, Biological Sciences

The ubiquitin-proteasome system is a highly regulated system for intracellular protein degradation in eukaryotes. Aberrations in this process are associated with several human diseases including cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. Ubiquitination is a post-translational modification that involves covalent attachment of ubiquitin to specific lysine residues on target proteins. Poly-ubiquitin chains are recognized by cellular signaling molecules resulting in changes in its stability, function or localization. Given that there are seven lysines on ubiquitin, multiple types of ubiquitin chains can be assembled on a protein. Our understanding of the role(s) played by the different ubiquitin-chain patterns is limited. This is largely due to the inability to distinguish between the different ubiquitin-chain patterns in vivo. The goal of my project is to develop in vivo tools that will enable us to distinguish between the different ubiquitin-chain types assembled on target proteins. To achieve this, I will use lentivirus-mediated gene delivery approach to generate stable cell lines that express ubiquitin mutants with different tags. We will use these tags to track the ubiquitin chain-type on the target protein. Given the diverse processes regulated by protein ubiquitination, the tools I will develop will help provide a mechanistic understanding on how ubiquitination impacts cellular functions.

back button


Comparative Analysis Of Hyperledger And Etherum Blockchains

Adam Afilaka
Karuna Joshi, Information Systems

The blockchain architecture is a decentralised system with its most popular application being the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. The system is a public ledger that is immutable and is public to everyone. Usually each transaction is held by a block and linked with signatures encoded and linked to the next block. A majority of the population know about Blockchain but aren’t familiar with the inner workings and the other applications of the system. The purpose of the research is to gather information on programmable blockchains and implement applications in order to compare their capabilities. We used publically available softwares of Hyperledger and Ethereum to build an application and compare the blockchains made in respective programs. We present the results of our study in this poster.

LSAMP.

back button


Characterizing The Effects Of Ferritin On Ovarian Cell Migration In Drosophila Melanogaster

Susan Afolabi, Kathryn Wardrup
Michelle Starz-Gaiano, Biological Sciences

Susan Afolabi, Kathryn Wardrup, Michelle Starz-Gaiano

Drosophila melanogaster, commonly known as the fruit fly, has well-characterized genetics, has a short life cycle, and has small and transparent tissues. Thus, it is an excellent organism for studying genetic regulation of development. Collectively migrating cells, the border cells, in developing Drosophila egg chambers are useful for studying cell migration in vivo. Genetic studies to date have implicated ferritin as important in these cells, but it is not known why. Ferritin proteins form iro binding complexes, and three are encoded in the Drosophila genome: Fer1HCH, Fer2HCH and Fer3HCH. Maternal ferritin is essential for embryogenesis in flies. We sought to test whether changing the level of ferritin expression in the border cell cluster affects cell migration. We tested this hypothesis using the Gal 4-UAS system to introduce cell-specific over-expression of selected ferritin-related genes. Our preliminary results suggest that reduced expression of Fer1HCH by RNA interference generates border cell migration delays. We are conducting additional experiments with larger sample sizes to quantify migration defects. We also will observe the effects of reduced expression Fer3HCH and mis-expression in different cell types of the egg chamber. These results may reveal important roles for Ferritin in cell migration.

This work was supported in part by National Science Foundation grant IOS-1656550 to M.S.G.

back button


Investigating Cognitive Flexibility Of English-German Bilinguals Using Grammaticality Judgment Tasks

Naseem Ahmadi
David Beard, Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Intercultural Communication

Over fifty percent of the world speaks two or more languages and the ability to speak multiple languages is becoming increasingly important and common. The steady rise of this trend has inclined linguists as well as scholars of intercultural communication to further analyze the prospective correlation between multilingualism and cognitive development. This study specifically targets the area of cognitive flexibility, which is defined as the ability to successfully process a varied and potentially unexpected input. The social benefits of bilingualism speak for themselves; this study was done to explore its cognitive benefits. In this study, cognitive flexibility is tested in English-German bilinguals and English monolinguals through a grammaticality judgement task (GJT) and a post-test survey to assess metalinguistic knowledge. The hypothesis for this research was that multilinguals have an advanced ability to process and decode the general meaning of ungrammatical sentence structures and that they would experience less frustration in doing so. This hypothesis was based on the belief that a greater cognitive flexibility relates to greater metalinguistic awareness (Bialystok, 1987; Sanz, 2019), therefore allowing better performance in decoding ungrammatical sentences.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Determining Theeffect Of Phosphorylation On The Lysinie Methyltransferase Activity Of The Yeast Enzyme, SET5

Assefa Akinwole
Erin Green, Biological Sciences

Histones are a group of proteins with the vital purpose of organizing and regulating the accessibility of DNA. Post-translational modification of histones regulates gene expression, allows for responses to environmental stresses, and promotes silencing of genomic regions that should not be expressed. Enzymes post-translationally modify histones, as well as other proteins. One such enzyme is SET5, the first discovered H4 methyltransferase in budding yeast that monomethylates lysines 5, 8, and 12. SET5 plays a role in regulating cell growth and stress responses, as well as promoting repression of genes at telomeres in conjunction with Set1, another methyltransferase. Through an immunoprecipitation of SET5 coupled to mass spectrometry, we were able to identify post-translational modifications on SET5 itself. We determined that SET5 has various phosphorylation sites, particularly within its C-terminal region that may be key to its function. Using in vitro methylation assays with versions of SET5 that carry mutations at these phosphorylation sites, we seek to test the hypothesis that these sites affect SET5’s methylation activity on histone H4. We are particularly interested in sites S512, S517, and S520. We seek to determine which site, or group of sites, affects SET5’s activity such that we may potentially regulate its activity.

This research was funded, in part, by a grant to UMBC from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute through the Pre-college and Undergraduate Science Education Program.

back button


Discrimination And Heart Rate Change From Day To Night In Young Black Adults

Ghina Ammar, Ayla Novruz, Inaya Wahid, Kavita Kumar, Jason Ashe, John J. Sollers III1
1 Psychology, North Carolina Central University
Danielle Beatty Moody, Psychology

This pilot study seeks to explore the relationship between interpersonal-level discrimination and heart rate (HR) in a sample of 11 young (ages 18-21), Black adults. Specifically, participants completed the 6-item stigmatization subscale of the Perceived Ethnic Discrimination Questionnaire-Community Version (PEDQ-CV). HR was assessed across a 24-hour monitoring period via an ambulatory watch and chest band. HR reflects variations in the time interval between heartbeats across various physical activities. We captured HR change from day to night.

An unadjusted Spearman correlation revealed an inverse, moderately strong association between stigmatization and HR change (r=-.655, p=.029). Specifically, increased stigmatization is correlated with a decreased difference in day to night HR change. This suggest greater stigmatization may be linked to more limited HR fluctuations across the day, a cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factor. These findings provide initial insight regarding day to night fluctuations in HR as related to discriminatory experiences.

Previous literature has examined the impact of interpersonal-level discrimination on ambulatory blood pressure which prospectively predicts CVD and end-organ damage. However, the relation of discrimination to HR change from day to night, is understudied. Future studies should investigate this association in a larger sample to replicate this finding and identify potential pathways.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Role Of Arnold White In The Shift From Religious/cultural Antisemitism To Racial Antisemitism In 19th Century Britain.

Ghina Ammar
Daniel Ritschel, History

The purpose of this research project is to position Arnold White – an influential eugenicist, journalist, and prolific political writer – in the broader shift from religious antisemitism to racial antisemitism in late Victorian Britain. Antisemitism in Britain was traditionally religious and “cultural” in nature. A shift occurred between the mid-19th century and early 20th century as antisemitic language became racialized. Arnold White’s antisemitic writings were clearly eugenicist in nature, with strong Social-Darwinian, Malthusian, and also increasingly racialist elements. My research seeks to clarify the broader contemporary shift from religious/cultural to racialized antisemitism by detailing Arnold White’s important role in this shift through analysis of his evolving arguments and justifications. Among other things, my analysis will contribute to a better understanding of the racial aspects of contemporary eugenicist thought in Britain. In contrast to the race-based eugenicist thought in America, discussions of eugenics in Britain generally describe the movement as class-based, with a focus on the alleged “degeneration” of the urban working class. Yet Arnold White’s writings provide clear evidence that the eugenics movement in Britain was also characterized by identifiably racial, Social Darwinian, and antisemitic language and arguments.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Investigation Of The Protein-Protein Interactions Of The Chromatin Associated Protein Set4 In Saccharomyces Cerevisiae

Shandon Amos
Erin Green, Biological Sciences

Set4 is a member of a family of SET domain-containing proteins in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which are known or putative lysine methyltransferases. There are 12 SET domain proteins in yeast, several of which modify histones to regulate chromatin dynamics. Relatively little is known about Set4 compared to other proteins in that family. Under normal conditions Set4 is expressed at very low levels, however, overexpressing Set4 has been shown to adversely affect cell growth and to promote the induction of stress responses. Set4 has both a PHD finger and a SET domain, which are commonly found in proteins that regulate chromatin structure and function. In previous research Set4 was shown to regulate telomere associated genes, however the mechanism by which this occurs remains unknown. We aim to identify the proteins working with Set4 to regulate telomeric activity, using a genetic approach. Our preliminary results indicate Rpd3 and Hst1 work in concert with Set4 to regulate genes of interest. This research contributes to the broader understanding of the mechanisms that protect cells during oxidative stress and will identify new molecular roles for the chromatin-associated protein Set4.

This investigation was sponsored by NIH/NIGMS MARC U*STAR T3408663 National Research Service Award to UMBC.

back button


Morphological And Genetic Identification Of The Harvestmen Species Leiobunum Flavum

Fleurine Amouzou Guiffo
Mercedes Burns, Biological Sciences

Species identification is a necessary process that allows biologists to proceed with subsequent research and analysis on the species in order to answer broader questions in ecology and evolutionary biology. Thirty-nine harvestmen specimens were collected on July 2017 in the Wichita Mountains, Oklahoma for identification of populations affected by bacterial endosymbionts. Using a recently published dichotomous key for identification of harvestmen species in Maryland and techniques such as dissection and microscopic observation, twenty-three of the specimens collected were identified as male and sixteen as female. All male specimens met the morphological criteria for the Leiobunum flavum species. However, most females met the morphological criteria for the Leiobunum ventricosum species according to body size and color differences. We are following up on this potential species variation by isolating and sequencing DNA from Oklahoma L. flavum specimens, those from Maryland and the American South as well as L. ventricosum specimens to identify the number of genetic species occurring in the group. We may find that some Oklahoma L. flavum are phylogenetically more closely related to L. ventricosum than to L. flavum from other regions of North America.

back button


Phosphorus Recovery From Poultry Litter Slurries Using Donnan Dialysis

Fabian Amurrio
Lee Blaney, Chemical, Biochemical, and Environmental Engineering

Due to concerns over limited phosphorus reserves and related impacts on food security, there has been a significant impetus for exploring alternate phosphorus sources, such as animal manure, through sustainable nutrient recovery technologies. In the present work, an ion-exchange based process called Donnan dialysis was employed to recover phosphorus, as orthophosphate (P(V)), from poultry litter. The objective of the current work was to investigate the impact of waste solution pH on the extent of P(V) recovery from real poultry litter. In particular, acidic (pH 4.5) and near-neutral (pH 7.2) conditions were used with 40g L-1 poultry litter slurries. At pH 7.2, 40% of the P(V) was present in solid-phase species and generally expected to be unavailable for recovery. Addition of an organic acid into the poultry litter slurry reduced the pH to 4.5 and increased the percent of aqueous-phase P(V) to 90%. However, after a week of Donnan dialysis operation, the P(V) recovery efficiencies for both solutions were similar (i.e., 43-45%), suggesting that acid digestion of the poultry litter slurry did not affect the overall recovery of P(V). These results inform future Donnan dialysis operations by eliminating the need for acid addition, making the overall process more cost-effective.

back button


Characterization Of HIV-1 Unmyrostolated Gag Polyprotein Interactions With The MAL HIV-1 Genome

Nahum Arefeayne, Canessa Swanson, Kennedy Chioma, Darin Gilchrist, Noel Getachew, Brittany Lafaver
Michael Summers, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV-1) is a retrovirus that targets CD4 T-cells which leads to a compromised immune system and effectively results in the development of AIDS. Current therapies target areas of the HIV-1 replication cycle that are susceptible to mutations, resulting in reduced efficiency. One region of the replication cycle known to be highly conserved is genomic recognition, which is characterized by the Gag polyprotein binding the minimal packaging region of the genome termed the Core Encapsidation Signal (CES). This research aims to understand the interactions of the CES and Gag polyprotein through electrophoretic mobility shift assays and isothermal titration calorimetry. Initial data indicate the CES possesses seven binding sites however, this was done with a domain of Gag termed Nucleocapsid. Future studies utilizing the Gag polyprotein will allow for more biologically relevant evaluations. Understanding this protein-RNA can begin to help target this highly conserved region of the replication cycle.

This investigation was sponsored by NIH/NIGMS MARC U*STAR T3408663 National Research Service Award to UMBC. This research was funded, in part, by a grant to UMBC from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute through the Pre-college and Undergraduate Science Education Program.

back button


Two Passions In One

Octavia Ashton
Corrie Parks, Visual Arts

Two Passions and Oneis a reflective animation project exploring my two lifelong passions – dance and animation. I examined the process of my own creative expression in dance through choreography and performance with the UMBC Dance Team, which I have been a part of for 4 years. As a member of the UMBC Dance Team, I have had the privilege to serve the team as Captain for the past two years. In this role, I was able to choreograph a one-minute performance and Sideline.

I have always wondered how the body would be portrayed in an animated character, and I had the opportunity to do that using stop motion and rotoscope techniques to do so. Stop motion and rotoscope have always been among my favorite styles of animation, so I felt it right to explore those through this project. My research efforts are shown in a short film, documenting my story of growth as a member of the UMBC Dance Team and a short animation showing animated characters of my design, exercising my choreography. Each figure will look like myself and members of my team, wearing the UMBC Dance Team uniforms and dancing in our style.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Processes Of Acculturationand Integration Through Which Ethiopian Immigrant Communities Adapt To Life In The US

Ezana Assefa
Christoper Brown, Global Studies

Conventional theories of immigration to the United States emphasize processes of acculturation and integration through which immigrant communities adapt to life in the US. For this reason, immigrant enclaves that retain distinctive identities and social networks tend to be understood as failures of integration or, at the least, a set of obstacles to be overcome. Yet, the emergence of truly globalized, transnational communities increasingly calls into question whether idealized models of acculturation and integration are meaningful or even desirable from the perspective of immigrant groups themselves. Focusing on the large Ethiopian American enclave in Silver Spring, Maryland, this study used in-depth interviews, surveys and archival research to understand how inter-cultural ideas, encounters and experiences shape engagements with the wider society. Although research is ongoing, provisional results suggest that many Ethiopian immigrants conceptualize and enact models of integration that both contrast and intersect American ideals. This perspective illustrates the need to re-evaluate theories of integration and acculturation in our globalized age and therefore carries significant theoretical and policy implications.

back button


Chitosan-based Polymer Gel As An Electrolyte In Rechargeable Zn-MnO2 Alkaline Batteries

Nicole Attram
Dr. Deepa Madan, Mechanical Engineering

The current Lithium-ion batteries that dominate the market are hazardous and inefficient. The point of this project is to create aZinc-MnO2 battery, a low-cost, high capacity battery. This project exemplifies a successful method for creating ionically conductive chitosan-based polymeric gel electrolyte in order to construct a Zn-MnO2 battery. The gel utilizes varying levels of poly (vinyl alcohol) (PVA) and potassium hydroxide (KOH). This research is driven by the urgent need today for efficient rechargeable batteriesto store energy. Ultimately, the battery can positively affect the use of technology today, lengthening the life span of battery-required technology, such as phones and cars, while reducing the price for companies and their consumers. Additionally, the battery is eco-friendly. In order to create this battery, we will develop a chitosan-based polymer gel to use as the electrolyte. The zinc will act as the anode material and the manganese dioxide (MnO2) will act as the cathode material. After constructing the battery, it will be tested through cycle volumetric charge-discharge characterization for hundreds of cycles.

back button


Women’s Perspectives On Perpetrating Partner Abusive Behavior

Shani Avnaim, Haley Miles McLean
Christopher Murphy, Psychology

Previous research suggests that women’s use of intimate partner violence is linked to mental health issues, particularly post-traumatic stress disorder and borderline personality disorder. Prior studies have also found that women who were in a later stage of changing their behavior were more likely to see their relationship abuse as problematic. The present study examined data from a sample of 51 female clients in an abuse intervention program and explored their perspectives on their abuse, including their immediate reactions after engaging in physical aggression, their expectations regarding positive and negative effects of relationship aggression, and their level of motivation to change this behavior. The study also examined how these perspectives are correlated with women’s reported challenges in relationship functioning, mental health, emotion regulation, and anger expression. The results showed strong correlations between viewing violence favorably and greater problems with relationship functioning, mental health, anger expression, and emotion regulation. In addition, women who expected more positive effects of their violence had lower motivation to change, and women who expected more negative effects of their violence had higher motivation to change. These findings help clinicians further understand women’s views on abuse and potentially design more effective treatment programs for women.

back button


Analysis Of SET5 Methylation Activity With Potential Substrates

Shehar Yar Awan, Sabeen Ikram1
1 Biological Sciences, UMBC
Erin Green, Biological Sciences

The SMYD family of proteins, defined by a SET and MYND domain, have shown to be responsible for post translational modifications—specifically lysine methylation of target proteins. High levels of SMYD expression in cells have been shown to be disruptive in cell function and have been linked to tumor formation. This project focuses on SET5, a yeast ortholog to the mammalian SMYD-3. Our project involves testing SET5’s Methylation activity with potential substrates—CWC24, VPS13, and NTR1. Through previous literature it has been established that SET5 has histone methylation activity in the nucleus. However, Fluorescent microscopy has revealed localization of SET5 in the cytoplasm as well. SET5 recognizes specific amino acid sequences on its substrates—a GGKGG sequence. Therefore, testing substrates with sequence similarities to that recognized by SET5 may provide useful in understanding further interactions of SET5 within the cell—specifically within the cytoplasm. Hence, we tested the activity of the yeast methyltransferase with substrates that, when analyzed, have sequences that can be recognized by SET5. The study involved creating constructs through restriction enzyme cloning of each substrate into a GST tagged expression vector. Room temperature induction has proven to be sufficient in expressing all constructs. Current work revolves around refining methylation assay parameters.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Learning In A Multilingual World: South Africa

Irene Azurmendi, Nicole Barkley, Johanna Caba
Irina Golubeva, Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Intercultural Communication

South Africa has a long history of multilingualism with its multitude of indigenous languages and the history of colonialism and apartheid. It has eleven official languages, nine of which are indigenous to South Africa, as well as English and Afrikaans. Multilingualism and translanguaging are common outside of the classroom, but have only recently started to enter the classroom on a wider scale. The information gained from a real world application of translanguaging can help other countries learn how to create a culture and systems that support a wide array of languages within a society. This qualitative research has been conducted collaboratively. The data were gathered from various sources such as research papers, news articles, websites, books, and videos. The in-depth study of these sources showed that teachers receive more responses when they speak in a language, with which the student is more familiar; however, students feel more comfortable when translanguaging in a non-classroom setting than in the classroom.

back button


Comparing English As A Second Language (ESL) Education Between The United States And Colombia

Mickayla Bacorn
Tania Lizarazo, Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Intercultural Communication

In an expanding multilingual world, second language education (SLE) is critical to improving global citizenship, developing diplomatic relations, accessing the global job market, and more. The objective of this research project is to explore the application of various language learning strategies in two distinct settings and share the results with others to influence and improve SLE through the utilization of language settings and classroom environments. This research compares the approach and outcome of English as a second language (ESL) instruction in native Spanish-speaking students between a university in an English-speaking setting, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), and a university in a Spanish-speaking setting, la Universidad del Norte (Barranquilla, Colombia). The data will be collected by surveying 10 ESL students from UMBC and 10 ESL students from Uninorte about their language learning experience. The guiding research questions are what methods and techniques are used to support second language acquisition at the universities? And which do the students find most useful? The data will analyze the speaking, listening, reading, and writing resources used in SLE and their educational impact rated on a scale of one to five.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Characterization Of N-Acetylglucosamine Transport And Utilization By Cellvibrio Japonicus

Barna Baierna
Jeffrey Gardner, Biological Sciences

pop logo
PKP Undergraduate Research Award Winner

N-Acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) is an amide sugar that can be used by some bacteria as a nutrient source. For example, recent work from our lab has shown that the Gram-negative saprophyte Cellvibrio japoniucs can utilize GlcNAc as a sole source of carbon and nitrogen. However, the mechanism used for transport and utilization of GlcNAc by this bacterium is currently unknown. Previous analysis of the C. japonicus genome found the presence of a putative GlcNAc utilization operon that contains four genes (gluP, nagX, nag9A, and nagB). In this report, we generated deletion mutants and complementation strains for these genes and determined their physiological roles in GlcNAc transport and utilization. Our data suggest that C. japonicus requires these genes encoded to grow using either GlcNAc or glucosamine (GlcN). Specifically, our mutational analysis found that deletion of the nagX gene resulted in strains unable to grow using GlcN, and a deletion of gluP resulted in the inability to grow using GlcNAc. We have generated a model that predicts NagX as a GlcN transporter and GluP as a GlcNAc transporter. We will test this model in subsequent studies of GlcNAc utilization by C. japoncius and assess if it is predictive for other saprophytic bacteria.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Music By Numbers: Writing A Process Piece In The Minimalism Style Of The Late 20th Century

Peter Bailer, Jonathan Sotelo, Adam Smith
Linda Dusman, Music

Minimalism is a musical style popularized by American composers such as Steve Reich and Philip Glass in the late 20th century. This music utilizes a limited amount of music materials and varies it through repetition and other means to create a full musical experience. The process of writing such a piece becomes less about functional harmony or an emotional journey and more about numerical inputs to create a sonorous atmosphere; the musical cell will get shifted by a consistent unit of time, change after a set number of measures, and layer in a fixed manner. I wrote Pebbles for marimba duet as a response to studying the music of Reich and Glass during the fall of 2019. Pebbles focuses on a short, one-measure cell and displaces it throughout the duration of the piece. Like pebbles in a stream of water, the size of the cell can vary, and the cells can be stacked on top of one another, but the flow of the piece stays constant. In this talk, I will discuss my compositional process for this work, and Jonathan Sotelo and Adam Smith will perform the piece.

back button


The Molecular Basis For Discrimination Of DNA And RNA By The Human Mutator Enzyme APOBEC3A

Peter Bailer, Kiara Berrios1
1Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
Rahul Kohli, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

The human enzyme APOBEC3A (A3A) converts cytosines to uracils in single-stranded DNA (ssDNA). A3A has a prominent role in innate immune response to retroviruses, but also may act promiscuously on the host genome, and, to a limited extent, on host RNAs. Though structures of A3A have been resolved with and without a ssDNA substrate bound, the mechanistic basis for the enzyme’s preference of DNA over RNA has not been fully characterized. This project aims to unveil the nature of this preference. Initial efforts utilized gel electrophoresis and restriction enzyme digestion to devise an assay that can report deamination of DNA or a chimeric DNA/RNA substrate containing a single ribocytidine at the target site. Using this assay, we demonstrate a >100-fold preference for deamination of DNA over the matched chimeric substrate, thus largely attributing selectivity of A3A for ssDNA to the lack of a single 2’ hydroxyl group at the target cytosine. Previous work has also suggested that secondary structure influences RNA deamination, but no prior analysis has assessed how matched DNA and RNA substrates are targeted. Addressing this observation, we found that although RNA is overall less preferred, secondary structure is a more significant determinant for RNA than for ssDNA.

This investigation was sponsored by NIH/NIGMS MARC U*STAR T3408663 National Research Service Award to UMBC.

back button


The Role Of Clathrin-Mediated Endocytosis In Melanopsin Phototransduction

Robin Bailey, Juan Valdez
Phyllis Robinson, Biological Sciences

Approximately half of therapeutic drugs act throughG-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) signaling, making them valuable receptors to study. Opsins are photosensitive GPCRs involved in visual and non-visual systems. Intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs) express melanopsin, which is involved in both image and non-image forming vision. We hypothesize that clathrin-mediated endocytosis contributes to melanopsin’s ability to sustain signaling during long light exposures by facilitating the visual pigment’s re-sensitization. To address these hypotheses, we transiently expressed mouse melanopsin in HEK 293 cells, observed effects of clathrin chemical inhibitors on melanopsin function via in vitro calcium imaging assays, visualized colocalization of melanopsin and clathrin via immunohistochemistry and confocal microscopy, and analyzed levels of melanopsin in the plasma membrane after various light exposures via western blotting. Confocal microscopy revealed melanopsin colocalization with clathrin at both the membrane and cytoplasm after light exposure. Preliminary confocal microscopy also showed inhibited cytoplasmic trafficking of melanopsin when treated with clathrin inhibitors. In vitro calcium imaging suggests a reduction of light response when clathrin-mediated endocytosis is inhibited. Preliminary western blots show a depletion in melanopsin at the membrane after light exposure. Results suggest that light-stimulated melanopsin undergoes clathrin-mediated endocytosis, which facilitates robust light responses, implicating function in melanopsin re-sensitization.

This investigation was sponsored by NIH/NIGMS MARC U*STAR T3408663 National Research Service Award to UMBC.

back button


X-Ray Luminous AGN And The Quenching Of The Main Sequence

Christopher Bain
David Sanders, University of Hawaii, Institute for Astronomy

We investigated a sample of 3259 luminous X-ray sources from the COSMOS2015 survey with redshift (z < 4) to determine if AGN activity quenches star-formation in galaxies. We produced new model-free estimates of star-formation rate (SFR) and stellar mass (M star) to which we then compared the position of the X-ray sources in the SFR – M star diagram with measurements of the galaxy “Main Sequence” (MS) from the literature. We found that star-formation rates derived from Ultraviolet (UV) to Near-infrared (NIR) SED-fitting tend to dramatically overestimate star-formation in X-ray sources. All X-ray sources, independent of spectral type, lie below the MS with SFR increasing as a function of M star. In addition, we found no correlation between offset in SFR from the MS (Delta(SFR MS)) and X-ray luminosity (L X), but found that the median Delta(SFR MS) decreases as a function of M star. We conclude that accurate measurements of SFR for luminous X-ray AGN are essential for determining the role of AGN activity in quenching star-formation.

This work was funded through National Science Foundation grant 1716994.

back button


Analysis Of Forest Structure In The Context Of Land Ownership In Metropolitan Areas

Zachary Banham, Erin Lanagan
Matthew Baker, Geography and Environmental Systems

Ongoing population growth and urban expansion has resulted in widespread forest fragmentation, loss of habitat, and dramatic changes to both biodiversity and ecosystem function in the eastern United States. In cities, active forest management and effective policy is increasingly important, but complicated by institutions, local government, and private citizens with differing levels of ownership and influence. Through spatial analysis of tree canopy data, we assessed the distribution and ownership of woodland edges and interiors across the metropolitan areas of Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York to compare and contrast specific management challenges confronting each city. We applied Morphological Spatial Pattern Analysis (MSPA) to distinguish intact woodlands from isolated tree canopies and calculated the prevalence of different forest types and their ownership across neighborhoods within city boundaries. We found marked differences in both the amount and type of woodlands across cities, as well as large variation in the type of woodland ownership. Our findings indicate that citywide forest management may be less effective in urban areas with limited public ownership such as Baltimore, whereas policy directed at incentivising private woodland preservation and management will be essential for realizing urban woodland ecosystem services.

back button


Shiny Cowbird Brood Parasitism Threatens The Critically-Endangered Bahama Oriole

Sierra Barkdoll, Janine Antallfy1
1 Biological Sciences
Kevin Omland, Biological Sciences

The Bahama Oriole is a critically endangered songbird endemic to Andros island. Known as a brood parasite, the Shiny Cowbird lays its eggs in oriole nests to be raised by the oriole parents. To ensure parasitism success, cowbirds peck and kill existing oriole eggs. Our goal was to rigorously document the severity of the threat cowbirds pose for the Bahama Oriole. Using a wireless nest-monitoring camera, we monitored oriole nests in two main habitat types including developed areas and undeveloped forest during the 2018 and 2019 breeding seasons. We found evidence of cowbird parasitism in Bahama Oriole nests. Using a chi-squared test, we compared nests found in both habitat types. We found that the rate of cowbird parasitism was significantly greater in developed areas near settlements and agricultural land than in undeveloped forest. These results suggest cowbird parasitism is a significant threat to orioles in developed areas.

This work was mostly funded by NSF.

back button


Practice Makes Perfect: An Animated Self-Portrait

Zachary Barker-Frey
Corrie Parks, Visual Arts

Practice Makes Perfect is a 2D animated self-portrait that utilises techniques such as rotoscoping and hand-drawn animation with a runtime of about 45 seconds. This self-portrait is about something we all come across. We see someone who has an amazing talent or skill, and we become inspired by that person and strive to be as good as they are. This animation was made in Adobe Photoshop, and the scene that was rotoscoped was a video recording of myself that was traced over. I also recorded all of the audio in this piece, including the guitar. This piece has its roots in my own learning experiences. I am constantly surrounded by talented peers, and with access to the internet, I can see thousands of people doing amazing things that leave me awestruck. Then in order to ever get to that point that I idolize, I have to put in the work. It’s hard and it’s frustrating, but one of the best feelings you can ever have is to notice yourself improving. What I wanted to do with this piece is to capture that feeling.

back button


Optimizing The Detection Of Praziquantel For Monitoring Aquarium Systems Using High-Pressure Liquid Chromatography(HPLC)

Karis Barnett
William LaCourse, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Excess pharmaceutical waste in water is an emerging concern that can increase parasitic drug resistance, interrupt animal food chains, and threaten drinking water sources. A high-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) method with ultraviolet (UV) detection (210 nm) is under development for sensitively quantifying antiparasitic drug praziquantel (PZQ). This method has the potential to regularly monitor PZQ dosages during aquatic medicinal treatment, which can ultimately limit pharmaceutical waste in water. The separation of PZQ in a medicated powder was achieved on a Phenomenex™ Luna C18 analytical column (150 x 4.60mm, 5μm, 100A) using acetonitrile and water at a ratio (e.g. 50:50 v/v) as a mobile phase. This mobile phase may be ideal for separation; the method is being based on Vignaduzzo et al. (2015) but will require further optimization. Future work involves optimizing the method to collect analytical figures of merit (e.g. linearity, accuracy, and precision) for method validation. The optimized method will be applied to a variety of pharmaceutical and real-life (aquarium) samples.

This investigation was sponsored by NIH/NIGMS MARC U*STAR T3408663 National Research Service Award to UMBC.

back button


Race And Restorative Practices In Maryland School Systems

Kylie Barrett, Alyssa Walter
Kenneth Maton, Psychology

Racial disparities in the use of office referrals and suspensions lead to increased dropout and incarceration rates among students of color. These factors are a part of the school-to-prison pipeline, which describes the criminalization of behavior of disadvantaged students and the disproportionate rate at which they are funneled into the prison system. Restorative practices are an alternative conflict resolution strategy being implemented in schools nationwide and may disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline by minimizing the use of traditional punishment and instead addressing the root of the behaviors being punished. However, there is disagreement about the ways in which restorative practices would reduce racial disparities in discipline. Accordingly, the research question is: in what ways does restorative practices reduce racial disparities in student discipline, if at all? Data from qualitative interviews with students, teachers, and administrators in restorative practices schools were conducted. The data will be analyzed using Braun and Clarke’s (2006) guidelines for inductive thematic analysis. Overall, this poster will examine the relationship between restorative practices and student discipline and provide an analysis of restorative practices in relation to racial disparities in student discipline.

UMBC Graduate Student Association.

back button


Application Of Deep Learning To The Reconstruction Of Proton Beams In Cancer Treatment

Jonathan Basalyga, Gerson Kroiz, Carlos A. Barajas, Paul Maggi1, Jerimy Polf1
1 University of Maryland School of Medicine
Matthias Gobbert, Mathematics and Statistics

The advantage of proton beam therapy in cancer treatment is that the peak radiation dose is delivered at the end of its beam range, known as the Bragg peak (BP), which can allow for the precise delivery of radiation to the tumor without damaging nearby healthy tissue. However, uncertainty about the position of the BP in the patient can counteract this advantage. Secondary gamma rays, called prompt gammas (PGs), generated by nuclear interactions between the protons in the beam and the atoms in the patient, can be detected and reconstructed using a suitable reconstruction method to provide near real-time verification and assessment of the treatment delivery. However, traditional reconstruction methods can take several minutes to produce an image. Additionally, the high count-rate environment reduces the detector’s data quality, further complicating reconstruction. Deep learning has the potential to provide guidance to the treatment, by being able to rebuild an image in seconds, even with degraded data. This allows for the radiation to be monitored in near real time while the patient is being treated.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Assessment Of Ozone Soundings During The Summer Of 2019 Air Quality Exceedances In Baltimore, MD

Reynold Bascal
Ruben Delgado, Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology

TheAtmospheric Lidar Group (https://alg.umbc.edu) at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) contribute to the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) Air Quality Monitoring Program effort to understand the transport of particulates and air pollutants (from both natural and anthropogenic sources) and their impact on the regional variability of ozone (O3) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) for the last 12 years. A total of 14 ozone soundings were launched in the summer of 2019 during forecasted air quality exceedances. Maximum 8-hr ozone surface concentrations in Maryland during these 10 air quality events ranged between 74 to 85 ppbv. Ozone profiles were obtained from soundings taken with the I-Met sounding systems. Balloon-borne electrochemical concentration cell (ECC) ozonesondes were used to generate a vertical profile of aloft ozone concentrations to better understand the aloft “ozone reservoir”. In addition to ozonesondes, radiosondes will be launched to record aloft relative humidity, water vapor, temperature, and wind speed and wind direction. These aloft meteorological measurements will be of great importance as they will be used to determine the vertical make-up of the boundary layer and help in determining the potential presence of temperature inversions and the impact of other meteorological parameters to surface ozone concentrations.

JCET summer internship program.

back button


Organic Panic! An Interactive Role Playing Game Case Study.

Andrew Beck
Steven McAlpine, Individualized Study

Organic Panic! is an interactive role-playing game that simulates the documentary film Cafeteria Man, a documentary produced by UMBC alumnus Richard Chisolm, Class of 1982. The film follows Tony Geraci, former Baltimore City Public Schools Director of Food and Nutrition, in his quest to provide nutritious food to 83,000 school children by building a central kitchen for Baltimore kids. This story has been translated into a role-playing game by Honors College students, first played in 2014, and revised by Honors students every year since. The presenter, who once was an actor in the game, will summarize his analysis of the 2017 and 2019 versions of the game along with brief clips from each version, will assess the game mechanics through frameworks by game experts McGonigal and Osterweil, and suggest revisions to the 2020 version.

back button


The Effect Of CREB Gene On The Immune Response Of Drosophila Melanogaster

Elshaday Behailu
Fernando Vonhoff, Biological Sciences

Elshaday Behailu1, Dr. Fernando Vonhoff3

The study of bacterial infections in model organisms has been used in immunology to better understand the intricacies of immune response. One of the pillars of our immune response pathways is the Nf-kB complex. This protein complex is a transcription factor responsible for activation of regulatory genes that transcribe proteins for inflammation, overgrowth of cells or cell apoptosis. A regulatory gene, CREB, is mainly responsible for motor signaling sequences and memory functions inside our body. By silencing the Nf-kB protein complex, we can explore if CREB has a biochemical response to a pathogen. We performed flight tests on flies that were pricked with the E. Faecalis bacteria and compared them to control flies. Our results showed that on average the infected flies performed poorly when compared to control flies and had 100% mortality after 3 days. As we continue our investigation, we want to understand the role CREB plays in immune response and its applicability to other biochemical processes. Understanding the functions of our genes such as CREB is essential to our knowledge of neuro-degenerative and pathogenic diseases.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Biochemical And Structural Analysis Of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type-1 Spliced RNA

Samar Behdin
Dr. Michael Summers | Chemistry and Biochemistry

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the causative agent for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) which affects over thirty million people worldwide. During infection, unspliced RNA (gRNA) is selectively packaged as a dimer from an excess of spliced RNAs through interactions between the Gag protein and the 5 ́-leaders of gRNA. However, the sequence upstream tothe first splice site, containing most of the packaging signals including the dimerization initiation site, is shared in all viral RNAs, showing the potential of spliced RNA to dimerize and be packaged. This work aims to provide structural insight into the inefficient packaging
of spliced RNAs. Since dimerization is a prerequisite to packaging, the dimerization behavior of spliced RNA was investigated via gel electrophoresis, which showed that spliced RNA favors a monomeric conformation under physiological conditions. Two-dimensional nuclear magnetic resonance (2D-NMR) with selective deuteration and control oligos strategies were used to studythe highly conserved 5 ́-leader of spliced RNA. Results suggest that the 5 ́-leader of spliced RNA is structurally similar to that of unspliced monomeric RNA, which is exclusively translated and not packaged. This work lays the foundation for further structural study of HIV-1 spliced genome variants with the hope to create more effective treatments.

This research was funded by NIH/NIGMS grant R01 GM042561, and was conducted at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at UMBC with support in part by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Precollege and Undergraduate Science Education Program. I am also a recipient of a UMBC Travel Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Improving The Surface Adhesion Of Lipid-Based Nano-Chambers

Keynon Bell
Minjoung Kyoung, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Understanding protein-protein interactions provides insight on reversible cellular processes which are crucial for signaling and metabolic responses. However, some of these interactions are transient and therefore difficult to observe, leaving room for a technology that can detect fast and weak interactions. We use charge-mediated nano-reaction chamber technology to perform quantitative measurements of these biomolecular interactions in real-time. This single molecule imaging method is used to isolate transiently interacting molecules inside the nano-chambers. Since molecules are trapped within the nano-chamber, the effective concentrations are raised, and it is more likely to observe the transient interaction of the molecules. In order to use nano-reaction chambers, the lipid-based chambers must adhere to a glass coverslip where they will be observed using total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy. In this work, we describe methods that improve the quality of surface adhesion between the nano-chambers and the glass cover slips, thereby improving the throughput of nano-reaction imaging experiments. A reliable nano-chamber imaging method can be applied to a wide range of molecular dynamics, but is especially useful for characterizing transient multi-component systems

This investigation was sponsored by NIH/NIGMS MARC U*STAR T3408663 National Research Service Award to UMBC.

back button


Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: Using Afrofuturist Theory To Examine Themes Of Black Visibility

Kiara Bell
Dr. Maleda Belilgne, Africana Studies

How are black lives today still affected by America’s deep roots in chattel slavery? Christina Sharpe’s book, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being (Duke University Press 2016), studies theories of Blackness as it relates to visibility and aspiration. Sharpe examines cross-cultural representations of Black life to build her theme of “the wake,” which she defines as the climate of anti-Blackness that shapes post-slavery America. I will use the Afrofuturist theory from two chapters of Sharpe’s book, “The Hold” and “The Weather,” to examine elements of Black visibility in Claudia Rankine’s experimental book, Citizen (Graywolf Press 2014). A central tool used by Sharpe is the use of ‘Black annotation’ and ‘Black redaction’ to offer an alternative reading of how information is presented, past “the logics of the administered plantation.” The definitions she presents of ‘Black annotation and reaction’ can be used to analyze scenarios of Black aspiration in Citizen. Both authors use the aforementioned tools in their writings to address Black visibility. Using Sharpe’s theoretical work on ‘anagrammatical Blackness,’ ‘Black annotation,’ and ‘Black redaction,’ I will explore how Citizen promotes themes of Black visibility in “the wake.”

back button


A Cultivation Of Rape Culture In D.C., Maryland, And Virginia Universities

Nadia BenAissa
Kate Drabinski, Gender and Women’s Studies

The normalization of sexual violence is known in the literature as rape culture. Four year universities in the United States have historically cultivated rape culture. The public has a vested interest in knowing what is or is not being done to dismantle rape culture and prevent sexual assault on campuses, in order to hold these institutions accountable. The scope of this research was select universities within the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area. This research recognizes commonalities within the cross populated universities that cultivate rape culture and identify how inconsistent metrics have left universities unaccountable. A social constructionist and mixed methods approach was used to explore how institutional betrayal has exacerbated the problems with campus climate surveys and further distanced people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals from reporting. An archival analysis of university policies, rape culture, and Title IX was conducted, along with a statistical analysis of campus sexual assault surveys. The archival analysis suggests that despite updates to laws/policies, universities have failed to reach their more diverse populations. The data analysis suggests that the differing modes of surveying campus climates has led to statistically insignificant results that cannot affirm that new university sexual violence policies are working.

back button


Portraits: An Exploration Of The Human Spirit

Joanna Bigelow
April Householder, Visual Arts

My goal in creating a piece of art is to convey the truth that lies in beauty. My focus in my work is creating solid forms and expressing rhythm in the face and the body. My style is a mix of realism and impressionism. I work primarily with charcoal and oil paint, but I am also adept at working in digital media and 3-D design. My medium and approach are often seen as traditional, but I desire to show the sacredness of nature and humanity. I am always in a state of learning. My approach is to constantly re-invent and conceptualize the way I see things. My work, as a result, has a life of its own and a sense of balance.

back button


Correlation Of Ground-Based Aerosol Optical Depth to Particulate Pollution Over The Baltimore.

Jonathan Bolanos
Ruben Delgado, Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology

Particulate Matter (PM), widely known as particle air pollution within the atmosphere, these particles have contributed to the causes of worldwide ranges of toxicological problems that threaten mankind and environmental sustainability. The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) Atmospheric Lidar Group (https://alg.umbc.edu) remote sensing measurements contribute to the assessment of local and long-range transport of particle pollution (PM2.5, aerodynamics diameter < 2.5µm) in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area by state and federal air quality management agencies. In this study, the correlation of ground-based column Aerosol Optical Depth and surface PM2.5 measurements from NASA’s Aerosol Robotic Network (AERONET) and the Maryland Department of the Environment will be examined. Combination of ground air quality measurements, lidar profiles measurements and column observations provide a three-dimensional (3D) overview of aerosol pollution within Baltimore, Maryland.

This work was funded, in part of the University System Maryland LSAMP Fall 2019 Research Program .

back button


Improving The Applications And Uses Of Thermoelectric Materials

Tamia BowersPriyanshu Banerjee, Mechanical Engineering (Graduate Student)
Dr. Deepa Madan

Through developmental research and conductive methods of experimentation, the critical goal of the lab is to enhance the performance of thermoelectric materials by synthesizing and characterizing composite thermoelectrics using additives as well as material processing techniques. The resulting physical outcome of these materials is printed flexible electronic devices, with applications in wireless sensor networks, implantable medical devices, automobile engines, condition-monitoring sensors, and military equipment, and other applicable formats of integration.

back button


What Is The Effect of The Writing Center as It Relates to Transfer Students and Persistence?

