Faculty and Student Presentations
Presentations from previous academic years are available. Names in italics are IC students.
Nancy Jacobson. “Flipping the Classroom to Correct Student Misconceptions”. International Institute for SoTL Scholars and Mentors. Los Angles, CA. May-June. 2013.
Many misconceptions about science and evolution are difficult to dispel and inhibit students from applying what they learn to real-life situations. It is important for students to understand how questions and answers are driven by hypotheses which shape the scientific process and how disagreement is essential for scientific progress. By putting lectures on-line and using class time for active learning, i.e flipping, I should be able to challenge my students to understand the subject matter more deeply and correct some of their misconceptions whilst keeping an engaging class structure that is important for learning. In the laboratory, students will form hypotheses and test them in response to questions or problems, which should dispel misconceptions they have about science. So will flipping my classroom better allow my students to correct their misconceptions about science and evolution?
Andy Smith. Presented, “Double network gels and biological glues: a powerful new toughening mechanism”. Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, San Francisco, California, January 2013.
Limpets, marsh periwinkles and some terrestrial slugs produce remarkable glues that are gels. A key question has been how they can achieve tenacities on the order of several hundred kilopascals using only a dilute gel that is a modified lubricating mucus. Previous work has shown that the essential change is the addition of relatively small, cross-linked proteins. Nevertheless, highly cross-linked gels are typically brittle and fail easily. Molluscs may avoid this through the use of a “double network”. Recent work in materials science has found that combining two highly dissimilar, interpenetrating gel networks can increase gel strength by a factor of 100 to 1000 over the strength of the two gels separately. A prototypical double network gel combines a deformable network of very large polymers and a highly cross-linked network of much smaller polymers. Initial fracture occurs in the stiffer, highly cross-linked network. Fracturing the soft network as well, though, requires extensive deformation. This deformation damages the rigid network in a large volume surrounding the crack. This can increase the energy required to propagate the crack by several orders of magnitude. Such a mechanism is likely at play in molluscan adhesive gels given their structure. In fact, any biological gel containing proteoglycans or similarly large polymers in combination with smaller cross-linked proteins has the potential to operate this way. This talk will outline the structural and mechanical criteria for double network gels and consider the applicability of this mechanism to different biological materials.
Michael Kerchner, Jean Hardwick, and Jan Thornton. Presented, "Undergraduate Neuroscience Core Competencies and their effective use in Design and Assessment of Undergraduate Neuroscience Curricula". Society for Neuroscience meetings. New Orleans, LA. October 2012.
There has been a growing emphasis on the use of core competencies to design and inform curricula. Based on a faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience (FUN) workshop at Pomona we developed a proposed set of neuroscience core competencies. The six competencies were: (1) Independent thinking, selfmotivated learning; (2) Basic knowledge in neuroscience/Biology/Chemistry/Psychology; (3) Ability to think critically and integratively; (4) Quantitative skills; (5) Scientific inquiry including analytical/research skills; (6) Communication skills. Following the workshop, members of FUN were asked to complete an online survey to determine which core competencies are considered most essential. The results of the survey will be summarized. Among other patterns, there was general agreement among the survey participants that competencies in critical/integrative thinking and basic neuroscience knowledge were most essential. Backward Design processes will be described that can be used to design and assess undergraduate neuroscience curricula to insure that these core competencies are embodied among program graduates. Oberlin College will be used as a case study to describe the use of core competencies to help develop learning objectives, activities, and assessment measures for an undergraduate neuroscience major. Together the use of core competencies and Backward Design can help undergraduate programs to better define and assess their neuroscience curricula.
Peter Melcher, Invited Speaker. “The risky business of moving water long-distances under negative pressure in plants Hamilton College's Biology Department Seminar Series. October 2012.
Plants move water from the soil to the leaf rather great distances without using a positive force pump, such as a heart. Understanding this phenomena stimulated scientific inquiries dating back 500 years with Leonardo Da Vinci. How do plants move water long distances? Plants use the dry atmosphere to evaporate water from internal leaf spaces, thus pulling water against the forces of gravity and hydraulic resistance. However, this means that the continuous water columns are put under negative pressures, and this makes them vulnerable to the formation of bubbles or embolisms. Embolisms disrupt the liquid continuity and impeded the flow of water through the plant. Recently, we have discovered that many plants have evolved mechanisms to remove embolisms and I will present observations using hydraulic methods and Magnetic Resonance Imaging that show refilling of embolisms while water is at negative pressure potentials. Mechanisms that allow plants to refill embolisms while under tension will also be discussed.
Peter Melcher, Guest Presenter. “Mission Impossible: Moving Water against the Forces of Evil (Gravity and Resistance) in Plants”. Seminar Series, Biology Department, Colgate University. September 2012.
In this presentation, I explained how water moves through a plant, and how plants have evolved to overcome the “evil” forces of hydraulic resistance and gravity without using a positive force pump. I also presented observations from Magnetic Resonance Imaging studies used to view embolism refilling while all surrounding water is at negative water potentials. The mechanisms that allow plants to refill embolisms while under tension has stumped physiologists since the first observations of embolism refilling 15 years ago. I also provided potential mechanisms that describe how this process might work.
- Robert Griffin-Nolan (biology student), wins the prestigious LICOR prize for best LICOR poster presentation in the physiological section.
Leanne Donahue (biology student) presented a poster.
Full details can be read here.
Bruce Smith and Abby Finley (Biology '13) Poster presentation. “Diversity of Water Mites and their Pathogens.” Annual Queen's University Biological Station Open House. Canada. June 2012.
Abby spent 5 weeks at the station which is north of Kingston ON, Canada. She collected samples, sorted, identified and photographed mites. She hopes to continue the project as honors research during the school year.
Maki Inada. Presented, "Investigating the Role of Phosphorylation Sites of the RNA Polymerase II CTD Code on Global Gene Expression in Schizosaccharomyces pombe". RNA 2012 conference: May 2012. Ann Arbor, MI. May 2012. Co-authored with Robert Nichols, Jeffrey Pleiss, Beate Schwer
Regulation of gene expression is essential for all living organisms. In eukaryotes, genetic information stored in the form of DNA must first be transcribed to a transient messenger RNA molecule that is highly processed prior to translation to functional protein. The structure of the transcriptional enzyme RNA polymerase II is believed to play a critical role in modulating gene expression. Specifically, the dynamic phosphorylation pattern on the carboxy terminal domain (CTD) of RNA polymerase II has been demonstrated to aid in the recruitment of numerous nuclear factors involved in RNA processing. Conserved throughout evolution, the Y1S2P3T4S5P6S7 heptapeptide repeat can be phosphorylated at any of the serines at positions 2, 5, and 7. The modification of residues of the CTD repeats is thought to create a readable ‘code’ for controlling transcription initiation, elongation, termination, changes in chromatin structure, and regulation of capping, splicing and polyadenylation. In order to characterize how the absence of specific phosphorylation marks in the CTD affect gene expression, mutants of fission yeast Schizosacchromyces pombe were rendered defective for phosphorylation by substituting alanines for serines at either positions 2 and 7 individually or in combination, S2A, S7A, and S2A/S7A respectively. Previous studies demonstrated mutants lacking some of these phosphorylation events were deficient in the expression of genes required for sexual differentiation. To examine the genome-wide effects these mutations have on gene expression as well as changes in pre-mRNA splicing, we conducted microarray analyses. We used custom designed splicing sensitive microarrays to allow us to detect upregulation or downregulation of specific introns, exons, or splice junctions for the S. pombe genome. In agreement with previous results, the expression of ste11, which is required for mating in S. pombe, is low in the S2A mutant, whereas levels are restored in the double mutant S2A/S7A. In addition, our microarray analyses reveal numerous changes in expression of both individual genes, as well as positionally related clusters of genes. These results and their consequences will be discussed.
Maya Patel. “Learning through undergraduate research: Practice of inquiry and understandings about nature of science and nature of scientific inquiry.” 2012 . Association for Research in Science Teaching Annual International Conference. Indianapolis, IN. March 2012.
