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Easel #2: The Role of Connexin 43 in Astrocytic Communication After Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI)

Malikah Ajose (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University)

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) affects ten million individuals every year in the US, with 10-50% of these cases developing epilepsy at a higher rate. Currently available antiepileptic drugs target neurons, but they have not been seen to halt the progression of PTE in TBI patients. Previously in our lab, we have demonstrated that the connection of astrocytes creating a vast network of cell communication is lost post-TBI. Astrocytes’ cytoplasms connect with each other through gap junctions to efficiently buffer ions and other small molecules, impairing the hyperexcitability of the system. Connexin 43 (Cx43) is the major protein found in gap junctions. Cx43 can also form undocked channels, known as hemichannels, that under pathological conditions can open and release ATP or glutamate, which can contribute to the hyperexcitability of the system. For this reason, Cx43 dysfunction has been widely associated with hyperexcitability and epileptogenesis. In this project, we have focused on analyzing the expression and distribution of Cx43 in the cortex of an Aldh1l1-eGFP mouse model 1, 3, and 7 days post-TBI. We found that in areas with atypical astrocytes characterized by loss of Glt-1 expression, Cx43 was downregulated, suggesting gap junction dysfunction. In areas surrounding these atypical astrocytes, Cx43 was either downregulated or upregulated. The upregulation could be due to the increase in the number of hemichannels present post-injury. These findings suggest a dysregulation in Cx43 following a mild TBI injury that could be contributing to PTE.

Easel #4: Nature + Art Collection

Katie Brooks (North Carolina State University)

Something in me has always been fascinated by the transience of nature. I think we as humans have a hard time accepting the temporary. My grandmother showed me how to press leaves and flowers as a kid, and the technique has stuck with me. Almost every book and sketchbook I own had leaves interspersed between the pages. Growing up as an artist in rural North Carolina, the intersection of my creative work and affinity for nature seems only logical. Admittedly, this likely began with a subconscious motivation to preserve that which is fleeting, but making art from natural elements has taught me to make peace with the ephemeral. I am not the sole artist of these paintings, but working in collaboration with nature. As a result, these paintings are largely experimental. I preserve my works to the best of my ability, yet they will always ultimately be at the mercy of entropy and time. This fragility can often be difficult to work with, but I believe the potential transience of these pieces makes their presence all the more precious. In this, I am reminded that though the fruits of our efforts may be temporary, this in no way makes them less important. I believe there is much to be found in the details. I hope that my work draws people in to look closer—not just at my paintings, but at the world around them. Nature certainly doesn’t need my help to be beautiful.

Easel #6: Exploring a Framework for Educational Equity for Students with Chronic Illness: A Systematic Literature Review

Joshua Etienne (Florida State University)

Students with chronic illness face significant obstacles to academic success in comparison to their healthy peers. For example, absences, related to illness, disrupt their educational experiences and can hamper their academic progress and success (Lum, Wakefield, Donnan, Burns, Fardell & Marshall, 2017; Shiu, 2001). For some of these children, their lived experiences with pain, socio-emotional issues, perceived and real stigmatization, as well as, highly stressful life events associated with their illnesses place them at even greater academic risk (Irwin & Elam, 2011). Individual educational plans (IEPs) and 504 plans can help clearly communicate the unique needs and tailored supports required to meet the educational needs of students with chronic illness within the school (Lum et al., 2017). Unfortunately, school-level policies and systems are not always designed to ensure adequate support for students with chronic illness (Irwin and Elam, 2011). In fact, requests for accommodations can be met with skepticism and raise concerns for fair or equal treatment. Without adequate knowledge of laws, policies, and guidelines and/or access to quality resources, teachers and administrators can inadvertently create educational barriers for students with chronic illness, eliminating the possibility of an equitable educational experience (Irwin & Elam, 2011). An increased understanding of policies and evidence-based strategies to mitigate the impact of chronic illnesses on students’ educational experiences may support more equitable educational experiences for these students. School administrators, school health practitioners, teachers, and support staff, alike, can also benefit from additional knowledge and resources to understand accommodations required, where supports have been provided, and where additional efforts may be needed.