Michael Brisbane, Mary Gallagher1, Rose Jackson2, Ira Degawan3, Kevin Curtin3
1Macklin Center for Academic Success, USG, 2Office of the Executive Director, Universities at Shady Grove, 3Psychology, UMBC
Diane Alonso, Psychology

University transfer students may not be as equally likely as non-transfer students to utilize student services such as the writing center due to demographic and academic characteristics. In this sense, transfer students could be seen as having less access to resources and academic support, placing them at a higher risk for attrition. Attrition (or persistence) research examines the factors and mediating roles associated with student completion or graduation rates. Two related factors of paramount importance are self-efficacy and self-regulation, defined as the feelings about one’s ability to achieve a goal, and to plan, organize, and carry out the objectives of that goal, respectively. This study explored the relationship between transfer students’ characteristics, writing center usage, and persistence. Implementing a mixed-methods approach, self-report measures were used to gauge writing self-efficacy and self-regulation levels. Additionally, qualitative methods adopting the phenomenological approach were implemented by conducting interviews with 20 students to yield themes associated with high and low writing center usage. The qualitative research expanded and elaborated on the transfer student experience with the writing center.

back button


Evidence For Conserved Mechanisms Of Neurulation In The Zebrafish Forebrain

Dominique Brooks
Rachel Brewster, Biological Sciences

The neural tube, the central nervous system precursor, is shaped during neurulation, a process that involves bending and folding of the neural plate around hingepoints and convergence of the lateral edges of the neural plate, the neural folds, towards the midline where they fuse. Neurulation frequently goes array in human populations, resulting in neural tube defects (NTDs). While the underlying causes of NTDs remain unclear, genes that control hingepoint and neural fold formation are considered genetic risk factors for these birth defects. My research project aims to develop the zebrafish as a model to investigate additional genetic factors contributing to NTDs. However, hingepoints and neural folds have not been observed in zebrafish, raising questions about the level of conservation of neurulation in this model organism. Interestingly, recent data point to the presence of these structures in the zebrafish anterior neural plate. Using immunolabeling and confocal microscopy, we show the apical localization of several proteins that are implicated in hingepoint formation. Furthermore, treatment of embryos with blebbistatin effectively blocks hingepoint formation and convergence of the neural folds. These findings highlight the conservation of neurulation across vertebrates, paving the way for future investigations on the genetic basis of NTDs using this model.

This investigation was sponsored by NIH/NIGMS MARC U*STAR T3408663 National Research Service Award to UMBC.

back button


Development Of Disciplinary Vocabulary In 4th Grade Instrumental Music Students

Michael Brown
Jeremy Cochran, Music

This project tracked the development of content area vocabulary in fourth grade instrumental music students. Students were given a pre-assessment testing their entry knowledge of content area vocabulary, containing terms such as embouchure, double reed instrument, playing position, and more. This pre-assessment included categories for if the students were unfamiliar with the word entirely, had encountered it before, could give a definition, and if they could use it in a sentence. Over the course of a few weeks, students were given activities where they encountered and worked with these vocabulary terms and developed their understanding and application of them. At the end of their post-test, over 80% of students increased their content area vocabulary to discuss the woodwind family as demonstrated by the guidelines we set (4 tiers of development based off their pre-test score)

back button


Examining A Web-based Training For Social Workers On The Benefits Of early Psychosis Screening

Dawn Bunch, Niki Andorko, Emily Petti
Jason Schiffman, Psychology

Psychosis can result in chronic impairment and decreased quality of life. Though early intervention can improve clinical outcomes, duration of untreated psychosis lasts two years on average. Increasing knowledge of early psychosis identification among mental health service providers, such as social workers, may facilitate early intervention. As part of a larger study aimed to train social workers on psychosis identification using a web-based program, we examined whether the training led to increased knowledge of the benefits of screening for psychosis. Participants (n= 959), Maryland social workers, were randomly assigned to an experimental group with training specific to psychosis screening, or a control group with training on general mental health screening. After training, participants were asked to list five benefits of screening for psychosis. Two independent coders scored responses as correct or incorrect, and a third coder resolved discrepancies. We hypothesize that the experimental group will demonstrate better knowledge of the benefits of psychosis screening. Results may have implications for using web-based training to disseminate knowledge about early detection of psychosis. Likewise, increasing awareness of rationale for early psychosis screening among social workers may provide an avenue for facilitating rapid access to specialty care for clients who may be at risk.

This work was funded, in part, by the National Institute of Mental Health.

back button


Validation Of A Quality Attribute Estimator Utilizing Real Time Chromatography Measurements

Sarah Burney, Benjamin Punshon-Smith1
1Chemical, Biochemical, and Environmental Engineering, UMBC
Yordan Kostov, Chemical, Biochemical, and Environmental Engineering

Biotherapeutics is a growing sector in the contemporary health and research industries as the near-infinite complexity of protein-based molecules gives rise to a new generation of drugs. Though the complexity of these molecules maximizes potential targets, downstream processing such as purification proves to be challenging and gives rise to regulatory challenges. Hence, there is a growing desire to gain insight into quality attributes of the product in real-time. We are validating the usage of in-line measurements, such as UV absorbance, to estimate quality attributes such as aggregation during purification. Utilizing hemoglobin as a model target protein, repeated purifications are performed in the Bio-MOD to form a sufficient dataset. The target protein aggregation will be calculated using standard techniques such as SDS PAGE and size exclusion chromatography of the purified sample. An estimator of product aggregation based on statistical learning principles such as SVM, PCA and regression is trained and tested on the dataset. By focusing at the wavelengths near 260-300 nm, we expect to observe a correlation between our in-line measurements and sample aggregation, giving us the ability to classify the sample aggregation quality.

back button


Population Analysis Of Feral Island Cats: Predation Risk To Endangered Bahama Oriole

Breanna Byrd
Kevin Omland, Biological Sciences; Colin Studds, Geography and Environmental Systems, UMBC

The Bahama Oriole is a critically endangered species endemic to Andros, The Bahamas. Of the many dangers that the Bahama Oriole faces, introduced mammalian predators, such as feral cats, pose a major threat to the species’ survival. Cat predation is one of the largest sources of human related bird morality, particularly for island species that evolved in the absence of mammalian predators. This study estimated the abundance of feral cats inhabiting the pine forests of Andros. We placed motion sensitive wildlife camera traps at twenty-three locations within our selected six-square-kilometer study plot to detect the presence of feral cats. We found at least five adults as well as three kittens within the plot, indicating about one cat per square-kilometer. This preliminary analysis suggests that, not only are feral cats a likely predator, they are also reproducing successfully in the pine forest and pose a long-term threat to the Bahama Oriole population.

This work was funded by the National Science Foundation.

back button


Taco Tuesday

Zippora Cahn, Yvonne-Crystel Monterrosa, Zhenbang Weng, Nynna Vu, Marielle Fabregas, Sean Huber
Eric Jordan, Visual Arts

Taco Tuesday is a two-dimensional puzzle-platformer game developed in Unity. You are a young protagonist whose favorite taco truck has been stolen by evil mutated vegetables and it’s up to you to gather all the ingredients and stop their nefarious plans. The objective of the game is to traverse the maps platforms and gather as many ingredients as possible by either finding them around the map and in crates or collecting them from the corpses of your fallen enemies, all while making sure to reach the end before the timer goes out and before dying. Your initial weapon is a spatula which you can use to whack enemies to death. There are various upgrades that can be bought and equipped to aid you in your journey. This game is meant to showcase the team’s talents by allowing the programmers to gain experience programming a lot of basic gameplay and some challenges. It would allow the animators lots of room for creativity in level design, animation, and character design. As a team, it is essential that the game’s animations also interact with each other, creating a cohesive and fun gaming experience.

back button


Apical Constriction Molecular Machinery Within The Zebrafish Medial Hingepoint.

Allyson Caldwell
Rachel Brewster, Biological Sciences

Bending and folding of the neural plate to form the neural tube, otherwise known as neurulation, is an early and necessary morphogenetic event for the formation of the central nervous system. Failure of the neural tube to form properly leads to neural tube defects (NTDs). Despite the frequency of NTDs, the cellular and molecular mechanisms of neurulation remain poorly understood. We aim to establish the zebrafish as a model system to study neurulation and risk factors of NTDs. However, neurulation in zebrafish is thought to differ from that of more commonly used models to study NTDs, as hallmarks of neurulation, such as hinge points and neural folds, have not been observed in this organism. Through the use of immunolabeling and confocal microscopy we show apical localization of actin and myosin in medial cells of the zebrafish anterior neural plate, similar to the medial hinge points of other vertebrates. Furthermore, we confirmed, using blebbistatin, that disruption of this actomyosin network prevents apical constriction, hingepoint formation and neural fold elevation and convergence. Our findings indicate that there is a high level of conservation of mechanisms of neurulation across vertebrates, paving the way for studies investigating genetic risk factors for NTDs using zebrafish.

This investigation was sponsored by NIH/NIGMS MARC U*STAR T3408663 National Research Service Award to UMBC.

back button


Receptor Cycling In Migratory Cells Can Enhance The Sensing Of Chemoattractant Gradients

Angelica Mercy Calip
Bradford Peercy, Mathematics and Statistics

Migratory border cells can respond to chemical attractants by moving up the concentration gradient through a process called chemotaxis. However, in heterogeneous environments, like within Drosophila egg chambers, this gradient can be challenging to sense. Receptors that bind to chemical attractants have been shown to be recycled, removed from the cell membrane and replaced in the cell membrane. We have shown previously that as this recycling process varies, the sensitivity to a chemical gradient can be enhanced meaning activated receptor gain over a natural distance is improved. This receptor cycling may provide some flexibility to the shape of the gradient. We hypothesize that if the recycling process depends on the level of activated receptor, then the gains should be realized autonomously. We hope to implement this in a migratory cell model designed to capture border cell cluster migration in the Drosophila egg chamber.

back button


Characterizing the protein/RNA interactions in the initial events of HIV-1 assembly

Emily Cannistraci1, Ugonna Mbaekwe1, Alexis Waller1, Sapna Bassapa1, Nansen Kuo1, Aaron Kidane1, Mitali Sarkar1, Ridhi Chaudhary1, Hana Flores1, Siarhei Kharytonchyk2, Pengfei Ding1, Alice Telesnitsky2, Michael F. Summers1
1Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, UMBC
1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Michigan, 500 S State St, Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Transcription of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus type 1 (HIV-1) proviral DNA results in monomeric viral RNA (vRNA) translated into the Gag polyprotein and dimeric vRNA selectively packaged into progeny viruses. vRNA constitutes less than 1% of cellular RNAs, yet the Gag nucleocapsid (NC) domain recognizes the 5’-untranslated region (5’-UTR) of dimeric vRNA for effective packaging. In this study, we seek to characterize the protein/RNA interactions that mediate selective vRNA packaging during the initial events of HIV-1 assembly. We identified 20 NC binding sites on the dimeric 5’-UTR Core Encapsidation Signal (CES). Crosslinking showed binding of Gag derivatives to CES results in hexamers. Negative stain Electron Microscopy (EM) revealed these hexamers have ring-like structures similar to capsid (CA) hexamer size formed during viral assembly. To study how Gag interacts with the CES, we isolated a hexamer by fusing CCHex to NC. Gel shifts reveal this CCHex-NC protein forms a one:one protein:RNA complex with CES, preferentially with dimeric CES. We plan to further elucidate the atomic structure of this protein/RNA complex using cryo-EM. Our results suggest clustering of Gag on the 5’-UTR promotes the formation of Gag hexamers, which serves as the nucleation site to initiate selective genome packaging and viral assembly.

This research was funded by the NIH/NIGMS-R01-GM042561, T34 HHS 00001 National Research Service Award to UMBC, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). Research conducted at UMBC.

back button


Informal Resettlement Of Internally Displaced People (IDP) In Cartagena, Colombia, And Urban Development

Anthony Cano
Felipe Filomeno, Political Science

Internally displaced people (IDP) are migrants who were involuntarily displaced from their habitual residence to other parts of their home country as a result of armed conflicts, human-made or natural disasters, or human rights violations. It is estimated that about 41.3 million people in the world today are internally displaced. This study investigates the resettlement of IDPs and urban development with a focus on the case of the Nelson Mandela neighborhood in Cartagena, Colombia. The study is based on visual materials, oral histories, and observation notes (collected during fieldwork in summer 2019) and on news stories about the neighborhood. The author conducted a thematic analysis of the data, including a triangulation of findings from different data sources. The results indicate that the informality of IDP resettlements and their scattered nature slows down urban development in the periphery of cities. As a result, the local government and civil society in Cartagena have not been able to accommodate the resettlements adequately because of the lack of data on IDPs and their informality. It is crucial to study this phenomenon further to assist internal migrant host city governments with data that can be integrated into their urban development plans.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Synthesis Of Flex-Guanosine Analogues As Potential Antiviral Therapeutics

Tyler Carlyle
Katherine Seley-Radtke, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Many nucleoside analogues are currently used today as therapeutics against cancers and viruses such as Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and herpes simplex virus (HSV) among many others. However, growing resistance to these drugs poses a serious issue as viral enzymes can reduce drug binding affinities through point mutations and binding site conformational changes, rendering the drugs less potent against life-threatening diseases. To overcome this, the Seley-Radtke group has done extensive work in producing nucleoside analogues with flexible purine base moieties. These novel compounds are known as “fleximers”. The added flexibility allows the nucleosides to adapt into conformations not normally accessible by the native purine base, while still maintaining activity. This activity is apparent when looking at the flex-analogues of acyclovir, an FDA approved drug for HSV. In contrast to acyclovir, the corresponding flex-analogues exhibited low micromolar activity against Ebola, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Dengue and Yellow Fever viruses. Acyclovir exhibits no activity against any of those viruses. Following those findings., the goal of this project is to synthesize a series of Flex-2’-deoxy-G and Flex-G prodrugs and other 5’ modifications to further explore their antiviral potential.

This research was funded, in part, by a grant to UMBC from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute through the Pre-college and Undergraduate Science Education Program.

back button


Thermoelectric Analysis Of Tetrahedrite Samples

Katherine-Ann Carr
Deepa Madan, Mechanical Engineering

Thermoelectric materials are a unique kind of semi-conductor with specific material properties that allows for them to generate a voltage due to a difference in temperature. These semi-conductors allow for engineers to use heat from other reactions and processes to provide power. For example, a car would be able to use the heat that its engine gives off to charge its battery. There are many different applications for these materials, and can benefit a wide range of people. For this project, samples of Tetrahedrite were created and tested for their material properties. These samples were created with different weight ratios of the metal to the binder that was used. The binder is a plant-based chitosan and the samples were created on chitosan coated pieces of Kevlar. Different weight ratios were analyzed, to see how changing the ratio would change the material properties. For example, in the 1:200 samples, they had a power factor of 84 (µW/mK2) at room temperature. The power factor is a ratio of the actual output of the sample over the theoretical output. These samples were also tested at different temperatures to see how their material properties changed, and how we could increase the power factor values.

back button


Automated Monocular Exploration With DonkeyCar

Noah Carver
Dr. Tim Oates, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering

Robotics platforms tendto cost thousands of dollars, makingthem unreachable to underfunded research programs. This project aims to perform Automated Exploration -similar to DARPA’s Subterranean Challenge -using a cost-effective Robotics platform.

back button


ASMRtist: Art In Relaxation

Dylan Chao
Dr. Tim Nohe, Visual Arts

Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, also known as ASMR, is described as a tingling sensation typically beginning from the scalp moving down to the upper spine. ASMR is produced through specific audio and visual cues, and is used as a tool of relaxation for many. Through my project, I created my own ASMR content using my background in visual arts, music, and theater to make my own work. Using different microphones and concepts, I created videos that were developed to help people destress and relax. These videos were uploaded to a Youtube channel, serving as a platform to showcase my videos to a wider audience. In preparation for this project, I researched ASMR and the science behind it: why it happens and why it works, and then applied those concepts to my own work. As a working ASMRtist I grew creatively, learning more about sound and video editing, creating both visually stunning and helpful work for people. I wanted to showcase that ASMR is not to be treated as a joke, but it is in fact a useful tool that many find extremely effective in relaxation.

back button


Initial Recognition Of The HIV-1 RNA Packaging Signal

Ridhi Chaudhary
Michael Summers, Chemistry and Biochemistry; Pengfei Ding, Chemistry and Biochemistry, UMBC

HIV is a retrovirus responsible for the onset of AIDS. During viral assembly, interactions between the 5’-leader (5’-L) of viral genomic RNA and the Gag polyprotein initiate the selective packaging of two copies of the HIV-1 genome. Understanding the molecular mechanism of this process could aid in the development of therapeutic targets that may halt viral assembly. In this study, we identified critical Gag binding sites on the dimeric 5’L. We used isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) to characterize protein binding affinity and the thermodynamics of this protein binding. Four of the identified binding sites showed an endothermic isotherm, and these high-affinity binding sites were mapped to the bottom junction of the core encapsidation signal. Utilizing NMR spectroscopy, we revealed that nucleotides in the (UUUU)/(GGAG) region located at the stem of SL3 are involved in the tight binding. This was explained by the disruption of the GU wobble base pair in this region. Mutations stabilizing the (UUUU)/(GGAG) region eliminated the high-affinity endothermic binding. Our in-vivo competitive packaging assay showed that these stabilizing mutations significantly hinder the selective packaging of the viral RNA. Thus, we identified a critical Gag binding site in the packaging signal of HIV-1 genomic RNA.

This research was funded, in part, by a grant to UMBC from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute through the Pre-college and Undergraduate Science Education Program.

back button


Biochemical Evidence For A Novel Structural Element Characteristic To The Dimeric Conformation Of The HIV-1 Genome

Issac Chaudry
Michael Summers, Chemistry and Biochemistry

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) affects over thirty million people worldwide and is the causative agent for the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The viral RNA genome of HIV folds to a monomer or dimer conformation contingent on the highly conserved 5′ leader, and each conformation fulfills a distinct niche in the HIV replication cycle. Monomeric RNA is traditional mRNA that is translated, and the dimeric RNA serves as the genomic material for the virus. Our previous Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy studies of the monomer and dimer conformations suggest a novel dimer-specific stacking interaction in the 5′ leader between the TAR and polyA hairpins. We aim to explore biochemical implications of the proposed stacking interaction between the TAR and polyA hairpins by employing a decapping-exonuclease mechanism that is native to humans. The catalytic subunit of the human decapping complex, hDcp2, was used to remove the 5′ guanosine cap, followed by an incubation with the XRN-1 5′ monophosphate-specific exonuclease. Through gel electrophoresis, we visualized the degradation of each construct. The monomer showed significantly more degradation than the dimer, further supporting the proposed stacking interaction. With this structural information, possible inhibitors could be developed as long-lasting therapies for the HIV-1 virus.

This investigation was sponsored by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the NIH/NIGMS – R01 GM042561.

back button


Mathematical Modeling Of PI3K Dependent And Independent Stimulus Pathways In Skeletal Muscle Atrophy

Catherine Chonai
Bradford Peercy, Mathematics and Statistics

Muscle atrophy can be a devastating symptom of aging and disease. The phosphorylation state and nuclear localization of the transcription factor Foxo1 are critical factors in muscle degradation. Chemical pathways have shown that dephosphorylated Foxo1 enters the nucleus while phosphorylated Foxo1 leaves the nucleus. Stimulus-induced pathways have also been identified. However, with complicated stimulus pathways, a mathematical model of the Foxo1 nuclear translocation process under varied stimuli is needed. Foxo1 Phosphorylation traditionally follows a pathway from insulin (IGF) through PI3K to Akt. However, recent experiments have shown that PI3K inhibitors may not prevent Akt activation of Foxo1 suggesting an alternative pathway. In previous work we have shown how a balance between the PI3K-dependent and PI3K-independent pathways may occur using a basic model. Here, however, we reduce a dynamical model of Akt activation via IGF through PI3K to steady state and append equations for PI3K inhibition to compare the effectiveness of our basic model in capturing the balance. Ultimately, an accurate model of the Foxo1 translocation pathway may have the predictive capacity to suggest mechanisms for controlling the effects of muscle degradation within at-risk patients. This work is supported, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award (URA).

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


The Process Of 3D Printing For Stop Motion Animation

Emilia Cieslak
Corrie Parks, Visual Arts

Stop motion film is a growing industry, largely due to new methods of production that incorporate rapid prototyping technology such as 3D printing. With the affordability of 3D printers, I wanted to research an effective way for a student film to make use of this accessible technology. In the past year, I researched the process of 3D modeling to 3D printing, silicone mold making and casting, large set building and stop motion film making. I designed character models and had basic face models made in Maya that could be easily changed into different mouth shapes and emotions and then be printed. I also made a full-body model that would be printed to size, had a silicone cast made around it, then cast in rubber silicone to fit around a metal skeleton of the doll. In this presentation, I will be going to detail my process, my mistakes, and the final product and how well it works for stop motion animation.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Computer Vision For The Advanced Energetic Pair Telescope (AdEPT)

Caroline Cocca, Stanley Hunter1, Jason Link2, Dr. Don Engel
1NASA, 2 UMBC, Center for Space Sciences and Technology (CSST)
Don Engel, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering

The Advanced Energetic Pair Telescope (AdEPT) is an instrument concept designed for medium-energy gamma ray polarimetry. This space-based, pair production telescope aims to mend the gap in our knowledge of astronomy between X-rays and high-energy gamma rays. The telescope’s high angular resolution and polarimetry capabilities will open new doors in observational astrophysics. However, the uncompressed data rate estimated for AdEPT is several orders of magnitude greater than the average science data downlink that will be available to the instrument. This requires the design of on-board processing capable of distinguishing between gamma rays and background noise in order to reduce the data rate to a manageable level. In this project, we explore the application of computer vision in order to develop an algorithm capable of processing the raw data and distinguishing background (such as cosmic rays and electronic noise) from gamma rays.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


The Life Of Freckles The Clown

Jordan Colea, Vicky Graham, Lloyd Ekpe
Chelsea Pace, Theatre

The year was 2007. Notable powerhouse comedians such as Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolf were seasoned professionals in the art of making people laugh. On January 1st, author Christopher Hitchens wrote an article titled “Why Women aren’t Funny” which was posted in Vanity Fair. Using this for my stepping stone, I decided to use my senior project to explore this and what it means to be a woman in the acting field through the eyes of my clown Freckles. With the help of my mentor Chelsea Pace, I was able to incorporate techniques from my movement 3 class, where I was first introduced to clowning, while also creating a show that echos me as an artist. The work I created will make you think, be sad, cry, laugh, and maybe even be angry, but that’s what is so beautiful. Since clowns only have about 3 brain cells, they make the best story tellers, because they don’t care if they look stupid, actually it is quite the compliment to them. Contrary to what Mr. Hitchens believed, women were, are and always will be more than their physical appearance, and we can make you cry from laugher too.

back button


An Iterative Algorithm For Multi-Image Super-Resolution

Jimmy Coleman, Josh Galita, Erick Kengni, Rohan Gujarathi
David Chapman, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering

This research presents an algorithm for multi-image super-resolution—the construction of a high-resolution image from multiple overlapping low-resolution photographs. The algorithm precisely aligned the orientation of low-resolution images and then used the method of compressive sensing to estimate the unobserved high-resolution image. Simulated annealing was used to determine the relative geometric overlap of the images by minimizing the average difference in overlapping pixel color. The high-resolution pixels were then inferred using compressive sensing with two different sets of wavelets by representing the relationship between low-resolution pixels and wavelets as a matrix. We obtained a novel initial estimate for the wavelet weights using a regularized matrix transpose. This estimate was then refined using matching pursuit to obtain the final wavelet weights, which were then used to compute the high-resolution image. This work demonstrated that synthetic images can be registered and super-resolved with sub-pixel accuracy, and furthermore that the compressive sensing was successful in reconstructing the original high-resolution image with high fidelity. Multi-image super-resolution will enable higher resolution photographs, medical images, and satellite images for the general public, medical imaging, and remote sensing informatics communities by fusing low-resolution images from different points of view into higher-resolution images.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Effects Of The Geometry Of Extracellular Space On Border Cell Activation Patterns

Jessica Cooley
Bradford Peercy, Mathematics and Statistics

Diffusion of chemoattractants from polar cells to their surrounding cells marks the beginning of the cell cluster migration in the egg chamber of Drosophila Melanogaster, or fruit flies. A previous paper modeled the pattern of activation of surrounding border cells based off of the extracellular spaces caused by various positions of nurse cells. This project looks to recreate the model using Matlab and will aim to reproduce the findings of that paper. Furthermore, we also looked to expand on the model by then using a hexagonal cell formation in place of a rectangular one, to compare our results with this more biologically accurate arrangement of cells. In the future this will allow for further integration into the larger cell cluster migration model.

back button


Investigating The Impact Of Nanoparticle Surface Charge On Compliment Activation Related Pseudo Allergy

Tobias Coombs
Erin Lavik, Chemical, Biochemical, and Environmental Engineering

Nanoparticles have the potential to be useful in a variety of medical applications. In practice, however, their use is often limited by the presence of hypersensitivity reactions. These reactions are started by the cleavage of the compliment protein C3 as a result of its interaction with the nanoparticle’s surface. c3a acts as an anaphylatoxin, and c3b goes on to cleave C5, creating an additional anaphylatoxin (c5a) and a part of a larger immune protein complex (c5b). Together, these cause the potentially dangerous symptoms associated with nanomedicine hypersensitivity.

Previous research implicated nanoparticle surface charge as a factor involved in the hypersensitivity response. In order to investigate this, we developed nanoparticles of varying charges by modifying the amount of amine groups present on their surface. These nanoparticles were then allowed to react with human blood in vitro. The hypersensitivity response was quantified by measuring the concentrations of the aforementioned compliment protein fragments using immunoassays. Our results indicated that more neutrally charged nanoparticles have a reduced hypersensitivity response.

This investigation was sponsored by NIH/NIGMS MARC U*STAR T3408663 National Research Service Award to UMBC.

back button


Understanding Connectivity Of Pancreatic Beta Cells Through Artificial Neural Networks

Ashley Copenhaver
Bradford Peercy, Mathematics and Statistics

The islet of Langerhans consists of hundreds of beta cells whose synchronization is key to the proper secretion of insulin from the endocrine component of the pancreas. Experiments have suggested the existence of a type of β-cell in the islet, called the hub cell, which controls islet synchronicity. If silenced, the hub cell appears to desynchronize the islet. Simulations based on the experimental data have not confirmed the proposed high functional connectivity of hub cells. Instead, we have used numerical exploration to show the existence of a similar β-cell, termed the switch cell, which can control the activity of the islet without needing functional connectivity. We are using artificial neural network techniques to identify islets containing switch cells based upon cell characteristics and cell-coupling values. We begin with a two-cell network using three parameters to identify a switch islet. When we are able to identify switch islets, we begin working with a three-cell network in six parameters and continue to scale up to a 57-cell network. We aim to discover what biophysical features are important for the algorithm to produce good results and whether the algorithm’s boundary line converges to the theoretical boundary line predicted by simulation results.

back button


Effect of Watching Spanish Newscasts on Students Listening Comprehension Skill

Brenda Covell
Dr. Linda Oliva, Education

This research was conducted on 25 students at a high school in the Spanish level four honor class, and it explored students’ listening and comprehension skills in second language acquisition. Once a week, students were exposed to a variety of news from different Spanish speaking countries so thatthey could familiarize themselves with diverse accents. Many of the news segments were related to the topics discussed in class, but others were about current events. In that manner, students could be tested on their comprehension for both, the unit’s vocabulary, and the vocabulary that they were not specifically studying at that moment. The main goal of watching the news was for students to be able to comprehend its main idea and supporting details. The news procedure and comprehension assessment were based on tiered questions on a handout aligned with the AP-preparation exam that is divided into four sections. The handout was randomly collected throughout the year as supporting data for this. The findings indicated that students’ listening, and comprehension skills were improved. Having bilingual students means having productive citizens in our society

back button


The Effect Of Cell Tension On Cell Growth

Eliana Crentsil, Kai Yao1
1
Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Johns Hopkins University
Sean Sun, Johns Hopkins University

Cell volume regulation is critical to the maintenance of homeostasis in the body. Dysregulation of cell volume can disrupt organ function and potentially initiate tumorigenesis. Various mechanotransductive proteins, such as the YAP/TAZ protein that has been found to be upregulated in a number of cancers, have been found to regulate cell volume. However, the mechanism by which cell volume regulation occurs requires further investigation. We hypothesize that cell volume regulation occurs via dynamic assembly and reorganization of the phosphorylated myosin light chain (pMLC). Quantitative immunofluorescence is used to compare relative amounts of pMLC upon downregulating cell tension with Y27632 and upregulating cell tension with a stretching device. The amount of pMLC is compared, at the single cell level, to cell volume as quantified through a Fluorescence Exclusion Method experimentally or a computational analysis based on cellular imaging. Preliminary findings suggest that cells treated with Y27632 have lower pMLC expression, lower protein synthesis rates, and smaller cell volumes. Cells stretched on the microfluidic device tended to have higher pMLC and YAP expression, higher protein synthesis rates, and larger cell volumes. The findings suggest cell tension might be involved in cell growth control and volume regulation.

This investigation was sponsored by NIH/NIGMS MARC U*STAR T3408663 National Research Service Award to UMBC.

back button


Mathematics In Laboratory Sciences: Using Mini Math Lessons To Reinforce And Master Conversion Factors

Christine Crisostomo
Jonathan Singer, Education

This research focused on bridging the gap of science students’ mathematics skills and helping students master using conversion factors. Understanding how to use conversion factors and applying them successfully is a necessary skill in laboratory sciences. Students require this skill in order to estimate dosages, weights, concentrations, molarity and dilutions in any laboratory experiment. Baseline data from a pretest showed that many students lacked the general understanding of what a conversion factor was and how to use one in a calculation. Students were taught what a conversion factor was and how to use one to convert moles to grams and then back from grams to moles. This skill was reinforced and assessed several times via informal assessments such as drills at the beginning of class as well as formal assessments such as homework assignments and quizzes. The final assessment was conducted during an experimental lab design lesson where students created a lab protocol, carried out an experiment, and gathered and analyzed their data. Results from the final assessment indicated that students were able to successfully use conversion factors to calculate molarity and concentrations in their laboratory protocol and in their analysis of their lab results.

back button


A Mile In My Cleats

Courtney Culp
Amy Oden, Maryland Public Television

Throughout my soccer career, I was always either the only or one of two Black girls on my team. I therefore experienced several challenges regarding race. Although playing soccer has been one of the most rewarding parts of my life, it is impossible to ignore the fact that my experiences were very different from those of my teammates. During the Fall semester of my senior year, I was enrolled in a course called Documentary Production. The objective of this course was to create a self-driven, short documentary. As my last year of competitive soccer was coming to an end, I reflected on all of the racial biases that had affected my experience. It was at that point that the topic of my documentary was born. In this short documentary, four African-American women from UMBC share their unique stories and discuss how their intersectional identities have affected their experiences as Division I athletes. The film covers topics including media representation, microaggressions, sexism, and the ever-present undercurrents of racism. “A Mile in My Cleats”, provides a platform to share our unique stories and serves as a reminder that our voices deserve to be heard.

back button


Grasshopper Sparrow Song Diversity In The Caribbean

Arushi Dalal, Julia Warfield
Bernard Lohr, Biological Sciences

We conducted a comparison of male song in the Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum) across several island populations in the Caribbean (including Jamaica Bonaire/Curacao). A. savannarum males sing two distinct songs: an insect-like “buzz” song and a “warble” song. By studying these songs, we determined how songs across the islands varied and what these differences could mean for the species as a whole. The song recordings from each island were edited using the SIGNAL sound analysis software tool. The same program was used to write code that we used to analyze specific spectral and temporal measurements of each song, so that this variation could be examined quantitatively. We were able to distinguish key differences between songs and singing patterns based on geographical origin. In some cases, there were even differences among songs of the same island. The Bonaire/Curacao subspecies had the most distinct songs with the most rapid modulation rates, the least inter-individual variation, and the most stereotyped song patterns. These findings reveal important patterns in the cultural evolution of this behavior may act as a behavioral barrier to gene flow resulting in rapid divergence across island populations in the Caribbean.

This work was funded, in part by Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP).

back button


The Challenge Of Measuring Activated Carbon Dose In Sediments

Jada Damond, Sanya Ahmed
Dr. Upal Ghosh, Chemical, Biochemical, and Environmental Engineering

Activatedcarbon (AC) is used as an amendment for in-situ remediation of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in contaminated sediments. In-situ application of AC at a dose of 1-5% by weight has been demonstrated to significantly reduce bio-uptake into aquatic food webs. The most important factors in the success of the technology are the application of the correct dose of AC, uniformity of the dose in the treated area, and persistence of the applied AC dose over time. However, there is no standard method to measure the amount of AC in sediment, and researchers have used a variety of techniques. In this work, multiple different carbon treatments were measured for the amount of black carbon after several years of implementation in multiple field pilot studies. Three analytical methods (loss on ignition, total organic carbon, and specialized AC measurement) were compared for the efficacy of measuring the amount of black carbon present in the sediments for several different sites. A comparison of the accuracy and precision of each method and recommendation for adoption is presented in this study. Accurate measurement of AC in sediments as demonstrated in this study is necessary to build confidence in the adoption of in-situ remediation of sediments.

Sponsorship by The Dow Chemical Company and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

back button


Use Of Radio Tracking To Study Territory Size Of The Bahama Oriole

Sheridan Danquah, Gabriel Wilkins, Breanna Byrd, Sierra Barkdoll
Kevin Omland, Biological Sciences; Matthew Fagan, Geography & Environmental Science, UMBC; Colin Studds, Geography & Environmental Science, UMBC

The Bahama Oriole (Icterus northropi) is a critically endangered birdfound only in Andros, Bahamas. Previous literature on these orioles suggested they mostly nested in developed areas in Coconut Palms (Cocos nucifera). With new knowledge that the Bahama Oriole also nests in pine forests (Pinus caribaea), we hope to make more accurate population estimates. Determining the territory size of the Bahama Oriole is crucial to making reliable population estimates.

Using radio transmitters placed on three different orioles, we triangulated the positions of tagged birds. These positions were used to generate territory maps for the three radio tagged orioles. To assess the validity of our equipment, and ensure the transmitter was still on sampled birds, we also periodically set out to sight the tagged orioles. The resulting home range maps show that the Bahama Oriole has a larger territory size than was previously assumed. These findings will be crucial in our ongoing efforts to estimate the total number of Bahama Orioles surviving.

This investigation was sponsored by NIH/NIGMS MARC U*STAR T3408663 National Research Service Award to UMBC.

back button


Identification Of Novel Genes That Influence Age-Related Immunosenescence In Drosophila Melanogaster

Antara Das, Cyrus Jenkins, Kerrey O’Neill, Maggie Meesuk, Maithily Diaz, Bella Gudino
Jeff Leips, Biological Sciences

The innate immune response is an evolutionarily conserved process that is essential for host survival in almost all multicellular organisms; this process begins to decline, or immunosenesces, with age. The way that age affects the immune response can vary greatly among individuals, and although this variation has a significant heritable component, the genes responsible for this variation are not known. Previous data using 12 Drosophila melanogaster lines from the Drosophila Genetic Reference Panel (DGRP) found that the genes implicated in clearing infection were different between young and aged flies. The goal of this project is to identify genes that regulate age-specific immune responses to better understand the mechanisms that give rise to immunosenescence. Currently, standard bacterial clearance assays and genome wide association tests (GWAs) are being performed using the 192 DGRP lines available. To assess the ability of each DGRP line to clear an infection, five week old virgin females are injected with Escherichia coli, and after 24-hours, the surviving flies are individually homogenized and plated on streptomycin LB/agar plates. These results could lead to improved therapeutic treatments in an aging population, providing age-appropriate drug targets to restore the immune function.

This work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health R03 AG061484-02 and the UMBC College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences Becton Dickinson Faculty Research Fund.

back button


Investigating The Role Of Effete In Border Cell Migration In D. Melanogaster

Ayushi Dave, Alex George1
1Biological Science, UMBC
Michelle Starz-Gaiano, Biological Sciences

The process by which groups of cells coordinate their movements as a cohort is known as collective cell migration, which is essential for tissue development and cancer metastasis. Our lab uses Drosophila melanogaster, the fruit fly, as a model organism to identify molecular processes in coordinated cell migration. Specifically, we study the mechanisms governing the collectively migrating border cell cluster, activated by polar cells, in the Drosophila ovary. Here, we investigated the role of the gene effete, which encodes a ubiquitin conjugating enzyme. Ubiquitin enzymes are protein modifiers which regulate protein localization and stability. Using transgenic flies and fluorescent staining, I demonstrated that Effete is highly expressed in the majority of follicle cells, but not detected in polar cells. Therefore, we misexpressed wild type and truncated Effete in polar cells to potentially see a defect. Reciprocally knocking down effete expression in polar cells did not result in any border cell migration defects. We are currently knocking down effete and over-expressing it in border cells to see how it impacts their specification or migration. My project aims to further unravel the molecular mechanisms governing collective cell migration during development so we may gain more insight into Effete’s homologs in humans.

National Science Foundation grant IOS-1656550 to M.S.G.

back button


Implications Of Rhetoric: A Historical Newspaper Analysis Of Immigration Policy

Cassie Davis
Tamara Bhalla, American Studies; Sarah Fouts, AMST, UMBC

pop logo
PKP Undergraduate Research Award Winner

Nativism stems from an adverse reaction to immigration in the US, resulting in exclusionary immigration policies. This project studies nativism and racialized rhetoric surrounding immigration to identify parallels between the Trump administration’s Muslim ban and restrictive immigration rhetoric and legislation in two other periods of US history. The legislative policies were chosen to represent a range of racialized experiences, as well as the indiscreet, racialized, and pejorative language used within the policies themselves. By comparing the rhetoric underpinning exclusionary policies of the Chinese Exclusion Act, Operation Wetback, and Executive Order 13780 (Muslim ban); this research will demonstrate how language connected to these policies is used to justify the discriminatory and inhumane treatment of immigrants in the US. Given that the breadth of sources is so vast, this project has only focused on rhetoric appearing in the New York Times. Additionally, this study examines scholarship on American nativism to analyze how such rhetoric describes migrants as criminal, amoral, or less-than-human, to justify biased and inhumane treatment of these potential migrants and encourage anti-immigrant sentiment among Americans.

back button


Model For Assessing And Informing Economically Disadvantaged Individuals Of The Risk Of Chronic Disease

Faith Davis, Joshua Slaughter
Katie Birger, Health Administration and Policy

Without access to consistent primary care, many easily treatable medical conditions can escalate into life-threatening emergencies. While there are many avenues for economically disadvantaged individuals to gain access to healthcare, these are not always easily accessible or publicized. This project sought to develop a model that could both assess individuals’ current state of health, as well as connect them with resources for following up with a medical professional. We considered two elements that were unique to such a study: developing a digital interface that can provide instantaneous feedback and assessing the effect of this intervention on the likelihood of an individual to seek medical intervention. In our investigation, we identified two homeless shelters as ideal locations to sample the population we planned to gain information on. We identified a set of health information that could be collected by trained volunteers who do not possess any medical certification and instantly analyzed by a web application. We then ensured that the web application would protect the participant data by preventing the association between the data and the participant. Our future directions are to develop a statistical model for collecting the data and applying for IRB approval to move forward with collecting data.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Cloud Climatology Over Baltimore, MD

Gabrielle Davis, Vanessa Caicedo1
1Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology, UMBC
Ruben Delgado, Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology; Belay Demoz, Physics Department, UMBC

Clouds often serve as indicators for weather phenomena. Aerosol profiling data collected at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (39.2544 N, 76.7095W) was analyzed to determine the seasonal/temporal evolution of clouds over Baltimore. These efforts by the UMBC Atmospheric Lidar Group (https://alg.umbc.edu) contribute to the NOAA Center for Earth System Sciences and Remote Sensing Technologies (CESSRST) Earth Observing Network. In addition, the cloud climatology will aid in the mixing layer height algorithms developed for the NOAA-CESSRST Earth Systems Observation Network and the Enhanced Photochemical Assessment Monitoring Sites (EPAMS) ceilometer network. The EPAMS network is sponsored by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency and the Maryland Department of the Environment. Obtaining cloud height, thickness, and optical depth will allow implementing future machine learning techniques to automate mixing layer height retrievals within this network. Results will allow for the improvement and validation of numerical forecasts for weather and air quality by properly representing meteorological factors conducive to cloud formation and planetary boundary layer evolution associated with air quality exceedance events that can impact public health.

This work was funded, in part, by The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – Cooperative Science Center for Earth System Sciences and Remote Sensing Technologies (NOAA-CESSRST) under the Cooperative Agreement Grant #: NA16SEC4810008.

back button


High Content Screening For Investigating Fatty Acid-Mediated Epigenetics Reprogramming In Melanoma

Shiva Deljookorani, Alexandra Corbin3
Ting-Hsiang Huang3 PhD; Yana Zorina3PhD; Richard M. White3
3Weill Cornell / Rockefeller / Sloan-Kettering Tri-Institutional Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Dysregulation of extrinsic fatty acid uptake is a form of metabolic switch and it has been emerging as one of the common features in cancer progression. We recently discovered that melanoma cells take up lipids from cancer-associated adipose tissues to increase their proliferation and invasiveness. Our preliminary ChIP-seqand RNA-seqdata suggested that fatty acids can drive epigenetic reprogramming in melanoma cells by changing the histone acetylation landscape. However, how fatty acids cause (epi) genetic specificity in histone acetylation and the transcriptomeremains elusive. Based on these genomic analysis we hypothesize that rewired chromatin states through fatty acid acquisition can be regulated via novel cellular signaling pathway. Thus, in this study, we will conduct a high content screen using the LOPAC®1280 library to identify the druggabletargets that regulate fatty acid-induced histone acetylation on lysine 9 (H3K9ac). Additionally, we utilized some inhibitors of hypothesized putative canonical pathways such as MEK and IRAK4 in order to observe potential hits on fatty acid-induced H3K9ac expression. qRT-PCR and western blot analysis of fatty acid treated Casper zebrafishembryos suggest that IRAK4 may promote the fatty acid-induced expression of H3K9ac and H3k27ac and it increases the expression of ANGPTL4, zILB, and zAREGgenes. This study will enable us to understand the potential mechanism of fatty acid-mediated epigenetic reprogramming and specific gene signatures, allowing for the improvement of advanced melanoma therapeutic strategies.

back button


Analysis Of Dissolved Organic Matter By Fluorescence Excitation-emission Matrices To Identify Potential Sewer Leaks

Erick Diaz, Jahir Antonio Batista-Andrade, Ethan Hain
Lee Blaney, Chemical, Biochemical, and Environmental Engineering

Contaminants are discharged into surface water from municipal wastewater effluent, urban runoff, and agricultural waste. These waste streams also contain dissolved organic matter (DOM), which is generally nontoxic but can affect the fate of contaminants in aquatic systems. We hypothesized that fluorescence spectra, measured as excitation-emission matrices (EEMs), of water samples, can be used to help identify leaking sewers in urban streams. The objective of the present work involved the measurement and spatiotemporal analysis of EEMs of water samples collected from 27 sites in the Gwynns Falls and Jones Falls watersheds over nine months. DOM was characterized by delineating regions in EEMs corresponding to (i) tyrosine, (ii) tryptophan, (iii) fulvic acid, (iv) soluble microbial product, and (v) humic acid -like fluorescence. Our results indicated that some sites had a strong fluorescence signature in regions (i), (ii), and (iv), which have previously correlated to the fluorescence spectra of raw wastewater. These results suggest that anthropogenic sources of DOM, such as leaking sewers, are being discharged to urban streams. Future work will involve the analysis of contaminants of emerging concern in water samples from these watersheds to confirm the presence of raw wastewater.

