Summer Interdisciplinary Research Symposium (SIReS)

The 2023 Summer SIReS (Summer Interdisciplinary Research Symposium) will take place on Wednesday, July 26 from 8:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. in the Harre Union. The schedule is below. You can scroll down to see the poster presentation titles and abstracts in each session.

8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. Harre Union Ballrooms A & B Poster Session 1

9:45 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. Harre Union Ballrooms A & B Poster Session 2

11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Harre Union Brown & Gold Room Keynote Speaker: 

Lexi Gault ’21

Indiana University Department of Astronomy

“Stellar Feedback Driven Outflows in Nearby Low-Mass Galaxies and the Graduate School Experience”

Poster Session 1: 8:30-9:30 am

Title Author(s) Department Project Code
The Effects of Low and High Gravity on Neurospora Crassa Siobhan Cleveland, James M Livengood, Michael K Watters Dr. Biology BIO-1
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We studied the effects of different gravity levels on Neurospora crassa and its morphology. This research was conducted by simulating low and high gravity effects in different operating procedures. For the low gravity simulation, the experiment was conducted by using a clinostat to constantly disorient the samples at a very slow rate. For the high gravity simulation, N. crassa was subjected to different amounts of g forces by placing the samples in a centrifuge and subjected the samples to increasing amounts of revolutions per minute. The results of these experiments conclude that in low-gravity situations, the N. crassa showed sparse growth and some cytoplasmic failure. In the high gravity situations, the samples showed that at around 1,000 to 2,000 RPMs, there were no changes in the morphology, but at higher RPMs like 3,000 or 4,000, there were some signs of cytoplasmic failure but no noticeable changes to morphology.

Demonstration of an Iron Oxide Mediated Solar Decoupled Electrolysis Cycle Sarah Hill, Paul Smith Chemistry CHEM-1
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A solar decoupled electrolysis cycle with iron oxide mediators first proposed eleven years ago is demonstrated here. The James Markiewicz Solar Energy Research Facility (SERF) at Valparaiso University uses concentrated sunlight to reduce hematite at 1500 ?, evolving oxygen and producing magnetite. Magnetite can then be dissolved in water at pH 5 using hydroxyethylidene diphosphonic acid (HEDP). Aqueous Fe2+ serves as the anode for the reduction of water to hydrogen, as demonstrated by a visual H2 detection assay. Finally, alkaline solutions of Fe3+ + HEDP upon concentration produce a precipitate characterized as goethite ?-FeOOH by Raman spectroscopy, completing the cycle.

Discharge mechanism of implantable cardiac defibrillator batter analog determined by Raman and Surface Enhanced Imaging spectroscopy Logan Kiesewetter, Demi Brown Chemistry CHEM-2
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Batteries must hit target metrics as a function of desired application. Regarding the battery in the Implantable Cardiac Defibrillator (ICD), a desired metric is predictable performance over long time scales (7-9 years). This performance is attributed to the use of a silver metal oxide electrode, which reduces into highly conductive silver metal. Here, we investigate analogous electrochemistry to the ICD battery: Zn(s) + AgxMoyOz ? xAg(s)+ ZnMoyOz. We have characterized this reaction for monoclinic and triclinic Ag2Mo2O7 polymorphs by Raman spectroscopy at depths of discharge including full reduction of silver. Raman imaging maps of pellet electrodes prepared in steel mesh show a two-step heterogeneous reaction, with different reactivity of particles interfacing the electrolyte from those interfacing the back contact. Silver metal particles are spatially resolved in the electrode using surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy with methylene blue, giving an analytical enhancement factor of 103-104 at electrode hotspots. Overall, we have investigated the discharge mechanism of different cathodes towards increasing the predictability and longevity needed in ICD batteries.

Monitoring Qualitative Trends of Air Quality in Northwest Indiana Tekeidra Masters, Abe Orozco-Munoz, Jibreel Hoskins, Chris Iceman Chemistry CHEM-3
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In Lake and Porter counties PurpleAir sensors have been deployed in Gary, Chesterton, Valparaiso, and Schererville as part of the North Lake County Environmental Partnership (NLCEP). These sensors provide valuable quantitative data on air quality as part of a community awareness program. Air quality is often overlooked and poorly understood, despite its significant impact on human health. We are able to observe air quality metrics, paying particular attention to particulate concentrations in the sub-micron size fraction and compare them with spatial and meteorological factors. In the Gary and Valparaiso regions, the sensors have revealed certain qualitative trends which are reported. Meteorological factors, such as humidity and pressure, also play a role in influencing particulate concentrations, which are discussed. Notably, trends in pressure/temperature show a reverse relationship with particulate concentrations, and high humidities overestimate particulate concentrations.

Design of a Test Stand to Support Materials Testing and Process Development in an Ultra-high-temperature Infrared Imaging Furnace Amber Su Mechanical and Bioengineering MBE-1
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Summer Research Abstract

Xinran Su

The Solar Energy Research Group at Valparaiso University recently acquired an Infrared Imaging Furnace (IR Furnace) to support materials testing and process development research. By using gold-plated, parabolic reflectors to concentrate infrared radiation from Tungsten lamps to a line focus, the furnace is able to heat samples to temperatures exceeding 1400? at rates up to 1000?/min, significantly faster than conventional high-temperature furnaces. Furthermore, with no need for insulation and with active cooling, significant cooling rates can be achieved, even exceeding 1000?/min. In this project, we designed and manufactured a test stand for the IR Imaging Furnace. The test stand holds process tubes on the line focus of the furnace, and can be adjusted to accommodate different types and sizes of tubes. The test stand is also flexible enough to accommodate different sizes and types of fluid flow and/or instrumentation connections at the ends of the process tubes. Finally, the stand enables easy set-up for the user of the furnace. The user is able to load and unload tubes and their contents while keeping the fragile components of the IR Furnace safe.