This paper describes an investigation of student learning through participation in summer, undergraduate research experiences in biotechnology and genomics. We describe: 1) interns’ laboratory research projects, 2) intern-mentor transactions and 3) relationships between the above, practice of inquiry, and understandings about nature of science (NOS) and nature of scientific inquiry (NOSI). We employed a mixed-methods approach: pre-post assessment of gains, and exploratory investigation of the laboratory research situation. We found that multifaceted, molecular-genetics research projects (both observational and hypothesis-driven investigations) and tool development (a type of non-investigation) provided multiple opportunities to practice more advanced aspects of inquiry (e.g. design, evaluating evidence, revising assumptions and hypotheses, and constructing arguments) in this setting. We found that interns in mentor-centric transactions, those most highly prescribed, generally achieved lower program inquiry scores than interns in balanced and intern-centric situations. Interns engaged in more indeterminate projects, where methods were less prescribed and outcomes less predictable, generally made greater gains in understandings about NOSI. Gains in understandings about NOS showed no relationship with project or transaction type. In some cases, gains in NOS were linked to critical incidents that occurred during the research, particularly the discovery of anomalies and the interpretation of non-numerical data.
Andy Smith. "Gluing with an iron fist: the central role of metals in biological adhesives". Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania. March 2012 as well as at the University of Scranton. Scranton, Pennsylvania. Fall 2011.
My lab studies the biochemistry and mechanics of adhesive gels. Many gastropod mollusks can form strong attachments using dilute gels. Intertidal limpets, for example, glue themselves onto wet, irregular surfaces so firmly that in some cases they cannot be detached by hand. Some terrestrial slugs can produce a similarly elastic, adhesive defensive secretion. This performance is remarkable given that the glues consist of ~97% water, and appear to be modifications of the animal’s normal lubricating mucus. Our current research focuses on the cross-linking mechanisms that govern gel mechanics. We have found specific proteins that are correlated with increased adhesive strength, and these proteins stiffen gels. We have also found that metal ions play an essential role in the glue, creating stable cross-links despite the presence of water. We are particularly interested in the different ways that metals impact gel mechanics. In the glue of terrestrial slugs, some metals cross-link polymers directly, while other redox-active metals appear to create cross-links through protein oxidation. Protein oxidation is a common post-translational modification that can significantly affect material mechanics.
Andy Smith. Keynote speaker at the 1st International Conference on Biological and Biomimetic Adhesives in Lisbon Portugal (May 9-11, 20112). His talk was titled "Multiple metal-based cross-links: protein oxidation and metal coordination in a biological glue".
NCUR. Weber State University. Ogden, Utah. April.
Richard D. Kintzing (Jean Hardwick). Oral Presentation. ALTERATIONS IN EXPRESSION OF ANGIOTENSIN II TYPE 2 RECEPTOR FOLLOWING MYOCARDIAL INFARCTION IN THE GUINEA PIG
Myocardial infarctions (MI) result in remodeling of cardiac tissue, which includes both functional and phenotypic alterations. One physiological factor that plays an important role in the regulation of cardiac function is the neuropeptide angiotensin II (Ang II). Ang II works primarily via either type 1 (AT1R) or type 2 (AT2R) receptors. Activation of AT1R is associated with negative outcomes in cardiac disease, while the AT2R is most commonly associated with improved function. This study examined changes in expression of AT2R in cardiac tissue following surgically-induced myocardial infarction in the guinea pig. MI was induced by ligation of the descending coronary artery on the left ventricle. Animals were allowed to recover for short time periods (4, 7, or 14 days), as well as longer durations (6-7 weeks) and AT2R expression was determined by western blot analysis. Results show a decrease in AT2R expression in tissue from the right atria, including the sinoatrial node, at the early time points (4 days) following MI that gradually increased back to control levels by 14 days and remained stable at that point. A second set of animals were given an MI and then treated (via an osmotic pump implanted under the skin) for 6 weeks with either the AT1R inhibitor losartan, or an inhibitor of angiotensin converting enzyme, captopril, to reduce overall Ang II levels. AT2R expression in animals treated with captopril or losartan were compared to short recovery MI animals as well. The results of this experiment showed that AT2R expression levels found in animals treated with losartan or captopril are comparable to the levels found within control animals, suggesting a regulatory effect of the respective treatments on AT2R expression. Furthermore, collectively the results suggest that the AT2R is specifically down-regulated during the initial disease onset, but with remodeling, returns to control levels.
Adam J. Longwich, (Susan Swensen Marty Condon (Cornell College) Oral Presentation. MOLECULAR PHYLOGENETIC RECONSTRUCTION OF THE NEOTROPICAL CUCUMBER GENUS GURANIA
Gurania are a genus of dioecious flowering Neotropical vines that are found in Central and South America. Early in their life, vines produce male flowers and climb into the rainforest canopy. Once they reach a certain size, vines begin to produce female flowers in pendulous inflourescences. Gurania serve as hosts to fruit flies in the genus Blepharoneura where as many as seven different species of flies may parasitize a single species of Gurania. Currently, there is no clear picture of host plant phylogeny. Taxonomic revision based on morphology of hosts has been attempted, but geographical variation within species has led to difficulties in species definitions and no phylogenetic analysis has been completed. Our work is aimed at reconstructing a phylogeny of the genus Gurania based on molecular data. Preliminary comparison among chloroplast DNA regions has indicated little divergence suggesting that Gurania species are closely related. As a result, phylogenetic reconstructions require the analysis of multiple, rapidly evolving gene regions. Our work is geared toward the identification of useful gene regions for phylogenetic reconstruction in Gurania. We are testing eight chloroplast intergenic spacers that have proven useful in phylogenetic reconstruction of Gurania’s sister genus, Psiguria, as well as a low-copy nuclear marker. Using leaf samples collected in the field, we have extracted, amplified, and sequenced eight chloroplast intergenic spacers: rpoB-trnC, trnS-trnG, ndhF-rpl32, psbE-petL, ndhC-trnV, rps16-trnQ, psbM-trnD, and psbZ-trnM; and the low-copy nuclear marker: serine/ threonine phosphatase (s/t phos). Pairwise comparisons of these sequences reveal 0.22-2.26% sequence divergence among the Gurania species suggesting that while Gurania are closely related, sufficient variation exists for phylogeny reconstruction. Parsimony and maximum likelihood-based phylogenetic analysis of chloroplast intergenic spacers and the low-copy nuclear marker from multiple species of Gurania will be presented.
Rosemary E. Scavotto, (Peter Melcher and Susan Swensen) Oral Presentation. THE EFFECTS OF HERBACEOUS VEGETATION TYPE ON SOIL MICROBIAL DIVERSITY
Soil microbes are necessary for plant health and survival by making available many of the nutrients required by plants. Several factors affect soil microbial diversity; previous studies have shown that soil bacterial diversity and richness is dependent on soil pH with neutral pH soils hosting the highest levels of bacterial diversity and with acidic soils corresponding to the least diverse soils. Soil pH can be altered by several variables, such as rainfall, types of vegetative cover, and carbon and nitrogen inputs. The goal of this project is to understand how two altered herbaceous landscapes are correlated with differences in soil microbial diversity. To address this question, we analyzed plant and soil microbial diversity in a six-year experimental plot comprising traditional manicured lawn space and a planted meadow with native species. The meadow plots contained 36 native plant species and are surrounded by areas of manicured lawn. Twenty-five 1 m2 plots were randomly established in both the manicured lawn sites and the meadow sites. The vegetational diversity of each plot was determined and 0–5 cm depth soil samples were collected from each plot. For each soil sample, we measured pH and characterized the major soil ions. Total DNA was extracted from each soil sample and quantitative PCR was used to amplify DNA from groups of soil microbes including basidiomycetes, acidobacteria, and alpha-proteobacteria. Amplification profiles will be used to compare the relative abundance of different categories of soil microbes from the meadow and lawn areas.