National Science Foundation.

back button


The Domestic Pianist: The Impact Of The Parlor Piano On Middle Class Domestic Life In Nineteenth Century America

Sarah Driver
Melissa Blair, History

In nineteenth-century America, the parlor piano carried immense symbolism. The piano represented wealth, taste, position, and duty. My research explores how a large, cumbersome instrument aligned itself with the most influential, but intangible aspects of everyday life for the nineteenth-century middle class American. Inside the home, the piano had a significant impact on interior design, family dynamics, and gender roles. It showed visitors that their hosts were a strong family with a hardworking husband and father, a stylish, caring wife and mother, and disciplined, cultured children. Meanwhile, outside the home, these compact pianos played a major role in American manufacturing, commercialism, and consumerism while also bringing about the birth of the modern music industry. By understanding the role of the parlor piano in nineteenth-century America, one cannot only learn a great deal about American culture and society of the period, but also appreciate how much of an impact everyday objects have on modern life and the stories they will be able to tell in the future.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


The Space Between The Notes.

Joseph Eagle
Jeremy Cochran, Dept of Ed

This study examined student’s reaction times to a tempo change. The stimuli were 4 different metronome tracks created with music engineering software. Data was recorded through a MIDI controller via Logic Pro 9 and the data was analyzed in Reaper (DAW). It was hypothesized that (1) percussionists will tap to a metronome with more accuracy than woodwinds/brass and (2) reaction times are more accurate at faster tempos. Using Reaper we can measure in seconds how close each student’s tap is to the metronome clicks of each stimulus. Our findings disagree with percussionists having better reaction times, but agree with higher accuracy with faster tempos. The results suggest an instrument does not impact tempo perception but maybe the amount of experience you have as a musician total.

back button


Sea Monster

Julius Echipare
Corrie Parks, Visual Arts

Sea Monster is an animated PSA that uses hand drawn animation and is 1:14 minutes long. It depicts a role-reversal of a common scene, a shark attack on a nice day on the beach. Marine wildlife is a strong fascination of mine and this animated PSA’s purpose is to show viewers the endangered state that sharks are in. Many endangered creatures are given constant attention, but I don’t see enough press about sharks. I believe it is because unlike pandas or sea turtles, people think that sharks are one of nature’s super predators, monsters that don’t need our help to live. This animation will show who the real sea monster is. After developing a storyboard, I used a drawing tablet to bring my ideas to life in Adobe Photoshop. Each scene was drawn and colored in separate Photoshop files and assembled using Premiere Pro. A calm building quickly to a dramatic climax and ending abruptly, similar to a storm at sea. The animation plays on the emotions and informs viewers on the topic of shark endangerment. Drawing and animals are two of my most favorite things and using both to entertain and spread awareness made me passionate about this project.

back button


Teaching In Social Studies To Recognize Fake News

Ava Eder
Timothy Johnson, Education

Does the student make a claim on the topic and use accurate evidence from the texts to support the claim or topic? Does the evidence demonstrate comprehension of the issue? The research analyzed the progress of thirty students in 7th grade social studies. The students were given a test at the end of the first marking period that established their understanding of how to present a strong claim with evidence. Based on the scores, students with sixty percent or below were chosen for the research to see how they progressed over time. To build the skill of creating a claim then supporting it with evidence, students were frequently given open ended questions to critically think of evidence. Students practiced before the second test to work on their skills. The rubric used was a four point scale. The test at the end of the third marking period showed the growth of the students selected for the research. Students who mastered the skill to support their claim with evidence are prepared for the rigor of high school and the real world. The real world application for the students was they are less likely to advocate for claims without relevant evidence.

back button


Investigating The Roles Of Circadian Genes LNK1 And LNK2 In Plant Defense

Riki Egoshi
Hua Lu, Biological Sciences

Plant defense is tied closely together with circadian rhythm. The mechanisms tying plant defense and circadian rhythm still has a lot of potential for research. The purpose of this research project is to investigate the role of NIGHT LIGHT INDUCIBLE AND CLOCK-REGULATED (LNK) genes in plant defense. LNK genes are light induced genes that interact with a large variety of major circadian rhythm genes. acd6-1 is a gain of function mutation that overexpresses the Accelerated Cell Death 6 (ACD6) gene, a positive regulator of plant defense. The overexpression of this gene causes phenotypes such as enhanced defense, increased cell death, severe dwarfism, and high salicylic acid (SA) levels. When a different gene affecting plant defense is disrupted, the mutation could suppress acd6-1 conferred phenotypes, leading to decreased defense, decreased cell death, increased plant size, and decreased SA levels, which are phenotypes closer to the wild type. These characteristics make acd6-1 an efficient genetic tool for identifying defense related genes. By exploring the effects of LNK gene mutations in the acd6 background, we can determine the role of LNK1 and LNK2 in regulation of the circadian clock and defense interaction in the plant Arabidopsis Thaliana.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


HIV-1 Matrix Protein Interactions With Cellular TRNAs

Jason Ejimogu, Mahlet Bauerle, Cheyenne Palm, Connor Parker
Michael Summers, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Janae Baptiste Brown, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a retrovirus that targets CD4+ T-cells, thus impairing the immune system. Highly active antiretroviral treatment against the virus is available; however, the viral genome frequently mutates, highlighting the need for new drugs and a better understanding of molecular mechanisms of viral replication. One process necessary for HIV replication is membrane trafficking of the Gag polyprotein to the plasma membrane via Gag’s N-terminal matrix domain (MA). MA mediates membrane targeting and via a myristoyl moiety. Recent studies demonstrated that MA interacts with cellular tRNAs, including tRNA Lys3 and tRNAGly GCC, before binding to the plasma membrane, but the role of tRNA on assembly is poorly understood. The long-term goal of this work is to elucidate the structure of the MA:tRNA complex and understand the role of tRNA on assembly. Nuclear magnetic resonance and gel electrophoresis were employed to identify conditions that stabilized the tRNA and MA independently. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays were carried out to probe MA:tRNA interactions under these conditions and showed complex formation upon the addition of a stoichiometric ratio of MA to tRNA. This work lays a foundation to study the thermodynamics of the MA-tRNA interaction and determine the three-dimensional structure of the complex.

This investigation was sponsored by NIH/NIGMS MARC U*STAR T3408663 National Research Service Award to UMBC. This research was funded, in part, by a grant to UMBC from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute through the Pre-college and Undergraduate Science Education Program.

back button


Expression And Purification Of Caenorhabditis elegans ATE1 in Escherichia coli C43(DE3) Cells

Nna-Emeka Ejimogu
Aaron Smith, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Arginine tRNA transferases (ATE1s) are a class of eukaryotic proteins involved in vivo protein degradation via a process known as the N-end rule pathway. As a major step in the N-end rule pathway, ATE1 condenses L-arginine onto the N-terminus of a polypeptide, subsequently marking that protein for degradation. Despite being essential to many processes such as embryogenesis, muscle contraction, and aging, both the structure and the mechanism by which ATE1 functions are currently unknown. To answer these questions, we seek to use protein-based structural, biophysical, and biochemical approaches such as X-ray crystallography, small-angle X-ray scattering, and enzymatic assays. To that end, we have cloned Caenorhabditis elegans ATE1 (CeATE1) into an expression vector encoding a C-terminal (His)6 tag. Expression testing in four different bacterial cell lines has revealed modest expression of CeATE1 in Escherichia coli C43(DE3) cells. To further increase the solubility and the amount of protein expressed, we have co-transformed expression cells containing the CeATE1 plasmid with plasmids encoding five different chaperone proteins, and we are further testing for improved expression. Once we are able to establish overexpression of CeATE1, we will optimize purification conditions to obtain the protein necessary for further structural, biophysical, and biochemical experiments.

NIH.

back button


Impact Of Meteorology In Ozone Production During OWLETS-2

Amanze Ejiogu
Ruben Delgado, Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology

The 2018 summer field campaign on Ozone Water-Land Environmental Transition Study (OWLETS-2) held in the state of Maryland had the goal of obtaining high-resolution aerosol, wind, ozone, and temperature profiles to understand the effects of local source variability, Planetary Boundary Layer (PBL) structure, and microphysical processes on the ability of a column measurement to be related to a surface concentration. Combination of profiling ozone lidar measurements with temperature and scanning Doppler wind lidar can aid verify how urban centers near coastal areas are often subject to poor air quality through either direct downwind transport of pollutants, in-situ production of ozone, or a recirculation brought about by a bay breeze. This work provides a three-dimensional assessment of the air quality from measurements (lidar, sondes and surface meteorology and air quality) collected at multiple Maryland Department of the Environment air quality monitoring sites (Edgewood, Hart Miller Island, Howard University Beltsville Research Campus) and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County by quantifying the impact of mesoscale weather phenomena on local ozone concentrations. Results will contribute to the improvement of dynamics and chemical coupling in urban coastal areas in weather and air quality numerical and forecast predictions to minimize the impact on public health.

This work was funded, in part, by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – Cooperative Science Center for Earth System Sciences and Remote Sensing Technologies (NOAA-CESSRST).

back button


Effects Of Electronic Cigarette Vapor On Mouse Olfactory-Guided Behavior

Ogechi Elemuo, Menelik Demissie , Fenge Ni
Weihong Lin, Biological Sciences; Tatsuya Ogura, Biological Sciences, UMBC

Marketed by the promotion of popular and pleasant smelling flavors, the use of Electronic cigarettes (E-cigs) has escalated to great heights among youth populations. A correlation between increased adverse health effects and greater e-cig consumption is evident. However, there is a lack of research concerning the effects on nasal chemosensory function. We hypothesize that exposure to high levels of e-liquid constituents has detrimental effects on olfactory and trigeminal function. To investigate the e-cig-mediated health effects and toxicity to chemosensory systems, we exposed selected transgenic mice to either vanillin flavored e-liquid vapor or air as a control, and performed behavioral testing to assess trigeminal and olfactory function after a four week exposure. Olfaction-guided tests included finding buried food and preference tests for sexually relevant and e-cig odors. The length of time olfactory functions were used to discover buried food and to make a preference for particular odors were evaluated in data analysis. Our results show that there is a significant increase in food finding latency and a significant decrease in sensitivity to sexually relevant odors in exposed animals. From these results, we can conclude that vaping may cause considerable damage to chemosensory function and as a consequence, affect olfactory-guided behavior.

This work was funded, in part, by NIH/NIDA research grant 1R21DA046349 to Dr Lin.

back button


Cupping And Wellness Among Muslims In The Baltimore-Washington Area

Maryam Elhabashy
Bambi Chapin, Sociology and Anthropology

Cupping has recently undergone a surge in popularity in the U.S., being promoted by public figures like Michael Phelps and Gwyneth Paltrow. However, the practice is not new, with references to it found in the ancient Egyptian Ebers Papyrus. Muslims have long considered cupping (known in Arabic as hijama) as an important practice as well, one about which the Prophet Muhammad said “if there is any good in your medical treatments, it is in the knife of the cupper.” Given this context, how do contemporary Muslims living in the U.S. think about cupping’s popularity, its efficacy, and its biomedical implications, as well as its ancient roots and links to their faith? This presentation offers findings from an ethnographic project that explores this question using participant observation, interviews, and textual analysis to understand how Muslim individuals’ unique perceptions and experiences with cupping inform how they connect with this ancient practice and how they present it to others. This study has implications for understanding how people may draw on traditional healing techniques and the ethnomedical systems that frame them, while simultaneously participating in dominant systems of biomedicine, on the one hand, and popular trends in alternative medicine on the other.

back button


Chemical And Biological Sensing Using Perovskite Materials

Ian Emge
Narsingh Singh, Chemistry and Biochemistry; Bradley Arnold, Chemistry and Biochemistry, UMBC; Lisa Kelly, Chemistry and Biochemistry, UMBC

Barium strontium titanate(BST) perovskites can have been proven to be very important materials for variety of applications. With continuous demand for the tunable devices and high dielectric parallel plate capacitors, perovskites such as CaCu3 Ti4 O12 (CCTO), La2/3 Cu3 Ti4 O12 Pr2/3 Cu3 Ti4 O12 and many other systems of this class of compounds have been studied by investigators all over the world. Detailed studies showed that results vary based on processing methods such as powder vs. multi-crystals and single crystals. In spite of great progress in processing, low resistivity and process driven variables in properties remain a big hurdle for its applications as a dielectric capacitor. The problem of low resistivity has been solved and reasonable resistivity has been achieved by dopants. We observed that effect of chemicals used in wet and semiwet affected dielectric and other semiconducting properties. With these goals, we used the parallel plate capacitors as chemical and biological sensors. The data indicated huge difference in the dielectric and resistivity of the exposed samples. This indicates that perovskites can be used for chemical and biological sensors at very low cost. Also, preliminary data indicates that after exposing in atmosphere, there materials can recover to original characteristics.

This research was funded by NASA Marshall Research Center.

back button


Sirius: An Animated Short

Angela Endres
Corrie Parks, Visual Arts

Sirius is a 1:07 minute digital animation about a girl walking her dog at night, enraptured by the starry sky. This is a self-portrait about how I love stargazing and find myself doing it while walking my dog. I also created this piece as a way of showing how the feeling of fascination or admiration can make one forget about the world around them. The audio is original with sound effects coming from the actual sources in real life. The music in the film, Mariage d’Amour, was covered by Tracy Yang; this piano piece added an air of beauty to the transition scene. The rest of the musical elements were created using Ableton Live 10. Rotoscoping and hand-drawn animation techniques were utilized and done entirely with Adobe Photoshop. I shot video reference of myself and my dog as part of the process, which allowed me to capture both of our movements and personality realistically. It was important to make sure the two techniques of hand-drawn animation and rotoscoping combined seamlessly and that the transition to imagination can be understood. The result is an engaging animation that portrays this experience in a way that cannot be done in real life.

back button


Investigating Synaptic Refinement In The Central Nervous System Of Drosophila Melanogaster

Carina Lopez Escobar
Fernando Vonhoff, Biological Sciences

Investigating synaptic refinement in the central nervous system of Drosophila melanogaster

This project studies the molecular and cellular mechanisms regulating the development of precise connectivity within neuronal networks. Neurological disorders such as schizophrenia and autism are associated with aberrant removal of synaptic connections, a process called synaptic refinement. However, the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying synaptic refinement remain poorly understood. We used Drosophila flies to study synaptic refinement during the development of the neuronal network regulating rolling, an escape behavior observed in larvae after painful stimulation. We used genetic tools to selectively manipulate different cellular network components by enhancing or silencing their excitability. Consequences of these manipulations were examined at the behavioral level by quantifying rolling response as well as at the anatomical level by analyzing dendritic and axonal projection patterns. Preliminary results indicated that rolling responses were significantly suppressed by silencing of nociceptive class-IV sensory neurons (C4da) and the Basin4 interneuron. Additionally, mutations in genes known to be involved in synaptic refinement led to abnormal C4da axonal projections. Results from this study will likely advance our understanding of synaptic development by studying mechanisms likely to be conserved among different species.

This work was funded, in part, by UMBC McNair Scholars Summer Research Institute

back button


Preparation For Structural Study Of HIV RNA

Adilia Espinoza-Jones
Michael Summers, Chemistry and Biochemistry

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infects millions of people each year and causes the onset of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). HIV carries RNAs as its genetic material, which directs crucial viral activities during infection. Since structure is closely related to function, elucidating the mechanistic aspects of viral activities will require understanding of the underlying RNA structure. The 5´ untranslated region (5´ UTR) in HIV RNAs possesses a highly conserved sequence that regulates many viral activities. Our project focuses on the structure of 5´-UTR in different HIV RNAs and its regulation mechanisms. For structural studies, RNA is prepared by in vitro transcription following gel electrophoresis, RNA extraction and purification. The 3D structure will be determined by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), which provides definitive structural information of RNA yet has RNA size limitations. Therefore, selective 2′-hydroxyl acylation analyzed by primer extension (SHAPE) will be used to predict the secondary structure of RNA which helps to select an optimal RNA construct for NMR study. RNA folding condition was determined by native gel electrophoresis. The preliminary SHAPE data was analyzed. This work helps selecting a proper length of RNA for the following NMR study which will lay foundation for further biochemical studies.

This research was funded, in part, by a grant to UMBC from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute through the Pre-college and Undergraduate Science Education Program.

back button


Development Of Intersectional Chemogenetic Techniques To Isolate Circuitry Involved In Pain Affect

Carly Fabian
Greg Elmer, Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland School of Medicine; Paul Shepard , Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland School of Medicine

Chronic pain-related depression is hypothesized to result from hyperexcitability of the lateral habenula (LHb), a prominent structure of the epithalamus that modulates serotonergic and dopaminergic activity. Efferent projections of the LHb strongly innervate neurons of the rostromedial tegmental nucleus (RMTg), a key structure within the midbrain. The RMTg receives excitatory glutamatergic inputs from the LHb and, in turn, sends inhibitory GABAergic projections to the ventral tegmental area. Activation of the LHb-RMTg circuit and the physiological functions of the LHb’s excitatory inputs into the RMTg are relatively unexplored in chronic pain-related depression. The aim of this study was to establish the tools necessary to investigate the LHb-RMTg pathway by developing intersectional chemogenetic techniques that allowed for in vivo isolation and transient manipulation of neuronal activities. We developed a dual viral vector strategy involving the use of an adeno-associated virus (AAV) encoding Cre-dependent designer receptors (DREADD) and a retrograde AAV vector expressing Cre-recombinase. This strategy allowed for successful transient manipulation and targeted isolation of neuronal connections between the LHb and its efferent targets. The expression of Cre-dependent DREADD within the LHb-RMTg circuit allows for future investigation into behavioral deficits observed from manipulation of the LHb and its involvement in chronic pain-related depression.

Funding was provided by the Directors Fund, Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland, Baltimore.

back button


Developing Skills With Interpreting Data For Mid-Year High School Transfer Students

Isabella Facchine
Jonathan Singer, Education

Being able to recognize trends and draw conclusions from data is critical for being an informed citizen, as well as for pursuing a future in STEM related fields. This critical scientific practice is traditionally reviewed at the start of the academic year. Students who have transferred in the middle of the school year often miss out on the development of skills associated with graph interpreting. The goal of this project is to provide supports for mid-year transfer students. There are nine female and one male students who have entered School X after the conventional start of the school year in 2019. For this project, the target population will complete summative assignments where they analyze graphs that they’ve created from lab results. The summative assignments will be compared pre- and post-intervention. Pre- and post-tests will also be analyzed to pinpoint common errors. For the interventions, students were asked to analyze a variety of graphs with various amounts of scaffolding. Feedback was given after each intervention. A timeline was then assessed for when to remove supports in order for students to recognize trends and draw conclusions from the data on their own.

back button


‘Cuz I’m Real: Exploring Claims Of Authenticity In Korean Hip Hop

Aarin Fadeyi
Kyung-Eun Yoon, Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Intercultural Communication

As Hip Hop emerges as a globalized musical genre and art form, there have been scholarly attempts to examine perspectives about “real-ness” and “authenticity” in American Hip Hop. McLeod (1999) explored claims of authenticity in American Hip Hop around the 1990s and divided these claims into six semantic dimensions like “socio-economic” and “cultural” ones, narrowing down what is regarded as “real” and “fake” in Hip Hop. Inspired by his research and analytical framework, this study will investigate perceptions of authenticity in Korean Hip Hop. Adopting McLeod’s method, this study will classify claims of authenticity in Korean Hip Hop. It will first analyze lyrics of Korean Hip Hop songs. It will then analyze interview data with Korean rappers and the discourse of participants in a Korean TV program (“Show Me the Money”) responsible for hip hop becoming mainstream and accessible in Korea. Through exploring these claims of authenticity, this study hopes to identify what characteristics of Korean Hip Hop make the genre different from American Hip Hop from the perspectives of Korean musicians. Thereupon, this study can contribute to the understanding of Korean musicians constructing their identities between conventional Korean culture and the imported hip hop culture.

back button


Set6 Plays A Role In Proteostasis Via Interactions With The GIM/Prefoldin Chaperone Complex

Olumide Fagboyegun
Erin Green, Biological Sciences; Deepika Jaiswal, Biological Sciences, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

The SMYD family of lysine methyltransferases has beenimplicated in cell development, differentiation, and various diseases. Despite their significant role in cellular processes, the functions of these proteins are not fully understood. Using Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model organism, we are characterizing the cellular function of the SMYD methyltransferase Set6. Earlier work in the lab has shown that Set6 interacts with the GIM/Prefoldin chaperone complex, which is important for assisting in folding nascent proteins at the ribosome, implicating Set6 in proteostasis within the cell. We hypothesized that Set6 and the GIM complex are necessary in the cellular stress response, particularly the response to proteotoxicity and misfolded proteins. Using yeast genetic assays and immunofluorescence, we found, compared to wildtype and set6 knockout (Δ) strains, knockout of Gim1, 2, 3, or 4 causes significant growth defects as well as deficiencies in tubulin production and elongation. Preliminary data suggests the phenotype of GIM knockout strains is suppressed with set6Δ, suggesting that Set6 and the GIM complex cooperate to maintain proteostasis. Further exploration of Set6’s function will allow us to elucidate a novel mechanism for regulation of proteostasis within the cell, which is likely conserved in humans and relevant in various protein misfolding diseases.

This investigation was sponsored by NIH/NIGMS MARC U*STAR T3408663 National Research Service Award to UMBC and funded, in part, by NIH grant R21AG064507 to EMG.

back button


Removal Of Per- And Polyfluoroalkyl substances By Anion-exchange Fibers

Anna Feerick
Lee Blaney, Chemical, Biochemical, and Environmental Engineering; Ke He, Chemical, Biochemical, and Environmental Engineering

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a broad class of fluorinated aliphatic compounds that have been widely used in diverse products, including fire-fighting foams, insecticides, and packaging. Due to the stability of the C-F bond, PFAS are recalcitrant to drinking water and wastewater treatment processes. At least six million US residents are supplied with drinking water exceeding the 70 ng L-1 PFAS lifetime health advisory level established by the US Environmental Protection Agency. New treatment approaches are needed to safeguard public health. The objective of this study was to investigate the use of anion-exchange fibers (AEFs) (e.g., Mion AK-22, Smopex-108) for removal of 12 chemically-diverse PFAS. The advantage of AEFs over other sorbents stems from their shorter diffusive pathlength, which provides faster PFAS uptake and better utilization of the overall anion-exchange capacity before breakthrough. Batch sorption tests were conducted with environmentally-relevant PFAS concentrations to determine kinetics and equilibrium. The selectivity coefficients for PFAS anions over chloride were also calculated; the relative trends were explored by class and chain-length. PFAS treatment under continuous-flow scenarios were determined using columns packed with AEFs; effluent samples were collected to calculate the bed volumes treated. The results showed that AEFs can successfully treat diverse PFAS.

I am a recipient of a UMBC Travel Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.; This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Loss Of TRNA Core Region Modifications Effect on Translation Error Rate In Mutant Saccharomyces Cerevisiae

Nathaniel Felbinger, Sima Saleh
Philip Farabaugh, Biological Sciences

tRNA is the mediator molecule that helps to convert an mRNA template into a protein product in ribosome complexes. Defective tRNA molecules have been connected to
conditions such as intellectual disability and certain types of cancer in humans. We investigated how the loss of specific post-translational modifications of the tertiary structure of tRNA may cause the protein product to deviate from its expected structure. It is possible these modifications play an integral role in tRNA stability and the lack of such modifications will decrease tRNA accuracy. Previous work has identified certain single mutant Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains with higher rates of translational misreading. 15 unique knockout mutant strains of Ura-S. cerevisiae, each with a single knock-out gene mutation were grown. A specific protein product from each of these strains that utilized the mutant tRNA molecules was isolated using a His-Tag based isolation protocol. The isolated protein products were then purified and sufficient quantity of protein was verified via Western Blot and SDS-Page procedures. The purified protein samples will be sent to facilities where they will be analyzed with mass spectrometry to see if the mutant protein product was altered as expected compared to the wild type protein product.

back button


Using An Animal Model Of Human Prostate Cancer To Test New Nano-Therapies

Star Fernandez
Dr. Charles Bieberich, Biological Sciences

The factors influencing the progression of prostate cancer are studiedthat influences the expression of certain characteristics of prostate cancer identified and used as a model that may be used in the development of treatment and drugs. In one project, the model is to contain the activation and overexpression of proto-oncogene MYC that increases cell proliferation in the pancreas and deletion of tumor suppressor gene Pten by the enzyme Cre. There are three types of genes that have been researched previously: Cre, MYC, and Pten. According to the article “Combined MYC Activation and Pten Loss Are Sufficient to Create Genomic Instability and Lethal Metastatic Prostate Cancer”, Cre is an enzyme that may cut out certain sites on an exon, specifically on chromosome 10, containing Pten only in the prostate resulting in the loss of Pten. Pten is a tumor suppressor gene that limits the proliferation of tumor cells. Genetically modified MYC present in the prostate of certain mice isoverexpressed. This effect on the proto-oncogene with the 10q23 deletion results in an increase in the mortality rate of mice.It was observed that mice with both alterationsdeveloped an adenocarcinoma that is more lethal, metastases, and more copy number alterations

back button


Characterizing High Affinity Gag Binding Sites On The HIV-1 Genome

Hana Flores, Pengfei Ding, Siarhei Kharytonchyk1, Nansen Kuo, Mitali Sarkar, Ridhi Chaudry, Emily Cannistraci, Alice Telesnitsky 1, Michael F. Summers
1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Michigan Medical School
Michael Summers, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Currently, 36.9 million people worldwide are living with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and new drug targets are in demand due to HIV’s rapid mutation rate. Research efforts have been directed toward the replication cycle of HIV in order to identify landmarks crucial to the virus’ infectivity as targets for inhibitory drugs. Once the HIV virion unloads its contents into the host cell and uses the host cell’s machinery to synthesize viral RNA (vRNA) and the main structural protein, Gag, the new vRNA is packaged by the Gag protein into a progeny HIV virion. This begs the question: How does the Gag polyprotein selectively package HIV vRNA from an RNA pool of large excess of non-viral RNA? Through the use of Isothermal Titration Calorimetry (ITC) and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR), 20 high affinity binding sites have been identified. Interestingly, four of those sites with particularly high affinity show unusual endothermic ITC binding isotherm. Mutating these sites significantly impair the selective packaging of the vRNA in vivo. Therefore, we identified the critical initial recognition sites of the vRNA by Gag. Elucidating the mechanism of genome recognition will greatly benefit the development of novel antiretroviral therapies.

This investigation was sponsored by NIH/NIGMS MARC U*STAR T3408663 National Research Service Award to UMBC. This research was funded, in part, by a grant to UMBC from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute through the Pre-college and Undergraduate Science Education Program.

back button


Reaction Or Understanding? A Closer Look At Musical Literacy In The Classroom.

Ross Foca
Jeremy Cochran, Music Department

One of the most important skills essential to student success in the music classroom is the ability to read, decipher, and understand musical notation, symbols, and words. The setting of a typical band class can create the illusion of understanding due to the collective sound and/or gestures given by the conductor. Therefore, how can you determine individual student growth and knowledge when given the natural environment of ensemble playing? This research project focuses on instruction to improve overall musical literacy in the eighth grade instrumental class consisting of 25 students at Arbutus Middle School. The class is made up of 14 male students and 11 female students, who are of varying racial backgrounds, and achieved a class average of 63% on the baseline musical literacy test given in November 2019. The students will re-sit through this test for a second and final time to demonstrate their growth. All content and skills required to complete this test were derived from the class’s concert music they have been working on since the beginning of the school year.

back button


Producing An Extended Play Compact Disc (EP) Release: A Multinational Collaboration

Gabrielle Franks
Alan Wonneberger, Music

How exactly is a commercial recording created, produced and marketed to an audience? This research aimed to explore what the foundational steps are for releasing a commercial recording with little outside help beyond artist collaboration. This involved writing, recording, producing and advertising, as well as identifying the similarities and differences between these processes in the US and the UK. During the summer of 2019, I interned with IMP’s marketing team, as well as with the Music Programming Department at SiriusXM in Washington, D.C. In the fall of 2019, I worked in Newcastle University’s recording studios. After returning and finalizing recordings in the spring of 2020, I began to slowly move into the mixing/mastering of the project. I plan to have a public exhibition of the EP following its release in April and to continue to market the EP on tour. This research can be used to provide insight to music technology students on how studying abroad can have a positive influence on their studies, as well as a better understanding of how to start and successfully complete a music project with little outside help.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


The (Black) Superwoman Complex

Ronnita Freeman
Susan McCully, Theatre

“What begins as empowering self-definition can quickly become a prison” (Harris-Perry, 185). Black women in the US face the special coupling of sexism and racism. Because of such pressure, among many other factors, stereotyping has become an easy, racist shorthand for the complicated identity of being Black and a woman. One stereotype that has evolved in order to combat its overtly negative predecessors is that of the Black Superwoman. It is an identity that comes to fruition for Black women as they fully mature, but what are the implications for adolescent girls growing up and into this standard? Studies reveal the shoes are still significant to fill, but black mothers can aid their daughters and even learn from this cycle, and leave room for the positive effects. Being black and a woman has been a sacred yet fundamentally disrespected identity for too long. Taken from a play I’m currently writing, this presentation serves as a brief exploration of such themes, based on a textual analysis of synthesized research.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Using GIS Tools To Classify Urban Forests in DC And Baltimore

Guido Frega
Matthew Baker, Geography and Environmental Systems

Washington DC and Baltimore, Maryland are large metropolitan areas with many parks, world-renowned monuments and, in the case of DC, a well-funded foundation focused on preserving, maintaining, and indeed growing its canopy cover. We sought to understand whether this context resulted in differences in the distribution and type of woodlands throughout the two cities. Both urban areas have remotely sensed estimates of tree canopy cover, so we were interested in identifying and distinguishing wooded areas more likely to contain natural soils and forest interior species. We used planimetric road and building maps to isolate soft canopy from that over impervious surfaces, then employed Morphometric Spatial Pattern Analysis to delineate interior woodland spaces from forest edge. We compared and contrasted the distribution of forest patches (with >11 m spanning widths) from woodland groves (< 11m). We found striking differences in the spatial distribution of different canopy types, but not as much difference in the degree of canopy cover. We suggest that careful delineation of woodlands can help better understand the utility of policies aimed and tree planting and urban reforestation.

back button


A Deep Look At Jets From Black Holes With The Very Large Array

Omar French
Eileen Meyer, Physics

Research into black holes and their environs are a major topic of study in astrophysics because of the extreme laboratories they present for understanding the nature of the Universe. At the same time, black holes are a topic that frequently captures the public imagination and inspires the next generation of scientists. This is a project aimed at leveraging nearly 40 years of jet observations taken with the Very Large Array (VLA) radio observatory in New Mexico to investigate the nature of jets from black holes. Our research group recently discovered some interesting anomalies in the radio spectra of a few black hole jets, and we are using the large catalog produced by this project to investigate how frequently these occur. In general, astronomers have a very poor idea of how energetic these jets actually are, because we have not identified the nature of the particles in the jet, the particle acceleration mechanism, and even the radiation signature in many cases. This project has allowed us to investigate these questions, which are critically important in assessing the impact of jets on their host galaxies and the broader environment.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


High Definition Effects Controller (HDVC) Box

Azaria Gallo, Adarsh Sheth, Reshma Papali, Shrabani Debnath
E.F. Charles LaBerge, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering; Eric Dyer, Fine Arts Department, UMBC

The UMBC High Definition Video effects Controller Team or HDVC-01 is a team consisting of senior Computer Engineering majors coming together to build a
video effects controller for Professor Eric Dyer from the UMBC Fine Arts department. The motive of the project is to get a video signal from a general-purpose video camera or a camcorder and apply video effects to the real-time video. The development took place in three phases. The first phase involved getting video from the camcorder through HDMI and getting frames from videos. The second phase involved applying necessary video effects to the frames obtained. The final phase involved applying the effects to the real-time video. The device is engineered on a Nexys Video Artix-7 FPGA with coding in C and VHDL. It will be used to applying effects to a real-time video stream which will help artists present their art more creatively. The device will have controls for color inversion, fade to black/white, freeze/release frame, chrominance/luminance, a level meter, and a circular iris mask.

back button


The Digital Art Movement: Its Role In Spreading Awareness About Endangered Animals

Liam Garrett
April Householder, Director of Undergraduate Research and Prestigious Scholarships

The new Digital Art Movement has been about showing viewers the artistic capabilities of machines, and using the internet to raise awareness about issues such as climate change and endangered animals. As the founder of The Digital Art Movement at UMBC, it has been my ambition for almost three years now to create digital art pieces that reflect who we are now, and the issues our generation faces. Using metaphorical imagery, and patterns (chosen because these are visual attributes we are built to scan and read into,) I have created a series about endangered animals that is built to be interpreted, and affordable. With 15% of profit going to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), my hope is that digital art can play a role in the cause to better our environment and protect its animals.In this presentation I will to share my experience with the digital art medium and its role in the future of art. With the world delving deeper into the digital realm every day, it is my belief that digital art will soon be of major interest to the art world. Art is the practice of exploration and expression, and the digital world is the new frontier.

back button


Characterizing Pulmonary Vessels InPreclinical Models Of Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension

Noel Getachew
Guarav Choudhary, Brown University

Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH) is defined as elevated blood pressure in the lungs associated with vascular remodeling and occlusive plexiform lesions in the distal pulmonary arterioles. Increased resistance to the blood flow as a result of vascular remodeling in the lungs of PAH individuals ultimately results in the right ventricle to fail, leading to morbidity and mortality associated with PAH. It is essential to have in vitro and preclinical models of this disease to understand the mechanisms underlying vascular remodeling to develop new treatments. The overall goal of this project is to (a) characterize primary endothelial cells isolated from rat lungs and (b) the vascular remodeling in the lungs of animals with PAH compared to controls. Using immunofluorescence staining, I determined the purity of isolated endothelial cells by confirming that the cells are positive for endothelial cells markers. I also performed blinded, morphological analyses of pulmonary vasculature on lung sections from controls vs. PAH rats to assess for vascular remodeling associated with PAH. These experiments will lay the foundation for using these models to perform mechanistic studies in the future.

This investigation was sponsored by NIH/NIGMS MARC U*STAR T3408663 National Research Service Award to UMBC.

back button


An Analysis of Where a New Guest Would Book their First Travel Experience

Sonali Ghante, Harveer Kaur, Muhsina Helal
James Foulds, Information Systems; James Foulds, UMBC

Machine learning, data mining algorithms and data analytics were discussed, researched and implemented. In a collaboration of a team of 5, data analytics were performed on datasets from Kaggle through utilizing data mining tools such as Weka and Rapidminer in order to gain insight into where a new guest would book their first travel experience. A supervised learning approach along with decision trees, random forest classifiers and the ROC curve were utilized on the Airbnb data provided by Kaggle in our project. Data pre-processing, data collection, and data evaluation on the various datasets provided by Kaggle were implemented. After conducting the data mining algorithms using Weka and Rapidminer, the Random Forest Classifier and Decision Tree algorithm provides the most accurate results. Age, language, month of the first booking and gender were the major features that gave the most insight and analytics into where a new guest will book their first trip. Overall, data mining methods and algorithms proved to determine where a new guest will book their first travel experience for Airbnb guests.

back button


Determining The Structure Of The HIV-1 5’ Leader Monomeric And Dimeric Confirmations

Frances Ghinger
Michael Summers, Chemistry and Biochemistry

As a retrovirus, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) uses RNA as its source of genetic material. The conserved 5ʹ leader (5ʹL) of this RNA can exist as two different conformations in equilibrium, monomer and dimer, which ultimately determines the role of the RNA in later steps of the viral life cycle. The monomer is translated into viral proteins while the dimer is packaged into new virions. These RNA species only differ by the number of guanines at the 5ʹ end beginning with either one, two, or three guanines plus the native cap (Cap-1G, Cap-2G, and Cap-3G, respectively). Surprisingly, it was found that this small change of one guanine affects the structure and function of the viral RNA.

Using unique nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy techniques for large RNAs, multiple regions of the monomer and dimer secondary structure have been confirmed. This includes the existence of TSS, as well as its nature to disrupt the regions around it. In the monomer structure (Cap-2G, Cap-3G), additional guanosine residues cause the remodeling of polyA and an extended U5:DIS interaction. In the dimer structure (Cap-1G), specifically, a unique 5’ end-to-end stacking interaction between the TAR and polyA hairpins was discovered.

This investigation was sponsored by NIH/NIGMS MARC U*STAR T3408663 National Research Service Award to UMBC. This research was funded, in part, by a grant to UMBC from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute through the Pre-college and Undergraduate Science Education Program.

back button


Characterization Of CDK12 Protein Inhibitor In Osteosarcoma

Darin Gilchrist
Rani George, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School; Matthew Harlow, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Osteosarcoma (OS) is a bone tumor diagnosed in approximately 900 children and adolescents each year, as well as in canines. Because of its metastatic behavior, highly unstable genome, and lack of druggable targets, OS can be challenging to treat. As a result, innovative treatment strategies and survival rates have been stagnant since the 1970s. To combat this, scientists investigated possible novel drug targets and identified Cyclin Dependent Kinase 12 (CDK12). CDK12 activity has been linked to the expression of DNA damage response (DDR) genes, which are required for the continued proliferation of OS cells. Therefore, we hypothesized that CDK12 inhibition may be a useful therapeutic strategy. My goals were to characterize a novel CDK12 inhibitor in OS cell lines by elucidating this compound’s impact on cell viability, CDK12 expression, and DDR gene expression. To do this, I performed cell viability experiments, western blots, and quantitative Polymerase Chain Reactions. I compared my data to that of another CDK12 inhibitor and found that it demonstrated more activity against the tested OS cell lines. These findings indicated that the novel CDK12 inhibitor was more effective against OS, moving us one step further in the development of more effective therapeutic strategies to treat OS.

This investigation was sponsored by NIH/NIGMS MARC U*STAR T3408663 National Research Service Award to UMBC. This research was funded, in part, by a grant to UMBC from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute through the Pre-college and Undergraduate Science Education Program.

back button


“terminal”: Contemporary Choreographic Perspectives

Emily Godfrey
Carol Hess, Dance

“terminal” is a dance that explores the individual choice forced upon family members when a family dynamic is drastically changed forever. The work was researched and created for the Senior Dance Concert (November 2019), performed at the Fall Dance Showcase (December 2019), and will perform again at the “American College Dance Association” in March 2020. The inspiration of the work derived from observing the different ways a family reacts to the slow passing of a loved one that once connected the community. While the movement and placement of the dancers should somewhat show the original and intended message the choreographer envisioned, the audience is given the choice to create their own meaning to the dance, derived from what they experienced. Emphasizing the dimensionality from a range of minimalistic gestures to athletic locomotion, four dancers show a wide range of movement vocabulary to express confrontation, intimacy, and the feeling of imbalance. The piece is intentionally left open-ended, leaving the audience to reflect, react, and invoke discussion. So long as the work resonates with the viewer, the experience is what matters, not the presentation of a theme.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


An Experimental Analysis Of The Effect Of Binauralbeats On Memory.

Olga Gorbachev
Diane Alonso, Psychology

Mental states are related to a specific sequence of rhythmic waves of neuronal excitation in the brain. Listening to binaural beats (an interference pattern between two sounds of slightly different frequencies) induces mental states by neuronal synchronization. This study explored the effect of 15 Hz frequencies of binaural beats, known as beta frequency, designed to improve memory formation and recall in young and older adults. The Banzai Labs binaural beats generating app was used to stimulate participants’ brains by producing a two-tone periodic sound, accompanied by ocean sounds, to investigate the hypothesis that beta frequencies could have a different effect on memory formation and recall in young and older adults. Younger and older adult volunteers were randomly assigned to one of three groups to complete a memory test: One group (L1) received treatment containing beta frequencies and ocean sounds. The second group (L2) received treatment containing only ocean sounds. The control (L3) completed memorization tasks without treatment. Performance was measured by the score on a memorization test and results were analyzed using a Factorial ANOVA. A statistically significant difference in scores between young and older adults was anticipated. The results could be implemented in education and mental health domains.

back button


Developing A Calibratable, Pressure-Powered Vehicle Stopped By An Iodine Clock Reaction

Ward Gracey, Nicholas Balasus, Hana Flores, Sammie Maygers, Jason Ewart
Mariajose Castellanos, Chemical, Biochemical, and Environmental Engineering

The pressure-based Chemical Energy Car will compete at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Conference. The competition entails transporting a water load up to 500 mL on a car that starts and stops using chemical reactions. The car must travel a distance between 0 and 30m and is scored based on its stopping precision. This car is powered by the chemical reaction of hydrogen peroxide and potassium iodide catalyst, which results in the production of oxygen gas. The gas produced by the reaction increases the pressure of the system up to 270 psi, and powers the pneumatic motor responsible for the motion of the car. The stopping mechanism was designed using a programmed Arduino system and potassium iodide and the starch-based chemical reaction that changes color from clear to near-black. A linear regression model of dilution versus time to color change determined the stopping time on competition day. An LED shines on a photoresistor on the other side of the reactor. After color change, the Arduino turned off the pneumatic motor using a motorized ball valve. Results show that the car is capable of motion at 25 psi, and that the car can be stopped in the required 2 minutes.

This work was funded by the CBEE Department at UMBC.

back button


The Guardians Of These Truths

Joshua Gray
Ann Sofie Clemmensen, Dance

We have all felt the pain of homelessness in one capacity or another. The concept of exploration is that there are various manifestations of homelessness. Homelessness can be taken out of its literal context and can then be defined as lacking long-lasting possession or protection. Within this definition that can mean, abstractly, an absence of education, family, career, friends, etc. This choreographic research process and investigation dives into personal instances of being a victim of various manifestations of homelessness as well as leveraging the stories and circumstances within our communities. Additionally, there is an emphasis on the rehearsal process being an instrumental factor in the outcome of a piece of performance art.

back button


Reinforcing Evidence-Based Argumentative Writing In The Social Studies Classroom

Lindsey Green
Timothy Johnson, Education

The use of credible evidence when writing arguments is central to the Social Studies discipline. It is a stepping-stone toward connecting our divided world with its ability to foster constructive discourse. This project supported and examined 24 ninth and tenth grade American Government students at Catonsville High School and their ability to write strong responses to open-ended questions. Using Baltimore County’s 5-Point ECR rubric, the students were graded on their ability to develop a claim and cite evidence from more than one source that would support the validity of their claim. The target goal was to have 85% of the students improve one point (i.e. from one to two) or 25% growth over the course of about 5 months or maintain their skill if they already received a 5. Their writing was supported by scaffolding the argument process and working on one skill at a time, starting with finding good evidence from credible sources and moving towards strong explanations of that evidence both written and verbal. Frequent assessments in class assisted growth in both written and spoken arguments that utilized evidence and explanation.

back button


An Analysis Of An Unmarked Cemetery In Sint Eustatius Using Geophysical Methods

Jessyka Grell
Dr. Nicholas Herrmann, Texas State University

This study assesses the extent of an unmarked cemetery associated with the Lazaretto(1866-1923) on the Dutch Caribbean island of Sint Eustatius (Statia) using geophysical methods. The Lazaretto was a poor house and leprosy hospital established to serve patients from Statia and nearby Saba. Ground penetrating radar (GPR) and fluxgate gradiometer was employed to scan the area around the old hospital. Prior excavations west of the Lazaretto building by Gilmore (2004) identified a series of five burials in two rows. The 2019 survey grids are combined with GPR data collected in 2017 to produce a composite block that encompasses the 2004 excavations and previously uninvestigated areas. The combined GPR and shallow surface gradiometer data indicate a series of distinct burial anomalies that align with the burials excavated in 2004 and suggest additional interments within the unmarked cemetery. In addition to verifying the position of known burials and identifying more graves, the data is processed for the relative depths and orientation of the graves relative to the burials excavated in 2004.