Modeling Close Binary Systems Within Planetary Nebulae Lilly Blanton Physics & Astronomy PHYS-1
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Many fascinating and important processes in space occur in binary systems consisting of a white dwarf and a companion star in a very close orbit. Because of this, understanding this type of system is important to our overall understanding of our universe. These binary systems are born within planetary nebulae. However, only 26 such systems within planetary nebulae have been fully modeled, which isn’t a large enough number to result in meaningful statistical data. In order to work towards increasing this number, I used the PHOEBE modeling software to obtain ranges for the secondary temperature, primary and secondary radii, secondary albedo, and system inclination for the close binary system in the planetary nebula Hf2-2. I constrained the primary temperature to a 20 kK range based on a previously published spectrum analysis, while both of the masses were held constant due to not having radial velocities available. I present here the resulting ranges for the parameters.

Possible Molecular Origins of the Unidentified Infrared Emission Features in Planetary Nebulae Adelyn R Carney, Thomas N Toolis Physics & Astronomy PHYS-2
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Researchers are currently unsure which molecules are responsible for spectral features known as the unidentified infrared emission (UIE) bands observed in planetary nebulae. Infrared emission spectroscopy can be used to identify molecules by assigning spectral peaks to specific molecular vibrations. Scientists have speculated that UIE bands come from either polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or mixed aromatic/aliphatic organic nanoparticles with heteroatom substitutions. Starting from these proposals, we have systematically calculated the theoretical infrared spectra of various candidate molecules using density functional theory and compared them to the experimental UIE spectra. The calculated infrared spectra of n-butyl linked nitrogen-substituted pyrene and tetracene systems contain most of the UIE features found in planetary nebulae NGC 7027 and IRAS 21282 + 5050. We plan to carry out calculations with larger nitrogen-substituted tetracene and pyrene polymers in an attempt to match the UIE features more closely. These findings are important for understanding the formation and evolution of planetary nebulae.

Keywords: UIE features, Infrared, PAH, MAON, Spectroscopy, Astrochemistry, Planetary Nebulae, Computational

Identifying White Dwarf Binary Systems with Spectral Energy Distributions Nicholas Gilles Physics & Astronomy PHYS-3
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A white dwarf is formed from the leftover core of a sun-like star. Eventually, sun-like stars expand such that they can engulf a nearby companion, creating a common envelope around the star’s core and the companion. This causes the orbit between these stars to tighten and ejects this common envelope into space, leaving a binary system consisting of a hot white dwarf and the companion in a very close orbit. We seek to identify these binary systems in order to determine the fraction of white dwarfs in binary systems, and to allow later investigations of their physical parameters. This will allow for a better understanding of the common envelope phase and the binaries that result from them. From a list of 112 hot white dwarf targets, we use spectral energy distributions to search for possible binary systems. We performed a preliminary blackbody fit, identifying 22 binary candidates. Using synthetic spectra, which include stellar atmosphere absorption features, we perform a more precise fit, which also corrects for reddening and extinction. With these, we find 16 binary candidates. We then determine whether there appear to be any additional other stars near our target that may be contaminating the data. Four of the 16 candidates did not appear to be encroached by additional light. All four have been identified as binaries by other researchers. We discuss the likelihood of the remaining 12 being true binary systems. Based on our results we also discuss implications for the binary fraction of the sample.

Pharmacologic Effectiveness of Dual Orexin Receptor Antagonists Compared to Atypical Antidepressants for Adult-Onset Primary Insomnia Nathan Bush Physician Assistant PA-1
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Objectives: The objective of this research was to identify whether dual orexin receptor antagonist (DORA) medications are more effective than atypical antidepressants in the treatment of adult onset primary insomnia. Subjective sleep data and objective polysomnography (PSG) measures of sleep (sleep efficiency [SE], latency to persistent sleep [LPS] and wake after sleep onset [WASO]) were used to measure treatment efficiency.

Methods: Data from 4 randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled studies and 7 systematic reviews with network meta-analyses were collected to identify the effectiveness of DORA medications and antidepressants in treating primary insomnia in adults aged 18-64. Primary outcomes in this research included sleep efficiency (measured subjectively with sleep diaries and objectively with PSG data), treatment discontinuation due to medication side effects, and safety measurements (number of medication-induced adverse events overall).

Results: All primary outcomes of subjective sleep data, total sleep time (TST), latency to persistent sleep (LPS), and wake after sleep onset (WASO) were all significantly improved among subjects receiving DORA therapy versus placebo across 3 of the placebo-controlled studies. DORA medications also yielded higher risks of medication induced adverse effects including somnolence, fatigue, and dry mouth.

Conclusions: DORA medications showed significant improvement of objective and subjective sleep measurements when compared to placebo management. Atypical antidepressants did not significantly improve subjective and PSG sleep efficiency when compared to placebo and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) across all studies.

Keywords: atypical antidepressants, Suvorexant, Lemborexant, dual orexin receptor antagonists, cognitive behavioral therapy, Doxepin, primary insomnia.

The Importance of Depression Screening in Type One Diabetes and its Association with Glycemic Control Jessica McWatters Physician Assistant PA-10
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Objective: In children and young adults diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, does the early diagnosis of depression with regular screening improve their control of diabetes, compared to those who are not screened for depression? Methods: Valparaiso University Summons, EBSCOhost, and PubMed were used to find the articles used in this research. Search was narrowed to include articles written after 2018 and that were academic/ peer reviewed. 10 articles were reviewed that consisted of systemic reviews, meta-analyses, retrospective studies, cross sectional studies, cohort studies, and randomized control studies. Outcomes were measured using PHQ-9, SDQ, and CDI scores, as well as A1c’s of participants. Results: Depression scores when screened with questionnaires such as the PHQ-9, CDI, and SDQ showed significant rates of depression in children with type 1 diabetes. These screenings indicated depression and suicidal ideation. Studies also had significant results of increased hemoglobin A1c in correlation with depression screenings. Conclusion: With the implementation of depression screenings in children with type one diabetes there can be improvement on both the patient’s mental and physical health by helping to improve their glycemic control and depression.