Easel #8: Interpersonal Leverage: Individual Differences in the Use of Gratitude and Anger

Danielle Goldwert (University of Miami)

Two studies report the development of a new construct measuring individual differences in the perceived value of expressing gratitude and how this construct relates to established indices of interpersonal leverage, specifically, physical formidability in men and physical attractiveness in women. Study 1 (N=193) provided initial evidence using exploratory factor analytic techniques that items asking about the perceived consequences of not expressing gratitude indexed a psychological construct distinct from those captured by prior measures of gratitude. Furthermore, correlational analyses hinted that individual differences in this new construct, but not prior measures, were predicted by indices of interpersonal leverage: more physically formidable men and more attractive women were less likely to feel their lack of gratitude cut them off from future benefits of social interactions. Study 2 (N=419) expanded the number of items measuring the perceived consequences and utility of expressing gratitude. Factor analysis revealed two constructs: one indexing the value/utility of expressing gratitude and the Study 1 factor indexing perceived consequences of ingratitude. Only individual differences in the utility of expressing gratitude were robustly predicted by measures of interpersonal leverage: more formidable men (r=.42, p<.001, N=238) and more attractive women (r=.37, p<.001, N=179) reported a lower value of expressing gratitude in social interactions. This effect was not found for the original factor reported in Study 1 nor an established gratitude scale.

Easel #10: Falsified Pharmaceuticals

Sophia Hennessy (Clemson University)

The marketing and distribution of falsified and substandard drugs is a worldwide issue that has many negative impacts on the surrounding areas. Our goal is to create a simplified, low resource testing method to verify the composition of pharmaceutical shipments with a focus on antimalarials. We are using a Thin Layer Chromatography method to determine if the active ingredients are present in the drugs and we are working on developing a phone application to pair with the physical test.

Easel #12: Dred Scott v. Sanderson: The Religious Debate

Josie Landers (Boston College)

In the year 1857, Dred Scott v. Sanderson threw the United States into a state of moral and political chaos. The question of slavery’s extension had been tearing the nation apart and, further politicized in the Lincoln-Douglas debates, this Supreme Court decision served as a significant source of tension in the pre-Civil War period. Studying periodicals from the years 1857-1861, this article examines the role of religion in the public and political discourse surrounding the Dred Scott decision across the United States. Just as abolitionists in the North appealed to higher law in order to disregard the Constitution, pro-slavery advocates also used religion to justify slavery in the South. Pro-slavery papers conveyed their outrage as abolitionists used religion to reinterpret the Constitution or call for completely abolishing the document altogether. Additionally, higher law abolitionists turned their political allegiance to the Declaration of Independence, creating a lasting tension between the secular power of the Constitution and the seeming religious authority of the Declaration of Independence. Though the impact of religion has been scarcely studied before now, newspapers from this period reflect the influence of religion on the public’s understanding of the Dred Scott debate, increasing the national divide in the years leading up to the Civil War.

Easel #14: High Resolution Blood Flow Reconstruction using Simulation Based Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Charles Naudet (University of Notre Dame)

Congenital heart disease (CHD) is a birth defect in the structure of the heart. It effects nearly 40,000 births per year in the United States. These defects can lead to other complications and if not treated, death. About 25% of CHD births are critical and require surgery within the first year of life. Newly born infants thought to have CHD must go through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to get a representation of fluid flow in their blood vessels. This provides insight into structural abnormalities of the heart. However, this can be a difficult process for an infant; an infant cannot be in the MRI tunnel too long and may not stay still enough for the imaging to take place. For modern MRI scanners, there exists a fundamental tradeoff between accuracy, resolution, noise, and scan time. Therefore, MRI data is usually low resolution and noisy, which can obscure important flow features. We are trying to push these limits, allowing for higher resolution of fluid flow within the heart with quicker scans. Using optimization and computational fluid dynamics (CFD), we construct a high-fidelity CFD simulation that is certified with low-resolution MRI data acquired from quick scans. Low resolution data is used to extract the geometry of the blood vessels and define boundary conditions in such a way that the CFD simulation matches the measurements. Subsequently we perform implicit sampling techniques to acquire uncertainty qualification to account for the impact of noise in the MRI measurements on the reconstructed flow.