This was funded by the National Science Foundation .

back button


Healthy Behaviors In U.S. Rural Communities

Gabrielle Groner
Meryl Cozart, Health Administration and Policy

Using a mixed methods approach, this presentation will address what health education tools and healthy behavior resources individuals in rural communities are able to access and utilize. Healthy behaviors will be evaluated with the Center of Disease Control and Prevention’s Five Healthy Behaviors criteria needed for chronic disease and morbidity prevention. These five behaviors are never smoking, minimal alcohol consumption, adequate nightly sleep, regular physical exercise, and maintaining a healthy body weight. This project will assess the importance of following these behaviors, the key resources needed to promote and practice healthy behaviors, and the cost of not maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This background information will be used to assess whether rural communities are able to promote healthy behaviors, if individuals are practicing them, and the social determinants of health impacting who adopts healthy behaviors and who does not. The barriers to health promotion and adoption in rural communities will be addressed, along with how successful current initiatives have been at addressing the problem. Recommendations on how to improve and promote behavioral health will be presented using this information. This research matters because it demonstrates the necessity and complexity of regionally tailored health programs.

back button


Using Density Functional Theory (DFT) To Determine The Effects Of Molecules On Top Of Monolayer WS2

Ellen Gulian
Michael Hayden, Physics

Density functional theory (DFT) is a versatile tool that has been utilized across many scientific disciplines to study ground-state structural and electronic properties of molecules and solid state materials. This method allows for a quantum mechanical description of electron behavior and eliminates the need for an exact solution to the many-body Schrodinger equation. Here, we present the results of computational modeling that allows us to determine how various ad-atoms or molecules placed on top of monolayer WS2 affect the electronic band structure and optical properties of the system.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


How mentorship Mediates relationships Between Social Integration And Retention Of Female STEM Major Meyerhoff Scholars.

Kai Hajos, Jessica Kweon, Swati Singh, Rupsha Singh1
1Psychology, UMBC
Mariano Sto. Domingo, Psychology

Research on STEM undergraduate students suggests that psychosocial factors such as social integration and belonging, and support from peers, faculty, and staff are predictive of academic success and STEM retention. Specifically, students who are more socially integrated and feel a greater sense of belonging within their STEM program may be able to form a stronger mentorship relationship with faculty and staff in their discipline, which, in turn, can be expected to lead to higher retention in STEM. Thus, this study examines whether mentorship mediates the relationship between social integration and retention of STEM major among female Meyerhoff scholars at UMBC who entered the Meyerhoff Scholars Program in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, and Fall 2014. Social Integration will be measured at the end of the second year using the Social Involvement Scale, which measures students’ satisfaction level of their social involvement. The quality of mentoring relationship will be assessed at the end of the third year. Retention of STEM majors will be assessed at the end of fourth year. If the hypothesis is supported, results have implications for promoting mentoring relationships within the STEM field as a catalyst for persistence in light of academic difficulties.

back button


Development Of A Custom Robotic Actuator – Quadruped Robot Project

Jaylan Hall
Fow-Sen Choa, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering

The quadruped robot from last year’s URCAD utilized off-the-shelf servo motors to perform simple movements such as standing, walking, pivoting, and a unique walking/wheeled feature. For the new version, a quicker, more forceful actuator is needed in order to achieve running and jumping behaviors. The current market options are either too expensive, require too much power, or in most cases, both. To solve this problem, a custom-designed, fully 3D printed, robotic actuator was developed, capable of outputting fast, forceful movement. Costing under $40 to prototype, this actuator presents a compact size, low weight, easy assembly, low power requirement, simple programming, finished with an attractive aesthetic. Amid the version 3 redesign, the motor control system was made independent of the robot’s higher level control, allowing it to allocate more processing towards its higher level behaviors (inspired by mammal nervous system). In addition, an artistic touch was highly more integral throughout the design process, pushing away from the industrial build of the majority of current robotic systems. The next steps for this project involve development with basic and intermediate maneuverability, environmental perception and navigation, and most excitingly, exploring the unique fusion of emotion and logical reasoning.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


A Peek Inside the Vault: Digital Prints

Jaylan Hall
April Householder, Undergraduate Academic Affiars

I create abstract visuals that spore from the depths of my greatest anxieties, desires, insecurities, and passions. Hidden throughout the compact lines and curves, you will find a mixture of bold and minute details that expose my internal thoughts and emotions in their most raw form. Common inspiration for my art style tends to draw from the stark contrast between nature and technology, along with depictions of isolation, introversion, and overthinking. A major source of gratification for me is listening to what people see when they look at my art; It is as if I am alongside the creation of a new piece each time. Every single person thus far has abstracted a meaning unique to their own personal experiences, desires, and emotions. My mediums usually consist of portrait paper, touched with varying thicknesses of black ink pens, and sometimes filled with colored pencil. The more recent of my works combine digital editing, musical underlays, colorful tones, and movement, creating newfound dimensions to the abstracts. My need to create is an ultimate function of my coping mechanism to the pushes and pulls on my experiences.

back button


Astrological Analysis Of Modern Art: Hilma Af Klint’s Visions Of The Universe

Brianna Harper
Preminda Jacob, Associate Dean, College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

My project aims to uncover the symbolism within the Swedish painter Hilma af Klint’s (1862-1944) magnum opus, Paintings for the Temple (1906-1915). I use contemporary astrological theory alongside art historian Erwin Panofsky’s (1892-1968) iconological theory. I examine af Klint’s life within the concerns of Swedish society between the years 1840 and 1915. Taking into account her identity as a Theosophist, I analyze the elements and principles of design in her work to recognize the influence of astrology on her art. I study star charts of the period in which af Klint worked on Paintings for the Temple to show how the placements of the planets may have affected her. I apply this information to interpret the meaning and symbolism of Paintings for the Temple. Using astrology as a theoretical lens with which to study artwork revolutionizes the process of analyzing a creative medium and incorporates the artist’s spirituality, adding a new dimension to our understanding of af Klint’s oeuvre. The work of women artists and the occult are topics normally dismissed by the patriarchal and christianized western world. My research features both a largely forgotten female artist and an unconventional form of spirituality, creating a space for under-appreciated voices.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Impact Of DOM, PH, And Divalent Cations On The Absorbanceand Phototransformation Of Tetracycline Antibiotics

Lauren Harris
Lee Blaney, Chemical, Biochemical, and Environmental Engineering; Mamatha Hopanna, UMBC Department of Chemical, Biochemical, and Environmental Engineering; Michael Rose, UMBC Department of Chemical, Biochemical, and Environmental Engineering

Tetracycline (TC) antibiotics are commonly prescribed for human health. They have been detected in environmental wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), which can result in antibiotic resistance. TCs exhibit complex acid-base speciation, which influence interactions with dissolved organic matter (DOM) and divalent cations (e.g., Ca2+, Mg2+). In this study, we investigated individual and combined effects of these parameters on photochemical properties of three TCs: doxycycline, methacycline, and tigecycline. We hypothesize that TC absorbance under the tested conditions will shift at higher pH values due to acid-base speciation. UV-visible absorbance spectra (200-700 nm) were generated for the following solutions: (i) TC (25 µM); (ii) cation (1 mM Ca2+/Mg2+); (iii) DOM (10 mgC L-1); (iv) DOM + cation; (v) TC + cation; (vi) TC + DOM; (vii) TC + DOM + cation. Effects of DOM and divalent cations on species-specific, fluence-based direct photolysis rate constants were determined for the cationic, zwitterionic, and anionic species by irradiating solutions containing 5 μM TC, 0-1 mM cation, 0-10 mgC L-1 DOM, and 5 mM phosphate buffer (pH 2-10) at 254 nm, which is used for disinfection in WWTPs. Results show that water conditions must be considered in the design of advanced treatment processes for antibiotic removal.

This investigation was sponsored by NIH/NIGMS MARC U*STAR T3408663 National Research Service Award to UMBC.

back button


Deciphering The Function Of The rlsA Gene In The Multicellular Green Alga, Volvox Carteri

Mitra Harrison
Dr. Stephen Miller, Biological Sciences

The multicellular green alga,Volvox carteriis an exemplary model for investigating the evolution of cellular differentiation. It is one of the few species of the diverse Volvocine lineage with a complete division of labor between distinct reproductive and somatic cell types. The genetic basis of cellular differentiation inV. carteriis theregAcluster, a tandem array consisting of genesregA,rlsA,rlsB, andrlsC.regAsuppresses chloroplast biogenesis in the somatic cells ofV. carteri, stunting their growth and maintaining their non-reproductive state. The threeregA-like sequence (rls) genes are expressed in a similar fashion toregA, but their functions remain unknown. We have determined the precise intron-exon boundaries and the correct start codon oftherlsAgene through RT-PCR. In an attempt to decipherrlsA’s function, we are generating an overexpression construct with an inducible nitrate reductase promoter. We will transform the overexpression construct into wild-typeV. carteriand grow the transformant in the presence of nitrate to induce therlsAgene. An abnormal phenotype, likely a deviation fromV. carteri’s developmental process, may provide insight into how cellular differentiation is regulated and the function of therlsAgene

back button


The Last Roadshow

Kyle Hartford
Cathy Cook, Visual Arts

A roadshow was a special presentation of a film used in the golden age of Hollywood. This piece is meant to be a worn-down, deterioration of a roadshow release. The medium of film has changed. People are no longer amazed by a moving image, no matter how beautiful. I searched in the film archives of the Visual Arts department and found a beautiful16mm print of a documentary about the making of the Lincoln Center in New York. In this footage, we see famous soprano Risë Stevens, who also appeared in many golden age Hollywood films such as Going My Way. I found this footage mesmerizing and tragic. The technicolor took me back to another time. I wanted to give viewers this feeling for the beginning of the piece. Slowly, I start to implement more aggressive visuals. I painted onto 16mm analog film strips and digitized the archive footage as well as the archive footage. In order to view the film reels before a digital transfer, I loaded the reels onto a Steenbeck. With the digitized footage, I faded the archive footage into the painted strips. This is meant to symbolize the death of a more innocent time in cinema.

back button


Understanding Uprisings: Media Discourse And Maryland Race Uprisings (1845-2015)

Anna Hartman
Lindsay Dicuirci, English

Despite lengthy histories of complicated race relations, the state of Maryland and Baltimore city struggle to confront their histories of slaveholding and anti-black violence. As a result, this history has been understudied in broader accounts of racial uprisings in the U.S.. In response to this gap, this digital exhibition, Understanding Uprising: Media Discourse and Maryland Race Uprisings, captures three such flashpoints: a slave insurrection beginning in Charles County in 1845; Baltimore’s Holy Week Uprisings in response to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in 1968; and the 2015 Baltimore Uprising protesting police brutality and the death of Freddie Gray. Through this curation of press archives, including news clippings, editorials, social media posts, and other forms of digital and print media, the exhibition yields two key findings tracing 170 years of coverage: first, black newspapers are more likely to consider the root causes of uprisings while newspapers coded as mainstream ignore their causes or focus on a singular event. Second, mainstream media often resorts to racial stereotypes in their coverage, further diminishing the acts of resistance and building fear within white audiences.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Assistantship Support (URAS) Award from the UMBC Office of the Vice President for Research.

back button


Timed Writing: Perfecting This Essential College-Readiness Skill

Anna Hartman
Cheryl North, Education

In order to be prepared to meet the rigorous demands of the Advanced Placement (AP) tests, this research focused on identifying best practices for helping students develop timed writing and higher level thinking skills. In this ninth grade Gifted and Talented (GT) class, students practiced the skills necessary for such timed writing by completing weekly untimed writing exercises where they synthesized and analyzed texts. Students completed five timed writing throughout the course of the year, including one benchmark. The expectation is that these writing exercises would help students develop writing skills necessary for AP-style timed writing, including organization, constructing a thesis, nuanced argumentation, and higher-level synthesis and analysis. This would permit students to improve scores by 2 points on the rubric scale from the benchmark. The grading rubric for the timed writing was taken directly from the AP Language and Composition essay rubric. Students were asked to showcase multiple AP-style skills in these timed writings, including synthesis, rhetorical analysis, and compare and contrast. Students were encouraged to also utilize these skills in their SADs in order to prepare them for AP-style timed writings. Students were provided with explicit instruction on approaching various writing exercises requiring AP-level analytical skills.

back button


Strings Attached: The Life Of A Professional Orchestra Musician

Christian Hartman
Gita Ladd, Music

Being a professional musician, especially in an orchestral setting, is a demanding job, no matter what instrument you play. Today’s professional musician is expected to have a wide variety of skills under their belt, such as being able to learn large amounts of music in a short period of time, or making practice sessions more efficient. The consummate musician should be proficient as a soloist, as well as an ensemble player in both small and large groups. I experienced the life of a professional orchestra musician firsthand this past summer at the Endless Mountain Music Festival (EMMF) in Mansfield, Pennsylvania, which featured an internship program where a select group of talented young musicians perform as part of a 70-piece symphony orchestra made up of professional musicians from around the world. During my time as a member of the internship program at EMMF, I gained invaluable skills as an orchestral player, chamber musician, and soloist, and was able to apply them in rehearsal, practice, and performance.

This work was funded, in part, by an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs, and a Summer Research and Study Award from the UMBC Linehan Artist Scholars program.

back button


Phenotypic Characterization Of The Aspergillus Nidulans prkA Deletion Mutant

Asmaa Hasan, Kelsi Lawson, Kathryn Moormann, Walker Huso
Mark Marten, Chemical, Biochemical, and Environmental Engineering

Previous studies in the Marten lab have used phosphoproteomic analysis to understand signal transduction involved in a model fungus (Aspergillus nidulans) cell wall repair pathway. PrkA protein kinase was found to be differentially phosphorylated when fungi were exposed to a cell wall perturbant (micafungin). We hypothesize PrkA is involved in the A. nidulans cell wall repair pathway through its involvement with actin organization and function. To assess involvement in cell wall repair, an existing prkA knockout strain (prkA-) will be compared with an isogenic control (prkA+) in regard to growth rate, fragmentation rate, hyphal strength, and branching rate. Characterization of the prkA- strain in regard to these phenotypes will provide us a better understanding of the cell wall integrity signaling pathway in A. nidulans.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


BioSentinel: Optimizing Yeast Preparation For Long-duration Spaceflight Missions

Elizabeth Hawkins
Sergio Santa Maria, NASA Ames Research Center

It is vital to the safety and success of NASA’s future missions that we understand how cosmic radiation beyond the Earth’s protective magnetosphere affects terrestrial biology. BioSentinel is a biological nanosatellite that will probe the deep-space environment to assess the effects of radiation on budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Once BioSentinel reaches its target orbit, desiccated yeast cells in microfluidic cards will start to be rehydrated, and the growth and metabolism of wild type and rad51Δ mutant cells defective in DNA repair will be monitored using optical sensing. Trehalose is a disaccharide compound that is essential to desiccation tolerance and is produced by the cells when they undergo nitrogen starvation in liquid culture. Our recent studies indicate that overall yeast survival may be improved by growing cells for shorter periods of time than previously thought prior to desiccation. Maximizing the viability of the yeast cells post-desiccation will help ensure mission success. In this study, we grew cells in liquid culture and tested intracellular trehalose content for up to seven days to determine the optimum growth period for desiccation tolerance and survival. Additionally, we extracted RNA from these cells and used qPCR to investigate the trehalose protective pathway.

This work was funded, in part, by KBR through the Space Life Sciences Training Program.

back button


Sherlock Romes

Matthew Haworth, Yitzhak Oshry, De’Andrea Harmon, Courtney Culp, Dalton Mongue
Eric Jordan, Visual Arts

Sherlock Romes is a point-and-click mystery game set in Ancient Rome and built in the decidedly more contemporary Unity engine. The game consists of finding clues, interviewing witnesses and suspects, and connecting the pieces to develop a reasonable theory of the case. Artists were challenged to design scenery that evokes the atmosphere of the Classical world. Programmers built a system of clues, uncovered in the environment or through dialogue, and conclusions, drawn by combining clues, as well as a node-based dialogue tree system. All team members worked to develop a coherent narrative to hang from this framework, with a focus on creating logical problems that would be interesting to solve with creative thinking.

back button


Ice Layer Tracking In Radar Imagery With Active Learning

Lauren Hayden
Maryam Rahnemoonfar, Information Systems

Snow accumulation is an important factor in the predictions of sea level and flood areas. Using radar, data is collected on ice layers and ice thickness would need to be calculated by tracking the internal layers of ice and snow. The manual tracking process is time consuming, expensive, and subject to human error. To automatically track the ice layers, machine learning can be used, but there are limitations. Deep learning requires large amounts of annotated data. To address this issue, we propose to use active learning. Active learning is able to acquire and interpret information during analysis using the human to validate the information. Benefits of using active learning include a quicker, more correct fashion for synthesizing labeled data. By utilizing this system, an increased amount of labeled data is produced without manual input. This labeled data is used to calculate the rate of the ice melting in correlation to rising sea levels with the intended goal of predicting possible flood areas. The ability to use an active learning algorithm in this project shows promising results for the development of machine learning in large scale applications.

This work was funded, in part, by National Science Foundation, Amazon, and IBM.

back button


Assessing The Impact Of PhosphomimeticMutations On Mouse Melanopsin Signaling

Andrew Hennigan, Alexis Nobleman
Phyllis Robinson, Biological Sciences

Melanopsin is a visual pigment expressedin intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs). Melanopsin contributes to image and non-image forming visual processes, including circadian photoentrainment. It is hypothesized that Protein Kinase A (PKA) plays a role in attenuating the signaling of photo-activated melanopsin, a relationship that we are interested in studying. Our laboratory has previously shown that wild-type melanopsin signaling is attenuated when cyclic AMP-dependent PKA is activated in vitro. Consistent with this, the PKA-dependent reduction in melanopsin signaling was prevented when all three putative PKA phosphorylation sites (S182, T186, S287) on the intracellular loops were mutated to non-phosphorylatable residues. We hypothesize that the phosphorylation of PKA at sites S182, T186, and S287 is required for PKA to attenuate melanopsin signaling. We have successfully generated a phosphomimetic melanopsin construct in which the three described sites have been changed to negatively charged residues that mimic phosphorylation. We verify appropriate expression and localization of the construct via Western blot and immunohistochemistry. Calcium imaging demonstrates that phosphomimetic melanopsin signaling is greatly attenuated. This research will contribute more to our understanding of the role of melanopsin in circadian rhythms and photoentrainment, helping us to better understand the maintenance of these characteristics in an organism.

Funding provided by NIH Grant 5RO1EY027202-02 to PRR.

back button


Children Raising Children: A Qualitative Study Of The Social Determinants Of Adolescent Pregnancy In Rural Ecuador

Keren Herrán, Tania Calle1
1Williams College
Iván Palacios, Universidad San Francisco de Quito; Rebecca Dillingham, University of Virginia

According to Ecuador’s most recent census, 1/5 of pregnancies are from adolescent mothers — elevating rates of poverty, maternal and child mortality, and birth complications. Hence, our research question: how do social determinants of health (SDOH) cause adolescent pregnancy in rural Ecuador?

Our research team analyzed 3 focus groups composed of 5-7 adolescent (14-21 years old) mothers who had recently (within two years) given birth in El Quinche, Lumbisi, and Pifo. In depth interviews with 10 key informants (health officials, providers, and policy-makers) were also organized to explore perceptions regarding interventions and causes of adolescent pregnancy. Our team interviewed until reaching saturation of information, validating collected data through triangulation. We applied grounded theory for analysis via open, axial, and selective coding using NVivo software.

Our data revealed that the root SDOH causing adolescent pregnancy includes compromised sexual education, shame in discussing the topic, and troubled households. Therefore, we recommend that Ecuador focus on improving the quality of sexual education in schools, creating a positive sexual environment, and encouraging female empowerment. Ultimately, gaining a better understanding of the causes of adolescent pregnancy can inform the formulation of more effective interventions in Ecuador and beyond.

The project described was supported in whole or in part by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health under award number T37MD008659. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

back button


High Definition Real Time Zoetrope (HDRTZ)

Sam Herring, Jd Byron, Silas Dunigan, Matt Vermont
Prof. Eric Dyer, Visual Arts; E. F. Charles LaBerge, UMBC

The High Definition Real-Time Zoetrope (HDRTZ) was designed and constructed to take a stationary artwork and rotate it via image processing to create the illusion of animation. The system was developed as part of the 2019-2020 Computer Engineering Capstone course. The HDRTZ was created in collaboration with UMBC professor and artist Eric Dyer, who created the artwork and helped design the system. The HDRTZ samples a camera feed and rotate the image via software running on the NVIDIA TX2. The image rotation is controlled by an external crank that outputs a voltage proportional to its input. The software then uses rotational algorithms to rotate the image appropriately based on the voltage produced by the crank. Simultaneously, an audio track is sampled at a rate proportional to the crank input to add further interactivity to the art. The system was configured and initialized through an external web application responsible for the centering and masking of the displayedimage.The HDRTZ is intended to be installed in a public setting, so the system was designed to be simple enough that an unfamiliar user can quickly figure out how to interact with it.

back button


Do Intimate Partner Violent Men with A History Of Childhood Maltreatment Have Higher Recidivism Rates After Treatment?

Tyra Hill
Christopher Murphy, Psychology

Research has confirmed a link between traumatic childhood experiences and intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetration. However, less is known about the impact of childhood trauma on recidivism among IPV perpetrators participating in batterer intervention program (BIP). This study examines whether or not IPV perpetrators with histories of childhood maltreatment have higher rates of recidivism after participating in a Batterer Intervention Program. The participants included 126 men who completed the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ) during intake at a community-based BIP. The CTQ assesses maltreatment and neglect (emotional, physical and/or sexual abuse) These variables from the CTQ were correlated with IPV recidivism 2 years after the completion of the BIP. A significant relationship was found between Domestic and General Violence recidivism and a history of Physical Abuse, Physical Neglect, Emotional Abuse and Emotional Neglect. No significant relationship was found between recidivism and a history of Sexual Abuse. BIP participants with higher levels of childhood maltreatment were more likely to engage in recidivist violence after treatment. Childhood trauma enhances an individuals’ violent tendencies, drawing further attention to the need for trauma informed treatment in BIP’s in an attempt to prevent continuous IPV recidivism and violence after BIP completion.

back button


N-Type Bi2Te2.7Se0.3 And P-Type Bi0.5Sb1.5Te3 Thermoelement Characterization

Rudolph Holley III, Eunhwa Jang, Priyanshu Banerjee
Deepa Madan, Mechanical Engineering

Thermoelectric generators are devices that utilize temperature gradients to convert thermal energy into electricity. Thermoelectric generators are commonly used to recover waste heat from gas pipelines or power small electronics in remote locations. To broaden the usage of thermoelectric generators, it is important that the devices are flexible and able to fit the shape of the surface of the heat source. We used a polysaccharide, chitosan, as a composite material binder that will also provide the requisite flexibility for broader applications. This research explored n-type Bi2Te2.7Se0.3 and p-type Bi0.5Sb1.5Te3 and the impacts of particle size, thermoelectric material concentration, and applying mechanical pressure on critical thermoelectric material properties. In general, larger particle size distribution (from submicron to greater than 150 microns in diameter) and a binder to thermoelectric material weight ratio of 1:2000 demonstrated improved properties due to fewer grain boundaries and less insulating binder to inhibit electron flow. The increase in conductivity is thought to be due to the pressure on the thermoelectric material, which increases the density of the material as well as increases the connections between the particles.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Effect Of Verb Conjugation Apps On Student Verb Conjugation

Colin Hrenko
Dr. Linda Oliva, Education

In Spanish-language classrooms in the U.S.,English speakers often have difficulty in properly conjugating Spanish verbs. Students often apply the wrong endings or mistake which subject the verb must agree with. While this may seem like a negligible error to the mind of an English speaker due to the virtual lack of conjugation in English, it is of the utmost importance in Spanish, as Spanish verbs carry their meaning in their conjugation. Therefore, in order to foster a generation of confidently bilingual students in our increasingly globalized world, the most meaningful pieces of the language must be stressed. In this study, sixty-six ninth and tenth-gradestudents were asked to practice their conjugation using an app over time in order to improve their ability to properly conjugate verbs. Students’ progress was measured through several periodic writing assignments in which the number of correctly and incorrectly-conjugated verbs were counted to analyze whether students had undergone improvement in their conjugation skills.

back button


Automated Registration Of Planarian Gene Expression Patterns

Sophia Hu
Daniel Lobo, Biological Sciences

Planarian worms have extraordinary regenerative capabilities. They can regenerate a new brain, eyes, and stomach from almost any amputation, a process still poorly understood. Crucially, genetic tools are available to experimentally perturb and interrogate the gene expression patterns in planaria, which has resulted in hundreds of gene expression patterns reported in the literature. However, extracting knowledge from these huge datasets will require of new advanced computational methods able to automatically and efficiently process microscopy images of planarian gene expression patterns. Here we present a novel automated image processing methodology and user-friendly software tool to register planarian spatial gene expression patterns into reference morphologies. We demonstrate the capability of the tool with a curated dataset of planarian gene expression images and show its robustness to analyze and register a diversity of expression patterns from multiple morphological body configurations. The pipeline does not require human intervention between processing steps, making the process efficient and free from bias. This methodology will serve as a key component to curate a standardized atlas of planarian gene expressions, which will pave the way for the application of advanced machine learning methods to aid in unraveling the complexity of the gene regulatory networks that govern planarian regeneration.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


A Reaction-Diffusion PDE Model For Predicting Release From Water-Soluble Gels

Ben Hyatt
Muruhan Rathinam, Mathematics and Statistics

Predicting the release of a solute from a water-soluble gel is a common problem in bioengineering. For instance, a drug can be delivered in a water-soluble gel to control its rate of release into the bloodstream. The rate of release is known to depend on the geometry of the gel and the diffusivity of the solute. We hypothesized that the solute molecules can interact with the gel’s polymer matrix through binding and unbinding reactions. Our strategy was to model these interactions as a first-order reversible reaction such that the rate of release depends upon the binding and unbinding reaction rates. We then formulated a system of coupled reaction-diffusion partial differential equations (PDEs) and solved them numerically to predict the release. We also applied singular perturbation theory to approximate the release when the binding and unbinding reaction rates are very large. Under this condition, we found that only the ratio of the reaction rates is needed to accurately predict release. This could reduce the experimental burden of incorporating reaction rates into future models.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


The Developmental Role Of Drosophila Melanogaster

Nneamaka Iwobi, Noah Reger
Fernando Vonhoff, Biological Sciences

Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is a progressive brain disorder that deteriorates memory, decision-making, and thinking skills, often accompanied by smaller brain size. Understanding the molecular mechanisms involved is essential for therapeutic purposes. The Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP) is one of the genes associated with AD and the structure is a primary component of amyloid plaques present in the brains of AD patients. In this project, we focus on the developmental role of APP-Like, the evolutionary homolog of APP, in Drosophila. The prediction was that the APPL gene would cause a slower rate of development than non-mutants due to previous, but not recorded, observations. We mated APPL flies to produce an F1 generation with a general mutation in the APPL gene. In order to observe the developmental effects of mutations in APPL, the reproduction rate, fertility, and gender of the mutant flies were monitored. Our primary findings entailed that APPL delayed development, which suggests that, in addition to affecting nerve cells, the APPL gene may affect the development of Drosophila. Future studies include, but are not limited to, dissecting mutant flies to discover any anatomical effects of APPL and to utilize various forms of the human gene that are associated with AD.

This research was partially funded by the USM LSAMP program, supported by NSF LSAMP Award #1619676 and the UMBC Natural Sciences Pre-Professoriate Fellowship to Fernando Vonhoff.

back button


A Precursor To Media Literacy

Kris Jefferson
Timothy Johnson, Education

The current atmosphere in which we receive information demands that our youth become more media literate. This is demonstrated through the ability to analyze information, make a claim or stand, and justify that position with supporting facts. Using Bloom’s Taxonomy Pyramid the research this Student Learning Objective measured was the ability of 16 GT students (10 males and 16 females) to reach a level of proficient to mastery with proficient being able to justify a stand or decision and mastery being able to produce new and original work. Data was collected in the first quarter which indicated that as a whole the students were initially at a level not considered proficient to mastery. Based on that data the decision to make the standard of proficiency as being able to justify a stand or decision and mastery as being able to produce new and original work (the top of Bloom’s Taxonomy Pyramid) was made. This skill is applicable and relevant to the general public because a student’s ability to make claims and support those claims with relevant facts is a precursor to adult members of society who are media competent and media literate.

back button


Analyzing The Security Of Non-Standard Dialects In South Korea

Alyssa Johnson
Kyung-Eun Yoon, Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Intercultural Communication

Since the creation of the National Institute of the Korean Language in 1991, the status of Seoul dialect in South Korea has become widely revered (Jeon 2013). As a result of actions taken by the South Korean government, Seoul dialect is currently the standard variety used in public education, mass media, and the workplace. This preference for Seoul dialect from the government consequentially establishes all other dialects on the peninsula as non-standard. The result of the standard variety’s authority is evident when comparing one’s non-standard dialect to the Seoul dialect as research has found that some dialect speakers suffer from a dialect inferiority complex (Hwang 2019). Following the line of recent studies in China analyzing how the promotion of the standard dialect, language attitudes, and urbanization have led to a gradual abandonment of dialect use (Bai 2017), this study will be conducted focusing on the security of South Korea’s non-standard dialects. Through analyzing interviews, news reports, demographic statistics, and prior studies, this research will investigate how standard dialect promotion, language attitudes, and rural-urban migration could impact the maintenance or abandonment of non-standard Korean dialects in South Korea.

back button


Investigating The Role Of The Planar Cell Polarity And Shroom3 In Forebrain Morphogenesis

Jafira Johnson
Rachel Brewster, Biological Sciences

Primary neurulation is the process via which the neural tube, the precursor of the brain and spinal cord, forms. During neurulation, the neural plate bends and folds around medial and lateral hingepoints to promote the fusion of its lateral edges, the neural folds. Incomplete neurulation occurs frequently, leading to a high incidence of neural tube defects (NTDs). Mutations in genes encoding Planar Cell Polarity (PCP) pathway components as well as the protein Shroom3 are known to contribute to NTDs. The function of these genes has been well studied in mice and involves narrowing of the neural plate and hingepoint formation, both of which are pre-requisites for neural fold fusion. The goal of my research project is to investigate whether PCP pathway component Vangl2 and Shroom3 are similarly required for neurulation in zebrafish, in light of recent data from our laboratory showing conserved features of neurulation in the zebrafish forebrain. To test this, I carried out in situ hybridization on WT embryos, vangl2 and shrm3 mutants using a marker for neural folds. Preliminary data[RB1] indicate that neural fold convergence is impaired in mutants. These results pave the way to validating the zebrafish as a model to study the etiology of NTDs.

This research was funded by the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation.

back button


Investigating The Efficacy Of A Synthetic 4-1BB Intracellular Peptide In T-Cell Activation

Rahul Kamdar
Gregory Szeto, Chemical, Biochemical, and Environmental Engineering

T cells comprise a vital immune subset and are the focus of immunotherapies for cancer. These cells require a costimulatory protein to activate, and pathways such as 4-1BB are under investigation in their role of costimulation. This study aims to characterize the efficacy of the 4-1BB costimulatory pathway in activating T cells in vitro and in vivo. Here,we administer a synthetic peptide of the 4-1BB intracellular domain to CD4+ and CD8+ cells to assess their activation states upon delivery of the peptide inside the cell. We hypothesize the synthetic peptide transduces costimulatory signals similar to endogenous 4-1BB signaling domains and expresses similar activation genes. The in vitro portion of the study characterizes the expression patterns of activated CD4+ and CD8+ T cells by known surface CD25 and CD69 expression. We also evaluate known cytokine expression patterns of IL-2 and IFN-y in these activated cells. Moreover, we aim to characterize the efficacy 4-1BB pathway in vivo using mouse tumor models and varying doses of 4-1BB to measure tumour shrinkage over time. Our study finds T cells are activated upon peptide administration and possess the ability to attenuate tumour growth over time, which may support its immunotherapeutic potential.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Elucidation Of The HIV-1 5’ Leader Through Paramagnetic Tags

Elisabeth Kan, Faith Davis, Claudia Walker, Madeleine Strickland1, Nico Tjandra1, Jan Marchant, A’lyssa Williams, Tamia Tabourn, Ryan Hoffman
1Laboratory of Structural Biophysics, Biochemistry and Biophysics Center, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health
Michael Summers, Chemistry and Biochemistry; Jonathan Catazaro, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Our research focuses on using paramagnetically tagged protein-RNA complexes to elucidate the structure of the highly conserved 5 prime-leader of viral genomic RNA in the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It has been previously hypothesized that the trans-activation response and polyadenylation regions of the 5′-L are stacked in one extended helix. In order to observe potential stacking of these regions, we attempt to produce measurable chemical shifts called pseudocontact shifts and partial molecular alignment of spins called residual dipolar couplings that can be observed on Heteronuclear Multiple Quantum Correlation-Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectra. For our experiments, we use lanthanide ion tags. These metals are chelated by a covalently bound tag on a small reporter protein, U1A, which has a high affinity for the seven nucleotide U1A binding loop sequence. Currently, we have confirmed that the use of lanthanide metals produce measurable PCS and RDCs in a forty-six nucleotide, small RNA construct, from the Murine Moloney leukemia virus (mmlv). In the future, we plan on engineering the U1A loop into different regions of the 5′-L to calculate distance restraints for the TAR and Poly-A regions in order to elucidate the tertiary structure of the entire HIV-1 5′-L.

This investigation was sponsored by NIH/NIGMS MARC U*STAR T3408663 National Research Service Award to UMBC and in part, by a grant to UMBC from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute .

back button


Using Deep Learning To Increase The Accuracy Of Breast Cancer Diagnoses

Yianni Karabatis
Konstantinos Kalpakis, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering

Making a breast cancer diagnosis in a timely manner isa matter of grave significance to the patient. Diagnoses based on biopsies involve the use of histologic images which are interpreted by doctors and often there is variance in interpretation. Pathologists examine many histologic images every day to ensure whether there is a single metastatic cancer cell in the image, a tedious, time-consuming, and error-prone task. This means that a patient could unnecessarily undergo cancer treatment or someone with breast cancer may be undiagnosed. To solve this issue, we use computational methods of artificial intelligence to aid doctors in providing diagnoses with higher accuracy. Given a labelled data set of histologic images of breast cancer, we use deep learning to train a convolutional neural network that can successfully predict whether a histologic image contains a benign or malignant component. We are planning to formalize the approach that combines deep learning and medicine for the creation of a classifier to assist diagnoses by doctors. We will evaluate our algorithms based on accuracy compared to the ground truth given by pathologists.

This project was created as a part of the National Science Foundation funded University System of Maryland’s Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participants program (NSF USM LSAMP). Specifically, supported by NSF LSAMP Award #1619676.

back button


Three-dimensional Visualization Of Harvestman Spermathecae Using Confocal Microscopy

Zulekha Karachiwalla
Mercedes Burns, Biological Sciences; Tagide deCarvalho, Keith R. Porter Imaging Facility, UMBC

Confocal laser scanning microscopy is an imaging technique that provides detailed optical sectioning of samples. We used this form of fluorescent microscopy to produce three-dimensional images of harvestmen (“daddy-longlegs”) spermathecae, structures within the genitalia of female arthropods that store and maintain sperm after copulation. We examined spermathecal morphology in thirteen species of Leiobunum, one species of Hadrobunus and one species of Gagrellula, which were collected from North America and Japan and stored in 99% ethanol. Ovipositors were dissected and soaked for 24 hours with DAPI to stain sperm cells, if present. Z-stack images of the paired spermathecae were taken with Leica SP5 and a Zeiss LSM 900 confocal microscopes. Three-dimensional representations were rendered in Imaris software using the contour surface tool. These first reported images of harvestmen spermathecae show that 10 species had structures consisting of a single chamber and 5 species had multiple chambers. We observed DAPI-stained sperm within some specimens, which allowed us to visualize where these cells are stored within the spermathecal chambers. The method we developed allows us to visualize internal structures difficult to interpret with two-dimensional brightfield microscopy, which could be applied to the characterization of reproductive structures in other arthropods.

back button


A Force That Gives Us Meaning

Jeremy Keaton
Linda Dusman, Music

This piece of chamber music, for piano, violin, and clarinet, was written in response to the opportunity to write for the Strata trio, a professional ensemble led by Dr. Audrey Andrist, a member of the piano faculty at UMBC. In the process of rehearsing with the trio, I discovered the enormous range of expression professional musicians can imbue a performance with. I revised the piece to reflect some of the performance decisions they made, including more detailed articulations and dynamics. The work experiments with a modern take on the chaconne, a traditional musical form. The chaconne structure dates back to the Baroque era and consists of continual variation on a short harmonic pattern. While I was composing, I discovered the abundance of possibilities that could be drawn out of basic variations. Beginning with a simple, melancholic theme, the piece steadily rises from a calm serenity to a thundering zenith before falling back to nothing again. Along the way, the theme dances, marches, and sings. The piece reflects on the power of tiny, seemingly insignificant moments to give life purpose.

back button


Women In Colonial Korea: The Overlooked History Of Women’s Role In Korean Independence

Ashley Kellogg
Kyung-Eun Yoon, Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Intercultural Communication; Meredith Oyen, Director, Asian Studies Program

When prompted to think of women during Colonial Korea, the image of the so-called “comfort woman” dominates the conversation. While these victims must be remembered and honored, history must also acknowledge the women who participated in protest and disobedience against Japanese imperialism. This research is conducted with the goal to tell the stories of the women often overlooked in the history of Colonial Korea in terms of their contributions toward Korean independence. Further, this research aims to discuss the unique obstacles Korean culture and society would pose to women of the era in context. Examination of text archiving the lives of notable figures and translated memoirs alongside prior studies will set the foundation of this research and reveal the complex and varied lives of women during Colonial Era Korea. Most importantly, this research will reveal the impact women had progressing Korean independence often overlooked in favor of and perhaps despite their male counterparts.

back button


Goblet Cell Proliferation In The Mouse Respiratory Epithelium In Response To E-Cigarette Vapors

Rakaia Kenney, Fenge Ni
Weihong Lin, Biological Sciences; Tatsuya Ogura, Biological Sciences, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

While e-cigarette usage and associated diseases have been a hot topic for the past year, little research has been done on the adverse health effects caused to the upper respiratory system from vaping. I have been conducting an analysis of how goblet cell proliferation in the mouse nasal respiratory epithelium (RE) is affected by e-cig vapor exposure. Goblet cells are mucus secreting cells, reacting to tissue irritation through increasing their density and producing more mucus, which can block alveoli and indicate inflammation. In my experiment, mice were exposed to nicotine containing e-cig vapors for four weeks, with control mice being exposed under the same conditions but with air. The mice are euthanized, dissected, and the head is preserved, after which coronal sections are placed serially on slides. I proceed with a hematoxylin and eosin stain and take 10- or 20-X images using a light microscope. The goblet cells are manually counted, respiratory epithelia length is measured using ImageJ, and goblet cell density is calculated and compared. I have found a significant difference in goblet cell density in nicotine exposed mouse’ RE of the nose compared to control mice, indicating an inflammatory response in the nose in response to e-cigarettes.

back button


Microfluidic Devices Efficiently Prepared From Eco-Friendly Plastics

Saba Khan
Yordan Kostov, Center for Advanced Sensor Technology

As non-biodegradable plastics continually pollute our land and oceans, countries are banning the use of single-use plastics. Polymethyl Acrylate (PMMA) has excellent optomechanical properties and is widely used for rapid microfluidics prototyping. PMMA is non-biodegradable, and thus we are studying the material properties of Cellulose Acetate using PMMA as a benchmark. The glass transition temperature, solubility, and mechanical, physical, and chemical properties of the two plastics were studied. To build these devices, we utilized laser engraving and traditional mechanical methods and adapted specific surface treatments to fuse the different layers of plastic together. 100% ethanol was used to swell and soften the plastic surface (first 10-20 microns). When heated, the ethanol would fuse together the two sheets of either plastic at varying thicknesses. To prevent burning of the material, the laser engraving settings varied for both plastics because of their different properties. Different methods of heating the devices were implemented to determine which technique is most efficient: using a heat press or a microwave. We have discovered that the fastest, most efficient method is microwave heating. These results provide significant insight on how to prepare microfluidic devices efficiently and provide substantial understanding into the properties of both plastics.

back button


Developing More Effective Tutoring Strategies For Multilingual Writers In The Writing Center

Ajay Kharkar
Elaine MacDougall, English

Training for Writing Center tutors is extensive but mainly focused on tutoring native English speakers familiar with Standard Academic English, however many of the Writing Center clients are multilingual students who do not have the same familiarity with Standard Academic English or the English language. Conventional Writing Center tutoring methods do not always work in these cases, and this can leave tutors and students feeling as if a session was ineffective in helping the student with their writing assignment. This research focuses on three tutoring strategies in particular – establishing a rapport, setting an agenda at the beginning of the session and addressing instances of miscommunication – which we hypothesized would increase the writers’ comfort during the session, promoting better communication leading to more effective tutoring. The effectiveness of these strategies will be monitored through interviews with approximately 10 multilingual writers in the Writing Center as well as the tutors they work with, used in conjunction with audio recordings and visual observations of the sessions. These results are expected to show an increase in the subjective comfort levels of the writers directly correlated to these strategies, and the results will be used to develop additional training for Writing Center tutors.

back button


Monster Mash-Up

Valerie Kilchenstein, Justin Pham, Joel Okpara , Junior Sei , Sean Hill
Eric Jordan, Visual Arts

Monster Mash-Up is a 2D fighting video game designed for 2 players to face off against each other. The idea arose from the excitement of competition among friends and the vision is thoughtfully carried out by programmers and artists who dream of creating games. The game allows two players to craft their fighter using various monster parts, each part giving their creation different advantages and disadvantages. Players then engage in combat, utilizing a variety of attacks to bring down their opponent and the winner is decided on whoever wins 2 out of 3 rounds. In order to create this game, programmers were challenged with crafting engaging mechanics in Unity that make every character satisfying to play and new combinations fun to experiment with. Also, artists strove to design cute and spooky roster of characters, a user interface that is welcoming to new players and visuals that are immersive and appealing. Monster Mash-Up is a true test of the skills both computer science and visual arts majors have cultivated over the years.

back button


The Unexpected Turnover In The Spectral Energy Distributions Of Active Galactic Nuclei

Kassidy Kollmann, Mary Keenan1
1Physics, UMBC
Eileen Meyer, Physics

The large-scale jets of plasma emitted from radio-loud active galactic nuclei (AGN) are known to interact with the intergalactic medium, impact star formation within galaxies, and play a role in galaxy evolution. These jets are very influential on their surrounding environment and therefore knowledge of the aforementioned topics requires explicit knowledge of AGN. However, many properties of AGN are not well understood. This project aims to increase understanding of the emission mechanisms responsible for the radiation emitted from the jets. It was previously believed that a single synchrotron component was responsible for the emitted radiation from the radio frequencies to the optical/UV. However, recent observations of M84 with ALMA reveal that this synchrotron spectrum unexpectedly turns over at approximately 100 GHz, as can be seen in the spectral energy distributions (SEDs) for all four knots in M84’s jet. This turnover suggests the need for at least three emission components to fully explain the radiation. For this project, we are imaging a catalog of sources with ALMA data, in conjunction with multi-wavelength counterparts, to create SEDs for each knot in the jets. Thus far, in addition to M84, the SEDs of PKS 2101-490 and 3C 346 have also exhibited this turnover.

back button


Paying To Play, Playing To Live: A Digital Ethnography Of Transnational Goldfarming Between The US And Venezuela

Peter Kostriken
Dr. Sarah Fouts, American Studies

Venezuela’s severe economic downturn and political strife has placed many Venezuelans in dire financial situations, and as a result, some Venezuelans have taken to playing the OldSchool RuneScape video game and earning currency (gold farming) as a means of earning money in real life. Using digital ethnography, the interactions between the Venezuelans farming gold and the Americans purchasing it from them was studied. Ten Venezuelan gold farmers and five American gold buyers were interviewed about the economic and social interactions between the US and Venezuela in the context of OldSchool RuneScape. The information acquired from the interviews expanded on the initial assumed factors of gambling and comparative advantage, and expanded on previously unconsidered factors like addiction.With the world becoming increasingly digital, strange and unique transnational interactions like these are likely to be seen more, and as a result, it is important to study and record
these phenomena. The results of this work can be used to glean a better understanding of America’s place and identity on the internet.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Managing Mortality : An Ethnographic Examination In A Baltimore Funeral Home

Elle Kreiner
Bambi Chapin, Sociology and Anthropology

Mortuary workers deal with death and grief as part of the ordinary script of their daily lives. They must manage their personal feelings while completing the emotional labor of caring for the dead and those left behind, maintaining professionalism and empathy throughout the process. This presentation draws on ethnographic research conducted in a funeral home through participant observation, formal interviews and informal conversation with morticians, and qualitative data analysis from previous sources. It describes the personal, social, and cultural resources that these workers use to manage their daily encounters with death and the demands of providing emotional support to their friends and family. This study provides insight into how workers might manage their feelings and wellbeing in emotionally demanding professions.

back button


Effects Of Nicotine And A Common E-cigarette Flavoring Agent On Taste Bud Morphology And Taste Preference

Avantika Krishna
Weihong Lin, Biological Sciences; Dr. Tatsuya Ogura, Biological Sciences

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported more than 8 million youth are vaping e-cigarettes. The public has believed two major opinions, they pose little health risk or potentially help smokers quit. However, many E-cigarette vapors contain substances including flavorings known to be cytotoxic at certain levels. We chose to study the flavoring vanillin, popularly used in dessert and its effects on tastebuds are yet to be examined. Previous research shows that long term nicotine exposure can decrease sensitivity in sweet and bitter tastes, caused by the reduction in size and amount of taste buds. To determine the masking capability of Vanillin, a two-bottle taste test was performed. Two groups of mice were tested: wild-type (n=6) and transient receptor potential M5 (TRPM5) knockout (n=6) mice, known to lack TRPM5, making the mice insensitive to sweet, umami, and bitter tastes. Methods of toluidine blue or H and E staining were used to visualize taste bud morphology on circumvallate papillae, fungiform, and foliate papillae of the tongue. Toluidine blue can stain mast cells vital in the inflammatory response. We expect to obtain results to help understand the adverse effects of e-cigarette flavorings on one’s health and taste perception.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Consequences Of Prolonged Chronic Inflammation In The Mouse Prostate Gland

Priya Krishna
Dr. Charles Bieberich, Biological Sciences

Although chronic inflammation is a common finding in human prostate cancer cases, its role in the natural history of the disease has not been determined. We hypothesized that chronic prostatic inflammation, sustained over the course of months, would lead to premalignant and/or malignant changes in the prostate epithelium. To test this hypothesis, we employed a genetically engineered mouse model of prostate inflammation consisting of an inducible gene encoding the pro-inflammatory human cytokine interleukin 1ß (IL-1β). This model operates through the Tet-On system, in which the Tetracycline operator regulates the transcription of IL-1β via administration of Doxycycline. Through previous experimentation, it was found that nine weeks of chronic prostate inflammation resulted in proliferative inflammatory atrophy (PIA) lesions. Here, we report the consequences of inflammation sustained for up to 20 months. Histopathological analyses of prostateglands dissected from mice with, and without, chronic IL-1β-mediated inflammation revealed prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia and early adenocarcinoma exclusively in glands from mice with long-term chronic inflammation. The penetrance of each phenotype will be described. These data provide strong evidence that chronic inflammation alone can lead to both premalignant and early malignant lesions in mouse prostate glands that recapitulate key features of their human counterparts.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Anomaly Detection For Smart Home Security

Swathi Krithivasan, Sai Sree Laya Chukkapalli
Anupam Joshi, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering

The rise in popularity of Internet of Things (IoT) devices has greatly expanded the attack threat surface of cyber-physical systems such as smart homes, smart vehicles, and smart grids. IoT systems in a smart home environment have sensitive access control issues since they are deployed in a personal space and also collect that that can be highly personal in nature. As society begins to increasingly rely on these systems, it is critical to build a model that can detect anomalies that indicate the presence of an intruder or an attack. This research enhances the network based approach by not just looking at ingress and egress traffic, but also intra network traffic to detect anomalies. A Hidden Markov Model trained on observations from multiple sensors deployed in a smart home environment is also used to catch attacks that are not evident at the network layer. This two pronged approach serves to determine indicators that a smart home system is under attack on both the behavioral side and the network layer.