Keywords: depression; depression screening; PHQ-9; SDQ; children; adolescents; diabetes; and type 1 diabetes

Overview of COVID-19’s Neuropsychological Effects on the Pediatric Population Emily Osowski Physician Assistant PA-11
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Objective: This study aims to identify the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on the pediatric population’s neuropsychiatric health. The study will be highlighting effects/risks of contracting the COVID-19 illness itself, long-COVID and the additional environment effects imposed on children. Methods: 4 databases were searched, MEDLINE with Full Text (via EBSCO), APA PsychInfo (via EBSCOhost), PubMed and JAMA Pediatrics for studies reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic’s neuropsychiatric effects on children. A total of 1,043 articles were reviewed consisting of systematic reviews, cohort studies, and meta-analysis. Results: The results showed there was overall negative long-term effects on the pediatric population in all articles researched. Mental illness and neuropsychiatric findings were identified in adolescents in all populations researched. Primary Endpoints: The effects of COVID-19 were recognized in this study. A decrease in neuropsychological effects in children can be achieved with more research, resources and help from various healthcare professionals.

Keywords: long-COVID, post-COVID, neuropsychiatric, pediatric, adolescent, depression.

Duration of Effects from Esketamine vs TMS Therapy in Resolving Suicidal Ideations Samantha Cameron Physician Assistant PA-2
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Objective: In adults with major depressive disorder (MDD), does Esketamine treatment result in longer term results of reducing suicidal ideations when compared to transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy over the course of their lifetime? Methods: Four studies were found using the Valparaiso University online library database to find peer-reviewed articles regarding treatment for pharmacoresistant MDD and reducing suicidal ideations within these individuals. Results: Esketamine therapy use in those with severe MDD has shown to produce stable remission among patients that completed a 16-week trial of the drug administration, with less than 30% falling into relapse. TMS therapy use in those with severe MDD with suicidal ideations have shown to provide lasting effects more than 12 months following administration, also with less than 30% relapse. Conclusion: While both treatment methods have shown to be effective, TMS therapy has shown to have longer lasting effects compared to Esketamine therapy before reintroduction of treatment is needed.

Keywords: major depressive disorder, pharmacoresistant therapy, suicidal ideations, Esketamine therapy, TMS therapy

GLP-1 Agonists Effects on Weight Loss in Those With and Without Diabetes Alyssa Comerford Physician Assistant PA-3
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Objective: To further analyze if GLP-1 agonists are more effective in weight loss in obese patients with type 2 diabetes or without type 2 diabetes over the course of 1 year. Obesity has an increasing prevalence in those with and without type 2 diabetes so the need to find a treatment that can potentially treat both diseases can lead to less comorbidities and better outcomes. Methods: Online databases were used to find academic sources that compared the use of GLP-1 agonists for weight loss in those with and without type 2 diabetes. Ten sources, including meta analyses, retrospective cohorts, narrative reviews, and systematic reviews published within the last 5 years were included in this research paper. Results: GLP-1 agonists, such as Liraglutide and Semaglutide, were found to be statistically more effective for weight loss in adult patients who do not have type 2 diabetes over those with type 2 diabetes. Patients with type 2 diabetes were still found to have more weight loss with a GLP-1 agonist than with a placebo, but those without type 2 diabetes had significantly higher weight loss.

Managing Anxiety and Depression with Exercise Taylor Gideon PA-S Physician Assistant PA-4
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Objective: There are increasingly high rates of depression and anxiety worldwide. Current treatment often consists of psychotherapy and antidepressants which have adverse effects, high costs, and interactions with other medications. Exercise has been proposed as an option for stand-alone treatment of mental illnesses. Methods: Google Scholar and EBSCO host were used to search for peer-reviewed articles published within the last 5 years to examine how exercise can be an option for management of anxiety and depression. A total of 36 articles were reviewed and 11 articles were utilized in this research, including 5 meta-analyses, 3 systematic reviews, 2 randomized controlled trials, and 1 quasi-experimental review. Primary endpoints for this research would include anxiety and depression scores, such as Beck’s Depression and Anxiety Inventories and DASS-21. Results: Exercise has been shown to improve symptoms of anxiety and depression, regardless of the type of physical activity. Conclusions: Although there may be some contradicting data, exercise appears to be a noninferior treatment option and can be recommended for management of anxiety and depression given the encouraging data for this indication.

Keywords: anxiety, depression, mental health, physical activity, exercise, management, treatment

Management of Rheumatoid Arthritis with Current Treatment Options Hayley Hausherr Physician Assistant PA-5
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Objective: To analyze if conventional disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (csDMARD) are more effective than biologic disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (bDMARD) in treating rheumatoid arthritis over the course of the disease. Without treatment, rheumatoid arthritis can result in loss of functionality with decreased joint mobility, and physical weakness; highlighting the need for adequate maintenance therapy with either csDMARD or biologic disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs. Methods: Used tertiary data extracted from previous literature analysis pertaining to the topic of interest. To determine the best method of maintenance therapy in adults, the Valparaiso University online library catalog was utilized to find peer-reviewed articles regarding each maintenance therapy within the last five years. Filters used during research were ‘peer reviewed journals,’ ‘full text available,’ ‘meta-analysis,’ ‘systematic review,’ and ‘cohort studies. The primary endpoint this research focuses on is whether csDMARDs treat RA disease activity more than bDMARDs. Overall, 58 different journal articles were reviewed with information extracted from 13. Results: Initial therapy started in early disease should be a conventional disease modifying anti-rheumatic drug as overall studies show that 71% of patients had reduced disease activity. Biologic treatment alone should not be used as a monotherapy due to insufficient evidence of efficacy. The highest efficacy of treatment is a combination therapy of conventional and biologic treatment as it leads to smaller radiographic changes, decreased disease activity, and higher remission rates. Conclusion: A combination of a csDMARD and bDMARD has been shown to be the best long-term maintenance therapy for individuals not fully controlled on conventional treatment alone.