Kristin Levin (Jean Hardwick) Poster Presentation. EFFECTS OF BRADYKININ ON NEURONAL EXCITABILITY IN GUINEA PIG INTRACARDIAC NEURONS
Cardiac disease is a leading cause of death in America and often leads to changes in the intrinsic cardiac nervous system, which is a converging pathway for neural control in the heart. A specific change associated with cardiac disease is elevation of Angiotensin II (Ang II) levels. Ang II is a vasoconstrictor and its effects are initiated by binding to either the AT1 or AT2 receptor. Little is known about the role of AT2 receptors in the cardiac nervous system, including the location of AT receptors, but previous experiments have shown that Angiotensin II can modulate intrinsic cardiac neurons in the guinea pig via AT2 receptors and lead to increased neuronal excitability. Ang II can also stimulate the release of bradykinin through activation of kininogenases, which can then alter the function of nearby cells. It is unknown if bradykinin can alter intrinsic cardiac neuron function. The purpose of this study was to better elucidate the mechanism of AT2 receptor-modulation of intracardiac neurons by testing the effects of bradykinin on neuronal excitability. If the AT2 receptors are located on the neurons, then Ang II can directly stimulate the neurons. However, if the receptors are located on surrounding cells, then bradykinin release through the Ang II-mediated kininogenase pathways could be the stimulator of the neurons. To test the hypothesis, the intrinsic cardiac neural plexus was isolated from guinea pigs and the resting membrane potential and excitability were determined using intracellular voltage recording techniques. Neuronal excitability was determined in control conditions and following local application of either norepinephrine (NE) or bethanechol (a muscarinic agonist). Both NE and bethanechol are known to increase neuronal excitability of these neurons. This was then repeated with the addition of bradykinin (100 nM) to the bath solution. Previous studies with Ang II showed increased excitability when paired with NE or bethanechol. However, no significant difference was found in excitability of neurons in the presence of bradykinin. This suggests that Ang II is acting directly on AT2 receptors located on the intrinsic cardiac neurons, rather than through the generation of additional peptides, such as bradykinin.
Dylan O'Leary, Kelsey MacKellar (Leann Kanda) Oral Presentation. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN INDIVIDUAL PERSONALITY AND EVERYDAY BEHAVIORAL ACTIVITY BUDGET OF EASTERN CHIPMUNKS, TAMIAS STRIATUS
The eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus) is a prime mammalian model for testing behavioral characteristics across different contexts. This charismatic sciurid is common, trappable, and easily observed in the field, making both captive as well as field samples easily obtained for comparison. Recent studies have tried to link personality traits such as temperament (boldness/shyness) or emotionality to chipmunk fitness, however, there is little research on how these traits affect daily life in mammals. In this study, we examined the relationship between chipmunk personality traits and everyday behavior in the field. We measured trappability, struggle rate, and exploratory behavior in an open field test to determine personality traits. We then observed collared individuals in the field using radio telemetry to understand how the chipmunks were spending their time in day to day activities. We expect to find that chipmunks exhibiting a bold personality in the captive analyses will spend more of their time out of the burrow foraging and engaging in social activities than chipmunks exhibiting a more docile personality. The results of this study could have a wide range of implications regarding this species’ evolutionary response to a changing environment.
Shannon Ryan (Jean C. Hardwick) Oral Presentation. CHANGES IN SYNAPTIC EFFICIENCY IN THE GUINEA PIG INTRINSIC CARDIAC PLEXUS: EFFECTS OF ACUTE MYOCARDIAL INFARCTION AND NEUROMODULATORS.
Chronic heart disease has been shown to induce both phenotypic and functional remodeling of neurons within the intrinsic cardiac plexus of the guinea pig. The current study examined the time scale of this remodeling process, looking specifically at changes in synaptic efficiency at different time points following surgically-induced heart disease. Heart disease can be surgically-induced in the guinea pig to model myocardial infarction (MI) by ligature of the coronary artery and dorsal vein on the heart leaving an ischemic area on the surface of the ventricle. Fifteen male Hartley guinea pigs (Charles River) weighing between 300 and 500 grams were given myocardial infarctions and allowed to recover for either 4, 7, or 14 days. Nine animals, with no surgery, were used as controls. Animals were euthanized via CO2 inhalation and exsanguination. The heart and lungs were removed and the heart was dissected to expose the intrinsic cardiac plexus as a whole mount preparation for intracellular voltage recordings. An extracellular focal electrode was placed on nerve bundles connecting to the individual neuron used for recording. Fibers were stimulated with suprathreshold stimuli for 2 seconds at a frequency of 10, 20, or 30Hz and the number of action potentials produced by the postsynaptic cells was determined. Previous studies found that animals with chronic MI (6 week recovery) show no difference in frequency output compared to control animals. Conversely, in the acute MI studies, the 7 day recovery animals showed a significant increase in frequency output (p<0.002 at 30Hz) that was not seen at either 4 or 14 days post MI. Previous studies also demonstrated that several neuromodulators, such as norepinephrine (NE), PACAP27 (P27), and substance P (SP), increase neuronal excitability in these cells. Therefore the ability of these substances to increase frequency output with fiber tract stimulation (FTS) was tested. NE (Sigma, 1mM), P27 (American Peptide, 10uM), and SP (American Peptide, 0.1mM) were applied by local pressure ejection to individual neurons. FTS (20Hz) was tested in with and without the application of either NE, P27, or SP. In both control and all three acute recovery time points, there was no significant differences in output frequency with neuromodulator application. This suggests that the increased excitability seen with disease at 7 days post MI is not due to enhanced adrenergic or neuropeptide release, but rather to an as yet, undetermined mechanism. Supported by NIH HL098589 to JCH.
Caitlin B. Erickson (Leann Kanda) Poster presentation. THE ROLE OF TRIAL LENGTH IN MEASURING PERSONALITY CHARACTERISTICS IN THE DJUNGARIAN HAMSTER, PHODOPUS SUNGORUS
Measures from short behavioral assays are often used to identify personality traits in a model organism. Few studies, however, have explored the impact trial time has in the resulting characterization. Our study examined the extent to which variable trial lengths affect the measure of personality in a tunnel maze assay. In a thirty-minute test, our four-generation colony of Djungarian hamsters, Phodopus sungorus, has consistently displayed three core personality traits (activity, boldness, and exploration) identified through principal components analysis. To reanalyze the preexisting data set, we truncated the trial length to times ranging in duration from five to thirty minutes (at five minute intervals). We found subtle shifts in the relative importance of specific measures defining each trait at a given test time (e.g. time to enter maze decreased in importance to the activity measure over time while time to reach the end of the maze increased in importance). Regardless, each trial time interval reflected similar overall PC values representative of activity, boldness and exploration. Based on our analytical findings, we expect to see a strong correspondence between individual characterization from a five minute and a thirty minute length trial. This would suggest that any of a range of trial time lengths could be used to identify meaningful reflections of personality.
Amir Abdulhay (research conducted off-campus). Poster presentation. INCREASED ENERGY EXPENDITURE UNMASKS THE ROLE OF OVARIAN HORMONES IN MAKING REPRODUCTION A PRIORITY OVER INGESTIVE BEHAVIOR. Candice Klingerman, Kaila Krishnamoorthy, Jeremy Brozek, Noah Benton and Jill E. Schneider (Jill E. Schneider) Department of Biological Sciences, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA 18015
Estradiol is essential for cardiovascular, bone, psychological, and reproductive health, and has documented effects on sexual motivation and the appetite for food in female mammals, including women. Peaks in circulating estradiol are correlated with decreases in food intake and it has been hypothesized that this is evolutionarily beneficial to maximize reproductive opportunities. It is further speculated that this transition between ingestive to sexual behaviors will be expressed to a higher degree in environments reflective of ancestral history where sustenance is unpredictable. Here, we test female Syrian hamsters in two environmental conditions that are energetically demanding. We tested a group in cold ambient temperature and another group with voluntary access to running wheels. We hypothesize that when energy is limited, females are predisposed toward appetitive ingestive behavior and energy storage, and the role of peri-ovulatory estradiol is to overcome this tendency by increasing sexual motivation. Consistent with our prediction, we show that animals housed with cold ambient temperature varied significantly in food hoarding and male preference on all days of the estrous cycle. As well, animals housed with voluntary access to running wheels showed significant fluctuations in male preference over the estrous cycle. Circulating concentrations of ovarian steroids, especially estrogens, might account for sex differences in obesity, eating disorders, other diseases, the propensity for drug dependence and addiction, and the efficacy of many pharmacological treatments.