This work was funded, in part, by NIST and the Maryland Industrial Partnerships.

back button


Hidden Markov Models for Multi-site Daily Precipitation Generation using Satellite Precipitation Estimates

Gerson Kroiz, Jonathan Basalyga, Reetam Majumder, Uchendu Uchendu
Matthias Gobbert, Mathematics and Statistics; Nagaraj K. Neerchal, Mathematics and Statistics, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Weather ensembles are an integral part of weather forecasting, and can also be used to test the sensitivity and performance of climate models to its inputs varying across their entire feasible space. Among meteorological variables, simultaneous simulation of precipitation at multiple sites presents unique challenges since precipitation has a semi-continuous distribution with a point mass at zero and a continuous distribution on the positive real line. Most of the prevalent methods for stochastic rainfall generation model occurrences using first-order, two-state Markov processes, and the amounts on wet days as a Gamma distribution. The spatial correlation structure is maintained by using a sequence of spatially correlated but serially independent random numbers to drive the model. We explore Bayesian and Machine Learning approaches to augment the existing Multivariate Markov Chain based models. The ensemble generation is illustrated for the Potomac River Basin in the east coast of the USA over a spatial grid of 387 points, using daily precipitation data for 2001-2019 from the Integrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) dataset.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Study Of The Genetic Relationship Between Sleep And Immunity In Drosophila Melanogaster

Jennifer Kuhlman, Alanah Follis
Jeffrey Leips, Biological Sciences

This study aims to generate a deeper understanding of the relationship between genetic differences in sleep patterns and how those relate
to immune system function. The common fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, shares a significant portion of its genome with human beings and reproduces quickly, making it an excellent model organism for use in the study of human genetics. The flies used in our study have been artificially selected to sleep either for short periods of time or for longer periods of time. We hypothesize that the flies who sleep more will be better able to survive bacterial infection. All groups of flies were exposed to infection by the bacteria Enterococcus faecalis, a natural fly and human pathogen, and survival was monitored over a period of three days. Preliminary results indicate that survival may be higher among flies that were genetically predisposed to sleep for long periods of time when compared with those who slept less. This reinforces the positive correlation between sleep and immune function that has been shown in other recent studies and indicates that this relationship may have a genetic basis.

NIH grant#R03 AG061484-02.

back button


“The Process”

Ayodélé La Veau
Eve Muson, Theatre; Nicole Smith, McCourt School of Public Policy, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce

As a URA scholar, I was granted an opportunity to combine my majors in Psychology and Theatre to explore Art therapy. Art therapy is defined as “an integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship” The purpose of my original study was to gather qualitative data from public secondary schools and creative arts programs within Baltimore City, on the use of the creative process as a means to teach and explore social emotional learning. Due to COVID-19, this portion of my project has been postponed. I took this opportunity to focus on my “why”, and learn more about the creative process and its benefits. I created this video to illustrate the journey from an idea or vision to a final product. Everyone has a different relationship with this journey. Engaging in the creative process is one way to monitor this relationship. There are many nuances and challenges along the way, sometimes we are able to push past them with our own tools and other times, we might benefit from some guidance. Enjoy “The Process”.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Functional Classification Of Disease Variants For The Advancement Of Precision Medicine

Amir Labani
Maricel Kann, Biological Sciences

Functional classification of disease variants is crucial when utilizing precision medicine to improve personalized treatments of patients. Multiple studies have considered molecular links between genes. However, none of them include specific functional effects of gene variants. The purpose of this research is to manually classify variants in genes leading to diseases into gain- or loss-of-function. This will allow for an automatized prioritization of disease-causing genes using network analysis methods that model the gain and loss differently. In order to accomplish this, we will first identify a set of genes of interest that we would like to include in our study. We will then proceed to identify functional keywords that allows us to classify the type of change a variation results in. For instance, if we choose to classify the variants in the oncogene TP53, we will identify the types of variations as either conformational changes or DNA binding changes. Finally, we will classify the specific variants reported in different loci of the genes based on the identified changes in function. This will allow for differential treatments of disease variants with distinct effects, thereby improving prognosis and treatment of diseases.

back button


Gotham, How An American Typeface Shaped Barack Obama’s 2008 Hope Campaign.

Brent Lance Jr
Margret Re, Visual Arts

Gotham is a geometric sans serif typeface designed by Tobias Frere-Jones that was released in 2000. This American typeface, whose forms are rooted in the vernacular signage that litters New York City’s streetscape, played a crucial role in Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. This presentation, which examines the importance of Gotham to Obama’s presidential identity, argues that type is political. At the same time, it discusses Gotham’s development, its first use in GQ magazine, and its ability to read well in print and on-screen. Type critic Beatrice Warde and linguist Robert Bringhurst have argued that good typography must be invisible so that the reader can focus on content and not the forms that give expression to content. I claim the opposite. Gotham’s crisp, clean forms, which are an expression of Frere-Jones continuing interest in “working-class lettering,” played an essential role in visually conveying Obama’s message of hope.

back button


Development Of A Blood Brain Barrier Model For Screening Brain Tumor Nanotherapeutics

Blair Landon, Pavlos Anastasiadis1, Pranjali Kanvinde1
1University of Maryland School of Medicine
Jeffrey Winkles, University of Maryland School of Medicine; Graeme Woodworth, University of Maryland School of Medicine; Anthony Kim, University of Maryland School of Medicine

Glioblastoma is an aggressive type of adult brain cancer. One of the greatest challenges in the treatment of this disease is that few cancer drugs can pass through a structure in the brain called the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB). It has been reported that >90% of all small molecule cancer drugs and nearly 100% of larger protein-based therapeutics do not cross this barrier. Our laboratory is developing a nanoparticle-based drug delivery platform for the treatment of brain tumors. The aim of this project was to establish an in-vitro model that mimics the BBB and can be used to assess the transport of different types of nanoparticles across the BBB. Our model consists of mouse brain endothelial cells (bEND.3) and mouse astrocytes (C8D1A) plated on different sides of a 0.4 µm pore size membrane located within a transwell culture dish. Barrier strength was assessed by Trans Endothelial Electrical Resistance (TEER) measurements which stabilized two days after co-culture seeding. Immunofluorescence labelling for occludin confirmed the presence of tight junctions. Barrier function was quantified through fluorescence tracer assays using FITC-conjugated dextrans. We found that dextran movement through the cell co-culture barrier was reduced compared to control wells containing no cells.

This investigation was sponsored by NIH/NIGMS MARC U*STAR T3408663 National Research Service Award to UMBC, NIH/NCI grants R25 CA186872 (to BH) and P30 CA134274 (to KC), UMMS Foundation Nathan Schnaper Fund, and NIH/NINDS R01 NS107813 (to GW).

back button


Screen Printing a Neural Stem Cell Niche For The Investigation Of Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Michael LaScola, Chimalay Okeke, Narendra Pandala
Erin Lavik, Chemical, Biochemical, and Environmental Engineering

The neural stem cell niche is a region of the brain linked to multiple developmental disorders including autism spectrum disorder. A reproducible three dimensional model of the neural stem cell niche would allow for high throughput screening of diseased phenotypes for therapeutic intervention. However, the current approaches used to develop suitable cellular architectures are time consuming, specialized, and not compatible with neural stem cells due to the added stresses of extrusion. As an alternative, members of the Lavik Lab have developed a screen-printing method that is more sensitive, customizable, and cost-effective than other current bio-printing techniques. We first attempt to apply this screen-printing method to a hydrogel based patterned coculture of endothelial cells and neural stem cells to generate a murine model of the neural stem cell niche. This coculture is expected to exhibit vascularization and crosstalk between cell types and will give insight into the technical challenges associated with adapting this printing method to primary human cells. Current efforts work toward identifying a poly(ethylene glycol) and protein based hydrogel system that is compatible with both murine cell types. This will result in a patterned construct that exhibits expected interactions between the endothelial cells and neural stem cells.

Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund grant 2019.

back button


Role Of N-myc Downstream Regulated Genes Family In Low Oxygen Adaptation

Nguyet Le
Rachel Brewster, Biological Sciences

Oxygen deprivation decreases ATP production dramatically. In humans, the loss of ATP in organs with high metabolic rate, such as the brain and kidney, can lead to cell death. However, zebrafish embryos enter a hypometabolic state that enables them to conserve ATP and survive for up to 50 hours without oxygen. Currently, the mechanisms that promote this hypometabolic state are unknown. Our previous mass-spectrometry study revealed a significant increase of lactate concentration in zebrafish under anoxia. Lactate was previously shown to stabilize N-myc Downstream Regulated 3 (NDRG3) in hypoxic cancer cells to promote angiogenesis and cell survival. We hypothesize that lactate/NDRG signaling could also be utilized in normal cells of the zebrafish embryo to arrest ATP-demanding processes and enhance survival. To address this, I investigated the mRNA distribution and transcriptional regulation of NDRG family members. In situ hybridization revealed that NDRGs are enriched in the brain and kidney and expanded to other tissues such as the olfacoty placode and vasculature in response to anoxia. RT-qPCR revealed both up- and down-regulation of different NDRG members in response to anoxia. These studies will shed light on how NDRG family members contribute to low oxygen adaptation in normal cells of an intact organism.

This investigation was sponsored by NIH/NIGMS MARC U*STAR T3408663 National Research Service Award to UMBC.

back button


Investigating The Divergence And Role Of Chromatin Modifiers Set3 And Set4 In Budding Yeast

Se Rin Lee, Winny Sun, Yogita Jethmalani, Shandon Amos
Erin Green, Biological Sciences

The Set3 subfamily of SET domain-containing proteins in Saccharomyces cerevisiae are characterized by the presence of a PHD finger and divergent sequences within the SET domain that likely contribute to its inactivity as lysine methyltransferases (KMTs). Set3 is part of a histone deacetylase (HDAC) complex and binds to methylated H3K4 through its PHD finger to stabilize HDAC activity at chromatin to function in gene repression. Its paralog Set4 is lowly expressed under normal growth conditions and has little known biochemical activity and function. Recent work in the lab has affirmed its role as a chromatin-associated protein in regulating stress response genes during oxidative stress. By employing site directed mutagenesis to revert the divergent sequences and using in vitro methylation assays, we tested for potential catalytic lysine methyltransferase activity. Data from qPCR, ChIP, and CoIP were used to detect changes in gene expression, protein-DNA, and protein-protein interaction. Further work to uncover the biochemical pathways of these proteins is critical as their human orthologs are implicated in development, diseases such as cancer, and aging.

back button


Exploring Corruption In Post-communist States

Danylo Leshchyshyn
Laura Hussey, Political Science

This study explores the determining factors of corruption in post-communist states, including those in the former USSR, Warsaw Pact and Yugoslavia. I examined the ways in which government structure, income inequality, and income levels correlate with levels of corruption in 21 post-communist states. I conducted a mixed methods observational study, using data from organizations such as the World Bank and Transparency International, and interviewed two individuals with expert insight into corruption in one post-communist state, Ukraine. I found that more parliamentary forms of government and higher income levels correspond with lower levels of corruption, while levels of income inequality are not associated with levels of corruption. Combined with the expertise of my two interviewees, these results suggest that countries should focus on increasing average income levels in order to reduce public corruption, and transition to more parliamentary forms of governance to prevent a return to corruption. These findings could help provide direction to post-communist states behind the former Iron Curtain which are struggling with corruption, such as Ukraine.

back button


Conflict Mediation At Scale: Leveraging Big Data To Mediate Online Conflicts

Aaleyah Lewis
Susan Fussell, Cornell University

Conflicts frequently occur in online discussions, with consequences ranging from moderate to detrimental for both the individuals and online community. Reddit, the self-proclaimed front page of the internet, has over 330 million active users globally that participate in an array of discussions. Conversations among individuals with competing views often turn hostile, and Reddit moderators must intervene by banning users or censoring posts. While simple and effective, these approaches fail to address the problem until it is too late. This project aims to detect and mediate online conflicts between Reddit users early on by developing a data-driven application. The project is comprised of three components: detection, intervention, and validation. We used natural language processing (NLP) to sense nuances in the language that are indicative of impending conflict by looking at previous posts and analyzing the linguistic cues. We then labeled the comments in the discussion with running averages and mapped the trajectories of the discussion. When impending conflicts are detected, we decisively facilitated intervention through the development of a politeness language generation model to recommend users with less offensive language to use during the discussion.

This research was supported by Cornell University’s Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program, a NSF supported program under Grant No. 06-552.

back button


Sweeps And Throws

Benjamin Lewis, Anthony Alessandrini, Collin Meredith, Alex Leger, Vlad Latushko
Eric Jordan, Visual Arts

Sweeps and Throws is a 2D fighting game created for the capstone games project. The idea for the game comes from how complicated traditional fighting games are, Sweeps and Throws simplifies mechanics so new players can play with intention rather than pressing buttons randomly when they don’t know how to control a character. There are 2 basic methods of attack you can only sweep or throw, throws cannot be blocked and sweeps can. The game has more depth and mechanics beyond that so players can have competitive games while learning mechanics of other fighting games. Animation is very important in this project, since it is sprite based, every frame of every move must be drawn by hand and animated. Artists also have the responsibility to create stages (backgrounds), character designs, and effects. Coders also have plenty of challenges with this project due to the nature of fighting games, unlike other 2D games, hit-boxes change constantly and players can be in many different states. The objective of the game is simply to either reduce your opponent’s life bar to zero or have more life when the clock runs out.

back button


Generating An Engineered Exosome Model For Treating Heart Failure

Phillip Long, Charles Steenbergen1, Barbara Roman1, Moe Habeeb1, Pawandeep Kaur1, Roald Teuben2
1Pathology, Johns Hopkins University, 2Medicine, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Samarjit Das, Pathology, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Heart Failure (HF) is a contributing factor in 1 out of 8 deaths in the U.S. HF is a condition that occurs when the heart cannot pump blood throughout the body. Stem-cells, including human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs), were explored as a potential therapy for myocardial regeneration. hiPSC-therapy holds great potential, but has had limited success. Recent studies highlight hiPSCs secreting exosomes (hiPSC-exo) that contain bio-active compounds offering cardioprotective properties. However, hiPSC-exo can carry miRNAs possibly upregulated with HF in the heart. We thus hypothesize that downregulating miRNA’s such as: hsa-miR-206, hsa-miR-199a-3p, hsa-miR-140-3p, and hsa-let-7c-5p using an engineered hiPSC-exo displays higher protection from HF.

Exosomes were isolated from hiPSC media using differential centrifugation, including two steps of ultracentrifugations at 100,000g, 4℃ for 1hr. Quality and concentration were analyzed using nanotracking analysis (Zetaview). Next, four double-stranded transcripts (anti-miRs, 5nmole each) were electroporated with 109 exo in 100uL total volume at 500V with 80ms pulse rate to generate our engineered hiPSC-exo. Treatment of engineered exosomes showed higher cardiomyocyte function from 48-hour doxorubicin stress compared to untreated cardiomyocytes using XTT assay.

Engineered hiPSC-exo holds promise as an exciting, and novel therapeutic for treating HF.

TEDCO, NIH.

back button


Building Suburbia: An Analysis Of The Planned Community Of Columbia

Chandler Louden
Sarah Chard, Sociology and Anthropology

Columbia, Maryland was founded in 1968 by James Rouse and the Rouse Corporation, as a balanced, planned community that respected the land, encouraged racial integration, and made a profit. In the subsequent 52 years, this region has experienced massive population growth and substantial commercial development. At the same time, Columbia’s commitment to racial integration has been questioned and village centers have experienced uneven investment. This research employs an anthropological lens, particularly theories of the anthropology of space and place and political anthropology to examine contemporary understandings of the current and future role of the built environment in daily life. This includes how these beliefs have shifted over the past 50 years. Data was collected through qualitative interviews with a sample (N=8) of government officials, developers, and residents that explored perceptions of Columbia’s built environment, goals for this region, how conflicting views are and are not addressed in the development of new projects. A thematic analysis of online, public discussions of development in Columbia also was conducted. The findings address gaps in the literature regarding the current challenges facing planned communities, how understandings of place do and don’t shift over time, and how stakeholders negotiate conflicting beliefs about place.

This work was funded, in part, by UMBC McNair Scholars Summer Research Institute

back button


Enhancing And Visualizing Human Disease Networks To Reduce Healthcare Cost

Karan Luthria
Maricel Kann, Biological Sciences

As drug discovery costs continue to rapidly rise (>$2.5 billion), there is a higher emphasis on drug repurposing, or the reuse of existing drugs to treat various diseases. Current models used to identify potential drug repurposing targets link diseases are based on shared genetic variants. However, genes and gene products (i.e., proteins) commonly interact with other molecules that may contribute to different diseases. In the present investigation, we combined gene-disease associated data with protein interaction networks to develop an extensive human disease-disease interaction network (HDDN) that can identify similarities between diseases at a complex molecular level. After compiling over 80,000 disease-variant associations from various manually curated databases, we utilize a natural language processing model to remove disease redundancies. Integrating this unique clustering approach with protein association data from the STRING Database, we developed an interactive tool to visualize and study the resulting HDDN. Upon comparing our HDDN with current disease networks, we found 147% more molecular links between phenotypes. By significantly enhancing existing disease network graphs, this HDDN provides an essential view on biological processes by revealing molecular links that are critical for effective hypothesis generation of drug repurposing targets and reducing healthcare costs.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Why Do We Like Rappers Cuckolding And Having Sex With Lesbians?

Kenneth M’Bale
Rebecca Adelman, Media and Communication Studies

In rap there is a curious trend of rappers rapping about cuckolding the listeners’ girlfriend and having sex with non-heterosexual women.This project sought to explore why these reoccuring lyrics resonate with audiences. Rap may have originated from a black community, but it is the most global genre of music. Thus, it has to be seen as a cultural force among all listeners outside of that black community. With this understanding, the project explored where the listening obsession for cuckolding and sex with non-heterosexual women originates. The project focused on the listening audience, as many rappers are performing a fantasy for the listeners, and do not live nor believe the lyrics that they write. This included performances from confirmed straight female rappers like Cardi B or Nicki Minaj, and rappers like Kendrick Lamar or Kanye West. The project explored the nature of black hypersexuality, the expectations of what a rapper must look and be like, the homophobia rampant in mainstream rap, the objectification of women, and objectification of non-normative sexuality as a whole. The project concluded that this cuckolding is a form of sexual violence from one man to another. Further, the objectification of non-heterosexual women renders them sub-human.

back button


Mixed Methods Analysis Regarding Feminist Social Movement In The United States

Genevieve Madden
Ian Anson, Political Science

This research aimed to determine how United States citizens are framing interest in their feminism. Over the course of U.S. history, several prominent feminist social movements have emerged. Recently a lot of media regarding feminism is circulating; the current media environment is a battleground of intense framing efforts, and feminist movements have been an important source of debate. Quantitative and qualitative methods are used to analyze data, including text from photographs of feminist events from the 1900s to the 1980s, as well as interviews with activists. The text is used to look at the language surrounding feminists issues, and how these issues are framed by the general public. Interviews are used to determine how these issues are framed by authorities on politics and feminism in America. Preliminary results showed that the language used reflects that feminist activist populations and issues have become more intersectional. The goals of feminism have broadened to address this by shifting from merely political advancements to economic and societal advancements as well. These initial findings showed a lack of organization of activism over time. This knowledge may be used to address how women advocate for their unique needs and concerns in our democratic system.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Improving Student Performance Of Choreography Using The Elements Of Dance

Katlin Magruther
Franki Graham, Dance

Performance plays a key role in dance education, as students engaging in dance courses are often required to learn and perform choreography to demonstrate mastery of the skills they’ve put so much effort into. By understanding how the elements of dance contribute to a performance a student can further their artistic abilities within the choreography to bring more than a series of steps to a stage, but a story or an emotion to be shared with the viewers. Incorporating the elements of dance into the students’ training can help achieve a higher level of quality and thinking for dance performance. This study focused on teaching choreography emphasizing body, energy, space, time, also known as BEST, a method of categorizing the elements of dance. Students were graded using the BEST Performance Rubric that was based on the elements of dance principles in alignment with the Maryland State Fine Arts Standards for Dance. Of the twelve students studied, 83 percent of the students are targeted to increase scores by 67 percent, utilizing the BEST Performance Rubric. Following the initial assessment, activities and exercises based on body, space, time, and energy were utilized to improve student performance and execution of choreography.

back button


Discovery of metastatic pathway proteomics in osteosarcoma

Sahar Mahate, Riva Malick, Janvi Madhiwala
Kathy Gabrielson, Johns Hopkins; Xin Guo, Johns Hopkins

Osteosarcoma is a rare cancer that occurs primarily in children and young adults, in which about 15-20% of patients at the time of diagnosis already have pulmonary tumor metastasis to the lungs. The survival rate after metastasis is about 30% for patients. Anthracycline doxorubicin is a common and largely effective treatment used for osteosarcoma, a pediatric cancer associated with high rates of pulmonary metastasis. Immunocompetent rat models were used for in vivo study of primary osteosarcoma tumors and pulmonary metastases in early stages of the cancer. The collected primary tumors and metastatic tumor samples were frozen and homogenized for protein analysis. To identify commonly upregulated pathways in the tumor metastases, DIA/SWATH-MS proteomics and Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA) were used to analyze the rat proteomic datasets. The GP6 pathway (which is associated with platelet formation) was found to be upregulated in the pulmonary metastatic tumors. Principal Component Analysis (PCA) was then used to compare the molecular components of the primary tumor to the metastases. It was found that primary tumors undergo very distinct molecular changes as they metastasize from the tibia to the lungs. These findings are essential to understanding what proteins can be inhibited in order to prevent metastasis.

back button


Textron Pulse Detector/Descriptor

Hamza Mahmood, Griffin Bonner, Casey Borror, Jesse Welborn, Cole Shackelford
E.F. Charles LaBerge, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering; Damon Bradley, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering

Digital processing of high-speed radio frequency signals requires the translation of real-time analog signals to a demodulated digital description. Accurate low-latency digital summary of analog pulses is essential in digital communications, radar and sonar processing, and many other applications. The purpose of our project was to develop a digital system for Textron Systems to describe analog modulation on pulse signals in a format that facilitates further processing, validation, and analysis. Our system generated a digital signal descriptor by merging a digital implementation of an analog filtering technique (C. Rader 1983) with modern digital synthesis methods. The system was implemented with RTL HDL code, high-level synthesis tools, and existing IP on a modern Xilinx system on a chip (SoC). We demonstrated the effectiveness of parallel signal processing in the FPGA fabric managed by control and configuration software in dedicated ARM cores. We used professional engineering development tools to model, synthesize, and simulate the design during development, and to verify adherence to provided technical specifications.

This work was funded, in part, by Textron Systems.

back button


Examination of Behavioral And Physiological Effects Of E-liquid Flavoring and Vapor On Immune Response In Tongue Of Mice

Olufolake Majekodunmi
Weihong Lin, Biological Sciences

Electronic nicotine delivery systems, also known as e-cigarettes were introduced in 2003, since then their use has exponentially increased. These flavors promote the use of e-cigarettes by evoking pleasant senses and masking aversive feelings associated with nicotine intake. To investigate the taste of e-cigarette flavors and their masking ability on nicotine-containing fluid, a two-bottle taste test was performed with the flavoring agent, vanillin. Two groups of mice were tested: wild-type and Transient Receptor Potential M5 Knockout (TRPM5-KO) mice. TRPM5-KO mice lacked TRPM5-expressing taste receptor cells resulting in insensitivity to sweet, umami, and bitter tastes. In order to explore the immune response of taste receptor cells, a method was performed. Mice were exposed to vanillin e-liquid with nicotine solution, or air for 4 weeks. Mice were then fixed and tissue sections of the circumvallate papillae, fungiform, and foliate papillae of the tongue were collected. Mast cells are tissue cells that are involved with inflammatory responses. These are responsive to tissue damage, were stained with toluidine blue dye, and degranulated mast cell percentage will be examined. Our results indicate a potential method in examining the effects of vanillin e-liquid exposure in relation to taste and oral health.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


From B.S. To B.A: Psychosocial Factors Influencing Changes In STEM Majors Among Underrepresented Minority Students

Dinita Mani
Mariano R. Sto. Domingo, Psychology

Prior studies have examined the lack of representation of racial/ethnic minorities in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Recently, national data indicated an increase of people from underrepresented backgrounds being interested in areas of STEM. Yet, only about 13 percent and 31 percent of bachelor degrees in science were awarded to African and Latina/o, and Asian Americans, respectively. Research also found that students from underrepresented backgrounds and of low socioeconomic status (SES), had lower academic self-efficacy and performance than students of single STEM-minority status. However, there is a scarcity of research on potential demographic and psychosocial factors, such as environment and socioeconomic status, influencing minorities to shift from a Bachelor of Science (BS) to a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree within STEM. This study will examine the changes in the types of degrees throughout a student’s college career. Quantitative and descriptive data from students who were part of the Meyerhoff Scholars program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County from 2012 to 2016 will be coded and analyzed.

back button


Bilateral Perceptions Between Muslims And Koreans: Maintaining Religious Identity And Inclusion In Korea

Tasneem Mansour
Kyung-Eun Yoon, Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Intercultural Communication

The first presence of a Muslim community in Korea was during the Korean War in the 1950’s (Baker, 2006). Today, the Korean Wave phenomenon draws fascination towards Korean culture, which results in an influx of people migrating from all of the world including the Muslim population. Due to the Muslim population’s status as a minority in Korea and society’s limited exposure to Muslim people, there is still unfamiliarity towards their religious restrictions and practices. This study investigates Koreans’ perceptions about Muslims living in Korea and their religious practices. It also examines Muslims’ perceptions about maintaining their religious identities while living in Korea. It defines the differences between Western and Korean contexts of Islamophobia and how both contexts affect those perceptions. This study also distinguishes between the experiences of the immigrant Muslims to Korea and the Native Korean Muslims. To answer the research questions, this study analyzes interviews published on YouTube by five Native Korean Muslims and five immigrant Muslims to Korea, and prior studies that have surveyed and interviewed Muslims living in Korea. This study hopes to broaden the perspectives about the inclusion initiatives implemented around the world, including Korea.

back button


Gender And Race Influence The Association Of Anxiety With Psychosocial Variables

Phoebe Mariano, Vivian Jiang, Ruth Chapman, Jessica Strauss, Leah Fournier
Raimi Quiton, Psychology

Anxiety afflicts individuals across demographic groups, but it is unclear how this relationship is influenced by other psychosocial variables. It was hypothesized that the association between anxiety and psychosocial measures would vary based on gender and race. Participants (N=68, 36 females, 28 White, and 13 AA) completed a demographic questionnaire and surveys to measure anxiety, depression, mood, emotion regulation, and social support. Correlation analyses were run among these measures. Anxiety was significantly correlated with depression (rD=.708, p<0.01), mood (rP=-.548, p<0.01), and emotion regulation (rE=.444, p<0.01) across the group. Anxiety was also significantly negatively correlated with perceived family (rM=-.475, p<0.01) and friend (rN= -.604, p<0.01) social support in women, but only with friend social support in men (rN=-.402). Anxiety was significantly negatively correlated with family and friend social support (rM=-.403, p<0.05; rN = -.697, p<0.01) in White participants, but in African American participants only family social support (rM=-.710, p<0.01) was associated with anxiety. These results revealed that lower social support is associated with higher anxiety, with differentials found based on gender and race. This suggests that social support may be an important factor that can buffer anxiety. Additional research is needed to investigate factors that potentially mediate these relationships.

back button


The Trend Of The Period: How Design And Inquiry Can Support Learning

Hayat Mawi
Jonathan Singer, Education

In chemistry, topics like periodicity and chemical bonding are abstract topics students struggle to grasp. By designing an experiment that investigated what happens to reactivity as one descends a group on the periodic table, students were able to extract the general periodicity trends. A pre-test indicated the baseline student knowledge on the topics of periodicity and bonding. Students then designed an experiment testing the reactivity of elements in various groups to extract the general periodicity trends. After reviewing periodicity and bonding, students were then tested on their understanding of the topics serving as the final data point. Qualitative data in the form of a survey was also collected to serve as a reflective piece for students to further understand how inquiry and design supported learning. The data collected followed the learning of 10 Middle Years Program (MYP) Chemistry students. The design of experiments not only brought the concepts of electronegativity to life, but it also enriched the students’ critical thinking skills through the scientific process.

back button


Asian American Children’s Effortful Control Mediates Maternal Positive Expressivity And Child Socioemotional Outcomes

Robert Maxwell
Charissa Cheah, Psychology

Children’s social competence is one of the most salient predictors of developmental outcomes. Research suggests that parents’ positive expressivity towards their children (e.g., close attention, sensitivity to children’s needs) promotes children’s socioemotional outcomes, and this association is proposed to be mediated by children’s effortful control in European American samples. Whether these associations generalize to Asian-American children remains unclear.

Forty Chinese immigrant mothers (Mage = 36.90 years) and their preschool-age children (Mage = 4.46, 37% boys) participated. Maternal sensitivity and proximity/attention to their children during a 15-minute task were coded. Children’s effortful control was measured using the Puzzle Box task. Children’s teachers reported on children’s aggression and impulse control at school.

Mediation analysis revealed that maternal sensitivity and children’s effortful control were negatively associated with children’s instrumental aggression, but mediation was not supported. Also, children’s effortful control significantly mediated between maternal proximity and children’s impulse control.

Findings indicate that Asian-American mothers’ positive expressivity was directly associated with children’s instrumental aggression and may indirectly promote children’s impulse control through their effortful control abilities. These findings indicate similar mechanisms in Asian-American and European-American families where positive parenting behavior promotes children’s socioemotional outcomes through their effortful control and can inform future interventions.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Designing A Modular, Battery-Powered Vehicle Stopped by An Iodine Clock Reaction

Samantha Maygers, Keegan Symon
Neha Raikar, Chemical, Biochemical, and Environmental Engineering

The Chemical Energy Car is designed for the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Competition. The car must carry a water load between 0 and 500 mL, as well as start and stop via chemical reactions without any physical intervention. The travel distance is randomly assigned on competition day and scores are based on how close the car stops to the finish line. Our vehicle design is powered by a system of battery cells arranged in series. Each cell consists of a magnesium alloy anode and a carbon cathode, each divided by a membrane and doused in a potassium chloride electrolyte. A voltage regulator was implemented to stabilize the battery’s output. The stopping mechanism used is a combination of a potassium iodide and starch chemical reaction that changes from clear to near-black and a programmed Arduino system. A linear regression model of dilution versus color change time was used to calibrate stopping of the car. Color change is detected by the photoresistor on the Arduino, which turns off the motor using a relay module. Bench scale testing shows an ability to generate an average of 0.7A to move the car and stop the car in the required 2 minute time frame.

This work was funded by the Chemical, Biochemical, and Environmental Engineering Department at UMBC.

back button


Role Of N-myc Downstream Regulated Gene 3 (NDRG3) In Cellular Arrest Under Anoxia

Darius McKoy, Timothy Hufford, Jong Park, Afia Osei-Ntansah, Nguyet Le
Rachel Brewster, Biological Sciences

Some organisms such as zebrafish have adaptive mechanisms to survive low oxygen by arresting development. Mediators of this response may function as oxygen sensors that orchestrate the arrest of ATP-demanding processes. Identification of such mediators may lead to novel therapeutic approaches for the treatment or prevention of hypoxic injury. Literature reporting on cancer cells revealed that N-myc Downstream Regulated Gene 3 (NGRG3) promotes cellular adaptation to hypoxia. Ongoing research aims to test the role of NDRGs in physiological adaptation to anoxia (zero oxygen) using zebrafish embryos. The zebrafish genome encodes six NDRGs that have overlapping expression during early development, which later becomes tissue-specific expression. My research project aims to understand the role of NDRG3, which based on its overlapping mRNA distribution and up-regulation in NDRG1a mutants, is likely to be functionally redundant with NDRG1a. I report on my analysis of NDRG3 protein distribution and subcellular localization under normoxia and anoxia using immunolabeling. As observed with NDRG1a, I predict that the subcellular distribution of NDRG3 protein will change in response to anoxia, indicative of its activation. Preliminary data confirms the expression of NDRG3 protein in the embryonic kidney and reveals a potential change in its subcellular distribution following exposure to anoxia.

This investigation was sponsored by NIH/NIGMS MARC U*STAR T3408663 National Research Service Award to UMBC.

back button


“Begin Purging State Dept. Of Homosexuals”: The Lavender Scare And The LGBT Community During The Cold War

Rosie McNeely
Meredith Oyen, History

The Lavender Scare was a little-known episode in LGBTQ history in which thousands of gay men and women employed by the federal government in the 1950s lost their jobs due to their sexuality. From this purge, the gay rights movement emerged to fight vigorously for LGBTQ individuals’ ability to work, regardless of their sexual orientation. By examining both government documents and the manuscripts of those involved in the budding gay rights movement, I evaluate how the Lavender Scare came into play and the reverberating effects on the LGBTQ community in the 1950s and 1960s. The Lavender Scare blossomed out of the anti-communist and homophobic paranoia of the McCarthy era and resulted in the termination of thousands of homosexual government employees and major panic in the LGBT community due to the loss of people’s sense of security, but the aftermath gave way to unity in the community and helped lay the foundation for equal LGBT rights in the United States. This research is increasingly relevant at a time when the Supreme Court is deciding a case on whether employees can be discriminated against based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Food Web Dynamics: How Urbanization Of Riparian Systems Affects Prey Availability in Aquatic And Terrestrial Systems

Kelly McVicker, Aaron Curry1, Monica2
1Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, 2Argueta
Chris Hawn, Geography and Environmental Systems

As the world becomes more urbanized over time, natural processes are changed, one being the introduction of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) into the ecosystem. There is evidence to suggest that an effect might be the alteration of food web dynamics; when riparian spiders, especially those of the genus Tetragnatha, consume emerging aquatic insects, PPCPs move into terrestrial systems. To observe the effect on urbanization on prey availability, spiders were collected, and sticky traps were set out for insects along the Gwynns Falls watershed along a gradient from urban to rural. The data suggest that there are more prey available to spiders in urban riparian systems than in rural riparian systems, and that the prey available in urban riparian systems is a higher proportion of aquatic species than terrestrial species. This is supported by the fact that the spiders in urban areas were significantly longer from cephalothorax to abdomen. Because the spiders were not significantly larger in mass, the data implies that the prey available in urban areas, though more abundant, are smaller. Thus, contamination in urban streams will have a higher impact on tetragnathids and on urban terrestrial systems.

This work was funded, in part, by the Baltimore Ecosystem Study.

back button


Mass Incarceration And The Differential Treatment In Sentencing Practices

Sosena Megabiaw
Kathy Bryan, American Studies

This study examines differential treatment in sentencing practices that contribute to the issue of mass incarceration. I took a case study approach, examining two specific court cases in detail. The 13th amendment states that “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” In recent years, a number of studies have identified what are called the patterns of differential treatment amounting to “New Jim Crow laws” that are in conflict with the 13th amendment. This study examines specific cases to see how practices such as sentencing guidelines are utilized and assess whether they are in conflict with the 13th amendment. I used public court records and interviews with Jon Van Hoven, a criminal defense attorney familiar with policing and court practices in drug-related cases in Baltimore, to examine two cases which are examples of what is known as “fake stash house” cases that target African American communities and result in harsh sentencing for African Americans.

back button


Laser Welding And Analysis Of Copper Alloy

Dexter Merritt, Hao Wen1, Congyuan Zeng1
1Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering. Louisiana State University
Shengmin Guo, Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering. Louisiana State University

In this research project, our group used a high-power ytterbium fiber laser to safely weld together copper alloy samples on a scale of millimeters. The overall goal of this project was to weld together copper additively manufactured samples (small sized samples) given to our laboratory by NASA and conventional copper alloy pieces. This was done so our samples would be large enough to be tested with our laboratory’s tensile testing machine and fatigue bending machine. Such mechanical testing will give us information about the strength of the additively manufactured copper samples from NASA. While welding these alloys there were many factors that affected the quality and health of our samples. We had to consider the power the laser used, the distance of the sample from the laser, the wobble of the laser head, shielding gas, and more. We experimented with all these parameters in order to get a weld that was acceptable to test. After the welding process we analyzed our results using a scanning electron microscope. In the future our goal is to complete the mechanical testing on the additively manufactured copper materials and to learn more about their mechanical properties.

Supported by the National Science Foundation through cooperative agreement OIA-1541079 and the Louisiana Board of Regents.

back button


Authorship And Animation

Olivia Mills
Evan Tedlock, Visual Arts

Directing your own animated short film has never been easier than in the information age, where advancements in digital technology and media-based communication transform production methods. An increasing amount of animators and artists, at both the amateur and professional levels, encourage the process of independent filmmaking as a vein of deeper personal expression, beyond what commercialized work can offer. While animated productions are often collaborative efforts, animators can also mirror the tendencies of an author; to share an individual voice, story, experience, or world view. I aim to demystify these new production methods and possibilities through the production of my own animated film, including designing characters, writing a script, timing a storyboard to a soundtrack, and rendering drawings as moving subjects. This process is a marathon in nature, requiring patience and multitasking with the unique and time-consuming challenges animation presents. My hope is that by my example, you will be inspired to overcome any technical challenges or skill barriers of animation to value the cathartic, empowering experience of authoring your own animated story.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Remote Sensing Of Particle Pollution Over Baltimore

Manuel Miranda
University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology

Elastic light detection and ranging (lidar) measurements allows to monitor long-range transport of particulates, such as dust and smoke, that impact local and regional air quality. Lidar measurements enhance current knowledge and understanding on how vertical layering and long range transport of natural and anthropogenic particle pollution may alter the relationship between column aerosol optical depth and surface particle pollution concentrations. The frequency and impact of transport of Canadian and Alaskan wildfire smoke to the Mid-Atlantic is analysed by galvanizing ground based air quality monitors, lidar and satellite remote sensing retrievals to yield of a three dimensional assessment of particle pollution over the Baltimore Washington metropolitan area.