The Potential Role of Psychedelic Therapy in Alzheimer’s Dementia Madeline Jones Physician Assistant PA-6
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Objective: To explore the role that psychedelic therapy, specifically psilocybin and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), could play in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Explore current studies and effects of psychedelics on neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric conditions and relate their outcomes to the pathophysiology of AD and thus the effects that these medications may have as treatment options. Methods: A review of current literature was performed of meta-analyses, systematic reviews, and randomized-control trials that specifically discuss the effects of psychedelics on both neural receptors and the subjects themselves. Initial search yielded 3,127 results, with 75 reviewed. Of these 75 articles, three randomized control trials, one meta-analysis, three systematic reviews, and one open-label pilot study were utilized to further assess this topic. The efficacy of psychedelic therapy was then determined based on neuroplastic changes determined by positron emission testing and functional magnetic resonance imaging. Further benefits were explored including cognitive and psychiatric behavioral improvement. Results: Research related to the mechanisms and effects of psychedelic therapy reveal anti-inflammatory properties as well as increased brain glucose metabolism. LSD and psilocybin specifically were found to have neuroprotective properties as well as promotion of neurogenesis. Conclusions: Results are consistent with the hypothesis that psychedelic therapy can not only help symptomatic treatment of AD but may also have a role in disease modification.

Keywords: psychedelic therapy, LSD, psilocybin, Alzheimer’s Disease, AD, dementia, neuroinflammation, neuroplasticity.

Vitamin D Insufficiency and Coronary Artery Disease Alexandra Koontz Physician Assistant PA-7
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Objective: The objective of this research is to determine if patients with a vitamin D insufficiency have an increased risk of coronary artery disease when compared to patients with optimal vitamin D levels.

Methods: Two data bases, PubMed and Science Direct were searched for studies evaluating vitamin D levels and coronary artery disease. After applying an inclusion and exclusion criteria there were a total of five studies which included a total of 4,925 participants that met criteria and analyzed the relationship of vitamin D and heart disease.

Results: Deficient vitamin D levels are negatively correlated with coronary artery disease and specifically the severity of coronary artery disease. Vitamin D levels are also inversely related to homocysteine levels, which play a role in the development of heart disease when increased.

Conclusion: Patients with coronary artery disease had decreased levels of vitamin D when compared to control patients with less severe disease or no coronary artery disease. Although significant, large, longitudinal clinical experiments are needed to establish the optimal dose and duration of supplementation for cardiovascular protection.

Keywords: (1) Vitamin D Deficiency (2) Vitamin D Insufficiency (3) 25-Hydroxyvitmain D (4) Heart Disease (5) Coronary Artery Disease

Vitamin D Supplementation and its Effects on Depression Emily Luplow Physician Assistant PA-8
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The objective of this paper is to analyze the effect of vitamin D supplementation in those individuals who have been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder or have depressive symptoms.


Different databases and literature were reviewed that examine the effects of vitamin D supplementation through randomized controlled trials, cross-sectional studies, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses to treat depression or improve symptoms that are associated with depression. 10 articles in total were examined including 3 systemic reviews, 2 cross sectional studies, 1 cohort study, 2 meta-analyses, and 2 randomized controlled trials. These were compared to other studies where individuals did not receive vitamin D supplementation. Individuals ranked their depressive symptoms using the 8-item Patient Health Questionnaire depression scale, the 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire depression scale, and the Hamilton D-17 depression scoring systems.


The studies found that if individuals have lower levels of vitamin D, they are more likely to be diagnosed with depression or show signs of depression.


There is a correlation between having lower levels of vitamin D and having clinical signs and symptoms of depression. However, studies found that supplementation of vitamin D displayed minor improvement of clinical depression symptoms or no improvement at all.

Keywords: vitamin D deficiency, vitamin D insufficiency, depression, depressive symptoms, vitamin D supplementation, pathophysiology, 25 hydroxyvitamin D

Nonoperative, Early, and Delayed Reconstructive Treatment of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tears Madeline McDonald Physician Assistant PA-9
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PICOT: In adults and adolescents ages 14-65, does early operative ACL reconstruction surgery result in better health outcomes and full recovery with return to play when compared with delayed or nonoperative treatment for ACL surgery?

Objective: The objective of this paper is to use evidence based practice and medicine and a review of literature to determine the best timeline for anterior cruciate ligament surgical repair for optimal recovery and return to activity. Currently, there are three main standards of care when it comes to an anterior cruciate ligament tear: non-operative treatment, early operative treatment, and delayed operative treatment. To explore the best standard of practice for the time interval for ACL reconstruction, this paper will look at systematic reviews, meta-analysis, and other research studies.

Methods: To determine the best treatment outline, the Valparaiso University online library catalog named “Summons” was used to find peer-reviewed and academic resources on the topic published within the last five years.

Results: The studies reviewed came to the conclusion that early-operative anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction is favored to delayed operative treatment or nonoperative treatment for anterior cruciate ligament tears.

