Spooner Student Research Program Grant Awards

Fall 2008

Student Researcher: Patricia Zornio

Department: Psychology

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: Discriminative Stimulus Properties of Idazoxan

Project Abstract: Schizophrenia is a life debilitating disorder which affects approximately 1% of the population. As the current treatments for schizophrenia leave much to be desired, it is imperative for more effective treatments to be pursued. In order to best improve these treatments, the pharmacological properties of the current antipsychotic drugs must be assessed. Subsequently, the current proposal seeks to uncover the behavioral and pharmacological properties of two prototypical antipsychotic drugs (clozapine and haloperidol) by using a commonly accepted method in behavioral pharmacology called drug discrimination. Clozapine and haloperidol are complex drugs that act upon a variety of systems in the brain, many of which are largely unknown. Recent literature suggests, however, that the two drugs may act upon the alpha2 noradrenergic receptors, indicating part of what may make them effective. Thus for this proposal the drug idazoxan, a characteristically classified alpha2 noradrenergic receptor antagonist, will be tested for similarity to each antipsychotic drug, resulting in the ability to conclude the importance of alpha2 noradrenergic receptor antagonism in the current antipsychotic drug model. In turn, the proposed project will aid in providing a more comprehensive understanding of what constitutes an effective antipsychotic drug for the treatment of schizophrenia.

Student Researcher: Trisha Sippel

Department: Biology

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: The effect of glycosylation on HER2 presentation by antigen presenting cells

Project Abstract: HER2 is a protein overexpressed in some breast cancers, making it a target for cancer immunotherapy. A new target therapy is the presentation of HER2 to the immune system so that it is recognized as a foreign antigen and therefore the immune system will attack the cells overexpressing HER2. To make the immune response even more effective against HER2, the protein will be altered through glycosylation. Glycosylation has been shown to allow antigen presenting cells to present antigens more efficiently to the immune system and therefore allow for an increased immune response. The immune response will then be tested through a luminescence assay, using glycosylated and nonglycosylated HER2 presented by mouse splenocytes (antigen presenting cells) to B3Z cells (T cells that when activated produce -galactosidase.

Student Researcher: Rachel Hovel

Department: Biology

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: Distinguishing hatchery and wild Chinook salmon diet using stable isotope

Project Abstract: Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) is a critical species to the Pacific Northwest region, both economically and ecologically. In recent decades, native Chinook salmon have experienced steep population declines, and viable fisheries are now supported primarily by supplementation with hatchery-raised fish. Several wild Chinook salmon populations, including those off the Washington coast, have been listed under the Endangered Species Act and concerns are on the rise over the genetic and competitive effects of hatchery raised fish on native wild stocks. This study seeks to examine the impacts of aquaculture fish on wild Chinook salmon in Skagit bay of north Puget Sound; stable isotope analysis is used to evaluate diet overlap between wild and aquaculture fish and to identify possible predation on wild salmon by larger hatchery individuals. Ultimately, this study will contribute to an understanding of the complex factors leading to the decline of this vital species.

  

Summer 2008

Student Researcher: Beth Webb

Department: Biology

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: Do Signals Released into the rhizosphere by Chemically Challenged Agropyron sp Affect In situ Bacterial Degradation of Trichloroethylene and Toluene?

Project Abstract: Do signals released by chemically challenged Hycrest crested wheatgrass (Agropygron sp) affect in situ plant-microbe relationships? It is hypothesized that increased in situ degradation of trichlorlethylene (TCE) and toluene by Pseudomonas putida that contain Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP-P. putida) (biodegradation) will occur due to these signals when wheatgrass is grown in the presence of extracts from the rhizosphere of chemically challenged wheatgrass. Previous studies have shown wheatgrass grown in the presence of TCE/toluene release signals into the rhizosphere that enhance in vitro TCE/toluene biodegradation. GFP-P. putida will allow the accompanying plant-microbe relationship to be visually observed. Wheatgrass seeds sterilized with a Clorox solution will be inoculated with GFP-p. putida and grown on chemically modivied agar. Non modified agar will be used for control plants. Triplicate two-week-old wheatgrass plants will be treated with a 100 ppm TCE/toluene solution and extracts from control soil, control plant soil, treated soil and treated plant soil from the rhizosphere of TCE/toluene challenged wheatgrass. After 24 hours, TCE and toluene will be extracted from the agar using hexane. The TCE and toluene remaining in the hexane layer will be analyzed and quantified using Hewlett Packard/Flame Ionization Detector Gas Chromatograph with Mass Spectroscopy software. The GFP-P. putida will be quantified by visual counting. Average degraded TCE/toluene and average GFP-P. putida will be statistically analyzed using ANOVA to determine if experimental results are significantly different than control results. These data will be incorporated into a master’s thesis, presented at a public seminar and submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

Student Researcher: Amber Keusch

Department: Psychology

Amount Rewarded:  $500

Project Title: Effects of AMPAkine compounds on memory

Project Abstract: Memory deficits in schizophrenia, which are key determinates of outpatients success and quality of life, are not adequately treated with current medications. However, a novel class of experimental drugs called AMPAkines may offer improved efficacy for these deficits in schizophrenia. Studies are needed to investigate the effects that these compounds have on memory function. We recently obtained permission to test, and publish the results, for three AMPAkine compounds that were discovered by Eli Lilly Pharmaceuticals. The proposed studies will assess the ability of these three compounds to improve memory performance using a standard memory model in rodents (performance in a radial-arm maze) which we have recently setup and validated in preliminary studies. In the first of two experiments, the effects of a drug called MK-801 (a memory disruptive drug which mimics the memory deficits of schizophrenia) will be studied in order to replicate preliminary studies that found memory impairment in this task. In addition, Experiment 1 will also replicate the previous findings that nicotine reverses MK-801-induced effects in this memory task. Next, in Experiment 2 each of the AMPAkine compounds will be tested in rats treated with MK-801. This study will help illuminate the effects of a novel class of drugs on memory, which, if effective, could improve treatment for schizophrenia.