NOAA CESSRST.

back button


Positive Mood Mediates The Association Between Stigma And Sickle Cell Pain

Kimberly Mitchell, Brianna Georges
Shawn Bediako, Psychology

Stigma is associated with sickle cell disease (SCD) pain; however, few studies have investigated mechanisms that might explain this relationship. We examined positive and negative mood as mediators of the association between stigma and SCD pain and compared their relative strength. Data were collected from 75 adults living with SCD who completed the Measure of Sickle Cell Stigma (MoSCS), a brief mood checklist, and an index of SCD pain severity. A serial multiple mediator model was evaluated with the PROCESS macro for SPSS 26. We found that even after adjusting for relevant covariates (sex, cohort, and SCD phenotype), the total effect of stigma on pain was significant (b = 2.29, p < .001). The full model, which included positive mood, negative mood, and the covariates, explained nearly 42 percent of the variance in SCD pain compared to 34 percent in the adjusted model without mediators. Further evaluation suggested that only the indirect path through positive mood accounted for the influence of stigma on SCD pain. These results challenge our thinking about the potential link between stigma and mood, suggesting that future research might seek to distinguish the clinical impact of positive mood versus negative mood in this patient population.

by grant K07HL108742 awarded to Shawn M. Bediako by the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

back button


Identification Of Reproductive Endosymbiont Bacteria In Oklahoma Harvestmen

Harper Montgomery
Mercedes Burns, Biological Sciences

Reproductive endosymbionts such as Cardinium, Wolbachia, Rickettsia, and Rickettsiella spp. have been found in many arthropods, including harvestmen (Opiliones, Arachnida). These bacteria have been hypothesized to impact reproduction and sex biases in infected populations. However, the exact effects and localization of this bacteria in host organisms is not yet known. Oklahoma harvestmen populations of Leiobunum vittatum and Leiobunum relictum have exhibited female-biased sex ratios in the past, and therefore specimens from these populations were selected for endosymbiont screening. DNA was extracted from a variety of tissues, and used for next-generation microbiome sequencing. Sequence data were then compiled to provide relative bacterial proportions, as well as identification of which bacterial strains were present in each organism. We identified endosymbiont presence in multiple species, including coinfections, but further investigation into rates of infection over time is needed. Screening to find the prevalence of endosymbionts in these populations will help to identify possible sex biases related to infection rates and provide better understanding of how sex biases form and evolve over time.

back button


Which School Readiness Skills Do Latinx Parents Value And How Do They Think These Skills Are Learned?

Tyler Moore, Megan Rowan, Brittany Gay, Amber Brock
Susan Sonnenschein, Psychology

Over 25% of US school children come from immigrant families of whom 59% are Latinx. Many Latinx children, on average, struggle with school success but we know relatively little about what their parents view as important for such success. Immigrant Latinx parents may have culturally specific educational knowledge and values, which may not apply to formal schooling in the US. Although the amount of research on Latinx immigrant families is increasing, most focuses on Mexican Americans and has not considered other subgroups. This study documented 1) the skills that two Latinx groups of immigrant preschool parents (Dominican n=19; Salvadoran n=21) believe are important for school readiness and 2) the role they play in developing those skills. Regardless of country of origin, parents most frequently reported that social skills (88%) and language and literacy skills (83%) were key school readiness skills. Significantly fewer parents emphasized mathematics (59%) or physical wellbeing (39%). Salvadoran parents reported more active parental involvement in teaching skills and more parent responsibility compared to Dominican parents. This research can inform preschool teachers of Latinx children what gaps to address in school. Future research should consider the nature of parent/child interactions when engaging in school readiness activities.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Charge Transfer From Semiconductor Nanorods

Rachel Morin
Matthew Pelton, Physics

Semiconductor nanocrystals, called quantum dots (QDs), have fluorescence properties that can be used to “detect” molecules on their surface. Fluorescence is observed when a laser pulse excites the electrons in a QD. When the electrons come down from their excited state, they can either go back to where they started in the QD (thereby emitting a photon) or go to an “acceptor” molecule adsorbed to its surface. The time that the electron is in the excited state is decreased as more molecules are adsorbed to the surface of
the QD. Previously, we have been able to detect the number of acceptor viologen molecules on the surface of spherical QDs by measuring this excited-state lifetime. Our current research is now focusing on nanorods that have a shell between their core, where electrons are excited, and their surface. Since the shell thickness varies over the surface of the nanorod, acceptor molecules at different positions will also give different excited state lifetimes. By measuring many nanorods with one acceptor molecule each, we can find the resulting distribution of excited-state lifetimes. In the long run, we will use this technique to “watch” single molecules adsorb onto and desorb from QDs in real time.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


MC Hammerhead: A Kinetic Sculpture Redesign Project

John Motavalli, Tristan King, Susanna Abler
Steven McAlpine, Individualized Study

UMBC kinetic sculpture team members will present an overview of their redesign efforts during the Fall semester of 2019: adding water propulsion, creating a more durable sharkskin out of recycled materials, and transforming pontoons into functional artwork. These design efforts were part of an interdisciplinary course, INDS 430 Kinetic Sculpture Project, which drew upon methods from sustainable design, project management, and biomimicry to build a new 20 foot shark sculpture named “MC Hammerhead.”

This work was funded, in part, by the Alex Brown Center for Entrepreneurship URA Award.

back button


The Relation Between Parenting And Pain Perception In Children

Lindsey Mountcastle, Angel Munzo-Osorio
Lynnda Dahlquist, Psychology

The present study aimed to explore four types of parenting behaviors (protect, minimize, monitor and distract) and their relation to children’s pain. Parenting behaviors impact children’s functioning in all aspects of life, including the realm of pain. Previous studies have emphasized a harmful relationship between both protective and minimizing parental behaviors on children’s coping, complaining, and functioning primarily within a context of chronic pain. The present study focuses on acute (short term) pain. A sample of 88 healthy participants, ages 6-13, completed an uncomfortably cold-water hand immersion for an uninformed maximum of three minutes. Child pain tolerance, intensity, and unpleasantness, along with child anticipatory anxiety were assessed. Three 100mm visual analogue scales were used to measure pain intensity and pain unpleasantness (anchored “none” to “worst imaginable”) and child anxiety (anchored “none” to “extremely anxious”). Pain tolerance was measured by the duration participants kept their hand in the cold water. Parents completed the Adult Responses to Children’s Symptoms (ARCS) measure. Results showed that parenting was not significantly related to pain intensity, tolerance, or unpleasantness; however, parental minimizing was negatively correlated with anxiety (r = -.29, p < .01). The potential role of parent-child interactions in children’s pain experience will be discussed.

back button


Spatial Tracking Of An Infectious Disease Outbreak In Nigeria Using Optimal Interpolation

Maya Mueller
Bedrich Sousedik, Mathematics and Statistics; Ashok Krishnamurthy, Mount Royal University

Epidemic forecasts often require the compilation of highly stochastic, error-prone data. For tracking epidemics in real-time, there must be reliable predictions of the spatial-temporal spread in a critical window of time in order to contain an outbreak. In my research, I apply the data assimilation method, Optimal Interpolation, to track the spread of an SEIRD (Susceptible-Exposed-Infected-Recovered-Dead) model, a compartmental model of an airborne infectious disease. The model incorporates synthetic disease incidence data for three cities in Nigeria (Abuja, Gombe, and Makurdi). Via the R programming language, Optimal Interpolation assimilates the incoming data from the SEIRD epidemic model to produce predictions of the spread in weekly increments. The accuracy of the predictive model is then compared to the original, with both side-by-side forecast images comparisons and time-series plots.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Establishing Food Inequality In Baltimore City: The Influence Of Race And Poverty On Food Insecurity

Nihira Mugamba
Carolyn Forestiere, Political Science

Food insecurity has become a major problem for Baltimore and the city’s prospects for economic development. In this research, a case study will be conducted of the city to examine how race and poverty contribute to high levels of food insecurity in Baltimore City. This case study will a) utilize data from Baltimore City Health Department’s mapping of the food environment, as well as John Hopkins Center for a Livable Future data on the Maryland food system map, to better understand how race and poverty impact food insecurity; b) study proposed and existing policies at the local and state levels that have attempted to alleviate the food crisis in Baltimore using government websites; and c) conduct interviews with policy makers and leaders in local food justice organizations such as the Black Church Food Insecurity Network, and the Black Yield Institute to better understand if current solutions are alleviating this important problem with appropriate IRB approval. This is an ongoing research study; results will be shared upon completion of the project in April.

back button


One Bard Band

Wyatt Mumford, Alex Donaldson, Brandon Liu, Gavin Prather, Isaac Thompson
Eric Jordan, Visual Arts

One Bard Band is a 2D rhythm game developed in the Unity game engine. The player controls a bard exploring an overworld, fighting enemies in rhythm-based combat scenes. The bard must defeat enemies by repeating rhythmic patterns that they create. As the player progresses, they obtain more instruments with unique control schemes. Each new instrument allows the player to defeat new types of enemies while increasing the complexity of the battle system. This game showcases the skills of the team made up of a combination of computer science and visual arts majors.

back button


The Political Misinformation Element Of Digital Asymmetric Warfare

Quinlan Murphy
Brigid Starkey, Political Science

Cyberwarfare represents an existential threat to the United States. In all of its elements, it constitutes a troubling gray area in national security defense. It appears to be a remarkably potent tool for countering American military superiority. The openness and interconnectivity of contemporary globalization leaves the United States vulnerable to attacks on its economic and political integrity. This research focuses on a particular aspect of the overall cyber challenge: subversive information warfare. Elections matter in a democracy and the question of whether external states are interfering with ours is the focus of this research. It is grounded in the political communication subfield of political science. The 2018 U.S. Congressional election provides the sample event. Using social media analytics and hashtag tracking, an approach popularized after the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, the weaponization of political messaging is analyzed. Results point to troubling trends in terms of malicious intent by specific outside actors and their partners inside the American political sphere.

back button


Improving Computed Tomography Use For Additively Manufactured Metals

Susan Muzzey, Joao Santos
Marc Zupan, Mechanical Engineering; Michael Duffy, Mechanical Engineering, UMBC

Additive Manufacturing (AM) is a technique for creating three-dimensional objects out of plastic or metal, where layers of material are built upon previous layers. This technique is useful for creating items on-site as they are needed. However, AM materials can have critical issues like internal voids/defects and differing microstructures between the material’s top and bottom layers. Computed Tomography (CT) can be used to create models that look inside objects and evaluate the percent porosity and the void/defect’s shapes in AM materials. In this study, AM build specifications are linked to the defect formation, and then related to the object’s mechanical response. The quantity and type of voids/defects play a significant role in the materials’ mechanical properties. To accurately measure the voids/defects, the CT settings must be set to a high enough precision to create beneficial images within data size and time constraints. The volumetric pixel (voxel) size is a crucial setting because if the voxels are too large, the images are too pixelated to analyze. Additionally, selecting a good filter helps remove extraneous noise in the data. In this study, we report optimum parameters to achieve reasonable imaging times and capture key defect attributes.

back button


Investigating The Role Of Surface Modifications In Complement Mediated Hypersensitivity Reactions

Nidhi Naik, Nuzhat Maisha
Erin Lavik, Chemical, Biochemical, and Environmental Engineering

According to the Center of Disease Control, trauma is the leading cause of death in individuals between the ages of 1 to 44, with excessive blood loss being the predominant cause. This project aims to reduce the internal bleeding in trauma patients using hemostatic nanoparticles. Studies in large animal models with nanoparticles designed to bind activated platelets have shown increased bleeding and cardiopulmonary stress in response to the nanoparticles. This is due to the complement pathway, part of the innate immune system. In a naïve administration model, highly charged nanoparticles caused activation of the complement pathway. This study also linked zeta potential, a parameter related to surface charge, with the complement response. This project investigates the effect of surface charge and coatings of the nanoparticles on the complement response. Nanoparticles were modified by changing the amount of poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) and adding amines to the surface. Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS) and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) were used to analyze the nanoparticles. Additionally, an ELISA assay was used to deduce if a complement response was triggered. The goal of this project is to design stealth nanoparticles that do not elicit hypersensitivity reactions.

This work was funded, in part, by AIMM Research award (DOD) Award Number: W81XWH1820061.

back button


Structural Characterization Of 2D Layered Complex Hetero-Ion Systems

Ryan Mbagna Nanko
Prof. Vinayak Dravid, Northwestern University

The motivation behind this project is to study the structure of complex hetero ion based lamellar materials and their physical properties, including ferroelectricity and ferromagnetism, at the 2D limit. By mechanically exfoliating bulk single crystals of CuInP2S6, CuCrP2S6, and CuCrP2S6, a top down approach is used to obtain flakes that are as thin as possible. By isolating a monolayer of these materials, future studies will be conducted to probe for the existence of subnanometer ferroelectric, ferromagnetic, or magnetoelectric multiferroic responses from each respective material systems. Furthermore, studies on heterostructures formed from stacking different monolayers of material in order to study the coupling between different layers are also considered. In hope of its success, we can formulate a device that can take advantage of its magnetoelectric coupling in applications of spintronics and capacitors for more advanced computing.Using Atomic Force Microscope(AFM) and Raman Spectroscopy, I developed a system to measure the thickness of flakes and to correlate them to Raman spectra and optical images. This allows us a way to identify thin flakes of materials to pursue future studies on the multiferroic character of these materials systems at the 2D limit

This work was funded, in part, by the SHyNE of Northwestern University.

back button


An Analysis Of The Effects Of Various Meditations On Reaction Time In Older Adults

Jamie Nathlar
Diane Alonso, Psychology

Reaction time (RT), defined as the amount of time between a stimulus and response, begins to slow as adults age. Since aging is an inevitable process, this study intends to help improve the psychological experience of aging by contributing further understanding of the cognitive effects and possible mitigating factors. Meditation impacts RT by decreasing the length of time between stimuli and motor response due to the practice of tasks like focused-attention and attention-reallocation. This experiment investigates three meditation variants: motionless transcendental meditation; yogic meditation, which involves a series of basic stretching positions; and kinhin, a slow-walking meditation– to determine which type is most able to improve the RTs of healthy adults aged 50 to 75. Ninety participants from a co-ed mid-Atlantic fitness club will be recruited to take an online RT test three times, simulating a traffic signal turning from red to green, to obtain a baseline measure of their RT. Participants will complete five sessions of their assigned meditation over the following week and take the RT test again so the pre- and post-meditation RT of each individual can be compared and the most effective variant can be determined.

Keywords: meditation, reaction time, transcendental, kinhin, yoga, older adults

back button


Adults’ Expectations For Children With Special Needs: A CaseComparison

Zachary Nicholas
Bambi Chapin, Sociology and Anthropology

Children with special needs are a minority group whose boundaries transcend ethnicities and socioeconomic class and are in nearly all populations. As with all children, their development is shaped by the distinct expectations that the adults in their lives hold for them and the experiences those adults in turn create for them. In order to better understand these expectations, this study collected data through participant observation in a pediatric physical therapy clinic in the Baltimore-Washington area that specializes in treating children with special needs and through interviews with health practitioners and parents of children with special needs. The analysis of these data reveals that adults hold expectations for children with special needs either framed by “milestones” based on research and statistics or “goals” based more on personal history and other social factors that vary by individuals. This presentation examines two cases drawn from this ethnographic project that demonstrate how parents and therapists use these different frames for their expectations, leading to different interactions with children and different outcomes. This analysis helps clarify the link between adults’ expectations and children’s development, highlighting how social conformity can sometimes come into conflict with individual needs and potentials for children with special needs.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Sickle Cell Disease Mediates Middle Cerebral Artery Shear Stress Profiles That Affect Endothelial Cell Responses

Howard Nicholson
Manu Platt, Georgia Institute of Technology

Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a blood disorder that causes red blood cells to become stiff and adhere to the endothelium of blood vessels. People with SCD experience an accelerated vasculopathy which predisposes children with SCD to strokes at an early age. Previously in our lab, we were able to determine the effect of geometrical differences on hemodynamics in the cerebral arteries between sickle and non-sickle individuals. This project studied the effect of different shear stress profiles to understand the biochemical pathway with a hypothesis stating that a pro-remodeling shear stress profile from the middle cerebral artery (MCA) of SCD patient would activate cathepsin expression in the endothelial cells which will accelerate vasculopathy leading to strokes. The data from this experiment gives insight into how various shear stress profiles affect the vasculature of the middle cerebral artery and may be used to develop strategies to treat pediatric strokes in children with sickle cell anemia.

This investigation was sponsored by NIH/NIGMS MARC U*STAR T3408663 National Research Service Award to UMBC.

back button


Huey’s Blues: White Cultural Appropriation Of Blues Music

Noah Nies
Corrie Parks, Visual Arts

Huey’s Blues is an experimental exploration of white cultural appropriation of blues music in the early and mid-twentieth century through the lens of a fictitious interview with a white musician. In this film, Charles “Huey” Hue and his band, the Wayside Boys, discuss their origins in an interview for a local television station. Using found/recorded media and experimental animation, this film is a mosaic of mixed media making a critical analysis on a modern genre. Created from the perspective of a bystander looking into erasure of black achievement by white artists, this film explores the personal discovery of how the credit for the development of this music and the sounds it influenced has been moved away from who it really came from, and critiques both our society’s music culture as well as acting as a reflection on personal thoughts, belief, and action. This film was made using rotoscoping (tracing on video) with digital drawing software on recorded video, sand-on-glass stop motion, analogue audio recordings on mini tapes, footage from various American archives, and video recorded using DSLR cameras, assembled and unified in one visual style using Adobe After Effects, Audition, and Photoshop.

back button


Effect Of Lambda Red Recombinogenic Proteins On Cas9-Mediated Homology Directed Repair

Zakary Newberry
Dr. Charles Bieberich, Biological Sciences

Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR)/Cas9 has democratized genome engineering capabilities using a simple, low-cost platform. When paired with guide RNA, the Cas9 protein can induce a double-stranded DNA break. The presence of a donor DNA template allows the insertion or modification of genomic DNA, a process known as Homology Directed Repair (HDR). Unfortunately, research requiring precise recombination events using this system has been hampered by exceedingly low rates of HDR. Small molecule HDR enhancers are commercially available, however, the rate increase of HDR is nominal. The lambda red recombineering system is a bacteriophage-based cloning tool driven by homologous recombination that has effectively facilitated precise recombination events in bacteria. We hypothesized that the recombinatorial proteins from the lambda red system in conjunction with CRISPR/Cas9 would increase the rate of HDR. To test this hypothesis, we transfected mammalian cells with various combinations of plasmids containing the Cas9 system, lambda red recombinogenic proteins, and a donor plasmid containing a fluorescent reporter embedded in the ACTA2 locus. Quantifying fluorescent cells allows us to determine the effect of the recombinogenic proteins on the HDR rate. The results of preliminary studies to determine optimal transfection conditions for this system will be reported.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Discrimination and Heart Rate Change from Day to Night in Young Black Adults

Ayla Novruz, Inaya Wahid, Ghina Ammar, Jason Ashe, John J. Sollers III1, and
Danielle L. Beatty Moody

Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD, USA
1Department of Psychology, North Carolina Central University

This pilot study seeks to explore the relationship between interpersonal-level discrimination and heart rate (HR) in a sample of 11 young (ages 18-21), Black adults. Specifically, participants completed the 6-item stigmatization subscale of the Perceived Ethnic Discrimination Questionnaire-Community Version (PEDQ-CV). HR was assessed across a 24-hour monitoring period via an ambulatory watch and chest band. HR reflects variations in the time interval between heartbeats across various physical activities. We captured HR change from day to night.

An unadjusted Spearman correlation revealed an inverse, moderately strong association between stigmatization and HR change (r=-.655, p=.029). Specifically, increased stigmatization is correlated with a decreased difference in day to night HR change. This suggest greater stigmatization may be linked to more limited HR fluctuations across the day, a cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factor. These findings provide initial insight regarding day to night fluctuations in HR as related to discriminatory experiences.

Previous literature has examined the impact of interpersonal-level discrimination on ambulatory blood pressure which prospectively predicts CVD and end-organ damage. However, the relation of discrimination to HR change from day to night, is understudied. Future studies should investigate this association in a larger sample to replicate this finding and identify potential pathways.

back button


Light-Dependent Endocytosis Of Mouse Melanopsin

Favour Nwagugo, Juan Valdez
Phyllis Robinson, Biological Sciences

Melanopsin is a unique vertebrate visual pigment expressed in intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs) of the mammalian retina. It plays a role in non-image forming vision by signaling to the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) and olivary pretectal nucleus (OPN) of the brain and regulating functions such as circadian photoentrainment and pupillary light response. In a subset of ipRGCs it initiates a Gq signaling cascade that results in ipRGCs depolarization. The work focused on how melanopsin activates and deactivates but little is known about how it resensitizes and how this might contribute to sustaining light responses. We hypothesized that light activated melanopsin bound to arrestin will be endocytosed through clathrin mediated vesicular transport. To test our hypothesis, we transfected (cell culture) HEK 293 cells with the mouse melanopsin gene. Then, we performed immunocytochemistry of transfected cells. The antibody we used specifically labeled melanopsin, and we observed that the antibody labeled melanopsin expressed in HEK cells. A clathrin specific antibody was used to analyze localization of clathrin and melanopsin in both dark and light conditions. Confocal microscopy was used to visualize the cells. In conclusion, our data suggests that melanopsin undergoes a light-dependent endocytosis process which can contribute to sustain light responses.

This work was partially funded by the USM LSAMP program, supported by NSF LSAMP Award #1619676 This work was supported by 5RO1EY027202-02 to PRR.

back button


Lone Mech Pilot

Skyler O’Neill, Benjamin Prysucha, Harrison Trinh, Evan Morris, Zach Hale
Eric Jordan, Visual Arts

Lone Mech Pilot is a 2D game made in Unity with a side scrolling perspective. The player controls a mech pilot who must traverse the inside of a large robot to control its different parts. Each part has different abilities and is capable of solving different problems that the player may face. Since the player can only control one part of the mech at a time, they must switch between parts to try and adapt to the current situation in the game. For example one part may do a lot of damage, but have shorter range meaning it cannot hit enemies who are far away. Thus the player may switch to it when enemies get close, but will choose to use a part with further range when enemies are far away. Created as a collaboration between computer science and animation majors, this project is an exploration of developing games as a team, systems and AI programming, real time animation and visual design.

back button


Investigating The Anoxia-induced Transcriptional Adaptations Of NDRGs

Ehita Oboh
M Brewster, Biological Sciences

In response to anoxia (0% oxygen) hypoxia-adapted organisms, including the genetically tractable zebrafish, enter into a hypometabolic state manifested by developmental or/and physiological arrest that preserves energy and promotes survival. Preliminary data from the Brewster lab indicate that N-myc Downstream Regulated Gene 1a (Ndrg1a) may orchestrate anoxia-induced developmental arrest (cell proliferation), as morpholino-mediated depletion of ndrg1a results in a higher mitotic index in embryos exposed to anoxia relative to control groups. Surprisingly, we observe the opposite phenotype, namely a reduced mitotic rate, in ndrg1a CRISPR mutants. This discrepancy may be accounted for by compensatory up-regulation of ndrg1a paralogues (of which there are six encoded in the zebrafish genome) in mutant embryos, a widespread phenomenon that has been reported in mutiple model organisms. My project aims to address this hypotheis by examining the transcript levels of all NDRG family members in ndrg1a mutants (normoxic and anoxia-treated) using Q-PCR. Preliminary data indicate that several members of this family are indeed up-regulated in mutant embryos relative to WT control, however this analysis has to be repeated at the appropriate developmental stage. If correct, future work will aim to deplete additional members of the family to determine their combinatorial requirement to promote developmental arrest.

back button


Investigating The Role Of NDRG1a In Mediating Anoxia-induced Cell Cycle Arrest

Ena Oboh
Rachel Brewster, Biological Sciences

Zebrafish embryos can survive for up to 50 hours in absence of oxygen (anoxia). N-Myc Downstream Regulated Genes (NDRGs) are transcriptionally upregulated under low oxygen and have been linked to adaptive responses of hypoxic cancer cells. The Brewster lab has shown that NDRG1a is implicated in physiological adaptation of zebrafish kidney cells to prolonged anoxia, by downregulating the ATP-demanding sodium-potassium ATPase pump. My research project aims to determine whether members of the NDRG family also play a role in mediating anoxia-induced cell cycle arrest, which is expected to be energy-conserving and pro-survival. I hypothesize that NDRG1a is activated in response to anoxia and blocks mitosis. To test this, we are compraring the mitotic index in dome-stage NDRG1a-depleted embryos raised under anoxic conditions (2h and 4h) to control groups. The mitotic index (number of M phase cells/total cell number) is assessed following imaging and quantitation of embryos labeled with P-Histone 3 (M phase marker) and DAPI (nuclear marker). Preliminary data indicate that the mitotic index is higher in anoxia-treated NDRG1a-depleted embryos than in controls, supporting my hypothesis. Future directions of this project will include analyzing the role of other members of the NDRG family, specifically NDRG3a, in cell cycle arrest.

back button


On Thin Ice

Paul Ocone, Lauren Patel, Sangita Ramaswamy, Tori Nelson
Donald Snyder, Media and Communication Studies; Nicole Trenholm, Geography & Environmental Systems, Graduate Student; Ben Daniels, Geography & Environmental Systems, Graduate Student

On Thin Ice is a spherical film that explores the impacts of climate change in the Arctic, a vital region for the Earth’s future. An interdisciplinary team of students used a combination of maps, visualizations from NOAA, videos, and images, to produce an immersive presentation that depicts changes in our world in places not accessible to the public. The team researched the problem, created GIS maps, wrote a narrative, and brought all of these elements together into a documentary made for spherical projection systems. The story follows marine animals of the Arctic, from phytoplankton to polar bears. This exploration provides insight on how a changing climate affects Arctic wildlife and their habitats. On Thin Ice also introduces humans as a part of the Arctic ecosystem and as essential players in determining the fate of the Arctic. This short documentary showcases the use of spherical video for science communication, and it incorporates elements of all of the Polar Literacy Initiative’s Polar Literacy Principles. This makes this video a tool for teachers to use in their classrooms during lessons about the Arctic region, and science museums can showcase the film across the US.

This work was funded, in part, by the Provost’s Office, the Dresher Center for the Humanities, and the Office of Summer, Winter and Special Programs under the UMBC Interdisciplinary CoLab program.

back button


Automatically Generated Phase Portraits For Understanding Biological Systems

Oluwateniayo Ogunsan
Daniel Lobo, Biological Sciences

Biological systems develop and adapt in response to the changing environment. These systems have very complex, internal interactions, which are difficult to understand and control due to their nonlinear behaviors. Mathematical models based on differential equations can be used to formally and precisely represent complex biological mechanisms, which can then be easily visualized and understood with phase portrait diagrams. These diagrams are a representation of the dynamic behaviors of a system with respect to their variables as they vary with time. However, producing these phase portraits diagrams is a laborious process reserved to mathematical experts. Here, we developed a computational methodology to automatically generate phase portrait diagrams to study biological systems. The method only needs to take as input the equations describing the biological system and it outputs automatically a complete phase portrait diagram including the critical points and their stability, the nullclines of the system, and a vector space of the trajectories. We demonstrated this novel framework by applying it to several significant nonlinear equations and classical biological systems, such as logistic growth. This computational tool will aid in our understanding of regeneration, cancer, and metabolism, paving the way for new biological discoveries and novel treatments in medicine.

This investigation was sponsored by NIH/NIGMS MARC U*STAR T3408663 National Research Service Award to UMBC.

back button


The Effects Of Hyperglycemia On Neurulation

Chelsea Okeh, Rianna Zacharias1, Maki Negesse1
1Biological Sciences
Rachel Brewster, Biological Sciences

Neurulation is the process by which the neural tube, the precursor of the brain and the spinal cord, forms from the neural plate. Bending and folding of the neural plate brings its lateral edges, the neural folds, in close apposition at the midline, where they fuse. Incomplete neurulation causes neural tube defects (NTDs), the second most common birth defect. Given their high frequency, a research priority is to identify underlying genetic and environmental risk factors. A significant correlation between diabetic mothers and babies born with NTDs suggests that hyperglycemia is an environmental risk factor. This study aims to establish zebrafish as a model to study environmental factors causative of NTDs, using hyperglycemia as a case study. We hypothesize that if mechanisms of neurulation are conserved in zebrafish, exposure to hyperglycemia should impair neural fold convergence. To test this, zebrafish embryos were placed in solutions of varying glucose concentrations (zero to nine percent). Following this treatment, embryos were processed for in-situ hybridization using the neural fold marker emx3 as a riboprobe. The distance between the emx3 -positive neural folds was measured as a quantitative indicator of convergence. Preliminary data so far indicate that higher concentrations of glucose may prevent neural tube closure.

This research was funded, in part, by a grant to UMBC from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute through the Pre-college and Undergraduate Science Education Program.

back button


Changes In Policy And Training In A Perinatal Quality Improvement Collaborative To Reduce Primary Cesarean Section Rates

Edosewele Okojie
Jennifer Callaghan-Koru, Health Administration and Policy

Reducing unnecessary primary cesarean sections is a Healthy People 2020 goal because cesarean delivery is associated with higher maternal morbidity, with risks of adverse outcomes increasing with each subsequent pregnancy. To achieve this goal, Maryland hospitals participated in a two-year (2016 – 2018) statewide quality improvement collaborative focused on reducing cesarean sections through integration of policy and system changes outlined by the Alliance for Innovation in Maternal Health (AIM) patient safety bundle, “Safe Reduction of Primary Cesarean Births.” Maryland was an early state to implement this bundle, and it was unknown whether the practices included in the AIM bundle were feasible or how quickly they could be implemented by hospitals. This study aimed to examine the changes in hospital-level processes and systems during the collaborative. Quality improvement leaders within the participating hospitals reported process and structure measures to the collaborative’s online data portal and descriptive analyses were performed on the extracted data. Analysis of reported data demonstrated positive changes such as a 54 percent increase in the number of hospitals that created an updated labor management procedure. However, implementation varied between hospitals. Therefore, further research is needed to understand the factors that contribute to delays in implementation at some hospitals.

This work was funded, in part, by the NIH .

back button


Gadolinium-Chelating Tag Synthesis For Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Of Dendronized Nanocarriers

Oluwatomiwa Oladunni, Lance Dockery
Marie-Christine Daniel, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Cancer is one of the most prevalent diseases in our society. Nanotechnology has shown great potential in cancer therapy by optimizing drug delivery and reducing systemic toxicity. They also hold considerable diagnostic potential by offering an avenue for tumor imaging. The aim of the Daniel lab is to develop multifunctional nanocarriers carrying altogether MRI contrast agents, chemotherapeutic drugs and targeting antibodies. This project focuses on the design and synthesis of very stable Gadolinium (Gd) chelates that can be attached to nanocarriers to impart them with imaging properties. Starting from L-Phenylalanine, p-NH2-Bn-DOTA complex was prepared following multiple steps. Upon completion of the p-NH2-Bn-DOTA synthesis, the Gd complex was subsequently coupled with a carboxylate-terminated dendron (TA-TEG-G3COOH). All reactions were monitored closely through Mass Spectrometry and 1H NMR Spectroscopy in order to characterize and ensure the purity of each product. The final dendron-chelate compound obtained will act as a contrast agent allowing for the nanocarriers to be tracked in a non-invasive manner by MRI scans.

The project is supported by the MARC program at UMBC.

This investigation was sponsored by NIH/NIGMS MARC U*STAR T3408663 National Research Service Award to UMBC.

back button


The Effects Of Oscillatory Activity In Synaptic Refinement In Drosophila Melanogaster

Cheyenne Oliver, Ziam Khan
Tagide deCarvalho, Biological Sciences; Fernando Vonhoff, Biology

This project focuses on the role of neuronal activity and calcium pulses during the development of neuronal networks. Synaptic refinement is a process involving the removal of off-target synapses that form during early development. Schizophrenia and autism are neurological disorders associated with aberrant synaptic refinement. However, the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying synaptic refinement remain poorly understood. We used genetic tools available in Drosophila fruit flies to investigate the role of neuronal activity during the development of the larval nociceptive network, which is involved in the pain-dependent escape response called rolling. We live-imaged embryos expressing the genetically encoded calcium indicator GCAMP to examine the activity pattern of the nociceptive class-IV (C4da) sensory cells. Preliminary results indicate that the frequency of calcium bursts increases over time, leading to a low-frequency oscillatory pattern. We will examine the anatomical consequences of manipulating the activity-pattern to gain insight into the role of oscillatory activity into the development of precise neuronal connectivity. For this, we will examine axonal C4da projections as well as the dendritic anatomy of their postysynaptic partners, the Basin interneurons. This study will likely advance our understanding of synaptic plasticity and refinement by studying mechanisms likely to be conserved among different species.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Understanding “Fake News” Starts With Us

Michelle Oliver
Cheryl North, Education; timothy Johnson, Education

Learning to properly analyze documents helps students read and understand both historical and contemporary documents. Furthermore, being able to corroborate information across different sources and contexts prepares students to be consumers of information in an era of false and misleading information that can be found on the internet. This research examined best practices to help students become more adept at analyzing sources. More specifically, students need to complete a detailed discussion of the concepts, issues, models, visual representation and theories while synthesizing information to make valid and well supported arguments. They also need to effectively analyze and evaluate a wide range of sources, spanning different periods in history and various places of origin and purpose, while also recognizing the values and limitations of these documents, and thoroughly interpreting a range of different perspectives and their implications. Respondents in this research were graded on the IB (International Baccalaureate) MYP (Middle Years Program) rubric to determine if they will reach proficiency in this area.

back button


Effects Of APPLd Mutation On The Olfactory System In Drosophila Melanogaster.

Victor Omoniyi
Fernando Vonhoff, Biological Sciences

The human Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP) gene is associated with Alzheimer’s disease. We studied flies bearing a deletion in the homolog gene, APPL, for its role in development. We hypothesize that APPLd mutants will show developmental defects in the olfactory system. To test this, we examined the olfactory network of young (two days old) adult APPLd mutants at the anatomical and behavioral levels. Brain dissections allow for anatomical analyses, whereas behavior was assayed using T-maze olfactory preference experiments. We observed a significant difference in the response preference between mutant and wildtype flies towards Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV). For wildtype flies, 50% of ACV was determined as the optimal concentration of ACV to elicit the largest attraction levels. By contrast, APPLd shows a higher preference for 75% ACV, suggesting an ameliorated repulsion effect. These results indicate that despite aberrant neuroanatomy, APPLd flies are able to smell but show subtle, significant changes in the functional properties of the olfactory system. Future experiments will investigate whether the degeneration of the olfactory network is differentially regulated in aging APPLd mutants. Our research will provide insight into the fundamental role of molecules associated with Alzheimer’s disease and may provide new pathways for therapeutic targets.

This work was funded, in part, by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Numbers TL4GM118989, UL1GM118988, and RL5GM118987.

back button


PLEG: The Putting Legs On Everything Game

Shawn Oppermann, Aaron Reamer, Locke Wingate, Joshua Ludlow, Alex Patel
Eric Jordan, Visual Arts

Pleg is a game heavily based on Wattam by Keita Takahashi. In Plegs, you get to watch over hundreds of random objects and give virtually any object life by sticking legs on it. Any object can have any number of legs, and adapts to its leg count by hopping, walking, and crawling. In Plegs, all your new friends work together to scale mountains, cross rivers, and delve into caves. This game uses the 3D Unity physics engine to simulate each body and its limbs. Pleg was put together by programmers with the freedom to specify the behavior of each body, and 3D artists that were given creative freedom to make all sorts of models, stages, and environments. The game challenges the player with a limited inventory of legs to provide, but the game also acts as a playground for spatial reasoning and cooperative thinking.

back button


Racial Centrality And Sickle Cell Disease Pain. The Moderating Role Of Private Regard.

Anthony Owusu, Kamal Abro
Shawn Bediako, Psychology

A limited body of research demonstrates an association between racial centrality and sickle cell disease (SCD) pain. The theoretical implications of such findings, however, are not well understood. To fill this gap, we utilized the Multidimensional Model of Racial Identity (MMRI) and evaluated the concurrent association of centrality (the significance of “race” to one’s self concept) and private regard (one’s evaluative sentiments about membership in their “racial” group) with SCD pain. During a routine visit to a comprehensive SCD clinic, 70 African American adults completed commonly used measures of racial identity, pain, and psychological adjustment. Regression analyses demonstrated that the association between centrality and SCD pain severity was moderated by private regard, even after adjusting for individual differences in optimism and SCD pain episodes. Specifically, when private regard was high, racial centrality was negatively associated with SCD pain severity. Conversely, when private regard was low, racial centrality was positively associated with SCD pain. These results highlight the general importance of exploring multiple dimensions of racial identity in health-related research and suggest that racial identity theory may help to enrich our understanding of how psychosocial mechanisms influence adjustment to pain among African American patients living with SCD.

back button


Roles for Steroid Hormone Signaling Targets In Border Cell Migration In The Drosophila Ovary

Yaw Owusu-Boaitey, Zachary NicholasMallika Bhattacharya
Dr. Michelle Starz-Gaiano, Biological Sciences

The coordinated movement of a cohort of cells is known as collective cell migration. This process is essential to tissue formation during development and can contribute to disease, including cancer metastasis. We used border cell migration in the ovary of the fruit flyDrosophila melanogasterto study the genetic basis of migrationin vivo. Signaling by the steroid hormone ecdysone ensures proper timing of migration. We focused on two target genes ofecdysone signaling:S-phase kinase-associated protein 2 (Skp2), which encodes a member of the E3 ubiquitin ligase family, andSpase22-23, a protein coding gene with a putative signal peptidase activity. Both may function in the post-translational regulation of proteins involved in migration. We conducted antibody staining protocols to visualize protein expression levels and effects of gene disruption on migration. Staining results indicatedSkp2protein expression in border cells, and disruption ofSpase22-23resulted in defects in border cell migration. Importantly, Skp2, Spase22-23, and steroid hormone receptors have homologs in humans; therefore, elucidating these pathways withinDrosophilamay be significant to understanding human steroid hormone signaling and the genetic control of cell migration more broadly.

This work was supported in part by National Science Foundation grant IOS-1656550 to M.S.G.

back button


De-Cyborging

Julia Palmer
Tania Lizarazo, Global Studies

My Global 409 class focused on technology’s impact on society. Through reflecting, I discovered my struggle to remain true to my identity, in this age of rampant technology. For my final project I desired to have it change me. I challenged myself to document days without my phone, to De-Cyborg. Initially, I spent more time by myself than usual. Making plans with friends couldn’t be instant anymore. The isolation created loneliness, however, I soon found joy in thinking and processing without distraction. I wrote poetry and surrounded myself with nature; my mind was clear for the first time in awhile. This four minute video invites the audience to explore my internal conversation with my phone, as I refer to it as “you”. In a broader scope I hope the audience will begin to challenge their own thoughts, and question the impact their phone has on them. In the end, I give the final question of “I need you?”. During college, I have chosen convenience over mental health; in choosing to keep my phone. My aspiration for the future is being able to balance life without it, and focusing on what matters.

back button


Goop!

Samantha Papastephanou
Corrie Parks, Visual Arts

Goop! is a fun thirty-second looping exploration of beats, shapes, and colors. The objective of this piece was to capture everything I thought made animation fun to watch: bright and deliberate color palettes, fluid movement, and visual rhythm. I’ve always found pieces of animation paired with music to be incredibly satisfying to watch when done right, and I wanted to try making one myself in the limited amount of time that I had. By creating a looping piece, I’ve made it easier for me to enjoy those key moments where the animation and the music match up perfectly. Not having a theme gave me the freedom to work intuitively and spontaneously with the music, which was chosen before starting the animation so I could carefully plan the visuals. I chose and edited a song titled “Cute Monsters” by Hani Koi because I thought it best complimented my vision of what I wanted my piece to look and sound like. Each frame was drawn by hand in Photoshop, and the limited color palettes were chosen with creating a specific visual effect in mind. Each palette had two “transition” colors that allowed it to connect with the palettes before and after.

back button


Contributions Of Parental Control And Self-Regulation Skills To Korean American Children’s Behavioral Outcomes

Hye-Jin Park, Hyun Su Cho1
1Psychology, UMBC
Charissa Cheah, Psychology

Mothers’ use of structured and reason-based control strategies have been found to be associated with their children’s better self-regulation, and subsequently most positive behavioral outcomes. These positive control strategies can promote children’s internalization of parental standards by granting them opportunities to make decisions with appropriate structure. However, the socialization of Asian American children self-regulation abilities is understudied. Thus, we examined: (1) the association between Korean-American mothers’ use of parental control and their preschool-aged children’s aggressive behaviors, and (2) the mediating role of their children’s self-regulation in the association between parental control and children’s aggressive behaviors in school. Korean-American mothers with preschool-aged children (N = 38) in Maryland reported their use of parental control in a semi-structured interview. Children were asked to complete a challenging puzzle task, and their self-regulatory behaviors were recorded and coded. Teachers reported on children’s aggressive behaviors with peers. Our results revealed that higher levels of mothers’ use of reasoning and negotiation were associated with their children’s better self-regulation skills during a challenging task. In turn, children with better self-regulation skills engaged in lower levels of aggressive behaviors with their peers. The implications of these findings for promoting Korean-American children’s behavioral adjustment will be discussed.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Testing The Effect Of Exercise And Gut Microbiota In Brain Function Of Drosophila Flies

Steve Park
Fernando Vonhoff, Biological Sciences

We are determining the role of microbiota and exercise on motor function in aging flies. In addition to wild-type flies, we also tested flies with a mutation in the gene associated with Alzheimer’s disease called Amyloid Precursor Protein-like (appl). We used a behavioral assay to test the climbing performance of flies of various age-groups. We tested flies that were 10 days, 20 days, and 30 days old, using reference points to determine the endurance speed and climbing speed. We also put flies in an exercise machine to increase locomotion and test for the effects of increased exercise. Additionally, we are investigating the effect of gut bacteria on brain performance. We hypothesize that the lack of bacteria affects brain function, leading to differences in behavior on the anatomical and chemical level. We hypothesize that flies perform better with bacteria, while flies perform worse without bacteria. Climbing performance of germ-free flies will be compared to control flies. We predict that once we utilize sterile methods on flies, we will see a faster time in the endurance speed and climbing speed. Future experiments will focus on changes in brain anatomy that may explain the behavioral effects observed in germ-free flies.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


IL-1β-VEGF-A Signaling Axis In Atherosclerotic Calcification

Crystal Parry
Alan Morrison, Brown University

Atherosclerosis is characterized by lipid and calcium deposition and inflammation in blood vessels. Pro-inflammatory cytokine IL -1β contributes to inflammation that is characteristic of atherosclerosis. Previous research on signal transducers RAC1 and RAC2 demonstrated that RAC2 knockout mice had increased RAC1 activity, resulting in increased levels of IL-1β and calcification. These studies also focused on studying the growth factor VEGF-A, which promotes blood vessel formation. Preliminary data suggests the promoter region of the gene encoding VEGF-A is activated by IL-1β signaling. The goal of this study is to assess the relationship between VEGF-A, IL-1β, and atherosclerotic calcification. Our hypothesis is that increased levels of IL-1β associated with increased VEGF-A expression and calcification. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays were used to determine the levels of IL-1β and VEGF-A in blood serum samples from the mice. Macrophage knockdown of IL-1β expression in ApOE mice led to reduced VEGF-A expression and atherosclerotic calcification. These results were validated by comparing levels of IL-1β, VEGF-A, and calcification in human subjects. Future studies are underway to demonstrate that VEGF-A causes calcification, using knockdown of VEGF-A expression. By understanding the relationship between IL-1β, VEGF-A, and atherosclerotic calcification, therapeutic strategies can be developed to combat atherosclerosis.