Easel #16: Optimization of Media Condition for Metabolomics Data Integration with Genome-scale Metabolic Models

Benjamin Neubert (University of Virginia)

Genome-scale metabolic network reconstructions (GENREs) are a powerful computational tool for mathematically modeling the metabolic processes within a cell at a systems-level. The development of improved curation methods through strategic data integration would improve our ability to use GENREs to understand metabolic diseases and to inform metabolic engineering. Metabolomics aims to identify metabolites within a biological system, which can then be integrated into a GENRE to increase its accuracy. Due to the cost of gathering metabolomics data, there is a need to identify which media conditions would hold the most value for model curation. To this end, we created an ensemble of draft GENREs for E. coli K-12 using a combination of well-established packages and in vitro anaerobic single-carbon source utilization screen data. Production sub-networks were created using weighted parsimonious flux balance analysis with different objective functions based upon single products across 44 candidate minimal media conditions with varied carbon sources. The average likelihood of reactions in each production sub-network was used as data to assess which ensembles had the greatest variation in network structure as a result of a given media condition. We were able to identify the 10 media conditions that induced the greatest variation among ensemble members, representing the conditions for which gathering metabolomics data would be most informative. This study developed a process for creating a prioritized list of media conditions for which to gather metabolomics data, in order to best increase the accuracy of a GENRE’s predictions and reduce the uncertainty in network structure.

Easel #18: Relationship Between Mechanical Loading and Bone Marrow Stem Cells in Bone Formation

Madeline Owen (University of Notre Dame)

Bone acts as a metabolic organ by responding to mechanical loading, altering bone formation and remodeling. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) differentiate into various cell types, promoting processes such as bone development (osteogenesis) and angiogenesis. Understanding response mechanisms to loading by MSCs could allow discovery of new therapies promoting bone formation in cases of bone fractures or degenerative diseases such as osteoporosis. This study investigated bone responses to mechanical loading, specifically Leptin receptor (LepR)-expressing cells, and cellular communication via extracellular vesicles (EVs) for miRNA potentially involved in bone formation.

Immunostaining for acetylated alpha tubulin (Ac-αTub) was optimized on mouse kidney with a 1:100 antibody dilution. LepR staining was effective with a 1:100 dilution in mouse cortical bone. Osteoblasts and osteocytes do not express LepR, but derive from LepR+ cells likely in bone marrow, where LepR+ cells are highly concentrated. No difference appears between unloaded and loaded bone for LepR+ cells, suggesting LepR+ cell counts are not indicative of known increases in bone formation confirmed by microCT scans in loaded versus unloaded limbs (data not shown). While LepR+ cells may not differ significantly between loaded and unloaded bone, knockout mice for adenylate cyclase 6 (AC6) in LepR cells show impaired bone formation in microCT scans (data not shown). This confirms significance of LepR-expressing cells in successful bone formation. miRNA 1, which upregulates osteoblast differentiation, was highly expressed and showed a 1.76 fold change in dynamic versus static EVs. This miRNA may mediate cellular communication via EVs, promoting bone formation under mechanical stimulation.