Shannon Ryan (Biology '12). Poster presentation, "Changes in synaptic efficiency in the guinea pig intrinsic cardiac plexus: Effects of acute myocardial infarction and neuromodulators." Society for Neuroscience. Washington, DC. November 2011.
Research was conducted under the supervision of Jean Hardwick.
Rachel Noyes (Biochemistry ’13) & David Burgess, PhD. Poster Presentation. "Micromere cell membranes in Lytechinus pictus embryos have distinct properties". 2011 SACNAS National Conference in San Jose, CA.
Rachel was in a REU (research experience for undergraduates) and the MBL (marine biological laboratories) program at Woods Hole, MA. Her advisor was David Burgess.
Rachel also received a H&S EGI Award to help defray the conference costs.
Adam Longwich, Biochemistry '13, oral session at the Rochester Academy of Sciences annual fall meeting hosted by Monroe Community College. His presentation entitled "Molecular Phylogenetic Reconstruction of the Neotropical Cucumber Genus Gurania" described his ongoing research under the supervision of Susan Swensen in the Biology Department. Adam was a recipient of a research grant from the Rochester Academy of Sciences in spring 2011.
Kit Muma. Panel Discussion. “ Namgyal Monastery Mind and Life Discussion Series I: Views of Phenomenal Awareness and Consciousness in Buddhism and Western Neuroscience”. Tompkins County Public Library. Ithaca, New York. October 2011.
Ed Cluett. “The effects of the phospholipase A2 inhibitor ONO RS-082 on cholesterol-rich regions in the plasma membrane “ (co-authored with IC students, Cody Chittenden, Ashley Brinkerhoff, Ariane Shrenker. Gordon Research Conference. Andover, New Hampshire. July 2011.
Maki Inada. "Investigating a mode of regulating gene expression via alternative splicing coupled with mRNA decay in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe." Co-authored with Philip A Feinberg, Bushra Amreen, Jeffrey A Pleiss. The Eukaryotic mRNA Meeting. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Cold Spring Harbor, NY. August 2011.
Jean Hardwick. "The Future of Undergraduate Neuroscience Curricula: Designing, Evaluating and Inspiring Change". Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience workshop at Pomona College. July 2011.
2011 Annual Botanical Society of America Meeting. St. Louis, MO. July.
- Melcher, Peter, Zwieniecki, Maciej, Holbrook, N. Michele. Presented, “Functional embolism refilling in red maple (Acer rubrum L.)”.
- Millan, Pamela (Biology '13), Melcher, Peter, Sack, Lawren. Poster presentation, “Intracanopy leaf plasticity and the impact of light versus height on carbon and nitrogen isotope discrimination for five temperate deciduous tree species.”
- Brouwer, Marieke (Biology '12), Griffin-Nolan, Robert, (Biology '13), Melcher, Peter. Poster presentation, “Investigating the role of green light in photosynthesis in Coleus spp.”.
Check out the NCUR presentations by our majors.
Andy Smith presented “Cross-linking by protein oxidation in gastropod glues” (co-authored with undergraduates A. Bradshaw, A. Bell, N. Litra, M. Braun and M. Salt). Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2011.
Protein oxidation is a common phenomenon that causes protein dysfunction in aging, but it can also be harnessed to strengthen biomaterials. Collagen and elastin in animal connective tissues are cross-linked by a metal-catalyzed oxidation system that leads to the formation of bonds between oxidized amino acids and nucleophilic amino acid side chains. Here we show that the glue produced by the terrestrial slug Arion subfuscus may use a similar mechanism but with different proteins. Immunoblotting for carbonyl groups demonstrated that several key proteins in the glue are heavily oxidized, and this oxidation appears to occur rapidly. The carbonyl groups were not easily detected unless the glue was denatured, though, suggesting that they may be unavailable due to participation in reversible cross-links. This was tested using reagents that normally modify carbonyls. The strong reducing agent sodium borohydride and the nucleophile hydroxylamine should eliminate any accessible carbonyl groups. In the glue however, borohydride had no effect on carbonyl content while hydroxylamine partially modified the carbonyls; this was consistent with the way each reagent would interact with cross-links between carbonyls and primary amines. The two treatments also impacted protein solubility in a way that was consistent with this proposed cross-linking mechanism. Thus, slugs may harness protein oxidation to strengthen their glue. Because the components involved in protein oxidation are common, it is likely that this could represent a relatively widespread but underappreciated mechanism for strengthening biomaterials.
Swensen, S., S. Allen-Gil, M. Brown, & M. Darling. 2010. goCARTs: Driving Learning Through Climate Action Plan Implementation. Association for the Advancement for the Sustainability in Higher Education. Denver, CO. Oct 10-12
Epidemiological evidence increasingly suggests that environmental exposures early in development have a role in susceptibility to disease later in life. In addition, some of these environmental effects seem to be passed on through subsequent generations. Epigenetic modifications provide a plausible link between the environment and alterations in gene expression that might lead to disease phenotypes. I will review current evidence indicating that epigenetic alterations mediate toxicity from environmental chemicals. Then I will expose a Research project investigating the effect of an endocrine disruptor, Bisphenol A (BPA), on epigenetic alterations in the soil nematode Caenorhabditis elegans.
Both below presentations were conducted at the annual meeting of New York State Ornithological Association in Auburn, New York on 22-24 October.
- John Confer presented on Reintroducing the California Conder in Northern Arizona and Utah: Getting the Lead Out. Co-authored with Tim Hauck (ENVS '10).
- Stefan Karkuff (Biology '11) presented on Patterns of Avian Distribution in Shrublands: Observations from Across the Northeast. Co-authored with Tim Hauck and John Confer.
Leann Kanda sponsored three of her research students to participate in The Wildlife Society meetings in Snowbird, Utah. Octoer 2010.
- Anna Novine, Biology ‘11
Poster “Monitoring wetland success through the faunal community”
- Anthony Veroline, Environmental Science with a Biology Concentration ‘11
Poster “Investigating Ondatra zibethicus activity in a New York population”
- Jeffrey Hatzel (’12 ENVS) and Laura Easton (transferred) Poster “The relationship between free-ranging space use patterns and captive open arena behavioral tests in muskrat.”
Laura Murphy (Biology '11) and Ed Cluett presented, "Use of the Phospholipase A2 Inhibitor ONO RS-082 to Dissect the Transport Route of LDL-derived FreeCholesterol". American Society for Cell Biology, Philadelphia. November 2010. (Co-authored by Laura Murphy, Lauren Krisak (both Biology '11), and Edward B. Cluett.
- Laura received an Undergraduate Award from the American Society of Cell Biology and an award from Ithaca's H&S Educational Grant Initiative to attend this meeting.
Our research has focused on a possible role for membrane tubules in the intracellular trafficking of cholesterol. Phospholipase A2 (PLA2) activity is involved in the formation of some membrane tubules, and PLA2 inhibitors (PLAIs) disrupt structure and function in both the Golgi complex and endosomes. By fluorescence microscopy, treatment of HeLa cells with the PLAI, ONO-RS-082 (ONO), altered the distribution of rab11 and resulted in the accumulation of free cholesterol in the Endocytic Recycling Compartment (ERC) based on colocalization of filipin staining with immunolabeling of rab11 and the transferrin receptor. This accumulation was inhibited by treatment with cyclodextrin, filipin, or by growing cells in LDL-depleted serum. Addition of exogenous LDL induced accumulation of free cholesterol in the ERC in the absence of ONO. PLAI-mediated cholesterol redistribution was actin-dependent and low concentrations of ONO altered the localization of cdc42. The localization of rab5 and EEA1 was also altered by ONO treatment and was inhibited by wortmannin. Three isoforms of rab5 are associated with early endosomes, and recent evidence indicates that subsets of isoforms are involved in the trafficking of certain materials. We hypothesized that a subset of rab5 isoforms is specifically involved in cholesterol trafficking. We used siRNA to knockdown individual isoforms and monitored the effects on cholesterol distribution by filipin labeling and microscopy. Knockdowns of either rab5A or rab5B altered the localization of cholesterol compared to controls, but the pattern of filipin staining was markedly different for each isoform. In both cases, ONO-mediated redistribution of cholesterol did not occur. However, knockdown of rab5C did not appreciably alter the distribution of free cholesterol. These results suggest that membrane tubules play a role in the transport of cholesterol from the plasma membrane to endosomes and that a specific subset of rab5 isoforms may regulate that traffic.