This research was sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institutes, the National Institutes of Health, and was partially funded by R25HL088992, RO1HL139795, CPVB COBRE NIGMS NIH P20GM103652, VA-ORD CDA-2 7IK2BX002527 to ARM.

back button


Novel 3D Neuroinflammatory Model Of Alzheimer’s Disease Using Microglial Cells

Shirin Parsa
Gregory Szeto, Chemical, Biochemical, and Environmental Engineering

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease in the world. However, the mechanism of this disease remains poorly understood. Neuroinflammation plays an important role in neurodegeneration as shown in Alzheimer’s disease. Microglia, the primary central nervous system immune cells, are representative of the immune system in the brain. We propose a new 3D in vitro model with microglia that recapitulates the pathology process in Alzheimer’s disease. This study will aid in the understanding of the disease’s mechanisms as well as the development of possible treatment strategies. The proposed 3D model focuses on microglial cells because 2D cultures cannot effectively recapitulate important properties of complex 3D tissues. Specifically, this project focuses on establishing a novel in vitro 3D model of microglia (SIM-A9 cells) in serum versus serum-free media. The future goal of this study is to test β-Amyloid aggregation using this novel 3D in vitro culture of microglial cells because β-Amyloid plaques formed in the brain impair microglial response, which can then lead to neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration indicative of Alzheimer’s disease.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Examining The Cognitive And Psychosocial Profiles Of GD1 Versus GBA -PD Patients

Nishka Patel
Grisel Lopez, National Institutes of Health; David Eisenmann, Department of Biological Sciences, UMBC

While there are currently available research studies that focus on the cognitive features seen in Gaucher disease Type 1 (GD1) and GBA -associated Parkinson’s disease (GBA-PD), research analyzing the lived illness experiences of both diseases is limited (Hammarlund et al. 2018; Packman et al. 2010). Serving as an extension to my INDS degree concentration in Illness Narratology, my capstone project aims to create a clinical profile of GD1 and GBA-PD individuals using statistical analysis and patient interviews.

As advanced medical and scientific therapies become more apparent among hospitals and clinics, many physicians are now advocating for an integrative approach to practicing medicine (Gannotta et al. 2018). With this increasing need for healthcare providers to treat the patient rather than solely the disease (Zazulak 2016), my capstone intends to call attention to the importance of integrating a holistic approach when analyzing the clinical presentations of genetic and neurodegenerative disorders.

back button


Towards Better Inhibitors Of The Influenza Virus

Jade Phan
Paul Smith, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Influenza continues to be a major health problem worldwide. From October 2018 to May 2019, there were at least 17.3 million flu-related medical visits and 531,000 hospitalizations in the US. Due to the high mutational rate of the virus, new vaccines need to be specifically formulated every season. While there are some drug treatments available such as Tamiflu that lessen the severity of symptoms, these do not cure the illness completely. Much work needs to be done to identify efficacious small molecules as drugs to treat influenza. A series of benzoxazoles and benzimidazoles were previously identified that inhibit replication of the hepatitis C virus; some of these were subsequently shown to be effective against the influenza virus. In the case of hepatitis C, a correlation between zinc binding and activity of the inhibitors was demonstrated. It is hypothesized that zinc binding is also important in anti-influenza activity, and as such, a series of second-generation anti-influenza compounds have been designed that are expected to be better zinc binders. The syntheses of these new analogs will be presented.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


A Qualitative Study Of Assessing The Usefulness And Usability Of Home Care Quality Toolkit By Home Health Care Agencies

Faizah Pirzada
Gunes Koru, Information Systems

The UMBC Health IT Lab created a software titled Home Care Quality Toolkit allowing Home Health Care Agencies to visualize data regarding quality measures. This software enables HHA’s to evaluate and assess their value of care based on various quality measures. We will conduct a qualitative case study using purposeful sampling in order to receive proper feedback from agencies that will use the Toolkit. We will begin by contacting a multitude of agencies for responses. The study will assess approximately 15-20 various HHA’s to detail the usefulness and usability of the software. Quality experts within these respective HHA’s will be asked to participate in an interview through the application Zoom that will begin with a brief demo of the software and then allow the quality expert to utilize the Toolkit on their own. We will then proceed to conduct an interview in which we ask questions regarding their overall evaluation of the Toolkit as well as any challenges or difficulties they may have faced. We expect that the HHA’s will find the software to be both useful and usable thus authorizing consistent facilitated change among HHA’s to improve overall care for patients based on quality measures.

back button


Lighthouse

Bella Possidente
Corrie Parks, Visual Arts

Lighthouse is a two-minute digitally animated short film about a tiny lighthouse keeper doing his job. When a lighthouse is damaged by a violent storm, its keeper must go on a journey to fix it and restore light to the surrounding area. The film was inspired by an odd concept that stuck in my mind—a lighthouse standing alone in a field, surrounded by wind-blown grasses that mimic the movement of ocean waves. By telling one character’s story, the film showcases a very small part of that world. The sound design adds reality to the film and is paired with whimsical visuals to create a strong environmental mood. Having the freedom to record foley and compose an original soundtrack made it possible to match the emotional tone of the story and use the audio as an additional means to communicate information. The visuals make use of simple shapes and limited colors to clearly and efficiently communicate action, setting, and tone. Completing an ambitious project in a short time influenced many design decisions in the interest of making the final product achievable. Ultimately, the time constraint was instrumental in bringing out the level of quality present in the finished work.

back button


Tracing George Orwell’s Anti-Imperialism In Propaganda Broadcasts By The BBC To India And Southeast Asia, 1941 To 1943

Meredith Power
Daniel Ritschel, History

From 1941 to 1943, the BBC employed a mild-mannered but fiercely opinionated writer named Eric Blair to produce propaganda for broadcasts to India. How did Blair – better known to the public as leftist firebrand George Orwell – reconcile his personal political view with the messages his position required him to send? Scholars and historians often discuss Orwell’s career in relation to his two greatest novels, Animal Farm and 1984. The straightforward prose and the earnest intellectual tone for which his novels became known also served a valuable role in his contribution to Britain’s war effort in India and southeast Asia. Drawing on Orwell’s early fiction, letters, and essays, as well as selected transcripts of the BBC broadcasts he created, this paper reveals the significant ways in which Orwell’s pre-war experiences shaped his wartime writing. Approaching Orwell’s wartime BBC broadcasts to India as the work of a conflicted but deeply committed British patriot, rather than framing them as the warnings of a disillusioned oracle, gives both scholars and the public a more complete picture of this fascinating and still mysterious literary giant.

back button


Reported Helpfulness Of Formal And Informal Intimate Partner Violence Response Strategies

Jonnalyn Price
Christopher Murphy, Psychology; Nkiru Nnawulezi, UMBC Psychology

This study examined the frequency of use and helpfulness of various intimate partner violence (IPV) response strategies among female IPV survivors whose relationship partners are enrolled in counseling for partner violent behavior. This diverse population of survivors may be more likely than other samples to have employed informal strategies for responding to IPV. Studying this population is critical because most researchers have access only to IPV survivors who have reached out to intervention centers or have sought shelter. Those survivors are therefore more likely to have reached a very high threshold for distress and may have not experienced success with other response strategies. In this study, data will be analyzed from the IPV Strategies Index for a sample of 76 survivors on the usage and helpfulness of several categories of response strategies, including broad categories of formal and informal response.

back button


Coping Strategies, Anger, and Hostility in Racially Diverse Emerging Adults

Mackenzie Primrose, David Horsey, Jason Ashe
Dr. Danielle Beatty Moody, Psychology

The current study will investigate therelation between coping strategies and overall hostility in a sample of African American and White emerging adults (ages 18-21). Participants completed the Brief Coping Orientation to Problems Experienced (Brief COPE) inventory, which measures across 14 distinct subsets of coping strategies, such as active coping, acceptance, self-distraction, denial, substance use, and self-blame. Additionally, the Cook-Medley Hostility Scale was also used to assess overall hostility and chronic anger, providing insight on an individual’s disposition towards cynicism, hypersensitivity, aggressive responding, and social avoidance.Using correlational statistical analyses, we predict that individualsengaging in coping strategies such as humor, denial, substance use, venting, behavioral disengagement, and self-blame will have greater levels of overall hostility and chronic anger than individuals engaging in other forms of coping strategies. Previous literature has shown that both coping strategies and increased overall hostility may promote psychological distress, risk of future cardiovascular disease, and interpersonal relationship dysfunction. Investigation of this relationship may provide further insight on how emerging adults’ different coping strategies are related to their emotional temperament, which may inform future interventions for diverse, college-aged populations.

back button


Contributions Of Maternal Mental Health, Parenting And Marital Relationship To East Asian American Children’s Adjustment

Ozair Qazi
Charissa Cheah, Psychology

East Asian immigrant mothers face multiple stressors during the acculturation process and are at risk for developing depressive symptoms, which may negatively influence their parent-child relationship and, consequently, their children’s behavioral adjustment. Positive marital relationships could buffer against these negative effects on children’s adjustment. The present study examined the mediating role of East Asian immigrant mother’s parental warmth in the association between maternal depressive symptoms and children’s behavioral adjustment, and the moderating role of marital relationship quality on the association between maternal warmth and children’s behavioral adjustment. First-generation East Asian immigrant mothers (N=357) with preschool-aged children in Maryland reported their depressive symptoms, parental warmth, and marital relationship quality. Teachers reported children’s socio-emotional and behavioral outcomes. Results showed that maternal depressive symptoms were associated with less maternal warmth. In turn, lower maternal warmth was related to greater adjustment difficulties in children, but only when mothers reported lower levels of marital relationship quality. These findings suggest that positive marital relationship may provide additional resources to buffer against the negative effects of maternal depressive symptoms on children’s adjustment outcomes in school. Implications for promoting East Asian families’ mental health, positive relationship quality and children’s adjustment in the United States will be discussed.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Identifying Spatial And Temporal Gene Expression Dynamics From Multiple Sequencing Data

Hannah Ramcharan
Daniel Lobo, Biological Sciences

High-throughput gene expression datasets from next-generation RNA sequencing can produce an extraordinary amount of information for the functional identification of genes regulating biological mechanisms. However, finding the key regulatory genes from multiple sequencing datasets together with their temporal and spatial dynamics is a current challenge in need of advanced bioinformatics approaches. Here we present a bioinformatics pipeline for the automated analysis of multiple transcriptomic datasets able to discover the key regulatory genes and their spatial and temporal dynamics. We demonstrated this methodology with an application to a temporal dataset of bacterial growth and a spatial dataset of planarian morphology. For the temporal analysis of bacterial growth, the pipeline takes as input transcriptomic datasets obtained from different growth time points and under different conditions, with the goal to identify the genes responsible for the observed growth dynamics for each of the conditions. In the case of planarian spatial datasets, the pipeline takes as input transcriptomic datasets obtained from different morphological locations of the worm, in order to identify positional information of genes and their downstream targets. This pipeline represents a fast and efficient methodology for the analysis of temporal and spatial transcriptomic data to understand the genetic regulation of biological systems.

This investigation was sponsored by NIH/NIGMS MARC U*STAR T3408663 National Research Service Award to UMBC.

back button


Determination Of Glucosome Specificity Using Colocalization Analysis Of 4-D Images Of Metabolic Pathways

Michelle Ramsahoye, Erin Kennedy
Minjoung Kyoung, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Membrane bound organelles like the mitochondria confine metabolic pathways such as glycolysis (energy production via the breakdown of glucose). Metabolic pathways in the cytoplasm have been considered to be uniformly distributed. However, we found that enzymes associated with glucose metabolisms are compartmentalized in living cells. We also found that the the formation of multi-enzyme compartments associated with glucose metabolism, referred to as glucosomes, is facilitated by liquid-liquid phase separation. In this project, we tested whether glucosomes have specificity to glycolysis and gluconeogenesis. We thus visualized glucosomes and purinosomes, another enzyme assembly associated with de novo purine biosynthesis pathway in living cells by using our home-built lattice light sheet microscopy (LLSM). The sub-diffraction limited 3D images of glucosomes and purinosomes in living cells were analyzed by Manders’ Colocalization Coefficient method. Our results support that glucosomes do not colocalize with purinosomes and they have no spatial relationship, indicating that glucosomes are specific to enzymes associated with glucose metabolism. The spatial relationship between glucose metabolism and de novo purine biosynthesis may vary based upon cellular demand. Future research aims towards the development of user-friendly software for extracting spatial information between enzyme compartments upon various conditions from the 4-D image data.

This investigation was sponsored by NIH/NIGMS MARC U*STAR T3408663 National Research Service Award to UMBC.

back button


Peer Education Impacts On Student Outcomes: A Case Study From The UMBC McNair Scholars Program

Tanya Ramsey
Elaine MacDougall, English

Peer education services are offered in many formats within university settings, ranging from tutors to teaching assistants. The effectiveness of these peer relations are generally viewed as positive, but often lack evidence-based approaches. This case study examines the role of the peer Teaching Fellow position within the McNair Scholars Program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in the Africana Studies (AFST) 495 Field Research course. AFST495 serves to provide McNair Scholars with an overview of research practices and the opportunity to draft a proposal for independent research by the end of the semester. During the Fall 2019 semester, the role of the Teaching Fellow expanded to include the development and facilitation of workshops to assist scholars with their performance within the course. This study uses a mixed methods approach to evaluate the Teaching Fellow role based on quantitative quiz and exam grades, as well as qualitative data from student written compositions and writing process feedback. In addition, students enrolled were invited to share ratings and statements pertaining to aspects of the course influenced by the Teaching Fellow. This data was compared against student performance to identify the impact of the peer McNair Teaching Fellow position on student outcomes.

This work was funded, in part, by the compensation made available through the UMBC McNair Scholars Program.

back button


Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: Using Afrofuturist Theory To Examine Themes Of Black Visibility

Claudia Rankine
Maleda Belilgne, Africana Studies

How are black lives today still affected by America’s deep roots in chattel slavery? Christina Sharpe’s book, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being (Duke University Press 2016), studies theories of Blackness as it relates to visibility and aspiration. Sharpe examines cross-cultural representations of Black life to build her theme of “the wake,” which she defines as the climate of anti-Blackness that shapes post-slavery America. I will use the Afrofuturist theory from two chapters of Sharpe’s book, “The Hold” and “The Weather,” to examine elements of Black visibility in Claudia Rankine’s experimental book, Citizen (Graywolf Press 2014). A central tool used by Sharpe is the use of ‘Black annotation’ and ‘Black redaction’ to offer an alternative reading of how information is presented, past “the logics of the administered plantation.” The definitions she presents of ‘Black annotation and reaction’ can be used to analyze scenarios of Black aspiration in Citizen. Both authors use the aforementioned tools in their writings to address Black visibility. Using Sharpe’s theoretical work on ‘anagrammatical Blackness,’ ‘Black annotation,’ and ‘Black redaction,’ I will explore how Citizen promotes themes of Black visibility in “the wake.”

back button


Optimization Of Method For Rapid Contamination Detection Through Manipulation Of Cell Membrane Porosity

Samyukta Rao, Rahul Menon1
1CAST
Yordan Kostov, Chemical, Biochemical, and Environmental Engineering

Currently, no appropriately efficient or reliable method for detection of contamination in liquids exists, although the demand for such a technology remains high. The Center for Advanced Sensor Technology has developed a method to rapidly observe NADH production in a sample of liquid as an indication of contaminant metabolism. Samples injected into microfluidic cassettes are mixed with an indicator (resazurin), which emits a fluorescence upon interaction with NADH. The fluorescence is measured by a portable fluorometer and recorded on a laptop over a period of time, to yield a slope of fluorescence signal which correlates directly to bacterial concentration. Although this technology already allows for rapid and reliable detection, cellular uptake of this specific hydrophilic indicator is not optimal. To rectify this issue in a way that is both low-cost and environmentally friendly, SDS will be added to the sample to increase porosity, which will allow for better uptake of the resazurin dye and thus, more precise results.

back button


Post-Translational Modifications Of Human Phosphofructokinase 1 And Their Role In Glucosome Formation

Saiprasad Ravi, Miji Jeon
Songon An, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Human phosphofructokinase, liver variant (PFKL) catalyzes the third step of glycolysis in which fructose-6-phosphate is converted to fructose-1,6-bisphosphate. Recently, a reversible metabolic complex of glucose metabolism has been discovered in cancer cells. This complex is known as the “glucosome”, in which PFKL is hypothesized to be a scaffold. Meanwhile, PFKL has been known to undergo post-translational modifications such as acetylation, glycosylation, and phosphorylation to regulate its enzymatic activity. To understand the effects of these post-translational modifications on glucosome formation, we have constructed plasmids carrying point mutations on PFKL. Previously, the role of PFKL acetylation was studied by introducing three different mutations: K689Q, K689A, and K689R. No cluster formation was observed in K689A/R mutants, while acetylation mimic K689Q mutant formed clusters like the wild type. These results indicate that acetylation of PFKL at residue 689 plays an important role in glucosome formation. Currently, we have generated F638R to disrupt tetramerization, and further F638R-K689Q/A dual mutants. We will evaluate the impacts of the mutations under fluorescence live-cell imaging. We envision that analysis of these post-translational modifications will help us understand the biochemistry of glucosomes in living cells and their role in cancer cell metabolism.

Funding for this project was provided by NIH-R01GM125981 funding to Dr.An.

back button


Dreissena Mussels as An Indicator Species For Assessing Aquatic Microbial Biodiversity In Lake Michigan

Aiman Raza
Dr. Rosemary Jagus, Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology

Microbial communities are an essential part of the ecosystem of Lake Michigan and the composition of microbial communities can help assess the relative health of the ecosystem. However, it can be difficult to detect and identify microorganisms in the ecosystem. Therefore, we employed molecular techniques to analyze the gills of Dreissenamussels, a filter feeder, in order to assess the microbial diversity of Lake Michigan. This project is part of NOAA’s Mussel Watch Program. The program uses mussels as an indicator species to monitor the effects of organic and inorganic pollution.This project focused on seasonal changes in microbial communities in Lake Michigan. We extracted DNA from mussel gill rakers and sequenced using the 16S ribosomal RNA gene. Metabarcoding of five sample dates revealed that microbial communities experience changes in composition from month to month. This project laid a foundation for future assessments of seasonal changes of microbial communities in Lake Michigan.This information can be used to monitor the health of the aquatic ecosystem and, over time, can reflect the effects of climate change.

This work was funded, in part, by the Bunting Family Foundation

back button


The Long-Term Outcomes Of Childhood Tourette Syndrome: A Systematic Review

Sara Reagan
Joseph McGuire, Department of Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Nicholas Myers, Department of Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Tourette Syndrome (TS) is a neuropsychiatric condition characterized by motor and vocal tics, which onsets in childhood and affects almost 1% of the population. Individuals with TS experience significant distress, impairment, and a poor quality of life. Although much is known about its clinical presentation in childhood, little information exists on clinical outcomes in adulthood for individuals with a childhood onset. This project characterizes the clinical course of TS and identifies childhood characteristics associated with symptom remission into adulthood. A systematic review was conducted using the following terms in PubMed and PsycINFO: (Tourette*) AND ((Long-term) OR (Prospective) OR (Follow-up)). This search identified 913 articles whose abstracts were reviewed for inclusion criteria. After review by two raters, 21 articles were selected for inclusion and relevant data was extracted. Findings suggest that tic symptoms decrease over time for a majority of individuals with TS—without or without evidence-based treatment. However, most patients continued to exhibit some tics in adulthood, with studies that had greater methodological quality identifying lower remission rates. Several predictors of tic severity and/or symptom persistence were identified and related to childhood neurobiological functioning (e.g., caudate nucleus volume, performance on a neuropsychological tasks like the Flanker and Purdue Pegboard).

This work was funded, in part, by the STEM BUILD at UMBC initiative through the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIH Grants 8TL4GM118989, 8UL1GM118988​, and 8RL5GM118987).

back button


Optimizing HIV-1 Rev Expression And Purity For Structural Studies

Kierra Regis, Patricia Boyd, Colin O’Hern
Michael Summers, Chemistry and Biochemistry; Jan Marchant, Chemistry and Biochemistry, UMBC

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a retrovirus that infects helper T cells and suppresses the activity of the human immune system. During the late phase of HIV replication, the RNA genome undergoes alternative splicing events. However, unspliced and singly spliced RNAs are too large to be exported out of the nucleus. To circumvent this problem, the virus utilizes the Rev Response Element (RRE), a landmark in the RNA transcripts. Rev, a viral protein, binds and multimerizes along the RRE forming complexes that are recognized for nuclear export. Viral RNA exiting the nucleus is crucial for HIV replication, making the Rev-RRE interaction a plausible drug target. This research aims to develop 3D structural models of Rev-RRE complexes in vitro using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR). However, due to the ability of Rev to oligomerize, precipitation occurs at low concentrations, which is problematic for NMR. To reduce aggregation, a Rev mutant, featuring an N-terminal solubility tag, was designed to truncate extraneous termini and limit the formation of higher-order oligomers. Initially, the Rev mutant exhibited low yields and impurities in gel electrophoresis data, however, further optimization of Rev expression and purity is underway and necessary for elucidating Rev-RRE structures.

This research was funded, in part, by a grant to UMBC from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute through the Pre-college and Undergraduate Science Education Program.

back button


The Relationship Of Social And Emotional Learning And Restorative Practices In Schools

Christa Reyes, Erin Chambers
Ken Maton, Psychology

Restorative practices are strategies that focus on relationship building and harm reparation. Recently, some school districts have shown interest in the potential of restorative practices as an alternative to traditional discipline systems. There have also been some indications that restorative practices could help support social-emotional development. The restorative practices approach is aimed to prevent student misbehavior and address them when they arise through increasing social and emotional skills. The development of social and emotional skills has been linked to improved engagement, test scores, college readiness, career success, and the ability to develop healthy relationships and good mental health in adulthood. However, there is a lack of data that examines the relationship between restorative practices and social and emotional learning. Qualitative interviews were conducted with students, teachers, and administrators at schools and will be analyzed using Braun and Clarke’s guidelines for inductive thematic analysis. A better understanding of the relationship between restorative practices and social and emotional learning will help to clarify the differences in their implementation and core components, as well as where they overlap. The information presented in this poster will allow practitioners to efficiently develop and implement policies that help promote the social and emotional development of students.

This work was funded, in part, by UMBC Graduate Student Association.

back button


Student Growth And Application Of Musical Literacy On The Viola

Will Roberts
Jeremy Cochran, Education

One of the most important skills for student success in a music classroom is the ability to read and decipher their music and understand it in the context of their instrument. In most elementary school strings classes you’ll hear a wall of sound that can make it difficult to discern how many students can read and decipher the music and to what extent they are able to. This research project focuses on instruction to improve musical literacy and application in the third grade viola class at Hilltop Elementary School. The class is made up of 13 female students and 3 male students of various racial and socio-economic backgrounds. The class average on the pretest was 35% given to students in December 2019. The types of questions on the test had to do with note identification and then indicating where on a specified string that note would be played. These skills were worked on through the use of method books and concert music for their Spring concert.

back button


A Fall Soundscape Snapshot of the Cylburn Arboretum and a Section of the 33rd Street Corridor in Baltimore City

Jonathan Rodman
Bernard Lohr, Individualized Study; Raimi Quiton, Psychology, UMBC

Investigations into the impacts of anthropogenic sound (anthrophony) on the acoustic communication of native fauna continues to be an area of study that provides information for conservation biologists, urban planners, and community residents. Such studies also provide critical and timely updates about changes in the biodiversity of soundscapes within a region. In this study, we collected audio recordings from 2 comparison sites in Baltimore City using 4 Autonomous Recording Units (ARUs). These 2 sites varied in vegetation cover, zoning designation, and proximity to highly congested roads and highways. The recordings were evaluated using SIGNAL and Raven sound analysis software to generate average power spectra for a four-day period throughout the Fall. We subsequently compared relative power across frequency bands in these long-term spectra to quantify variation within and between sites in traffic and other urban noise, and in animal sound signals (biophony). Further, we identified avian taxa to species in the recordings as a general proxy for vertebrate biodiversity at these sites within the urban landscape.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Anti-Blackness And White Southern Identity In Country Music

Alexandra Rodriguez
Dr. Tamara Bhalla, American Studies; Sarah Fouts, American Studies, UMBC

This research focuses on the racialized history of country music and how that affects the reception of black country artists today. During the 1920s, a new scholarly field emerged, “Southern Folklore Studies”, that tied white southern, working-class identity with southern culture. Concurrently country music was being constructed thus the myth of it being a solely white creation began. In 2019, Lil Nas X’s song “Old Town Road” became a national hit. While his trap-country song seemed to break boundaries, Country Billboard rejected it as not being country “enough”. The black musicians that have been accepted as country artists follow a specific performance where perceived blackness is hidden. When black country artists sing about non-white experiences they are not considered “real country artists” even though they follow the same formula and content as their white counterparts. Using coded lyrical analysis of 16 songs by black and white country artists, I demonstrate that it is not the content of the songs that is the issue but rather the singer’s blackness. I also research critical reception of the black musicians through archival reviews to identify criticisms unrelated to the music and how the critiques changed before and after large societal changes.

back button


Research

Daniel Rodriguez
Jeremy Cochran, Education

Throughout the course of two months, beginner band students have worked on improving the tone quality on their brass and woodwind instruments. In order to produce a characteristic sound on brass and woodwind instruments, students have learned about important factors that must be considered, such as proper posture and embouchure. The goal of a characteristic sound is to help beginner elementary school band students master intonation, which is the accuracy of pitch in playing. This helps students identify the correct pitch that must be produced on their instrument. Students have demonstrated a characteristic sound by producing a full, rich, and exemplary tone on their instrument, which are all important factors when it comes to maintaining a balanced sound in small and large ensembles. It also allows the music to be interpreted clearly and accurately. A total of 21 fourth grade beginner band students have performed long tone exercises as a form of pre-test, which allowed them to develop a characteristic sound as they progressed throughout the length of time to meet the target. On top of that, the students also performed a short piece from the book, which has allowed me to listen to their tone quality and intonation.

back button


Letting The LaxKAT Out Of The Bag: Packaging, Simulation, And Neuroimaging Data Analysis For A Powerful Kernel Test

Jeremy Rubin
Russell Shinohara, Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Informatics, University of Pennsylvania; Simon Vandekar, Biostatistics, Vanderbilt University; Lior Rennert, Public Health Sciences, Clemson University

Biomedical research areas including genomics and neuroimaging often have a number of independent variables that is much greater than the sample size. The sequence kernel association test (KAT) and sum of scores tests can offer improved power in this feature setting; however, power is significantly reduced in the presence of a large number of unassociated independent variables. We propose the Linear Maximal KAT (LaxKAT), which maximizes the KAT test statistic over a subspace of linear kernels to increase power. A permutation testing scheme was used to estimate the null distribution of the LaxKAT statistic and perform hypothesis testing. Calculation of the LaxKAT was implemented using a combination of the R and C++ programming languages. We found that this test has power and controls the type I error for different sample sizes and signal distributions. It is expected that the LaxKAT will have competitive power relative to other high-dimensional testing procedures when applied to detect predictors of memory impairment in cortical thickness measurements from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative study (ADNI).

This investigation was sponsored by NIH/NIGMS MARC U*STAR T34 HHS 00026 National Research Service Award to UMBC, NIH/NINDS R01NS085211 and NIH/NIMH R01MH112847.

back button


With Regards To Consent: Penalties And Benefits Of ‘As Cast’ Policies

Jay Ruiz
Chelsea Pace, Theatre

A common practice that has found its way into Theatre academia is the process of “as cast” policies. What this means is that regardless of what role a student is given after their audition they are required to accept it. Students in theatre programs, traditionally Bachelor of Fine Arts or Bachelor of Arts with emphasis in Performance or Acting, are asked to adhere to this policy. The purpose of this research is to analyze the costs and benefits of these policies especially in relation to a student’s consent; The impact this may have on other professional opportunities, student experiences, retention, and student advocacy. To do so I have compiled data on National Associations of Schools of Theatre (NAST) accredited universities public policies and used them in conjunction with accounts from students. Though not all universities had public policies available, this research used data from universities that did and those that gave the information after being asked.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Ultra-Fast Time-Resolved Laser Spectroscopy On Artificial Analogues Of Photosynthetic Molecules

Alexander Russell, Brian Uthe
Matthew Pelton, Physics

BODIPY is a molecular dye that can strongly absorb light in the visible spectrum. We hope that orientations and distances between BODIPY units in larger molecular structures will influence the energies and dynamics of electrons in the molecules, allowing them to be an effective material for solar energy conversion. The purpose of our project is measuring and characterizing these electron dynamics using time-resolved laser spectroscopy. We performed transient-absorption measurements by exciting samples with a pulsed “pump” laser tuned to the wavelength of absorption. Some time later, a white light “probe” pulse was sent through and observations were made of the change in photon absorption. A global fit of this data was used to determine the dynamic processes and their rates. We also undertook photoluminescence measurements by exciting samples with a laser pulse and, using a single-photon detector, detected the photons emitted as a function of time after excitation. A fit of this data was used to determine the rate at which electrons leave the excited state. Preliminary analysis revealed that the structure and surrounding liquid environment influence both longer (nanosecond) lifetimes and faster (picosecond) processes, indicating the ability to optimize the dynamics through molecular design.

back button


Assessing The Electability Of United States Presidential Candidates

Cameron Rybacki
Carolyn Forestiere, Political Science

With the 2020 presidential election taking place later this year the question of electability has had a strong presence in the media and minds of voters. This research will determine the electability of United States presidential candidates. As a new generation of voters arise it is useful to be able to predict how they will vote, and more specifically what they will be looking for in a candidate. Also, it is important to acknowledge the biases people having going into voting so that they can be confronted and overcome. Through a conjoint experiment design results will be drawn, hopefully indicating that the younger, educated generation are looking for candidates that break with the norm of what has become a United States presidential mold. IRB approval will be sought before this survey of UMBC political science students is distributed. By using a conjoint design profiles and characteristics of imaginary candidates will be varied so that each respondents’ responses are more reliable and less susceptible to established orders. The final results and conclusions will be available in April of this year.

back button


Modeling Of Metal-based Microwave Heating Arrays Using Finite-Difference Time-Domain Simulation And Thermal Imaging

Lahari Saha, Zach Nichols1, Zach Nichols2, Rachael Knoblauch3, Rachael Knoblauch2, Tonya M. Santaus2, Chris D. Geddes*2
1The Department of Chemsitry and Biochemistry, University of Maryland, Baltimore County,
2The Institute of Fluorescence, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, 3 The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Chris Geddes, The Institute of Fluorescence, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Lysis is one of the first essential steps to biomolecular analysis. Popular cell lysis methods include both mechanical and non-mechanical techniques such as bead-beating, conventional heating, osmotic shock, detergents, sonication, vortex, and enzymes. Many of these conventional methods have setbacks such as cost, complexity, effectiveness, and time. Previous work has demonstrated gold microwave lysing triangles (MLTs) to be more effective and efficient compared to other lysing methodologies. Still, most lysing technologies possess low or intermediate throughput analysis. High-throughput screening and diagnostics allow for the parallelization of samples, thus greatly improving the sample preparation and future analysis of several samples simultaneously. Here, we have employed Finite-Difference Time-Domain (FDTD) simulations to model electric fields of various metal geometries on a standard 96-well plate. Furthermore, a forward-looking infrared (FLIR) thermal imaging camera was used for experimental validation of the FDTD models. The experiments revealed similar heating patterns as the simulations, suggesting that the intense electric field patterns correspond to microwave-heating responses. This sets the foundation for a high-throughput, cost effective, and rapid lysing technique that can be used in laboratory and clinical settings alike. Other applications for this design include fluorescent-based high-throughput screening, drug discovery, protein-protein detection, and various immunoassays.

We would like to thank the Institute of Fluorescence and Dr. Chris D. Geddes for supporting this research. *All correspondence: geddes@umbc.edu.

back button


UMBC Game Developers Club: 2019-2020 Team Projects

Shea Sandifer, Trevor Ancona, Stephen Vaudreuil, Skyler O’Neill, Brandon Ellis, Charlie Hunter, Benjamin Przysucha , Anthony Ellis, Aaron Tolbert-Smith, Zach Hale, Liam Upton, Shawn Oppermann, Seth Davis
Marc Olano, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering

The UMBC Game Developers Club is a professional, career-focused club dedicated to bringing students of all majors together to learn about game development, work in a team-based environment, network, and build portfolios of working, polished games. Teams this year have created games featuring a variety of genres, art styles, engines, and programming languages. This year’s games include: Bitcoin Miner, half visual novel, half mobile game; Bruise Cruise, an alcohol-powered action platformer; Myztree, a realtime dungeon crawler with procedurally generated levels; Pop-Up, an adventure game where you travel through stories; Fred and Red, a puzzle game with magnets; and Binary, a machine-based puzzle game. In addition, club members worked on a number of semester-long game projects, including: Candybaggers, a two player trick-or-treating game; Sludger, a game where you battle through a world of mutants; Invisible Ink, a choose-your-own adventure game set in a dystopian world; Shatter Ball, a mobile game where you slow down time to shoot a ball to the finish line; Bad Boy: Tournament Edition, a 2-D fighting game; Modeling Mayhem, a game where you must become beautiful in time for one last photoshoot; and New America: Businessman, a trading game set in post-apocalyptic North America.

back button


GAG-RNA Interactions That Initiate HIV-1 Assembly

Mitali Sarkar
Dr. Michael Summers, Chemistry and Biochemistry;Pengfei Dine, UMBC

Assembly of the HIV-1 virus is initiated by interactions between the Gag polyprotein and viral genomic RNA. During the viral assembly, two copies of the unspliced viral RNA are selectively packaged by Gag, although the host cytosol contains a substantial excess of non-viral RNA. The cis-acting RNA region responsible for selective genome packaging (the packaging signal or Psi) is located at the 5’-untranslated region (5’-UTR), which is recognized by the nucleocapsid (NC) domain of Gag. Several lines of evidence suggest that clustering of Gag on Psi increases the local concentration of Gag, promoting the self-assembly of Gag into hexamers. This Gag/Psi complex is proposed to serve as the nucleation site for viral assembly, which in turn result in the selective packaging of the viral genomic RNA.

Our study seeks to understand the detailed molecular mechanism for Gag/Psi recognition. Isothermal Titration Calorimetry (ITC) using Gag derivatives and the 5’UTR have shown a total of 28 NC binding sites on the 5’UTR. To show that these binding sites were able to promote Gag hexamerization, chemical crosslinking and cryo-electron microscopy (EM) were used. Results support our hypothesis that the dimeric viral RNA is selectively packaged through mediating Gag assembly into hexamers.

This research was funded, in part, by a grant to UMBC from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute through the Pre-college and Undergraduate Science Education Program.

back button


TrojAI

Britney Sarpong
Tim Oates, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering

Machine learning methods are used to train artificial intelligence to learn relationships in data and then transfer it to the real world. There are however security risks in which an AI will not recognize an object because of a slight change to it. This posed many security and safety risks for AIs such as self-driving cars because if a car cannot recognize a stop sign, people are then being put into danger. The aim of this research was to mitigate or possibly eradicate the inconsistencies that arise from AI detection software due to trojans in the system. The goal we aimed to achieve was to acquire knowledge of deep learning and gain experience in machine learning in order to understand how trojans manifest in deep networks. In order to achieve this, we learned to train object recognition networks and experiment with data “poisoning” attacks through data sets, as well as measured effectiveness by evaluating the networks ability to detect trojans, and explored ways of detecting if the network was attacked via bad training data.

This work was funded, in part, through Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation.

back button


Emotional

Alex Schobitz
Corrie Parks, Visual Arts

“Emotional” is an animated self portrait depicting the struggle one faces when dealing with bipolar one disorder. The boy, a representation of the animator, has a series of rapid mood swings that plunge him into an uncontrollable surge of emotion. He must figure out a way to regain control of his feelings and get help. The piece was created through several different animation techniques. The greyscale paper dolls that functioned as the body for the protagonist were made by hand and given life through stop motion animation and use of a greenscreen. Layered on top of this, was digital animation for the rushing emotions, as well as digital rotoscoping for the boy’s expressions. The stop motion animation was done under a DSLR camera and then processed through Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Premiere Pro. The sound design for this piece was created in Ableton Live and Adobe Audition, and recrafted with permissions from FreeSound.org, and UMBC’s Sound Vault. This animation is intended to give viewers a glimpse into the tidal waves of emotions that so deeply affect not only the animator but anyone who struggles with bipolar one disorder.

back button


The Development Of A Method For The Quantitation Of Carbohydrates In Aquatic Systems

Madeline Schuch
William LaCourse, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Carbohydrates, specifically glucose, galactose, arabinose, mannose, xylose, fructose, and rhamnose, are some of the most abundant dissolved organic carbon (DOC) sources in aquatic ecosystems and are a major food source for organisms. DOC have become a major pollutant in aquatic systems. Therefore, the concentration of these carbohydrates in aquatic waters may correlate to the health of the ecosystem. The goal of this project is to develop a method to quantify the seven carbohydrates listed in aqueous solution. The system used consisted of all Dionex instrumentation; it included an AS50 Autosampler, a LC30 Chromatography oven, an ED50 Electrochemical detector, and a GD50 Gradient Pump. The eluents were 18MΩ resistance purity water, 200mM NaOH, and 16mM NaOH. The separation method utilized high performance anion exchange chromatography, although mannose and xylose could not be separated. The detection method utilized pulsed amperometric detection. When analyzing, the method created the linear range, coefficient of determination (R2), reproducibility, and accuracy of an unknown for each carbohydrate were examined. A preconcentration method involving resuspension and a filter (.45μM nylon) were also examined and determined to not statistically alter the concentration of the carbohydrates. Then, real world samples were run to validate the method.

back button


Evaluation Of Clinical Factors Leading To Sepsis Recognition In The Emergency Department

Anna Schuster
Dr. Fran Balamuth, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Internationally, sepsis is among the leading causes of pediatric mortality and morbidity. Early recognition is key; however, identifying pediatric patients with sepsis can be challenging. To aid in recognition, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) has developed a sepsis alert system linked to electronic health records. This project aims to determine the factors influencing sepsis recognition by clinicians in the CHOP Emergency Department (ED), and evaluate recognition factors in situations where the alert determination did not align with the clinician’s assessment. This project utilized a two-part survey administered to ED clinicians after patients were identified for sepsis monitoring. The survey emphasized factors leading to sepsis recognition, particularly when outside of the alert system. Results from 42 surveys obtained indicate comorbidity was the dominant factor driving sepsis suspicion, appearing in 43 percent of cases. Further review of survey data of patients identified outside of the alert suggests judgement factors including medical complexity most strongly influenced clinicians’ decisions. Overall, these findings demonstrate that the electronic alert may be improved by expanding its trigger criteria to include additional comorbidities identified by clinicians

This work was supported through CHOP Research Institute Summer Scholars Program which is funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R25HD082842.

back button


Synthesis Of Immunosuppressive Nanoparticles For The Treatment Of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Alexandra Seas
Gregory Szeto, Chemical, Biochemical, and Environmental Engineering

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disease that attacks tissues and organs such as the kidneys, heart, and lungs. It is often treated with immunosuppressive drugs and corticosteroids, which can be toxic to non-diseased tissue throughout the body. Here we propose tissue-specific distribution of drug-loaded biodegradable nanoparticles as a novel treatment for SLE that may reduce adverse effects to healthy tissue. Poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) is a biodegradable polymer that is often used to form nanoparticles (small particles used in biological applications, such as to efficiently deliver drugs specific tissues, organs, or cells). Azathioprine and methylprednisolone are immunosuppressive and steroidal drugs, respectively, that are FDA approved and are used to treat SLE. Azathioprine and methylprednisolone nanoparticles were synthesized using an oil/water emulsion technique, followed by size, distribution, and electrical potential testing via dynamic light scattering. Sizes ranged from 170-200 nanometers with polydispersity of 0.1-0.2, loading capacity ranged from 9.8% to 14.1%, and the encapsulation efficiency ranged from 88% to 98%. These results indicate that the drugs were successfully incorporated into the nanoparticles. Following studies of the drug release kinetics, these particles will be used in both in vitro and in vivo models of SLE.

This investigation was sponsored by NIH/NIGMS MARC U*STAR T34 HHS 00026 National Research Service Award to UMBC, Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs, and the Lupus Foundation of America Gina M Finzi Memorial Fellowship to MA, and a grant from the Maryland Technology Development Corporation.

back button


Will The American Dream Survive Beyond The First-Generation?

Fatimah Shaalan
Lisa Dickson, Economics

Intergenerational mobility is affected by where you grow up in Maryland. Growing up in Howard County compared to Baltimore City has a different effect on the probability of the rise in of socioeconomic status. With this in mind, I will determine which county in Maryland has the best chance of upward mobility by examining cultural, economic, and social capital. Family income percentile from generation to generation varies with factors such as having immigrant parents, social resources, and communication and leadership skills. Favorable policies to mend the effects of income inequality include higher taxes on larger incomes and creating easier access to investing. As income inequality continues to grow in the United States as a whole, understanding its effects will be beneficial in creating effective policies to ensure upward mobility is possible for all.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


A 3D-Printed Microfluidic System For Automated And Near Real-Time Quantitation Of Biofilm-Induced Indole

Sahra Sharifi, Giraso Monia Kabandana
Chengpeng Chen, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Antibiotic resistance has been an extensive complication since the last century. As bacteria have become more evolved, resistant bacterial strains have led to a more difficult treatment of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, C. difficile, and pneumonia. With the mechanism still not yet fully understood, a 3D-printed microfluidic model was created to quantitate the kinetics of indole, a potential quorum-sensing molecule that is released by tryptophanase (TnaA) during tryptophan decomposition in 85% of all known bacteria. Indole is thought to be involved in several biochemical processes such as biofilm formation, antibiotic resistance, virulence, bacteria division, and plasmid stability. In biofilms, bacteria congregate into tightly packed structures surrounding themselves with self-produced extracellular polymeric substances. This composition enables a more efficient genetic exchange, increasing the prevalence of traits such as antibiotic resistance. The model consists of two critical features– a microdialysis probe with micropillars to enhance extraction, and a microfluidic device on which direct optical measurements can be conducted. After several trials of continuous quantitation of indole release from biofilms for 24 hours with Escherichia coli, it was concluded that biofilm under antibiotic stress releases more indole at a faster, more durable rate, suggesting a response mechanism of biofilms under antibiotic stress.

back button


Creating An Inclusive Sexual Health Education For Transgender Youth In Maryland Public High Schools

Alexandra Siebenhaar
Kate Drabinski, Gender and Women’s Studies

LGBTQ+ high-school students are excluded from most sexual health education curriculums in the United States. Not only is sexual health education very heteronormative, but lacking gender-inclusive language in the classroom is detrimental to the health of transgender youth. This results in transgender youth being at a higher risk of having unprotected sex leading to unintended pregnancies, STI’s, and HIV/AIDS. My research focuses on sexual health education in Maryland Public High Schools and how educators can work on developing a more inclusive curriculum that accommodates the transgender experience. My research compares the state of Maryland’s framework to the state of California’s framework (in which they legally require sex education to be LGBTQ+ inclusive). Also, my research examines qualitative or interview-based scholarly articles to seek out what transgender individuals wish they were taught in their sexual health education classes. Finally, my research conducts a data analysis of both Maryland and California’s state statistics regarding pregnancy rates, STIs, and HIV/AIDS amongst young individuals. My research specifically analyzes how the varying sexual orientations within the transgender community are included in sexual health education, as well as the discussion of hormone therapy, gender dysphoria, sex and body positivity.

back button


A Comparison Of Song Repertoire Sizes In Male And Female Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia Sialis) using Statistical Rarefaction

Jonathan Sikora, Michelle Moyer
Kevin Omland, Biological Sciences; Evangeline Rose, Biological Sciences, UMBC

Female bird song is an understudied subject, and was previously thought to be an absent or reduced trait. However, we now know that female Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) sing, and that their songs are equivalent in structure to male songs. Male and female Eastern Bluebirds may also differ in repertoire size, or the number of unique songs known by an individual. Repertoire sizes have been studied for females in only a handful of studies. We compared the repertoire sizes of male and female Eastern Bluebirds. We recorded 10 male and 10 female Eastern Bluebirds at West Friendship Park in Howard County, Maryland from May to July 2019. We isolated 843 songs from these recordings using the sound analysis software Syrinx. Individuals sang between 47 and 366 songs, but only the first and last 50 songs were used for individuals with greater than 100 songs. Three observers independently sorted these songs into song type categories to estimate repertoire sizes for each individual. We will use a statistical approach known as rarefaction to estimate the repertoire size of each individual, allowing for a comparison between male and female Eastern Bluebirds.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Systematic Annotation Of Evidence-based Sentences In Scientific Articles Using The Evidence And Conclusions Ontology.