Conclusion: The results of this paper concluded that early operative ACL reconstruction within 3 weeks of the original injury results in greater knee stability, less pain, greater range of motion, higher knee-related quality of life, less knee related symptoms, maintained activities of daily living, and greater recreational ability, when compared to late operative or nonoperative treatment.

Keywords: “ACL reconstruction,” “delayed operative treatment,” “ACL tear,” “Early operative ACL reconstruction,” “delayed ACL reconstruction”

Poster Session 2: 9:45-10:45 am

Title Author(s) Department Project Code
The Behavior of Candida Albicans Filamentation in Response to Estrogen and Fetal Bovine Serum Exposure in Liquid Media Sara Tewoldemedhin, Patrice Bouyer, George Gundelach Biology BIO-2
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C. albicans is an opportunistic fungus which under not yet well defined cues shifts morphology from yeast to filamentous and becomes invasive. During sepsis, estrogen levels are elevated. Thus, we hypothesized that estrogen could act as a signal for C. albicans to become filamentous. In this study, we used 3 media: minimum, spider, and YEPD to test the effect of estrogen and fetal bovine serum (FBS, positive control) on C. albicans filamentous growth. Our experimental setup was: control, 0.1 nM estrogen, 10% FBS, and FBS with estrogen. Every day for 2 days, we took 5 random pictures using a brightfield microscope and scored one if filaments were visible or zero if filaments were not visible. Our results show in YEPD that FBS and FBS + estrogen had significantly more pictures with filaments compared to control at day 1 and 2 (P=0.001, ANOVA Dunnett post hoc). In minimum, FBS + E2 had significantly less pictures than control (P

Synthesis of Argemone mexicana Inspired Antimicrobial Agents Juan Ostos Hernandez, Hannah Bhakta, Danielle Orozco-Nunnelly, Jeff Pruet Chemistry CHEM-4
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Pathogenic bacterial and fungal infections are some of the leading causes of death in the population at large. Antimicrobial-resistant “superbugs” have become a growing issue worldwide as well as on the International Space Station, and there is a great need to explore new and alternative pathways for fighting these diseases. Through a collaborative project, we have explored extracts of the Argemone mexicana plant to isolate antimicrobial agents found within this plant. We have already identified three key molecules, notably berberine, which give this plant antimicrobial properties. Guided by the structures of these plant-derived molecules, our current work is now focused on designing and synthesizing new variants of these bioactive molecules in the hopes of discovering new, more potent, drugs. Thus far, several of our synthetic variants have shown promising activity over the original phytochemicals isolated from the plant. In continuing our work, we have performed a similar process with the Aronia melanocarpa plant and found that it shows excellent antimicrobial potential.

Design and Synthesis of a Potential Anti-fungal Agent Hallie Wolf, Jeff Pruet Chemistry CHEM-5
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Fungal infections are a serious concern, as they impact many people and have high mortality rates for those who are immunocompromised. As a result of drug-resistant microbes, there is always a need for new drugs to combat these infections, without causing side effects in humans. Taking advantage of differences in the Methionine Synthase (MetSyn) enzyme, found in both humans and fungi, our desired antifungal drug class binds exclusively to the fungal enzyme, inhibiting growth while leaving the host unaffected. We are synthesizing, and improving the synthesis of, a variety of inhibitors using pterin and deazaguanine-based molecules as the folate mimic, an essential substrate for MetSyn function. We have been testing these molecules’ activity in a microbial growth assay.

Using Word2Vec and N-grams to Generate Poetic Texts Hexin Liu Computing & Information Sciences CIS-1
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This research attempts to create poetic texts in the Shakespearean style. Many available technologies can create artworks based on styles of well-known artists. However, it is difficult for the generative models to create texts within the style of a particular author. This study aims to produce sentences in the style of Shakespeare that contain metaphorical meanings without quoting his works. We have trained statistical n-gram models on the complete works of Shakespeare and then used the model to create Shakespearean text. We noticed that, in some cases, the n-gram models will construct sentences that are copied from Shakespeare’s works. We then trained a neural-AI Word2Vec model word embedding to “paraphrase” words with others that have similar semantics (and thus preventing plagiarism). The initial results include some adequate sentences and some with semantic errors. There are also many ungrammatical utterances. We are focusing on substituting words with correct part-of-speech and screening out ungrammatical results. We also incorporated the Glove embedding model, which is trained on a large corpus of modern texts, to add modern words and themes into the Shakespeare-styled generated results. This research will give insights on how the models can generate texts that are more artistic.

Photometric Survey of Central Stars of Planetary Nebulae Samantha Krusza Physics & Astronomy PHYS-4
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Complete surveys of the central stars of planetary nebulae are essential for understanding the fractions of these objects that exist as close binary systems, allowing for better understanding of stellar evolution. Planetary nebulae are regions of ionized gas expelled from a dying star that has just left the asymptotic giant branch which is evolving into a white dwarf. In this research, we utilized an existing catalog of all planetary nebulae within 2 kpc from us, with a total of 235 targets. We then used photometric data from ZTF (Zwicky Transient Facility), SARA (Southeastern Association for Research in Astronomy) telescopes at Kitt Peak National Observatory and Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory, and other private telescopes to study the central stars of these planetary nebulae. We visually examined the brightness of the nebulosity and determined which planetary nebulae have bright nebulosity that would cause uncertainty in the photometry of the central stars. We then recorded average brightness and average variation ranges for each central star for which quality data was available. Then we reviewed the brightness data to determine if each central star varied in brightness in a way indicative of a close companion. If such variability was present we identified that central star as a candidate binary system. We discuss here the results of our search in the context of the overall fraction of planetary nebula central stars that exist as close binary systems.