Peter Melcher presented "Turning over a new leaf – hydraulics, light and leaf design". Biology Department Seminar Series. September 2010.
Living things rely on the photosynthetic ability of leaves to use solar energy to convert water and carbon dioxide gas to energy rich sugar molecules as the basis for all food. Because light powers this sugar making process, and leaves lose water while absorbing carbon dioxide; leaf photosynthetic performance is directly related to leaf water status and light availability. It is well known that the photosynthetic capacity of leaves is highly dependent on leaf physiology, anatomy and morphology traits. For example, large thin leaves are generally well adapted to understory shaded environments and small thick leaves are well suited for bright light conditions. Because both water availability and light levels are highly varied within individual crowns of trees, it would be expected to find a high degree of intracanopy leaf plasticity. I will discuss results from several of my recent studies on intracanopy leaf plasticity measured on several tree species growing at one location, as well as from trees growing across large latitudinal gradients (e.g., Florida to Nova Scotia). It is believed that these data will provide new insights as to the adaptable potential of trees in response to climate change.
Peter Melcher presented "The impact of xylem wounding on the measure of stem hydraulic resistance" at the Botany 2010 Conference in Providence, RI. August 2010. Co-authored with Steven Warchocki (Biology '09).
Plant performance is directly related to plant water status and because xylem hydraulic resistance impacts water supply to leaves it has been used to characterize plant adaptations to environment. Xylem tissue in plants contain both living and dead cells. The cells responsible for the mass flow of sap from roots to leaves are composed of numerous dead hollow conduits. The design of these dead conduits e.g., diameter, length and frequency of bordered pit junctions, greatly impact the resistance of sap moving through them. Measurements of xylem hydraulic resistance generally rely on perfusing solution through excised plant tissue. In this study, two non-trivial issues that greatly compromise our ability to fully characterize xylem properties in plants are discussed. The first issue is focused on the role of the living cells in meditating a xylem wound response that was found to increase stem hydraulic resistance by up to 80% in some tree species (in less than a few minutes from excision). Appropriate measurement protocols have been developed that greatly reduce the impact of xylem wounding on the measure of xylem hydraulic resistance. The second issue deals with the difficulty in measurement error that results from opening non-functional flow paths when hydraulic measurements are made on excised tissues that contain multiple years of xylem growth. Results from a new measurement protocol to deal with this issue will be discussed. These two new protocols should allow us to fine tune our estimates of xylem hydraulic resistance in plants. Also, these methods provide a tool to better understand plant response to xylem wounding, a physiological mechanism used by plants to protect and prevent the spread of pathogen invasion into their water conducting systems. Future studies aimed at understanding the role of both the living and dead cells in long-distance sap transport is pertinent in understanding the full influence that plant hydraulic form has on plant drought adaptations.
Leann Kanda presented a poster entitled, "Just gotta be me: Individual personalities in captive Siberian dwarf hamsters, Phodopus sunorus at the 47th Annual Meeting of the Animal Behavior Society in Williamsburg, VA. July 2010. Co-authored with Laura Louon and Kit Straley (both Biology '11).
Maki Inada presented "Genome-Wide Analyses of prp8 Alleles Implicated in the Two-State Model for Spliceosome Activitiy" at the RNA Society Meeting in Seattle, WA. June 2010. Co-authored with Jeffrey Pleiss.
Removal of noncoding introns from pre-rnRNA is catalyzed by the spliceosome, a large multi-component complex I that must be assembled anew for every splicing reaction. Splicing chemistry consists of two separate and sequential transesterification reactions: in the first step the branch site adenosine attacks the 5' splice site to produce the 5' exon and branched lariat intermediate; in the second step the 5' exon attacks the 3' splice site to produce the lariat intron and 1 spliced product. A two-state model for the spliceosome has been previously proposed, in which the conformations of the active site required for the first and second steps are in competition with each other (Query and Konarska 2004). Factors that modulate / and stabilize the first step result in inhibition of the second step and vice versa. A number of such opposiogprp8 alleles that affect the transition between the first and second step have been isolated and characterized to support this model (Query and Konarska 2004, Liu et al. 2007). To further investigate the role that prp8 plays in splicing activation, we have chosen to take two genome-wide approaches in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. First, we have conducted splicing-sensitive microarray analyses to determine the genes that are affected by each of these prp8 alleles. Second, we have taken a high through-put reverse genetic approach known as Synthetic Genetic h a y analysis to identify those factors that are involved in modulating the activity of these prp8 alleles. By determining both the transcripts affected and the complement of factors that genetically interact with each of these prp8 alleles, we will be better able to define how prp8 functions in the splicing pathway. Lastly, strategies for developing a research course for undergraduates utilizing these methods will be discussed.
Peter Melcher presented "Dying for a good cause - xylem pays the ultimate price for transpiration" at UCLA's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology: Discovering Nature Series. Spring 2010.
Leaf photosynthetic performance is directly related to leaf water status. The xylem provide the hydraulic connection between water located in the soil and the leaf. Because the hydraulic resistance of this connection impacts the rate of water supply to leaves it has been used to characterize plant adaptations to their environment. In this presentation I will discuss the role of the living and dead cells in translocating fluids from the soil to the leaf. I will also discuss the importance of two non-trivial issues that greatly compromise our ability to fully characterize xylem properties in plants. The first is focused on the role of the living cells in meditating a xylem wound response that causes errors in our estimation of stem hydraulic resistance (by up to 80% in some tree species). The second issue deals with the difficulty in measurement error that results from opening non-functional flow paths when hydraulic measurements are made on excised tissues that contain multiple years of xylem growth. Results from a new measurement protocol to deal with this issue will also be discussed.
The annual James J. Whalen Academic Symposium , Spring 2010.
- Philip Feinberg, Biochemistry ’11 (Jean Hardwick), "Preliminary molecular analysis of NOS expression in guinea pig neurons"
- Philip Feinberg, Biochemistry, ’11 (Maki Inada), "Investigating Regulation of Gene Expression in the Fission Yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe"
- Allison Girasole, Biology ’10 (Jean Hardwick), "Characterization of neuronal adrenergic receptors in models the guinea pig intrinsic cardiac plexus"
- Lauren Krisak, Biology ’11 (Ed Cluett), "The Role of Dynamin in the Formation of Membrane Vesicles"
- Laura Louon, Biology ’11 (Leann Kanda), "Got personality? Exploratory behavior in the Siberian dwarf hamster, Phodopus sungorus"
Leann Kanda presented, "Just gotta be me: Individual variation in mammalian behaviour". Natural Sciences Seminar Series. LeMoyne College. March 2010. She presented the first analyses from their research on exploration, boldness and activity in dwarf hamsters.
Andrew Smith presented, “Cross-linking in slug glue: gelled plaster of Paris?” at the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. Seattle, WA. January 2010. The paper was co-authored with Meghan Menges (Biology ’10). The abstract is available here.
National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), University of Montana, Missoula, Montana April 2010
- Ashley Bell (A. Smith), "Slug Glue...The Next Medical Adhesive?"
- Philip Feinberg (J. Hardwick), "Preliminary Molecular Analysis of NOS MRNA Expression in Guinea Pig Neurons"
- Krista Fieselmann (A. Smith), “Testing for Oxidate Cross-Linking by an Adhesive Protein in the Biological Glue of a Terrestrial Slug"
- Erika Hughes ( P. Melcher), “Soil Quality and Its Effect on Fall Foliage"
- Oliver Klein (E. Cluett), "The Role of Rab Proteins in Cholesterol Trafficking"
- Laura Louon (L. Kanda), "Got Personality? Exploratory Behavior in the Siberian Dwarf Hamster, Phodopus sungorus"
- Katherine Noonan (S. Swensen), "Rainforest Cucumbers: An Evolutionary History of the Genus Gurania"
- Matthew Zeitler ( A. Smith), "The Role of Zinc in Cross-Linking the Glue Secreted by A. subfuscus"
Allison Girasole (Biology, '10) and Philip Feinberg (Biochemistry, '11) presented research done in collaboration with Jean Hardwick at the annual Society for Neuroscience conference in Chicago, IL last week. This is the preeminent gathering of neuroscientists from around the world. Attendance at these meetings is approximately 31,000 individuals.