Student Researcher: Alicia McCauley

Department: Modern Languages and Literature

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: Portuguese Language Study in Higher Education

Project Abstract: I am co-authoring a report with Dr. Susan Goodrich on the expansion of Portuguese language teaching in the Midwest and the use of authentic Brazilian music in the curriculum to enhance cultural connections among students. NMU has been able to run an accelerated sequence for students who have previously mastered Spanish for almost ten years now, offering it every other year. Its survival has been due to various programmatic factors, the increasing relevance of Portuguese in international economic and cultural fields and the growth of the Portuguese-speaking immigrant populations of the US. Within this context of enrollment trends, the paper considers the role of music-accessed through Brazilian websites- in enhancing second language acquisition (SLA) in the students of this less-commonly-taught language (LCTL). The paper also will deliver specific model lessons oriented toward the incorporation and adaptation of online music offerings for intermediate-level students, proved as a portfolios appendix for attendees. My work involves compiling statistics, researching the role of music in SLA and helping to construct the music-based portfolio. In addition, I will reflect upon the role of music in my own Brazilian Portuguese education thus far. The results have been accepted as a co-authored paper at the American Association for Teacher of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP) which is held in July, 2008 in Costa Rica. This organization is the larges…

Winter 2008

Student Researcher: Avni Nimani

Department: Chemistry

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: Sequencing and Modeling of an Anti-2’-deoxy-N^6-Methyladensosine Fv

Project Abstract: The 7C7:c5 monoclonal antibody (mAb) from the 7C7:c5 hybridoma cell line is expected to bind to DNA sequences containing the unusual nucleotide N^6 –methyladenine with high affinity (high Kz) and, thus, may prove useful for more rapid genotyping of DNA and potentially RNA. Rapid genotyping is quintessential for fast diagnoses of any type of genetic disease, which includes not only inherited diseases and cancers but also diseases caused by infection with pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi. In addition to diagnostic uses, the 7C7:C5 mAb may someday be used therapeutically in the delivery of small interfering ribonucleic acids (siRNAs) to prevent viral replication of cancer gene expression. The first major goal of this study is to obtain the genetic sequences for the 7C7:C5 mAb variable fragment (Fv). The second major goal of this study is to build a reasonable three-dimensional (3-D) computer model of the 7C7:c5 Fv based on the translated amino acid sequences. Molecular modeling requires amino acid sequence alignment to similar Fv sequences with known crystal structures. A model for antibody-antigen binding may also be possible since the specific antigen for the 7C7:C5 mAb is known. Estimations for the antibody-antigen energy of interaction can be calculated based on the computer models.

Student Researcher: Ben Wilson

Department: Chemistry

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title:  Determination of the effect on calcium transport of PDMS.

Project Abstract: The research project is aimed at studying the effects of polydimethylated siloxanes (PDMS) upon metal transport, specifically calcium ions, across a semi-permeable membrane. The membrane mimics the intestinal membrane in humans, and provides an estimate of human intestinal absorption. The procedure used is called Parallel Artificial Membrane permeability Assay (PAMPA), and is currently used in pharmaceutical development to test the intestinal absorption during drug development. The hypothesis is that PDMS affect the transport of calcium because of their ability to bind with metal ions, similar to crown ethers. People are exposed to PDMS through silicone implants, prosthetics, and external applications (such as deodorant). Also, they can be found in residue from food processing and in various inhalants. The analysis of calcium will be determined using a spectrophotometric method where the calcium will bind to a colorimetric agent (murexide) and then absorb light in the visible spectrum. A Multi-Scanner spectrometer will be used to quantitatively determine the absorbance. The absorbance will be related to the concentration of calcium through Beer’s Law, which states that the absorbance equals a constant times the length that the light travels through the sample times the concentration of the sample, giving a direct relationship to absorbance and concentration.

Student Researcher: Grant Slusher

Department: Biology

Amount Rewarded: $500

Project Title: Non-invasive population estimation of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in Presque Isle Park, Marquette, Michigan using microsatellite genetic markers.

Project Abstract: This proposal outlines research that will refine field collection and molecular laboratory techniques used in population estimation of white-tailed deer (odocoileus virginianus). The significance of the study is that it will help establish precision of population estimates based on population genetic data, it will provide local community parks and recreation department staff with another estimate of park deer population size, and finally it will demonstrate the utility of a non-invasive technique for sampling large mammals. The research will entail a two-week period of collecting deer hair from six snares set up in Presque Isle Park of Marquette, Michigan followed by several months of molecular genetic analysis in the Lindsay Conservation Genetics Laboratory of Northern Michigan University. Data analysis will include: establishing individual genotypes of hair samples, generating a robust estimate of overall park white-tailed deer population size and comparing the genetic-based estimate to an exact count of deer made by volunteers during another researcher’s (Dr. John Bruggink’s ) drive census.