Determining Gluon Contribution to Proton Spin with STAR Endcap Electromagnetic Calorimeter Data Alexis Lewis, Samuel Starkenburg, Zach Nielsen Physics & Astronomy PHYS-5
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The Solenoidal Tracker at RHIC (STAR) located at Brookhaven National Laboratory uses longitudinally polarized proton-proton collisions to study, among other things, the gluon spin contribution to the known proton spin of 1/2 ?. One method is to measure the longitudinal double-spin asymmetry (ALL) in the production of eta (?) and/or neutral pion (?0) particles from the longitudinally polarized proton-proton collisions. The ALL can be related to the gluon contribution to the spin of the proton. The Endcap Electromagnetic Calorimeter (EEMC) is used to detect the two photons produced from ?0 or ? decay, yielding the energy and location of each photon. With the data from the EEMC, we can calculate the invariant mass of the photon pairs and produce a two-photon invariant mass spectrum. The mass spectrum is fit to a combination of signal and background functions. The total number of ?0 or ? particles is then obtained by integrating the signal function. The asymmetry is calculated using the number of ?0 or ? particles resulting from the collisions of protons with different spin alignments. We also have reconstructed data to form photon and ?0 candidates and stored them in data structures called trees. To ensure quality data for the eventual ALL analysis, we monitor distributions such as the reconstructed ?0 mass and the number of EEMC towers hit per event. We will present the status of the ?0 and ? reconstruction and the quality assurance effort across two different data sets.

Modeling White Dwarf Binary Systems – A Hubble Space Telescope Project Hunter Wood Physics & Astronomy PHYS-6
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White dwarfs are the final stage of stellar evolution for most stars–those less than about eight times the mass of the Sun. In these cases the star has ejected its outer layers, leaving a superheated core behind to cool. White dwarfs that are part of a binary system, or have a companion star, lead to many interesting astrophysical situations, and so are important objects to understand. In this study, we look specifically at binary white dwarf systems where the second object is a main sequence star. After the discovery of a binary system, it is necessary to create a working model to better understand the physical characteristics of the system. This is accomplished using data about the changing brightness of the system and measures of the speed of the stars toward and away from us as they orbit one another. We built preliminary models for two white dwarf binary systems–WD1136+667 and Gaia-DR2-3150–which we describe in this presentation. Both of these systems are part of a larger Hubble Space Telescope program studying very hot white dwarfs.

A Study of Knee Injury Prevention in Athletes Gianna Prucha Physician Assistant PA-12
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Introduction: The goal of this research is to evaluate the effect of proper preventative exercises that contribute to the reduction of knee injuries in athletes. With this information coaches, players, and providers may be able to implement these exercises to reduce future injuries.

Methods: This study was conducted using research from online databases such as Ebsco Host, PubMed, and Google Scholar. The primary endpoint for the search was the impact of strengthening exercises on injury reduction. The total number of studies this search yielded were 610 with 143 systematic reviews, 96 meta-analyses, 144 randomized controlled trials, and 227 other types.

Results: Injury prevention programs have proven benefits for athletes of many different sports. Implementing injury prevention programs reduce the number of injuries during the sport as well as long term effects of the injuries.

Conclusions: The results of these studies emphasize the importance of implementing an injury prevention program for athletes. Overall, current data reflects the benefits of implementing IPPs for young athletes.

Keywords: neuromuscular training, knee injuries, ACL injuries, athletes, injury prevention, multi-ligament knee injuries.

Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy: Prevention of Pelvic Floor Disorder in Postpartum Women Tricia Pryor Physician Assistant PA-13
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Objective: To analyze the effectiveness of pelvic floor physical therapy (PFPT) in preventing pelvic floor disorders (PFD) in postpartum women.

Methods: A computerized search from Valparaiso University’s online library provided data from PubMed, Cochrane Library and Google Scholar were used to conduct this research. Filters were applied limiting articles from 2017 until present day and key words used to gather resources used for this research included “pelvic floor physical therapy,” “pelvic floor disorder” OR “pelvic floor disease,” AND “postpartum women.” A total of 13 articles were reviewed, this included 5 randomized control trials, 4 meta-analyses, and 5 evidenced based medicine reviews.

Results: Postpartum PFPT compared to unsupervised therapies or no therapy at all improves vaginal delivery outcomes on the pelvic floor including urinary incontinence (UI), anal incontinence (UI), pelvic organ prolapse (POP), and sexual function.

Conclusions: Currently there is some data that support the clinical benefits of PFPT on postpartum women in the prevention of PFD potential need for treatments later in life. There is room for more research regarding timing of PFPT in antenatal periods, prenatal periods, and for nulliparous women.

Keywords: pelvic floor physical therapy, pelvic floor disorder, pelvic floor disease, postpartum women

Evaluating the Efficacy of Opioids vs Nonopioids in Chronic Pain Patients Zoe Richardson Physician Assistant PA-14
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Objective: The purpose of this report is to assess the effectiveness of opioids compared to nonopioids in managing chronic noncancer pain. Methods: Randomized control trials, meta analyses, and systematic reviews published in 2018 or later were searched in medical research databases including PubMed, JAMA, Medline Plus, ScienceDirect, and Google Scholar. Sources were included that expand on data from RCTs assessing the efficacy of opioids, nonopioids, or both as treatment for chronic noncancer pain in adults. A total of six articles with a diverse patient population were selected and reviewed which included 2 RCTs, 2 meta-analyses, and 2 systematic reviews. The primary outcome measures were quantified through pain relief and intensity, physical functioning, and sleep quality. Results: Among these articles, findings indicate that both opioid and nonopioid pharmacologic therapy are comparable in pain reduction. Furthermore, opioid treatment compared to nonopioid treatment was not superior in treating adults with chronic noncancer pain in regards to pain relief, pain intensity, physical functioning, and sleep quality. Conclusion: This comprehensive analysis indicates that nonopioid medication can be equally effective as opioids for treatment of chronic pain in addition to offering a superior safety profile. Nonopioid analgesics should be exhausted prior to prescribing opioids for chronic noncancer pain due to insufficient evidence to support the superiority of opioids.