- Allison presented a poster, "Modulation of neuronal responses in guinea pig intrinsic cardiac neurons with chronic heart disease: Changes in sensitivity to norepinephrine, acetylcholine, and angiotensin II." in the main conference.” She received a travel award from the Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience to support her attendance, as well as support from the Ithaca College Honors program.
- Philip presented a poster, "Molecular analysis of nitrous oxide synthase mRNA expression in the intrinsic cardiac plexus of normal and diseased guinea pigs" at the undergraduate poster session. His travel was supported by the Ithaca College Sigma Xi chapter and the Bernard Fund.
Leann Kanda. Poster presentation, "Behavioral syndromes and mammalian movement: Does personality count?". International Mammalogy Congress. Mendoza, Argentina. Summer 2009.
Leann Kanda presented, "Community cooperation and a mixed conservation strategy to reduce amphibian road mortality during the spring migration in Tompkins County, New York" at the Urban Wildlife and Ecology Management Conference. Amherst, Massachusetts. Summer 2009.
The paper is co-authored by John Confer and two Environmental Studies student, Kit Straley, and Erin Alvey.
Kit Muma. Poster Presentation, "Fireflies: You Light Up My Life" . Queen's University Biological Station Seminar Series. She also encouraged cottagers to get involved in the a "Firefly Watch" survey to document if firefly numbers are declining. Queen University Biological Station Open House. July 2009.
Bruce Smith presented, "What's Eating You?" and covered biting flies of the region with an emphasis on deerfly identification. Queen's University Biological Station Open House. July 2009.
Jean Hardwick gave a presentation on "Neuroscience Research Opportunities at PUIs" at the spring meeting of the Association of Neuroscience Departments and Programs (ANDP) in Bethesda MD. ANDP is an organization of programs throughout North America whose goal is to advance education and research training in neuroscience. The spring meeting included a session on strengthening the pipeline from primarily undergraduate institutions (PUIs) to graduate programs.
National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), April 2009 NCUR is held every year at various locations around the United States. Ithaca College students are selected for attendance at this meeting and selection is very competitive. Each student must submit an abstract and a supporting letter of recommendation to the Selection Committee, which is composed of the officers of the Ithaca College Chapter of Sigma Xi. In addition, each student must present evidence that they have given a previous, off-campus presentation of their work. We believe that only the most outstanding Ithaca College students should be provided with this special opportunity. Ithaca College pays the full cost of attendance at this meeting
- Andrew Bradshaw, Biology '11 (Andrew Smith). "The role of metal-catalyzed oxidations in cross-linking the glue of the terrestrial slug Arion subfuscus"
- Jason Diaz, Biochemistry '09 (Marina Caillaud). "Contribution of the bacterial symbiosis to host-plant preference in the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum"
- Sarah Garcia, Biology '09 (Andrew Smith). "The significance of amino groups in cross-linking Arion subfuscus adhesive gel."
- Joseph Goodliffe, Biochemistry '09 (Ed Cluett). “The use of phospholipase A2 inhibitors as a tool to investigate endocytic trafficking”
- Noah Mishkin, Biology '10 (Jean Hardwick). "Analysis of nNOS expression in the cardiac ganglia of guinea pigs with chronic heart disease."
Lauren Houdek, Biology '09. James J. Whalen Academic Symposium, Ithaca College. April, 2009. Under the supervision of Jean Hardwick. Her presentation was entitled, "Enzyme Expression in Neurons that Regulate Guinea Pig Cardiac Function".
Andy Smith presented a talk in the symposium, "Biomaterials: properties, variation and evolution", at the annual conference of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. The talk was titled “Multiple cross-linking mechanisms in molluscan adhesive gels”, and was co-authored by two IC students, Sarah Garcia, Biology '09, and Aaron Bloom, Biology '08. Boston, MA. January 2009.
Some terrestrial slugs produce remarkably sticky and elastic gels as defensive secretions. Previous work on these gels has shown that metals play a central role in their cross-linking. The transition metals iron and zinc are common in these gels, as are calcium and magnesium. A major question is how these metals cross-link the gel, and whether there is more than one mechanism by which they do so. Chelation of metals with EDTA for an extended time breaks down the mechanical integrity of the gel, thus demonstrating a direct effect of the metals on gel mechanics. Furthermore, metals, particularly calcium, were shown to have a general stiffening effect on commercial gels at the concentrations seen in the glue. Metal removal does not completely break down the gel, however, as size exclusion chromatography experiments show that the major cross-links involve a 40 kDa protein and these are unaffected by metal chelation after the glue sets. If chelation occurs before the glue sets, however, this cross-link does not form either. Measurements of the stiffness of commercial gels with metals and glue proteins added separately and together show that both stiffen gels on their own, but the effect is merely additive; they are not necessarily interdependent. The findings suggest that the mechanical strength of the gel depends in part on metals such as calcium and zinc forming direct cross-links and also on other cross-links involving the 40 kDa protein, which are catalyzed by metals before the glue sets.
Jason Hamilton presented, "What Is Sustainability and Where Did It Come From?" at Academic Enrichment Services/Office of Multicultural Affairs Summer Institute 2008. Ithaca College, July 2008.
This lecture served to build community and set the stage for academic immersion during this three-week program for new students.
Jason Hamilton presented, "Envisioning a Sustainable Future: A Leadership Role for Higher Educations" at the FOCUS the Nation: Global Warniing Solutions for America seminar series. Rockland Community College. February 2008.
Sustainability. Is it just a buzz word? The latest feel-good idea? A new science? A unifying concept to envision a secure future? All of the above? Jason presented a thought-provoking look at the current state of people and our planet. He explored the evolution of sustainability and the role it plays in dealing with our current environmental, social, and economic dilemmas. The presentation ended with a discussion of how the concept of sustainability serves as a compass to help the RCC community move us, our institutions, and our country toward a more secure future.
Andy Smith presented the talk, "Metals, molluscan glues and gel mechanics" at the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, January 6, 2008 in San Antonio, Texas.
Metals, molluscan glues and gel mechanics. SMITH. A. M. Ithaca College. Molluscan adhesive gels possess many useful properties, most notably their remarkable combination of strength and deformability, as well as their ability to adhere to wet, irregular surfaces. Recent work has found that the glue of the terrestrial slug Arion subfuscus contains substantial amounts of iron, manganese, zinc and some copper. Furthermore, the presence of transition metals was critical for the glue to set. This study addresses the relative roles of the different metals. Do they all function similarly, with similar effectiveness? Are they incorporated into the glue in a similar way? We used atomic absorption spectroscopy to characterize the metal content of several different gastropod glues. We also tested the effect of these metals on the mechanics of several commercial gels. The metal content of the glue from the terrestrial snail Helix aspersa and the terrestrial slugs A. subfuscus and Ariolimax columbianus was markedly similar. When hydrated, all three had over 40 mM calcium and 0.07-0.08 mM iron. A. subfuscus also had 0.9 mM zinc while A. columbianus had 0.5 mM manganese. For comparison, sodium and chloride concentrations were roughly 10 mM. Soaking A. subfuscus glue in EDTA caused all the metal concentrations to drop to 1-5% of their original value, except iron, which was not significantly different (t-test, P = 0.18). All the metals stiffened agar and pectin gels. Notably, despite its poor solubility iron was 20-40x as effective as calcium. Zinc was roughly 10x as effective as calcium. These results suggest that iron is more effective in controlling the gel mechanics than other metals, and it is more tightly incorporated into the glue. The other metals are present in higher concentrations, so they would still contribute substantially, but likely in different ways.