Easel #20: Reconstructing the Past: A Comparative Study of Museum Politics and Memory in Portugal and Brazil

Juliana Serrano (Wake Forest University)

Museums have gone through an evolutionary process as it relates to their mission, from constructing national identity and justifying colonialism to comprehending its social responsibility and its power for social reform. Through this museology framework, I investigated how six museums in Portugal and Brazil, countries connected by their colonizer-colony history, are manifesting this transformation. Specifically, I analyzed their practices and ideological foundations: that of colonialism and hegemony, that of universal ethics and globalization, and that of civic reform. The museums were paired for their analogous history, political mission and collection focus as follows: the Museu Nacional (Rio de Janeiro) and Museu Nacional de Arqueologia (Lisbon) for their long historical legacies, the Museus e Parque Serra da Capivara (Piaui) and Museu e Parque do Vale do Coa (Coa) for their focus on preservation and sustainable development, and the Museu Afro Brasil (Sao Paulo) and Museu do Aljube (Lisbon) for their concern with social justice and collective memory. I then collected evidence through historiographic research, detailed observation of exhibitions and visitor’s guides, and stakeholder interviews. I developed a set of criteria for characterizing each museum’s approach that could incorporate competing and complementing perspectives. A trinary diagram indicates that the results within museum pairs were homogenous, demonstrating the potential of this method of research for fostering discussion on how museums have and can use their authority in retelling the past.

Easel #22: Microbubble-Induced Aggregation of Red Blood Cells 

Jensen Smith (University of Louisville)

Each year, millions of people around the world are not able to receive life-saving blood transfusions because blood requires constant refrigeration and expires after only 42 days. Biologists have known for decades that a simple sugar called trehalose can preserve animals and their cells in a dried state, allowing them to be stored at room temperature for years and be revived by simply adding water. Trehalose must be present on both sides of the cell boundaries (membranes) to offer protection, and transporting trehalose across human cell membranes is challenging. Sonoporation, is a process wherein ultrasound waves induce small gas bubbles to expand and contract (cavitation) and we discovered that this technique is a promising method for carrying trehalose across the cell membrane into red blood cells (RBCs). However, some microbubbles can be toxic and cause RBCs to aggregate in solutions containing low concentrations of ions. Unfortunately, low ion concentrations are desired during processing for dry storage of RBCs. To solve the toxicity challenge, different concentrations of RBCs were exposed to a variety of microbubble dosages under different conditions in solution. RBC aggregation was observed under any conditions tested when the RBCs were exposed to standard microbubbles in a low-salt solution, whereas aggregation was never observed in a high-salt solution. The observed toxicity could be correlated with the overall charge of the microbubbles (‘zeta potential’). It was found that standard microbubbles had a zeta potential of +31 mV. Changing the microbubble composition and their zeta potential to +21 mV allowed for sonoporation in low-salt solution without causing aggregation or other toxic side effects of high-salt concentrations. Further optimization of the sonoporation method may result in a freeze-dried transfusion unit that is stable at room temperature and could save millions of lives around the globe. (Supported by NSF-PFI-1827521 and UofL SROP-2019). [Poster]

Easel #24: Integrating Inquiry Based Mathematics Instruction for Elementary Students

Marissa Steinberg (University of Miami)

As schools push towards opportunities for students to engage in meaningful and hands on mathematical experiences, students with learning disabilities (LD) are typically excluded, as direct and explicit instruction remains the primary instructional approach in special education curriculum. Inquiry instruction has become increasingly popular within STEM related subjects, but research has not fully demonstrated its effectiveness for students with LD. This pilot study investigates the effectiveness of an inquiry-based approach – specifically, Problem-Based Learning (PBL) to improve the mathematical knowledge and skills of students with and without learning disabilities. A PBL unit focusing on area and perimeter at the fourth-grade level was implemented in an inclusive classroom. Though more distal measures of mathematical proficiency did not show significant growth from pretest to posttest, qualitative rubrics and student discussions demonstrated students’ conceptual understanding of critical concepts. Implications for practice and future research are discussed.