Key Words: chronic pain, opioids, nonopioids, analgesics, noncancer

Relationship and Management of Anxiety, Depression, Hypothyroidism, and Contraceptives Michaela Ronk Physician Assistant PA-15
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Objectives: Describe the relationship between anxiety and depression, hypothyroidism, and hormonal contraceptives use. Establish plausible treatment options for anxiety and depression that is tailored for patients also diagnosed with hypothyroidism who are utilizing hormonal contraceptives. Methods: Review databases for sources regarding pathophysiological connections between hypothyroidism with anxiety and depression, hypothyroidism and contraceptive use, and contraceptive use with anxiety and depression. Review sources that discuss treatment options for anxiety and depression. Results: Untreated hypothyroidism results in increased levels of depressive symptoms and decreased quality of life, both of which improve after treatment with thyroid hormone replacement. Hormonal contraceptives alter thyroid hormone levels in the body which can have direct and indirect effects on thyroid function and mental health. Patients on hormonal contraceptives have mixed results on the development or worsening of mental health symptoms. Conclusions: Thyroid function is affected by hormonal contraceptives which can affect a patient’s psychological conditions. Therefore, management for anxiety and depression in this population should be unique to each patient. Special consideration should be paid by the provider and future research should be devoted to evaluating patients’ comorbidities, polypharmacy, and risk factors when determining a treatment regimen for patients with hypothyroidism and anxiety/depression who are utilizing hormonal contraceptives.

Keywords: hypothyroidism, anxiety, depression, hormonal contraceptives, side-effects, risk factors, treatment efficacy

Diabetic Foot Ulcers and Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment Libbie Sobieski Physician Assistant PA-16
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Objective: Diabetic foot ulcers are a commonly occurring condition in patients with diabetes. They are often difficult to treat and may result in adverse events including serious infection and need for amputation. The objective of the study was to assess the efficacy of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) for wound healing in patients with diabetic foot ulcers compared to standard treatment. Methods: To determine the best method of treatment in adults, a search was conducted through the Valparaiso University online library catalog utilizing peer-reviewed articles regarding treatment of diabetic foot ulcers with HBOT within the last ten years. Results: The following outcomes were included; Complete healing of ulcers, minor amputation, major amputation, all group amputation, ulcer reduction area, mortality rate, adverse events, and factor for predicting success. Conclusions: Adjunctive treatment of diabetic foot ulcers with HBOT resulted in significantly better complete wound healing and lowered rates of major amputation. However, minor amputation and all group amputation does not seem to be improved with HBOT. Reduction in ulcer size, quality of life, mortality rate was not found to be significant when comparing treatments. Several multiple adverse events were reported with HPOT however most resolved without sequela. Lastly, there do not seem to be factors that may influence outcomes of therapy, but HBOT may have potential to reduce anxiety and pain.

Keywords: diabetic foot ulcers, hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatment, complete ulcer healing, major amputation, minor amputation, quality of life, mortality rate, adverse events predictors for success

Compression Therapy in the Healing and Prevention of Venous Ulcers Jenna Thomas Physician Assistant PA-17
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Objective: The aim of this research is to discover the effect of compression therapy on the healing and prevention of venous leg ulcers (VLUs) in patients diagnosed with Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI). Methods: Google Scholar, Cochrane Library, and PubMed were utilized to secure 14 scholarly articles and journals for this research, including systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Studies were included that focused on adult patients with CVI and evidence of VLUS utilizing compression therapy. Studies including pediatric, pregnant, post-operative, and with focus on post-thrombotic syndrome patients were excluded. Reduction in ulcer size and healing time were among the endpoints used to determine success of compression therapy, Results: Research has shown with moderate-high certainty that compression therapy promotes healing of VLUs. In regard to prevention, noncompliance with compression therapy led to downgraded quality of evidence to support its use. Conclusion: Compression therapy proved effective in promoting venous ulcer healing, but it is not certain which form of compression therapy is best for healing purposes. Data shows promise that compression therapy could have a positive impact on prevention of recurrence, but more research is necessary to definitively make this conclusion.

Keywords: chronic venous insufficiency, venous leg ulcers, compression therapy, prevention, healing

Comparison of Thermal Ablation and Thyroidectomy for Thyroid Nodules Emily Valente Physician Assistant PA-18
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Objective: To compare the efficacy, safety, cost, and time of thermal ablation techniques versus a thyroidectomy for benign and malignant thyroid nodules.

Methods: This research was conducted using EBSCO Host, PubMed, the American Thyroid Association, and NYU Langone Health. 15 studies were reviewed that met the defined criteria. Types of studies included were metanalyses/systemic reviews, retrospective studies, case presentations, and prospective randomized studies. Primary endpoints include efficacy, safety, cost, and time.

Results: For benign nodules, radiofrequency ablation (RFA) has advantages over a thyroidectomy due to it being effective, minimally invasive, safe, economical, and cosmetically appealing. For malignant nodules, RFA is seen to be effective for low-risk papillary thyroid cancer only. Regarding the type of ablation technique, RFA is considered superior due to greater efficacy and reoccurrence rates.

Conclusions: RFA is an effective, safe, and low-cost alternative to a thyroidectomy for benign nodules and low risk papillary thyroid cancer.

Keywords: benign thyroid nodules, malignant thyroid nodules, thyroid nodule treatment, thyroidectomy, endoscopic thyroidectomy, ablation techniques, and radiofrequency ablation.

A Qualitative Study on Optimism in Endurance Sports Noah Vanderhei Physician Assistant PA-19
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Objective: The objective of this study is to review how much of a role mental factors, such as optimism and having a positive mental attitude can have on endurance sport performance.