Three Ithaca College students presented research findings at the annual Society for Neuroscience meetings in Washington DC. The students are all currently doing research with Jean Hardwick in the Biology department. Dr. Hardwick and her students attended the Neuroscience meetings in Washington, which is the preeminent gathering of neuroscientists from around the world. Attendance at this years meetings was approximately 31,000 individuals.
- Caitlin Baran ('08, Biochemistry) presented a poster at the main meeting entitled "Regulation of neuronal excitability and NOS expression in the guinea pig intrinsic cardiac plexus by chronic cardiac stressors". Caitlin received a competitive travel award from the Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience to support her attendance at the meeting.
- Lauren Houdek ('09, Biology) and Allison Girasole ('10, Biology) also presented a poster at the Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience poster session, a venue specifically for undergraduate research, entitled "Characterization of guinea pig intracardiac neurons: A phenotypic and electrophysiological analysis". Lauren and Allison received support from the Bernard Fund to support their travel to the meeting.
Eastern College Science Conference (ECSC), Niagara University, April 2008. ECSC is held each year in the northeast. The host institution changes year to year. The conference is designed specifically for undergraduates to present the results of their research in a friendly environment. All presentations are given by undergraduates.
Mike Salt, Biology '08 (Andrew Smith) "The iron phenomenon: breaking protein aggregation in molluscan glues"
- Dennis Thapa, Biology '08 (Andrew Smith) "The 5' RACE: cDNA sequencing of a molluscan glue protein"
National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), April 2008
- Pamela Ronco, Biochemistry '08 (Ed Cluett) "The Effect of Phospholipase A2 Inhibitors on the Processing of Amyloid Precursor Protein"
Ana Velez, Biology '08 (Marc Servetnick) “Examination of Candidate Sex Specifi Genes in Xenopus laevis"
Eric Van Fleet, Biochemistry '09 (Vicki Cameron) " Deletion of the Nuclear Gene YME1 Stabilizes Mutant forms of Cox2p" (Other author, Martin Tomov, Biochemistry '07)
Caitlin N. Baran (Biochemistry '08), E. Marie Southerland, Jeffrey L. Ardell, and Jean C. Hardwick. Poster Presentation, "Remodeling of the guinea pig intracardiac plexus following pressure overload-induced cardiac hypertrophy". Experimental Biology meeting in San Diego, CA. April 2008. Caitlin was funded by both the H&S Office: Experiential Learning Curriculum Enhancement Grant and Sigma Xi.
Jason Hamilton presented, “Sustainability at CSUF: Why Our Future Depends on It “. Campus Sustainability Addressed, California State University-Fullerton. November 2007. View the article.
Kirwin Providence and Sarah Kessler (Biology '09) presented a poster entitled, “Desmid Adhesion Mechanisms: A prelude to eukaryotic and biofilm formation”. 2007 Annual Symposium in Plant Biology, University of Massachusetts-Amherst. October 2007.
Adhesion is a fundamental cellular process used by all kingdoms of life. The formation of biofilms (highly structured microbial communities) requires the secretion of adhesive substances. In many freshwater wetland ecosystems, photosynthetic algae (desmids) play important roles in the formation, structure, and function of biofilms.
Central to most adhesion processes is the production and secretion of extracellular polymeric substance (EPS). The EPS is a carbohydrate rich matrix of molecules that is secreted beyond the cell wall. Previous research demonstrates that proteins are embedded in desmid EPS. This observation suggests that proteins (either independently, or in concert with EPS) may support cell binding to substrates.
Using the desmid Penium Margaritaceum as the model organism, we test the hypothesis that proteins mediate initial desmid-substrate binding. This binding event is important in that it is a prerequisite supporting the transitioning from the planktonic realm to biofilm formation and subsequent benthic community development.
We demonstrate that EPS-devoid cells are able to adhere to abiotic substrates. This binding is dependent on peripheral proteins associated with the desmid cell wall and or plasma membrane. These observations increases our knowledge about this major group of microorganisms that may be keystone species in wetland habitats, and ones that profoundly affect environmental concerns such as water quality, pollution remediation, and disease control.
Susan Swensen and Marian Brown (Provost's Office) presented a series of ten posters entitled "Exploring Positive Growth: The Sustainability Initiative at Ithaca College." The conference, "Greening of the Campus VII" was held at Ball State University, Muncie, IN. September 2007. View the full report as a PDF here.
Ithaca College has undertaken a campus-wide sustainability initiative with three major areas of focus: faculty research into related fields of study and active support for curriculum modification to infuse considerations of sustainability into courses across disciplines; campus operational reforms to become more sustainable and to provide a supportive living-learning environment that models the theory and principles presented in our classrooms; and communication within our campus community and outreach to our surrounding community in the region. We will offer a comprehensive poster session that includes presentations and displays from all the various participants involved in the Ithaca College sustainability initiative; this will include (but not be limited to) each of the following related programs and activities: Curriculum and Research, Campus Operations, and Communication and Outreach.
Eastern College Science Conference, New York, NY. April 2007
- Christopher Ashman, Biology '08 (Susan Swensen) “Preferred Growth Conditions for a Sustainable Extensive Green Roof”
Amber Contrastan, Biology '08 (Jean Hardwick) “Western Blot Analysis of NNOS expression in the guinea pig cardiac ganglion
Elizabeth Hoover, Biology '08 (Peter Melcher) "The effect of leaf extract on soil microbe respiration"
- Robert Janelli, Biology '07 (Jean Hardwick) “Regulation of NOS expression in the guinea pig cardiac ganglion”
- Allison Lau, Biology '07 (Susan Swensen) "Soil composition and depth for green roofs: a pilot study"
- Susan Meyer, Biology '07 (Peter Melcher) "The impact of the xylem wound response on the measure of hydraulic resistance in plants"
- Lei Mi-Mi, Biochemistry '08 (Marina Caillaud) "To Eat or Not To Eat... Your Genes, or Your Levis???.."
- Jennifer Wills (Biology '08), Eric Hojnowski (Biology '08), Stepanie Cianchetti (Biology '07), Jon Hughes (Biology '07) (Ed Cluett) “Sphingomyelinase treatment releases cholesterol into the phospholipase A2-mediated
Yasmine Ramadhan*, Biology '08, and Amy Fisher, Biology '08 (Peter Melcher) “Incorporating multiple years of xylem growth decreases estimated xylem hydraulic resistance"
*Won the best Plant Biology Poster award.
Jackie Scahill, Biology '07 (Susan Allen-Gil) presented "The Effects of Atrazine on the Development of Fathead Minnows (Pimephales promelas) and Xenopus Frogs" hosted by Tri Beta, the National Biology Honors Society at RPI. Troy , NY.. TriBeta Conference. April 2007.
James J. Whalen Academic Symposium, Ithaca College. April, 2007
- Aaron Bloom, Biology '08 (Jason Hamilton and Susan Swensen), “Get on Board - IC and Sustainable Transportation
- Dan Carrión, Environmental Studies Student (Susan Swensen), “Greening IC's Roofs: A Pilot Project"
- Alexandra Chesney, Biology '09 (Jason Hamilton), “Ithaca College's Carbon Footprinting”
- Andrew Furfaro, Biology '08 (Jason Hamilton), “Using Plants for Sustainability and Stability: The Ecovillage at Ithaca Root Cellar Landscaping Project”
- Elizabeth Hoover, Biology '08 (Peter Melcher), “The Effect of Leaf Extract on Soil-microbe Respiration”
- Susan I. Meyer, Biology '07 (Peter Melcher), “Evaluating the Xylem Wound Response on the Measure of Hydraulic Resistance in Plants”
- Lei Mi-Mi , Biochem '08 (Marina Caillaud), “Development of a Microsatellite Molecular Markers for Constructing a Dense Linkage Map in the Pea Aphid”
- Jacqueline Scahill, Biology '07 (Susan Allen-Gil), “The Frog Prince and His Pesticides”
- Carolyn Sherman, Biology '08 (Jason Hamilton), “Using Medicinal Herbs to Save Forests from the Ax”
Jason Hamilton, Michael Rogers, Susan Swensen and Susan Allen-Gil presented “Infusing Sustainability into Higher Education. American Conference of Academic Deans Annual Conference (pre-conference workshop), New Orleans, LA,
The United Nations has declared 2005-2014 as the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, and institutions of higher learning have become the focus for preparing societies to face environmental, social and economic challenges. This workshop will explore the role of deans in encouraging the development and implementation of sustainability in the academic mission. An experienced panel of faculty and administrators from Ithaca College will describe how their sustainability initiative grew and discuss particularly effective programs. To broaden the discussion, a panel of academic deans from different institutions will describe how they are responding to the challenges of infusing sustainability into the curricula at their schools.