Easel #26: Mark O’Connor Bot: Recurrent Neural Net Generation of Texas-Style Fiddling

Lillian Turner (University of Pittsburgh)

Continuing advances in the fields of artificial intelligence and machine learning are opening up new pathways for the study of music. One avenue left unexplored by ethnomusicologists is the use of computer-based music generation to explore new and familiar questions about musical notation, transmission, and representation of wide-spread idioms and individual styles. In this project, I explore these questions by training recurrent neural networks with the deep learning framework Magenta to generate new old-time fiddle pieces. I aim to replicate the playing style of Mark O’Connor, whose unique playing technique provides a complex case study to examine how the neural net understands and replicates stylistic details. The network is trained with sheet music transcriptions of O’Connor’s performances, which are annotated with details specific to his playing style. After training the neural networks, the program generates new sheet music based on learned behaviors derived from those transcriptions. The goal of this project is to produce music that can be interpreted as old-time fiddling that is recognizable by players and listeners as indicative of the musical style of Mark O’Connor.

This project aims to contribute to ethnomusicological conversations about music transcription and generation by approaching the subject from a machine learning vantage. By exploring the types of musical elements machine learning technologies are capable of recognizing and reproducing, we can better understand the limits of traditional and digital music notation, develop new tools for ethnomusicological study, and find new ways to create music.

Easel #28: Career or Side Hustle: Freelance Working, Careers, and Job Plans

Haley Weller (Syracuse University)

We report from ongoing work focused on working arrangements and career trajectories of freelance workers. Working with a larger research team, including undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty from Syracuse University and Skidmore College, we are completing the first round of phone-based interviews and surveys, so we look to this conference as a means to share interim insights and gain feedback. Moreover, the study we report on is part of a larger effort focused on the futures of work revolving around a move towards more project-based and temporary working arrangements. This work we report on builds from and draws together three sources of insight. The first source of insight comes from the detailed, often sociological and econometric, analyses of the changes in labor market structures, disconnect between employers and employees, and the movement towards contingent work. A second set of insights comes from the rapidly expanding scholarship focused on gig work – encompassing a range of utopian and dystopian analyses and debates on the size and growth of contingent work. The third source of insights come from the studies of contingent work, freelancing and gig-working that, together, highlighting how work, labor markets, and employer/employee relations are being mediated by digital platforms and personalized devices that place premiums on workers developing skills and knowledge beyond their professional basis. This stated, the focus of our presentation will be to the emerging findings from our interviews and survey data, along with reflections on our experiences with doing field-based social science research.

Easel #30: 3D-Printed Porous Tubular Tissue Engineering Scaffolds

Jason Zheng (University of Pittsburgh)

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the most common form of cardiovascular disease in the US [1]. Surgeries for treating CHD involve the use of autologous blood vessel grafts for bypassing blockages to restore blood flow. Unfortunately, compliance mismatch between the coronary artery and the vascular graft results in failure rates up to 50% [2]. Tissue engineered vascular grafts (TEVGs) could potentially overcome the limitations faced by current surgical interventions. Our group has developed/tested TEVGs bulk-seeded with cells using rotation and vacuum and are continuing to investigate different parameters such as scaffold materials, configurations, porosity, pore sizes, pore connectivity, diameter and/or length to optimize the cell seeding process. Therefore, the goal of this work was to design and efficiently 3D-print reproducible TEVG scaffolds with the variable properties listed above.

Scaffold models were designed using Rhino3D along with in-house MATLAB code. After 3D-printing the scaffolds using an SLA Formlabs printer, surface pores and interior porous networks were analyzed via light microscopy, multiphoton microscopy, and micro-CT. Two important findings resulted from visual analyses – only larger surface pores were properly printed (>250μm) and no interior porous networks formed (consistent for all scaffolds). The latter indicated that our 3D-printer was not able to produce the desired lattice geometries due to limited resolution. Based on these results, our next step is to identify a new method of 3D-printing TEVG scaffolds so that we can confidently optimize the cell seeding process. [Poster]