Methods: Nine peer reviewed studies were included in this research, one cohort study, one individual case study, four randomized control trials, and three questionnaires were included. Primary endpoints showed the importance of improving mindfulness, enrolling in a mental training program, cortisol production, the negative physical and emotional effects of losing, and the benefits of having a higher emotional intelligence with trait emotional intelligence (EI) Scores.

Results: Perceived physical strain is decreased in athletes who have more emotional intelligence. The stress response elicited by the act of falling behind or losing can have a snowball effect and decrease an athlete’s performance.

Conclusion: More research needs to be conducted in order to directly prove that being optimistic and positive can improve racing times and performance.

Keywords: Emotional intelligence, optimism, fatigue, stress, performance, mood, mental toughness, endurance, athlete.

VMAT-2 Inhibitors in the Treatment on Tardive Dyskinesia Peyton Westcott Physician Assistant PA-20
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Objective: Tardive dyskinesia is a movement disorder commonly caused by antipsychotic medications. This review aims to determine the effectiveness of VMAT-2 inhibitors for the treatment of antipsychotic-induced tardive dyskinesia evaluated by reduction in AIMS scores.

Methods: Twelve articles were used including six systematic trials, one meta-analysis, two placebo-controlled trials, one prospective study, one cross-sectional study, and one assessment manual using the Google Scholar, Pubmed, and Summon. The primary endpoint included relative reduction in AIMS scores in each cohort.

Results: Deutetrabenazine and valbenazine show statistically significant reduction on AIMS scores compared to placebo. Vitamin E as treatment has been researched but little data is available on the effectiveness of treatment.

Conclusions: Through the research, VMAT-2 inhibitors, specifically deutetrabenazine and valbenazine, do result in efficacious treatment of tardive dyskinesia which is seen through statistically significant decrease in AIMS scores.

Keywords: deutetrabenazine, valbenazine, tardive dyskinesia, antipsychotic, VMAT-2 inhibitor, AIMS scores, vitamin E

The Utilization of Physician Assistants in the Prehospital Setting Brooke Wold Physician Assistant PA-21
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Objective: Physician assistants (PAs) are highly trained medical professionals seen in a wide area of medical specialties and settings. While many PAs have a background in Emergency Medical Services (EMS) or work in emergency medicine, PAs are rarely found in the prehospital setting- caring for critically ill patients in remote settings before reaching a hospital. This paper is aimed to evaluate how PAs can be utilized in the prehospital setting and the effects on the patient outcomes.

Methods: Summon, PubMed, Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (JAAPA), and BioMed Central (BMC) were used to find academic literature regarding prehospital care published within the last five years. No exclusions for location of research were made. A total of 11 articles were reviewed and utilized, with retrospective studies most commonly used.

Results: At this time, there is minimal literature available regarding the use of PAs in the prehospital setting. When paramedic-led EMS is compared with physician-led EMS, patients who received physician-led care had better outcomes. The utilization of PAs in the prehospital setting has the ability to increase patient outcomes, reduce the stress on EDs and EMS, and increase patients’ access to care.

Conclusions: At this time, there is insufficient evidence to evaluate the use of PAs in prehospital medicine, however, evidence from European countries shows significant improvement in patient outcomes when physician staffed helicopter EMS is used.

Keywords: prehospital medicine, physician assistant, EMS, outcomes, association, mortality

Acupuncture Treatment in the Reduction of Knee Pain Due to Osteoarthritis Idalia Zachara Physician Assistant PA-22
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Objective: As knee osteoarthritis (KOA) is a very common, progressive, irreversible, and painful disease that affects many as they age, treatment modalities to alleviate symptoms are important to explore. This work aims to gather evidence as to the efficacy of a minimum of 4 weeks of acupuncture for the treatment of patients with knee pain secondary to osteoarthritis.

Methods: Google Scholar and Valpo Library Databases were perused with a variety of search phrases to yield potential sources. The date of publication was set to be within the last 5 years. Studies needed to include trials of traditional/ conventional acupuncture. Treatment outcome measures varied between studies but most relied on pain scores and joint functioning protocols. No age, gender or racial exclusions were made.

Results: Most studies indicate consensus that acupuncture therapy is beneficial for KOA when done for periods of longer than 4 weeks, however many are concerned with limitations in existing studies regarding variability between execution of trials and quality of reporting.

Conclusion: Further research is needed to confirm acupuncture benefits and to determine the optimal frequency, duration, and mode of acupuncture treatment for KOA so that providers can recommend it as a truly effective treatment option for patients.

Keywords: knee osteoarthritis, joint, traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, pain, needle

The Role of Probiotics in the Treatment and Reoccurrence of Bacterial Vaginosis: A Systematic Review Alexandra Smith Physician Assistant PA-23
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Objective: To determine whether taking probiotics decreases the incidence of recurrent bacterial vaginosis in women of child bearing years.

Methods: A systemic literature review was conducted using online databases such as MEDLINE, PubMed, JAAPA, Epocrates, and CDC. 22 journal articles were available using the key words in medline, 10 were reviewed, and 6 were included in this report.

Results: After reviewing 6 meta-analyses that reviewed the role of probiotics in the treatment of bacterial vaginosis, some researched claimed probiotics were more effective, of equal effectiveness, and were less effective than antibiotics. The role of probiotics may be beneficial in the treatment in bacterial vaginosis.

Conclusion: Due to the limited research, it cannot be determined whether or not probiotic treatment alone is associated with lower recurrence rates of bacterial vaginosis. In the meantime, probiotics can be added to the treatment regime of antibiotics and may help decrease recurrence.

Keywords: bacterial vaginosis, probiotics, prevention, incidence, recurrence, and treatment