John Confer presented an invited seminar in April entitled "Disturbing Forest and Field to Maximize Biodiversity: From Micro-Disturbance for Ceruleans to Mega-Disturbance for Golden-wings" at the Biodiversity Research Institute Seminar Series in Albany at the New York State Museum.
Bruce Smith and Will Brogan (Biology '07) gave a poster presentation entitled “Habituation of male /Arrenurus manubriator (Acari: Hydrachnida) to female sex pheromone”. Mid-Atlantic Ecology Conference (Mid-Atlantic branch meeting, Ecological Society of America). York, PA March 2007.
Male Arrenurus manubriator mites were tested to determine whether response to female pheromone decreased with increased duration of exposure. Groups of virgin males were housed with a single virgin female for 1, 24, 48 or 72 hours. Males were exposed to pheromones during this period, but were not allowed direct contact with the female. The males’ response was tested in a circular arena divided into an central circle and an outer ring. Groups of 50 males were introduced to the arena, and either 0.6 ml of untreated water (negative control) or female-conditioned water (test groups and positive control) was injected into the center of the dish. Observations over time were used to determine when maximal responses to pheromone occur, and hence the optimal time for comparisons among treatments. Five groups of positive controls confirmed that sufficient pheromone was present and that males were responsive, and also indicated that the peak response occurred approximately 180 sec. after introducing pheromone to the arena. In trials involving 1 and 24 hr. pre-exposure to pheromone, males responded just as strongly to pheromone as did positive control groups. After 48 and 72 hours of exposure to female pheromone, significantly fewer males responded during observation intervals.
Jean Hardwick was an invited speaker and presented "Regulation of autonomic intracardiac neurons by inflammatory mediators" to the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at Howard University College of Medicine. Washington, DC. March 2007.
Andy Smith presented "Adhesive gels from snails and slugs: strong, highly flexible glues that depend on iron" at the annual meetings of the Adhesion Society. Tampa, FL. February 2007
Gastropod molluscs such as snails and slugs can create strong, temporary adhesion using dilute gels. These gels consist of over 95% water, yet can adhere to a wide variety of surfaces with tenacities that typically range from 100 to 500 kPa. Because of the novel characteristics of these glues, there is good potential for biomimetic applications. Thus, a major goal is to identify the mechanism that makes these dilute gels adhesive. The key structural feature of these glues is the presence of gel-stiffening proteins that have been called “glue proteins”. Recent work has identified several important biochemical features of these proteins, the most striking of which is their association with iron. Removing or binding this iron with a highly specific iron chelator blocks the ability of the glue proteins to function in a variety of different assays. These observations suggest several possible mechanisms by which the glue proteins may act.
Andy Smith presented “Gluing with an iron fist: crosslinking in molluscan adhesive gels “ at the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology Meeting. Phoenix, AZ. January 2007.
Many gastropod molluscs produce strong adhesion with soft, dilute gels. A major question is how such gels can become powerful adhesives. Previous research has identified specific glue proteins that appear to crosslink the gels and may be involved in interfacial adhesion, but the mechanism has not yet been identified. We studied the rapidly-setting defensive glue secreted by the slug Arion subfuscus. The proteins that constitute this gel are sensitive to the presence of iron. Atomic absorption spectroscopy on the dissolved glue and iron-specific stains on blots of the proteins show that the primary glue protein has iron bound at approximately a 1:1 molar ratio. This is the only protein in the glue that binds to iron strongly. Removal or binding of this iron with a high-affinity, iron-specific chelator shows that iron plays a major role in the function of the gel. Chelation of iron may inhibit the setting of the glue, as demonstrated by a marked increase in solubility when the chelator is added before the glue sets. Chelation also completely blocks the ability of the glue proteins to function in a gel-stiffening assay. This evidence suggests that iron associated with the glue proteins participates in crosslinking reactions that are essential for the mechanics and integrity of the gel. A mechanism involving iron could explain the ability to form strong, non-specific adhesion with dilute glues in an aqueous environment.
Susan Allen-Gil was the Faculty Speaker for the IC Capital Campaign Kick-Off at the Australian Embassy. She presented "Making a World of Difference Through International Experiences". Washington DC. December 2006.
Susan Allen-Gil presented, "Educating for Sustainability: Ithaca College" as the featured speaker at the Sustainability, Science, and Liberal Arts Colleges hosted by the Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation. NY, NY. November 2006
John Confer gave an invited presentation on "Managing Early-Successional Forests For Avian Species of the Declining Shrubland Guild" at the annual meeting of the Society of American Foresters. The panel was on avian management, which was organized by Jeff Larkin (Bio 1995). Pittsburgh, PA. October 2006.
Jason Hamilton presented the faculty keynote address at the College's Family Weekend. He gave a mini-lecture on sustainability at Ithaca College. November 2006
Campus Sustainability Day, October 2006. This is the annual celebration and showcase of all the Ithaca College community is doing to advance campus sustainability.
- Dan Carrion and Jack Haurin (Environmental Study students), "Student Activism at Ithaca College" (Susan Swensen)
- John Confer, "Maintaining Biodiversity: The Problem, the Challenge, and Student-aided Solutions"
- Jason Hamilton, "The Quest for a Sustainable World: What we know, what we can do?"
Jason Hamilton presented "Plant-insect interactions in a high CO2 world: ripple effects across scales of integration" at the Institute of Ecosystems Studies Seminar Series, Millbrook, NY. October 2006.
Jean Hardwick, Nancy Andersen ('07) and Meghan McManus (Dec '06) attended the the annual Society for Neuroscience meetings in Atlanta GA Oct 2006. The students presented results from their research in the lab during the academic year and summer. Two other IC students contributed data to the presentations; Ryan Bochacki ('07) and Andrew Kelley ('06) The student attendance at the meeting was funded by the Ithaca Fund and Jean Hardwick's NIH grant.
- Poster presentations:
Main meeting poster: Jean Hardwick, Nancy Andersen ('07), Ryan Bochacki ('07), Andrew Kelley ('06).
"Nitric oxide actions and NOS regulation in the guinea pig cardiac ganglion"
- Presented at the Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience Poster Session
Meghan McManus (Dec '06) and Jean Hardwick
"cGMP increases the response to histamine in guinea pig intracardiac neurons"
John Confer presented "Managing Habitat for Shrubland Birds" at a conference on "Early Successional Habitat" sponsored by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation at the Rensselaerville Environmental Institute. September 2006.
Bruce Smith and Kit Muma presented "Biodiversity and Conservation: Sabbatical travels in the South Pacific" at the Queen's University Biological Station (Chaffey's Lock, Ontario, Canada) Wednesday Night Seminar Series. July 19th.
Jean Hardwick presented “Histamine-induced increase in intracardiac neural excitability is dependent on extracellular calcium“. Society for Neuroscience. Washington, DC. November. 2005.
Bruce Smith presented "Variations of a Theme: Life History Strategies of Water Mites" in the Zoology Department, University of Otago, Dunedin New Zealand. November 2005.Susan
Susan Swensen presented “Plants in strange places: Discovering evolutionary history with molecules (and mud)”. Biology Department, Cornell College, Mount Vernon, Iowa. October, 2005.
Susan Swensen presented “The Quest for a Sustainable World: What We Know…What We Can Do…”. Cornell College Science Departments, Mount Vernon, Iowa. October, 2005.
Anna and Anthony each received a $300 award from the the Jack and Flo Bernard Undergraduate Research Fund.
Jeff received $500 from the HSBC Commit-to-Change Grant for travel
They all received a H&S Educational Grant Initiative of $400 each.
The group received $1,600 from the Provost's Instructional Development Fund.