Andrew Simpson, Emmanuel Kotey, Ashley Mitchell, Dorjan Leka
Ivan Erill, Biological Sciences; Terri Hobbs, Biological Sciences

Millions of scientific articles are published each year. This amount exceeds what an individual is able to comprehend. A solution to this problem is through the use of text-mining methods and ontologies, structured systems which categorize terms and their relationships. Text-mining approaches require a corpus of annotated documents to train on. Here we present an effort to generate a corpus by annotating terms from the Evidence and Conclusions Ontology (ECO) in scientific articles. Annotations were created based on a provided guideline to make them as objective as possible, but the annotations still vary between different annotators. The undergraduate team met on a weekly basis to compare annotations and address questions. Annotations were submitted through a dedicated server hosted by the Barcelona Supercomputing Center, and then reviewed and processed for statistical analysis by a graduate student in the Erill laboratory. To make these annotations available to a wide audience, we adopt FAIR principles. Because a corpus establishes links between published research articles and terms in an ontology, we release the corpus embedded in the ontology, so that it can evolve with it. In addition, high-quality annotations populate ECO with examples of use, which allow researchers to more intuitively understand ontology terms.

back button


Towards Detection Of Misinformation Through Machine Learning And Latent Variable Methods

Joshua Slaughter
Tulay Adali, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering; Zois Boukouvalas, American University

Modern social technologies are capable of expediting a massive amount of information enabling the spread of misinformation affecting decision making, cooperation, communications, and markets. The threat of misleading information has grown with the advent of social media. Two crucial questions that arise are how true and false information diffuse and how they correlate with each other. Providing answers to such questions will provide valuable insights and enable automatic
detection of misinformation.

Recent machine learning advances have successfully been used for the detection of misinformation while dealing with large amounts of data. However, a significant challenge that remains in this area is the automatic extraction of features that best summarize the data. We approach this problem using machine learning algorithms and modern latent variable methods in order to extract features such that knowledge, discovery, and detection of misinformation can be achieved jointly. We demonstrate this by using a publicly available dataset that contains labeled articles from a variety of data sources.

back button


The Rights, Responsibilities And Privileges of Student-Teachers At UMBC

Mike Spano
Michele Wolff, The Shriver Center

This independent research study observed the effects of how “student-teachers” (STs) such as SI PASS leaders, peer-mentors, etc. were treated among their professors and classmates. The treatment of STs varied among professors and students. Some would be perceived as TAs and others would be treated at the same level as a student. The problem with the treatment of STs comes from the gap in the UMBC policy. The lack of policy guidelines creates a grey area for ST’s rights, privileges, and responsibilities. This leaves the rights of STs up to interpretation between the professors. The addition/improvement of guidelines in the University System of Maryland policy would benefit the experiences of STs, professors, and students because it would give a more clear understanding of who STs are and why they are in the classroom. This study suggests that this could be an issue in other schools also all around the country.

back button


Prolonged Suspense

Taylor Steen
Corrie Parks, Visual Arts

Traumatic events are difficult for younger people to describe, so they are developed in the unconscious state of the victim’s mind. This was the case when one night I was told that my father was going to be arrested for a crime I knew he did not commit. I partnered with Psychotherapist, Aubrey Griffin and Doctor Amanda Kelley to answer the question: What does my trauma look like and why? Mrs. Griffin and I determined that during that night, my mind went through a series of emotions similar to the stages of grief. Additionally, she recognized that I never processed the final stage of acceptance, leaving my mind in an empty state, making me more susceptible to the development of depression and anxiety. Using this information, I began to build a visual recreation of the event, but the research led me to develop the project into an exploration of the emotions felt during the time of the event. To do this, I’ve created a series of symbolic elements that will take the viewer through the interpretation of my emotions. Additionally, I used depth, film alteration and lighting to recreate the atmosphere.

back button


Phosphate removal By Lanthanum-containing Materials: Effect Of Inorganic Carbon And PH On Treatment Effectiveness

Taylor Stephen, Yue (Cecile) Zhi1
1Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering, North Carolina State University
Detlef Knappe, North Carolina State University; Douglas Call, Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering, North Carolina State University

Build-up of phosphorus in environmental waters can lead to diminished water quality. Orthophosphate (PO4) is the most bioavailable source of phosphorus and is a key target for remediation. Trivalent lanthanum (La) is known to effectively bind PO4. However, few studies used controlled experiments to examine the impact of background water matrix constituents, such as dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and pH, on the performance of these materials. This study aimed to evaluate the impact of pH and DIC on (1) the effectiveness of two La-containing materials, La2(CO3)3 and La-modified bentonite, on PO4 removal and (2) La leaching into water. Batch experiments were conducted at pH 6 and 8 and with DIC additions of 0, 12, and 60 mg/L as C. Aqueous concentrations of PO4 and La were measured over time until equilibrium was reached. Overall, experimental and equilibrium model results revealed that increased DIC did not measurably impact PO4 removal and decreased La leaching for both La-containing materials. Conversely, increased pH led to slower PO4 removal and increased La leaching such that La levels in filtrate were above the level of ecotoxicological concern, 4 ug/L La.

This investigation was sponsored by NIH/NIGMS MARC U*STAR T3408663 National Research Service Award to UMBC.

back button


Symmetry: From Right Down The Line

Adam Stevens
Cheryl North, Education

Symmetry occurs naturally in life, identifying symmetry in the real-world carries over into understanding proportions in observational art, portraiture as well as abstract art. Furthermore, symmetry falls under the balance category in the principles of design. It is important that students understand these concepts early on because it applies in to multiple facets of art making e.g.(still-life, sculpture) that students will accomplish later during their academic tenure. Prior to this SLO being conducted, 1st grade students in a suburban Title 1 county school understood little to nothing about the concept of symmetry. This research helped students understand the concept through various methods of printing such as mono-printing and gadget printing.

back button


Design And Fabrication Of A Housing For A Wearable, Low-cost Particulate Matter Sensor

Diane Stonestreet, Ali Kazi1
1Chemical, Biochemical, and Environmental Engineering
Christopher Hennigan, Chemical, Biochemical, and Environmental Engineering; Yordan Kostov, Chemical, Biochemical, and Environmental Engineering, UMBC

The purpose of this research was to design and fabricate a 3D printed housing for a novel, wearable, and low-cost particulate matter (PM) sensor. All iterations of this design were created in SolidWorks. The housing is compact, and able to fit all circuitry and optical sensing components. An assessment of 3D printers has been conducted to determine which materials are lightweight and sturdy enough for this project while minimizing cost of production. Additionally, this housing is designed so that stray light is minimized and air flow is maximized which allows for the most accurate and timely PM measurements. In utilizing 3D printing technology to create the housing for this PM sensor, the overall cost of fabrication for the PM sensor has been reduced, making it more accessible to the target population of pediatric asthma patients. This research provides a cheaper, more accessible alternative to PM sensors used today without sacrificing the accuracy of the sensor, and allows for PM data to be analyzed and interpreted in a timely fashion to inform the wearer when the ambient air quality reaches unhealthy levels.

This work was funded, in part, by UMBC McNair Scholars Summer Research Institute

back button


Chemical And Biological Sensing Using perovskite Materials

Charmain Su, Ian Emge, Bradley Arnold, Fow-Sen Choa, Ching-Hua Su1, K.D. Mandal2, Manish K. Verma2
1NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, 2 Indian Institute of Technology
N.B. Singh, Chemistry and Biochemistry; Lisa Kelly, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Barium strontium titanate (BST) perovskites have been proven to be very important materials for variety of applications. With a continuous demand for the tunable devices and high dielectric parallel plate capacitors, perovskites such as CaCu3 Ti4O12(CCTO), La2/3Cu3Ti4O12 Pr2/3Cu3Ti4O12 and many other systems of this class of compounds have been studied by investigators all over the world. Detailed studies showed that results vary a lot based on processing methods such as powder vs. multi crystals and single crystals. In spite of great progress in processing, low resistivity and process driven variables in properties remain a big hurdle for its applications as a dielectric capacitor. The problem of low resistivity has been solved and reasonable resistivity has been achieved by dopants. We observed that effect of chemicals used in wet and semiwet affected dielectric and other semiconducting properties. With these goals, we used the parallel plate capacitors as chemical and biological sensors. The data indicated huge difference in the dielectric and resistivity of the exposed samples. This indicates that perovskites can be used for chemical and biological sensors at very low cost. Also, preliminary data indicates that after exposing in atmosphere, there materials can recover to original characteristics.

back button


Integrative Platform For Predictive Health Outcomes

Katherine Sublett
Dr. April Householder, Information Systems

As technology continues to find its way into the medical field, the utility of web-based platforms that can be used to analyze and visualize data in correspondence to vitals and health prognosis will provide an opportunity to health professionals and their patients for a more individualized and comprehensive experience. The health platform offers data visualization for vitals using data from the PhysioNet Computing in Cardiology Challenge 2019 datasets. The website platform dashboard allows for real-time data parsing and visualization that provides comparisons between individuals and populations. The dashboard results in the dynamically generated reports that are intended to aid healthcare managers in making decisions and tailoring care. This health dashboard is an introduction of a larger and combined project with utility in health prognosis, analysis, and predictions.

back button


Towards The Automatic Assessment Of Student Teamwork

Danilo Symonette, Rohan Ahuja, Daniyal Khan
Don Engel, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering; Simon Stacey, Political Science, Honors College, UMBC ; Shimei Pan , Computer Science, UMBC

Teamwork skills are crucial for college students, both at university and afterwards. At many universities, teams are increasingly using discussion platforms such as GroupMe and Slack to work virtually. However, little has been done so far to understand how to use the data these platforms generate to analyze student teamwork behaviors, and so to support or improve those behaviors. Furthermore, these data have not been exploited to determine whether effective student team members share any other traits. This project therefore attempts to determine (a) whether there are any characteristics common to the online discussion behaviors displayed by high-performing vs non high-performing student team members and (b) whether high-performing vs non high-performing student team members share any apparently teamwork-exogenous attributes. We find that the features of team member communication that best predict team member performance are sentence length and the number of words contributed to the team’s discussion, with a range of other features playing a smaller role. More generally, building a model to automatically predict a student’s performance as a team member based on his/her exchanges with teammates is itself a significant contribution.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


An Efficient Machine Learning Method For Building Atlases Of Gene Regulatory Networks

Kent Taguba
Daniel Lobo, Biological Sciences

Gene Regulatory Networks (GRN) can robustly produce spatial gene expression patterns that precisely control tissue behaviors during development, regeneration, and homeostasis. However, discovering the specific gene regulatory interactions that can give rise to an experimentally observed expression pattern is a current challenge due to the complexity of biological regulation, which is hindering our ability to understand the underlying mechanisms in many biological functions. Previous studies have proposed computational approaches based on random search to build atlases of GRN models that can explain specific gene expression patterns and their dynamics. These methodologies based on random parameter sweeps are however, slow and inefficient which prevents their application to complex expression patterns. Here, we present a novel machine learning algorithm based on multi-objective heuristic optimization for the automated discovery of GRN atlases that can recapitulate a specific spatial gene expression pattern and predict their spatiotemporal dynamics. We demonstrate this methodology with an application to build an atlas of GRNs producing expression patterns similar to the gap gene patterning in Drosophila melanogaster controlled by the Bicoid morphogen gradient. Our results show the ability of the heuristic algorithm to build efficiently GRN atlases, paving the way for the construction of atlases of complex expression patterns.

This work was funded, in part, by the National Science Foundation (NSF) grant IIS-1566077.

back button


Use Of Methane Combustion To Produce Clean Water And Energy

Fatima Talib
Mariajose Castellanos, Chemical, Biochemical, and Environmental Engineering

Landfill gas (LFG), specifically methane gas, combustion has long been used to produce thermal energy for high power plants. Many plants use a direct supply of LFG via a capped landfill for this reaction. This process has served well to decrease methane emissions, but has mostly ignored the byproducts of this reaction. A general hydrocarbon combustion reaction consists of water and carbon dioxide byproducts in varying ratios dependent on the hydrocarbon composition. This project desires to create a tool that allows us to utilize the byproducts as well as the incredible thermal energy released by this common reaction. Specifically, we aim to create a process that will allow us to provide drinkable, clean water, as well as a mechanism to collect and use carbon dioxide in an environmentally safe manner. There are two projects under consideration, an industrial sized process that may be implemented along with pre-established plant setups, as well as a household sized unit. This paper primarily deals with designing a working household unit sized process in order to appropriately test the capabilities of the model. So far, research has led into a promising design for this tool, and feasibility testing is ongoing.

back button


Trends Between Air Pollutants And Respiratory Illnesses

Lasya Tallapragada
Belay Demoz, Physics; Ruben Delgado, Physics, UMBC

Chronic respiratory conditions severely impact the lives of those who suffer from it. In Baltimore, it’s estimated that over 12% of adults suffer from asthma, much higher than the 8.6% nationally. The socioeconomics of Baltimore poses a unique challenge for asthma treatment – asthma disproportionately impacts low and middle income communities. The Maryland Department of Health published a Public Health Report, containing weekly hospitalization records for various health conditions. This health record data is correlated with air quality data provided by the EPA over the same time periods to explore the influence of air pollution on lung related disease. Correlations of weekly pollution levels to the weekly reporting of lung related hospitalizations were made. The hypothesis is that lung related issues would be more noticeable during times of high air pollution, and people would be more likely to be hospitalized shortly after (within the weekly reporting cadence). Significant correlations appear for respiratory illnesses as a whole over large periods of time; calculations were performed over the last decade for different regions of Maryland. It is noted that such a correlative test alone doesn’t show causality- other factors that varied over that same time period could have influenced both variables simultaneously.

This research is based upon work supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Educational Partnership Program, U.S. Department of Commerce, under Agreement No. #NA16SEC4810006.

back button


Economic Benefit Of Photovoltaics In Michigan Field Crop Farms

Sedzro Tamakloe
Annick Anctil, Civil and environmental engineering

The total annual consumption of energy in the U.S. agricultural sector is 1,872 trillion Btu, which was 1.9% of total U.S. consumption in 2016. Photovoltaics (PVs) are an option to reduce energy consumption from the grid. In this study, the economic benefits to farmers are quantified when a PV system is installed in agricultural field crop farms of Michigan. The optimal design of PV system in farms should use hourly energy consumption data, which is not currently available in the public domain. To bridge this data gap, we model the hourly electricity consumption from a typical agricultural farm operation using Python 3.1.2. Homer Pro is used to optimize capacity and assess the economic benefits of a PV system by simulating its operation on an agricultural farm for ten years. The required PV capacity to offset the electricity demand and sell-back to the grid is determined and the associated cost benefits are calculated for a grid-connected agricultural farm. The farm electricity consumption and cost of operation reduce with the use of PVs. The implementation of net metering saves farmers money on their electricity expenses. The annualized cost was reduced for scenarios 2 and 4 with net metering.

Michigan State University SROP.

back button


Block Turn: Cube-Flipping, Puzzle-Solving Fun

Connor Thomas, Jacob Hoffman, Brandon Thomas
Eric Jordan, Visual Arts

Designed, drawn, and programmed for the Capstone Games Group Project course, Block Turn is a simple, cube-based puzzle video game designed to be simple to understand, visually appealing, and rewarding to play. The game incorporates the beauty of 3D models and physics with the simplicity of a 2D puzzle game. The controls are streamlined to ensure the user never has to worry about how to play, and the objective is simple: light up all sides of the cube. Creating Block Turn involved the incorporation of multiple artists and programmers that married the need for appealing graphics to capture the attention of the user to the need for a satisfying game to keep the user interested. Specifically, artists used Maya and Photoshop to create the necessary art assets, and these were imported to Unity where they were added to the coding framework to generate the final product. The project resulted in all of the team members gaining valuable experience in teamwork, programming for a large project, and collaborating with and between artists to produce a video game that is enjoyable to most audiences.

back button


The Movement Of Otherworldly Creatures

Raychel Thress
Corrie Parks, Visual Arts

Animation is an artistic tool that can be used to explore anything visually as long as someone can think of it. But how can an animation ground itself in a believable way if its subject material doesn’t originate from real life? As an animator, I wanted to research how to translate the unique and fine movements of real animals into those of fantastical creatures in a believable way. Over the past year, I have observed various animals at the Baltimore Zoo, as well as online videos and sequential photography by Eadweard Muybridge. I made life study sketches and animations showcasing some of the animals I observed, created imaginary creature designs based off of those animals and developed animations that demonstrate how these fantastical creatures would move. In my presentation, I will be showcasing my observations and influences, the creatures’ designs, the finished animations of both real and fantastical animals, and how my observations improved my ability to bring these creatures to life.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Poems About Homes

Tiwalade Topia
Lia Purpurs, English

Colonialism of the global south, specifically the African continent, has led to economic instabilities, civil wars, and job insecurities that result in the mass emigration of African bodies to the “Lands of opportunities” in search of better living standards. From an immigrant perspective, “home” is an ambiguous concept, one that also reaches across the ocean to a native land that may not share in traditional American ideals. Yet, despite being so physically removed, immigrants manage to build a semblance of that “home” by congregating in and nurturing local ethnic communities. This research project will follow two poetic works by African immigrants in the U.S. under the theme of home and the nuances that surround it. I analyze poetic form, content, rhetoric, and context, in search of ways in which west African Immigrants view their exodus from their homeland and their struggles to adapt. I will also be begging the questions: “What are ways in which African immigrants preserve their cultural identity, in a country that heavily favors assimilation, as a way to maintain their connection to their native land?” And “In what ways does home try to hold on to the people it has lost to the west?”

back button


An Investigation into the State of South Korea’s LGBT Community Through Analysis of Language Use

Julianne Townsend
Kyung-Eun Yoon, Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Intercultural Communication

This research analyzes the language use of LGBT people through examination of internet forums and social media platforms. Incidences of LGBT activity has been recorded in the Korean Peninsula since its early history. However, but due to the present-day influence of conservative Christian groups, Confucian ideology, and government policy, the existence of the LGBT community in Korea is largely unknown to those outside of the group, and is regarded as taboo. Speaking openly about one’s own sexual or gender identity is not widely accepted, and as a result there is a dearth of open discourse about this subject. Despite this, there is a wealth of information about and discourse regarding the Korean LGBT community on internet forums and social media platforms, such as Twitter. Through the examination of the language used on internet forums, social media pages centered around South Korean LGBT people, Google Images, and content in South Korean television programs, this paper analyzes and attempts to reveal the state of the South Korean LGBT community through the analysis of the language used in relation to community identity construction and media visibility.

back button


Subset Feature Selection With Considerations Of Fairness

Jordan Troutman
James Foulds, Information Systems

Organizations are increasingly using machine learning algorithms to make life-changing decisions, such as home loans or criminal justice risk assessments. While well-intentioned, the training data used can misrepresent populations, creating biased algorithms. Current research aims to quantify statistically how algorithms impose biases depending on protected group affiliation (e.g. gender, race, age, etc.). Motivated by fairness issues in machine learning algorithms used in the criminal justice system, this project aims to develop a method for automatically selecting features which lead to fair and accurate behavior. We emphasize the understanding of whether the chosen fair subset of features gives intuitions about the decision-making process of ML models. We thus evaluate the trade-offs between accuracy and fairness. Using various models and datasets, our experimental results suggest a relationship between the features of fair subsets and the predictive accuracy of ML models.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Impact Of Experiences Of Rejection On Health-Related Quality Of Life For Previously Incarcerated Individuals

Briscoe Turner, Kyra Malone, Elizabeth Janson, Jabarey Wells
Bronwyn Hunter, Psychology

The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that in 2015 alone, 640,000 people were released from prison. Formerly incarcerated individuals and those with criminal records face discrimination and rejection once they return to society, which can have adverse effects on health and well-being. Rejection can lead to increased stress, which can have detrimental effects on physical health over time. Rejection from employment and educational opportunities as well as social activities can also be a deterring factor from engaging in actions that would help maintain a healthy level of social, emotional, and mental functioning. This study analyzes the relationship between experiences of social rejection related to having a criminal record and health-related quality of life. We utilized cross-sectional survey data from 198 participants with a criminal record, and used a linear regression analysis to find the relation between experiences of rejection and health-related quality of life. The results provide important insight on the impact of rejection on health-related quality of life among those who have criminal records and are in the community. This research can be used to help facilitate the supportive re-entry of individuals being released from prison.

back button


Nonlinear Granger Causality Discovery Using Xgboost

Uchendu Uchendu
Jianwu Wang, Information Systems

Recently we have experienced the effects of climate change, which include extreme weather conditions. These extreme weather conditions have influenced change in delicate ecosystems and have caused loss of lives. A critical part of climate change study is to derive the cause-effect relationship from climate data. The derived cause-effect relationships could mitigate the effects of climate change and predict future climate conditions. We study regression-based Granger causality for climate datasets. Specifically, we applied a scalable nonlinear regression model, called Xgboost, for Granger causality and our results show the model is a good mechanism for Granger causality discovery.

This work was funded, in part, by the Louis Stokes Alliance Minority Participation (LSAMP) program.

back button


Deactivation Kinetics Of The Photopigment Melanopsin In Rod Monochromats

Eric Upton, Haya AlGrain
Phyllis Robinson, Biological Sciences

Due to adaptations to their light environments, mammals can be characterized by the photoreceptor architecture of their retina (i.e. rod-monochromats, cone monochromats, cone dichromats, and cone trichromats). Intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs), which express the photopigment melanopsin, mediate image-forming and non-image forming visual processes. The deactivation kinetics of melanopsin are dependent on the phosphorylation of serine and threonine residues in the carboxy-tail, and sequence analysis has revealed that mammals with different retina architecture have substitutions in these important residues. Due to the frequency of these substitutions in the carboxy-tail of rod monochromats (RM), we hypothesize that the melanopsin of RM mammals will have slower deactivation kinetics than wildtype mouse melanopsin. To isolate the deactivation kinetics, chimeric melanopsin constructs were designed with the transmembrane region of wild-type mouse melanopsin and the carboxy-tail of our mammals of interest. These chimeric constructs were transfected into HEK293 cells, and in vitro fluorescent calcium assay was used to characterize deactivation kinetics. Each construct displayed identical activation kinetics and varied deactivation kinetics. Our results indicate that melanopsin from rod monochromats deactivates slower than mouse melanopsin. These results suggest that mammals with slow deactivation kinetics have a prolonged pupil constriction response, thus protecting the photoreceptors from photobleaching.

This investigation was sponsored by NIH/NIGMS MARC U*STAR T3408663 National Research Service Award to UMBC.

back button


Use Of Voice Activated Assistants By Individuals Who Are Blind

Mei-Lian Vader, Ali Abdolrahmani
Ravi Kuber, Information Systems

Voice activated personal assistants (e.g., Siri) offer considerable potential to users specifically individuals with visual impairments. The hands-free nature of these technologies, enable users to perform tasks which would otherwise be difficult to accomplish. Individuals who are blind are already familiar with spoken output through use of screen readers and it can be understandable that mainstream voice interfaces may be extremely helpful for them in a variety of settings.

The research I have been participating in focuses on understanding the interaction experiences of individuals who are blind using voice activated personal assistants, and examining ways these technologies can support indoor navigation and their information needs. Specifically, we have been investigating how voice activated personal assistants can be used in airports. Airports present interesting navigational challenges to travelers. The findings of this research contribute to addressing the indoor navigation challenges for individuals who are blind. In addition, there is potential for these contributions to address the navigation and information needs of the general population, who may also experience difficulties within these settings.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Prevalence Of Putative Drug-resistant Mutations In HIV-1C In Africa

Garvan Vines
Dr. Daphney Matume, University of Venda; Dr. Pascal Bessong, Biological Sciences; Elizabeth McQuade, Biological Sciences

HIV/AIDSremains a health concern globally, with sub-Saharan Africa heavily affected (UNAIDS, 2018).Although antiviraltherapy has decreased the death and new infection rates due to HIV/AIDS, an increase in HIV drug resistance lowers the effectiveness of this therapy and compromises clinical management and outcome.This study aimed to apply Next Generation Sequencing to determine transmitted and putative (uncharacterized) drug resistance mutations in drug naïve individual entering into treatment programs in South Africa, and use sequences from South Africa deposited in GenBank to compare the drug resistance profiles. This ongoing study collected samples from South African citizens in rural, affected areas, extracted and replicated the viral DNA, and amplified samples for patients claiming to have never been exposed to antiviral therapy. The mutations for these samples were characterized and sequenced using NGS technology, and cross-referenced with sequences from the national database to collect statistical data for analysis. As this research continues, more evidence will come forth displaying familiar, high frequency mutations, giving pharmacologists the information they need to strengthen HIV retro-viral drug design in an attempt to better suppressor even remove the virus altogether.

This work was funded, in part, by the National Institutes of Health, and the University of Virginia.

back button


A Novel Approach To The Synthesis Of 7-deaza Nucleoside Analogues

Aren Vista, Charlie Waters
Katherine Seley-Radtke, Chemistry and Biochemistry

The development of antiviral therapeutics is an ever prominent field of contemporary research. In that regard, nucleoside analogues are one of the most successful types of drugs being developed to combat these threats. However, this area of research is not without challenges, as viruses regularly mutate – thus leading to drug resistance. A novel type of flexible nucleoside that has provided a new approach to overcoming drug resistance is known as a fleximer. The fleximers have a unique scaffold whereby the purine nucleobase has been split into its individual components. The two pieces remain connected by a single carbon carbon bond to form either the proximal or distal fleximers. This modification endows the fleximer to overcome changes in an enzyme binding site. In addition, this modification has led to potent activity against a number of deadly viruses such as the coronaviruses, Ebola, Dengue and Yellow Fever viruses, when the parent nucleoside the fleximer was based upon proved inactive. The focus of this project will be to synthesize 7-deaza fleximers, given the importance of many 7-deaza nucleoside analogues such as Remdesivir. The results of the current synthetic efforts are reported herein.

NIH/NIGMS T32 GM066706 (KSR, CW) and NIH/NIAID R21 AI135252 (KSR).

back button


Developing A Program To Improve Birth Outcomes In Delaware

Inaya Wahid
Kate Smith, Delaware Academy of Medicine/Delaware Public Health Association

The current research sought to develop a program to improve birth outcomes in the state of Delaware by connecting pregnant women and families to a range of services specific to their needs. State birth outcome indicators, including the five-year infant mortality rate, percentage of live premature birth, and percentage of infants born at low birthweight, do not meet Healthy People 2020 Guidelines. There are several community organizations with resources aimed at assisting pregnant women, but many are narrow in scope and disconnected from other programs in the state. To address this issue, research was conducted to find data on birth outcomes in Delaware, local programs available to pregnant women and families, evidence-based programs and practices, and recent literature on methods to improve birth outcomes. The research culminated in the development of a program designed to connect pregnant women with valuable services through an improvement in resource education, service bundling, and data collection and evaluation methods around maternal child health efforts in the state.

back button


Elucidation Of HIV-1 5′ Leader Secondary Structure Through Novel Long Range Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Techniques

Claudia Walker, Elisabeth Kan1, Faith Davis1
1UMBC
Michael Summers, HHMI; Jonathan Catazaro, Chemistry and Biochemistry

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) is a global pandemic that has infected approximately 37 million individuals. The high mutation rate in the HIV-1 genome makes structural elucidation of the highly conserved 5′ leader packaging signal a promising antiretroviral therapy target. However, the large size of the 5′ leader has stifled Nuclear Magnetic Resonance structural studies in the past. To circumvent the latter complication, site-specific lanthanide labeling of the U1A reporter protein with a high binding affinity to a cognate RNA loop is proposed. Specifically, paramagnetic ion tags induce measurable pseudocontact shifts (PCS) in NMR spectra. However, binding the tag directly to RNA is deleterious. Consequently, U1A is utilized as an intermediary between the tag and the RNA.

Prior to studying the 5′ leader, a Moloney Murine Leukemia Virus (MMLV) derived RNA model was used for experiment optimization. Through Heteronuclear Multiple-Quantum Correlation experiments, PCS data and residual dipolar couplings were obtained, resolving the quaternary structure of U1A: MMLV. Furthermore, the technique increased the potential distance measurements from 5Å to 30Å in the presence of paramagnetic lanthanides. Currently, the technique is being applied to elucidating the secondary structure of the 5′ leader to enhance our understanding of HIV-1 biology.

This investigation was sponsored by NIH/NIGMS MARC U*STAR T34 HHS 00026 National Research Service Award to UMBC. This research was also supported in part by a grant to UMBC from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute through the HHMI Adaptation Project. We would like to thank the MARC U*STAR program and UMBC Summer Biomedical Training Program for the strong support.

back button


Generation Of dp2 Mutant In Volvox carteri Through The CRISPR/Cas9 Editing System

Sierra Wallace, James Williams, Michael LaScola
Stephen Miller, Biological Sciences

Volvox carteri, a multicellular green alga, is an ideal model organism for better understanding multicellularity because it has two cell types and is closely related to unicellular Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. One key multicellularity trait that is poorly understood is regulation of cell division number. Volvox typically does 11-12 mitotic divisions while Chlamydomonas does one to five. This study focuses on the retinoblastoma-regulated cell division activator, dimerization partner (DP). Chlamydomonas has only one dp gene, while Volvox has two dp (dp1 and dp2) genes. Volvox dp1 mutants do fewer rounds of cell division than the wild type. The goal of this project is to understand the role of dp2 in cell division number. The CRISPR /Cas9 editing system was used to knockout dp2. We co-transformed single-guide RNA (sgRNA) genes with a Cas9-gene plasmid into Volvox. We obtained transformants for each sgRNA, grew populations of them in culture, and sequenced the targeted regions. One transformant population included both wild type and mutant sequences at the target site. We are growing individuals from the mutant pool and will sequence their target regions to find a pure mutant population, then characterize the phenotype to analyze the role of dp2 in regulating cell division number.

This investigation was sponsored by NIH/NIGMS MARC U*STAR T3408663 National Research Service Award to UMBC.

back button


EPAMS Profiler And Ceilometer Network

Jenna Westfall, Daniel Taylor, Kent Taguba
Ruben Delgado, Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology; Vanessa Caicedo, JCET

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) redesigned their existing Photochemical Assessment Monitoring Sites (PAMS) network to require boundary layer profiling and hourly mixing layer height (MLH) measurements. To this end, the Enhanced Photochemical Assessment Monitoring Sites (EPAMS) Profiler and Ceilometer Network was established in order to provide air quality stakeholders (federal, state and local) a centralized repository to house all incoming ceilometer data. In order to adequately report MLH for research and policy purposes, the Atmospheric Lidar Group’s Division of Atmospheric Technologies and Analytics (DATA) have implemented an on-going system that autonomously retrieves, visualizes, archives, and displays atmospheric data online in near-real time. We are in the process of upgrading our system to create dynamic visualizations. All of the visualization data can be accessed by the general public at this website: https://alg.umbc.edu/.

The U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Maryland Department of the Enviroment (MDE).

back button


Giving Skin

Teresa Whittemore
Ann Sofie Clemmenson, Dance; Doug Hamby, Dance, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

My creative research, Giving Skin premiered in UMBCdance’s Senior Projects Concert, Fall 2019. Performed by six female dancers, this work explores the unspoken contexts and terms at play during sexual exchange. It was born out of an investigation of the lexical gaps in language surrounding consent. Through informal conversations, I listened to women’s accounts of their sexual roles, encounters, and perceptions – among them, a sense of obligation to partners, a desire to please, a pressure to perform, a sense of pride in sexual performance, shame and reluctance in expressing one’s own needs, and a lack of entitlement to one’s own pleasure. Throughout the creative process, I employed improvisation and prop-exploration as methods to translate somatic implications of the encounters described above—allowing me to examine physically where words fail to capture the nuanced cloud of emotions and social constructs hanging over women’s sexual experiences. Throughout the work, a pillow is manipulated, to symbolize intimacy and vulnerability, and to smother, suffocate, and invade the dancers’ spaces. The sound-score is composed by foodman and Katie Blake, and incorporates audio recordings of several women who shared their personal experiences with intimacy and sex.

back button


Forest Fires And The Bahama Oriole: Describing Burn History Within Caribbean Pine Forests

Gabriel Wilkins
Kevin Omland, Biological Sciences; Matthew Fagan, Geography and Environmental Systems, UMBC

This project assesses the history, extent, and trend of forest fires on Andros Island, The Bahamas. The Bahama Oriole (Icterus northropi) is a critically endangered bird now found exclusively on Andros. This species nests in many of the habitats which cover the island, including the extensive forests of Caribbean Pine (Pinus caribaea). Thus, these forests represent a vital habitat for a critically endangered species, and documenting the island’s land cover change remains an important task in the research and conservation of this oriole species. To track such change across the island and discover any patterns or correlations applicable to conservation efforts, we gathered active fire and burned area data from two NASA remote sensing satellites. These data were tested for accuracy using data gathered in the field on Andros and were then analyzed using statistical programs and geographic information systems. With them, we created a record of forest fires occurring on the island over time. This allowed us to compare fluctuations in burn frequency and intensity to changes in the various global climate systems, including the North Atlantic Oscillation and El Niño/La Niña Cycles.

back button


Sign Language In Media: American Sign Language (ASL) Vs. Japanese Sign Language (JSL)

Sandra Wilson
Tomoko Hoogenboom, Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Intercultural Communication

Social media, government actions, and specialty groups have increased the public’s interest in sign language, which has increased the representation of Japanese Sign Language (JSL) and American Sign Language (ASL) in modern media; however, research suggests that the mainstream media’s view of sign language reflects the experiences and perceptions of the dominant hearing languages, in this case Japanese and English. This research analyzes the use of JSL and ASL in modern Japanese and American media. The hypothesis of this project is that creators of modern media use JSL and ASL as gimmicks or use the languages similarly. On this premise, an analysis of mainstream media with JSL and ASL were observed. Based on these analyses, creators of modern media use three different functions for each language: 1) JSL is used to show attempts at social inclusion while ASL is used to emphasize or produce social separation or isolation. 2) JSL is used to smooth over uncomfortable situations, whereas ASL is used as a vehicle for political agendas. 3) JSL is used to complement a character, while ASL is used as a plot device, primarily a narrative hook.

Keywords: Japanese Sign Language (JSL), American Sign Language (ASL), media

back button


Conclusions C-E-R-tain To Win: An Implementation Of The CER Method To Improve Conclusion Writing

Christine Winkler
Jonathan Singer, Education

Writing conclusions is a fundamental part of the scientific process and should be presented in high school classrooms through structured methods such as the Claim-Evidence-Reasoning (CER) method. This method can improve conclusion writing and equip future scientists with a strong foundation in written communication. Without adequate conclusions, scientists are unable to express and share their experiments and discoveries. A satisfactory conclusion should contain both evidence and reasoning to support their results. For my urban high school students, it appeared that almost all of them struggled with writing conclusions. This was suggested by the baseline data collected, where a majority of conclusions were written without evidence or reasonings supporting the claim. I researched how the implementation of the CER method impacted the quality of conclusions written by tenth grade chemistry students. Students were evaluated based on the school district’s corresponding rubric before learning the CER method and after various CER-based instruction. This consisted of an outline and brief explanation of the method before the midpoint data was collected, as well as an in-depth CER lesson prior to the final data collection.

back button


Development Of Conceptual Design For Displacement Amplification Mechanism (DAM) Using Design Optimization Technique

Brian Woronowicz
Soobum Lee, Mechanical Engineering

The goal of this research is to discover how sensitivity of Displacement Amplification Mechanisms (DAMs) is affected by possible imperfections that could be introduced during manufacturing or extended use. DAMs are monolithic linkage systems, a core structure in the weight measurement device, that have several applications for ultra-precise force and weight measurement. Precise weight measurement is important in many applications especially in both the biomedical and aerospace areas. Traditional DAMs are synthesized from multiple mechanical levers, but the amplification ratio is limited due to design simplicity. There are many different configurations such as a sixbar linkage system with a moving fulcrum, but there have been no in-depth studies performed to analyze measurement errors and uncertainty. This research is specifically interested in comparing two different sixbar mechanism layouts, one with a moving fulcrum and one without. Analytical formulations describing these sixbar mechanisms were developed and the uncertainty to the design was quantified using a Monte Carlo simulation. The analytical formulation was then optimized to decrease the standard deviation of its amplification ratio. Initial simulations indicate that moving fulcrums increase sensitivity.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Identifying The Genetic Basis Of Drug Response Using Drosophila Melanogaster In The Era Of Personalized Medicine

Anna Yaschenko, Sarah Sensibaugh, Grace Waterman, Sabtain Saroya
Jeff Leips, Biological Sciences

The field of drug development is beginning to focus on personalized medicine, the tailoring of medical treatment to individuals based on predicted response. Responses to treatment can differ among individuals due to genetic variation. Here we used a quantitative method to calculate the “sensitivity” of individual genotypes to drug treatment and used a genome-wide association (GWA) study to map genes affecting this sensitivity. We used data from a previous study that measured age-specific climbing speed and endurance of different genotypes of Drosophila melanogaster in response to Lisinopril, an inhibitor of the angiotensin-converting enzyme. Using data from this study, we calculated the sensitivity of each genotype to the drug by comparing the climbing speed and endurance of each genotype on control and drug-treated food. Based on our GWA, we found 24 genes influencing sensitivity for endurance at one week, 26 for endurance at five weeks, 16 climbing speed at one week, and 26 climbing speed at five weeks. There were no genes in common across traits or ages, which suggests that predicting how an individual will respond to drug treatment based on genotype will need to consider the trait targeted for treatment as well as the age of the individual.

back button


Mahal

Michelle Ye, Clarisse Lukban
Ann Clemmensen, Dance

Our creative research is examining the Asian American identity and the concept of duality. Those who identify as Asian Americans experience an internal battle which constantly questions one’s own ideals. This unique experience is often overlooked as a result of statistics regarding Asian Americans success as comparable to the Caucasian community. However, Asian Americans are still seen as foreigners.

Aside from the “diversity” experienced from their upbringing environment, Asian Americans still exhibit the pressure to assimilate, all while suppressing their own culture. Due to the cultural split that the younger generation of Asian Americans commonly experience, a sense of not being Asian enough, but also not being American enough develops. Consequently, there is a pull from both identities and a use of one’s double consciousness to survive. This research culminates in a duet in which we, as choreographers and performers, will source from our own personal experiences as Asian Americans growing up in different environments. Throughout the creative process, we are using improvisation method to develop movement, as it encourages a deeper comprehension of otherwise concealed thoughts or feelings from particular memories. We hope to discover how the possession of a conformed dual identity impact one’s own perception of individuality.

back button


Rat-Boy Christmas

Jacob Yepez
Corrie Parks, Visual Arts

“Rat-Boy Christmas” is a 31-second animated holiday card that utilizes stop-motion paper puppetry and post-process digital compositing techniques. The short follows the eponymous Rat-Boy as he digs through a trash can and finds a variety of winter holiday iconography, such as a snowman and a pine tree. A single puppet was constructed for the short, and replacement parts were constructed for different hand shapes and perspective changes, with the face left blank to have hand-drawn expressions composited on later using Adobe Photoshop. The short was also shot on top of green paper in order to add a background in Adobe After Effect, which had also been hand-made and a high-resolution photo was taken to fit without any quality loss. My choice to use composited facial features over traditional drawings on the puppets came from the desire to give lively expressions to, what I believed to be, the stiff character work that came with the medium. The post-process techniques mixed with thoughtful use of the fundamentals of traditional animation resulted in a colorful and fun short that was as enjoyable to make as it is to watch.

back button


The Effects of Age, Income, Religious Participation and Race on Participation in 2008, 2012 and 2016 Presidential Elections with Predictions for 2020 Presidential Election

Omer Yildirim
Carolyn Forestiere, Political Science

This paper investigates the effects of age, income, religious participation and race on participation in presidential elections. The importance of participation in presidential elections recently made fresh headlines in the media because former Vice President Joe Biden turned the tables against the front-runner Senator Bernie Sanders with an almost decisive Super Tuesday lead in the Democratic Primaries after most of Sanders supporters (predominantly young voters) did not turn out to vote. Needless to say, primaries are different from regular presidential elections in many aspects, but this paper focuses on how common demographic factors influence participation in presidential elections, and patterns in primaries might offer us insight on what might happen in regular elections. Ultimately, the analysis focuses on who turns out to vote, and how these voters might affect the 2020 presidential election. My analysis utilizes binary logistics regression to analyze 2008, 2012, 2016 datasets from American National Election Survey.

This work was funded, in part, through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

back button


Many Hats, One Face: The Life Of Cooper Black

Michelle Young
Margaret Re, Visual Arts

Cooper Black is a visible and widely respected typeface. Initially designed for use in advertising headlines by Oswald Bruce Cooper in 1921, design professionals consistently used Cooper Black for the past 100 years. Cooper Black’s forms have been used to created identity and expression for rock music, children’s books, movies, and multi-national corporations. Cooper Black has dodged much of the criticism of other distinctive typefaces like Comic Sans and Papyrus that share its organic structure. Cooper Black’s buoyant curves, over-sized serifs, and skillful balance of positive and space make this typeface accessible and easy to read. It can evoke nostalgia, and despite its bold personality, Cooper Black still jumps wholeheartedly into the 21st century and finds new ways of adapting itself to modern uses. This adaptability is a strength of Cooper Black that will keep it relevant and useful as the design landscape continues marching towards the future.

back button


The Effects Of Hyperglycemia On Neurulation

Rianna Zacharias, Chelsea Okeh, Maki Negesse
Rachel Brewster, Biological Sciences

Neurulation is the process via which a flat sheet of cells, the neural plate, bends and folds to form the neural tube. Impaired neurulation leads to the formation of neural tube defects (NTDs). Recent evidence suggests that hyperglycemia is an environmental risk factor that increases the incidence of these birth defects. My project aims to establish the zebrafish as a model to study environmental factors causative of NTDs by focusing on the effects of hyperglycemia. We hypothesize that if mechanisms underlying neurulation are conserved in zebrafish, the lateral edges of the neural plate, the neural folds, would fail to converge and fuse medially in hyperglycemia. To test this, zebrafish embryos were subjected to varying glucose concentrations and processed for in situ hybridization using emx3 as a neural fold marker. Preliminary data indicate that neural fold convergence is impaired at higher glucose concentrations. Building on these findings, we plan to perform live imaging to investigate whether the cellular dynamics of neurulation are impaired by hyperglycemia. These studies are expected to validate zebrafish as a model to study neurulation and increase our understanding of how environmental risk factors alter this process at a cellular level.

This investigation was funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Precollege and Undergraduate Science Education Program and the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program at UMBC.